How to Establish a Pro-Life Framework

There’s a faulty notion that the abortion issue is inherently religious: that one must be a Christian (or at least possess particular subjective beliefs about when life begins) in order to be against abortion.  In fact, the pro-life view is founded squarely on modern science.

I wrote about this a couple weeks ago, regarding the scientific consensus that life begins at conception. One of the responses to that post was that the question of when life begins “is only HALF of the abortion debate.” This is certainly true.  So let’s lay out both halves of the argument against abortion.

I. The Pro-Life Framework

An AAA-1, or “Modus Barbara” Syllogism,
of which this is one.

Properly understood, the pro-life argument can be reduced to a simple syllogism:

  1. Major premise (moral / ethical): It is immoral, and should be illegal, to intentionally kill an innocent human being.
  2. Minor Premise (scientific): An innocent human being is formed at conception / fertilization. This being is distinct from either the mother or the father. In other words, conception creates a new member of the species Homo Sapiens.*
  3. Conclusion: Abortion is immoral, and should be illegal.

*Now, there may be other moments at which a unique human being is (or could also be) created, whether at the moment of twinning or in an artificial environment. But the fact that human beings might be formed at moments besides conception doesn’t rebut the claim that “a human being is formed at conception / fertilization.”

II. Where is the Debate?

One advantage to this framework is that you need not be a Christian, or even religious, to hold to these two views, anymore than one needs to be religious to think that murder is always and everywhere wrong.

As I pointed out in the earlier post, there is no legitimate debate over the minor premise. We can say, objectively, that a unique human life begins at conception. In virtually every case, people who claim to be attacking the minor premise (debating when human life begins) are really debating the major premise (whether they think it’s wrong to kill a human being prior to a certain point in human development).

Even the arguments about sentience aren’t really attacking the minor premise. They’re attacking the major premise by redefining what we mean by “human life.” So the only question remaining in the abortion debate is whether it’s ever moral to intentionally kill human beings.

It’s true that this doesn’t end the debate, but it does clarify it. It clarifies that the defenders of abortion aren’t confused over the science (or at least, shouldn’t be). Rather, they’re defending the rather astonishingly claims that not all human lives are worthy of moral or legal protection.  At this point, the pro-life side just needs to show that murder is always and everywhere wrong.

III. Scientific Terminology and Euphemism

I think that is particularly important to use terms which are both clear and objective, as I have found that the defenders of abortion run from both clarity and objectivity in terminology. In this way, the defenders of abortion are behaving like the defenders of any other atrocity: by perverting language to obscure the reality of what they’re defending.  George Orwell, author of Animal Farm and 1984, railed against this tendency in his 1946 essay Politics and the English Language:

George Orwell

In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them. [….]


The inflated style itself is a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.

What Orwell describes is precisely what we’ve seen in the debate over abortion, particularly regarding the use of medical jargon and technical scientific terminology, in place of clear English. Let me use a grisly example.  A particular abortion procedure involves delivering a child partway, but in the breech position, so that his feet come out first. The abortionist stops the child from being fully delivered by slitting open the back of his skull, and using a suction catheter to suck out his brains, killing him, and crushing his skull.

This mode of execution is called, by pro-lifers, “partial-birth abortion,” a term which is both accurate and clear. But those defending this horrendous practice have hidden themselves behind a wall of euphemisms, referring to it by obscure medical terms like “intact dilation and evacuation,” “dilation and extraction (D&X, or DNX),” and “intrauterine cranial decompression,” terms which no ordinary person understands.  Like defending the “elimination of unreliable elements,” it’s easy to justify “intrauterine cranial decompression,” until you realize that what they mean by “cranial decompression” is “sucking out a baby’s brain mid-birth.”

That’s one reason why I think using terms like “human being” (or even “human organism”) is helpful. Undeniably, a unique human organism exists from conception. This is a purely scientific question, and it is worth putting this point forward in a scientific way.  After all, someone using terms like “fetus” or “embryo” can hardly fault you for using technical terminology.  We can know whether or not a particular subject is a member of the species Homo Sapiens, objectively and scientifically.

