Squaring the Culture




"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

10/30/2009 (10:20 pm)

Is Abortion Genocide?

Research published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) a few weeks ago notes that abortions killed more African-Americans than the 7 next highest causes of death combined. (You can read the actual report here; the link points directly to Table 9, which shows the relevant statistics.)

Abortion kills more black Americans than the seven leading causes of death combined, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 2005, the latest year for which the abortion numbers are available.

Abortion killed at least 203,991 blacks in the 36 states and two cities (New York City and the District of Columbia) that reported abortions by race in 2005, according to the CDC. During that same year, according to the CDC, a total of 198,385 blacks nationwide died from heart disease, cancer, strokes, accidents, diabetes, homicide, and chronic lower respiratory diseases combined. These were the seven leading causes of death for black Americans that year.

States are not required to report abortion statistics by race (not required to report them at all, in fact.) Abortion statistics by race were only available for 36 states; among those missing were California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, and New York outside of New York City. Also, abortions performed by private physicians were not reported to the CDC. Consequently, the 203,991 abortions reported among blacks by the CDC was far lower than the actual number. And still, it was enough to swamp all other causes of death among African-Americans.

Abortion is arguably the most favored “right” among social liberals in America, for reasons about which one can only guess because they’re never candid about it. When Al Gore attempted a rousing speech at the 2000 Democratic convention, the only sound bite that earned him more than meager applause was his full-throated defense of legal abortions. And President Obama, whose measures to nationalize and over-regulate American industry have come at a breath-taking pace, and who has several times directed federal favors in the direction of his union buddies and contributors, took some of his earliest Presidential steps to expand the number of legal abortions — a direction that those of us who actually did our homework about Obama fully expected. Democrats claim that they really don’t like abortions, that nobody really wants them, that steps should be taken to keep abortions rare, but that they must be kept legal to protect women. None of these statements are believable, particularly the last, since recent surveys reveal that women feel pressured to have an abortion in almost 2/3 of actual abortions, and that violence by spouses, boyfriends, and significant others against women rises dramatically when the women are pregnant. But most Democrats scrabble frantically for reasons to reject facts that make abortion seem like a bad bet for women; they’ve been unwilling even to consider the now-voluminous evidence demonstrating serious health effects from abortions. Something other than the safety of women motivates them. They won’t say what it is.

Whatever the motivation, abortion in America seems fiendishly targeted at blacks. Black women have abortions between 3 and 5 times more frequently than white women, depending on which study you’re reading, and nearly half of all black pregnancies end in abortion. Alveda King, niece of the Rev. Martin Luther King, reports that fully 1/4 of the blacks in America have been eliminated by way of abortion. Speaking at the unveiling of a monument to her uncle, King noted:

…that the killing of a quarter of the black population of the US has not been from the lynch mobs of her childhood days, but from abortionists, “who plant their killing centers in minority neighborhoods and prey upon women who think they have no hope.

“The great irony,” she said, “is that abortion has done what the Klan only dreamed of.”

Planned Parenthood, furthermore, apparently targets black neighborhoods and schools as locations for its offices. The black-created anti-abortion group LEARN, the Life Education and Resource Network, reports that nearly 80% of Planned Parenthood’s clinics are located in or near minority neighborhoods. Author George Grant, quoted in LEARN’s article about Margaret Sanger’s Negro project, observes that PP’s school-based clinics show an even stronger emphasis on the lower classes:

Grant observed the same game plan 20 years ago. “During the 1980s when Planned Parenthood shifted its focus from community-based clinics to school-based clinics, it again targeted inner-city minority neighborhoods,” he writes. “Of the more than 100 school-based clinics that have opened nationwide in the last decade [1980s], none has been at substantially all-white schools,” he adds. “None has been at suburban middle-class schools. All have been at black, minority or ethnic schools.”

One might take this to be a macabre manifestation of profit motive — they’ll make more money by placing clinics where the people seek abortions the most — if it were not the case that the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, voiced her intent to introduce legal abortion specifically to reduce the black population. Sanger, an early 20th century adherent of Malthusian eugenics, felt that the solution to the poverty and suppression of Negroes was to reduce their numbers by means of birth control. While the quotations from her works suggesting a racist motive could be interpreted other ways, it is simply a fact that Sanger favored the reduction of the Negro population, and initiated in 1939 what she called The Negro Project, aimed at reducing the birth rate among poorer, less educated blacks as a means of reducing poverty and “improving human stock.” In the best tradition of American liberalism, there is ample evidence that Sanger felt the reduction of the black population was necessary for their own good, as well as for the good of the nation. So blacks should thank her, you see. [/sarc]

It is hard to imagine that modern staff at Planned Parenthood still share the opinions of its founder. However, it is equally hard to imagine that an organization specifically founded 80 years ago to reduce the black population, is doing exactly that today entirely by accident. There’s something in the abortion agenda that seems distinctly targeted toward blacks. American liberals claim to be eager to extract every hint of institutional racism from American culture; for them to ignore the racism embedded in legalized abortion proves that they’ve got some bigger agenda that supersedes their concern about racism.

We see the same inverted priorities in the arena of education. Vouchered education programs consistently help inner-city parents find decent education for their children. Democrats routinely defeat vouchered education programs, though; it was even reported earlier this year that President Obama’s Education Dept. deliberately obscured the results of research proving the value of a DC voucher program until after Congress had voted not to continue the program. Political common sense attributes this to the Democrats’ reliance on teacher’s unions to win elections.

It’s not that Democrats hate blacks; it’s simply that they don’t care nearly as much about them as they do about some other things. Whenever they have bigger fish to fry, they’ll fry them first. In the case of abortion, it appears to be something as banal and infantile as the desire to have unrestrained sex: none of the reasons they actually offer hold water, and the real reason has to be something a) very personal that b) they would prefer not to admit. Sex fits the bill. In the case of education, it’s simply a matter of political reality; Democrats need political power to do all the wonderful things they plan to do, so they have to cozy up to the groups that will produce votes. If that means millions of black kids have to attend horrible schools where they’ll be bullied, shot at, and kept ignorant and poor… oh, well, it’s nothing personal, folks, it’s just politics. Blacks have shown that they will vote for Democrats regardless of what the Democrats do, so Democrats never feel the need to serve their interests.

