Killing in the name of

Killing in the name of June 2, 2009

It would be hard to overstate the significance of the late Francis Schaeffer when it comes to the shape, tone, agenda and influence of evangelical Christianity in America.

In 1970, the Rev. Billy Graham was the face of American evangelicalism. He was a preacher and an evangelist. Graham served as a kind of unofficial — and nonpartisan — chaplain to the powerful, but he was largely non-political. When Billy came to town it wasn’t for a partisan political event, but for one of his unfortunately named “crusades” — huge mass-revival meetings in stadiums that drew support from a broad spectrum of Christian churches, including mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics. His message was upbeat, hopeful, inclusive and inspirational. (Plus he had really good music — Johnny and June and Ethel Waters.)

But by the 1980s, Graham had been eclipsed by new faces and very different voices with a very different agenda — men like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. Evangelicalism had become fiercely partisan, polarized and polarizing. It had become more a political movement than a religious one and the dominant issue — the only shibboleth or litmus test that seemed to matter — was opposition to legal abortion.

The founding myth of this new, stridently political faith says that this politicizing arose in reaction to the Roe v. Wade decision acknowledging the legal right to abortion. After “activist” judges “legislated” from the bench, evangelicals recoiled in horror and rose up, in Falwell’s phrase, to “take back America.”


But that’s not what happened. Evangelicals did not recoil in horror from Roe v. Wade. There was no outcry, scarcely any reaction at all. Randall Balmer discusses this in his book Thy Kingdom Come (see a longer excerpt here):

In the 1980s, in order to solidify their shift from divorce to abortion, the Religious Right constructed an abortion myth, one accepted by most Americans as true. Simply put, the abortion myth is this: Leaders of the Religious Right would have us believe that their movement began in direct response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Politically conservative evangelical leaders were so morally outraged by the ruling that they instantly shed their apolitical stupor in order to mobilize politically in defense of the sanctity of life. Most of these leaders did so reluctantly and at great personal sacrifice, risking the obloquy of their congregants and the contempt of liberals and “secular humanists,” who were trying their best to ruin America. But these selfless, courageous leaders of the Religious Right, inspired by the opponents of slavery in the nineteenth century, trudged dutifully into battle in order to defend those innocent unborn children, newly endangered by the Supreme Court’s misguided Roe decision.

It’s a compelling story, no question about it. Except for one thing: It isn’t true.

Although various Roman Catholic groups denounced the ruling, and Christianity Today complained that the Roe decision “runs counter to the moral teachings of Christianity through the ages but also to the moral sense of the American people,” the vast majority of evangelical leaders said virtually nothing about it; many of those who did comment actually applauded the decision. W. Barry Garrett of Baptist Press wrote, “Religious liberty, human equality and justice are advanced by the Supreme Court abortion decision.” Indeed, even before the Roe decision, the messengers (delegates) to the 1971 Southern Baptist Convention gathering in St. Louis, Missouri, adopted a resolution that stated, “we call upon Southern Baptists to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.” W.A. Criswell, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, expressed his satisfaction with the Roe v. Wade ruling. “I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became an individual person,” the redoubtable fundamentalist declared, “and it has always, therefore, seemed to me that what is best for the mother and for the future should be allowed.”

In 1973, most evangelicals regarded opposition to abortion as a Catholic Thing — and therefore vaguely suspect, as though it might lead to praying to Mary or something. But throughout the 1970s and into the ’80s, that changed. The person most responsible for that change was Francis Schaeffer. He persuaded evangelicals to adopt this issue and to get so angry about it that it would come to replace even evangelism as their hallmark concern and their pre-eminent defining characteristic. The language, the rhetoric and arguments, the moral reasoning, political tactics and activist strategies of the anti-abortion movement over the last 30 years all originate with Francis Schaeffer.

This is why, out of all the voices condemning and grappling with the meaning of the murder Sunday of Dr. George Tiller, none is more significant that that of Frank Schaeffer, Francis’ son. Without his father, there would be no Scott Roeder.

Here is Frank Schaeffer, writing at the Huffington Post, on “How I (and Other ‘Pro-Life’ Leaders) Contributed to Dr. Tiller’s Murder”:

Like many writers of moral/political/religious theories my father and I would have been shocked that someone took us at our word, walked into a Lutheran Church and pulled the trigger on an abortionist. But even if the murderer never read Dad’s or my words we helped create the climate that made this murder likely to happen.

In fact that very thing has happened before. In 1994, Dr. John Bayard Britton and one of his volunteer escorts were shot and killed outside an abortion clinic in Pensacola, Florida. Paul Hill, a former minister, was convicted of the killings and executed in 2003. Paul Hill was an avid follower of my father’s.

In 1994, as now, the mainstream evangelical groups responded to the slayings in Pensacola by saying all the right things — offering a raft of statements unambiguously denouncing the violence and condemning Paul Hill’s actions.

I remember those statements very well because I wrote one of them. In the ’90s, I was the staff writer for an evangelical — and, therefore, anti-abortion — nonprofit, and so it fell to me to write the first draft of a statement after Paul Hill’s killing spree.

The statement we wrote was consistent with what our group had been saying all along. My boss, in whose name this statement was released, was a lifelong pacifist, a devout Mennonite who has, for decades, unfailingly opposed all forms of violence. And as a good Mennonite, his rhetoric too was always studiously nonviolent — peaceable to the point of blandness, actually.

But at the same time we were drafting and issuing this statement, I was reading dozens of similar statements from other evangelical groups whose rhetoric had never been marked by anything like my boss’s Mennonite pacifism. These were groups that routinely spoke of abortion as “murder” or “mass-murder,” and that routinely spoke of legalized abortion as an “American Holocaust.” They had, for years, been using precisely the same rhetoric and making exactly the same arguments that Paul Hill was now using to attempt to justify his double homicide.

Those groups’ condemnations of Paul Hill then — like their condemnations of Scott Roeder now — ring hollow. Such condemnations seem to be self-refuting. How can they condemn men like Hill or Roeder just for taking their own arguments seriously?

Paul Hill argued that abortion was the moral equivalent of the Nazi Holocaust — just like the National Right to Life Committee, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family and dozens of other evangelical groups said it was. If that’s true, Hill said, then he wasn’t merely justified, but obligated to take up arms against abortionists. If you’re confronted with an evil equal in magnitude to that of Adolf Hitler — as all these groups insisted was the case — then surely one is obliged to do more than vote Republican every four years in the hopes of one day appointing enough judges to change the law of the land. Confronted with what all of these groups assured him was the Holocaust, he decided to become Claus von Stauffenberg.

Yet when Hill repeated their own argument and their own rhetoric back to them, these groups all recoiled. They all claimed to share Hill’s premise, but not to share his conclusion. That won’t work. Hill’s violent conclusion arose logically from that shared premise. If he was a madman to be condemned — as all those groups suddenly insisted he was — it was because of the madness of that premise. So how was it possible they could repudiate him without also repudiating that rhetoric that compelled him to act?

What I realized then, in 1994, as I watched these groups line up to condemn violence against “mass-murderers” and to renounce armed opposition to “the Holocaust,” was that these folks didn’t really mean any of it. They were horrified by the spectacle of someone taking their own rhetoric and arguments seriously. “We don’t really mean anything we say,” these groups rushed to announce. “We don’t really believe any of that.”

And since they no longer bothered to claim they believed it, I stopped trying to believe it too.

Now here we are again, 15 years later, as the arguments of the anti-abortion movement are again being proved disingenuous by their own self-refuting statements condemning the latest lethal fruit of their rhetoric of “mass-murder” and “Holocaust.” Once again some sad, disturbed man has committed the error of taking their rhetoric more seriously than it was ever meant by the people who supposedly believed it to be true.

Didn’t Scott Roeder realize that it was all just a game? Didn’t he appreciate that all this talk of Holocaust was just a gimmick to get his fellow Kansans to support a repeal of the estate tax? Didn’t he understand the difference between really believing that abortion is “mass-murder” and just indulging in the smug posturing of self-righteousness that makes the members of the Anti Kitten-Burning Coalition feel a little better about themselves?

No, apparently, he didn’t. Apparently he was just crazy enough to believe that these people meant what they said, crazy enough to believe that they believed their own words and that he should believe them too.

To believe these people — to believe that their words matter or that their words are truthful or that their arguments are made in good faith — is madness indeed.

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  • lonespark

    I think there are only 2 locations where the procedures are performed and two doctors who do it mainly but others assist? And I’m guessing some of the procedures can be performed elsewhere, depending how “late term” is defined.

  • @stinger: If you’re talking about one of the items like this, I noticed that too, but also noticed that they’re using different definitions of “late-term”. The 1.1% figure in there is for abortions after 21 weeks; it says that the legal standard after which you must have health issues for an abortion is at 24 weeks; using the standard (I think?) 13-week trimesters puts the beginning of the 3rd trimester after the 26th week. So, that could explain some of the apparent discrepancy. I’d agree that even with that, unless there’s a whole lot of them done at 21-24 weeks, something seems a bit fishy there.

  • Daughter, you’re welcome. I try not to be a jerk (at least, until I lose my temper).

