Editor’s note: United Liberty recognizes the divide amongst libertarians over the abortion issue and that there are strong, but thoughtful feelings coming from both sides. This piece covers an important issue that has been neglected by the mainstream media. It does not necessarily reflect the views of United Liberty or every contributor.
Murder. Exploitation. Blood money. Intrigue. The story of Kermit Gosnell has all of this and more, a story which is filled with horrifying and sensational details, a story of such heartless depravity and gory death that it could have been a George Romero film. So why it that you are almost guaranteed to have never heard of Gosnell? That is an excellent question, and one that anyone who believes in a strong and independent free press should be demanding answers to. If there was ever a case of clear-cut media bias and cover-up, this is it.
I first learned about Gosnell in January 2011 from a link to an article in Philly.com, reporting on his arrest and formal indictment on eight counts of murder and related charges. The trial of Gosnell began last month, and other than conservative websites and news sources, it is almost impossible to find a story in the mainstream print press until a few days ago, and as of the time of this writing, there has been ZERO coverage of the story by the major broadcast networks (ABC, NBC, CBS). The travesty of the media black-out was captured in an article in Investors Business Daily, which wrote:
It seems that GOP candidates still have not learned that they are better off not speaking about rape and abortion. Just weeks after Todd Akin’s infamous “legitimate rape” comment, another conservative has stated his views on the issue - this time Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock:
“I know there are some who disagree and I respect their point of view but I believe that life begins at conception. The only exception I have to have an abortion is in that case of the life of the mother. I just struggled with it myself for a long time but I came to realize: “Life is that gift from God that I think even if life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
Now, I should get one thing out the way here. I personally find Mourdock’s comments to be callous, and as someone who does not personally believe in a deity, I could never imagine telling a woman who was impregnated by a rapist that it was “God’s will” to carry to term a baby fathered by a vicious attacker and forced on her through the most violent of means. It seems remarkably insensitive and lacking compassion.
But it’s not at all inconsistent or illogical given the thinking of pro-lifers. If you’re someone who genuinely believes that life begins at the moment of conception, it doesn’t matter to you the circumstances. I’ve always thought it to be very dishonest for “pro-life” candidates to be against abortion, but leave exceptions for rape and incest. If you believe that unborn fetuses have full human rights, then the only possible time you could be okay with ending that life is if another life is at stake or if you believe it is compassionate due to severe birth defects. And even then, that’s debatable.
Written by David Boaz, executive vice president at the Cato Institute. It is cross-posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
Thomas Friedman of the New York Times has a column today provocatively titled “Why I Am Pro-Life.” Of course he doesn’t mean that he wants the government to protect life in utero. Instead he turns to a standard Democratic theme: How can you say you’re “pro-life” and oppose welfare, environmental regulation, and every other government program? Friedman doesn’t miss a beat: “common-sense gun control…the Environmental Protection Agency, which ensures clean air and clean water, prevents childhood asthma, preserves biodiversity and combats climate change that could disrupt every life on the planet…. programs like Head Start that provide basic education, health and nutrition for the most disadvantaged children….”
But then he takes it a breathtaking step further:
the most “pro-life” politician in America is New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. While he supports a woman’s right to choose, he has also used his position to promote a whole set of policies that enhance everyone’s quality of life — from his ban on smoking in bars and city parks to reduce cancer, to his ban on the sale in New York City of giant sugary drinks to combat obesity and diabetes, to his requirement for posting calorie counts on menus in chain restaurants, to his push to reinstate the expired federal ban on assault weapons and other forms of common-sense gun control, to his support for early childhood education, to his support for mitigating disruptive climate change.
This past weekend, I got an email from a reader who was frustrated over her options in the presidential race. She’s a pro-life voter, and as is the case with many pro-life voters, a candidate’s stance on the life issue determines whether or not he will get her vote.
Her dilemma is that none of this year’s presidential nominees are pro-life candidates. Of the top 3, Romney is the most likely to be sympathetic to the pro-life movement, but his history of conflicting statements on the issue makes her doubt his sincerity.
And it should.
Despite the election year rhetoric from Mitt Romney, there really is no truly pro-life candidate on the ballot this year. That leaves single-issue pro-life voters with two options:
1. Vote for Romney and hope for the best.
I don’t expect Romney to suddenly start championing pro-life issues, but of the top 3 nominees, he’s the most likely to do so. This doesn’t make him a pro-life candidate by any measure, but there is some comfort in the fact that if elected, he will have pressure from his party to lean toward the pro-life movement when it comes to Supreme Court nominees.
If there’s no candidate you feel you can support with a clear conscience, then don’t vote in that election. Much like owning a gun or speaking out against a tyrannical government, the right is yours, but the obligation is not.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t participate in the election process. Surely there are congressional, state, and local elections where you can cast a vote. But you should never vote for a candidate in violation of your conscience.
Politicians on both side of the aisle like to use government to coerce people into living moral lives, often aligning with some view of “traditional values.” President George W. Bush was guilty of this. More recently, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum have carried that message forward in the Republican Party. But a new poll from CNN shows that Americans are increasingly skeptical of using government to promote these so-called “traditional values”:
The biggest: The number of Americans who say that the government should promote traditional values has fallen to an all-time low, a finding that might benefit many Democrats,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
According to the survey, just four in 10 registered voters believe the government should promote traditional values, down from 53% in 2010 and 57% in 2008.
“Between 1993, when CNN began asking that question, and last year, a majority of respondents have always said that the government should promote traditional values. Now, for the first time, more than half say the government should not favor any particular set of values,” adds Holland.
