An Abortion Stance which Makes Sense
I believe that the abortion debate exposes two competing moral evaluation functions at the subconscious level the strong aversion against infanticide and the strong disposition to see sexual choice as important. It's also a fight between the utilitarian calculus of having to raise a child for 18 years versus the more primal instincts against truncating one's genetic lineage.
As I've pointed out elsewhere as an example of taking things to their logical conclusion, both sides are hypocrites in terms of their own assertions.
The Hypocricy of the Pro-Life Crowd
With enough qualifiers, those situations could be justifiably treated differently. The following common pro-life arguments do not justify treating them differently:
- it's a human - a common tactic is to switch between the philosophical concept of humanity (aka personhood) and biological homo sapiens sapiens. Also ignored is whether a cell is a human because it has human DNA.
- it's alive - lots of things are alive which get treated like shit by pro-lifers
- it could grow up to X... where X is something beneficial like cure cancer - study statistics
- it can suffer - biologically it can't before a certain point, and there are lots of things which pro-lifers do which cause greater suffering
Blanket platitudes and appeals to God are not logical despite how much pro-lifers wish they were.
The Even Bigger Hypocrisy of the Pro-Choice Crowd
Some claim fetal terminations are justified because the fetus is dependent on the parent. Yet when the child is born, pro-choicers get pissed off if the parent walks away. Why? Because it'll die? Doesn't that make it dependent on the parent? Shouldn't that give the parent a post-natal termination justification? Rothbard claimed that the parental dependency provided no duty and this would be consonant with the pro-choice movement.
Whoa whoa... the child is dependent on an adult after it's born, but not specifically the parent. Fine. But that still doesn't answer the question about why the parent gets in trouble for abandonment in terms of child dependency. Why can't a mother ding-dong-ditch a child like people do to pets with the SPCA? Why are the father or mother locked in to raising it (or paying for it) if one of them won't agree to put it up for adoption?
Pro-choicers hypocritically tend to have a dim view of father's rights. If a woman doesn't want to deal with her child, she can kill it (pre-birth) and the father can't say shit. If she decides to keep it, the father can't walk away (in violation of the dependency argument). The child can be put up for adoption if both agree but the father's options are completely constrained by the mother's while the mother's are not completely constrained by the father's. While the woman is the one who must carry the child, the father may be forced to provide his body and time (by working to earn money) to support the child.
|Person with Penis Loses in Conflict|
|Doesn't Want It||Doesn't Want It||Both Win|
|Doesn't Want It||Wants It||Mother Wins - Abortion|
|Wants It No Adoption||Doesn't Want It||Mother Wins - Child Support|
|Wants It for Adoption||Doesn't Want It||Both Win|
|Wants It||Wants It||Both Win|
Some pro-choicers have been pissed off at various rulings that assaulting a woman to the point of miscarriage doesn't constitute murder. So only one person gets to decide if it's murder. Switch evaluation contexts much?
Who Pays the Costs Part 1: The Semi-Crummy Argument for Legal Abortion
The unmentioned discriminator here really is cost, and referencing things which most people like can make the blanket statement largely true. With drugs and abortion and downloading music there's either no victim or no victim who'll report it (depending on your stance on IP). Government or private individuals have to snoop around which costs money and privacy. With drugs and abortion and bittorrents, enough want them to exist to to actively work against the law (as opposed to very few who want to murder).
Whether theft is legal or not it's going to happen. Making it legal wouldn't make it better or worse. Making murder legal might actually make things better since most don't want to murder anyways, and it's not the current illegality of it that's holding most people back.
Regardless of whether the women getting abortions are "sluts" or not, people have already invested effort into them and they're more likely to be immediately useful than a child who still needs investment and will take close to a decade to be useful to others (for most goals).
The Uninvited Guest Metaphor
My roomate went after her while talking with the police on cell. She eventually got protective custody'd. Since it was an open invite, she got invited by proxy. Did that then give us a duty to not let her die in the woods alone in the middle of the winter?
What if someone comes over and there ends up being a hurricane or tornado outside so that the person can't leave the house without dying. Is that my problem?
