Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Revealing Headline

This headline is from, the website of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The Post-Dispatch is a notoriously liberal paper. Had the adult victim (the pregnant woman) killed the baby in an abortion clinic, no mention would have been made of the child's death.

Since a gunman killed both mother and child, the newspaper mentions it.

Murder is only murder if certain people murder, it seems.


Stephen said...

It's not that abortion doesn't kill a fetus, it's that the choice rests with the mother. Someone else killing the fetus is not acceptable, as the mother very likely wanted to keep it. I'm not arguing for the morality of this position, just that it is perfectly consistent with pro-choice views.

Kevin O'Brien said...

So, Stephen, what you're saying is the pro-choice view is "a mother has the right to choose to kill her unborn baby but no one else may make that choice." That seems to be the "pro choice view" to which you are referring.

But what about the baby's choice?

If the Post-Dispatch (and Fox 2 News, which I just saw) concede that one of the victims in this shooting was the unborn baby, then we see an admission of the personhood of this "fetus".

So which is the more intellectually consistent position:

A. The fetus is an innocent person but the mother has a right to kill him.


B. The fetus is an innocent person and no one has the right to kill him.

Position A only makes sense if killing an innocent person is morally acceptable, which is a position the modern world now takes (an innocent person has no universal right to life), a position the ancient pagan world took, and a position contrary to the Christian one. If you side with Position A, you are asserting that there is no inherent dignity to human life - which is exactly what you believe, according to how you explained yourself at our last CBDDC meeting.

Now I'm not arguing against you right now. I'm just trying to get this straight. If a fetus is an innocent person, and if a mother has the right to kill this innocent person, then an innocent person does not have the right to live in any and all circumstances. The life of an innocent may be snuffed out for convenience, whim, or any reason (in the case of abortion at least).

That is indeed what you're saying, is it not?

Stephen said...

Like I said, I wasn't defending the position. Abortion is the only social issue that I'm less than a radical liberal on. I have serious reservations about it, and it wouldn't surprise me if someone from the future came to my house tonight and told me that I was pro-life in the future. But I have expressed before, and I still currently believe, that a human fetus is not equivalent to a human being in terms of the rights it deserves. I sensed some incredulity in your post that a liberal newspaper cared about the unborn when killed by another person even though it doesn't care about the unborn in the case of abortion. My only point is that it is not inconsistent with the typical pro-choice position to say that it is wrong for another person to kill a fetus, but it is okay for the mother to do so. In fact, this is basically the entire basis for the movement. I am absolutely not arguing that the fetus is an innocent HUMAN life. I'm sorry, but I still can't agree that the fetus has the same right to life as the woman who is potentially birthing it. It is this fact that keeps me from being pro-life. In 1 trillion cases out of 1 trillion, I would elect to abort a fetus if the woman's life was in danger, even if the fetus was guaranteed to survive if the birthing process was induced. Now, if it is the mother's CHOICE to die for her child, I have no problem. I leave it to the mother-not the government, and certainly not the church.

I have to reject the way you've framed the "who is more intellectually consistent" argument. The pro-choice side (usually, I won't deny that there are some truly sick people who think that abortion is to be desired) insists that the fetus is secondary to the rights of the mother. To this point, I haven't seen any arguments that have convinced me otherwise, although I am sincerely open to them.

And please don't say I don't believe in the dignity of human life. That is what you think is logically implied from my beliefs, but it isn't true. I respect that you are challenging me to be logically consistent, but I don't think saying that humanity is not objectively any better than other animals demeans human dignity. You have invented a definition of human dignity that can only be satisfied by a belief in a loving, omnipotent God who created us in his image. My position here is humanism. We are all humans. We should support each other and acknowledge that we innately value each other more than other animals. To you, this demeans your perception of humanity. To me, it couldn't be more dignifying. The force of solidarity we have amongst ourselves (this feeling is becoming rarer by the day, mind you) is due solely to evolution, but that makes it no less real than if it was bestowed upon us by Yahweh. From my perspective, it is much more comforting and empowering this way. Again, I couldn't agree more that humans should value human life far more than they value the lives of other animals. I just have different reasons for believing this than you do.

However, if your definition of "inherent dignity" is an objective one completely outside human perspective, I would continue to disagree with you. You can continue with the talking point that atheists have no real respect for humanity (if that is your definition of "inherent dignity") with no objections from me. I do not apologize for this view, nor do I think I am wrong.

Again, I really dislike debating abortion. I have more sympathy with Catholics on this issue than perhaps any other. I just think you go way too far. Even if I do eventually renounce abortion completely, I will always consider people who yell at women going into Planned Parenthood as absolute scum (second only to homophobes, and slightly more evil than people in marketing), and I won't apologize for that. Still, abortion is the one issue that I would describe myself as anything close to moderate on, and I'm legitimately open to change on this issue IF the arguments persuade me.

Kevin O'Brien said...

I can assure you, Favorite Atheist Stephen, that the yelling that goes on at Planned Parenthood clinics is the other way around.

Stephen said...

Wow, you can assure me? Well I have lots of video proof for my claim, whereas the only evidence of malfeasance at PP that I know of comes from James O'Keefe, a hack who has repeatedly been proven to be a liar and a user of despicable editing techniques. I can do more than assure you that protestors verbally assault women whose circumstances they know NOTHING about, I can show you the video.

Anonymous said...


If you are here in St. Louis, I would highly encourage you to visit our local Planned Parenthood (the one on Forest Park Ave. in the CWE) for yourself, especially as the 40 Days for Life campaign kicks off later this month on Sept. 28. You will see the percentage of folks who spend their time yelling at women who go to the clinic is not what you think it is.

Let me share with you some video proof of a PP presence that is much different from what you envision:

Peace to you.
Jennifer Brinker

Anonymous said...

Steve, so I guess in your view pregnancy is the side effect of sex? In the atheist view, pregnancy is another disease with a side effect; however, is it a person's choice they have diabetes? It IS the person's choice to have sex and the consequence is pregnancy; it is also your fault when you get a ticket for doing 55 in a 35 zone. Does it make sense that you are to demand that your pregnancy ends, but you can't demand that your speeding ticket disappear? If we can kill the fetus cause we feel like it, maybe anybody should be allowed to put a gun to someone's head and fire. It doesn't work THAT way does it? If we kill an animal for food, it is met with controversy, yet so many people who are vegetarians will kill a human being? There seems to be much hypocrisy amongst pro-abortionist, yet all the hypocrites within the Church are spurned.

Kevin O'Brien said...

You realize, our course, Stephen, that if abortion is murder, then yelling at a woman about to commit murder is perhaps understandable. However, I am not trying to excuse a lack of concern for the mothers, who, as you say, may indeed be finding themselves in very difficult positions. Neither the Church nor any pro-life organization I'm aware of encourages harrassment of mothers; it's quite the opposite.

As for James O'Keefe, we're on the same page there. I've written about his tactics extensively, beginning here: .

Anyway, I know you're on the fence on this issue and you don't really want to debate it. With that in mind, why don't you take Jennifer's advice and observe fist hand some of what goes on in front of the PP Clinic here in St. Louis? It will be an eye-opening experience for you.

By the way, thanks for commenting, Steve, you keep things lively!