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June 18, 2009

War on the unborn

Fetus2A recent post from Jill Stanek pointed me towards this piece by William Saletan on Dr. George Tiller. Saletan is trying to argue that pro-life arguments don't hold together -- but it's his own arguments that strike me as being on very shaky ground:

To me, Tiller was brave. His work makes me want to puke. But so does combat, the kind where guts are spilled and people choke on their own blood. I like to think I love my country and would fight for it. But I doubt I have the stomach to pull the trigger, much less put my life on the line. . . .

The people who do late-term abortions are the ones who don't flinch. They're like the veterans you sometimes see in war documentaries, quietly recounting what they faced and did. You think you're pro-choice. You think marching or phone-banking makes you an activist. You know nothing. There's you, and then there are the people who work in the clinics. And then there are the people who use the forceps. And then there are the people who use the forceps nobody else will use. At the end of the line, there's George Tiller.

He's right about one thing: The military does a dirty job, a job that needs to be done, but one that many of us know we're not strong or brave enough to do.

But the last time I checked, we hadn't declared war on the unborn.

At least, not officially.

(Image courtesy of Mark Mallett)

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Leslie Hanks

More deaths in the war on the pre-born than
all the US war deaths added together!


Steve (SBK)

Hmmm. He says some interesting things. I'm not really sure what his argument is other than possibly: "If you're not prepared to kill an abortionist, you don't consider abortion murder". The assumption being that an eye for an eye is the best way to retaliate (Palestine or Ireland ring bells?)
So, of course, there must be other things going on.
For instance, to quote Saletan:
"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 problem, as I see it, is that legal authorities *are* intervening, and could very well intervene to make that Kansas doctor behave in a law-abiding way (cf. euthanasia, LeeQuod - chime in here about the doctors where you live).
So the hypothetical situation implies that the government/law is against abortions, in the same way it is against killing disabled/elderly. It isn't, and so people who don't advocate murder for murder, have to work within that system.
Also, the whole dirty/ugly jobs = brave souls is a fallacy. Not everyone who does something visceral is a hero (say, like a gangster sawing apart a hit for good riddance).


Steve (SBK) wrote: "(cf. euthanasia, LeeQuod - chime in here about the doctors where you live)."

The euphemism is "physician-assisted suicide". So to match it, abortion would be "physician-assisted homicide".

Except, of course, that it's not homicide if you're not killing something that is legally a person - just as it's not homicide if the elderly or disabled person *wants* to die. That's how doctors here in Oregon stay out of prison.

What Saletan misses is that the pro-life community values an orderly, law-abiding society more than we value one individual life. If we start shooting abortionists, then Planned Parenthood could start shooting up our churches, and we'd have the Wild West (of the USA; does "the Yukon" evoke the same image for Canada, SBK?) all over again. If you murder a murderer, you're not innocent unless the law says you are. (The law says soldiers can kill, but only under specific circumstances.) There was no due process in that church that morning.

But I do wonder - when Dr. Tiller suddenly found himself face-to-face with the one whom he'd been singing hymns about, moments before, ...what happened?

Rolley Haggard

One might wonder if *before* the murder, Scott Roeder had been considering some lines of Hamlet (Act IV, Scene vii, Line 104 ff):

Laertes, was your father dear to you?
Or are you like the painting of a sorrow,
A face without a heart?

Why ask you this?

Not that I think you did not love your father;
But that I know love is begun by time,
And that I see, in passages of proof,
Time qualifies the spark and fire of it.
There lives within the very flame of love
A kind of wick or snuff that will abate it;
And nothing is at a like goodness still;
For goodness, growing to a plurisy,
Dies in his own too much: that we would do,
We should do when we would; for this 'would' changes,
And hath abatements and delays as many
As there are tongues, are hands, are accidents;
And then this 'should' is like a spendthrift sigh,
That hurts by easing. But to the quick o' the ulcer:--
Hamlet comes back: what would you undertake
To show yourself your father's son in deed
More than in words?

To cut his throat i' the church.

No place, indeed, should murder sanctuarize;
Revenge should have no bounds.


Likewise, one could wonder if *after* the murder, Dr. Tiller recalled a different passage in the same play (Hamlet, Act III, Scene i, Line 66ff):

To die,--to sleep;--
To sleep! perchance to dream:--ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: ....
....the dread of something after death,--
The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns....


In any event, it is sorely lamentable that these words applied to neither Roeder nor Tiller:

“Thus conscience does make cowards of us all” (Ibid, Line 85).

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