How The Current Pro-Life Ethical System Leaves Room For Violent Terrorism

How The Current Pro-Life Ethical System Leaves Room For Violent Terrorism November 30, 2015

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Late last week the United States became the victim of another domestic terrorist attack, this time at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado. From the moment the shooting began, and even now, the internet has been busy discussing and dissecting the situation from multiple angles– and there certainly are multiple angles to this story. Today however, I simply want to respond to one of those angles: the issue of how the common pro-life ethical system leaves room for this kind of violence.

In an effort to explain why someone was motivated to do something, we look to the ideology behind their actions. In this case, it appears the individual was anti-abortion, and it would logically seem that his anti-abortion views were a chief motivator. Flowing from that, I’ve seen no shortage of chatter placing blame on what some are calling pro-life rhetoric– but quite honestly I don’t see that as the culprit.

Instead, the chief problem facing the pro-life movement– and what I would suggest was a major factor in the attack– is the absence of a comprehensive pro-life ethic.

For example, many of the people I know who loudly wear their pro-life label are also the folks who are the most pro-gun, pro-self-defense, pro-capital punishment, pro-war, etc. They are the same folks who show up here in the comment sections to push back when I teach nonviolent enemy love (something I plagiarized from Jesus, FWIW), often citing that we “have a responsibility to defend the innocent and vulnerable, even if that means lethal violence.”

And that right there, is the heart of the issue.

You see, if that’s true– if we have a responsibility to use lethal violence to defend the innocent and vulnerable, then it’s difficult to condemn the actions of the Planned Parenthood terrorist. In fact, as I’ve watched some of the condemnation of the attack I’ve had to sit back and scratch my head, curious as to why so many in the pro-life camp cannot see that shooting abortion providers is actually consistent with the set of ethics held by so many in the movement.

I would love to ask them the burning question: if God sanctions the use of violence, and if using lethal violence to protect the innocent and vulnerable is good and noble, why is shooting an abortion provider wrong?

Their instinct that such actions are morally reprehensible is an excellent instinct– it is reprehensible. I simply wish they would think that through to the logical conclusion: the use of lethal violence is always reprehensible.

Until the pro-life movement awakens to this glaring gap in logic and ethics, I believe we will continue to see some in the movement follow the train of thought to the logical conclusion, and choose to use violence to oppose abortion. An ethical system that claims killing people can sometimes be God-ordained, good, or noble will continue to have people who actually do it.

While the vast majority of pro-life folks reject the use of violence against abortion providers, what I long for them to see is that the most common pro-life ethic does not. In fact, if it’s true that God wants us to use lethal violence to defend the vulnerable and innocent, one would actually have an easier time making the argument in favor of violence against abortion providers, and this alone should be a giant red flag that something is horribly and insufferably wrong with this ethical system.

The only solution to the problem is a comprehensive, total pro-life ethic– one where we believe in the depths of our being that unborn babies, post-born babies, children and adults of all shapes, sizes, and colors, from kind-hearted grandmas to the most vile of criminals, are all image bearers of the Living God and have such intrinsic value that we refuse to end their life.

The only pro-life ethic that truly leaves no room for the evil we saw happen in Colorado Springs is one where pro-life equals ALL life, without exceptions.

Until we embrace an ethical system that is comprehensive and truly pro-life without exception, we leave the door cracked open for the evil violence we witnessed in Colorado– and that’s not a door that I think should be left open.

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  • Thumb Billie Mama

    I have often wondered how pro-lifers condone the use of certain life saving drugs that were directly or indirectly developed by using fetal cells. Should they also refuse treatment using these drugs even if the drug would save their life or the life of a loved one

  • meadowhawk

    Excellent summary, you can’t be both pro-life and pro-killing people.

  • Herm

    Oh Benjamin, but our babies are so cute, helpless and do so tug at our heart strings (especially the ones we can only imagine) to defend them as soldiers for christ. We know ISIS is crazy who have their own guns, they don’t deserve our christian love.

    It is so very clear who my god calls me to save and who to kill. I just simply don’t understand why the only begotten Son of God didn’t have His Father send 12 legions of angels to shoot His killers dead.

    While we’re on the subject, what kind of god would test the father of nations by commanding that he sacrifice his adult child as a burnt offering? … just makes no sense.

    Kill all baby killers and more of our babies live. Kill all those other terrorists and more of our babies will live. This makes simple mathematical sense. Dying that all might live makes no common sense at all.

    Now that we’ve had this conversation it has become clear that Judas was right to sell out Jesus. Long live the sword of justice … death to the cross of love for our enemies!

  • Peter Calabrese

    Seamless garment argument of Cardinal Bernardin. I get it good points to a certain extent. However it is equally valid that the ethics of the Progressives are equally and perhaps more deficient because of the failure to protect the unborn. Why are progressive Christians who are so anxious to ban the death penalty and use the force of government to give to the poor but turn their backs on the truly most vulnerable and support politicians who make their bread and butter promoting the heinous slaughter of innocent babies. If the progressive Christians would have a consistent pro-Life and social justice ethic and stopped supporting and justifying anyone who favors the , dismemberment, burning, crushing etc of babies as so-called mercy or compassion, we would not be in this mess. Teh Progressive turning their back on this violence is just as much a source of the culture of violence. Own it and repent.

  • Falken

    Because we deal with actual truth. No babies are being killed or dismembered. We start at the part of helping people, not merely forcing others to live by our values in their dime.

  • AMB

    The only major factor in this attack that is relevant is the mental illness suffered by Robert Dear. Your generalizations here (and in the comments) are without nuance or discernment.

  • Wolf

    If Robert Dear had been a Muslim saying “no more baby parts” as he shot up a PP clinic, you’d call him a terrorist. Why are white men always “mentally ill” or “lone wolf” or whatnot?

    The cognitive dissonance is very revealing.

  • cjcmd

    Interestingly enough, The Walking Dead is letting a similar argument play out in its current season. Morgan believes that all human life is precious and that no human should be killed, even if their living presents a potential danger in the future. Carol, on the other hand, believes that all potential threats should be killed (even friends) to keep the society safe. The show has allowed both of their philosophies to play out successfully at times, and other times end in tragedy.

    Seems to me the only answer, as I suspect they’ll find on the show, is to do whatever it takes to maintain our humanity despite the wrongs we see. Sometimes, bad stuff is going to happen (and I believe many abortions are, in fact, bad stuff). The idea that we need to become evil in order to fight evil is the most dangerous issue I see in Conservatism. The idea that evil is not, in fact, evil, is what scares me most about Liberalism.

  • Wolf

    A very interesting analysis of the moderate’s perspective – I don’t necessarily agree, but it’s put very nicely.

  • AMB

    I like how you think you know what I would say or think without knowing me or my views.

    White men who commit acts of violence are not always mentally ill or lone wolves. I don’t think that about Timothy McVeigh. Timothy McVeigh was a terrorist. I said what I said about Robert Dear because the facts of his life tell me he very likely was mentally unstable. But I suppose I could be wrong about that – he very well could have been completely sane and simply extreme in his views….which would indeed make him more like a terrorist. Again, the facts of his lifestyle and past encounters with the law make me lean towards mental instability….but I am open to being corrected on that fact.

    So……if we can pin what Dear did on the pro-life movement, can we in turn pin all jihadist terrorism on Islam?

  • Peter Calabrese

    I beg to disagree with you – what grows inside a mother is a human being a baby. The only time a woman does not call the child within a baby is when they intend to abort it. In which case my point remains: progressive Christians need to stop supporting abortion because it places teh human being as arbiter over teh life of an innocent human being. And as htis articel asks Pro-Lifers to be consistent I ask that Progressives lead by example – be consistent, stop playing God and quit support for the death of innocent babies. Let me put it to you this way – If I show you an ultrasound of a child in the womb you would call it a baby. Only the abortionist minded call it anything else.

  • Dan Comstock

    “So……if we can pin what Dear did on the pro-life movement, can we in turn pin all jihadist terrorism on Islam?”

    Of course not, that would he completely unreasonable. The problem is that an unsettling amount of people do blame all terrorist attacks on Islam. This article isn’t blaming Christianity on this attack, just one interpretation of Christianity, as should be the response to the jihadist attacks.

  • Maria Vasquez

    Ok, so ignoring Dear and his motives whatever they may be, can we call the several arson attacks against various PP clinics over the past few months terrorism? Just because someone is/was mentally ill doesn’t preclude an incident from being terrorism.

  • ashpenaz

    There are stages to building a house–the blueprint, the construction, the finished but empty house. Then, someone moves in.

    I think an embryo is a blueprint for a person, not a person. Removing an embryo is the same as destroying a blueprint–you haven’t burned down a house.

    Even if you burn down an empty house, it’s arson and not murder.

    If you burn down a house after someone has moved in–as is the case with a late-term abortion–then a case can be made for murder. But until then, you haven’t killed a person.

    Pro-life means protecting a person from the time the fetus is ensouled until natural death.

  • Falken

    Once again, a collection of cells no bigger than a thumb does not constitute as a baby. Also, you live by your moral code instead of trying to force it on others. The whole “it’s a baby” tripe has been already been thoroughly debunked.

  • David

    I’ve asked many ‘pro life’ Christian whether they’d be okay with a country that has laws against abortion flying drones over the US and dropping bombs on abortion clinics to protect the unborn. “Of course not!” is typically the response I get. So my follow up is this – “Why are you okay with the US flying drones over sovereign nations, bombing and killing those people?” Cue the deer in headlights look. Cognitive dissonance.

  • David

    Can you tell me precisely when life begins? I don’t want your opinion or someone else’s opinion, I want to know exactly when life begins. Absent someone being able to say unequivocally the moment when life begins you must err on the side that it begins at conception or to use your anecdote, when the blueprints are drawn.

  • Realist1234

    Your sarcasm is misplaced.

  • Herm


  • Scott Daves

    This article is total crap. The shooter was listed as female on the Park County voting register. It’s also been reported that he was registered as an independent and a woman and transgendered leftist activist, if that’s what he is.

    You and the media promptly wants to blame him on the pro-life moment when at this point there is very little evidence to suggest that. And other internet articles do not count as evidence. And there has been no verifiable corroboration about the “utterance,” however, it fits your narrative nicely so why bother validating facts.

    To be fair, there is even less evidence to suggest he was transgender and he was most likely listed as female due to a clerical error.

    Another report is that this actually started nearby and spilled over to the PP facility. Again, this is why I always caution everyone to wait at least 3 days for actual facts to arise. Only then can a true narrative start being formed and may still not be complete.

  • Scott Daves

    After reading your article several times to understand your point to ensure I am not putting words in your mouth, you appear to be an anti-death penalty wonk. You issue a lovely list of people from all stages of life including the vilest of criminals – you suggest they deserve life as well. However, you conveniently leave out one HUGE differentiator … vile criminals have done something deserving of death while a baby in the womb (and the others in that list) have not. I am guessing you are also anti-war … for any reason.

  • Herm

    Peter, if you had not been mislead by your church you would know, directly from the Rabbi, that carnal man existed long before the Spirit of God was breathed into them. Your instinct to protect the carnal species of mankind is truly misplaced by claiming it is God’s will that the baby survive with no consideration for the mother. That attitude is as confused as are our pet dogs and cats that we, of human kind, have chosen to domesticate only to shower our self indulgent love on.

    When you learn that triage is saving the most of those you love, even if the only way is picking up your cross for your enemy, then you will understand the depth of grief felt by God to lose any created in Their image. No one on earth loves all of mankind more than God without exception or prejudice.

  • Herm

    Very good Scott, your reading comprehension is pretty good. In my Father’s heart there is not a more vile criminal than one who would murder His undeserving Son on a cross in His name. The cross was the way to go for Christians before Constantine. Now those calling themselves Christian choose to go to war with twelve legions of Christian soldiers against drugs, terrorists, “baby killers”, socialism, weapons of mass destruction, anti-capitalism and a variety of other fear based targets all in the name of God to protect their Christian way of life. Christians are now the ones putting people on the cross (death penalty) rather than picking up their own. I know, none of this make any logical sense to you does it?

  • Scott Daves

    Thin skinned I see. You wrap a bunch of rhetoric inside a pair of insults. Bravo. And totally miss addressing my specific point. Nor do you actually reference any specific activities or facts but rather broad statements with some emotive terms. And you sure know how to mix and misuse metaphors. Come back when you’re no longer pompous but actually seek a real conversation about specific points – starting with what I addressed.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    Are you a Christian and, if so, have you read the Bible at all?
    Did you read the bits about us all being sinners and deserving of death, and God instead loving us and showing mercy and wanting us saved?
    Did you read the bits about loving one’s enemies and doing good to those who hate us?
    Did you read the bit about Jesus forgiving the soldiers who crucified him?
    Did you read the bit about only those who are without sin being allowed to carry out a death sentence and cast the first stone?
    Maybe you should have another read of it, do you think?

  • Scott Daves

    Have you read the part about loving thy neighbor? You sure like to make a lot of assumptions and then care to crucify me yourself. Are you a Christian? I am inferring that as you certainly do not claim to be nor demonstrate that you are, simply that you have Bible knowledge.

    Let me suggest how to engage in a conversation like a Christian should. You start with a rather confrontational statement phrased as a question when we both know it’s not a question but your thesis statement.

    Then you move on to your semi-automatic bullets … you’ve already judged and convicted by your “Did you read” statements. As the song says, they will know we are Christians by our love … can’t tell you are one by that list of offenses and accusations. And obviously anyone that disagrees with a dot or tidle (see what I did there) of what you think is wrong.

    I am going to give you a writing assignment and have you come back and turn this into an opportunity to share in a loving manner. I’m going to help you get started … where you say “Did you read the bit about …”, change that to “When I read the bit about …” … then follow it with something of tangible value where you actually bring conversation and perspective. So it becomes ….

    “When I read the bit about __________, I think that we should do or not do this.”

    Don’t worry, you probably won’t get it on your first try – and most intolerant religious folks can’t do this. So let’s see if you truly are Christian or simply a Pharisee.

  • Stacey (the kids’ Aunt Tasty)

    Let me suggest how to engage in a conversation like a Christian should. You start with a rather confrontational statement phrased as a question when we both know it’s not a question but your thesis statement. –Scott Daves

  • Herm

    POMPOUS – adjective – affectedly and irritatingly grand, solemn, or self-important.

    Your point was addressed if you looked outside of yourself.

    All points I made were specific to your charges.

    The point is that you can be the Christian who follows Christ or you can be the Christian who follows Constantine. Your choice appears to be Constantine and Ben’s the Rabbi.

    Your logic is founded on we must protect and nurture our own. Ben’s heart and mind tell him that to continue to be vindictive and vengeful to protect your own is an endless cycle that the Messiah showed us the way to end. Your logic pits us against them when to them we are the them.

    You don’t really understand metaphor at all when you cannot picture the cross as the opposite of the sword.

    You, also, don’t understand that the neighbor was the one who showed mercy!

    Blast away with your bravado but don’t expect too much mercy when you introduce yourself by stating, “This article is total crap.”

  • Scott Daves

    LOL – touche. I wrote this post before the one you quoted. And I missed removing my opening statement in my edits. And to be fair, there is a difference between a statement and a question.

    In fairness, in writing, you are supposed to start with a thesis and then support that thesis, That is exactly what I did with those 5 words are my opening thesis, albeit jarring. I then continue to support the thesis with specific, undeniable, proven facts from dependable sources.

    This is what the mainstream liberal media does … takes one small, really irrelevant point out of context, blow it up as the issue and ignore the facts.

  • Peter Calabrese

    This has nothing to do with abortion on demand, nor that the fact that most doctors admit that direct abortion is almost never necessary to save the life of the mother. The Rabbi said do Not kill. Medicine, independent of my Church, shows the separate human life that is the unborn child. Using your analogy of triage you could justify, as many do, infanticide, or even straight out murder. PLease.

  • Peter Calabrese

    Debunked by no one. It is not about enforcing my code but protecting the life of the unborn. I’m against rape do you call laws prohibiting it out of bounds as it would be “enforcing my mora code.” That kind of tripe does not pass third grade logic. If size is a demarcation for you what size marks it as a human being for you? Are you in favor of butchering them right before they come out? What is the difference in size between a baby 2 seconds pre-partum and 2 seconds post-partum that for you makes infanticide wrong? Or are you a Singer disciple – up til they can fend for themselves oyu can throw them off a cliff? When the woman takes the pregnancy test but cannot feel her baby she does not say – oh I have a clump of cells she knows a baby is growing inside of her. Only if she wants to kill it does it morph into tissue. You were once a thumb size clump of cells. Thank God your mother thought you would be worth keeping.

  • Scott Daves

    I recognize your pompousness without the need for you to declare it. Your “points” were disconnected, run on thoughts without an established connection nor elaboration.

    Dear Sir, you are not a Christian by any demonstrable means by your replies but rather a Pharisee, can’t see past your own nose and declare judgment on all. Your reply is nothing but judgment. Good luck with that, you might have read in the Bible that it’s not yours to judge.

    And EXACTLY how is my logic founded on protect and nurture our own? I have deliberately not stated my opinion or side to avoid an us vs. them nor do I provide enough information to make that determination. The only way to make that statement is to assume … you’ve definitely put the ASS in assume.

    Your choice … your logic, you don’t really understand … you don’t understand … you don’t understand … talk about affectedly and irritatingly grand, solemn, or self-important.

    And your closing slam is about a different comment, not this comment. You see, I split it into two different comments to avoid simple people from mixing the two together. That post dealt with the facts as stated in the post, this comment dealt with the faulty conclusion reached from faulty facts.

  • All human beings are created in the image of God. So, yes, even the vilest criminal (as Christ showed on the cross) is worthy of life.

