February 24, 2010
I’ve recently spent a fair about of time arguing that the intentional killing of an innocent human life [before or after birth] should always be illegal. This morning, I stumbled across something very interesting and relevant to the point.
It seems that controversial Princeton bioethics professor Peter Singer has addressed a relevant part of the issue. Singer is a utilitarian and he takes the common step of arguing that not all human beings are “persons,” and it is only wrong to kill “persons” (where the interest of the person killing outweighs the interest of the non-person). However, he is extremely honest about the implications of his position:
I use the term “person” to refer to a being who is capable of anticipating the future, of having wants and desires for the future. As I have said in answer to the previous question, I think that it is generally a greater wrong to kill such a being than it is to kill a being that has no sense of existing over time. Newborn human babies have no sense of their own existence over time. So killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person, that is, a being who wants to go on living. That doesn’t mean that it is not almost always a terrible thing to do. It is, but that is because most infants are loved and cherished by their parents, and to kill an infant is usually to do a great wrong to its parents.
Sometimes, perhaps because the baby has a serious disability, parents think it better that their newborn infant should die. Many doctors will accept their wishes, to the extent of not giving the baby life-supporting medical treatment. That will often ensure that the baby dies. My view is different from this, only to the extent that if a decision is taken, by the parents and doctors, that it is better that a baby should die, I believe it should be possible to carry out that decision, not only by withholding or withdrawing life-support – which can lead to the baby dying slowly from dehydration or from an infection – but also by taking active steps to end the baby’s life swiftly and humanely.
Moreover, Singer addresses the common argument that an unborn baby is neither “alive” nor “human” for the justification of abortion:
[The argument that a fetus is not alive] is a resort to a convenient fiction that turns an evidently living being into one that legally is not alive. Instead of accepting such fictions, we should recognise that the fact that a being is human, and alive, does not in itself tell us whether it is wrong to take that being’s life.
That is the rational result of splitting “personhood” from mere human life. One can engage in the “fiction” that an unborn child is neither human nor living—a fiction that an apparently infanticidal Princeton professor claims is unsupportable despite having every reason for accepting it if he could—or one can accept occasional infanticide in a utilitarian package deal. That is a serious commitment to abortion.
Peter Singer is right, unborn human beings are both human and alive, and his argument is further evidence, at least to me, that splitting “human life” from the (wholly invented) concept of “personhood” is a grave wrong (and yet another work of fiction) that leads to such pleasantries as infanticide, not to mention slavery, eugenics, and genocide, where utilitarian ideals would permit that such measures be taken. Those ugly-sounding practices aren’t so far off if one is able to take “personhood” from a living human being, for whatever reason.
Also note, Peter Singer is no slouch professor throwing out some controversial ideas. He was integral to the establishment of the International Association for Bioethics and served as its first president. One can hardly dismiss his argument as the rantings of a hack professor. The man knows what he is talking about. He is wrong to adopt utilitarianism, but he is right in taking the concept to its conclusion. Those who believe in the transcendent principle that the intentional taking of innocent human life is always wrong and should always be illegal can avoid such illusions altogether.
To be clear, I am not a Roman Catholic. Nevertheless, I am not shy about drawing from the deep well of Catholic teaching prohibiting abortion or the legalization thereof.
I recently received word of a ghastly organization, “Catholics For Choice“. It should be noted that this is not a Catholic organization, and in fact, claims to represent “the [alleged] great majority of the faithful in the Catholic church who disagrees with the dictates of the Vatican on matters related to sex, marriage, family life and motherhood.” Seems sort of silly to call such an entity a Catholic organization at all, since it opposes a rather major mission of the Church, not to mention its authority, which is sort of a big deal in the Catholic Church.
October 15, 2009
In the comments to another post, the question arose whether the pro-life position is inconsistent with a failure to prevent as many naturally-occurring deaths in the womb as possible. I found the discussion worth a separate post, and I hope that the gentleman with whom I was conversing will take no offense at the separate post written in response to his comments: Read the rest of this entry »
September 11, 2009
I thought that title might grab you. I got to thinking about it because of a recent NCIS television episode wherein one character references Islamic terrorist bombing and another character responds that it’s no different than an abortion clinic bombing. But isn’t it?
I certainly have no plans to bomb any buildings, but anyone who skims this blog will quickly figure out that I am decidedly pro-life. That means I believe that an abortion is a murder of a full-fledged, innocent human being. Whether or not you are pro-life, indulge if you will for just a moment the presupposition that an unborn person is every bit a human person entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that you and I are. Imagine that there are buildings where innocent living children, or even adults, are taken against their will and murdered, sometimes even having their limbs yanked off without anesthesia. Once you indulge the pro-life position on unborn human beings (i.e. step in my shoes), you must admit that an abortion clinic is the moral equivalent of a gas chamber within the confines of Auschwitz.
