In a very brief post I posed a question for those pacifists who are pro-choice: "If you are a pacifist, why aren't you also pro-life? If you oppose the killing of human beings, how can you not oppose the killing of defenceless human beings, innocent human beings?"
Levi Asher answers at his blog, Literary Kicks.
Asher begins with a point with which I agree: " being pro-choice and being pro-abortion are completely different things." I have made this point myself in disagreement with some conservative friends. One can support the legal right to abortion without advocating abortion, just as one can support the right to keep and bear arms without advocating that people do so. It is also worth pointing out that in a civil discussion we ought to respect the labels our opponents choose for themselves. So if Ron Paul calls himself a non-interventionist in foreign policy, it is somewhat churlish to insist on calling him an isolationist as John McCain did in their 2008 debates. It is the same with those who label themselves 'pro-choice.'
But although one can be pro-choice without advocating abortion, one who is pro-choice tolerates abortion. Tolerating abortion, the pro-choicer tolerates the killing of innocent human beings, innocent biologically human individuals. The fundamental question is how such killing can be justified -- whether or not one is a pacifist. But if one is pacifist then the burden of justification will be all the more onerous. Of course, much depends on how one defines 'pacifist.' Asher does not provide a definition, and without a precise definition a discussion like this won't get very far.
Suppose you hold that in no possible circumstances is the killing of a human being justified. If so, you must oppose capital punishment, just war doctrine, killing in self-defense, and indeed suicide since suicide is the killing of a human being. The point of my question above was that if you are pacifist in this, or some closely related sense, then how would it be logically consistent of you to countenance the moral acceptability of abortion given that abortion is the killing of innocent and defenceless human beings? Simply put, if you hold that in no possible circumstances is the killing of a human being justified, then you must also hold that the killing of unborn (not-yet-born) human beings is unjustified.
Notice that you can't reasonably deny that the unborn are human. What are they then, bovine? Lupine? It is a plain biological fact that human parents have human offpsring. Even more absurd would be to deny, as Ayn Rand does, that human fetuses are typically alive. What are they then, dead?
One should also avoid making the silly but oft-heard assertion that a fetus is just a bit of tissue. That's false. The fetus, at least in its later phases of development, is a biological individual, a separate human living organism distinct from its mother.
The difference between being not-yet-born and being born is a difference, but not one that makes a moral difference. A mere 'change of address,' a mere spatial translation from womb to crib cannot transform a morally acceptable killing to a morally unacceptable one. Or to put it the other way around: if infanticide is morally wrong, then why isn't late-term abortion? Analogy: if shooting me down in the street is morally wrong, then doing the deed in my house is no less morally wrong. "Your honor, I shot him all right, but he was in his house with the door closed!"
Or is it the time difference that is supposed to make the moral difference? Compare a fetus a few days before birth to a neonate right after birth. There is a temporal difference, and a very slight developmental difference, but not a difference that makes a moral difference, i.e., a difference that justifies a difference in treatment.
So I am not sure Asher got the point of my question. If one respects all life, including the life of unborn humans, and this is not an empty avowal, then one must be prepared to defend life especially in cases where the living beings are innocent and defenceless. The pro-choicer, however, by tolerating abortion shows that he is not willing to defend the life of the innocent and defenceless unborn.
Asher puts the following question to me: "how can you claim to be a libertarian, and yet want the government to outlaw abortion?"
First of all I have never claimed to be a libertarian. I thought it was obvious that I am a conservative. Although many liberals confuse libertarians and conservatives there are important differences which it would require a separate post to detail. Moreover, it is a bad mistake to suppose that all libertarians are pro-choice. Ron Paul is a nationally prominent libertarian who is pro-life. He had the good sense to quit the Losertarian Libertarian Party and join the Republicans, but that does not make him any less of a libertarian. His pro-life position is very clearly defined in the first chapter of his 2011 book, Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom (Grand Central Publishing, pp. 1-9) I understand that there are even some Objectivists who take a pro-life position, though their hero was pro-choice, employing arguments as awful as many of her arguments are. See Ayn Rand on Abortion.
If you don't believe it the government's place to manage anyone's economy, health care or education, how can it be the government's place to intrude on one of the most deeply personal and difficult decisions a woman or a woman's family has to make? If you're a libertarian, don't you want to reduce the government's power to intrude into private life? You can't be a libertarian and not be pro-choice -- the combination of the two would be an oxymoron.
Again, I am not a libertarian. How could anyone think that I was? Support for limited government does not distinguish between libertarians and conservatives since both support limited government. Asher says that a libertarian cannot fail to be pro-choice. That is plainly false, as witness the case of Ron Paul. (I'll have to write a separate post to summarize Paul's arguments.) Both libertarians and conservatives champion the rights of individuals. Among these rights are the right to life. It is perfectly consistent for a libertarian to extend these rights to the unborn.
Asher thinks that laws against abortion "intrude into private life." He doesn't seem to understand that some such intrusions are legitimate. If he abuses or kills his own children he will have to answer to the state, and rightly so. That is a legitimate intrusion into his private family life. Conservatives, and some libertarians, maintain that there is no difference that makes a moral difference between killing born and unborn children. If one of the legitimate functions of the state is to protect life, and it is, then that includes all human life.
I notice that Asher doesn't given any arguments in favor of his position. One of the arguments he could give is the Woman's Body Argument which I present and refute here. The gist of the argument is that a woman has a right to do anything she wants with any part of her body. But unless it can be shown that the biologically human individual growing within her is a mere part of her body, the argument will not establish its conclusion.