Pragmatically pro-life

In an article “Libertarians Realizing Rand Paul Is Not One of Them“, there was an interesting section on Paul’s extreme anti-abortion views.  The quotes from the article are originally found in this Reason.com article by Jacob Sullum.  Rand Paul supports “any and all legislation that would end abortion or lead us in the direction of ending abortion,” including “a Human Life Amendment and a Life at Conception Act as federal solutions to the abortion issue.”

Part of the power of the pro-life position is in its rhetorical positioning of supporting “life,” and of course it sounds good to say “life begins at conception.”   There’s even rhetorical power in claiming that “abortion is murder” and that all such procedures should be banned — but what does it PRACTICALLY mean to hold such positions?

Sullum quotes this report by Ari Armstrong:

The logical conclusion of abortion bans is that government agents should forcibly restrain women to prevent them from getting abortions. After all, if abortion is murder, as advocates of abortion bans routinely claim, then driving down the street to obtain an abortion is morally and legally equivalent to driving down the street with a loaded shotgun to blow your neighbor’s head off. Police have every right to arrest and forcibly restrain threatening individuals. If abortion is murder, then a woman who declares her intent to get an abortion has threatened murder and must be strapped down if necessary to ensure delivery.

But a fertilized egg is not a person. A fertilized egg does not properly have the legal rights of a born infant. Abortion is not murder. Women have every right to take birth control drugs or obtain an abortion. Abortion bans place a woman’s body under the control of the government and threaten to unleash a heavy-handed police state.

This is the tack I like take when I’m talking to people who are anti-choice — mainly because I think it’s important for anyone to be able to recognize the logical outcomes of the position you hold.

I also like to point people to this NYTimes article Pro-Life Nation, that describes the quality of “life” for women in the country of El Salvador (the only country in the world whose Constitution codifies “life begins at conception”).

I’m not out to change people’s minds when it comes to this issue — but I am out to make sure people understand the reality behind the rhetoric they’re spouting.

One thought on “Pragmatically pro-life”

  1. Glad to see you are reading reason.com and quoting an objectivist. I agree with
    most of objectivis myself but abortion where I have some problems. I can agree that a fertalized egg is not a human being but I can’t draw the line at birth like I believ ari Armstrong would. Defining a fetus as a human being when the umbilical cord is cut seems a bit arbitrary and out of date with how modern science has informed us on the development of a baby in the womb. I guess I would tend to draw the line at the end of the first trimester.

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