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Bill Clinton Lashes Out at Prolife Students

Update on February 26, 2008: For this blog entry, I relied on a press release by the group, "Students for Life," which referred to the hecklers as "prolife students." But I have since been told by several prolife students from the Franciscan University (Steubenville) who were present at the event that none of the hecklers was a student. So, students from the university were indeed protesting, but they were doing so in a respectful way. Although I did not mention Franciscan University by name, I can see why the protesting students from that fine institution would not like it implied that they had engaged in behavior in which they in fact did not engage.

In private email correspondence, Caroline Nye, a member of the Franciscan University College Republicans, has permitted me to publish on this blog her note of correction that I received on the evening of February 25:

I would first like to say that I applaud your support of the pro-life movement. However, as a member of College Republicans and as a Franciscan University student who personally attended the peaceful protest against Bill Clinton in Steubenville, Ohio, I would like to comment about the statement you made regarding students heckling the former president. You are quoted as saying, "what the 'students' did was disrespectful, and as a pro-lifer I condemn such conduct" (Weblog: "What's Wrong with the World" and EWTN news article). I would like to clarify that it was not in fact a "student" that yelled out during Clinton's speech. The man was not a student at Franciscan University and he had no connection with our organization. Furthermore, the entire goal of our protest was to be peaceful. While waiting outside, we prayed rosaries as a group. We recognize that violence and angry out bursts do not accomplish our peaceful objectives. I felt that it was necessary to bring the true facts to your attention and respectfully request that you retract your statement regarding "students" heckling the former president.
__________________________ The original February 17 entry follows:

Bill Clinton said this today at a rally for his wife in Steubenville, Ohio:

I gave you the answer. We disagree with you,...You wanna criminalize women and their doctors and we disagree. I reduced abortion. Tell the truth, tell the truth, If you were really pro-life, if you were really pro-life, you would want to put every doctor and every mother as an accessory to murder in prison. And you won't say you wanna do that because you know, that you wouldn't have a lick of political support. Now, the issue is who, the issue is, you can't name me anybody presently in politics that did more to introduce policies that reduce the number of real abortions instead of the hot air putting out to tear people up and make votes by dividing America. This is not your rally. I heard you. That's another thing you need is a president, somebody who will stick up for individual rights and not be pushed around, and she won't.


Certainly, the prolife students, who you can hear in the audio portion of this video, should not have heckled President Clinton. What the students did was disrespectful, and as a prolifer I condemn such conduct. Nevertheless, there's a way to deal with such hecklers without engaging in an ad hominem attack against prolifers in general, which is precisely what President Clinton did in his remarks. In fact, it seemed to me (and this could just be my own bias at work) that the President's harsh response revealed a deep and unhealthy bitterness that he harbors against prolife citizens. Sadly, instead of taking the high road and defending the permissibility of abortion by explaining why he believes the view of the students is mistaken (or at least should be tabled for a more appropriate venue), the former occupant of the White House chose the low road and attacked the intellectual integrity of every American citizen who holds the prolife view.

In any event, I answer President Clinton's argument in chapter 5 of my book, Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice (Cambridge University Press, 2007), a portion of which I reproduce below (endnotes omitted):

Argument from Pity for the Women Prosecuted, Convicted, and/or
Sentenced for Murder if Abortion is Made Illegal

According to abortion-choice supporters, if abortion is made illegal, then many women will be prosecuted, convicted, and/or sentenced for murder (a capital offense in some states), because the changed law will entail that abortion in almost every circumstance entails the unjustified and premeditated killing of an innocent human person (the unborn). Abortion-choice activists argue that such a situation will unnecessarily cause emotional and familial harm to women who are already in a difficult situation. Such laws, if they are instituted, will lack compassion. But, according to the abortion-choice supporter, if the prolifer is to remain consistent with her position that the unborn are human persons, then she must institute such compassion-lacking laws. On the other hand, if the prolifer does not insitute such laws, then it is highly doubtful that she really believes that the unborn are human persons. In any event, the prolife position appears to be inconsistent.

There are several problems with this argument. First, if this argument is correct about the prolifer's inconsistency, it does not prove that the unborn are not human persons or that abortion is not a great moral evil. It simply reveals that prolifers are unwilling to "bite the bullet" and consistently apply their position. The fact that prolifers may possess this character flaw does not mean that their arguments for the unborn's full humanity are flawed.

Second, this argument ignores the pre-legalization laws and penalties for illegal abortion and possible reasons why they were instituted. Although it is clear that these laws considered the unborn human persons, in most states women were granted immunity from prosecution and in other states the penalties were very light. As I noted in chapter 2, the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade employed these latter two facts, and did not properly assess the former, to conclude that state anti-abortion statutes were not intended to protect the unborn's life but only to protect maternal health, and that this was not consistent with the view offered by the state of Texas that the unborn is a human person under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U. S. Constitution. The problem with the Court's conclusion is that it did not take into consideration the possible reasons why the statutes granted women immunity and light sentences, especially in light of the fact that in other places the law considered the unborn persons. Legal scholar James Witherspoon suggests three reasons....:

First, they [the legislatures] might have considered that the woman who would attempt such an act would only do so out of desperation, and that it would be inhumane to inflict criminal penalties on her after having suffered through such an experience. That legislators were moved by such considerations is indicated by the fact that legislatures which did incriminate the woman's participation generally imposed less severe penalties on the woman for this participation than on the person who actually attempted to induce the abortion.

Second, it is also possible that this immunization of women from criminal liability for participation in their own abortions was a result of the paternalism of the era, which limited criminal responsibility of women at the same time that it limited their civil rights. Despite her consent to the act, the woman was considered a victim rather than a perpetrator of the act.

Third, the immunity might have been motivated in part by practical considerations. Often the only testimony which could be secured against the criminal abortionist was that of the woman on whom the abortion was performed; perhaps the woman was granted complete immunity so that she would not be deterred from revealing the crime or from testifying against the abortionist by any risk of incurring criminal liability herself. That the non-incrimination of the woman's participation was motivated by this practical consideration is indicated by the fact that those states which did incriminate the woman's participation often enacted statutes granting a woman immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony, or providing that this evidence would not be admissible in any criminal prosecution against her.

Thus, it seems likely that by prudently balancing the unborn's personhood, the evil of abortion, the desperation of the woman, and the need for evidence in order to insure a conviction, jurists and legislators in the past believed that the best way to prevent abortions from occurring and at the same time uphold the sanctity of human life was to criminalize abortion, prosecute the abortionist, grant immunity or a light penalty to the woman, and show her compassion by recognizing that she is the second victim of abortion.

Consequently, if abortion is made illegal because the law comes to recognize the unborn as intrinsically valuable human persons, legislatures, while crafting laws and penalties, and courts, while making judgments as to sentencing, will have to take into consideration the following facts. (1) Unborn human beings are full-fledged members of the human community and to kill them with no justification is unjustified homicide. (2) Because of a general lack of understanding of the true nature of the unborn child--likely due to decades of cultural saturation by abortion-choice rhetoric and little serious philosophical reflection on the prolife position by the general public--most citizens who procure abortions do so out of well-meaning ignorance. (3) The woman who will seek and obtain an illegal abortion is really a second victim. Women who seek illegal abortions will probably do so out of desperation. Not realizing at the time of the abortion that the procedure kills a real human being, some of these women suffer from depression and guilt feelings after finding out the true nature of the unborn. And because both those who may encourage these women to seek an illegal abortion (family and friends), as well as the abortionist who will be paid for performing this deed, have no intention of discouraging her, it is likely that the pregnant woman will not be fully informed of the unborn’s nature (e.g., "You're not carrying a baby, it's a `product of conception,' `blob of tissue,' `a bunch of cells,' etc."). (4) Even if his intention may be to help the woman, the illegal abortionist will not be ignorant of the demands and purpose of the law and the nature of the being that the abortion kills. However, because juries may be reluctant to sentence such a physician to decades in prison let alone the death penalty, a lighter penalty may be easier to secure. (5) The government has an interest in preventing unjustified and premeditated killing of human beings, whether born or unborn, who live within its jurisdiction. Legislators and jurists that intend to pass and enforce laws and penalties prohibiting almost all abortions, if they are to be just, fair, and compassionate, must take into consideration these five points, as the legislators and jurists of the past did prior to the legalization of abortion. There is no doubt, therefore, that the law will reflect these sentiments if abortion is made illegal again.

Third, given my second response to this argument, those who defend it seem to embrace a simplistic view of the purpose of criminal law and the penalties for violating it. For sometimes the purpose of a penalty is to provide an incentive to a polity for the realization of the best possible circumstances for elimination of the prohibited act and protection for its victim, precisely because the act in question and the violation of its victim so morally transgresses what is good. For example, in some states it is a capital offense to kill a police officer in the line of duty but not an ordinary citizen on the job, but this does not mean that the ordinary citizen has less value as a person than the police officer. Consequently, precisely because prohibiting the act of abortion advances the public good--because abortion entails in most cases the unjustified killing of an unborn human being--a prudent legislature will take into consideration all the variables and types of individuals ordinarily involved in the act in order to protect as many unborn human beings as possible.

Comments (134)

Clinton is a politician. And he quite accurately sums up the political dilemma of the pro-life movement here:

:...if you were really pro-life, you would want to put every doctor and every mother as an accessory to murder in prison. And you won't say you wanna do that because you know, that you wouldn't have a lick of political support."

Although Clinton is talking realpolitik there, he also sums up the moral issue: if one believes abortion to be murder, then the most culpable person involved in that murder is the "mother." It is she who hires the "hit man." She intiatates the killing, for her own benefit. The abortionist, if not performing abortions, makes his money in the performance of other ob/gyn procedures; his income is not dependent on performing abortions. There is no moral integrity involved in pro-life positions that advocate legal jeopary for the abortionist alone. Yet that is the position I most frequently hear publicly and explicitly stated.
Maybe Charles Barkley should be consulted on this issue, too?

Let's suppose that a man--in most ways a good and loving family man and pillar of his community--is also a gambling addict. He gets himself in trouble with his gambling loses, and, having exhausted his credit and his bank account, borrows from a loan shark. Now the loan shark is threatening him. In his desparation, and thinking primarily of the ruination of his family, he hires a hit man to kill the loan shark, for a much smaller sum of money than he owned to the loan shark.
Does anything about his situation make him anything other than an accessory to murder? I think not. We may feel sorry for him. We may feel that loan sharking is an evil that could be discouraged as a practice if its victims were given immunity to testify against them. But, in the end, the man is still an accesory to murder. We either prosecute him, or validate his murder. If we do the latter, we only ensure that others in similar positions know that they too can "get away with murder", if necessary.
In all of these respects, how is abortion different?

Finally, with regard to immunity for the "mother" in order to prosecute the abortionist: supposing that, by this means, you could jail every practicising abortionist tomorrow (having made abortion illegal.) Is there anything that you know about the nature of crime that would suggest to you that, where there is sure money to be made in an illegal activity, there won't be plenty of people ready and willing to take the risks involved in doing it, in order to get that money? I think not.
The only legal recourse that might lessen the numbers of abortions would be to punish the women so harshly that getting caught would be obviously worse than going through with the pregnancy.

Well it's good to know that as a woman, I have absolutely no capability of thinking for myself and deciding whether or not I want to be pregnant and give birth after 9 months. I thought that I understood my own needs and desires, but apparently I don't. And though most women who have abortions don't feel like "victims," and would instead feel like victims if they were forced to give up the control of their own body to white male Republicans as a means of keeping social control over women and further dehumanizing them, I guess they just don't understand their own reckless female feelings, what with their tiny hormonal girl brains.

It's also good to know that while you fully admit that women who undergo illegal abortions are desperate, otherwise they would not take on such a great risk, you're perfectly willing to allow desperate women to take that sort of risk, anyway. You have "compassion" for her by not throwing her in jail -- because she's too dumb to know what she's doing. But not enough compassion to make sure that she doesn't die from a perforated uterus in a hotel room -- because she's a whore who's killing her "unborn baby." How generous of you.

Yeah, I can totally see how you're "pro-life" and don't actually hate women at all. Us "pro-abortionists" have you pegged all wrong.

"There is no moral integrity involved in pro-life positions that advocate legal jeopary for the abortionist alone."

You're right. The whole industry; Planned Parenthood and it's affiliates should be sanctioned, as they are the architects of a regime that preys on confused, desperate and abandoned women for profit. The pro-life position has always held the mothers to be victims of an often coarse, heartless culture. You have offered nothing to support overturning that view. Instead, you trudge out Clinton, a man known for throwing women under the bus and the type of guy whose lifestyle requires the fail-safe of abortion, as an authority.

As an aside; beware the self-described male feminist. He knows the "liberated" woman makes an easier target.