And here, you’ll find defenders of abortion (ironically) running away from objective scientific terminology. Instead of “human organism,” they’ll use terms which are either less descriptive (like “clump of cells,” which could refer to either a human organism or any other organic matter), or meaningless.  That is, one typical tactic is to redefine words like “person” to mean whatever one wants it to mean.  That’s not an exaggeration: defenders of abortion will say what “personhood” means to them.  I am reminded of a scene from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass:

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

So be on the watch for attempts to retreat into “sheer cloudy vagueness,” to turn the discussion from whether abortion kills a human being, to when a human being is really a “person.”  If you find yourself debating someone who insists on making up their own definitions to words like “person,” you might at least call them to have the intellectual integrity to at least make up their own words to describe the realities they are defining.  If nothing else, it shows the utter absurdity of redefining terms arbitrarily.

26 Comments

  1. I agree with the *heart* of your claim and I’m pro-life myself, and I totally agree that the pro-death side doesn’t like straightforward thinking, but the real reason abortion is legal is because our nation does not legislate on the basis of Christianity or natural law, but rather a mish-mash of popular opinion, utilitarianism, and individualism.

    For example, half of Protestantism is liberal, and they’re all for abortion, but what most don’t realize is that even the “consevative” wing of Protestantism is not actually pro-life, because most “conservative” Protestant denominations allow for “exceptions” on when it’s ok to abort. Given this, all Roe v Wade was originally saying was that there should be “exceptions” for abortion (e.g. rape, incest, life of mother, birth defects). Thus, the grand majority of Americans support abortion in at least limited circumstances which amounts to saying America as a whole is not consistently pro-life at all. In the Conservative Protestant mind, being pro-life is about “taking responsibility” (they use that very phrase), meaning that if you screw around you need to “take responsibility” and not take the easy way out (abortion)…BUT if you get raped or birth defects or mother’s health, then that’s something you didn’t sign up for, so you should not have to “take responsibility” and thus the “exceptions”.

    In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood, when the Judges said that our nation cannot overturn Roe v Wade because our nation relies so heavily on contraception that we need abortion in the event contraception fails. So this is yet another philosophical/religious problem that really undermines the pro-life position.

    In Roe V Wade, the Supreme Court said that as a part of religious freedom we must allow abortion, since all Jews and many Protestants believe (as a religious principle) at the very least the mother’s health takes priority over the child.

    So what we see is legislation based not on Catholicism, nor on Natural Law, but on other subjective reasons.

    1. Nick,

      Your legal history is mistaken on a few points, but most especially when you say that “all Roe v Wade was originally saying was that there should be “exceptions” for abortion (e.g. rape, incest, life of mother, birth defects).”

      That’s not true. Abortion was already legal in six states, and a number of other states permitted abortion for particular reasons (like the life of the mother). What Roe did was declare that a constitutional right to “privacy” prevented the state from regulating first-trimester abortions, and made it extremely difficult for them to regulate abortions later in the pregnancy. It’s a myth that Roe was originally a narrow holding. It’s an incredibly sweeping decision, to claim what essentially amounts to a never-before-seen constitutional right to abortion.

      And I don’t think that the answer to this requires legislating on the basis of Christianity. As I showed above, there’s a basic pro-life syllogism that doesn’t require you to believe in Christianity (or even to believe in natural law). * It just requires you to be against murder in all cases.

      I.X.,

      Joe

      *You can live by natural law without acknowledging its existence, and most atheists do just this.

    2. Hello Joe,

      Thank you for this clarification. So Roe v Wade basically said abortions could not be restricted/regulated on the state level, at least for the first trimester, which had the effect of making it allowed.

      I looked up on Wiki Roe v Wade and found this startling statement:

      “The Court additionally added that the primary right being preserved in the Roe decision was that of the physician’s right to practice medicine freely absent a compelling state interest – not women’s rights in general.[25] The Court explicitly rejected a fetal “right to life” argument.[26]”

      So Roe explicitly declined to approach this as a dignity of human life issue and rather as a right to privacy on the part of the right of a “physician” to practice “medicine” and not so much a woman’s right to privacy.

  2. A sad fact about why “partial” birth abortion came into being in the first place was because of a law that said if the baby cried or made a noise during an abortion, then the baby was considered a legal person. So creative butchers in the medical field decided to leave the babies head suffocated and silenced within the breach while the murder took place. You cant make this stuff up.