Would it have been moral to sneak into Auschwitz and blow up a gas chamber? Empty, or even with the guilty Nazis in it? Those questions, considered in isolation from any reference to abortion, would surely give the Hollywood script writers a bit more to think about. Indeed, when a black man murders a white redneck who might get away with raping the black man’s daughter, he is heralded as a hero in the fictional movie A Time to Kill. It is not as though the Hollywood writers are unfamiliar with or opposed to the concept of justifiable homicide. This fact underscores that the Hollywood writers assume the pro-choice position to be correct (also implying that the pro-life position is nothing more than “crazy”) when writing their stories; the snide abortion-clinic bomber remarks prove nothing but to evidence the writers’ unsupported presuppositions.
But the question of whether it is morally permissible to blow up the Nazi gas chambers (the instruments of death), or even the entire death camps, with or without the killing of Nazis (perhaps the bombings could take place at midnight while empty, or perhaps with Nazi guards in them), requires much examination, and I do not intend to answer that question here.
I need not answer that moral question to address whether abortion clinic bombings are justified. Whether or not the bombings would be morally permissible if they prevented abortions and saved lives, the fact is that such bombings do not prevent abortions and do not ultimately save lives. Even if the abortion clinic bombers blew up all the clinics and killed all the abortion doctors at exactly the same time (thereby preventing some abortions and causing more live births), more doctors and clinics would immediately replace them, and public support would swiftly turn to the abortionists’ favor. The abortion war in the United States is at the present time a public relations one, not one of force like in Nazi Germany. Bombing abortion clinics only gives pro-choice media forces more ammunition, and we see those messages sent out in televisions shows (like the NCIS episode referenced above) and even in the news. The media and the pro-choice movement have been capitalizing on these incidents since at least 1994. If one wants to prevent abortions, one must work on changing public opinions and changing laws. This war cannot be won by force. Therefore, the use of force against abortionists, even if it could be justified in other circumstances, is unjustified in the U.S. on a macro-scale because the purported justification is illusory.
(Note: my argument above does not support the common argument that abortion should not be made illegal because “they will happen anyway.” Making abortion illegal will without question reduce the number of abortions and save a great number of innocent lives. The fact that some women will ignore the law and commit crimes is not a reason to curtail the law to accommodate criminals’ behavior.)
September 10, 2009
Apparently the government in the U.K. has laws that not only permit doctors to refuse care to certain viable premature babies, but require it. Little baby Jayden received a death sentence because he was born two days before the time cut-off, even though his mother pled with the doctor for her baby’s life, and even though there was a chance of survival (as established by other similar cases where babies survived).
Jayden’s mother has since channeled her grief into an effort to change legislation that permits and even requires these deaths-by-neglect.
If government authorities already think that they have the right to declare which viable humans live and die (whether based on the chances of successful medical treatment or otherwise), what is to stop them from doing so among the elderly? For medical treatment purposes, even in the abortion regime, there is no logical difference between a viable baby outside the womb and an elderly patient. In a socialized medical program such as that in the U.K., it may eventually be the government and not the family that “pulls the plug.”
Consider that baby boomers are aging, and Americans will soon face an unprecedented number of elderly patients requiring very expensive care, sometimes with an outside chance of survival. The abortion ethic unleashed on this nation by the boomers may come back to bite them.
July 28, 2009
A few years ago I read an excellent book called The Marketing of Evil. I highly recommend reading it, and it’s available for only $4.95 at the previous link. The book includes a chapter about abortion, a copy of which I found online here.
I should stress that the following is based on anecdotal testimony of a few former abortion doctors many years ago, so the salary information and financial practices described below are not necessarily indicative of the entire industry then or now.
Even so, there are two aspects to this chapter that I find highly informative.
Abortion on Demand: a History and Explanation of Why Any Woman in America Can End Any Pregnancy at Any Time, Even Up to the Day of Childbirth
July 23, 2009
Professor Matthew J. Franck gives us an excellent history of the state of abortion law in the United States in the context of the Judge Sotomayor hearings. The sad fact is, many Americans do not know that “Supreme Court jurisprudence has manufactured a right to unfettered abortion right up to the time of the child’s birth.” Professor Franck asks and answers, “How did Americans become so confused on this issue and how did the Supreme Court end up where it has?” I highly recommend reading his full article, but I’ll provide some highlights here.
He quotes the confirmation hearing Q&A:
July 12, 2009
I’ll warn my readers from the start that although this post does not contain any pictures, the text still is very graphic in its description of these procedures. If you’re squeamish, this post might not be for you. However, I think this is a very important issue, so I hope you’ll read it.
Rather than rely on “word on the street”, the following is an objective description of a typical abortion procedure (“dilation and evacuation”, or “D&E”) and the “partial birth abortion” procedure (“intact D&E”) by our very own United States Supreme Court (in this pdf containing the Court’s opinion in Gonzales v. Carhart).
First, the description of the common D&E: