Libertarians and other liberals generally hold to Mill’s principle that any action is permissible so long as it does not (a) harm anyone else, (b) unless they give consent. Abortion is an action which not only harms another human, but is done without the consent of the pre-born baby. Therefore a pro-abortion stance is absolutely irreconcilable with a liberal worldview. As a member of the liberal ACT Party, I have confronted fellow members with this paradox, but am yet to hear a rational response. Matt Flannagan at the MandM blog has written an article on the illiberality of abortion, and a few excerpts are below…
It is worth noting that two very common tactics of avoiding this conclusion fail. The first is to defend abortion, on the basis of the perceived positive social consequences of ‘liberal’ abortion laws. In popular political discourse, and in some feminist writings, abortion is defended on consequentialist grounds; it is argued that abortion prevents unwanted children, children who are likely to be poor, abused, neglected or engage in crime. It is hailed as a solution to over-population and the existence of handicapped people. It prevents adult and teenage women from falling into economic hardship and stress and enables them to complete their education, pursue their careers and so on…
In summation, liberal proponents of the non-initiation of force principle can only support abortion if they are willing to be inconsistent and arbitrary in their application of the principle or if they are willing to endorse not just infanticide but the eating of newborn infants or state mandated vegetarianism or coercive abortions. These policies are an anathema to most liberals; as such, abortion is not liberal.
Matt is a Classical Liberal who did his PhD on Abortion as arbitrary Feticide, and is well-qualified to write on this subject. Click here to read the rest of his article.
18 thoughts on “Abortion: A Liberal Perspective”
Then there are a few people like Blair Mulholland who acknowledge that the foetus is human from conception, but refuse to follow the logic through and address the moral issues this creates. His post here is interesting (and sad) reading:
http://blairmulholland.typepad.com/mulholland_drive/2009/05/the-abortion-sterilisation-and-contraception-act-1977-is-a-load-of-bollocks.htmlAbortion is such an emotive issue that even otherwise logical people refuse to use logic when considering it. And then they refuse to acknowledge that they are being emotional…
Thanks for the link Samuel. Blair must have a dead conscience… a real eye-opener.
Oh do fuck off. What conscience do you have? What punishment would you propose for abortion? Would you send a woman to prison for having an abortion, or just a hefty fine? What kind of fucking conscience do you have in order to do that to somebody? Just get fucked.
Re: your article in Canta last week.
Before you cast stones at people who, in often desperate circumstances, chose to abort their children, can you really say you have done everything in your power to help those who might be considering a termination?
Have you for example gone round the block you live and asked if anyone needs a hand? (Believe it or not I know many desperate single-parents who would think Christmas had come early).
How’s about dropping a donation to single-women as parents? the refuge? a parcel of kids clothes under the wishing tree at Christmas even?
It’s not rocket science: if you want to stop abortion make it easier for women to keep their children.
Growing up as a child of a single parent I’m sick of ‘pro-life’ campaigners who on the one hand condemn abortion and on the other are the first to lower expectations and cast stereotypes on us.
The way to stop abortion is practical: it’s not about quoting statistics. When you can tell me what you’ve done to support women considering abortion I might consider listening to your views
Blair if abortion is homicide the punishment for it should be the same as for homicide, if it is not homicide, then it should be no more problematic or restricted than any other kind of elective surgery.
Which is it? Homicide or not?
If you think the fetus is human and killing it is wrong then be consistent. There are a lot of homicide situations were we can empathise with the offender’s motives and circumstances but that does not mean we set aside justice for the victim.
Femina, if abortion is on par with killing then we must be consistent and treat it as killing. Would you say of a mother who drowned her two year old because she couldn’t afford to keep it “if you want to stop infanticide make it easier for women to keep their children.”
It is wrong to kill people; harming others is wrong regardless of how much support for your own circumstances you are lacking.
I agree with you, as I am sure does Andy, that people tempted to engage in wrong actions that harm others sometimes are less likely to engage in that wrongdoing if they had more support but this is not always the case and it ignores the fact that lack of support is not an excuse to do the wrong thing or hurt someone else.
I take it that you do not think any one can condemn spousal abuse unless they have first attempted to help struggling couples?
Hi Femina, I completely agree with you. Well said.
I am involved in charity work, and have in the past been a part of “the mission”, a group of students here at Canterbury who cycle into town early in the morning, pick up left-over bread from bakeries, and deliver it to the Christchurch Mission – they feed and shelter homeless and people addicted to drugs.