  3. I was praying the Sorrowful Mysteries and meditating on the Crowning of Thorns, and suddenly had a sort of mind picture of a baby whose head was being destroyed by the horror of a partial-birth abortion. I am not claiming some wild “private revelation” as such, but just had a sense of the similarity between what it would be like for Jesus to have such a mockery and terrible pain, and His sacred head being systematically destroyed by sinful humans and how the suffering of those small pre-born children, particularly in that form of abortion, is somehow joined to that suffering.

    It just made it seem so real and I wanted to share it. Although Jesus was never aborted of course, He was murdered–by us and by our sins. When an abortion happens it too is a murder because of our sins as well. Just some thoughts to meditate on.

  4. If you consider that Joseph Ratzinger wrote the following in 1968, “What concerns us is no longer how ‘the others’ will be saved. Certainly we know, by our faith in divine mercy, that they can be saved. How this happens, we leave to God. The point that does concern us is principally this: Why, despite the wider possibility of salvation, is the Church still necessary? Why should faith and life still continue to come through her? In other words, the present day Christians no longer question if their non-believer brothers can reach salvation.” (Joseph Ratzinger, “Necessita della missione della Chiesa nel mondo,” in La Fine della Chiesa come Societa Perfetta, Verona: Mondatori, 1968, pp 69-70).

    Then consider that Our Lord instructed us not to fear the man who can destroy the body, but instead fear the One who can destroy both body and soul for eternity, who is guilty of the greater sin? Is it the abortion provider or the progressive churchmen? Does God permit abortion in our day so that at least these little ones will enjoy an eternity of natural happiness in Limbo?

    1. Steve,

      (1) Are you suggesting that someone would go to hell for believing the religion of the pope, and that abortion might be a blessing? Do you consider yourself a Catholic?

      (2) You’re quoting a passage from a 1968 work by the future Pope Benedict, based on a translation from the Italian done by Tradition in Action, which (falsely) claims that Benedict is a heretic. TIA doesn’t provide any additional context for these two paragraphs. As with the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, Benedict often begins his essays by explaining a popular (wrong) view, putting the objection in the strongest possible terms, before providing an answer to it. This style is easy to misrepresent, as I’ve shown before.

      (3) I’ve been unable to find the full essay anywhere online, in either English or Italian. TIA does have a blurry jpg of the page that they’re translating, but that’s it.  I’m hindered both by the blurriness of the page, and my own ignorance of Italian (I was heavily indebted to Google Translate to cobble together a translation).

      If you look at the physical page in question, you’ll note that TIA highlighted the sections that they translated, and there’s a sentence that they skipped in the middle of the passage. Why? Because in that sentence, then-Fr. Ratzinger makes it clear that he’s talking about an issue modern Christians are raising, rather than laying out his own view. In Italian, the sentence appears to be, “In un certo senso possiamo dire che per gli uomini d’oggi il problema e mutato.” In English, that means roughly, “In a sense, we can say that for the people of today, the problem [has] changed.” Then he explains that the modern Catholic is comfortable affirming that non-believers are saved, and that this raises questions about the ongoing utility of the Church.

    2. Here’s what the rest of the page appears to say in Italian and English:

      “In other words, today’s Christians do not raise most in reality, the question of whether their fellow non-believers can or can not achieve salvation. They rather want to know what is the meaning of their union with the universal desire embrace of Christ, and their union with the Church.”

      (“In altre, parole, i cristiani d’oggi non si pongono piu in realta la questione di sapere se i loro fratelli non credenti possano o meno conseguire la salvezza. Essi desiderano piuttosto sapere qual e il significato della loro unione col desiderio all’abbraccio universale del Cristo, e della loro unione alla Chiesa.”)

      “Any analysis of the phrase “salus extra ecclesiam nulla est” must respond to this particular problem, otherwise it can not achieve anything in concert.”

      (“Qualsiasi analisi della frase “salus extra ecclesiam nulla est” deve rispondere in particolare a questo problema, altrimenti non puo giungere a nulla di concerto.”)

      “So insufficient are answers that will reduce the salvation of “the other” to an alleged “votum Ecclesiae” identifying it with a sort of vague, “be in good faith.” Such attempts that transform, in fact, “in good will” throw what needs to be in the middle of humanity, frequently approaches, in such a way, dangerous Pelagianism. The accusation that the Jansenists raised once of the Jesuits, of having pushed with such doctrine, the age [or “the world;” lit. “the century”; cf. secula seculorum] towards agnosticism, would surely in this case [be] totally truth?”