This would explain, also, why Democrats have been so utterly vicious towards black conservatives. There are truly only two places in modern America where one can still hear hard-core racist talk. One is in the black community, where some blacks routinely hurl racist epithets at white folks. The other is among liberal writers writing about black conservatives. They do it, apparently, because if blacks ever figure out how damaging Democratic policies are for the black community, the Democrats will never be able to win another election… ever. So, they have to bully them to stay in line. Not because they hate blacks, you see, but because they can’t afford to have them leave the planta… uh, the reservation.

Did I say that? Oops.

The Democratic party’s disdain for the black community is one of the most disturbing elements of the modern political scene, and also one of the most frequently ignored. I do not know how they get away with it. If the Republican party had a clue, they’d be sending organizers into every black district in America reciting the facts I’ve included in this article. And those facts would tell a frightening tale: that whether deliberately or accidentally, liberal abortion policies are producing a holocaust among black Americans. It may not be specifically racist, but it certainly appears to be effective genocide.

06/10/2009 (8:06 am)

Can I Live?

Nick Cannon produces the most powerful argument possible for women to bring their children to term, even if their circumstances are difficult. Just shy of four minutes, and worth the time. This is not new, but it’s been brought to my attention, so here it is.

06/02/2009 (6:13 pm)

Abortion: Do We Really Believe? (Updated)

This is going to be long, but it’s important.

Rambo Scenarios

Recently a friend sent me what he called a dilemma for advocates favoring limited or no abortions. It was a hypothetical, designed to illustrate that advocates like me do not actually believe that the gestating human offspring in the womb is truly a human being, based on the way we might react if somebody was killing 2-year-olds. I dismissed the hypothetical as ridiculous, and the argument as meaningless.

And then, suddenly, it was current. Late-term abortionist Dr. George Tiller was murdered over the weekend by a lawless activist. Suddenly, the hypothetical my friend sent me started appearing elsewhere.

It was, for example, in Damon Linker’s question, here, at the New Republic:

But I have a question: If abortion truly is what the pro-life movement says it is — if it is the infliction of deadly violence against an innocent and defenseless human being — then doesn’t morality demand that pro-lifers act in any way they can to stop this violence? I mean, if I believed that a guy working in an office down the street was murdering innocent and defenseless human beings every day, and the governing authorities repeatedly refused to intervene on behalf of the victims, I might feel compelled to do something about it, perhaps even something unreasonable and irresponsible. Wouldn’t you?

This is the radicalizing logic of pro-life rhetoric. Which brings me to my question for pro-lifers: Who is the better, truer member of your movement? The man who murdered serial “baby killer” George Tiller? Or Robert George and other (comparative) moderates, who reject the use of violence to save the innocent?

Compelled? No. Tempted, certainly. It comes up from time to time. But none of us feel compelled.

What’s missing from his hypothetical “murdering defenseless humans” and “authorities refusing to intervene” is this: what they’re doing is perfectly legal, and authorities will intervene, with force, if we try to stop them. We’d not only forfeit our own lives and good fortune, but we’d discredit the entire movement — and we’d fail to stop abortions. So we’re very, very careful about what and how we advocate.

Then there’s this take from Slate.com’s William Saletan, which is a bit more pointed about what they’re trying to accomplish:

So is Roeder (Tiller’s murderer) getting support from the nation’s leading pro-life groups? Not a bit. They have roundly denounced the murder…

I applaud these statements. They affirm the value of life and nonviolence, two principles that should unite us. But they don’t square with what these organizations purport to espouse: a strict moral equation between the unborn and the born. If a doctor in Kansas were butchering hundreds of old or disabled people, and legal authorities failed to intervene, I doubt most members of the National Right to Life Committee would stand by waiting for “educational and legislative activities” to stop him. Somebody would use force.

The reason these pro-life groups have held their fire, both rhetorically and literally, is that they don’t really equate fetuses with old or disabled people.

There’s the motive, right there. They want us to stop arguing that gestating offspring are in the same category with disabled or old people. It’s “shut up” again, isn’t it?

And notice how he leaves out the same crucial factor that Linker left out: he says “butchering disabled people” and “legal authorities failed to intervene,” but he completely omits “the law is on their side” and “if you try to stop them by using violence, they’re going to send in the SWAT team and take you down.

Is he so completely sure that in this case, “somebody would use force?” Really? Surely the SWAT Team changes the equation somewhat, no?

In fact, somebody did use force this time, and it’s hurting us badly. Folks like Ezra Klein and Mary Mapes are using it to advocate stronger legislation protecting abortionists, and harsh legal reprisals against peaceful groups.

So, I want to discuss the hypothetical my friend sent me, which I’ll call the Shotgun Hypothetical, and why it’s wrong. Here we go:

People in the right to life camp face a pretty serious conundrum, which is illustrated by the following hypothetical. Suppose someone told you that inside a particular building, adults were grabbing two-year olds, one at a time, and killing them. Suppose further that when you asked the person, “did you call the police?” the person replied “it turns out that the U.S. Supreme Court overturned all of the laws nationwide prohibiting the killing of anyone two-years old or less – what the adults are doing is perfectly legal.” Suppose that the person then picks up two shotguns, throws one to you and says, “I don’t care what the law says, I’m gonna put a stop to this. I’ll give them a chance to stop without shooting, but I’ll shoot if I have to. Are you with me?”

There’s absolutely no doubt that I’d be with him. It would be cowardly of me not to take decisive action, even if it required violence, to put a stop to the slaughter. And if anyone criticized me, which is almost unimaginable, it wouldn’t faze me in the least. Nor should it. In fact, I’d deserve severe criticism if I failed or refused to act and allowed the killing to continue. And if I had to shoot to get them to stop, so be it.

Agree?

Of course you do!