'And though most women who have abortions don't feel like "victims," "

There is not only an entire body of literature that
contradicts that contention, but a movement devoted to healing women (and men) from the pain that comes with killing their unborn child; http://www.rachelsvineyard.org/

I hope you pass it on to those who might find it helpful

Kevin--
I did not "trudge out Clinton." Clinton's remarks, as quoted by Francis Beckwith, simply kicked off the topic. Nor have I advocated abortion. I have merely discussed the consistency of the position that abortion is murder, but that women who resort to abortion should not, for various reasons, be charged with murder. This is the purport of Mr. Beckwith's quoted article.
And I have offered plausible reasons for finding intellectual inconsistencies there. It is you who have offered no argument, on either side.

Guys, this is very old hat with Rodak: He tries to pressure pro-lifers into advocating major prison sanctions (for example) for the mother and implies that we are inconsistent if we won't. But then, of course, he'd imply that we were monsters of hard-heartedness if we did. It's an old liberal game, and all pro-lifers should recognize it. Bill Clinton is playing it, too. A tip of the hand comes in the fact that Rodak has also referred to "theocratic" states in reference to the abortion issue, making it clear that, like so many pro-choicers, he would regard it as an "imposition of our religion" to protect unborn children legally. Which can hardly be something he's actually driving for.

What the students did was disrespectful, and as a prolifer I condemn such conduct. Nevertheless, there's a way to deal with such hecklers without engaging in an ad hominem attack against prolifers in general, which is precisely what President Clinton did in his remarks.

No he didn't. Let's review what an ad hominem attack really is. It is an argument that someone is wrong because of something they are....in other words:

"You are wrong about banning abortion because you are a jerk" is a classic ad hominem attack. But....

"You are wrong about banning abortion and if you weren't such a jerk you'd see that too" is not an ad hominem attack (although it does leave out a reason for why your argument is wrong).

Unfortunately the 'prohibition' against ad hominem is often misread as simply being a ban on any type of harsh criticism of someone you disagree with. While harsh criticism may be rude, maybe uncalled for, or maybe simply a 'low blow' it can also be effective and potent.

Sadly, instead of taking the high road and defending the permissibility of abortion by explaining why he believes the view of the students is mistaken (or at least should be tabled for a more appropriate venue), the former occupant of the White House chose the low road and attacked the intellectual integrity of every American citizen who holds the prolife view.

Every American citizen? How about illegal aliens who are also pro-life? How about citizens in foreign countries? The world? Aliens on Alpha-Omega3 who are also pro-life? YOu seem to be reading stuff that just isn't there:

"We disagree with you,...You wanna criminalize women and their doctors and we disagree. I reduced abortion. Tell the truth, tell the truth, If you were really pro-life, if you were really pro-life, you would want to put every doctor and every mother as an accessory to murder in prison."

Clinton seems to be talking to his hecklers pretty directly and you yourself seem to have no problem criticizing hecklers...even if you agree with their motives. Yes he probably would use this argument if he was having a civil debate with a 'pro-life American citizen' instead of a heckler but I'm sure he would present it in a less harsh manner.

Onto your argument:
First, if this argument is correct about the prolifer's inconsistency, it does not prove that the unborn are not human persons or that abortion is not a great moral evil. It simply reveals that prolifers are unwilling to "bite the bullet" and consistently apply their position. The fact that prolifers may possess this character flaw does not mean that their arguments for the unborn's full humanity are flawed.

True but if pro-lifers are being inconsistent then a pro-choicer can reasonably ask why they are allowed to decide when to be inconsistent? If they are unwilling to 'bite the bullet' at making women murders why not simply refrain from 'biting the bullet' a bit more and, say, leave the first trimester decriminalized but beyond that have modest penalties?

First, they [the legislatures] might have considered that the woman who would attempt such an act would only do so out of desperation, and that it would be inhumane to inflict criminal penalties on her after having suffered through such an experience.

But no state to my knowledge ever offered lighter sentences to a woman who killed a newborn baby. When such cases do happen pleas of desperation (even when clearly true such as in clear cases of severe post-partum depression) often fall on deaf ears. Additionally, why would 'desperation' not simply be written into the law as a defense rather than a blanket assumption that before 9 months any women who would do such a thing would be 'desperate' but 9 months plus 1 days the penalty jumps all the way up to capital murder? Needless to say, 'desperation' fails to impress when applied to doctors who perform abortion.

Second, it is also possible that this immunization of women from criminal liability for participation in their own abortions was a result of the paternalism of the era, which limited criminal responsibility of women at the same time that it limited their civil rights.

Plausible if women who killed their newborn babies (or killed anyone for that matter) were also granted some type of immunization.

Third, the immunity might have been motivated in part by practical considerations. Often the only testimony which could be secured against the criminal abortionist was that of the woman on whom the abortion was performed; perhaps the woman was granted complete immunity so that she would not be deterred from revealing the crime or from testifying against the abortionist by any risk of incurring criminal liability herself.

The problem with this is it is actually making it harder to secure convictions. A prosecutor trying to confront an unwilling witness will want the flexibility to offer both a big carrot and a big stick. Writing a lower penalty into law makes the job all the harder (as in "why should I testify against the doctor when even if you convicted me the penalty would be light!").


You do try but the 'reverse feminism' that some pro-lifers have adopted (women are just as much victims of abortions as unborn babies!) remains very unimpressive. Your argument that the population just has their heads mixed up because of 30 years of confusing political arguments from NOW and just being distracted by MTV is likewise less impressive when you can't really explain why penalties in the supposedly 'pro-life' era for abortion were so much less than for murder.

The pro-life position has always held the mothers to be victims of an often coarse, heartless culture.

This is simply nonsense. In Nicaragua the penalty for the mother is 2 years in jail. Many States in this country had penalties for the mother. Places that do criminalize abortion tend to criminalize the mother's conduct. The first step in liberalization is to decriminalize the actions of the mother.

Now there are reasons why the penalties for abortion are typically less than those for murder. It is the same reason that familial killings are often punished more lightly than random murders. It is the same reason why parent-killing is often punished lightly. The reason is that the actions do not pose a greater risk to society. Much of the impairment caused by the death bears on the household itself.

As to the broader question, much of the pro-life beliefs against abortion are vaccuous. For many in the movement the goal is simply to erect a signpost that says "Abortion is Evil." I've even heard arguments claiming that the doctors are a victim of society. This is why I tire of the realpolitik in the pro-life movement. Concessions are made solely that we can somehow get a toothless moral majority in the polls. By doing this, things like the 3-exceptions are deemed by many people to be morally supportable; many think their churches actually teach that abortion is okay in the case of rape.

"You do try but the 'reverse feminism' that some pro-lifers have adopted (women are just as much victims of abortions as unborn babies!) remains very unimpressive."

It isn't reverse feminism, but simple common sense that leads one to conclude that women have been sold a bill of goods by a certain kind of male predator. Surely you have worked with or know the type. Have you ever noticed in those so-called "office romances", that it's the woman who suddenly leaves the company? No greater example than Clinton exists. He gains both carnally and electorally from the status quo. He probably calls it "triangulation" when hanging out with his kind.

Oh, if the contention that women aren't victims of this regimen, is so unimpressive maybe you can rebut the claim.

"...when you can't really explain why penalties in the supposedly 'pro-life' era for abortion were so much less than for murder."
Abortionist were put in prison and kept separated from the the rest of the prison population. Are you suggesting the death-penalty should be the penalty? Come on, your sophistry is worse than childish. It's boring.

Moral suasion and the emergence of such technologies as the sonogram, not violence or brutish, misguided legalisms are why the abortion industry will collapse.

I suspect that knowledge causes you some pain. Why is beyond me.

"In Nicaragua the penalty for the mother is 2 years in jail. Many States in this country had penalties for the mother."

Go ahead. Name the states and the penalties.

Guys, this is very old hat with Rodak:

An argument is invalid if it's been presented before.

He tries to pressure pro-lifers into advocating major prison sanctions (for example) for the mother and implies that we are inconsistent if we won't.

I'm not "implying" it: I'm stating it, flat-out.

It's an old liberal game, and all pro-lifers should recognize it.

It's no more a "game" than is the argument Mr. Beckwith's initial post; it is a philosophical position. If it's so "old" it is only because it has not been plausibly refuted. Instead of pointing out what I've said and done (which I'm sure that the others can see for themselves), why don't you simply address the points that I've made, and refute them?

he would regard it as an "imposition of our religion" to protect unborn children legally.

Until I'm convinced that the pro-life position is not founded upon the belief of "ensoulment at the moment of conception"--which has no basis in science, and is an article of faith--that's quite true.
In terms of science, with the advent of human cloning, every cell in the body will be just as much a potential human being as a human sperm/ovum at the instant of conception. What then? If you answer that question at all, I guarantee that it will be with reference to your religious beliefs, rather than to any scientific definition of a "person."

But Rodak, you've claimed you will "support" pro-lifers (or words to that effect) when they do what you consider to be "being consistent." But really, you won't, because you would think they were then "imposing their religion." So stop pretending that if we just "be consistent" (as you define it) you will support us, becuase that's false.

Rodak, the burden is on you and your bizarre contention that geography determines personhood. What scientific changes occur upon delivery that did not exist moments prior in the womb? And how do these changes impact that person?

By the way, Why the caps on "person"?

Anyone who works for an abortion facility or who has observed an abortion facility knows that many women are pressured into having abortions by the fathers of the unborn babies. A pregnant 13-year-old who was molested by her father and who is driven by him to the "clinic" is not exactly an example of "choice." Even an adult woman whose husband or boyfriend doesn't want the baby can be coerced into an abortion, whether through emotional or physical means. Moreover, the fear and uncertainty of an unwanted pregnancy are powerful inducements, in our present culture, to take the abortion option. These are the reasons to support more lenient legal penalties for the mother who has the abortion and tougher penalties for the doctor who exploits her situation by providing the abortion.

Cara, who is dehumanizing women, really? I think it's the men who want to use a woman's body for their pleasure but don't want her ability to bear children. As a woman, and, not coincidentally, a mother, I am able to think as an adult and see the humanity of my child, born or unborn.

Lydia--
I have said (and I think that this is the only context in which I've claimed I would "support" pro-lifers) that if pro-lifers are serious about having the fetus declared a "person" from the moment of conception, they should be working for a constitutional amendment to that effect. With such an amendment, the religious issue would become moot, and the principle would be established as a matter of secular law.
This business of voting for incompetent warmongers like Bush in order to get a couple of conservative judges appointed who might overturn Roe is balderdash. The next time the right-left pendulum swings the other way, a new judicial majority will simply make a new ruling re-establishing something akin to Roe. Only a constitutional amendment--since it is so difficult to obtain--has any chance of standing the test of time with this issue.

would instead feel like victims if they were forced to give up the control of their own body

But that's the whole question, isn't it? Is it simply "your body", or is it your and your baby's bodies

now? Physically, biologically, do you know the correct answer? This is one question in which pro-abortionists conveniently ignore science.

By the way, Why the caps on "person"?

Kevin--
Those aren't "caps"--those are quotation marks. They are there to indicate that there is no agreement within the context of this argument as to what the definition of "person" is. That is, in fact, why there is an argument on the issue at all.
I realize that if I make a statement, the burden of defending it is upon me. I have been doing so. If you would like to enter the argument, rather than just sniping at what displeases you viscerally, please do so.

Kevin, I have cited Wisconsin Statute and common law. Presently the comment is in moderation.

I'm surprised at how many commentators under this entry actually believe that to charge someone with personal inconsistency is not an ad hominem attack. For example, suppose Jones says, "Wife beating is wrong," but then we later discover that Jones beats his wife and has lobbied against statutes to criminalize spousal abuse. To tell Jones, "You really don't believe wife beating is wrong," does not count against the claim "wife beating is wrong." The first is a judgment about Jones, and the second is a judgment about a proposition uttered by Jones. Because both propositions can be true at the same time, the first is not a defeater of the second. President Clinton, therefore, did not address the prolife position. He sought to show that those who claim to be prolife lack intellectual virtue. The latter may or may not be the case. But it has nothing to do with plausibility of the prolife posiiton per se.

Two, of course, can play this game. Bill Clinton claims that abortions were reduced during his administration. That's an odd thing to say about the exercise of a "fundamental right." I'm sure Clinton believes that freedom of speech is a fundamental right. But would he consider it a vindication of that position if it were discovered that during his administration there were fewer books published. What would we think of a president who says, "I believe in a person's right to read and write, but I want such activities safe, legal, and rare."

Of course, this does not count against the abortion-choice position as a position. It is merely employed to illustrate that either side can employ such a tactic.

These are the reasons to support more lenient legal penalties for the mother who has the abortion and tougher penalties for the doctor who exploits her situation by providing the abortion.

