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Christianity, Culture, Politics

Abortion: It’s Not Really About Murder

I’ve been doing some thinking about the anti-abortion position, and asking myself some basic questions:

  • What do anti-abortionists say they believe?
  • What do anti-abortionists do?
  • Are these two things consistent?

As far as I can tell, what they do and what they say are at odds.  Either they do not really believe abortion is murder, or I hold them in absolute moral contempt for hypocricy and… well… murder.  Let me explain.

The main argument from anti-abortionists goes something like this:  A fetus is equivalent to a human being and is deserving of the same protections of law.  Therefore, an abortion is equivalent to murder.  It is murder.  And that’s why a woman’s right to choose ends with the existence of a fetus inside her. This is what they say they believe.

What do they do?

  • They make policies allowing abortion in cases of rape and incest.  This is inconsistent with believing abortion is murder.  If Casey Anthony had proven that Caylee’s conception was the result of rape, would we have dismissed the murder charges out of hand?
  • They dismiss the “murders” committed by their own.  Rick Santorum’s wife Karen had a second trimester abortion.  Curiously, nobody’s picketing her house calling her a murderer.  Nobody’s suggesting that Rick was an accessory to murder and therefore unfit for political leadership.  In fact, lots of people — anti-abortionists included — are defending Karen’s decision as “difficult, but acceptable.”  Perhaps Karen’s case could be called “self defense,” but the point is still valid:  When anti-abortionists have abortions, they are usually just reprimanded and forgiven.
  • Which brings up a very important point.  What are anti-abortionists proposing as a penalty for women who have abortions?  If abortion equals murder, then the punishment ought to be the same.  For premeditated murder (abortion is premeditated by definition), it’s often death.  If not death, it’s life in prison.  Why aren’t anti-abortionists proposing death for abortion?
  • According to anti-abortionists, the new life begins when the egg and sperm unite.  If this is true, why are anti-abortionists so opposed to birth control?  Granted, there are a couple (only a couple) of abortifacient birth control methods, but most prevent the union of the egg and sperm.  No creation of life, and therefore, no possibility of murder.  Why wouldn’t anti-abortionists be strong supporters of birth control use, distribution, and education?
  • According to their own beliefs, they routinely commit murder.  Protestant women account for almost 40% of abortions in the U.S.  Add in Catholics and you’ve accounted for nearly 70% of all abortions in the U.S.  If they really, genuinely believe it’s murder, then they’re committing murder at a rate that would make Pol Potswell with pride.

These inconsistencies are puzzling.  The anti-abortion lobby is vehement, angry, and persistent.  They have introduced over 1000 bills in state and federal legislatures to restrict women’s rights, de-fund abortion providers, and intimidate doctors.  Why, with all this fervor, are they being so soft on the actual act of abortion?  And why are they so opposed to programs which would reduce abortions — like condom distribution and sex education (both of which have been proven to work all over the world)?

READ THE REST ON EXAMINER.COMhttp://www.examiner.com/atheism-in-atlanta/abortion-is-it-really-about-murder

Discussion

16 thoughts on “Abortion: It’s Not Really About Murder

  1. I find highly religious people to be emotional predators. They’ll pick and choose their battles like their scripture except they’ll only pick battles against people they think they can publicly shame or terrorize.

    Posted by Gerald | July 6, 2011, 3:29 pm
  2. Excellent points in all. I recommend reading the original political orientation of Planned Parenthood by its founder–it was never an issue of “abortion” or “life”–it was an issue of who was allowed to control knowledge and who was allowed to make medical decisions for women.

    Posted by Michael Scott | July 6, 2011, 4:31 pm
  3. Thanks for your thoughts on this.

    I’m a complete and utter atheist and a liberal, left-of-centre West European, so you would expect me to be pro-abortion. However, I am opposed to abortion.

