T Nation

My Very Own Abortion Thread

This is mainly an argument aimed at conservatives and as far as I am aware it was first made by Rothbard in the “Ethics of Liberty”:

Let us assume, for discussions sake that an embryo was a human being with all inherent rights.

What is the nature of these rights? Are they positive, i.e. must they be provided by others, or negative, i.e. only need to be respected by others?

That is important distinction, because the same conservatives who would object to the idea that they are forced at gunpoint to provide for the needs of others, expect a mother to keep a child alive.

That child however only has the right to live, not to be kept alive at someone else´s expense.

Therefore, let us separate the child from the mother and see if it lives.

If it doesn´t, the child´s right to live was never violated, it could exercise that right if it had only the power to do so, alas it hasn´t. It basically is in the same position like a person dying of diseases or of old age.

So, the real question for a conservative is, how he can be against abortion and also against welfare when forcing a woman to keep a child alive she does not want basically is welfare?

Don’t make them think. They’ll just hurt themselves.

[quote]Makavali wrote:
Don’t make them think. They’ll just hurt themselves.[/quote]

thinking must hurt or else you don´t grow.

[quote]orion wrote:
Makavali wrote:
Don’t make them think. They’ll just hurt themselves.

thinking must hurt or else you don´t grow.

[/quote]

That doesn’t apply to morality - http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/magazine/13Psychology-t.html?pagewanted=all - which appears to be controlled by a different part of the brain.

[quote]orion wrote:

That child however only has the right to live, not to be kept alive at someone else´s expense.[/quote]

Would this same rule apply to a mother and her nine month old? Would she have no obligation to “keep alive” a nine month old that only really has the “right to live”?

If a woman can abort at 3 months from conception, why can’t she abort 3 months after birth, given the parameters of survival - the child is completely dependent on the mother - are the same?

[quote]Makavali wrote:

Don’t make them think. They’ll just hurt themselves.[/quote]

This, from the man that tried to pass off gay marriage in antiquity?

It’s not conservatives you should be worried about “hurting themselves” from “thinking”.

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:
orion wrote:

That child however only has the right to live, not to be kept alive at someone else´s expense.

Would this same rule apply to a mother and her nine month old? Would she have no obligation to “keep alive” a nine month old that only really has the “right to live”?

If a woman can abort at 3 months from conception, why can’t she abort 3 months after birth, given the parameters of survival - the child is completely dependent on the mother - are the same?
[/quote]

According to Rothbart she can decide not to care for the child, but that would be a case of neglect and not murder.

However, she has no right to force others not to care for the child either so hopefully someone else would do it.

He strictly distinguishes though between the rights of persons and their moral obligations.

If you let a child die because of neglect that is an immoral way of exercising your rights.

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:
orion wrote:

That child however only has the right to live, not to be kept alive at someone else´s expense.

Would this same rule apply to a mother and her nine month old? Would she have no obligation to “keep alive” a nine month old that only really has the “right to live”?

If a woman can abort at 3 months from conception, why can’t she abort 3 months after birth, given the parameters of survival - the child is completely dependent on the mother - are the same?
[/quote]

Exactly. This has been covered time and again in this forum. The child will not survive on it’s own for a pretty long time even after birth, so while we are rendering rights relative, we can just as easily do so with yours. Can we not force the mother to care for her child after it is born?

Anyway the child still has the negative right to life (its own), so the mother voluntarily aborting it (murder) violates that right. The negative right to life overrules her positive right to not be inconvenienced.

[quote]orion wrote:
This is mainly an argument aimed at conservatives and as far as I am aware it was first made by Rothbard in the “Ethics of Liberty”:

Let us assume, for discussions sake that an embryo was a human being with all inherent rights.

What is the nature of these rights? Are they positive, i.e. must they be provided by others, or negative, i.e. only need to be respected by others?

That is important distinction, because the same conservatives who would object to the idea that they are forced at gunpoint to provide for the needs of others, expect a mother to keep a child alive.

That child however only has the right to live, not to be kept alive at someone else´s expense.

Therefore, let us separate the child from the mother and see if it lives.

If it doesn´t, the child´s right to live was never violated, it could exercise that right if it had only the power to do so, alas it hasn´t. It basically is in the same position like a person dying of diseases or of old age.

So, the real question for a conservative is, how he can be against abortion and also against welfare when forcing a woman to keep a child alive she does not want basically is welfare?

[/quote]

I find it funny that generally people are against murder, but to kill what is potentially a human life is okay. I always ask the same question. What did the child do to deserve to die? It is natural for men and women to want and have sex, but who suffers the repercussions of an unwanted pregnancy? The child is killed and the parties that enjoyed the baby making go about their lives usually no worse off. How is that fair? I think it send a band message to the people of the world especially our youth that says you are not responsible for your actions.

It is also funny how people talk about war being unjust, how taking someones life other then self defense is wrong, but abortion is okay. That is strange logic to me.

