Friday, December 12, 2008

Question of the Day

Is abortion compatible with Christian teaching?

42 comments:

the reverend mommy said...

I ain't touching this one with the proverbial ten foot pole.

Srsly.

John Wilks said...

I guess it depnds on which Christian is teaching.

As far as I'm concerned, a Christian should avoid taking the life of any other person. This is why I don't own a gun. I would rather die than take a life.

So from my perspective, no, abortion is not compatible with Christian teaching.

Michael said...

Short answer: no. No caveat, no exceptions, no exemptions.

Jim said...

no

John Lomperis said...

In the midst of debates on this topic at the 2008 General Conference, the key question was asked: What part of an abortion could you see Jesus performing?

But if one takes the RCRC/UMW/Planned Parenthood/GBCS/NARAL position that there should be no legal restriction OR moral disapproval of the practice, then why would one be disturbed by the image of Jesus Christ taking a knife and hacking to death an unborn or partially born (or for that matter, recently born) baby?

doodlebugmom said...

It is not a yes or no kind of question, its never that simple. :(

Matt said...

At this time, I am going to preemptively invoke Godwin's Law (via [Gordon's restatement of] Newman's Corollary to Godwin's law, and thereby avoiding Quirk's exception).

John Wilks said...

John Lomperis- I agree with your whole-heartedly.

But it does beg the question, why do so many pro-life Christians support Christian participation in warfare and the death penelty.

In other words, can we see Jesus nuking a city or administering a lethal injection?

If the litmus test for social issues is WWJD, then we on the conservative side have as much changing to do as the liberals.

wrf3 said...

1. No, no, a thousand times no.
2. From The Didache: 2. "Thou shalt do no murder; thou shalt not commit adultery"; thou shalt not commit sodomy; thou shalt not commit fornication; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not use magic; thou shalt not use philtres; thou shalt not procure abortion, nor commit infanticide; "thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods";
3. J. Wilks wrote, "I would rather die than take a life". Would you not kill to protect someone who was being threatened by a predator?

wrf3 said...

J. Wilks asked, "In other words, can we see Jesus nuking a city or administering a lethal injection? "

Sure. "...when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, separated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might..." [2 Ths 1:7-9, among others]. As Deity, He holds life and death in His hands, dealing as He sees fit. The question is not whether Jesus will do this (He will), the question is whether or not we have permission to do the same. In some cases, we do.

greg. said...

sounds like a copout, but i'm with doodlebugmom on this one. life is way to complicated to make it so categorical.

it used to be a pretty clear cut rule, for example, that people not work on the sabbath, and then this guy named Jesus came along and had to complicate it. apparently "honoring the sabbath" couldn't be as clear cut as everyone had wanted it. now we had to look at things like "the intention of the heart," and so forth.

all i'm saying is life is too damn complicated for me to go around saying that something is categorically wrong all the time without exceptions.

Keith Taylor said...

No

John Lomperis said...

John W (not to be confused with John L or John tM),

Fair enough.

The death penalty's actually one of the issues I flip-flopped on in college (the other big one being homosexuality).

I've been encouraged to see indications that young, devout US evangelicals are increasingly anti-abortion but also increasingly anti-death penalty.

The pacifism issue you raise is more complex, and somewhat of a sidetrack from the question posed by John (tM). But one thing on that that I will say is it's a bit jarring to see the frequency with which the Iraq War specifically or war in general are condemned with anti-violence slogans, even by many self-described consistent-ethic-of-life advocates, without any sense of proportion re the fact that the resulting casualties (while of course ARE very important and tragic) are a fraction of the 15-20 million deaths each year worldwide from abortion. Not to mention the countless human embryos being destroyed for research.

bob said...

Definitely no,but the real key is to invoke as much moral disapproval and shame as possible.
In this way abortions could be reduced greatly without worrying about Roe v Wade

John Wilks said...

John Lomperis- you raise a good point about casualty counts. And I agree that abortion is a more pressing matter. The slaughter of the truly most innocent and most voiceless is an evil too deep to describe.

I'm also not a true pacifist in that I don't believe that we can truly end war- at least not until Jesus returns. I know war is going to happen and that sometimes God might even use a human war for His purposes.

I just don't think Christians belong fighting war. Our role is as ambassadors of a higher Kingdom.

Dan Trabue said...

Abortion is a medical procedure. Like other medical procedures, it could be used in a wrong manner. Since it is a life-and-death medical procedure, it ought to only be considered with the utmost sobriety and with much consideration.

As to this sidetrack:

J. Wilks asked, "In other words, can we see Jesus nuking a city or administering a lethal injection? "

Sure.


I can only say, "wow." Wrf3 can see Jesus nuking a city of innocent men, women and children? Really?

