Ethics of Abortion and Infanticide

Here is my opinion on abortion, part of which I had previously squirreled away in a comment and just rediscovered.

Does opposition to abortion depend on knowing “when human life begins”?

I don’t think it is a scientific question, because that would be too reductionistic. It would require identifying the “essence” or “ideal” of humanity, which is functionally the same project as in eugenics.

The desire to make “the beginning of life” a scientific question is the result of human vanity; that is, it is the desire to justify one’s decisions after the fact. (This is also seen in the justification of homosexuality as “genetic.”) The bottom line is that the individual wants to shirk responsibility for his or her decisions by appealing to some kind of determinism.

I say, just be honest about what you are doing, and then move on from there to assess the ethical consequences. Many other cultures are more straightforward about this and they just openly advocate infanticide. Anyone who is for abortion and against infanticide is either dishonest or purely utilitarian, but pure utilitarianism is generally frowned upon nowadays.

The desire to equate humans with animals, and human embryos as equivalent to animal embryos, fits squarely within the evolutionist paradigm. Of course, the conclusions are contradicted by the effort to extend human rights to animals, but not to human embryos. It also contradicts the 19th-century understanding of the evolutionary imperative to perpetuate the race (excepting, again, eugenic considerations).

In the final analysis, abortion rights are always justified by proponents as political activism in the name of feminism, which means giving the individual woman complete freedom of choice with no social context and no responsibility for consequences. Like most progressive political philosophies, it is corrupt and self-defeating.

At the state or local level, it should be regarded as a question of medical ethics, not civil rights. As a medical procedure, it is either necessary or not. If it is not necessary and it is elected by the mother, then she should be examined for sociopathic tendencies and treated accordingly. Even if a medical regulatory authority determines that they are going to allow it as an elective procedure, I think they are obligated to consider the mother’s state of mind, as with other extreme elective procedures, and offer various alternatives and social support.

With all that said, I still maintain that it is none of the federal government’s business, pro or con. Even if it is called murder, it is still a state or local matter.

Vox the Weasel and his Statist Followers

Here is the post by Vox Day where the commenters beat down a libertarian for suggesting that abortion should not be labeled murder. I don’t have a problem with conditionally labeling it murder, as long as it isn’t in the jurisdiction of the federal government and as long as the law is specified as ex post facto rather than a preventive measure.

It is unequivocally not “libertarian” to appeal to the federal government to compel the people you hate to behave in a certain way just to make you more comfortable with supporting the federal government. Moreover, as a preventive measure, an abortion ban could only be a regulation of medical practice, rather than a criminal statute aimed at abortionettes. A preventive measure aimed at the mother would require making the moment of conception the same moment when the child becomes a citizen of the State, and it would require taking the zygote into protective custody when necessary. But, you know, Statists would have no problem with continual surveillance of each person’s sexual activity in order to determine the exact moment of conception, followed by a surgical procedure to remove the zygote when it is one minute old.

Abortion can usually be equated with infanticide, as long as you acknowledge the historical context. Abortion is occasionally medically necessary to save the mother. In most cases, however, both abortion and infanticide have the same reasons:

  1. Unwanted children
  2. Social or psychological problems of the parents
  3. Birth control

All of these are problems to be overcome, not excuses. Abortion is not natural; natural abortion is called a miscarriage. To that extent, abortion that is not medically necessary for the mother is equivalent to infanticide, which is also not natural, but which is more common than the sentimentalists would have us believe. Deliberate abortion or infanticide is a technology used to solve particular problems.

Historically, the only reason infanticide was more popular than abortion is because the culling of unwanted children is usually dependent on something being “wrong” with the child, which could not be determined with much precision until recently. This covers any “problem” intrinsic to the child that can’t be dealt with socially or technologically. This is the reason for state-sponsored abortion or infanticide; modern-day abortions of genetically “defective” children in developed countries; and the preferential killing of female fetuses in some cultures. This is a reason why abortion should be regulated in some way, so that these kinds of “intractable” problems can be made explicit and possibly discounted as invalid.

Another reason for abortion is the parents’ social and psychological problems. It is hypocritical to oppose abortion without also providing some sort of social support and psychological counseling to parents. I think most abortions today in the US are due to this type of problem. I include financial problems in this category because most could be resolved with social support or counseling. Also, I would include solvable technological, medical, or healthcare problems in this category. Dealing with this category requires either strong family and church support, extensive nonprofit agency work, or comprehensive local government support. This is a reason for strict regulation of abortion as a medical procedure; how thoroughly it is banned should be proportional to how thoroughly this problem is addressed. Anyone who requests more than one abortion because of this type of problem falls into the third category.

I would say that the third reason for abortion is birth control. This is a stupid reason for abortion, but it depends on technology as well as the will and intelligence of the parents. Given the appropriate contraceptive technology, you are left with the problem of stupid people having sex. Trying to control this category would be the main reason for me to support defining abortion as murder. People in this category can’t be helped with social support or counseling; they were arguably one of the primary motivations for the eugenics movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as the progressives thought this was one type of person that should be sterilized.

The fact is that ethical positions on abortion and infanticide have varied over the centuries depending on how people have dealt with the three problems outlined above, and that had mostly to do with cultural and technological factors. For whatever reason, the inscrutable Vox Olympus chose not to present the historical account of abortion as distinct from infanticide. In its typically charming manner, the Roman Catholic church has no problem providing us with a post hoc rationalization of the history of their theological positions on abortion.

As you can tell, my position on abortion from the standpoint of Biblical doctrine is ambiguous; I might be best described as a skeptic of the need for abortion. (I totally reject the rights-based discourse on the subject.) It simply is not a divine command or a condition of salvation to define abortion as always murder from the moment of conception. But if in your un-Biblical, doctrinally unsupported, hypocritical, subjectivist, emotionally immature judgmentalism you want to see me condemned to hell for my opinion, you are certainly free to desire that. The dogmatically self-righteous rage that leads many Christians to adopt an un-Constitutional, totalitarian viewpoint on this subject is inversely proportional to their ability to find Biblical support for their thirst for vengeance.

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