Let me be more systematic now and look at each of the other positions compared to mine. First, let’s look at pro-abortion versus anti-abortion. Are forced childbirths worse than forced abortions? Yes, definitely. Childbirth is a dangerous, physically and psychologically traumatic procedure which entails grave consequences for one’s whole life (either to the child by adoption, or to the woman by raising the child). Abortion is not dangerous, entails much less trauma, and does not engender life consequences. So I don’t see how a pro-choice advocate could seriously call the pro-abortion position as bad as, or worse than, the anti-abortion position; consequentially, it just doesn’t add up.
Now, let’s look at pro-choice versus pro-abortion. Granted, an anti-abortion advocate is always going to be more likely to choose the pro-choice position as preferable. That goes without saying. But what is the balance sheet? Pro-choice advocates will argue that a lot of women will be desperate to have children and may rely on illegal means. A lot of women may also be depressed because of it.
On the other hand, the end result of pro-choice policies is some great lives, a lot of mediocre lives, a lot of terrible lives, and some agonizing lives. Yes, some children will be born with spina bifita, Tay-Sachs, leukemia, some form of mental retardation, and so on. Many will experience constant hunger and thirst, and will die of various preventable diseases. Others will live a stultified and brutish, but tolerable, existence. The fortunate few born in a Western country will benefit of a relatively wonderful existence at the expense of those other children, but will still experience psychological distress, suffering, disease, and death. This is what the pro-choice position demands that we accept.
Also consider the voluntaryist aspect of the pro-choice position. If we accept the belief that the consequences to the future life are of no importance, then so are the consequences of the future lives, such as the accelerating consumption of the resources of this planet. Yet rationally, this is an insane position. How can the collapse of our planetary resources be irrelevant?
The fact that we are all part of a finite ecosystem is incontrovertible. There are limits to growth within a closed system, and no whining about “the rights to my own body” or “God’s law” is going to change that… People are going to start dying in droves- not in the usual course that we are habituated to rationalize, but in dense concentrations that might actually make folks sit up and notice. For some reason, it seldom dawns on parents that they’ve delivered a death sentence upon their children’s downy-soft little noggins, but the jolt of ubiquitous screaming headlines will get their attention…
Jim Crawford, Confessions of an Antinatalist
We’re not wishing for mankind to be plunged into horror. But that’s what continuing to procreate does. The more people there are on this planet, the faster we bring disaster on ourselves.
Not to mention the more mundane forms of ecological damage, such as the fact that having a child perpetuates the pollution of our common environment (having a child will create an average of five times the carbon emissions that the parent is responsible for), the deaths and ill-being caused by this pollution (some studies contend that pollution is the #1 killer in the world), as well as the continued growth of urban development.
Politically, population growth also helps sustain the capitalist system which leads to these ecological disasters. Capitalism is predicated on unending growth, and that can only be achieved either by getting people to consume more, or by getting people to create more people.
Finally, from the point of view of virtue ethics, childbirth is wrong because it puts people in a situation of near-total control over other human beings. Not only that, but ultimately one only has children for selfish reasons, and therefore by treating those children as means to an end, which is itself a great evil. What it does is condition people to see others as means to their ends, and to adopt patronizing attitudes towards others (“I know what’s best for you”). Interestingly, both these are also functions of Christian indoctrination.
The only way the anti-abortion and pro-choice advocates can go to try to deny the evil consequences of their position is to fall back on the insufferable delusion that we have a privilege, a right, nay, a duty to inflict suffering. I think I have more than adequately answered those arguments in this series.
It is the fact that they both seek to bury in the sand the harm entailed by childbirth that makes them so odious and disgusting. It is the equivalent of war advocates omitting to talk about the murder of civilians (or as they love to say, “collateral damage”) while making a pro-war case. It is an insult to all the people who have suffered, it is an insult to our intelligence, and it is an insult to our sense of morality.
Because of this, I would like to suggest new terms, in the vein of people relabeling each other to make them look bad (except that my terms are actually accurate). I think we should call anti-abortion and pro-choice people pro-harm, and that we should call pro-abortion people anti-harm. While the former category includes many basically good people who wish no harm on anyone, they don’t give a shit about the harm of treating women and children as means to an end.
Another valid term is anti-responsibility and pro-responsibility, because my opponents don’t believe parents should bear any responsibility whatsoever for their failed “experiments” (I am referring here to children who suffer or grow up to make others suffer). If they did, they would hold that at least some abortions should be mandatory (in cases where we know that the future human life will be a life not worth living, or where there is a obvious risk of such a situation occurring, such as genetic defects in the parents). Since they do not, then they must properly be called anti-responsibility.
Before I end this entry, I also want to point out that a lot of the assumed bad consequences of pro-abortion policies (although not all, obviously) come from the assumption that making abortion legal or illegal is the very best one can do, and that any bad consequences that arise from it are inevitable.
I don’t think that is the case at all. Anarchism provides valuable insight into this issue. What we need to effect social change is not to pass laws, but to change the social context in favorable ways. People’s decisions are always mediated by the incentives of the social institutions they operate under.
It is true that making childbirth illegal would generate bad consequences, but these can be mitigated by social institutions operating under healthy incentives. At the very least, we can stop subsidizing procreation, start holding people responsible for their procreative acts, abolish marriage and promote alternate sexually-oriented lifestyles, and give more women access to a proper education (by which I mean something better than public schools and the standard school curriculum) and the financial means to pursue the profession of their choice.
As such, procreation is no different from any other real social issue. Yes, I would rather there be pro-abortion laws than there not be, but laws are not the answer. They can only at best act as a bandage in stopping the ongoing flow of bodily fluids (as they do in the case of murder, theft, rape, etc), but they cannot address the underlying festering, seeping, disgusting wound. Statist policies can never reduce the extent of social problems, because politicians and other people whose livelihood depends on the capital-democratic system cannot re-examine the premises of that system.
One final consequentialist argument I want to refute is the argument that being pro-abortion is useless because it will never be accepted by any sizable proportion of the population. But such arguments could be raised against any new position, and no one can predict the future anyway, so why should we care about such doomsaying?
The belief underlying this way of thinking is that a position is only worth adopting if it is popular. But ideas are not a popularity contest. Sadly, some people are so addled that they really believe reality is a democratic contest. They have not grown up enough to realize that democracy is a human construct and has nothing to do with the real world. Ideas either stand the test of reality or they don’t. Popularity has nothing to do with it.
And the pro-choice and anti-abortion positions do not pass the test of reality. Not only are each of their arguments easily countered, but I think I have shown that they fail consequentially as well. I think I have successfully proven that the pro-abortion position is the only reasonable position on abortion.
Thank you for following this series. I hope you liked it.