I would think that seeing how abortion is not discussed in the bible, we'd be cautious about presuming to speak for God and say what is and isn't Christian. But saying that Jesus would nuke a city - including its children - I would think that would be so seriously opposed by Biblical teaching as to be beyond discussion.

Would you care to rethink or clarify that position?

The Ironic Catholic said...

No direct or intentional abortion is moral. Sad, tragic, and complicated, perhaps, but always objectively wrong.

The only exception my Church makes is if the unborn child dies as a result of saving the mother's life, therefore an unintended (even if foreseen) effect. It's called the principle of double effect, and hangs on motive.

Difficult pregnancies are a call to the Christian community for extreme love of neighbor (the child, the mother, the family, etc.). God works in that act with ease. Not in an abortion.

johnmeunier said...

Well, it is compatible with the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church.

Anonymous said...

Dan:

What the....?
What line of logic are you employing here? "Seeing how abortion is not discussed in the bible, we'd be cautious about presuming to speak for God and say what is and isn't Christian." Yet you do so regarding Jesus “nuking a city”, while giving abortion a pass. I’m not sure I ever recall the nuking of a city discussed in the Bible. Furthermore, I contend that Jesus killing a child in or out of the womb is counter to any Biblical teaching as to be beyond discussion!
Try as you might, you can't have it both ways. Would you care to rethink or clarify that position?

Respectfully,
Joseph - fearfully and wonderfully made!

Dan Trabue said...

It is entirely true that using a nuclear weapon is not discussed in the Bible. But killing innocent people is. Killing innocent people is always a wrong (although one can find places in the Bible where innocents are killed, I don't think that is a consistent biblical theme, rather, I think it is wholly contrary to biblical teaching and especially Jesus' teachings).

Therefore, for someone to suggest that Jesus would choose to drop a nuclear bomb, killing thousands of children, crippling and burning the skin off thousands more, orphaning thousands more beyond that - THAT to me is a grossly distorted view of Jesus' position.

Do you disagree?

Now, I know some would say, "But that is exactly my problem with abortion - it is the killing of innocent children!" and I don't disagree. If one were to choose to have an abortion for no legitimate medical reason, that would be wrong, it seems to me, and contrary to biblical teaching.

But, abortion IS a medical procedure. It ought to be used for medical reasons when appropriate. If the life of the mother is at risk, for instance, some might deem that an appropriate medical reason. There may be other circumstances, as well.

I am opposed to "frivolous" abortions (if such a thing exists) AND I am opposed to gov't making the decision as to which abortions are medically apt and which ones are frivolous.

Michael said...

With due respect to doodlebug mom, I will say that such a decision about abortion has only been complicated by a world that is in conflict with the Lord and His kingdom. It truly is a yes or no answer, and I believe it has to be the answer most consistent with biblical principles. A decision in favor of the child's life will be in conflict with what the world is trying to tell us, thus making it "complicated". The Bible, however, and centuries of Christian teaching seem clear.

Rev. Jeremy Smith said...

What John Meunier said. Here it is:

In continuity with past Christian teaching, we recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures. We cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control, and we unconditionally reject it as a means of gender selection.

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

I've been all over the place, politically speaking, since I became politically active at the age of 12. But the one thing that I have never deviated on is abortion. It's killing an innocent human life.

doodlebugmom said...

I cannot help but see, most of those with opinions here are men. Men who will never carry a child or have to make a decision to keep or abort a baby. Even I can't imagine having to make that decision. And as morally wrong as it its. It still needs to be safe and legal. An choice for women who feel they have no other option.

JD said...

No.

John Wilks said:

"I guess it depnds on which Christian is teaching."

That being the camp that believes life begins at the moment of conception and the camp that does not.

Greg said:

"it used to be a pretty clear cut rule, for example, that people not work on the sabbath, and then this guy named Jesus came along and had to complicate it. apparently 'honoring the sabbath' couldn't be as clear cut as everyone had wanted it. now we had to look at things like 'the intention of the heart,' and so forth."

How in the world can there be any similarity to to Jesus healing the sick on the sabbath and killing a baby? Oh wait, because they both are valuing life!

Dan said:

"I would think that seeing how abortion is not discussed in the bible, we'd be cautious about presuming to speak for God and say what is and isn't Christian."

Abortion is discussed. Exodus 20:13 "Thou shall not murder." (NKJV) Not to be confused with the word kill.

As to the death penalty. There are 2 main scriptures in the bible where God says the death penalty is ok, though it should be used with restraint. I also hold true, as the Catholic Church does in the Catecism, "Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor." 2267 While our judicial system is suspect at times (a whole other topic), the death penalty is not against historical church teachings or scripture.

1.) Directly from God's lips. Genesis 9:5-6
"Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man.

'Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man.'"
(NKJV)

2.) And indirectly through Paul. Romans 13:4
"For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil." (NKJV)

The bible does not teach against it, and I do not know where Jesus taught against it.

