Principled Voting

July 21, 2013

Would you vote for a politician running in an election if he/she agreed with your political beliefs in all respects except one, and that one exception was that he/she was in favor of, say, race-based slavery?

I pose this question because some media types say that Republicans should get away from the “social issues” which concern religious voters.  I’ve also heard Republicans refer to problematic “single issue voters” who would not vote for Republicans who were (for example) pro-choice.  Now, if you believe that abortion is in fact the killing of an innocent human being, these Republicans and media types are treating your views as subordinate, urging you to compromise.  But I’m going to ask again, with a different example:

If a politician espouses all of your views except one, the exception being his/her desire to initiate state-sponsored killing of the terminally ill and elderly (keep in mind, you will likely one day be elderly) because such people increase national healthcare costs, would you vote for that politician?  If your answer is “no,” perhaps you don’t think it’s such a bad thing to be a “single issue voter”.

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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.

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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.)

Libertarians are commonly described as economic conservatives and social liberals.  They typically promote a deregulated, laissezfaire economy, along with a rather extreme (but not necessarily wrong-headed) view of social freedom that permits such things as prostitution and the most harmful forms of drug use.  Thus, many (and probably most) libertarians, as social liberals, favor the Roe v. Wade regime of “reproductive freedom.” 

However, libertarians seem to adopt J.S. Mills’ idea of the “harm principle” (also termed “aggression”) as the sole justification for criminal laws, rather than reference to the common good or a moral grounding for criminal law.  (It is unclear to me whether libertarians generally believe that God-given natural rights obligate the government to limit criminal law in this way, or if libertarians simply prefer this version of social freedom.)  This is why abusing drugs like heroin is legal in a libertarian world: it (arguably) does not harm anyone else, and the law is not to keep you from harming yourself.  This line of thinking, however, would seem to leave ample room for a libertarian to be pro-life, because abortion does harm another human being in the most vicious way imagineable.  Vox Day, a staunch libertarian, provides us with the pro-life libertarian argument:

The reason unborn children have human rights is that they are human. They exist, they are human, ergo they have the same right to life, liberty and property that their mothers and fathers do. As Ron Paul, a fine and upstanding libertarian, has pointed out, there are few acts of aggression more violent and unprovoked than those involved in murderously vivisecting an unborn child.

There is not a single pro-abortion argument that stands up to science and reason. Every single one is not only spurious, but easily demonstrated to be spurious. It is not necessary to bring religious arguments into the debate to conclusively settle the matter in favor of the pro-life position, in fact, the Bible-based arguments against abortion are, in my opinion, weaker than the rational and scientific arguments.

Criminalizing abortion is no more questionable from a libertarian position than criminalizing murder. It is an act of lethal, unprovoked aggression, often state-supported and sometimes state-dictated, of the sort that every libertarian, religious or secular, should vehemently oppose.

Incidentally, as a Christian, I absolutely agree with Vox Day that the Bible-based arguments are weaker than the arguments from nature and reason.  The Bible recognizes the same principles of moral reason that can be applied to the abortion question, but those principles of moral reason do not depend on the Bible.  It is possible to know that murder is wrong apart from the Bible (and indeed impossible not to know that murder is wrong), and it is possible to know that unborn children are human and therefore ought not be murdered through plain reason (with scientific factual support if necessary for rebuttal purposes).  Those who disbelieve in the Bible have no refuge against these arguments. 

(Additionally, note that there is an organization of pro-life libertarians.)

The Regina v. Dudley & Stephens case is one of the most important cases in English common law history regarding the relationship between criminal law and morality.  The case was decided in 1884 in an English court (Queen’s Bench Division, 14 Q.B.D. 274).  The basic run-down for our purposes is that three men (including defendants Dudley and Stephens) and a young boy were stranded at sea on a small emergency boat after they were forced to abandon their ship because of a storm.  On the 18th day they were stranded at sea, having no food for the previous seven days and no water for the previous five, one of the men (Dudley) thought it a good idea to draw straws to decide which man should give up his life for the sustenance of the others on the raft (i.e. cannibalism).  As disturbing as that is, Stephens nevertheless agreed to the “drawing,” but the third man refused.  Dudley and Stephens noticed that the boy was rather sickly and did not have a family like they did, so they decided that rather than sacrifice the life of a healthy grown man with a family, it would be more prudent to kill the boy and eat him while they awaited their unlikely rescue.

