"Mistrust those in whom the urge to punish is strong." Friedrich Nietzche

"Any and all non-violent, non-coercive, non-larcenous, consensual adult behavior that does not physically harm other people or their property or directly and immediately endangers same, that does not disturb the peace or create a public nuisance, and that is done in private, especially on private property, is the inalienable right of all adults. In a truly free and liberty-loving society, ruled by a secular government, no laws should be passed to prohibit such behavior. Any laws now existing that are contrary to the above definition of inalienable rights are violations of the rights of adults and should be made null and void." D. M. Mitchell (from The Myth of Inalienable Rights, at: http://dowehaverights.blogspot.com/)

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Property Rights and Abortion

The right to own property was a fundamental building block in the creation of this nation. The founders knew that there could be no true freedom if one was not allowed to own property and to be free to use or dispose of that property at will. As long as one's use or disposal of said property does not violate the equal rights of others, then one should be free to act as one desires.

The most basic property that one can own is the property of his or her own body. We fought a great and bloody civil war nearly 150 years ago. While the main reason for that war was whether or not states had the right to secede from the Union, the driving premise for the secession attempt was the issue of slavery: the ownership of one person by another.

That issue was soundly and rightfully defeated. We cannot have a free nation and a moral society if some people have the right to own other people. Therefore, we, each and every one of us, young and old alike, own the property of our bodies . . . at least in legal theory. (The laws creating the so-called war on drugs prove differently.)

In Roe v. Wade, the United States Supreme Court said that a woman had the right to control her body when it came to reproductive strategies. Does that mean that a pregnant woman owns the developing fetus inside her womb?

Parents do not own their children as though they were pieces of property. The child has as much property right in himself or herself as do the parents in themselves. But the child does not have full adult rights by any means. A newborn is helpless. A child is somewhat helpless and ignorant. An adolescent is ignorant and inexperienced. The parents, because their actions brought the child into existence, are the guardians and teachers of a future citizen. It is the civic duty of the parents (or assigned guardians, as may be necessary) to educate and civilize the child to be an honest, peaceful, self-responsible, and self-supporting member of society. The parent cannot sell the child, or beat it like a dog, or otherwise treat it as personal property to be used, abused, or disposed of at will.

At what point does an unprotected fetus--a potential human being from conception through early fetal stage, and usually viable after six months in the womb--at what point does that potential human life become fully protected human life? It cannot be a lump of tissue until the moment of birth, then, magically, it is a human being at which point it would be murder to kill it.

For those who claim to be Christians, among others, it would seem that it must be the moment of conception that fully protected human life comes into existence. But I am not a Christian. I am not hindered by the belief in a Creator, a magical Spirit, or of Heaven and Hell. I cannot believe that two cells, the egg and the sperm, at the moment of impregnation, become fully protected human life.

Still, I am a rational person. I know that a society worth living in must be based on more than what we merely have the ability to do. I know that at some time, well before birth, we are no longer talking about a bit of human protoplasm, and that to kill the fetus is murder indeed.

We now need to switch the focus from a woman's right to control her body, with which I agree to a point, and shine the light of critical thinking on the rights of a potential human being. The woman, at some point, sooner or later, no longer owns the property of the developing human within her. She is merely its guardian. Just because we have the power to kill in order to make our lives easier does not, in a society that supposedly believes in the sanctity of human life, make the use of that power against the most helpless and innocent among us either moral or legitimate.

To err, if it is an error, on the side of caution, we would have to side with the Christians and other "pro-lifers". The developing life is technically an embryo up to eight weeks after fertilization, then it is consider a fetus. By that time it has facial features, arms, legs, hands, feet, fingers, toes, a brain, and all other necessary organs. It looks human, but like an unfinished human. It is not viable at this point. Above I said that six months is the viability point. However, at about five months, or about 500 grams, with expert modern medical care, a fetus can sometimes survive outside the womb. Generally, however, say in more primitive settings than modern America, a five month old fetus and most six month old ones would die outside of the protecting body of the woman.

If you are one who believes that a woman has a right to get an abortion, for any reason, then, again, to err on the side of caution, you should have it no later than the eighth week of pregnancy. (Roe v. Wade set the limit at viability, six to seven months.) After that you are definitely moving into a hazardous grey zone regarding the rights of an unborn human being.

Well, that's just my opinion. Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It's really pretty simple for most women to keep from getting pregnant, even teenagers, if they would just admit that they are going to have sex and enjoy it, but take all the precaution necessary to not get pregnant. That way, there is no moral issue to deal with. But that would be logical and most people shun logic in the face of emotions. And that's why my URL is "logic-v-emotion".

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