Anyway, that is my long NO.

PAX
JD

John Wilks said...

Doodlebugmom:

So one be able to get pregnant to have a say?

I guess infertile women better stay out of this conversation too.

I'm curious about something. You call abortion immoral, but insist that it should be safe and legal.

Are there any other immoral acts which involve taking the life of another human being which you also think should be safe and legal?

ironiccatholic said...

Doodlebugmom--for the record (since it isn't clear from the moniker), I'm a pro-life woman.

Elizabeth said...

doodlebugmom didn't say that men or those who can't have children shouldn't have a voice. she just noted who was having the conversation on this blog.

John Wilks asks "Are there any other immoral acts which involve taking the life of another human being which you also think should be safe and legal?"

I think that there are many things that I may consider immoral that I think should be safe and legal. I don't think smoking is particularly moral, given what we know about how it harms the user and others. But should it be illegal? I'm not willing to say that. I think ridiculous accumulation of wealth and greed is immoral - but illegal? I don't think so.

I struggle with what to say about abortion. I can't see I could ever think it was a right choice for me. I definitely believe a woman should not be forced to carry a child in the cases of rape or incest - that's too much. Some people can make that choice, some people can't. Issues when the life of mother or child is at risk? I think those things are case by case matters, where no decision is 100% right. So the law, I think, needs room. I actually like the way the Discipline words it. I guess that shouldn't surprise anyone!

4simpsons said...

"An choice for women who feel they have no other option."

What if the women want to destroy their toddlers for the same reasons typically given for abortion (pressure from parents / boyfriend, inconvenient, economic issues, education issues, etc.)? Of course we wouldn't allow that.

So the only question is, "What is the unborn?" The scientific fact is that she is a living human being. Just because she is at an earlier stage of development (e.g., human fetus vs. human baby or human toddler vs. human teen) doesn't make her less valuable.

The capital punishment "consistency" argument fails on many levels. First, the unborn are 100% innocent while the condemned murderers are virtually certain to be guilty and have exhausted 10+ years of appeals. Innocence vs. guilt is a pretty big difference.

Second, there are 20,000 abortions per week in the U.S. vs. 1 (one) capital punishment.

Third, capital punishment was God's idea (see Genesis 9). The verses used to rationalize it away are almost always misinterpreted (see ineffective arguments against capital punishment).

If you want to protest it because you think it isn't applied in a Biblical manner then I would respect that. But to throw it out as an excuse not to speak out against the evil of abortion is bad reasoning.

Abortion kills an innocent human being. Unless it is done to save the life of the mother (which is consistent with the pro-life ethic) then it should be banned. No Christian should support abortion-on-demand.

Peace,
Neil

4simpsons said...

"I definitely believe a woman should not be forced to carry a child in the cases of rape or incest - that's too much."

Since you favor the option of the death penalty for the product of rape, are you also open to the death penalty for the rapist?

Rape and incest are hard cases, to be sure, but killing an innocent human being rarely improves a situation.

Also, the incest in question is typically just a nice word for rape. We're not talking about 30 year old siblings here, we're talking about fathers raping daughters. The abortions typically hide the crimes.

jockeystreet said...

Neil,

"What if the women want to destroy their toddlers..."

I am very much in favor of abortion staying legal, remaining an option... but I get the real, strong, often commendable arguments that people make against it, and so I rarely try to convince anyone on the other side that they're wrong. Those arguments are usually lost causes, people tend to not change their minds on this issue. But beyond that, even if I could change a mind, I'm not always sure that that would be something worth doing here-- I don't think the arguments of the anti-abortion crowd are always a bad or wrong-headed thing, as much as I might not agree with them.

I have a very hard time, however, with the "what if women wanted to destroy their toddlers" sort of argument. It implies, doesn't it, that having an abortion and killing a toddler are the same thing? To me, these two things seem worlds apart. Even if I was to accept that both were wrong, I would not be able to equate them in that way.

But never mind me. I have a hard time-- and honestly, I say this to your credit, because your decency is something I assume, something I take as a given-- I have a hard time believing that you or any of the other people who make this argument really, truly believe it.

If having an abortion is the same thing as murdering a toddler, then for shame man, what are you doing sitting at your computer, posting your opposition on a blog? How do you sleep? How do you even speak rationally to the people who disagree with you on this topic?

If there was a factory down the road where women were dropping off their crying, terrified children to be slaughtered, I couldn't live with it. If toddlers were being butchered in my neighborhood by the thousands, I wouldn't be driving to work, getting coffee, going about my day, smiling at the people who condone it, trying not to rock the boat. I would feel the need, I hope, to do something. I would feel that it was worth the risk of arrest to drag those children away, to pull their mothers out of that building. To scream in protest every single day.

So my question...

Are you making a comparison that you know to be false, because it sounds good and makes people on the other side sound heartless?

