Abortion: A Matter of Human Rights (Right to Life) or Property Rights?
As many people are aware, the CBC held "The Great Canadian Wish List" on Facebook. Facebook members were asked to come in and register their support for one of the wishes listed, or create one of their own, with a feature story on the winning wish as of July 1st. When the Contest closed on July 1st, the number one Wish one the list was "abolish abortion" and it beat out "keep abortion legal" by a significant margin. I took a peek at what the poor choicers were saying on "keep abortion legal". Almost to a person, they consider the pro-life movement to be a bunch of religious fanatics, or an intrusion on their rights by the church (which church?) or an affront to separation of Church and state Nothing an be further fom the truth, and I will illustrate my point by coming at the life issue from a non religious perspective.
Allow me to tell a story that will illustrate the non-religious background in which I initially came my pro-life views. I used to be a member of the Libertarian Party. I ran in two elections (1988 and 1993) and at that time, I had never darkened the door of a church. I even ran for the leadership of that party. Nevertheless, I always opposed abortion. This may be partly because I am here only on account of a 16 year girl who made a tough decision to stay the course, at a time when "good girls didn't" and then give me up for adoption. Her choice, of which I was told by my adoptive parents very early on in life, taught me the intrinsic value of life.
In any case, there was a time when many if not most Libertarians held the view that the right to life was the foundation on which all other rights stood or fell, and many believed, correctly, that life began at conception, and that to allow abortion made a mockery of the whole concept of rights, let alone the right to life. Moreover, Libertarians also held to the view that one should not coerce others to pay for their actions, to wit, no welfare for those who choose not to work, no taxpayer bailouts for corporations who displayed fiscal irresponsibility, and that it followed that one could not use the life of an unborn child as the currency by which they could buy their way out of responsibility for their actions. When one engages in sex, contraceptives notwithstanding, the possibility of pregnancy nonetheless exists. By engaging in sexual relations one iscognizant of the fact that they are running this risk, so they should either accept this fact, and live with the result, or abstain, if they wish to avoid the risk entirely.
Sadly, the Libertarian movement has changed over the years, and it has been taken over by people who see property rights as trumping all others, that property rights, Many in broader society have also bought into this lie. In this case the "property" is one's body, trump the right to life. however, the right to life is the foundation from which all other rights are derived. If someone can take the life of another and not be held accountable, then it really was not a right at all, but rather a privelege that exists only at the whim of someone stronger. This is what we call the law of the jungle.
Property rights , in and of themselves are limited by servitudes or eminent domain, or other restrictions which deny absolute control for the sake of the greater good. For example, the authorities will step in if you put pesticides on your front lawn, because the harm to the environment, its ecosystems, and by extension, even people in the vicinity. By the same token, prior to adding on to your house, or erecting other permanent structures on your property, you must obtain permission from your municipality to do so, so that it can be ascertained that what you proposeto build is not a hazard or an eyesore to others. There are also zoning laws, so that no one can open a strip club on your nice residential street. So if you look upon the idea of the "right" to do whatever one wishes with their own body as an extension of property rights, you can see that because the rights of someone else are being infringed in (and in the worst possible way, In the case of an unborn child), we step in to defend their right to life, which, as I've pointed out trumps all other rights. With all rights, come responsibilities.
Today the libertarian movement is for the most part, pro-"choice", with the only restriction being that taxpayers not be required to pay for it. I know some people who argue, that there can be no restrictions on the point up to which an abortion can be performed, since, as her body is her "property" to dispose of as she wishes, she may, at any time, withdraw her consent for the baby to occupy her body. The result has been that most pro-lifers have left the Libertarian movement. The most notable case is the case of Dr. Ron Paul, who was the US Libertarian Party's Presidential nominee in 1988. Today Dr. Paul, a pro-life OB-GYN, sits as a Republican Congressman from Texas, and is currently in the running for the Republican Presidential nomination. (For the record, Dr. Paul is the only Presidential candidate, of either party that opposes the death penalty).
So if one accepts the premise that the right to life is the foundation on which all other rights are derived, and you can agree that some restrictions on property rights are neccessary, then one cannot subscribe to the fashionable libertarian notion that property rights have pre-eminence.
We need to be able to argue the pro-life position fro a position that can be understood by unchurched people, who make up the majority of the pro-aborts and the general population and I hope I have provided you with some worthwhile ideas.
Next: Given the reasonable possibility that Roe V. Wade may be struck down in the future, and that the abortion debate is now back on the table in Canada, whether the politicians want it to be or not, we need to be able to offer solutions for dealing with the what comes after abortion is illegal, if we are to get anywhere. I will make a post offering some ideas for this shortly.