November 29, 2014

"[F]or a 'pro-life' argument to make sense it has to make sense..."

"...that it follows from a spiritual instinct, or from religious dogma, however deeply held, is not something that rational people have to pretend to respect. It is easy to cite the source of moral ideas in religious vision. Don’t you know that Dr. King was a Christian minister? Didn’t the ideas of the Abolitionists rise from the Northern churches? It’s perfectly true that many good and noble and necessary ideas have come from churches and chapels—as many others have come from temples, universities, Masonic lodges, and presumably one or two from a Satanic cult. But their relevance and plausibility have nothing at all to do with their source; they have to do with the moral and practical sense they make to those who don’t have any special respect for their origins. Dr. King was a Christian minister whose ideas about equality and social justice were crucially affected by his faith; those ideas were just as crucially affected by Gandhi and, for that matter, as J. Edgar Hoover would have pointed out, by the Communists in King’s entourage. His 'Dream' speech, though deeply rooted in his faith, appealed not to the authority of religion but to the common language, irresistible to all, or almost all, of justice and moral order and practical benefit. Lincoln may have entered politics with a passionate hatred of slavery, but once he was a politician his arguments were distilled from passion into reason and law, and sometimes even into legalism."

Writes Adam Gopnik — in  "Arguing Abortion" — explicating one of the
two major originalities" in Katha Pollit's book "Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights."

202 comments:

1 – 200 of 202   Newer›   Newest»
Jon Burack said...

"But their relevance and plausibility have nothing at all to do with their source; they have to do with the moral and practical sense they make to those who don’t have any special respect for their origins."

This strikes me as a very peculiar claim. The notion that religion is simply a "source" or point of "origin" of an idea that, independently of that, is "moral" and "practical." What standard separate from religion makes it moral, that is what I think I'd like to know? And what is the point about "practicality"? It sounds to me like it is a neutral sounding way of sneaking "expediently" or "selfishly" into the debate.

As for me, I accept the abortion right on grounds of the moral value of prudence. That is, it is in its essence an evil thing to take another human life (and I really have no interest in any claim that the fetus is not a human life). But there are times when we allow it to be done, while hemming it in with rules. It is moral to allow it. But it is not moral in and of itself. If that is where this book is going, I am not going with it.

tim maguire said...

If you are going to say murder is wrong at any point in the human life cycle, wrong in a special way, wrong like nothing else is wrong, then you have to pick a start and end point for the human life cycle. This is a serious task, you have to be able to say why what is here now is fundamentally different from what was here a moment ago. There are two points, and only two points, in the human life cycle where what is here now is fundamentally different from what was here a moment ago--the moment of conception and the moment of death. There are no other places you can point to.

The "pro-choice" (scare quotes definitely intentional) positions on when life begins--mother's choice, viability, or, the most absurd of all, some random trimester--amount to ignoring this basic reality; by smearing a specific point into a greyscale where transition from not yet human to human is unspecific and partly arbitrary, it deliberately turns a blind eye to vast numbers of what, under its own definition, is the cold blooded murder of a human being. And it does so for purely selfish reasons.

You cannot value human life at the same time that you obfuscate for selfish purposes the point at which human life begins. As Reagan once noted, "I can't help but notice everyone who favours abortion has already been born." That was a nice way of saying that the argument for abortion rights can be fairly summed up ad, "I've got mine, screw you."

tim maguire said...

Just out of curiosity, Jon, since you agree that abortion is murder, but nevertheless is moral under some circumstances, what are those circumstances? And do those circumstances apply equally to all humans?

Ann Althouse said...

"What standard separate from religion makes it moral, that is what I think I'd like to know? And what is the point about "practicality"? It sounds to me like it is a neutral sounding way of sneaking "expediently" or "selfishly" into the debate."

I think the point is that if you want to impose your moral principles on another person's body, you need an argument that works apart from belief in a religion. You might have that belief because of religion, and you have a strong reason to follow that belief with respect to your own personal behavior, but you need to translate that argument into something that can persuade nonbelievers.

You say that you have no interest in discussing whether the unborn (which might not yet be a fetus, but only an embryo) is a person, but that can't resolve the question for someone else. This is the point upon which Roe v. Wade was resolved: Someone must say whether the unborn is a person, and the woman whose body would go through the extreme and intimate ordeal of pregnancy and childbirth deserves ownership of that profound decision.

If you say you don't care to address that question, I would say it reinforces the Court's conclusion that the woman should be the one to answer it.

Archilochus said...

In all areas of thought our approach to reality is always determined by specifically religious assumptions, such as our theories of knowledge, history, value, and the future. We rarely consider these assumptions, yet they determine the results of our thinking, and subsequently, our action. As secularization in our culture has progressed, we have substituted what is created for the Creator, and placed the created reality at the top of our pyramid of values, with disastrous consequences. This is idolatry.

tim in vermont said...

The draft is extreme and intimate too. People will be subjected to it in the future if the need arises and it will not be seriously questioned if the need is not questioned.

Pretending that an embryo is not a person is a simple little mental trick to take a person to a pre-determined destination. The Nazis were into defining who was and was not allowed to live as well. They had all kinds of intellectual justifications, I am sure. BTW, you can call Godwin all you want, but we can't refuse to discuss one of the central and defining events of the 20th century, along with the horrific experiment in National Socialism's fraternal twin, Communism just because it is overused as a smear.

This article appears to be headed in that direction. Making fine distinctions that ultimately result in the killing of a person for reasons of convenience.

Abortion is infanticide. I reluctantly support it on the grounds that I don't want to live in a country that could successfully suppress it anymore than I would want to live in a country that could successfully suppress free markets.

Gahrie said...

Someone must say whether the unborn is a person, and the woman whose body would go through the extreme and intimate ordeal of pregnancy and childbirth deserves ownership of that profound decision.

So here we come to the crux of the matter. Pregnancy and childbirth can be unpleasant, so the woman should have the choice to kill her unborn child. I give Althouse some props for being so starkly honest about it.

The one and only time women admit that men and women are different is when they make this claim that only women should have the right to decide about abortion.

Once again, it is all about the woman, and damn anyone else.

Saint Croix said...

It's so odd that the New Yorker cannot run a photograph of abortion as it writes about abortion.

Gahrie said...

You know, after centuries of propoganda about how maternal and nuturing women are, it is remarkable how strident many of them are in protecting the right to kill their unborn children. Down right bloodthirsty in fact.

Saint Croix said...

if you want to impose your moral principles on another person's body

I believe that's a very good summary of what the Supreme Court did in Roe v. Wade. They imposed their moral principles on the baby, and turned that human child into sub-human property.

Where in the Constitution is the authority to do that to a human being?

And if this is not an act of violence, of homicidal rage by the state against an unwanted child, why are we so ashamed of our abortions that we have to hide them?

C R Krieger said...

As a layman (religious and legal and philosophical) I am not sure I see the difference in the base for views of those who go to church and those who dismiss it as bunk.  And, is morality and ethics the same thing or is one from one's beliefs one thing and community standards the other?

Columnist Adam Gopnik seems not to understand this, and claims the same for Ms Katha Pollitt.  His view seems to be that one's faith is not a legitimate basis for voicing an opinion, but an Atheist's view is also based upon one's beliefs as to how we all got here.  The column is a one-sided view of that very important issue.

On the other hand, for our society to work, we need an approach that answers some of these questions.  I am pro-life, but I can envision a compromise.

Part of the problem with Mr Gopnik is that he brings up the question of when human life begins and then does not answer it.  As a society, we need to know the answer to that question—actually, we need to find a compromise that tells us when that spark of life is present.  Frankly, I am not with philosopher Peter Singer on the point to pick.

Large majorities think abortion should be legal and also that abortion is wrong.  There has to be a compromise in there somewhere, somewhere short of actual live birth.

Regards  —  Cliff

Gahrie said...

And if this is not an act of violence, of homicidal rage by the state against an unwanted child, why are we so ashamed of our abortions that we have to hide them?

Saint Croix.....there is no rage involved, only indifference. Which to me is so much worse than rage would be.

Jon Burack said...

Ann, i said "human life," not "person." I am not sure what "person" means separately from that, but I think it is obvious that even an embryo is a human life. What other form of life could it possibly be? But yes, I am willing to leave the decision to abort up to the woman, as I said for prudential reasons. I think certain distinctions are reasonable - at various points in the pregnancy - and these make the choice to abort a human life more or less difficult. I just don't think we should be dishonest about the fact that a human life is being destroyed.

Leaving the choice up to the woman is in part a sign of respect for her autonomy. However, in real life, is it better for a woman to make this choice in total isolation from others? It might be unavoidably necessary, but I would hope such a heavy choice would be one a woman would make with those she loves and trusts. What I can't get is the drive to say it is not a heavy choice, since that thing in there is not yet a "person." It might not be, and it's up to the woman to say I think, but it is still a human life.

Saint Croix said...

Althouse, Nat Hentoff is a notable atheist who is pro-life. Are you accusing him of being a false atheist?

Gahrie said...

Leaving the choice up to the woman is in part a sign of respect for her autonomy.

But the only autonomy involved is the decision itself. Conception required another individual's contribution. Pregnancy involves another individual. If the child is born, as soon as it is, the mother and child place demands on the father and society.

Even though I oppose abortion as homicide, I would almost be willing to accept it's legality if women were willing to give me the same right to abandon their responsibilities.

Ann Althouse said...

"Where in the Constitution is the authority to do that to a human being?"

The Constitution is about what government may do — power and the limits of power. Beyond that is the liberty of the individual. We don't need the Constitution to give us liberty. The Constitution constrains government.

In the case of abortion rights, the government is lacking in power to impose on the individual to rescue the unborn, even though majoritarian politics would like to say this is a human being to be saved from murder, until the point when the unborn is capable of living outside of the woman's body.

Gahrie said...

Someone must say whether the unborn is a person, and the man whose finances would go through the extreme and intimate ordeal of child support deserves ownership of that profound decision.


You know how offensive that sounds to you women? Well your position sounds just as offensive to us.

If I don't deserve any say in the life of my unborn child, why am I responsible for it after birth?

The answer should be the same for both sexes, or neither sex...you made your choice when you decided to have sex.

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

In the case of abortion rights, the government is lacking in power to impose on the individual to rescue the unborn, even though majoritarian politics would like to say this is a human being to be saved from murder

The only reason the government lacks the power to protect the unborn is because 5 justices took that right away in 1973.

DavidD said...

Can we just agree that abortion for convenience sake is appalling? Seriously, if you don't want to get pregnant then just don't have sex.

tim in vermont said...

Abortion is infanticide justified by female privilege.

Gahrie said...

Can we just agree that abortion for convenience sake is appalling?

No we can't. Because if the Left was to admit that any form of abortion was appalling, then that would mean that there was something intrinsically wrong with abortion. The Left's position is that abortion is a positive good.

Gahrie said...

isn't the criminal legal system exactly the business of imposing moral principles on another person's body?

The only question is whose morals?

Gahrie said...

You know how people like to carve out an exception for rape even in pro-life laws?

So how come it is OK to force men who have been raped to pay child support?

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

The exact argument that women and the government uses to force men to pay child support, (it is for the good of the child) is exactly the same argument my side uses to ban abortion.

But one argument is good for women, and the other isn't.

Ralph Hyatt said...

What privileges secular beliefs over religious?

