A blog about libertarian politics and radical political theory, focusing on political philosophy and theory, constitutional law, civil liberties, civil rights, labor law, taxation and budgets, U.S.-Israeli foreign policy, U.S. electoral politics and election statistics, anarchism, and other topics.
On Saturday, December 17th, 2016,
CBS News aired “Blaming Melissa”, an episode of its investigative report series
entitled 48 Hours. Reporter Erin Moriarty hosted the episode. “Blaming
Melissa” has been described as a hit piece by members of “Free Melissa
Calusinski”, a Facebook group dedicated to proving the woman’s innocence.1
Calusinski is currently serving a
31-year prison term at Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln, Illinois. She was
convicted of first-degree murder in the January 14th, 2009 death of
toddler Benjamin Kingan.
In Illinois, a conviction of
first-degree murder requires that the prosecution demonstrate that the
defendant “killed an individual without lawful justification”, and either
“intended to kill or do great bodily harm (or knew that the act would do so),
Knew that the act created a strong probability of causing death of great bodily
harm; or Was attempting or committed a forcible felony other that second degree
She, her sister Crystal Calusinski, and
Nancy Kallinger, worked at a day care center in Lincolnshire, Illinois, named “Minee
Subee in the Park”. Melissa was an assistant teacher at the facility.3
The day care center has since closed, following a $2 million settlement with
On September 30th, 2016, a
judge in Lake County, Illinois rejected a request to overturn Calusinski’s
conviction.4 Melissa was 22 years old when Kingan died; she is now
30 years old. If she serves her entire sentence, she will be in her early
fifties when she becomes a free woman.
What follows is a list of facts which,
in the opinion of this author, suggest Melissa Calusinski’s innocence in the
case, and point to her confession having been coerced.
Note: some of these facts do not
directly point to Calusinski’s innocence; but rather merely suggests oversights
in the prosecution. Point #21 explains a detail about the civil case between
the Kingan family and the day care center, and has nothing to do with the guilt
or innocence of Calusinski on an individual basis.
1. Calusinski had a low verbal I.Q., in
the bottom 4%.3
2. Calusinski had been teased as a youth
for her low comprehension skills.5
3. Calusinski was described as having an
“extreme vulner having "
- Interrogated without an attorney present ability to suggestion”.5
4. Calusinski was described by her
attorney Kathleen Zellner as “unsophisticated about her legal rights”3.
She was interrogated without an attorney present, and “never asked for a
5. After she had confessed, Calusinski asked
interrogators whether the incident would go on her criminal record, which
suggests that she didn’t understand how serious the charge was.5
Calusinski was also described as believing that she would be allowed to go home
when the interrogation concluded.
6. Although Calusinski had the right to
leave the room during the interrogation (because she agreed to be interviewed),
she claims that she was locked inside the room while detectives were outside. Calusinski
stated, “They would leave and lock the door, and lock me in there”.3
7. Calusinski was interrogated
off-and-on for somewhere between eight and ten hours (according to various, and
somewhat conflicting, reports); from roughly 9:30 A.M. to 7 P.M. on January 16th,
20097; two days after Kingan died at 4:30 P.M. on January 14th,
2009. Most interrogations do not last anywhere near that long; most last only
several hours at the longest.
8. Calusinski was deprived of food
during the interrogation.8
9. Calusinski was deprived of restroom breaks
during the interrogation.8
10. When Calusinski entered the
interrogation room, she stated that she had “barely slept” during the two days
between Kingan’s death and the interrogation.5
11. Calusinski was interrogated seated, confined to a 9” x
12” interrogation room, backed into a corner by two males – Lake Zurich,
Illinois police department detectives Sean Curran and George Filenko9
– both of them older and larger than Calusinski.
12. Defense attorney Kathleen Zellner
said police “got in her face, yelling expletives and slamming their fists”.5
13. Calusinski denied her guilt at least 79 times before confessing.
14. Calusinski has stated that she can’t
explain why she confessed, nor why she demonstrated slamming Kingan to the
ground during the interrogation.3
15. Despite having stated that she can’t
explain her confession, Calusinski also told reporters that during the
interrogation she was “terrified”; saying “They don’t know what I was put
through in order for me to confess”.7 She also stated that she was
“emotionally exhausted” at the time.7
16. The detectives who interrogated
Calusinski arguably insisted to her that she was guilty (“he starts acting up
and you get mad at him and you throw him on the floor”) because “something else
must have happened”, and “that story you’re giving us is a load of shit”, and
“that’s a bunch of lies”.3 Several of the interrogation methods used
by the detectives parallel components of a controversial interrogation
technique known as the Reid Technique.
17. Before confessing (six hours into
the interrogation), Calusinski stated that Kingan “kind of almost slipped when
I dropped him. And then he hit the chair”. 3 Calusinski “says she
was putting Ben down, close to the ground on his tiptoes. “I thought he was
going to stand,” she told the investigator. She said he fell and hit his head.”6
18. Reporter Ruth Fuller called
Calusinski’s confession the “most troubling confession” she’d ever seen.5
19. According to their testimony, no
workers at the day care center ever saw Melissa Calusinski become frustrated,
nor angry, at the children in her care.5
that she didn’t hear any screaming, nor crying, at the time of the incident.5
21. Two teachers (Melissa Calusinski and
Nancy Kallinger) were present in the room at the time of the injury; which
fulfilled Illinois’s requirement that two teachers be present in the room
whenever there are more than five children.3 This means the day care
center shouldn’t have been held liable, as it was complying with the regulation,
at least at the time of the second injury (sustained on January 14th,
2009). However, Melissa Calusinski stated that she was alone in the room when
she realized that Kingan was unresponsive;10 so holding the center
liable may have been appropriate.
22. Day care workers showed the bump
from Kingan’s previous injury to his mother. Prosecutor Steve Scheller stated, “The
pediatrician actually examined Benjamin’s head, had felt around… said there was
no issues that she felt needed to be addressed, that mom should just keep an
eye on him”.5
23. Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd
stated that the previous injury could have “easily” caused Kingan’s death two
months later, even without a second injury.5
24. Head injuries sometimes cause
vomiting; prosecutors attributed the vomiting to a stomach bug,5
although it’s unclear whether there is evidence to support the claim that
Kingan was still suffering from such an ailment in the day or two leading up to his death, following his apparent recovery from his stomach bug after taking Pedialyte.
25. State pathologist Dr. Eupil Choi
crossed out the word “significant” in an affidavit about the head injury which
Kingan sustained in October 2008.5
26. Prosecutor Matthew deMartini called
the previous injury “microscopic”, while Thomas Rudd disagrees, saying that the
injury was visible to the naked eye.5
27. Prosecutors downplayed and
suppressed evidence of Kingan’s previous injury, but conceded that the previous
injury occurred, but said it was “too small to matter”.5
28. Some attributed the abnormal rate of
growth of Kingan’s head (during the last several months of his life) to normal
growth, while others attributed this growth to swelling of the brain.5
29. Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd
stated that Kingan was a head-banger, which if true could have made his
previous head injury worse.5 Nancy Kallinger said Kingan threw his
head back slightly, twice, shortly before he died.
30. Lake County, Illinois has a
reputation of being reluctant to admit to falsely convicting the accused, in
order to prevent the government from losing money in payouts to convicts.5
1. “Free Melissa Calusinski”,
Facebook.com, accessed December 18th, 2016
Written between Mid-November and December 5th,
Edited on January 19th and 29th, 2017
The following four
paragraphs contain the description of a political study group which I created
and administer on Facebook in November 2016, entitled “Basic Income & Tax
Income & Tax Reform (formerly Give Me My Money) is a study group promoting
radical tax reform alongside cash payments to the poor.
This is a group to bring together
(1) the Negative Income Tax,
(2) the FairTax,
(3) Citizens' and Residents' Dividends,
(4) Sovereign Wealth Funds and Permanent
(5) Universal / Unconditional Basic Income
(6) extensions of the Earned Income Tax
(7) expansions of ordinary people's tax
deductions for expenses of care.
We believe that serious discussion of
taxation reform, environmental policy reform, and welfare reform must take into
consideration the need to take an integrated and comprehensive approach to
these three issues. Reforms which must take place alongside our proposals
include reforms to property rights, natural resource extraction, homesteading,
and the budget.
We look forward to building coalitions with
libertarian-leaning and progressive Democrats, moderate and libertarian-leaning
Republicans, third parties and independents, Georgists, anarchist and direct
action groups, and others.
Basic Income & Tax Reform desires to help lift the
poor out of poverty (and remove poverty traps in the welfare system) while creating
an economic environment more conducive to investment and savings (whether
domestic or international) through less
government intervention, not more; with redistributive taxation and involuntary
taxation used only as last resorts. The types of tax proposals which we deem
most necessary and proper, as well as urgent, are proposals which provide tax
relief to the poor, while refraining from hindering productive behavior.
Proposals in include 1) extensions of the Earned Income
Tax Credit (E.I.T.C.); 2) repeals of non-luxury sales taxes; 3) curbing
inflation – through balancing the budget and paying off the debt – in order to
lower what effectively amounts to the taxation of savings, which discourages
savings; 4) expansions of homesteading tax credits so as to allow credits to
apply to apartments, and tiny houses (alongside homesteading reform); and 5)
permissive tax deductions for expenses from child care, elder care, and health
care and insurance.
After those first five short-term proposals are achieved,
our medium-term goals include 6) Cut-Cap-and-Balance measures; 7) reverting to
zero-based budgeting; 8) passing across-the-board tax cuts; and 9) supporting
measures which make taxes flatter. Our long-term goals are 10) formally
repealing the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; 11) passing a
Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution); and 12) reforming the structure
and philosophy of taxation into one that embraces geo-libertarian principles.
We would like to see all taxes imposed by the most local
level of government possible (without sacrificing efficiency), and we desire
that government be funded wholly through taxation proposals permissible under
the umbrella of Land Value Taxation / the “Single” Tax (including carbon
taxes), in addition to receipts from user fees, and revenues collected through
In the event that Georgist and geo-libertarian tax
proposals were to fail, Basic Income & Tax Reform regards neither the
FairTax nor the Negative Income Tax (N.I.T.) preferable to the other. This is
because there are several things at issue; namely, that of progressive vs. regressive taxation, as well as
problems associated with precisely which types of behavior are being taxed and
which are not.
In one sense, the Negative Income Tax is preferable to
the FairTax, because the N.I.T. is more progressive than the FairTax is. The
FairTax has a reputation of being regressive, and in one sense it is, because
it penalizes the purchases of ordinary people. On the other hand, the FairTax comes
with a “prebate” that compensates people for the expenses they incur in paying
those sales taxes (up to a certain point). But the prebate aside, the Negative
Income Tax is a flat tax which has a reputation of being effectively
progressive; this is because the poor would receive
money overall instead of paying taxes. This is why the N.I.T. has been
described as a flat tax which is effectively progressive; the poor would “pay”
a “negative tax rate”; i.e., receive
On the other hand, the FairTax is preferable to the
N.I.T. – especially as far as Georgists are concerned, and to some extent as far
as many conservatives are concerned – because the FairTax penalizes consumption
and the purchase of luxury and ordinary goods, while the Negative Income Tax
penalizes the earning of income. Since some conspicuous consumption is
wasteful, this means waste is more similar to consumption than it is to
productive labor and the earning of income. Hence, the FairTax is less
detrimental to productive behavior than is the Negative Income Tax.
Basic Income & Tax Reform is interested in
ascertaining the beneficial aspects of, and principles behind, each of these
two tax proposals (the FairTax and the Negative Income Tax) into a new
philosophy of taxation.
As a way to avoid taxing either sales or income – and
lessons from the FairTax and the Negative Income Tax having not yet being
ascertained for the purposes of improving the rest of Basic Income & Tax
Reform’s platform – taxation proposals permissible under the principles of Land
Value Taxation (L.V.T.) should be the only taxes levied which are involuntary.
Of course, convincing others that these taxes are appropriate, and winning
elections, is how L.V.T. becomes voluntary.