Or are you the kind of person who would quietly go about your business while toddlers were being murdered in your neighborhood?

4simpsons said...

"I have a very hard time, however, with the "what if women wanted to destroy their toddlers" sort of argument. It implies, doesn't it, that having an abortion and killing a toddler are the same thing?"

Yes! That's the whole point. They both destroy innocent human beings. One is larger than the other and in a different location, but when did that make them fair game for being crushed and dismembered?

It points to the key question: What is the unborn? If it isn't a living human being, then have all the abortions you like. If it does kill an innocent human being, then we ought not allow them. And Christians should definitely oppose them.

"How do you even speak rationally to the people who disagree with you on this topic?"

It takes a lot of self control. I try to assume that pro-choicers are ignorant of the truth or haven't thought it through clearly, or have been deceived by the 90+% radically pro-abortion media. I try to be as charitable as possible, because anyone who knows what abortion does and thinks it should be legal should not call themselves a Christian. I think they are freaks.

"Are you making a comparison that you know to be false, because it sounds good and makes people on the other side sound heartless?"

But you haven't demonstrated that my comparison is false! I am not doing it to make you sound heartless, I am doing it to demonstrate to you that your view is heartless in the hopes that you will change it.

If you disagree with me that abortion kills an innocent human being, then please demonstrate why you hold that view. Is there something about science that led you to believe it? Because all the embryology textbook references I am aware of -- from secular sources, no less -- say that life begins at conception - http://www.abort73.com/HTML/I-A-1-medical.html

The Hippocratic Oath said abortion was wrong until only recently. What discovery led them to change their minds?

Planned Parenthood used to be pro-life until the mid-60's. What did they discover to make them change their mind? Could it have been $$$$$ ?

"Or are you the kind of person who would quietly go about your business while toddlers were being murdered in your neighborhood?"

Actually, that is my question for you. Prove to me that abortion doesn't kill innocent human beings, or explain why you support this action politically and religiously.

And I don't go about my pro-life efforts "quietly." I blog on it extensively. I vote against it. I donate my time and money to CareNet Pregnancy Center, where we try to save lives now and for eternity (by helping women and the unborn in their time of need, sharing the Gospel, etc.). Do you think I should be resorting to violence or something?

Despite all your personal digs at my alleged inconsistency, the burden of proof is on you. Science is clear. Even laws are clear (e.g., "Laci's law" type of legislation that holds the unborn to be valuable human beings unless the mothers want them destroyed). Logic is clear. The Bible is clear ("do not murder," help the weak, Jesus is the author of life, etc.)

How about if the pro-choicers here explain just what they think abortions do?

jockeystreet said...

Neil,

Let me reiterate, I don't want to, and certainly don't think I could, persuade you that abortion is okay. I'm not interested in convincing you that your position on the rightness or wrongness of abortion is misguided. And it isn't my intention to take personal "digs." Any "digs" are aimed at what I think is some faulty, destructive reasoning, which leads to some of the not-so-helpful comments you directed at those with more "moderate" opposition to abortion.

And of course, yes, you are correct: "human life" begins at conception. Yes, a three year old child and an hour-old fertilized egg both meet the technical, biological definition of human life. Sure. But I wasn't objecting to technical definitions of "life." I was objecting, and will continue to object, to your ludicrous assertion that the three year old child and the hour old egg are "the same thing," just at different ages, in different locations.

Red and green both meet the technical definition of "color." And yet if you start telling me that red is exactly the same thing as green, I will think there is something wrong with you.

Hey, 3 and 9 can both meet the technical definition of an odd number, a multiple of 3, a factor of 27, a number greater than 0, a number less than 2000... and yet, what do you know, 3 and 9 are actually not the same thing.

Is there nothing that makes a toddler something different from an embryo? Is there nothing else but the technical definition of life that could factor in to moral decisions here? Is there nothing else involved that could make someone say "hey, I think both are wrong, but they're a different kind and different level of wrong?" Or is anything and everything meeting the technical, biological definition of "human life" to be treated exactly the same?

You yourself don't seem to hold that position. You yourself have thrown in moral qualifiers.

For you, it's about innocence. It's wrong to ever take any "innocent" human life. Un-innocent human life, on the other hand, well... different story.

I don't agree with you there. Though not an absolute pacifist, I am very much opposed to capital punishment. I think capital punishment is wrong. I will protest against it, happily share my opposition to it with others... but as much as I think it's wrong, I don't think it's "exactly the same thing as" killing a toddler. I am able to see that, while I feel both are wrong, there is a difference, a huge difference, that one is tragic and horrible and unjust in a way that the other is not.

You essentially call "human life" inviolable, but with certain qualifiers ("innocent" is one, I don't know if you have others to justify the deaths of "innocent" civilians in war-- I don't pretend to know your stance on that).