When abortion is illegal, there is no question that abortionists are exploiting the situation for financial gain. But since it is legal, it makes no sense to look at it that way. Doctors who perform abortions either think that they are helping the women involved, or they think that they are just performing a routine procedure, like any other. Doctors have no need to "exploit" women by performing abortions. Doctors have many ways to make money, and back when abortion wasn't one of the available options, doctors were doing just fine financially. And if abortion is made illegal again, doctors will do just fine then.

Rodak, I have seen the warnings against engaging you and your by the hosts of this site. I will now do so confident your tortured, contradictory and sophomoric efforts to deny the humanity of the unborn will become apparent even to you.

I'm surprised at how many commentators under this entry actually believe that to charge someone with personal inconsistency is not an ad hominem attack.

It's not. It is only the argument that there exists contradiction between two or more of the propositions put forward by the other person of which the other person is not aware.

It becomes ad hominem only when the argument is of the kind, "If you weren't so bigoted (or "liberal" as it is routinely used on me), you would see that you are contradicting yourself."

"In terms of science, with the advent of human cloning, every cell in the body will be just as much a potential human being as a human sperm/ovum at the instant of conception."

This is one of the odder red herrings that is cropping up lately.

A pool of amino acids is in theory also a potential human being, but the sheer enormity of energy involved in building a human being from those material parts makes such a task rather impotent.

The simple fact that a whole lot of technological meddling is necessary to induce, say, a skin cell into becoming a human being, whereas the union of sperm and egg requires no technological intervention at all, shows that the potential of all human cells to become human beings is not equal.

Perhaps "material" potential vs. "formal" potential is the distinction ignored here.

Kevin presents some nice ad hominem above my last comment.

Kevin Jones--
I don't see how that changes my point.


"Let's suppose that a man--in most ways a good and loving family man and pillar of his community--is also a gambling addict."

Sorry, I'd argue that someone who is a gambling addict
doesn't love his family at all. This scenario sounds
extremely contrived to me.

That's an odd thing to say about the exercise of a "fundamental right."

No, it's not. The "fundamental right" established by Roe is the right to privacy as expressed in the doctor-patient relationship. I believe that Clinton, like most other pro-choice advocates, finds abortion to be distasteful. The usual formula is that abortion should be "legal, safe, and rare." One can decide that this formula is always and everywhere uttered as a lie, but that is a baseless assumption until proven otherwise.

This scenario sounds
extremely contrived to me.

If I had said "compusive gambler" rather than using the world "addict" would that have made a difference? Either word implies behavior that the person knows to be wrong, but cannot control. If, of course, you are of the opinion that "compulsion" and/or "addiction" are just phony psychobabble terms for "sin" then my hypothetical will carry no force with you.

Rodak:

You're wrong. The right of privacy was "discovered" several years earlier in Griswold v. Connecticut, in the penumbras of the emanations of several amendments of the Bill of Rights, to paraphrase Justice Douglas. That right was the ground of Roe, not the consequence of it.

If the fetus is not a person, and if abortion helps dispel future harm, and if many, like Clinton, believe that the government should subsidize it, why not consider it an instrumental good?

I guess I feel the same way about Clinton presidencies as President Clinton feels about abortion: they should be safe, legal, and rare.

I guess I feel the same way about Clinton presidencies as President Clinton feels about abortion: they should be safe, legal, and rare.

Now that's ad hominem!

That right was the ground of Roe, not the consequence of it.

So, I used the wrong word to refer to Roe. My bad. I still believe that "privacy" is the "fundamental" right to which Clinton was referring. Clinton is, after all, a lawyer. That abortion is not a "fundamental" right in-and-of-itself is the reason for the controversy, and the reason that "privacy" is needed as the ground of Roe.

I haven't watched the video, so maybe the ad hom is somewhere in there. But I don't see anything like an ad hom attack in the quote Beckwith offered.

This thread is an excellent insight into the state of the abortion debate;

Pro-lifers, once accused of caring only about the child, and at the expense of the mother, are now accused of being either; patronizing, or inconsistent. All because they fail to seek jail time for women seeking abortions.

Pro-lifers are relying on moral suasion, non-violent witness, crisis pregnancy centers and post-abortion counseling services to make their case. This troubles those who depended on judicial fiat to create a right to "terminate" mere plasma and tissue.

Pro-lifers, notorious for relying on religion reasoning are now guilty of relying too much on science in defending life. They now use sonograms, instead of Scripture to influence others.

Pro-lifers promote a way too broad interpretation of "personhood" (scare quotes a must) and are therefore guilty of being too...inclusive.

Pro-lifers are rudely asking tough questions like: who really benefits from the right to abortion. Some men take umbrage and label this a form of ad hominem attack

Pilate once asked; "What is truth?" He knew. So too the abortion industry and it's increasingly incoherent and desperate defenders.


Rodak:

Now that's ad hominem!
I don't think the term "ad hominem" means what you think it means.

If I said "Bob is a blustery blowhard", that would not be an ad hominem (though it is an alliteration). It might even be true.

If I said "Bob's argument is wrong because Bob is a blustery blowhard", that would be an ad hominem.

I guarantee that it will be with reference to your religious beliefs, rather than to any scientific definition of a "person."

Is that all there is Rodak? "Religious beliefs", and "science"? I was under the impression that there was still a thing called "philosophy" being done by those interested in things called "ethics" and"morals". But since, for Rodak, apparently we must wait for "science" (I always wonder who these people are and how one gets admitted into the "science court", and how they make decisions about what is and is not a "person"...is it by simple majority, 2/3 majority with a veto power somewhere?) to make a ruling. If science would just make a ruling on the human person, I'd really be relieved. I could skip a lot of these mandatory philosophy classes in college. It would save me a lot of money.

If I said "Bob's argument is wrong because Bob is a blustery blowhard", that would be an ad hominem.


Zippy--

See my comment of 12:26 p.m.

If you want, we can try to parse Mr. Beckwith's comment of 12:45 p.m. to see if it's an real "ad hominem" or not. Maybe it isn't. It was just an attempt to lighten up the discourse a bit. So shoot me.

Rodak:

There is no moral integrity involved in pro-life positions that advocate legal jeopary for the abortionist alone. Yet that is the position I most frequently hear publicly and explicitly stated.

What's with all the beating around the bush, and nit-picking about other people's "consistency" instead of actually laying out your own consistent position on abortion? Whether or not other people are consistent with their views should have no effect on your views. Just last week, I recall, you were somehow divining from the Bible a mandate not to treat your own children any better than strangers, as counter-intuitive and impossible to consistently follow as that is. Surely you have a position of your own here, and not just nits to pick with other people's consistency. So what is it?

Until I'm convinced that the pro-life position is not founded upon the belief of "ensoulment at the moment of conception"--which has no basis in science, and is an article of faith--that's quite true.
Oh? So when does science show that ensoulment happens? What time of ensoulment does have a basis in science? Exactly 6 months from conception? The exact moment of birth?

And furthermore, does every single policy and law we come up with need to be scientifically proven? What's the "basis in science" for your open-borders immigration policy preferences, for instance?

Surely you have a position of your own here, and not just nits to pick with other people's consistency. So what is it?

I stated my position to Lydia at 12:07 p.m.

Oh? So when does science show that ensoulment happens? What time of ensoulment does have a basis in science? Exactly 6 months from conception? The exact moment of birth?

So far as I am aware, science has yet to detect the presence of the soul. That is what makes the concept of ensoulment at conception (or at any other time) a matter of faith.
A society based upon secular law should not impose one group's faith-based beliefs upon the entire society.
If, however, the concept that a fetus is a person from the moment of conception can be put into the constitution, so be it: it is then the law of the land.

Rodak: So shoot me.

That would be immoral, even if it were legal.

So far as I am aware, science has yet to detect the presence of the soul.
Exactly. How about the concept of persons? You know, the killing of which constitutes murder? At what moment does science tell us that a fetus becomes a person? (Hint: I've just asked you the same question again)

Rodak: So shoot me.
That would be immoral, even if it were legal.

Chalk one up for Todd.:-)

At what moment does science tell us that a fetus becomes a person?

A plausible "scientific" case could be made for the fetus becoming a "person" when it is viable outside of the mother's body. That is why most reasonable people are against third trimester abortions and partial birth abortions, which is nothing but infanticide by another name.

Until I'm convinced that the pro-life position is not founded upon the belief of "ensoulment at the moment of conception"--which has no basis in science, and is an article of faith--that's quite true.

Ummm... I don't think that's the foundation of the pro-life position at least as I understand (and believe) it. In fact, it is far from clear that the Church has taught authoritatively on the moment of "ensoulment". I am personally agnostic to the "moment of ensoulment". Clearly, by the teaching of the Church, we must act as though the fertilized oocyte has an eternal soul. My pro-life stance comes from objective fact that fertilized oocyte is (essence) a human (qua human) being (qua being), a different thing (in essence) from the parts that it was a moment before; and a thing (in essence) very much like me. All of which is quite strongly based on science, and not at all upon religious faith. It really is that simple, Rodak... at least from the perspective of this pro-lifer.

... Which I'm sure won't convince you because it is impossible to prove a negative...

Kevin

It isn't reverse feminism, but simple common sense that leads one to conclude that women have been sold a bill of goods by a certain kind of male predator. Surely you have worked with or know the type.


Yes yes so why is this always the story with abortion and never the story when a mother kills her newborn baby? There have been some very high profile cases of this and when it happens the general instinct of most people is not to say "why yes, of course she was sold a bill of goods by her no good boyfriend or husband". The response of the public is usually along the lines of "no man is worth killing your own kids" and even if you have an amazing argument to make in the woman's defense you have a huge uphill battle.

So yes it's a little implausible to her pro-lifers try to get away with pretending every abortion is about some evil man lurking in the shadows pushing for an abortion so he can (save on child support? have more sex?) or some mythical 'abortion industry' that somehow cons women into getting abortion to make money (as if the same doctors who perform abortions wouldn't be able to carry a pregnancy to term and make a hell of a lot more money doing so).

Here's an example:

Jaennie
Anyone who works for an abortion facility or who has observed an abortion facility knows that many women are pressured into having abortions by the fathers of the unborn babies. A pregnant 13-year-old who was molested by her father and who is driven by him to the "clinic" is not exactly an example of "choice."

Except when an argument is made for the usual three exceptions "rape, incest or life of the mother" pro-lifers are the first to stand up and shout this barely applies to 1% of abortions at best. So which one is it? Is Jaennie's example typical or not? Probably not.

So what type of 'pressure' is Jaennie really talking about? Social unacceptance of teen/young adult pregnancy? The possibility of losing a boyfriend? Financial problems or lack of health insurance? Would any of these 'pressures' even be entertained by Jaennie if CNN reported another case of a woman who kills her child?

Lydia
Guys, this is very old hat with Rodak: He tries to pressure pro-lifers into advocating major prison sanctions (for example) for the mother and implies that we are inconsistent if we won't. But then, of course, he'd imply that we were monsters of hard-heartedness if we did. It's an old liberal game, and all pro-lifers should recognize it. Bill Clinton is playing it, too. A tip of the hand comes in the fact that Rodak has also referred to "theocratic" states in reference to the abortion issue, making it clear that, like so many pro-choicers, he would regard it as an "imposition of our religion" to protect unborn children legally. Which can hardly be something he's actually driving for.

But Rodak, you've claimed you will "support" pro-lifers (or words to that effect) when they do what you consider to be "being consistent." But really, you won't, because you would think they were then "imposing their religion." So stop pretending that if we just "be consistent" (as you define it) you will support us, becuase that's false.

Your argument is a horrible mess. Rodak's motivations are irrelevant to the arguments he makes. Whether he argues against something a pro-lifer says because he wants to see the pro-life movement improve their arguments or because he thinks they are totally wrong and wants to expose the flaws in their arguments are irrelevant. It doesn't make your arguments any better if they don't make sense.

If you want to be inconsistent then go ahead but you can't cry unfair if someone calls you on it. If you're inconsistent because you don't want to be 'hard hearted' then again it's no foul to be called on it.

Francis
I'm surprised at how many commentators under this entry actually believe that to charge someone with personal inconsistency is not an ad hominem attack. For example, suppose Jones says, "Wife beating is wrong," but then we later discover that Jones beats his wife and has lobbied against statutes to criminalize spousal abuse. To tell Jones, "You really don't believe wife beating is wrong," does not count against the claim "wife beating is wrong." The first is a judgment about Jones, and the second is a judgment about a proposition uttered by Jones. Because both propositions can be true at the same time, the first is not a defeater of the second. President Clinton, therefore, did not address the prolife position. He sought to show that those who claim to be prolife lack intellectual virtue. The latter may or may not be the case. But it has nothing to do with plausibility of the prolife posiiton per se.

I'll agree with you in a strictly logical sense but not rhetorically. To see why imagine a slightly alternative hypothetical:

Jones: "Wife beating is correct. The Bible says man is the head of the house and he should beat his wife if she gets out of line"

You: "You don't really believe that. I know your wife and you've never raised a fist to her!"