  • Izzy: I don’t think benevolent is a requirement for divinity (nor even for the supreme divinity in a pantheon). A lot of what I see is a need to appease/propitate a being who isn’t all that benevolent, but can be bought off to keep the really bad things from happening.
    David: I think (having been a senior sibling, au pair, and daycare provider) the reason for justifying “discipline” of infants is it provides a justification/restraint for those moments when one is completely fed up. If one is at the point of tearing one’s hair our/wants to just be rid of the baby, having a structured set of rules on how to deal with the situation (sin/devils/other controllable thing) makes it easier to cope and less likely to go to the point of physical injury.
    It’s daft, but understandable.

  • stinger

    Thanks, lonespark and Randy Owens.

  • Hans

    Hey, I see there has been a lot of traffic and if I overlooked a response to my question, I apologize. However,
    I still wonder. Thanks, Hans

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Not really here: “I know it’s been pointed out before, but it does seem like an awful lot of the “pro-life” crowd also believe that the unborn child’s basic human rights to anything but food, oxygen and the occasional change of a diaper end as soon as they pop out of their mother’s uterus.”
    Oh, HELL yeah. Hence the sour joke, “Life begins at conception and ends at birth.”
    Witness also the same political crowd’s continual efforts to poke bigger holes in the social safety net.
    ionespark: You might like this: Norse myths in comic-book form, in a style that puts me in mind of Asterix and Obelix. They’re not terribly respectful, maybe, but pretty entertaining. Sadly, these are fan-translations–I don’t think the books are available in English.

  • Hans: I don’t see a question. Could you clarify what it is you’d like a response to?

  • Hans

    Pecunium, thanks much for your response. My question was this:

    Dear Fred,
    Thanks for this post. I happened to stumble upon a pingback of a pingback and feel fortunate I followed the rabbit trail. This was a good read. I do struggle with some of you logic and would certainly appreciate either you or your other readers weighing in on this issue.
    Both sides like to demonize those who they do not agree with; but the fact is nearly 150 million Americans self-report allegiance to each the Pro Life and Pro Choice positions. Neither group is fringe. This issue is complex and the answers not simple. Respect and tolerance seems to be lacking in abundance from both camps. Let’s each agree to do our part to try to change that.
    I hold the position that although I find the vast majority of abortions morally objectionable, I will always be unable to resort to violence. Simply put, I believe it is hypocritical to claim to be Pro Life and then commit murder. Although you would likely agree, it seems you are also contending the opposite is true. “I watched these groups line up to condemn violence against “mass-murderers” and to renounce armed opposition to “the Holocaust,” was that these folks didn’t really mean any of it.” If I am reading clearly, When I don’t act via any means necessary then I too, am hypocritical.
    It seems you are advocating the only internally consistent philosophy is Pro Choice; and I’m just not ready to accept that.
    Thanks for a great article!

  • Hans: I read that the first time, I followed the link back to the comment.
    Where is the question?

  • The Oracle

    “In 1973, most evangelicals regarded opposition to abortion as a Catholic Thing — and therefore vaguely suspect,….”
    Hmmmmm, I wonder if this is why certain evangelical conservatives have worked so hard over the past decades at packing the U.S. Supreme Court with Catholics?
    And if Judge Sotomayor is confirmed, two-thirds of the justices on the Supreme Court will be Catholic, with the fate of Roe v. Wade and the reproductive freedom of freedom-loving American women hinging on just how conservative a Catholic Judge Sotomayor is.

  • Hans

    Hi Pecunium, Sorry I’m being unclear.
    Is the article advocating the only internally consistent philosophy to be Pro Choice?
    Thanks, Hans

  • Dash

    Hans, the blog post is not suggesting that pro-life cannot be a consistent philosophy. It does suggest that a particular set of pro-lifers were, for rhetorical purposes, using language that did not accurately reflect their beliefs.

  • Dash

    Also, Hans, you may want to check those numbers. We have only 309 million people as of this year, and since many are children, we can’t very well have both 150 million pro-lifers and 150 million pro-choicers. As it happens, most people want some restrictions on abortion and few want it banned altogether, but you can get whatever numbers you want (including Ann Coulter’s 150 million pro-life number) by how you ask the question and count the results.

  • @Mabus: Umm… if I may offer one last bit of advice, next time you feel like you’re drowning in a sea of unfamiliar arguments and barely have time to take a breath, much less consider rebuttals, try saying something like, “These points are all completely new to me and I need some time to parse them all. Thank you for laying these things out, but I can’t provide any answers just now.” I do recall you’d said something like this on a previous thread, and while I had to curb my “flail impatiently and demand answers” impulse, I could respect that. It definitely works better than, “Fine, black is white and I’ll get killed in the next zebra crossing! Gone forever!
    …Come to think of it, maybe the “black vs. white” thing is the root of the problem.
    @Kit Whitfield:

    You’re a candy bar, a porn film, a thing whose reactions are only relevant insofar as they need to be knocked aside so the attacker can get to what they want.

