RE: [lpsf-discuss] On abortion

I think it's the just about the only politically feasible position. However, I would still consider it murder, just murder that takes place out of the jurisdiction of our political life, sort of like murder done in another country. It's murder but the US government has no jurisdiction over the matter. Still, I would like to see the states' rights issue be brought more into the discussion. I think it's appropriate for communities to establish their own policies. Just like the Free State Project, I'd like for those who oppose abortion to be able to have a place where there values could be established for the community and flourish just like for those who want access to abortion. Roe vs Wade makes this problematic.


Back in AP Government class in 12th grade, one of our assignments was to
pick a current issue to present to the class. A couple of my classmates
(incidentally, both devout Catholics) made a very impressive argument that
the abortion issue has many parallels to the slavery issue:

1) A slaveholder owns his slaves and cannot be deprived of his property or
his dicision on what to do with his property. A woman owns her body
(including her womb and its contents) and cannot be deprived of her property
or her decision on what to do with her property.

2) Slavery is not a matter for the federal government. It's an issue of
states' rights. Abortion is not a matter for the federal government. It's
an issue of states' rights.

3) Africans aren't people. There's no scientific proof (in 1850) that they
have the same brain capacity or human will for self determination as whites.
Fetal humans aren't humans. There's no scientific proof (in 1994) that a
fetus constitutes human life.

4) Slavery will go away by itself naturally. As technology improves, slave
labor will not be sufficient, and well-paid educated workers will be
required. Abortion will go away by itself naturally. As education and
economics improve, effective family planning will become more pervasive, and
all who want to keep their babies will be able to afford to do so.

Yadda, yadda, yadda. They went on for the full 50 minute class and filled
the chalkboard with arguments. Anyway, my point is that, even though these
two kids were personally motivated by religion, they didn't have to resort
to "G_d's Word" to equate abortion with slavery, which most agree was
rightly outlawed by the federal government (though many libertarians I've
spoken with still believe vehemently in argument number 4).

In my campaign for Supervisor, when the Women's Political Committee
representative kept grilling me during the SF Young Democrats candidates'
forum for my personal position on abortion, I refused to give her my own
view. I pointed out that Libertarians are split on this issue, as are
members of all the parties I've ever heard of, and I explained the whole
"Liberty of the Mother" versus "Life of the Baby" libertarian argument. I
also kept hammering home that _MY OPINION DOESN'T MATTER, SINCE I, AS A
repeat that same sentence in eight different variations for her to finally
stop asking. But I still think that it's the best strategy for Mike or any
other pro-life Libertarian local candidate to follow in this
ultra-pro-choice town of ours. Short of just lying about your position,
this is simply a no-win topic for any pro-life candidate.

That's why I was pleading in an earlier e-mail for us to not make this an
LPSF issue. Neither our local party nor our local candidates can make any
difference in abortion policy, so why create this political vulnerability
for any of our candidates?


I don't agree with the analogy between fertilized
human eggs (opinion nowadays) with African people
(circa 1850).

People in 1850 who defended slavery quoted from the
Bible to defend slavery, which means that Americans
who defended slavery were very aware of the Bible.
Pro-slavery Americans did not argue that Africans
weren't fully human. Everyone knew Africans were
fully human. Pro-slavery Americans argued that
Africans were descendants of Ham, one of Noah's 3
sons. The Old Testament said all of Ham's descendants
were cursed because of their father's behavior, and
therefore God had ordained that Ham's descendants
should be servants of other humans.

Pro-slavery Americans also used the Bible to defend
slavery, by pointing out that slavery was common in
the Roman Empire, and Paul and other early Christians
didn't seem to object to it.

People in 1850 knew that African people were full
human beings, because of a strong tradition that one
of Jesus' disciples, Phillip, was African.

Slave-owners in the U.S. south lived in fear of slave
revolts. Slave-owners knew that slaves were likely to
be just as crafty, intelligent, and capable, as the
slave-owners themselves. Slave-owners knew about
Frederick Douglass, and other educated
African-Americans (such as Bannister, surveyor of
Washington, D.C.). Americans knew about Toussaint,
who had freed Haiti and defeated Napolean's armed
forces doing so.
Americans knew the works of Shakespeare, including
Othello, an African who was general of the Venetian
armed forces on Cyprus.

No one today really believes that a newly-fertilized
egg is as precious as a human being who has been born,
or a fetus that is at least 6 months old. If people
really thought that a newly-fertilized egg is a
creature with the same intrinsic value as a born human
or a fetus that is at least 6 months old, then people
would think it a terrible calamity that nature herself
routinely kills off over half of all newly-fertilized
eggs within a few days of their creation. People
would be demanding research into this phenomenon, in
order to be able to stop this natural process. But,
in reality, everyone (on both sides of the abortion
issue) just accepts it. Even Doris Gordon told me it
doesn't bother her.

Gosh, those 1850 folks were smart. Because, even in the 1990s, a little
book called "The Bell Curve" sold amazingly well by arguing that Africans
were not as fully evolved and therefore not as intelligent as Caucasians,
based on so-called academic research from as late as the 1970s. The topic
was even debated by the American Psychological Association:

Just because, based on the evidence you cited, pro-slavery Americans SHOULD
have known that blacks were every bit as evolved and fully human as whites,
does not mean that they ACTUALLY DID know this. Some still question the
overwhelming scientific proof. Believe me. I'm from Tennessee. I went to
college with and even took a class or two from people who aren't as
enlightened as the slave-owners you mentioned.

Furthermore, as an atheist-leaning agnostic, I tend to ignore any and all
religious arguments about what government policy ought to be. (Ham to me is
something that goes well with biscuits.) The whole reason I posted that
third argument was to point out that we do not yet have scientific proof of
exactly when human life actually starts, just as there wasn't any good
science regarding race and intelligence in 1850.

You know, I really hate discussing this issue. I've never, ever, in my
entire life, heard of someone changing their opinion after hearing this
debate (though getting into trouble and "needing" an abortion tends to
convert pro-lifers, and actually having an abortion or finding religion
tends to convert pro-choicers). I just don't think that this is a good
Libertarian issue on either side of the debate. I don't expect to "convert"
anyone with this message or my previous one. I'm only writing to try to get
the point across that there actually do exist smart, rational people who
don't have to rely on the "supernatural" to disagree that abortion is
consistent with libertarian ideals. This is why I don't want the
Libertarian Party to be associated with either side of the abortion debate.
We'll never agree on this issue, so why waste our time and effort on it?
We've got a governor being recalled, and no LP candidate lined up to run in
the election. Isn't that a more important topic to discuss?

That's a very insightful point. I think the paradox might be partially explained by this quote:

"Fundamentalism isn't about religion, it's about power."
- Salmon Rushdie

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