[quote]orion wrote:

According to Rothbart she can decide not to care for the child, but that would be a case of neglect and not murder.[/quote]

If neglect leads to death, and you know it will produce death going in (as anyone would), how is it any different than actively killing the child?

And who cares what “Rothbart” thinks?

But this ignores the idea I raised above - why is terminating your child 3 months after conception because you don’t want to take care of the child not an “immoral way of exercising your rights”, but terminating a child 3 months after birth because you don’t want to take care of it is an “immoral way of exercising your rights”?

In either case, the child has only the negative “right to live” (your words). There are no “obligations” to take care of a child that has only the “right to live” because being taken care of is a positive right, so this malarkey about “obligations” makes no sense with your original argument.

[quote]Cortes wrote:
thunderbolt23 wrote:
orion wrote:

That child however only has the right to live, not to be kept alive at someone else´s expense.

Would this same rule apply to a mother and her nine month old? Would she have no obligation to “keep alive” a nine month old that only really has the “right to live”?

If a woman can abort at 3 months from conception, why can’t she abort 3 months after birth, given the parameters of survival - the child is completely dependent on the mother - are the same?

Exactly. This has been covered time and again in this forum. The child will not survive on it’s own for a pretty long time even after birth, so while we are rendering rights relative, we can just as easily do so with yours. Can we not force the mother to care for her child after it is born?

Anyway the child still has the negative right to life (its own), so the mother voluntarily aborting it (murder) violates that right. The negative right to life overrules her positive right to not be inconvenienced. [/quote]

And again.

The embryo is cleanly separated from his Mother. It is not killed in any way. If it lives, it lives.

That does not take anything away from its absolute right to live, it just removes the mother from the equation.

And a negative right can never overrule anything except an assault on that right, which is why it is a negative right.

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:
orion wrote:
This is mainly an argument aimed at conservatives and as far as I am aware it was first made by Rothbard in the “Ethics of Liberty”:

Let us assume, for discussions sake that an embryo was a human being with all inherent rights.

What is the nature of these rights? Are they positive, i.e. must they be provided by others, or negative, i.e. only need to be respected by others?

That is important distinction, because the same conservatives who would object to the idea that they are forced at gunpoint to provide for the needs of others, expect a mother to keep a child alive.

That child however only has the right to live, not to be kept alive at someone else´s expense.

Therefore, let us separate the child from the mother and see if it lives.

If it doesn´t, the child´s right to live was never violated, it could exercise that right if it had only the power to do so, alas it hasn´t. It basically is in the same position like a person dying of diseases or of old age.

So, the real question for a conservative is, how he can be against abortion and also against welfare when forcing a woman to keep a child alive she does not want basically is welfare?

I find it funny that generally people are against murder, but to kill what is potentially a human life is okay. I always ask the same question. What did the child do to deserve to die? It is natural for men and women to want and have sex, but who suffers the repercussions of an unwanted pregnancy? The child is killed and the parties that enjoyed the baby making go about their lives usually no worse off. How is that fair? I think it send a band message to the people of the world especially our youth that says you are not responsible for your actions.

It is also funny how people talk about war being unjust, how taking someones life other then self defense is wrong, but abortion is okay. That is strange logic to me. [/quote]

Read the argument again.

If an embryo is a human being, killing it is wrong.

We are not arguing about killing it, but about removing its life support system.

A right to live is respected by others by not killing you, but it does not mean that they are bound to feed you.

The embryo has a right to live, not to a cushy environment that is provided by others at gunpoint.

So, this completely consistent with an anti-aggressive war stance.

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:
orion wrote:

According to Rothbart she can decide not to care for the child, but that would be a case of neglect and not murder.

If neglect leads to death, and you know it will produce death going in (as anyone would), how is it any different than actively killing the child?

And who cares what “Rothbart” thinks?

However, she has no right to force others not to care for the child either so hopefully someone else would do it.

If you let a child die because of neglect that is an immoral way of exercising your rights.

But this ignores the idea I raised above - why is terminating your child 3 months after conception because you don’t want to take care of the child not an “immoral way of exercising your rights”, but terminating a child 3 months after birth because you don’t want to take care of it is an “immoral way of exercising your rights”?

In either case, the child has only the negative “right to live” (your words). There are no “obligations” to take care of a child that has only the “right to live” because being taken care of is a positive right, so this malarkey about “obligations” makes no sense with your original argument.[/quote]

It is Rothbard´s argument so what he thinks is kind of relevant.

He distinguishes between ethics, that more or less cover human interactions based on natural rights, and morality, which would be how you exercise your rights.

So, why he might find abortion and child neglect highly immoral, he would believe it to be unethical to stop you.

If the child is born, you, or anyone else, is perfectly free to step in and preserve the child´s live though.

[quote]orion wrote:

The embryo is cleanly separated from his Mother. It is not killed in any way. If it lives, it lives.

[/quote]

Umm, in what philosophical sphere is the child ever “cleanly separated from his Mother?”