  • Have you looked behind the couch?

  • Perhaps you should take some of your own advice. You started your original post by calling the author a wonk. Not to mention this current post of yours is laced with passive aggressive insults.

  • Adam was a fully formed human man, but wasn’t alive until God breathed into him. He was nothing before that. You don’t get to abuse women who are in pain and making one of the most difficult decisions in their lives just because you think you can decide for God when that breath of life goes into a body.

  • Mongox3

    Hi Scott, While I think you could choose a more neutral word than “wonk” for those who oppose the death penalty, I think this is a conversation worth having. I am one of those wonks, I guess, but am also pro-life when it comes to abortion. For me, that is the most consistent, truly life-honoring position, to be against taking life in any of its forms or ages or circumstances. I look at it this way: if someone has committed some heinous crime, keep them in prison for the rest of their life. I don’t have any problem with that. But, even as part of a jury in an organized judicial system, I don’t get to say when anyone’s last day is. That, I believe, is God’s domain, and His alone.

    Another thing I always consider is that there are so many examples of inaccurate convictions resulting in the execution of innocents. If that ever, ever happens, even one time, that is enough for me to say no. For examples of this, I would recommend the book Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson. It is quite compelling.

    As far as war, I will admit it is a difficult issue. I certainly would never, ever have gone into Iraq, for example, because the drumbeat that led to that war never made sense to me. We were not threatened in any way, unless you listen to those who say our oil might have been…

    But when it comes to a HItler, maybe an ISIS, that is harder. At the least, I would say war should be the very last option in all cases. Truly, it is hell, and it dishonors life and love. It worries me when people rush to it as an option way before diplomacy has been given a fair shot.

    Just some thoughts…I’d be interested to hear yours.

  • seashell

    From a purely subjective point of view … you are a jackass.

  • Herm

    I rest my case.

  • Herm

    I rest my case!

  • Scott Daves

    a studious or hardworking person.

    So in your universe, a wonk, a studious or hardworking person, is an insult?

    You are almost correct, my response was to a very passive aggressive post. My response was deliberately abrasive, aggressive and condescending, but certainly not passive aggressive.

  • Herm

    Thank you! Found it! Just like I left it!

  • Scott Daves

    You fit right in with the rest of the gang.

  • Jeff Preuss

    NORTH AMERICANinformalderogatory
    a studious or hardworking person.”

    So, in your own quoted definition of ‘wonk,’ it’s noted as derogatory, yet you get snippy when someone suggests you intended it as an insult?

    Maybe not quite passive aggressive, but at the very least unable to see your own hypocrisy…

    (EDIT: the above quoted text from Scott was later amended to remove the bits that he copied and pasted in an unclear manner. He removed the word “derogatory” from his comment upon his edit, perhaps to hide that his communication was lacking, if he didn’t want to give the impression he was using “wonk” as an insult, which certainly seemed to be the case to a few people.)

  • Scott Daves

    Ah … judge, jury and executioner. You know, the foot of the cross is much broader than just the small square you purport to be standing on.

  • seashell

    Thanks for the compliment!

  • Eris, elder daughter of Nyx

    By your own by your definition you were being derogatory, and by your own admission you are being “deliberately abrasive, aggressive and condescending,” so perhaps you, too, could take this opportunity to try to be more loving. Perhaps we all could, yes?

  • I admit–I’ve never looked that word up and no one in my life uses it as anything but an insult, as a synonym for idiot. So I stand corrected. :) Oh, and I’m glad you understand you’re being a condescending git in your response above. I guess I thought that since you were telling others to behave like Christ that you should be doing the same.

  • Eris, elder daughter of Nyx

    The logic goes as such, and it holds:

    If it is acceptable to kill in the defense of others, than I may kill in the defense of other people.

    It is acceptable to kill in the defense of other people.

    Embryos/fetuses/unborn babies (whatever you want to call them) are other people.

    Therefore, I may kill in the defense of Embryos/fetuses/unborn babies.

    To escape the logic, you have to take out one of the sections. Pro-choicers (and most Pro-lifers in my experience, although they sometimes deny it) generally take out “Embryos/fetuses/unborn babies (whatever you want to call them) are other people” by some means. Ben is taking out “It is acceptable to kill in the defense of other people.”

  • Scott Daves

    “that carnal man existed long before the Spirit of God was breathed into them”

    From what do you draw that conclusion? I certainly do not see that presented in the article nor does a quick internet search turn up anything close. I am really intrigued by that statement.

  • Herm

    Peter, this has everything to do with loving all life without prejudice. The whole point of this article is not to kill what might be saved. I have never or will ever justify in my own heart and mind killing a child within a year of birth. I will always subscribe to taking responsibility to save as many lives as possible even unto sacrificing my own. Triage is a fact of life and should be left to the best trained to counsel the respective responsible parties as to the consequences of their choices. Random outside parties, without knowing the situation, have no business interjecting their concerns founded on no helpless fetus or baby should die. No blanket anti-abortionist should ever be able to justify killing another to save a baby. Freedom of speech must not condone feeding the socially and mentally ill justification to be judge, jury and executioner no matter the laws of the land. You are caught up in people pulling your heart strings and biasing to one side excluding the rest who must live, also. I do hope you are not condoning making birth control illegal, also.

  • Herm

    How old is carnal man?

  • Scott Daves

    I am simply taking umbrage with those who claim to be a Christian and then a superior Christian at that. I will always respond in kind in order to point our the log in their own eye. True, by doing so I have a speck in mine.

  • Scott Daves

    Too bad you don’t understand how copy and paste works on the internet, those are two separate uses of the noun … can be used informally or derogatorally. It’s all about context, the context clearly shows the informal use. I should have refused the confusing categories for you, my apologies.

  • Jeff Preuss

    Apparently, you are the one who doesn’t understand how copy and paste works on the internet, or else you would have used it correctly.

    Whatever, dude. You’ve got a giant chip on your shoulder. I’ll leave you with a paraphrase from Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Save the drama for your mama.”

  • Eris, elder daughter of Nyx

    I am simply taking umbrage with those who claim to be a Christian

    I don’t understand what you mean by this. You take umbrage at those who claim to be a Christian? Do you mean you think Ben isn’t really a Christian?

    and then a superior Christian at that.

    I don’t think that’s what Ben is doing. I think what he’s saying is that Christians aren’t supposed to kill people not that he is superior.

    I will always respond in kind in order to point our the log in their own eye. True, by doing so I have a speck in mine.

    Well, I think it would be better for you to respond lovingly as you previously requested a different commenter do (if for no other reason than to show the love of Christ, as you indicated), but you’ll make your own decisions.

  • Scott Daves

    Wonk – Urban Dictionary
    (1) Noun – An expert in a field, typically someone who is fairly young and very intelligent.
    (2) Verb – To use ones mastery of a specific subject to perform some type of work.
    (1) I need to find some physics wonk to help me out on this homework assignment.
    (2) Every so often, I have Andy come over and wonk on my computer to get it fixed.

  • Scott Daves

    Finally – a conversation, thank you. I am an evangelical Christian but not a sheeple. I am fairly moderate and take on the hypocrisy and rhetoric of both sides and try to do so with balance. I am also against legislating morality, I believe Christians are called to be in a society and influence it, but not my edict and law.

    In the area of death penalty, I am really interested in the specific scripture used to support or oppose beyond the all life is precious principle.

    First we have a prison business model that is disastrous but that is another thread. Ike warned us of the industrial complex, which is lobbyists, the war machine and the eventual consequences. Every war since then has been from a profit motive for business. Our war on drugs created a supply of prisoners that needed a demand met and the privatized prison model was created which has been disastrous. Our move to standards based education resulted in the elimination of trade schools turning out a work force that was capable of more than fast food at 18. Those are gone. Since we were then aiming everyone at college, we had to provide a degree program … 40 years ago, you learned rhetoric, debate, civics, a whole host of subjects … those got moved from HS to college and we created the Poly Sci degree program and got you deeply in debt what two generations ago graduated at HS with.

    My thoughts regarding prison for life is two-fold …I take issue with how we treat prisoners … not in the humane sense but in the privilege sense. Take them back down to basic cell, basic survival, etc., then I am much more open to that idea. And … get rid of all the appeals that just clog up our courts … but provide a path for legitimate appeals. So this requires a major overhaul of both our legal and prison systems. A heady task.

    I am more moved by wrongful executions from inaccurate convictions than I am by that being God’s domain alone. Again, the death penalty is something that should be used extremely rarely and should be just one tool in an arsenal to drive prevention.

    Referencing my above paragraph, I agree about the drumbeat of war, however, Bill Clinton just recently stated that Iraq most certainly did have WMD when Bush attacked. He knows, his administration sold them to the Iraqis. But that’s another topic. But the drumbeat of war is driven by the business of war … we cannot separate the two and will never have the power to do so. The disastrous Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision of 2009 has turned us from a representational republic to being owned and run by lobbyists … by business. There is no separation of business and state anymore.

    In respect to war, I take the old adage, a strong defense is the best offense. I disagree with waging wars but in responding when attacked. I will need more time to really craft a response to the Hitler/ISIS thought – you bring up good points and I can see you are somewhat conflicted as well.

  • Scott Daves

    Way to miss the point and add nothing to the conversation.

  • Peter Calabrese

    You miss the entire point – the article accuses pro-lifers of not being consistent. – Fine Progressive Christians have embraced abortion – why? How is that compassionate, Christlike or anything. It is killing. You want consistency – lead by example abandon the baby killers. Triage is a fact of life? We have abortion on demand! Abortions are done not to save lives but to render lives convenient, right up to the third trimester. Don’t; tell me about triage tell how Progressive Christianity is going t o get out fo bed with the pro-aborts if it pretends to demand consistency from Pro-LIfers? No one said anything about making contraception illegal. When will progressives back off on making us all pay for it! It leads to abortion mentality.

  • David

    Very nice straw man argument. So again, when does life begin? It’s a very simple question. I know exactly when a car being built becomes a car or a bridge becomes a bridge. Why can’t someone tell me exactly when human life begins? Regardless of how difficult the decision is terminating a life is a matter of choice. And I do like how you deflected the question with that “You don’t get to abuse women who are in pain” line. Again, a pretty standard tactic when someone cannot or will not answer the question.

  • Wolf

    if we can pin what Dear did on the pro-life movement, can we in turn pin all jihadist terrorism on Islam?

    Of course not. We pin jihadist terrorism on the culprit: the violent rhetoric of the people in power in places where the jihadist cells tend to form. That logic doesn’t debunk the point of this article; it only reinforces it. Look at it this way: even if Dear was, as you say, mentally unstable, it’s reasonable to infer (from his “no more baby parts” statement) that he was at the very least influenced by the pro-forced-birth rhetoric, even if not entirely motivated by it.

    When you home in on this one instance and dismiss it as, “Oh, he was just nuts,” you’re missing the larger point. This instance brings the issue to the forefront, and writing the guy off as “mentally ill” is an easy way to absolve yourself of contributing to the problem in any way, when the crowd screaming “pro-life” the loudest is often also the crowd screaming “death to Tsarnaev!” or “make al-Qaeda pay!” or thinking that more guns (instruments specifically designed for the purpose of taking life) will always solve social problems. THAT is true regardless of whether Dear was sane or not.

    The point of this article is not about Dear; it’s about the fact that the same politicians and figures who are anti-abortion are not actually pro-life in any sense of the word, since they 1) oppose any sort of reasonable controls on keeping deadly weapons out of the hands of people like Dear, 2) are often the ones crying loudest for lethal force in matters of diplomacy, 3) see capital punishment as the only option for some criminals (or worse, they think it is actually an effective deterrent to crime, an assumption that has been repeatedly debunked), 4) oppose any measure that gives women access to birth control. There’s nothing pro-life about any of that.

  • Eris, elder daughter of Nyx

    I know exactly when a car being built becomes a car or a bridge becomes a bridge.

    Er, you do? When?

  • Herm

    True, the majority of activist pro-lifers are not consistent when embracing war, the death penalty and no gun regulations. You miss the point if you buy into the far right propaganda of progressive Christians embrace abortion.

    No sane member of any species kills their own without extenuating circumstances demanding very difficult heartfelt choice by the responsible parties. Every healthy carnal species will kill that their species might survive. Every time we zap cancer cells with radiation we kill our own to survive. All carnal life will die shortly but their species can live indefinitely long if the body of that species’ health is maintained.

    You kill life all the time as a matter of living. Do you not still love all life and wish it could live. You make choices that sometimes are difficult and so do legal abortion providers. All legal abortion providers have an extensive counseling procedure with the woman to ascertain that such is necessary. No one, except in a dire emergency situation, chooses to abort an unborn baby most especially a progressive Christian.

    As a Christian I happen to believe that physical, mental and spiritual healthcare should always be provided by the nation for all their citizens in need. You certainly don’t understand the truth that contraception is a healthcare matter for the individual, the nation and the world.

    There is no simple answer but educated responsible and timely choice between responsible people saves life more than any legislation demanding that all acute little defenseless babies must live no matter what.

    Your last two sentences are propaganda with no foundation of fact. It only tells us where you get your information to build this grossly ugly and untrue picture that “Fine Progressive Christians have embraced abortion”.

  • There is a difference between a “citizen” and the “state.” The state has passed laws which makes it unlawful to murder. The citizen must obey. This generally means a citizen cannot murder another citizen. There are exceptions. But even if you are in the room where the abortion doctor is taking the life of the fetus you cannot murder the doctor to stop killing the fetus because this is not an exception. The state has decided that a fetus is not a life and therefore deserves no protection. If a pro-life person want to stop this abhorrent practice he must try to get the law changed. The pro-choice people are now worried that abortionists may be in danger because the pro-life people are trying to stop this practice by elevating the conversation to change the law. Therefore, pro-choice adherents believe pro-life people should not try to change anything legally because this may unintentionally cause harm to the abortionist. So when a malcontent loaner acts out in a Planned Parenthood facility this is proof of the pro-choice position that attempts to change the law which are widely reported are causing emotional harm and anguish to the abortion industry. Now Ben wants us to believe that pro-lifers must adopt a total pro-life ethic according to his understanding of this concept before they continue to just support the defenseless fetus. He points out we must believe from the depths of our being because even the most vile criminals must be accounted for. Actually, the most vile criminals are represented by the best lawyers in the country who are looking after their “life.” The fetus has no one but concerned citizens who are blocked by the same system that defends the most vile disproportionately. I think I will continue to support the pro-life movement where my support is urgently required and where my vote can do something about it. As a Christian I have to live in the real world while I work out my salvation and make a difference where I can….

  • ashpenaz

    At quickening. Like the Jews and Aquinas, I believe that we know the soul has entered the body when the baby makes the first move for himself. Prior to that, the body is an empty house and removing it is not murder.

  • seashell

    Bill Clinton just recently stated that Iraq most certainly did have WMD when Bush attacked. He knows, his administration sold them to the Iraqis.

    Are you referring to the meme going around on social media that every fact-checker has pronounced ‘FALSE’? The one that goes something like this:

    “I gave a speech in 1996 about Iraq having WMDs (weapons of mass destruction) and stuff. I said we needed a regime change for the security of our nation and to free the Iraqi people from an evil dictator. In 1998 I signed the Iraq Liberation Act.”

  • Scott Daves

    Again, another person making an assumption and making statements instead of asking a question to ensure the assumption is correct.

    Ben is the author of the article, I do not know whether he claims to be or not. I posted two very specific comments to which he has not responded, others have responded. Instead of responding to my points, they have attacked me. So my comments you quote above are to other commentators, like Herm and iain, who attacked me not for my views on the article and then have decided if I am a Christian or not, much as you have now done.

    This specific comment, I simply said if I read correctly, I think you are saying you are anti-death penalty and anti-war. I added one differentiator in my comment – that’s all. You made an initial response and I appreciate the elaboration on the finer differentiation of Ben’s point and address my differentiator. Then iain decided to viscerate me, tell me I’m not a Christian, all sorts of assumptions and other crap of which I was undeserving. And actually, although my response was a bit deliberately insulting, I actually would like him to answer … When I read the bits about …. and how that applies to this article and my comments. His comment was meant to be inflammatory, and I wasn’t having any of it.

    If you had actually called iain out for his unprovoked and deserved comments, then I would respect your opinion but then again, it’s easy to jump on a bandwagon and it’s easy to be a sheeple.

    Herm jumps in and wraps a bunch of disconnected statements inside a pair of insults. Because I said the criminal did something deserving of death and the unborn did not. And proceeded to get pompous. He wasn’t interested in a conversation, only a chance to spout off how superior he was and how anyone who disagrees is not a Christian.

    Where is your comment addressing him? How on earth is Herm’s or iain’s comments even close to appropriate given my original comment … and my comment was more of a question. I really would have liked to have heard Ben’s response to my deserving criminal comment … I was not arguing or saying he was wrong, but actually interested in how that fits into the entire narrative. You actually did a fairly good job on that tho.

    In the midst of all this stupidity, Mongox3 actually responded with a legitimate and healthy discussion.

    I just don’t have capacity for stupid people, and people that take a simple question and pump up themselves as superior Christian and then judge me (like Herm and iain) are stupid, period. People that get derailed on an irrelevant fact or point (like the word wonk) are simply stupid. Only one person came back with – oh I had never heard that used like that before. All the others are just stupid responses.

    I know, welcome to the anonymous internet.

  • Scott Daves

    Actually I am talking about some information not available to the public, I am talking about some videos of him out there, I’m talking about his statement … he has made recorded statements of video evidence of them moving them out the back as the UN entered the front.

    His own words — “People can quarrel with whether we should have more troops in Afghanistan or internationalize Iraq or whatever, but it is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons.”