I guess I would use, with caution, some different qualifiers.

I guess I would see that what makes a toddler and a week-old embryo not "the same thing" is the utter lack of ability of the latter to suffer, to feel, to experience, to have any vague sense of awareness, etc. This doesn't put the embryo outside of the realm of morality, but it certainly means that there is more to consider, ethically, when dealing with the toddler than when dealing with the embryo. The two are not the same, no matter how much you want to say they are, no matter how many technical definitions you pull out of textbooks. And as I said, I just have a hard time believing that you actually don't see a difference, deep down. I have a hard time believing that if you were two meet women on the same evening, one of whom had a second month abortion, that other who decapitated her three year old, you wouldn't recoil in horror a little more from the latter (as you should).

(Of course, all this discussion of the week old embryo neatly sidesteps the more difficult discussion of more developed fetuses... I think when you start talking about late abortions, you have a much more solid case to make in comparing the two. Was my son not my son the day before he was born? Of course he was, and when you get into that discussion, we're probably much closer on the issue.)

Jim

4simpsons said...

"I was objecting, and will continue to object, to your ludicrous assertion that the three year old child and the hour old egg are "the same thing," just at different ages, in different locations."

Object all you like, but I'd be more impressed if you backed up your assertions with any semblance of logic or fact.

"Red and green both meet the technical definition of "color." And yet if you start telling me that red is exactly the same thing as green, I will think there is something wrong with you."

That isn't my argument, of course, so your illustration fails. If you want to use a color illustration, it would be this: If you rub off red paint or green paint, the paint is gone in both cases. If you kill a toddler and an unborn child, both are destroyed.

"Hey, 3 and 9 can both meet the technical definition of an odd number, a multiple of 3, a factor of 27, a number greater than 0, a number less than 2000... and yet, what do you know, 3 and 9 are actually not the same thing."

That suffers from the same flaw as your color illustration. Keep trying.

"Is there nothing that makes a toddler something different from an embryo? Is there nothing else but the technical definition of life that could factor in to moral decisions here? Is there nothing else involved that could make someone say "hey, I think both are wrong, but they're a different kind and different level of wrong?" Or is anything and everything meeting the technical, biological definition of "human life" to be treated exactly the same?"

You tell me. Ask all those same questions about a toddler vs. a teen, then tell me if the life of one is worth more than the life of the other such that either could be destroyed for the reasons given for abortion.

"For you, it's about innocence. It's wrong to ever take any "innocent" human life."

It certainly shouldn't be taken for the reasons given for 99% of abortions.

"Un-innocent human life, on the other hand, well... different story."

By un-innocent, do you mean guilty first degree murderers? Yes, I see that as a little different than the 100% innocent unborn, though I do support the Biblical process for just trials.


"I don't agree with you there. Though not an absolute pacifist, I am very much opposed to capital punishment. I think capital punishment is wrong. I will protest against it, happily share my opposition to it with others... but as much as I think it's wrong, I don't think it's "exactly the same thing as" killing a toddler. I am able to see that, while I feel both are wrong, there is a difference, a huge difference, that one is tragic and horrible and unjust in a way that the other is not."

Then you are a moral schizophrenic (killing innocent humans in the womb = OK, killing guilty murderers = not OK) and disagree with science, God and the Bible. Feel free to hold your views, but please be honest and concede that your views are not supported by scripture.

You play a lot of word games on the timing of abortions, but remember that intellectually honest people must draw a line somewhere and defend it. One one side of the line is a morally benign procedure and on the other is murder. I draw the line at conception, and have science and the Bible on my side. You appear to have a list of fuzzy philosophical concepts to rationalize your position.

If I have misunderstood you, then please feel free to clarify precisely where you draw this line and why you draw it there. I assume you won't use some fluid concept like viability, since that varies by baby and by location (e.g., quality of health care) and can't be known for sure until the baby lives.

4simpsons said...

"Was my son not my son the day before he was born?"

Was your son not your son two days before he was born? Three? Four? And so on, up to 270. Please pick the precise day when your son was not your son, and when you could have paid a stranger to abort him and it would have been morally benign.

jockeystreet said...

Neil,

"Please pick the precise day when your son was not your son, and when you could have paid a stranger to abort him and it would have been morally benign."

"Then you are a moral schizophrenic (killing innocent humans in the womb = OK, killing guilty murderers = not OK) and disagree with science, God and the Bible."

"OK" and "morally benign" don't sound like words I would generally use to describe abortion, and after scanning my comments, lo and behold, I can't find them in there anywhere. It might help the flow of the argument if you disagreed with things I said, rather than things you wish I'd said or things that someone else like me has said. It keeps us all on the same page.