Both are based on non-rational assumptions concerning the nature of the universe.

It is a secular conceit that their basic assumptions concerning the universe are somehow scientific (SCIENCE!) and therefore the religious perspective can simply be dismissed.

In the end the view of reality that prevails comes down to which one has more political power.

The decontructionist are actually correct in this.

That is until actual reality in the form of consequences intrudes.

In this case the reality is that cheap foreign labor is being imported to replace the millions of babies being aborted each year so that people can have consequence free sex.

My understanding is that the demographic group most supportive of abortion on demand is young males.

Saint Croix said...

Abortion, she insists, is a right integral to women’s own autonomy, not a privilege to be used as infrequently as possible.

Wow!

If I'm reading that correctly, Katha Pollitt is not pro-choice; she's pro-abortion. It's not "choice" that is integral to a woman's autonomy. Abortion is integral to a woman's autonomy.

In other words, only by having an abortion can you free yourself. The people who choose to have a baby are now slaves to their children. You have lost your freedom. You are no longer autonomous.

Pollitt (or Gopnik reading Pollitt in a spectacularly bad fashion) not only says that abortion is "integral" to an autonomous life, she also says you should reaffirm your autonomy by having frequent abortions. Why apologize for your inability to use birth control? No no, go ahead and get pregnant on purpose so you can abort for womankind.

Saint Croix said...

The Clintons’ shrewd formula—“Safe, legal, and rare”—may have been born of political necessity, but it misstates the truth.

Safe, legal, often!

My name goes here. said...

Abortion kills human life. That is a biological fact, it is not a theological tenet.

Embryo, Fetus, Blastocyst, are all stages in human development, like toddler, adolescent, and adult.

Saint Croix said...

The moral intuition that abortion is in any way like murder is one that can be tested in the only way we can test such things, by looking at the actual evidence...

Photographs of abortion at 8 weeks.

Photographs of abortion at 12 weeks

Photograph of abortion at 16 weeks.

Photograph of abortion at 21 weeks.

Ann Althouse said...

"Althouse, Nat Hentoff is a notable atheist who is pro-life. Are you accusing him of being a false atheist?"

I have no idea what statement of mine you are interpreting, but that's ludicrous.

Ann Althouse said...

"Ann, i said "human life," not "person." I am not sure what "person" means separately from that, but I think it is obvious that even an embryo is a human life."

Person is the term used in the cases to refer to entities having rights. Everyone agrees that cells are alive, even sperm cells. But when does one cell or one cluster of cells acquire value as a separate entity? That is the question to be answered. And before viability the woman's answer governs with respect to what is happening inside her body.

Ann Althouse said...

"any say in the life of my unborn child, why am I responsible for it after birth?"

This is a matter governed by statutory law, so talk to your state legislator. Get the law changed if you can. It's in the realm of democracy. Group decisionmaking.

Ann Althouse said...

"The only reason the government lacks the power to protect the unborn is because 5 justices took that right away in 1973."

No. Roe v. Wade was 7 to 2. Only White and Rehnquist dissented, and only on judicial restraint, not right to life, grounds.

Gahrie said...

This is a matter governed by statutory law, so talk to your state legislator. Get the law changed if you can. It's in the realm of democracy. Group decisionmaking.

So was abortion and gay marriage at one time.

Ann Althouse said...

"In other words, only by having an abortion can you free yourself. The people who choose to have a baby are now slaves to their children. You have lost your freedom. You are no longer autonomous."

That is specious. The idea is obviously that liberty lies in choosing whether to go through with a pregnancy and bearing a child only by consent.

Saint Croix said...

Someone must say whether the unborn is a person, and the woman whose body would go through the extreme and intimate ordeal of pregnancy and childbirth deserves ownership of that profound decision.

No, Althouse, our authorities have announced that the unborn are not people. Our media culture announces that the unborn are not people. You are asking a woman to decide that her baby is a baby, while her entire culture dominates this thought process by denying the humanity of the unborn child.

Why censor abortion? Why is our culture so ashamed of this practice? It's a very simple question I'm asking.

Why are we hiding the photographs?

I think it's twofold. First, it's a desire to manipulate women into having abortions. We have to hide the nature of the practice, otherwise many women will avoid this horrific violence. (And if it's not horrific violence, why the censorship?)

And second, I think it's shame and guilt. It's an emotional response. We are ashamed of our own abortions. We feel bad. And we're afraid that other women will feel bad. So we repress, we deny, we hide the truth.

Gahrie said...

But when does one cell or one cluster of cells acquire value as a separate entity? That is the question to be answered.

That's easy, and answered by common sense, tradition and science: conception.


And before viability the woman's answer governs with respect to what is happening inside her body.

Why? Because pregnancy is icky?

Saint Croix said...

The idea is obviously that liberty lies in choosing whether to go through with a pregnancy and bearing a child only by consent.

Of course. You're pro-choice. I'm talking about Pollitt (as read by Gopnik). She's pro-abortion. She thinks it's abortion that makes women autonomous.

RecChief said...

I thought "don't kill" was a universal idea.

But apparently, it's only Christians who hold that belief?

sinz52 said...

Here's an argument that Katha Pollitt might admit "makes sense":

Look at the other end of life: Death.

We can now keep someone alive for quite a while on artificial machines, long after their brains have flatlined.

But the family can decide to terminate life support without that brain-dead person's consent. That is NOT considered murder (except by some religious nuts).

There at least, the functioning human brain is what we look for when we want to distinguish between murder and non-murder. (Sorry, Terri Schiavo. To me, you gave up your membership in the Brotherhood of People when your brain ceased to function.)

Now let's come back to the other end of life.

At some point in those nine months between a single cell and a baby, if all goes well, a fetal brain forms that can eventually think, dream, and react to stimuli in "human" ways.

Even Carl Sagan, who was an atheist, admitted that in such a case, late-term abortion is "murder beyond question" (his words).

The time of advanced fetal development is still hazy.

But there is NO doubt whatsoever that an embryo or a blastocyst or a fetus in the first few weeks of a pregnancy has NOTHING like a functioning human brain. It can't think, it can't plan, it can't dream.

It is much less sapient than a living chimpanzee, that is capable of all those things.

The boundary of when a non-sapient fetus becomes sapient is still hazy. It appears to be somewhere in the second trimester.

It's certainly NOT in the first trimester.

So I have no problem with either first-trimester abortion or withdrawing life support from adults whose brains have flatlined.

To me, they are the same issue.

Gahrie said...

OK:

"The only reason the government lacks the power to protect the unborn is because 7 justices took that right away in 1973."

Gahrie said...

The idea is obviously that liberty lies in choosing whether to go through with a pregnancy and bearing a child only by consent.

But apparently liberty doesn't include supporting a child only by consent.

Or men's liberty doesn't matter...either works..right?

Saint Croix said...

I have no idea what statement of mine you are interpreting

I'm reading this comment...

I think the point is that if you want to impose your moral principles on another person's body, you need an argument that works apart from belief in a religion.

You are implicitly accusing pro-lifers of being religious and imposing their religious views on our republic. I assume it's why you high-lighted this argument in Gopnik's piece.

My response is that Nat Hentoff is a well-known pro-lifer, and he's an atheist. By his very existence he destroys the argument.

Saint Croix said...

the functioning human brain is what we look for when we want to distinguish between murder and non-murder.

Yes, that's right. Brain activity starts six weeks after conception.

sinz52 said...

BTW, for all you sci-fi fans:

The way that U.S. laws are currently written, Yoda or Sarek of Vulcan would have less rights in America than a human fetus.

Our Bill of Rights enshrines freedom of speech, religion, etc., to "persons," not just to citizens.

But the Constitution doesn't define "person." That's up to U.S. law.

And current U.S. law defines a "person" explicitly as a member of the species Homo Sapiens.

So if some space alien landed here in America in his flying saucer, he would have no "human" rights at all. We could kill him without being charged with murder; we could imprison him in a zoo cage; we could do medical experiments on him without his consent.

His only protection would be laws preventing cruelty to animals.

This illustrates an important point:

No Star Trek fan considered Sarek to be a dumb animal; no Star Wars fan considered Yoda to be a dumb animal. There's something about them that we think of as making them "persons."

It's what human beings after birth share in common with them--the ability to think. (And if a flying saucer really did land here in America, Congress would have to fix those laws fast.)

That is not shared by an embryo, a blastocyst, or a first-trimester fetus.

sinz52 said...

" Brain activity starts six weeks after conception. Brain activity starts six weeks after conception."

That brain activity isn't much different from the brain of a fish.

The cerebral cortex--our ability to think and plan--isn't developed yet.

Basil said...

Ah, Professor, the negative rights con law argument. Except the Constitution is silent on abortion. There is no the Congress shall make no law respecting abortion clause. It is not the Constitution that makes abortion lawful it is the Supreme Court as Star Chamber that does so.

The argument against abortion does not rely on religion at all. It relies on science which proves that a baby it's mothers womb is both human and alive and that it is wrong to kill other humans, for obvious reasons.

Laslo Spatula said...

I am Floating Disarticulated Baby in Space. Sometimes I float down along Earth to see what my 'Mother' is doing now. Now that she is free of me she must be doing Really Important Things, things she couldn't do if I were there. I am Floating Disarticulated Baby in Space.

I am Laslo.

Fernandinande said...

AA said 5:50 AM: I think the point is that if you want to impose your moral principles on another person's body, you need an argument that works apart from belief in a religion.

tim maquire supplied exactly that two posts above yours, quite nicely.

This is the point upon which Roe v. Wade was resolved: Someone must say whether the unborn is a person, and the woman whose body would go through the extreme and intimate ordeal of pregnancy and childbirth deserves ownership of that profound decision.

A contrived and incomplete assertion, of the typically feminist "have cake and it it too" variety.

Why not extend the idea to kids after they're born? Someone else already drew a line there - why?

Why not extend the idea to someone whose body goes through the "extreme and intimate ordeal" of taking care of a sick person?

How extreme and intimate - though a completely normal part of life - does it have to be for someone to define someone else's life?

Gusty Winds said...

Sad that the left is now turning the corner to "abortion is good".

How long till they tell women "abortion is good for you". And since you don't have a lot of money to raise that unborn child, it's much better for you than some other women with resources. So we've scheduled you for 2pm on Friday. A van will pick you up. Don't worry. It's free.

Saint Croix said...

The cerebral cortex--our ability to think and plan--isn't developed yet.

That's right, but also completely irrelevant. The legal standard is any activity in the brain stem or cerebral cortex. That's the rule in all 50 states, and the federal rule too. Nice discussion here.

You want to apply a different standard to the unborn than to you or me. You should resist this impulse as it's unfair (and bigoted).

Gahrie said...

A man went on trial in Los Angeles earlier this year for murder, because he administered abortion drugs to his 13 week pregnant girlfriend using his fingers and caused a miscarriage.

Yet if the woman had administered the drugs herself, or paid a doctor to do it over his objections....no harm no foul.

Gahrie said...

How long till they tell women "abortion is good for you". And since you don't have a lot of money to raise that unborn child, it's much better for you than some other women with resources. So we've scheduled you for 2pm on Friday. A van will pick you up. Don't worry. It's free.

This is the logical extension of the goals of the Progressive movement and Planned Parenthood from the beginning.

Gahrie said...

