A Right to Abort but Not to Give Birth

I have noticed over the years that many bioethics death pro choicers (autonomy) actually envision the right as a one way street; a right to die but not a right to live. For example, almost all agree that we have a right to refuse medical treatment–even if it means we die. Okay, I’m cool with that. Most others say that seriously ill/disabled/mentally ill should be able to access assisted suicide or a lethal jab from doctors. I am definitely not cool with that. But then, when some patients want life-extending treatment with which the bioethicists disagree, well autonomy has its limits. Suddenly, doctors and bioethics committees should have the final say.

Now, the same paradigm may be forming around childbirth. Peter Singer–the usual suspect–a supporter of an absolute right to abort, claims that to save the planet, destitute women should not have a concomitant right to give birth. From the PRI story:

Then Singer compared women’s right to bear children to the traditional villager’s right to graze their cows on “common” grounds. As the villagers get more affluent and their cows die less from disease, he said, until the commons are overgrazed,  ”yields are falling… and that’s a road to disaster.” 

“Turns out that the right to graze as many cows as you like on the common was not an absolute right,” said Singer. “Obviously this is what I think we ought to be saying even about how many children we have… I hope we don’t get to a point where we do have to override it… but I don’t think we ought to shrink away from considering that as a possibility.”

In other words, the technocrats get to decide how many babies women can bear. We’ve seen the horrors that such a policy created in China.

Singer is far from alone. As I have written here many times, radical environmentalists and global warming hysterics have boosted China’s tyrannous one-child policy as a model for the rest of the world. But most advocates would have thought twice, I think, before impliedly comparing poor women giving birth to grazing cows on an overused pasture. If a conservative ever made such a statement, the response from the press would have been, “Racist!”


Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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