    Leaving loaded words such as “murder” aside, the crucial question to me is: Is abortion ethically justified? This boils down to the question of whether a foetus/embryo is human. As far as I can see (and I’ve done some reading on the issue), there is no particular cut-off point where an embryo/foetus suddenly morphs from a non-human to a human. A foetus may be less developed in its early stages, but you could also argue that a newborn baby is less developed than a toddler. That hardly means that killing a newborn baby is more justified than killing an older, more developed child. The only real cut-off point between non-human and human is conception.

    It seems to be the received wisdom among most people whose opinions are otherwise similar to mine that abortion is just fine and dandy — if I remember correctly, studies have found that the majority of abortions in the US are a form of contraception. Sex-selective abortion has become very widespread and is causing lop-sided sex ratios in many Asian countries, with myriad attendant social problems.

    But the key question remains: Is abortion ethically justifiable. My answer is ‘no’ and people of our ilk should do a radical rethink on the issue. If you think about it long and hard enough on an ethical basis, I think you will come to the same conclusion.

    Posted by Paul | July 6, 2011, 4:35 pm
  4. Saying abortion is murder is like saying fur is murder.

    You don’t have to think it’s murder to find it morally repulsive. Only in extreme circumstances should it be allowed. Not because it’s murder but because it’s still bad.

    It isn’t about controlling sex, at least not for me. If you think it is, take my advice: If you must have sex, just go gay. That way you won’t have to consider an abortion.

    I don’t even think they’re about sex because absitience only education fails,seeing as the sex rate of those students are the same as any other. It’s because they’re control freaks, the fact that it relates to sex is abritrary.

    This abortion=murder has to stop and this abortion=control argument has to go with it.

    Posted by cptpineapple | July 6, 2011, 7:54 pm
  5. Thanks Paul, it’s nice to see another atheist against abortion.

    Posted by cptpineapple | July 7, 2011, 9:45 pm
  6. Well, duh.
    #1. Yes, obviously they lie about considering it murder.
    #2. Ah, but if you are pregnant yourself, the situation is, of course, different. You aren’t like them others. It’s a special case. After the last murder of an abortion doctor, I read a longish report about one of his colleagues. He told the journalist stories of women coming in for late term abortions who had earlier been protesting in front of the clinic, and one about a young girl who actually called him and his staff murderers right before her own scheduled abortion. If memory serves, in that case he showed her the door.
    #3. I remember reading elsewhere that some young people went up to anti-abortion protesters, asked them this question (what would you suggest as a penalty) and drew a complete blank. Apparently, most of the protesters would not even want any punishment for the women who chose to have an abortion once they think it through. Perhaps they mostly see the doctors as the bad guys.
    #4. Because it is not really about murder, as you say. It is about controlling the sexuality and reproductive choices of women.
    #5. Well, not everybody who is protestant or catholic is an opponent of abortion. In Germany, I would suspect only a minority of protestants is.

    Paul, your skin is human. Going by that logic, you should not brush or scratch any of it off (let alone amputate a limb as a medical procedure). Yes, development is gradual, and there is no one second at which a switch is flipped and we have a person. But that does not change the fact that a foetus in the first few weeks isn’t a person, and that is the point.

    Posted by Alex SL | July 9, 2011, 9:46 am
  7. You mean religious people are more likely to commit abortion?

    Posted by Teguh Budimulia | November 1, 2011, 4:09 am
  8. Yes. Religious people have more abortions than atheists. The most likely reason is that atheists are better about using contraception so they have less unwanted pregnancies.

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | November 3, 2011, 6:35 pm
  9. AlexSL wrote:
    “Paul, your skin is human. Going by that logic, you should not brush or scratch any of it off (let alone amputate a limb as a medical procedure).”
    Human cells are “human” but they are not human beings.
    When my skin sloughs off dead cells, my hairs fall out and are replaced, they are dead human cells and human hairs (that are composed of cells that were alive when in the root) but they are not human beings.
    Presenting this argument makes you appear foolish and tends to obscure other points you make that may be valid.

