Thursday, June 4, 2009

Radical leftists against abortion?

Is 'pro-life' actually a radical leftist position? An anonymous comment left on Rall's Search and Destroy blog (which is on my blog roll):

It saddens me that conservatives somehow co-opted the whole pro-life position.

One of the core concepts that drew me to progressive and liberal politics was the idea of protecting the rights of the "little guy," standing up for the individual against the oppressive momentum of the wealthy elite and corporate interestes.

With that in mind, who among is us more helpless, more in need of an advocate, than an unborn child? An unborn child is so weak and needy that it literally cannot live without the biological support of the mother. It has no way to speak on its behalf, little way to even show the outside world that it exists.

To me, supporting pro-choice policies is absolutely incompatible with the idea that we should be protecting and standing up for the weak among us. The hungry and homeless need our help, but they can also get up, move around, and act on their own behalf to some degree. An unborn child has none of these abilities, and completely relies on others to protect it..

..I often find myself in a lonely, lonely world as a pro-life progressive liberal. However, in my heart, I know this is the just cause, and I will continue to fight to give voice to those without one of their own.


There are radical leftists who take the same stance (see here and here).

I guess my own approach to the issue is kind of similar to Anthony Gregory's.

12 comments:

Neverfox said...

"Those who oppose all aggression and murder can, consistently with the rest of their philosophy, regard abortion as utterly immoral...it is perfectly consistent and libertarian to adamantly oppose abortion"

How can one be libertarian and adamantly oppose self-defense? This view treats self-defense as morally equivalent to aggression. To hold this position causes libertarianism to collapse in on itself as Dr. Long explains:

"But if coercion is never justified, even against aggressors, then the distinction between the two sorts of moral claim vanishes: neither of my unfortunate neighbors may legitimately use coercion to enforce his claim against me. But what makes a moral claim a right rather than something else is precisely the fact that coercion may be used to enforce it. Whoever endorses radical pacifism, then, is committed to denying that anyone has any rights — a rather odd position for a libertarian to be in!"

The usual follow-up argument is that how can a pregnancy be considered aggression without intent. The answer is easy: there is no requirement for aggression to involve intent. If someone wanders onto your property accidentally, are you not allowed to consider them a trespasser?

And what of consensual pregnancy? Again, the answer is easy: people must maintain consent at each moment. To be free, they can't be bound by previous consent or they would be a slave.

Yes, abortion results in death. Does that make it disproportional response? Well, there is not currently a technology to have any response more proportional to the aggression of using the woman's body against her will. If there were such a technology, then things might change.

anarcho-"mercantilist" said...

The legitimacy of abortion should have nothing to do with your interpretation of the non-aggression and the proportionality principle. The non-aggression principle can have potentially arbitrary interpretations.

The genuine causes of the abortion controversy arise from religion, empathy, and the definition of life.

Referring to the non-aggression principle constitutes as a type of cognitive dissonance. Judges, for example, use the law to legitimize their evil decrees. They have the power to interpret the law in any biased way, even though the law appears "objective" to the general population.

Legitimizing morality in the name of "it confirms/violates the non-aggression principle" is an appeal to the rule of law. It does not state any reason of the immorality itself, but an appeal to the law of non-aggression. It also begs the question if specific acts violate the non-aggression principle.

Andrew said...

I have to agree with Neverfox. Whether or not the "unborn baby" is alive is totally irrelevant. "Unborn babies" are parasites and if the mother does not want one in her body, she should not be forced to support one.

Rothbard touched on this argument in For A New Liberty:
"Most discussion of the issue [of abortion] bogs down in minutiae about when human life begins, when or if the fetus can be considered to be alive, etc. All this is really irrelevant to the issue of the legality (again, not necessarily the morality) of abortion. The Catholic antiabortionist, for example, declares that all that he wants for the fetus is the rights of any human being—i.e.,
the right not to be murdered. But there is more involved here, and this is the crucial consideration. If we are to treat the fetus as having the same rights as humans, then let us ask: What human has the right to remain,
unbidden, as an unwanted parasite within some other human being’s body? This is the nub of the issue: the absolute right of every person and hence every woman, to the ownership of her own body. What the mother
is doing in an abortion is causing an unwanted entity within her body to be ejected from it: If the fetus dies, this does not rebut the point that no being has a right to live, unbidden, as a parasite within or upon some person’s body" (p. 107).

anarcho-"mercantilist" said...

"Unborn babies" are parasites and if the mother does not want one in her body, she should not be forced to support one.

I have an objection. It depends on your definition of "parasite."

Aging can also be considered a parasite. So does cancer. If cancer is a parasite, does it give any right for the patient to steal money from a rich person for his treatment? It is a type of theft against the rich person.

Anti-abortionists consider fetuses as living beings. Like the cancer patent, the mother does not have any right to murder against another person, the fetus.

