Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Two consistent propositions

The following two positions are consistent with one another. 

1) Abortion is murder. 
2) The Constitution, properly interpreted, makes it unconstitutional to outlaw abortion. 

The arguments for 1 are never identical to the arguments against 2. Arguments supporting 1 do not prove that 2 is false. So 1 and 2 are compatible.

Of course, the Constitution is amendable. Arguments for 2 involve trying to show that the right to privacy is not absolute. The argument is never that the personhood of the fetus is provable. 

67 comments:

Legion of Logic said...

"https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treatment_of_slaves_in_the_United_States"

I'm sure slaves would have thought it nice if something as nebulous as personhood was indeed provable.

Which seems a better policy to craft law:

"Is it alive and is it human? Then don't kill it unless in self defense, including health of the mother."

Or

"Well we aren't sure exactly what qualities make a human a human and therefore worthy of legal protection against getting killed intentionally, but we think it might be those qualities that we can arbitrarily group together in order to protect a human life at Point B but not Point A."

First option seems just a bit more sensible.

Jimmy S. M. said...

"Then don't kill it unless in self defense, including health of the mother."

Is it fair to restate that:

"It is morally permissible to abort if the health of the mother is endangered"

This is the primary reason I generally side with the "pro-choice" forces, so my questions would be- how endangered, and who decides?

B. Prokop said...

Thought Experiment:

You are holding on to a rope with one hand, dangling over a 1000 foot drop. With your other hand, you are holding on to another person. If you let go of that person, he will fall to his death. But if you do not let go of him, eventually you will tire and both of you will be killed. However, if you do let go of him, then you have both hands free to climb up the rope and save yourself.

Question: Is it morally permissible to let go of the other person?

Jimmy S. M. said...

Sorry, my previous deleted answer felt evasive when I didn't mean it to be. I would say yes, it is permissible. I'm curious to see where you're going with this example..

B. Prokop said...

Hah! And here I was curious as to where others would go with it.

I have no idea how many times this situation comes up in Real Life. Is this a common situation, where the mother will with 100% certainly die if she continues a pregnancy, or is this some sort of extreme case used as a rhetorical weapon in the abortion argument?

But let's assume we're faced with the extreme case. If the pregnancy continues, both mother and child will without question die. If it is terminated, then the mother survives but the baby dies. What say you, Gentle Readers (a la Ilion)?

grodrigues said...

@B. Prokop:

Excuse me if I am wrong, but you are a Catholic, correct? Catholic moral theologians wrote at length about such scenarios, most notably (most notably here should be read as "what I know best") under the principle of double effect. Any discussion of the PoDE invariably starts with the admonition that no evil may be committed so that good comes about.

Joe Hinman said...

the assertion of killing a person is based upon the assumption of sentimentalism. I still think consciousness has to be the operative point of else you are just mandating the assumption of determinism. If we don't equate consciousnesses with soul and make that the defining point then we are stuck with the blueprint as the point that means biology is destiny, I guess that;s ok with a bunch of white male fundies,

Legion of Logic said...

"It is morally permissible to abort if the health of the mother is endangered"

There is a difference between "legally permissible" and "morally permissible". I'm speaking in legal terms, because the law SHOULD be objective and SHOULD be based on an objective foundation.

So if I reword your rewording and change "morally" to "legally", then to answer your question:

"how endangered, and who decides"

What are the standards of legal permissibility in killing another adult? One can argue the moral implications of B. Prokop's thought experiment, but would anyone be punished for dropping the other person? No. Would they be punished if the other person stressed them out and they pushed them off the cliff? Yes.

Current rate of maternal death in the United States is roughly one or two percent of one percent, if my quick mental calculations are remotely accurate, and most of those could be preventable. So how is pregnancy itself considered a great enough risk to preemptively kill the unborn? Is fearing someone MIGHT attack you justification for killing them in self defense?

I see my children five days a week, yet I still have to pay a quarter of my income in child support because the law only cares about where they sleep. So it's very hard for me to make ends meet, yet financial hardship would not justify killing my kids or my ex wife. So is financial hardship justification for killing the unborn?

But let's go back to the thought experiment. If I grabbed the rope and grabbed a random passerby and jumped off the cliff, then dropped the other person in order to save myself, I absolutely would be punished, because the other person was innocent and had done nothing but be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The vast, vast majority of pregnancies are easily, easily preventable - personal responsibility is a thing, and should be a thing. If you willingly engage in behavior that is known to result in a new human life, then whose responsibility is the new human life? (I support handing out birth control like McDonald's french fries if that's what it takes to end abortion, incidentally.)