To get back to the original issue:

The non-religious pro-life argument that should make sense to the Left is the same argument for not abusing animals...because it is more inhumane to kill unborn babies than it is to abuse animals.

jr565 said...

Althouse wrote:
"I think the point is that if you want to impose your moral principles on another person's body, you need an argument that works apart from belief in a religion. You might have that belief because of religion, and you have a strong reason to follow that belief with respect to your own personal behavior, but you need to translate that argument into something that can persuade nonbelievers. "
And I think secularists like to make the argument that because a religious person might have an objection to something like gay marriage or abortion, that the argument can be discounted entirely because thsts the ONLY reason why someone who was religious or on the other side of the argument would fee the way they do.
Arguments against abortion for example are biological ones. Life LITERALLY begins at conception. Arguments for traditional marriage are also founded in biology. I have yet to make religious arguments against either.
There are also religious arguments against murder. Yet religious folks can also find practical reasons why murder is wrong. Those for murder shouldn't say Christians can't argue against it (even if they don't make a Christian argument) because their objection is religious.

Fernandinande said...

AA: In the case of abortion rights, the government is lacking in power to impose on the individual to rescue the unborn, even though majoritarian politics would like to say this is a human being to be saved from murder, until the point when the unborn is capable of living outside of the woman's body.

Young, sick or injured people should also have their life defined by someone else until they are capable of living without help or care from others.

...until the point when the unborn is capable of living outside of the woman's body.

So, no abortions after the time when the kid would survive an induced birth.

Gusty Winds said...

I can imagine a woman who walks out of an abortion clinic may feel a sense of relief in not having to raise an unwanted baby, but do women leave feeling like what they just went through was "good"?

Was it a rewarding experience? Are they glad it happened? Would they do it again tomorrow if possible?

I know I'm a man, but I doubt they walk out thinking, "you know, I just did something that benefits society as a whole".

jr565 said...

davidD wrote:
Can we just agree that abortion for convenience sake is appalling? Seriously, if you don't want to get pregnant then just don't have sex.

those who are pro abortion can't really argue that. Since if someone gets An abortion for an appalling reason it's just as valid as if they get an abortion for the most noble reason in the world. And for every abortion because of incest there are a hundred because the woman just didn't want it.
Democrats used to argue that abortion should be safe, legal and rare, because it recognized that you are in fact killing a child. The newer crop of pro choicers like to describe it as a the equivalent of a tape worm. Or a clump of cells. And want to remove the stigma entirely.
Or film it to show its no big deal (for the woman)

jr565 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jr565 said...

Sinz wrote:
"That brain activity isn't much different from the brain of a fish.

The cerebral cortex--our ability to think and plan--isn't developed yet."

but it will. You used the comparison to someone in a coma. If a doctor said someone was in a coma BUT had brain activity that was currently the equivalent of a fish AND that they would make a full recovery in 9 months to where there brain was the equivalent of a new born baby and then they would develop their intelect the way a child does. Would you say it was ok to kill the person in the coma while they still had limited brain function?
A dead person has NO brain function.

Jalanl said...

Ann said "This is a matter governed by statutory law, so talk to your state legislator. Get the law changed if you can. It's in the realm of democracy. Group decisionmaking."

Absolutely!

And this is the basic issue.

The Christian view is God created human life and that makes human life valuable. Yes, we are fallen and do horrible things to each other but in the end our "value" derives from God.

Ann's view, as expressed above is "might makes right". If you don't like something persuade those in power to adopt your view. Don't like Jews? Elect Hitler. Don't like the rich? Put communism in place. Don't like Christians? Join ISIS.

Don't like the system? Start a revolution and set up your guillotines!

This view has resulted in the murder of hundreds of millions of people by governments in the last century. But if "might makes right" then it's all OK, isn't it?

I believe human life is sacred because it is a reflection of God; I cherish both the mother and the unborn baby and realize that sometimes a choice must be made and the mother's life may come first.

jr565 said...

Actually sing you didn't use the coma analogy. You used the death analogy. But there is a huge gap between no brain activity and no possibility of brain activity and limited brain activity but the potential for full brain activity if you just give it enough time.
If we had a coma patient and doctors said they had the potential to make a full recovery in 9 months even if their brain activity was limited the first few months I don't know too many people who would argue it was ok to kill them in the few months where their brain activity was at their lowest. Since, they would make a full recovery.

Fernandinande said...

Gahrie said...
OK:
"The only reason the government lacks the power to protect the unborn is because 7 justices took that right away in 1973."


Seven lawyers making up stuff.

Gusty Winds said...

Was it a rewarding experience? Are they glad it happened? Would they do it again tomorrow if possible?

In criticism of my comment above I would imagine women often walk away from the sex they just had, conflicted with the same questions.

Zeb Quinn said...

Let's stop fooling around. What's so magical about birth? Babies are still clingy-dependent for months and months after they're born, during which they certainly couldn't survive on their own. And they aren't really "people" either at this stage, just empty little skulls full of mush. Abortion ought to remain an option for the mother up until, say, 18 months of age, no questions asked.

jr565 said...

Also, there is no such thing as a baby surviving on its own outside the womb. Even a newborn. If we applied that standard to newborns

Tank said...

Zeb Quinn said...

Let's stop fooling around. What's so magical about birth?


Prior to birth, the fetus (or baby) is living inside of, attached to, and receiving all nourishment directly from, another human being.

I would not use the word magical, but would use the word different.

iowan2 said...

There are several debates within the obortion fight. Same as Homosexual marriage.

Right and wrong

Cultrual

Religion

Legal (statute)

Constitutional

with abortion, exactly where is SCOTUS' jurisdiction found? Right of privacy? Do with my body as I please? Thats why there are drug laws? So I can do with my body as I desire?
Nope. Commerce Clause defines life. Imagine that.

As to AA assertion that 'someone has to decide' is just cultural myopia believing that the federal Supreme Court is the final arbiter of everything, despite the BoR specifically stating that the federal govt can only do what the constitution clearly states, and everything else is left to the states or the people.
Abortion was legal before Roe. Today most people are ignorant of that fact.

EDH said...

Althouse: "if you want to impose your moral principles on another person's body..."

I thought it was about regulating commerce and the professional practice of medicine?

Saint Croix said...

One of the interesting things about Pollitt is that she tries to ground the right to abortion in legal history. She tries to argue that it's a common law right dating back centuries. Harry Blackmun tried a bit of this in Roe v. Wade. But one serious problem is that this history is a lie.

Pollitt does an interview with Diane Rehm. "Katha, I was fascinated to learn that until after the Civil War, abortion was essentially legal in all states."

False, utterly false. Abortion was always a crime at common law. Many of the abortion prosecutions were in regard to men who had forcibly aborted women in the street. The question for the judges was whether they were going to hang this man for murder or not. Was it murder or was it a lesser crime? The quickening rule, the born alive rule, this was always in regard to the question of murder. But there was no right to kick a pregnant woman in the abdomen and force her to have a miscarriage. Pollit's (and Harry Blackmun's) abortion history is spectacularly bad.

From the Washington Post book review: "Abortion, she reminds us, is at least 4,000 years old,"

Consider how ridiculous it is to talk about abortion from the B.C. era. There was no anesthesia until the middle of the 19th century. No penicillin until the middle of the 20th century, and no flexible curette until the 1960's. Women would die, all the time, from abortion. This is why the pagans abandoned newborns to die. And why Jean-Jacques Rousseau abandoned all five of his children. Abortion wasn't an option. (Unless you had reckless disregard for the mother's life, too).

Consider what Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the world, had to say about abortion. She called it "dangerous" and "vicious." In 1932! And Margaret Sanger was a eugenicist who wanted to keep "inferiors" from reproducing. But even she hated abortion.

And all the early feminists were pro-life. Susan B. Anthony called it child-murder. My favorite Anthony passage is this one.

"Guilty? Yes, no matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed. It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death; but oh! thrice guilty is he who, for selfish gratification...drove her to the desperation which impelled her to the crime."

It's dishonest for people to rewrite our history. It's frankly bizarre. Here is the Center for American Progress, arguing that the Puritans "kept abortion as a part of Puritan family life."

Or what about Pollitt, saying that women in England had a 16th century right to an abortion?

Without anesthesia? Or penicillin? If this is true, our ancestors at a minimum had a complete disregard for the health and safety of women. But of course this history is a delusion.

Browndog said...

Though I may have missed it, reading through all of the comments I have yet to see the one term that defines the genesis of the abortion movement-

eugenics

I see a some come close to defining it, without using the term. Almost as if it has been so carefully cloaked in nuance it never enters the concious.

Eleanor said...

If someone enters your house because you opened the door for them, you decide you don't want them there, they won't leave so you shoot them, is that murder? The whole when does a human life become a "person" is just legal mumbo jumbo for women to justify killing an unwanted guest they invited into their bodies. Women, even women who get an abortion, begin calling the life inside them a baby the minute they pee on a stick, and it tells them they're pregnant. No reasonable woman believes she's not killing a child when she has an abortion. She just needs to be able to justify it - mostly to herself.

bgates said...

Someone must say whether the unborn is a person, and the woman whose body would go through the extreme and intimate ordeal of pregnancy and childbirth deserves ownership of that profound decision.

Keep your laws off her enormous conflict of interest!

iowan2 said...

AA say: "That is specious. The idea is obviously that liberty lies in choosing whether to go through with a pregnancy and bearing a child only by consent."

Liberty lies in making choices and taking responsibility for those choices.

Don't want a baby? Don't have intercourse. If you are incapable or unwilling to refrain from a couple of hours of ecstasy you must accept the possible outcomes.

That is liberty. You confuse liberty with selfishness.

YoungHegelian said...

...they have to do with the moral and practical sense they make to those who don’t have any special respect for their origins.

There are no moral systems that "work" for people who deny their premises, and there's no moral system that's so patently obvious that its premises aren't above denial.

I am very well aware that there are non-religious systems of morality. I'm also well aware that philosophy departments house most of the adherents of these systems, and that they're rarely found in the wild, as opposed to the billions of believers.

It would take criticisms of revelation much more seriously if the critics actually worked to create a philosophical replacement that's above a "Moral Philosophy 201" level. Mostly what we get stuck with is:

Revelation is irrational.

My philosophical assertions are not based on revelation.

Therefore, my philosophical assertions are rational.

Browndog said...

Once you've established a legal and 'moral' tenet that allows a "decider" to terminate an unwanted and burdensome human life...

Inevitably, people fall into one of two camps; those that value all human life, and those that value no human life other than their own.

Misinforminimalism said...

Ann said: "If you say you don't care to address that question, I would say it reinforces the Court's conclusion that the woman should be the one to answer it."

Sometimes, just sometimes, I detect that you permit your logical reasoning to be a tad looser when you're arguing a position on which you hold firm beliefs.

bgates said...

The Constitution constrains government to directing the operation of insurance companies and crippling power generating companies and forcing public affirmation of homosexual coupling and mandating Star Chambers for the investigation of rape accusations on college campuses...

You cut a great road through the Constitution to get after the Christian conservatives. But when the last Constitutional constraint was down, and the Christian conservatives turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Althouse, the Constitution all being flat?

wildswan said...

"But when does one cell or one cluster of cells acquire value as a separate entity?"
Scientifically each organic life is considered to begin with a single cell. In the case of human beings that single cell is the cell formed by the union of a sperm and egg cell. - see Molecular Biology of the Cell. Alpert.