I'm sure that you feel I am disagreeing with God and the Bible, and okay, okay. I'm not sure how I disagree with "science," though. What "science" have you presented that I'm not paying attention to? That "human life" begins at conception? I'm pretty sure my "yes, you are correct" was meant to imply that, yes, you are correct. Tricky wording, perhaps. I do not disagree with that piece of science. I do not know that that piece of science is relevant to your claim that abortion and toddler-murder are moral equivalents. Keep shouting that fact as long as you want, I don't know that you'll find anyone to disagree with you. I certainly won't.

"You appear to have a list of fuzzy philosophical concepts to rationalize your position."

I don't know what exactly is fuzzy about my concepts. ere we go:

1. The ability to feel pain and fear is morally relevant. The ability to have experiences and to feel emotion is morally relevant. The ability to hope and wish and have any sort of conscious life is morally relevant. (Taking it completely outside the realm of abortion-- the belief that these things are morally relevant is why we generally feel that it is less wrong to pull the petals off a rose than to pull the legs off of a puppy.)

2. Though both absolutely meet the definition of "human life," there is a huge distinction between a three year old child and a three hour old fertilized egg-- one can have those experiences, one certainly can not.

3. One can believe that both abortion and toddler-cide are bad things, but still feel that those morally relevant differences make them not the "same" thing, and not "equally wrong" (in the way that stealing a pack of gum from the grocery store and conning a kind old lady out of her life savings are both stealing and therefore both wrong, but one is wrong in bigger and badder ways than the other).

Please explain why that's fuzzy. Please explain why that's more crazy sounding than the assertion that there isn't really any difference between a toddler and a fertilized egg.


"You play a lot of word games on the timing of abortions, but remember that intellectually honest people must draw a line somewhere and defend it."

Word games? Please explain. Drawing a line is only "intellectually honest" if the line makes sense, if the line can be justified. If I'm unable to draw a line and damn everyone on the other side, I apologize. I've never claimed to have every answer. I feel comfortable saying a three hour old fertilized egg is very different from my son. I don't feel comfortable at all saying that about a baby a few hours before birth. I am being as intellectually honest as I know how to be when I say that I don't know exactly where that line is crossed.

Curious aside:

You are for executing murderers.

You believe that women and doctors who abort babies are murderers.

Are you therefore for executing these women and doctors?

If not, why not?

4simpsons said...

""OK" and "morally benign" don't sound like words I would generally use to describe abortion, and after scanning my comments, lo and behold, I can't find them in there anywhere. It might help the flow of the argument if you disagreed with things I said, rather than things you wish I'd said or things that someone else like me has said. It keeps us all on the same page."

Fair enough. Then please explain to me in clear words the following:

1. Precisely what you think happens during an abortion.

2. Whether the procedure you described is morally good or bad and why.

3. Whether you think Jesus would encourage or perform an abortion.

"I'm sure that you feel I am disagreeing with God and the Bible, and okay, okay."

Abortion kills an innocent human being. Killing an innocent human being = murder. The Bible teaches that we shouldn't murder. Jesus is the author of life. Really, do you not see that?

"I'm not sure how I disagree with "science," though. What "science" have you presented that I'm not paying attention to? That "human life" begins at conception? I'm pretty sure my "yes, you are correct" was meant to imply that, yes, you are correct. Tricky wording, perhaps."

Here is where I find you being completely illogical. The key question in the whole abortion debate is, "What is the unborn?" If it isn't a human being, then have all you like. If it is a human being then we shouldn't destroy her. Pretty simple stuff.

Yet when I present scientific evidence that the unborn are human beings, you want to dismiss it as a technicality and "tricky wording!" Things that are technically true are still true, and if that is the singular issue we are debating then you can't just wave it off like I'm being too picky.

"I do not disagree with that piece of science. I do not know that that piece of science is relevant to your claim that abortion and toddler-murder are moral equivalents. Keep shouting that fact as long as you want, I don't know that you'll find anyone to disagree with you. I certainly won't."

Thanks for conceding your inconsistency. If you could demonstrate why the size or development of a human being determines whether they are fair game for crushing and dismemberment that would be helpful.

"1. The ability to feel pain and fear is morally relevant."

How so? You could kill your son tonight quite painlessly in any number of ways, but that wouldn't change the morality. He also wouldn't have any fear.

Even if that argument was fundamentally flawed, you also haven't demonstrated that unborn don't feel pain.

"The ability to have experiences and to feel emotion is morally relevant. The ability to hope and wish and have any sort of conscious life is morally relevant."

Got any Bible verses to support that? Any science? Any logic? That is why I said those arguments are fuzzy.

Human beings have inherent value, not value because they meet your morally relative definition of emotion, wishes and such. That is why I appreciate how oddities such as Peter Singer at least take their views to their logical conclusion and support infanticide, because all the arguments you just made would support that as well.