Technically you can call this an ad hominem since you're telling Jones...essentially..."you're argument is wrong because you fail to live by it". But what if you said:

"You don't really believe that. You've never raised a fist to your wife. And you haven't because you know in your heart your assertion is wrong"

If the bolded statement is left unsaid but is understood by the listeners then it really isn't an ad hominem. You are asserting that Jones heart has some ability to determine right and wrong and since his heart has ruled against beating his wife we can conclude that it is wrong to do so. Jones, of course, may counter that his heart is flawed and unreliable and it's not right let it have the last word anymore than you would say a doctor can't stop eating McDonald's is wrong when he argues a Big Mac diet is unhealthy.

Two, of course, can play this game. Bill Clinton claims that abortions were reduced during his administration. That's an odd thing to say about the exercise of a "fundamental right." I'm sure Clinton believes that freedom of speech is a fundamental right. But would he consider it a vindication of that position if it were discovered that during his administration there were fewer books published.

Ahhh but if choice is the right Clinton is talking about then your argument falls flat. Freedom of speech is indeed a fundamental right but a metric indicating fewer people embrace 'Archie Bunker racism' would hardly merit bemoaning a 'lack of freedom'. Rather one could say such would be an example of people using their freedom in a more responsible way (perhaps inspired by others who used their own free speech to convince them to change their minds).

Rodak:

I stated my position to Lydia at 12:07 p.m.

No, your post at 12:07 was just more posturing about what pro-lifers should do if they were consistent according to Rodak, namely get a constitutional amendment, which you claim would make the issue "secular law" rather than a religious issue (Though, I must note, there's nothing in the Constitution about homicide for adults right now either).

I'm asking what YOU think. Is abortion unjustified homicide or not? If the Constitution said that it was, would the Constitution be saying something true or false? Would you like there to be such a Constitutional amendment? Are fetuses persons? If not, when do they become persons? Is it okay to kill persons? Is there any such thing as persons at all?

Surely the guy who discovered a Scriptural injunction not to take better care of one's own children than a stranger's has an opinion on this. Praytell, stop being cute and tell us.

A plausible "scientific" case could be made for the fetus becoming a "person" when it is viable outside of the mother's body. That is why most reasonable people are against third trimester abortions and partial birth abortions, which is nothing but infanticide by another name.

Hey, careful with slinging such terms as 'infanticide'. There are some good and reasonable people who would disagree with you on the matter of third trimester abortions. Are you in favor of putting women and abortion doctors in prison for 1st degree murder if they have third trimester abortions? Are you in favor of a constitutional amendment defining 'personhood' as beginning in the third trimester?

Kevin

Pro-lifers, once accused of caring only about the child, and at the expense of the mother, are now accused of being either; patronizing, or inconsistent. All because they fail to seek jail time for women seeking abortions.

Pro-lifers are relying on moral suasion, non-violent witness, crisis pregnancy centers and post-abortion counseling services to make their case. This troubles those who depended on judicial fiat to create a right to "terminate" mere plasma and tissue.

I suspect you're another one of those all too common pro-lifers who doesn't even bother to read or listen to anyone who disagrees with him yet feels perfectly comfortable writing long posts about what his opponents supposedly are saying. At least Francis took careful note of what was said and articulated where he disagreed and why. You, on the other hand, hardly seem to know what you're saying let alone anyone else.

Are you trying to say the pro-lifers heckled Clinton because he objected to them using moral suasion to convince people not to have abortions? If that was the case then why would Clinton's response include the drop in abortions during his term? The hecklers were attacking Clinton because they want abortion to be criminalized and yes it's perfectly valid to question why they reject being consistent.

I'll admit there are hard-hearted women out there. I would never claim that _every_ abortion is the fault of some male or that no women have abortions willingly and callously. I think a lot of pro-choicers refuse to admit the pressure that do exist, but there's no point in denying the existence as well of women who procure abortion without a qualm and knowing fully what they do. In strict justice in law, those distinctions would be made. A woman who knew what she was doing and was under no duress of any sort would receive legal punishment, whereas those who were deceived, confused, or under duress would have that taken into account as legally mitigating, perhaps very much so depending on the circumstances. In the limiting case, minor children are sometimes quite literally forced to have an abortion by their parents, which of course should carry no penalty at all for the young mother who is in those cases a victim herself in the strict sense.

I wish to point out in passing that the medical personnel who disassemble and reassemble small arms, legs, and heads can hardly be in any doubt about what they are up to. "Informed consent" doesn't really enter in there, does it?

But it seems to me ridiculous to say that we can never consistently argue for any restrictions on abortion unless we actually press for penalties on women procuring abortion. Why should this be? How does this follow from our position? Is there an argument lurking somewhere here like this?

1. If abortion is murder, then every state is obligated instantly to enact jail terms for all women procuring abortions.

2. Every state is not obligated instantly to enact such jail terms for all women procuring abortion.

Therefore,

3. Abortion is not murder.

I'd like to see the argument for #1.

Hey, careful with slinging such terms as 'infanticide'. There are some good and reasonable people who would disagree with you on the matter of third trimester abortions.

I see that even if I state a position that you should be in agreement with, I'm still wrong. It is becoming an exercise in absurdity to engage in a discussion with some of you.

Rodak:

A plausible "scientific" case could be made for the fetus becoming a "person" when it is viable outside of the mother's body.

I didn't ask for a "scientific" case. I asked for a scientific one. What, scientifically, happens to change the fetus into a person the moment it becomes viable? Is it a chemical reaction that happens? What's the chemical makeup of a person vs a non-person?

Or are you just redefining "person" to mean "person who can stick up for themselves", in which case you ought to be for the "choice" of killing the disabled? And what's the scientific proof that this definition is the correct one?

Okay, I'll stop being cute now, and point out the bleedin' obvious that everyone here already knows. There is no scientific definition of "person", which is pretty much synonymous with "soul". These are both concepts known to a) philosophy, and b) common-sense 1st-person experience.

That is why most reasonable people are against third trimester abortions and partial birth abortions, which is nothing but infanticide by another name.
But there's nothing in the Constitution about partial birth abortions. Science hasn't discovered any "souls" or "persons" inside the group of cells that we like to call "newborns", so this must be a purely religious sensibility. I suggest that if you were consistent, you ought to be lobbying for a Constitutional ban on partial-birth abortion to make it properly secular law; otherwise, you're just trying to force your religion on the rest of us.

Also, Rodak, what do you think should happen to women who have partial-birth abortions? Should they be locked up for years like common murderers? Because if you don't think they should, and you think that partial-birth abortion is infanticide, then you are obviously being inconsistent.

I see that even if I state a position that you should be in agreement with, I'm still wrong. It is becoming an exercise in absurdity to engage in a discussion with some of you.

I'm just wondering if you are going to hold yourself to the same standard of reasoning that you seem to be holding "us". If anti-abortion advocates ought to be supporting prison terms or even death sentences for women who have abortions and abortion doctors in the name of consistency, shouldn't you be doing the same?

Like Boonton, I'm having difficulty seeing how comparing action to rhettoric is necessarily illogical. For example, if I observe that a preponderance of people take route A over route B to get between two points, I think it would be perfectly valid for me to claim that people prefer route A. A counterclaim may be that route B is under construction, but then we are getting into the detail of why people prefer said choice. Given the antipathy of many pro-lifers for charging mothers in abortion, I think it is reasonable to conclude that those pro-lifers sincerely believe that mothers should not be charged in the case of abortion. That there may be alternative explanations seems to be an argument against the fallacy of rash generalization. So when Clinton claims that pro-lifers are being inconsistent in criticizing him for not demanding justice when they don't demand justice, I'm seeing a probably true claim, at least until the generalization is proven to be rash.

So when Clinton claims that pro-lifers are being inconsistent in criticizing him for not demanding justice when they don't demand justice, I'm seeing a probably true claim, at least until the generalization is proven to be rash.

But it's not a fact that anti-abortion advocates don't demand justice. We just aren't demanding, at current, prison terms or death sentences. Call it amnesty, if you will--or mercy. The culture of death has become so pervasive in our society that the conscience of many has been deeply and hopelessly compromised, along with, apparently, the ability to reason properly. It's something like, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do". We're trying hard to make this an easier pill to swallow. The charge of inconsistency is hollow, and it falls flat as a high school chorus. It's a dodge, a pure dodge. Clinton and his type don't want to try and match the pro-life argument because they can't. He's smart enough to know he's got nothing to answer it with, so he dodges it with this clever aggression. The pro-choice argument, when it comes to the subject of personhood, is an argument from ignorance. Boy, is it ever.

Lydia,

I'll admit there are hard-hearted women out there. I would never claim that _every_ abortion is the fault of some male or that no women have abortions willingly and callously. I think a lot of pro-choicers refuse to admit the pressure that do exist, but there's no point in denying the existence as well of women who procure abortion without a qualm and knowing fully what they do. In strict justice in law, those distinctions would be made.

How about women who do the abortions themselves either with an 'abortion pill' or some other method? Again this 'pro-life feminist' argument is almost a satire of itself. If you weren't using it to argue a pro-life position I'd almost think you were doing a Saturday Night Live skit making fun of the most radical feminists imaginable from the 1970's and 80's. Perhaps you can argue next that all sex is rape therefore every abortion is really some man victimizing a woman?


I'll say it again more bluntly, you are arguing a massive double standard here. Pre-birth you bend over backwards to think of every excuse imaginable from the extreme (the 13 year old being taken for an abortion by her incestuous father) to the most vague ("pressures") to cut women a break. Post birth you would have none of this. (If I dive into the archives here will I find any posts from Lydia telling us to not rush to any conclusions in the Susan Smith case, perhaps she was 'mislead' by some evil man).

I'd like to see the argument for #1.

1. If abortion is murder, then every state is obligated instantly to enact jail terms for all women procuring abortions.

If the state is not obligated to enact jail or other punishments for murder then "abortion is murder" does not serve as a viable argument for outlawing abortion does it?

thebyronicman
But it's not a fact that anti-abortion advocates don't demand justice. We just aren't demanding, at current, prison terms or death sentences. Call it amnesty, if you will--or mercy. The culture of death has become so pervasive in our society that the conscience of many has been deeply and hopelessly compromised, along with, apparently, the ability to reason properly.

Except this post began with the rather uncomfortable fact that abortionw as not punished as murder even in those supposedly pure days before Roe.v.Wade...long before any 'culture of death'. As I pointed out in my original posts, Francis's attempts to explain that do not add up.

Amnesty or mercy are usually implemented after a sentence has already been handed down. Here you are basically saying you can call something murder but are free to write the law as if it is on a par with forging checks.

Call it amnesty, if you will--or mercy.

Fine. The extend the same to the physicians. That would be consistent.

If the state is not obligated to enact jail or other punishments for murder then "abortion is murder" does not serve as a viable argument for outlawing abortion does it?

Lydia is quite capable of answering for herself, but for my part, no, I don't see it. Not immediately, anyway, and for this reason: Abortion has become a matter of culture in our society. The culture must be reconverted, and this takes time (refer to my post above). In the meantime, a period of amnesty would be proper, until abortion once again is understood by our culture as a culture to be a heinous crime against humanity. Then, such penalties as are appropriate to the crime, as it is so understood by virtually all, could be justly and prudently established in order to secure the public good.

Fine. The extend the same to the physicians. That would be consistent.

For my part, that is what I would support. It doesn't seem just to throw physicians into prison tomorrow who were doing procedures that were legal yesterday.

And what's more, there is a national culpability in the whole thing. As Dostoyevsky's Fr. Zossima said, "All are guilty for the sins of all". We ought all to haul ourselves off to prison for crimes against the human race.


Not immediately, anyway, and for this reason: Abortion has become a matter of culture in our society. The culture must be reconverted, and this takes time (refer to my post above). In the meantime, a period of amnesty would be proper, until abortion once again is understood by our culture as a culture to be a heinous crime against humanity. Then, such penalties as are appropriate to the crime, as it is so understood by virtually all, could be justly and prudently established in order to secure the public good.

Again my response to Lydia is and remains if the state is allowed to not punish murder as murder then "abortion is murder" is not a sufficient argument to outlaw abortion.

You're argument, if I'm reading it correctly, seems to be something like Sandra Day O'Conner's defense of Roe.v.Wade....society is 'used' to abortion and has to be weaned from it slowly so some undefined period will have to be established where abortion punishments are increased slowly until they someday arise to equality to punishments for murder.

I hate to say this but this sounds a little bit too progressive with me. We do learn from the past but we are just as prone to forget the lessons of the past. Somehow I don't think a 19 year old girl scared because she is pregnant and doesn't feel she can handle taking it to term will be morally more sophisticated 100 years from now than she is today. I doubt giving her the death penalty in 2108 will feel just while giving her a $500 fine in 2008 will feel like it will make much sense as justice at all.