More Americans are also not happy with the government intervention in their daily lives. According to the CNN poll, “Six in 10 say the government is doing too much that should be left to individuals and businesses. That finding could favor Republicans.”
With Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) being one of the most vulnerable members in the Senate, Republicans believed that this seat would be an easy pickup on their way to a majority. Things changed suddenly in August when Rep. Todd Akin, the GOP nominee, made poorly thought out remark about “legitimate rape” and pregnancy, explaining that the “female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.”
The fallout from the remark was immediate. Akin started falling in polls and many Republicans and GOP-affiliated PACs pledged to withhold support unless he dropped out of the race. Of course, Akin refused to go anywhere.
While the race may have been written off by many, it looks like Akin is closing the gap with McCaskill, according to Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner. Just last month he was trailing by 10 points, but with 33 days to go, Akin trails by just 6 points:
Five weeks after making the comments that at the time seemed career-ending, Rasmussen Reports has Akin six points behind McCaskill, 51 percent to 45 percent. That result shows an improvement over past polls, some that had him behind by 10 points. And among those “certain to vote,” he trails McCaskill by just four points, said Rasmussen.
Back at the end of February and early March, Sandra Fluke came to fame thanks to very stupid comments by conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh. Fluke appeared before a panel of Democrats who sit on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. During her testimony, Fluke explained that college women cannot afford the cost of contraceptives, which she said can cost upward of $3,000 over the course of a few years and that it justifies mandates in private health insurance plans.
After Limbaugh’s comments, in which he called her a “slut” and a “prostitute,” President Barack Obama’s campaign and Democrats in Congress began playing up the so-called “war on women,” one of the more annoying, untruthful memes we’ve heard this year.
The underlying problem with Fluke’s comments is that, in her mind, someone should be forced to subsidize the behavior of others. While basking in the sun of her notoriety, Jacob Sullum explained easier options for those that couldn’t afford expensive birth control products, such as buying condoms, which are relative inexpensive, or abstinence. Sullum also noted the holes in Fluke argument, explaining, “By the same logic, religious freedom requires kosher food subsidies, freedom of speech requires taxpayer-funded computers, and the right to keep and bear arms requires government-supplied guns.”
When talking about so-called “social issues” in politics, the subjects of same-sex marriage and abortion are very frequently mentioned in the same breath. The assumption goes like this – if someone is on the conservative side, that person will both favor banning gay marriage and banning abortion; if that person is on the liberal side, he will support gay marriage and abortion rights. However, in reality there is no fundamental reason that the subjects need to be linked. It is entirely possible, and in fact quite common, for someone to be okay with gays marrying but find abortion to be objectionable.
And in fact, the polls show this to be the exact direction that Americans are moving. Most people now favor gay marriage rights, and the amount of Americans calling themselves “pro-choice” has shrunk while “pro-life” has gained share. This fact should not be the least bit surprising to anyone who understands the issues at hand. Gay marriage will naturally become more popular because it is a message of inclusion; the arguments against it are weak and becoming weaker as more people realize it will not hurt them in any way. And as for abortion, improved medical imaging, the survival of fetuses at increasingly earlier stages, and wider acceptance of contraception has rendered abortion less necessary and more morally questionable.
Part of the problem with libertarianism is really just difficulty in communicating the essence of what we are talking about. For some, they have boiled it down to property rights, the idea that “you own you.” Of course, that’s very accurate. However, many people just don’t grasp that concept. For some reason, “property rights” makes them think of the Monopoly guy with his feet on his desk, looking at his financial empire…including all the property he owns.
Instead, I’m going to break it down into one word: choice.
Freedom ultimately boils down into the ability to make a choice. If you ban guns, you no longer have a choice whether you own one or not. If you ban certain kinds of speech, you no longer have the choice to say certain things.
Now, this assumes a law-abiding nature. There will always be those who will do whatever regardless of legalities, but it’s not about them. It’s about the law-abiding who are impacted by things like laws.
When governments pass laws, they are generally seeking to limit someone’s choices. That’s just the simple nature of government. Some choices should be removed, like you being able to choose to punch someone for no reason, since that choice impacts someone else’s choice to not be punched. Other choices, not so much.
When the United States entered prohibition, the idea was to eliminate the choice for adults to consume alcohol. Drug laws took away people’s ability to choose to use drugs, an act that in and of itself impacts no one else’s choices. Laws banning prostitution limit individuals’ choice to sell sex for money.
However, choice has one significant advantage. People like choice. Just look at the variety of products available that, at least to many, have little appreciable difference. People like the choice of being able to select product A over product B. So how does that help in politics?
Virginia State Senator Jill Vogel (R-Fauquier County) introduces a bill to require women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion. In protest, State Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) introduces an amendment requiring a cardiac stress test and rectal exam before men can be prescribed erectile dysfunction medication. Vogel’s bill passes by voice vote while Howell’s amendment narrowly fails. Glenn Reynolds, A.K.A. Instapundit, declares himself “okay with abortion” but reserves all of his outrage for the failed amendment, insisting that what we’re seeing here is “a false equivalence” and “kindergarten style payback.” Something is very wrong with this picture.
In a way, Reynolds is right. We are seeing a false equivalence. While there is absolutely no medical reason to require women to have ultrasounds before undergoing abortion procedures, there are good medical reasons to require men to undergo rectal exams and cardiac stress tests before being prescribed erectile dysfunction drugs. Included among the side effects of Viagra, for example, are rectal bleeding, colitis, chest pain, and irregular heartbeat. I don’t know if Howell had any of these side effects in mind when she proposed her amendment or if she was instead purely interested in kindergarten style payback, but either way her amendment actually makes more sense from a medical perspective than does Vogel’s.