However, I do not oppose abortion. I am making a point that the non-aggression principle and laws can have potentially arbitrary interpretations, and could possibly justify any evil behavior.

Andrew said...

AM: Your "cancer" scenario is not a sensible objection. The reason the mother of an "unborn baby" should be allowed to get an abortion is because the baby *is* the parasite. The reason the cancer patient should not be allowed to steal from a "rich person" is because the rich person is *not* the parasite.

Cork said...

And what of consensual pregnancy? Again, the answer is easy: people must maintain consent at each moment. To be free, they can't be bound by previous consent or they would be a slave.

I'm going to play devil's advocate here, and ask: doesn't the same apply for any infant or young child? Few people (with the exception of Rothbard) believe child neglect or abandonment is ok.

If someone wanders onto your property accidentally, are you not allowed to consider them a trespasser?

If he's on my property because I invited him, then perhaps not.

anarcho-"mercantilist" said...

"The reason the cancer patient should not be allowed to steal from a "rich person" is because the rich person is *not* the parasite."

That is a common objection, but it still depends on the your interpretation of "parasite."

You agree that life is more valuable than property. The rich person can be interpreted as a kind of "parasite" you allow the person to be rich at the expense of killing someone. The rich person could just donate his money on the condition that the mother does not abort the child. So the rich person is causing the mother the kill her child by not donating to the mother. Therefore, you are valuing the rich person's property greater that you value the fetus's life. You do not support subsidizing the mother giving birth instead of aborting her child.

The law forbids murder and rape. Therefore, the would-be murderers and the would-be rapists cannot satisfy their preferences. The would-be victims of murder and rape are technically "parasites" in a sense, because we our preferences for life and against rape are brought about the expense of the preferences of the murderers and rapists. The victims of rape and murder are parasites in a sense and the murderers and rapists are the "victims" in a sense.

So do laws that forbid petty crimes such as adultery. Suppose a wife has cheated on her husband with another man. The wife, here, can both be a victim and a predator. She is a "victim" of the in the sense that the anti-adultery law does not grant her the liberty to cheat on her husband, then punished for it. She is an predator in a sense since she violated the adultery law and that she has angered her husband.

So the rich person can technically be interpreted as a parasite, in a sense. The enforcement of property rights have positive effects on the intelligent and the productive people, at the expense of the unproductive, the lazy, and the dim-witted people. Since the rich person is rich because of property rights, he is a parasite to the poor people. And, because, the enforcement of "property rights" is just a law that makes some more productive at the expense of others, it can form parasites and the exploited: The enforcement of property rights exploit the mentally incompetent, the disabled people, and the unproductive people.

My point is that the rich person can be interpreted as a "parasite" in a sense, depending on one's self-knowledge. But we have to go back to my original point is that it is circular reasoning to justify laws from the non-aggression principle. It begs the question.

Andrew said...

AM: You're stretching the definition of parasite rather broadly and arbitrarily. A parasite is an entity that takes something it's not entitled to, not someone who withholds something that others are not entitled to.

Nitroadict said...

>Andrew: "You're stretching the definition of parasite rather broadly and arbitrarily."

That might be AM's point, however. Other people, especially johnny come latley's that would be the result of a said majority of people in a society abiding by the NAP (of which, others might eventually join), may interpret the NAP a different way, & percieve parasitism with a different meaning.

>AM: "My point is that the rich person can be interpreted as a "parasite" in a sense, depending on one's self-knowledge. But we have to go back to my original point is that it is circular reasoning to justify laws from the non-aggression principle. It begs the question."

As much as I think the NAP is a great concept, circuluar reasoning could be a problem. I think his argument is a good one.

anarcho-"mercantilist" said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anarcho-"mercantilist" said...

"A parasite is an entity that takes something it's not entitled to, not someone who withholds something that others are not entitled to."

Yes, I agree that I used an overly broad meaning of "parasite." However, I am fully justified to use the broad meaning of it.

If reject the distinction between positive and negative liberty. Someone's positive liberty is a violation of another's negative liberty, and vice versa. A parasite, by definition, denotes a violation of someone's "negative liberty." However, because I reject the distinction between positive and negative liberty, I can use a parasite as a thing that violates someone's positive liberty.

For example, the fetus has a "positive liberty," which the mother denies through the act of abortion. Because I reject the positive/negative distinction, I can also say that the fetus has a "negative liberty" to live.

That's my main argument against the definition of parasite. I think I gave too much examples previously, without qualifying my point. My bad.

"As much as I think the NAP is a great concept, circuluar reasoning could be a problem. I think his argument is a good one."

Yes. That was my main point. So as long as you agree with this, you can forget the examples of rape, murder, and adultery.

Andrew said...

Just as a btw, I made a post about the abortion issue on my blog: http://privilegeistheft.blogspot.com/2009/06/libertarianism-and-abortion.html

AM: I don't think that it's possible to reject the distinction between positive and negative liberty without creating unresolvable conflicts.