So indeed, what are the standards of legally permissible endings of another human life?

Legion of Logic said...

"If we don't equate consciousnesses with soul and make that the defining point then we are stuck with the blueprint as the point that means biology is destiny, I guess that;s ok with a bunch of white male fundies"

White male fundies? I swear, progressivism is a brain rot. Also, that was racist, sexist, and anti-whatever. Shame on you, bigot.

Find the soul and we can base law on it.

Jimmy S. M. said...

@LOL

"Current rate of maternal death in the United States is roughly one or two percent of one percent,"

Is it only that low because abortion is legal? My intuition is 'almost certainly'

"So how is pregnancy itself considered a great enough risk to preemptively kill the unborn?"

I wouldn't use that argument myself

" Is fearing someone MIGHT attack you justification for killing them in self defense?"

I think it is in Florida

"So is financial hardship justification for killing the unborn?"

I believe that is the top reason given by women seeking abortion, so better social support would be a way to address this. I said the medical necessity question was my primary reason for being "pro choice" but the question of what a society that forces life owes to that life is second. Personally I think it's greater than 'nothing' and less than the "cradle to grave welfare state", but more than we currently provide.


"(I support handing out birth control like McDonald's french fries if that's what it takes to end abortion, incidentally.)"

Agree

B. Prokop said...

"I still think consciousness has to be the operative point"

What?!? So when I'm asleep, I no longer have a soul?

B. Prokop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B. Prokop said...

Legion,

I think you may have misinterpreted my thought experiment. So let me try again:

Bill and his best friend Joe are standing at a cliff's edge, admiring the view. Suddenly and without warning, they both lose their footing and fall over the edge. There just happened to be a knotted rope there, dangling over the abyss. Bill manages to grab onto it near the very end with his left hand, while catching hold of Joe's left wrist with his right. Joe cannot lift himself any further because he sprained his right arm in the fall - so he's basically dead weight at this point. Bill needs both hands to grab onto the rope and pull himself back up, but one hand is occupied with holding on to Joe. Bill is tiring swiftly with the effort of holding on, and will lose his grip in 30 seconds. If he holds on, they'll both fall to a certain death. But if Bill lets go of Joe, he'll be able to make it back up to the top of the cliff and safety.

So, is Bill morally (not legally - let's ignore that aspect for now) justified in letting go of Joe?

Jimmy S. M. said...

Total aside- Depending on my relationship to who I'm holding, I may very well let us both fall. A great philosopher once said: "To die by your side- well, the pleasure, the privilege is mine"

B. Prokop said...

Ahh.. but all you've done is open yourself up to a whole 'nother ethical dilemma. Given that suicide is not an option for a Christian, can you even consider "letting go", or must you hold on until your strength gives out? How about those people who leapt to a certain death from the Twin Towers, rather than stay where they were to get burned alive a minute or so later?

(I'm purposefully going for the most extreme examples I can think of here.)

oozzielionel said...

Joe is in the position of temporarily preventing Bill from falling. He is not in the position of causing Bill to fall. In the scenario, there is no possibility of ultimately preventing Bill of falling. No matter which choice he makes he cannot be the cause of Bill falling. He is responsible to do what he can do but no more. He may let go.

However, he cannot know that he will lose his grip after 30 seconds. It is less clear if he may let go after 25 seconds or after 1 second due to the possibility from other help or a change of circumstances.

Legion of Logic said...

"So, is Bill morally (not legally - let's ignore that aspect for now) justified in letting go of Joe?"

Well that depends on the angle you approach it from. Would Bill be selfish in letting go? Yes, though not maliciously so. Is it understandable if he let go of Joe? Yes. Would Bill accomplish anything by NOT letting go and both dying? No. Would it be more noble to give everything he had in attempting to save them both in an ultimately futile effort? Yes. Does Bill OWE it to die in an attempt to save Joe, if it's not Bill's fault that Joe is in that predicament? No. Would people (presumably not counting Joe's family) understand if Bill let go of Joe? Yes.

In this case, I don't see a presumption of responsibility from Bill that Joe's life is in danger, so I would not call it immoral for him to let go. If it had been Bill's fault, then absolutely it would be immoral to let go.

B. Prokop said...

Well, I'll be honest. I don't exactly know where to proceed from here. I guess the applicability of my thought experiment to the idea of terminating a pregnancy to save the life of the mother is less clear (at least to me) than when I proposed it.