…if the moral insight and the logic of its application are sound in the case of two-year olds, and you add the additional premise that fetal life at all stages shares the exact same moral status as a two year old – which is precisely what pro-lifers say they believe – then …

There’s that certainty again about what we’d do in the hypothetical. This guy astutely includes “what they’re doing is perfectly legal,” but leaves out SWAT. He counterbalances “legal” with a very strong emotional force, though, using 2-year-olds. And he doesn’t leave the decision to us, but makes it for us. “There is absolutely no doubt that I’d be with him… Agree? Of course you do!

Pardon my vulgarity, but… bullshit.

I mean, perhaps this fellow is one of those ex-mil types with weapons and SERE training, who would know how to live off the grid for the several years it would take for the manhunt to die down, like Gene Hackman’s character Brill in Enemy of the State. But that’s what it would take, and you’d only stop this one instance, not the millions going on all over the nation. The hypothetical is simply inaccurate, and the conclusion about how the ordinary person would respond, overblown. It’s Rambo movie heroism, not real life.

What we need to understand is that these folks are engaging in casuistry in an attempt to get us to back off of the claim that gestating human offspring are entitled to full rights. They’re not being careful to make clear and accurate hypotheticals; they’re omitting the crucial differentiators, either deliberately or by unthinking bias. As I said just this morning, if my argument required me to pretend that gestating offspring were not really part of the human life cycle, as theirs does, I might be tempted to a little casuistry myself.

A Real World Scenario

A more cogent hypothetical, and one much more meaningful to the current debate, is the Underground Railroad, the organized efforts in America to help slaves escape the pre-Civil-War South. There were laws against assisting fugitive slaves in all the slave states and several of the free ones, and a federal law as well, called the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Anyone caught assisting a runaway slave could be fined a huge amount and jailed for months. The issue in that instance was much like the instance here: a class of human life being treated as less than human, and not worthy of full rights. The law was on the side of the dehumanizers. And nobody behaved as today’s abortion advocates insist we must behave if we truly believe what we believe; nobody shot slave owners, even though many of them murdered their slaves, raped them, and abused them horribly. Nobody except John Brown, and he was hanged.

Megan McArdle picked up the similarity of that event a few days ago, in an article that everybody ought to read, entitled “The War on the War on Abortion.” Here’s what she said:

Imagine a future in which the moral consensus has changed, and our grandchildren regard abortion the way we regard slavery. Who will the hero of history be: Tiller, or his murderer? At the very least, they’ll be conflicted, the way we are about John Brown.

In fact, the Underground Railroad instance explains very clearly why we’re reticent to respond violently. The American Civil War lasted 5 years and cost more than 600,000 lives, not counting civilian casualties, and repercussions are still being felt almost 150 years later. It’s true that the War Between the States was not fought directly to free the slaves — it was fought to preserve the Union, in fact — but that does not mitigate the cost. This course is not to be embarked on lightly, or without being preceded by full-throated effort at change through peaceful, legal means.

The Human Norm

But the Underground Railroad and the fact that the Civil War was not fought to free the slaves both illustrate a crucial factor of this particular debate that both sides would rather we not consider; namely, how ordinary people normally respond when a group of human beings are deprived of their full human rights. The truth about it is not what we would like to think of ourselves.

History is actually replete with examples of groups being deprived of their human rights, and the ordinary response of most human beings is… nothing. In recent memory, nations are still reeling from the shame of having ignored a massive genocide in Rwanda, where the world stood by and did virtually nothing while angry Hutu mobs hacked hundreds of thousands of Tutsis to bits with machetes. Only a few decades back, the world failed to rise up and protect the Jews, who were slaughtered by the millions during Germany’s war of acquisition. And for every US citizen who participated in the Underground Railroad, there were hundreds who tut-tutted the plight of the black slaves — and then returned to their lives as usual, having done nothing at all. There were people on the continent who regarded slavery as an abomination from the first day a European ship made land in Massachusetts, but slavery lasted another 200 years here before it was abolished.

In these instances, and numerous others like them, was it the judgment of history that because people did not rise up, they did not truly believe the humans in question were fully human? Perhaps so, but how does that excuse it? The Shotgun Hypothetical may have the correct take; perhaps we are cowards, and the point of the argument is to explain to us that more action really is required. In all of the examples in the last paragraph, the difficult task was to convince enough people that they had a stake in the matter, so more of them would interrupt their ordinary lives — enough of them to make a difference.

And isn’t that the mortal sin of our generation? That too many of us are too enamored of our own comfort to look up and address the needs of others? That we can be moved to pamper and protect ourselves, but cannot be moved by human suffering?

It’s particularly difficult when the suffering object cannot be heard or seen, and goes by Latin terms reserved for clinical settings, like “fetus.” We all know 2-year-olds, and we think they’re cute; but none of us has ever seen a fetus, except in a clinical picture or a sonogram, and those look only vaguely human. They seem so alien. It’s like how we feel about The Elephant Man; if it doesn’t look human, can it really be human? This is an emotion, not an inference, but it’s real.

We need to be convinced that a central moral principle is at stake before we can be moved to action — which is what the opponents of abortion have been trying to do. Ours is the central task of any movement aiming at enfranchising some dehumanized group. We do believe they are fully human; our most crucial task is to convince everyone that they are.

Ultimately, the question regarding the fetus is not “Is it really alive?” In their hearts, everybody knows perfectly well that it is. The question is not “Is it human?” Again, in their hearts, everybody knows that it is. Rather, the central question is “What does it have to do with me?”

What we’ve discovered is that if it has any impact on limiting sexual activity we’d very much like to engage in, we’ll sacrifice our own humanity and that of 50 million others to indulge ourselves. We should all be deeply ashamed, every one of us. God will surely punish this…

He will punish all of us, even those who objected, because we did not object enough. Even those of us who understand the need for general sexual restraint face the same problem as when considering the starvation of people who live on other continents. Dispassionately, we don’t doubt they’re human, and we don’t doubt they’re suffering; but they and their world are so alien that we think “What does it have to do with me?” And we say, “What a shame, somebody ought to do something.” But we can’t be moved to action ourselves.