    We know that Iraq had WMD, we sold them to him on Clinton’s watch. We also know now as they have been found after Bush was gone.

    But out of all of that response to which we could have a healthy spirited discussion, you get your liberal panties (making a well informed assumption) in a wad because I said something about your idol. So nothing else struck you — nothing about education? Citizen’s United? Prison Privatization? Trade schools? War on drugs? Standards based education? Nothing?

    This is so pathetic that from that entire post, this is the one thing that you absolutely MUST respond to and it’s the least significant sentences in the entire post. This is why the country is going to hell.

  • Jeff Preuss

    When the car rolls off the assembly line, or when the bridge crew stops.

  • Howzabout judge not buddy? ‘mer x’mas! *;D

  • Coo! Why are you so angry mang? */8•0

  • SloVicto

    Sadly, it’s this kind of highly selective choosing of which lives deserve defending (conveniently the only kind of human life that can be described as sinless), among other things, that has led my opinion that the Pro-Life movement has become morally bankrupt. Evil done on behalf of a good cause is still evil.

  • david, you know when life begins so TELL! =|:•0

  • Psalm023

    Thanks, Benjamin. I agree.

    For years, when reading commenters talk pro-life and then in the same breath condone the death penalty, I’d be so baffled as to ask what kind of Christian these were. I’d also hear and read from the same Christian mouths and posts how they rejoiced that George Zimmerman gave due justice to the ‘thug’ Trayvon Martin, or how they wished prison or capital punishment for military deserter Berghdahl, or any victim of violence in the news, who were either colored, liberal or atheist. The lack of forgiveness in their tone and the lack of mercy begs one to wonder who these people are? They aren’t Christians in the true sense.

    We have to face a reality, that many people who call themselves Christian, are seriously not. Anyone who has NO mercy for others, when they say they’ve received God’s grace and mercy, are a danger to themselves and others.

  • Psalm023

    What would Jesus do? “Forgive them Father for they do not know what they do”.

  • seashell

    Whose panties are in a wad? I brought it up because of all the things you mentioned, you stated it concretely versus your thoughts and opinions on Citizens United, prisons, War on Drugs, Education, etc.

    And just to set you straight on it, everyone knew Iraq had biological and chemical weapons. However, we went to war in 2003 over nuclear weapons and regime change. It was all yellowcake, aluminum tubes and mushroom clouds at that time. So what was found after Bush was gone? The yellowcake we shipped to Canada?

  • Psalm023

    Just because some State laws demand capital punishment does not mean that a faithful servant christian should rah-rah-rah it and get pleasure out of it and scream from the balcony like the Romans watching gladiators fight to the death. I find that a few too many christians who are proud pro-lifers get pleasure out of ‘an eye for an eye’ justice.

    We have to obey the laws of the land, but as Christians, the laws graven into our hearts by His Spirit have a spiritual duty not to like it. Our vocalized sentiments tell where our true heart lies. Too many Christians are sounding like judge jury and executioner when they try to compare the unborn with the grown man. A soul is a soul. Who are we to decide when a God-Breathed life is worthy?

  • Herm

    if you read a bit further … He loses those who don’t choose to be in Him and He in them.

  • Psalm023

    Why is it when bloggers teach on christian conduct, it always pivots onto politics. This post was a much-needed sermon, IMV, and is scriptural. It’s what’s needed to be heard, yet the tone inevitably turns back to cultural ethics. Is it just me or do a lot of American Christians see their nation’s politics as necessary to salvation? They seem to get hot under the collar and blame leaders for moral decay. We should look no further than ourselves, we are all guilty. Maybe we didn’t pay attention to that kid next door, and could have been hospitable to a family that was ‘different’; maybe if we had put on Christ, we could have saved some from becoming despondent and going on killing rampage. Maybe parents shouldn’t divorce. Maybe pastors should call on families to stick together through thick and thin. Maybe young troubled teens need nurturing, and we as a society ignore it, because we’re too busy.

    As pilgrims in this world, why do so many put their trust in men and institutions, as though a worldly institution can change God’s plan? No nation on earth will change what’s been written. No Republicans, Democrats, can bring us closer to God, nor can they speak for God. It’s so difficult to find a Christian site that speaks the Word, teaches on the simplicity of the gospel, refuses to blame political leaders, or unbelievers, and all in-between, and admit that we need to transform our minds to Christ and away from doubful disputations.

  • Brandon Roberts

    easy this guy was an extremist who believed what he was doing was right but not all prolifers are like this guy. and no i’m not prolife i’m not really prochoice either i view it as a morally grey area where both sides have valid points (before the child develops a heartbeat after a heartbeat is developed or it can feel pain yeah i think abortion shouldn’t be an option unless it’s absoloutely neccesary) but honestly this guy is a bad guy undoubtedly

  • Iain Lovejoy

    This from a man who started a post with “this article is total cr*p” and refers to “anti death penalty wonks” and (until, I notice, admonished elsewhere yourself along the lines you have now attempted to imitate) was far more confrontational than I. I also notice that having criticised me for some mild sarcasm you can’t yourself keep a civil tone to the end of your own post.
    The point of my post was and is obvious and if you do wish to reply to it, I would be happy to hear from you.

  • Jennifer Starr

    Happily, this is nearly never necessary medically. Both can not only survive a dangerous pregnancy, but thrive! Not always true, no.

  • Falken

    So, are you putting your money where your mouth is? Are your partying the medical bills of every woman you force to remain pregnant? What about adopting personally any child not wanted? Rape harms beings who can look you in the face, but are you prepared to tell the victim the child conceived by the act has more value than she does? That is what is done with this supposed “protection” of life. It says your values are more important than the person who differs.

  • Falken

    Am I advocating forced abortions for anyone?

  • Speaking for myself, I oppose the death penalty on both moral and religious grounds. No one should ever be murdered by the state. I also believe that as Christians we are called to be pacifists.

  • mkeddy

    Benjamin, I have to admit…I have circled back to the non-violent enemy love that I initially believed in as a new believer (I got saved while hitchhiking around Europe in 1990, btw)…a belief that was purged from me after I moved back to America and was “rediscipled” away from my “bad theology”. Your writings have been the primary reason for this change in the last few months. So, thank you. 1 Cor. 15:58

  • Ken Maher

    You need to get to know some groups and individuals that support the Consistent Life ethic, e.g., PLAGAL, Feminists for Nonviolent Choices, Secular Pro-Life, Friends Witness for a Pro-Life Peace Peace Testimony, etc. Here are a couple places to start: and

  • Really glad I saw this comment– thanks for the encouragement.

  • Great piece. ‘The innocent and vulnerable’ – that ‘group’ must include people who are not unborn babies as well as those that are. There are innocent and vulnerable people of all ages, not just babies!

  • Well said. At least, if they *are* Christians, they’re not following the Master all that closely.

  • David

    No, I do not know. So because I don’t know with absolute certainty I think one has to conclude that it starts at the earliest possible part of the process. That would be conception.

  • David

    So you’ve answered my question – in your opinion life begins at point X. I happen to believe it begins at point A. You have proven my point, that everyone has an opinion but nobody can say with absolute certainty when life begins. Thanks for validating what I’ve known for a long time.

  • All righty then!

  • Herm

    A.I.C., I know you mean well and your empathy for the “unborn” is noble to you and yours. You and your ilk are clearly wrong on this if you are going to use the Bible as your guide to justify your imagination. Jesus and the cross are not all warm and fuzzy and He teaches that there are hard and difficult lessons to life with death.

    I side with Ben on no war for Christians to protect what our Father knows better when and how. If you would have known the adult guardians of your childhood were watching over you on the school yard at all times you would not have been afraid of the bullies.

    Ben and you understand a different approach than I relative to our responsibility to protection of the “unborn”.

    My sincere and honest sense is founded on real life in the heat of war and the blind attitude of community to the individual value of each woman before honest and open family planning. Every person must be given equal choice of responsibility to their carnal body controlled by their heart and mind in the image of God. Anything less, in the name of God, is the same in effect as Sharia law. Directly from my heart and mind no one of mankind must make another their cow of species propagation, no one. The Bible itself is definitely lacking the balance of God’s Spirit, male and female, because only the patriarchs are represented by their choice of what was canonized and what was not.

    I know your heart bleeds for those lost but that is infinitely more so with God who forgets nothing in Their hearts and minds. To project out on your blanket protection of the “unborn” what about those God knows before they were conceived in the womb? God grieves for those too who did not survive as do my first wife and I our miscarriage. How many carnal lives could have been saved if our Father had sent twelve legions of angels instead of allowing His Son to be crucified by our lack of recognition for His will?

    As one whose heart also bleeds for all lost, most lately the 100,000 collateral damage of Shock and Awe and earlier my comrades in arms of Vietnam, I truly do understand, as much as any little child of God, that the only law has to balanced on the commands issued from the mouth of Jesus. The legislation based on Roe versus Wade is a step forward because it gives us a venue to educate to save more lives than when we turned a blind eye to carnal pregnancies that need not have ever been. God love is first a quality of life much before a quantity of life. We carnally, as do all other animals without the Spirit of God, instinctively protect our species before ourselves. Jesus as the Son of Man did so for mankind. Jesus as the Son of God never commanded to protect the “unborn” during His ministry with the Dove. Please, don’t use the name of God to protect the “unborn” founded only on “thou shalt not murder/kill” and your love of the defenseless.

    There is much more to say but I have, again, over used my time. For myself I am truly sorry to have to disagree on such a sensitive subject but this is only a small part of why I must.

    Love your heart that cares!

  • Herm

    “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

    I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

    Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” John 14:15-21

    “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

    “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

    “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

    “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” Luke 14:26-35

  • Peter Calabrese

    Are you prepared to tell those who were conceived in rape and now living good loving lives that they should have been killed. Listen I am pro-life 100%. When I had money I supported Pro-Life Charities that assist women in unplanned Pregnancies and I ocntinue to do so in ways that I am able now! I do’;t have to pay the medical bills of unwanted pregnancies any more than Progressive Christians have to directly pay for the confinement of prisoners who would have gotten the death penalty or pay for the counseling that victim’s families receive because of the fear that their beloved murderer could escape. See here is the point progressives only want the seamless when ti forces conservatives to repent and change their voting habits. They never permit the seamless garment to challenge their beliefs and voting patterns. – There are charities and government programs to assist in caring for poor families. The option of adoption is always there for those who may not want to carry a child conceived by rape. However all that is a red herring anyway because progressives are not standing up and saying we will accept a ban on abortion except for rape. So no – I am not required to provide for such expenses – in the case of poverty my taxes are already supplementing those situations and my medical insurance premiums do as well. If progressives are not in favor, as I am not, for the death penalty for rapists who are guilty, why are you in favor of the death penalty for the other innocent victim.

  • Comrade Carrot-Blog Vegetarian

    And if one act of murder prevents a great number of acts of murder?

  • Peter Calabrese

    If progressive Christians are not embracing abortion they are certainly not influencing progressive Christian leaders who are actively calling abortion a human right. Progressive Christian leaders like Jim Wallis, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Fr. Pflegger (sp? Catholic Priest in Chicago) are silent on the dangers of abortion and to my knowledge are not publicly calling out Obama, Clinton, Pelosi, Cuomo, Wasserman Shultz etc on their stance that abortion is a matter of reproductive rights to be promoted at home and abroad. I see more pro-Lifers examining their conscience over the death penalty than progressive Christians decrying abortion as murder.

  • axelbeingcivil

    I ask for pure curiosity’s sake: Do you believe in absolute pacifism? That violence even in self-defense is unacceptable? If so, fair enough, but that seems like the consistent end-point of this argument. If you don’t, it feels like there’s an inconsistency here.

    (Personally, I’m in favour of abortion access, and believe that the use of violence in self-defense or the defense of others, is unhappy but acceptable. I think that this murderous action is the natural conclusion of anyone who sincerely believes that fetuses are human persons and who has the bravery to accept punishment for trying to protect others. I just also think it’s based on massively false premises.)

  • Herm

    So your obsessive mission is to save the “unborn”. Peter, tell me what are exactly the “dangers of abortion”? As you do that tell me what the dangers might possibly be of treating women as cows to propagate the species with no choice over their bodies. Do you really believe God is so calloused to the females in Their image that quantity comes before quality?

    “Thou shalt not kill (murder)” is not a blanket law to be used in all circumstances. We kill life to live. We stop killing life and mankind dies. Maybe not such a bad thing for other life but is certainly not the will of our creator God. This is a fact of carnal nature. God, as eternally spiritual, is not dependent on killing life but carnal Man (the host of God’s image) is.

    I am pro-life and in God’s image pro-choice to discern and regulate life by love, Jesus’ command.

  • Trilemma

    A car becomes a car when it’s driviable.

  • Scott Daves

    May I ask … do you also oppose abortion? Not meaning that to be argumentative but in the context of this author’s premise, conception to grave.

    My other question would be your statement about Christians called to be pacifists. Is this an interpretation of Scripture or do some specific Scriptures point to that?

  • BT

    I think Cory is partially right, but partially wrong. A consistent pro life ethic would undoubtedly help, but so would a more rational approach to the debate.

    As long as we call abortion murder, there will always be someone who views it as their duty to use force to save a life, even at the expense of life.

    I’d prefer we not call it murder – because it’s not. Murder is when a person knowingly takes another human life. We can argue about whether or not abortion is killing, but regardless it isn’t murder. No abortion doctor or woman goes into that thinking they are taking a human life. If they thought it really was murder, they’d be in a different line of work.

    Abortion isn’t murder – it lacks the necessary intent to harm. It’s a bit like going hunting and mistaking your partner for a deer. You may have killed him, but it’s not murder.

    If we can just get the discussion past the demonization, we can also mitigate the violence.

  • swbarnes2

    The state has decided that a fetus is not a life and therefore deserves no protection.

    I don’t know why you’d say this, because obviously the state defaults to letting you kill as many rats and ants as you like. It doesn’t let you kill persons.

    The state protects the person’s ability to protect their own health. You would not be pro-life if you’d believed the woman was worth mentioning at all, even though what you are talking about is literally happening inside her body. I understand, I tend to think a lot more about my toast, and not much at all about the toaster.

    The pro-choice people are now worried that abortionists may be in danger because the pro-life people are trying to stop this practice by elevating the conversation to change the law.

    No, abortionists and people who support places like PP are in danger because pro-life people harass and sometimes shoot them. Why are you not mentioning the shooting? Did you forget already?

  • swbarnes2

    When you have one organism inside of another, you can’t make them both be persons, unless you decided that “bodily autonomy” is not a right that persons have.

    If you DO think that persons have a right to bodily autonomy, then one of those organisms can’t be a person. Pro-choice people think that the thinking, feeling woman ought to keep her personhood, pro-life people think she doesn’t get it.

  • wolfeevolution

    You’re barking up the wrong tree, my friend. Have you read any of Ben’s stuff outside this post? He’s pro-life through and through.

  • I did answer the question with my belief. And if your car/bridge analogy is true then a human isn’t a human until they are born. I also didn’t deflect the question. I simply pointed out another part of the scenario that few people seem to care about–the woman’s point of view.

  • We are incapable of taking that power away from God. Do you think we can actually destroy a human soul? No, we can’t. Paul refers to his body as a tent. Do you think if a tent is destroyed in the womb that God is incapable of placing that soul in another? He is not limited by us. That is what I believe.

    Regarding Adam, there is a difference between breathing and being given the breath of life by God. Adam was basically simply a body until God gave him life. He wasn’t “Adam” until God did that. You can call it poetry and symbolism–it certainly is. It doesn’t change the fact of the story that God crafted and then gave life. Two separate moments.

  • I say that the state has decided a fetus is not a life because they have. That is why abortions are legal. So yes you could say the state considers a fetus in the same category as a rat and an ant. I am not sure why you would use that analogy?

    The health of the woman is not at issue in most abortions. Abortions are simply used birth control for people who are not capable of preventing conception in other ways.

    One could hardly forget Tiller the Killer. There are about one million abortions per year in this country. Christian pro-life people do not murder abortionists. Abortionists murder about a million per year. This comment reminds me of the writer who bemoaned the fact that the Jews suffered far less loss of life than the Palestinians in the last war even though the Palestinians launched a 100 times more rockets at the Jews.

  • GingFree

    I know many who agree with you, but also that there is a chance of wrongful sentencing. That being for example an innocent man being sent to death, sure it’s rare but the fact that it happens is reprehensible. Many think the death penalty should be outlawed because of that, that one innocent death in place of a criminal is wrong.

  • Thunder_Hole

    Thanks, Benjamin. The early church adopted an anti-violence ethic. I remember reading Tertullian telling a Roman soldier that his first duty after conversion was to desert! By the 4th century Christians regularly beat and killed one another over mere doctrines. Needless to say, more of us are like the latter than the former in America. This is just one symptom of a spiritual disease that has infected us for some time. I pray for a cure but I doubt I’ll see it in my life time. Some disease can only be cured when the victims not longer think it looks good on them.

  • randomfactor

    The difference is that the first one is clearly murder, and there are laws against it.

    The second is NOT murder, and is within the law.

  • Breanna Lee

    If they go into it NOT thinking they’re taking a human life, then that shows a distinct lack of understanding of what is occurring. Just because they don’t think that’s what they’re doing doesn’t mean it’s not. If anything you’ve shown we should PROMOTE calling it murder, since then maybe they’d understand the seriousness of what they’re doing. They are not accidentally killing a baby, they have made the choice to do so. Therefore the intent to harm is there, whatever you choose to call it.

  • Breanna Lee

    Legally it may not be murder, but that doesn’t change what it is morally.

