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01 November 2010

A62, A63 Reveal Ideological Rifts

By Diana Hsieh

As I mentioned in a prior post, Ari Armstrong's and my op-ed on Colorado's Amendments 62 (personhood) and 63 (health care choice) was published in the Denver Daily News on Friday, October 22nd. It was a non-exclusive op-ed, so we hoped that some of the smaller papers around the state might choose to print it too. That hasn't happened that we know of, so I thought I'd post it here before the election. Hence:

A62, A63 reveal ideological rifts
Friday, October 22, 2010
By Diana Hsieh and Ari Armstrong

This year's ballot presents voters with a mystery. Amendments 62 and 63 are based on opposite political premises, yet many prominent groups either endorse both or oppose both. What explains this contradiction?

Amendment 62, the so-called "personhood" measure, would grant full legal rights to embryos. Its goal is to eliminate a woman's choice to get an abortion, use the birth control pill, or obtain common in vitro fertility treatments.

Amendment 63, Health Care Choice, seeks to protect people's choices in health care by forbidding state government from assisting in the enforcement of ObamaCare. It would preserve people's choices in insurance as well as ensure their ability to pay directly for health care.

Amendment 62 destroys liberty and choice in health care, while Amendment 63 protects those values. Yet few seem to recognize that.

In an Oct. 15 e-mail, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains opposes both 62 and 63. The group alleges that Amendment 63 "drives up health care costs by reducing insurance coverage."

In fact, those rising costs are due to government controls and welfare programs, and the mandate to buy insurance will only exacerbate the problem.

Likewise, Progress Now opposes both measures. Planned Parenthood and Progress Now follow the standard left-wing approach on these issues, advocating some choices in health care while denying others.

Religious-right advocates of Amendment 62, on the other hand, attempt to package their measure with Amendment 63. In an over-the-top video complete with Obama as the Angel of Death, proponents of 62 attempt to appeal to Tea Partiers. They suggest that the same movement responsible for legal abortion led to the bailouts and ObamaCare.

Amendment 62 supporters also endorse a "Blue Book Alternative," which features one-sided praise of their measure along with positive language about Amendment 63.

Both the left and the religious right, then, express contradictory views about liberty and individual choice. They support it in some cases, but not in principle. Why is that?

The left rejects America's founding ideal of liberty as each person's freedom to pursue his own life and happiness using his own property. They regard rights as entitlements to goods and services provided by others, not freedoms to think and act without coercive interference.

That's why Planned Parenthood does not merely want to protect the freedom of women to obtain abortions from willing doctors using their own funds, health insurance, or private charity. Instead, Planned Parenthood wants to force people to fund others' health care, including abortions. Therefore, the organization seeks to protect the right to abortion while denying any right to choose what health insurance to buy, if any.

The religious right claims to support individual rights, but its conception of rights is little more than sectarian dogmatism. Rights are whatever God declares them to be, on this view.

By contorting some Bible passages and ignoring others, advocates of Amendment 62 claim that newly fertilized zygotes -- even before implantation in the uterus -- must be declared persons with full legal rights. By similar methods, they ignore the Bible's overt hostility to individual rights and capitalist values.

The consistent, secular view of individual rights is opposed to both the entitlements of the left and the dogmatism of the religious right. Rights, on this third view, define the individual's proper sphere of freedom in a social context. They enable each person to act by his own judgment and for his own life and happiness.

Such rights are based on the facts of man's rational nature, not the whims of the majority or the arbitrary commands of God. They apply equally to every person, to individuals living in society, as opposed to an embryo or fetus entirely contained within a pregnant woman's body.

By this secular view of rights, any attempt to dictate the choices of others is morally wrong. Nothing can justify the forcible seizure or control of another person's property, whether via Medicare taxes or insurance mandates. And nothing can justify forcing a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term or banning the pill.

Under a consistent, reality based view of individual rights, Amendment 62 violates rights while Amendment 63 protects them.

Philosopher Diana Hsieh and political writer Ari Armstrong coauthored the paper, The 'Personhood' Movement Is Anti-Life, available at SecularGovernment.us.

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