    Somewhat off-topic, but I believe you’ve just nailed the reason I feel such intense loathing for pick-up artists.

    He uses the analogy of the earth and the sun. People used to believe that the sun went around the earth because we were special. Today, we know that the earth is just one of many things that goes around the sun. This doesn’t make Earth irrelevant, as there are a lot of unique and special things about Earth, but it doesn’t make it the reason everything else is there, either.

    Now this is a pretty awesome statement.
    Also: how about “Invisible Jewish Guy in the Sky”? Or just “Jewish Guy in the Sky”? I think it has a nice ring.

  • Nenya

    ShifterCat, quoting Kit and then commenting hirself:
    You’re a candy bar, a porn film, a thing whose reactions are only relevant insofar as they need to be knocked aside so the attacker can get to what they want.
    Somewhat off-topic, but I believe you’ve just nailed the reason I feel such intense loathing for pick-up artists.

    YES. This exactly.
    (I am lurking with a vengeance on both this thread and the pie one. So many people saying so many thoughtful things, and I have little to add except that I’m actually getting ideas to think about from these threads, instead of feeling yelled at. And I’m very pro-choice with a fair bit of pro-life noises yelling in the back of my head, FWIW.)

  • Hans: No.
    Did that help? :)
    Ok, a bit more seriously. There are lots of consistent ways to be non pro-choice. Most of the anti-choice people don’t follow any of them.
    If abortion is murder, then the only exceptions have to be those where the fetus is doomed anyway.
    If abortion is murder, then women who get them should be charged with murder, as should doctors who provide them (except in situations where the murder is justified, see above).
    If abortion is murder, people who help a woman to get one should be charged with either accessory, or conspiracy to commit, murder.
    Rape/Incest, etc. are not valid reasons to commit murder, and so no exception should exist.
    Women who leave the country to get an abortion, and those who knowingly aided her, should be charged with murder.
    Those are the easy parts of consistent.
    If abortion prevention is part of the goal, then comprehensive sex-ed needs to be taught, because where there is comprehensive sex-ed, there are fewer abortions.
    If, however, one doesn’t believe in those things, then pro-choice is the more consistent position; even if one is anti-abortion.

  • Leum

    This chart summarizes the inconsistencies of believing abortion is murder with the policies advocated for by most pro-life groups.
    In case the linky fails it’s:

  • @Hans: FYI, in my time following Slacktivist, I don’t think Fred has ever actually participated in a comment thread. He has, on a few occasions, taken something from a comment thread and made a post of or about it. So, I wouldn’t hold my breath, if I were you.

  • ElZorroViejo

    Hmmm…OK, I’m a little late with this, but I think it is relevant. Thirty years ago, which was just 5 years after Roe v Wade, my wife had an abortion. Now, at the time she was already quite ill with a chronic disease. She was taking medicine that doctors (even the quack who was treating her at the time) told her was extremely dangerous for an embryo but which she needed to take. We agonized over this for as long as it was safe for her, and then decided that we had to do what was best for her. This decision tore both of our hearts. She had her abortion and two weeks later, I had a vasectomy because I would not endanger her again. That decision, btw, was one we arrived at together. Three months later, she was in the hospital, weighing all of 78 pounds, and at death’s door. She had a brilliant surgeon who save her life in an immediate sense, and also corrected, for the most part, the condition which was afflicting her. She has gone on to have raise our three kids (by previous marriages: two hers and one his) and have a fulfilling career in education. The thing is, if she hadn’t had that abortion, in all probability she would not have lived another four months, and our children would have lost their mother.
    Now, notice I said “in all probability”. I am not 100% certain that she would not have survived. It is possible that the hormone change women go through during pregnancy could have sent her condition into remission. In her prior two pregnancies, her condition had either gone into remission or at least been mitigated in its severity. So, it is possible she could have survived. And, not being God, I don’t know for certain that the drugs she was taking would have harmed the fetus. Chances are that they would have, but we just can’t say for certain. However, given all this, I think we made the right decisions at the time.
    A year after her surgery, she was off all medications. We probably could have had a child together, but I had had that vasectomy which, we were told, should be considered permanent. So, to this day one of our great sorrows is that we never had a child together. I adopted her children, so they are mine…I love them no less than I love my daughter by my first marriage. When I think about them, my three children, I am content that we did what was right.
    This is what it all should be about. An abortion should require of the potential parents deep soul searching and, if they are so inclined, prayer. It should be a decision that is probably the most momentous decision that they make in their lives. It should be a decision that alters their lives forever. It should not be a form of casual after-the-fact birth control. However, it should be available to every woman as an option. Period.
    Rather than call doctors who provide this medical procedure murders and spend all their resources denouncing the providers and the women who use their services as evil, what the Pro-life people should be doing is providing moral instruction as to why one should not consider abortion. And they should be providing some viable form of instruction on how to stop unwanted pregnancies before they begin. (For what it is worth, abstinence does, in fact, stop unwanted pregnancies. Now, if those good people can figure out some way of making abstinence work for the majority of the human race who want nothing more than to practice non-abstinence, they’ll have my support. Unfortunately, “just say no” is not the answer…)

  • Thank you for your story, ElZorroViejo.