      (“Percio saranno insufficienti quelle risposte che ridurranno la salvezza “degli altri” a un presunto “votum Ecclesiae” identificandolo con una sorta di vago, essere in buona fede.  Tali tentativi che transformano, di fatto, in buona volonta butto quel che occorre a meta dell’umanita, frequentemente si avvicina in modo pericoloso al pelagianesimo.  Il rimprovero che i giansenisti mossero un tempo ai gesuiti di aver spinto, con tali doctrine, il secolo verso l’agnosticismo, non mancherebbe in questo caso totalmente di verita?”)

      So Ratzinger does two important things: (1) explicitly re-affirms extra Ecclesiam nulla salus, and (2) warns against a modern interpretation of the doctrine that says that all that’s necessary for salvation is to “be of good faith.”  Ratzinger seems to describe this interpretation as not only “insufficient” by virtually Pelagian, and tending to move people towards agnosticism.

      At the end of the page, he says, “Percio dobbiamo tenere presente nello spiegate la salvezza “degli altri,” i fattori objettivi con gli elementi soggettivi, considerandoli in relazione fra loto.”  Google gives this translation: “So we have to keep in mind the salvation explained in “other” factors target achievement with subjective elements, considering them in relation to each lotus.”  The exact meaning of this sentence is unclear to me, but he seems to be saying that, when we talk about the possibility of non-Catholics being saved, there are other factors to be considered.  Because only this page is provided, I cannot provide a fuller context, because this is all we have to work with.

    3. (4) Now, having seen what Ratzinger was actually saying, hopefully you can see that it was blatantly false for TIA to claim that in this document, “Ratzinger denies the dogma ‘Extra Ecclesiam nulla Salus” Not only does he do no such thing, he in fact, re-affirms EENS explicitly, and warns against the Modernist definition of the dogma.

      For some reason, TIA has turned towards self-translating documents that are several decades old to attempt to paint a false picture of Ratzinger’s views on Extra Ecclesiam nulla Salus. I’m reminded of Jesus’ reply in John 18:20, when He was subjected to similar rumor-mongering: “I have spoken openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret.”

      If you want Ratzinger’s views on Extra Ecclesiam nulla Salus, why not go to the 2000 CDF declaration that he wrote, Dominum Iesus? See, in particular, §§ 9-10, §§ 16-17, and footnote 56. He explicitly holds the opposite of what TIA claims, and what you appear to hint at.

      (5) So no, Benedict is not a Modernist heretic, and anyone claiming he is doesn’t know what they’re talking about. It would be a hilarious claim, if it weren’t of such serious importance. The real problem is with a Feeneyist misinterpretation of Extra Ecclesiam nulla Salus.” For example,Tradition in Action claims that Fr. Feeney was “the greatest theologian of the 20th century,” so it’s worth noting that he was excommunicated by Pope St. Pius XII (well before Vatican II) for the very heretical views that TIA praises him for.

      I.X.,

      Joe

    4. Dear Joe:

      The passage at the end of the page that you are struggling with tranlates: “So we must bear in mind in explaining the salvation of others, to factor in the objective with the subjective elements and consider them in relation to each other.” I hope this helps.

      God bless,
      David

      PS: I can’t see the scan and I so assumed that ‘spiegate’ is a typo for ‘spiegare’ and ‘loto’ for ‘loro’.

  5. (1) If the religion of the pope included the Traditional Latin Mass, daily recitation of the rosary, wearing the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Five First Saturday devotions of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, urgently requested by Our Lady of the Rosary to be established throughout the world by the pope to save millions of souls from folling into hell, I would be have more hope for neo Catholics. Abortion is such a horrific crime, has dragged on for so long, that I trust in God to get some good from it or a rational mind would have to conclude we would have all been exterminated by now. I consider myself a Catholic and I recognize Pope Benedict XVI as the successor of St Peter.

    (6) Pope Benedict has declared Paul VI venerable which again is a giant hammer blow against points (4) and (5).

    1. So, you raised a false accusation against Pope Benedict to prove that he was a heretic responsible for sending millions of souls to hell, I showed that it was false, based on false claims by TIA, rooted in their defense of the heresy of Feeneyism.

