Sunday, October 19, 2008

The One-Issue Abortion Vote

It almost sounds to me as if you are saying "Even if we lose all the other arguments, and Obama is the better choice on every other ground except abortion, you as a Christian are obligated to vote against Obama for that reason alone."

But even the actual Obama quotes don't seem to me to say that he wants these "abortuses" to die. He may have been misinformed about whether born-alive fetuses would be left to die. He also has made statements to the effect that "health of the mother" exceptions on late-term abortions should be made clear so that they don't cover just anything.

What are you suggesting, that Obama just likes seeing women get abortions?
And isn't it illegal to let babies die, anyway?

My arguments have been this.
1) Roe v. Wade will almost certainly not be overturned regardless of who is elected President.

2) Even if it is overturned, it will not result in many babies being saved through legal restrictions. I would be surprised if any state, even the reddest of the red states, would pass a comprehensive ban on abortion.

3) Abortion rates rose until the Clinton administration, after which they have steadily decreased. There may be many reasons for that, but one of the has to be the passage of the Familay and Medical Leave Act, which made it illegal for employers to fire employees who took unpaid time off to bear children. Health care reform would be another way in which abortion might be discouraged.

4) I don't see an overwhelming case for the simon-pure pro-life position. I can see both sides of the issue, and some of my moral intuitions suggest that you can't give the same right to life to something that is not conscious that you do to something that is. I'm not coming out as a staunch defender of "a woman's right to choose" and would like to see more restrictive laws on abortion than are presently allowed under Roe.

4) While abortion is an issue that generates a lot of moral passion, other issues, such as slavery, poverty, corporate responsibility, misguided wars, torture, and global warming (or climate change if you prefer that expression) are also moral issues of considerable importance, and they are issues where the President's action have a much greater and more direct effect than in the area of abortion.

So no, I reject the case for a one-issue abortion-based vote. I have made these points a number of times here. If you think this makes me "every baby-butcher's best friend," you should reflect on how many babies have been saved from abortion as a result of 8 years of Reagan, 4 years of Bush I, and 8 years of Bush II. This is a matter that was settled by the one branch of government deliberately set furthest away from the political arena, the judiciary. I'm also convinced that we have not exercised enough leadership in looking for ways to decrease abortion apart from the long arm of the criminal law.

65 comments:

Layman said...

I find the Democratic devotion to "choice" above all other considerations in the abortion debate to be such a flawed worldview that yes, I find it difficult to ignore it and yank the lever for a politician whose world view is so fundamentally flawed that they cannot bring themselves to recognize that the most helpless and innocent of human life is entitled to legal protection.

The Democratic party is not full of politicians who think abortion destroys a human life but just think it an unwise policy choice to criminalize the practice. It is full of devotees to "choice" who want to discuss anything but the value of the human life that is destroyed by the practice. Their zeal is reflected in their intolerance. There are far more pro-choice Republicans than there are pro-life Democrats. God bless Governor Casey but he was the last of a breed.

Their lack of care for unborn human life is reflected in other policy positions. If Democrats had their way, the state would be paying for most if not all abortions and all insurers would be forced to cover it. They would have signed international treaties protecting abortion and providing the funding of abortion as part of international law.

And one reason abortion rights are going to be harder to overturn in the Judiciary is because of Clinton appointees like Ginsburg and Breyer There would be no restrictions on abortions if not for even marginal Republic nominees like O'Connor and Kennedy. No waiting periods, no counseling, no state promotion of alternatives.

Now just to be clear. Is this the only reason I vote Republican? Nope. I'm anti-Roe v. Wade because its horrible constitutional decision making. If I was an abortion lover afraid of children being "punished" with babies I would still think Roe was symptomatic of an out of control Judiciary that has forsaken its proper role in a constitutional democracy. I also like marriage as defined without activist courts and judges more open to the prominent role religion has played in public affairs.

I am not a single issue voter. But I haven't been placed in the position of having to choose between that issue and others. One thing I am confident of, however, is I would not be dismissive of people who do find themselves in such a quandary. Whether you mean to or not, you do not come across as someone who cares about the unborn human lives destroyed by abortions. You do come across someone embarrassed, and defensive, that so many of those who share your faith are so adamant on this issue.

In some ways you remind me of Christians who -- perhaps quite sincerely -- were morally opposed to slavery, but thought that it impractical to criminalize it. Better to encourage humane treatment of slaves, so the thinking went, who would could not take care of themselves if given freedom. Were one issue abolitionist voters to be derided?

Christians have opposed abortion and infanticide since the beginning of their religion. They did so despite a culture that insisted that opposition to these practices was itself bizarre and inhuman. I'm comfortable to stand in that tradition and to place great importance on it.

Victor Reppert said...

These are weighty considerations. I do find the "choice" rhetoric morally deficient. I do find, in some statements on the part of Obama, a backing away from the earlier pro-choice rhetoric, which may result in further openness to more serious consideration of human life in its fetal stage. To say this, however, is to exercise the audacity of hope.

There are, however, a range of arguments which maintain that human life in its fetal stage ought not to receive the legal protection of born infants. I don't think these arguments are just arguments of those who wish to push an inconvenient truth off to the side. One of the best debates I ever read on the issue was actually in an issue of Human Life Review between William Hasker, who took the pro-choice side, and Thomas Sullivan, who defended the pro-life position. I wish that debate were online. If abortion were the only issue, I would vote Republican, not so much because of my pro-life purity as because of cavalier and unacceptable pro-choice rhetoric that has infected Democratic discourse.

At the same time, poverty, the unjust war in Iraq, slavery, the abuse of power both in the DeLay congress and the Cheney-Addington-Yoo wing of the executive branch, torture, the horrendous mismanagement of the economy, the fact that the Republican party seems to have lost all principles, conservative or otherwise, and simply sucks up to big corporations, these factors force me to vote Democratic, in spite of holding my nose on the abortion issue.

I know many of you disagree with this assessment of the situation, but that is my view.

Victor Reppert said...