The folks I mentioned at the top are asking for a bad reason, but they’re asking a good question: why don’t we take more action? The correct answer may be “because we’re not human enough ourselves.” But the proper response to this knowledge is not to dehumanize even more human infants; it’s to take more of the right actions to save their lives.


UPDATE, 6/3: The Return of Scipio, a devoutly Catholic blog, linked here from an article that argues the moral justification for killing abortionists in starker terms than I do, and with less acknowledgment of the devastating impact of abandoning the rule of law. Still, his are thoughts worth thinking. The best of them is this one:

A man might shake his fist at God, demanding to know why He had not sent to earth those who might cure AIDS or cancer. God could answer with aplomb, “I did send these people, but you aborted them.” How would the man then respond?

Thanks for the link, Scip.

06/02/2009 (5:43 am)

Abortion-Advocate Mob Storms Free Speech (Updated)

memetiller

Leftist bloggers grabbed their torches and pitchforks yesterday in the wake of the murder of late-term abortionist George Tiller, and stormed the entire anti-abortion movement with the latest version of their favorite argument, “Shut up,” paying a special visit to Fox commentator Bill O’Reilly.

Salon.com’s Gabriel Winant led the charge, listing all the things O’Reilly has called Dr. Tiller over the years. Mike Hendricks of the Kansas City Star declared anybody who called Dr. Tiller “killer” accessories to the murder, and guilty of a hate crime. Mary Mapes at HuffPo, she who looked the other way while Dan Rather slimed the President of the United States with fabrications, hurled hate-filled rhetoric toward Operation Rescue, crying “No mercy!” Ezra Klein piled on at the Washington Post’s blog site, echoing American Prospect’s Ann Friedman calling the entire anti-abortion movement “an ongoing campaign of intimidation and harassment against someone who was providing completely legal health-care services.” And John Avarosis drags out the word the Obama administration hid at the bottom of the duffel bag, calling the lone murderer a “terrorist.”

There is, of course, a legitimate debate over abortion and how one may oppose it. I’ll address that question in another article. None of this fits that description, though. This article is about a vicious tactic which the left has devised to eliminate free speech in America.

It’s become the impulse of leftists in America to respond to any horrific event by finding out what the perpetrator thought and blaming his actions immediately and loudly on anybody who holds any part of that man’s position. If the gunman advocated gun rights, his acts are the fault of everyone who advocates gun rights. If the gunman fears government intrusion, everybody who has ever said the government is removing liberty takes the blame. And in this case, if a lone gunman shoots an abortion provider, anybody who has ever taken a conscientious stand against abortions is guilty of a crime.

Meanwhile, a soldier was murdered yesterday at a Little Rock, AR recruiting station by an anti-war protester who had converted to Islam — and not a word has been spoken against Code Pink or salon.com, both of which have declared conservatives guilty of mass murder and war crimes for opposing Islamic terrorism with military force. And woe betide the journalist who dares mention the connection to violence committed in the name of Islam around the globe…

Every anti-abortion group in the nation declared their rejection of violence in the wake of Dr. Tiller’s murder, just as they all reject violence in their core beliefs and official public statements generally. They had to; they’re conditioned to expect the wave of hate from the left. They’ve heard it before. It’s become the norm. They know that the immediate response of America’s own Fascisti would be to pin the murders on them. It doesn’t matter how loudly they denounce murder and violence, though, because the Fascisti are not concerned with truth, nor with balance, nor with reasoned discourse. This is Mob Rule, American style. Grab your torches and keyboards, and let’s burn down the wires! And whatever else we do, let’s make a conservative shut up!

exaspbobI actually don’t entirely blame them; when your best argument on a topic is to pretend that the first 8 months of human gestation are not really part of the human life cycle, screaming “shut up” is an appealing alternative. That does not make it acceptable, though, and they do the same on other topics. Last time it was a demented loser getting thrown out of his mom’s house that shot a cop, and his acts were suddenly the fault of everyone who had ever expressed concerns about the Obama administration and liberty. Back in the 90s it was Rush Limbaugh’s fault that a demented loser left a truck bomb in front of the federal office building in Oklahoma City, because… well, just because. I mean, it was Rush Limbaugh; isn’t the connection obvious?

This is not just an abortion thing; it’s a pattern, and it’s about arguing against progressive politics. They hate it when you do that. They want you to stop, and they’ll accuse you of any crime, without the slightest logical reason, in order to make you do it. Because they’re good citizens and they’re concerned about women, you see.

When a man decides to do what everybody around him agrees is an illegal act, that man, and that man alone, is responsible for his actions. Advocates of liberated sexual mores are not personally responsible for date rapists. Peaceful anti-war protesters are not responsible for the assassination of Army recruiters. And anti-abortion protesters, even ones calling a late-term abortion specialist a “killer,” are not responsible for the choices of a demented man with a gun. Bill O’Reilly’s speech was legal and appropriate, and anti-abortion advocacy is the very sort of free speech the First Amendment was written to protect. Attempts to tie protesters to acts they deplore are irresponsible and illegitimate.

Expect more and more of this, though. The Left in America hates free speech, and they’re gaining momentum.


UPDATE, 4:04 PM: A comment at a blog that linked to this one posited a contradiction between the main subject of this piece and the paragraph about the soldier who was murdered in Arkansas. There is no contradiction; the point of bringing up the Arkansas case is to observe that conservatives do not play the same game.

It could be argued, though, that while the violence of the anti-abortion activists is by and large contrary to their publicly-stated positions, the violence of Islamic activists is consistent with theirs. This was one of the major complaints in the wake of 9/11: very few Muslim clerics denounced the violence. Thus, it would be appropriate to draw attention to the Muslim angle in Arkansas, while maintaining that anti-abortion activism cannot be blamed for the violence of the lone gunman.