First of all, the scenario I described was purposefully cut and dried. As in any good scientific experiment, you want to limit the variables. But I'm admittedly ignorant as to whether such certainty ever exists in real world problem pregnancies. Is it ever the case where a doctor will tell a mother "The baby is going to die no matter what, but we can still save your life if we act now."? I don't know.

And Jimmy's question ("Is [the rate of maternal death] only low because abortion is legal?") is another stumper. The Law of Unintended Consequences once again rears its ugly head. It's rather like the debate over legalization of drugs, where it's argued that legalizing them might actually result in lower addiction rates, and far less deaths by overdose.

I for one would enthusiastically endorse anything that actually works. If legalizing "abortion on demand" would result in a lower incidence of abortion, then I'm all for it. If laws restricting abortion result in higher abortion rates (as some studies have shown), then I am against them. But if an outright ban lowers the rate, then I am all for that. My attitude is the same as Abraham Lincoln's, when he said "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that."

In other words, do what works - not what fits an ideology.

Jimmy S. M. said...

@BP

Great post!

". Is it ever the case where a doctor will tell a mother "The baby is going to die no matter what, but we can still save your life if we act now."? I don't know."

Yes, Ectopic(tubal) pregnancies

Legion of Logic said...

"In other words, do what works - not what fits an ideology."

Absolutely.

B. Prokop said...

"Absolutely."

Tell that to Ilion.. or to Crude.

bmiller said...

@B. Prokop,

If the Catholic Church considers human life to begin at conception, and willfully killing an innocent human life is murder then this is what your statement reads like from the view of the Catholic Church.

I for one would enthusiastically endorse anything that actually works. If legalizing "murder on demand" would result in a lower incidence of murder, then I'm all for it. If laws restricting murder result in higher murder rates (as some studies have shown), then I am against them. But if an outright ban lowers the rate, then I am all for that. My attitude is the same as Abraham Lincoln's, when he said "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that."

Is this your intention?


B. Prokop said...

bmiller,

And to that I would respond by repeating my own opening statement: "I for one would enthusiastically endorse anything that actually works."

Ya gotta problem with that?

Joe Hinman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Hinman said...

B. Prokop said...
"I still think consciousness has to be the operative point"

What?!? So when I'm asleep, I no longer have a soul?

you still have consciousness when you are a sleep, you are using the term in too literal a fashion,

Joe Hinman said...

Legion of Logic said...
"If we don't equate consciousnesses with soul and make that the defining point then we are stuck with the blueprint as the point that means biology is destiny, I guess that;s ok with a bunch of white male fundies"

White male fundies? I swear, progressivism is a brain rot. Also, that was racist, sexist, and anti-whatever. Shame on you, bigot.


>>Bull shit!the right wing fallacy that says pointing point the problem makes you guilty too.

It is not some from of political correctness to equate soul with consciousnesses,most modernist types would just deny there is a soul, or indeed even consciousness! The fact that I'm trying to find a place for the soul in modernity means that i am set apart from that view.

Find the soul and we can base law on it.

Joe Hinman said...

"Find the soul and we can base law on it."

>>>they did that's why Roe v Wade bases woman's right on privacy. Privacy is psychological and that assumes there's a consciousness.

Joe Hinman said...

. Prokop said...
Ahh.. but all you've done is open yourself up to a whole 'nother ethical dilemma. Given that suicide is not an option for a Christian, can you even consider "letting go", or must you hold on until your strength gives out? How about those people who leapt to a certain death from the Twin Towers, rather than stay where they were to get burned alive a minute or so later?

(I'm purposefully going for the most extreme examples I can think of here.)

In Eusebius ecclesiastical histories there are examples of martyrs who committed their souls to God and jumped off a cliff into the sea rather than be raped by soldiers or something. so that was understood as permissibly Christian.

you could say that's to prevent sin and being burned isn't sin.there;s no verse in the bile that says sucideis a sin.

Joe Hinman said...

As to the notion that my comment about white male fumdies is racist and sexist,I am white,m i am male, it was born,raised and lived most of my life (60 years) in Dallas Texas.

I was raised in the Church of Christ then became a charismatic, with baptism of the Holy Spirit,speaking tongues and jumping up and down holding my hands up in the touch down signal an singing all about Jesus.


If that doesn't qualify me about white male fundamentalism I don't know what does.

Just for the record I still believe I am filled with the Holy spirit and am known to utter a few strange sounds now and then. And I also might just put my hands up in theair when I pray now and then. I still bleieve in the gifts.