      Instead of even acknowledging that you were wrong, or that you had gravely and recklessly raised a false accusation against the Roman Pontiff, you just roll on with another false claim: this time, that declaring Pope Paul VI venerable makes him a Modernist heretic. In doing so, you strike at the heart of the papacy.

      The canonizations declared by the Holy Father are infallible. Granted, a declaration that a Servant of God is Venerable isn’t, but this move by the Holy Father will be validated whenever Paul VI is formally numbered among the Saints in Heaven. At that point, denying that the pope’s assessment is correct will be placing yourself squarely against papal infallibility.

      While we’re at it, it’s worth mentioning that Paul VI *was* saintly, a fact to which anyone familiar with the prophetic Humanae Vitae should be able to testify.

      If you have an actual accusation against pope or the Catholic Church, raise it; but stop this baseless insinuation that ignores factual correction.

      I.X.,

      Joe

    2. “The prophetic Humanae Vitae” was a disaster! Released three years after Vatican II replaced the cult of God with the cult of man, without any catechetical preparation and via the Media. Modern pagans the world over bristled with contempt at the Church. The average, less than devout Catholic, already freed from all previous norms by the Council, was whiplashed by Humane Vitae, turned their backs on the Sacraments and eventually, forgot about God altogether. This was followed up immediately by the New Mass, a devastating one-two punch!

      By their fruits, Joe! Who do you think the Son of Perdition was? It was Paul VI, namesake of the Apostle Paul who foretold his rebellion in 2 Thessalonians 2. It was Paul VI who destroyed the autonomy of the Bishops by placing them in a college. It was Paul VI who ignored the dissenting opinions of seventy Bishops at the Council and declared the “unanimous” approval of the Council documents. Here’s a key statement from Pope Paul VI from the closing session of Vatican II. Spin it if you can:

      “The religion of the God who became man has met the religion (for such it is) of man who makes himself God. And what happened? Was there a clash, a battle, a condemnation? There could have been, but there was none.”

      http://www.ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/P6TOLAST.HTM

    3. It’s not a matter of spin. It’s a matter of honesty. You’re once again selectively quoting in a misleading way. For example, someone reading the excerpt you quoted might take it to mean that the Council embraced or condoned “the religion (for such it is) of man who makes himself God.” But in the fuller context, Pope Paul VI is clearly saying the opposite. The sentence before the part you quoted says, “Secular humanism, revealing itself in its horrible anticlerical reality has, in a certain sense, defied the council.” And the two sentences after what you quoted say, “The old story of the Samaritan has been the model of the spirituality of the council. A feeling of boundless sympathy has permeated the whole of it.”

      That fuller quotation paints a radically different picture than your selective excerpt. Reading with even an ounce of charity, you’ll see what Pope Paul is saying. Secular humanism claimed (and claims) to have the best interests of man in mind while attacking the Church. The Church responded by showing that Catholicism wasn’t simply the best religion for man’s relationship to God, but for man’s relationship to man: “we, too, in fact, we more than any others, honor mankind.”

      But throughout it all, the Church never lost sight of why people were drawn to heresies: because of deep and authentic human needs. So Her response both sought to condemn errors and heal the wounds which gave rise to those errors. As Paul VI put it:

      “Errors were condemned, indeed, because charity demanded this no less than did truth, but for the persons themselves there was only warming, respect and love. Instead of depressing diagnoses, encouraging remedies; instead of direful prognostics, messages of trust issued from the council to the present-day world. The modern world’s values were not only respected but honored, its efforts approved, its aspirations purified and blessed.”

      This two-fold approach of condemning errors and addressing the human needs giving rise to errors wasn’t pioneered by Vatican II. The Council of Trent did just this, when it both condemned Protestant errors and sought to eliminate the scandals within the Church that made Protestantism attractive.

      I.X.,

      Joe

      P.S. It seems to me to be one of the silliest and grossest logical errors to claim that everything that happened in the 60s, 70s, and 80s was the causal result or the “fruit” of the Second Vatican Council. That’s a textbook example of the “post hoc, ergo procter hoc” fallacy.

      Just look at the rest of the world, and how quickly it fell into ruins, including various Protestant denominations. Are you going to blame the liberalization of secular culture or Mainline Protestantism on the Council as well? What about the introduction of the Pill in the last 50s? Did the Council pre-emptively cause that, somehow?

