Putting the appeal to rights in the right place

Nicole Colson made this comment after an abortion rally:

Hundreds of thousands of women and men travelled from every part of the country to send the message to President George [H.W.] Bush that we won’t go back to the days of back alley abortions…

“The connection is that it’s about choice — the right to have a choice”, she [Adrian Spatzer] told Socialist Worker. “Choice is on a broader spectrum than just abortion. It’s the right to choose who I want to love, the right to choose who I want to marry, the right to choose to be a parent, or the right to choose to have an abortion if I want to.”

Gregory Koukl took that kind of rhetoric and put it under a microscope. The result was this:

Should the law be faulted for making it riskier for anyone to kill another innocent human being? The fact that bank robbery is dangerous to the felon isn’t a good reason to make grand larceny legal.

Our right to privacy and our right to choose ends where harm to another individual begins. That’s true with every law. Every piece of legislation violates privacy and restricts choice to some degree.

My two cents

Anti-abortion...
Anti-abortion… (Photo credit: tsaiproject)

The appeal to rights wears thin after a while—almost to the point where something’s a right just because certain people want it to be. Phrases like “the right to have a choice” have a semi-emotional, red herring element to them—and they’re held to inconsistently. I assume that publications like Socialist Worker would not be supporting “the right to have a choice” when it comes to international free trade, non-union labour, and no wage cntrols.

As such, I prefer the second quote much more; it’s much more rational. We need to have a consistent philosophy of law that’s not prone to being chiseled away.

Quote sources

  1. Colson, N. (1993). UNITED STATES: Huge turnout for abortion rights rally. Available: http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/30054. Last accessed 11th Apr 2013.
  2. Koukl, G. (2003). I’m Pro-Choice. Available: http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5313. Last accessed 11th Apr 2013.
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