  • sophia8

    My wife found the alcohol issue especially bizarre. She’s a historian, and did a research project once on the rhetoric of safety and risk surrounding birth, so she got pretty familiar with the actual medical studies on the topic. And the studies showing the correlation between alcohol consumption and fetal risk are… well, nonexistent. There seriously aren’t any. Most of the warnings people give are essentially based on studies that compare alcoholics to teetotalers. So, hmm, I wonder if there are other factors there. Yes, if you get stone drunk every night, you will increase the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome. Yet even well-meaning people who are trying to be reasonable will at best say things like “Well, I guess it’s the woman’s choice,” with the underlying assumption that it’s a terrible choice that is putting the baby at severe risk.
    She showed me one article, I think it was in the NYT, that talked some about this. The content of the article was about how in France, most pregnant women drink, and in fact it’s common for doctors to recommend a glass of wine a day for pregnant women. And that despite this, occurrences of FAS are no higher than in the US. But someone (the reporter? the editor?) apparently didn’t understand the implications of those statistics, because the title of the article was something like “French mothers unaware of alcohol risks”… *facepalm*.

    Thanks for that info, David. I’ve long felt that the alcohol/FAS connection was weak, and that it’s part of the whole “pregnant women must be controlled” syndrome. I read somewhere (unfortunately, I’ve no idea where) that FAS could be the result of severe Vitamin B depletion at a crucial stage of fetal development. According to this theory, alcohol depletes Vit B in the body, but a healthy pregnant woman who eats well and doesn’t binge-drink every night has no problem with deficiency; however, with women at the bottom end of the social scale, who can’t afford to eat properly and who may already suffer from chronic pernicious anaemia, this depletion becomes enough to harm their babies.
    Does your wife know of any studies that have been done comparing the rate of FAS amongst socio-economic groups? Since alcoholism/binge-drinking is spread fairly evenly throughout the population, this would be a pretty simple way of proving (or not) that FAS is primarily caused by alcohol consumption.

  • Majromax

    Re: Pecunium above
    First of all, you missed one point: if abortion is murder, then women of fertile age who have not been sterilized should be prohibited from taking tetragenic or abortificent medications for medical conditions.
    To be fair, there are also other consistent anti-abortion stances. The ones that see abortion as “bad, but not as bad as murder” can even explain most of the lobbying goals.
    To my outsider’s view, the most common practical standard is that “abortion is really bad, and on the balance any suffering of the pregnant woman is temporary so she should suck it up for nine months.”
    *) Abortions of a fatally damaged/deformed fetus would be okay
    *) Abortions to save the life of the mother would probably be okay
    *) Pregnancies that result in deep psychological trauma, such as the rape/incest pregnancies, are not clear one way or the other.
    *) Those who provide assistance might not be charged with anything, or at least nothing worse than a misdemeanor.
    This sort of opposition would still require women who get an abortion to be prosecuted. So this approach also leads to forensic gynecologists.
    Also, this approach as a more tenuous philosophical merit. If one believes that a fetus is already a child, then a murder-severity is called for. If one instead believes that a fetus is merely a “potential child,” then it’s open to counter arguments from both sides. Also, “potential child” thinking would also demand near-complete opposition to contraceptives, which is not required in the “actual child” camp.

  • David

    @sophia8: I don’t think she does, since her focus was more on how people use the rhetoric of “risk” around birth (there’s a lot of things that doctors basically have to do, even though studies show that they don’t help or even sometimes hurt, because the perception is that to do otherwise would involve risk [and hence liability])… but she wasn’t trying to establish the real cause of various problems, since she’s a historian and not a doctor :) In history of science, the focus is much more on how scientific research is used and why rather than on whether it is “correct.” But I’d be surprised if there weren’t demographic studies of FAS somewhere…

  • Ms. Anon E. Mouse, Esq.

    I think one can be anti-abortion/pro-life and not equate abortion with murder, per se. This seems internally consistent with disagreeing without violence.
    Or, one could be a strict pacifist, and so believe that no use of violence is ever acceptable (which would imply that violence towards mothers or doctors would be as wrong as violence towards embryos).
    Or, one could believe that following the law is the highest ethical good, and so killing a mass-murderer outside of the law would be more wrong than letting him keep murdering. I’ve never met anyone who truly believes this, but I’m willing to admit that someone might.
    The problem is, most public pro-life rhetoric is said by people who aren’t strict pacifists (many go beyond even just war theory) and who see a populist overthrow of bad government as appropriate (c.f. the american revolution). So then, how can these people believe that abortion clinics are producing genocides and not believe that the most moral solution is to assassinate the doctors?