    4. All the modern evils we face today began with a monumentally poor decision made by Pope Pius XI in 1929. As a result of the Lateran Treaty, Pius XI inherited a mountain of money. Six days later, Our Lady of the Rosary returned to formally request the consecration of Russia. The money was given to Bernardino Nogara who invested the money without any regard to religious or doctrinal concerns.

      Our Lady of the Rosary requested the consecration of Russia to defuse the coming persecutions of the Gulag. Our Lady further requested the Pope to establish throughout the world, the Five First Saturday devotion of reparation to eliminate the coming Great Apostasy in the Church predicted by St Paul in 2 Thess 2. Both chastisements have come to pass because the Popes have chosen to disregard the warnings and requests of the Queen of Heaven.

      “Nogara was a controversial figure with the Roman Curia because many of his investments were perceived to violate the church’s doctrines. For example, Nogara purchased a controlling share in Istituto Farmacologico Serono di Roma, Italy’s largest manufacturer of birth control products.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernardino_Nogara

  6. 1. “So the only question remaining in the abortion debate is whether it’s ever moral to intentionally kill human beings.”

    If this is the only question, then I think you’ll find yourself at odds with large parts of the pro-life base re: how this would apply to self-defense, just war, and capital punishment. Remember, you’re the one preaching how the pro-choice movement obfuscates and confuses the meaning of words.

    2. “They’re defending the rather astonishingly claims that not all human lives are worthy of moral or legal protection.”

    Let’s leave aside that your [overly] simple syllogism, and that the pro-life movement at large, seems fine with denying women the moral/legal right to abortion in cases where the health of the mother is at risk, even in cases where the child dying before, during, or shortly after birth is all but assured. You’d still be hard pressed to find many people, even in the pro-life movement, that don’t qualify either who has the right to moral and legal protection, or the degree to which they enjoy that right.

    3. “The pro-life side just needs to show that murder is always and everywhere wrong.”

    Well, yes, by definition murder – “the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought” – is wrong. That wasn’t the question though, was it? I thought the question was whether there were ever cases where it was moral to intentionally kill human beings. I think you’ll have a hard time showing that society, natural law, or even the Catholic Church think that there are no cases where intentionally killing human beings is permissible.

    For me, the problem with dogmas is always how they get applied in the real world. In theory, I’m 100% on board with the idea that human life begins at conception, and that in general everything should be done to protect that life. The problem is when this gets codified into a dogma with no exceptions, despite the complexity of life, and in this case pregnancy. This black and white approach not only seems to place the life of the unborn over that of the mother, but ignores the morality of bringing a child into the world when it’s known that it will suffer greatly in its brief existence, and the effects this could have on the psyche of the parents.

    PS. Since you’re not opposed to describing partial-birth abortions in detail, you might consider describing some of the fetal-defects listed in these testimonials, and contemplate the effects on mothers having to carry these types of pregnancies to term. (http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/threads/its-so-personal/).

    1. Dumb as Rocks,

      1. Explain to me how advocates of “self-defense, just war, and capital punishment” believe that it’s okay to “intentionally kill human beings.”

      2. Instead of responding to the merits of the syllogism, you write it off as “[overly] simple” (it’s about as simple as any other syllogism, as it has two premises and a conclusion), you instead raise a total red herring.

      Consider your claim: “You’d still be hard pressed to find many people, even in the pro-life movement, that don’t qualify either who has the right to moral and legal protection, or the degree to which they enjoy that right.” So now, believing in degrees of legal protection is equal to thinking that it’s okay to murder certain human beings?

      Obviously, I believe in gradations in legal protection. When I was working as an attorney, I enjoyed attorney-client privilege, which I wouldn’t as a layman. Does that mean I think all non-attorneys are non-person humans who it’s okay to kill? Or is it possible that you’re not really responding to the merits of what I wrote?

      3. You concede that murder is morally wrong (I have no idea why you say it’s wrong “by definition”). But then you try to show that abortion isn’t murder, because it doesn’t meet the legal definition for the crime of murder. This reasoning is circular. By definition, abortion in this country is legal, and thus, not the crime of murder. Your argument amounts to saying that abortion isn’t wrong, because it’s legal, and it should be legal, because it isn’t wrong.