Regarding consciousness, people who are asleep or in comas don't have that. To legally remove someone from life support who is not conscious you must have the following: You need to demonstrate that you are acting in that person’s best interests, as they would so act if they were conscious and you must prove that there is little or no hope of recovery. Abortion fails on both counts.

"2. Though both absolutely meet the definition of "human life," there is a huge distinction between a three year old child and a three hour old fertilized egg-- one can have those experiences, one certainly can not."

Yet you haven't explained why the ability to have "experiences" dictates whether human beings deserve to have their lives protected.

"3. One can believe that both abortion and toddler-cide are bad things, but still feel that those morally relevant differences make them not the "same" thing, and not "equally wrong" (in the way that stealing a pack of gum from the grocery store and conning a kind old lady out of her life savings are both stealing and therefore both wrong, but one is wrong in bigger and badder ways than the other)."

That illustration fails, because in one case two human beings die and in another one human being dies and one pack of gum is stolen.

"Please explain why that's fuzzy. Please explain why that's more crazy sounding than the assertion that there isn't really any difference between a toddler and a fertilized egg."

I am not claiming they are physically the same. I am claiming that they are both human beings at a particular stage of development, and that they deserve to have their lives protected regardless of the stage of development.

"Drawing a line is only "intellectually honest" if the line makes sense, if the line can be justified. If I'm unable to draw a line and damn everyone on the other side, I apologize. I've never claimed to have every answer."

Then why don't you err on the side of life? This is where pro-legalized abortionists really lose me. They defend the practice as sort-of bad, and even claim that late term abortions are worse than early term ones. Of course, all their other reasoning doesn't support that, but whatever. But when you ask them to draw a line they go blank.

And please skip the ad hominem attack about "damning." I don't claim that you are "damning" me for being pro-life. At CareNet we don't "damn" women who have had abortions, we offer them the hope, healing and forgiveness that can only be found in Christ. (And we also don't tell them the lie that abortion is morally acceptable and that they won't suffer from it).

"I feel comfortable saying a three hour old fertilized egg is very different from my son."

But no one said they aren't different. Your son is different today than he'll be in 10 years, but that doesn't change the value of his life.

"I don't feel comfortable at all saying that about a baby a few hours before birth. I am being as intellectually honest as I know how to be when I say that I don't know exactly where that line is crossed."

I appreciate your honest, but again, please consider why you wouldn't err on the side of caution when a human life is at stake.

"Curious aside:

You are for executing murderers.

You believe that women and doctors who abort babies are murderers.

Are you therefore for executing these women and doctors?

If not, why not?"

Not all murderers deserve execution. My preference would be to punish the abortionists more severely. But how about if we determine if abortions should be illegal then discuss appropriate punishments? I realize that the pro-abortionists like the sound bit of pro-lifers wanting to jail women and such, but first things first.

Anonymous said...

Jockeystreet:

I have to ask a question regarding your following statements:

"1. The ability to feel pain and fear is morally relevant. The ability to have experiences and to feel emotion is morally relevant. The ability to hope and wish and have any sort of conscious life is morally relevant. (Taking it completely outside the realm of abortion-- the belief that these things are morally relevant is why we generally feel that it is less wrong to pull the petals off a rose than to pull the legs off of a puppy.)

2. Though both absolutely meet the definition of "human life," there is a huge distinction between a three year old child and a three hour old fertilized egg-- one can have those experiences, one certainly can not."


Apparently your using these as qualifications why abortion is morally acceptable, specifically versus "toddlercide"; please correct me if I am wrong.

My question is this, where does that place those who suffer from autism, alzheimers, epilepsy, cerbral palsy, quadraplegics, those who suffer from congential pain insensitivty, etc? Certainly that dont share all or even none of the traits youve listed.


May we all find discernment.

Bret

jockeystreet said...

Neil,

"Tricky wording" was not in reference to anything you said. I was being sarcastic. I was implying that by saying "yes, I agree with you" I was somehow being too subtle. I don't disagree with you on that particular issue. At all. And have said so. But you continue to seem to think that I'm arguing something else... so, the sarcastic comment "tricky wording." By me. Not you.

Bret,

"Apparently your using these as qualifications why abortion is morally acceptable, specifically versus "toddlercide"; please correct me if I am wrong."

I'm actually not. Or not trying to. Or trying not to.

As I said in my first comment, I don't have much interest in arguing with anyone about the rightness or wrongness of abortion. Those arguments go around forever and ever. No one changes their minds. Everyone gets angry. To me, it's not worth it. I say that as someone who has the privilege of being able to "agree to disagree," and I understand that. It is always easier for the one with less to lose if things don't change to "agree to disagree." I would imagine it would be almost impossible for Neil and many others to "agree to disagree" because from their perspective that would be agreeing to just tolerate the intolerable. For me, though... I can say that I don't really care to argue that issue.

