Saturday, February 12, 2005

Conservatism vs Libertarianism

The libertarianism of conservatives — and, in my case, the conservatism of libertarians — is tested by the apparent no-win issues of state-sanctioned gay marriage and abortion. It's enough to keep my blogging trap shut most of the time (although more about gay marriage later).

But shying away from an apparent dichotomy of principles forces me to accept that any of my assertions about anything are accidental and tenuous.
"Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong."
— Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

Fortunately, I can be lazy about it and quote someone who can resolve the contradictions in a much more articulate way than I could. I wish I had said this, from Liberty Corner:

Once life begins it is sophistry to say that abortion doesn't amount to the taking of an innocent life. It is also sophistry to argue that abortion is "acceptable" until such-and-such a stage of fetal development. There is no clear dividing line between the onset of life and the onset of human-ness. They are indivisible.

The state shouldn't be in the business of authorizing the deaths of innocent humans. The state should be in the business of protecting the lives of innocent humans -- from conception to grave.

I come to that conclusion from a non-religious perspective. I am, at best (or worst), an agnostic. I am no less a libertarian for being opposed to abortion and no less moral for being an agnostic libertarian.
[Thanks to Occam's Carbuncle for finding the link.]

Although a strong logical argument could be made for making abortion illegal, that will never be practically implementable at any time in the future, because there is too little consensus among the "governed" (which means, unfortunately, that we must remain in an ambiguous "societal" state about the respect for life — the state can hardly be expected to protect the rights of citizens if those citizens do not expect to protect those rights themselves). But the state should certainly get out of the business of funding abortions which amounts to coercing every citizen to support abortion through their taxes. If you think that condemns women to dangerous "coat-hook" methods — yes, women must face heavier consequences for their reproductive behaviour, but no amount of legislation will alter biological imperatives.

1 Comment:

basil said...

Where does one draw the line between autonomy over one's body and the right to life for a purely dependent fetus - after all, it is little more than an extension of the woman who carries it.
The Catholic church used to argue (back when Popes were expected to be cognizant - should't he excommunicate Martin for his insult to marriage?) that - in the words of Monty Python - "every sperm is sacred, every sperm is good". In other words, you better keep your pecker in your pants unless you're aiming to have kids, 'cause otherwise you're wasting the essence of life itself.