Sunday, September 11, 2011

Terrorism and Abortion

On Facebook today, I posted a comment made by Facebook friend Brian Douglass:

On 9/11/01 3,000 people killed by people who abused the skills they have been taught was called terrorism and mass murder. On every day in this country the over 3,000 people who are killed legally by people who abuse the skills they have been taught are called "a woman's right to choose".

Soon after I posted this, my favorite atheist Steve posted this:

Hey guys! Abortion doctors are just as bad-if not worse-than the 9/11 hijackers! I know this because Kevin O'Brien says so. Boy, have us secular progressives been morally confused for the past 10 years, going after those "terrorists" when the real terrorists are living comfortable lives at home. Killing a fetus because you aren't ready to be a parent and killing thousands of living, breathing human beings in cold blood because you want to restore an Islamic Caliphate are actually the same thing!

Now, Steve is a good guy and a very intelligent young man, one of my son's good friends, and a lot of fun to debate with - so much fun that at the last meeting of the ChesterBelloc Drinking and Debating Club I swore at him at the top of my lungs. But, seriously, Steve is no slouch, so I commented on what he had said thus:


Steve, my favorite atheist, if a fetus is an innocent human being, which it is, then yes killing an innocent in the womb is as bad as killing an innocent in a skyscraper. You follow the logic I'm sure.

You may not agree with the logic, but you follow it. However, you confuse the issue in your post above by bringing motive into the picture.

If the fetus is a person, then it matters not if you kill him because you don't want to be bothered with having a kid or because you want to establish an Islamic caliphate.

But if the fetus is not a person, then motive is also irrelevant. If the fetus is a clump of cells, then why bring up motive at all? It's convenient for me to take a crap and flush the clump of cells down the toilet. I could therefore understand you saying, "Kevin O'Brien compares the slaughter of innocent human beings in a terrorist act to taking a crap and flushing a toilet!" But what I don't understand is why you bring up motives.

If the fetus is a person, motives don't matter. If the fetus is not a person, motives don't matter. Unless your thinking is clouded by a conscience that's not so sure.


I have suggested that the discussion on Facebook move here to my blog where it can be followed by more than a select group of friends. We'll see what happens!


doctoreric said...

I think Stephen was all bent out of shape over your comment because we can easily see the horrid deaths of the destruction of the buildings, of chunks of skyscrapers falling on people, of people leaping to their deaths rather than being incinerated or suffocated.

We don't see the little bodies torn asunder in the "medical" suites. We don't see the emotional scarring of the women coerced into killing their little babies. We don't see any of it. Therefore, we get outraged when people site the hard statistics showing that every single day in America mothers pay to have their babies killed (or we do through subsidizing PP) in numbers that match or beat the numbers of Americans who were killed on 11 Sept. 2001.

Mark Holgate said...

I think the issue is that terrorists make us angry and afraid whereas the unborn cannot hurt us. Both are killings of the innocent. But we see our own death in 9/11. Ironically enough, though, we are more likely to die alone, at the hands of an uncaring doctor who considers your life no longer a financially viable propostition. So IMO we should see our death more clearly in the death of the unborn.

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

I'll try to be brief, as I'm losing my mind from doing Physics problems for about 8 hours straight. (In fact, I blame this for my sarcasm in the post. Looking back, I was clearly looking for someone to yell at, and you Catholics always give me something to get angry at.)

I honestly try to stay out of abortion debates because it's the issue that I struggle with the most. The last report I read on it said that hundreds of women every year would likely die from attempted "backroom abortions"if legal abortion was banned.(The pro-choice lobby often exaggerates this number as being in the thousands.) I still do not value the fetus' life (it's ignorant to say it isn't alive) as being on the same level as the living, breathing mother. I would rather have the 3,000 abortions than lose the life of 1 adult women (or teenaged girl).

However, the humanist part of me certainly has major issues with abortion. I would sincerely love it if there were no more abortions. I just happen to think it's better than the alternative(under present circumstances). Women are never going to stop trying to control their rate of reproduction (the next debate night may need to discuss contraception). We see it in nature, with many animals even eating their young if there are too many. Making abortion illegal will not eradicate it, it will simply make it much more dangerous for the women who chose to kill their fetus.

I know this is long-winded, but I did want to provide some context for my post. I'm not rabidly pro-abortion, but the pro-life movement turns me off. The problem I had with your status was more of an issue of priorities. I follow your logic, and knew that this would be the response right away. I was actually going to delete my post, but it only took a few seconds for multiple people to comment, so I decided to leave it up. I did it more as an angry, pathos-heavy opposition opinion than a serious intellectual challenge. (I was bored and driven mad by math at the time, please understand.)

I was more shocked than anything at your post, but I do follow your logic, even if I think the underlying premise is insane.

Anonymous said...

Steve, our Catholic view of the sacredness of life comes from the Bible (now I am not trying to ram this down your throat, just explaining our view). In the Gospel of Saint Luke, when Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth, who is pregnant with St. John the Baptist, it is written that the "baby leapt with joy in the womb" because he was encountering the mother of the savior. From that, the Church has derived that there must be more than just cells to life, and that the human soul starts at conception, and not at birth.

