GOP presidential hopeful, Mike Huckabee, believes that a 10-year-old rape victim should, if impregnated as a consequence of the crime, be forced never-the-less by the state to carry the rapist’s seed to term.
Every woman who becomes pregnant, regardless of the circumstances, whether by consent or not, should be forced by the state to endure the entire pregnancy to term – no exceptions allowed -- she must have no choice whatsoever in the matter, Huckabee maintains.
“Creating one problem that is horrible — let nobody be misled, a 10-year-old girl being raped is horrible — but does it solve a problem by taking the life of an innocent child?” Huckabee reasons. “And that’s really the issue… I just come down on the side that every life is precious. I don’t think we discount the intrinsic worth of any human being, and I don’t know where else to go with it.”
Mike Huckabee is a religious extremist. Of course, this is the position of every anti-abortion religious extremist. They reason that an unfertilized egg automatically becomes a “person” entitled to all the legal and constitutional rights enjoyed by you and me and every other “person.” A “person” comes into existence at the moment of conception, therefore all abortions are murder. Thus no abortions should be allowed by law, period.
As a libertarian I find this position appalling, extremely illogical, and profoundly anti-liberty. Yet when I point this out as a valid argument against the extreme anti-abortion position, my friend, Thomas Knapp, accuses me of demagoguery. “To put it more bluntly, the ‘rape and incest exception’ attack is demagoguery — a crass play on emotion rather than an appeal to fact. As a pro-choice argument, it’s an epic fail.”
I have enormous respect for the opinions of Tom Knapp. I agree with him probably 95% of the time. I would never question for a moment his libertarian credentials, but in this instance I could hardly disagree with him more.
Tom thinks that Huckabee’s position “flows inexorably from the logic of his larger pro-life stance, and is in fact a libertarian argument… A libertarian argument, not THE libertarian argument” he admits. “Libertarians differ among ourselves on abortion (no, I’m not going to tell you where I come down on it),” he says.
Why not, Tom? The positions are certainly not mutually exclusive, are they?
“Some of us are pro-choice. Some of us are pro-life. But all of us view the issue through the lens of the same principle: That it is impermissible to initiate force and that we may only use force defensively or to recover damages from someone who “threw the first punch,” observes Tom. “Pro-choice libertarians believe that a fertilized embryo or in utero fetus is not a person with rights, that the mother is fully entitled to control of her own body, and that forbidding her an abortion would be an initiation of force against her…Pro-life libertarians believe that at some point prior to birth (for some, that goes all the way back to conception), a fertilized embryo IS a person with rights — a person who has initiated force against no one and who therefore may not be permissibly killed.”
“Coming from the pro-life libertarian position, Tom argues, "both the 10-year-old pregnant girl and her unborn child in this story are victims of an aggressor (the rapist whose actions resulted in the pregnancy). Abortion violates the rights of the unborn child, who is not an aggressor, and is therefore morally impermissible (unless, of course, it becomes a matter of self-defense, i.e. carrying the baby to term would kill or gravely harm the mother).
“The problem with the “rape and incest exception” position is that it doesn’t address the questions raised above, he concludes “If abortion is a right, it’s a right whether rape or incest are involved or not. If abortion is not a right, rape and incest don’t make it into a right.”
First of all, it is not factually logical to hold that both the 10-year-old girl AND the unborn fetus are victims of the rapist aggressor. There is only one victim and one aggressor. The rapist forced his penis inside that little girl. He forced her to take his bodily fluids into her vagina. He forced his seed into her uterus. That seed is HIM. The chromosomes are HIM. The DNA is HIM. So it is HE who penetrated her egg without her consent. So her egg that HE fertilized his HIM – at least 50% HIM. The fertilized egg is not a victim. At least 50% of it was the aggressor. It is NOT precious. It is certainly not precious to that little girl; the victim.
That little girl had a right to cast HIM out of her body right there and then as a matter of self defense – indeed, choice, if you will -- from the time he forced himself upon her and beyond before it comes to term. It was unwanted from the start. That pregnancy is going to take a toll upon that little girl’s body. That pregnancy is going to take a psychological toll upon her for the rest of her life and even worse for her if it goes to term and the rapist’s offspring is born.
Secondly, that rapist’s bodily fluids; his sperm cells; his seed had no rights. It clearly isn’t precious by any definition of that term. How does the rapist’s seed factually and logically acquire the right to continue in existence simply by forcing its way into that little girl’s egg. That rapist’s seed is not innocent; far from it. It’s guilty, albeit perhaps, unconsciously so, because it is HIM. It his part of how HE perpetrated HIS crime upon her. HE did it to her.
Had HE not penetrated her egg by force, that egg would have been naturally discarded in the normal course of the little girl’s menstrual cycle. In short, that egg was destined to rightfully be destroyed. It wasn’t precious. That egg had no right to live by any definition of fact or logic.
Finally, the belief that a fertilized egg is a “person” from the moment of conception is both factually and logically is absurd. At the core it is a religious belief and a relatively recent religious belief at that.
One won’t, for example, find that concept anywhere in the Holy Bible, the Koran, or anywhere else in the recorded history of civilizations right up until the last few decades. The origin of the idea of fetal “personhood” came with the fervent anti-abortion movement, which has always been anti-liberty, and is unrelenting in its quest to deny reproductive liberty to women. But neither God nor Jesus Christ ever said that a fetus is a “person.”
We’ve all heard the old adage: “Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched, right? Think about that. There is logic and wisdom in those words. It’s true for human beings too. No civilization in the history of this planet has ever counted the unborn as people, much less people with rights, and there are plenty of good reasons for that. Not every fertilized egg comes to term. And, for that matter, no fertilized egg or unborn fetus is equipped to exercise rights.
We count human beings as people who have acquired the rights of persons when they are born. It has always been that way; in ancient history; in Biblical times, right up until now. A new person today gets a birth certificate – not a conception certificate. We celebrate a person’s birthday – not their moment of conception. We count a person’s age from the date of birth – not the moment of conception. And, on and on; these are the facts.
Consider the Fourteenth Amendment that I discussed in my last post regarding how anchor babies acquire their citizenship. They acquire their citizenship when they are BORN here – not if and when they are conceived here. So if an undocumented immigrant gets pregnant in the US and is deported back to Mexico before she gives birth, her child is not a citizen of the United States. It’s a simple as that. The “fetal personhood” position is wholly without factual and logical merit.
This is not demagoguery; it’s logic.