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One of These Things Is Not Like the Other

Saturday, March 5, 2011, 09:12 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

The following was published on Glenn Reynolds’ Instapundit blog early yestday morning:

LIBERTARIAN FEVER — CATCH IT! Pew poll: Support way up for gay marriage, abortion, legalizing marijuana. Gun rights, too.

Which one doesn’t belong? Well, when two men get married or someone has a toke or buys a gun, nobody dies.

I consider myself a centrist but with some libertarian leanings. A major reason why I don’t go straight libertarian is because of the abortion issue. Most libertarians, it seems, claim neutrality on the issue of fetal personhood, thus allowing themselves to pretend abortion is just another personal choice that doesn’t affect anyone else. As my friend Karen said, “I don’t take a stand on the personhood question.” But I pointed out to her that she most certainly does take a stand by embracing a position (“pro-choice”) that by definition must deny legal protection to a baby until birth. A long-ago colleague from Feminists for Life used to refer to this as “the magical birth canal” reasoning because it presumes some sort of miraculous transformation as the infant emerges from the vagina (or, in the case of a caesarian birth, through the uterine wall). I can almost imagine an invisible fairy godmother standing in the delivery room ready to touch the former fetus with her magic wand and — POOF! — instant personhood. What else does a newborn have that he or she didn’t have an hour before? Nothing. Birth is a much bigger event for the woman than for the child, who really only comes up for air and then stays. It’s hard for me to take seriously an ideology that ignores something so concrete.

Advocacy of abortion requires, above all, an almost religious faith that some supernatural transformation occurs at birth to turn an organism into something fundamentally different from what it was before. Either that, or utter apathy to the nature of the victim. After all, what kind of aggression can’t be justified if we simply ignore the question of what the target is? This is typically the point in the argument when the pro-abortion person brings up the religious elements so vital to defense of abortion. “We just don’t know when the fetus gets a soul.” Well, no, we don’t, nor do we know if a newborn has a soul. For that matter, we don’t know if the seven Supreme Court members who voted in the majority in Roe v. Wade had souls, but that isn’t a particularly good reason to declare open season on judges.

If libertarians are to be a force in American politics, they have to be more logical, more reasoned, more consistent than everyone else. They don’t do that by ignoring the issues that don’t bring them where they want to go. All that accomplishes is to give people like me a reason not to jump on board.

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