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How Not To Argue Against Abortion Rights

Summary:
On June 8, the West Coast Straussian Ken Masugi made a strong plea against legalized abortion in an ideologically friendly website American Greatness.Masugi quoted Justice Clarence Thomas’s arguments against abortion rights, which feature an extended comparison between abortion and eugenics. According to Masugi, Thomas was offering a spirited “reply to the leading threat to the Declaration of Independence” when he compared eugenics and abortion. Presumably both practices have been defended as necessary to produce a healthy future generation, and Masugi finds a suitable quotation from the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute that talks about fitness in relation to abortion. Supposedly abortion represents a new form of eugenics that

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On June 8, the West Coast Straussian Ken Masugi made a strong plea against legalized abortion in an ideologically friendly website American Greatness.Masugi quoted Justice Clarence Thomas’s arguments against abortion rights, which feature an extended comparison between abortion and eugenics. According to Masugi, Thomas was offering a spirited “reply to the leading threat to the Declaration of Independence” when he compared eugenics and abortion. Presumably both practices have been defended as necessary to produce a healthy future generation, and Masugi finds a suitable quotation from the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute that talks about fitness in relation to abortion. Supposedly abortion represents a new form of eugenics that flies in the teeth of the Declaration of Independence, a document that assures us that “all men are created equal” and enjoy equal rights “to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This new eugenics, we are told, has been imposed on us by an “aristocracy,” which rejects the sacred doctrine of equality embedded in our founding document. It reflects the mentality of the Progressive Era and specifically the views of that West Coast Straussian villain Woodrow Wilson, who abandoned natural right teachings for historical, evolutionary theories.

 But Wilson had nothing to do with legitimating abortion as a modern judicial and cultural issue. As far as I know, he also said nothing about woman’s right to rule their own bodies, including the right to abort a fetus for whatever whim enters the mother’s mind. There are also loads of non-aristocrats who favor abortion rights, including inner city black teenagers who avail themselves of the opportunity to destroy unwanted future babies. Much of the support for abortion comes from minority voters, who overwhelmingly support politicians who favor extending abortion rights. In any case who are the “aristocrats” against whom we should be asserting our right to equality? Our elites talk incessantly about equality, although they and Masugi may differ about how they would apply that principle.

It is also unclear how abortion is a modern extension of eugenics, a claim that one hears repeatedly from pro-life groups, when they’re not comparing abortion, just as erroneously or hyperbolically, to slavery. Please note that neither slaves nor the subjects of eugenic measures chose the fate that befell them. If one is born into slavery or is forced to undergo sterilization, lest one produce a Mongoloid child, this person has not chosen the condition into which he or she is placed. The woman who elects to have an abortion, however, has freely chose that option. The state has not inflicted this outcome; rather political authorities have bestowed on her the right to take an action based on “choice.”

Paul Gottfried
Paul Gottfried is an American political philosopher and intellectual historian, and former Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania.

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