05/18/2009 (6:30 pm)

What Is A Human Being? A Key to the Abortion Debate

human

In the various debates about abortion, most everybody agrees that there are certain things one should not do to human beings unless they deserve it; things like, you know, decapitation, or poisoning, or total dessication and dismemberment with a sharp object. Those of us who feel that abortion is wrong argue from that point that if treating an adult human being a certain way is wrong for any set of reasons, then treating a gestating human being is wrong for the same reasons. It’s a pretty simple argument, and provably correct. Because it’s correct and most everybody knows it, proponents of legalized abortions are forced to argue that at certain points in the normal development of human offspring, what’s gestating inside the mother is not a human being.

So the abortion debate is simple, and the only item in question is, what’s a human being? Because if the gestating zygote, fetus, or whatever is a human being, then the moral calculus is pretty clear; we don’t do certain drastic things to other human beings unless they genuinely deserve it.

Words mean things, so unless somebody wants to suggest that the words “human” and “being” are being used metaphorically or figuratively, we should be able to settle the question by reading the dictionary.

“Human” simply designates species. Any attempt to base humanness on value, maturity, cognitive ability, or any other characteristic is simply obfuscation; “human” denotes only species. Whether an object deserves the adjective “human” or not can be determined by testing DNA. Does the cell contain human DNA, as opposed to, say, canine, or bovine? If so, then it is a human cell. Is the ear comprised of cells that all contain human DNA? Then it’s a human ear. Is the infant comprised of cells that all contain human DNA? Then it’s a human infant. And so forth. Very simple, very unambiguous.

“Being” is a bit tougher, because it’s imprecise and general by design, like the word “thing.” “Being” is a general word denoting existence (based on the verb, “to be”), only in this instance it implies life; normal English usage in America would not ordinarily call something a “being” unless it were alive. So let’s assert that in this instance, it means “a living thing,” or to be more precise than “thing,” “a living organism.” If anyone thinks “being” in the phrase “human being” denotes something other than “a living thing,” you’ll need to state your reasons very clearly.

being

So, any object that (a) can properly be called a living organism, and (b) is comprised of cells that contain human DNA, is, by simple definition, a human being.

Now if you go to a site frequented by science-minded atheists, like PZ Myers’ Pharyngula, you will find biologists who are partisans with dogs in the hunt when it comes to the abortion debate. However, even there where they’re inclined to argue that a recently fertilized zygote in a human mother is not truly a human being, the definitions of the individual word “human” and of the phrase “living organism” are not particularly controversial. Granted, the precise point at which a being ceases to be “a sperm cell from one organism, and an egg cell from another organism of similar species” and becomes properly “an organism of particular species” in its own right, is arbitrary within about a 6-hour period; it’s a process, not a singularity. However, I don’t think even the partisans at Pharyngula would dispute that at the end of that process, what remains is, in fact, a living organism; it’s a collection of cells in a single, interactive system, that share common DNA, grow, and produce negative entropy from outside themselves (e.g., they eat). That’s a matter that’s got general agreement among biologists. And of course, since all the cells in that “collection of cells” are provably human cells, and since the collection of cells meets the common biological definition of life, then scientifically and provably it’s a human organism — or, in plain English, a human being.

Immediately, I can hear the howls, but honestly, folks, it really is that simple. The howls all speak of “meaning” which, frankly, is an imposition from whatever philosophical system you’re articulating. If you want to make this into a philosophical question, fine, but please admit that that’s what you’re doing. The scientific and biological question is easily resolved. It’s a “human being” when it can properly be called “human” (denoting species) and “being” (denoting that it’s a living organism.) That’s how language works.

To escape the common moral obligation to refrain from arbitrarily killing human beings, somebody will have to produce a logically valid syllogism proving that to treat a human being brutally who has X characteristic is morally wrong, but to treat a human being brutally who lacks X characteristic is not morally wrong. Then they’d have to show, logically or scientifically, when it is that a human being acquires X characteristic; and at that point, they’d have logically produced an argument that makes abortion defensible before a particular point in time.

I’ve heard that done plausibly with brain waves (though I don’t agree). I’ve heard people try “consciousness,” but that would mean — logically — that it’s morally acceptable to murder an unconscious human, and that’s absurd. I’ve heard people try “intelligence,” but that would mean — logically — that it’s morally acceptable to murder unintelligent people, and that’s heinous; the Nazis went down that road, and the rest of humanity shouted “No!”

I’m asking folks to shed their emotions, and deal with the simple facts. “Human being” is rather easy, if we shed the emotions. The remaining questions are just questions of logical consistency: if we consider a criterion sufficient to change the moral equation, does it work in all cases, or does it produce absurd or objectionable exceptions?

Defenders of abortion rights like to pretend that opponents of those rights stand only on religious grounds, but the truth is that opponents of legal abortion stand mostly on simple, consistent, and generally-accepted definitions of common words. It’s the proponents of legal abortion who insist on inserting problematic theories of “meaning,” which impose their particular philosophy on the rest of us, and especially on some 50 million human beings who will never see the light of day.

05/17/2009 (8:18 pm)

No, Mr. President

My response to President Obama’s presence at Notre Dame University today is to post this denunciation of the President’s disingenuous abortion rhetoric by Dr. John Piper, currently Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN. I agree with every word.

The defense of abortion is the topic on which the second most intellectually dishonest arguments get posited regularly. (Only the defense of homosexuality is less honest. Shocka: both are about protecting the right to engage in sex without civilized restraint. Who’da thunk?) The arguments supporting legal abortion are, on the whole, so completely specious as to earn the condemnation of history, not to mention the condemnation of God. We’ve killed more human beings than the Nazis ever did, and call ourselves enlightened and “free” for having done it. Christe eleison.