My point-- and the purpose of the comments you quoted-- is simply that abortion and killing a three year old are not morally equivalent. The fact that two things are not morally equivalent does not imply that one is right and one is wrong; that's a whole separate discussion. I think that pain and suffering and such are morally relevant things. It is wrong to hit a squirrel with a hammer for no good reason because it causes the squirrel pain and suffering. It's not wrong to hit a patch of dirt with a hammer for no good reason because it doesn't cause the dirt pain and suffering. Hence, the way I see it, pain and suffering, happiness, experience, etc are morally relevant. Neil says they're not, I say they are. I don't say that they are "the only" things that are morally relevant, only that I think they matter, they are relevant. I therefore think it is not irrational to say that abortion and killing toddlers involve different moral questions, different standards-- because, while I concede that "human life" begins at conception, I find it utterly absurd to suggest that the experience, ability to suffer, etc of a newly fertilized egg is equivalent to that of a toddler. Again, not saying that this implies that one is okay and the other is not, only that these are very different things. A newly fertilized egg and a preschooler are very different things. Radical statement, maybe.

I would also say that I think that most people must recognize this, even if they are adamantly opposed to abortion. Because if they don't on some level believe that killing toddlers and abortion are different things, then their response to abortion seems woefully inadequate. Blogging about abortion, voting for pro-life candidates, and passing out literature would strike me as ridiculously impotent responses to the wholesale slaughter of toddlers. If abortion is morally indistinguishable from first degree murder, then the anti-abortion crowd is essentially sitting quietly during a holocaust. How can this be?

Regarding your question... I don't know how best to answer that, because I don't exactly understand how it relates. I don't see any comparison. I know many, many autistic individuals, many individuals with epilepsy, CP, etc. I wouldn't compare any of these people to the newly fertilized egg. I wouldn't for a second deny that any of these individuals have engaged lives, have hopes and desires, can suffer, feel happiness, etc. So I really don't get the comparison. If there was to be a relevant comparison, it would be with the person who will never, ever come out of a fully vegetative state. And,yes, I would say that pulling life support in that situation is also substantively different from killing a toddler, or a teenager, or an adult with CP.

Anyway. This post is no longer on the front page... does blog etiquette mean that it's time to move on? I'll go ahead and assume that it does.

4simpsons said...

"I would imagine it would be almost impossible for Neil and many others to "agree to disagree" because from their perspective that would be agreeing to just tolerate the intolerable. For me, though... I can say that I don't really care to argue that issue."

Sorry to bring you back from stereotype-land, but I have calm, rational conversations with many people on this topic. Of course, that accusation appears to be just another smokescreen on your part.

I will say that I'm extra-disappointed with Christian who use such bad reasoning to defend the legalized slaughter of abortion. It is the greatest moral issue of our time, with 20,000 murders per week in the U.S., and they'd rather whine about one convicted murderer being put to death after 10+ years of appeals. How about 10 years of appeals for the unborn?

And to make matters worse, they twist the Bible to rationalize their anti-capital punishment views -- http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/2008/07/21/bad-biblical-arguments-against-capital-punishment/ .

Too many Christians are uneducated on the topic or willing to get involved to do anything about it. They say they want to reduce abortions, but can't explain why they should be reduced. If they are as safe as the pro-aborts claim, then they are cost effective methods of birth control.

If they are morally benign at 8 weeks, then the same reasoning applies at 8 months. But they always try to wiggle out and say those late term abortions are sort of bad -- even though won't press to restrict even those.

Most damning is that the "we just want to reduce abortions without making them illegal" folks never seem interesting in supporting Crisis Pregnancy Centers with their time or their money. Go figure.

"Those arguments go around forever and ever. No one changes their minds."

I changed my mind. I used to be pro-choice.

"I think that pain and suffering and such are morally relevant things."

Of course less pain is better than more, but your argument is ridiculous. It says that if we can kill human beings painlessly then it is OK. If you want to rationalize abortion, I suggest you seek a different approach.

"If abortion is morally indistinguishable from first degree murder, then the anti-abortion crowd is essentially sitting quietly during a holocaust."

You can't be serious. Sitting quietly? Seems to me that you are the one sitting quietly during the holocaust. We're the ones saying there is a holocaust. We vote against it, blog against it, persuade people one on one against it, pay for pro-life books to be given away at church, teach classes in pro-life reasoning, donate money and time to help women in crisis pregnancies, and on and on.

You seem to think that if we aren't getting violent then we must not be doing enough. Of course, if we were violent then you'd add that to your list of excuses for being pro-legalized abortion.

You are the one defending the practice of killing innocent human beings, just because they are smaller than toddlers.

I pray that the dreams of you and all the other pro-choice Christians will be haunted with the carnage of the 20,000 human beings destroyed each day in the name of "choice."

4simpsons said...

One other thought: You seem to think it is worse to protest or debate abortions than to commit them. Just sayin'.