Saturday, September 27, 2008

Is abortion about the freedom not to reproduce?

     I have seen claims by abortion-rights advocates that abortion rights are necessary because women should have the right to decide not to reproduce. Now, I will certainly agree that women (as well as men) should have the right to decide not to reproduce. However, this does not mean that I endorse a means to escape the consequences of voluntary actions. For example, if someone buys a car, he should have the right to expect that car to work. But if he decides to use the engine for target practice and then it fails to work, he no longer has the right of expectation. I support the right of people to remain celibate. I support birth control whole-heartedly. I even support the "morning after pill" because of the possibility of rape.
     Once someone has voluntarily taken a chance on an event, he no longer has the right to be excused from the event. So (with the exception of interpreting the "morning after pill" as a type of abortion) abortion is unnecessary to the right to decide not to reproduce. The particular argument (and, unfortunately, it seems to be a common one) is a complete red herring. The question most fitting is that of what rights/protections the zygot/blastocyte/embryo/fetus should have at each stage of development. Few people seem to want to address that except by decree.


Igor said...

I agree with your characterization of the "right to reproduce argument" as a poor one in support of abortion rights. However, according to such consequentialist reasoning, we should deny post-event help to people. Accordingly, someone who catches an STD should be refused medical treatment. Nor can you compare the consequence of shooting a car and having it malfunction to sex and pregnancy. First, pregnancy is a little more fact specific (failure of contraceptives, failed vasectomy, etc.) with varied degree of risk. Second, getting pregnant is frequently not a volitional act such as shooting a gun at your car.

Moreover, I submit that abortion is often one of the dire consequences of unwanted pregnancy, with certain inherent health risks, a hard decision for the mother, and pecuniary cost.

What i am trying to say, is that despite the extremes of the legalization of abortion as the ultimate choice, I believe there should be few restrictions thereon, with emphasis on good sex education and abortion as the last resort (rather than primary method of birth control). Ironically, religious right is vehemently against comprehensive sex education which will lower the need for abortions in this country and they dumb down a very complicated issue to "god said so."

Pvblivs said...


     Please note that I am not a big fan of the position of the self-proclaimed "religious right." I am inclined to think that any similarity between my position and theirs is entirely coincidental. An argument against abortion based on "too bad, so sad" is equally flawed. Here, I am only pointing out that, to handle the issue properly, one must consider that there is now another affected entity.
     I think you are reading a little more into my post than I intended. The voluntary action (in my mind) only invalidates the "automatic right" and subjects things to further consideration. In the issue of STDs, we would considering what rights the bacteria have. We seem to agree that bacteria have no rights and we kill them without a moment's thought. I do note, however, that no one as far as I am aware tries to pretend that bacteria aren't really alive as a means of justification.