]]]]]]  REMARKS ON MR BEATTY'S NOTE `ABORTION AND THE LAW'  [[[[[    
                        by Oleg Panczenko            (10/05/1989)
                        (4 October 1989)

For disputation to  be worthwhile the  disputers must inhabit the
same universe of discourse.  That  it, there must be agreement as
to  what  constitutes  evidence   and  what  constitutes  a  good
argument, both must accept a body of `facts' (statements taken to
be  true), certain  propositions must  be taken  as given  and so
forth.   The  difficulty with  the  debate over  the  question of
abortion is that the disputants inhabit disjoint universes.  That
is, there are no forensic elements in common.

Mr  Beatty  advances  five  propositions  which  he  suggests all
freemen  may  accept.  Yet  there  is  at least  one  freeman who
accepts only one of the five.

(1)  The   observation  that   there  are   limits  to   a  law's
effectiveness is  true of  any law  and is  thus not analytically
useful.  (Note that a demonstration that a law is unenforcible in
principle is analytically useful).

(2) The law cannot demand that men be virtuous, but it can demand
that they be law-abiding.

(3) I agree that it is wrong to force anyone to pay for another's
abortion.  But it is an established legal and political principle
in this country that those  who cannot afford to exercise certain
rights may exercise them at the expense of the state.

(4) The specter of monthly  urinalysis for ALL menstruating women
is silly:  there are  not enough  laboratories or  technicians to
handle  the workload;  laboratories  have other,  more important,
tests  to perform;  gathering and  processing massive  amounts of
data  is a  great problem;  false  positives and  false negatives
complicate  matters.  A  practical way  would  be to  analyze the
urine of  a monthly random  sample of women.   If roadside checks
for drunk-divers are legal, then this may be also.

However,  this  instrumental  argument  against  laws prohibiting
unrestricted  abortion  is  unconvincing for  it  is  no argument
against  a  law  to state  that  one  may conceive  of  a  way of
detecting its violation  which would cause  great mischief. There
is a tension  between enforcement of laws  and freedom. But there
are permissible and impermissible ways of detecting violations of
law.  Every  effort to  detect lawbreakers  need not  be made nor
every technique to  detect lawbreakers be  used.  We could reduce
the number  of crimes  by requiring  citizens to  appear at local
police-stations  hourly,  but  we  don't.   Yet  this  is  not an
argument  against laws  against  murder.  (See  Tibor  R. Machan,
``Fetal Rights: The  Implication of a  Supposed Ought'', Liberty,
July  1989,  pp. 51-52,  for  a elaboration  of  the instrumental
argument against restrictions on abortion.)

(5) Technology  will not make  the question of  abortion go away,
for a woman may still refuse  to either preserve the fetus or use
contraceptives,  no matter  how  safe, reliable,  convenient, and
inexpensive either choice may be.

                       *     *     *


Return to the ground floor of this tower
Return to the Main Courtyard
Return to Fort Freedom's home page