Blackmun's history.
US law always outlawed the killing of a living unborn child. Before the nineteenth century no one was sure when life began. This led to allowing "abortions" in the first trimester because these were considered the expulsion of not-yet-living matter under the science of the day. But when it became clear in the late nineteenth century that life began at conception then the US passed laws banning first trimester abortions. Blackmun very dishonestly chose to disregard the science and to assert that US law allowed first trimester abortions and then later then changed the law.

Science can't establish values. Those who say we should use science to do so have no idea what science is. Sorry, but this is moral issue. And, as I see it, it is the same issue as slavery. Can we righteously kill or enslave and kill an innocent human being? Katha Pollit says yes and she thinks that with a little effort we can even learn to do it with no feeling. Except a terrible anger (why so great and terrible an anger?) directed at the yahoos who believe that the unborn have rights.

Jack Wayne said...

The Constitution constrains government.

The stupidity of this remark is so common that the only reaction I have is a rueful grimace.

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

"You are implicitly accusing pro-lifers of being religious and imposing their religious views on our republic. I assume it's why you high-lighted this argument in Gopnik's piece. My response is that Nat Hentoff is a well-known pro-lifer, and he's an atheist. By his very existence he destroys the argument."

I find it hard to believe you're not deliberately missing the point, and if you are not I don't know how to put it that won't lead you to misunderstand again. You are so dug in.

The point is that a religion-based argument must be restated in terms of moral principle to have currency among a general audience. The nonreligionist doesn't need this extra step. He's already there.

n.n said...

Human life is a process. It has a well-defined source and a fairly conclusive sink. The source is conception. The sink is natural, accidental, or premeditated (e.g. abortion) death. There is no equivalence between the process following conception and approaching death.

When and by whose choice does a human life acquire and retain value?

What are the consequences of arbitrarily classifying human life, not merely labor, as a negotiable asset?

The faith-based policy of pro-choice is not only inadequate to conserve human rights, but actually degrades human life to a negotiable asset subject to exchange (e.g. "diversity", eugenics) and liquidation (e.g. abortion, euthanasia). It creates a moral hazard that poses an imminent threat not only to human life before birth, but throughout its evolution.

It's notable that pro-choice infantilizes women, and men, too. The "choice" is evidence of avoidance or inability to accept personal responsibility. This is precisely the standard which justifies limiting liberty of human life before the age of majority, and subjects it to greater constraints under a parental or guardian supervision.

Contrary to popular misconceptions, religion or moral consensus, is the basis for greater, not less, liberty.

Ann Althouse said...

"Ah, Professor, the negative rights con law argument. Except the Constitution is silent on abortion. There is no the Congress shall make no law respecting abortion clause. It is not the Constitution that makes abortion lawful it is the Supreme Court as Star Chamber that does so. "

The key textual word is "liberty." That is an abstract word and it inherently must be given particularity in actual cases, such as when the legislature passes a law restricting what you can do with your own body.

Terry said...

It's cute when atheists try to argue from first principles.

Terry said...

The idea that your body belongs to you is problematic. It certainly is not your property when you are a minor. You cannot get a tattoo when you are fourteen years old. Who exercises your ownership rights while you are asleep? Or in a coma? Is it illegal to stop you from killing or maiming yourself?
The idea that a person has absolute ownership rights over his or her body is absurd.

n.n said...

We the People of the United States... secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity

The Constitution directs government to secure the rights of "People" and our "Posterity". The Constitution distinguishes and acknowledges the rights of People and our Posterity separately. I think it is commonly understood that "posterity" refers to human life conceived from the congress of a man and a woman.

Both the Constitution and Declaration of Independence (i.e. articles of incorporation) acknowledge that human life is extraordinary and that government is established to protect and conserve human, as well as civil, rights.

Abortion is premeditated murder or willful, premature termination of a human life process. The only legal and moral precedent for committing murder in a state outside of armed conflict is for causes of self-defense, and even in war, there is a common expectation (i.e. religious or moral consensus) to limit collateral damage or death.

Andy Krause said...

I think that pro-abortion is actually good for society in that it weeds out the unwanted. I'm not referring to the fetus but to the missing descendants. The future belongs to those that are there, Darwin writ large. I do not see a viable future for them and I think in their hearts they know this.

Anonymous said...

Non religious arguments? We live in a society that has a founding document that declares we have an inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness...endowed by the Creator.

As to this conversation I'll bring up the banality of evil, which I see here.

In Nazi Germany, the old Soviet Union, and Communist China forced abortions were the order of the day. There is no more evidence needed that it is wrong.

What we have here is a holocaust of our own. No good will come of it.

You've come a long way baby or so the advert said.

n.n said...

Andy Krause:

I don't think it is an overstatement to acknowledge that the viability argument would justify the abortion of half or more of the world's human population from conception to birth and thereafter.

iowan2 said...

Ann: Liberty to do as you please ends when it infringes on another s right.
Right to life.

The abortion debate only is a debate if you devalue human life.

You and others refuse to consider human life. It is the only way there can be any discussion allowed.

And guess what? It is not within SCOTUS' jurisdiction to define human life. Only the people can do that.

William said...

I just recently read a history of slavery. The Quakers, then a somewhat marginal sect, were the first religion to actively oppose slavery. St. Thomas Aquinas justifies slavery in his writings. There's a place for slaves in Thomas More's Utopia. And it wasn't just Catholics. Martin Luther was supportive of serfdom in the German states. And it wasn't just Christians. Maimonides and Mohammad have passages in their writings were they talk about the humane treatment of slaves, but nowhere do they condemn the practice of slavery.......It's true that the Quakers were able to convince their fellow Christians about the evils of slavery, but the fact remains that Christianity was not inherently in opposition to slavery........Makes you wonder. If a self evident evil like slavery can be tolerated for so long and by such learned and moral figures, then what are we missing. I venture to point out that the economy of the Soviet Union was to a significant extent based on the forced labor of the gulags (i.e. slavery) and that the Soviets had an extremely tolerant policy regarding abortion.

Achilles said...

"Liberty"

So many little tyrants in so short a thread.

On the other hand Texas passed an abortion law that is more than reasonable and look how the womenists react.

People here are wrong though, abortion is mentioned directly and specifically in the constitution:

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

This is a state issue. Period.

And truly this issue is the perfect example of why democracy is the worst way to decide anything. I get why you people are against abortion. Now if you want fewer of them get out there and help young people make better decisions, through religion, stop running around with your big government stick.

Anonymous said...

Reason/revelation, the little secular towers vs. the pulpit, women/men, sex, babies and the miracle of life, tradition vs modernity, the Laws, lawyers, the Constitution, The Enlightenment metaphysics of modern liberals and their influence on our laws...a transcendent God in whose image many men and women put their faith and derive their free will, purpose, and commandments for life

Pro-life activists willing to kill, Kermit Gosnell, eugenics, celibacy and gay and non-gay dudes in the church, man-hating lesbians and non-lesbian feminists in academia, the roots of feminism, biology, evolutionary theory...

What am I missing?

Talk about a hot button issue.

***Advice for the New Yorker: Get Neil Degrasse Tyson on board for a lecture tour and rake in the dough.

If it's good enough for the "High Modern Council" it's good enough for the Laws.

John Lynch said...

It's easy to craft a nonreligious pro-life position.

The telling thing is that none of the atheists will do it. How come?

Gahrie said...

The key textual word is "liberty."

No..the key textual word is "life", and you cannot enjoy the right to liberty until you enjoy the right to life first. Life also appears before liberty in the triumverite.

jr565 said...

Althouse wrote:
The key textual word is "liberty." That is an abstract word and it inherently must be given particularity in actual cases, such as when the legislature passes a law restricting what you can do with your own body.

can you legally take heroin? There are laws against it. Despite the whole "liberty" thing.
And unlike the question of heroin where you are only hurting yourself you are killing somethibg or someone that is not you.

jr565 said...

John Lynch Nat Hentoff has done so. You just pretend like never spoke.

Birkel said...

Is it odd that 'liberty' is always defined to mean what Leftists intend it to mean when they say the word? Leftists have chosen who is to be the master.

Liberty is such a delightful word precisely because it justifies whatever a Leftist wishes.

Althouse: "The nonreligionist doesn't need this extra step. He's already there."

That qualifies as one of the most condescending things I have read. As an atheist I am offended.

jr565 said...

Hypothetical. We're mountain climbers. We climb mointains and have others tethered to us as we climb. Through our actions we cause someone to be tethered to us. Disaster strikes.
There's an avalanche. The person tethered to the woman is knocked unconscious from the Avalanche and is not waking up, though will probably wake up by the time she reaches the mountain top. Now maybe the Avalanche caused the person to be tethered to her and maybe she in fact caused the Avalanche. But the second. Person is reliant on her survival against his will and is only attached to her because she tied him there or caused the Avalanche.
When is it moral to cut the cord and let him die. Certainly if he is going to cause both people to fall to their deaths. But is the argument sufficient that it's ok to jettison your hostage simply because you don't to have someone tethered to you?

Mark G said...

Althouse: "The nonreligionist doesn't need this extra step. He's already there."

Where is "there"? Of course a catholic can't presuade an atheist by citing the Pope as authority. But a non-religionist's moral intuitions are not intrinsically more valid than the pope's. And non-religionists are in my experience just as dogmatic as Catholics about the intuitions that inform their position on abortion.

Robert Cook said...

"I thought 'don't kill' was a universal idea.

"But apparently, it's only Christians who hold that belief?"



Who are you kidding? No one holds that belief.

jr565 said...

William wrote:
Makes you wonder. If a self evident evil like slavery can be tolerated for so long and by such learned and moral figures, then what are we missing. I venture to point out that the economy of the Soviet Union was to a significant extent based on the forced labor of the gulags (i.e. slavery) and that the Soviets had an extremely tolerant policy regarding abortion.

ANd imagine if those against the abolitionists told them that their arguments that suggested slavery was a moral blight cound't make sense because they were arguing from a religious principle or perspective.
"For a pro abolition argument to make sense it has to make sense that if follow from a spiritual instinct or from religious dogma, however deeply held is not something that rational people have to pretend to respect.

Just as MLK was a Christian but was able to make arguments that didn't specificailly hinge on chrsitianity but appealed to it, so to could the abolitiionists and soo too could the pro lifers. And even if it IS a religious argument rational people might still take to the argument.
How many times do we hear liberals saying "Don't judge people". that's Christs argument son.

Robert Cook said...

"Let's stop fooling around. What's so magical about birth? Babies are still clingy-dependent for months and months after they're born, during which they certainly couldn't survive on their own. And they aren't really "people" either at this stage, just empty little skulls full of mush. Abortion ought to remain an option for the mother up until, say, 18 months of age, no questions asked."


Science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, someone whose beliefs would probably get him called--however inaptly--a "communist" by some of the Althouse regulars, wrote a short story called "The Pre-Persons," which presented a future America in which children were not deemed to be actual "persons" until the soul entered the body, which was about the time one learned to perform basic algebra, about age 12. Up to that time, they could be legally killed--post-birth abortion, as it were--by their parents.