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While I don’t want my blog to focus solely on two issues (you probably know which two, based on recent posts anyway), I still wanted to share this:

A similar video (a different version of the above) is available here.

Additionally, for the “pro-choice” out there, I double-dog dare ya to check out the pictures available on this website (this is not a direct link to pictures; if you click it, you will not see images until you click on another link at the website, so you can go to the site without facing the atrocities immediately).  Note that the most impactful images on that page are at the bottom–and theseare even worse.

These pictures do not, in themselves, make the argument against abortion.  If abortion looked cleaner, it would be just as immoral.  Even so, I challenge any pro-choice person out there to view each of these images and then make the case for abortion in the comments to this post.  Not to say it can’t be done…I’m just curious if it will happen.

I don’t post links to pictures that are difficult to look at with the intention of grossing people out, or offending anyone.  I do it in the same spirit that Martin Luther King, Jr. said the following:

We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

Taking a break from the MLK theme for a moment…  This story raises interesting questions:

Unable to remain seated [in the abortion clinic waiting area], Williams braced herself with the arms of the recliner chair she was sitting on. As she lifted herself, her water broke and she delivered a live baby girl onto the seat of the recliner. The baby writhed and gasped for air, still connected to Williams by the umbilical cord. Immobilized by shock, Williams watched [the abortion clinic owner] Gonzalez run into the room, cut the umbilical cord with a pair of orange-handled shears, stuff the baby and afterbirth into a red biohazard bag and throw the bag into a garbage can. Shortly thereafter, the doctor arrived at the clinic and sedated Williams, who remained in total confusion and shock. The doctor’s medical records failed to indicate that Williams had delivered a live baby that was killed by the clinic.

Although not the focus of my comment here, the story tells of Williams’ lawsuit against the abortion clinic, abortion clinic owner, and doctors, for the incident, err, murder.  Governmental authorities have thus far refused to press charges (although the treating doctor apparently lost his license). 

This raises interesting questions to me.  Williams entered the clinic presumably intending to end her child’s life.  Now she is suing the people that she hired to end that life.  The difference is they killed the child after she gave birth.  Murder?  Infanticide?  If the line isn’t at childbirth, where is it?  Can a mother “abort an abortion” and suddenly endow a child with rights based on her change of mind?

Now, I have always presumed that the reason people think abortion should be left to the mother’s decision is in large part because the woman should purportedly be able to decide whether to “have a baby”, which I always interpreted to mean, “go through childbirth” (“have” = “deliver”).  Of course, Williams went through childbirth, and I believe (perhaps errantly) that she was going to go through childbirth whether the child was dead or alive.  At that point, there is no “choice” whether to go through childbirth: it’s going to happen one way or another.  So what justifies killing the child in this scenario?

But perhaps the pro-abortion crowd, when they say it’s a woman’s decision to “have a baby”, actually mean “be a parent” (“have” = “possess”).  Nevermind that no father has any control whatever over whether to become a father (outside of the choice to have sex or not); his choice to “be a parent” is in the hands of the woman.  But the argument for choice to “have a baby” or not (in the sense of “be a parent”) presumes that the mother does not already “have a baby”.  Why would the choice to “be a parent” be contingent on being pregnant vs. possessing an infant?  Is killing one’s child a permissible way to cease “being a parent”?  Perhaps, some will argue, the parent of the infant should give him/her up for adoption.  But why wouldn’t that apply to the unborn, especially when the mother is going to have to go through something as painful or invasive as childbirth anyway (such as, for instance, so-called “partial birth abortion”)? 

If the above story strikes you as traumatic or awful, why do you think the ever-so-popular President of the United States opposed protection for born-alive infants (aka unintended survivors of attempted abortion) and opposes the prohibition of partial birth abortion?