Saturday, April 9, 2016

Quickies: The Most Emotional Issue

     At PJ Media today, Daniel Glover – no, not that Danny Glover – discusses Christians’ agonies over whether, if abortion is to be outlawed, a mother who has an abortion should be punished under the law. In other words, he perpetuates the premise that abortion should be outlawed because abortion is murder, which God has forbidden. As you might expect, that leaves the readers unsatisfied and the division between “pro-choice” and “pro-life” unbridged.

     Rather than perpetuate the sectarian divisions over abortion, why not take a deep breath and reflect on why we want to do what we want to do – whatever that might be.

     The folks who want abortion to be legal at some stage of gestation have to answer some questions:

  1. Inasmuch as once born, the baby is recognized as a person with a right to life, why doesn’t he possess that right on the other side of the birth canal?
  2. If abortion is all right, why is execution for murder wrong? And why is it morally repugnant that Planned Parenthood sells body parts from aborted fetuses?
  3. Why doesn’t the baby’s father have any say in the matter, considering that if the baby were born, his father would incur legal obligations that would last eighteen years or longer?

     There are others, of course, but those strike me as the big ones. For the pro-life crowd (of which I am one):

  1. Why do you want some or all abortions outlawed? What’s the moral / ethical basis? Can you defend it without recourse to religious proscriptions?
  2. How many criminals are involved in an outlawed abortion? Three, two, or one? If the answer is “It varies,” how would you arrive at the answer in a specific case? What are the appropriate penalties?
  3. How would you deal with the Fourth and Fifth Amendment issues involved? (Some early abortions are indistinguishable from a “menstrual extraction.”)

     The cross-aisle shouting seldom attempts to answer any of the above questions. Instead, the issue tends to be framed along religious lines, which is why the pro-abortion crowd has succeeded in characterizing pro-lifers as “zealots” and “religious bigots.”

     It might be the case that only non-verifiable, non-falsifiable bases exist for either position. But up to this point precious little effort has been put into trying to find secular ones. If we could arrive at moral / ethical premises on which both sides can agree, we might make progress.


darkdoc said...

Broadly said, you will never be successful fighting a rhetorical argument (the pro-abortion side) with a dialectical response (the pro-life side). Logic and reason are not answers to emotional appeals.

But even more cynically - there is an even more important reason that abortion as an issue has remained unchanged since the 1970's. It has always been, and continues, as a monstrous and reliable and consistent source of money for both political parties. There is no financial reason for either party to change a thing. Talking about it, and only talk is allowed, generates fund raising appeals and platforms, and appeals to the respective voters in every election season. 60 million abortions certainly matter to a lot of people, but not at all to anyone who profits from the abomination.

And a nice sensible dialectical answer to that gets you nowhere, too.

Roy Lofquist said...

These are vexing questions. I suspect the answers lie in the hereafter. There may be some unpleasant surprises.

Anonymous said...

When does "humanness" begin? Or, at what point is there a soul?

If you believe that humanness begins at conception, then abortion is indeed murder.

If you believe that there is no humanness until birth, it's not murder.

Me? I don't know. I do know that my son was healthy and is having a pretty good life at age 53. He was born six weeks early. That says to me that at the very least, partial-birth-aborthion is murder.



daniel_day said...

Here are my answers to your questions for those who support the right to abortion at some stage of gestation, but let me preface by saying that Roe vs. Wade invented a right to abortion out of whole constitutional cloth. The legal issue of abortion should be addressed at the state level (or more locally). Those who find themselves unable to morally abide their local state laws are, I hope, free to move to another state whose laws are more in line with their thinking.
1. He *does* possess that right in the womb . . . at some point. What that point is, I don’t know. I do not accept the proposition that a single cell, or a small clump of cells equals a human being or, if you prefer, is owed the same right to life as a human being. The term for that living being is “human embryo” or “human fetus”.
You made a suggestion for a legal compromise between the pro- and anti- positions several years ago that I can live with: The fetus is defined as human once it manifests brain waves. This point is objective and observable, for all that it is as arbitrary as choosing conception or birth (or as recently suggested by some revolting specimen of humanity, one month after birth) as the point at which the right to life should be respected.
2. Execution for murder is not categorically wrong. I'd support execution for other crimes as well, for example, financial crimes resulting in large numbers of victims losing substantial amounts of money, but that’s another topic.
3. The baby’s father has a responsibility for the final destination of his sperm. Once a woman is pregnant, allowing him to prevent her from ending her pregnancy smacks too much of ownership of one human being by another. That is why he should have no say in the matter.

Backwoods Engineer said...

I think abortion is murder, and should be punishable by imprisonment or death, just like murder is. There are often more than one person convicted in a particular murder; for example, the felony murder charge, where someone is killed during an armed robbery. Why shouldn't the scheming abortion doctor and the homicidal mother both be charged and indicted?

Why not?

Because ours is a doomed civilization that does not even protect the unborn, that's why not. And Republicans have just as much fetal blood on their hands as Democrats. A pox on both those houses.

And when God drops more hurt on America than He ever dropped on Sodom and Gomorrah, it will be richly deserved.

Anonymous said...

Great comment. Agree wholeheartedly.


Fair analysis. However, similar analysis by a typical Leftist would be (and is, ... because some do, in fact, make a similar argument) rankest hypocrisy.

Why? Well, have you ever heard of "The Precautionary Principle"? It has its broadest application -- and maybe its origin -- in environmentalism. The Left, generally speaking, wields it as a bludgeon against liberty and a free market; and because of their great success in using it as the scimitar of their enviro-Jihad, its use has spread to other Leftist causes. It must never be applied by them to the issue of abortion. That's because its use would decapitate the argument you just presented.

That's not to say its an unreasonable argument; but it would be (and is) a hypocritical argument for a Leftist to make ... not that that would cause them a moment's hesitation, obviously.


You close by saying, "If we could arrive at moral / ethical premises on which both sides can agree, we might make progress.".

That's true; but it's also circular reasoning. If we (Pro-/Anti-; "left"/"right"; etc) could agree on moral premises we wouldn't be having this "national conversation on abortion" in the first place.

It's a little like a man saying, "My wife wouldn't be so crazy if I would just stop Gaslighting her," as he continues to tell her she's paranoid whenever she notices that he spends an inordinate amount of time with other women.

Anonymous said...

Had to read up on the Precautionary Principle. Looks to me to be a way to avoid using common sense. Or maybe I'm just too old. I don't want to hijack, here, but I began in farming/ranching; forever been an outdoorsman. My civil engineering morphed into environmental/political stuff, with four years of brain-picking on bug'n'bunny PhDs. My reaction to quite a few EIS efforts was of scorn, since 90% of any of them merely belabored the obvious--at high cost.

As far as abortion, I'm basically negative, but mostly I decry the behavior and bad decision making which leads to a perceived need for it.