There is such a thing as implicit agreements; a pilot would be considered in the wrong if, after finding out a passenger didn't have any money, threw him out of the plane while in flight. Sex could be called "inviting the passenger in" and abortion could be called "throwing the passenger out" mid-flight.
I don't believe in duty as some spooky dualist thing. Duty is expectation from others. That's all it is, and it's more than enough. With a fetus there can't be an implicit agreement with the fetus, but there can be an expectation from others in society.
Separating Life from Use of the Uterus
The uninvited guest problem becomes far less severe if a third party can show up with a hurricane-/tornado-proof vehicle and take the visitor off the house-owner's hands. The house owner has no complaint left, and the people who don't want to see the visitor die also have no complaint.
Technology is solving that. But I want to cover one more topic first...
Who Pays the Costs Part 2: The Cycle of Disrepect
- For abortion: the child (obviously)
- For orphanage: the child and society
- For forced raising: the parent, the child and society
- For adoption: maybe the parent, maybe society, otherwise no one (if the adoptive parents don't suck).
I don't need to explain #1. #4 only sucks for the parent if she has to carry or care for the child beyond the point she wants to. It causes social costs only if the child is in an orphanage or an unloving situations for a period of time while waiting for adoption. I will say that adoption in the U.S. isn't great; it costs a lot of money and I've heard that biological parents can reclaim their progeny later. Those issues can probably be addressed without too much headache.
#2 and #3 rely on a large body of evidence that children who are disrespected tend to be emotionally damaged and are more likely to disrespect others as adults. Broken adults and adults who don't respect others undermine goal-realization-enabling society and thus affect me. I can't abide that.
It's no guarantee that broken children come from broken homes, but it's a general trend. Children are amazingly resilient, but also amazingly fragile. They can bounce back from injuries and sports losses (the things some parents now try to shield them from) more than they can bounce back from a house with no love or unkind words or where their wants aren't met in a healthy manner.
I'm not against orphanages, but they often don't have the ability to raise children in as healthy a way as loving, dedicated parents due to less staff than children and competition between children to find their place.
#3 is the worst option because it fucks the parent over too. "She made her bed and can lie in it" is not a healthy attitude if you have a goal of well-adjusted individuals. People who are forced to do things tend to be resentful of it and do the bare minimum. That's a general human disposition. That doesn't mean that all parents forced to raise their children will do so poorly. Many may even grow to love their children, but it's a contributory factor to them treating the object of the duty imposed on them, the child, like shit. If the child died before or shortly after birth, then the parent and society wouldn't be screwed over nearly as much.
Some more clarification:
When I speak of humans creating opportunity, I'm using the term overly narrowly: opportunities which allow others to realize their goals. If my dog stools on your lawn it's just created an opportunity for you to step in feces, but few would welcome that. I'll hereafter use the word goodop. If that's too NewSpeak for you, replace it with some hybrid of utility and opportunity.
Humans create goodops but they also increase conflict. I'm speaking generally. The more people there are in the world, the more has to be given up to access scarce items or scarce goodops. While it's true that people can bargain and both come out ahead, if an individual could have something without having to bargain, then they'd be better off. This the case with non-man-made items.
This "mo' humans mo' problems" trend generally offset by additional humans driving division of labor, trade opportunities, providing more mental power to solve problems, increasing production - all of which translate into increased goodops. While I believe that there exists a personally subjective point where new people increase conflict more than they provide goodops, my stance is that the population is pretty far from that point.
While humans create goodops, they do not automatically create more goodops than conflict they create. Government regulations restrict goodops while maintaining or even increasing conflicts, thus lowering the population point where the Earth would be better off with less humans. Theives, murderers, anti-social people, people who are so depressed or anxious to be non-functioning, humans below a certain level of intelligence, etc. all generally do not provide the average level of goodops but tend to cause about the same or greater amounts of conflict/taking goodops (food, a place to live, voting power, etc.)