Even the Clintonian "safe, legal, and rare" is a step in the right direction. Was it just rhetoric?

Blue Devil Knight said...

I don't see "choice" as a mere rhetorical ploy, though of course it is sometimes used that way (just like "life" by the opponents of abortion). It comes down to who we want making the decisions, where the choice should lie about abortion. The "choice" tag is shorthand for the view that we need to be very careful of allowing the government to supplant individual responsibility with these intensely personal and difficult decisions (as I argued here).

The pro-choice types want to minimize government intrusion without denigrating the value of the fertilized egg. For instance, instead of making all late-term abortions illegal, we need to include exceptions such as when the woman's life is at risk. This isn't blithe abortion-happy posturing, but sensitivity to the exigencies of real life.

As I argued at the link above, the question is how we will weight our values, not whether en embryo has value (I think everyone agrees it does). The extreme pro-lifers weigh the value of the embryo exactly as highly as that of a full-grown adult. The extreme pro-choicers weigh the wishes of the mother (no matter how selfish or fickle) higher than the embryo at any stage of development. Both extremes are wrong, and our policy should enact neither.

I think we have been a bit too permissive in our abortion policy, but are slowly veering toward a more nuanced perspective in which we figure out what our priorities are.

However, I understand the view that this is a horrible tragedy. While we have been here "figuring out our priorities" thousands of human beings have been destroyed. So there is an urgency to have sane legislation here, but unfortunately it tends to be derailed by nutballs (e.g., the bill that Obama voted against had no provisions for the mother's health: that would be as horrible a tragedy, perhaps worse, than what we have now).

Of all democrats, Obama's position is nuanced, explicitly informed by his Christian worldview, and he displays a depth of interest and sensitivity to the pro-life side that is fairly refreshing. Indeed, one of the reasons I am enthusiastic about Obama (not merely voting for him) is because of his ability to navigate complex territory with sensitivity and honesty.

Here are some clips from that speech:
For some time now, there has been plenty of talk among pundits and pollsters that the political divide in this country has fallen sharply along religious lines. Indeed, the single biggest "gap" in party affiliation among white Americans today is not between men and women, or those who reside in so-called Red States and those who reside in Blue, but between those who attend church regularly and those who don't.

Conservative leaders have been all too happy to exploit this gap, consistently reminding evangelical Christians that Democrats disrespect their values and dislike their Church, while suggesting to the rest of the country that religious Americans care only about issues like abortion and gay marriage; school prayer and intelligent design.

Democrats, for the most part, have taken the bait. At best, we may try to avoid the conversation about religious values altogether, fearful of offending anyone and claiming that - regardless of our personal beliefs - constitutional principles tie our hands. At worst, there are some liberals who dismiss religion in the public square as inherently irrational or intolerant, insisting on a caricature of religious Americans that paints them as fanatical, or thinking that the very word "Christian" describes one's political opponents, not people of faith.

I am not suggesting that every progressive suddenly latch on to religious terminology - that can be dangerous. Nothing is more transparent than inauthentic expressions of faith. As Jim has mentioned, some politicians come and clap -- off rhythm -- to the choir. We don't need that.

In fact, because I do not believe that religious people have a monopoly on morality, I would rather have someone who is grounded in morality and ethics, and who is also secular, affirm their morality and ethics and values without pretending that they're something they're not. They don't need to do that. None of us need to do that.

But what I am suggesting is this - secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square. Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Williams Jennings Bryant, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King - indeed, the majority of great reformers in American history - were not only motivated by faith, but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause. So to say that men and women should not inject their "personal morality" into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God's will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.

Now this is going to be difficult for some who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do. But in a pluralistic democracy, we have no choice. Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality. It involves the compromise, the art of what's possible. At some fundamental level, religion does not allow for compromise. It's the art of the impossible. If God has spoken, then followers are expected to live up to God's edicts, regardless of the consequences. To base one's life on such uncompromising commitments may be sublime, but to base our policy making on such commitments would be a dangerous thing. And if you doubt that, let me give you an example.

We all know the story of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham is ordered by God to offer up his only son, and without argument, he takes Isaac to the mountaintop, binds him to an altar, and raises his knife, prepared to act as God has commanded.

Of course, in the end God sends down an angel to intercede at the very last minute, and Abraham passes God's test of devotion.

But it's fair to say that if any of us leaving this church saw Abraham on a roof of a building raising his knife, we would, at the very least, call the police and expect the Department of Children and Family Services to take Isaac away from Abraham. We would do so because we do not hear what Abraham hears, do not see what Abraham sees, true as those experiences may be. So the best we can do is act in accordance with those things that we all see, and that we all hear, be it common laws or basic reason.

Even those who claim the Bible's inerrancy make distinctions between Scriptural edicts, sensing that some passages - the Ten Commandments, say, or a belief in Christ's divinity - are central to Christian faith, while others are more culturally specific and may be modified to accommodate modern life.

The American people intuitively understand this, which is why the majority of Catholics practice birth control and some of those opposed to gay marriage nevertheless are opposed to a Constitutional amendment to ban it. Religious leadership need not accept such wisdom in counseling their flocks, but they should recognize this wisdom in their politics.

But a sense of proportion should also guide those who police the boundaries between church and state. Not every mention of God in public is a breach to the wall of separation - context matters. It is doubtful that children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance feel oppressed or brainwashed as a consequence of muttering the phrase "under God." I didn't. Having voluntary student prayer groups use school property to meet should not be a threat, any more than its use by the High School Republicans should threaten Democrats. And one can envision certain faith-based programs - targeting ex-offenders or substance abusers - that offer a uniquely powerful way of solving problems.

Jim Jordan said...

So no, I reject the case for a one-issue abortion-based vote.

Adolf Hitler
Great on the economy; took Germany out of a severe depression.
Great on morale; made Germans have hope for the future again.

Would you be a one-issue voter and vote against him based on his hatred for Jews alone?

