Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Refuting the Distortion and Lies Told About My Stand on Sarah Palin and the Right to Abortion

Most of the criticism against my blog post defending the morality of abortion and questioning Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin's choice to knowingly give birth to a child afflicted with Down's syndrome relies upon outright lies and distortions of my position and the selective interpretation of the text of my post. I think that this distortion is a deliberate tactic of the so-called "Pro-Life" movement because if this movement took my argument at face value, it would be impossible for it to refute my reasoning. I maintain that when you hold a dishonest position, it is inevitable that you will rely upon a straw man to make your case.

Thus the purpose of this post is to reveal the "Pro-Life" straw man being used against my arguments and my response to such dishonesty. Below are some of the common refrains I have seen since my initial post along with my answer to them.

You advocate "Nazi-style" eugenics.

This claim is a lie. The goal of the eugenics movement in history has been to 'improve' the human race by controlled selective breeding, forced sterilizations, forced abortions, and forced euthanasia. I hold that the human race is not improved in such a manner and that any initiation of force is an absolute violation of a person's individual rights.

Furthermore, to call me a Nazi is utterly dishonest and nothing more that a visceral attempt to inflame people's emotions rather than examine my arguments for what they are. There is no parallel between the goals of the eugenics movement and/or the goals of the Nazi's and my personal affirmation the individual, un-coerced and perfectly moral choice of a woman to have an abortion (or not) if she deems it to be in her rational self-interest. There is zero parallel between the force of the Nazi's and my advocacy for individual freedom and moral justice protected under our Constitution and laws--and it is a lie to claim as much.

You only judge a person by their worth to "society" and support forced euthanasia for anyone who is disabled, ill, or otherwise cannot sustain themselves.

This claim is a lie. A person's "worth to society" is not the basis of any part of Objectivism, which is the philosophy I adhere to and advocate. As a living, physically independent entity possessing the unique attributes of human consciousness, I defend the right to life of any born person capable of even a modicum of human thought because that person's life has worth to them and that is enough. If a person decides that life is untenable for them (such as in the case of painful terminal illness), I support the right of that person to terminate their own life in accordance with their own wishes, but I categorically reject any initiation of coercion over the life or mind of man.

At root, I claim no power over anyone's life or anyone's ability to peaceably live it, and I demand as much in return. I am not my brother's lord or keeper, and they are not mine.

You claim that you support the "right to life," and yet you support abortion, and thus you contradict yourself.

That would be either a lie, or a gross misunderstanding of the right to life. A rational view of the right to life does not extend into the womb when a woman wishes to veto the live birth of her fetus. Call it what you will, but the entity that exits in the womb of a woman is different in nature from what exists outside the womb and the difference must be judged accordingly.

In contrast, a living, physically independent human being possessing the unique attributes of human consciousness demands the ability to think and act in furtherance of their own life (or in the case of a born child, the ability to rise to the point where they can to think and act though the care of those who chose to create that child's life).

By defending a woman's choice, including her potentially irrational choices, you advocate moral relativism and/or utilitarianism.

That would be either a lie, or a gross misunderstanding of the basis of a rational code of morality and how it works. Upholding self-interest over codes of religious or collectivist morality is not upholding moral relativism or utilitarianism-it is upholding Objectivism, which is predicated upon perceiving the facts of existence though reason and governing one's personal conduct in accordance with these facts. As Ayn Rand observes:

The moral justification of capitalism does not lie in the altruist claim that it represents the best way to achieve "the common good." It is true that capitalism does-if that catch-phrase has any meaning-but this is merely a secondary consequence. The moral justification of capitalism lies in the fact that it is the only system consonant with man's rational nature, that it protects man's survival qua man, and that its ruling principle is: justice. [Emphasis mine]

"What Is Capitalism?" Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, p. 20.
I wholeheartedly agree with Rand. Justice is the act of giving to each person what that person deserves, and each peaceable person requires the freedom to live a proper human life. In the case of an unborn fetus, it is not yet a person in the true sense of the word and it deserves no special protection against a woman's self-interested wishes for herself and her own life. A woman's life is her alpha and omega and her sovereign judgment over herself must be respected.
And as a corollary of respecting an individual's freedom to make rational choices over their own life, we must not prohibit choices that we may disagree with if these choices do not violate the rights of others. As an example, for some, smoking is a ticket to an early death, while for others, it is one of life's enjoyments worth any risk that the smoker might bear. It is not my place to force my personal estimate of such a choice upon others. I may disagree with a person's private choices and I may declare as much as I have with Sarah Palin, but my primary mission is to defend one's individual freedom over one's own life, and nothing more.

Why? Because my selfish right to make my own rational choices demands as much.

You think that you have the right to "play God" over everyone and/or advocate designer babies.

That would be a lie. I reject any mystical morality that holds that some deity controls the strings of the universe that that we must obey the revealed claims of those who assert that they somehow know this deity's mind. Man is a being of self-made purpose and he must form his own moral code derived from the facts of his existence. He must make and live by his own moral judgments. In this regard, each of us rates the right to be our own lord and master over our own precious lives.