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Ms. Anon: Because other people being HORRIBLY MURDERED is less important to them than them living a comfortable life, maybe?

  • hf

    In fairness, most people with traditionalist authoritarian attitudes do have a strong respect for the law. But not the sub-group with the most violent tendencies.

  • Also, “potential child” thinking would also demand near-complete opposition to contraceptives, which is not required in the “actual child” camp.
    Er, why does thinking of a fetus as a potential child demand opposition to contraceptives? That makes no sense at all to me.

  • This column, in the WashPost, is spot on to the conversation here.
    My Choice
    It’s about a woman who was anti-choice, has changed her mind; still thinks abortions are a tragedy, and is planning to perform them as a physician.
    I agree that ending an unwanted pregnancy is a tragedy. When I advocate for reproductive rights, for choice, I don’t claim that abortion is morally acceptable. I think that it’s a very private, intensely personal decision. But I was stunned when one of my professors, a pathologist and a Planned Parenthood supporter, told me that decades ago, entire wings of the university’s hospital were filled with women dying from infections caused by botched abortions. It’s clear that women who don’t want to be pregnant won’t be deterred by limited access to providers or to clinics. And I believe that it’s immoral to let them die rather than provide them with safe, competent care.

  • Majormax: No, the only reason to avoid them would be if she were pregnant. As it stands there are any number of drugs which are, effectively prohibited from fertile women becuase of the tetragenic effects.
    Things which require a woman to be on the pill, or depo-provera, sign a waiver and be really careful/get regular pregnancy tests.
    There’s no reason, inside an abortion = murder regime, such controls couldn’t be implemented.

  • That is an excellent article, Pecunium.

  • Pecunium, I’m sorry to be pedantic, but it’s teratogenic. Tetragenic would mean something like “causing quads”.

  • Majromax

    Re: MadG
    The misspelling was initially my bad above. Thanks for the correction!
    Re: Pecunium
    I’m not so sure that an abortion=murder regime would consider chemical contraception “good enough” at stopping “negligent homicide” when permanent, surgical options are available. Especially when the abortion=murder crowd now (generally) overstates contraceptive failure rates.

  • Froborr

    I think at this point saying more about abortion would be repeating myself, but I continue to read everyone’s comments and think about them.
    I still don’t understand the idea that there must be a guilty party every time there’s a victim, but thank you for talking about it, Daughter, Hobbes, et al. Now I understand why some people respond so vehemently and (to me) incomprehensibly to that argument and can modify my use of it. Nonetheless, I think it remains true (as several women on this forum have pointed out), that forced pregnancy can feel like rape to the woman concerned.
    @Mabus: Whatever happened to the stubborn, unreasonable Mabus who nonetheless gave a good argument and kept we godless liberals on our toes with his insider’s view of social conservatism? If this kind of hissy fit is what you’ve been reduced to, by all means, take your ball and go home. Over the years of Slacktivist, you’ve gotten no worse than anybody else here. Hell, I’ve been almost exactly in your shoes: I picked out something that many people here have done, which I find both viscerally repulsive and immoral, argued its immorality (though I didn’t think it should be banned), and got hammered by a dozen angry responders who were deeply offended by my comments. I still think I’m right, they still think I’m wrong, and I’m still here. In short: This isn’t an echo chamber or the Stroke Mabus’ Ego Club. Suck it up and deal, or else have the decency not to make a big whiny production of it when you go.
    On “Jew in the sky”: It’s offensive to traditionalist Jews because it implies that God is himself a Jew. He isn’t; he’s God, and Jews are humans, and to suggest that God could be a human is offensive. Also, God doesn’t live in the sky, at least not any more than he lives anywhere else.
    It’s offensive to all Jews, not just traditionalist, because it equates the brutal legal code of a literal reading of the Torah with modern Judaism, which couldn’t be farther from the truth — even the most Orthodox Jews agree that corporal punishment and the death penalty appear far too often in the Torah as written, and aren’t applicable in modern society.
    Also because it’s virtually always used by Christian atheists of the Dawkins/Hitchens ilk — angry proselytizers (antiselytizers?) whose entire knowledge of religion comes from what they’ve picked up by osmosis, which is to say the loudest versions of Christianity and the cartoon mass media versions of Islam and Judaism, with little to no recognition that those two are separate religions from Christianity, let alone that religions outside the “Abrahamic” tradition exist.
    Which gets me off on another rant about how that term’s a misnomer, and Christianity really has more in common with classical philosophy and Egyptian mystery cults than it does with the more clearly interrelated Judaism and Islam, but I think 2 1/2 rants is enough for one comment.

