GOP abortion hypocrisy trap

posted by
April 2, 2016
by Timothy J Taylor  
Posted in Commentary

"Donald Trump got caught in the GOP abortion hypocrisy trap this week when he chose to follow his natural intellectual instincts and be logically consistent regarding his pro-life stance on abortion. He found out the hard way that among the gaggle of GOP hypocrites in the Republican Party it doesn't pay to be logically consistent when the issue involves abortion." (04/02/16)  

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  • dL

    of course, a consistent pro-life enforcement regime would be totalitarian. The only way around it is ad hoc enforcement. So abortion is murder, but a political process–politics–determines what gets treated as criminal homicide. The currently accepted party line is that the physician gets the rap, not the mother. Of course when the rate of spontaneous abortion(which is roughly the same rate as surgical abortion) begins to magically double or triple, then the politicos will have to go after miscarriage(all miscarriages) as an investigate crime for evidence of willful intent. Ad so, and so on. Since any pregnancy is inherently risky(meaning there is quantifiable actuarial risk that the pregnancy will terminate in miscarriage even if the female is optimally young and healthy), every pregnancy would carry a measurable risk of a murder investigation.

    If you want an example of how a pro-life enforcement regime operates, just look up old communist romania(romania now has legal AoD). Of course, cons are commies anyway, so for them, old communist romania is not a warning, its the ideal…

    • The slippery slope fallacy is even sillier when applied to abortion than when it’s applied to most subjects.

      In the US, not every post-natal death is investigated for evidence that it was a crime (if I weigh 400 pounds and keel over dead from my third heart attack at the mall one day while gorging on fried ice cream, the coroner’s not going to do an autopsy to make sure I wasn’t poisoned). Why would every pre-natal death be so investigated?

      Abortion was illegal in many parts of the US for about a century. Were pre-natal deaths investigated in those places and during that time? Uniformly? Routinely? At all?

      I’m shocked — shocked! — that some totalitarian states have been as totalitarian on abortion as they were on everything else.

      There are plenty of good arguments against criminalizing abortion. The slippery slope argument isn’t one of those arguments because it’s not an argument, it’s a fallacy.

      • dL

        slippery slope fallacy is when no valid reasoning is used when claiming B from A. That’s not the case in my argument. As I said, a regime avoids the totalitarian outcome only by being an ad hoc regime. One that would consistently enforce it would converge to the totalitarian result.

        Your claim that it didn’t happen in the past –> it wouldn’t happen now is a form of logical fallacy, sans reasoning. Why would that be? Indeed, one could reasonably argue that the comstock laws, a direct outgrowth of the anti-abortion legal climate, would very much be a totalitarian result if applied to today’s internet(as opposed to yesterday’s primary technological delivery means, the mail system).

        The slippery slope dismissal is the number accusation against libertarians–you know, the paranoid libertarian. It’s a fallacious rebuff because there are usually arguments/reasoning behind the claims. Your resort to it to defend the pro-life position–even in the face of reasoned argument– perhaps begs a question why you even bother to with Rational Review. 9 out of 10 articles are an exercise of “the slippery slope fallacy” if we apply the same standard you are applying to my argument.

        • I didn’t “resort” to anything to “defend the pro-life position.”

          I was just pointing out that your substitute for an argument was a steaming heap of fallacy. I suppose a case could be made that it was just ultra-extreme case of non sequitur rather than a true slippery slope train wreck, but either way it was lazy and presumably ineffectual vis a vis anyone who might happen to come by looking for logic.

          • dL


            lazy is argument by petulant insult. That’s all you have on the issue. That’s all you have ever had. When you have an actual argument–one, you know, that doesn’t actually undermine your entire enterprise and political philosophy, apparently holding the position that on abortion the United States can be counted on not to act as totalitarian as it does on other issues–then let me know.


          • I don’t need to have an argument, because I don’t have a position to support or defend on this issue. Nor do I need either to observe that most adherents of both sides of the issue completely discard reason and logic any time it stands between them and claiming some kind of weird “victory.”

          • dL

            well if I argue X and someone responds “that is dumbest thing i ever read, reads as if written by a dipshit,” and I respond why is that and the answer is: “i don’t need explain why you are a dipshit on this topic because I don’t have a position to support. Besides no one has a rational argument either way” I would call that trolling.

            That’s not like you, except on the topic of abortion. Or at least the way you argue w/ me on it.

            I have an essay on abortion, here:


            i don’t consider my position on this topic bereft of reason and logic.

          • Yes, I’ve read that piece before and just read it again. You’re correct: It is not “bereft of reason and logic.” It certainly has interesting features and bears further development.

            It does, however, fail at one key point: The claim that “to differentiate between [intentional and spontaneous abortion] using ‘intent’ as the criterion ad hoc redefines intent as the only criterion in legal jurisprudence.”

            It doesn’t. You’re leaving out the criterion of probable cause not only as regards intent but, up to the point where it becomes a medical issue, as regards whether or not abortion of either kind has happened at all. That’s where you start down the slippery slope of totalitarian proposition.

            Murder is against the law, and yet not many cultures do daily universal closet checks for corpses.

            Car theft is against the law, yet not many cultures do daily title checks to make sure the Volvo in your driveway is really yours.

            Some cultures (i.e. Romania) have maintained totalitarian regimes to prevent/punish abortion.