Leo Schwartz said...


If I may, could I ask which of Kevin's premises you think insane?

As I see it, the debate here isn't even about abortion, but rather a tension that is created by competing ethical and moral worldviews.

I hope I am not being presumptuous, but I would consider Kevin to be, like myself, somewhat of a deontologist. I believe that certain actions can always be wrong; this is what we Catholics refer to as "intrinsic evil." I start with the statement "it is always wrong to directly and intentionally take the life of an innocent human being," and go from there. In this debate, that is my number one premise.

Again, at the risk of being presumptuous, I am guessing that you take a somewhat teleological approach to this subject, weighing the lives of some against others.

It seems an exercise in futility to have a discussion about whether abortion is as wrong as terrorist attacks without discussing the difference in our approaches to ethics and morality.

Kevin O'Brien said...

Steve, I understand your snarkiness. No need to apologize for your original post. It has at least stirred debate. At least you didn't yell and curse at me in a drunken fit of fury!

I think it is honorable that your concern in this case is for the mother who is pregnant, in the hope that her life is protected by a safe procedure rather than a back alley one.

And I certainly concede that recognizing the illegality of abortion will not eliminate the act, any more than recognizing the illegality of murder eliminates murder - but certainly the fact that a statutory law is not perfectly effective in deterring behavior is no argument for the abolition of that law. No law is followed at all times. Should we therefore elminate all law?

At any rate, it is good that you care for the women who are seeking abortions. But the fact is that they are psychologically traumatized by abortion, even if they are not physically traumatized.

However, as you know, the argument really comes down to what Leo calls "teleology", but what I'd rather call "consequentialism" - is it ever right to do certain things in certain circumstances? If a fetus is an innocent person, is it ever right deliberately to kill him or her? That's simply what the argument comes down to, and I know you see that.

Good luck with your physics!

Stephen said...

I follow most of what everyone is saying and agree with most of it. I've contemplated responding to this,
"In the Gospel of Saint Luke, when Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth, who is pregnant with St. John the Baptist, it is written that the "baby leapt with joy in the womb" because he was encountering the mother of the savior,"
but it would be quite a digression, and we all know each others' arguments by heart at this point.

To answer Leo's question, the premise I find "insane" (I speak in hyperbole frequently, this being an example. I definitely should have used a different word) is that a fetus should enjoy equal rights as a women, specifically in cases where the mother's life is in danger. I'm sure some of you heard about this case:
The Catholic Church's position in this scenario is quite frankly repugnant to me (no hyperbole there).
And to Mr. O'Brien, there is absolutely no reason to apologize for drunkenly cursing me out. We aren't women. We drink and curse, especially when the nature of reality is being debated. I personally loved seeing a good Christian finally let loose and yell at me. Furthermore, English cursing is truly something to be proud of. Anglo swears are so much better than Latin ones that most Europeans will start using English curses if they get too angry for their civilized Latin-based swears. I'm just happy you decided to come back out and continue our debate after you cursed me out.

Stephen said...

Ah, also. I have a serious question for you. You do not have to respond to this if you don't want to. I read some of the "morality of lying" debates, and have absolutely zero desire to ignite more.
However, I believe (I could be mistaken) that you think it's okay to kill terrorists in defense of innocent life (we're in agreement here, if this is your belief). However, you think that lying to an abortionist is a sin, even though from your perspective you would be saving a human life. Why is it okay to kill to save lives, but not okay to lie? Personally I have no problem whatsoever with this inconsistency, but you are the one who is always espousing moral consistency. I guess what I'm asking is, why are these two beliefs consistent?

Anonymous said...

Steve, you got me wrong. I was just saying that that is the Catholic view's roots (Luke). The point is that the Gospel of Luke is the basis of our abortion view. All that follows is theology that is debated at conferences, synods, and in Rome. I thought it would help YOU understand us better.

FrDarryl said...

Secular progressivism and Classical Logic, especially the avoidance of fallacy, are no better bedfellows than the and Post-Normal Science and Scientific Method, especially the necessity of sufficient factual evidence to promote grand theories.

Au contraire, mes frères!

Stephen said...

" Secular progressivism and Classical Logic, especially the avoidance of fallacy, are no better bedfellows than the and Post-Normal Science and Scientific Method, especially the necessity of sufficient factual evidence to promote grand theories.

Au contraire, mes frères!"

Even a post-modernist would be impressed by the amount of words used in this post to say absolutely nothing of substance. Do you have any specific examples of these "grand theories" unsupported by factual evidence?

Anonymous said...

Evolution, Steve

Daniel said...

How is it that it is insane to give a human being the same rights that other ones have? What is it that give you elegibility for human rights other than HUMANITY ITSELF? You just have to be human to have human rights, period. We can't downgrade it to a matter of discussion, as if other people's opinion could determine whether or not you, a black man, a jew or a baby can live.

To kill a terrorist is naturally self-defense, a right that every human being has to defend one's integrity against unfair attacks: you don't have any other options but to stop him using guns, because spiderman's web doesn't exist in RL. To lie is wrong because you DO have other means of saving that life other than lying. Nothing good can come out of a lie, since it is to deny and pervert reality.