Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Jun/09

23

Abortion, the forgotten years….

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someoneShare on TumblrShare on Google+

I’ve mentioned before that in the early-to-mid-1970s abortion did not have the valence on the Right that it does today. It was primarily the Roman Catholic Church which opposed Roe vs. Wade with concerted and strenuous vigor. Though to a large extent conservative Protestant America may have been a bit disquieted, it was not quite outraged. The newest release of the Nixon tapes confirm this. Richard Nixon’s position as a conservative or man of the Right is ambiguous, as quite often his pragmatic or Machiavellian political inclinations swamped out any principles. But I think it is fair to say that Nixon was typical as a moderately conservative white Protestant of his age in his mores and attitudes. I’m a little confused as to the outrage that Nixon thought that interracial conception was grounds for abortion, this was 1973, and according to the General Social Survey in that year ~50% of whites age 50 and over favored laws against interracial marriage. ~30 years later in the same age cohort (now in their late 70s to 80s) the proportion of whites who favor laws against interracial marriage remains ~30%. In any case, the outrage that some liberals feel when one moots the idea of aborting a fetus if they are of a particular racial combination or sex shows that the “rights” and “liberty” based reasoning of the pro-choice movement is often relatively shallow. Abortion is meant to empower women in a positive sense of freedom, a consequentialist rationale, not to reinforce prejudice, discrimination and oppression. Making abortion a right is in fact a form of legislating morality and inculcating values about how women relate to their bodies and society.  Interestingly Nixon’s qualms about abortion were consequentialist. Rather than the sanctity of life he seemed to be elucidating a view that abortion was another instance where the sexual revolution rolled back individual responsibility in favor of license. Instead of murder, it seemed a problem of moral hazard.

·

8 comments

  • kurt9 · June 24, 2009 at 7:27 am

    Nixon’s comments are hilarious and are exactly what you would have expected from him.

  • Kelly · June 24, 2009 at 7:27 am

    How does giving women a right constitute legislating morality? If that is the case, then is making abortion illegal *not* legislating morality?

    And re: consequentialism: Isn’t one of the religious right’s [secondary] arguments against abortion that it encourages promiscuity by providing “easy,” after-the-fact birth control?

  • kurt9 · June 24, 2009 at 7:47 am

    Nixon’s were very typical of a man of his generation and background. You will note the childish comments in response to the Salon article that are very typical of the liberal-left today.

    I actually liked Salon around ’99-00. However, they became more and more left-wing over time and are now way too boorish to read.

  • John · June 24, 2009 at 11:21 am

    Sorry, but anyone who says “Abortion is wrong, except for mulattos.” is a total ass. In this case, the outrage of the left is justified. Nixon wasn’t even particularly conservative, so I feel no need to defend him.

  • Chris · June 24, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Making abortion a right is in fact a form of legislating morality and inculcating values about how women relate to their bodies and society.

    You omit the fact that making abortion *not* a right would equally be all of those things; just with different morality and values.

    Any legal system is going to be interpreted as a set of moral judgments, because the outcome the state acts to create is considered an outcome the state endorses, and the state claims to act and speak for the community.

  • Author comment by David Hume · June 24, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    Chris, yes.

    Kelly, re: abortion. There are hardcore natural rights libertarians who believe that the fetus is arguably human life, but that its presence in the female body is resident in her property, so she can expel the fetus and if it dies as a side effect, so be it. That’s the extreme *liberty* and *rights* based position in regards to abortion. Obviously the language of liberty and personal autonomy is powerful, but my point is that Left-liberals do not care just about the means, but also the ends. So if a society decides that using abortion to select for males, or if it wishes to eugenically abort fetuses of a particular character, even if an individual supports to abortion in the abstract its concrete application violates the overall conception of a just society.

    And yes, both the pro-life and pro-choice side mix & match consequentialist and deontological rationales.

  • Author comment by David Hume · June 24, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Sorry, but anyone who says “Abortion is wrong, except for mulattos.” is a total ass. In this case, the outrage of the left is justified. Nixon wasn’t even particularly conservative, so I feel no need to defend him.

    I’m not defending his opinions, but I’m saying I did honestly just shrug. He has a long record of saying a lot of objectionable things, and sanctioning a lot of nasty behavior.

  • kurt9 · June 28, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    At the time of Roe vs Wade, 17 states (including my home state – Washington) had already legalized abortion. 33 state had yet to do so, including Texas, which is where Ms. Roe was from. No-fault divorce became legal in most state starting with California in 1969 by 1974. It is likely that, minus any judicial activism and Roe vs Wade, that abortion would have also become legal in most state by, say, 1976.

    It is unlikely that a pro-life movement would exist if it were not for Roe vs Wade. I think an overturn of Roe vs Wade would also render the pro-life movement moot.

<<

>>

Theme Design by devolux.nh2.me