Friday, December 02, 2016

A hard case on abortion

Let's try the following case. A woman has a toddler, and conceives again. At this point, her husband becomes abusive, and she feels it necessary to leave her husband and take the toddler. She has a job, and can barely make it with her toddler. But having two children would break the bank and make it impossible to even care for her one child. Can it be justified for her to abort her fetus in order to make sure she can care for her toddler? 

17 comments:

Jo F said...

Keeping in mind that abortion is child-murder, this does not have to be a choice between the child's life and the mother's and child's. If she is willing to go to the extreme of killing the baby immediately, then she should be willing to go to every extreme before it that might be a chance at his/hers survival. I'm thinking, for example, of the numerous non-profit organizations that provide relief for such parents.

This would be analogous to saying, "It seems my child will die of disease. I had better shoot him now and get it over with, given that caring for him is quite taxing on my energy and money which could be spent on my other child"...we don't live in a third-world country, the women can and should find a way to keep them both alive and well.

Jo F said...

Adding to that last point, it may alarm you to find just how many people who do live in third world countries that really can't take care of their children don't even care about abortion--they may very well die rather than let their children die in the womb.

Jo F said...

Imagine if every difficult situation in life could be handled the same way--in murdering another person. "Oh, looks like I'm late to my meeting, better shoot someone." "Oh no, I'm really struggling with caring for my kids. Better go shoot that man who's an inconvenience to me." "Oh no, looks like I'll be embarrassed because my child is that of a rape-conception. Better go kill that guy across the street." In every case, when you consider the personhood of the unborn, it's nearly as difficult to justify killing them as it is to justify shooting someone across the road.

Chad Handley said...

I tend to agree with Jo F that all arguments like these must smuggle in the assumption that the unborn are not persons, or they become trivial.

Imagine if the woman in question had twins with her first pregnancy and the same financial situation developed. Would that be a "hard case" for killing one of the twins?

Ilíon said...

VR: "Can it be justified for her to abort her fetus in order to make sure she can care for her toddler?"

No.

See? That wasn't so hard, after all.

The reason that you (and people like you) imagine this is so "hard" is because of your refusal to recognize that women are just as much moral agents -- and just as morally flawed -- as men are.

Chad Handley: "Imagine if the woman in question had twins with her first pregnancy and the same financial situation developed. Would that be a "hard case" for killing one of the twins?"

Exactly. The reasoning, such as it is, is the same in both cases ... just as we anti-abortionists have always said.

The pro-abortionists were always on-message to deny that, back when they understood just how precarious was the cultural acceptance of abortion. But, now that they feel more secure in their Culture of Death, some of them are even now arguing that:
1) because abortion is legal;
2) and because there is no moral difference between a fetus and a neonate;
3) that, therefore, infanticide *must* be legalized, too.

Or, just as we anti-abortionists always said they would eventually do.

Victor Reppert said...

But I sustain a culture of death in my house. If a scorpion shows up, I get out the frying pan, and it is toast.

One central issue in the abortion debate is the application of the Life Trumps Quality principle. Utilitarianism, of course, straightforwardly denies this. It says that what counts is the total balance of pleasure over pain. Dead or alive doesn't count, only pleasure and pain do.

SteveK said...

"No"

That was easy. Really.

Ilíon said...

VR: "But I sustain a culture of death in my house. If a scorpion shows up, I get out the frying pan, and it is toast."

You know, there is playing Devil's Advocate, and there is playing stupid.

Even I -- who have nothing but scorn and contempt for *any* apologist for abortion or euthanasia -- would not misconstrue the generality of them in that manner.

Now, it is true that many (if not most) of the pro-abortion "extremists" (which is to say, the ones lead on the issue) do, indeed, morally equate the life of a scorpion with the life of a child, and thus we have abominations like Peter Singer; but most rank-and-file pro-abortionists, while willingly morally obtuse are not nearly *that* morally obtuse.

VR: "One central issue in the abortion debate is the application of the Life Trumps Quality principle. Utilitarianism, of course, straightforwardly denies this. It says that what counts is the total balance of pleasure over pain. Dead or alive doesn't count, only pleasure and pain do."

No, the only issue in the non-existent abortion debate is: "Is a human fetus (i.e. a non-yet-born human organism) a *human being*, or is it not?"

Victor Reppert said...

But on utilitarianism, whether something is human or not is not the relevant issue. That would be speciesism. Singer isn't stupid, he's just a bloody consistent utilitarian.

SteveK said...

Victor, your question is a moral one. It's not so much about abortion, it's about "a hard case on morality". Christianity has explained that hard feature of reality whereas utilitarians, naturalists, materialists, atheists, etc. have not. ALL the cases on morality are hard for these people.

Jo F said...

"But on utilitarianism, whether something is human or not is not the relevant issue. That would be speciesism. Singer isn't stupid, he's just a bloody consistent utilitarian."--VR


"But I sustain a culture of death in my house. If a scorpion shows up, I get out the frying pan, and it is toast."
Did we not already establish that the fetus is a living human-being? That abortion is the deprivation of future life, as is murder? That we were once an unborn fetus? I hate the concept of abortion: a little scientific advancement, and we start treating child-birth as we would some trivial consequence one can "ABORT!" from and start over. Human life is not like that.