Dick wrote the story as a response to the Roe v Wade decision. He wrote of the responses to his story:

"In this I incurred the absolute hate of Joanna Russ who wrote me the nastiest letter I've
ever received; at one point she said she usually offered to beat up people (she didn't use the word
'people') who expressed opinions such as this. I admit that this story amounts to special pleading,
and I am sorry to offend those who disagree with me about abortion on demand. I also got some
unsigned hate mail, some of it not from individuals but from organizations promoting abortion on
demand. Well, I have always managed to get myself into hot water. Sorry, people. But for the
pre-person's sake I am not sorry. I stand where I stand: 'Hier steh' Ich; Ich kann nicht anders,' as
Martin Luther is supposed to have said.(1978)"

Saint Croix said...

The point is that a religion-based argument must be restated in terms of moral principle to have currency among a general audience.

I read Gopnik to be saying that pro-lifers haven't done this. He's comparing pro-lifers to abolitionists and to the civil rights movements, since both movements were deeply religious (and yet Gopnik approves of those movements).

I think MLK's "I have a dream" speech is more religious than Gopnik seems to realize.

and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together

But aside from this, pro-lifers are easily as secular as the abolitionists or the civil rights marchers. There are atheists for life and feminists for life. Rather shockingly there are even Communists for Life, at least in France.

Achilles said...

Birkel said...
"Is it odd that 'liberty' is always defined to mean what Leftists intend it to mean when they say the word? Leftists have chosen who is to be the master.

Liberty is such a delightful word precisely because it justifies whatever a Leftist wishes."

Except when you argue against other forms of government intrusion. But the people on both sides of this issue are statists. They just want to force people to do the "right" thing.

And all of the conservative statists completely miss the point. Of course so does the author. Using government force to make people do the "right" thing always backfires.

If your goal was fewer abortions you would be getting people into church. But just like the lefties that isn't the goal. The goal is moral preening. Othering your opponents. The people on both sides of this issue are in it for the fight. Most of us just want all of you to leave us alone.

Robert Cook said...

I puzzle at the obuseness of those who cannot see the meaning of "those who argue against abortion out of religious belief must find non-religious arguments to convince those who don't share their beliefs."

It's very simple: it is never adequate to say, "________ is bad because God says so." There is no evidence God exists, so only those who choose to believe he does will find such arguments compelling. Rather, one must say, "____________ is bad because ______________," and provide thoughtful, practical arguments that will make sense and possibly convince those who are pure materialists, and for whom arguments deriving from God's authority are nonsense.

One does not have to believe in God to hold opinions regarding ethical human behavior; after all, most "moral beliefs," though ascribed after the fact to to religious origin, really arise from a recognition that certain behaviors tend to be deleterious to the health of the society at large, and should be prohibited.

Lydia said...

In the first paragraph in Gopnik's article: "The growth of local legislation to make abortion ever harder to obtain, particularly for poorer women—and particularly for poorer women in the South—continues, with its special dose of sanctimonious cruelty, forcing women to listen to long lectures on the lives they are supposedly carrying and killing, and forcing unwilling doctors to deliver them."

"lives they are supposedly carrying" -- I didn't realize they denied they were carrying a live entity. I thought they acknowledged that, but said it wasn't a person yet, so they could make the call on killing it.

Or maybe Gopnik just needs an editor.

richard mcenroe said...

You want materialistic, "makes objective sense" argument against abortion?

Whatever its stage of development, that foetus is never going to develop into anything other than a mature human being.

Any other definition of "when life begins" must inherently include the supposition that at some point in its development, that foetus was not, but suddenly "becomes", human.

Any such definition of that point is by its nature arbitrary. This is why a sociopath like Barack Obama could argue that infants that survive abortion should be left in a closet to die, or why some pro-"choice" advocates are pushing the argument that parents should be allowed to kill their child for up to 30 days after birth.

Ultimately, if you accept the validity of such an arbitrary definition, there is no reason in this line of thought why the humanity of any individual should no be subject to redefinition at the covenience of any person or agrregate entity that has the simple power to do so.

Ralph Hyatt said...

"The point is that a religion-based argument must be restated in terms of moral principle to have currency among a general audience. The nonreligionist doesn't need this extra step. He's already there."

What moral principle? From where do you derive it? What privileges it above those derived from a religious source?

Pagans used to expose unwanted infants to the elements. This was not considered an immoral act. The Pater Familias had the right of life and death over every member of his family. Once again, not considered immoral.

Peter Singer, philosopher at Harvard, argues that babies lack self-awareness until 1 year of age, and therefore it should be legal to kill infants before they reach 1.

Saint Croix said...

I've always framed my pro-life views in terms of our laws, specifically our death statutes. When I define the word "person" to mean "live human being," I got that definition from a dictionary, not a Bible.

I do think the idea that life begins at conception might be theological in nature, in that Christianity requires us to love.

It's interesting how Gopnik conflates religious belief with passion. I think there is a tremendous amount of passion on both sides of the abortion issue. Look at his word choices:

ominous
hard-line
forced-birth movement
poor women
sanctimonious cruelty
religious fanatics

And that's just his first paragraph! And it's important to have strong feelings. I don't object to his strong feelings. But you have to ground your ideas and ideology in facts.

I see the censorship of abortion photographs, while insisting that there are no homicides worthy of our attention, to be a deeply irrational thought. Or non-thought, to be more specific.

Robert Cook said...

"You want materialistic, 'makes objective sense' argument against abortion?"

What other arguments against abortion can there be? Again, saying it's bad because "God's against it" assumes two things we cannot know: whether a God exists, and whether, if there is a God, he--it--is opposed to abortion. For all we know, if there were a God, he might be utterly indifferent to how we conduct ourselves in all things, given that our 70 or 80 years of life constitute but a sub-nanosecond of the eternity we supposedly will exist after the deaths of our physical bodies.

The aforementioned Nat Hentoff has argued strenuously against abortion for decades, and has never resorted to "God says so" arguments, his being an atheist and all. But, any thoughtful proponent of any moral or ethical position, whether they are atheists or believers, can and must make arguments founded on material bases.

Mark G said...

Robert cook said: most "moral beliefs," though ascribed after the fact to to religious origin, really arise from a recognition that certain behaviors tend to be deleterious to the health of the society at large, and should be prohibited.

I know you his is one of the foundational myths of your lot, but I do not view this myth as authoritative. Can we agree that your burden of persuading theists is no less than your burden of persuading them?

And can we agree that positing the health of society at large as a starting point simply begs the question? I think abortion is the most unhealthy thing about our society.

Robert Cook said...

"And can we agree that positing the health of society at large as a starting point simply begs the question?"

Why?

"I think abortion is the most unhealthy thing about our society."


Okay, so any arguments you wish to make in opposition to abortion should derive from your reasons for believing abortion is unhealthy to our society. "God says so" doesn't cut it.

Gahrie said...

But just like the lefties that isn't the goal. The goal is moral preening. Othering your opponents. The people on both sides of this issue are in it for the fight

Some of us are trying to save human lives.

Robert Cook said...

"Some of us are trying to save human lives."

Talk about "moral preening." Just what are you doing to save human lives?

Are you as concerned about the walking talking breathing thinking human lives we're snuffing out in our various war endeavors?

Birkel said...

Achilles:
I have no idea why I have become "you" in your response. I am no statist. I wish government smaller because I see the great harms government necessarily causes.

Thanks in advance for explaining what you mean.

Birkel said...

Robert Cook:
Self-defense is an argument in favor of some abortions. That is what "the life of the mother" encompasses.

Similarly, a person may defend himself from the attacks of others, even though riots may result.

This applies to the people who live in countries, also. We are not obliged to wait until the next to last blow before we may act.

Roughcoat said...

Althouse just wants to win this discussion. In her mind, she already has; in her mind, she won it before the first post.

William said...

I suppose I'm logically consistent in that I'm in favor of euthanasia, capital punishment, and early abortion. I do recognize that all of these procedures are subject to abuse. I'm very glad to live in a society that has so many reasoned and eloquent opponents to abortion like St Croix. I wouldn't want to live in a society that considers capital punishment, euthanasia, and abortion a positive good.......In a society where the murder rate is low and going lower, I'm not militant in my support of capital punishment. If I lived in a country like Mexico where headless bodies were showing up in the mall, I would be far more enthusiastic about capital punishment. It's nice to be pure, but the higher reaches of morality are a luxury product.......So far as abortion goes, the case of Gosnell should serve as w warning. That such a man could thrive and prosper and that his crimes should be so under reported should give the pro choice people pause about the enthusiasm of their support.

Terry said...

"Are you as concerned about the walking talking breathing thinking human lives we're snuffing out in our various war endeavors?"
You mean the people who want to kill me in some grotesque manner, Robt. Cooke?
No.
All willful taking of life is bad. Sometimes it is morally justifiable, sometimes it isn't.
What moral limits would you set on killing people, Robert?

Mark G said...

"And can we agree that positing the health of society at large as a starting point simply begs the question?"

Why?


Robert Cook--I'm not sure what you are asking me. "beg the question" means to advance an argument that assumes the conclusion to be proved. It seems to me that people who disagree about abortion will likewise disagree as to your proposed criterion for reaching an answer--"healthy society" --precisely because that term is nothing more than a label we each apply to the totally inconsistent grab bag of assumptions we bring to the table.

retired said...

"There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure..." St Paul of Tarsus

Ralph Hyatt said...

"forcing unwilling doctors to deliver them"

Now there is some hyperbole.

Doctors are being forced against their will to deliver babies.

Every. Day.

Terry said...

Ralph Hyatt-
Yeah, I saw that. The entire Gopnick article is an impassioned, emotional, irrational defense of the right of women to abort fetuses, and it includes the paragraph Ms. Althouse quotes, where Gopnick says that he is willing to be reasoned out of the positioned he was not reasoned into taking. You can't counter passion and emotion with reason, you can only counter it with passion and emotion, and Gopnick refuses to consider those arguments.

Terry said...

P.D. James dies the other day. Her novel "The Children of Men" was very different than the movie that was made from it. The novel "The Children of men" was a long, passionate argument against abortion, without ever mentioning abortion. In the book, when society became sterile and stopped producing children, people lost their humanity. Rather than value life more, they valued it less.

Gabriel said...

I'm atheist. I'm pro-life.

Am I allowed to argue for laws I believe in now?

Obviously religion alone is never an argument to justify anything; Muslims have no constitutional right to behead apostates even in a mosque.

All you have to do to have a legitimate argument in a democracy is to share enough moral postulates with the rest of the population. Everyone has moral postulates, even if they are not sourced in religion.

m stone said...

I'm very glad to live in a society that has so many reasoned and eloquent opponents to abortion like St Croix.

Agreed, William.

Unfortunately, it will take a transforming change of heart to make the difference in that society.

Saint Croix said...

I'm very glad to live in a society that has so many reasoned and eloquent opponents to abortion like St Croix.

thank you, that's very kind

I was just thinking that retired was describing me on a bad day...

lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure...

Terry said...

Gabriel, I do not think that a pro-life view needs to be religious. In Ceauscescu's Romania, abortion was highly restricted because it served the interests of the State (the abortion rate was about 80% before the anti-choice Order 770 was put into place). Who "owns" the fetus? The individual? The State? God?

Saint Croix said...

When I get worked up on an Althouse thread I can be 10 of those in one post.

Robert Cook said...

"You mean the people who want to kill me in some grotesque manner, Robt. Cooke?

Who are those people? How do you know how many of the people we are killing want to kill anyone, much less you?