Unlike cornucopians, I don't automatically welcome new humans. I welcome humans who are well-adjusted because that statistically helps me (and those I care about which is the same thing). Humans who aren't raised well are statistically less likely to have a high goodop/conflict ratio, thus I have reasons to be against the creation and maintenance of such humans.
From Human Child to Adult Person
Humans have this false belief that babies are instantly little people (as defined by how humans usually define "person.") If only they can get food, they'll be ok. Test that. Let wolves raise a child - they'll get food. Go the "The Ones who Walk Away from Omelas" route. Watch what happens. Those children will be human but will contribute less than nothing to very little to the lives of any stranger in society. Let them free in society and they will steal and hurt others. They'll create more conflict than benefit - they'll be a net drag on humanity.
Carrying the child for 9 months is the easy part then the real work begins.
I mention this because in my calculus, I give less weight to the child than to the parent or society (aka the corpus of agents with compatible identities and goals). Those others are more useful to me now and are less likely to be detrimental to me later. It's cheap to make a new child, but expensive to raise it right. It's expensive to make a new parent, but fairly cheap to convince him or her to stop being a jerk (depending, of course, how far back they learned the "bad" behavior - as I said, broken children are hard to fix as broken adults).
If no one wants to raise it and it's not developed enough to be self-aware and participate in society, then no more "it's a person" argument. Definitely no more "it might cure cancer as an adult" argument.
Under my proposal destructive abortion (the kind that kills the fetus intentionally or as a side-effect) would be acceptable if:
- No one wants to raise the child OR
- The child cannot be extracted viably OR
- The woman will go through undue physical harm in extracting the child
#2 and #3 are fuzzy, but I think a general consensus could be achieved.
Additionally, no one would be forced to raise a child, though I'd say no intentionally killing a child afterwards due to the however slight chance that someone might later take guardianship. It might be a requirement to notify someone so others can step up to the plate. Maybe the individual (or hospital) into which the child has been placed temporarily can make an explicit contract for other caretakers. A father could walk away at any time without an explicit contract though, especially pre-birth.
The first condition is due to the child being useless (and soon-to-be-dead) if no one wants to raise it. If the child is dead anyways, then killing it through abortion doesn't really make things worse. In fact, earlier and quicker abortion is less gruesome than starving to death. (And before people pile on and say "Found a flaw! Since everyone's going to die eventually, why can't I kill them now?" The difference is whether or not they're using your resources (specifically your body) and are therefore dependent on you. If that's the case and you can't get them to stop without violence, then I'd consider violence unpleasant, but justified. Initiation of force, even if it's unintentional, is still invalid under NAP.) Abandonment isn't positive killing, it's "killing" by failing to provide resources. If those are to be weighed the same, anyone who fails to contribute foreign aid for starving children is as bad as someone who purposely runs over children with their car.
The second condition is leaning more pro-choice and places more value on the adult female into whom a lot of time and effort has been invested. If she's forced to carry a child to the point of viability, it might make her pissed off and not society-friendly. It'll also increase the suffering to the child if no one wants it later (since it can suffer more as it's more developed).
Also, per the fuzziness comment above, I would consider viably to mean that it won't have mental damage or other handicaps. Few in society are looking for more expensive children to raise and more wheelchair-accessibility lawsuits. The limits of prenatal birth defect testing may place a constraint on how far back extractive abortions are advisable to perform even if the extraction technology is available.
The third is the most vague of the conditions, but it again places more value on the adult female than on the child. If it's similar to a regular abortion, then it's hard for the woman to argue it's undue harm. If it's a C-section which cuts through abdominal muscle and takes a long time to heal, that's a different story.
What I love about this proposal is it forces both sides to put their money (and time) where their mouths are. All that would need to happen in addition is for adoption to be less expensive and onerous. That this proposal removes much of the ammunition from both sides while ostensibly meeting their goals is all but an assurance that it will never be adopted (pardon the pun) because it doesn't allow one major thing which a good amount of the abortion debate is about: debating as in-group signaling and having an identity wrapped up in said debate. Womyn have a need to assert control over fathers and chauvanists have a need to assert control over women.