Turning your back on the unborn is as vile as turning your back on the Jewish people in Nazi Germany or the African slaves in 19th Century America. The act itself impugns the "Christian" faith of the protagonist. Barack Obama is no Christian. He only says he is a Christian to ease the minds of voters. Do you really want to follow him?

The only way to end the Democrats' love affair with abortion is to send an unequivocal message: no pro-abort candidate can be elected president, period. Were this truly a Christian nation, Obama will lose November 4th. I sure hope we make the grade....and he loses.

Clayton said...

Turning your back on the unborn is as vile as turning your back on the Jewish people in Nazi Germany or the African slaves in 19th Century America.

No, comparing abortion to The Holocaust is vile.

Randy said...

Well, that is a rational approach to dealing with those who disagree with you on a moral issue: compare them to Hitler.

I wonder why Hitler is such a popular choice for moral putdowns. Stalin was much worse.

Anonymous said...

jim, I think the big news story here is that you apparently think there was only one reason to vote against Hitler.

The whole racial supremacy, eugenics, occult, neighbor-invading, world-conquering, handicapped-killing, democracy-suspending stuff doesn't bother you?

Rest assured, if Obama was Hitler and he supported abortion, I wouldn't vote for him. But given that he's not, your analogy is kind of ridiculous.

And by kind of, I mean completely.

Jim Jordan said...

Clayton--No, comparing abortion to The Holocaust is vile.

Abortion is our Holocaust. Are Jews more important than our own American children? All are precious.

There will be a quiz on this later. Be foolish all you want. God help you.

Anonymous said...

Dude, the Holocaust wasn't just murder.

It was Forced Starvation. Slavery. Torture. Theft. Rape.

They made lampshades out of the skin of women and children.

Do you think people who support the right of a woman to choose an abortion are equivalent to people who think it's okay to roast whole families alive and use the roasted fat of their carcasses for soap?

Take your time.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Jim Jordan: Pictures aren't arguments, they aren't self-interpreting, they don't establish conclusions by themselves. I could show pictures of pretty much any surgical procedure and it will look gross.

I have actual arguments in my posts above. Unless addressed, I can only assume you don't have good responses, but only slogans and pictures.

Jim Jordan said...

Anon
So what they do to desecrate the bodies afterwards has everything to do with...what?

We have something very similar. Embryonic stem cell research. The reason why this is so popular is that, being that the embryos have no "human rights", they belong to no one, and thus no one has to be paid for them.

History wil show abortion for what it is. If you want to be a Christian Democrat you must join Democrats for Life and demand that change.

Randy said...

Jim
Are Jews more important than our own American children? All are precious.

A fetus is not a child.

A fetus is precious because it has the potential to become a child. But it is not as precious.

BDK made some very good observations in his long post. Did you read it?

Since you seem to believe that women are slaughtering their children by having an abortion do you also think they should be jailed or executed for committing such a heinous crime?

Charlie said...

Jim, here's a thought experiment for you.

You're trapped in a burning house, with little time to escape. To the left of you lies a 1yr old baby, Eddy. Eddy is drenched in smoke, barely able to breath, and sqealing in fear of the flames. He will be burnt alive in just a few seconds. But to the right of you rests a suitcase, inside of which are 50 embryos. They too will be burnt in a few seconds.

Your goal is to save as many persons as possible. You only have time to take one item with you when you escape: either Eddy or the suitcase.

Which would you take?

Ilíon said...

This is a downright sophisticated rationalization! Why, with just the change of a word of two, the Democrats of 150 years ago could have made hay with just such a sophisticated rationalization. How different the world would be today had the Democrats of 150 years ago been sophisticated enough to realize they need but change the subject, rather than attempt to *directly* defend the indefensible, as they made the logically fatal mistake of doing.

Yet, I cannot help but wonder, does anyone *really* imagine that Christ is fooled by sophistry.


"Democrats -- Always Wrong When It Matters. And Damned Proud Of It!"

Jim Jordan said...

Blue Devil (suitable name btw)
Pictures are worth a thousand words though I should have known they wouldn't move this crowd.

Here's my analysis of your wonderfully sophisticated shpiel.

For instance, instead of making all late-term abortions illegal, we need to include exceptions such as when the woman's life is at risk. This isn't blithe abortion-happy posturing, but sensitivity to the exigencies of real life.

This is pure garbage. Partial birth abortions take place when the baby is 90% delivered. If it's already out, why kill it?It's the murder of a premature baby, pure and simple.

the question is how we will weight our values, not whether en embryo has value (I think everyone agrees it does). The extreme pro-lifers weigh the value of the embryo exactly as highly as that of a full-grown adult. The extreme pro-choicers weigh the wishes of the mother (no matter how selfish or fickle) higher than the embryo at any stage of development. Both extremes are wrong, and our policy should enact neither.


Why is the first one wrong? Not enough "value" to you? The baby doesn't weigh enough? Explain. You're contradicting yourself; embryo has value/no it doesn't.

Of all democrats, Obama's position is nuanced, explicitly informed by his Christian worldview, and he displays a depth of interest and sensitivity to the pro-life side that is fairly refreshing.

What's this? Obama's the staunchest abortion supporter who has ever won a major party nomination. How is that "informed by his Christian worldview"?

As for the speech by Obama, where does BHO end and you begin, or is it all Obama? Let me know and I'll comment on it.

I truly wish that Republicans were strong on other social issues, but the slaughter of innocent children is not defensible. All the euphemisms (like "a fetus is not a child" BS) in the world cannot change reality. God is not fooled by slick words and rambling nuances.

Charlie,
What's the point of your story? Pro-choicers always have a story; choosing between a baby and a suitcase of fetuses, or between letting the violinist be strapped to you for 9 months (Thomson), or some creative, mixed metaphor.

Just for the record, if I could only save two - as if I'd know that somehow (lol) - I'd grab the suitcase and Eddy the infant and toss them out the door to safety.

So tell me, do you have a problem with that?

Jim Jordan said...

Anon 9:33 PM
Did you think this through?
jim, I think the big news story here is that you apparently think there was only one reason to vote against Hitler.

