Friday, December 2, 2016
Baby Starving Rothbardians, Part 3: Abortion
Originally Written between March and August 2014,
and between November 10th and 20th, 2015
Edited on January 10th, 27th, and 29th, 2016
Table of Contents
2. Hail Satan?
3. Do All Abortions Kill Fetuses?
4. Infanticide and Natural Rights
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 Patient”
10. Abortion as a Natural Right
11. Abortion as a Political Issue
12. We Can’t All Just Get Along
13. Reform and Compromise
14. Abortion as a Traded Service
15. Abortion as Commerce
16. Freedom and Thrift Through Inaction
17. Defending Our Rights
18. Federal vs. State Government
19. Government Dereliction of Duty and the Free Market
20. “And I Do Have a Point”
21. Logistical Limitations
23. Alternatives to Abortion
24. Personal Responsibility
25. Giving Too Much to Pro-Choicers
26. Giving Too Much to Pro-Lifers
27. Punishing Abortion and Miscarriage
28. Miscarriage and Health
29. Dumpster Babies and the Death Penalty
30. Socrates and Absurd Criminal Justice
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 abortion.
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 Fetuses?
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 Natural Rights
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 pledge.
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 babies or 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 intention.
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 were thrown.
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 transfer custody.
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 means nothing.
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 Patient”
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 Natural Right
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).
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 order them 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 do so?
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 others?
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.
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 Get Along
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 above.
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., pro-infanticide) movement.
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 warrant).
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 Compromise
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 bipartisan compromise.
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 service.
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 Service
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 purposes.
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 that manner.
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 Through Inaction
To reiterate my earlier point, recognizing a right is easy, and often involves no physical action at all; it’s doing something about it that's hard.
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 governments money.
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 federal government).
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 rights?
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 government.
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 defense shields.
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 doing so.
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.
19. Government 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 benefactors.
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 Point”
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 the same.
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 state.
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 her own?
But now, jokes aside, on to more serious things (as Wookiee John would say, “Boo, serious stuff!”); on to some final questions.
21. Logistical Limitations
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 saying otherwise.
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 abortion.
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 rent-seeking.
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 Abortion
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 voluntary contributions.
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 their parents?
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.
24. Personal Responsibility
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 Pro-Choicers
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 boys.
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 planning.
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: Elaboration”.
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, others.
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 infanticide?
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 brutal”.
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 infanticide and 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 servitude.
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 never know.
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 die?
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 Pro-Lifers
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 insurance provider.
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 and Miscarriage
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 gut.
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 murder.
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 Health
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 body.
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 constitutional.
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 cetera.
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 harsher sentence.
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 Criminal Justice
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.”