Joe Hinman said...

as for the "what works.what is right" dichotomy, not to put anyone down Prokop please don't see this as siding against you, but if we try to size things up like that we still have to have a standard for saying what "works" means.

bmiller said...

@B. Prokop,


"I for one would enthusiastically endorse anything that actually works."

Ya gotta problem with that?


Well if you consider it wrong to murder the innocent, then it is still wrong to murder the innocent no matter how large or small the number of murders. Perhaps you would see the point if you or your family were the ones offered for the sacrifice. Or perhaps Mary's child.

B. Prokop said...

?????

I don't understand your point at all, bmiller. Here I am, saying that whatever reduces the abortion rate ought to be embraced for that very reason, and you somehow turn that into a pro-abortion position? I don't get it!

I can make no sense out of what you are posting.

Joe Hinman said...

can we ever really knw what God wants as opposed to what we want?


Imposing our values on God and Science

Joe Hinman said...



try this link

bmiller said...

@B. Prokop,

”I don't understand your point at all, bmiller. Here I am, saying that whatever reduces the abortion rate ought to be embraced for that very reason, and you somehow turn that into a pro-abortion position? I don't get it!”

Well, this is your quote I was referring to:

BP:“If legalizing "abortion on demand" would result in a lower incidence of abortion, then I'm all for it. If laws restricting "abortion result in higher "abortion rates (as some studies have shown), then I am against them.”

This quote seems to me that you are saying that you would be for abortion if it reduced the number of abortions and be against efforts to restrict abortion (and thereby tacitly approve of abortion) if the efforts were unsuccessful.

Please let me know where I went wrong.

And BTW, you mentioned that Ben Yackov convinced you to change your stance on abortion. Can you please share what it was that convinced you?

Joe Hinman said...

Miller you seem to be assuming makimng abortion illegal will reduce to 0. That wont happen, It will mean more women die because they will get so called "coat hanger" abortions. I don't see how allowing it will reduce the number but disallowing will get more women killed.

what I cam't understand how RTLers can assume unborn lives are more important than born lives.

For RTL life ends at birth. Unborn must be protected even if we have to destroy the planet to do it. Then they have no place to grow up but who cares? their lives are over when tjey are born.

B. Prokop said...

bmiller,

Allow me to try again.

If we could lower the rate of abortion by legalizing "abortion on demand", then doing so would be a Good Thing, because the end result would be less abortions.

If it turned out that laws restricting abortion "rights" meant that the rate of abortion would actually increase, then enacting such laws would be a Bad Thing, because of their result (i.e., more abortions).

Now I am not saying that the above is actually the case (although I've heard of studies that suggest it is). What I am saying is that results matter - not ideological purity. Do what works, not what makes you feel good.

"you mentioned that Ben Yackov convinced you to change your stance on abortion"

Did I? Perhaps I did, but I don't recall doing so. I did say that he was instrumental in changing my mind about the historicity of Adam. He convinced me that an historical Adam was both plausible and defendable.

B. Prokop said...

What unquestionably did change in my stance on abortion is that I had once placed the issue far, far down on my "list of priorities" to worry about (I basically gave the issue no thought at all), and were annoyed by others whom I regarded as making too much of it. I still disagree with making anything a "deal breaking" issue, but abortion has moved way up on my radar screen. You can credit Hillary Clinton for that. I was appalled by her radical pro-abortion stance. Also the writings of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska were quite instrumental (I read her book Divine Mercy in my Soul two years ago).

Yet I resolutely believe that abortion should not be regarded as a political issue, but rather as a moral and ethical one. That hasn't changed one whit. (Is there a difference between a moral issue and an ethical one?)

grodrigues said...

"If we could lower the rate of abortion by legalizing "abortion on demand", then doing so would be a Good Thing, because the end result would be less abortions."

I guess I was indeed wrong in my first sentence in February 14, 2017 11:05 AM.

B. Prokop said...

Did I not write "doing so would be a Good Thing"? Your comment specifically refers to "no evil may be committed" (my emphasis). Quite the opposite of doing a good thing, wouldn't you say?

A is not Not-A.

Jimmy S. M. said...

@grod

Is using political machinery to compel the prohibition of abortion to diverse societies an Ex Cathedra teaching of the RCC?

grodrigues said...

@B. Prokop:

"Quite the opposite of doing a good thing, wouldn't you say?"

I am honestly baffled by I know not what you imagine you have read in my comment.

