Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Can You Oppose Abortion Personally But Support Its Legality?

SimplyComplexJen:

Ok, ok... I have a friend that I go round and round with. She tells me you can not be against abortion on a personal level, yet on a political level support choice. I still stand by my argument that a person can and I do.

I can understand the reasoning behind a 'yes' answer to the question in the title bar of this post. It fits in (hypothetically) with my libertarian politics. For example, I believe that idolatry is immoral, but should not be illegal. I believe that homosexual conduct is immoral, but should not be illegal. I believe that smoking is immoral, but should not be illegal. I believe that using marijuana is immoral, but should not be illegal. No action should be illegal which harms only those who consent to the action.

Following this thread, I think that an unborn child is a human life and that abortion does not acquire the consent of all of the affected people, namely the child. It is, therefore, the deliberate, non-consensual killing of a person, i.e. murder.

I also believe that the state has only a few legitimate functions:
1. Protect citizens from crime.
2. Protect citizens from invasion.
3. Enforce contracts between citizens.

Abortion, being murder, would fit into category 1, and is therefore a legitimate concern of the state.

So, assuming that one holds:
1. That abortion takes a human life without consent
2. And that one purpose of the state is to prevent non-consensual harm

...then one cannot morally reject abortion but support its legality.

UPDATE: On the rape/incest exception: I don't support it because of Assumption 1. The unborn child is still an innocent human life. S/he has done nothing to merit death because of his/her origins. The mother deserves our compassion, love, and assistance, but not our permission to kill a child.

Also: Henry Neufeld responds:

Frankly, I think John has left out most of the logic on this one. Hidden assumptions lumber through this like elephants, just begging someone to see them. One may, for example, simply disagree with the idea that the state always has a duty to accomplish the goals John states.

Wow. He's a lot more libertarian than I am.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

What would you say to one who was morally against abortion believes that the most effective way to stop (or reduce) it from ocurring is not by making it illegal, but by some other means? Rudy Guiliani comes to mind.

Dale said...

Well done John.

John Wilks said...

Legal or not, I long for the day when our society provides enough access to the basics of life and such a true hope for a quality of living for even our most disenfranchised neighbors that the very idea of abortion becomes irrelevant. Than begins with churches learning to love the struggling family and the so-called "problem child."

Tim Sisk said...

Is it okay to have a contradiction between the personal and the political?

I side with John on the abortion issue; I think it is a "unique" case, but one place where my personal and my political views are at odds is immigration reform.

See, I want the goverment to protect our borders and stop illegal immigration. I am uneasy living with such porous borders. I think illegal immigration deflates wages for American citizens; it hurts social programs, etc.

But if an illegal came to my church seeking sanctuary, or help, or protection, I would provide them all. I would work to fight to give them the help they need.

Is this inconsistent?

Stephen said...

Lets reverse the argument and use a different scenario: If you believe that killing another human is immoral how then can you politically justify the death penalty or war for that matter?

Yet millions of people justify killing in some ways (fighting terrorism, punishing criminals, protecting someone else, protecting ourselves)

John B said...

I'm with Tim on the immigration issue & both Johns on abortion. However, I think John W over looks the fact that not all abortions are performed on those who don't have the means to support the child. I know women who have had abortions because the timing of the pregnancy was wrong in their minds or to appease a manipulating male.

John Wesley said...

Dearest Brother in Christ, John,

It could not be, but that a discourse of this kind, which directly contradicts the favourite opinion of many, who were esteemed by others, and possibly esteemed themselves, some of the best of Christians, (whereas, if these things were so, they were not Christians at all,) should give no small offence. Many answers or animadversions, therefore, were expected.

All I ask the people called Methodist to consider: What gives God the Glory? How might there be Grace found?

I have enjoyed your musing, brother John and would like to invite you to visit my humble journal, as I start my tenure upon this continent. I have been elucidated by your musings and wish to make your most courteous acquaintance whilst in the Americas.