Needless to say, such freedom does not sit well with those who advocate blind allegiance to the wide-eyed mystics of antiquity and who seek a return to primitivism--a time when man had little control over his own nature or the nature of the things around him.

You say that the only moral choice for Sarah Palin was to have an abortion when she discovered she was pregnant with a fetus afflicted with Down syndrome, and thus you deny Palin her right to make her own choice.

This is a lie. I hold that Sarah Palin had every right to make her own choice to carry (or not carry) her pregnancy to term (even if I personally can find no rational reason for her to do so and even if I would not choose to do as she did). Notice however that this is not a right that Sarah Palin is willing to extend to others, and this despite the fact that more than 90% of the women faced with her situation choose to have an abortion by their won will.

People have accused me of playing God and their attention is utterly misdirected; only one person between Sarah Palin and me seeks to lord our own personal and political will against people's most private judgments, and that is Sarah Palin.

You have contempt for the existence of people afflicted with Down syndrome and other genetic disorders and you seek their destruction.

That is a lie. I feel nothing but compassion for the people so afflicted when they are born. I emphasize with those who must contend with the challenges they and those who care for them face. Nevertheless, I defend a woman's moral right to abort her fetus if it is afflicted with such conditions and if the woman decides that it is in her interest to do so. I also support aborting healthy fetuses if a woman decides to have an abortion along similar lines. I simply hold that a woman must be master over her own life and biological processes and I hold her mastery to be absolute.

Abortion has nothing to do with capitalism and your stand is a discredit to capitalism's cause.

Abortion has everything to do with capitalism because capitalism is not just a system of private property and economic liberty; it is a system of rationally identified and validated individual rights. Ayn Rand (the philosopher whose ideas this organization seeks to apply to our social and political relationships) offers the following observation about such rights:

A "right" is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context. There is only one fundamental right (all the others are its consequences or corollaries): a man's right to his own life. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action; the right to life means the right to engage in self-sustaining and self-generated action-which means: the freedom to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life. (Such is the meaning of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.)

The concept of a "right" pertains only to action-specifically, to freedom of action. It means freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men.

Thus, for every individual, a right is the moral sanction of a positive-of his freedom to act on his own judgment, for his own goals, by his own voluntary, uncoerced choice. As to his neighbors, his rights impose no obligations on them except of a negative kind: to abstain from violating his rights.

"What Is Capitalism? Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, p. 19.
The right to have an abortion (or not) is a prime example of the right of a human being to have the freedom to take actions in furtherance of their own life and in affirmation of their own values. Defending such a right is absolutely critical and germane to the advance of capitalism as the only moral social system for mankind.


Renee Katz said...

All of that sounds perfectly reasonable to me. Magical thinkers will never understand such simple logic.

Rick "Doc" MacDonald said...

Well defended!

Anonymous said...

Now you're the one distorting the arguments. Killing innocent humans is wrong.

Renee Katz said...

As far as I can tell no one is saying "it's good to kill innocent humans." Now who's distorting the arguments? Still you!

Anonymous said...

Anyone who advocates abortion is guilty of advocating murder. Unless you repent and cange your sinful ways, God will punish you, just like he is punishing your false prophet, Ann Rand.

Renee Katz said...


Mark Mayhugh said...

This article has several disconnects between the philosophy and the opinions.

For example, the writer implies a pro-choice position. This position normally supports the woman carrying the baby makes the choice to keep or abort, and everyone else should butt out. Yet rather than respecting Palin making her choice, he blasts her for make an immoral choice in keeping. How is this different from someone blasting a woman for choosing to abort? Either way is an attempt to impose your morality, and is NOT a pro-choice behavior.

The writer also implies an Objectivist viewpoint, but being hyper-critical of personal decisions of others based on their impact on society which have no direct bearing on yourself is not Objectivist behavior. Objectivists reject the notion that they should put aside their personal choices for the 'good of society'. Criticism of such decisions is contradictory to Objectivist philosophy.

As for the slight connection of "stranding the cost of their child's life upon others", it is obvious that Palin does enjoy "the wealth to provide for the lifetime of assistance that their child will require". So a true Objectivist would have no reason to complain.

Even if this were not the case, an Objectivist would much more properly blame the system that can pick your pocket to pay for the choices of others, rather than the very few mothers with disabled children. We end up paying orders of magnitude more for upkeep of people with no obvious defect other than a lack of motivation to provide for themselves.

In summary, the writers arguments are neither pro-choice nor Objectivist, and have no basis in any kind of logic or moral system that I can discern.

Anonymous said...

Wow, all of what you've said is taken as common knowledge here in Britain/Europe. Right-wing fundamentalist American Christians/Pro-lifers, let this be known: There are entire nations who disagree with you wholeheartedly and unanimously. Your teachings are the very antithesis of your faith. I am ashamed to acknowledge any common ground I share with you, namely DNA sequences or beliefs.