Except this post began with the rather uncomfortable fact that abortion as not punished as murder even in those supposedly pure days before Roe.v.Wade...long before any 'culture of death'.

That's not to say that it shouldn't have been.

Amnesty or mercy are usually implemented after a sentence has already been handed down. Here you are basically saying you can call something murder but are free to write the law as if it is on a par with forging checks.

The Law, as they say, isn't Justice itself, but only the shadow of justice. That penalties for offenses are inconsistent, and often radically so, with the moral gravity of offenses is a simple matter-of-fact in positive law. We do the best we can, but the making of laws and assigning of penalties has a lot to do with politics. I'm not telling you anything you don't know, surely. Your argument falls flat as flat can be, doesn't it though?

For my part, that is what I would support.

Good. I'll quit on that note of agreement.

For my part, that is what I would support. It doesn't seem just to throw physicians into prison tomorrow who were doing procedures that were legal yesterday.

I don't think anyone is saying they should be prosecuted for abortions performed before they are outlawed (not to mention it would violate the ex post facto provision of the Con). They could only be prosecuted for performing abortions after it becomes illegal.

Somehow I don't think a 19 year old girl scared because she is pregnant and doesn't feel she can handle taking it to term will be morally more sophisticated 100 years from now than she is today. I doubt giving her the death penalty in 2108 will feel just while giving her a $500 fine in 2008 will feel like it will make much sense as justice at all.

A transformed culture such that your 19 year old doesn't feel threatened in this way is what we'd aim for. We'd also aim for a culture where far fewer 19 year old girls would find themselves in this situation. Good laws will help, but only insofar as they reflect the pervading moral convictions of our culture. You need the culture to support your legal system, otherwise, you turn your country into a giant prison colony.

As far as being progressive, thanks for the compliment.

What does ensoulment have to do with whether or not someone is a human being from a purely legal standpoint? Atheists don't believe in ensoulment, or afterlife or anything other than the material universe. Does that mean atheists are not human beings and therefore its ok to kill them?

For that matter, science cannot detect a soul in a thirty year old woman either - so is it ok to kill her too?

I'll say it again more bluntly, you are arguing a massive double standard here. Pre-birth you bend over backwards to think of every excuse imaginable from the extreme (the 13 year old being taken for an abortion by her incestuous father) to the most vague ("pressures") to cut women a break. Post birth you would have none of this. (If I dive into the archives here will I find any posts from Lydia telling us to not rush to any conclusions in the Susan Smith case, perhaps she was 'mislead' by some evil man).

Boonton, I don't know what experience you have with criminal law in the various jurisdictions in this country, put punishment varies widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction for the same act, and even from defendant to defendant for the same act, taking into accont various factors such as motive, ill will, remorse, and other circumstances. I personally do not know the factors involved in the Susan Smith case (although many times, issues of mental illness are present) that could mitigate her culpablitiy, and therefore sentence. Evaluating these kinds of factors, for any crime, is why we have legislatures, judges and juries. It's not perfect, but it's about the best we can come up with. In fact, there are even several classes of homocide to take into account these factors - none of which means that the victim of the crime was any les human and deserving of protection than another. The victim of criminally negligent homocide (usually someone killed by a drunk driver) is no less human than the victim of a murder or a capital murder just because the criminally negligent homocide is punished less severely.

So should we just do away with criminally negligent homocide because it is not punished the same as capital murder?

Boonton, don't you dare call me a feminist, whether pro-life or other. I won't accept the label, so can it.

Do you understand *at all* the way knowledge influences culpability? If you drown your child in the bath, you are holding the child's head down. You've already met this child. You see it; you hold it in your hands. The woman who procures an abortion hasn't done this, though the abortionist has done something much like it. How much her lack of ordinary contact with the child and the cultural influences telling her that it is not a person influences her knowledge of what she's doing depends on a lot of other things. Has she been lied to? Some have, with the "blob of tisusue" phrase. How educated is she, etc. The most ill-educated woman holding a baby in her hands can see that it's a baby. But the same access to the humanity of an unborn child she cannot see or touch may not be available to her.

As I pointed out, the abortionist has no such excuse. I believe that the state _is_ obligated to enact punishments for the abortionist, and I would advocate them whole-heartedly. I have no problem with the fact that the abortionist was doing the procedure legally yesterday, so long as the new laws have been promulgated and the abortionist knows of them. He can easily stop.

Query: Just out of curiosity, do states that have the death penalty for murder of born persons also have the death penalty for people who hire a murderer? When was the last time anyone heard of someone's being sentenced to the death penalty for asking someone else to murder his wife? This doesn't say anything about whether the present state of law is wrong or right, but is there now _no_ greater penalty in law, usually, for the one who actually pulls the trigger than for the person who procures him to do it?

As a thought experiment, imagine a state that has the legal set-up that the man who hires a hit-man gets jail time but cannot get the death penalty but the hit-man who actually commits the murder by his own act can get the death penalty. Suppose someone considers this state of legal affairs to be okay or at least not something he's agitating to change. Does that mean that such a person cannot argue from "Shooting a woman in the head is murder" to "shooting a woman in the head should be illegal"?

Familial killings have almost always had lower penalties. This is true of abortion, killing parents, and a lot of other things. While the Menedez reasoning of them being now orphans was rightly mocked, the truth was that their risk to society was lower than someone who commits random violence. If Bontoon thinks anything less than 15 to life is inconsistent, I would disagree. I would however say that no statutory punishment is a joke. I am fairly comfortable having laws that aren't widely enforced, and I wouldn't pursue women who committed abortion very zealously just like I don't believe every nursing home death needs a wide investigation. There is something backward though about believing that the general case should not be punished.

Query: Just out of curiosity, do states that have the death penalty for murder of born persons also have the death penalty for people who hire a murderer? When was the last time anyone heard of someone's being sentenced to the death penalty for asking someone else to murder his wife? This doesn't say anything about whether the present state of law is wrong or right, but is there now _no_ greater penalty in law, usually, for the one who actually pulls the trigger than for the person who procures him to do it?

I believe in all states the person who hires the murderer is equally guilty of murder and the state law cuts him no break just because he didn't pull the trigger. In fact, I would suspect more often than not prosecutors offer the killer a deal in order to secure a conviction against the person who ultimately initiated the murder to happen.

Boonton, I don't know what experience you have with criminal law in the various jurisdictions in this country, put punishment varies widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction for the same act, and even from defendant to defendant for the same act, taking into accont various factors such as motive, ill will, remorse, and other circumstances.

This is indeed true but I'm unaware of any other case where you can show the law itself varies so greatly. Where, for example, can you find a differential going from a slap on the wrist all the way up to the max. penalty possible just on the basis of age?

In fact, I doubt such a law could even be written Constitutionally. A law, for example, that treated the killing of 12 year olds on a par with forgery (as the max. penalty) but had the killing of a 13+ year old set at life in jail or death would probably be challenged as unconstitutional.

So should we just do away with criminally negligent homocide because it is not punished the same as capital murder?

But none of this ever applied to abortion! We aren't talking about prosecutors 'cutting a break' to women (either in some desirable future or in the past). We are talking about the murder laws simply not covering abortion. One could always use 'lack of knowledge' as a defense, simply saying that many women who have abortions 'lack knowledge', though, doesn't make it consistent to argue "abortion is murder", "abortion shouldn't be included in the murder laws".


Boonton, don't you dare call me a feminist, whether pro-life or other. I won't accept the label, so can it.

Ahhh I'll can the label if you agree to can the cartoon scenarios of the poor innocent women who has no idea what abortion is and the evil man who is either pushing her to have one or offering her his services as an abortionist. Women here have no monopoly on ignorance, especially when it comes to their own bodies. I remember reading somewhere an estimate that something like 40% of all US women have had at least one abortion in their lives. While I'm sure there are cases such as the ignorant 13 year old being taken for an abortion by her molestor father or the woman who had no idea there was any type of ethical argument over abortion it is simply implausible to maintain that such a critical mass of women are blissfully ignorant of one of the most debated issues of the last 30 years. In fact, women today are probably more sensitive to the debate than they were in the pre-Roe era.

Familial killings have almost always had lower penalties. This is true of abortion, killing parents, and a lot of other things. While the Menedez reasoning of them being now orphans was rightly mocked, the truth was that their risk to society was lower than someone who commits random violence. If Bontoon thinks anything less than 15 to life is inconsistent, I would disagree. I would however say that no statutory punishment is a joke. I am fairly comfortable having laws that aren't widely enforced, and I wouldn't pursue women who committed abortion very zealously just like I don't believe every nursing home death needs a wide investigation. There is something backward though about believing that the general case should not be punished.

Would the same apply to...ohhh...Susan Smith? And no I'm not talking about a tribal society or ancient Rome or London during the plague but modern developed and civilized countries. I'm not saying anything less than 15-to-life is inconsistent but is there no possible differential in punishment before one can fairly say there's an inconsistency? Otherwise why not simply take Bill Clinton's side and support the status quo with no punishment and declare it perfectly consistent with pro-lifism?

For that matter, science cannot detect a soul in a thirty year old woman either - so is it ok to kill her too?

Do you honestly think that "arguments" like that advance the discussion?

Also, Rodak, what do you think should happen to women who have partial-birth abortions?

I personally think that partial-birth abortions should not be legal. I see no difference between that and infanticide. Therefore, they should be punished under the law the same way.

When was the last time anyone heard of someone's being sentenced to the death penalty for asking someone else to murder his wife?

Lydia--
The only thing that comes immediately to mind is that Charles Manson has been in prison for going on 40 years for murders, none of which he committed personally; nor was he even at the scenes of those murders.
Btw, I have never said that anybody should receive the death penalty. I don't support the death penalty.

I don't remember Susan Smith's sentence. From the evidence I've seen, we aren't overly zealous prosecuting child murder. Many of the mothers who have left their babies in dumpters received two years or less. I can remember one mother who dumped her newborn child down way-side pit toilet who received only probation.

The differential doesn't concern me so much, particularly when we are attempting to compare it to say the murder of a drug dealer. I have great difficulty seeing how one could really justify a non-felony legal penalty though.

Okay, now tell me that I'm inconsistent in saying that abortion shouldn't be illegal, but don't support the death penalty. And I will tell you that it's inconsistent to support the death penalty, but think that abortion is murder.
No, on second thought, don't.

Rodak:

Do you honestly think that "arguments" like that advance the discussion?

Yes, they do, if we're discussing things logically. You know, like with logic? That thing we use to find truth?

You argued that there shouldn't be any law against killing a fetus because there isn't any scientific proof of ensoulment at conception. Well, there's no scientific definition or proof of ensoulment or personhood at all, period, for fetusus or 30-year-old women. It's outside the scope of science. What this shows is that the presumption that there is no rational basis to consider someone a person unless science has proven it is ridiculous, and that you don't really follow it yourself.

Btw, I have never said that anybody should receive the death penalty. I don't support the death penalty.
But there's nothing in the Constitution against the death penalty. There's no scientific basis for the belief that the death penalty is wrong, so by Rodakian process of elimination, it must be a religious argument. Looks like you're forcing your religious views on other people again.
I personally think that partial-birth abortions should not be legal. I see no difference between that and infanticide.
I've asked this before, but do you have any scientific proof of ensoulment of the almost-newborn? What do you think should happen to women who have partial-birth abortions?

I've asked this before, but do you have any scientific proof of ensoulment of the almost-newborn? What do you think should happen to women who have partial-birth abortions?

No. The soul isn't susceptible to "proof" in the empirical sense.

I already said that partial birth abortion should be illegal and punished the same as infanticide is punished.

Well, there's no scientific definition or proof of ensoulment or personhood at all, period, for fetusus or 30-year-old women.

There is no question as to whether a 30-year-old woman is a "person." That is not true of a newly-fertilized ovum, other than by a doctrinal definition of "person."

There is no question as to whether a 30-year-old woman is a "person."

Define "person" for me.

So far as I am aware, science has yet to detect the presence of the soul. That is what makes the concept of ensoulment at conception (or at any other time) a matter of faith.

"Soul" is not a (purely) Christian or theological concept. It has a long history in philosophy.

A soul is the form of a living being. A form is that which causes a particular being to be the type of being it is. A particular being is a being that is whole in itself and distinct from all other particular beings.

Is the being that comes into existence at conception a particular being? Yes. It is a distinct being that is whole in itself, not a part of another being. If this were false, then any and every part of the being that comes into existence at conception would be a part of the pregnant woman. Thus, pregnant woman would eventually be two headed, four armed, four legged &c. Some of them would even be hermaphrodites. This is absurd. Thus, the being that comes into existence at conception is a particular being.

What type of being is this particular being? It is human. It is a being that posses a full human genome. Science can tell us that.

If what exists after conception is a particular human being, then it has a human form. And since human beings are living things, this is the same as saying that it has a human soul.

I didn't need the Bible or the Church to tell me that. The principles are all in Aristotle.