  • axelbeingcivil

    Don’t identical twins form from the same fertilized ova? Which would mean, after fertilization, that unique, unrepeatable human being you say comes into existence actually becomes two more or less identical human beings.

    Wouldn’t a better definition be based on neural development? A human person ceases to be, after all, when neural activity irreversibly ceases, even if the heart continues to beat. Why not define its beginning in a similar manner?

  • axelbeingcivil

    Life began approximately 3.5 billion years ago, and has persisted in an unbroken chain through to the modern day. Life isn’t the important point of considering; my skin cells, my blood cells, they are alive and possess human DNA (my DNA), and their deaths are, individually or even in great number, largely inconsequential.

    What matters is not life, per se, but the person that comes from that life; it is their personhood which is valuable and special. A heart that beats for a dead brain does not a person make, and is valuable at that point only for transplant, study, or burial.

    We can study most certainly the development of the brain; map its size and complexity. And with that, we can know with reasonable confidence when any sort of capacity for conscious development may occur. The most likely answer would be around three months after birth, since that’s when a great deal of neural pruning has occurred, but, for the sake of comfort, we can push that back to the 24th week of gestation. Prior to that, neural connections in what will one day become the higher brain haven’t begun to form; it is an undifferentiated mass of neuroepithelia.

    Erring on the side of safety here would be to allow abortion up to that point.

  • Herm

    Okay, maybe you’re the bully on the school yard. I was trying to give you the shadow of the doubt. It is you trying to lay down and enforce your law based on your feelings and logic and not Jesus’ or our Father’s. God has at no time given you that authority. Jesus has the only authority His disciples follow.

    It isn’t your job to protect the unborn for our Father is protector enough without your help and without using His name.

    I do have to ask, turn my request where?

    How can you be sorry for what you you do not know?

  • BT

    That’s a perfect attitude to take if you would rather be right than effective. If you want to be listened to and heard, find a different word.

    Again, absent the intent to harm, it just isn’t murder. If you don’t think it’s a baby, you can’t have an intent to harm one. End of story.

    It’s inflammatory, but neither accurate nor productive.

  • Herm

    It is not my opinion that counts for anything. He gives you a pass on using His name in vain as only a forgivable sin.

  • randomfactor

    Nice of you to speak for Him. I’m sure he’s just busy or something.

  • randomfactor

    I’m sure that’s what the Romans thought.

  • Arachne646

    Abortion is always less risky to a pregnant person’s health and life than continuing on with the pregnancy to labor and delivery. Abortion should be a matter between a woman and her healthcare providers, not a political issue.

    My breathing, walking-around son has no right to one of my kidneys, a lobe of my liver, a unit of blood or a sample of bone marrow, without my express consent, even to save his life, because of my bodily autonomy. Nor does a blastocyst, embryo, or fetus have a right to reside in my uterus.

  • seashell

    You will probably argue with me, but somebody can be against abortion and still be for a woman’s right to have one.

    Those who are truly pro-life don’t ask about abortion, they ask about unintended pregnancy prevention and what are we doing about that in the forms of women’s heath access and the availability of contraception.

  • Snooterpoot

    The problem is, as I see it, an unwillingness to have tax dollars used for social safety net programs when we know that charities cannot possibly provide for everyone in need.

    What I often hear from so-called pro-lifers is condemnation of people who depend on these programs for survival, and absolute fury that their tax dollars are being used for single mothers (who should keep their legs together, but with no mention of men’s responsibility for preventing unwanted pregnancies) and their “brats,” or lazy bums who don’t deserve to have their basic human needs for food, clothing and shelter met (ignoring the fact that a large percentage of recipients of TANF are working but whose wages are insufficient to provide those basic human needs for themselves and their families).

    I work in a fairly large city with a large population of people who are homeless. I have seen these people mistreated, disrespected and overlooked by people who apparently do not want to acknowledge their humanity. One time I saw a panhandler whose leg had been amputated above the knee, and who was using crutches, have a man absolutely snarl at him, “get a job!

    I think many, if not most of the so-called pro-lifers, then, are not pro-life at all. Some of the babies that you insist on being born live in abusive homes. There are more than one million children who are homeless in the United States right now!

    Those are the reasons I have for thinking that many so-called pro-lifers are actually pro-birth. Until I hear a willingness to ungrudgingly acknowledge our responsibility to help all who are in need, I can’t think of your movement in broader terms.

  • Snooterpoot

    Besides, wouldn’t it be better to offer comprehensive sex education classes so that if women have sex, they know how to do it safely and avoid unwanted pregnancies?

    The last time I checked, women cannot get pregnant without a man’s participation. I think comprehensive sex education must instruct young men of their responsibility for birth control and safe sex.

    Sorry, but it really annoys me to hear or read, “so that if women have sex” we will know how to avoid unwanted pregnancies. For all of my 63 years on this planet I have seen fingers pointed at women. It’s the boys will be boys, but women will be whores double standard.

  • Snooterpoot

    Abstinence works every time it’s tried. It’s difficult, yes, but quite doable. We aren’t animals, after all, but people, with the ability to choose to not have sexual intercourse.

    Certainly abstinence works, but abstinence education doesn’t. It’s the only sex education that we got and kids had sex anyway. It’s naive to think that telling teenagers to just say no to sex is going to be successful. Believing that it is a viable alternative simply contributes to the problem of teen pregnancy.

    A fetus becomes a baby when it can sustain life outside the womb without artificial life support. The hyperbole to call a 12-week embryo a baby does not further your cause.

  • Snooterpoot

    Self righteous much? Yep.

  • Snooterpoot

    No, it isn’t.

  • JenellYB

    ‘in God’s eyes’ because you said so? How are you privy to how God ‘sees’ it? Somehow I suspect you’ll say because God ‘says it in the Bible.” No, not in the Bible. Trying actually reading the Bible sometime.

  • Snooterpoot

    You, Peter, are part of the problem. Your over the top rhetoric is insulting, and it certainly doesn’t do much to facilitate dialogue.

    I’d say you are a north end of a south-bound mule, but that would insult the mule.

    Oh, and how many times have you been pregnant and had to make the decision about continuing the pregnancy? I was in that position after being raped and impregnated by the man who nearly killed me. The decision I made is nobody’s business but my own, but I damned sure resent your ugly rhetoric.

    Until you have walked in the shoes of a woman who is making this decision you have no idea what it is like.

    You want to save “babies” lives, but apparently you don’t see women as anything other than brood mares.

  • Snooterpoot

    Has it ever occurred to you that other people’s reproductive decisions are simply none of your business?

    I don’t think you care about life at all. I think you care about controlling women.

  • Scott Daves

    Actually somewhere in this litany of posts, I have already stated that. I’ll restate it … and a bit more.

    I am a Christian and I am personally opposed to abortion and I was opposed to abortion before I became a Christian. Just to set the stage.

    To be clear, I am not for getting rid of abortion. Women will always get abortions, they did before, they will again. There should be a safe way for them. That said, it should be more regulated for the woman’s safety. I do not medically know where to draw the line – first trimester, 20 weeks, etc., but after that, abortion should not be legal to perform. That alone is a lengthy discussion.

    I can go on and on where the pro-life movement and Christians go way off the rails in this topic but … bottom line, I do not believe in legislating morality which is what the pro-life and Christians want to do. I believe that is contrary to Bible teaching. Paul on his missionary trips did not go into a city and try to pass moral laws. Jonah when he went into Ninevah did not attempt to legislate morality. That is not leadership, that is not what Christians are called to be or do. That too is another lengthy discussion.

    The right gets suckered in with the what about rape or incest question. We have seen plenty of articles about women who conceived via rape and kept their child and is the best decision ever made, and look at that child as a true gift. There are other mothers out there that you see that don’t want their kids, that are as far from loving as they could be. I know someone who was conceived by incestual rape – he is one of the most talented people I know and a personality you have to just love. He also has some medical issues fairly common with incest and he talks about it so matter of factly, no anger or bitterness, just that is his lot in life.

    I say all that to say … to the woman that gets pregnant by rape or incest and wants to keep that child, love that child, who can forgive the man and not sew that seed of bitterness … bravo. That child will go far with that kind of love.

    To the woman who is angry or bitter and will never love that child, where that child will always be a memory of the assault, and will never be truly loved and wants an abortion. I really don’t want to stop her. I can’t quite say I would encourage her to do so for the child’s sake.

    While on the topic of abortion … the key question always seems to be when does life begin. The pro-life and Christian typically answer at conception … the egg is fertilized and has all the DNA it will ever have. I don’t disagree with that, however, conception takes place in the Fallopian tubes after which the egg must attach to the uterine wall. The % that attach to the uterine wall is surprisingly small. So that means there’s a lot of life that never makes it. I do believe life begins at conception which occurs in the Fallopian tubes … however, regarding the rest, I don’t have the answer for this but it gives me pause … at least enough pause to not be dogmatic.

  • Herm

    You are clueless. The first christian source to speak against abortion and contraception was the pope not Christ. You will find nothing relative to each in the Bible. Populate the Roman Catholic church. You truly have no idea.

  • Eris, elder daughter of Nyx

    It is my understanding that Ben believes Christians should be absolute pacifists, yes. “Love your neighbor as you love yourself;” Jesus says, so if you love your own life enough to kill for it, how can you love your neighbor equally and take their life?

  • axelbeingcivil

    Alright, that’s consistent, then. Thank you.

  • Comrade Carrot-Blog Vegetarian

    I doubt you’re sure, but I’m really asking Adam.

  • Maine_Skeptic

    “Both are murder, in God’s Eyes.”

    Can we stone you to death for being a false prophet? Two thirds of all embryos don’t develop successfully. Clearly Jesus doesn’t consider it murder.

  • Maine_Skeptic

    The anti-abortion movement has decided arbitrarily that there’s no difference between a zygote and a fully conscious person. Life and consciousness don’t work that way, and at some level, anti-abortion Americans know this. No matter how fervent your commitment to your cause, you don’t have funerals for all miscarriages. You don’t call Jehovah the greatest mass-murderer of all time just because two-thirds of all embryos fail to develop successfully.

    And yet a disgusting number of anti-abortion people are comfortable calling total strangers “murderers” because they either had an abortion or performed one. If you’ve done so, and you’re not going to also call Jehovah a murderer, then you have no integrity.

    On top of this, many of you throw all morality out the window in pursuit of making other people’s medical decisions. To the point that the majority of you are willing to repeat the CMP lie that “Planned Parenthood sellsbaby parts,” when that claim is a pathetic and transparent lie.

    Once you’ve engaged in this kind of mob mentality, repeating blood slander over and over again, you play a part in the violence that results. I’m not saying that all anti-abortion people are violent, or that your repeating lies in the name of anti-abortion makes you responsible for these murders or any others. But you play a part, and that should be enough to keep you from easily repeating claims that aren’t true.

  • Maine_Skeptic

    “If they go into it NOT thinking they’re taking a human life, then that shows a distinct lack of understanding of what is occurring.”

    That’s not true, and as long as the anti-abortion movement continues behaving like they speak for Jehovah or Allah, this kind of terrorism is going to continue. How can you tell one of these nuts with guns that they shouldn’t shoot up an abortion clinic when you’ve just spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to persuade the public that abortion is a Holocaust?

  • Maine_Skeptic

    I think that’s something we could eventually reach consensus about if the anti-abortion movement would behave rationally. I’m not arguing it here, because the subject at hand is anti-abortion terrorism.

  • Peter Calabrese

    Pretending to know other people’s motivations is the epitome of pride. Reproductive decisions are the purview of the person involved. But once you have made the choice and there is a life you have already reproduced. Make your reproductive choices before the baby is there. Your statement however is proof that people view abortion as contraception, which proves what Paul VI said – the the contraceptive mentality would promote abortion. Thanks for verifying the Holy Father.

  • Maine_Skeptic

    “We have no right to decide – that is what pro-lifers believe. ”

    I suppose technically that sentence is true. You just claim you speak for an almighty Creator, and when other people don’t buy into it, anything you do them is their own fault.

    “That is the merciful thing to do and since science agrees that a zygote is a human…”

    That’s half true, and that should be something you can admit. You’re implying that science suggests we should keep all human DNA alive, because it’s the DNA that determines whether something is “human.” Science does no such thing.

    If you shoot my head off because I’m standing next to an abortion provider, my head will still be human. They may even be able to keep my body alive without a head, and it will be human too, but it won’t be a person.

  • Maine_Skeptic

    “There is no such thing as ‘anti-abortion terrorism’ if one believes life begins at at anytime prior to the abortion.”

    So because one idiot believes that life begins with sperm, masturbation should be a capital crime? Someone who goes around shooting teenagers because he or she wants to frighten other masturbators, they shouldn’t be charged with terrorism?

    If that sounds to you like an extreme example, you are failing to recognize how ridiculous is the claim that personhood begins at conception and that a zygote should have full human rights.

  • Maine_Skeptic

    There’s no point in discussing my views on when personhood begins if you’re incapable of considering that a zygote might not be a person.

  • Maine_Skeptic

    I wonder what makes you think you’re entitled to define “pro-life,” when you clearly support the idea that terrorism is not possible if the victim is an abortion provider or patient.

  • Peter Calabrese

    You are very clever – so I guess that makes your insults ok. I am sorry for what you endured. You don;t like my rhetoric that is fine but my rhetoric was directed toward a person who was arguing and insulting me. If you, because of your wounds, don’t like hearing Pro-Life views then in all seriousness you should not be in comboxes where people are throwing a lot of rhetoric around. If I insulted you I apologize, not my intent, but I am not going therefore to be silent about the matter, just as oyu feel free to not be silent. If you want to insult me I can give you a lot of slack because of what you suffered but you don’t know me at all, so to pretend you know what I think of women is pretty useless. The fact is I am pretty involved in post abortion ministry, though you would be correct if oyu said I have not ministered to someone who aborted a child after a rape. Shared experience is always minimal at best anyway so I will not keep quiet nor refuse to minister to post-abortive women. When I work with post-abortive women I work with a team of women. While I do not work with this particular group, when you are ready I would humbly suggest you visit with the folks at Rachel’s Vineyard who could minister to the pain I have no doubt you feel.

  • Peter Calabrese

    Good article but not my point at all – the point is whether Pro-Life or Pro-Social Justice progressives will call out the inconsistency of claiming to be pro-justice, while affirming a so-called Pro-Choice position. In other words if you are going to claim that a Pro-Life ethical system leaves room for violent terrorism, not sure I agree but it was a decent read, then you also have to admit that the current social justice Progressive leaves room for murder. Given that pro-Life conservatives have been called out as being too tolerant of of those who are for the death penalty, not tolerant of LGBTQ etc I thik it fair that those who claim to be Pro-Life & Pro-Social justice also call out their own with the same ferocity, not merely say Hey it is ok to be Pro-Life.

  • Peter Calabrese

    My mission is to bring people to Jesus Christ – this is just the aspect we are debating on this thread. The choice for men and women is before the child is conceived, not after. I think women should have choice in reproducing but not choice over the life or death of their offspring. The merging of the killing of plant and animal life for food with the killing of human beings, especially innocent ones, is a gross distortion of the commandment and illogical. You do not murder plants and animals when you use them for food.

  • Maine_Skeptic

    If a person kills a person, it’s a lot more like murder than if a person kills an unconscious group of cells. (Edited to be less confrontational).

  • Maine_Skeptic

    “Legally it may not be murder, but that doesn’t change what it is morally.”

    The evidence suggests that even the most pro-life people don’t equate abortion with murder outside their own rhetoric.

  • Breanna Lee

    I haven’t spent any money trying to compare abortion to anything. And I apologize that you seem to have mistaken me for a follower of the Abrahamic religions, it’s a common mistake to make. I am pro-life in all ways. I support gun control and oppose the death penalty also. I don’t think ANYONE should have the right to murder ANYONE else, which includes babies.

  • silicon28

    Oh yeah… You’ve actually made your position CLEARLY known… There’s absolutely no doubt about that…

  • Breanna Lee

    Just because you don’t think it’s a baby doesn’t make it not one. My point is we can’t use vague language to hide the truth, which is what you’re suggesting.

  • Breanna Lee

    What evidence? I can only speak for myself, and as long as I’ve known what abortion was I’ve seen it as murder, because that’s exactly what it is.

  • silicon28

    You outline very clearly what many of us have intuitively grasped for some time. There’s almost a metaphorical “Jesuit” quality to many in the pro-life movement. My community has a fairly well known family who are quite publicly involved in this. (The name “Benham” ring a bell there?) When they are “home” they gather – pretty much as a family – at a local Chick-fil-A right across the street from the busiest mall in the state, complete with sound system (cranked really loud), signs, placards, even those graphic photos blown up to poster size being waved around by children, while one or another of the men (never the women, of course) will “Preach” at passing cars. (That means essentially yelling at the top of their amplified lungs.)

    To see, hear, and perceive the incredibly violent anger in every aspect of what these folks call their “ministry” is actually a pretty frightening sensation…

  • silicon28

    Hard points to refute in a rational dialogue. (Which kind of explains the bait and switch deflections you got sucked into below, in many ways.)

  • BT

    That’s not what I’m suggesting at all. What I’m suggesting is that if you want to convince people of your point of view, you have to use language they understand. You can use language you believe is accurate all day long, but if it’s not convincing to the other side you might as well be speaking Swahili. Again, it’s the choice between being right and being effective.

    First you have to convince someone that the fetus is a human baby. Currently, any pro choice person doesn’t believe that. You have to start here if you want to get anywhere at all.

    If you don’t believe it’s a baby, then you can’t believe it’s murder. Thus, using the language of murder doesn’t work. The minute you say “murder”, I just write you off as someone that doesn’t understand me and doesn’t want to try. That’s a very bad place to try to start a conversation.