            Others (i.e. the US) have had laws against abortion for decades not just without reaching the bottom of that slippery slope but without any visible downward movement from the top of that slope.

            That particular failure doesn’t indict the parts of the argument that precede it, but it does taint everything that follows. And when that particular failure is cited as the argument in toto, it’s an epic fail.

          • dL


            my position re: X –> Y is that Y==arbitrary enforcement regime, not necessarily Y==totalitarian regime. The totalitarian result is avoided by ad hoc classification(politics/the State defines what is criminal) of what would be criminal homicide. Abortion in Romania is an example I used in this thread. Abortion is murder unless you are over 45, then it is not(it was lowered to 40, then raised again, then lowered again). If you have had 4 deliveries in the past, then it is not(raised to 5, then lowered, then raised again), etc…

            The argument that abortion laws in the past did not result in Y thus implies abortion laws today would not result in Y is not a convincing argument. Particularly as the primary counter to reasoned argument that takes into consideration the incentives and behavior of the prosecutorial state.

            I will give you an example. Sex Registries. When they were started in the early 1990s, the warnings against were often dismissed as slippery slope fallacies. After all, say when i was 16 or 17, i didn’t worry about if I had (consensual) sex with a 15 year old I was going to labeled a pervert/pedophile/child rapist for life. But I certainly would worry about that today if I was that age.
            Sex registries are often used as a tool to criminalize consensual teen age sex.

            Today, and I believe you would concur, the slippery slope fallacy dismissal against sex registries at the time–a dismissal based in part on past experience(after all, states have always had statutory rape laws on the books)–was weak sauce. The slippery slope was indeed slippery.

            Since I have a view of the state to be more like a prosecution racket than a protection racket(the state is not simply like another criminal gang. You pay off the mob to leave you alone. In contrast, you pay off the state to harass you), I have a scientific prediction of what happen if those laws were back on the books.
            Stuff like this becoming commonplace, particularly in bible belt.


            In contrast, you seem to have a rather sanguine view of state restraint re: abortion, that the state would not use those laws in an arbitrary and capricious way, that they wouldn’t be used at in ways that would betray the promises of politicians and prosecutorial agents of the state. And I would venture to guess that I would have hard time finding such faith on your part in state restraint in any other area.

            So, what you term “epic failure” on my part, I might call “epic blind spot” on your part.

          • “The argument that abortion laws in the past did not result in Y thus implies abortion laws today would not result in Y is not a convincing argument. ”

            I agree. It would be just as fallacious as its opposite, the slippery slope. Which is why I didn’t offer it as an argument.

          • dL

            Your abortion Slippery slope fallacy:

            A1=Abortion laws in the past did not result in Y thus implies abortion laws today would not necessarily result in Y.

            I believe that is your argument. Logically, the argument is trivially true. Of course, so is the below:

            A2=Wiretap laws in the past did not result in Y thus implies wiretap/surveillance laws today would not necessarily result in Y.

            We can likewise extend it the list A1,A2,…AN for a host of N issues.

            If I make an argument:
            B1=Abortion laws imply an ad hoc enforcement regime w/ regard to what would be criminal homicide

            you need more than to merely cite A1 to claim “epic fail.” In the same way re: the argument made in “I,Spy”


            to merely cite A2 to dismiss “I,Spy” as an exercise in paranoid libertarian slippery slope fallacy. Indeed, if we rely on simple statements,logic and the past, the entire libertarian program is an exercise in slippery slope fallacy(hence, paranoid libertarian).

            If we actually examine the statement:

            “Abortion laws in the past did not result in Y”

            historically, contextually, apart from assuming the truth of it as a simple statement, we might ask how did the enforcement regime avoid the ad hoc discretion of the administrative state. Hmmm, maybe because there wasn’t much of an administrative state back then(comparatively speaking) in the mid 19th century when abortion was more or less uniformly criminalized. Maybe the laws relied on the physicians themselves to self-police. Neither of those two conditions would be true today. Hence, the insufficiency of A1 as a basis for a slippery slope dismissal(the same historical method I would do if having to resort to debunking A2 as a basis for a slippery slope dismissal of I,Spy).

            What I do know, without any doubt, that if abortion was criminalized, the moment Fox News plastered an unsympathetic figure who passed off an self-administered abortion as a miscarriage(say in the state of georgia), I know exactly what the georgia legislature and the georgia administrative state response would be. There is absolutely no doubt. And, i would say also that i’m pretty sure the response wouldn’t extend to Reproductive Asst tech. ..

          • OK, well, at least you got my statement right this time (the word “necessarily” was the difference).

            “Trivially true” is true.

          • dL

            trivially true just means that a trivial statement is true in the predicate calculus. To avoid trivial arguments, you write a more complex statement(preferably in the predicate calculus) that precludes someone from be able to cite, say, 14th century medieval Moravia to thusly claim a modern conclusion guilty of the slippery slope fallacy.

            In our case, i would write a statement that would preclude any reference to social contexts that relied on informal orgs(medical profession,the church etc) outside of the administrative state to “police” abortion. So you would no longer be able to reference scenarios of informal policing of abortion to make a conclusion about the formal, administrative state policing of abortion.

            Frankly, this entire argument is silly. Pro-lifers already concede excluding the mother from prosecution, among other things. If you are trying to argue that pro-life regime wouldn’t necessarily be an ad hoc one, that argument is DOA to begin with.

          • “Frankly, this entire argument is silly.”

            Well, you got that much right at least.

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