  • lonespark

    People who use the term “Judeo-Christian” in my Toastmaster’s group will feel my Grammarian’s wrath.
    I like Abrahamic. You are right about Christian practice, and I guess Christian theology, but I can’t think of a better way of talking about monotheisms with similar roots that all use a similar corpus of sacred texts.

  • lonespark

    If anyone is still reading this one…
    Brad Hicks isn’t letting people call themselves “pro-life” or “pro-choice” in his comments, and the comments to the post announcing the banning of said terms is a discussion of possible better labels.
    I guess I should have said I’m in favor of repruductive rights and justice. But I wish there was a short, snappy way to say that.

  • Froborr

    There is a term for that: “pro-choice.” Just like there’s a term for opposing abortion: “pro-life.” It doesn’t matter that combining the usual meaning of “life” with the usual meaning of the prefix “pro-” implies a different meaning: usage determines definition, not etymology. Arguments that a word “really” means something else because of its etymology or “original meaning” are linguistically naive, not to mention pedantic and stupid.
    At this point, virtually any fluent speaker of English will recognize that “pro-choice” refers to opponents of laws against abortion and “pro-life” refers to supporters of such laws. Therefore, that’s what those words mean.
    While Hicks is within his rights to put whatever arbitrary rules he likes in place at his journal, this one’s particularly silly.

  • Froborr

    And yeah, “Judeo-Christian” makes about as much sense as “Judeo-Shinto.” I don’t even like the term Abrahamic, because I don’t think Christianity should even be in the same family of religions as Judaism, Islam, and B’hai. I really think you’ve got the Semitic monotheisms on the one hand, and the classical Greco-Roman religions on the other, of which Christianity is the only survivor. It may have originated as a Jewish heresy, but it went on to borrow so much from Greco-Roman philosophy and the mystery cults that only cosmetic features of Judaism survive.
    Unfortunately, you can’t really use common ancestry as a basis for classifying religions; there’s too much lateral gene transfer (in a metaphorical sense) for a cladistic approach to work.

  • On the subject of the anti-abortion lobby’s lies, Amanda Marcotte got her hands on a training manual from a group called Justice For All on how to talk to people at protests and on campuses. It’s a doozy: they encourage members to dodge and waffle when asked, “Why don’t you promote condom use?” and it even has a section headed, “Sound Bites for Showing Concern”. More here.

  • Shifter Cat: The “Trot Out the Toddler” scares me. These people honestly believe that performing a single abortion is the same thing as going to a preschool and firing on DOZENS of children for no good reason. The twisting of logic that is required to equate one stranger’s life (even assuming the fetus has human rights) to the lives of dozens of children you can see and put a face on is monstrous.

  • Not Really Here

    ShifterCat- I must say that one of the things that shifted me from being politically pro-life to politically pro-choice was the fact that the pro-life crowd seems so willing to resort do deception and outright lies when it comes to the reasons women have abortions, particularly late-term abortions.
    They throw words around like “inconvenient”, as though a pregnant woman is thinking, “Oh, the baby’s due in October? But I’m planning on going on a Carribean cruise that month, I can’t have a baby.” It’s insulting to women who find themselves in extremely difficult circumstances and trivializes the issue.
    I got to the point where I found myself thinking, “OK, if the people I agree with on moral grounds have to resort to lies to try to persuade others to come around to their way of thinking, and vote in legislators who will pass laws restricting abortion, maybe I’m on the wrong side of the issue.”
    I’m funny that way.

  • The SF Chronicle has what looks like an editorial on the connection of extremist speech with Dr. Tiller’s murder.
    As usual, it’s best for one’s blood pressure not to read the comments after the story. There are bad things for your health in there. Almost 300 of them.

  • Diez

    Alright, guys, I hate to resurrect this, but I need your help. I’ve been talking to my mother about her abortion and her position on the subject is… interesting, to say the least. Here is a quote from an email she sent me.
    “In the
    case of medical necessity son, which is where you say it is ok, and I do
    too, you will not have to go to an abortion clinic to have that done. Your
    medical doctor and your hospital WILL do it. They may call it a D&C, but
    they will do it or you will carry the baby to term, and birth and then they
    will do a D&C.”
    She seems to think that the root of the evil is Abortion Clinics and the fact that abortion is so easy to get. That if you REALLY needed an abortion, your hospital will do it, because all OB-GYNs are trained to do a D&C. She also seems to think that abortion and D&C are the same thing. Ummm… I’m really lost here. Are they? Can someone help me out here?