    In a different context, my in-laws think they are just a little overweight. I can tell my in-laws that they are beyond fat and are in fact tremendously obese. This is true, but they disagree, and it’s so offensive that if I’m trying to convince them to lose weight, it’s a bad way to lead off. It’s great if I want to start an argument, but bad if I want to get them to change lifestyles.

    If your goal is to start an argument with me, then keep your language. If you want me to change my mind and actually save babies and other lives in the process, I suggest you alter the language.

  • BT

    That’s why I’ve gone from being rabidly pro-life to being fairly strongly anti-abortion but pro-choice. Since there isn’t a clear dividing point, and since reasonable people can disagree on where they might draw that line, I’m more in favor of leaving it up to the individual.

    Moreover, I’ve become convinced that most pro-life folks aren’t really that interested in protecting zygotes. With about half to 2/3 or so of all zygotes being lost without intervention from a human, you’d think we’d be lifting heaven and earth to research what can be done to save those babies, but there’s little to no interest in spending money on that.

    As long as the burden falls on others, we’re fairly OK with it. The minute it falls on us, then we don’t care quite as much.

    Furthermore, you’d think we’d all be pushing hard for universal birth control, since with the pill fewer zygotes are created and fewer then die. We actually push the opposite direction!

  • wolfeevolution

    A fair clarification. Thanks. It really looked like you were condemning the author for supporting pro-abortion positions / political platforms / candidates / organizations / etc., but if indeed you’re condemning him for soft-pedaling and not speaking out against other non-pro-life progressives, that’s at least a somewhat fairer criticism (and one I don’t have time to reflect on & refute this evening).

  • BT

    There really isn’t any point. However, take a look at my response above. Despite it being a bad idea, I waded in where wiser people (aka you) decline to tread.

    That’s the short version of my journey from pro-life to pro-choice (but paradoxically still being anti-abortion.) It made sense to me, but doesn’t seem to make sense to many.

  • Breanna Lee

    Then what language would you suggest using? If you don’t know you’re doing anything wrong, how am I meant to convince you to stop if I can’t say you’re doing anything wrong? What reason would you have to stop then?

  • BT

    I think I told you that. First convince me we’re dealing with a baby and not something that will be a baby one day. You have to win that battle first. If you can’t win that one, you can’t convince me that what I’m doing is wrong. If you convince me that the fetus/zygote is a real baby, then getting me to stop and change is a piece of cake.

  • Breanna Lee

    It would be easy if everyone were like you. At least two people I know in real life concede that it is a baby, but just don’t care. Someone very close to me had an abortion for no reason other than having a baby would be inconvenient to her, and a friends mother used it as her sole means of birth control. A lot of people simply don’t care about any human life other than their own. What words should I use then?

  • BT

    None, I think. Sometimes words don’t work, and there are some conversations that just won’t result in any good no matter the words. Those are people you just try to love in the best way you know how. You walk along side, and do your best with actions not words.

  • BT

    I don’t think he’s a strict pacifist, by the way. He was against the two recent wars but wouldn’t rule out covert action against terrorists, which isn’t exactly pacificism. I think he’d qualify as a reluctant user of force, but not a pacifist.

  • seashell

    This makes absolute sense and is a needed contribution to the discussion. Thank you!

    And your point about birth control being available universally at no or little cost will do more to cut down the number of abortions performed more than making abortion illegal or killing abortion providers, neither of which will affect the numbers at all.

  • BT

    BC actually does far more than reduce abortions. The number of abortions it would prevent is small potatoes compared to the number of eggs that are never fertilized to begin with and then die spontaneously on their own. That’s actually a much bigger number. We just tend not to care about it.

  • Herm

    You do not murder plants and animals when you use them for food? What do you do when you take their life? Is this not the same Christian logic that killing Muslims and other Christians during the crusades is okay because they’re not us, or 100,000 collateral damage in Iraq?

    As I once thought was a way out for my conscience there actually is no difference in the meaning of the Hebrew word “rāṣaḥ” (to kill), as relative to slay or put to death, than than to murder. The Old Testament is contradictory when within it is commanded by the Lord that the murderer (rāṣaḥ) be put to death (rāṣaḥ) in Numbers 35:30 KJV.

    By that logic the cycle should never end as to put someone to death for putting someone to death equals everyone who puts people to death must be put to death.

    The cross Jesus taught saved us from that consternation of a never ending cycle of vindication. The cross allows that we, in His example, die in love for those who would put us to death. Pregnant Christians did just that.

    Your premise regarding precious life is in the same vein as is Numbers 35:30. To bring someone to Jesus, as His student, you must first share the gospel that would cause even pregnant mothers would pick up their cross by their choice according to our Father’s will. All the treasures shared us by Jesus are in heaven. This earthly life is only precious when used by His disciples that such heavenly fruit is desired only by those who have yet to be in Him and He in them.

    His disciples pick up their cross to die in love for those murderers who wield the sword of death in the name of God, Allah and/or anti-abortion. There is nothing Jesus ever spoke to, in the Bible or in hearts and minds, about little innocent children being protected except that we all come as little innocent children to Him to learn and live under His Father’s protection.

    The first Christian named organization to become anti-abortion and contraceptive in the name of God was the Roman Catholic Church, not the earlier Christians and certainly not Jesus and His disciples. Please, think then as to who has assigned you your mission.

    Oh, the Didache (compiled in the year 300) was rejected at the first Council of Nicaea 25 years later as not inspired by God. The Vatican later chose to use the Didache as support for their church populating dictate against abortion (of any form) and contraception as though God will not intervene in abortion choices but will in contraceptive choices. The rhythm never worked except to over populate some areas of the world in the name of Catholicism.

    No Peter, you are not bringing people to Jesus Christ by your anti-abortion and anti-contraceptive stance but to the Roman Catholic church which has carried the sword of conquest in their mission throughout the world much more than the cross. Jesus’ disciples can’t carry both.

    I know you are sincere but you do not know the master you are actually serving. Our Father can forgive those who know not what they do that is so destructive. First in everything do to others what you would have others do to you. Would you have others legislate your choice as to who you worship and what you do with your responsibility to the consequences of your choice? Would you have others dictate against your will that you conceive, over nine months of gestation, the product of incest and rape against your will? Would you rather have the concerned and educated counsel to better know the consequences of your available choices?

    I have to keep coming back to triage relative to all choices we have over life and death for that is a reality we all are responsible to whether we choose right or wrong. To not make a choice is irresponsible for time will more than likely make the worst choice. What is the legal punishment you would, as law maker, judge, jury and executioner mete out to a twelve year old rape victim who choose to self abort her child? That is real life and real live 12 year old girls still die themselves trying to stop their shame even with Roe versus Wade and available planned parenthood legal. It was so much worse back in the fifties when I knew my peers who died without empathy and compassion from the state.

    You will do as you know how to do but we all, to be the most good for our species, must continually review to discern what is the most good for our species. The Jesus you seek to bring others to rules heaven and on earth His world but not the world that would dictate others to do what they would not have others dictate to them. The most good in His world can only be known by following His teaching.

    This has already gone on too long for you to digest what I am trying to share. I am sorry for that. I don’t know how to explain it all in a few short quips. There is even more surface level explanations I know before we get in depth.

    I pray that something jars you out of your obsession to finally know for certain that you are not making students of Jesus by following the lead of your church in place of the Holy Spirit. All life is loved and precious to Jesus and that the littlest of children, from inside or outside the womb, can come to Him easier than the Pharisees, Sadducee and teachers of the law. We need only teach the law of love by doing to make disciples of the Messiah Jesus.

  • Maine_Skeptic

    I was anti-abortion for a long time, too. Even when my views changed, I stayed out of the debate, considering it a “woman’s issue.” It’s the lying by conservative groups that has made me more vocal.

    Democracy depends on an informed electorate, but a lot of anti-abortion groups have decided they can’t win if the public is informed. They’re spending a lot of money and effort spreading misinformation.The latest round- “selling baby parts-” is such a transparent lie that it speaks to the contempt these people have for their own supporters. I can’t stomach it.

  • Maine_Skeptic

    “On what grounds is a zygote not a person?”

    On the grounds that I gave for examples in my comment. There are no grounds in which a zygote *could be* considered a person, other than the faith-based assumptions of the religious right.

  • Maine_Skeptic

    You think Jehovah is real. You think he’s an infinitely good person who is able to control everything in the universe, but if that were true, he’d be responsible for the deaths of 2/3 of the embryos, which you also consider people. If you’re going to call it murder to have an abortion, you’d have to call all miscarriages murder or willful indifference to life.

  • BT

    Psych trivia: People tend to pay attention to the first thing they hear and disregard competing info they hear later. It’s a basic processing error that the human brain has. You hear the lie, but never hear the retraction later. Politicians and activists of a lesser moral fiber take advantage of that.

    And some pro-life people who believe the ends justifies the means do as well.

    It was one reason I was so frustrated by Obama – he’d typically wait to get his ducks in a row before he would respond to inaccuracies. By then, it’s too late. To be effective you have to respond in real time. Clinton was actually quite good at that & was one reason he tends to be viewed as effective despite some fairly significant personal defects.

  • axelbeingcivil

    Then that is inconsistent.

  • seashell

    Thank you for such a thoughtful reply. I take back my earlier remark.

    That said, it should be more regulated for the woman’s safety. I do not medically know where to draw the line – first trimester, 20 weeks, etc., but after that, abortion should not be legal to perform.

    Abortions performed competently are perfectly safe and need no more regulation. The obvious (to me) line should be drawn at viability, but most abortions take place long before then. Abortions that take place around viability are usually to save the life of the mother or because the fetus will die anyway, either before birth or shortly after. I can’t imagine having to carry a dead fetus, or to continue the pregnancy knowing its futile because an abortion wouldn’t be allowed. It’s a myth that women change their minds at the last minute and ask for abortions shortly before birth.

  • BT

    No one ever is really. Not completely. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.

  • Peter Calabrese

    No problem I am not personally thin skinned even if a little rhetorical and a times a little too defensive ;-) I enjoy reading a variety of points but even within my own confession the lack of seamlessness in the seamless garment is kind of a personal pet peeve. I don’t mind being challenged and have come to convresion against the death penalty and strategic bombing and a few other things. Peace in Christ.

  • swbarnes2

    The health of the woman is ALWAYS an issue, because pregnancy ALWAYS impacts a woman’s health, often seriously. I guess if you want to define a woman’s health as simply “Can incubate” or “cannot”? Remember Savita Halapavler? How would you feel if you were burying your 16 year old daughter because doctors refused to give her life-saving medical treatment due to her pregnancy? How would YOU explain to a 6 year old girl that you could save her mother, but you won’t, because she is pregnant? How would you feel if YOU were going to DIE because a non-viable pregnancy was literally killing you, and no one lifted a finger to help you?

    How can you possible honestly claim that Christians don’t kill people, when we JUST saw one kill three people! You can’t possibly be ignorant of the “no true scotsman” argument?

  • axelbeingcivil

    Depends on the issue, dunnit?

  • HematitePersuasion

    Terrorism is the use of terror against civilian populations in pursuit of political goals. You may feel that terrorism is justified against abortion providers or women having abortions, but that doesn’t make it any less terrorism.

  • seashell

    Not speaking for Maine_Sceptic, but your question is not the be all and end all of abortion questions. Life begins at conception, but pregnancy does not. It takes from 6 to 12 days for implantation and that is when pregnancy begins.

    Even then, all we can really say is that biological life is present, and if all goes well, human life is the end result after 9 months. But if all that matters is living cells, then a corpse isn’t really a corpse, as some cells are still living, just not as an integrated whole.

    So much more is at stake than living cells, including the health, well-being and emotional commitment of the mother. To ignore those in favor of biologically living cells only is to minimize the actual personhood of women.

  • HematitePersuasion

    That’s an excellent question, really, and it gets to the heart of the dispute over abortion. I think it is the wrong question, (and I believe there is another central issue) but I’ll get to those.

    I don’t think life ‘begins’ at any single point. A spermatozoa is alive. An egg is alive. A zygote is alive. A blastocyst is alive. But I don’t feel that any of these are a human life, or deserving of the same protection and value that a human life does. As an aside, most pro-life (anti-abortion) persons I’ve discussed the matter with do not think so either, in that they do not believe a woman who has had an abortion should be charged with first-degree murder.

    For myself, I think a being needs to be self-aware and conscious to get the very high level of deference and respect due to ’human life‘. I think the Supreme Court did a decent job of determining a reasonable point where that deference should begin in Roe, but it is certainly a matter open for discussion.

    To put it more clearly: I think the relevant question is not when life begins but when human life becomes recognizable as such, and the progress from egg and sperm to human is not a binary process (and so the question of where it ‘begins’ is not meaningful in that or any sense).

    The other core of the matter is control over women’s bodies. Nearly every pro-life (anti-abortion) advocate I’ve talked to adamantly denies that assertion of control, and yet … despite all the rhetoric, research shows clearly that the abstinence-based approach favored by pro-life (anti-abortion) advocates does not work, and that improved access to birth control and information about reproduction does prevent unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

    If pro-choice (pro-abortion rights) groups have to answer the difficult question of where and when a human life becomes something to protect (and we do!), then the pro-life (anti-abortion) needs to answer the question of what rights a woman had over her own body and choices and why the pro-life (anti-abortion) groups are so dead-set against information and contraception.

  • BT

    It do indeed.

  • HematitePersuasion

    … I do not how how to interpret that. You said

    There is no such thing as ‘anti-abortion terrorism’ if one believes life begins at at anytime prior to the abortion.

    That does not, however, accord with any definition of terrorism with which I am familiar. I gave mine, and it seems clear that pro-life (anti-abortion) groups engage in activity meant to create fear of assault both physical and social and that is terrorism.

    Please feel free to explain why terrorizing women and healthcare workers (civilians) is not, in fact, terrorism. It seems clear-cut to me, but … I am certainly willing to change my mind.

  • seashell

    Do you believe that biologically alive cells, whether in a woman or in a corpse, are deserving of the same rights of personhood as an adult woman?

  • Eris, elder daughter of Nyx

    The thing that is painful to me about all this is that many people would give more rights to a corpse than to a living woman. For example, let’s say I were to die and my child were to need one of my kidneys, or liver, or heart, or whatever. Let us also say that, while I was living, I had been emphatic about not being an organ donor. Could my child override my wishes and take one of my kidney’s (etc) against my expressed wishes even though it would do me no harm because I no longer needed the kidney (etc)? No. Why? Because people believe that I have the right to control my own corpse.

    But let us say that I were a living woman who was pregnant and instead of a kidney, the embryo/fetus needed my entire body to live. As far as many people are concerned, I should be forced to use my whole body against my will to support the embryo/fetus even though I still need my body.

    Why? Why should I have greater control over my dead body than over my living body? I do not understand. Either way, it is my body.

  • Eris, elder daughter of Nyx

    See, but even abortions that are done for “convenience” are serious matters. Like, there is a woman I knew who had an abortion who had no health risks with the pregnancy . . . but she was mentally ill, drug addicted, without employment, was living in shelter, wasn’t in a relationship with the father, and already had one child who had been taken away from by the state. She had an abortion because, by her own account, she couldn’t handle her own life and was screwing up the life of the child she already had. The whole situation was just tragic. We could all sit here and talk about what she should have done (like abstain from sex; oh how I wish she had done that), but I couldn’t live her life for her. And if abortion hadn’t been available to her, what would have happened? Would she have turned to illegal abortion and ended up dying herself? Or would she have ended up with another child she couldn’t support that would have eventually been taken away by the state? I don’t see the positive outcome that was possible from this situation.

  • Jeff

    You didn’t specifically say anything about sperm, but you did say “there is no such thing as ‘anti-abortion terrorism’ if one believes life begins at anytime prior to the abortion.”

    So this is a hypothetical someone who believes the life of every sperm is sacred and must be protected. Let’s assume this hypothetical fellow engages in violence against masturbators in an attempt to protect the millions of spermies he considers to be unique individual lives. Based on your above quote, it seems like you would consider this person’s actions to be not terrorism, and indeed he would consider himself a hero for fighting masturbators, who are the real terrorists in his mind.

  • HematitePersuasion

    I can accept that, assuming ’life begins at conception‘ that abortion is murder (although I do not accept that assumption, so I do not see it as murder, discussed this elsewhere … ).

    the act of tearing them from the uterus is terrorism

    Whom does it terrorize? In support of what goal (and I’ll even relax the ‘political’ part of my definition). I’ll accept another reasonable definition of terrorism.

    But … I’m not seeing the terror.

    Yes, if abortion is murder, there is great evil, but I do not see how the unborn can in any sense be terrified or terrorized. Persons in the United States are not regularly forced to undergo abortions (if they were, sure — terrorism it is). I will stipulate that rape is used as terror tactic in warfare (against men and women), and in all likelihood abortion has been used so as well. Still, that is the only way in which I could see abortion as terrorism, and that contrived example doesn’t hold true for the United States or in the context of this discussion.

    Or maybe I’m mistaken, and there is a great number of forced abortions in the US?

  • Eris, elder daughter of Nyx

    Well, I’m glad you think it wasn’t for convenience sake, because some of the people around her thought differently and gave her a hard time about it. It was such a hard situation.

  • Maine_Skeptic

    I appreciate the tone of your answer, Kevin. Thank you.

    “I’m just interested in knowing whether you consider abortion wrong at any point and if so, when?”

    I think the question should be decided based on when a fetus has developed enough to be capable of consciousness. We may not know that answer yet, because I’m not sure it’s been studied thoroughly enough, but it’s certainly not possible in the first 24 weeks, and probably a lot later than that.

    ” That God knows us while we are still in the womb and therefore at some point we are human and created by Him in His image. And since I don’t know when He breiths life into us, I must error on the side of caution.”