      If they legalized sexual assault tomorrow, it would remain sexual assault (in the moral sense), while ceasing to be sexual assault in the legal sense. If someone used the fact that it was legal to argue that it wasn’t really sexual assault, you’d rightly regard that as an absurd and amoral substitute for a genuine argument.

      4. I’m well aware of the cases in which a child is born with serious fetal defects. The fact that your child is deformed, sick, or dying is no justification to murder her. I’m also aware of cases in which botched abortions cause fetal defects, like Gianna Jessen.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5YlJ9CZ9fI

      I.X.,

      Joe

    2. Joe,

      Thanks for your response.

      1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justifiable_homicide

      2a. I found “It is immoral, and should be illegal, to intentionally kill an innocent human being” to be overly simplistic when addressing an issue such as abortion, where often times the mothers are just as “innocent” a human being as the un-born child, facing terrible decisions that could involve risking their own life and the welfare of anyone that may already be dependent on them (ie. previous children, spouse, etc.).

      2b. As for the red herring issue, do you mean my inclusion of pregnancies that jeopardize the health of the mother, or my pointing out that most people qualify the degree to which individuals enjoy moral/legal protection? If the former: they happen, and so are related and not a red herring.

      2c. “So now, believing in degrees of legal protection is equal to thinking that it’s okay to murder certain human beings?” For somebody that made such a point about the meaning of words, I find it difficult to understand how you took what I wrote there to mean murder is ok. I think the layman calls this ‘putting words in my mouth’. ‘Murder’ is not equal to qualified degrees of moral/legal protection (or “to intentionally kill human beings”, for that matter), so again, no red herring.

      3a.”You concede that murder is morally wrong (I have no idea why you say it’s wrong “by definition”).” I don’t know what you mean by “concede”? Should I also concede that all other words mean what they mean? Ok, you got me, I concede it all 🙂 I don’t think I actually have to explain this to you…but for laughs I’ll say that there’s a difference between ‘killing’ and ‘murder’; that sometimes the taking of a life is justified (see #1, again), etc. My turn to be simplistic: killing a guy while you’re robbing him (murder), and killing a guy who is breaking into your home (self-defense).

      3b. “But then you try to show that abortion isn’t murder, because it doesn’t meet the legal definition for the crime of murder.” I think you’re putting words in my mouth here (again). I was pointing out that the heavy lifting of “show[ing] that murder is always and everywhere wrong” has already been done by Merriam-Webster. They got that covered. I’ll let you guess how you should have phrased what I quoted.

      4. “The fact that your child is deformed, sick, or dying is no justification to murder her.” In cases where the mother’s health is at risk and the un-born child has little or no chance of survival (for example, ectopic pregnancy [1% of all pregnancies], to name just one), your dogmatic view that abortion is illegal just doesn’t sit well with me. I find it strange that you can so firmly hold that parents – mothers especially – should have to endure knowing that their pregnancy will end in tragedy, that they will have to suffer months of knowing that their child will no future, and that at best it will be sufficiently drugged so as to numb the pain while it passes away. I’m not going to pretend this is the overwhelming reason that abortions are performed. They are, however, a sufficiently frequent reason so as to nullify a black-and-white, dogmatic view of this. I’m not sure how a person views the easing of pain in these cases as murder. To me it seems like mercy, but then again, I don’t revere suffering for it’s sin-cleansing qualities.

    3. dumbasrocks – here’s something I wrote for a different conversation elsewhere. It speakes to your point number 2 above. Abortion, the deliberate killing of an innocent child, is never justified. However, the risking of the child’s health and/or life may be justified.

      >>I think you are completely missing (or, possibly ignoring?) a VITAL piece of the puzzle. A truly pro-life doctor is NOT obligated to “intentional inaction.” He may certainly use (nay, SHOULD certainly use) all necessary medical intervention to preserve the life of the mother – even at risk of maiming or death of the child. The ONE thing he may not do, however, is to kill the child DIRECTLY and INTENTIONALLY. That the doctor’s necessary action in preserving the mother’s life may injure or even cause the death of the child is a case of double-effect. The principle of double-effect ALLOWS the doctor’s ACTION…but what he does must be the least harmful means for accomplishing the good effect (the preservation of the mother’s life.) And, the bad effect needs to equal the good effect – the child’s life should never be risked unless the mother’s very LIFE is at risk (versus simply her comfort or her lifestyle): The child’s life should never be risked without PROPORTIONATE reason. The doctor may never commit an intrinsic evil (murder – the deliberate killing of the innocent), however, in order to obtain the good effect (the preservation of the mother’s life.) The possible maiming or death of the child is completely unintentional – and may be unavoidable. In choosing a course of action, the doctor NEVER forgets he has TWO patients. He does all he can to preserve the life of each. As such, he never chooses “one life over another.” <<
      ———————————–
      dumbasrocks: “…the welfare of anyone that may already be dependent on them (ie. previous children, spouse, etc.).”