So let us go to the Catechism, part 3, section 2, chapter 2, article 5- On the section on Abortion. We have and I quote (* as emphasis in the original):

"2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.

2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. "A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,"77 "by the very commission of the offense,"78 and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law.79 The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.

2273 The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a *constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation*:

2274 Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being."

If you can square what I just quoted with saying that "If we could lower the rate of abortion by legalizing "abortion on demand", then doing so would be a Good Thing, because the end result would be less abortions" then you can also square the circle, in which case this discussion is moot.

Maybe I have been hanging out at all the wrong places, but Catholic moral thinking is consistently and uniformly non-consequentialist, so it is at complete odds with what you are saying. Thus I said what I said.

grodrigues said...

@Jimmy S. M.

"Is using political machinery to compel the prohibition of abortion to diverse societies an Ex Cathedra teaching of the RCC?"

Do you expect me to answer an asinine question? What kind of an answer do you hope to get?

B. Prokop said...

grod,

I agree with every word of the passages you quoted, and fail to see how they are in conflict with what I have posted.

grodrigues said...

@B. Prokop:

"I agree with every word of the passages you quoted, and fail to see how they are in conflict with what I have posted."

Hmmm, this I was not expecting.

If you cannot see the obvious contradiction then I am afraid there is a little else I can do that would shed light on the matter.

Jimmy S. M. said...

I'd like to give this question one more try, I'm not Catholic nor have I ever been Catholic, so I don't see why it's "asinine." Absolute political supply-side prohibition of certain activities often have unintended consequences, like not actually reducing demand and making products life-threateningly unsafe. If a Catholic is not required to pursue the political solution, then they are free to look for practical solutions. So I want to know if that is actually the case.

B. Prokop said...

"So I want to know if that is actually the case."

According to grod, it seems not.

But the entire Augustinian/Thomist Just War Doctrine is precisely that - a "look for practical solutions". Killing another human being is an objective evil. But it is allowable if the good that results from such an action outweighs the evil of the act itself.

bmiller said...

@Joe Hinman,

"Miller you seem to be assuming makimng abortion illegal will reduce to 0. That wont happen, It will mean more women die because they will get so called "coat hanger" abortions. I don't see how allowing it will reduce the number but disallowing will get more women killed."

Well first, I don't assume making abortion illegal will reduce the abortion rate to 0 any more than I think making murder illegal will reduce the murder rate to 0. You actually hold that abortion is killing an innocent person after a certain point right? If so, then your disagreement with RTL folks is only about the timing.


"what I cam't understand how RTLers can assume unborn lives are more important than born lives."

Can't they assume that all persons lives are important? What makes one person's life more important than another?

grodrigues said...

@Jimmy S. M.

"If a Catholic is not required to pursue the political solution, then they are free to look for practical solutions. So I want to know if that is actually the case."

I am honestly not understanding what you are asking here, neither the relation, if any, to the original loaded question.

"Killing another human being is an objective evil. But it is allowable if the good that results from such an action outweighs the evil of the act itself."

Both statements are false. For the first, a ready counter example is given by the fact that the death penalty is affirmed by the majority of the Catholic tradition (and by St. Thomas in particular). The second is consequentialist thinking explicitly denied by, once again, the uniformity of the Catholic moral tradition, and by St. Thomas in particular. Just War theory, which indeed does exist, has nothing to do with the parody that Bob Prokop imagines reading into it.

grodrigues said...

The second quote is from B. Prokop; apologies for the wrong formatting.

bmiller said...

@Jimmy S. M.,

"If a Catholic is not required to pursue the political solution, then they are free to look for practical solutions. So I want to know if that is actually the case."

Could you perhaps re-phrase the question? What do you mean "if a Catholic is not required to pursue a political solution"? Do you think that the Catholic Church should not have an opinion on moral issues, as in what we should and should not do?

bmiller said...

@B. Prokop,

"But the entire Augustinian/Thomist Just War Doctrine is precisely that - a "look for practical solutions". Killing another human being is an objective evil. But it is allowable if the good that results from such an action outweighs the evil of the act itself."

I think you need to do a little more research here. This is a quote from "City of God" by Augustine:

"They who have waged war in obedience to the divine command, or in conformity with His laws, have represented in their persons the public justice or the wisdom of government, and in this capacity have put to death wicked men; such persons have by no means violated the commandment, 'Thou shalt not kill.'"

You'll notice the themes that Aquinas uses in his treatment also, notably:
It must be done by the proper authority, for public justice against wicked men. In this case saying "Killing another human being is an objective evil" is false. It is just and justice is a good.

