President Obama is widely regarded as the most pro-abortion President in history, and his public record supports this viewpoint. I, on the other hand, do not favor abortion in most circumstances. So it may surprise many readers to hear that President Obama and I actually agree on the most fundamental question raised by the abortion controversy.
Unlike those small-minded zealots who rage against abortion based on religious grounds – people who Progressives like to dismiss as being mired in superstition and magical thinking – I base my objections to abortion purely on reason and logic, tempered, of course, by my study of human behavior and human history. So it really should not be so surprising that my reasoning about abortion is not so very different from the reasoning of Progressives on abortion, since Progressives insist that their political and economic philosophy is also based on pure reason and logic. And thus, it also follows that my thoughts on abortion might have much in common with the thinking about abortion of the Progressive-in-Chief.
People who have read my book, “Open Wide and Say Moo!” (both of you) will know that my major objection to Obamacare is that it systematically destroys the autonomy of the individual in America, within the healthcare system and everywhere else. Among other things, it forcefully eliminates individual choice in making healthcare decisions. In other words, in every area of healthcare except abortion, Obamacare is anti-choice. Why this inconsistency when it comes to abortion?
In a similar vein, a few readers have now complained to me that my own anti-abortion views are glaringly incompatible with my overall “pro-choice in healthcare” message. How can I be “anti-choice” regarding abortion, and pro-choice everywhere else? Am I being disingenuous, insincere, or just plain stupid?
As it turns out, the reason that both Progressives and certain non-Progressives (such as myself) display a similar apparent disconnect between their pro-choice/anti-choice views in general, and their specific pro-choice/anti-choice views when it comes to abortion, is the same reason.
It has to do with this fact – at some point in time during the creation of a new human life, a new human life is created. And at that point (whenever we decide what that point is), that new human life is endowed with the same rights as any other human life. When that point is reached, we ought not to allow some other entity to act in such a way as to arbitrarily terminate this new human’s natural right to life, liberty, etc. Even Progressives agree with this (or, at least, if they do not agree with it they are unwilling to say so publicly).
Since we all agree (or are unwilling to say that we do not agree) that before a new human life exists a woman has a perfect right to do what she wishes with her own body, but that after a human life exists she only has that right to the extent that she does not infringe upon the natural rights which nature endows to that new life, then the crux of the problem is to define when it is, during the course of the creation of a human life, that a new human life is deemed to be present.
The most conservative definition of human life is when the egg becomes fertilized, and a new entity is created that has a genetic composition distinct from that of the mother. Prior to that, no new entity existed. After that, further distinctions are a matter of degree.
My entirely-non-religious argument against abortion is that the moment we allow our Experts to establish a less conservative definition of when a human life is present and when it is not, our Experts will necessarily be establishing that definition arbitrarily. And whatever logic they may use to determine what does and what does not constitute human life can be – and, based upon a study of human behavior, eventually will be – extended to many other categories of what most of us would consider today to be part of humanity. It is simply my contention that we ought to opt for a conservative definition of “human life” because anything else too easily bleeds into a definition that might exclude live babies, or toddlers, or Old Farts, or disabled people, or demented people, or fat people. These things have already happened within recent memory, and even though we’re Americans, I believe that they could happen again if we are not vigilant. So, I say again, my objection to abortion is entirely logical, that logic being further informed by the disturbing history of Progressivism over the past 120 years.
For readers who think I might be overly concerned about what might follow from a more liberal definition of human life than I have proposed, I will remind you of a recent article, published by two medical ethicists earlier this year in the Journal of Medical Ethics, entitled, “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” Here is the authors’ abstract:
“Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.”
These earnestly Progressive ethicists, in other words, propose to allow parents to kill their young children for any reason they might have invoked to abort that child prior to birth – that is, for any reason at all. The key point being made by these ethicists is that, by whatever reasoning a fetus can be considered a non-person, so can an infant, and perhaps even a toddler. And, while they do not say so, so can several other kinds of human life that may not meet their definition of “personhood.”
We should note that these ethicists were not attempting to be particularly provocative, but were merely producing (for the purposes of advancing their academic careers, most likely) yet another scholarly article that simply takes the next, entirely logical and completely unremarkable step in Progressive thought on the matter. Indeed, according to subsequent news reports, these ethicists were entirely stunned and very disturbed by the firestorm of anger their article produced. I mean, who the heck reads the Journal of Medical Ethics?
In any case, it turns out that it is regarding this very issue – that is, in being very, very careful about where we draw the line between human and non-human life – where, I have discovered, my reasoning on the matter turns out to be very similar to the reasoning of none other than President Obama. In a later post I will show exactly how this remarkable happenstance is true.
DrRich explains it all in Open Wide and Say Moo! The Good Citizen’s Guide to Right Thoughts and Right Actions Under Obamacare
Now available in the audiobook version!