Friday, September 18, 2009

Do women have the right to control their own bodies?

The problem I have with most pro-abortion people is that they are stunningly hypocritical. While they speak from one side of their mouths about a woman's right to control her own body when she wishes to get rid of an unwanted fetus, from the other side they deny her the right to control her own body in a thousand other circumstances.

If a woman's body belongs to her, then she has the right to exchange sexual favors for money, she has the right to be photographed however she likes, she has the right to either take or refuse any drugs, medicines, vitamins, and foods (natural or unnatural) that she chooses. She has the right to refuse or consent to medical treatments according to her own medical and moral beliefs. She has the right to give birth how and where she chooses, attended by persons of her own choosing. She has the right to defend her own body and her own life from aggressive attack. She has the right to use her own time, talents, and energy to earn property, and the right to dispose of that property according to her own values.

In fact, one of the only circumstances where a woman's right to control her own body can be legitimately questioned is the circumstance of pregnancy, where another human being depends on her body for its life. What rights, if any, does that unborn human have? When there is a conflict of interest between a woman and her unborn child, they cannot both win.

The thing that is so disturbing in the anti-liberal pro-abortionist position is that it denies a woman all ownership rights over her own body except in that one circumstance where there is an obvious conflict with the rights of another human being, i.e., abortion.

Thus, the term "pro-choice" to describe this position is absolutely inaccurate. The term should be "pro-abortion" or "anti-fetus." These people are not pro-woman, pro-choice, or pro-freedom in any way.

I know that many different types of people support a woman's right to control her own body, even at the expense of an unborn child, and I am not painting all of these people with the same brush. Those who are consistently libertarian, and choose to come down on the woman's side in any conflict of interest between herself and a fetus, are not being inconsistent or hypocritical.

But if the right to abort a baby is the only woman's right that you support, and you would deny her the right to make choices about her own body in a thousand other circumstances, then calling yourself pro-choice, or even liberal, is just a bald-faced lie. The accurate name for you would be pro-abortion, anti-choice authoritarian.

And the rest of us have to wonder, what are these pro-abortion authoritarians really all about? Given that they're hypocritical enough to call themselves "pro-choice," it's very unlikely that they're ever going to answer this question honestly. It might be interesting to ask, but we won't expect a straight answer.

My best guess is that most of the pro-abortion crowd are really about population control, at least for those who support abortion rights within the context of socialist authoritarianism. They have no problem with large populations of tax-slaves working for the enrichment of political elites; they just don't want too many slaves. Their agenda is simply to thin out the population of slaves to a more manageable level by encouraging the slaves to choose abortion for themselves. If the agenda of the power elite changes, they will just as easily support mandatory, forced abortions, or perhaps outlaw abortion and switch to mandatory, forced pregnancies.

Anyone who disagrees with this speculation should at least come up with another explanation for the fact that these pro-abortionists have no interest in other libertarian issues, nor the slightest regard for the rights of the unborn.

On the abortion issue itself, I would just say this: Roe vs. Wade, while generally viewed as a really bad piece of case law, and hated by extremists on both sides, seems to represent something close to an American consensus. An embryo aborted in the first trimester may indeed have a beating heart, but it is not yet a sentient being and does not suffer any pain. The pregnant woman has at least a month to make a decision about whether or not to carry through the pregnancy. In all it seems to me like a reasonable compromise between the rights of the woman and those of the fetus when the woman truly does not want to bring the pregnancy to term. To me, both extremes have unacceptably inhumane results.

Is health care a basic human right?

A response to the Facebook poll: Should health care be considered a basic human right?

If health care is a basic human right, then why are so many people speaking in such nationalistic terms--complaining, for instance, about illegal aliens, as if only Americans are human beings? Citizens of Mexico are humans, too. So are citizens of Nigeria, and China. If health care is a basic human right, then it is a basic right of every human being in the world.

Much of the conflict in the current health care debate comes from confusion about the concept of "rights." Many Americans cling to an old-fashioned definition of "rights" which denies the validity of positive rights like the right to adequate health care. So allow me to take a moment to clarify the difference between positive and negative human rights.

Health care is a positive right, which means it is a right to certain goods and services produced by others. The right to health care creates a corresponding obligation for others to produce and provide those goods and services. In contrast, a negative right, like the right to life, requires only that others refrain from killing you. Thus, negative rights require nothing more than acknowledgment and self-control from others, while positive rights require production and provision of goods and services. Of course this does not mean that positive rights do not exist--only that they require much more effort to "defend."

Another difference between positive and negative rights is that negative rights place a negative obligation on all other humans equally; your right to life requires all other humans to refrain from killing you. But a positive right entails the obligation to provide goods and services; it cannot be required of those who cannot produce and provide those goods and services, but only of the relatively small segment of humanity that has the ability to produce them. The obligations of this particular group (in this case, doctors, nurses, drug companies, etc.) can be somewhat mitigated by taxing everyone who receives income to pay those who must actually do the work. This spreads the obligation more evenly over the human population.

I think it's obvious that the defense of humanity's right to health care requires the establishment of a world organization devoted to assessing the needs of all countries and ensuring that those needs are met, with as much fairness as is humanly possible. This organization must be granted power, first of all, to tax the entire working/investing population of the world (though perhaps individual governments could tax their own citizens and hand it over all at once). Funding would probably be best accomplished by steeply progressive taxes on income and wealth. Secondly, the organization must have the power to deploy doctors, nurses, and medical resources where they are needed most. At first, this system would undoubtedly entail a massive influx of money and personnel from the richer to the poorer countries of the world, but only until such time as health care resources are deemed by the central medical authority to be distributed evenly over the world.

It is to be hoped that American medical personnel would voluntarily and happily embrace their placements in foreign countries for the good of humanity. However, the central medical authority must have the ability to enforce the fair distribution of medical services if necessary. Possibly large fines could be levied on anyone who refuses deployment, and this money could be used to pay others who are willing. Possibly doctors and nurses could be barred from practicing their chosen profession if they refuse to accept their assignments.

We would hope that stronger measures, such as imprisonment, would not be necessary to enforce compliance from doctors and nurses. However, imprisonment has always been required to enforce the payment of taxes, and this is not likely to change. In the United States and other developed nations where the first phase of universal health care will undoubtedly entail higher taxes coupled with a lower level of health care services, strong measures may be required to enforce compliance with the new health care tax for certain segments of the population.

While sensible, progressive thinkers will undoubtedly embrace the plan and pay the new taxes voluntarily, the United States is unfortunately home to a great number of potential domestic terrorists who care for no one but themselves, and regard all socially progressive programs with extreme paranoia. Their propaganda attempts to discredit the very concept of the positive rights essential to a socially advanced society. Sadly, we are likely to experience a vicious backlash against the health care system from this backward group, and additional taxes may be needed to pay for the incarceration of any who refuse to comply with the new laws.