Oh, that's right; just as we did in Viet Nam, anyone we kill we identify after the fact as "combatants" or "terrorists" or whatever other term will justify our having killed them. A neat equation, that. We can slaughter humans en masse and still call ourselves "the good guys."

n.n said...

Religion and faith are separable concepts. The former is a philosophy of moral consensus, whether created (e.g. philosopher) or emergent (i.e. reconciled); and the latter is acknowledgment or deference to universal or extra-universal articles -- outside of the scientific domain, which is constrained in time and space.

Human life is a process that incontrovertibly begins from conception. The only reconcilable legal and moral standard to end this process prematurely is for cause of self-defense. However, in the case of premeditated abortion, it must be acknowledged that the "adversary" is wholly innocent with respect to intent. This acknowledgment imposes additional constraints and responsibilities to conserve both the life of the mother and child.

Finally, since premeditated abortion in a natural state can only be known by the mother, it must be understood that practical restriction limits a civilized society from protecting all of its members. The goal should be to prevent normalization (e.g. subsidy, culture), and to actively discourage its moral uptake (i.e. progressive morality).

Abortion is not comparable to emancipation, since the mother is not wholly irresponsible and the child is not wholly capable. Abortion is not comparable to capital punishment, since the child is wholly innocent and has not committed a crime (e.g. murder) to justify its premeditated abortion. Abortion is not comparable to war, since there is no effort to prevent collateral damage, and, in fact, that is its purpose.

Sebastian said...

"I think the point is that if you want to impose your moral principles on another person's body, you need an argument that works apart from belief in a religion."

No, you don't.

The criminal law imposes moral principles on people's bodies, regardless of whether its potential subjects are "persuaded" by the reasoning involved.

In democratic deliberation, it is not the quality of reasoning but the attempt to achieve minimally required consensus that counts (persuasion on the basis of common premises can help but is not necessary).

Of course, the Supreme Court's arbitrary intervention shortcuts most deliberation or attempts at persuasion about abortion.

And by the way, do secularists ever need an argument that works apart from a belief in secular premises before they try to impose their moral principles?

Sebastian said...

"In the case of abortion rights, the government is lacking in power to impose on the individual to rescue the unborn, even though majoritarian politics would like to say this is a human being to be saved from murder."

The Constitution, of course, is silent on the subject.

The text gives the federal government no authority in the matter.

The Supreme Court, in its infinitely creative wisdom, did not in fact hold that "the government is lacking in power to impose on the individual to rescue the unborn." That power varies according to the stage of pregnancy, or so our judicial overlords have decided, persuasion be damned.

Terry said...

"Who are those people? How do you know how many of the people we are killing want to kill anyone, much less you?"

Let me put this as simply as possible, Robert.
There are people who kill Americans because they are Americans. They post videos on Youtube saying they want to kill Americans. Then they kill an American on screen. I am an American. My government, after long deliberation, has decided that these people are serious and that a response, up to and including the taking of human lives, is necessary. The government proceeds. I may agree or disagree about the actions of the government in engaging in collective self-defense, but it is in no way comparable to a woman choosing to abort a pregnancy for whatever reason. For one thing, the government will stop killing people when the war is concluded. It is an action carried out to accomplish that very purpose. What do you do if the fetus surrenders? Let it go? Put it in an internment camp?

Robert Cook said...

"...do secularists ever need an argument that works apart from a belief in secular premises before they try to impose their moral principles?"

What arguments could secularists have other than arguments based in secular premises?

Robert Cook said...

"Let me put this as simply as possible, Robert.
There are people who kill Americans because they are Americans. They post videos on Youtube saying they want to kill Americans. Then they kill an American on screen. I am an American. My government, after long deliberation, has decided that these people are serious and that a response, up to and including the taking of human lives, is necessary. The government proceeds."


How do you know how many of the people we kill in our wars are those people you see in videos beheading Americans? How do you know how many people we kill in our wars are not just non-combatants trying to live their lives, but unfortunate enough to live in lands we have invaded?

The pertinence of this to the argument about abortion seems self-evident to me. If those opposed to abortion are sincere in their abhorrence of the killing of fetuses, why do they not similarly abhor the mass murder that is war? Why do they not argue against war?

My intent is not to turn this into a discussion of the war, but to point out the hypocrisy of those who deem abortion to be among the greatest of crimes.

Saint Croix said...

The Constitution, of course, is silent on the subject.

I disagree!

"No state shall...deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

I think the 14th Amendment forbids Roe v. Wade. To me this opinion is a denial of the baby's right to life. All human beings have a right to the equal protection of the laws.

This does not mean that the Constitution forbids abortion. Or allows for abortion. I agree that the Constitution is silent as to the abortion procedure.

But the way the Supreme Court decided the issue, by saying the baby's life or death is irrelevant, by defining her as sub-human property, that is unconstitutional.

I believe a state can allow for abortion under our Constitution. But they cannot violate their own laws in regard to when people die. The Constitution forbids disparate treatment.

I also believe that Congress has specific authority under the 14th Amendment to enforce the 14th Amendment.

The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

What that means is that Congress can overrule Roe v. Wade by statute. They can protect the unborn from this vicious dehumanization. And if there is any question on that score, they can simply naturalize the unborn and make them citizens.

Mark G said...

My big picture reaction -- to the extent Gopnik is saying that you can't persuade people by citing authorities they do not recognize, he's obviously right, but hardly profound. To the extent he is saying there is some compendium of universally-obvious moral truths that all rational people agree on, I think he is obviously wrong, unless "rational people" is defined to mean "people who share my presuppositions."

Kieth Nissen said...

First, I don't think that a person who supports capital punishment must also condone abortion (as Gopnik argues). He leaves the point virtually unexplained; where is the basis for that? the child is obviously innocent, the murderer is, equally obviously, not. Althouse argues persuasively; the woman does bear the awful burden, the crushing responsibility of this task. The task central to human life, rearing the young. Agreed. But our (and as far as I know all civilizations and all religions) have erected moral codes, restraints, codes of behavior that discourage fornication, that tend to encourage sexual freedom only with predictably reliable and trustworthy males. Males who will not abandon their offspring. This has been in the past legally enforceable. Don't copulate with charming unreliable people and don't kill the result. Are all of us abortion opponents men? kind of looks like it. Maybe stolid uncharming men.

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
harrogate said...

"I know I'm a man, but I doubt they walk out thinking, 'you know, I just did something that benefits society as a whole.'"

The stupid is strong with those who would consider this an argument.

Terry said...

Robt. Cooke wrote:
"The pertinence of this to the argument about abortion seems self-evident to me."
You think that this:


Section 2 - Authorization For Use of United States Armed Forces

(a) IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

(b) War Powers Resolution Requirements-

(1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION- Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.

(2) APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS- Nothing in this resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.

. . . is an argument in favor of abortion rights? Or that it means no one in the US has a right to take a moral stance against abortion?
You guys never realize how bad your arguments are until someone rubs your nose in it.

Lydia said...

Nat Hentoff's position against abortion is based on the idea of the indivisibility of life and the related slippery slope argument. Totally non-theological. An argument Gopnik thinks he guts by performing a little semantic jujitsu:

"The problem with slippery-slope arguments (“Allow abortion in the first trimester, and it will end in infanticide!”) is not that they are inadmissible but that they are always true. All of biological life exists on a slippery slope, where we walk with ice picks called rules and moral decisions. We may allow abortion without restriction in the first and in the third trimester, and still not permit infanticide. The distinctions, as always, are our own."

n.n said...

The Constitution recognizes two classes of life: People and Posterity. The government is mandated to conserve the rights of People and Posterity.

The 8th Amendment states: "nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted". Premeditated abortion, whether through decapitation, dismemberment, or vacuuming is clearly a violation of the 8th Amendment. At minimum, the 8th Amendment prevents the government from subsidizing premeditated abortion, further to prevent its normalizations, and at most to offer legal retribution (e.g. censure).

Kieth Nissen:

Exactly. The process of normalization is intended to promote behaviors with redeeming value to society or humanity. Unfortunately, it has been selectively hijacked and exploited for special interests, thereby distorting the natural and moral landscape, and creating moral hazards left for our Posterity to reconcile.

iowan2 said...

Ann writes:
"The point is that a religion-based argument must be restated in terms of moral principle to have currency among a general audience. The nonreligionist doesn't need this extra step. He's already there."

Ann, that is much like the anti civil rights people that wish to restrict law abiding citizens from keeping and bearing arms. The have repeatedly told me that for me to be included in the debate I can not use the 2cnd amendment as a reason.
Their problem, and yours, is not that I am hiding behind the 2cnd amendment (religion in the abortion debate)
But rather the 2cnd amendment and its existence is the culminations of all the reasons that support my position.

Again the debate is NOT liberty as you assert, but life. Is life something that deserves protection by statute, and constitution.

Gahrie said...

Talk about "moral preening." Just what are you doing to save human lives?

Well for starters, i'm trying to get abortion outlawed.

Then we can throw in my opposition to Communism and Islamic terrorism....

And we can wrap it up with my responses to your Communist nonsense whenever i come across it.

Ralph Hyatt said...

By the way, robert cooke is correct that secularists are not going to be convinced by arguments that reference God's authority. However, 76% of the population of the United States identify as Christian.

So, as a Christian, I probably should be spending my time working to get fellow Christians involved in the political process, oh that's right, that is totally useless because my moral superiors have decided that its a lot easier to decree change from the bench and bypass democratic consensus altogether.

Robert Cook said...

Gahrie,

In other words, you're an intrepid armchair savior of human life. Bravo!

jr565 said...

Robert Cook wrote:
"Oh, that's right; just as we did in Viet Nam, anyone we kill we identify after the fact as "combatants" or "terrorists" or whatever other term will justify our having killed them. A neat equation, that. We can slaughter humans en masse and still call ourselves "the good guys."

there were combatants that we were at war with in Vietnam. And we haven't yet killed everyone in ISIS. But we know they need to be killed. Why are we identifying them as our enemy? because of things like chopping off the heads of journalists. Why do they in turn target journalists and chop their heads off? because they view them as allies our our interests which they consider the enemy.
So, why you can make the argument that sometimes we meant to kill an ISIS member who turns out to be an innocent goat herder, it doesn't stand to reason thwt we have no reason to kill ISIS or that those we kill who are in ISIS didn't have it coming.

Terry said...

The roll call on the AUMF of Sept., 2001 was 420 yes, 1 no. In the senate it was 98 yes, 0 no (2 not voting). There are a lot of pro and anti abortion reps in the house and senate. That should give you an idea of just how crazy Robert Cooke's analogy is.

Robert Cook said...

Terry,

Your cutting and pasting of the AUMF is a non-sequitur. It is simply our self-justifying legal cover to invade other countries. It does nothing to absolve our killing of people who have done nothing to us. It assumes, by definition, that anyone we kill is an enemy, and thus "deserves" killing.

You've got to do wat better than that.

jr565 said...

In the case of the murderer being killed versus the aborted fetus there is the matter of due process. I'm. Not opposed to all killing at all. Wars are sometimes necessary and we need to kill our enemies in war. Do so in a manner that wins the war.

Whatm by the way is the atheists argument against war? Thou shalt not kill?

jr565 said...

Robert cook wrote:
Terry,

Your cutting and pasting of the AUMF is a non-sequitur. It is simply our self-justifying legal cover to invade other countries. It does nothing to absolve our killing of people who have done nothing to us. It assumes, by definition, that anyone we kill is an enemy, and thus "deserves" killing.

but you are conflating people who did nothing to us and people who did something to us as if they are the same. yes, there's no reason for us to attack Sweden. ISIS though ain't SWeden.