The whole racial supremacy, eugenics, occult, neighbor-invading, world-conquering, handicapped-killing, democracy-suspending stuff doesn't bother you?

Rest assured, if Obama was Hitler and he supported abortion, I wouldn't vote for him. But given that he's not, your analogy is kind of ridiculous.


So if Hitler was a fair leader aside from his persecution of the Jews, would you vote for him? You seem to need these other reasons. Please explain why.

Ilíon said...

Jim Jordan: "Pictures are worth a thousand words though I should have known they wouldn't move this crowd."

Careful there! You're showing yourself to be a "hater," like me.

But, the fact is, "this crowd" is not arguing, has no interest in arguing, and will never argue -- if they were doing that, they long since would have switched to being "pro-life," for abortion is utterly indefensible.

The fact is, "this crowd," even/especially those who claim to be Christians, will claim anything and sacrifice anything to protect the abortion regime. Abortion is both their sacrament and their blood sacrifice.


Jim Jordan: "I truly wish that Republicans were strong on other social issues, but the slaughter of innocent children is not defensible."

Heavens! Why would any sane and rational person "truly wish that Republicans were strong on other social issues?" The Democratic positions on "social issues" are as wrong as on abortion, it's just that the terrible effect isn't as *immediately* apparent as with abortion.

Almost all Democratic positions are illogical, and frequently the positions are seen to be immoral when carefully examined.

Randy said...

Jim,
I truly wish that Republicans were strong on other social issues, but the slaughter of innocent children is not defensible.

If you truly believe that, then you should be advocating life imprisonment or the death penalty for those women slaughtering their children by having an abortion.

Also, there are degrees of value. A fetus is not yet a child. It is of great value because it has the potentiality to become a child. But a child is of much greater value.
In the scenario Charlie presented I think this is well illustrated. Of course if you could save both the child and the suitcase full of embryos that would be the best outcome. But I think you would have made a morally wrong decision if you let the child die by choosing to ensure the suitcase was removed safely.

Clayton said...

Jim,

Why can't you just answer Charlie's question? The question was what would you do if forced to choose between saving one infant or saving fifty frozen embryos.

Here's my hunch. The reason you won't answer the question is that you can't answer her question. You know what the answer is and you just don't want to say it because it will undermine the basis of your view. Instead, you carry on with some silliness about the pro-choice and their stories. Maybe you don't understand how moral principles work, but they serve to guide our thoughts about actual and hypothetical scenarios. So, true or false, given your principle in her hypothetical scenario you would have to choose the fifty frozen embryos?

You are making your own side look bad when you can't offer reasons, arguments, or responses but just links to pictures.

Your response to Charlie speaks volumes, by the way. There's no indication in her question that she is pro-choice. There's nothing about the pro-life view that forces someone to the crazy view that it seems you've committed yourself to, the view that says we ought to save the frozen embryos before we save an infant.

Tit for Tat said...

JJ

Heres one for you. Now we all can agree that Hitler was a Horrible human being, the question is was he made to be that way or was he born that way. Now if he was born that way then heres a good question for you. If you were aware before he was born what he was capable of would you allow him to have been aborted? Secondly, if he was made to be the way he was, by lets say a horrific childhood, full of abuse and degradation and absolutely no Love whatsoever. If his only guiding force was once of Hatred, shouldnt you as a "Christian" be offering him some forgiveness, intead of using him as your example for evil all the time? For all you know, on his deathbed he begged for Jesus to come into his heart.

Matthew 7

1Judge not, that ye be not judged.

2For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

3And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

4Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

5Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye

Charlie said...

Jim,

"Just for the record, if I could only save two - as if I'd know that somehow (lol) - I'd grab the suitcase and Eddy the infant and toss them out the door to safety.

So tell me, do you have a problem with that?"


In other words, you have no answer to the question.

Charlie said...

btw I'm pro-life


And is that Ilion up there pretending to know what an "argument" is? Ha!

Blue Devil Knight said...

Jim: I discuss your concerns here in an in-depth argument.

The material after mentioning Obama and the colon is all from his speech.

Jim Jordan said...

Clayton--Why can't you just answer Charlie's question? The question was what would you do if forced to choose between saving one infant or saving fifty frozen embryos.

I answered the question. You just didn't like the answer. Why don't you simply ask whether a baby is more important than 50 embryos? Leave the stupid story out of it. The answer is their both worth saving.

Clayton said...

Jim,

No one asked whether they were both worth saving. The question was which would you save first if you had to.

You still haven't answered that question. Why don't you just own up to it and admit that you'd save the embryos first? I think it's because you don't really believe that. I think it's because you've never thought of it that way and Charlie's "stupid story" exposed something about the way you think about it you don't like. Tell me I'm wrong.

Jim Jordan said...

Clayton,
You write--Why don't you just own up to it and admit that you'd save the embryos first?

So that's the "gotcha" answer, eh? I'm supposed to be more interested in embryos than live born babies. This shows how off base you are, Clayton. We can choose both. You're the one saying we can't, not me.

Or is your slogan, "Yes, we can't!"

I'm tired of hearing that either/or nonsense. Liberals see babies as "punishment" (Obama) and conservatives treat them as precious, even the Down Syndrome babies. The Daily Kos went into a frenzy cursing Sarah Palin for not aborting her DS child. We've seen enough of that propaganda tool, "pro-lifers only care about embryos and not the born child". It's bunk. In fact, the hard left cares about neither.

Jim Jordan said...

BDK,
In response.
You wrote--Seriously, though...clearly a zygote has some value. We should assume that. So does a Picasso, or a monkey.

Here's the first fallacy. You and I were zygotes, not monkeys or Picassos. But you clearly have begun to blur the distinction between human values and animal and material values.

The tough question is what our relative priorities should be. Should we value the wishes of the pregnant mother less than that of a zygote or small cluster of cells?

Diminishing the conceived human even further. "Or small cluster of cells" is very telling. Excuse me, but there is more information and complexity in that cluster of cells than you could fit in an encyclopedia collection.