The environmental objective of enacting Georgist taxation
to its fullest extent, involves establishing Community Land Trusts (C.L.T.s),
Community Water Trusts (C.W.T.s), and, if governments please, Community Air
Trusts (C.A.T.s). These agencies could choose to unite these three functions
into a single office; perhaps an “Office of Taxation, Environment, and Welfare”
Municipal and county governments would be encouraged to
offer fewer services and shrink spending and taxes, while at the same time
establishing these agencies. Additionally, unincorporated communities – and
autonomous, independent, unincorporated local voluntary associations – would be
encouraged to refrain from applying for recognition as official incorporated
municipalities, and instead to build these agencies as the act establishing
Communities would be encouraged – either that, or
required, as a condition of participation in a coordinated effort across
communities to build the same agencies and implement similar-enough policies –
to set up Sovereign Wealth Funds. The concept of Sovereign Wealth Funds,
Permanent Funds, Citizens’ Dividends, Residents’ Dividends, the Universal or
Unconditional Basic Income Guarantee, the prebate from the FairTax, and the
bonus given through the Negative Income Tax’s “payment of a negative tax rate”,
all amount in the same thing: cash payments to people; either to all of the
people, or only to those earning below a certain level of income (often set as
the poverty rate).
The Sovereign Wealth Fund (or whatever name it has, given
that so many names apply to such similar ideas) would be funded and backed by
the chief export or exports of the community and / or region. It would also be
funded by receipts and revenues originating from the imposition and collection
of user fees, voluntary contributions, and taxes admissible under an extended
Land Value Taxation system.
O.T.E.W.s (or their components, working independently of
one-another) would be free to choose whether to establish currencies backed by
the value of natural resources, and / or by the fees imposed for the privilege
of extracting said natural resources, and / or backed by export sales. Such
currencies could originate in local, state, or regional government; or they
could be outgrowths of electronic currencies, or other types of alternative
O.T.E.W.s would operate as not-for-profit (or non-profit)
consumer-cooperatives. They could be either quasi-governmental,
non-governmental, or entities which are non-incorporated altogether. Any
purchasing by these entities should be performed as a consumer-cooperative
These agencies would be free to become corporations, but
not through official recognition by government. They would be independent
corporations – really, consumer credit unions – which would sell stock. The
value of the stock would rest upon the degree of success of each of those
agencies in preserving its respective sphere of the environment (that is; land,
water, and air).
The value of the optional natural resource –backed currencies
would derive from both the degree of success of O.T.E.W. agencies in preserving
the environment, and also from chief export sales, as well as general faith and
credit in the government; and in the solvency of its taxation, banking, and
Basic Income & Tax Reform feels that the above set of
policies is the platform most likely to unite members of the Libertarian Party
with members of the Green Party; through creating a convergence upon
geo-libertarianism as a philosophy that lies between the two. We encourage
Greens and progressives to come towards the positions of the Libertarian Party.
We additionally encourage Libertarian Party members,
ideological libertarians, and libertarian-leaning conservatives, to embrace
Georgism, or at least to support Thomas Paine’s basic income proposal, which in
my opinion is compatible with Henry George’s ideas. In Paine’s proposal, a
citizen’s dividend would give a basic income for all adult citizens, as a form
of compensation for government takings from the full bundle of freedoms and rights
which come with private landed property ownership in full allodial title
(rights such as freedom from taxation of that land, the freedom to deny even
government agents access to the property, and the freedom to explore one’s own
property for natural resources without compensating the community).
The author of this article, himself, feels that the best avenue
and vehicle for embodiment and presentation of this platform, would be as a Thomas Paine Caucus; revived from its late-1990s form as a voluntary association comprised of libertarian Georgists, but as a caucus of the Libertarian Party. The caucus should make sure to bring
followers of Henry George and Milton Friedman into the mix; so I propose a
Geo-Painean-Friedmanite Caucus of the Libertarian Party of the United States; to consider radical tax reform and cash payouts, in addition to increasing tax deductions and low-income tax credits.
In light of what the Constitution has to say about the
environment (which is nothing), and welfare (which is that government spending
should benefit everybody), it is
important to consider at what level these reforms are to be implemented.
It seems appropriate to recommend (and highlight) that this
system works best as a decentralized or diffused federation of communities – or
as multiple, geographically overlapping confederations – rather than as a
centralized system or a polycentric system. Polycentric agencies may be helpful to prevent disproportionate favoritism of productive firms based in urban areas; but political power paradigms that are as diffused as possible are what are generally desirable. Encouraging jurisdictions to expand and overlap would help maximize this diffusion of power.
But if a centralized or oligocentric government ought to exist in any form; it should
primarily be in the businesses of 1) allocating land in a macroscopic way; 2) ensuring
mutuality of exchanges and transactions; and 3) registering individuals’ political
membership. These functions reflect the main functions of legitimate governance
as regarded by the schools of 1) Georgism; 2) Mutualism; and 3) Panarchism. It might additionally prove appropriate for a centralized government to guarantee certain basic civil rights and civil liberties; such as equal protections under the law, like the right to defend oneself in court, and the equal right to sue. However, it could very well turn out that those are simply the last functions of government which would dissolve, whilea Geo-MutualistPanarchist system emerges out of the unentangling last vestiges of a constitutional republic. And that goes whether it's a minarchistic one that's decided to embrace true liberty, or whether it's a corrupt democratic republic that ceases functioning or collapses (in any given imaginable scenario).
5. Independence, and
Partial-Birth Abortion as Murder
6. Stirner and Rothbard
7. Neglect as Liberty
8. Risk of Harm to the
Mother and Baby
9. Politics and “The
10. Abortion as a
11. Abortion as a
12. We Can’t All Just
13. Reform and
14. Abortion as a Traded
15. Abortion as Commerce
16. Freedom and Thrift
17. Defending Our Rights
18. Federal vs. State Government
Dereliction of Duty and the Free Market
20. “And I Do Have a
23. Alternatives to
25. Giving Too Much to
26. Giving Too Much to
27. Punishing Abortion
28. Miscarriage and
29. Dumpster Babies and
the Death Penalty
30. Socrates and Absurd
I am pro-choice, but I am also pro-life.
Has anyone else had enough of these tampon-earring wearing, “hail
Satan” -shouting pro-choice activists who believe that “abortion is sacred”,
and call for “free abortion on demand without apology”?
Don't get me wrong; I support the legality of abortion, the
legality of access to family planning services, and equality under the law in
regards to that access. But I also believe that if abortion can truly be said
to be a “right”, then its status as a right does not primarily derive from how
much demand there is for abortion services, nor on its status as
“sacred” (whether for Christian, Satanic, or other purposes), nor on the
validity of pro-life arguments about when life begins.
Instead, I believe that if abortion is a “right”, then its status
as such primarily derives from how much supply there is of abortion
services; that is, the right to abortion depends, legally and constitutionally,
upon its status as a commercial service, and upon people's logistical ability
to provide abortion to those who need them. Additionally, the right to abortion
derives from, and depends on, the ethical acceptance and recognition –
interpersonally, and by society – of the right of a pregnant woman to have an
The inflammatory rhetoric which some in the pro-choice movement
have recently adopted, only serves to incite and embolden pro-life activists,
diminish the credibility and appearance of sanity of pro-choicers, and make
dialogue and compromise on this very controversial issue even less likely.
2. Hail Satan?
To someone who is pro-life, a pro-choice person who is up to date
in all this latest rhetoric, appears as someone who wants to take the money
that the pro-lifer earned at his or her job, and spend it on the “sacred right”
of aborting one's own unborn fetus, and / or on helping others do the same.
This is a series of actions which some pro-choicers are unafraid to admit – in chant,
no less – that they do for the glory of Satan. I repeat, only some pro-choicers give this justification;
some of the rest are apparently unafraid to appear
to have such motivations, judging by the fact that they chant and march in line
with such people.
One would think that if a person wanted to take this extremely
pro-choice position, they’d consider doing several things to make themselves
look saner, more credible, and more willing to compromise, and also to make it
less easy for their pro-life opponents to gain or retain the moral high-ground.
For example, those extreme pro-choicers could agree to prohibit
taxpayer funding for abortion (which federal legislation does allow in some
specific cases). Extreme pro-choicers could also perhaps agree to prohibit
abortions after viability of the fetus, or, as I would suggest, after the point
where the fetus cannot be aborted without first being delivered through
induction; i.e., born. Extreme pro-choicers could additionally, at the
very least, refrain from openly praising Satan or the Devil as part of official
protests on state capitol grounds. But this is merely a suggestion.
3. Do All Abortions Kill
Let us assume for a moment that the pro-lifers are wrong; that a
fetus is not a living thing, nor a baby, nor a person, and has no rights. Or let us assume that, at least, a fetus
is still a living thing and a human
being, but that it has no rights.
Either way, let us assume that it is acceptable, and should remain legal, to
have an abortion for any reason, until the baby is born, and that everyone
should have equal access to family planning, including abortion on demand.
If that were the case, then why would you then argue for
“pro-choice” policies like murdering babies who have been born, or letting them die through negligence? It may
sound preposterous to suggest that this is what some pro-choicers are up to,
but it’s true.
The extreme pro-choice movement has come to defend not only
partial-birth abortion, but also the right of doctors to commit negligent
homicide against babies who are “born as the result of failed abortion” by
refusing to transport such a patient to a hospital. Ron Paul wrote that while
practicing medicine in the 1960s, he witnessed a baby who was struggling for
air being thrown into a disposal receptacle as if it were common medical waste.
In March 2013, Alisa LaPolt Snow, a lobbying representative of the
Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, spoke to the Florida State
Legislature. She spoke about deciding what to do with a baby that is “born on a
table as a result of a botched abortion” and is “struggling for life” and for
air. She told the legislators that “That decision should be between the patient
and the health care provider”. Snow was flabbergasted at the suggestion that the
baby would be one of “the patient”s in such a case, and said that doctors
should not be obligated to transport such babies to hospitals because of
“logistical issues” relating to how far away a hospital might be.
Additionally, as a United States Senator from Illinois, and as
president, Barack Obama has fought for the legality of “partial-birth
abortion”, the practice in which a fetus is partially removed from its mother's
womb, killed (usually through having its skull punctured), and then
re-inserted. Also, Sharon Malone Holder – the wife of Eric Holder, the former
U.S. Attorney General under Barack Obama – is the co-owner of the building
which housed the “abortion” practice of Georgia doctor Kermit Gosnell, who had
his medical assistants perform these gruesome “abortions” themselves. Gosnell
was later found guilty of murdering three babies.
These political and legal efforts do not come without rhetorical
support from the liberal media. In July 2013, the tampon-earring wearing
M.S.N.B.C. host Melissa Harris-Perry said, “I submit that the answer” to the
question of when life begins “depends an awful lot on the feeling of the
parents; a powerful feeling, but not science”. Next, in a very ironic and
self-unaware turn, she went on to describe the positions on abortion which the pro-life
movement has as “merely a feeling”, just like the feelings parents have
about whether the fetus they are aborting is really a “person” or merely a “potential person”. Given these comments,
it may not be a stretch to describe Harris-Perry
as a “potential person”.
4. Infanticide and
This extreme pro-choice crowd – i.e., the
infanticide-tolerating crowd – has made it clear that its intention is to
spread the notion that a person who survives childbirth is only a person (or,
at least, only deserving of rights and liberties) if it is both wanted by its
parents and sufficiently independent. Apparently, their representatives in the
liberal media must take this position in order to avoid giving Sarah Palin the
moral high ground (Palin having refused to abort her son Trig, who has Down’s
Syndrome); because it seems that the idea that life is precious and valuable is
now widely regarded as “conservative” and “quaint”.
The idea that a person who survives childbirth is a human being
with the right to life, regardless of whether it is wanted by its
parents and regardless of how independent it is, is not the only thing at which
the infanticide-tolerating extreme pro-choice movement has eroded. The
principle “first do no harm” of the almost five-thousand-year-old Hippocratic
Oath, one of history's oldest binding documents, has been rendered practically
meaningless, given that 92% of modern (and modernized) Hippocratic Oaths
do not require the oath-taker to foreswear abortion. Additionally, less than
half of oaths even impart any accountability upon the person taking the
In my opinion, what has happened to the Hippocratic Oath is
symptomatic of a wider trend in society; for to accept the position that a
person who survives childbirth is only a person based on a feeling, and based on whether he or she is wanted by others, and is
independent enough to survive on his or her own, is to risk adopting that
attitude regarding not only fetuses, but potentially also infants who survive
childbirth, and, gradually, older children, and eventually adults.
I believe that, unless and until the extreme pro-choice movement
moderates some of its positions – especially its position on infanticide, and
reins in its more extremist members – as long as we continue to follow it and
adopt its positions, we will be on a slippery slope to believing that an adult
human being can be rightfully and legally murdered if he or she cannot easily
support and sustain himself or herself and stay independent, and also if he or
she is widely disliked or unwanted by others.
That position resembles the ochlocratic (i.e., mob rule)
notion that a simple majority, or any size majority, can vote away our
essential liberties and our rights to life. It also seems tied to
utilitarianism, the idea that individuals have no intrinsic worth or dignity,
except as a function of what, and how much, they have to offer to others.
Ochlocracy and utilitarianism are silent, underlying key principles, without
which an alienating and isolating society that crushes individualism and denigrates
and restricts independence, is impossible.
5. Independence, and
Partial-Birth Abortion as Murder
If an infant whom has survived childbirth – but is not totally
independent, and is unwanted by one or both of its parents and by many others –
is only potentially a human being, then if, as that infant ages, it does
not become any more independent, nor any more wanted by its parents and peers,
then it logically follows that such an adult is still only potentially
a human being, doomed to live at the mercy of his or her caretakers, and of
anyone else who may care to deem him or her “a drain on society” who is “not
worth the time and effort of care”.
If we allow the fights for partial-birth abortion and “post-birth
abortion” – and the right of a doctor to let an infant die who was born alive
as the result of a failed abortion – to be won, then we risk allowing older people in society who are not
sufficiently independent, and / or well-liked enough by their parents or
others, to come to be regarded as “drains on society” whose lives are not
intrinsically valuable because of their impaired ability or lack of ability to
contribute productively to economic society. Such people could potentially
include the old, the sick, those with inherited or transmissible diseases,
social outcasts, and others.
Simply put, to continue to fight for permitting partial-birth and
post-birth “abortion”, is to fight for permitting the murder of
potentially anyone whom does not work hard enough, and / or whom does
not display sufficient ability, skill, nor intelligence.
We risk labeling the disabled, the mentally and physically
handicapped, the non-working poor, and the working poor who have the most
difficulty making ends meet, as “not worth the time and effort of care”. A
mentally handicapped teenage boy, whose parents called police in order to help
get a screwdriver out of their child's hands, was recently shot to death by a
police officer because he didn't “have time for this”. By this, he meant that
he didn’t have time to deal with the boy, and, apparently, that it was easier
to simply shoot him to death.
How long will it be until police officers shoot babiesor
small children for “obstructing justice” or “interfering with an ongoing
police investigation” by crying, or by running at the officers? Babies and
small children are frisked and searched every day at airports across the
country; apparently the authorities view them
as potential terrorists, so why won’t police shoot them just like they shoot family dogs during arrests, whether they
are attacking or not?
We’ve even seen police tase a man for trying to rush into
his burning house to save his dying baby when the firefighters refused to do it
themselves, because the house was “too hot to enter”. Apparently, these days,
independence involves standing back and relying on a licensed professional not to do his job.
All of this makes me wonder how the far-left reconciles the idea
of permitting the murder of individuals whom are not totally independent, with
the ideas that independence (whether for individuals, or for unions,
businesses, or governments)
should be discouraged and denigrated. This sees hypocritical, although to the degree to which the far-left does
oppose independence, it makes sense that they apparently believe that people
ought to be subtly coerced through contract fraud into a condition of
compulsory interdependence on, and involuntary servitude of, everyone
else in society; on each person in his or her highly-trained, specialized
function in trade and in the economy.
Perhaps it is not inappropriate to ask whether the far-left
actually wants to render and keep us dependent, so as to excuse our
deaths at the hands of the state, whether through negligence or deliberate
6. Stirner and Rothbard
As I explained at the beginning of this essay, I believe that one
of the most important determinants of whether abortion is a right, is the
acceptance – the recognition of the ethical legitimacy – of the decision
to have an abortion to begin with. To be possessed or retained fully, this
right needs to be recognized by patients and doctors, and unhindered by
government; that is, tangibly assertable by doctors and patients, regardless of
government's permissions or orders.
In The Ego and its Own, Max Stirner wrote the following:
As human right is always
something given, it always in reality reduces to the right which men give,
“concede”, to each other. If the right of existence is conceded to new-born
children, then they have the right; if it is not conceded to them, as was the case
among the Spartans and ancient Romans, then they do not have it.
For only society can give or concede it to them; they themselves
cannot take it, or give it to themselves. It will be objected, the children had
nevertheless “by nature” the right to exist; only Spartans refused recognition
to this right. But then they simply had no right to this recognition – no more
than they had to recognition of their life by the wild beasts to which they
But Max Stirner is not the only philosopher whom has written on
the subject of the possibility of a right to life deriving from natural law. As
I explained in my two previous “Baby Starving Rothbardians” articles, Murray
Rothbard wrote that “since such obligations would entail positive acts” (i.e., obligations) “coerced upon the
parent and depriving the parent of his rights”. He continues, “a parent does
not have the right to aggress against his children”, and “may not murder or
mutilate his child”, but the law “may not properly compel the parent to feed a
child or to keep it alive”.
At this point, it seems fair to say that the liberal-left and
libertarians take the natural law position advanced by Stirner; that the right
to life is only valid if and when it is recognized by others in society
(specifically, recognized by those who have the power to save a baby who is
struggling to survive birth, or struggling to survive a failed abortion, or
simply struggling to eat and drink in order to sustain itself).
This may appear as a “might makes right” argument, but more
accurately, it represents the notion that “right is impossible without
might”, an idea which I discussed in my article “Materialism: Stirner, Marx,
and Arendt” (in my book Essays on Labor). This is to say that might does
not, alone and of itself, make right. The right to life means nothing without
the ability, power, and freedom to transform the intellectual recognition an
infant's right to life (and, by the same token, an adult's life) into a real,
tangible thing, through action.
7. Neglect as Liberty
I am not reluctant to admit that there are libertarian positions
on parenting which are just as irrational as liberal and leftist positions on
parenting. However, as I stated in my earlier articles on the topic, Murray
Rothbard clarified his position by
explaining that “whether or not a parent has a moral rather than a legally
enforceable obligation to keep his child alive is a completely separate
question”, and he asserts that the right of a parent “to allow a deformed baby
to die” derives from the “larger right to allow any baby, whether deformed or
not, to die”.
For those who are not familiar with natural law, nor with other
forms of devout libertarian rationalization, Rothbard is basically arguing that
the law should protect and reinforce any right which occurs naturally, or else
that the law should refrain from interfering with natural rights altogether.
This is because libertarians, and people who desire a voluntary
society, believe that the government is delegated
all of its just powers from the people who originally possess those powers as
natural rights, and that the authorities
of the government are derived through the authorization
of the people.
Furthermore, libertarians – and those who support the Ninth
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as a protection against the government
turning popular rights and freedoms into government-granted privileges –
believe that a people should, and does, retain those rights, even if and
when the government exercises the same rights.
In this case, the protected “rights” and “freedoms” to which I am
referring, are the “action” (really, the inaction) of standing idly by
while people die; and the real action of using physical force to resist
and overtake anyone who is credibly threatening harm against, and / or
inflicting harm upon, others, so that they refrain from helping people who are
in danger of dying if unassisted.
Government should protect, and reinforce, the right to
stand by, and refrain from acting, to help others. If it doesn’t do that, then
government should refrain from
interfering with, or doing anything about, rights altogether. Generally,
government should either protect or reinforce the right to be free from threats
and harm, it should do nothing to require us to behave in any way, and it should
not interfere with anyone whom is trying to save the life of another, unless
they are using disproportionate force.
This applies regardless
of whether we are talking about a medical professional, or an ordinary person,
rescuing a baby born as the result of a failed abortion, or a baby thrown in a
trash can or dumpster; or whether we’re talking about a firefighter refusing to
rescue a baby from a fire; or whether we’re talking about caring for physically
or mentally disabled or impaired children, or
adults, who cannot take care of themselves.
However, unless it is your sworn duty, and / or job description,
to do whatever you can to save a dying baby in a hospital or a burning
building, and you have authorized some third party to make it enforceable upon
you to keep your oath and / or do your job, then in that case, the
government you have elected (read: chosen voluntarily) must reinforce
the responsibility you promised to uphold. Furthermore, it should not resign
itself to refrain from taking action against you, allowing you to shirk a
responsibility which you took upon yourself.
8. Risk of Harm to the
Mother and Baby
That the law should protect existing natural rights that pertain
to caring for those who are suffering, also applies to the suffering of pregnant women, whom endure great pain,
and sometimes die, as results of their pregnancies and childbirth. Society at
least recognizes the right of these women to have abortions; “risk of
harm to the mother” is the most commonly accepted justification for abortion.
It should logically follow that there exists the potential of
great harm befalling the mother in cases in which the mother is exceptionally
young and / or small. It should also
logically follow that for a minor to get an abortion should not merit
excommunication from the Church, which has not yet come around to this idea.
We should also consider that giving birth to a baby who was
conceived as the result of rape might endanger the health of the mother; first
through medical risks, secondly through the violent act of rape, and third
through the harm which could arise due to the legal right of rapists to visit
their children (in 31 states in the U.S.), and in that right, the right for
such fathers with physically and / or sexually violent histories to be in close
proximity to their children's mothers for at least as long as it takes to
Whom is to judge whether it is better for a child to be spared
such a violent upbringing; or to have never felt pain, nor lived at all? Only a
person in a position to do something about it. So too is the possibility of
“risk of harm to the fetus” (or “baby”) often included in this common
“risk of harm” exception.
From the popular acceptability of abortion in order to save the
life of the mother, we can infer that societal consideration of abortion does
take into consideration dog-eat-dog (and, with a nod to Stirner, man-vs.-tiger)
situations. That is, society does weigh the needs of the mother against
the needs of the baby or fetus.
Society does recognize the rights of both mother and fetus
/ infant; for the law does recognize the right of a wanted fetus to be free from negligent harm. For example,
drivers can be held liable for injuring unborn fetuses in car crashes in which
pregnant women are involved. Additionally – pursuant to the right of a wanted
fetus to be free from intentional,
yet collateral, harm – someone who murders a pregnant woman can be charged with
the death of the victim’s fetus. As I explained above, without the ability,
power, and freedom to recognize an infant's right to life, the right to life
Of course, to keep it legal to insure wanted fetuses against
injury in car crashes, is only a small part of recognizing and protecting the
right of babies to life; and the example of the firefighters refusing to enter
a burning house to save a baby is just one example of how government has failed
to recognize and protect this right, and failed to enforce and reinforce
voluntarily accepted duties.
9. Politics and “The
I'm sure that many of those in the left-liberal crowd which
endorses the idea that “conservatives care about people until they're born, but
not afterwards” would be willing to argue that, for the most part, government
and the law do not protect the right of babies to live, and, at that, to
live decently. Nor does government protect similar rights of the weak, the
disabled, the old, the sick, those who cannot work, nor anyone but corporate
go-getters in general.
While government and the law may, in theory and on paper,recognize the right of
infants to life and freedom from harm, they don't always protect those
rights, nor by any means are they always obligated to protect them. For
example, if the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates had their
way, government and the law would not recognize the right of an unwanted
infant born alive (i.e., as the result of a failed abortion) to be
treated by a doctor as one of the doctor's two patients, nor would it obligate
doctors to save an infant's life.
To speak to the issue of an infant being negligently or
intentionally murdered by a doctor, while the mother is regarded as “the
patient”: whom the patient is, is susceptible to semantic distortion, because
the phrase “the patient” carries with it the hidden connotation of there being
a “the patient”, i.e., a “the only patient”. The
underlying connotation is that of there being “the only patient which a doctor
would have any obligation to protect”.
Abortion is but the first example, during the course of a
human life, when a human being may have a legally protected right to life (and
other rights), but when certain rights can simply be waived at the discretion
of the parent. A child's right to adequate child care, a healthy environment,
education, workplace safety standards, and standards of good government, may
even, in actual practice, somewhat hinge on its parents' voting habits.
That statement was put there especially for those of you who still believe that
voting actually makes a difference; not so, our liberties can now be voted
away, not just by majorities, but also by minorities disguised as majorities.
10. Abortion as a
It should seem obvious by now that if an infant’s (or fetus’s)
right to life, is conditioned by 1) the existence, presence, and degree of,
social recognition of that right; 2) the baby’s immobility, and / or inability
to provide for itself; 3) the presence or absence of the mother’s will that her
baby live; and 4) logistical limitations, pertaining to time, finance,
infrastructure, and technology; then the notion of an absolute “right to life” is practically meaningless.
As I explained, this is true even
when that right is written down; perhaps even especially when that
right is written down (since government has the power to define the very legal
meaning of words in the U.S. Code, and since popular perception of the Bill of
Rights has shifted such that people assume that a liberty being listed in the
law means that that liberty exists at the discretion of government, because an
issue wouldn’t be mentioned unless government had the authority to legislate on
It should also be obvious that when we excuse “partial-birth
abortion”, we risk applying the same arguments that we use to defend abortion
and excuse the killing of infants, for use in defending the killing of adults
for whom it is inconvenient to care; namely, people whom are undesired, people
whom are insufficiently independent, and people whose rights are not societally
recognized. This is because the category of “adults for whom it is
inconvenient to care” also includes “people whose care requires time,
money, and effort”; i.e., every adult.
If it will suffice to excuse murder, for a police officer to say
that he doesn't have time to deal with a mentally handicapped teenage boy
wielding a screwdriver, then how long will it be until the parents of mentally
handicapped young people can call the police and orderthem to
kill their children, if they, society, and / or modern science, in their
infinite wisdom, have judged them retarded or insane, and not worthy of care?
Are we headed towards a new form of Social Darwinism which is palatable to
modern left-liberals; one in which, to borrow a line from comedian Bill Hicks,
“you're not a human being until you're in my phone book”?
There has been much bickering about “When does life begin?”; about
what behavior merits not being murdered; and about elections, and the lobbying
of, and writing to, politicians. Given all this bickering, isn't the solution
to this confusion, ultimately, to affirm that it is within the natural power of
associating individuals to have and perform abortions, and that for any government
or other authority to impede upon that ability in any unnatural (i.e., coercive) way, is to aggress
against people's natural powers and abilities; against the rights which owe
their existence to the potential to exercise them, and to the might required to
Simply put, haven't we merely to recognize the right of
abortion as a right which exists in nature? Isn't the “action” which is
required to recognize a right – an “action” which is done through the
mere “act” of thought, and possibly also of writing – so much more passive and easy to “perform” than the
action which is required to deny or interfere with that right?
Why shouldn't we simply affirm that to regard all abortion as
murder is to condemn women and doctors who get abortions to death (assuming
that the death penalty shall be applied to all murderers)? No; this would be
tantamount to condemning 52 million American women, and quite a few doctors, to
death, at the hands of the state.
Abortionists have other purposes in this world aside from the task
of abortion. Even if it is the focal point of their careers, they
nevertheless contribute to society through interacting socially, raising
children, giving gifts, making purchases and engaging in trade, and paying
taxes and fees. Furthermore, some OB/GYNs and doulas perform abortions in
addition to looking after women's reproductive health. Is it so unfair to
suggest that the vast majority of abortionists, and women who get abortions, do
not deserve to be killed?
Why can't we simply affirm that abortion is a natural right; and
resolve to refrain from empowering the government to interfere with that right,
and refrain from pretending that we can justifiably authorize it to interfere?
Why can't we regard abortion as a commercial service, which is subject to the
laws of supply and demand, just like any other commercial service? Why can’t we
empower the federal government to prevent and prohibit the states’ interference
with abortion, as a service, and an act of trade (not of manufacture) which can
be involved in interstate commercial traffic, thereby legalizing the free
movement of persons across state lines for the purposes of having abortions?
Why can't we additionally recognize that the right to life is also
natural (to the extent to which living is within one's capacity); recognize
that the care of everyone who has been born is worth the time, money,
and effort it takes to take care of them; recognize that all of those lives are
intrinsically valuable and deserving of dignity; and recognize that the need to
continue living, exists regardless of the type and quantity of work or
labor which they are able to perform for the support of themselves and / or
Additionally, how soon after it becomes acceptable to kill people
who can’t take care of themselves,
will it become acceptable to kill people who can’t also take care of others
(as if that is their responsibility)?
Why can’t everyone who believes that abortion is a natural right,
make sure that society recognizes it (whether in a legally institutionalized
manner, or not), and resolve to affirm it in their speech and their action, and through voluntary association? To do so could
only help the delivery of abortion services to occur in a non-partisan and
de-politicized manner, so that the money spent on lobbying to keep abortion
legal (and expand access to it) can simply be spent directly on abortions for
people who want and need them?
11. Abortion as a Political Issue
We can't make any progress finding common ground on abortion
because we refuse to believe that we can do so, and to the extent that we
refuse to believe that this is such a divisive, black-and-white issue.
Just as with gay marriage, we spend too much time talking about
abortion as a moral issue, which tends to sensationalize it, and turn it into
an issue of moral panic. As a result, we all too often refuse to hear
the input of people who arguably don't have any direct personal experience. We
additionally have to suffer through conservatives ignoring people's
personal problems; for example, Ann Coulter rebuking a challenge by saying “I
don’t like anecdotal examples”.
If we can't find common ground on abortion, or won’t, then it is
because we view compromise as unimaginable. We spend too much energy bickering
about weeks and trimesters, fetal heartbeats and fetal pain, and which
justifications for abortion are the least objectionable. The last of these is
often discussed in the context of “Which exceptions should be made if abortion
were illegal?”. This kind of talk raises alarms, but the solution is not to
stifle debate, because such an admittedly divisive issue merits no less than
the most thorough debate possible.
We talk about all of this, instead of thinking about abortion in
terms of how to resolve to protect the natural rights of every born person
involved in the procedure, and in terms of the rule of law and the
Constitution, and also in terms of abortion being a commercial service which is
traded in markets. We also talk about abortions with regard to which sources of
revenue are appropriate for funding them, and appropriate for funding
alternatives thereto; and in regards to which policies on abortion would be the
least absurd, irrational, and contrived. The last of these, unfortunately,
assumes that we must have policies on
Abortion is a political issue just like any other; it is subject
to systemic contrivances, which tend to exacerbate the problems on all sides,
usually by compromising-away each side's core beliefs (especially in a
multicultural society which does not sufficiently respect cultural pluralism),
and often by arming and inciting each side against the other.
We should pay attention to how other political issues are
distorted, especially when people are – and in regards to issues which involve
people being – compelled to pay for other
practices they find morally reprehensible. It should be noted that those who
pay, find it even more reprehensible, when the people who receive the
benefits are located far away from
those who fund them.
We should regard people's most closely held principles not as
sacrosanct and untouchable, nor as things to be compromised away lightly, but
as things to be left alone, but only as long as they do not become hypocritical, hyper-critical, and absurd.
12. We Can’t All Just
But to more directly answer the questions at hand: we can't affirm
the natural right to life; not because of the size and influence of the pro-choice
population, but because some (although, admittedly, few) in the pro-life movement, will not acknowledge that
women who get abortions or abortionists should have any legal protections
against being murdered or executed. However, fortunately, most pro-lifers will at least admit that it would be ludicrous to
demand that every woman who has ever gotten an abortion ought to be put to
death. To suggest so would be one of the absurd positions which I mentioned
Most importantly, we cannot make progress on abortion as an issue
because the two sides of the issue demand one another's blood. While, at times,
pro-lifers demand the blood of abortionists and pro-choice politicians, so too
do pro-choicers demand the blood of
those who protest the cruelty and hypocrisy of the extreme pro-choice (i.e.,
While to say that “the security and intelligence agencies under
the Clinton and Obama administrations collected information about pro-life
groups” is to incorrectly imply something other than that all
administrations collect information about all interest groups, it's not
unfair to say that many people on the (supposed) left would agree with labeling
pro-life groups as potential domestic terror suspects because some
pro-lifers shoot abortionists and bomb abortion clinics.
To spy on millions of people should be regarded as morally
unconscionable to all civilized people, as well as antithetical to the most
important principles of a just society. This goes whether such spying occurs
with or without a warrant, which cannot rightfully apply to millions of
people (such a thing is called a generalized
With all of this illegal spying, and forcing us to pay to fund
what we might find reprehensible – both being practices which could
easily be argued to be unconstitutional, being that our individual income is
supposed to be constitutionally protected from takings as private property,
unless and until we have been charged with, and found guilty of a crime which
would merit such takings – it might perhaps not be so inappropriate to suggest
that our elected officials commit treason against us in supporting these
practices, nor indeed that they deserve some of the threats against them (i.e.,
for turning us all into hypocrites in the process of ensuring our compliance
with the system).
After all, it is this very system of compulsory cooperation, which
provokes many of the hostilities between partisan groups, and between
elected officials and their constituents, by compromising away core values
through requiring people to subsidize the lifestyles of strangers through the
redistribution of income.
13. Reform and
To return to the questions at hand: as I explained, we can't solve
the issues pertaining to abortion because we see abortion as a black-and-white
moral issue, instead of an issue of natural rights, logistics, commerce, the
Constitution, and the rule of law.
There is no reason why those on the left whom are passionate about
preserving the legality of abortion, should not be proficient in articulating
sound legal and constitutional positions, as well as positions supporting a
socially conscious market economy, in order to defend their positions. This
should be done not in order to try to pander to conservatives, but to
speak to them in their own language, as well as to try to draw out logical
absurdities in their thinking, to invite them to choose between values they
hold which might prove to be at odds with one another, and to pursue realistic
To learn how to focus on, value, and utilize, the egalitarian
principles of both the laissez-faire economic theory and the rule-of-law
constitutional framework, is not a cop-out to the “wacko bird”, so-called
“libertarian conservative” or “conservatarian” Republicans who appeal to the
Tea Party, nor is it a cop-out to the “unaccountable private tyranny” of the
super-wealthy privileged corporate elite. It is particularly not a
cop-out if you do it as constructive criticism, beginning with an express
desire to achieve reform, but not radical reform of our very political and
economic systems (or, at least, not as a first resort).
The only risks of this approach are that a firmer constitutional basis for the legality of abortion could be
established; and that it could become easier to criticize pro-life
conservatives for insufficiently adhering to their principles of having a
flexible constitution, and of having a free, fair, and responsible enterprise
and trade system which is balanced by charity and truly voluntary giving and
This stands in contrast to an economic system and a mode of
production which are rendered irresponsible through restraints upon our natural
abilities and rights to give to others, and which are rendered immoral through
the involuntary system of wage labor which drives people to pursue only the
quickest and most selfish forms of reaping benefit; i.e., the taking of
surplus profit, rather than to encourage people to save and share, and workers
to re-invest their profits in their firms.
14. Abortion as a Traded
This is why I believe that those who support the right of abortion
should regard it, at least for legal purposes, as a commercial service of
trade which has the potential to affect interstate commerce; and, if and
when it does, federal intervention would be merited to ensure that interstate
commerce stays free. The effect would be a pro-choice position founded on solid
constitutional, minarchist, free-market, and free-trade grounds.
This is to say that such a policy would empower the federal
government to “regulate commerce among the several states” – one of its
expressly delegated authorities – by prohibiting states from keeping abortion
services and contraceptive goods out of their territories, and also by
prohibiting states from interfering with people's rights to trade such goods
and services across state lines, and to travel to other states for such
To commit to allowing the funding of abortion through public
methods only augments the ability of states to effectively outlaw
abortion, by removing service providers from their territory. Those seeking
collective funding of abortion need not invite government intervention; there
are always mutual aid, cooperative enterprises, and charities as alternatives.
I would suggest that those who support abortion regard it as a
commercial service; not only because this standpoint would constitutionally
justify federal intervention in order to ensure free interstate commerce
therein, but also because the states’ power to prohibit in-state manufacture of
commercial goods would not apply, because abortion is a traded service, and
not a manufactured good. While the states can legitimately ban the manufacture of contraceptive medications
and devices, they cannot ban their importation, and if they tried to do so,
the federal government could rightfully intervene in order to stop them, and
pass regulations to make that commerce “regular”, i.e., uninhibited.
15. Abortion as Commerce
Let us suppose that Roe v. Wade were to be struck down,
that a lawsuit challenging a state law prohibiting intrastate abortion were to
arise in the federal court system, and that a federal court were to rule in
favor of the state or states prohibiting, or wishing to prohibit, abortion.
In that event, as long as the court were to agree that abortion is
a commercial service, then, according to my interpretation of the interstate
Commerce Clause, a state would have the power to prohibit only those
abortions which would take place at branch locations of organizations which
operate in one state, rather than in multiple states.
Furthermore, people living in a state prohibiting intrastate
(meaning in-state) commercial abortion, would still have the right to
travel to other states in order to receive this service, and the right
to receive an abortion from someone crossing state borders to meet them in
order to perform this task and to conduct the commercial transaction, as well
as the right to travel in order to access any private abortion-providing
facilities in their state whose organizations have branch locations in at least
one other state.
Unless such states can muster a constitutional amendment
prohibiting abortion in the entire country, abortion-providing organizations
which operate in multiple states would be subject to federal
jurisdiction, and thus out of reach of the states’ interferences and
inhibitions. However, the federal government could only intervene in abortion
facilities involved in interstate commerce, in a way that prohibits them from
turning people away.
It could even be argued that abortion (which, as I explained, is a
service, and not a good in the sense of it being a product) is not even a
market good, because abortion is a market bad; that is, little to no
good comes of it for any of the parties involved. Ask anyone who has had one,
and they'll tell you that it's not a decision to be made lightly, nor is it a
fun nor remorseless one to make.
However, I am not willing to enthusiastically embrace that
argument. Moreover, nevertheless, there remains a consistent demand for
abortion, and that demand tends to express itself in monetary terms, as well as
in terms of the currency of political capital. And so, doctors whom are willing
to satisfy that demand, arise, and so too do politicians whom are willing to
ensure that that demand is neither ignored, nor trivialized, nor unfulfilled.
So, if it is within the natural ability (and, if left unhindered,
the natural right, in actual practice) of people to perform abortion – and if
there is demand for abortion in every state – then in order for that demand and
ability to be fulfilled, the federal government needs only recognize abortion’s
status as a commercial service traded in the market, and to enforce the law in
In practice, this would involve the federal government preventing
states from interfering with consumer demand, with the free flow of commerce,
with the privacy of the doctor-patient relationship, and with the right not to
have medically unnecessary procedures performed against one's will. Ironically,
it escapes most conservatives’ attention that the right to refuse medically
unnecessary ultrasounds is at-odds with conservatives’ concerns about the high
medical costs which result from such procedures.
16. Freedom and Thrift
To reiterate my earlier point, recognizing a right is easy,
and often involves no physical action at all; it’s doing something about it
This is especially true if, in doing something about it, you fail
to respect others' rights not to be threatened or harmed; that is, unless they
appear to endorse violence through actions initiating or threatening it, in
which case violence inflicted upon them should be perfectly reasonable, even
according to their own supposed logic. From this, it follows that to refrain
from doing something in order to ensure that natural rights can be exercised
unhindered, is much easier than to actively do something about it in
order to ensure the same.
Therefore, the easiest thing that the federal government can do in
order to ensure that the natural right to have an abortion can be exercised
unhindered, is to do nothing; that
is, unless and until the states begin to hinder the power that makes that right
tangible. Also, of course, the easiest thing that the states can do in
order to ensure unhindered abortion rights, is to do nothing; that is, do
nothing to mandate transvaginal ultrasounds before abortions, and do
nothing to obstruct people from traveling to other states to give and
receive abortions. To do so would not only promote freedom, but save state
Appropriately and luckily, some who interpret the interstate
Commerce Clause believe that it has a “Dormant Clause” which authorizes the
federal government to stop a state from prohibiting, burdening, and / or
directly regulating, interstate and foreign commerce. Say what you will about
not having enough government; this is one area in which we could certainly use
for government to step out of the way (in this case, just the states, not the
From this, it seems reasonable to suggest that – in regard to the
states, in this particular example – we should resolve not to empower
government to interfere with abortion, because abortion is a liberty; a
potential (read: a power) which exists naturally in its unhindered
exercise among freely associating people.
17. Defending Our Rights
But isn't it true that a right which occurs naturally, is a right
that asserts and defends itself, and does not need any additional
defense, protection, support, or strengthening? Why should we enlist others to
help us defend our rights claims, and to strengthen our abilities to exercise
those rights? If (as libertarians believe) the law should protect and reinforce
all natural rights, or else refrain from interfering with them
altogether, then under what circumstances might we regard such protection as
interference, or worry that protection may come to interfere with our
Perhaps we should only look to others whom we trust, to help
protect us, defend our rights claims, and help strengthen our ability to
exercise our rights. Perhaps we should cooperate to protect and defend one
another, and one-another's rights claims, unless and until those rights claims
become absurd, and / or until the reinforcement of the protection of our rights
becomes disproportionately empowering to different people, or too empowering to
all people to the point where some people become so paranoid that they
begin to pay exorbitant amounts to mercenaries who would otherwise not help
protect them, unless they would already be willing to do so out of a sense of
friendship and comeraderie.
All too many people whom desire to defend their homes and
commercial business properties by any means necessary, tend to take out all
kinds of insurance plans in order protect themselves against every kind of risk
imaginable, and even rely on their friendly local violence monopolist (i.e., the state) to insure against their
losses by promising relief through the extension of liability limits, funded
through mortgaging taxpayers’ futures and running a monetary system that is not
fully backed by tangible assets.
We must remember that all this shifting of blame and
responsibility is what is inevitably involved when we put an issue up on the
chopping-block of compromise in the corporative-federalist corporate state.
That is why we ought to be as careful as possible when it comes to getting the
government involved in anything, especially the federal level of
However, doing little to nothing to strengthen your
defenses, or to practice exercising your claimed rights, and little to nothing
to get others to help you do so, has two downsides; even though it may be the easiest
thing to do, and perhaps even decrease the risk that you will ever become a
target of harm, due to your lack of willingness and / or ability to make
threats, and due to your resolving not to get carried away building up arms and
For one, it leaves you almost or completely defenseless, unless
you are somehow naturally able to easily defend yourself without conscious
effort to exercise and train. Also, it tempts you to allow yourself to spend
increasingly longer durations of time refraining from getting practice
exercising your rights; or else to never attempt to exercise them again,
self-assured that exercising them once was enough to prove they exist.
To accept this idea would imply that these rights need no active
assistance by people, many of whom probably assume that they “own” or “control”
such rights, as if rights were no more complicated than purchasing some unique
tangible item on the market, and then pretending, without action, to deny
others access to it, “defending” those rights only in one's mind.
18. Federal vs. State Government
Now we see that it is often useful to reinforce and strengthen
one’s abilities and powers to exercise rights claims, as long as it doesn’t go
beyond the bounds of what could rightfully be considered in-line with a
rational and realistic assessment of the mutual
risk involved. This goes whether the agent in question is a government; or
one person training by himself; or someone asking others for help without
needing to pay them, or bribe them, or threaten them, or impoverish them, into
In regards to what I said about mutual risk: this is to say that
when those who practice this strengthening of defense, are assessing how likely
an enemy is to attack someone, and / or to otherwise interfere with the
exercise of their natural rights, they should make sure to take into account
the degree of their own propensity to threaten and harm others, and
their tendency to attempt to provoke the anger of others through taunts, and to
further draw their ire by retreating to behind their expensive shields and
missile defense systems.
What all of this means in regards to government is that
(alternatively; periodically; to various degrees; in certain cases; and at
certain levels of government, each sovereign in its own, duly delegated,
respective sphere) there will exist the need for both defense of oneself, and of one's own rights claims, and
cooperative yet voluntary strengthening of an individual's abilities to defend
himself and his rights-claims against potential aggressors. As Stirner wrote,
“It is not my right which I defend, but my life.”
With specific regard to abortion policy in the United States,
it means that we cannot say that the solution for the states and the federal
government is simply to refrain from getting involved. Although the states getting out of the picture would
tend to help people get the abortions they want, the federal government getting out of the picture would tend to enable
states to run roughshod over the women's health industry in their states, even
going so far as to write laws with particular facilities providing abortion
which have minute flaws, in order to justify making abortion inaccessible, and
effectively illegal, within their respective state lines, as several states
have recently done.
As an aside, I would note that any honest student of the
Constitution will tell you that taxation and regulations which effectively shut
down an entire industry or profession in a state, necessarily invite federal
intervention to ensure that states do not actively hinder local, federal, and
private attempts to provide alternatives to consumers.
Just like such taxation and regulations, excessive state and local
governments’ monetary, regulatory, and contracting favors, given to state and
local businesses chiefly on the basis of their location, are also things that shut down an entire
industry or profession within the given territory. So too are any state laws
which demand inspections at, and / or obstruct the free flow of recreational
and / or commercial traffic at, state or international borders. This is not
free trade; it is crony capitalism with a regional bias, and the federal
government has every rightful and duly delegated authority to stop it.
Dereliction of Duty and the Free Market
There are plenty of policy areas that constitutionalists
believe the federal government has every logical and legitimate political
reason to control. However, not every constitutionalist is a free-marketer.
Free-marketers recognize that true free markets exist in the absence of the state, which wields monopolies that inhibit
competition, and which collects our property and displays violence in order to
demand lower prices and better conditions for itself and on the behalf of its
But this is not to say that a government such as the
American federal apparatus should be trusted to use its power (in this case,
the power to enact antitrust; that is, to diminish the influence of monopolies
and oligopolies). This is because the federal government is a monopoly;
at that, a monopoly which is greater than the state governments, both in
terms of size and population, but also in that it has repeatedly declared
itself supreme above all other governments in the land. It should be noted that
it did so wrongly, because it is only supposed to wield exclusive jurisdiction
in the District of Columbia, in the country's overseas possessions, and in
lands which it has been delegated the constitutional authority to administer.
The federal government cannot act without empowering the states.
I will admit that it is not the states, but the federal government, which
represents our people in the United Nations, and the national government’s
territorial integrity frames, limits, and conditions the territorial integrity
of the states. However, this fact also gives legitimacy to the states, the federal government is charged with protecting the states (by its
constitutionally enumerated responsibility to “provide for the common
defense”), and the federal government represents the states and the people in
trade, and diplomatically, on the world stage.
Regrettably, logical political reasons for control, and total
authority and ability to exercise that control, do not, in and of
themselves, guarantee that such control will be exercised.
Unfortunately, it is not an attitude of willingness nor resolve that guarantees
the exercise of control or the exercise of a claimed right; nothing can
guarantee either control or rights except action, or at least willingness to
act if aggressed against. A president, for example, might be empowered to
exercise control and enforce the law, but he may refrain from doing so, or he
may enforce the law, but with some caveats,
through signing statements and line-item vetoes.
But we must learn, and never forget, that the power to wield
control is also the power to choose when to refrain from wielding it, and the
power to exercise a right is the power to choose when to refrain from
exercising it. As Thomas Jefferson said, “a government big enough to give you
everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have.”
We see this principle at work when we see Kentucky county
clerk Kim Davis use her duty to issue marriage licenses, to refuse to issue licenses to gay couples;
to obstruct the granting of legal
recognition of a liberty which couples already possess. Unfortunately for the
limited government crowd, it would be difficult to argue that it would take
less effort on the part of taxpayers and government to take the actions
necessary to bestow legal recognition onto a union, than it would to simply
allow any two people to say they are married. However, this fact does nothing
to dismantle the limited government crowd’s arguments in favor of government
getting out of the business of marriage altogether.