There could very well be a question as to whether a 30-year-old woman is a person if she were severely cognitively disabled. There can be controversies about a lot of things. That doesn't mean there should be. Are we to believe that if there is a controversy about someone's personhood, no matter how unreasonable the people are who consider it controversial, then it is foisting our religion on others to say we should treat that person as a person in law?

There is no question as to whether a 30-year-old woman is a "person."

According to whom? By what standard? What is the scientific material difference that makes a 30 yo woman a person, but a fertilized ovum not? Physically and materially, a 30 yo woman is nothing more than a collection of cells - fats, proteins, carbs and various minerals and other chemicals. "Person" is not a material quantum - it is a philosophical, religious concept. If our constitution and our republic is to be neutral with respect to religion/personal philosophy, then requiring some sort of philosophical or religious test for personhood would be imposing our religion/philosophy on others. For the atheist/materialist, there is no material difference between the fertilized ovum and the 30 yo woman - either both are "persons" or neither one is.

Boonton is upset. He needs a new bumper sticker, but nothing seems to be working.

It was once easy to brand pro-lifers as theocratic misogynists. But, it's not working. Plan B apparently is criticizing them for being "soft on crime". The problem is this argument; "sweetheart, you're just as guilty as the man with the forceps and vacuum", means alienating the very women the pro-abort claims to care for.

Pro-lifers can only hope that Boonton's form of argumentation (it would be great if he enjoyed more visibility too) gains greater prominence in the days ahead.



There is no question as to whether a 30-year-old woman is a "person." That is not true of a newly-fertilized ovum, other than by a doctrinal definition of "person."

But what other definition of "person" do you suggest? What definition can possibly avoid begging the question (logically) of what a person is? There is, however, proof that a fertilized oocyte is, human (genetically) and a being (ontologically). The fertilized oocyte is therefore, per se', a human being. Whether such a human being is worthy of recieving the rights of persons is (perhaps) a separate question, but can you at least admit that science is clearly on the side of those who say that a human fetus (or fertilized human oocyte for that matter) is a human being?

Steve Nicoloso--
Id you cut off my thumb and deliver it to an anthropologist, it will also be identified as human and it will also have being; but it won't be a person.
I raised the argument earlier that, with the advent of human cloning, any cell of your body potentially is susceptible to the same definition as a fertilized ovum with regard to being a "person" genetically. That elicited some grumbling, but no solid refutation, since none is available.

"Person" is not a material quantum - it is a philosophical, religious concept.

Bingo!

I personally think that partial-birth abortions should not be legal. I see no difference between that and infanticide. Therefore, they should be punished under the law the same way.

I understand that, and of course we agree. But this an arbitrary line that you are drawing. I understand that you'd want to invoke "viability", but that principle won't stand up to any scrutiny. It's arbitrary. Even if I agreed with it as a solution (which I don't) it doesn't hold rationally, morally, ethically. If legal protection for the fetus doesn't go all the way down to conception then there is no legal protection at all. We don't get to decide when a person becomes a person. It's just something we recognize, a fact for which we are responsible.

As brendan notes above with his allusion to Aristotle, it's all about potentiality. A human zygote/embryo can only be human. The biologists have only confirmed what (oh forgive me for using this hopelessly parochial term) Christian culture has always known: all humans are persons. The genome tells the story. All persons are entitled to protection under positive law, since they are entitled to it by natural law. The act of abortion is barbarous, plain and simple. If abortion is infanticide at the third trimester, it's infanticide at any point. If abortion is never infanticide, then there is no such thing as murder.

Id you cut off my thumb and deliver it to an anthropologist, it will also be identified as human and it will also have being; but it won't be a person.

This is equivocation. The "being" in "human being" means being per se, i.e. being that is whole and distinct in itself. A thumb does not posses this type of being. It is not whole and distinct in itself. Rather, it is a part that belongs to another being, a being that is whole and distinct in itself.

I didn't need the Bible or the Church to tell me that. The principles are all in Aristotle.

And was Aristotle an atheist? Plato certainly was not. Plato was a religious philosopher.

And was Aristotle an atheist? Plato certainly was not. Plato was a religious philosopher.

Good grief.

I understand that you'd want to invoke "viability", but that principle won't stand up to any scrutiny.

Of course it will stand up to scrutiny. Infants are often taken by caesarian section long before the full gestation period is over and live to be perfectly normal persons. In such cases, the infant has become an autonomous being (to the extent, obviously, that any infant is "autonomous".) The point being that it does not any longer need its mother just to stay alive, so long as there are other adults willing to care for it. In (roughly) the first two trimesters this is not the case. It cannot be kept alive outside of the mother's body.

And was Aristotle an atheist?

How is this relevant? I an honestly confused at your point.

This is equivocation. The "being" in "human being" means being per se, i.e. being that is whole and distinct in itself.

You're right. Good point.

How is this relevant? I an honestly confused at your point.

If Aristotle believed (as did Plato) in the soul, then what was the relevance of your saying that you needed no bible to come to various conclusions, since it's all in Aristotle? Aristotle or bible, it is equally faith-based, either way. The question is whether we can ascribe personhood to a zygote without stipulating the soul.

Brendon makes the best argument. If you can convince the atheist, and the theist who believes that ensoulment doesn't occur until the "quickening of the womb", or until there is a live birth, that the uniqueness of the fetus, its being-in-itself, makes it a "person" under the secular law, then you've won the day.

Just curious Rodak. How's the traffic at your site?

Of course it will stand up to scrutiny. Infants are often taken by caesarian section long before the full gestation period is over and live to be perfectly normal persons. In such cases, the infant has become an autonomous being (to the extent, obviously, that any infant is "autonomous".) The point being that it does not any longer need its mother just to stay alive, so long as there are other adults willing to care for it. In (roughly) the first two trimesters this is not the case. It cannot be kept alive outside of the mother's body.

First of all, you are wrong about infants not being able to survive outside the mother's body before the first trimester. It has happened, although in rare cases. Babies born as early as 24 weeks survive, although not without special medical care. So (doing bad math in head) what's that? Near the end of the second trimester, right? Or do we define "third trimester" merely as "that period in which the baby can live outside it's mother's body"?

To call the rest of your case weak would be the understatement of the day. A baby grown in a test tube would never need it's mother except for the initial donation of biological material. In what sense you could even say such baby had a mother I'm not immediately sure. Can they grow babies in test tubes now? If not, I'd bet they will be soon. Anyway, your argument depends on the current state of biological technology in order to determine personhood. Or have you rejected the idea of personhood altogether? Is there any natural philosophy behind any of your ideas here, or are you just making this up as you go along? Does your entire case depend on biological technology and positive law? In either case, an unacceptable situation.

The idea that we have the right to abort babies, now, in this age, simply because we can do so before the magical third trimester is an interesting proposition. Under a natural law principle, it would seem that a human right is a human right, regardless of the age, or the state of technology in that age. I think that's what is generally meant by "unalienable rights". But if you are rejecting this principle (which strikes me as being a rather crushing indictment of your case in itself), upon what first principles are you standing? It's not enough to just go around being glibly pedantic. You need a philosophy of your own from which to argue.

Of course it will stand up to scrutiny. Infants are often taken by caesarian section long before the full gestation period is over and live to be perfectly normal persons. In such cases, the infant has become an autonomous being (to the extent, obviously, that any infant is "autonomous".) The point being that it does not any longer need its mother just to stay alive, so long as there are other adults willing to care for it. In (roughly) the first two trimesters this is not the case. It cannot be kept alive outside of the mother's body.

Not all that long ago no premature baby could be kept alive outside its mother's body. There is a chance that in a few decades an embryo could be kept alive outside its mother's body from the moment of conception on. This is all entirely accidental to the status of the embryo as a human being and as a person.

If Aristotle believed (as did Plato) in the soul, then what was the relevance of your saying that you needed no bible to come to various conclusions, since it's all in Aristotle? Aristotle or bible, it is equally faith-based, either way.

This is false. I said:

A soul is the form of a living being. A form is that which causes a particular being to be the type of being it is.

Form and matter are the two concomitant principles of physical beings. Form is that which makes a being be this type of being. Matter is what makes a being be this particular being. If you agree that there are individual beings, but that individual being share common types or natures, then you have all you need to hold the existence of form and matter. And since a soul is simply the form of a living being, you have all you need to hold the existence of soul.

There is nothing in this definition that requires any theological belief. There is nothing that requires a person to hold that any soul is spiritual and will survive the death of the form/matter composite being whose existence it informs. Indeed, while Aristotle is not always clear on where he stands in this regard, the consensus is that Aristotle himself did not believe in the immortality of the human soul.

Nothing here requires faith. All that is required is the ability to recognize that many individual physical beings share the same type or nature. Biology does this whenever it divides living beings into Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species.

Aristotle or bible, it is equally faith-based

This is most definitely a side discussion, but:

Here I was thinking that Aristotle was a philosopher. Come to find out, he was a tent revival preacher. Are we now being forced to accept the definition of "faith" as including any belief in the existence of the soul? The atheist wants us to prove that the soul exists without reference to our revealed religion. When we bring up Aristotle, we're told that his belief in the existence of the soul excludes him from the argument. Sounds like there is a fallacy in there somewhere.

But yes, brendan explains the fact of the matter in regards Aristotle correctly, which is what I was referring to when I invoked the term 'potentiality' a few posts back.

Rodak
Lydia--
The only thing that comes immediately to mind is that Charles Manson has been in prison for going on 40 years for murders, none of which he committed personally; nor was he even at the scenes of those murders.

Technically Manson was sentenced to death too. He was only saved because the SC threw out California's death penalty statute.

Kevin
It was once easy to brand pro-lifers as theocratic misogynists. But, it's not working. Plan B apparently is criticizing them for being "soft on crime". The problem is this argument; "sweetheart, you're just as guilty as the man with the forceps and vacuum", means alienating the very women the pro-abort claims to care for.

Yawn, someone wake me up when Kevin starts responding to people here rather than his imaginary friends.

I don't remember Susan Smith's sentence. From the evidence I've seen, we aren't overly zealous prosecuting child murder. Many of the mothers who have left their babies in dumpters received two years or less. I can remember one mother who dumped her newborn child down way-side pit toilet who received only probation.

Did the baby survive or not? There is great room in how prosecutors apply the law, that is true. But we are not talking about how a prosecutor should apply the law but the law itself.

To really stick it to Lydia's argument, imagine this: Imagine a female abortion doctor who has performed dozens, hundreds of abortions including late term. She discovers she is pregnant, writes a script for RU-486 and induces her own abortion. In addition to this, let's imagine this women...before she became a pre-med student, was a philosophy major and had written a well researched 50 page paper reviewing all the arguments for or against legalized abortion.

I think Lydia would agree that even with the most flexible and forgiving 'ignorance' defense imaginable it would be very hard to include this person in it. Yet if you're being 'inconsistent' the law wouldn't touch her much at all.

On the other hand, look again at the cases of the so-called 'prom babies' (there was a case several years ago where a girl had a baby at her prom and left it in either the bathroom or garbage can and went back in to the dance). Suppose these women do the same thing after their time on probation, after they have matured...even after they have established themselves with a degree of financial stability. I doubt the law would be so lenient on them in that case and the charges would be closer to full scale murder.


thebyronicman
A transformed culture such that your 19 year old doesn't feel threatened in this way is what we'd aim for. We'd also aim for a culture where far fewer 19 year old girls would find themselves in this situation. Good laws will help, but only insofar as they reflect the pervading moral convictions of our culture. You need the culture to support your legal system, otherwise, you turn your country into a giant prison colony.

As far as being progressive, thanks for the compliment.

Unfortunately I meant it more in the sense of utopian and unrealistic. It kind of reminds me of a debate with a Muslim intellectual on Shaira law. When asked if he could really support chopping hands off for stealing or having people stoned for adultry he responded that such law should only be implemented in an ideally Islamic society. In other words, a society where everyone was so sincere that they wouldn't even do those things hence the punishments would never be implemented even though they might be on the books.

You would hold off giving the 19 year old death until, it seems to me, society was so perfect no 19 yr old would ever consider abortion.

Here I was thinking that Aristotle was a philosopher. Come to find out, he was a tent revival preacher.

You know, this is the kind of arrogant sarcasm that proves Charles Barkley's point.

Boonton, I'm not sure whom you are arguing with but it doesn't appear to be me. I said expressly that in my ideal world, the law takes account of various factors including the level of knowledge the woman has, etc. That can cut both ways--against a woman who knows exactly what she's up to and doesn't care. Here, I'll go you one better--suppose the woman abortionist uses ultrasound equipment in her clinic to guide her in performing her own abortion with instruments. Then in my ideally just world, she gets the same penalty as any other abortionist.

I assume you want in your case for the woman to have seen babies aborted using RU 486 before, right? Then she doesn't get a whole dickens of a lot of mitigation in my world.

