Friday, March 25, 2016

The way we talk about abortion in the US

So lets talk about abortion for a moment. This is an area where the more people I talk to with different perspectives from different places, the more challenging perspectives have to be accommodated.

The US is becoming increasingly polarized between two groups. A significant number of my friends on both sides of this issue don't fall into either group but I am noticing more and more people espousing one of these two extreme, individualist positions and that is a bit scary. Those of you who read below and think one or the other is a straw man don't get the fact that I am discussing how I have seen other discussions I have had, and you are welcome to comment on why the extreme viewpoint portrayed below doesn't apply to you.

The first position holds that abortion is really no different from murder, that human life begins at conception and therefore a zygote, embryo, or fetus has a right to life that may not be infringed on. But being individualistic, sees abortion as a personal failing, not a social one, and therefore sees no culpability by employer, boyfriend, school administrator, or the like. Thus one can ponder sending abortion providers to jail, or even the women seeking abortions, but one would not ponder changes to make it easier for women to participate in the economy fully after having children. This position ends up being pro-birth into a heartless world and calling it pro-life.

The second extreme I have seen on the rise is the idea that abortion during any portion of pregnancy is acceptable, and that the government should not put restrict abortion at all In this view, the only question that matters is a woman's right to control her own body, but in many circumstances infants do not stop being dependent on their mother's bodies after birth, so why not allow women to kill breastfeeding infants? Why not trust fathers too and bring back the powers of pater familias under the Twelve Tables? The answer here again is total individualism, and that personhood doesn't apply really until birth.

Those two positions are the extremes of a narrow argument that is waged by people who accept Locke's theories of natural rights and his hierarchy of life over liberty, and liberty over property. Any argument on abortion which assumes personhood is the test effectively falls into that trap, and worse it assumes a universal answer to all questions on the topic.

I often ask pro-choice people in the US to comment on Scandinavian abortion restrictions (Denmark, having the fewest restrictions, limits elective abortion to 20 weeks gestation, while Iceland requires major health or social justification for all abortions, and Noway limits elective abortion to 12 weeks). One thing I almost never see is a discussion local issues. What I either see are discussions of the fact that they are industrialized so we will give them a pass unlike, say, African nations, or else I see an unyielding adherence to position over an ability to listen to any other perspectives. Ask anti-abortion activists about Singapore (an island country with no room to build new houses) and again, one almost never sees discussion of local issues there either. The local issues don't matter to Americans.

The problem is made significantly worse by how we look at the question of social progress in the US. The US is the most liberal country in the world and what we have, really, is a choice between left liberalism (liberal democracy governing business and liberalism governing family law) and right liberalism (liberalism governing business, and liberal devotion to religious liberties governing the family). As de Benoist has put it that is the choice (though he was talking about France), and there is no diversity possible in either side.

So what if we ask about abortion in a functional way instead? That the need for abortion rights in the US comes from the way we effectively foist on women alone the opportunity costs of having and raising children? That for those opposed to abortion the most important thing is to build a more just economic order, and for those who see choice in life path as the more important direction, there is a need to recognize that some trade-offs in this area may be worth it? In other words, with more support for families with children, more restrictions on abortion can be acceptable? The individualistic view on this issue means among other things that we cannot ask questions of duty. What is the duty society to new parents? How should parenthood fit into the economic order? These are the questions which have to be asked and answered.  


  1. Theoretically I agree with this approach - reducing the demand (not *need* because abortions are not necessary in any normal use of the word "need") by strengthening social support for motherhood - BUT the problem is that the pro-choice will not compromise. If we say okay we will increase maternity/paternity leave and create more incentives for mothers and provide more support so women don't have to choose between career and family, we are kidding ourselves if we think the left will turn around and say okay no more late term abortions. It just won't happen. And so we on the right will have given the left what they want and receive nothing in return.

  2. I'll happily support the 100% funding of aborting any and all non-White babies anywhere. However, I will slit the throat of anyone who kills even one White embryo for any reason except genetic defect. This is not really a question of absolute moralism, but one of eugenic and genetic fitness and survival of our race.