I attended several of the annual conventions of the Libertarian Party of New York, back when I was engaged with the party. I can’t remember at which of them, but at one I heard a presentation by an upstate activist, Andrew Melechinsky. “Andy Mel,” as we called him, told some riveting stories about his days “in the trenches.” While I enjoyed his whole program, I was particularly struck by one very brief statement he made – about abortion.
“I’m a libertarian,” he said, “because it’s pro-life. Your life, my life, everybody’s life.” He didn’t over-press the matter; he just let the statement carry its own weight – which was considerable. It certainly hit home with me.
I glanced around the room. Dozens of frowns and surly expressions were visible. Apparently not everyone in the crowd was as positively impressed by Andy Mel’s pronouncement as was I.
A few of them have had abortions, or fathered kids that were aborted, I thought. I have no way to know whether that was so, but the atmosphere in the room did nothing to gainsay the conjecture. For my part, I left the gathering rather more thoughtful than I’d been previously.
I once supported the “woman’s right to choose” on a legalistic basis. The Navy has a doctrine that struck me as relevant. If one vessel completely encloses another, the smaller vessel is deemed legally part of the larger one. The analogy to pregnancy seemed irrefutable. Inasmuch as militant pro-choice feminism was in the ascendant in those years, I gave the matter no deeper thought.
But I was a libertarian, at least in domestic matters. I still am. And libertarianism is pro-life. Inherently and absolutely.
Not long after that, I started to read widely on philosophical subjects, especially the metaphysics of identity. There’s an essay in the Baseline collection, “The Good Ship NEWF,” that’s from that time. It presents an old conundrum about identity. If you haven’t read it, please do. It’s directly relevant to the subject of human identity…and to the subject of abortion.
If you are a libertarian, you are pro-life. Moreover, you know, in your heart of hearts, that an abortion terminates a human life. Perhaps you can’t see it happen. Perhaps there’s no blood to wash off the floor. But the essence of the thing is indisputable, for the embryo or fetus that was, had no untoward event intervened, would have become a human baby. The continuity between that baby’s two states testifies unimpeachably that who he was before his emergence, he is in the world outside his mother’s womb.
To any Gentle Readers who support “a woman’s right to choose:” Give it some thought. And choose life, always, whether for yourself or for others.
Life begins at conception. From that instant, the die is cast. All other arguments (“heartbeat”, “can survive on its own”, “birth canal”) are strawmen. Abortion is murder. Is it a form of the taking of life I can live with, like shooting a burglar threatening you with a knife, or blowing up a terrorist? That tolerance level has varied over the years, but I never thought abortion was anything but murder.
My wife would shoot me for revealing this, but she doesn’t read this website so I can dare to step lightly across the subject. We aborted our 3rd child, in the third week, because the doctor felt she needed to be in the hospital for most of the pregnancy and she was courting death having the child (she had great difficulties with her second). We made the decision that it wasn’t fair to the other two children to take a serious risk of relieving them of their mother. As logical as that was, it was still very difficult, and it still hurts.
It was still murder.
Letting the states decide on the the legality of it is best. Below and beyond that level, the local people and your family will exercise a say as well, to the point of excommunicating you from the community if they don’t like the particulars of your situation. And yes, I realize that, sadly, “family” is a diminishing situation in these apocalyptic times.