20. “And I Do Have a
My point is this: libertarians do have something to offer
to pro-choicers, most of them on the supposed “left”, when it comes to
abortion. A laissez-faire attitude
about refraining from intervening in the issue would help ensure that
governments do not obstruct people from accessing abortion services, and a
well-founded position concerning abortion as a traded service would help ensure
While this may not be “the
libertarian position” on abortion, it is at least one libertarian’s position on abortion, and perhaps it is also
among the most detailed and well thought out. I never claim that a leftist or
democratic position is completely unworkable nor unconstitutional; I always say
“get a damn amendment and then we’ll talk”. For every position, left or right,
there is a way to implement it via constitutional
methods; we do not always need to take the intellectually lazy way out and
dismiss the Constitution at large simply because its framers permitted slavery
and the slave trade to continue.
While this still may not satisfy all pro-choicers, I will note that for a divisive issue such as
this, I deserve some credit for having compromised with them as much as I can.
So too have I compromised with the majority of pro-lifers – at least the ones
who aren’t wealthy landowners nor corporate polluters – and I have compromised
with those pro-lifers whom are willing to commit more strongly to the rule of
law and the Constitution, and / or the free market and free trade, than they
are to imposing their moral values onto others using the strong arm of the
I know not whether the extremists nor the moderates of each side
are more likely to come around to my position; I simply wish to find common
ground wherever I can, and make my case as compelling as possible, to anyone
who will consider it.
If there is anyone out there who would like to see me pander more to the extremists and the trolls, I
will say the following. To the conservatives and anarcho-capitalists who
support bounty hunting and contract killing, wouldn’t it be acceptable to
support abortion as long as the person who performed the abortion were hired by
a third party? Furthermore, wouldn’t it be acceptable to abort a female baby
based on the suspicion that she might grow up to get more than one abortion of
But now, jokes aside, on to more serious things (as
Wookiee John would say, “Boo, serious stuff!”); on to some final questions.
First off, what is to be done about logistical limitations when it
comes to abortion?
As I explained above, the problem of abortion is not mainly
abortion itself, nor is abortion being treated as a political issue the main
problem; although it is a major problem, given political
interference in the issue.
The main problem of abortion is how to get abortion services to the people who need them; the
problem is one of logistics, of a deficiency of services, of infrastructure
such as roads and hospitals that allow people to gain access to the places
where they can get abortions.
Of course, hospitals are not necessary for abortions to occur; as I explained, abortions can
be done in the home, by doulas, certified or uncertified, or by oneself, if one
has the sufficient tools and information necessary to perform them safely.
As I illustrated earlier with the example of Planned
Parenthood in Florida, and the comments of Alisa LaPolt Snow, the distance of
hospitals from the patient, suffices to extreme pro-choicers and Planned
Parenthood as an acceptable excuse for not saving babies born alive as the
result of failed abortions. This being an excuse gives doctors the freedom to
derelict their sworn duties to at least attempt
to save lives.
Society – although not necessarily the government, and certainly
not the state – should always strive to ensure that hospitals and roads are in
sufficient abundance and quality, such that people who desire to have
abortions, as well as people who
desire to give birth, are able to do so, without monopolistic government
licensing standards getting in the way of those who would like to have home
births and home abortions. Similarly, society – again, not necessarily the
government – should strive to improve the technologies that allow doctors to
save babies’ lives.
Yet another logistical limitation is how and whether abortion
ought to be funded.
How should abortion be funded?
There is no constitutionally enumerated authority for the
federal government to be involved in the funding of contraception, nor of
abortion, nor family planning, nor even hospitals, nor any activity pertaining
to the medical industry; that is, with the exception of issuing patents on
medical technology, or else given a very loose and liberal interpretation of
the General Welfare Clause. This fact leaves the funding of contraception,
abortion, health insurance, et cetera,
to the states, pending a constitutional amendment or a Supreme Court decision
While I would concede that Planned Parenthood and
government-provided health care may be funded through public funds, according
to state constitutions, I would caution against having government obtain such
revenues through the taxation of income, sales, and property value. I would
also caution against spending any public funds on abortion, due to the
potential for such action to incite pro-life citizens to attack government, its
tax collection agencies, and facilities providing abortion.
Currently, the federal government funds Planned Parenthood, and
although not many politicians are willing to admit it, those funds do not only go towards contraception,
hormone treatment, medical testing, and breast and reproductive health
services, but also to abortion,
albeit under rare circumstances. I, for one, for the reasons I just described,
do not favor public funds being used for abortion for any circumstances. I do,
however, favor an increased abundance of non-public hospitals that offer
abortion and sterilization (voluntary, of course).
Critics might argue, “what about in cases in which the mother’s
life is in danger, or the pregnant woman is a victim of rape or incest?”. But I
would caution that if we define “danger to the mother’s life” too loosely, it
would allow mothers to justify abortion on the grounds that taking care of a
child would endanger or threaten their life, simply because the child would
compete against them for resources, drain their physical energy, potentially
kill them, et cetera.
I have no issue with abortion in the first two trimesters, and I
would even recommend permitting third-trimester abortion on the grounds that
nobody involved in the procedure should go to jail because of the risk of harm
involved in being incarcerated. However, if the person in question is a doctor,
and performing the abortion interferes with the doctor’s sworn duties, the
doctor should be punished, although not through being jailed, but perhaps
through having their medical licenses revoked.
I do not believe that compromise on this issue is possible if it
continues to be viewed as a political issue, because I imagine that it would
not be difficult to find someone who objects to abortion even when it could
save the mother’s life; millions of Catholics, for instance. I repeat: in my
opinion, public funds should not support abortion under any circumstances.
But back to sources of funding. If the federal government did not
fund Planned Parenthood, and did not fund abortion under certain circumstances,
then any public funding of abortion would be left up to the states. Although I
would not condone any taxation,
except under conditions of total unanimity of consent, I will entertain the
idea of constitutional state public funding of abortion, but only under the
admittedly unlikely possibility that unanimous consent to such taxation would
come about, in order to satisfy my interpretation of the General Welfare Clause
as a universal welfare clause.
If the government taxed labor – through taxing individual income –
to fund abortion, then people who have qualms about abortion would realize that
their labor funds abortion; they would realize that they cannot work without
funding abortion. The result would be that those people work less, or even
cease to work entirely, and / or withhold payment of their taxes, in order to
cut off funding to abortion. Similarly, if the government taxed sales in order to fund abortion, then
people would decrease or cease their purchasing
in order to cut off funding, noticing that every purchase they make funds
I also oppose the taxation of corporate income and dividends,
because not all corporations are profit-oriented (cooperative corporations, for
example). I also oppose the taxation of corporate income because I support the
freedom of regular people to become wealthy and to invest.
I oppose the taxation of estates and inheritance (i.e., the “death tax”), because a
government that can tax what a parent bequeaths to his or her child, can also
tax the food and shelter given, and
also because there is no guarantee that just because a wealthy person bequeaths
to a child, that parent or child will spend the money on something evil.
Additionally, I oppose government obtaining revenue through licensing or permit
fees, because of the monopoly powers involved, the conflict with liberty I
discussed earlier in reference to the Ninth Amendment, and the problem of
Any and all public funding of women’s health services should come
from taxes on the value of land, in the manner of Henry George’s idea of the
Single Tax; that is, the abolition of all other taxes, and replacement with
Land Value Taxation. Undeveloped, blighted, and occupied land would be taxed,
as would pollution, the abuse of land, the taking of natural resources without
refunding the community affected, and the hoarding and possession of land,
especially on a grand scale.
This is how property ought to be taxed; government should punish the abuse, neglect, and
non-development and underdevelopment of land
as a crime, rather than tax away the value
of landed property, without any claim that a crime has been committed. To
continue taxing away the value of property is to reject the Fifth and
Fourteenth Amendments; it is to take away property without finding anyone
guilty of a crime through due process of law.
Women’s health – and abortion, as long as the taxation that funds
it is voluntary and unanimous – should be funded through Land Value Taxation in
the public sphere. Any additional funding should come through voluntary
donations; by individuals, private companies, cooperatives, mutual companies,
mutual aid societies, charities, non-profits, et cetera. The benefit of having abortion and women’s health be
funded solely through voluntary donations and Land Value Taxation is that, on those lands to be taxed, might lie
private corporations, stockpiles of wealth in currency, and natural resources
waiting to be exploited.
This is to say that for the community to tax the amount required
to return these landed properties to their original condition, would carry the
most benefit when it comes to imposing fees upon the owners that contribute the
most to the out-crowding, displacement, enclosure, deprivation, and
exploitation of what are otherwise free and financially secure people,
properties, and enterprises. That is, the Single Tax would punish the
activities which contribute the most to the negative conditions (i.e., poverty and despair) which tend to
result in people getting abortions,
having fewer children, taking their own lives, et cetera.
23. Alternatives to
What about alternatives to abortion, and things that
arguably prevent abortion, or else render it less likely to be necessary, such
as contraception, adoption, sex education, and voluntary sterilization?
As with women’s health services, alternatives and
preventative measures ought to be funded only through Land Value Taxation and
While the notion that “anyone wishing to curtail abortion rights
should increase funding and / or tax benefits (such as tax credits and tax
deductions) for hospitals, orphanages, etc.”
may be an idea that satisfies liberals and pro-choicers, this is a cop-out, not
a compromise. This idea only serves to legitimize
curtailing abortion rights, as long as concessions are made. Also, without the
notions of voluntary taxation and fees on the abuse and neglect of land, this
idea only legitimizes the current coercive taxation scheme.
In 2008, the State of Nebraska passed what came to be known as the
“safe-haven” law on adoption, allowing parents to legally surrender custody of
their children, and to abandon them at hospitals, with no questions asked.
Although no children were abandoned, there were concerns that parents could
abandon not only newborns, but children as old as 19. Proponents of this law
argued that it could prevent child abuse.
Murray Rothbard would likely argue that such a law is unnecessary;
that parents ought to have the legal right to abandon their children at any time,
for any reason, and without giving a
reason, no questions asked. This means, of course, that parents should not be
subject to any legal repercussions for abandoning their children, unless that
abandonment was preceded by active harm and abuse of said child. The Nebraska
law does not absolve parents of legal repercussions for abuse.
Another concern that was voiced about this law is that parents
might drive into Nebraska in order to
abandon their newborns and / or older
children. My concern is that the
public would incur the costs of taking care of such children; the costs of
services given to them by hospitals, orphanages, schools, social welfare
programs, and, conceivably, jails. For these services, my comments about Land
Value Taxation and voluntary contributions stand – just the same for as women’s
health services, contraception, sterilization, provision of condoms, etc., and sex education – that revenue
sourcing for these services should be constitutional, voluntary, and unanimous,
and managed at the state or local level, if not by the people themselves.
Speaking exclusively of adoption now: for how long should we be
obligated to care for foster children? That all depends on what you mean by
“we”. Whom should be obligated to foot the bill for the care of these
“children” – including “adult children”, i.e.,
children aged 18 and 19, in the Nebraska example – whom are abandoned by
I would suggest that it is not
primarily the duty of society at large
to care for such people, but the duty of the hospital and orphanage workers
whose oaths and job duties entail such care. After all, most people are eventually abandoned by those who love them most,
and for a variety of reasons. They may be mentally challenged, emotionally or psychologically
unstable, physically disabled or deformed, sick, weak, and / or old enough to
fend for themselves.
Any one of these conditions could be cited as either a reason to
continue caring for them, or as a
reason to “abandon” them. Such “abandonment” would leave them to care for
themselves, and whether they are successful is up to chance, their own drive,
and the voluntary assistance of others. Coincidentally, nearly all of those
conditions are also common
justifications for termination of pregnancy.
What about personal responsibility?
In 2014, on his blog, in an article entitled “A Brilliant and
Innovative Solution for Women Who Want Birth Control”, Matt Walsh wrote, “Pay for
it yourselves. Or find an employer who chooses
to provide it. Or have sex and don’t use it. Or don’t have sex. Basically, take
responsibility for your sex life, one way or another.”
I agree with Walsh’s sentiment that people should be responsible
for their own actions, without getting the government involved, unless a real corpus delicti crime against person and
/ or legitimate property has been committed.
However, my support of this statement should not be construed to
leave men entirely irresponsible for
their actions; a woman should have every right, if she pleases, to demand that
her male partner help pay for the couple’s contraceptive and family costs, as a
prerequisite for sex and as a condition for continuing the relationship.
Furthermore, a woman whom is not
responsible for getting pregnant, because she has fallen victim to a
rapist, should have every right to charge him of the crimes against her, and if
he is found guilty, it would not be inappropriate to expect that he should be
held liable to pay for the hospital costs associated with her injuries,
pregnancy, and, if applicable, abortion.
25. Giving Too Much to
What are the negative consequences of totally acquiescing to the
demands of pro-choicers and the left in regards to abortion?
The risks of letting the pro-choice left dominate the public
discourse on abortion – especially under the Obama Administration, given the
president’s staunch support of legalizing partial-birth abortion – include
normalizing sex-selective abortion; normalizing the abortion of children for
reasons having to do with mental impairment; normalizing murder under the guise of abortion; and allowing people to choose
who lives and who dies based on utilitarian sentiments, whether they have been
born yet or not.
Before China repealed its “One Child Only Policy”, the problem was
not sex-selective abortions, but
sex-selective infanticide. There is
no reason why we should not expect this problem to continue, albeit at a
decreased rate. Nevertheless, if the technology supporting sex-selective
abortion were to become more widespread in China (and elsewhere), we would run
the risk of legitimizing the idea that the sex of the child is a danger to the
life of the child, and to the mother. Additionally, it would legitimize the
idea that the sex of the child (in the case of China, the female sex) may come
to be seen as a disease or an impairment. This only risks further
stigmatization of biological femininity in societies favoring the birth of
In fact, it would be easy to argue that the sex of a baby is a danger to the child, and to the
mother, and to society in general; one of the concerns about female infanticide
being rampant is that the resulting male-to-female ratio is so large that it
could result in larger numbers of troops, which, if the military is successful,
could pose a threat to foreign countries, or, if that military is unsuccessful, a danger for the country
where the infanticide is occurring. Furthermore, the male-to-female ratio
resulting from such rampant female infanticide would also affect competition for mates, and would, quite likely, result
in an increase in rape, and in additional unwanted pregnancies (however, a
decrease in the number and / or proportion of females could arguably reduce unwanted pregnancies).
Here, we can see the potential danger to the child and to the mother, but can we really say
whether the cause of the disproportionate male-to-female ratio is the abortion
and infanticide of females? Perhaps the cause is low rates of abortion of males. But no, the cause was in front of
our eyes all along: the One Child Only Policy. But oddly, we would be
hard-pressed to say whether conservatives or liberals, or pro-lifers or
pro-choicers, are really to blame for this policy. Conservative support for the
policy could be justified under concern for national defense (although, as with
any defense policy, we see the
potential for blowback), and liberal
support for the policy could be justified under concern for the need for family
Additionally, sexual orientation, in addition to
biological sex, could become justifications for infanticide, under the guise of
“partial-birth” or “post-birth” abortion. So could abortion, if a technology
allows the prediction of sexual orientation before birth becomes possible and
widespread. As with biological sex, sexual orientation, could just as well come
to be seen as a disease or impairment potentially justifying abortion. In some
circles, it has, although most people who see homosexuality as a disease would
not consider homosexuality a cause for abortion. But, of course, as I am wont
to do, I offered several ridiculous reasons why it could be, in my previous essay “Baby Starving Rothbardians, Part 2:
Another negative result of normalizing abortion is that
the deformed and retarded may come to be seen as sick, or deserving of death.
Of course, this is a very common perception. I don’t want to get all
sanctimonious – nor even deviate from Rothbard’s statement that “the larger
right to allow any baby, whether
deformed or not, to die” is followed by a parent having “the right to allow a
deformed baby to die (e.g., by not
feeding it)” – but I wouldn’t challenge any parent’s claim that giving birth
to, and caring for, retarded or deformed children, has given them appreciation
for life, and / or enhanced their ability to sympathize with, and care for,
I would cite libertarian comedian Doug Stanhope’s
objections to two common pro-life arguments. To “it’s a living thing”, Stanhope
says “a genital wart is a living
thing. If it’s gonna irritate you for life, burn it off.” To “all life is
precious”, Stanhope impersonates a terminally ill man, immobilized and hooked
up to life-sustaining medical devices, lying on a hospital bed: “All life is
precious. Turn me!”
It should remain the parents’ decision whether to keep a deformed
or retarded baby, but once it has been born – once it exits the uterus, even
partially through induction – it should be kept alive, if possible, by doctors
who have voluntarily undertaken the duty to protect life. If, once saved, it is
abandoned, it should be taken care of by whatever orphanage employees have
promised to do their jobs.
But should parents be permitted to abandon their children, whether
retarded or deformed or not, in the event that nobody with sworn duties be
available to take care of them?
Legally, yes; I agree with Rothbard. Morally, though? “Morally?”,
you ask. What is morality in a society that emphasizes vengeance and
retribution over rehabilitation and recompense? How can morality be achieved
once a crime has been committed, without rendering justice a “necessary evil”?
I’ll address this shortly. But first, I must address infanticide,
utilitarianism, and the risks of letting the pro-life right dominate the public
discourse on abortion.
We now see that people who have been born, and people who have
not, have a lot of the same problems. If they are female, or homosexual, or
retarded, or insane, or disabled, or sick, or poor, or weak, or advanced in
age, they may be killed, whether through abortion, or infanticide, or
negligence, or abandonment, or abuse by civilians, or murder by police. With so
many similarities, why shouldn’t the
pro-choice left draw a distinction between partial-birth abortion and
What I am getting at, is that if we allow the pro-choice left to
dominate the dialogue, and allow “partial-birth abortions” to take place
without any consequences on the part of any doctor(s) performing the
procedures, then we risk something that I explained earlier: we risk
normalizing murder. Not to get all Carly Fiorina, “baby on the table gasping
for air”, but are we really willing to say that, just because a fetus has not
yet reached the age of approximately nine months, it is acceptable to partially
pull it from the womb, puncture its skull, and re-insert it into the womb,
leaving it to die? I mean, in the words of Nathan Explosion, “that’s pretty
If we (ahem) adopt this
viewpoint, what is to keep us from completely
(rather than partially) removing a
fetus from the womb, severing its
umbilical cord (rather than leaving it intact), and puncturing its skull,
leaving it to die outside of the
womb? Is such a “procedure” any less gruesome than the one I previously
described? Furthermore, if this procedure is acceptable, why, then, would it be
unacceptable to wait until the fetus
has reached maturity to deliver it and puncture its skull? After all, fetuses
have been saved at only three or four months old; much of the talk about “the
point (or age) of viability” is a non-sequitur.
To reiterate; to normalize partial-birth abortion is to
normalize infanticide, to normalize murder. While partial-birth “abortion”
remains legal, to normalize abortion for all the reasons I enumerated earlier
(sex or gender, orientation, insanity, deformity, disease, etc.), is to normalize infanticideand murder for those same reasons.
Basically, it is to say that any person may murder any other person for any
utilitarian or self-serving reason, as long as the murderer is able to justify
it as a “post-birth abortion”.
We must be extremely careful not to risk normalizing the
negligent homicide and active murder of human beings, simply because – due to
their age, gender, orientation, or mental or physical abilities – they might
not be useful to us. People do not exist to serve others; they exist to serve themselves. I would note that this view
on this does not jibe with the modern liberal belief in, and support of,
freedom from discrimination, which entails the legality and acceptance of involuntary
Recently in Detroit, a white woman who gave birth to twins,
prematurely at four months’ gestation, watched her children die after doctors
refused to help save them. Did these children die because they were judged
unlikely to survive such a premature birth, or did they die because they were
born poor in Detroit to a white mother and a black father? Perhaps both; we may
How does it benefit society or civilization if – although women
are protected from unequal pay, homosexuals are protected from marriage
discrimination, and minorities are protected from unequal treatment in regards
to public services and justice – it is still permissible to deliver such people
halfway out of the womb, inflict injury upon them, and insert them back in to
If it’s acceptable to kill someone before they’ve been delivered from the womb because they’re too
weak, sick, old, or mentally deficient to fight for our safety in the military,
or to join the workforce in order to contribute to the economy and generate tax
revenue, then it should be acceptable to kill someone after they’ve been delivered, for the same reason(s). As I
explained, all this talk about fetal pain, and the “age of viability”, are
merely red herrings; distractions.
If I haven’t made it clear enough, buckle up. …But
seriously, if I haven’t made it clear enough, murder is wrong. You can read
more about my position supporting the idea that murder is wrong in my article
“Is it Time to Legalize Murder?” (which can be read in my book Connotations),
in which I conclude that, yes, it is time to legalize murder. Ha-ha.
Judging by the way the Obama Administration has pitched
the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a/k/a Obamacare), it seems that
the phrase “adult children” – the term used to describe people aged 18 to 26,
whom are now allowed to remain on their parents’ health insurance plans – has
served to confound the difference between adults and children, and blur the
difference between people whom have been born, versus people whom have not yet been born.
With all the public funds being spent on taking care of the
medical needs of young people – and for educating them, financing their
educations, and, soon, forgiving their college debt – we may soon find that the
“age of viability” has moved from six months’ gestation to twenty-eight years
after birth. This is instead of moving from six months’ gestation to three or four months’ gestation, which
in my opinion – and, dare I say it, in the opinion of (ahem) science – would be more appropriate.
26. Giving Too Much to
What risks are involved in allowing the pro-life right to
dominate the dialogue and control abortion policy? If abortion were outlawed,
what exceptions should there be?
There is no such thing as a libertarian ideologue. By
definition, libertarianism requires a certain diversity of opinion. As I have
explained throughout this “Baby Starving Rothbardians” series, there is no
single libertarian position on abortion, and abortion is a divisive issue within
libertarianism. No single issue unites libertarians, as even the Non-Aggression
Principle has been criticized by the likes of Austin Petersen, and even myself.
On the issue of abortion proper, Ron Paul, Gary Johnson,
and Adrian Wyllie have all said that “the viability of the fetus” should be the
cutoff point for permissible abortions. Wyllie, who ran for U.S. Senator from
Florida in 2012, gave 20 weeks’ gestation as his limit.
This is hardly different from a common Republican position, which
has given rise to a number of state laws potentially challenging Roe v. Wade, limiting abortions before
the points of “detectable fetal heartbeat” and “fetal pain”. A proposed law in
Arkansas, ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge, set the limit to 12 weeks.
So how to apply such a viability restriction would be very difficult, as well
as controversial within libertarian circles.
But I reiterate my
own points: first, babies have been saved at as young as three or four
months’ gestation. Second, Murray Rothbard’s idea that birth should be the cutoff point for permissible abortion, can be modified (or, more appropriately, qualified) to include the idea that delivery of the fetus from its mother’s
womb, is birth. Given that babies
have been saved in the second trimester – and that most late-term,
third-trimester abortions require “partial birth” – if you’re going to deliver
a second-trimester fetus, you might as well try to save it, instead of actively
inflicting injury upon it which it is almost certain not to survive.
But I digress, to answer the issue at hand: What if
abortion were illegal, and we had to fight for abortion through a series of
laws and exceptions?
The first step is to ensure easy access to
first-trimester abortions. If the right to access abortion in the first
trimester – the first 13 weeks of gestation – is not secure, then the waiting
periods required to check for proof of insurance, and to schedule the abortion,
might result in a delay for the mother; a delay which could carry over into the
second trimester, and / or past some state-defined limit, such as a number of
weeks, or the point of fetal pain or detectable heartbeat. It could even carry
over to a point of viability; albeit requiring medical assistance (although
medical assistance is, debatably, necessary to ensure that all newborns survive, and arguably necessary throughout one’s often long life).
Another ridiculous obstacle, which I discussed earlier,
in addition to the obstacle of these needless state laws regarding limits on
abortions after a certain number of weeks, is the set of state laws, such as
the one in Wisconsin, requiring a fetal sonogram. It is ridiculous to think
that many of the same conservatives who criticize the health costs attributed
to health insurance plans being mandated to cover unnecessary procedures, are
demanding that all OB/GYNs in a state be required to give an unnecessary fetal
sonogram to patients who didn’t request them and don’t want to have anything to
do with paying for them, whether by themselves or with the assistance of their
But to answer the question directly, if I must: If
abortion were illegal, but exceptions could be allowed if fought for through
the law, danger to the mother (due to youth or size), danger to the child,
presence and risk of inheritable and communicable diseases (including genetic
disorders, venereal diseases, and mental and physical impairments), incest, and
rape, would all be acceptable
exceptions to a law against abortion, in my opinion.