Beyond that, you take another turn and posit the "value of the wishes of the pregnant mother." So you've blurred values yet again and present wishes as something valuable over the living entity in the womb. Normally, wishes can be easily fulfilled, unless they are unreasonable.

"Values are often in conflict. It seems what drives much of this debate is the relative weighting people give to these factors."

Yeah, like if you had lost out to your mother's unreasonable wish to abort you (were she to not want you) you would not be here. I don't know, but what kind of number do you put on that, other than a weighty one?

If you had to choose between destroying a zygote and killing an infant, which would you choose?

I love this. #1 - "Destroy" the zygote, "Kill" the infant. I get it; one is like an REM album and the other is a human being. #2 - Because you can throw out a stupid scenario like that, it proves....what? Think of it: "I'm pro-choice because if I had to choose between killing an infant and killing a zygote, I'd definitely kill the zygote, therefore abortion should be legal." "I'm Barack Obama and I approve this message." Somehow I don't think we'll here that ad.

I would destroy the zygote, not happily, but knowing it was the moral choice.

Neither is the "moral choice". If I said Truman had to choose between nuking the Japanese cities or invading, but he chose the bomb because it was the "moral choice", you'd send me to a mental hospital. My opinion is that both are wrong, but we were in a terrible war. Are we in a war somewhere? Maybe a war on children that we HAVE TO choose between destroying them when they are in the womb or killing them when they are born? You seem to be throwing up a war scenario to make your case.

Randy said...

Jim
I answered the question. You just didn't like the answer. Why don't you simply ask whether a baby is more important than 50 embryos? Leave the stupid story out of it. The answer is their[sic] both worth saving.

And you still refuse to answer the question. No one is denying they are both worth saving.
But is a living, breathing human child of more value than 50 embryos?

If you really believe that an embryo is a person, you should have no problem choosing the suitcase over the child.

Randy said...

Jim,
If I said Truman had to choose between nuking the Japanese cities or invading, but he chose the bomb because it was the "moral choice", you'd send me to a mental hospital.

Not at all. I think it was the morally correct choice. There are others who believe otherwise.
The moral choices we make in our lives are usually not as black and white as we'd like to think they should be. They often involve doing what we might consider to be less morally wrong rather than doing what is obviously morally goood.

Charlie said...

omg Jim, we are stipulating for the sake of the thought experiment that you have only enough time to take one thing, either poor little Eddy or the suitcase. The purpose behind considering scenarios like this is to test the implications of your views as well as to tease out your moral intuitions. Please answer.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Jim could ever finish reading a novel. (The author is insisting that the protagonist has to choose! I insist that he can have it all!)

Blue Devil Knight said...

Jim:
I never said all things of value are equally valuable. My whole point was that this isn't the case, that we have to prioritize the things we value as they sometimes come into conflict, they can be mutually exclusive.

I value an adult human more than a zygote, even though both are valuable. As for valuing the life of the mother more or less than the life growing inside her (as in cases where the woman's life is in danger from pregnancy), the government should not select which is more valuable, should allow the woman to decide what to do. Do you disagree?

Aside from attacking some straw men, you didn't address the main issue at the bottom of the linked post. Should it be illegal to unplug him? I believe the answer is clearly no, and I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Well we know how Jim feels about in vitro fertilization anyway.

Ilíon said...

Clayton: "Why can't you just answer Charlie's question? The question was what would you do if forced to choose between saving one infant or saving fifty frozen embryos."

Jim Jordan: "I answered the question. You just didn't like the answer. Why don't you simply ask whether a baby is more important than 50 embryos? Leave the stupid story out of it. The answer is their [sic] both worth saving."

Clayton: "You still haven't answered that question. ..."

This is an example of the typical shift-the-burden-of-proof sort of "reasoning" that "liberals" (and 'atheists') always employ -- and which the Stockholm-Christian door-mats enable by bowing the knee to the idol of "Niceness."

The *issue* resolves around the factual matter of whether a human embryo is a human being; and of course, it is. It can be nothing else.

Now, since the human embryo is exactly a human being, just as you, Gentle Reader, are, certain things follow. And one of the specific things which logically follows the fact that the human embryo is exactly a human being is the logical and moral fact that killing a human embryo is exactly killing a human being.

SO, in an effort to *avoid* seeing at all the horrible and immoral results with logically follow from refusing to acknowledge the truth, which is that we already know that the human embryo is exactly a human being, the "liberals" will *always* attempt to derail rational thought by tossing out some emotive story-problem. And the story will generally be a very bad mis-analogy.

AND then -- even as they refuse to acknowledge, much less answer -- the *real* questions, they will demand that you must answer (to their liking, of course) to the thought-stultifying emotive dilemma they have proposed.

It's distraction and misdirection, nothing more, nothing less. And, those of you who are willingly enslaved to "niceness" will *always* fall for it. And worse, you "nice" slaves can be counted upon to then attack someone like me who is willing to call a spade a spade.


Clayton: "... Tell me I'm wrong."

You are worse than wrong; you're intellectually dishonest. That, by the way, just so there is no doubt as to what I am saying, is a ten-dollar phrase meaning: "You are a to-the-bone liar."

Jim Jordan said...

Hmmm, moral relativism abounds. I didn't think that's what the Dangerous Idea was all about. Oh, that's right. It's not.

BDK, JJ Thomson's example in "Defense of Abortion" is based on a false premise. A violinist strapped to a woman against her will is not equivalent to a child attached to a woman who chose to have sex and thus bring about that child. (Obviously excluding the rape/incest exceptions here).

The subtle shift in Thomson's "thought experiment" is that it is whether the child is wanted that makes them like the violinist. That's the fallacy. The truth is that the sex was desired, but the child was not. The sex created the dilemma, the poor child did not. The exact analogy is if the woman had invited the violinist to be strapped to her for 9 months and then changed her mind, causing his death. [There's also the aspect that the child is her own flesh and blood, unlike the stranger in the bed]

Now the woman disconnecting herself from the violinist is disconnecting herself from the "you must save the viloinist" thought experiment. It's not unlike me disconnecting myself from your thought experiment of the baby and the embryos. Like the woman, I refuse to play the game. But the abortion analogy is not mirrored at all in the woman-violinist "thought experiment" and thus Thomson's "defense of abortion" fails. You can disconnect the intrusive violinist but that is not analogous to disconnecting the baby.