Robert Cook said...

Jr565,

How do you know that most of those we kill are not innocent goat-herders?

Robert Cook said...

"Wars are sometimes necessary and we need to kill our enemies in war."

We haven't fought a necessary war since WWII.

harrogate said...

"Well for starters, i'm trying to get abortion outlawed.

Then we can throw in my opposition to Communism and Islamic terrorism....

And we can wrap it up with my responses to your Communist nonsense whenever i come across it."

Gahrie the Crusader!

The puffery! It puffs!

n.n said...

iowan2:

I think the issue is to reconcile both liberty (i.e. individual dignity) and life (i.e. intrinsic value). The simple resolution is to elevate one or the other, or to ignore one or the other. The pro-abortion position is an incongruous promotion of the dichotomy. The pro-choice position is to go along to get along, which is characteristic of libertarianism, that offers good but insufficient guidance. The pro-life position confronts the challenge of reconciling both, but is intentionally characterized to create a popular misconception of defending only the latter.

jr565 said...

You don't get to act like ISIS, Robert but then get the defense of the innocent or the neutral to fall back on. It's quite funny that you would defend ISIS as some neutral party that did nothing to us.

jr565 said...

Robert, How do you know that most of the people we kill are not ISIS?

jr565 said...

Robert Cook wrote:
"We haven't fought a necessary war since WWII."
Was every German killed a nazi or nazi sympathizer?
Was everyone bombed in Nagasaki part of the imperial army?
The fact that you say that suggests that perhaps you will call people who are enemies not our enemies because you don't want to go to war with them. But such sugar coating only mans you'd rather lie than address your assumptions to begins with.

Gahrie said...

Gahrie the Crusader!

Laugh all you want..but it is probably going to end up in a crusade, unless we let western civilization fall.

Gahrie said...

In other words, you're an intrepid armchair savior of human life. Bravo

Better than being a communist apologist for our enemies.

jr565 said...

Robert cook wrote:

Oh, that's right; just as we did in Viet Nam, anyone we kill we identify after the fact as "combatants" or "terrorists" or whatever other term will justify our having killed them. A neat equation, that. We can slaughter humans en masse and still call ourselves "the good guys."

there's only one way to fight a war. Whether you are the good guy or the bad guy you still have to kill your enemy. you think WWII was a necessary war. You think Germans blown up by bombs didn't suffer the same pain as our good guys who were similarly blown up? Or are you suggesting we weren't the good guys. Then why would it be the necessary war?
Slaughtering humans then is not the criterion for whether you are the good guy. If we had the chance to rescue one of the people who had his head chopped off by ISIS and in doing so killed members of ISIS we'd be the good guys in the scenario. I

furious_a said...

Abortion/Capital Punishment...

The callous Pragmatist might sanction both. The devout Christian might sanction neither. But it takes *years* of therapy to arrive at the default Liberal position. -- PJ O'Rourke

The Future belong to those who show up doe it. -- Mark Steyn

Anglelyne said...

AG: ...they have to do with the moral and practical sense they make to those who don’t have any special respect for their origins.

The assumption here is that liberal, secular moral values of course make "moral and practical sense" to all reasonable people merely by appeals to reason. But they don't. They assume a respect for and consensus about moral foundations that don't exist.

(Why can't I conquer my enemies, take their land, enslave their children? People have lived within (and still live within) coherent moral systems that honor and glorify such behavior. Mumbling about "equality" and "human rights" is no different than appeals to religious views about the meaning and value of human life. Even appeals to pragmatism ("we'd all be better off living peaceably together") break down if the perceived advantages of not doing so are great enough.)

AA: I think the point is that if you want to impose your moral principles on another person's body, you need an argument that works apart from belief in a religion.

And what are you appealing to when you try to restrict interference with other people to an individual's physical body? Where does that come from? Why is "my body" morally and legally sacrosanct? It isn't, in any objective sense. It is itself an appeal to some imagined moral axiom that doesn't really exist, that some people just happen to like and want to live by.

"People have no right to forbid my having an abortion because it's *my body*. But I have the right to force other people to pay for my abortion (or my birth control, or my health insurance, or my shelter, or my food, or etc etc etc) because I'm not imposing my moral views on *their bodies* and mumble mumble morality [insert unfounded appeals to reason, science, whatever here]." Well, that's a cute distinction, but why should it mean anything to me? Oh, you're assuming that all non-religious people (or religious people thinking non-religiously) of course recognize and accept that distinction as the foundation of moral thinking. Why?

Now, the above may be a perfectly workable moral worldview for a society to agree on and adhere to. But it appeals to unshared, imaginary moral axioms just as religious believers do. And one can concoct a system completely at odds with the above view that is at least as reasonable and internally coherent.

AA: "The point is that a religion-based argument must be restated in terms of moral principle to have currency among a general audience. The nonreligionist doesn't need this extra step. He's already there."

No, he isn't. The "moral principle" you (and Gopnik) invoke is every bit as pulled out of your arses as the "religionists" moral principle. You don't get a philosophical pass by leaving out the "'cause God sez so" part.

Anonymous said...

Justice is mine says the Lord.



"40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Gahrie said...

We can slaughter humans en masse and still call ourselves "the good guys."

The United States has spent more time, effort and resources on preventing non-combative casualties than any other nation or military force in history, except modern day Israel.

Terry said...

Robert Cooke wrote:
"Your cutting and pasting of the AUMF is a non-sequitur. It is simply our self-justifying legal cover to invade other countries. It does nothing to absolve our killing of people who have done nothing to us. It assumes, by definition, that anyone we kill is an enemy, and thus "deserves" killing"

I literally cannot understand your point, Robert Cooke. The AUMF is not about absolving anyone of anything. Who would absolve us, anyway? God? History? You? It does not say that anyone killed in an action authorized by the AUMF is an enemy. It is not self-evident that this is true. What the heck are you talking about?

Rick67 said...

Others have done a fine job of pointing out the problems with Gopnik's argument. What strikes me as odd is "you need a non-religious argument for your case to have any validity" (debatable, but let's grant that for the sake of argument) and then he proceeds to dismiss(?) non-religious arguments against legal elective abortion. It leaves one with the impression that his first argument is not much more than an attempt to dismiss, marginalize, and shut down the vast majority of Americans who have religious motivations. It's a common tactic one observes among "liberals". "You can't have an opinion about X because you're not a member of group most affected by X". Then along comes someone who *is* a member... disagrees with the prevailing liberal dogma... and sure enough that person is not taken seriously. "Uncle Tom... sell out... self-loathing... puppet..." and so on.

So what do we do with those who argue elective abortion should be permitted precisely for religious reasons? "My understanding of God says darn right we can do this. How dare you deny my religious freedom!" Not a bad argument, one wonders what Gopnik does with that.

People on "both sides" often need to recognize the distinction between "human life" (which the unborn is, that's not really debatable) and "person" (which is more of a legal/philosophical category, a human life that deserves respect and protection). Proving the unborn is biologically/scientifically human doesn't resolve the debate. I say that as someone who was a pro-life activist at university.

A couple years ago I had a good exchange with someone (in the comments of this blog) who made a very good case for why we cannot legally compel a woman to carry a pregnancy to term. Can't recall who, which post, but it was the first time someone made a case for allowing elective abortion that I could respect intellectually.

Anonymous said...

Didn’t the ideas of the Abolitionists rise from the Northern churches?

Fuuuuuuuccccckkk you. And the fuuuuuuccccckkkkiiiiinnnnggggg horse (or pig, given the blog-context) that you rode in on...

The Abolitionists arose from their own looking at the world and saying, "This is okay. This absolutely is NOT". (Emphasis by the ghost of J. B., who prefers underlines; I've had to explain to him that Google won't allow it and so we've had to go with boldface.)

Now it seems that they are but a caricature to be used, at will, by the powers-that-be on the Althouse blog...

Well, if we haven't expressed such thoughts sufficiently already...

FUUUUUUCCCCKKK YOOOOUUUUU!

I'm stiin' here with John Brown, who is absolutely NOT moulderin' in the grave, despite what some of you may have heard, and he's fuuuuuccccckkkkiiiiinnngggg pissed, much more so than me...

But, alas, the dead cannot get an account to go online. Sure, you might be 'pro-life', but are you 'pro-dead'??? Ah... alas, nobody but me is gonna stand up for these people....

....

His Soul Goes Marching On!!!

Saint Croix said...

Though I may have missed it, reading through all of the comments I have yet to see the one term that defines the genesis of the abortion movement-

eugenics


One of my favorite pro-life sites is Too Many Aborted. They focus on eugenics.

They have a song about the Guttmacher Institute that is awesome. I particularly like the graphic of Jesse Jackson holding a bag of cash.

Anonymous said...

Lincoln may have entered politics with a passionate hatred of slavery...

Okay, J.B. is really pissed now...

He's had to sit by the waiting area of St. Peter and have his eye fixed on the going's on down here and (NOOOOO! I can't do an underline, John!!!) watch...

And... yo! Hold on a fuckin' minute, J.B. exclaims....

Lincoln was a passionate hater of slavery? The same "Lincoln" that encouraged the slave states to rejoin the (Northern) Union? The same Lincoln that promoted the Corwin Amendment, which would enshrine the legality of slavery now and forever in our Constitution? The same Lincoln who DID NOT speak out against the Dread Scott decision, or the excesses of the demon-in-chief Franklin Pierce?

Oh, fuuuuuccckkk you all, Mr. Brown says. And the fucking Althouse blog you rode in on.

He realizes, now, that you-- yes, dear Reader, you!!!-- did not hitch a pig for this endeavor.

harrogate said...

Gahrie thumps his chest and then types:

"Laugh all you want..but it is probably going to end up in a crusade, unless we let western civilization fall."

Who you gonna crusade against, keyboard boy? You gonna attack some women at the clinics in the name of God or Western Civilization or whatever in your fucktardnedness, you wish to invoke?

Seriously: people won't do what you tell them to do, so you justify a [ahem] theoretical "crusade" against them--i.e., a murdering of them. That's what you're saying. Because America, or something.

Anonymous said...

Harrogate writes something about murdering them....

Eh, when he stands up for the rights of the innocent, then I'll believe he cares about people being murdered.

Until then, hey, pro choice! Right?

Anonymous said...

(J.B. insists on saying...)

The KINGDOM OF GOD has not yet come. Such will be when each of us is entitled to ETERNAL LIFE and such is character of OUR DIVINE SAVIOUR that he doth show us the WAY to PROCEED in this PURSUIT of ETERNAL LIFE....

And yet it has NOT COME! We have BURDENS to unfurl... We cannot proceed to ZION until we have shed such BURDENS.

(Yes, I have told the "spirit" or whatever of John that he cannot use "BURDENS" twice, particularly in emphatic capitalization; but J.B. is still looking for, and expecting, the capability to underline, so my powers as editor of the SEMI-dead are SOMEWHAT limited... and, thanks b.t.w., John, for those last bits...)

harrogate said...

So Eric, too, already chest a'puff from his keyboard "crusade," casts his imagination longingly at the prospect of a real one. He's already got his justification nice and worked out.

They always do.

Terry said...