  • sharky

    Diez: link her to this. There are bunches more testimonials online, including the case of a nine-year-old raped girl who couldn’t get an abortion anywhere else.
    The last time I was in a large-scale discussion on abortion, it was with roaming groups of college students. I’d just finished explaining my view (which is that human development is a continuum, not a yes/no, and you really can’t treat a two-week-old human the same as you would anyone able to survive outside the womb. And we don’t; not even pro-lifers do, when you get down to it.)
    I’d just finished explaining all the implications of pro-lifers attitudes, and how I can’t see something as a person when it’s capable of melding with another pre-formation human and being one new person, or suddenly splitting into two people, or might die at any moment because the mother’s body ditched it or it suddenly realized it had an irreparable genetic mistake and had an out of cheese error.
    And then someone else walked up while I was talking about later-term fetuses and was like “when did it get to be a person?” like they’d found the crashingly illogical part of my argument instead of walking in and reacting reflexively to something they took as a buzzword. I never got to make my point.
    This was the same time a few students got sick of my depressing real-life examples of women who are most likely to have abortions, and said “but all these cases are so BAD!” and didn’t want to discuss them. It was like it had never dawned on them that women didn’t have abortions because they were so happy to be pregnant.
    …and the same time that the anti-abortion demonstrator casually admitted to me an illegal move that the protestors had done, and I caught the entire display in a lie and sat there with a sign revealing it for two hours in the hot sunshine. The leader yelled at me that I was a liar and then did his best to ignore me. Good times, good times.

  • Diez

    Thank you for the link.
    The more I look at Dr. Tiller’s information, the more it seems to me that it cannot have possibly been money that motivated him to do what he did. His clinic was bombed, he was shot in both arms… and yet he continued to do what he did. Apparently, he was going to be a dermatologist. Any sane person who just wanted to make money and have a peaceful life would have abandoned his practice after such trauma, and gone with the safer career choice (I don’t see anyone threatening to murder dermatologists… perhaps I’m not looking hard enough?). He kept going. There HAD to be something else there.

  • Jenny Islander: Here is a link to the blog of a single mother who chose to have a near-term C-section to deliver her anencephalic daughter and provide comfort without heroic measures for as long as she might live. What happened afterward is difficult to believe, except that there are dozens of video clips and photos.

    On the other hand, there’s the new case of a very similar blog about a terminally ill fetus that the mother was going to deliver anyway, except that in this case it turned out to be a hoax. Got lots of support from advertisers and pro-lifers until the big reveal, though.,0,5601624.story

  • anonymous

    “Safe, legal and rare” sounds great – just let women decide and they will try for as infrequent as they can manage.

  • I’m posting solely for the Googlers who stumble across this long since dormant set of comments. I don’t think I can crack this hermetically sealed echo chamber.
    Mabus hit it above and no one here refuted it. “The argument Fred makes fails to understand the internal fundamentalist logic of submission to the government. The use of violence is the one thing that fundamentalist churches all agree must always be confined to the state and to immediate self-defense. It is the state’s monopoly on violence that keeps justice from turning into private vengeance. Occasionally one finds divergences from this position where fundamentalism has hybridized with survivalism, but these are very much in the minority…”
    This is why in 15 years you have 2 dead abortion providers killed by American Evangelicals. Yet you have “100 million Evangelicals” and no widespread terrorist movement. More interesting is the fact that there are 100s of millions more Evangelicals around the world, yet not one of them has killed a single abortion doctor. Ever. Even when those Evangelicals have formed armed rebel groups as part of their ethnic identity to fight against an oppressive government, they still have not killed abortion doctors. Possibly, just possibly, it is only when evangelicalism is snycretized with America’s Lone Ranger culture that violence erupts, but really we don’t have a lot of examples from which to learn.
    In addition, it’s strange, I don’t see website authors like this one, ever once offer a mea culpas for the hundreds of executions and tens of thousands of imprisonments of Evangelicals in Eritrea, North Korea, China, Vietnam, etc. done in the name of protecting the state from a dangerous religion. A dangerous religion as mass media propoganda so forcefully declare here in The West based on the actions of 2 guys in 15 years.

  • Erl

    1) Fred was asking how the anti-abortion movement can remain intellectually honest and oppose violence. While saying “because they believe that the government trumps their morality” could explain that, it’s frankly not a very appealing image. That implies that they would collaborate with any oppressive regime because of the inherent rightness of the state.
    2) Do you know what this blog is? Fred is an evangelical, not a North Korean despot. If anyone needs to apologize for Kim Jong Il’s actions, it’s evangelicals like those you describe, who would go along with anything the government ordered, because they have the power. But nobody has to apologize for what he did–only he does.
    3) Mass media propaganda declares evangelical christianity a dangerous religion? Hoooo boy.
    Sorry to reignite: I just worked my way through to the end of this and for lurkers like me, trying not to write a paper, I didn’t want PlaidShirt to have the last word.