Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

January 10, 2005

Syllogistic Hypocrisy

Filed under: — Different River @ 6:02 pm

One particular form of hypocrisy that really bothers me is the type where some person or group claims to favor or oppose X because of self-evident principle Y — but they don’t apply principle Y to everything else, and in severe cases they don’t apply principle Y to anything but issue X.

One example is the position of the National Organization for Women (NOW) (and lots of other people and organzations) on abortion. They and others claim to be in favor of abortion (or “abortion rights”) because of the principle that “a woman has a right to control her own body.”

Yet, on other issues, NOW specifically opposes a woman’s right to control her own body, and is in fact lobbying the federal government to infringe on that right. Specifically, they have an “action alert” on their website asking supporters to tell the FDA to deny approval for a certain type of silicone gel-filled breast implants. They claim the manufacturer has not provided enough data to show that the devices are safe. Presumably, the manufacturer disagrees and thinks their data does show the devices are safe.

Now NOW is entitled to their opinion about these devices, but if their concern were to protect the principle that “a woman has a right to control her own body,” then wouldn’t they want each woman to have to right to evaluate the risks and benefits and decide whether the tradeoff was worth it to her? After all, nothing is 100% safe, there are risks to everything, and no one is forcing anybody to get any kind of breast implants at all. So if a woman wants to get breast implants, and she has a right to control her own body, shouldn’t that mean she has the right to determine whether in her own judgement the risks are worth the benefits to her?

And if your answer to that question is “fine, but most women aren’t experts in these risks,” — well, they are implanted by a doctor; shouldn’t this be “a private decision between a woman and her doctor”? Isn’t that what they say should be the case for an abortion?

Furthermore, about four and a half years ago, NOW itself took the exact opposite approach to the FDA — they called on the FDA to expidite approval — without the safety testing normally required for new drugs — for RU-486 (mifepristone, the “abortion pill”). They cited approvingly the statement of the French Minister of Health that this drug is “the moral property of women,” with the clear implication that it’s the business of women, not the government, to determine whether it’s safe or not.

Of course, like breast implants, RU-486 is not without risk; unlike breast implants, at least four women in the US and Canada have died due to complications from the “abortion pill.”

If NOW acknowleges the risks of RU-486 (and I don’t know if they do or not), they could favor its approval and be consistent with their declared principle that “a woman has a right to control her own body” if they said that women should be allowed to make the their own decisions regarding risk-benefit tradeoff for themselves, and that it should “a private decision between a woman and her doctor.” But if they said that, they’d have to apply the same reasoning to the breast implants, and call on the FDA to approve those, too.

Now maybe I’m missing something here, but it certainly seems to me that NOW does not really believe that “a woman has a right to control her own body.” If they did, they’d be speaking out in favor of, not against, approving the breast implants, and they’d also be speaking out against the laws in Calfornia and North Carolina banning teenagers from tanning salons, and the laws requiring prescriptions for all prescription drugs, and parental permission for minors to get their wisdom teeth extracted, not just their fetuses.

It would be much less hypocritical if they’d just be honest and say “we believe in a woman’s right to an abortion — not necessarily a right for a women to do control anything about her body, just that one thing.”

9 Responses to “Syllogistic Hypocrisy”

  1. Joe’s Dartblog Says:

    NOW and Then
    I prefer Rush Limbaugh’s NAG (National Association of Gals) to NOW, but in any event Different River has notes on hypocrisy within the National Organization of Women….

  2. Ben Says:

    If you really want to make a NOWer’s head explode, ask them for their stance on prostitution. Or motorcycle/bicycle helmet laws. Or drug legalization.

    It sure would be a lot more honest if they just came out and admitted that they think (free, government-paid) abortions are simply a perk that everyone should have, never mind the rhetoric about control over one’s own body.

  3. Different River Says:

    Syllogistic Hypocrisy #2
    I noted earlier the phenomenon of people an organizations claiming to favor or oppose X because of self-evident principle Y, but not applying principle Y to everything else, and in severe cases not applying principle Y to anything but issue X. The e…

  4. Different River Says:

    CAIR’s Double Standard
    I’m not sure if this counts as another case of syllogistic hypocrisy, but let’s see:

    Daniel Pipes reports on two criminal cases on which the Council on American-Islamic Relations has taken a stand. In Case #1, they take the position that someone …

  5. Different River Says:

    Syllogistic Hypocrisy #3: Inauguration Costs
    Lots of people are complaining about the costs of the Bush inauguration (example here). The complaint is, basically, how dare Bush spend $40 million taxpayer dollars on an inauguration (as if he himself is spending the money) when there are children w…

  6. Different River Says:

    Definition of the Day (Syllogistic Hypocrisy #4)
    A liberal is someone who believes that convicted wife-and-baby-killer Scott Peterson should live, but innocent-but-disabled Terri Schiavo should die.

    Or, more particularly, that convicted wife-and-baby-killer Scott Peterson should be spared the deat…

  7. Different River Says:

    Will the FDA pull a drug that kills women?
    Not if NOW or Planned Parenthood has its way.

    It seems that Mifeprex (the “abortion pill” also known as “RU-486″ and “mifepristone”) has been killing women. No, not just the fetal women (and men) it was designed to kill, but the women who ta…

  8. Different River Says:

    Dogmatic Inconsistency
    Dr. Sanity quotes Stephen Hicks in Explaining Postmodernism on one of my favorite subjects — which I call syllogistic hypocrisy:

    Using contradictory discourses as a political strategy

    In postmodern discourse, truth is rejected explicitly and …

  9. Different River Says:

    Durham D.A. Will Prosecute Anyway
    Despite that fact that DNA evidence seems to have exonerated the Duke lacrosse players, the Durham Country District Attorney says he’s going to prosecute them anyway:

    DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Durham County’s chief prosecutor said Tuesday he will no…

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