Everyone keeps saying I didn't answer the question. I worked with a guy once who asked questions like, "If you had to choose between killing Jon Bon Jovi or killing me, who would you kill?" I'd tell him that was a stupid question and I wouldn't hear any more until his next stupid question. [I seem to remember he ended up in jail]

Finally, my last point, I promise. The life that ends with the grave starts at conception. It's a scientific fact. The quickening of information and cell reproduction creates a complex being, and doesn't end until you're hopefully very old. Some die naturally in the womb. That's sad; ask any Mom who's had a miscarriage. But we don't have the right to willfully terminate that life - the miracle that started at conception. We should embrace that life. It is our future.

If that sounds crazy to you, then so be it.

Randy said...

Everyone keeps saying I didn't answer the question. I worked with a guy once who asked questions like, "If you had to choose between killing Jon Bon Jovi or killing me, who would you kill?" I'd tell him that was a stupid question and I wouldn't hear any more until his next stupid question. [I seem to remember he ended up in jail]

And so because someone at sometime asked you stupid questions that somehow legitimizes your refusal to answer the question that has been asked of you here?


It's a scientific fact.

Is there a difference between a scientific fact and a fact?
In any case, morality is more than a matter of facts, be they scientific or otherwise.

Blue Devil Knight said...

I agree that her thought experiment is most persuasive for instances of rape.

But it also makes a case for its legality when contraceptives are used in good faith. Is the woman in such a case inviting the violinist in?

Perhaps unfortunately, laws cannot take such factors into account, investigating whether contraceptives were used.

Switching topics somewhat, the main legal problem the antiabortion position has is that it is almost impossible to make a case for it on secular grounds. To make the case that something with no nervous system, no more feeling than a tree, should be given a higher priority than the wishes of the mother, is a difficult one to press.

I'm not saying laws don't have a basis in morality, but if those moral codes can't be justified in a more universal way, the battle will be uphill. While I think that the Democrats have been too dismissive of religious viewpoints, and over-secularized, I also think the Republicans have become too locked into a sectarian way of thinking. There is a lot of common ground on this debate, and unless both sides struggle with themselves and the others to find it, there won't be a lot of progress. The focus on late-term abortions is smart, as there is so much more common ground there. Focusing on conception is a mistake. If I were antiabortion for all embryos, I'd start with late term and work my way back. I'm speaking pragmatically here, not saying you should give up on your beliefs in the sanctity of life from the moment of conception. We need people in the debate that believe that, as otherwise the kooks take over who want to sell human caviar.

terri said...

Wasn't the original post by Reppert merely an attempt to say that neither candidate will have much of an effect on the rate of abortion in this country, so why be bound by the abortion issue in the first place?

I'm pro-life, but I don't see McCain or Obama as being pro-life in the same way that I am pro-life. Voting for either one of them is the same to me. Because of that, the abortion issue is not one I am considering in casting my vote this election cycle.

Getting derailed into whether abortion is moral or not kind of misses the point of the original post.

Randy said...

Jim,
Hmmm, moral relativism abounds. I didn't think that's what the Dangerous Idea was all about. Oh, that's right. It's not.

That is a rather strange comment. Why do you think that someone who doesn't share your anti-abortion stance has to be a moral relativist? And why the assumption that one who was not a relativist would agree with your position on this moral issue?
After all, the people who disagreed over the issue of slavery were not moral relativists.
And the good people who used to burn witches and heretics at the stake were not moral relativists.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Terri: Victor's blog has become popular enough, and unmoderated, so you have to be self filter.

Some people are incapable of having a focused discussion of abortion. Many are incapable of having any real discussion, and end up frothing at the mouth with talking points.

It was funny as I was attacked at a previous post for focusing on the legal, rather than moral, issues involved in abortion. This provoked the accusation that I didn't understand that morality and legality are not the same issue.

You say that neither Obama nor McCain are pro-life enough, but McCain clearly seems more pro-life than Obama. If I were to vote solely on abortion (and I were pro-life) I'd vote McCain.

terri said...

McCain is nominally pro-life. I don't think it is a major issue for him so much as an opportunity to appeal to the evangelical vote. I have no expectation that he would actually do anything striking with regard to abortion.

It's not his thing...just window-dressing. He is not "pro-life" in the way most evangelicals would want a candidate to be "pro-life". However, because many christians want to believe that he's closer to their views than he really is, he's getting more evangelical "street-cred" on this issue than he really deserves.

This is not a major issue in his platform, nor does it seem like it ever will be a major issue if he is elected president.

Can we say "status quo"?

Jim Jordan said...

Randy,
Your surprised I charges you with moral relativism yet your shifting all over the place in your responses.
4:05 pm**Hiroshima was a good moral choice.
9:55 pm**Morality is more than a matter of facts.
6:04 am**Those who disagreed over slavery were not moral relativists.

Those who disagreed WITH slavery were not moral relativists. Those who agreed with slavery, just as you folks are doing now with the unborn, saw a lesser "value" on African-Americans.

You are playing the card of a moral relativist, Randy.

Terri and BDK,
While I'd never trust fully the sincerity of Republican candidates on abortion (Rep. Sen. John Danforth admitted he didn't care much about pro-life issues in his autobiography), Senator Obama has stated he will sign the Freedom of Choice Act if elected. That's a promise of war against pro-lifers and it doesn't sound like "status quo" to me.

BDK
We need people in the debate that believe that, as otherwise the kooks take over who want to sell human caviar.

What is your view of embryonic stem cells? That's fertilized human caviar. Yuck!

Keep in mind when you sigh and say "These guys you just can't get through to them". Pro-lifers could be a lot more bellicose but we do understand success is in changing the minds and hearts of people on abortion. That's why we can't obscure what it is and the horrors that we create when we get wobbly on the issue of human value. That's about all. Good debate, guys. I'm done.

