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Unwanted babies?

I just posted this as a comment under a Heritage Foundation blog entry on Speaker Pelosi's claim that funding to family planning clinics should be part of the stimulus package. (Okay, I know it's very tempting for a comdom-package-stimulus joke at this point. But please restrain yourself).

What is an unwanted baby? Is it like an unwanted black person? Or an unwanted immigrant? Or an unwanted woman? Or an unwanted handicapped person? There are no “unwanted” babies, as if the adjective “unwanted” can be a natural property of that which is intrinsically valuable. There are just adults who have a disordered understanding of their obligations to the vulnerable and defenseless in our community. Reinforcing and nurturing that immaturity by describing the intrinsically valuable as “unwanted” is deeply immoral.

Bad adults blame the baby first, just as bigoted adults blame the immigrant, the minority, and the handicapped first for their own inadequacies.

Comments (41)

Reinforcing and nurturing that immaturity by describing the intrinsically valuable as “unwanted” is deeply immoral.

Immaturity?

That is a blatant understatement of the facts.

Properly understood, this is outright murder. To simply overlook this fact and continue to the bloodthirsty cravings of a depraved society who would go to the extent of not only instituting the wholesale destruction of human life but preserving it so as to perpetuate and advocate the very practice by the subsequent funding of such horrendous atrocities even beyond this country's borders says much about just how spiritually enlightened our nation is and to what extent its Christian faith has been extinguished.

Whilst even those proclaiming to be Christians would swear the bloody oath as to the supremacy of these now elevated truths which it so espouses and hailed as the new sacred doctrine that must be upheld and promoted throughout the kingdom and beyond, what little remains of Christianity will now suffer such great mutation that it will become simply nothing more than visages of yesterday's superstition.

Immaturity?

That is a blatant understatement of the facts.

Slow down, big fella. I'm referring to describing the unborn as "unwanted." I'm not referring to abortion per se.

Keep your powder dry for real disagreements.

Dr. Beckwith,

I've just grown tired of all the vile euphemisms that the pro-abortionists have utilized (and would have ourselves do likewise as some courteous gesture seemingly demanded as mandatory for our part just for the momentous privilege of an ongoing dialogue with such persons) all to continue this abhorrent veil that would seek to cover up the hideous reality of the many ways and the many instances of how numerous live babies are torn helplessly to pieces while still in their mother's womb.

I think you need to refrain from savaging your friends here, Aristocles. Frank has a good point, and it's one that you might see more vividly if you think about young people--teenagers, for example--who are being told not to be chaste but rather to engage only in "safe sex" in order to avoid "unwanted babies." They are being taught this thoughtless way of speaking of babies as intrinsically "unwanted," and they then parrot that mode of speaking immaturely.

I think you need to refrain from savaging your friends here, Aristocles.

I can assure you, Frank was not the object of my scorn (certainly, an advocate of the Pro-Life cause who has helped champion various material efforts to that end could ever hardly be one of its intended recipients), which a more circumspect observance of both my comments (in particular, the latter one) would reveal.

Please excuse my likely blindness to the obvious, but why is it that the adjective "unwanted" cannot be applied to that which is "intrinsically valuable"?

While I agree that a human being has intrinsic value, I don't understand why said human being cannot also be unwanted by someone. The status of a person being wanted or unwanted seems completely relative and subject to the one doing the wanting or unwanting, so to speak, while the value of a human life seems to have nothing to do with the subjective feelings of any particular person. I guess "wanted" and "intrinsic value" seem like apples and oranges to me.

The status of a person being wanted or unwanted seems completely relative and subject to the one doing the wanting or unwanting, so to speak, while the value of a human life seems to have nothing to do with the subjective feelings of any particular person. I guess "wanted" and "intrinsic value" seem like apples and oranges to me.

And, yet, babies would be consigned to such a death (that would even rival that of the martyrs at Tyburn) all on the basis of one's so-called "subjected feelings".

Indeed, "wanted" and "intrinsic value" are completely "apples and oranges" -- so seemingly presuppositional, no?

The point being is that regardless of the "subjective feelings" one might have for another and, in particular, their own baby, these, on the fundamental basis of their being a human life, do indeed possess such intrinsic value, less God is Himself a liar, the Christian religion itself which would claim likewise a farce or, better yet, even natural reason and law themselves would afford us the right to murder human life regardless.

Frank's point is a rhetorical one. Would we normally refer to "unwanted treasure," etc.? In other words, as the term is in fact used, it is used as if it describes an intrinsic quality rather than a relative quality of the individual. That implication seems to be needed to draw from it the conclusion that, for example, the child would be better off dead.

as the term is in fact used, it is used as if it describes an intrinsic quality rather than a relative quality of the individual.