So far as I know, it is sucked out limb by limb with a vaccuum hose.

Anyway your silly argument is still the same as arguing for infanticide. If the child is a human in the womb then nothing changes upon exit from the womb. So the mother can neither neglect it here nor there.

EDIT Reread your contortionist definition of “neglect.” It takes a special kind of sociopath to honestly believe that leaving a child to die when you know that it will certainly do so is somehow different from murder itself.

[quote]Cortes wrote:
orion wrote:

The embryo is cleanly separated from his Mother. It is not killed in any way. If it lives, it lives.

Umm, in what philosophical sphere is the child ever “cleanly separated from his Mother?”

So far as I know, it is sucked out limb by limb with a vaccuum hose.

Anyway your silly argument is still the same as arguing for infanticide. If the child is a human in the womb then nothing changes upon exit from the womb. So the mother can neither neglect it here nor there.[/quote]

That is not even an argument.

Or if there actually is one, you are basically pro welfare and cannot really protest when your government takes your money to feed starving children in Africa.

Because that is the exact same situation you put that woman in.

[quote]orion wrote:
Cortes wrote:
orion wrote:

The embryo is cleanly separated from his Mother. It is not killed in any way. If it lives, it lives.

Umm, in what philosophical sphere is the child ever “cleanly separated from his Mother?”

So far as I know, it is sucked out limb by limb with a vaccuum hose.

Anyway your silly argument is still the same as arguing for infanticide. If the child is a human in the womb then nothing changes upon exit from the womb. So the mother can neither neglect it here nor there.

That is not even an argument.

Or if there actually is one, you are basically pro welfare and cannot really protest when your government takes your money to feed starving children in Africa.

Because that is the exact same situation you put that woman in.[/quote]

See my edit. Ponder, too, the conservative stance on personal responsibility, and its bearings upon your “welfare” line of thinking.

Also, do you really believe what you are arguing, or you just like to have fun riling up the conservatives here?

[quote]orion wrote:
usmccds423 wrote:
orion wrote:
This is mainly an argument aimed at conservatives and as far as I am aware it was first made by Rothbard in the “Ethics of Liberty”:

Let us assume, for discussions sake that an embryo was a human being with all inherent rights.

What is the nature of these rights? Are they positive, i.e. must they be provided by others, or negative, i.e. only need to be respected by others?

That is important distinction, because the same conservatives who would object to the idea that they are forced at gunpoint to provide for the needs of others, expect a mother to keep a child alive.

That child however only has the right to live, not to be kept alive at someone else´s expense.

Therefore, let us separate the child from the mother and see if it lives.

If it doesn´t, the child´s right to live was never violated, it could exercise that right if it had only the power to do so, alas it hasn´t. It basically is in the same position like a person dying of diseases or of old age.

So, the real question for a conservative is, how he can be against abortion and also against welfare when forcing a woman to keep a child alive she does not want basically is welfare?

I find it funny that generally people are against murder, but to kill what is potentially a human life is okay. I always ask the same question. What did the child do to deserve to die? It is natural for men and women to want and have sex, but who suffers the repercussions of an unwanted pregnancy? The child is killed and the parties that enjoyed the baby making go about their lives usually no worse off. How is that fair? I think it send a band message to the people of the world especially our youth that says you are not responsible for your actions.

It is also funny how people talk about war being unjust, how taking someones life other then self defense is wrong, but abortion is okay. That is strange logic to me.

Read the argument again.

If an embryo is a human being, killing it is wrong.

We are not arguing about killing it, but about removing its life support system.

A right to live is respected by others by not killing you, but it does not mean that they are bound to feed you.

The embryo has a right to live, not to a cushy environment that is provided by others at gunpoint.

So, this completely consistent with an anti-aggressive war stance.[/quote]

So if I lock an adult in a cellar with no food or water, then I simply removed them from their life support system, right? No killing involved.

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:
Makavali wrote:

Don’t make them think. They’ll just hurt themselves.

This, from the man that tried to pass off gay marriage in antiquity?

It’s not conservatives you should be worried about “hurting themselves” from “thinking”.

[/quote]
She is not obliged to take care of the child. She can give it up for adoption. If the child dies in her care then she would be guilty of neglect.

The question you need to ask is whether you accept positive rights in all their glory all the time or only for “special” cases? How does a conservative distinguish which cases are “special”?

Edit:

Nevermind. Sorry, but this is the dumbest arguement for murder I’ve ever read.

[quote]tedro wrote:
So if I lock an adult in a cellar with no food or water, then I simply removed them from their life support system, right? No killing involved.[/quote]

Uhhhh… that is aggression and is immoral. You would be violating that person’s rights by removing his liberty.

A more apt corollary would be that you are free to step over a homeless man starving in the street and not give him any of your money to keep him “alive”. You did not infringe on his right to life. If he lives he lives.

You would certainly see the ethical side of the argument if an armed police officer forced you at gun point to give him one of your dollars.