Do No Harm, Even to Those Who Harm

Posted: April 1, 2017 in Political, Social Commentary
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

By R.C. Seely

THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF IN PARTY FIGHTING going on amongst libertarians, the most common issues of contention seem to be trying to define what makes one a “true” libertarian and what the stance on abortion should be. The problem with the first issue: How does one accurately assess and quality a movement based on voluntary interaction? I really don’t have a good answer for that, which is why I tend to embrace the simplest of solutions and don’t try to define them. Unless the proposed solution increases the size of government I will listen. That’s why I’m pro-choice, I disagree with abortion and think it’s used far too often, but the debate has come up because the temperance movement invited government into the debate by demanding its prohibition. When does federal intervention actually work? One argument that has been tossed around: How can someone be pro-life and in favor of capital punishment? That has some validity from a policy concept free from emotional bias. Essentially the person’s life-whether a convicted criminal or innocent unborn-is decided for them, is this moral? Let’s examine it.

    Arguments in favor of abortion-on-demand center around the threat of children being born with certain physical or mental irregularities-many undetected until after six months, which is why the “need” for partial birth abortion. According to a Huffington Post article in 2013, “The two main reasons for late-term abortions are lack of access to better, earlier care and biology. A 20 week abortion ban would make problems worse by criminalizing them… Pregnancy is riskier for women over 35. Amniocentesis, the test for anomalies, is not done until 15-18 weeks, and ultrasounds for congenital malformations are done at weeks 18-20.” Other arguments are because the child is simply unwanted. Part of the problem is that adoption is costly and not an efficient process in many areas, reforming that process would help. Adoption reform is rarely included in the discussion and a big part of the problem many are adamant in their perspective of the issue. Most have adopted the two polar opposite sides on abortion; either full legalization or total prohibition. It wouldn’t be reasonable to have some restrictions-such as, limited time period in which the procedure can be performed and no more taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood-but most restrictions won’t make abortion end, simply go underground. Oh good, another black market, just what we need. There has been a reported increase in the number of women suffering depression afterwards, that too should be in the discussion. Afterabortion.org offers this on the matter: 

“A study of the medical records of 56,741 California Medicaid patients revealed that women who had abortions were 160 percent more likely than delivering women to be hospitalized for psychiatric treatment in the first 90 days following abortion or delivery.

In a study of post-abortion patients only 8 weeks after their abortion, researchers found that 44% complained of nervous disorders, 36% experience sleep disturbances, 31% had regrets about their decision, and 11% had been prescribed psychological medicine by their family doctor.”

 

    A study by JAMA refutes these claims and finds that “abortion denial may be associated with psychological harm to women.”

“The longitudinal cohort study observed 956 women semiannually for five years… [The] women who were denied an abortion reported significantly more anxiety symptoms and lower self-esteem and life satisfaction, but similar levels of depression, as women receiving abortions; outcomes improved or remained steady over time.”


     JAMA further concludes:

“In this study, compared with having an abortion, being denied an abortion may be associated with greater risk of initially experiencing adverse psychological outcomes. Psychological well-being improved over time so that both groups of women eventually converged. These findings do not support policies that restrict women’s access to abortion on the basis that abortion harms women’s mental health.”


    What is considered more moral: A policy that ends the life of an unborn and arguably puts the woman’s life in risk, not just physically but mentally; or one that increases the government’s input in the matter, which will more than likely still put everyone in more danger but might not? 

    As for the death penalty, I do agree with its critics in federal cases, as for local that’s where the debate should continue. With local control, it’s easier to curtail the abuse within the justice system. A higher burden of proof for death penalty cases and updating interrogation tactics by law enforcement is part of the solution. Does this eliminate all the problems? Probably not. The justice system is based on a meritocracy of conviction rates not seeking justice or bringing down crime. Until that changes as well, false convictions will remain the norm, and that means the debate should continue. It’s critics argue that granting any government the right to decide who lives and dies is far too dangerous, going off history they have an excellent point. Even imprisonment or investigation of accusations, has been used as a potential weapon against supposed threats. This danger was born in the United States with President John Adams, in the form of the Alien and Sedition Acts, included in the Acts were pieces of legislation that made it illegal for anyone-including journalists-to criticize the administration without threat of incarceration. Doesn’t this sound familiar? During both World Wars the Sedition Acts were revived, but not for Korea, Vietnam or any current engagements. The illusion was created that the American people largely supported the World Wars after the attacks on the Lusitania and Pearl Harbor and that might not have been the case. By controlling the narrative, they controlled everything. We can banter about the specific semantics involved in the American wars but what is clear is the control created. If the government puts that much effort into keeping it’s war machine going, what would it do to its critics? Falsely incarcerate them, kill them? It’s not like the US government is above those kinds of tactics if one of its citizens is deemed “unpatriotic” or a “subversive.” Remember McCarthyism? And Trump has already started an enemies list. So, all things considered, is it really so imprudent to start reconsidering your perspective if pro-capital punishment?

    So, it appears the people of the United States do have room for further discussion and evaluation about the morality of these issues. Is the more morally consistent stance the one that grants a federal entity more control and yet devalues human life? Isn’t that essentially what you’re agreeing to if you abdicate for legalization of either? Can you be in favor of human life if you’re pro-choice but not the death penalty? Or vice versa? What would happen with a complete moratorium on the death penalty? Are there unintended consequences? We know that prohibitions generally end up with adverse effects, most common being the foundation of black markets, making society as a whole far less safe. The prohibition of alcohol, the War on Drugs and the restrictions on abortion, all had illegal underground markets, offering the desperate these bootlegged goods and services at inflated prices and unsafe conditions. Would a total death penalty ban end up with a black market? Could it result in a real-life punisher? Or possibly Lynch mobs, seeking vengeance instead of justice? We have a historical record to look at with abortion restrictions but not with the death penalty, so all this is speculative. We can study the crime rates in each state, to get an idea of the end results and hope it’s​ not catastrophic if nationally implemented. Deathpenalty.info has a side by side comparison of murder rates in states with the death penalty vs those without, and shows the murder rates are actually lower in the states without. While it fluctuates between a 4-46% difference in the span of 1990-2015, the death penalty states have a higher murder rate. According to their research “the average of murder rates per 100,000 population in 1999 among death penalty states was 5.5, where the average… non-death penalty states was only 3.6.” It appears the evidence is on the side of life in this matter. A certain amount of consensus is required to go forward in changing either policy, which I don’t see coming up in the near future.

    Questions of ethics are-and undoubtedly should be-difficult, they require juggling our perspective of the head and heart. What seems logical can also be construed as cold and callous, and the emotional can be viewed as weak or frivolous. No matter your view, you have to be able to live with what transpires. You didn’t end a life but your advocacy puts the guilt on your hands, doesn’t it? You could argue the death row inmate deserves it, what if he was innocent and succumbed to police interrogation? That means an innocent person still died and you had a part in it. If you call for an abortion prohibition which doesn’t work and simply creates a black market, does that make you guilty? And what if further federal intervention is advanced because of such prohibitions, does that negate the morality? The government has a bad habit of using such actions to validate its encroachment and expand its efforts of control. Is the risk worth it and once down that road can we make the U-turn? From my view, having the federal oversight in either matter is a major ethical violation but trying to squash any contrary opinions is an even bigger one, so let’s continue the debate.

R.C. Seely is the founder of americanuslibertae.com and ALTV. He also has written books about pop culture and his most recent is Victims of White Male: How Victim Culture Victimizes Society, all his books are available at Amazon.com.

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