If you think I'm advocating a blank check *in the ideal final legal situation* for all pregnant women under all circumstances who procure abortion, you are wrong. Compromises on the way are a different matter so long as we admit where we'd like to head and don't try to disguise it. I'm _not_ one of the people saying that every single woman who ever has an abortion is non-culpable. I expressly distanced myself from that view. But I do hold that some women are in mitigating circumstances, especially circumstances that make them not fully aware of the nature of what they are doing; and this will probably continue for a long time.

On the whole discussion of whether or not it is inconsistent to try to outlaw abortion and tp hold abortion to be a type of murder without demanding that the women who procure the abortions be punished as well as the abortionists, I can only say that it is entirely consistent.

Prudence, or practical wisdom, is the virtue necessary for the living of the moral virtues. Prudence is the virtue that sets the means by which we are to accomplish our ends. One of the aspects of this is that prudence allows certain evils to be tolerated--not approved of or encouraged, but tolerated--for the sake of achieving a good end. If trying to eliminate a certain evil makes it more difficult to eliminate a far greater evil or would bring about more evil and discord than allowing the evil to continue, then prudence allows said evil to be tolerated.

I am perfectly willing to admit that there are women who are are completely culpable of the evil of abortion and who procure abortions with full knowledge and consent. I am also aware that attempting to punish these women would make it harder to pass laws that outlaw abortion and would also make it less likely that such laws would be enforced and obeyed. Thus, prudence allows me to lobby for laws that outlaw abortions but do not demand the prosecution of the women who procure said abortions.

I hold that abortion is murder, i.e. the per se killing of an innocent human person. There are few evils worse in a society than allowing murder to be enshrined in the law as a right and to be carried out under the protection of the government. As such, I am perfectly willing to allow some culpable parties to avoid punishment so that the law can outlaw abortion and punish those who perform the act itself.

There is no inconsistency in this as long as one respects the proper place of the virtue of prudence in moral decision making.

I agree, Brendon. One could make such compromises as regards severity of punishment about just about anything. For example, I believe in the death penalty for many crimes, but that wouldn't prevent me as a legislator from lobbying consistently merely for longer prison sentences for those same crimes if that were the most I could get in the circumstances. Or you might think someone should ideally get a life sentence for some particular crime but sponsor a bill that would move the minimum sentence up to 20 years. And so forth. That wouldn't mean that you "didn't really believe the crime was so bad."

Unfortunately I meant it more in the sense of utopian and unrealistic. It kind of reminds me of a debate with a Muslim intellectual on Shaira law. When asked if he could really support chopping hands off for stealing or having people stoned for adultry he responded that such law should only be implemented in an ideally Islamic society. In other words, a society where everyone was so sincere that they wouldn't even do those things hence the punishments would never be implemented even though they might be on the books.

You would hold off giving the 19 year old death until, it seems to me, society was so perfect no 19 yr old would ever consider abortion.

Your fatalism is depressing me, and the dodge of false dilemma is trite. We identify a correct moral principle, and then we lead. In a society where abortion is held to be immoral, and where it is in fact illegal and severely punished, it won't be mainstream. It won't be a viable contraceptive option. If you believe that abortion is immoral and that it causes grave psychological and spiritual damage to women who have them, and to society at large, then you must oppose it, and you must do as much as you possibly can, as a society, to prevent them from happening. If you believe none of those things, then you wouldn't be wasting your time arguing like you are above. So which is it? Is abortion a heinous and barbarous crime against humanity, is it merely a drag, or is it good? Or somewhere in between?

Abortion is not the answer to the problem of our 19 year old pregnant girl, whatever society she may be living in.

You know, this is the kind of arrogant sarcasm that proves Charles Barkley's point.


Wouldn't it be easier to just admit that you don't know the first thing about Greek philosophy, have a laugh at yourself, and move on? Otherwise, I'm not sure we've established that Charles actually had a point.

If you believe that abortion is immoral and that it causes grave psychological and spiritual damage to women who have them

I neglected to add "physical" to the list of damages caused women by abortion.

As such, I am perfectly willing to allow some culpable parties to avoid punishment so that the law can outlaw abortion and punish those who perform the act itself.

Why is that not consequentialism? Why is that not letting the ends justify the means? Why is that not moral relativism?
You can spare the culpable party out of compassion on be on solid ground, but when you start doing it as a means to an end...

Brendon,
"As such, I am perfectly willing to allow some culpable parties to avoid punishment so that the law can outlaw abortion and punish those who perform the act itself."

Well said, though Boonton and Rodak already know that. Each is just looking for a straw to grasp in this argument.

Rodak's fall-back position is that all pro-lifers have to do is simply build a cultural consensus that ensoulment begins with the "quickening of the womb" and we'll "have won the day." Damn sporting of him. And here I thought he was arguing in bad faith.

Boonton is conjuring up something equally as contrived. Can't wait.

Still, what does it say about the pro-abortion case that it's advocates have to erect so many fatuous props in order to sustain support for an industry that Boonton calls "mythical".


Why is that not consequentialism? Why is that not letting the ends justify the means? Why is that not moral relativism?

It is none of those things because tolerating evil is not the same thing as doing evil or cooperating with evil. Allowing some culpable parties to avoid punishment for an act of abortion is not the same as performing an abortion, nor is it directly participating in the commission of an abortion, nor is it necessary for the commission of an abortion.

tolerating evil is not the same thing as doing evil or cooperating with evil.

Well, then, we can all spend most of our time in the toleration of evil. There is certainly enough of it to go around. I'm glad that's finally settled.

Well, then, we can all spend most of our time in the toleration of evil. There is certainly enough of it to go around. I'm glad that's finally settled.

Such sarcasm only makes you look the fool. I was quite explicit in when and for what reasons prudence allows the toleration of evil:

One of the aspects of this is that prudence allows certain evils to be tolerated--not approved of or encouraged, but tolerated--for the sake of achieving a good end. If trying to eliminate a certain evil makes it more difficult to eliminate a far greater evil or would bring about more evil and discord than allowing the evil to continue, then prudence allows said evil to be tolerated.

Lydia

I assume you want in your case for the woman to have seen babies aborted using RU 486 before, right? Then she doesn't get a whole dickens of a lot of mitigation in my world.

The purpose of my hypothetical woman was to remove all possible claims of "she didn't know what she was doing" or that she is somehow a victim. Hence I not only had her perform many abortions herself but also had her study the issue from a philosophical perspective intensley in her college life. She would probably know more about abortion than any of us....having extensive experience both with it in real life and studying the arguments about it.

The legal issue here is whether the law you pro-lifers would like to see would include abortion as murder or not. You and others have argued that it would not because some women may not know what they were doing. But the laws against murder are not written like that. The law is against murder and "I didn't know what I was doing" can either be a defense or a plea for mercy....but whole classes are not excluded from the murder laws simply because maybe these defenses might apply.

But if murder laws are not extended to abortion then the above woman (who is clearly guilty in your book) would likewise be immune from prosecution. If she is then what exactly is the point of having lesser penalties for abortion? Bill Clinton seems to be in the same pool you're in, he's just a bit over in the deep end.

brendon hits the nail a bit more on the head:

Prudence, or practical wisdom, is the virtue necessary for the living of the moral virtues. Prudence is the virtue that sets the means by which we are to accomplish our ends. One of the aspects of this is that prudence allows certain evils to be tolerated--not approved of or encouraged, but tolerated--for the sake of achieving a good end.

OK so far so good but then he says:

I hold that abortion is murder, i.e. the per se killing of an innocent human person. There are few evils worse in a society than allowing murder to be enshrined in the law as a right and to be carried out under the protection of the government.

So if there are few evils worse than abortion then what is the good he proposes to do by not including women in making abortion legally equal to murder?

I am also aware that attempting to punish these women would make it harder to pass laws that outlaw abortion and would also make it less likely that such laws would be enforced and obeyed.

This is bizaar territory here. In order to get laws to be obeyed we can't pass them? You have to bite the bullet halfway to bite it all the way? Who let Zen Monks take over the pro-life cause here?

thebryonicman
Your fatalism is depressing me, and the dodge of false dilemma is trite. We identify a correct moral principle, and then we lead.

I'm sorry if I'm depressing but we do have a consistent history of human nature disappointing. Despite our progress in many material areas I don't think human beigns on average are any better as individuals as they were 100, 200, 300 or 500 years ago. OK, I'm not a total cynic. I think we've done a good job recognizing how bad prejudice is, trying to be tolerant of those different than us etc. But I'm just not seeing the potential for any great leaps in our character that is going to change the fact that a scared 19 year old is likely to act out in foolish and sometimes destructive ways. Giving her death 50 years from now (or life or ten years in prison or whatnot) is not going to seem like justice. The tough cases today will be tough in the future. I'd bet your money on cold fusion before I'd bet your money on that changing.

Abortion is not the answer to the problem of our 19 year old pregnant girl, whatever society she may be living in.

No I doubt it is the answer but the question is whose job is it to come up with the answer for the 19 year old girl. I would say practically we depend on our mothers when we are in the womb for better or worse. Society's right and authority to interfere in that sphere is limited...even when it knows (or thinks it knows) better.

Kevin
Still, what does it say about the pro-abortion case that it's advocates have to erect so many fatuous props in order to sustain support for an industry that Boonton calls "mythical".

Can't wait for you to actually read something I write! Please let me know when you do!

More seriously though I didn't say the abortion industry was mythical in the sense that no one makes money in abortion. Clearly everyone (just about) makes some type of living and its real easy to conjour up some type of monolothic sounding industrial powerhouse by simply summing up all incomes associated with a particular activity. (No doubt if you added up all the money spent in diners you'd get a figure that would dwarf abortion...yet how powerful is the 'diner industry'?) It's comic book leftism to leave it at that and assert mysterious 'corporate' powers working mischief. The 'pro-life feminist' argument where every woman is a victim is another example of comic book leftism being employed by the right.

So yes it's a little implausible to her pro-lifers try to get away with pretending every abortion is about some evil man lurking in the shadows pushing for an abortion so he can (save on child support? have more sex?) or some mythical 'abortion industry' that somehow cons women into getting abortion to make money (as if the same doctors who perform abortions wouldn't be able to carry a pregnancy to term and make a hell of a lot more money doing so).

Seriously are you unaware that any doctor able to perform abortions is equally able to carry pregnancies to term? Do you seriously believe there is more money to be made in writing a script for a single pill to a woman than seeing her through 9 months of pregnancy and perhaps including a hospital delievery with follow up? We could speculate all day long about the consquences of outlawing abortion but an increase in doctors and nurses on the unemployment line is very unlikely to be one.

"We could speculate all day long about the consquences of outlawing abortion but an increase in doctors and nurses on the unemployment line is very unlikely to be one."

Zzzzz. You are boxing with shadows of your own creation. I no more think that, than I agree with;"...if you were really pro-life, you would want to put every doctor and every mother as an accessory to murder in prison."

I do believe places like this; http://www.lifenews.com/state2910.html are earthly re-creations of Hell and not to be compared to diners, that close to a billion dollars of year is made in administering
this "surgical procedure" and that you have exhausted my desire to refute the dribble you offer has thought.

Despite our progress in many material areas I don't think human beigns on average are any better as individuals as they were 100, 200, 300 or 500 years ago. OK, I'm not a total cynic. I think we've done a good job recognizing how bad prejudice is, trying to be tolerant of those different than us etc. But I'm just not seeing the potential for any great leaps in our character that is going to change the fact that a scared 19 year old is likely to act out in foolish and sometimes destructive ways.

Supposing I agree with everything you've said above. Is this a good reason to legalize (and let's face it, promote) abortion? To facilitate a culture of abortion-on-demand, and sell it as a natural right? Really? Our girl has made an awful mistake (pre-marital sex), largely because she hasn't been taught and encouraged in the proper direction with proper moral principles by society, whose responsibility it is to teach her such things (and also because, yes, she is a fallible human with a fallible character just like the rest of us). But do you agree, or disagree, that abortion, considered simply, is a great moral evil? If so, your position is incomprehensible to me, honestly. If not, as I said earlier, we are having the wrong argument.


Giving her death 50 years from now (or life or ten years in prison or whatnot) is not going to seem like justice. The tough cases today will be tough in the future. I'd bet your money on cold fusion before I'd bet your money on that changing.

This is a red herring though, because we're not really proposing that. "Severe penalty" doesn't have to mean that. Abortion is a grave evil, an offense against humanity and goodness. That's where we begin, with recognizing that as a fact, a truth, a first principle. You've capitulated without firing a single shot. You don't bargain with the Devil. You don't cave to evil because dealing with offenders and victims is difficult. A "tough case" is what it is, but an abortion is what it is. Have we lost all sense of moral proportion? Nine months of hard times never killed any young pregnant girl. A lot worse things could happen to her, namely, for starters, getting an abortion. There are always options. Her family will care, her village will care. Her church or equivalent community organization will care, and they will step in to help. She won't be left alone.

