Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Talking Things Over About Abortion

Although nobody posted a comment regarding yesterday's post, I have received some complaints. Ah, well...I hope I haven't knocked down a hornets' nest here.

Let me elaborate a little on my position on abortion. There are actually two different arguments concerning abortion: one moral and the other political. They certainly do both concern the same subject, but each argument asks a different and distinct question.

The moral argument asks whether abortion is MORAL, while the political debate concerns the question of whether abortion should be LEGAL. One of the reasons our society is so conflicted about this is that many people are of one mind on the first question, while they answer the second altogether differently. At the risk of sounding like Bill or Hillary Clinton, I believe that abortion is immoral, but I believe that it should remain legal. I think I have already adequately explained why.

As a Libertarian, I do not believe that every evil can be whisked away with the wave of a magic wand. And, essentially, that is what politicians and activists propose doing when they agitate for legislation to outlaw the things that they don't like. As I made clear yesterday, I'm afraid that, if the practice is entirely outlawed, the abortion rate might actually go up.

Of course those who see "society" in theoretical, airy-fairy, ideological terms object to this. They say that abortion must be illegal because of the "message" legal abortion supposedly sends. "What sort of a society does it say we are?" is their recurring question.

Well, what sort of a society does it say we are if we pass yet another law against something -- or repeal a law FOR it -- when, very clearly, many people will go on doing what they want to regardless of what the law says? If abortion KEEPS ON HAPPENING, then whatever that says about our society -- whatever "message" it sends -- goes right on being said and sent regardless of the fiction we have created with our laws.

We are a society that practices abortion. That isn't going to change anytime soon, though (however inconvenient this fact may be to the pro-life crowd) the abortion rate in this country is actually down. How will we even be able to track the abortion rate, with any accuracy at all, once the practice is illegal?

There are a great many pro-lifers who have doing a world of good. They are working at the grassroots level to befriend unwed youngsters who are pregnant, and giving them an option that is better than abortion. They are doing much other positive work besides. All this is highly commendable. But there are, unfortunately, a huge number of others in the anti-abortion movement who are generating a whole lot of heat, but precious little light.

Most of the women in this country are tired of being shouted at and pushed around. More shouting and pushing isn't about to change their hearts or minds. Just look at those gigantic coat-hangers in those "reproductive rights" demonstrations. They tell you exactly where the majority of women in America are on this issue.

To the True Believers on both "sides," I seem like a waffler. They simply cannot seem to accept that there are two different issues involved in the abortion debate. But the truth is what it is: it is the sum of its parts. Truth is no better served if it is "simplified" by reducing two to one than it would be by those who would "complicate" it by multiplying two times two. The whole picture is the whole picture.

Whenever I try to explain, to a True Believer of either "side," what my position on abortion is, I get the predictable reaction. Off flies the wig, the head begins to spin around and out spew the pea-soup and the bumper-sticker slogans. The red-alerts I get, almost daily, in my email from the National Organization for Women would be comical, if they were not so sad.

Pro-lifers, if lives truly are at stake here, then consider something more important than your own egos, venture out of your narrow, little comfort-zones, and MAKE YOUR CASE. To do that, you will need to do something that, up 'til now, all too few of you have shown any willingness to do: treat women like grownups who are capable of reason, and make the effort to reason with us. Sure, from many of us, you'll get the wigs flying off and the spinning heads and the pea soup, but if the lives of the unborn are your real concern, you will stick with it. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. More shouting and pushing will only lead to even more shouting and pushing.

There is no other way to save the unborn than to win over one heart and mind at a time. I'm sorry nobody told you that earlier, but you need to stop listening to the demagogues and the ideologues and the political opportunists and begin paying attention to the voice of reason.

As a Libertarian, I believe that free and open debate is the only means of bringing about a widespread recognition of the truth. The abortion debate is, morally-speaking, the pro-life side's to win. Now, stop acting as if your battle is un-winnable (the clear message you send by refusing to do anything but try to force your way to victory), and go out there and win it! Too many people, within your ranks, have damaged your credibility already. You can ill afford to indulge them anymore.

What would the abortion industry do if pro-lifers ever stopped disgracing themselves and actually persuaded the majority of women to join their cause? For far too long, pro-lifers have been their own worst enemies. They may end up winning the battle -- only to lose the war. And if that comes to pass, then the casualties will end up being the very innocent unborn human beings they strove so long and hard to save.


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