    I’m familiar with the poetic feel of that perspective, and that’s why I’ve been more sympathetic the anti-abortion view until relatively recently. Nevertheless, I look at things very differently. There’s no meaningful comparison between living matter and people, even if that living matter has the potential to someday be a person. It belittles the life of a five-year-old to say that a zygote should have the same rights she does. If the five-year-old dies, it’s a tragedy, but a lot of zygotes’ mothers never even knew they existed.

    People are able to experience life and make decisions and communicate with other people. They aren’t so cheap that they can be formed out of clay or rebooted and resurrected for a better life when they die. When I think of people I’ve loved who are dead, I know that the impact they had on me is incredibly important, because a person like them can never be recreated or resurrected. He or she took 14 billion years to arrive, and the trillions of little factors that contributed to their birth and their development as a person can never be repeated. It spits on their graves to pretend that a group of cells with human DNA that died the same day they did should be grieved the same way they should.

    For me, this lifetime isn’t a pass-through to better life. It doesn’t get its value because people are allegedly made in the image of a being who is invisible and silent. It gets its value because, as far as we know, it’s all there is, and because consciousness is so rare. Yes, that makes potential people important, but not as important as the conscious and living people already in existence. Suggesting that a zygote should have full human rights comes off as a kind of idolatry: a worship of the concept of life over the actual reality of life.

    I don’t expect you to change your mind about abortion because of anything I’ve got to say, but I hope that you and others will someday see that you’ll make no progress persuading anyone of anything if you maintain the lie that pro-choice people and unbelievers don’t understand the value of life.

  • To be specific, I find it really funny (in an extremely sad way) that some political conservatives[*] who oppose this shooter and condemn him turn around and– in terms of war in the Mideast– say that the U.S. should ‘take the gloves off’ and start bombing children’s schools, bombing hospitals, bombing public parks, etc.

    Because nothing says “I believe in the sanctity of human life” like a nine millimeter hole lodged inside of the body of the little kid in Pakistan that was just caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, right?


    [*]I say ‘some’, rather than ‘most’ or whatever else, for a good reason. I know that many right-of-center people find the kind of insane-troll-logic of the far right to be horrible also.

  • Is there even the slightest point to your trolling, or do you just genuinely enjoy hatred for hatred’s sake?

  • Also, Ezekiel 37 describes men being created, and though they are fully formed, they are explicitly described as not living until God’s breath falls upon them and enters their bodies. This matches traditional Jewish beliefs that ensoulment occurs upon an infant’s first unaided breath.

    Edit: Though others also believed quickening was a factor as well, as mentioned in another post.

  • Personally, I find when life begins to be an interesting philosophical subject, but not a relevant one. A person who is pregnant against their will suffers a fate akin to a long, drawn out sexual assault, and is nearly always left physically and mentally worse for wear. At the time when the majority of abortions take place, the zygote is nowhere near developed enough to suffer from its destruction. By the time a fetus has developed and gained the necessary neurological development to experience primitive levels of sentience, the only abortion likely to take place is one deemed medically necessary.

    I have no solution which doesn’t cause harm of some kind, but I can and do strive to cause as little harm as possible. The comparison of suffering is no contest. I will not subject a pregnant person to that fate.

  • Personhood is bestowed upon the unborn in some states. This has led to pregnant people being arrested and criminally charged for suffering miscarriages. Under such laws, any miscarriage is a potential murder. This ends poorly.

  • Chimera development is even more thorny. A single fertilized ova divides into two sets of zygotes, then merges again into one. This results in a single organism with two sets of genetically distinct cells.

    The case some are familiar with is that of Lydia Fairchild, who was charged with fraud after genetic tests determined that her children were not genetic offspring. After she proved that she had given birth to them with a video taken of doing so, and tests continued to indicate that they were not genetically her offspring, she was tested for chimerism.

    The tests revealed that her ovaries belong to an unborn twin sister who was absorbed during development. As a result, though she was pregnant and gave birth to the children, she was genetically their aunt.

    This creates yet another interesting question for ensoulment prior to birth opponents. At what point does a soul enter the unborn? If it is at fertilization, then, apparently, twins either must share a soul, or one of them has no soul at all. If it is later, then what happens to one of the souls when a chimera is produced?

    And above all, what of the many, many spontaneous abortions and miscarriages which occur, wherein the pregnant person’s body simply terminates its pregnancy? Some estimates place the number of these incidents at nearly 60% of all fertilizations; if ensoulment takes place at fertilization, then Heaven’s largest population is of people who were never born!

  • If approaching it from a strict terminology perspective, then it’s not murder because murder is the unlawful killing of another. As abortion is legal, then it isn’t murder.

  • I would say that even if you could somehow prove that a zygote is equivalent to a fully developed person in all respects, I would still be erring on the side of abortion rights for a number of reasons.

  • Terrorism is not justified because it is committed on a party performing unsavory deeds. Terrorism is a word with a specific definition: the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims. The existence or nonexistence of laws ensuring the right to abortion is not a debatable fact, so it is not up to one’s individual perception, thus the killing of abortion providers is unlawful and is classified as murder.

    Therefore, killing abortion providers becomes the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.

  • Abortion by definition cannot be terrorism or murder. It can certainly be debated as killing, but as it is neither violence or intimidation for political purposes, nor is it unlawful killing, it is neither terrorism nor murder by their definitions.

    From what I have seen of Ben’s previous posts, he is against abortion and seeks to reduce it as much as humanly possible through financial, medical and social measures, including a more robust adoption program. He does not, however, seek to make it illegal. He may or may not recap this, as I have seen this argument levied at him many times already.

  • Law

    Exactly when does an adult human woman become a person?

  • BT

    True, but if you think the law itself is mistaken, that argument does t hold much water.

  • BT


  • BT

    Explain? I’m curious.

  • Most women deliver their babies without problems in this country every day. About 4 million per year. Many women abort their babies now about 1 million per year. I don’t know of anyone in this country who cannot find medical help with pregnancy issues. That is why this is a great country. The mothers who choose to abort their babies will come to regret that decision over time. There is simply no problem getting an abortion in this country anytime, any day. But sadly most women who get an abortion do it because they do not want to be bothered with a child. It has nothing to so with their health. 99.9% of all pregnancies in this country could be brought to term if the mother desired. This is not christian behavior. This is simply murder in the womb.

    People murder people everyday in this world. But Christians don’t murder people in the name of Christ today that particular travesty is being carried everyday out by Islamic radicals in the name of their God. People murder people in this country for many reasons: greed, rage, negligence. But there is absolutely no organized effort by Christians anywhere in the world to murder people.

  • Our courts have ruled that ignorance or disagreement with the law does not free one from the responsibility to follow it or the consequences of violating it, except in cases of a police officer carrying out their duty (which in itself is extremely wrong and terrible, especially as people have been killed for resisting arrest for actions which weren’t actually against the law).

    Correspondingly, even if the person in question believes with all their heart that abortion is the most evil and intolerable thing ever, it remains legal, and is thus not murder. Whether or not something is against the law is not a matter of opinion.

  • BT

    That’s the argument from US law, and it’s hard to dispute. There are two definitions of murder though – one legal, and one conceptual. Most pro-life folks I know are really only speaking conceptually, so the argument from law just isn’t very compelling for them.

  • The two biggest reasons:

    First, I view forcing someone to remain pregnant against their will as a form of sexual assault. I don’t believe there are any circumstances which justify overriding someone’s freedom of choice and physically and emotionally tormenting them for nine months, even if it saves another person’s life.

    Related to this is bodily autonomy. In the vast majority of cases, a person cannot be compelled to sacrifice their bodily integrity to benefit another person, even if it saves their life in the process. A mother cannot be compelled to give up organs to her daughter; a father cannot be compelled to give up plasma to his son. We don’t harvest organs from corpses unless they were registered donors. We would cry foul, and quite loudly, if a person were in for a routine surgery and the hospital, without consulting them, removed a kidney and gave it to someone else. Hospitals will generally not permit a heavily drugged, intoxicated, or mentally incompetent person to sign waivers permitting their organs to be removed.

    Pro-life advocates argue that the act of having sex means giving consent to the possibility to become and remain pregnant, but I argue that in the majority of cases, meaningful consent (that is, intellectually sound, informed, and purposeful consent) is the requirement before it is assumed a person’s body can be used to benefit others, and the mere act of having sex does not constitute this.

    This is also why the two cases to date in which a body with no brain activity has been used to house a fetus in an effort to continue a pregnancy after the legal definition of death alarms me very greatly. If the government may use a corpse as a sustained organic womb without any form of explicit consent from the person in life, then what else may they decide is permissible? Can a person with no brain functions be impregnated under any circumstances? Can a person be placed in a drug-induced coma under any circumstances to facilitate either of the previous actions? I fear where this could go, and err on the side of defaulting to respecting a person’s bodily autonomy, taking no liberties upon it without their explicit and informed, purposeful consent otherwise.

  • I suspect you’re right. However, conceptual concepts are murky. One person’s murder is another person’s freedom from slavery or abuse, and so forth. Even so-called objective law tends to merely be an appeal to authority (and authoritarianism), wherein the statement that God permits no abortion must be qualified as “unless God commits, permits, or brings about abortion himself, because he has the right to do so.”

  • BT

    Thanks. That helps.

  • BT

    I guess I don’t view the conceptual definition as all that murky since it forms the basis of our legal definition, which seems to be fairly static and settled.

    We have a fairly broad and consistent agreement that murder requires 1) a dead person, 2) a killer who desired to produce that result, with 3) an intent to harm without any mitigating factors. I think others might say it differently and disagree on the details of what constitutes sufficient mitigation, but generally those are the three general characteristics that we mostly agree on.

  • At the same time, we have many corollary definitions surrounding that. First degree, second degree, negligent homicide, manslaughter (voluntary and involuntary), murder with adequate provocation, etc. A great many trials in which it was definitely known who died and who killed them have needed to be held in order to determine the culpability of the one who did the killing, and there is precedent, for better and worse, for someone killing another person beyond any shadow of a doubt, and walking freely. Hence the “mitigating factors” you mention, but discerning when those factors are relevant, or authentic, has played a huge role in our legal system.

  • BT

    I think you’re supporting my point though – we have categories of murder to be sure, but below that we have non-murder offenses like negligent homicide that while severe have some form of mitigation that keeps us from calling it murder. I think there’s always a gray border somewhere on the margin, but we generally agree on the core.

    Regardless – I think we both agree that abortion fails either test as murder. I’m more concerned, though, with how to bridge the communication gap between the two camps, which means convincing those who see this as murder, and go by a more conceptual view of the term, to nuance their views a bit more and find different language.

  • Unfortunately, I know no way of doing this. Even though a number of them will get abortions during their lives, even those who receive them often continue berating others as murderers. With most forms of authoritarianism, experience is the most likely factor in weakening a person’s bigotry, but that seems to not be the case for abortion, perhaps because it’s considered so shameful that even the people who have them refuse to weaken their resolve.

    It’s kind of like how my parents have consistently argued that everyone on welfare is lazy and just wants to lay about and do drugs all day, even when they went on welfare themselves. To complete the hypocrisy, they lost their benefits to a drug test, fought against the system in an effort to retain them, and continued all the while to complain about the druggies mooching off the tax payers. In their minds, “we paid in, so we deserve it” was enough to justify it in their minds.

    Similarly, it seems like a number of pro-life advocates are perfectly capable of justifying having an abortion in their minds while continuing to argue about the evils of abortion. This is so prevalent that someone compiled a list of anecdotes from providers who had pro-life advocates come into their clinics, often having an abortion and then continuing to condemn the very doctors who they had requested services from.

  • BT

    Yup. I won’t even try to present a competing thought. I don’t even have one. My only excuse is a love of windmill jousting.

    Recent article I was reading indicated that what we know of who gets abortions suggests that Christians get them at roughly the same frequency as everyone else. Likely due at least in part to the higher stigma associated with pregnancies outside of marriage (edit: and stigma associated with / reluctance to use birth control. Seems like there’s a correlation between that and pregnancy. Who knew?)

    It lends some credence to the idea that at some conscious or unconscious level, it’s really about control of sex. I don’t completely buy that, but I don’t dismiss the idea either. I suspect that’s a component.

  • It’s most readily visible in the objection to birth control, and the shaming of people who get pregnant without the intent to give up on everything and focus on nothing but the pregnancy and child raising, but I think, more than that, it’s just plain hatred of people unlike one’s self. Nearly everyone has some susceptibility to it, but some people take the ball and run clear off the end zone and just keep going.

  • BT

    Quite true.

  • seashell

    Well said and accurate. Thanks.

  • seashell

    …and as long as I’ve known what abortion was I’ve seen it as murder, because that’s exactly what it is.

    No, it’s not murder. And if you had ever had an abortion you would know that. Do you think that all the women who have had one think of themselves as murderers and somehow manage to go on magically living a normal life? Really?

  • Maine_Skeptic

    it’s difficult to break through the bubble they’re surrounded by.

    It could happen to any of us who are in the supermajority, one way or another, which is why white privilege slides under the radar so easily.

  • Breanna Lee

    Just because they don’t see it as murder doesn’t mean it’s not. It’s killing a baby. That is murder by definition.

  • I’m on an old mobile and can’t paste multiple links, but this should offer several examples.

  • Eris, elder daughter of Nyx

    As per AnonymousSam’s google result, I grant you another article where women were subjected to all kind of crap because we considered fetuses (etc) people.

  • lady_black

    Terrorism? Murder? Do you actually remember what you yourself wrote?

  • lady_black

    At birth.

  • lady_black

    No baby can be aborted. That is called delivery or birth. Life began millions of years ago, and has been on a continuum ever since then.

  • lady_black

    You can believe that a fetus can perform Calculus if you want. Doesn’t make it true just because you believe it.

  • lady_black

    Abortion doesn’t happen late enough for that.

  • lady_black

    Life began millions of years ago.

  • lady_black

    You don’t believe you know when breathing begins? I hope you remember to keep doing it.

  • lady_black

    No one gives “convenience” as a reason for an abortion. EVER. You are making a value judgment that isn’t yours to make.

  • Snooterpoot

    I didn’t say that. What I did say is that there are not enough charities to take care of all of the women and children who need it.

    I think you missed the point of my post. I think that some of you are, indeed, pro life. But I think that the people who call themselves pro life, but who raise hell about their taxes being used to provide the basic human needs for survival are not pro life.

    I don’t think that fetuses are the only lives that matter. I think if you’re going to call yourself pro life, then that means you (collective you) must be willing to take care of people who cannot take care of themselves no matter what stage of life they happen to be in, and I don’t think it’s up to us to judge another person’s ability.

    My parents started a benevolence ministry at their church. They provided food, clothing, rent money and other things as needed, and they never questioned a person’s statement of need. My dad said that if they needed something and he had it, but didn’t provide it, that was on him. If they didn’t need something but said they did, then took it, that was on them. It wasn’t his place to judge. I see a lot of judgment in the pro life community. Either you support life using any possible means, government programs included, or you are not pro life.

    I think if you’re pro life you cannot favor the death penalty. I think if you are pro life you cannot advocate for war except in an extreme situation, such as an imminent direct attack on our soil, not on an oil field in the Middle East..

    That is the disconnect I see in your community. I see people who are enraged by having one cent of their tax dollars used to help those in need. They call them lazy, whores, bums and all other kinds of disparaging words. I don’t see any compassion there, prolifemama. What I see is hypocrisy.

    I am pro choice. That is not going to change. I am old enough to have seen the results of back alley abortions, and I know that women will seek abortions no matter how much others object to it.

    I am pro choice because I don’t think the government should interfere in women’s reproductive choices. (Don’t tell me women made the choice when we’ve had sex. That dog won’t hunt. Where’s the male responsibility?) I am pro choice because I don’t think you have any business interfering with the choices strangers make about their lives.

    I am pro choice because I will support women no matter what choice they make, whether it’s adoption, keeping the baby or aborting. It’s simply none of my business.

    I don’t want to see one more woman die from back alley or attempted self performed abortion. If that happens because people like you make abortion damned near impossible, then you have blood on your hands. I hope you care, because it’s not a fetus.

  • Jeff

    Oh, you don’t like abortion for *religious* reasons. That’s nice. Do you have any *real* reasons to oppose it?

  • Herm

    Kevin, defining moral authority is a nebulous determination at the least when determined by individuals of mankind and is most destructive when others usurp to wield the authority of God for their benefit alone.

    As you believe that God creates each one of us why would you then believe They, at minimum the Father and the Son, are so impotent as not to be able to protect each one of us without out childish help? Would not a divinely capable God of love, who knows us before we are conceived, be totally aware, before They plant the seed, the culpable fertility of the physical, mental and physical ground? Why would we think, as little ignorant children, we know better to demand culpability that is not our to demand in God’s name?

    According to Genesis, as a metaphor and carbon dating as a reality, God waited eons (also a nebulous determination for the likes of us of mankind) before They breathed Their image, male and female, into our living carnality (carbon based clay). Do you truly believe that God is not capable of knowing beforehand the state of body, mind and spirit of the mother and father of the fetus/child?

    What allows the males, who plant their seed in a brief moment of propagating lust, to determine the bred female’s responsibility? It is only a males primal instinct, founded first and foremost on a carbon based need to propagate the species only healthy if consensual in reciprocation by the female. God’s image is in both male and female as helpers of each other as it is in God.

    Personally, why does our species choose to delegate so much more responsibility to its cows for its survival than its bulls than any other species on earth? No other species demands a mother perform what they cannot or are unwilling to perform. All other species will abide by the mother’s decision to leave the young behind or members within will pick up the duties of nurture that the mother cannot. Why do we have so much more passion to demand that the mothers abide by our outside the family moral authority than we do the deadbeat dad who planted and left?