03/11/2009 (11:21 am)

Abortion and the Death of Liberty of Conscience

“…The Law of nations, by which this question is to be determined, is composed of three branches,

1. The Moral law of our nature.
2. The Usages of nations.
3. Their special Conventions.

The first of these only, concerns this question, that is to say the Moral law to which Man has been subjected by his creator, & of which his feelings, or Conscience as it is sometimes called, are the evidence with which his creator has furnished him. The Moral duties which exist between individual and individual in a state of nature, accompany them into a state of society & the aggregate of the duties of all the individuals composing the society constitutes the duties of that society towards any other; so that between society & society the same moral duties exist as did between the individuals composing them while in an unassociated state, their maker not having released them from those duties on their forming themselves into a nation. Compacts then between nation & nation are obligatory on them by the same moral law which obliges individuals to observe their compacts. There are circumstances however which sometimes excuse the non-performance of contracts between man & man: so are there also between nation & nation. When performance, for instance, becomes impossible, non-performance is not immoral. So if performance becomes self-destructive to the party, the law of self-preservation overrules the laws of obligation to others. For the reality of these principles I appeal to the true fountains of evidence, the head & heart of every rational & honest man. It is there Nature has written her moral laws, & where every man may read them for himself. He will never read there the permission to annul his obligations for a time, or for ever, whenever they become “dangerous, useless, or disagreeable.” Certainly not when merely useless or disagreeable, as seems to be said in an authority which has been quoted, Vattel, 2. 197, and tho he may under certain degrees of danger, yet the danger must be imminent, & the degree great. Of these, it is true, that nations are to be judges for themselves, since no one nation has a right to sit in judgment over another. But the tribunal of our consciences remains, & that also of the opinion of the world. These will revise the sentence we pass in our own case, & as we respect these, we must see that in judging ourselves we have honestly done the part of impartial & vigorous judges….”

- Thomas Jefferson, April 28, 1793 letter to George Washington. [The Works of Thomas Jefferson in Twelve Volumes. Federal Edition. Collected and Edited by Paul Leicester Ford.] [emphases mine.]

American children have not been taught the central importance of liberty of conscience in the founding of our nation at any time during my lifetime, so the concept is being forgotten. Products of American public schools who have never read the philosophy of our nation’s founders think the central issue of the American revolution was taxation without representation, and in their hedonistic hearts, the sober liberty to do as the conscience requires has transmogrified into the carefree license to do as the flesh desires. This is tragic.

Nowhere is this omission more apparent than in the furor over President Obama’s abortion policy.

President Obama’s critics warned during the campaign that his moderate rhetoric was deliberately masking an aggressively pro-abortion stance — and I mean the words “pro-abortion” precisely as I framed them. I dismiss the risible excuse that “nobody likes abortions” even when offered by ordinary abortion advocates, but Obama is no ordinary abortion advocate. His historic stance on abortion policy, in practice, has always out-lefted the leftmost advocates, even while he’s jockeyed to grant himself plausible moderation to fool voters. This is why, in the Illinois legislature, he carefully articulated in public his opposition to Illinois’ version of the Born-Alive Protection Act as being due to the absence of wording protecting abortion rights like that which appeared in the federal bill, when in fact he had quietly opposed an act worded like the federal bill in committee, where he chaired.

Since then, President Obama has fulfilled the worst expectations of his critics in his fervor for promoting and encouraging legal abortions. He solicited a wish list of pro-abortion policies from abortion advocacy groups before the inauguration. His appointments related to health issues have uniformly gone to hard-core abortion advocates. He has already rescinded federal limits on funding abortions overseas. He released funding for research using human embryos, but rescinded funding for promising research to produce embryonic stem cells without destroying an embryo. He has made public statements affirming his support for the abortion policy initiated by Roe v Wade (ignorantly. Roe actually articulates a more restrictive policy than that which Obama supports.) He rescinded federal guidelines protecting the consciences of medical professionals who might be expected to perform abortions against their will. He did all this during a period in which he claims that the demands of the economy made it impossible for him to devote proper time to visiting dignitaries from our allies; this illustrates how high abortion ranks on the President’s personal priority list (and how low foreign dignitaries rank.) And, he announced most of these measures on Friday nights, so the news cycle would not focus on them.

It’s in the matter of medical professionals performing abortions against their wills that liberty of conscience arises as a central topic.

pepys_liberty270The key feature of the individual liberty that grew into political liberty was called liberty of conscience. Championed by leaders of the Protestant Reformation, liberty of conscience articulated the notion that each man owes his conscience, not to the Crown, nor to the Church, but to God alone. This was the Great Leveling of Humankind: neither kings nor popes were above the laws of God, but were subject to them, the same as ordinary people. Kings or popes violating the law of God were seen as having abdicated their authority by virtue of that violation. Our modern notion of individual liberty would not have come about without liberty of conscience; it lies at the very heart of the American system of government, in the notions that people should be free, that the government serves the people, and that nobody is above the law.

It is this liberty, the liberty granted by God for every person to do as their conscience requires them, that stands in the path of Obama’s next, slated pro-abortion move. The obfiscationally-named Freedom of Choice Act purports to require all medical facilities to offer abortion services regardless of the consciences of medical staff. The threat of this legislation has prompted Catholic hospitals to warn that they may not remain open if the government insists on forcing them to perform services that they regard as murder.

Mind you, there is no public policy reason for the provision requiring hospitals to provide abortion services against their consciences; there’s no shortage of abortion providers. The sole purpose of such a measure is to criminalize the conscientious stands of abortion’s opponents. It’s one of a handful of measures favored by Democrats to criminalize their political opponents, as Stalinism slowly settles over the Land of the Free.

The anti-libertarian fervor of abortion advocates found a champion yesterday on The Moderate Voice, arguably the worst-named blog on the Internet because there is nothing moderate about this site. “Moderate” commentator Jazz Shaw produced what I regard as the most openly totalitarian piece I’ve seen this year, arguing, with that incredible knack liberals have of inventing moral imperatives out of the most atrocious mental twisting, that it’s the Catholics that are threatening and bullying the government, not the other way ’round. Shaw posits that the fact that Catholics chose to offer medical services in the first place confers on Catholic hospitals an affirmative responsibility to remain open, regardless of whether the government demands that they commit what they regard as murder. This is the entitlement culture amplified by 30,000 watts: because an actor has produced a good thing, the nation has an inalienable right to enjoy that good thing forever; the purveyor has no right to stop producing it, even if the production of it ceases to benefit the one who produced it (let alone that it becomes a matter of sin to continue it!) In ShawWorld, the Nazi death camp operators would have committed immorality if they refused to operate the camps, because the camps, you see, were constructed on the assumption that the operators would be there to run them. How dare those bullying Catholics threaten to close their doors, just because the government wants them to damn themselves to hell! Don’t Catholics realize that they are mindless imbeciles and that their beliefs are meaningless relics of an ancient superstition?