Alright, so the problem that Francis was pointing out lies in the very use of the term "unwanted" as if it were intrinsic rather than subject? And the responsibility one has for something with intrinsic value cannot be negated by lack of wanted, instead the responsibility is merely neglected?

Please for give my (lack) of grammar in the last post...

Lydia is spot on, as usual.

I think that "intrinsic value" is something modern people do not believe in, or at least try hard not to believe in.

I think that "intrinsic value" is something modern people do not believe in, or at least try hard not to believe in.

Yeah for Kant.

I think that "intrinsic value" is something modern people do not believe in, or at least try hard not to believe in.

Except for snail darters. And perhaps The Planet (caps very much on). I would go so far as to say that intrinsic value language for non-human animal species and "the environment" has increased in education and the media in direct proportion to the decline in such language for unborn children and severely disabled people (such as people in a "persistent vegetative state").

Zippy/Lydia/thinkingis, this is exactly the direction my mind goes in when this subject of the "unwanted" comes up. I'm also reminded of that ghastly series "Friends"--I canot remember which one, because I never watch the show, but I did see an episode in which one of the girls agonized over whether she really wanted her baby or not. Once she and her boyfriend decided to keep the baby (other "options" were never explicitly stated, because it would be, like, such a downer) everyone was elated.

Now they really had a child on the way and everybody could be overjoyed, and they started picking out names, and decorations, and speculating on the sex, and otherwise acting as though something really wonderful and exciting had happened. But this was simply not possible before the mother had consciously and publicly determined that she wanted the baby--at that point, it became a wonderful blessing and a cause for excitement. In other words, her decision had invested it with tremendous value, whereas her uncertainty had previously rendered it just a problem to be solved. I spoke to more than one person--not all of them conservatives--who were positively creeped out by this, but nobody could put his finger on what it was that was so weird about the whole affair.

Lydia:

On The Planet, you could not be more right. This is something of a hobby horse of mine. When I'm having one of those tiresome debates over moral relativism and the notion of objective value, I find that it is actually way more effective to talk about Mother Earth these days than it is to bring up the Holocaust.

Yeah, but the thing is that I couldn't bring up Mother Earth in good faith, because I myself _don't_ agree with all the "harming mother earth is always intrinsically evil" perspective. I suppose I could make something up, like laughing maniacally while dumping poison into a crystalline trout stream for no reason other than hatred of trout. But it would seem--to me--still so relatively trivial as an example of you've-gotta-acknowledge-that-one evil, that I'd have trouble keeping a straight face while using the example.

"Unwanted treasure" is a good example. I think "unwanted happiness" and "unwanted joy" would be the best examples.

Anybody recall the phrase "a bundle of joy" when referring to a child? Indeed, it appears they've made a movie with just that title.

Once upon a time, barrenness was thought to be a curse for women. Once upon a time, the birth of a child was an occasion of joy, as in "Joy to the World."

Unwanted joy? Unwanted child? These are moments of cultural insanity.

Women, even married women, do undoubtedly experience crisis pregnancies. I suppose that for a woman in a crisis pregnancy, telling her, or seeming to imply, that she should feel guilty for not thinking herself blessed could be understandably infuriating. But the phrase "crisis pregnancy" is a great deal less misleading, to my mind, to describe such situations than the phrase "unwanted baby." The former puts the emphasis upon the woman's circumstances and upon the fact that she needs help to cope with those circumstances surrounding the pregnancy. Thus it avoids any implication of rejecting the child.

I think people are suffering from a lack of imagination. If I'm starving on a desert island, any accrual of treasure would be unwanted. If a woman is receiving chemo therapy, a pregnancy would not be wanted and in fact should be actively prevented. For the starving woman, there is an obvious sense in which bringing a child into the world would be an unwanted thing. Such isn't a license to harm, but it avoids the deifying of life. It also avoids treating abortion and other issues as problems having to do with not enough happy talk. People can actually be burdens and the test isn't whether one likes the burden, but whether one perseveres through it. There is a certain level of condenscenion involved in telling a 15-year-old pregnant teen that she is blessed to be in the situation she is in. It is even odder to claim that what she has created is intrinsically valuable despite her act of creation being instrincially evil.

It is even odder to claim that what she has created is intrinsically valuable despite her act of creation being instrincially evil.

Well, surprise, surprise, MZ. I guess reality and truth just sometimes seem odd to you. Because that's actually true.

