James Leroy Wilson's blog

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Abortion Doesn't Matter

Human life begins at conception. To say otherwise is to be ridiculous: the clump of cells can't become spiders or turtles or chimpanzees, only humans.

But to say that human rights begin at conception is equally ridiculous. For one thing, most people don't even know until weeks later that conception occurred, and only if the clump of cells hadn't already been expunged from the body naturally. For another, even if the mother knows she's pregnant, other people don't necessarily know; how can society protect or grant rights to that which it doesn't even know exists? Third, who is a competent advocate for the fetus if the mother herself rejects the office? Fourth, the fetus may be a human life, but it is not a member of civil society, having no means of communication with it whatsoever, and therefore can't have civil rights.

If I am wrong and the fetus deserves full natural and civil rights from conception, and is valued equally with every born person, and if protecting human life is the primary function of government, then not only would outlawing abortion be justified, also:

- bombing abortion clinics and otherwise terrorizing those who perform abortions.
- abandoning a free market economy for a socialist one, if the socialist government is pro-life.
- abandoning the Constitution for an absolutist King or Dictator, so long at this new autocrat is pro-life.
- let invaders take over the country, so long as they're pro-life.
- institute chattel slavery of one form or another, so long as the government was pro-life.
- repeal freedom of speech and of religion, so long as the regime was pro-life.
- be guilty of all kinds of corruption and cruelty, so long as it effectively cracked down on the number of abortions.
- cede sovereignty of the United States to some foreign or international body, so long as it was pro-life.
- wage endless war on Muslim countries, so long as the Commander-in-Chief was pro-life.
- alternatively, it is also permissible to "cut and run," so long as the President remained pro-life.
- protect States' Rights to advance the pro-life agenda.
- or, abandon States' Rights to advance the pro-life agenda. It doesn't matter; the ends justify the means.
- pack the Supreme Court to get pro-life outcomes.
- declare martial law to prevent even one more abortion.
- engage in political assassination to get more pro-life politicians.
- turn the country into an anti-abortion caliphate.
- allow immigration, stop immigration, balance the budget, go bankrupt -none of it would matter. Only preventing abortion would matter, because that would clearly be the evil that must be eliminated, even at the cost of everything else.

There may be a few pro-life die-hards who would concede much of what I said. The very force of their own convictions mandate no other conclusion than that stopping the number of abortions is now and always will be the number one priority of government for which everything, and I mean everything, can be sacrificed. Curiously, however, the Religious Right doesn't agree. If given a choice between a a non-interventionist, pro-life but otherwise generally libertarian candidate for President like Ron Paul, and a perpetual-war, pro-Police State and pro-abortion candidate like Rudolf Giuliani, it seems that many social conservtives are preferring the latter. (ht: Anthony Gregory at LRC.)

It turns out that the Republican "base" is just as unprincipled as the politicians they routinely elect. They don't care about anyone's rights, let alone the "right to life" of the fetus. All they care about is having the more "manly" man be President, and their definition of "manly" doesn't even have to do with military service (Carter, Gore, Kerry), but rather how much of a "show of force" the USA can project to the rest of the world, and how much government agents can bully, intimidate, and scare innocent civilians at home. If the Lord Incarnate and Atticus Finch ran on a pro-life Democratic ticket, they'd be branded as traitors by this Bible-believing Republican "base."

Abortion doesn't matter. I wonder if it ever really did.


  1. I read about this post at Rational Review. Very disappointing. Almost completely lacking in logic.

    First, just because nobody knows about the existence of a person doesn't mean the unknown person has no civil rights. Once someone comes in contact with the previously-unknown person, duties come into existence. And if I'm going to take action, I must be sure I'm not infringing on the rights of anyone, even if I don't presently know of their existence. Example: Before demolishing a condemned building, I have a duty to take reasonable steps to make sure no homeless person is sleeping inside. He has rights, I have duties, even if I don't presently know about his existence.

    Second, a comatose person, a completely paralyzed person, or a mute person has civil rights and is a member of civil society even if they can't communicate. Duh!

    Third, by what logic do you conclude that a "pro-life" person, corporation or government has the right to confiscate or destroy property, enslave people, deny free speech, deny religious freedom, etc., etc. I don't see your logic here at all. Who actually thinks this way?

    Fourth, some "religious right" people might vote for Giuliani rather than Ron Paul because they're afraid Paul won't win and an anti-life Democrat will be elected. ("Wasted vote" syndrome) But the poll you cite doesn't prove that. All the poll says is that "Forty-four percent of social conservatives in the Pew analysis believe that the former New York mayor has the "best chance" of becoming president in 2008." I'm a rabid pro-life theocrat and I can agree with that: Giuliani has the "best chance" to win. Does that mean *I* am voting for him? No. And the article then quotes one pro-life figure after another who is NOT voting for Giuliani. Where are the pro-lifers who are actually voting for Giuliani?

    You may have a point that some pro-lifers will compromise, but nothing in your post leads logically to this or any other conclusion.

    I guess I'm going to have to take Rational Review's recommendations with a grain of salt from now on. I don't think this post was worth linking to.

  2. My point is that anyone who actually believes 1.5 million persons are being murdered every year in America alone would in good conscience do whatever it takes in order to stop the carnage. But almost nobody does; as you put it, nobody "thinks that way," and that's because they don't really believe 1.5 million "persons" (i.e., individuals with rights) are being "murdered" every year.

  3. Well that's a reasonable point. I agree that most of the "religious right" doesn't really act consistent with their professed beliefs. But consistency does not require "bombing abortion clinics and otherwise terrorizing those who perform abortions" and all the other items on your list. What it does require is not voting for Giuliani, and a growing number of the Religious Right are pledging to do so, so I'll give them credit for that (though I might be more on your side if I doubt that they will carry through with their threats in November 2008). You expressed your point better in your comment above than in the original post, IMHO. I would like to challenge pro-lifers to be more consistent, but your article would not be effective in doing that.