September 10, 2013
I would really enjoy discussing the definition of legal “rights” with these people. The Boulder Rights of Nature organization in Boulder, Colorado, seeks to establish rights belonging to nature itself as a means to protecting the environment. As a legal matter, it’s difficult to see how these “rights” could be enforced, given the lack of legal standing (one generally cannot sue to enforce someone else’s rights unless one has a special relationship with the other person, and since the rights here would be asserted against property owners to prevent them from “harming” the natural beings on their own property, it is difficult to conceive who besides the property owner could have that “special relationship”).
But leaving legal standing aside, this could get interesting if it gains any traction with the media. A few years ago, I wrote on this blog that the intentional killing of any human organism (including the pre-born) should be illegal, and a reader objected that I was imposing my religious beliefs on other people. He urged that one cannot grant “personhood” to an unborn human because other people do not believe that unborn humans are “persons.” I disagreed, of course, and argued that the granting of rights and “personhood” to a human being comports with justice and also is not religious. The Boulder Rights of Nature organization helps prove my point. That organization is not “religious” as far as I can tell. If a law granting “rights” to nature (the trees and flowers) is irreligious, a law granting rights to preborn humans is not religious, either.
In that vein, I especially love this quote from BRON’s proposed draft Sustainable Rights of Nature Ordinance:
While not eliminating property ownership, these new laws seek to eliminate the authority of a property owner to destroy, or cause substantial harm to, natural communities and ecosystems that exist and depend upon that property.
Could we not draft a similar law stating, “while not eliminating a woman’s dominion over her own body, this new law seeks to eliminate the authority of a person to destroy, or cause substantial harm to, natural human organisms that exist and depend upon her body”? Are preborn humans less deserving of protection than trees? If the Sustainable Rights of Nature Ordinance is not inherently unjust, could a law preventing the intentional killing of innocent preborn humans ever be unjust?
March 27, 2010
A classic example of journalistic objectivity brought to you by National Public Radio:
On the air, we should use “abortion rights supporter(s)/ advocate(s)” and “abortion rights opponent(s)” or derivations thereof (for example: “advocates of abortion rights”). It is acceptable to use the phrase “anti-abortion”, but do not use the term “pro-abortion rights”.
That last sentence is interesting. I’m considered “anti-abortion,” but my debate opponents are not considered “pro-abortion,” nor even “pro-abortion rights”? So, to put it logically, I’m publicly described as anti-X, but the polar opposite position cannot be described as pro-X. Sounds fair.
At least they are moving away from using the meaningless “pro-choice” label. While I was in law school, a fellow student in my Constitutional Law class once argued that the government wasn’t “pro-abortion,” it was neutral, and just allowed the “choice.” I responded, “let’s say the government permitted wanton murder of law students. Nobody is forced to murder law students. They are just permitted to murder law students. Anyone think the law is neutral to law students?” Nobody responded.
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
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.)
August 28, 2009
Libertarians are commonly described as economic conservatives and social liberals. They typically promote a deregulated, laissez–faire 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.)
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: