Tuesday, January 6, 2009

More on MgS's false and absurd pro-abortion principles

Firstly, I am going to try to put MgS's principles as succinctly as possibly, then prove, with citations, that they are indeed her principles, then finally refute them as briefly as possible, and offer some concluding thoughts.

Here are her principles:

1. An unborn child's (the object of the pregnancy) 'right' to life is not a proper right, but is, rather, a gratuity to be bestowed by the mother (the subject of the pregnancy) at her will, irrrespective of any objective (pertaining to the object) characteristics.

2. To deny 1. is to assert that the mother loses, at conception, the ability to make moral and ethical decisions.

3. The power of life and death of the mother over the unborn child as described in 1. arises from the child's condition of dependency on the mother.

Now in case anyone should dispute that these are a fair representation of MgS's principles, here is proof for her belief in each of them:

Proof that MgS holds 1.: "In short, both of these questions fall firmly into the domain of the pregnant woman - it is her decision and hers alone to make." The "questions" of which MgS speaks are: Does the unborn baby begin to enjoy the right to life at any point during his or her gestation? and: If not, how long after his or her birth does he or she begin to enjoy the right to life? (http://crystalgaze2.blogspot.com/2008/12/base-squirmeth.html)

Proof that MgS holds 2.: "Anything less [than 1.] presumes that a woman is incapable of making moral and ethical decisions of her own the moment she becomes pregnant." (http://crystalgaze2.blogspot.com/2008/12/base-squirmeth.html)
Further evidence, all from http://crystalgaze2.blogspot.com/2007/11/hypocrisy-of-pro-life-politics.html:

"the absolutist view of 'abortion as evil' lands smack in the same space, as it disregards the status of woman as a moral, intelligent human being capable of understanding and making difficult decisions."

"The second problem with such absolutes [as "protecting life at all costs"] is that it presupposes that a woman who is pregnant is unable to make moral (or ethical) decisions for herself regarding her pregnancy, its progress and its conclusion."

"It seems to me that the absolutist view of 'abortion as evil' lands smack in the same space, as it disregards the status of woman as a moral, intelligent human being capable of understanding and making difficult decisions."

Proof that MgS holds 3.: "You can argue until you are blue in the face about "when life begins", and frankly it is irrelevant to the fundamental fact that bearing the child has a significant biological cost for the woman. Paraphrasing the old adage "he who has the gold makes the rules", she who pays the price, makes the decisions. All the way up to birth." (http://crystalgaze2.blogspot.com/2008/12/base-squirmeth.html)

Now for a confutation of each principle:

Confutation of 1.: as I have said before, to uphold this principle is to create the absurd situation (but one that is all too real in present-day Western hospitals) where there can be two essentially identical babies, A and B, but with baby A having a right to life at point x because of being born, prematurely, before point x, while baby B has no right at the same point simply because not yet born.

Confutation of 2: this is simply false, a straightforward non sequitur. It is not a principle of Catholic bioethics, it is not a principle of any other anti-abortion bioethical system, it has never been asserted by any serious anti-abortion thinker or activist, and it does not follow logically from 1.—no State-enforced prohibition presumes a disabling of the transgressor's conscience, just that the transgressor reached a judgement that was contrary to the common good. The best MgS can do is to direct me to a theme from a science-fiction novel!

There is also another serious problem with 2. This problem is that the fact of someone having or not having a right is a distinct question from the question of whether it is moral or ethical to suppress that right. That is, it is a pure assertion on the part of MgS; it does not follow from her fundamental axiom that "Humanity creates morality, twit". A right is something that is owed in justice but which can be suppressed in prudence. Even liberals such as MgS would acknowledge that their cherished right to 'freedom of speech' can be suppressed when it threatens to disrupt the public peace.

Confutation of 3.: if one holds 3., then given that a newborn baby is also completely dependent on others, one must, for consistency, argue that the power of life and death is transferable between whoever happens to be caring for him or her once born, all the way up until such time as he or she can fend for himself.

So MgS's principles are simply untenable. If examined consistently, they produce the indisputable implication that children have no right to life until they are about school age or older. Pro-abortion, according to MgS's principles, truly does mean pro-infanticide. This much is clear. Now you might be wondering: why am I spending so much time refuting MgS's principles? She's just a 'Gender Studies' blogger from far-off Canada who cannot write elegantly, argue logically, nor even discuss civilly, right? Why bother? My reason is that these principles are not just MgS's, but, I suspect, those of most citizens in Western countries. I suspect that U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives Ms Nancy Pelosi spoke for the silent majority when she made the incredible, unforgettable assertion that

We don’t know [when life begins]. The point is it that it shouldn’t have an impact on a woman’s right to chose.
So the fundamental principle for the pro-abortion movement isn't consistency, but the principle of 'out of sight, out of mind'—one set of axioms for when a baby is concealed within the womb, and another set of axioms for when the baby is out of the womb. And I venture that the reason why consistency is so under-valued in the pro-abortion movement is that this is not a matter of principle, but of expediency. That is, it's a bunch of selfish, irresponsible, promiscuous people—men as well as women—looking at those among them who have been less successful in avoiding the consequences of their actions and thinking 'Well, if my contraception failed I wouldn't want to be punished [their words, see Mr. Obama, for instance] with a baby, so we'll all just turn a blind eye to what amounts to industrial-scale infanticide'.

But what of those of us who do value consistency? As far as I can tell, the only two bioethical systems for thinking consistently about abortion are the Catholic one and the preference-utilitarian one. That is, if one wants to be pro-abortion and consistent then one has to follow preference-utilarian ethics, and if one wants to be anti-abortion and consistent then one needs to follow Catholic bioethics. Each system has the following three fundamental premises, each of which is just the opposite of each of MgS's premises:

1. An unborn child's (the object of the pregnancy) right to life is a proper right, not a gratuity to be bestowed by the mother (the subject of the pregnancy) at her will, but, rather, one that depends on objective (pertaining to the object) characteristics.

2. To uphold 1. is not to assert that the mother loses, at conception, the ability to make moral and ethical decisions.

3. The right to life described in 1. is owed irrespective of any condition of dependency.

These principles are no more complex than MgS's (and, in the absense of reference to God or external, objective morality, no more arbitary), but are more consistent than hers, and so they are to be preferred to hers, all else equal (which is indeed the case, if we agree, for the sake of argument, to ignore the Divine natural law). Catholic bioethics and preference-utilitarian bioethics diverge so widely in their implications, though, because for Catholic bioethics the key objective characteristic is the infusion (or presumption, according to the deer hunter principle, of the infusion) of the rational soul, while for preference utilitarians it is the object's ability to make preference orderings over different states of natures. So to adhere to Catholic bioethics is to reject abortion at all stages of pregnancy, while to adhere to preference-utilitarian bioethics is to accept infanticide well into a child's early years. But instead of something as rigorous as either of these two systems, society sacrifices consistency (and, worldwide, millions of babies a year) in favour of something much simpler: out of sight, out of mind. And just shout down, or shut out, anyone who defies it.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of the Epiphany, A.D. 2009

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