Who is really putting the red letter on her chest? The abortion advocates, that's who. Oops, you did it again, and this time you didn't skate out without a trace. YOUR PREGNANT! How terrible! What a tragedy, to be pregnant! Sshh...we'll make it all go away and it will be painless and quick, no consequences.

It's a lie, and like all lies, it kills. Abortion culture subverts everything our society is built on. It's not progress. It's a complete break with our entire moral and ethical tradition, a total reversal. It's a murder on several levels. It's never the answer, abortion.

Society's right and authority to interfere in that sphere is limited...even when it knows (or thinks it knows) better.

ISTM we are increasingly dealing with two different societies here. Moral principles are undergirded by the community, even as they are, in themselves, self-evident. Artificial termination of pregnancy is, has always been, and always will be a moral issue of profound gravity. If we have an obligation to protect the fundamental right to life for all human persons, then your framing of the question in this manner has no place. This isn't some puritan prohibition we're talking about here. Get real.

There is a culture, a "society", that thinks it knows better. It calls itself "pro-choice", and it is interfering and it wants no limitations. This whole attempt to frame the debate as if anti-abortion advocates are some sort of big brother fascist watchdog entity is false. This is a moral debate. If you want to engage, then engage. This demonizing dodge won't play.

So if there are few evils worse than abortion then what is the good he proposes to do by not including women in making abortion legally equal to murder?

Are you being purposefully obtuse? The good I propose to do by not demanding the prosecution of women who procure abortions is to make it easier to pass laws that outlaw abortion. I said as much in my post and you proceed to quote that very sentence in the next line of yours. I am not sure how much clearer I can be. It is better to not push for the prosecution of women who procure abortions so as to pass a law that outlaws it than it is to demand that we prosecute women who procure abortions and so be unable to pass a law that outlaws it.

In order to get laws to be obeyed we can't pass them? You have to bite the bullet halfway to bite it all the way? Who let Zen Monks take over the pro-life cause here?

Your sarcasm becomes you no more than Rodak's sarcasm becomes him.

Are you entirely unfamiliar with day to day life in these United States? There is a large number of people in our republic who are governed by their sentiments as much as, if not far more than, any form of rational thought or moral principle. Data suggests that many of these people have no love for abortion and are willing to outlaw it in most cases if not in its entirety. Data also suggests that these people have no desire to punish the women who procure abortions, mainly because of the kind of sentiment that a number of posters have sneered at in this discussion, namely the sentiment that women who procure abortions are victims of circumstance and it would be cruel to make these horrible circumstances worse by prosecuting them.

Moreover, in order to have laws obeyed you need to pass laws that are enforceable. Since many people feel that it would be cruel and unjust to punish the women who procure abortions even if they feel that abortion should be outlawed and abortionists should be punished, passing laws that would punish women for procuring abortion make it more likely that the law would be ignored and that more children would be murdered. It would make it more likely that doctors, nurses and other medical professionals would participate in or help cover up illegal abortions. It would make it less likely that police would do their best to investigate cases of illegal abortions. It would make it less likely that judges and juries would enforce the law. It would make it more likely that private citizens would use their time and money to facilitate illegal abortions. So yes, in order to get laws to be obeyed we cannot pass laws that are unenforceable. And there is much to suggest that a law that outlawed abortion but would prosecute a woman for procuring one would be a great deal more unenforceable than one which would not prosecute her for procuring one.

Rodak:

If Aristotle believed (as did Plato) in the soul, then what was the relevance of your saying that you needed no bible to come to various conclusions, since it's all in Aristotle? Aristotle or bible, it is equally faith-based, either way.

Aristotle and Plato were not religious philosophers. They were just philosophers full stop, who both believed in the existence of the soul because they derived it by reason and logic.

I think it's pretty curious that you consider any belief reached by philosopher using their unaided reason to be "religious" if it doesn't happen to be full-blown materialist atheism, while an ideologue's unexamined belief in materialism is somehow "secular". It's an absurd position, but it's an absurdity you've been forced to by the absurdity of your abortion position.

Btw, Rodak, could you give simple yes or no answers to the following question?:

1. Should a woman who procures a partial birth abortion be punished as severely as a woman who murders a newborn baby?

2. Should a woman who procures a partial birth abortion be punished as severely as the doctor who performs it?

1. I've already answere that twice.

2. Yes

Deuce:

Pay attention:

Rodak, what do you think should happen to women who have partial-birth abortions?

I personally think that partial-birth abortions should not be legal. I see no difference between that and infanticide. Therefore, they should be punished under the law the same way.


Posted by Rodak | February 18, 2008 5:23 PM

Rodak, literally no two statements that you have made on this thread have managed not to contradict your other statements. Your position on abortion (and related topics) is frankly one of the biggest intellectual messes I've ever seen. Let's review your claims, shall we?:

A) Abortion should not be illegal. The idea that abortion is unjustified homicide is based on the idea that the fetus possesses personhood. There is no scientific basis for the concept of personhood, and therefore it's a religious argument that should have no place in public policy.

B) If a ban on abortion were in the US Constitution, it would be magically transformed into a secular view, so if someone thinks abortion should be illegal, they ought to try to get a Constitutional amendment passed to make it illegal. Any law not based on science, and not in the Constitution, is a religious view, and "religious" arguments should have no part in public policy.

C) It is wrong and should be illegal to murder 30-year-old women, because they are obviously persons (even though there is no scientific basis for the existence of persons, and nothing in the Constitution about it, and it is therefore a religious view with no place in law).

D) Partial birth abortion should be illegal, because I, Rodak, personally feel like it is murder (even though there is no scientific basis for the personhood of almost-newborns, and nothing in the Constitution against killing them, which means that this is my own personal religious view that I'm trying to hoist on the public).

E) The death penalty should be illegal, even though there is no scientific basis for my belief that it's wrong, and even though there's nothing about it in the Constitution (making it a religious belief with no place in the public sphere, by my own reasoning).

F) Even though they weren't religious, and even though they reached their conclusions through the exercise of dispassionate reason, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were all "religious" philosophers, simply because the conclusions they reached weren't identical to modern atheistic materialism, and if you happen to be convinced by their arguments, it's all just a matter of faith with no place in the public sphere. However, if your beliefs are based on your own logically unexamined atheism, then they are "secular" and are legitimate in the public sphere. (Although, apparently, Aristotle would be legitimately "secular" instead of "religious" if his writings were in the US Constitution that was written a couple thousand years after he lived).

-------------------------------

Okay, Rodak, anyone here can look back over this thread and see that these do in fact represent what you've said. Now ask yourself, honestly, how can anybody putting these together possibly interpret this mass of gobbledy-gook as the product of a single rational mind? I'm surprised your head hasn't exploded from cognitive dissonance.

It's pretty obvious that your positions represent a tenuous attempt to string together a bunch of poorly-thought-out contradictions with a web of ad-hoc rationalizations. Your reasoning is so protean, and so arbitrary, from one post to the next, that it makes it impossible to engage you as a good-faith debater presenting a principled, rational position. You ought to be embarrassed, and you really need to think things through more.

Hint for starters: You need to either drop your claim that partial-birth abortion should be illegal, or you need to drop your claim that any view without a "basis in science" is "religious" and has no place in law. These views contradict, period. You can have one or the other, but you can't have both and be a rational person. And I'll agree with you to this extent: irrational views are best kept out of law.

Deuce, you're a genius. Any commentary in addition to yours is superfluous. The mike is yours, ace. Have at 'em!

The right of privacy was "discovered" several years earlier in Griswold v. Connecticut, in the penumbras of the emanations of several amendments of the Bill of Rights, to paraphrase Justice Douglas. That right was the ground of Roe, not the consequence of it.

Some lawyers (maybe most, I didn't conduct a poll) view the following list as the precedent cases for a right to privacy:
(1923) Meyer v. Nebraska: Supreme Court strikes down law requiring English-only education in private schools. This violated the right of parents to control their children's education. (The law was a product of anti-German sentiment in World War I.)

(1925) Pierce v. Society of Sisters: Following Meyer, the Supreme Court strikes down a law requiring all children to attend public schools (this was an anti-Catholic law).

(1942) Skinner v. Oklahoma: Oklahoma cannot involuntarily sterilize criminals. The Court declares that "[r]eproduction is one of the basic rights of man." The unstated corollary being that the right of voluntary control over your own reproduttion is a basic right.

(1965) Griswold v. Connecticut: Connecticut cannot ban married couples from obtaining contraceptives. The Court relied on Meyer and Pierce, and said "We deal with a right of privacy older than the Bill of Rights."

(1972) Eisenstadt v. Baird: Same as Griswold, except for unmarried couples this time.

(1973) Roe v. Wade

typo. reproduction not reproduttion.

"Some lawyers (maybe most, I didn't conduct a poll) view the following list as the precedent cases for a right to privacy"

Step 2 is correct in the sense that is how it is taught at Georgetown Law, which I speak from experience.

I would only add a few things.

1. Wisconsin v. Yoder and Troxel should also be on that list, as they hold something similar to Meyer (i.e., government should stay out of private family life, at least in the issues that were before the Court).

2. The "right of parents to raise their children as they see fit" was equally "discovered" in Meyer and Yoder. Thus, arguing that a "right to privacy" does not exist because it is not found in either cultural or legal tradition would undermine parent's rights in general.

The more coherent / intellectually honest analysis than "discovering rights" is to question if the right to privacy covers abortion.

Deuce, you're a genius. Any commentary in addition to yours is superfluous. The mike is yours, ace. Have at 'em!


Since this is clearly the case, I'm announcing that I'm done with this thread. I assume Rodak has tacitly done the same.

From up a ways...

"Person" is not a material quantum - it is a philosophical, religious concept.

Bingo!

I'm not sure what "Bingo!" is supposed to signify here. It looks as if it is recognizing a victory of sorts from the author's point of view. But what follows from a category (in this case, "person") relying on concepts that do not fit neatly within the purview of science? That we can't rely on such information for making choices of consequence within our polity? Doesn't that view itself fall under the heading of "philosophy" rather than science, and if so, wouldn't that imply that we can't rely on it for making choices of consequence? This looks to be self-defeating, but perhaps I have misunderstood the author.

There is very little of importance that science can rule on conclusively without bringing philosophy alongside it. And science relies on philosophical (and perhaps religious) presuppositions to even get off the ground. As principles go, this appears to be a non-starter.

Finally, one cannot read much of Dr. Beckwith's writings without discovering that relegating the decision to abort to the individual does in fact say something controversial about the nature of the unborn. We don't let people kill their toddlers for convenience or for other socio-economic reasons precisely because we recognize their humanity. So we're stuck either way; by allowing abortion choice to become a matter of private decision, we make exactly the sort of non-scientific judgment about personhood that is being argued against at the general level.

Regards,

Steve

But what follows from a category (in this case, "person") relying on concepts that do not fit neatly within the purview of science? That we can't rely on such information for making choices of consequence within our polity? Doesn't that view itself fall under the heading of "philosophy" rather than science, and if so, wouldn't that imply that we can't rely on it for making choices of consequence? This looks to be self-defeating, but perhaps I have misunderstood the author.

This error (the one Steve is pointing out that Rodak made--that of excluding the statement itself from the assertion advocated by the statement, as in, "never trust anything you read on a blog post"), is so common it's cliche. Even the very act of pointing it out has become a cliche. It's so boring to have to point it out, like a teacher correcting 3rd grade grammar exercises. A tedious but necessary duty.

A tedious but necessary duty.

Kinda like the "Brothers of Jesus" threads on Catholic forums. After about the 100th time it comes up as a subject, but presenting no new arguments, you let the newbies tackle it.

Kinda like the "Brothers of Jesus" threads on Catholic forums. After about the 100th time it comes up as a subject, but presenting no new arguments, you let the newbies tackle it.

Quite right. How else do newbies pay their dues?

Frank Beckwith,

Thank you for your thoughtful analysis. I have posted a link to this blog entry on my own blog.

Best regards,
*Letitia Wong*

I am the Catholic Man of Faith that confronted Bill Clinton here in Steubenville on February 17. I am not a heckler, however I had every right to question him as I did. I am not a student at Franciscan University although I did donate my time for two years as a Music Minister to their summer conferences in the 90's.
I found it very hurtful and misleading the response that Bill Clinton gave. I asked Clinton "What about Abortion, what about the 4000+ children scheduled for abortion tomorrow in our country, what about their protection, their health care, they're being left behind, they're people to and we want answers" That is when he started pointing his finger at me and misleading the people in his heated response as I pointed to the sign that read "Abortions Kill Children". Had I not spoken up as I did there would be no news, no witness to the truth, I put my Faith into works and took a stand for the pre-born children putting my life , yes my life on the line, as I did in Florida at the Terri Schiavo hospice. I live across the street from steubenville high school where Clinton was.

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