    God can retrieve the precious spirit of Their breath to raise for an eternity in Their family for an eternity. Why can’t we dedicate our selves, as Christians, to only the commands of Jesus our Lord trusting in Him that we will live to learn as He knows best? Why do we continue to try to read into what we read He is recorded to have said nearly 2,000 years ago when He also is recorded to have said we can see and know Him today actively in the Spirit of truth? He commands today nothing relative to the propagation of our species for that is carnal and God and Their breath is spirit. He commands all the spiritual hearts, souls, strengths and minds of His disciples who love Him with their all; those are all His brothers, sisters and mother in the same Father by the Holy Spirit. I think you know the entirety of His authority (not in any way a moral authority) is based on the bond of empathetic and compassionate love for all which truly asks none of the little children of God to protect, but does ask that we trust that God, as a faithful family, will and can protect all Their little children.

    I, personally, projecting from researched knowledge of mankind’s past, believe that a church authority demanding no birth control of its members, beyond “if it’s God’s will the rhythm method will suffice”, and legislates in Sharia law fashion that all mothers are to conceive no matter what, is purely a invoking a device to populate their church. If we give any organization/corporation/religion a name of its own it will take on a life of its own to instinctively fight to survive beyond the needs of its human members and/or original intent. It is only a small minority of its birthed parishioners who read to understand Luke 14:26 and 27 that make Jesus their only Teacher and have only one Father.

    Kevin, your heart is clearly sincere, honorable and influential founded upon and loyal to those who you know and trust from birth but they are not the Guide who knows the Way as the Spirit of truth. Ask, seek and knock directly to let that Spirit in your heart and mind as He is in the heart and mind of Jesus and of the Father and then you will find the Word, the Truth, freely given in as much abundance as you, a little child of God, can digest.

    Thank you for sharing so honestly!

  • Herm

    … I checked and now am pretty sure life began even before that. How am I suppose to equate my 71 years with millions or even eons? I am so ignorant and cosmically impotent (if that much).

  • Herm

    You do know that to those of mankind who love all life, believing in responsibility of imperfect choice, that the term “abortion fans” is derogatory and insulting, don’t you?

  • SamHamilton

    Leaving aside the question of whether lethal violence is always wrong when it comes to trying to create a just world where innocent people aren’t abused, I think Mr. Corey asks a decent question when he writes “if God sanctions the use of violence, and if using lethal violence to protect the innocent and vulnerable is good and noble, why is shooting an abortion provider wrong?”

    And I think Ross Douthat provides a decent answer in his blog post here:

    You really have to read the whole thing to understand his argument, but the bottom line is: evil is evil, but in a democratic society where political change can be sought freely and violence would clearly breed worse evils still, vigilante gestures against institutional evils are just, well, murder: Not acts of heroism, but grotesque wastes of human life.

    On another point raised by Mr. Corey, I would love it if more pro-lifers opposed the death penalty, were less quick to agitate for military force as a solution to foreign policy problems, were less likely to engage in “gun culture,” etc. but I don’t think the lack of a comprehensive ethic of life among pro-lifers could be considered a “major factor” in this attack. The perpetrator was clearly a fringe figure, pretty looney, etc. I don’t he think subscribed to any particular “ethic.” If the lack of a comprehensive ethic of life was a major factor, surely there would be more attacks perpetrated by more sane and committed individuals. These attacks would be more frequent and intentional. But they’re not. They’re pretty rare.

  • SamHamilton

    You don’t call Jehovah the greatest mass-murderer of all time just because two-thirds of all embryos fail to develop successfully.

    I’ll never understand this logic. People die of all sorts of natural causes all the time yet no one calls God a murderer because of these deaths. Why should pro-lifers call God a murderer because some embryos fail to implant?

  • lady_black

    We don’t know precisely when life began, we are limited to what we can find, and estimates based on scientific laws. Fossil collection was a long abandoned childhood hobby of mine, but I’m sure life existed far before the relatively complex organisms (which were clearly identifiable as plant or animal life) in my collection. I can therefore state that life began millions of years ago, I just don’t know how many millions of years ago.

  • lady_black

    So now you’re claiming something I never said. I have no idea what you mean by “natural birth.” Does that mean induced labors and C-sections don’t count?
    See, here’s the thing about abortion. It’s only up until the 20th week. After that, it’s a delivery. That applies whether the process is “natural” or non-natural. All pregnancies terminate at some point. Nobody stays pregnant indefinitely. At a certain point, it becomes a delivery as opposed to an abortion.
    You would be a lot easier to talk to, if you actually had any idea what you’re talking about. Have a nice day, Kevin.

  • lady_black

    You are free to deny facts.

  • lady_black

    None of your damn business?

  • lady_black

    What is scientifically incongruous about that? You do know, by examining fossils, you cannot determine precisely when and how they died, right? Unless, of course, they were flash-frozen in a cataclysmic event that happened so quickly that undigested food is found in their stomachs.
    Which brings me to my next point. The last known ice age was more than ten thousand years ago. The LAST ice age, not the first.
    Which means young earth is simply not scientifically valid. Sorry.

  • lady_black

    Insulting your faith? No. I’m claiming that you aren’t aware of what your own scripture says. You can put a top-hat on a penguin, and believe it’s Fred Astaire, as far as I’m concerned. You just can’t argue that something in in the Bible that isn’t there.
    And it’s right there in the first book, too. It says “god” formed Adam out of dust from the ground. Let’s call him “Dirt Adam.” He was fully formed and not yet breathing, correct? At that point he wasn’t living.
    The rest is crystal-clear. “God” breathed the ‘breath of life’ into Dirt Adam’s nostrils (thus literally breathing) and the man ‘became a living soul.’ It’s right there in black and white. Assuming it’s translated correctly (and that’s a big assumption), it means that a ‘soul’ is a body+breathing. You are a living soul from first breath to last.

  • lady_black

    What was mean about what I said? I’m giving you medical facts.

  • lady_black

    Murder infringes on the rights of others. Our law doesn’t deal in morality much, and to the extent that it does, it’s probably unconstitutional OR there are other reasons the law exists.
    Our legal system deals in rights and responsibilities, and legal and illegal. What is moral and immoral is up to the individual to decide.
    I think gambling is immoral, and I was beyond pissed off the year I found out my husband pissed away 5 thousand dollars on gambling, and I told him it had better never happen again, or our marriage was over. My mere belief doesn’t mean that gambling shouldn’t be legal, or give me any right to go shoot up a casino. It does give me, personally, a right not to participate in what I feel is morally wrong. It gives me the right to turn my back on people who do participate. But I can’t literally stop them from doing it.

  • lady_black

    Pointing out that you don’t know what you’re talking about is not mean. It’s something you can and should freely admit. There are lots of things I have no idea about. That can be fixed if I want to be educated. Know what I mean? ;-)

  • lady_black

    Well now, not that I necessarily believe that’s anything but a primitive fairy tale, Kevin. But it is what the bible says.

  • Maine_Skeptic

    “…I’ll never understand this logic. People die of all sorts of natural causes all the time yet no one calls God a murderer because of these deaths….”

    I want to be clear about where I’m coming from, because I don’t blame gods for anything. Even when I believed in a god, I never blamed him for anything. I was more the type of believer who said “if there’s no god, where does all the good in the world come from?”

    Believers, however, are comfortable calling abortion providers murderers, and the only justification they have for this accusation is their faith in a Supreme Being who does not intervene when 2/3 of embryos die, which flies in the face of the claim that he cares about every fertilized egg. If the believer is an Evangelical, he or she also believes that the overwhelming majority of those fetuses will go to hell if born, which is also inconsistent with a “pro life” belief claim.

  • lady_black

    No. Basing laws on strictly moral beliefs is unconstitutional. People are allowed to be immoral or amoral.

  • Herm

    Kevin, thank you for that! Just so you understand from whence I write I will make clear my position …

    I know one plurality of creator God, Father, only begotten Son and His little brothers, sisters and mother disciples (students) of united hearts and minds in the Holy Spirit bound eternally by an unbreakable bond of love.

    I know the Bible is but a compiled and canonized expose of mankind’s relationship inside and out with God for the last 3,000 years. I know that there are disciples and prophets of the Word sharing their inspired message today no less than was 2,000 years ago (a longer period of our time than from the birth of Moses to the birth of Christ). The only word of God spoken of in the New Testaments of the Christian Bible is the Holy Spirit. The New Testaments are no more than a variety of differing perspectives written as letters and testimonies witnessing to the inspiration the authors received in relationship with the Messiah before and after His ascension. From the witness of John in (our much later designated) chapters of 14-16 is the key to the eternal Spirit of truth and the direct relationship with Christ and the Father available to the Rabbi’s disciples today on earth. If you are in direct relationship with the One witnessed to in the Bible why would you need to interpret that parchment any further? The Bible is inspired but not inerrant nor eternal.

    I can no longer in Truth keep my head in the sand to insist, as my elder and deceased Christian forefathers have, that all that is created by God revolves around us and that the earth is flat. The Garden of Eden as depicted in Genesis is exactly in the area we now know as the Fertile Crescent. The Jewish calendar today has us in the year 5776 beginning one year before the calculated creation of mankind in the image of God. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt, using the same revolutions around our little sun as a time reference, that 9,000 years ago mankind first began farming (Cain) and ranching (Able) in the Fertile Crescent when all of mankind before then had only been hunter/gatherers. The entire earth was at that time fully populated by mankind, created in the image of God.

    I am learning directly from the only Teacher of God as much as my little immature mind can digest that this is, as shared, true. Our creator God began the “Big Bang” and then patiently waited eons before divinely and gracefully breathing Their spiritual image into the carnal bodies of mankind when the time was right on this earth. As a toddler consigned for his/her safety to their own playpen I am not privy to whether or not there are other playpens outside my purview. My mature and mobile family knows and I have faith that They will introduce me to all others as the time is right for us all. I first have to prove to Their divinely discerning satisfaction that in everything I will do in love to all others what I would have others do to me.

    Any other position today on earth is founded on the teachings and logic of Man and not God. Don’t destroy your Bible until you are in relationship with Whom it is pointing to. I keep mine only to help others, such as yourself, to see where it is pointing.

    Thank you so very much for your considerate and considering response. As you see there is an eternity’s worth of learning still ahead which in relationship with our loving and serving Brother, Lord and Teacher makes the journey desirable for me. I could give a damn about any reward of heaven or punishment of hell for an eternity. Each are way beyond my scope of comprehension to even be intimidated or manipulated by such concepts now that I have found honest relationship in God as Their very, very little child. I knew early on in my pursuit of God that there is no reward for me to sit on a cloud forever strumming my harp or on my knees singing praises to God without ceasing. Just as mortal parents know to imperfectly serve their children to the best of their ability God serves Their children perfectly. The little ignorant but adorable children of God on earth are not expected to even be able to in any way serve Them beyond love. Our Christ at the behest of our Father came to serve and not be served. We have nothing to give beyond what has already been graced us by our loving Father in Heaven.

    I do so hope this gives you a boost to recognize and choose Christ Jesus as your sibling Teacher over the exceedingly limited logic of Man, including trying to contain our creator God to within the Bible as eternally sacred. The only unforgivable sin is to remain ignorant of or turn your back on the only possible eternal word and advocate of God, the Holy Spirit. The penalty is an eternity of anonymously knowing nothing beyond your present carnal and spiritual mortality capable of knowing and accepting today.

    Love you, bless you and, again, thank you.

  • Herm

    Please note, as I know it to be so today, that the too often presumed inerrant book of Genesis has chapter two differing from the more scientifically proven order of chapter one. In one mankind was created sequenced after all other life and in two before all other life.

    The concept of breath would be better understood in chapter two as to how a living spirit of life in the image of God is shared and not the exchange of physical air/gases. The actual whelming (baptism) of the Holy Spirit today “literally” replaces the gifted image spirit with the actual Spirit of God tying each heart and mind of God together living as one.

    But that’s just how I understand the mechanics today. Take it or leave it. I will love your inspired and honest insight no less. Thank you!

  • lady_black

    Yeah… No. I’m not buying any of it. I’m merely pointing out what his own scriptures have to say about “life.” Not presented for the truthfulness thereof. ;-)

  • Snooterpoot

    You know what, prolifemama? I love kids. My two kids, my grandchildren, and every little kid I see when I’m out in public. They make my heart sing and bring a smile to my face every time.

    That said, what was arrogant was your comment that “…to hold the view that abortion is justifiable under any circumstance is to be complicit in the deaths of innocent, voiceless human beings.”

    So, let’s look at that. I find it extremely arrogant that you told another person that they are “complicit in the deaths of innocent, voiceless human beings.” So, I am going to be a hypocrite and say that you are complicit in the deaths of women who do not have access to safe abortions because the pro-birth movement has made it damned near impossible because of the regulations disguised as protecting women, but thats actual intent is to make abortions more difficult to obtain.

    Women are walking, talking human beings. Our lives need to be protected. A fetus does not have a voice. Until it’s able to maintain life outside the womb without artificial means it is not, in my opinion, a baby, and it has no rights.

    They are not “preborn human baby boys and girls.” They are fetuses. They have the potential to become human baby boys and girls, but they aren’t yet, and no one has the right to interfere in a woman’s right to abort a fetus before viability.

    It’s wonderful to offer assistance to women who choose to carry their pregnancies to their natural conclusions. I applaud any charitable organization that does that.

    It is not okay to stand in front of women’s health clinics and call women murderers and whores who are going to hell. It it not okay to attempt to physically prevent women from entering these clinics.

    It is not okay for clinics to need armed guards to protect staff and patients. It is not okay to shoot at or kill doctors who perform abortions. It is not okay to attempt to burn clinics down. It is not okay to walk inside a clinic and start preaching at the people who are there.

    You are choosing to protect the so-called “rights” of fetuses while summarily ignoring the rights of women. That’s not okay, either.

    Offer help to women who continue their pregnancies. That’s wonderful. But leave the rest of them alone. Your religious beliefs (and I am making an assumption here. Please correct me if I’m wrong) are not shared by everyone, and should not be forced on anyone by trying to interfere with their rights.

  • *Nods* I think it’s a summary that a lot of pro-choice advocates would agree with as well. I certainly do. By contrast, many pro-life advocates seem to think the fact that he doesn’t want it outlawed means that he isn’t actually pro-life. I can’t say one way or the other. If he is a political opponent (I’m not sure that’s actually the case), then he’s one I’d prefer to have over others.

  • Jeff

    I dismiss your beliefs because they are not based in reality. I don’t care what your god thinks about when life does or does not begin, because your god isn’t real (or if it is, it’s doing a very good job of hiding…. such a good job that it may as well not even be real).

    Do you have a non-religious reason to oppose abortion? Because that would be something to discuss. But if your only objection to it is that it makes your invisible friend sad, well… I have an invisible friend too, and he gets sad when people *don’t* get abortions. So they cancel each other out.

  • Jeff

    *Attacking* beliefs? I was going more for mockery.

    I will disagree on the point that every believer (using the “theist” definition of “believer”) is accustomed to ridicule. Many are thoroughly UNaccustomed to it, and react very harshly if they suffer ridicule for their own belief.

    As for my own beliefs: I believe ranch dressing is delicious. I believe Magic: the Gathering is a fun game, and football is tediously boring. I believe you intended that question to evoke a less flippant answer, but I also believe the question “what are your beliefs?” is way too general and vague to be particularly useful.

    As for what happens to us when we die: most likely, our carcasses will be eaten. Eaten by bacteria and fungus, eaten by lions, eaten by cannibals, whatever. Bodies tend to be eaten. I’m an organ donor, so I’m sure parts of my former body, if in good enough condition, will live on a while longer in someone else’s body. But yeah, assuming I don’t get ejected into the vacuum of space or thrown into a pit of lava, I think most of the molecules that comprise me will be re-appropriated by other organisms.

  • Jeff

    I’ve given it plenty of thought. I’ve spent many hours praying and seeking god (specifically, the god of the Missouri synod lutherans). God never bothered answering. He never showed himself, or gave any indication that he existed at all. Even when I was desperately, tearfully trying to live my life the way he wanted me to, the guy couldn’t even be bothered to show up and reassure me that he was real.

    Since then, I’ve developed a standing offer for any and all gods: I will serve you unconditionally, once you demonstrate your existence and divinity to me and personally tell me what you want me to do. I’ll serve and worship, but I’m not going to guess. And you’ll have to deal with me directly; no priestly proxies or ancient texts. None of these are unreasonable requests, especially considering what I’d be giving up. But still, no takers.

  • Eris, elder daughter of Nyx

    I’m sorry, but I think there’s a reason you have people who are “clearly a fringe figure, pretty looney, etc” attacking Planned Parenthood and you don’t have people who are fitting your definition attacking Crisis Pregnancy Centers, and it isn’t mere chance.

  • Snooterpoot

    Where is the male’s responsibility for preventing unwanted pregnancies? Men are as responsible as women, and that is one thing I rarely hear from the pro life crowd.

    It really doesn’t matter what any Pope says if you’re in the United States. Our laws are secular, not sectarian. No laws based solely on religious beliefs will ever pass Constitutional scrutiny.

    At some point the Supreme Court is going to tell state Legislators to stop passing bills that are intended to make women’s health care (including abortion) more difficult, if not impossible to obtain, but are dishonestly and cynically justified by saying they are to protect women’s health.

    We are not going back in time, Peter. Women have always had abortions and we always will. It should be kept safe and obtainable.

    Abortion should be rare because we’ve educated young people on contraceptives and how to use them and we’ve educated them on human reproduction and how it works.