B. Prokop said...

Listen folks! What matters here is that the pro-Life movement (of which I consider myself a member) has wasted decades of effort trying to change laws, when we should have focused like a laser beam on changing hearts. By concentrating on judicial remedies, we have

1. accomplished basically nothing
2. alienated millions to no good purpose
3. sacrificed every other vital issue to this one obsession, thus losing everything

The pro-Life movement reminds me of a football team who thinks it's more important to keep their appearance pristine and unsullied than to actually gain yardage. At the end of the day, everyone can go back into the locker room proud of their bandbox clean uniforms while losing the game.

Mr. Green said...

B. Prokop: Outlawing aborting is like setting a 55 mph speed limit on I-95 going into Baltimore.

Except that's obviously false. Not everyone goes 75mph (even if only tourists) precisely because some people are concerned with explicitly obeying the law. In fact, your example shows the opposite: people drive too fast because they think the speed-limit is not very important; how much less important will people think something that has no law at all? Sadly, there are many people who believe the propaganda surrounding abortion that it does not take a human life; if you tell someone that abortion is murder, he might think that couldn't possibly be true, because we have laws against murder — especially for anything as serious as murder! — and therefore if there are no such laws, then abortion cannot be that serious.

Conversely, because abortion is serious, because it is murder, we ought to take a serious stand against it, which at a minimum includes laws, just as with any other form of murder. Or can you name another species of murder for which you want to strike down the law?

It's like those damned riders and "poisoned pills" that congressmen so often slip into bills.

"Thou shalt not murder" is a poisoned pill?!

So, tragically, all the single issue voters out there sacrificed everything they held dear upon the altar of opposition to abortion. And they got nothing for doing so.

What in the world is a "single-issue voter"? I've never seen such a thing. Maybe you mean "single-candidate voter"? After all, it's not as though you can vote for Trump for pro-life issue and for Clinton for healthcare issues, say — the system just doesn't work that way, so you have to pick one person based on a combination of issues, including whichever are most important. So some voters may have "sacrificed" some things they held dear for the sake of something even dearer. For good or ill, that's how the system was designed.

Probably the stupidest thing the Democratic Party has ever done was to allow itself to be identified with the pro-abortion folks. Admittedly I've never done a scientific survey, but my gut tells me that a vast number of voters (primarily Catholics) who would otherwise be solid Democrats have pulled the lever for the other party

I can't disagree it was a bad move. Their positions on other issues are not so clearly aligned with Catholic teaching nowadays compared to the past, but before Roe v. Wade Democrats were more pro-life than Republicans, and the party had a lot of support from Catholics.

Mr. Green said...

(That reply to Mr. Prokop belonged to the previous thread, but at least the topic is same. Here's my reply that belongs to this thread:)

B. Prokop: What I am saying is that results matter - not ideological purity. Do what works

Or, to use the more common phrasing, "the end justifies the means". Hm. Do you not know that we must never do good that evil may come of it? "Ideological" purity may not matter, but moral purity does. (GRodrigues's shock is hardly surprising given that the end's justifying the means is contrary to any interpretation of Catholic or Christian morality.)

Now I suppose that you are somehow thinking that legally endorsing "abortion on demand" does not qualify as something bad. So again, I am curious as to what other forms of murder you would allow on demand? Please give us some examples.

Is it ever the case where a doctor will tell a mother "The baby is going to die no matter what, but we can still save your life if we act now."? I don't know.

Very rarely. And you do know, because Legion of Logic already cited a figure for pregnancy-related deaths (around 0.015% in the U.S.). And in fewer of those cases would the baby die anyway, let alone its death help the mother. Dr. Alan Guttmacher said: Today it is possible for almost any patient to be brought through pregnancy alive, unless she suffers from a fatal illness such as cancer or leukemia, and, if so, abortion would be unlikely to prolong, much less save, life. — and that was back in 1967. (Yes, that Guttmacher.)

And Jimmy's question ("Is [the rate of maternal death] only low because abortion is legal?") is another stumper.

You have access to a search-engine, right? "When mortality rates associated with abortion and childbirth are examined using a single uniform standard, significantly higher mortality rates are associated with abortion."


But the entire Augustinian/Thomist Just War Doctrine is precisely that - a "look for practical solutions". Killing another human being is an objective evil. But it is allowable if the good that results from such an action outweighs the evil of the act itself.