I am most curious about the manner in which clergy conduct themselves in the colonies, as I am a newly arrived pastor and do not wish to offend the faithful and the savages. So prithee hence to my journal and let us hold each other accountable in our mutual love of Christ.

I remain God's most humble servant,

John Wesley

~c. said...

Supporting the legality of abortion does not necessarily mean favoring Roe v. Wade. I support the legality of abortion in cases where the mother's life is in significant jeopardy (where doctors, not politicians, decide). At the same time, I would like to see some legal restraints (i.e. I support the ban on partial-birth abortions and think that minors seeking an abortion must have parental consent). Seeing that the abortion issue is not totally black-and-white (as the current debate suggests) I think one can be both personally opposed to abortion while favoring its legality.

John said...

Stephen Fife wrote:

Lets reverse the argument and use a different scenario: If you believe that killing another human is immoral how then can you politically justify the death penalty or war for that matter?

Yet millions of people justify killing in some ways (fighting terrorism, punishing criminals, protecting someone else, protecting ourselves)


Good catch, Stephen. I shall clarify my language. I believe that the non-consensual killing of an innocent person is immoral and should be illegal. In war or fighting off a criminal attacker, one is not being immoral by killing the foe.

An unborn child has attacked no one, so we're talking about apples and oranges here.

John Meunier said...

The other hole here is that a person can be against abortion personally without viewing it as murder.

You do not have to believe a zygote or fetus has the same moral status as a toddler to reject abortion.

Stephen said...

John the Methodist wrote:

"In war or fighting off a criminal attacker, one is not being immoral by killing the foe."

To push the point the Bible very clearly states Thou shalt not kill (we mistranslate it as murder to appease our consciences, but the Hebrew is kill). So to say one is not being immoral by killing of the foe can be argued against from a biblical standpoint.

Biblical-based ethics is a interesting thing.

BruceA said...

You list the state's responsibilities to its citizens, but, as I understand it, there are only two ways to become a citizen of the United States: 1) Be born here, or 2) Go through the naturalization process, which takes several years. Unborn children have fulfilled neither of these requirements.

So, does the state have a responsibility to protect unborn children? I don't think the answer is so simple.

John said...

Ah, good point! Let me expand that list of duties to "residents". Legal or illegal, for that matter. (e.g. the state should intervene to prevent the rape of an illegal immigrant).

Anonymous said...

The Unborn Victims of Violence Act is a United States law which defines violent assault committed against pregnant women as being a crime against two persons: the woman and the fetus she carries.

This law was passed in 2004 after the murder of the then pregnant Laci Peterson and her fetus, Connor Peterson.


If it is right for a man (or woman) to be charged for homicide and sentenced to prison (or worse) for killing the unborn (and rightfully so)

then shouldn't the unborn have equil consideration in relation to abortion..?

Is a fetus earmarked for abortion of any less value to a fetus killed by violence...?

Is not abortion a violent attack on an inocent life just the same...?

I think it's not ethical to protect one without the other.....

they're one and the same........

ausblog

aml said...

The obvious analogy is miscarriage. Having had three miscarriages at 10 or 11 weeks I can testify that no one treats you as if you have lost a child. I had offers to babysit the child that I did have and sympathy that I might never have another child, but I when I cried on my due date the response of my women's group was non-supportive. Amy

Anonymous said...

What get's me is the number of pro choicers who will argue for abortion till the cows come home, but admit they would not have one themselves..........
Those who say one thing but do another,they are really pro life but don't want to admit it.

Actions speak louder than words

The way I see it is if women want the right to have control over their bodies, then they should take control before pregnancy occures.
That is the other choice that we don't hear enough about.

People should be able to choose to use birth control, to avoid having to make another choice.

Have you seen :
The Manipulation of ‘Post-Abortion Syndrome’: Part Two:
by Marcy Bloom ?
comments are also a good read.


Bruce.
ausblog...............