Mike @ Really?!! wrote this piece on what constitutes the source of our actual rights and how the programmatic and positive rights, those rights that are established by law to satisfy some injustice that we intuited, come afoul of our natural rights, as expressed in The Declaration of Independence. Full disclosure, Really?!! is my blog that I started to put everything that I do not feel fits the LTI Blogs stated purpose. It includes everything from the sublimely stupid and pointless to pieces like this one by Mike. Also, Mike and I discussed this piece prior to his writing it. Mike studied the social programs of F. D. R. and the basis of our rights as his thesis in his Masters program studies at the University of Virginia. He feels very passionately that the government of the United States ought to be restricted in its access and control of our personal lives.
After writing this piece on Planned Parenthood, I was terribly bothered by the clear conflict of the two different types of rights. It is obvious to me that programmatic and positive rights often sound good in theory, but can run afoul of other rights in enforcement and application. Lets grant Planned Parenthood only the noblest of intentions in protecting and preserving the prescribed Constitutional right of every woman to have access to safe abortions for the purposes of this discussion. Lets also set aside the issue of the unborn and their humanity for the moment as well. So stipulating, there is ample and mounting evidence that the “right” to abortion is hopelessly flawed in that the preservation and protection of that right forces us to sacrifice the right of young women not to be sexually abused by their fathers or older men. Even if PP operated out of the best intentions imaginable, we have to start to ask serious questions about what we are willing to throw away to protect the privacy rights of women in the area of abortion.
I will draw out two examples to compare. (1) The presumption of innocence in the criminal justice system that allows guilty men to go free in order to protect the innocent from unjust incarceration. (2) The absolute right to abortion and personal bodily autonomy that creates an environment where sexual abuse goes unreported or uninvestigated. Obviously, you could do a great deal of work on this subject so I will try for brevity here.
“It is better that 100 guilty men go free than 1 innocent man be incarcerated.” People that fled governments that abused their citizenry with unfair prosecution and punishment way out of proportion to the crimes built this ideal into our criminal justice system. If you have read Robert Zacks’s The Pirate Hunter, then you get to see a good example of when a government unfairly prosecutes someone without legitimate due process as is illustrated by the trial of Captain Kidd and others in the book. I challenge anyone to read this book and others that detail the abuses of the criminal justice system and not walk away with a renewed appreciation and understanding of the presumption of innocence. Do you want the government to be able to arrest you for a crime and suppress all of the evidence of your innocence? Can we imagine that people were executed for stealing the pants of rich men? Would we empower our prosecutors to change the legal process in the midst of the case to make it impossible for people to present a legitimate defense? No one wants guilty people to go unpunished for criminal actions. We just hate the idea of innocent men and women rotting in prison more.
Now, take this logic and apply it to abortion. “It is better that 100 young women be secretly sexually abused than for 1 woman to be forced to have a child she does not want.” Before someone’s head explodes at reading that and accuses me of being unfair please recognize the following:
(a) It is a fact that the presumption of innocence has allowed people to get away with crimes because of insufficient or unjustly collected evidence.
(b) It is a fact that the efforts to protect the right of every woman to have an abortion has created an environment where the circumstances of conception are a secondary issue, including when 15 year-old girls seek abortions and get them with no investigation into the circumstances.
The two negative and unintended consequences are unavoidable. In case (1), the sacrifice seems acceptable. People ought to be punished, but every person has the natural right to live free of tyranny and unjust prosecution. A guilty person going free is a miscarriage of justice. Prosecuting the innocent without due process is violation of their natural rights. Case (2) does not feel right. It does not sound right. That is because we see the natural right of women to live free of sexual abuse in competition with the “right” of a every woman to get an abortion. When the primary interest of our government or institutions becomes the protection of the invented right to abort the unborn, then the zealous protection of that right and provision of the service runs afoul of things that ought to be of greater importance. The overwhelming majority of abortions are performed for elective reasons. That means they are not necessary. It appears that we are unintentionally making it more difficult to investigate and prosecute sexual abuse to protect the rights of women to do something they do not HAVE to do. Women and children should NEVER be sexually abused. As much as it is possible, we OUGHT to ALWAYS seek to protect women and children from this morally impermissible action. Even if you wish to argue that abortion is morally permissible but not advisable, you have to honestly look at how the practical application of that belief is playing out.
I am not saying that abortion is immoral because it creates this environment. Abortion is immoral because it terminates the life of an innocent human being for elective reasons. Abortion on demand already runs terribly rough shod over the natural right to life of the unborn. That the concocted right to abortion is also bumping up against other rights that ought to be more vigorously defended is only further evidence that it is not a legitimate right at all.