As already noted, this is incorrect. Just War doctrine is based ultimately on self-defence; if the conditions apply and you really are killing in self-defence, then it is not evil. If it is evil, then it is not a just killing (or just war).

B. Prokop said...

Great God in Heaven! (And no, I am not taking His name in vain, but merely expressing my wonder at the obtuseness of some people in this conversation.) I am not saying the end justifies the means! I am not saying we should advocate for repealing laws against abortion. No, no, NO! I am saying we should not concern ourselves with such things at all. All pro-Life efforts should be directed at changing peoples minds, not our laws.

And why? Because that actually accomplishes more than stroking our egos and patting ourselves on the back. 40 plus years of batting our heads against Roe v Wade have not advanced the ball one yard, yet amazingly there are more pro-Life people amongst the next generation than ever before. Why? Because of evangelization. Now just imagine where that figure would be had we concentrated 100% of our efforts in that direction. Abortion would be a matter of historical interest only!

Now how is that advocating doing evil hoping that good will result? How is that saying the ends justify the means? Think, people, think!

bmiller said...

@B. Prokop,

"I am not saying the end justifies the means!"

I take you at your word that you did not intend that.

But everyone reading this statement read it that way:
"If we could lower the rate of abortion by legalizing "abortion on demand", then doing so would be a Good Thing, because the end result would be less abortions."

Can we agree that you misspoke then and "abortion on demand" could never be a good thing?

B. Prokop said...

My intent was to say we ought not to care what the law is. We ought to be fixated on converting individual human beings to the idea that pre-born babies are people (and corporations aren't), and ought not to be killed. A generation of people who regard abortion with the same horror as infanticide will simply not be having them.

Also, the law of unintended consequences has struck with a vengeance over the past four decades. By making a candidate's stand on this single issue a litmus test has resulted in many vitally important issues being sidelined or worse, because of an insistence on ideological purity.

A devout Catholic can with a good conscience vote for a pro-choice candidate as long as they are voting for them in spite of their position on abortion and not because of it. That makes perfect sense to me. Otherwise, (another thought experiment here) let's imagine you're faced with a choice between Candidate A, who agrees with you on every single issue, but is pro-choice, and Candidate B, who has diametrically opposed views to yours on literally everything, but is pro-Life. I know, I know, there are people who would say you must vote for Candidate B. And that is precisely why Life should not be a political issue at all, and it was a terrible mistake to ever make it one.

"Can we agree that you misspoke then and "abortion on demand" could never be a good thing?"

Abortion is never a good thing. Agreed.

bmiller said...

@B. Prokop,

”Abortion is never a good thing. Agreed.”
Thanks for clarifying. We are in agreement.

”My intent was to say we ought not to care what the law is.
Are you sure about that, because then you say:

”We ought to be fixated on converting individual human beings to the idea that pre-born babies are people (and corporations aren't)

I’m sorry, but all I’ve been talking about is the morality of abortion. If you agree that abortion is wrong, murder even, then should we not care what the law says it? Should we not care what the law says about murder? Is this what the Catholic Church taught you?

Also, why include the phrase I highlighted in discussion about the morality of abortion? If you agree with the Catholic Church that abortion is the taking of a human life do you mean to imply that killing innocent human life is the same as whatever you are talking about wrt corporations?

B. Prokop said...

The "and corporations aren't" was an (apparently unsuccessful) to introduce a bit of levity into an otherwise grim conversation. I don't come to DI to get depressed.

And now I'm shutting down for the evening. Going to watch The Sands of Iwo Jima on DVD. Love me some John Wayne!

bmiller said...

@B. Prokop,

Have a good night.
And use some smiley's when you're using levity :-)

grodrigues said...

@B. Prokop:

"My intent was to say we ought not to care what the law is."

I will quote the Cathechism 2273 again (* emphasis in the original):

"2273 The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a *constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation*"

Can you please enlighten me how you can square the statement that the "The inalienable right to life" is a "constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation" with being positively indifferent to what the law actually says?

"We ought to be fixated on converting individual human beings to the idea that pre-born babies are people (and corporations aren't), and ought not to be killed."

So if I am understanding you right, the idea here is that we should concentrate on changing the hearts of people, because even if we were successful and managed to change the law, presumably there would still be women procuring (now illegal) abortions.