To be clear, these exceptions are acceptable before the delivery of the fetus, whether partial or complete, not after. “The hospital is too far
away” is no excuse for declining to save the life of a baby born alive as the
result of a failed abortion; for that there is no justification.
I can say this and that about what should or should not be done,
but this question remains: what am I
going to do about it?
27. Punishing Abortion
If we punish abortion, and / or punish negligent
abandonment of babies born alive as the result of failed abortions, what should the punishment be, and who
should be punished; the mother or the doctor?
First off, this question assumes that the mother and the
doctor are not one and the same. It’s like the old riddle goes: A father and
son are taken to separate hospitals following a car accident. The boy’s surgeon
says “I can’t operate on this patient; he’s my son.” How is this possible? The
boy’s mother is the surgeon.
A mother receiving an abortion might be a doctor herself, or a
doula, certified or uncertified, or a young woman performing an abortion on
herself, whether with a wire coat-hanger, or chemicals and / or herbs, or by
throwing herself down a flight of stairs, or by having someone kick her in the
I would never recommend that a woman be punished by law
for getting an abortion (rightfully termed) in any of these, nor any other,
manners. Prosecuting abortion in the same way that we prosecute murder could
result in the execution of women for receiving abortions (however, in some
states, the prison sentence for murder involves less hard time than the sentences for rape and child molestation), or it could result in other harsh
sentences for seeking abortion,
treating such an activity as attempted
An article published on Salon.com in early 2014 reported
that in Mississippi, a 16-year-old woman (note: the age of consent in
Mississippi is 16 years) delivered a stillborn after using drugs during her
pregnancy, and threw the body in a dumpster. The state charged her with “depraved
heart murder”. The article noted that this case presented a dangerous
precedent; that miscarriages could be legally construed as murder. Of course, I
agree with this concern, and I do not believe that the woman should have been
charged with murder.
I could go on a tangent about how I find it objectionable that the
fact that the state can charge her with a crime, is an example of how the state
supplants the victim as the party which has the rights and responsibilities to
bring charges against the assailant, but instead, I will ask, “What if the
fetus had not been stillborn? What if
this woman had given birth to a live
baby, and abandoned it in a trash can, or dumpster, or a toilet?”
Should a woman who abandons her live, viable baby, be
charged with murder? For that matter, should a doctor who finds that abandoned
live baby in a trash can, or dumpster, or toilet, be charged with murder, if he
fails (or, some might say, neglects, or declines) to take the steps necessary
to attempt to save that baby? Should a doctor who performs “partial-birth
abortions” be charged with murder?
Let’s take these questions one at a time.
28. Miscarriage and
First, a woman who delivers a stillborn, who miscarried
because she took drugs during her pregnancy. In my opinion, such a woman should
not be charged with murder, nor dealt
with in any legalistic manner.
Pro-choicers often argue that a woman has the right to abortion because she has
the right to control what goes on inside her own body. I do not find that idea
wholly sound. The vagina is an invagination;
what is inside the vagina and inside the womb are not, strictly speaking, inside
the woman’s body. The fetus is its own
But I agree with the point that the pro-choicers are making; a
woman has the right to control what goes on inside the perimeters of her own body. A government with the power to charge a
woman with murder for giving stillbirth after the drugs she used during
pregnancy caused her miscarriage, is a government that has the power to say that
such a woman must consume these nutrients, and must not consume those toxins,
and must consume certain foods unless
they contain some class or amount of toxins. A woman who can be charged with
murder for a miscarriage caused by drugs,
can be charged with murder for a miscarriage caused by insufficient nutrition.
And that is not always the woman’s fault, given the existence of “food deserts”
in some urban areas.
In short, a government that has the power to regulate what
substances a woman puts inside her system, has the power to order all of us
what to consume and what not to consume. Indeed, Supreme Court Justice Elena
Kagen, appointed by Barack Obama, admitted her belief that if Congress passed a
law requiring everybody to eat their broccoli, then such a law would be
If a government can treat wombs and vaginas as they truly are – technically outside a woman’s body –
then it can regulate anything that goes into or comes out of them; babies,
penises, condoms, intra-uterine devices, et
29. Dumpster Babies and
the Death Penalty
Now, onto the question of a woman who delivers a live baby and abandons it immediately.
In late March of 2015, Purvi Patel of Indiana, charged with felony child
neglect and feticide, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for giving birth to a
baby that she thought was dead into a
plastic bag, and then threw it away in a dumpster. She later went to a hospital
and told doctors that she miscarried and thought she had given stillbirth.
It is very convenient for Purvi Patel that she can claim
ignorance about her baby’s status. There’s plenty of room for doubt as to
whether she really knew what she was doing. What if she knew that her baby was
alive, and could have been saved? If she knew, and abandoned it nevertheless,
does she deserve punishment, and if so, what kind?
Furthermore, what punishment, if any, does a doctor who
declines to rescue such a baby, deserve? What punishment, if any, does a doctor
who performs a partial-birth infanticide deserve? Should they be charged with
murder, and should their crimes be treated as murder; that is, should they be
treated as murderers and be sentenced to prison terms, or even executed?
It is a common misperception that Hammurabi’s Code is a
barbaric principle that calls for vengeance and retribution; in fact, it is a
call for fairness, and a demand that
the punishment fit the crime. But it would be ridiculous to invoke Hammurabi’s
Code in order to find an appropriate punishment for these three people; we
cannot abort Purvi Patel, because she is not a fetus, and we cannot give
abortions to the two doctors.
That is, unless, of course, the doctors are pregnant women.
Although it would fit the crime, to do such a thing could easily be rejected as
cruel and / or unusual punishment. Modern courts prefer fines, community
service, and time served in jail or prison. Suppose that each of the three
people in these examples were charged with murder, and given harsh sentences
such as imprisonment or execution. While these sentences are not unusual, they
could be argued to be cruel. But, perhaps just as importantly, would those
punishments fit the crimes?
If a woman who abandons her newborn in full knowledge that it is
alive, and a doctor who declines to rescue an abandoned newborn that might
survive, and a doctor who performs a partial-birth “abortion”, are each
executed, then their actions have been treated as murder, with execution the
intended punishment. But if they are imprisoned, they may be subject to rape,
assault, beatings, torture, and perhaps even murdered. All of that, with the
exception of being murdered in prison, goes, whether they are executed in the
end or not.
If they are assaulted, then are those assaults part of their
intended punishment, or simply collateral damage that is to be risked, and more
or less expected? Should society lock them away, and wash its hands of what might
happen to them, rationalizing that whatever they get is what they deserve, and
probably too good for them anyway? Wouldn’t it, in a way, be more humane, and
more appropriate to the crime, that they be executed,
but also protected from such assaults
while waiting on Death Row?
My opinion is that anyone,
charged with any crime, should not be
executed, and should be protected from assaults while in prison. I am staunchly
against the death penalty, not just for all the usual reasons – such as that it
is cruel, that too many people are wrongly convicted, that you can’t teach
someone that killing is wrong by killing someone, and that it is not an
effective deterrent – but for one simple reason: If someone knows that death is
the penalty for a crime, then they are likely to kill witnesses in order to
cover up the crime, because they know that it is impossible to receive a
A state or jury that is willing to execute someone for murdering one person in cold blood, will impart
the same punishment for killing more than
one person. Hence, not only is the death penalty not an effective deterrent; it
is not a deterrent at all, because
you can’t be deterred from committing a crime if you are already dead. Death
sentences are neither deterrents nor rehabilitation; they are merely acts of
cold-blooded revenge, and have no place in a civilized society.
Aside from the death penalty being neither effective, nor a
deterrent, nor rehabilitative, the death penalty encourages the murder of additional people. If a man knows that he
could be executed for stealing a loaf of bread, then he might kill witnesses to
cover up his crime, knowing that he could suffer no harsher a penalty. As Sir
(and Saint) Thomas More observed, increasing the harshness of sentences for
stealing food, does nothing to discourage people from stealing if that is what
they need to do in order to survive. Similarly, as Abbie Hoffman observed, a
twenty-five-year sentence for selling marijuana to a minor, will only embolden
a drug dealer to kill the minor out
of fear that he might get caught or be ratted out.
If this is not a sufficient argument against the death
penalty in general, then it is at least an effective argument against execution
as a punishment for all crimes other than
murder. However, to the criminal, twenty years or life in prison might just as
well seem like a death sentence, given the revocation of our fake freedoms, and
the high probability that one will die in prison during that time period,
whether by assault by guards or inmates, insufficient nutrition, or unsafe and
isolating conditions that can drive one to suicide.
While we may wish to see Purvi Patel and the two other
hypothetical people I mentioned earlier, and criminals in general, get what’s
coming to them, we cannot escape the problems that harsh punishments like
execution, and decades or life in prison, pose, both to the criminal, and to
society in general. Anyone who agrees with the line of reasoning that I have just
outlined, would be hard pressed to argue that justice is not a “necessary
evil”; that justice can be delivered without risking harm of someone who
doesn’t deserve it.
It almost goes without saying that comprehensive reform of the
prison and justice systems are due, so that we may continue to attempt the
delivery of justice to victim, the criminal, and society. We must repeal laws
against victimless crimes. We must repeal mandatory minimum sentencing laws,
and fight for the right of the jury to decide the facts of the case, and guilt
or innocence, as well as whether the
law being applied is just and appropriate to begin with.
We must foster a legal system that focuses on compensation of the
victim and rehabilitation, rather than revenge and punishment. We must ensure
that our punishments do not embolden our criminals against us. Additionally, we
must address the hypocrisy of maintaining an isolating, alienating, depriving
“free society” outside a structured, ordered prison and jail society that
provides criminals with food, shelter, medicine, and education, albeit in
limited and conditioned amounts and qualities.
30. Socrates and Absurd
So, then, what are we to do about infanticide, whether
negligent or intentional, and about crime in general? I suggest that all we can
do is to cling to duty; to require people to do the jobs they promised to do,
and if they decline or fail to do so, fire
them, rather than sentencing them to death or nearly certain assault. After
all, firing them may have the very same result as imprisonment.
After being found guilty of corrupting the youth of
Athens, and asked how he should be punished, Socrates replied that he should be
given free meals for life, as an alternative to the death penalty, which the
prosecutor and the jury recommended.
To me, this illustrates the absurdity of modern life and
the human condition: that supposedly free people who have been charged with no
crime must fend for themselves and work for their food, while convicted
criminals eat several meals a day, yet those “free people” who have the
debatable privilege of being sufficiently poor
may apply for “supplemental nutritional assistance”.
Perhaps we should treat newborn babies, Socrates, free
people (rich and poor alike), and convicted criminals the same way: leave them
to fend for themselves, enlisting only the kindness of strangers and what the
Earth can provide them, and resolve to do nothing;
neither to help them through compulsion, nor to hurt them by hastening their
eventual murder by a harsh, cold, cruel, unforgiving society that never truly
had any of their interests at heart, instead seeking only what seems useful to
itself, just as any one of its individual inhabitants do.
Being that the truth, if it is the real truth, can
withstand satire, I will close with reference to two comedians. The following
quotations are paraphrased.
First, Doug Stanhope: There should be a Scared Straight Program
for people who believe that prisoners have it easy; for people who aspire to
nothing more than three meals a day, cable television, and to work forty hours
a week inside a cubicle. A Scared Straight Program in which, if this is all
that an at-risk youth desire, he be sentenced to a normal working stiff’s
“cruel and unusual life”.
On another topic, Stanhope noted that if you’ve ever witnessed
childbirth, you know that it is no more beautiful to look at than abortion is.
Second, Bill Hicks: “Childbirth is not a miracle. It’s a
chemical reaction. It’s no more a miracle than eating food, and a turd falling
out of your butt.” He continues, “A miracle
is making a kid that doesn’t talk during a fucking movie.”