Nonetheless, I am convinced it is very important for us to target both sides of the issue: the aspect of support that you have raised – and then also what we’re able to do in terms of speaking out against this great social injustice.
You are most welcome to come along to our next meeting: Tuesday, 3pm, room 906 in the Library.
Blair. Samuel said it well.
Me: “And then they refuse to acknowledge that they are being emotional…”
Blair: “Oh do fuck off … fucking … Just get fucked.”
Exactly. Thanks for confirming that Blair.
Not much of an argument from Blair… kind of lets himself down a bit there doesn’t he.
You express that abortion is on par with killing and hence we should treat it as such. I respect that that is your view but I must say I disagree. I personally do not have a problem with terminating or ‘killing’ a foetus before full term. I don’t view it as ‘wrong’.
What I don’t understand is why your views should affect my ability to have an abortion if I wanted to. I am fine that if faced with the choice you wouldn’t have an abortion, why can you not accept that if I want to have an abortion I should be able to?
And I certainly would say that ‘if you want to stop infanticide make it easier for women to keep their children’. If a women kills her child by abortion or infanticide she is obviously desperately in need of some support. If pro-life members such as yourself put as much emphasis into reaching out to women in these circumstances as you do into publicity perhaps you would be able to help women in both situations?
I am so pleased that you are engaging in ‘charity’ as I too am involved with community work on a regular basis. I am intimately aware with who the Mission helps and think they are a very deserving organisation who do a lot of good in our community.
However I may not have expressed myself clearly enough. My question was not what ‘charity’ work do you do but what have you done to help those who might be considering a termination?
You claim that you are tacking ‘both sides of the issue’ but all I see are your posters around uni advertising your next meeting to discuss the issues. If you were tacking both sides surely I would see alongside these advertisements, posters announcing ‘pro-life UC offers carseats, prams and cots for loan to anyone in need’ or even just expressing that pro-life members are happy to make a cup of coffee and provide some adult company for parents who are being driven up the wall by looking after their toddlers full time,
I like your use of analogy. Here’s another I like as quoted from last week’s Canta magazine,
‘…are you behind your cause enough to offer up the 18 years and $180,000 needed to rear the unborn foetus of an unwanting mother into a valuable human being? Because if you’re not, it’s kind of like being a vegetarian who eats meat,’
Thanks for your comments Femina.
We are a newly established pro-life group, however even at this early stage, we are actively discussing ways in which we can offer practical assistance to women in crisis-pregnancy situations. As you will see in CANTA shortly, we are absolutely prepared to “put our money where our mouth is”.
As poor students, we will do what we can to offer practical help, however one major way in which we hope we can be useful, is in raising awareness to the injustice of abortion, while also highlighting what positive alternatives are available.
I’m sorry, but your argument that “I don’t think it’s wrong, so what’s wrong with it” is broken.
No matter how many times I told you that I believed that child-pornography is an acceptable form of media, it would absolutely not change the fact that child-pornography is an utterly depraved form of media, which must be condemned by all.
What if I said:
“I personally do not have a problem with terminating or ‘killing’ a child before the age of 12. I don’t view it as ‘wrong’.
What I don’t understand is why your views should affect my ability to kill a child if I wanted to. I am fine that if faced with the choice you wouldn’t kill your child, why can you not accept that if I want to kill my child I should be able to?”
Would you be happy with me killing an 11-year-old just because I thought it was ok?
Our law is not based on what the offender feels is right – plenty of criminals feel what they are doing is right.
On the contrary, the law is designed specifically to protect individuals FROM people who feel it is ok to harm them.
Ugh. It's fucking wrong.
Despite all my efforts to stop her, my (now ex) partner decided to go ahead with one. Because of her, I'll never get to know the daughter I could have had. Sure, I'm young and may not be in the best position, but at least I could try. I would even have been willing to consider adoption, but no. Stupid bitch.
Abortion needs to be outlawed and punishable as murder – and retrospectively as well. Obviously, with exceptions if it's to save life (if continuing would kill both the mother and the child – isn't it better to end one life than two?), but apart from that, anyone who has one, or has had one in the past, needs to be punished for it.
I agree Namida. The group I am involved with (Prolife NZ) would be interested in hearing a fuller account of your story. This could be anonymous if you wish.
It may sound extreme to equate aborting a child with murdering a human outside of the womb, but the only real difference is the location of the victim.
You sicken me! How dare you attempt to play the moral high ground whilst calling your ex-partner a 'stupid bitch'. It says a lot about your view of women and im glad that one more does not have to grow up being fed your chauvanistic bullshit.
Learn some respect for women and grow the fuck up!