Gopnik:
"Abortion, in Pollitt’s view, must be seen not as a moral compromise requested by poor, weak women—we’re sorry, and we promise we’ll make it rare, but please, forgive us, we’ll still need it in extremis— but as a positive doctrine of women’s control over their own bodies, and of their own lives and destinies. Abortion, she insists, is a right integral to women’s own autonomy, not a privilege to be used as infrequently as possible."
The emphasis on freedom is hard to square with leftist/Liberal thought. These are the people who believe that social costs trump private decision making. Why is it a glorious expression of autonomy to abort a fetus but cigarette smoking is not? Or eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at MacDonalds? Or sporting a 'white power' tat?
The core of statism, as it evolved in the early 20th century, was the belief that individuals make terrible, irrational choices, based on their peculiar upbringing, anti-social greed, neuroses, or simple mistakes. When did personal choice become a big deal to Liberals? These days they justify acceptance and tolerance of sodomy on the idea that it is a result of a thing called an orientation that is fixed at birth. They accept homosexuality precisely because it is not a choice.

Robert Cook said...

Terry said:

"I literally cannot understand your point, Robert Cooke. The AUMF is not about absolving anyone of anything."

The AUMF is a self-written pass to ourselves giving us license to initiate war and invade any region we wish in the mid-east in the name of "fighting terrorism." This is illegal, a violation of our obligations under the UN Charter. We are not fighting to defend ourselves, and there are no armies facing us, so we have no way to know who the people are who we're killing, or how many of them may have actually taken up arms against us or who were, to use a phrase, "innocent goat-herders" or their families.

(Of those who have taken up arms against our forces, we don't who were Islamic extremists who already wished to "wage war" on us, to the minimal degree they could, or who took up arms only in response to our invasion of their lands.)

The AUMF is meant to provide us legal cover, to "absolve" us for our aggressive wars. Of course, that is it is meant to do this doesn't mean it absolves us in the least.

Anonymous said...

"He's already got his justification nice and worked out. "

What would I need a justification for?

Terry said...

"The AUMF is a self-written pass to ourselves giving us license to initiate war and invade any region we wish in the mid-east in the name of "fighting terrorism." This is illegal, a violation of our obligations under the UN Charter."
This has nothing to do with abortion. Maybe you can talk to them about this down at the student union? You are still not making sense.

The Cracker Emcee said...

" "I thought 'don't kill' was a universal idea.

"But apparently, it's only Christians who hold that belief?"


Who are you kidding? No one holds that belief."

Bingo. The number of people who truly believe in "don't kill" is vanishingly small. Infanticide has been practiced by virtually all cultures at one time or another across history and is still practiced in some of the world's backwaters. The only thing seperating us and them is technology. Certainly not morality. I would never encourage anyone to have an abortion but I can watch Muzzies get blown to shit on CNN with great equanimity. It's a shitty world and I can't think of a single adult who, in some way, doesn't carry some of the blame.
So at least show a modicum of intellectual integrity. Of course it's a human life being destroyed by abortion, but I don't want to pay for that life's welfare or be the victim of it's crimes.

Browndog said...

He-

Terry got sucked into the latest episode of arguing with idiots-

Robert Cook: "hey, wanna nail Jell-O to the wall? Try me."

Terry said...

Yeah, I think I've been into with Robert before re: the UN. He thinks that the UN has a moral authority that the US does not. Not sure why he would think that. The most obvious feature of the UN is that is accountable to only itself. No one ever seems to greet the UN blue helmets with the wild enthusiasm they use to greet American GI's.

Browndog said...

I wonder what Mr. cook thinks about the U.N. moral authority following the Soviet invasion of Hungary circa 1956--their first "test'.

nothing changes...never does.

Gahrie said...

So Eric, too, already chest a'puff from his keyboard "crusade," casts his imagination longingly at the prospect of a real one. He's already got his justification nice and worked out.

They always do.


You do realize that unless you convert, the Islamic fundamentalists are going to dig your shallow grave right next to mine?

Gahrie said...


Who you gonna crusade against, keyboard boy?


Me? No one..I'm too old and out of shape.

Our civilization? Hopefully Islam.

You are a hateful, evil person.

I am on the side of preserving human life and western civilization, you defend death and destruction.

I know who I'd rather be.

Anglelyne said...

Rick67: People on "both sides" often need to recognize the distinction between "human life" (which the unborn is, that's not really debatable) and "person" (which is more of a legal/philosophical category, a human life that deserves respect and protection). Proving the unborn is biologically/scientifically human doesn't resolve the debate.

No, it doesn't, but not for the reasons you state. Invoking personhood is merely invoking a legal/philosophical construct that at bottom has no more foundation than invoking God.

One can define "personhood" around what he considers some reasonable criteria - consciousness, the ability to make choices, the expectation of a "meaningful" or "productive" future, etc. - but these criteria very quickly reveal themselves to be quite flexible and subject to dispute. People rather rapidly begin to diverge on what constitutes a "reasonable" definition of personhood.

And, putting aside the observation that many people are quite adept at coming up with definitions of "personhood" that fit very nicely with their own convenience, what gives "personhood" its moral status in the first place? Why do I have to respect or protect the life of "persons" (even assuming we can all actually agree on a definition) any more than the lives of "human beings"? To what are you appealing when you make this claim?

MikeR said...

"For a pro-life argument to make sense it has to make sense..." I don't see the point of leaving one's brain at the door on these things. It may be hard to justify giving humanity to a one-day-old fertilized egg. It certainly does make sense to consider a eight-and-a-half-month-old fetus - which could survive in an incubator and grow up healthy - as a human being. The line has to be drawn somewhere, but at birth doesn't seem like the right place at all. The author's joyous acceptance of woman's choice at that point seems to me to be an abdication of what anyone can see is normal sense.

Terry said...

Angelyne wrote:
"One can define "personhood" around what he considers some reasonable criteria - consciousness, the ability to make choices, the expectation of a "meaningful" or "productive" future, etc. - but these criteria very quickly reveal themselves to be quite flexible and subject to dispute."
Remember Terry Schiavo?
Back when that was going on, many on the left described her as 'brain dead'. Schiavo was not brain dead. Brain dead has a medical definition that did not describe Schiavo's condition. Schiavo had low level brain activity. What they meant was 'lebens unwerten leben', but I think they liked the phrase 'brain dead' because it had the had the word 'dead' in it.
I am pretty sure every person who described Schiavo as 'brain dead' was a pro-choice liberal.

Saint Croix said...

People on "both sides" often need to recognize the distinction between "human life" (which the unborn is, that's not really debatable) and "person" (which is more of a legal/philosophical category, a human life that deserves respect and protection).

I think pro-choice people in particular need to think about the danger in defining some live human beings as "non-persons," as outside the law. This was the technique of the slave-owners, after all, and the Nazis. We are talking about the major moral conflicts of the 19th and 20th centuries. And pro-choice people hope to resolve the abortion debate by defining live human beings as outside the law? Not only is Roe v. Wade a resolution fail, it aligns pro-choice people with Nazis and slave-owners. Morally speaking, it puts you on a disastrous footing.

Consider too the way Blackmun cites Plato and Aristotle for the viability doctrine. Althouse talks about the need for religious people to frame their arguments for a wider society. But look what the Supreme Court is doing. They are citing the ancient pagans for the viability doctrine. These rules were created to justify the B.C. practice of abandoning babies to die. There is no way you are ever going to get Christian support for this rule. The rule is based in a concept of weakness--an inability to survive. But Christians pride themselves on loving the weak, the helpless, the people who need our love the most.

Roe v. Wade was doomed from the start, because of an elitist, Ivy League belief that simply name-dropping Plato and Aristotle into the opinion would impress us all with the wisdom of the viability doctrine. But we don't license our doctors to go into hospitals and start murdering the weak. We would never apply the viability doctrine to newborns, or old people.

And sure, we might give parents the right to kill their children, or children the right to kill their parents. After all, family obligates us, and we are not free anymore. So if we prize freedom above everything, even human life, then we might give individuals the right to free themselves of these weaker people, who will die.

Giving a mom a right to abandon her baby might be defensible, as a matter of freedom. (Although note that Althouse is furious at the idea of men abandoning their children).

But what sort of freedom is it that requires us to lie so often, to ourselves and to each other? We make these glib and stupid assertions that using the Latin word "fetus" absolves us of baby-murder. And maybe pro-lifers are wrong, and none of these abortions would qualify as a human death. And yet our 40-year policy of hiding the bodies would seem to belie our assumptions.

Mark said...

I am sure glad that they will not forcing life on my elderly mother once the feeding tubes are required in a month or two.

All this talk about life and medical decisions is being done in absence of discussion of the other end of life where there is a often designated person who can make life or death decisions for another person when the individual is deemed as unable to decide themself.

If we talked about Alzheimer's patients on Medicaid people dont seem to get so upset about viability of human life nor people have life and death decisions made by others.

Rusty said...

Robert Cook said...
Jr565,

How do you know that most of those we kill are not innocent goat-herders?


How do you know they are?

Anonymous said...

How about a simple, scientific approach.
Life is a process - when does it start?

Rusty said...

Robert Cook said...
Jr565,

How do you know that most of those we kill are not innocent goat-herders?


How do you know they are?

Jon Burack said...

Just came back in here to see if my point was responded to. It was. But I still think we are talking past each other some.

ME: "Ann, i said "human life," not "person." I am not sure what "person" means separately from that, but I think it is obvious that even an embryo is a human life."

YOU: "Person is the term used in the cases to refer to entities having rights. Everyone agrees that cells are alive, even sperm cells. But when does one cell or one cluster of cells acquire value as a separate entity? That is the question to be answered. And before viability the woman's answer governs with respect to what is happening inside her body."

ME AGAIN: I think the differences is you are looking at this as a legal rights issue and I am not. I am perfectly okay with the idea women get to decide when the human entity in their bodies is entitled to its right to live. That's a matter of legal rights, and I am not opposed to it on those grounds - whether decided by Roe or by state legislatures as it was being decided before Roe. My point is a purely moral-philosophical one. Don't kid yourself that in exercising your right to confer or not confer personhood, you are not engaging in a rather serious moral act of ending a human life. You say everyone agrees the cells are alive. I say everyone ought to understand the plain reality that those cells already are human cells.

Jon Burack said...

Just came back in here to see if my point was responded to. It was. But I still think we are talking past each other some.

ME: "Ann, i said "human life," not "person." I am not sure what "person" means separately from that, but I think it is obvious that even an embryo is a human life."

YOU: "Person is the term used in the cases to refer to entities having rights. Everyone agrees that cells are alive, even sperm cells. But when does one cell or one cluster of cells acquire value as a separate entity? That is the question to be answered. And before viability the woman's answer governs with respect to what is happening inside her body."

ME AGAIN: I think the differences is you are looking at this as a legal rights issue and I am not. I am perfectly okay with the idea women get to decide when the human entity in their bodies is entitled to its right to live. That's a matter of legal rights, and I am not opposed to it on those grounds - whether decided by Roe or by state legislatures as it was being decided before Roe. My point is a purely moral-philosophical one. Don't kid yourself that in exercising your right to confer or not confer personhood, you are not engaging in a rather serious moral act of ending a human life. You say everyone agrees the cells are alive. I say everyone ought to understand the plain reality that those cells already are human cells.

«Oldest ‹Older   1 – 200 of 202   Newer› Newest»