Charlie said...
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Charlie said...

Oh for fuck's sake, Ilion. (Pardon me.) When are you going to stop this insanity?

This is an example of the typical shift-the-burden-of-proof sort of "reasoning" that "liberals" (and 'atheists') always employ -- and which the Stockholm-Christian door-mats enable by bowing the knee to the idol of "Niceness."

I'm neither liberal nor atheist; I've made this clear already. Please pay attention.

Like Jim, you prefer to run away and pout rather than getting focused and answering a perfectly legitimate question. (Thought experiments are not worthless "emotive" games; they're used all the time in contemporary philosophy and the theoretical sciences.)

What it comes down to, Ilion, is that you're clearly not courageous enough, nor rational enough, to critically evaluate your own assumptions. Startled by your own intellectual inadequacies, but unwilling to fix them, you resort to filling these threads with bitter pomposity and tortuous prose from one reply to the next. Your personal and intellectual irresponsibility is excessively disgusting, far surpassing that of all the coke-snorting, hippie-hill-camping, bed-wetting, liberal atheists on this planet (combined).

Ilíon said...

What absolute hypocrites you people are.

Ilíon said...

Terri: "Wasn't the original post by Reppert merely an attempt to say that neither candidate will have much of an effect on the rate of abortion in this country, so why be bound by the abortion issue in the first place?"

No, that wasn't at all the point.

The point was:

1) to echo a so-common "liberal" trope (Mr Reppert has been doing that increasingly of late) that persons who will not vote for any pro-abortionist are being simple-minded (which is to say, stupid).

2) to tell people that they might as well vote for the candidate ... and more importantly, the party ... committed to expanding and further entrenching the abortion regime.

Randy said...

Jim,

Randy,
Your surprised I charges you with moral relativism yet your shifting all over the place in your responses.
4:05 pm**Hiroshima was a good moral choice.


Yes, because it is better to save more lives if given the choice. I think there is enough historical evidence to justify the view that more lives would have been lost if Truman had not decided to drop the atom bomb.
Why do you think that makes me a relativist? It is always better to save more lives if given the choice.
That is why I don’t understand why you have so much trouble acknowledging that it would be better to save a suitcase full of embryos from a fire than the little child since you claim that an embryo is a person.
I don’t believe an embryo is a person, so its life is not equivalent to the life of a child. I believe that to be true in all cases. How does that make me a moral relativist?


9:55 pm**Morality is more than a matter of facts.

And how does that make me a moral relativist?


6:04 am**Those who disagreed over slavery were not moral relativists.


Those who disagreed WITH slavery were not moral relativists. Those who agreed with slavery, just as you folks are doing now with the unborn, saw a lesser "value" on African-Americans.


Those people who supported slavery in the South were Christians who thought that God had made the black race inferior to the white race. They thought they were morally justified in their position and that it was absolutely immoral to oppose them.

You seem to think that because one rejects moral relativism that will lead to correct moral judgment. But a moral non-relativist is just as liable to make the wrong moral choice as a moral relativist.


You are playing the card of a moral relativist, Randy.


Maybe it would be helpful if you explained what you think is the difference between a moral relativist and a non-relativist. What you have posted here doesn’t seem to accord with the standard definitions.

Jim Jordan said...

I'm neither liberal nor atheist; I've made this clear already. Please pay attention.


Charlie, you are as you do. Self-serving comments like "neither liberal nor atheist" won't do. You were also "pro-life" I recall yet you find no common ground with Illion or I. There should be a word for that. Hmmm.

Randy--I don’t believe an embryo is a person, so its life is not equivalent to the life of a child.

Should read, I don't believe an embryo is a person, so I BELIEVE its life is not equivalent to the life of a child.

You show why moral relativists are so darn dangerous. You go from "I don't think so" to adding therefore en route to giving the death penalty to the embryos.

And why don't you folks want to answer the question, "Do we have to choose between embryos and babies?"

If we wait long enough, DON'T WE HAVE BOTH?

Good grief, are you guys dumb or what?

Ilíon said...

It's the "or what." I guarantee it.

Randy said...

Jim,
Randy--I don’t believe an embryo is a person, so its life is not equivalent to the life of a child.

Should read, I don't believe an embryo is a person, so I BELIEVE its life is not equivalent to the life of a child.


Yes, that is a correct interpretation of what I wrote.
I could be wrong. People do make wrong moral decisions. Sometimes even moral non-relativists are wrong. They were wrong in the 1800’s when they believed slavery to be the will of God.


You show why moral relativists are so darn dangerous. You go from "I don't think so" to adding therefore en route to giving the death penalty to the embryos.


This moral relativism is a red herring. Unless you can show that being a moral non-relativist entails always being right about moral issues. That is going to be a little difficult given that history is replete with examples of moral non-relativists slaughtering and enslaving others as a result of their moral beliefs.


And why don't you folks want to answer the question, "Do we have to choose between embryos and babies?"


I think it immoral to prohibit a woman from aborting a pregnancy that resulted from rape.
It would be nice if we lived in a perfect world where people don’t rape each other. But we don’t.
So I gather that you would not allow abortion in a case of rape or incest? Or if a woman’s life was in danger if the pregnancy wasn’t terminated?


Good grief, are you guys dumb or what?


Is that an example of moral behavior?

Charlie said...

Jim,

I am pro-life. I'm just not an irrational extremist, like you and Ilion. Also, please learn what moral relativism is before you accuse others of adopting that position.

Charlie said...

And why don't you folks want to answer the question, "Do we have to choose between embryos and babies?"

Yes, there could be scenarios where we do, like the one I gave you. Your views imply that you would leave poor little Eddy to burn alive -- that's why you don't want to answer the question.

steve said...

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/10/sophies-choice.html

Ilíon said...

Steve: "5. Or take another scenario. On the one hand, a kindergarten is on fire. I hear kids screaming inside. On the other hand, I see a 2-year-old walking over to a rattlesnake. Do I save the 2-year old, or do I try to rescue some of the kindergartners?