I myself have already mentioned the need to be sensitive to women in crisis pregnancies. However, I think that there are some real difficulties about what we're telling ourselves when we say "people can actually be burdens." While I understand that you wish us to take you perfectly literally here, and there might be some entirely literal sense in which one could make that statement true, societally we have a far greater problem with licensing ourselves to call people "burdens" than with too much "happy talk" on the pro-life side. I'm sure that crisis pregnancy counselors are very sensitive to the issues you raise, to the extent that those issues are legitimate. But I would definitely not encourage us to go around saying, "Hey, the baby is a burden. And so is Grandpa. Let's just all be so honest about that." It may be _very difficult_ to care for the baby and for Grandpa, but calling either of them a "burden" is not helpful. At all.

...and in fact should be actively prevented.
I think you mean that it should be avoided, by avoiding the behavior which causes pregnancy. Pregnancy should never be prevented. This may seem like so much hairsplitting, but I think the war over language is an important part of resisting evil.

I do think you raise a valid point here, that is, that caring for human beings often is in fact a burden on those who have to do the heavy lifting, that happy talk doesn't remove the burden, and that none of this in any way excuses or licenses doing evil. As an 'deontological' matter it is not the person qua person which is a burden, but rather is the circumstances in which we find ourselves. But that perfectly valid philosophical distinction doesn't wipe the sweat from our brows.

It is kind of like the problem of evil, which I view to be ultimately an incoherent non-problem. That it is ultimately an incoherent non-problem doesn't relieve suffering, it just gives meaning to that suffering. If what we are pursuing is relief from suffering it is more effective to use percocet than theodicy.

It is even odder to claim that what she has created is intrinsically valuable despite her act of creation being instrincially evil.
I don't see what is odd about that at all. If we changed history such that nobody had ever committed an intrinsically evil act, none of us would be here at all. So to the extent that that argument works it works too well: all of existence is evil, there is no intrinsic value. I note that some particularly consistent secularists actually do follow through to this perfectly rational conclusion from those (false) premises, arguing that our existence per se is evil.

My problem is more the deifying of life. To murder is not just to end a person's material life, but it is an attack upon God Himself. We celebrate the martyrs not because they lost life, but because they gave their life to God. We wouldn't say that Christ destroyed the good of life by offering his material life on the cross. It seems to me that life itself is not an intrinsic good. I would say that a baby from a happy commited couple is no more an instrinsic good than a baby that is the product of violence is intrinsically bad; that is they aren't. Each enjoys the image of God and should be protected for that reason, because God is good.

It seems to me that life itself is not an intrinsic good.
It seems to me that that is crazy talk. Concluding that life is not an intrinsic good from the fact that some things are worth dying for is a non-sequitur; but if we take it as valid it proves too much.

If your point is that everything which is good derives that goodness from God, well, I agree, but I don't see what that gets you. It in no way follows that pro-lifers treat protecting the lives of innocents from murder as too high a priority in the world, which seems to be (though may not be) what you want to conclude from it.

M.Z.,

Your reference to the image of God only brings to mind the last part of that chapter in which we are given the declaration of the imago dei: "God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good" (1:31). Yet you maintain "that life itself is not an intrinsic good." Does this not seem inconsistent to you?

I think the argument that "X is not an intrinsic good, because it derives its value from God" is a very confusing and confused one. The statement, "X is an intrinsic good" is meant to contrast X with some other type of thing, Y, which has its good only _instrumentally_. Babies--and human beings--are valuable intrinsically as opposed to being valuable only instrumentally.

"his material life on the cross."

Gnosticism anyone?

"X is not an intrinsic good, because it derives its value from God"

Volutarism, anyone? Nominalism, anyone?

"X is not an intrinsic good, because it derives its value from God"

The fact that all apparently intrinsic goods have their source in God does not make them non-intrinsic. Intrinsic goods are goods-in-themselves for which no external end is required for them be a good. Ontologically, intrinsic goods have their source in God, to be sure. Think of it this way: my health depends on a cluster of factors internal and external to my being. That is, my health is not ontologically independent of other things. However, my health is a good-in-itself whose goodness does not depend on some end for which it is an instrument (though, of course, health is also an instrumental good, but it is not exclusively such). If I am healthy, that is good, even if I don't use it to achieve other goods.

M.Z. said, "It seems to me that life itself is not an intrinsic good."

Zippy replied, "It seems to me that that is crazy talk."


It had struck me likewise as it seemed to me as preposterous as somebody who had once mistakenly claimed that happiness itself is an inherent characteristic of man, which, if true, would've also implied, just as foolishly, that man could simply sleep his life away in utter happiness and still would have essentially led a most exemplary life.

To claim, as M.Z. seemed to have, that life itself is not an intrinsic good would seem to deny even certain ancient Augustinian catholic principles concerning the matter and even certain passages in Scripture itself, such as those in Genesis, which would tend to affirm such an assertion (i.e., that life itself is an intrinsic good).

Yet, perhaps, I am misunderstanding M.Z. with respect to the actual manner of his statements; he's not always so seemingly nonsensical unless his time at Vox had incidentally made him so, or perhaps even, given the history of exchanges as well as various heated altercations between Zippy and himself, M.Z. is simply attempting to confound Zippy deliberately.

For, in spite of all this, M.Z. does make allusion to one specific passage in Scripture, to the effect that God had created Man in His Image & Likeness and, therefore, precious.

Still, I would ask that he elaborates further on the matter for our own edification.

If it follows that life find its good in relation to God, does it not necessarily follow that life can express itself in forms both good and bad to others, including being burdensome?

Robert L,
The devil is a creation of God, but he is not good. Spirits have agency. We are both body and spirit. And while we were created good, we have the problem of original sin.

Zippy,
Life can certainly be an objective good. The argument would be over its intrinsic nature.

It in no way follows that pro-lifers treat protecting the lives of innocents from murder as too high a priority in the world
Correct. If we find that belief a is an impediment to belief b, and we desire belief b, it would seem to follow that eschewing belief a, if practical, would be desired. The pro-choice community has very little difficulty seeing a teenage pregnancy being a burden. We can spend our time arguing to them that it isn't really properly understood a burden or we can argue that humanity calls us to the protection of our fellow man. Convincing people of a fetus's humanity is not difficult. Outside of advocates and even among many them, you will find significant numbers believe in the humanity of the fetus. What they reject is the obligation to protect our fellow man. So why should we argue that a child from a teenage pregnancy is good, when all we really want to argue is the child is human and warranted protection, especially when we already have half convinced of (b) the humanity of child and think (a) is ridiculous?

Perhaps the Summa puts it better.

I answer that, One opposite is known through the other, as darkness is known through light. Hence also what evil is must be known from the nature of good. Now, we have said above that good is everything appetible; and thus, since every nature desires its own being and its own perfection, it must be said also that the being and the perfection of any nature is good. Hence it cannot be that evil signifies being, or any form or nature. Therefore it must be that by the name of evil is signified the absence of good. And this is what is meant by saying that "evil is neither a being nor a good." For since being, as such, is good, the absence of one implies the absence of the other.

Objection 2. Further, every difference which constitutes a species is a nature. But evil is a difference constituting a species of morality; for a bad habit differs in species from a good habit, as liberality from illiberality. Therefore evil signifies a nature.

Reply to Objection 3. This appears from the above. For the Philosopher speaks there of good and evil in morality. Because in that respect, between good and evil there is a medium, as good is considered as something rightly ordered, and evil as a thing not only out of right order, but also as injurious to another. Hence the Philosopher says (Ethic. iv, i) that a "prodigal man is foolish, but not evil." And from this evil in morality, there may be a return to good, but not from any sort of evil, for from blindness there is no return to sight, although blindness is an evil.

Summa I Q48A1

M.Z., I am going to have to agree with Beckwith. This is a tenet of Gnosticism, not Christian doctrine (c.f. Summa Theologia, Prima Pars, Q63; articles 5-6). As for life finding its good in relation to God: you are going to have to elaborate because it seems to me that you are using an equivocal notion of "good." You seem to be using a concept of relative goodness, i.e., object x is good to A brute relative to B, whereas people in this thread are speaking about intrinsic goodness.

MZ:

Life can certainly be an objective good. The argument would be over its intrinsic nature.
And again, if you reject the intrinsic good of life it seems to me that you reject the very notion of intrinsic good entirely. Why not just say "there is no such thing as intrinsic good"? Note that "good" here is not referring to moral good or acts, but rather to existing things which are good in themselves, so I don't see the applicability of the quote from the Summa.
What they reject is the obligation to protect our fellow man.
Well, when it comes to the 'right' to abortion the matter runs deeper than this. We don't reject the 'right to abortion' (here I am speaking of the legal right, not of the act itself) because of a generic obligation to protect the innocent in some general sense. We reject the 'right to abortion' juridically asserted by the public authority because such a 'right' existentially undermines public authority at its very root: a 'right to abortion' destroys the very possibility of a public authority which derives that authority from the common good.

This is all in Evangelium Vitae. The assertion of a 'right to abortion' represents a kind of penultimate natural-law suicide on the part of the public authority, a self-destruction of legitimate public authority, which is what sets it apart in the scheme of things from other moral wrongs which are not necessarily legally prohibited. There are some juridical assertions which in themselves destroy the authority to make juridical assertions. The juridical assertion of a 'right to abortion' is such a juridical assertion.