"One central issue in the abortion debate is the application of the Life Trumps Quality principle. Utilitarianism, of course, straightforwardly denies this. It says that what counts is the total balance of pleasure over pain. Dead or alive doesn't count, only pleasure and pain do."--VR

Dr. Reppert, why would you advocate yet another arbitrary value system for humans when you already debunked the SLED arguments? Is pain the measure of life? Is pleasure the measure of life? I enjoyed your essay in the Blackwell reference volume, but I am alarmed to find that you sympathize with so many liberal views....how could you not realize that Christianity entails that human beings have intrinsic worth--that they are a means of themselves, and not means of an end? What did Christ's death on the cross mean if it did not say that God values all humans so much so that He would trade His own life, HIs own pleasure, His own comfort from pain, Hi own utility, all for the sake of us? If, as you say, all a man is worth is his utility to others, then there could hardly be a greater example to adduce a form of cynicism than a utilitarian.

If Jesus Christ were a utilitarian, then surely He would have avoided saving us "for the good of the majority"--as He was perfectly justified in dismissing us with our culpability and investing his good time with those who already are with Him. What a price a sacrifice is on that ideology.

There is intrinsic worth in human beings, to deny this is to deny Christ, from Whom that worth sources. To deny a child his life because of the means to an end that he is, rather than respecting the means that he is of himself, is to deny Christ, therefore. Thus, the application of utilitarianism to the issue of abortion is an act of apostasy from the Christian faith.

Ilíon said...

VR: "But on utilitarianism, whether something is human or not is not the relevant issue."

What sane and moral man gives a damn about the objections of the utilitarians? They are moral monsters.

It is logically impossible to argue without a shared moral framework, for without that common basis even the same word may well be used to refer to different things. This is as true of scientific questions, and of mathematical questions, as of moral questions.

For example, both Christians and Moslems will agree with the statement, "It is an immoral act of 'murder' to kill an innocent human being" ... BUT two very different things are meant by the proposition. We mean "It is an immoral act of 'murder' to kill any human being who has committed no offence that warrents death." They mean "It is an immoral act of 'murder' to kill any Moslem who has committed no offence that warrents death."

Moslems read non-Moslems out of the human race.

Utilitarians read all human beings (except, perhaps, themselves) out of the human race.

VR: "That would be speciesism."

As I said just above -- Utilitarianism reads all human beings out of the human race.

As I keep saying -- There is *always* a god of the system; and if the god of the system is not the Creator of men, it will be a creation of men (and if it is a creation of men, then there will usually be a bloody demon behind it). The questions that may be asked, and thus the answers that may be given, follow from the nature of the god of the system.

When a God-denier, whether moral monsters like Peter SInger or Steven Pinker, or whether just someone like John Moore assert things such as: "Instead of religious arguments, you need to argue based on practical things that all people more or less agree about." what they mean is "Surrender! ... then we can "discuss" the issue."

VR: "Singer isn't stupid, he's just a bloody consistent utilitarian."

Well, gee:
1) I most surely did not say that he is stupid -- surely you ought to know by now that I am one of the few people commenting on the intenet who doesn't accuse those with whom he disagrees of being stupid;
2) and, yes, that Singer is "just a bloody consistent utilitarian" is right up there with what I wrote. Recall, I wrote: "Now, it is true that many (if not most) of the pro-abortion "extremists" (which is to say, the ones lead on the issue) do, indeed, morally equate the life of a scorpion with the life of a child, and thus we have abominations like Peter Singer; but most rank-and-file pro-abortionists, while willingly morally obtuse are not nearly *that* morally obtuse."

Ilíon said...

Bears Repeating: "Victor, your question is a moral one. It's not so much about abortion, it's about "a hard case on morality". Christianity has explained that hard feature of reality whereas utilitarians, naturalists, materialists, atheists, etc. have not. ALL the cases on morality are hard for these people."

Ilíon said...

VR: "but I am alarmed to find that you sympathize with so many liberal views"

Well, yes, VR *does* "sympathize with so many liberal views" (which is to say, leftist propositions and assumptions).

At the same time, he does like to play Devil's Advocate ... which sort of does go with the territory when you're a philosophy teacher.

And, at the other same time, it can be difficult to tell whether he's just playing Devil's Advocate or trying to come up with a way to surrender. Which is a sign of someone who is doing a good job of Devil's Advocate.

Ilíon said...

^ oops, as your must realize, the above quote is not VR, it's Jo F

tearfang said...

//Can it be justified for her to abort her fetus in order to make sure she can care for her toddler?//
First I'll note that the question completely ignores the possibility of adoption, and also note the good news that newborn babies get adopted so much in the US that many ppl wanting to adopt are forced to go overseas to find available newborns to adopt- so the scenario doesn't correspond to the options avalaible in reality. Let's set that question aside for now...

Fip the question around: Can it be justified for her to kill the toddler so she can care for the babie?

Ilíon said...

^ Yes, the moral question is the same in both cases.

The *only* reason there are "hard" cases for abortion (*) is because people want to do what they know is immoral and yet have it that it is not immoral.

(*) Don't even bother us with the rare genuine instances in which the pregnancy poses a real danger to the mother's life. For in those (let me repeat this: rare) instances, no one desires the death of the infant, what they desire is to save the life of the mother.