There are at least three problems with this. (1) It assumes a false dichotomy. The situation is not that of an either/or but both/and. It is extremely unfair to the members of the pro-Life movement that did go out into the field and tried to help women in all sorts of practical ways. (2) As Mr. Green noted, the Law is also a tutor, so changing the law is also and by itself a means to changing the hearts of the people. (3) As Mr. Green also noted, the underlying principle is obviously false for other murders, or even other types of wrong doings (theft say), so what makes abortion special? Is the specific historical context in which we find ourselves? How does the justification go exactly?

B. Prokop said...

My point is that the strategy of ending abortion by attempting to change the law has failed - utterly, totally, completely. It has not only failed in its prime objective, but has alienated (possibly millions of) people from the faith by painting a false picture of Christians as being obsessed with the issue to the exclusion of everything else. Which leads me to wondering just how "false" that picture actually is. How is it good policy (or strategy, for that matter) to toss overboard everything we presumably hold dear (see yesterday's comment from 7:37 PM) in the futile hope of overturning Roe v Wade? Christ Himself told us to "count the cost" before setting out on any endeavor. (Luke 14:28-32)

In this case, the cost was unacceptably high. For it has also had the disastrous side effect of identifying American Catholicism with partisan politics, and worse, with a specific political party. A pure case of what C.S. Lewis so accurately described as "Christianity and..." The danger behind such an attitude is that the "and" so often assumes a greater importance (and certainly a greater emphasis) than the "Christianity".

Remember how Our Lord rebuked the Pharisees. "You tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others." (Luke 11:42, my emphasis) I read that to mean that we ought not to have sacrificed our Catholic concern for other matters of social and economic justice on the altar of a single issue.

(By the way, I thoroughly enjoyed watching The Sands of Iwo Jima last night. Hadn't seen it in decades, and didn't realize how much of the movie is actual WWII combat footage, skilfully woven into the scenes with the actors. Brilliant!)

Stardusty Psyche said...

Mr. Green said...

" I am curious as to what other forms of murder you would allow on demand? "

The question presupposes that abortion is murder.

The OP does nothing to clarify, only offering these 2 grossly oversimplified assertions

1) Abortion is murder.
2) The Constitution, properly interpreted, makes it unconstitutional to outlaw abortion.

In the USA abortion is variously illegal, legal, or restricted.

At present outlawing abortion post viability has been found constitutional, and 43 states have done so. The court has found, further, that it is constitutional to use 20 weeks as a presumption of viability.

Any reasonable discussion of abortion should start by defining it, which was not done in the OP, and I did not see any definition in the comments, although I could possibly have missed one.

I can state my view rather simply, that brain function defines our humanity. An unborn human being in possession of a level of brain function that would ethically require the sustenance of life in an adult near the end of life is equally entitled to the sustenance of life in utero. Self defense is the only justification for removal of that sustenance in that case.

An organism not in possession of such brain function is no more of a human being than an expired adult patient who is still breathing and still has a functioning heart but is now legally brain dead. In that case there is not human individual in utero and the tissue may ethically be disposed of just as one disposes of the still functioning body of a legally brain dead adult patient.

Viability is merely a poor proxy for determination of intrinsic humanity and will be rendered obsolete as an abortion criteria with the advent of the artificial womb.


February 15, 2017 5:33 PM

B. Prokop said...

Stardusty,

You compare a fetus prior to "brain function" occurring to a brain dead patient who is beyond hope of recovery. But do you really find no difference between an organism which is reasonably certain to possess brain function in the future with one for whom all brain functions are in the past?

This seems very strange (and undefendable) to me. It's like equating a seed with a piece of driftwood.

Stardusty Psyche said...

B. Prokop said...

" You compare a fetus prior to "brain function" occurring to a brain dead patient who is beyond hope of recovery. But do you really find no difference between an organism which is reasonably certain to possess brain function in the future with one for whom all brain functions are in the past?"
If I have unprotected sex with my wife a number of times I am reasonably certain she will get pregnant in the future. Am I a murderer if I instead use a condom every time?

Theists who discuss abortion often suffer a time comprehension breakdown. Throwing blueprints into the fireplace is not arson.

Murder requires the taking of an actual human life in the present.

All human beings have functioning brains. A thing that lacks a functioning brain is not a human being. This principle allow us to establish sound and consistent criteria for the ethics of medical procedures when there is a question of whether or not a human life is being ended.

" This seems very strange (and undefendable) to me. It's like equating a seed with a piece of driftwood."
If there is a law against cutting down a tree of a particular species then neither cutting a piece of driftwood or a seed meet that criteria, because neither are living trees.


February 19, 2017 8:18 PM

B. Prokop said...

Like I said, passing strange.