Meanwhile, in MYWorld, Jazz Shaw has demonstrated that he is not a member of the human race. There are no words for my rage. (Ed Morrissey at Hot Air, who is a friend of Shaw’s, dismisses his vile pap in a friendlier, but no less contemptuous, manner.)

consciencequote1Not surprisingly, Shaw couched his vile opinion in terms recalling the left’s unsupportable rendering of American religious liberty, the one that turns “separation of church and state” into an affirmative duty for the government to impose secular, Scientific Materialism on the populace as the official, national religion. If any of these historical illiterates were to offer their interpretation of “the separation of church and state” to any of the nation’s founders, they’d be lucky if they escaped without having to fight a duel; any of the founders, even the handful of atheists among them, would immediately recognize tyranny in the notion that Americans ought not bring the ethics taught by their religions through the door when they serve on the legislature, and would brand the people arguing thus as the devious servants of the worst tyrants imaginable — which, in fact, they are.

FOCA has not been introduced in Congress yet, probably because of the attention being paid by Catholics. The left would like to introduce it, but they know they’re sitting on a powder keg. Catholics still hold a lot of sway in plenty of Democratic districts. The powder keg is larger and more volatile than they imagine, though; if they try to force Catholic medical professionals to violate their consciences, they’re going to end up jailing thousands of them as they refuse to comply, and perhaps could even spark a revolution.

Governments have no right — ever, under any circumstance — to force people to violate their consciences. This is the very right America’s founders fought to protect. If the government attempts to force this conduct, they will have violated natural law, the law that all nations and religious leaders must obey, the same law that adheres to all people. If this government violates natural law, it is every man’s right to overthrow this government and establish one that will recognize the human right to liberty of conscience.

The framed quote regarding conscience was obtained from a web site called “America In Prophecy.” I have no association with the site, and do not endorse it, nor do I know anything about the authors. I clipped the quotation exactly as it appeared. While I regard the statement as an accurate description of the philosophy of the authors of our nation’s founding documents, I could not verify the quotations source or accuracy, and present it here simply as an illustration.

03/09/2009 (7:41 pm)

Propagandist Obama to "Restore Science Integrity" (Updated)

In the “shameless projection” department, President Obama today reversed the Bush administration’s policy toward embryonic stem cell research, declaring through advisors that his administration intends to “use sound, scientific practice and evidence, instead of dogma” to guide federal policy.

The Bush administration policy on embryonic stem cells was guided by very real ethical concerns, applied conscientiously. The President believed that allowing research on human embryos would dehumanize man. Whether one agrees with this or not, one should at least acknowledge that medical ethics are a permissible basis for federal policy, and not viciously denigrate any ethical consideration as mere “political ideology.”

Simply ignoring ethical concerns is not “scientific” in any sense. Quite the contrary: people genuinely engaged in the use of science to acquire facts will be the first to acknowledge that there are limits to what science can discover, and that ethics exist outside those limits. The claim that there are no ethics that govern the quest for knowledge is, itself, an ideological point of view that cannot be established by research.

The assertion that imposing that point of view constitutes “a return to science” indicates either that the President does not understand what science is, or that he intends to use rhetoric to win ideological battles using “science” as a pawn. Either way, what we’re seeing is not a return to science, but rather the subjugation of science to ideology. As is invariably the case with the judgmental, President Obama is committing the very sin he claims he’s correcting. God has designed the universe with a sense of irony.

Even worse, Obama’s claim leads to troubling conclusions. Reversing the policy because a different ethical decision has been made would be one thing; dismissing ethical considerations altogether as though they represent “mere ideology” is another thing altogether. The ideological point of view that posits that no ethics govern the quest for knowledge is, at least arguably, responsible for the experiments of the likes of Josef Mengele. The President’s position may do less to “restore integrity” than it does to dismantle medical ethics as a discipline. Let us pray that researchers proceed cautiously despite the President’s dangerous obfuscation.


UPDATE, 3/10/09: It turns out that in addition to issuing a new Executive Order funding embryonic stem cell research, President Obama also rescinded Executive Order 13435, an order funding research into alternative methods for producing embryonic stem cells without destroying human life.

According to Life News,

President Bush put that order in place in June 2007 when he vetoed a Congressional measure that would have required embryonic stem cell research funding.

Instead of signing the bill, President Bush issued an executive order to press for more research into ways of obtaining embryonic stem cells without harming human life. The order was intended to ultimately fund research into alternatives” to destructive embryonic stem cell research such as altered nuclear transfer (ANT), “regression” (reverting differentiated cells into stem cells), and other methods.

Bush could be said to have been ahead of his time since regression, also known as direct reprogramming, has taken off and the new induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are the talk of the scientific world.

The fact that Obama specifically rescinded this EO puts the lie to his claim of “science over ideology.” Given the core assumption of federal funding for research, and given the implication that all federal spending provides stimulus, there’s no good reason for the federal government to stop funding research into ANT and regression — unless the President’s goal is actually the destruction of human life. This comports well with his record of aggressive abortion advocacy but contradicts his rhetoric, a duality with which we’ve become all too familiar since Obama rose to national prominence.

02/14/2009 (2:42 pm)

An American Holocaust

bookofgloom1Here’s a cheerful little thought to brighten your weekend.

This week a German medical team reported on new, comprehensive research demonstrating clearly that abortions increase the risk of premature births in later, “wanted” pregnancies, and that the risk increases with the number of previous abortions. This is hardly surprising; the medical knowledge about the risk of abortions has been mounting steadily for decades. There have been 17 studies over the years concerning abortion and premature births, and every one of them has reported the same thing. It would not be difficult to build a case for banning abortion except for emergency circumstances simply on the basis of the medical risk.

Of course, reason has nothing to do with the abortion debate. From the beginning, the arguments raised for the defense of abortion have had the character of badly-formed rationalizations. The defenders of legal abortion stalwartly ignore the findings of medical science regarding their pet procedure; there could be 300 such findings, and they would not admit a problem.

Even the current refrain that “nobody likes abortions” is nothing but the defensive whining of adolescents — it’s offered as though the fact that the person committing the act feels regret actually has bearing on whether the act is moral or not. If feelings have any bearing at all, they serve to illustrate that we all understand innately that the act is immoral; feelings of regret never justify a moral choice.

In fact, “nobody likes abortions” is obfuscation, a pretense that the issue is really “choice.” This is not merely nonsense, it’s disingenuous nonsense. Indeed, Cal Thomas, an opponent of legal abortion, has offered in public debates to leave current abortion laws unchallenged if only the purveyors of abortion would agree to present complete medical warnings concerning the risk of the procedure to every one of their clients, giving women a truly informed choice — and women’s rights advocates would not agree to it. And now, thanks to President Obama’s promised Freedom of Choice Act, medical professionals may no longer have a choice whether to offer such services or not, the government overruling their consciences. Choice, indeed.

But that’s all beside the current point. Facing, as we are, economic hardship in the Age of Obama, the more convincing case against abortion is actually socio-economic. The practice of abortion is likely to initiate the next major holocaust, this one right here in America, and probably ensuing within about 20 years.

prolifesign18We Boomers, as a generation, by contriving to kill our children in order to empower our self-gratifying sexual misconduct, have accomplished three things: 1) we’ve weakened the ethic of life, so that killing is increasingly acceptable as a solution; 2) we’ve broken the nation’s ability to produce wealth, by borrowing to live beyond our means both personally and governmentally, and by behaving as though economic reality did not apply to us; and 3) we’ve created a huge demographic bubble that will soon reach retirement age.

This will bring about the last generation of the long-term Ponzi game we’ve played with retirement accounts (I’m referring to Social Security). A Ponzi game is an economic pyramid scheme in which each succeeding generation of recruits into the game finances the profit of the previous generations. Each generation profits until the next generation is not large enough to support the preceding ones, at which point the game ends and the last generation shoulders the cost of the entire game. The Baby Boom was always likely to produce a demographic problem at retirement, but the loss of 50 million potential wage earners to abortion, resulting in fewer than two workers per retiree, guarantees that the Boomer generation will be retiring as the Ponzi game collapses. Thus, even if the current worldwide economic collapse only lasts a decade or so, we’ve guaranteed severe economic hardship to our children and grandchildren — and there are reasons to believe that the current collapse will extend hardship well into the next several generations.

With the weakened life ethic, voluntary euthanasia will be legalized, I would guess within a decade from now. Then, as economics makes supporting retirees unmanageable, it will become less voluntary, as younger folks choose to avoid the economic hardship of supporting their elderly parents. Even today, in European countries where euthanasia is legal, it’s often questionable whether a euthanasia decision was voluntary; how much more, when the alternative seems like financial ruin?

Thus will we reap the whirlwind from the wind to which we have sown: we chose to kill our children to protect our prosperity and freedom, and our children will choose to kill us to protect theirs.

True to our character, we elderly Boomers will go to our deaths feebly protesting the denial of our rights. For once we’ll be correct, but who will be around to hear us that has not been poisoned by our irresponsibility?

It has never really been necessary to raise religious issues to rebut abortion as a practice; abortion is a disaster on every possible measure of evaluation, especially those addressing the well-being of women. Unfortunately, like every selfish, evil act, it carries within itself the seeds of its own punishment. By choosing abortion, we’ve chosen our own end.

10/22/2008 (3:14 pm)

Pro-Abortion Obama

The leftist meme is that nobody likes abortions, but they’re wholeheartedly committed to choice. I’ve never heard anybody defend this position in an honest debate, and I doubt that it would survive intellectually even one such encounter with a reasonable opponent. However, Robert George at the Witherspoon Institute has written an analysis of Barack Obama’s position on abortion, and concludes that even granting the left its sophism regarding “choice,” if it’s possible for a candidate actually to be called pro-abortion rather than pro-choice, it’s Barack Obama.

Professor George takes us down a progression of Obama’s stances on various abortion-related issues, arranged in increasing clarity according to how clearly they show the candidate’s actual approval of abortion as a practice. He walks us through Obama’s intention of providing federal funding for abortions, removing all existing state laws requiring parental notification or limits on partial-birth abortions, stripping all pro-life crisis pregnancy centers of their federal funding, his opposition to providing S-CHIP coverage for unborn children (a measure that does not in any way threaten legal abortions, but merely makes the choice not to abort easier for indigent women,) his opposition to informed consent laws requiring accurate information about abortion’s long-term health effects for women considering abortions, his opposition to protections for infants born alive as the result of a failed abortion, his support for deliberate production of embryos for the purpose of manufacturing stem cells, and his support for requiring abortions in cases of fertilization produced by cloning. In the progression, it becomes clear that Senator Obama is not concerned about individual liberty (as implied by the “choice” rhetoric), but that he actually values abortion as a practice. Many of these positions are more radical than those of his fellow Democrats in the US Senate. Barack Obama is the most pro-abortion candidate ever to run for major office.

My only quibble with Prof. George is his claim that Obama’s opposition to federal funding for means of producing embryonic stem cells that do not require embryos to be destroyed in the process, constitutes opposition to life. We use the argument — and I believe it to be correct — that opposition to federal funding for embryonic stem cell research does not constitute opposition to embryonic stem cell research itself. Since that’s true, we can’t take Obama’s opposition to federal funding to be absolute proof that he opposes the act for which the funding is intended; only, it seems more likely since Obama does not seem to oppose any federal involvement in any area of life on simply libertarian grounds.

It’s a worthwhile read if you’re among those inexplicable pro-lifers who intend to vote for Obama because he claims his policies will reduce the number of abortions, a claim for which I can find no reasonable support anywhere but among abortion’s friends.

Older Posts »