Logically, I’d sacrifice the 2-year-old. But, in reality, I might save him instead.

Why? Because there’s a natural tendency to save the person we can see, not the person we can’t.

I can see him. The trusting eyes. The pleading eyes. The gut-wrenching contrast between my sense of his danger and his childish obliviousness to his own peril. I’m close to him. A few feet away. All this triggers my protective, paternal instincts.

It may not be logical, but if I save him instead, that’s not because I value him more than the kids inside the kindergarten. It’s not because I think he’s more human.

It’s simply a natural human response. That’s how our empathy is wired.
"

I must say after reading one of your posts, Mr Hays, that you don't even begin to live up to your billing as an irrational, hate-filled spewer of venom. But then, since I know that these hypocrites are lying about me, I had good reason for confidence they were lying about you, too.

This particular scenario I've quoted is exactly the sort of thing I had in mind when I spoke earlier of the fondness of pro-abortionists to spin out emotion-laden distractions.


"Charlie's" scenario works exactly as the one you've outlined here does -- it posits that you may save either, but not both:
1) a single helpless person, whom you can see suffering or soon to be suffering, right in front of your face; or,
2) some arbitrary number of persons at a distance, whom you cannot see.

I had even considered posing an even more gruesome version of this sort of scenario to illustrate the vacuity of "Charlie's" "argument" and to help others see -- those willing to see truth and think rationally -- that these sorts of imaginary dilemmas are posed *exactly* as an appeal to one's emotions and with the intention of overthrowing one's capacity for, and/or committment to, rational and logical reasoning.


If we, whether individually or as a society, will not reason rationally and logically, then it can be only by sheerest happenstance that we ever arrive at the correct answers. And this is to the advantage of those who emphatically do not wish us to find and hold to the correct answers.

Those willing to be lead around by the nose will always find a ring in their nose.

Ilíon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ilíon said...

In the comments section of Mr Hays' blog-entry, is this:

"David:If the goal is really to save as many persons as possible, of course the consistent prolifer would choose the embryos.__Any reason to save the baby rather than the embryos are external to the goal of this hypothetical scenario.

Steve: "Wrong. If you’re going to pose a hypothetical case for a prolifer, then you have to frame that according to a prolifer’s presuppositions. You can’t get to dictate the goal.

You are trying to make the hypothetical as simplistic as possible to generate a false dilemma.

Prolifers don’t take the position that we are dutybound to save as many lives as possible *at any cost*. That’s why we oppose embryonic stem cell research. Even if it did save a lot of lives, that doesn’t justify the destruction of life in the process.

There are also situations in which an exceptional, higher obligation supersedes a lower, general obligation.
"

EXACTLY! Generating a false dilemma -- and typically based upon a strawman version of what one wishes to discredit, but does not wish to actually make the effort of presenting a rational case against -- is how these appeasl to emotion are typically structured.

Now, and of course, generating an irresolvable dilemma to highlight or expose an inherent contradiction in a position or argument or philosophy is all proper. But the dilemma must be honestly drawn, it must honestly result from the inherent contradiction which does reside in the thing one wishes to discredit.

Ilíon said...

I propose referring to the expected Obama administration (or régme, as leftists prefer to call Republican administrations) as the 'Avignon Presidency.' The other immediately obvious option, 'Babylonian Captivity' seems far too melodramatic.

Victor Reppert said...

Ilion: You could use the term Rush used in the first two years of the Clinton Administration: America Held Hostage.

Just a suggestion.

normajean said...

Charlie’s good thought experiment doesn’t tempt me to turn from the idea that life begins at conception—but it certainly stirs up a thoughtful discussion about what the greatest conceivable good is in such a situation. (I’m puzzled why the pro-lifers here won’t directly answer the question). I’m a pro-lifer and I’d save Eddy!!!

Ilíon said...

VR, but Rush was making a joke and I am deadly serious.

Mr Obama appears -- by his very refusal to prove that he is -- not to be a natural-born US citizen.

If Mr Obama is not a natural-born US citizen, then he does not meet the Constitutional requirements to occupy the presidency.

America has been ignoring its Constitution for a very long time, longer than you or I have been alive. And, generally, you and massive numbers of other persons who mis-reason in the ways you insist upon doing, are just hunky-dory with that.

But this ... foisting upon the nation a president who does not meet the Constitutional qualifications to occupy the office (and who may not even be a US citizen in the first place) ... is a quite dramatic shift, don't you think?

In speaking of an "Avignon Presidency," I am not speaking of American being a captive -- for, after all, a good half of Americans are more than willing, decade after decade, to trample the Constitution, all the while trumpeting how they honor it. Rather, I am speaking of the Constitution itself being captive.

====
I am more than copasetic with you people living with the results of your continuous refusal to see reality. Unfortunately, I and my family, perhaps for generations, also have to live with the results of your actions and decisions.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Ilion still repeating that stuff about Obama not being a citizen? :P

Come on, get some new material.

On Obama's citizenship

Joe said...

Many pro lifers believe that abortion is the killing an innocent human being. Its hard to say: "Although this politian is in favor or continuing to kill millions of babies, his economic plan is so solid he gets my vote."

Sure Hitler didn't like disabled people or jews but he did wonders for the economy! I think its hard to see how someone can be pro life and not a one issue voter.

#1 is far from clear the court is close to overruling Roe as it is. But even if it is true it is irrelevant. Having another liberal or two on the bench will put the fight back for years maybve even decades.

#2 is almost certainly false.

Ilíon said...

How cool is this? BDK imagines that "Snopes" -- two liberals (and Obama supporters) in their basement -- can and want to uncover the truth many powerful people (and their masses of enablers) wish to keep hidden.

Ilíon said...

Joe, yes, #2 is almost certainly false.

But, false or true, it would have to be out in the open. Politicians -- and American society -- could no longer hide behind the fig-leaf of pretense shipped down from the Olympian heights of the Supreme Court.