    Abstinence education simply does not work. It’s a fantasy that some people have that telling kids to say no to sex will automatically cause young people to ignore their sexual urges and find something wholesome to do. Teenagers have raging hormones that include reproductive hormones. Some of them are going to have sex, and maybe a lot of sex, before they are married. It happened when I was a teenager 50 years ago when all we were taught was abstinence, and it happens now. We do a great disservice to teenage kids when we do not provide comprehensive sex education to them.

    Sorry about my soapbox there. You didn’t say anything about abstinence education, but it’s an important topic.

    I don’t like the idea of abortion used as birth control, but I’ve never met even one woman in my life who has done that. I know there are women who do that, though, and while I don’t like it it’s not my place to tell them to stop. It’s not your place either, Peter.

    I was rude to you, and I apologize. I am recovering from a brain injury and sometimes the circuits don’t work correctly. It is not my practice to use insults or ad hominem attacks, and I fell short of my own ethical standards. People should be able to respectfully discuss issues. Unfortunately that seems to be rare, especially on this topic.

    I hope you’ll accept my apology.

  • Buhari2

    Vaccines for chicken pox, hepatitis and rabies for example…

  • Peter Calabrese

    Apology absolutely accepted – no problem. I too apoplogize if I got too fired up. We can all get too heated. God bless you and may your healing continue. Actually I am trying to take and Advent/Christmas break from here on out on polemical posts. Have a super day! You are right about male responsibility all the way around.

  • Snooterpoot

    Thank you. This subject is obviously something we both feel strongly about. And thank you for acknowledging male responsibility. That is something I hear very rarely from people who are pro life.

    Merry Christmas to you, and may you be richly blessed.

  • Douthat quotes the Catechism of the Catholic Church in terms of defining a “just war” and/or actions of “just violence” as:

    “”1. The damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;

    2. All other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;

    3. There must be serious prospects of success;

    4. The use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.””

    I think something that you’re missing (and that Douthat to his credit seems to address head-on) is the fact that wide sections of the U.S. don’t just disagree with 1.,2.,3., and 4. but gleefully reject them all– instead, those Americans think that violence is an active, positive good to be used as a first resort and to be enjoyed in its own sake. That ideological viewpoint those Americans hold is poisonous. Deeply, horrifically poisonous… and I think it’s fair to link it to the anti-abortion shooter since the shooter was acting out that viewpoint, consciously or unconsciously.

    Which is not the same thing as blindly linking all pro-life people as a mass with the shooter, a different linkage (one that I would disagree with completely also).

  • I think that Ben may want to cross the line to make abortion illegal, which isn’t inconsistent with his other views and it’s an opinion that can be defended, but otherwise I agree with you totally.

  • The last time the question arose and he answered it, I seem to recall he explicitly said he didn’t want to make it illegal. I think the reasoning was because his denomination doesn’t believe in trying to make their beliefs into law, or be involved in politics at all. It’ll take some work, but I’ll see if I can find the post to confirm.

  • I see.

  • ??????

  • Here are two posts I found:

    I’ve always been pro-life. Never anything else. I advocate for all life. My contention has simply been that legally abolishing something doesn’t make it go away, and thus it is a misguided focus. Also, as an Anabaptist I am also pretty open about the fact that many of us historically and in current times, don’t believe Jesus followers have the right to take control of government– so our focus is often to address issues in other ways.

    I advocate for the things that can actually reduce abortions– passing a law doesn’t actually stop it and I think such a focus for the pro-life movement would yield only a faux accomplishment that would create as many problems as it aimed to solve.

    The same issue happened with slavery- it continued in various forms long after it was illegal. In order to end something, you have to address why it is happening. All a law does is says “don’t do this”, but doesn’t actually do anything to stop it. For example, people say this about guns all the time (and then ironically, use opposite logic on abortion.)
    How do we change it? I think a lot of it has to do with addressing issues of poverty, access to higher education and real life choices for people, access to birth control, etc. I also think generally cultivating a culture that values all life is necessary as well– seeking to refrain from war, violence, and doing things that develop empathy and compassion.

    The best thing you can do as one person though, is be an example to others.

  • That makes some sense.

  • >’something we could eventually reach consensus about ‘

    There was, at a point in U.S. history, prior to the Roe v. Wade case and the general complicated spaghetti of state / local rules that were being shifted around at that time, a consensus at least in the U.S. medical community. Fertilization and conception were thought of as a matter of non-persons, beings that aren’t subject to legal rights.

    It was thought that human person-hood begins when the fetus as a fetus becomes human-like in the sense of having brain function, heart function, and the like… basically the same as ‘quickening’. That makes for a beginning bookend that’s logically related to the bookend at death– which is defined as when your brain function is permanently ended. When said function started up was when a person was a person for the first time.

    That viewpoint may well be wrong, but it WAS the majority / consensus view among doctors prior to the parallel rise of the religious right and modern feminism… coupled with abortion being partisan politically (it really wasn’t back in the 50s, 60s, and 70s).

  • Buhari2

    So you’re saying that you would not take a hepatitis vaccine and would actively prevent your children from getting the MMR vaccine too?

    I find it interesting that you said that you would not use any medication that used aborted fetal cell lines, or was developed/researched using aborted fetal tissue. If you were honest here, this would most likely rule you out of using a boatload of drugs currently on the market. As an example, the HEK293 (human embryonic kidney cell line) is developed from the kidneys of a healthy fetus that was aborted legally in the Netherlands. This cell line is so commonly used in research that at least 5 of 10 graduate students in clinical research has used them. Another popular cell line derived from aborted fetal tissue is the WI-38 human lung fibroblast cell line (common cell line used to culture live viruses for vaccine production – its been used to make the polio, measles, rubella and rabies by companies like Glaxosmithkline and Pfizer). Many of these cell lines are routinely used in drug development so you would literally have to avoid most live saving drugs in order to maintain your stand against being involved in the use of fetal tissue.

    The bottomline is that fetal tissue has and continues to save countless lives, including that of people who fight the hardest to wipe out the use of fetal tissue forever.

  • Maine_Skeptic

    “…but it WAS the majority / consensus view among doctors prior to the parallel rise of the religious right and modern feminism…”

    There’s no reason there couldn’t be a consensus again. The anti-abortion movement is a symptom of the identity crisis the human race is facing as we realize that the universe doesn’t center on us.

  • SamHamilton

    The criticism you’re making could be made of anyone who believes in an all-powerful and loving God. Why would the God allow all the suffering and death to go on? Your criticism isn’t specific to pro-lifers. Presumably, pro-lifers, along with all others who believe that God is powerful enough to stop death and evil and loves each life, have worked out a theology that at least partly explains this supposed conundrum. Theodicy is something that most Christians (and not just conservative, pro-life Christians) have been struggling with for centuries.

  • SamHamilton

    While I’m not sure why anyone would seek ill against a pregnancy center in the first place, perhaps for those strange individuals who do, the horror pregnancy centers represent in their mind doesn’t rise to the level of the horror that is abortion. There’s a reason why nations go to war over natural resources and not over their athletes getting beat at the Olympics – the stakes are much higher.

  • SamHamilton

    I’m sure there are Americans who ascribe to the view you’ve attributed to them. I agree it’s poisonous. I don’t know where the Colorado shooter got his motivation from. It could be from this poisonous view or it could be from elsewhere. I don’t know. But I’m not sure what it has to do with what I said.

  • Maine_Skeptic

    “…The criticism you’re making could be made of anyone who believes in an all-powerful and loving God. Why would the God allow all the suffering and death to go on? …”

    That isn’t the criticism I was making, though, because most (if not all) fetuses and embryos couldn’t actually suffer. Since the arguments against a woman’s choice are religious in nature, it’s reasonable to ask why neither nature nor divine intervention give a fetus better odds than they do. It certainly appears that we’re being asked to place more importance on potential people than on actual people.

  • I really don’t know. We’ll see. I’m hopeful that the abortion issue ends up being ‘concluded’ in terms of the public view of things the same way that the racial segregation issue, the decriminalization of homosexuality issue, and the same-sex marriage issue all got ‘concluded’– the majority opinion wins fair-and-square, and a consensus is forged. Hoping.

  • Eris, elder daughter of Nyx

    See, but this is just it! You’re own statements indicate that it isn’t just some “loony fringe” going against the Planned Parenthood: it’s part of the pro-life ethic! If it was, you wouldn’t be making this statement because your statement wouldn’t make any sense on it’s face. The pro-life movement is at war with the pro-choice movement and the pro-choice movement isn’t fighting back with similar force. The pro-life “loony fringe” takes the pro-life ethic and bombs, shoots, and otherwise murders the Pro-Choice side, but the Pro-Choice side doesn’t have an ethic that allows for similar retaliation. Even if the Pro-Choice side gets mad at Crisis Pregnancy centers for doing things like lying to women (about things like abortions causing breast cancer) they don’t run around bombing them because the Pro-Choice ethic doesn’t support it.

  • Snooterpoot

    prolifemama, we are not going to agree on this, and I really don’t want to have either of us angry or upset.

    Your code of morals is just that – yours. There is no universal moral code, and what you say about humans knowing that abortion is morally unsound is not true. There are people who disagree with you about the morality of abortion.

    You, and the so-called pro life movement, both call an embryo or fetus an “unborn baby.” Medical science informs us that a developing fetus can live outside the womb without artificial life support after about 24 weeks of gestation. Up until that point, it a fetus. It is not an unborn baby. I know that in your heart that is what you believe, but, again, your belief, no matter how deeply held, is not a basis to enact laws which infringe on the liberty of women who disagree with you.

    Maintaining abortion as a protected right doesn’t abridge any freedom or rights you have. I understand that you hate it, and that you think every fetus has a right to live. I sympathize with your agony over this. I truly do.

    But, prolifemama, what about the points I made about all stages of life being important? If one objects to having their taxes spent to support people who are in need, can that person really be pro life? If a person sees people who are homeless as bums, or sees people who need public housing as lazy and that person does nothing to help, can that person really be pro life?

    One of the problems I have is that all of the care and attention seems to fade away after the baby becomes a certain age. I don’t know what that age is; I’ve heard some people complain about taxpayer subsidized lunches for children from poor families.

    It seems to be really inconsistent to me to say one is pro life because of the love and concern for fetuses and then turning away later.

    prolifemama, we will not agree that a pre-viable fetus has any rights at all. I do not believe they do. Even the Bible doesn’t recognize the personhood of an infant until “quickening,” or taking its first breath.

    I know women who’ve had abortions. It was an agonizing decision for each and every one of them. It was certainly not something they took lightly; it was not something they were flippant about. But not one of those women regrets making the choice that she did. prolifemama, I don’t see why you believe you have any right to interfere in any woman’s right to choose whether or not to carry a pregnancy to its natural conclusion. I really don’t understand it at all.

    You don’t have to answer this, but, may I ask if your objection to abortion is based on your religious beliefs? I have a point to make if you do, but I don’t want to assume anything.

    I am afraid I am rambling. It’s late here, I’m recovering from a brain injury and I’m having trouble connecting my thoughts.

    Please don’t think that I have no respect for your beliefs. That’s not the case at all.

  • Maine_Skeptic

    “…the majority opinion wins fair-and-square, and a consensus is forged. Hoping.”

    I think we’d already have a consensus were it not for the never-ending streams of misinformation coming from conservative media. They’ve created a situation in which a huge percentage of the electorate believe that reality is determined by viewership and polling. Those who shout loudest have been determining what becomes reality.

  • SamHamilton

    Okay, take out the word “suffering” in my comment above and it is the point you’re making. Why would God allow all the death to go on? This question has been asked of and by religious believers for centuries and isn’t specific to the debate over whether an embryo is a human being or not.

    I can’t speak for others, but my beliefs about the morality of abortion are mostly not religious in nature. My religious belief is that all human lives are sacred and should be respected. My belief that human life begins at conception, which is the crux of the abortion debate, is not religious in nature.

  • SamHamilton

    What I said was that the anti-abortion side sees the stakes as very high, while the pro-abortion rights side sees the stakes as less high, which is why you see marginally more violence on the anti-abortion side than the pro-abortion rights side. (Keeping in mind the incidence of violence on either side is very low.) However, there isn’t a difference in “ethic” when it comes to the use of violence. People, in general, on both sides think that violence is something that can be justifiably used to stop evil and injustice (leaving aside the small percentage of true, committed pacifists, but keep in mind that most people on the pro-abortion rights side aren’t Christian pacifists like Mr. Corey). But the vast majority of the people on both sides believe that it is not justifiable to use violence in the name of this cause (ending abortion or protecting abortion rights/stopping pregnancy centers from lying).

  • Maine_Skeptic

    “This question has been asked of and by religious believers for centuries and isn’t specific to the debate over whether an embryo is a human being or not.”

    Thanks for sticking in there, Sam. I wasn’t sure where you were going with this. You’re correct that it has no bearing on whether fetuses and embryos are people. That wasn’t precisely my point, but I’m not sure it’s worth belaboring the difference. There are more central issues.

    “my beliefs about the morality of abortion are mostly not religious in nature…. My belief that human life begins at conception, which is the crux of the abortion debate, is not religious in nature.”

    Can you explain more specifically what you mean by “human life?” What qualities does something have to have in order to be considered human life, in your view? Is “human life” the same as personhood?

  • That’s up to him to explain, as I can’t recall where else he has described his ethics. I can certainly see that his stated position appears to have a lot of overlap with pro-choice advocacy. Perhaps he defines himself as pro-life because he doesn’t advocate for access to continued or greater abortion rights, despite not arguing for their legal reduction or elimination.

  • Eris, elder daughter of Nyx

    Here is one place Ben talks about being a pro-life progressive, if you’re interested.

  • SamHamilton

    The central issue I’m interested in is attempting to get you to see the flaws in the logic behind your original comment and using it to specifically criticize abortion opponents – You don’t call Jehovah the greatest mass-murderer of all time just because two-thirds of all embryos fail to develop successfully. If you’ve [called someone who performed or had an abortion a murderer], and you’re not going to also call Jehovah a murderer, then you have no integrity.

    This logic could apply to someone who calls Syed Farook a murderer but doesn’t call God a murderer because He “lets” people die of natural causes. It’s not specific to the abortion debate.

    I’m not really interested in getting into a discussion about when human life begins on the internet. Been there, done that.

  • Maine_Skeptic

    “The central issue I’m interested in is attempting to get you to see the flaws in the logic behind your original comment…”

    Then answer my questions. You claim your reasons for opposing all abortion are evidence-based rather than faith-based. I suspect you’re playing a shell game with terms like “human life,” and that you’ve redefined personhood to pursue religious goals while pretending to care about evidence.

    “I’m not really interested in getting into a discussion about when human life begins on the internet.”

    And I didn’t ask you to. I asked you to explain what YOU meant by terms you’re using to “attempt to get me to see the flaws in the logic” of my arguments.

  • Buhari2

    What if there is no alternative? How would you know which drugs are manufactured using fetal tissue?

  • SamHamilton

    The illogic of specifically criticizing people who oppose abortion rather than Christians (or other people of faith) in general for not considering God a murderer has nothing to do with my personal views. My personal views are irrelevant to this discussion.

  • Maine_Skeptic

    Why should I criticize all Christians, when all Christians are not lying about, harassing, and threatening abortion providers based on illogical claims about what gods want?

  • SamHamilton

    I’m not asking you to criticize other Christians. I’m attempting to point out how your argument singling out Christians who oppose abortion makes no sense when considered from a Christian perspective. Christians, in general, don’t believe God causes the death of people who die of natural causes.

  • Maine_Skeptic

    “I’m not asking you to criticize other Christians.”

    I didn’t think you were.

    “Christians, in general, don’t believe God causes the death of people who die of natural causes.”

    Christians, in general, don’t proclaim hurricanes and earthquakes to be the actions of an angry god, either. This kind of dark fantasy goes along with feeling entitled to call abortion providers “murderers” and claim they know the mind of an almighty god. When you play that kind of obscene game, someone needs to point out that you can’t have it both ways. Those who think they’re entitled to speak for Jesus that he’s sent a natural disaster for a specific reason need to own up to his callous disregard for embryos and fetuses.

  • SamHamilton

    So instead of writing this:

    And yet a disgusting number of anti-abortion people are comfortable calling total strangers “murderers” because they either had an abortion or performed one. If you’ve done so, and you’re not going to also call Jehovah a murderer, then you have no integrity.

    You probably should have written this:

    And yet some Christians who proclaim that certain hurricanes and earthquakes (e.g. Pat Robertson) are actions of an angry God and also feel entitled to call abortion providers murderers. If you’re one of them, and you’re not going to also call Jehovah a murderer, then you have no integrity.

    If you had, I wouldn’t have raised an objection, because there’s actually logical consistency here.

  • Maine_Skeptic

    I concede the point that I was unclear, if you’re comfortable with that point. My arguments are not works of great literature, carefully thought about for days before I make them. Would you agree that a lot of anti-abortion activists ascribe god’s judgment to natural events? Or do you think that’s an unfair generalization?

  • SamHamilton

    I have no statistical data on how many anti-abortion activists ascribe God’s judgement to natural events. But as an anecdote, nearly all my Christian friends oppose abortion and I’ve never heard any of them utter statements like those that Pat Robertson and others have made in the past.

  • Maine_Skeptic

    “I’ve never heard any of them utter statements like those that Pat Robertson ”

    I appreciate your answering. Do you consider abortion “murder?”

  • Buhari2

    Interesting. So I assume your children are not immunized with the vaccines from aborted fetuses?

  • If lethal violence is always wrong, it would be wrong to kill a person who is about to kill you, or someone else. Yet will you truly tell someone that killed only to save themselves or another person their action was wrong? What should they do?