Saturday, October 22, 2011

Abortion Logic

     Herman Cain’s recent kerfuffle on whether abortion should be a matter of private conscience or government prohibition brings to light an interesting fact: The public dislikes abortion more and more. Almost alone among core conservative principles, the right-wing position on abortion seems to be making converts. Where agenda items like women in combat and special privileges for homosexuals are winning adherents, abortion is actually less popular than it used to be. At least in polling. At least in some polling. Still, there is some evidence that the absolute number of abortions in the United States is declining. In the context of the Leftist cultural hegemony, such equivocal statistics are a veritable benison for conservatives. The question naturally arises, to what do we owe such a blessing? For once, the answer may very well be logic.

     The logic of so-called choice is astonishingly insensitive to the greatest victim class imaginable. It is axiomatic that for moderns the most helpless and harmless and disadvantaged people are the most worthy of special status. This was not always the case in history, but at first blush it appears perfectly in line with all the moral trends of the modern Left. Name a disadvantaged group, and the Left will have elevated it with special status, special claims for redress, and special protections. No matter how far removed from slavery, the remote descendants of slaves still warrant affirmative action. So too women, though they are not now and rarely have been a minority (notably excepting China today). As for homosexuals, whose status is a matter of lifestyle choice, they are the new darlings of the Left, the chic new victim group for whom the rest of us must re-engineer civilization. In this context, it is revealing that the group of people who have actually been killed in largest numbers and who have the least voice to represent their own interests is unborn infants.

     Modern abortionists and their defenders are able to justify their practice by the simple technique of declaring their victims something less than human. This is precisely the move of a Hitler in re-defining Jews as the ultimate other. It is what the Left accuses the Right of when right-wingers point out what actual Muslims have done in the name of Allah. As for unborn infants, however, the Left is perfectly clear: They are not human beings. For, if they were human beings, they would have a claim on human rights. If they had a claim on human rights, then abortion really would be murder. If abortion really is murder, then no one can possibly justify the practice, not even as a matter of choice.

     Consider: Can a woman simply choose to kill her toddler? Is there a more vile crime in the canon of evil? How can murder possibly be just a choice? (And as for that, if it wasn’t rape, she had a choice.) No matter—in the United States, since 1973 we have sheltered 50 million Medeas among us.

     The Romans, at least, were perfectly honest about both abortion and infanticide. The main difference was in placing the absolute right of decision with the father rather than the mother. For long periods of Roman history, a newborn infant would be brought to the father and placed at his feet. If he picked up the child, he accepted it into his family. If he did not, then the child was exposed. It was a simple and honest procedure, without all the moral legerdemain now required. Today in our Republic, the father has nothing whatsoever to say about the procedure. Instead, it is wholly up to the mother, who may kill her child or not as she pleases. Like a Roman paterfamilias, she need not even offer reasons for her choice. Unlike a Roman, though, if she chooses death instead of life, she will no doubt embrace the illogic of the Left that somehow deduces a human fetus is other than human.

     So, here is where we may find an explanation for the slight chilling of enthusiasm for the abortion agenda. If a fetus is not human, what is it? Because it superficially resembles other species in early stages, are we to conclude that it really has no more claim to human rights than a fish? “But it cannot feel pain.” That is debatable. “It does not have conscious awareness.” Neither does a sleeping two-month-old. Why not chloroform inconvenient newborns while they’re asleep? They’ll never wake up. They’ll never feel pain. If the mother does not choose to keep them, what right have they to inconvenience her lifestyle?

     In the end, this is the logic of the Left on abortion. It is so absurd, that perhaps—just perhaps—a politically significant fraction of the public has rejected it. At one point, a majority of Americans supported slavery. Our hope is that the shrinking consensus in favor of abortion will continue to wither, that abortion will go the way of slavery as an unmitigated evil that tarnished an otherwise noble culture.


  1. I think the most dominant argument from the left is about the rights of the mother, and when the fetus has any inherent rights of its own.

    I've heard the pain and consciousness arguments too, but they've become more rare as technology improves. Neither can be used to justify third trimester abortions.

  2. Greetings, I have recently discovered your blog. I have not done sufficient research on the various topics to know for sure if this is a place to park from time to time. I believe I share many of your opinions. I was conservative christian and republican for many years. Were I still active in politics, I would be comfortable in the Tea Party Movement....ashamed to say that now, however. I have left christianity thanks to Dawkins, Dennett, Shermer, Hitchens, Hume, Ingersoll, and others. I am still Republican but my thinking on many of the issues is also evolving. I am pro-abortion as long as it is early, and I am not sure what that means, but I know science is showing us more and more that there is a life at stake here, and as one is who determined to help "the least of these." I believe abortion should be rare, safe, and accessible at least through the 2nd trimester. I am not hard and fast on this as I left the fundamental camp a while ago, but that is where I am currently.

    I have lived in Asia these last 5 years and their society wrapped in the humble robe of Buddhism has impressed me. The 8 Fold Path is as insightful as anything Jesus said. They also have a unique view on life and death that I find healthy. There is a certain stoicism with death needing none of the emotionalism often found in the West.

    I look forward to the continued dialogue.

    1. Glad you dropped by. I have found less and less time for blogging lately. At the same time, I have diminishing hope for conservative values. The failure of the Right to understand that it will continue losing elections as long as the Left remains in control of the institutions that form public opinion is obvious and poignant. Some on the Right insist that the 2010 election results are proof that the country remains center-right. They are wrong. The country is far to the left of where it used to be, and 2010 was about seniors fearing Obamacare would take away their Medicare.

      I share your favorable view of Buddhism, though as practiced it seems no less prone to superstitious gobbledygook than Christianity. On the whole, it might be a better place for a skeptic with religious impulses to come to rest.

      On abortion, the logic for me is very simple. A fetus is a human being. We are all just collections of cells. The difference that matters is that a fetus cannot defend itself. As for a woman's choice, well, if she wasn't raped, she had a choice. She chose to risk the consequences of her actions by engaging in intercourse in the first place. What the Left actually wants is to be free from the consequences of bad choices...but that's not just in the arena of abortion, is it?