      It is not PROPORTIONATE to risk the very LIFE of the unborn child for mere WELFARE. The only proportionate risk would be the very LIFE of the mother being at risk.

    4. athomemama,

      “It is not PROPORTIONATE to risk the very LIFE of the unborn child for mere WELFARE. The only proportionate risk would be the very LIFE of the mother being at risk.”

      You’ll notice I said life AND welfare of the dependent, not life OR welfare. I’m point out that it’s entirely possible that sometimes you’re risking more than one life to save one life.

    5. Andre Boillot: “You’ll notice I said life AND welfare of the dependent, not life OR welfare. I’m point out that it’s entirely possible that sometimes you’re risking more than one life to save one life.”

      First, what I notice is that you had said: “where often times the mothers…risking their own life and the welfare of anyone that may already be dependent on them (ie. previous children, spouse, etc.).” Which, again, it is just ONLY to put the life of the unborn child at risk in order to save the very life of the mother. The WELFARE of the dependents is NOT a proportionate reason to risk the life of hte unborn child.

      Second, don’t confuse “lifestyle” AND “life.” The very LIFE of the mother needs to be at risk to justify using any medicine or medical procedure on the mother that may injure or kill the unborn child.

      Third, there is never any just reason to deliberately target the unborn child himself. The doctor, treating two patients, never gives up hope that he will bring BOTH patients through the difficulty.

    6. athomemama,

      “The WELFARE of the dependents is NOT a proportionate reason to risk the life of hte unborn child.”

      I agree, I mentioned that as some may view the problem of weighing both lives equally. I would tend to agree that they should be weighed equally, but if one were at a loss with how to proceed, I think the addition of dependents tips it the balance in favor of the mother.

      “Second, don’t confuse “lifestyle” AND “life.” The very LIFE of the mother needs to be at risk to justify using any medicine or medical procedure on the mother that may injure or kill the unborn child.”

      I don’t think I did that, but ok.

      “Third, there is never any just reason to deliberately target the unborn child himself. The doctor, treating two patients, never gives up hope that he will bring BOTH patients through the difficulty.”

      Semantics I care nothing for, so long as the life of the mother is protected.

  7. Using the papacy in a purely political way, Benedict XVI is doing an end run around infallibility. By canonizing the conciliar popes, Benedict hopes to canonize the council. This move, more than any other disorder of the modern world, could be the catalyst for the Three Days of Darkness.

  8. Andre Boillot: “I agree, I mentioned that as some may view the problem of weighing both lives equally.”

    What is weighed at all is that as human beings, BOTH have the inalienable right to life their own lives- to NOT be killed unjustly. That is the bottom line – neither is to be killed.

    Andre: “I think the addition of dependents tips it the balance in favor of the mother.”

    Your language indicates a CHOOSING of one life over the other. That is NOT the case. The doctor should be choosing to save BOTH lives.

    Andre: “Semantics I care nothing for, so long as the life of the mother is protected.”

    It is not semantics at all, but JUSTICE. The very logic underlying the right of the mother to not be unjustly killed is the very same logic demanding and protecting the right of the unborn child to not be unjustly killed.

  9. Is abortion murder?

    Words have consequences.

    If abortion is murder, then the abortionist must face the full legal penalty for murder, either death or life imprisonment.

    If abortion is murder, then everyone who acted in furtherance of that abortion must face the legal penalty as accessories to murder, including the mother of the unborn child and any family member who helped to secure the abortion.

    Anything less establishes the life of the unborn as worth less in the eyes of the law than life of the born.

    Now, I’m not saying that “abortion is murder” is wrong. But those who use that phrase should not shrink from its implications.

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