So this isn't a matter of just a failure to recognize an obligation to protect the innocent in all circumstances, moderated by prudential considerations of what it is and is not possible or reasonable to do. A 'right to abortion' represents the self-negation of public authority, and must be opposed on those grounds: not merely on the grounds that there is an obligation in general to protect the innocent in general; but also on the categorical ground, not subject to prudential evaluation or circumstances at all, that it represents the self-negation of public authority.

Lo and Behold! you quote the Summa while I was writing my comment. In fact, the quote undermines your position. Aquinas is saying that evil is not a thing but rather the privation of good. Therefore, it cannot be created.

MZ " you will find significant numbers believe in the humanity of the fetus. What they reject is the obligation to protect our fellow man."

That's such a joke! Those guys see the value of the lives of their fellows but object to preventing their killing? You sound like the lawyers of those who cooperated with Nazi officials at the Nuremberg trials - yes, they are immoral and despicable but not that immoral and despicable since they have some sort of...well... unease? The song of the scorpion is sweeter than the tragic choice rhetoric of those cooperating in intrinsic evil. That's why I consider such orwellian evil anti-hypocrites like Camilla Paglia as morally superior to such "regretful" sinners - Camilla has never claimed that the right she supports is not the outright killing of a fellow human being and has been unapologetic about it...More importantly she never claimed, concerning abortion, that evil is in fact good.

I'm not sure deluding oneself over the humanity of the unborn is better or worse than openly recognizing the humanity and insisting one has a right to snuff it out. I haven't alleged otherwise. What I have stated is two fold: there are many that support abortion and believe in the humanity of the unborn child; and two, attempting to persuade these same people over the humanity of the child is a waste of time because they are already persuaded on the point.

If they are pseudo-sophisticated, they will argue that the unborn child is a human being but not a "person," taking their convenient personhood theory from academic philosophers of the Singer variety. Don't underestimate the number of people in that situation. They are legion.

I must say, however, that I have actually seen one academic philosopher go so far as to imply that saying an unborn child is a "human being" is a "religious or at least a philosophical" claim (words to that effect), implying that it is not scientific. Note that this was not even in itself the claim that the child was a person but only that it was a member of the species "homo sapiens." Obviously, by calling the claim religious or philosophical, he meant to imply that it is controversial and that he does not accept it. It's very convenient to call obvious scientific statements "religious" if that furthers one's agenda. So I wouldn't be too quick to say, "Oh, everyone knows that the unborn child is a human being." Not so fast. Some will try to say that it is "human" and then immediately add, "But heart cells are human, too." In other words, implying that the unborn child is "just a bunch of human cells" but not an actual biological individual member of the species.

The inventiveness of the human mind for evil is very great.

they will argue that the unborn child is a human being but not a "person,"

Bingo. Hence the same argument is used for euthanasia. I believe origins are much deeper than Singer. Slavery was argued to be allowed because the slaves weren't persons.

Francis Beckwith is a fake--he does not address the CONTEMPORARY justification of abortion rights. What we call the Body-Ownership/Justifiable-Homicide argument.

It goes like this: It doesn't matter WHAT fetuses are; what matters is WHERE they are. If something is inside my body, then I'm entitled to have it killed, no matter what it is. Even if it's an innocent person. No exceptions. If you were inside my body, then I'd be entitled to kill you. If I were inside your body, then you'd be entitled to kill me. (If you disagree with this, I'll come locate part of my body--a finger--inside part of your body--an eye-socket--and we'll see how long it takes you to understand that you, and only you, are entitled to control what, and who, lives inside your body, and when, and HOW LONG.) In fact if ALL the people in the whole humping world, including the innocent ones, the pregnant ones, and the unborn ones, were assembled somewhere inside my body, then I'd be entitled to holocaust them. If Jesus, the Archangel Gabriel, and Almighty God himself were inside my body, I'd be entitled to kill them. That's part of the meaning of the word "my" in the phrase "my body". So abortion is homicide, but abortion on demand is JUSTIFIABLE homicide.

Francis, I challenge you. I call you out. What's your answer to this argument?

"Wagst du ihn nicht darum zu fragen,
so glauben alle wir, mit Recht:
du müsstest selbst in Sorge zagen,
um seine Reine steh es schlecht!"

well babies shouldnt have to go through this because they is defenseless n all they can do is cry so before any one miss use them email me n i will get them so whome eva doin this to kids should be ashame

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