    Posted by Mac | November 24, 2011, 1:40 pm
  10. The standard applied to pro-lifers/anti-abortists is not applied consistently.
    Anti-death penalty activists generally preach that putting criminals to death is murder.
    Many anti-executionists write articles, letters to the editor, letters to politicians, give radio and TV interviews, picket courthouses and prisons, but I have not heard of a single anti-executionist who has actually attempted to physically rescue any condemned persons from the death chamber, from death row, from the transport convoys, from jails or from courthouses.
    They either are not willing to sacrifice their own freedom, or lives, for their causes, or they justify their inaction by the excuse that they have no likelihood of success.
    Likely Telemachus did not imagine that his action would result in the ending of the gladiatorial spectacles in the coliseum. Nevertheless he did not merely talk, write or encourage the gladiators and lions to stop. He sacrificed his liberty and, in his case, his life, for the cause of ending the spectacle of murder for entertainment.
    Who condemns anti-death penalty activists for not raising up an army to overwhelm the forces of the state to stop executions?

    Posted by Mac | November 24, 2011, 1:53 pm
  11. “Religious people have more abortions than atheists.”
    Even if true, this is meaningless.
    Many, and I would venture, most religious people’s religion does not absolutely forbid abortion. How can those whose religions do not prohibit abortion be smeared because they accept abortion at least under some conditions?
    LLWAN assumes that being “religious” means being opposed to abortion under all circumstances. And opposed to the degree that they will not do it.

    Posted by Mac | November 24, 2011, 1:57 pm
  12. CPTP wrote:
    “Only in extreme circumstances should [abortion] be allowed.”
    And just what circumstances are “extreme?”
    Few women obtain abortions for entertainment or just to be able to say they have had one. ALL (almost all) women who get their babies killed (whether you think it murder or not) believe THEIR OWN circumstances are “extreme.”

    Posted by Mac | November 24, 2011, 2:01 pm
  13. CPTP wrote:
    “Saying abortion is murder is like saying fur is murder.”
    Abortion of an animal, sure. That’s not murder any more than killing one for meat, wool, fur or other parts.
    Taking fur isn’t murder unless you kill a human (BEING-ALEXSL) to get his or her fur. The barber cuts part of my “fur” off and that isn’t murder.
    Shearing sheep for their “fur” (wool) doesn’t even kill or harm the sheep. Combing our yak for her underwool doesn’t kill or harm her, either. And it doesn’t bother our yak we had slaughtered for my daughter to have its hide for a bed cover.
    If your religion or quasi-religious philosophy can’t/won’t discern between humans (BEINGS) and nonhuman creatures, we can’t have much of a discussion. It soon gets down to a shouting match

    Posted by Mac | November 24, 2011, 2:42 pm
  14. ALEX SL point #3: No one has ever asked me this when I was picketing. If they had, they wouldn’t have received a blank stare.
    Justice Blackmun, author of the Roe v. Wade decision, pointed this out – that none of the pro-life amici proposed that the aborting mother should be treated as a murderess. Not did they propose that the abortionist should receive the same penalty as other first-degree premeditated murderer, but would restore the pre-Roe penalties, mostly fines, license suspensions, and short jail terms.
    Read Blackmun in the text at note 49 and his footnote 54. Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973)
    The aborting mother, who (or her parent) is the solicitor for an abortion, has never been held to account as a solicitor and principal for murder of her progeny.

    Posted by Mac | November 24, 2011, 2:51 pm
  15. I’ve been doing some thinking about the anti-abortion position, and asking myself some basic questions:

    •What do anti-abortionists say they believe?
    •What do anti-abortionists do?
    •Are these two things consistent?
    As far as I can tell, what they do and what they say are at odds. Either they do not really believe abortion is murder, or I hold them in absolute moral contempt for hypocricy and… well… murder. Let me explain.

    The main argument from anti-abortionists goes something like this: A fetus is equivalent to a human being and is deserving of the same protections of law. Therefore, an abortion is equivalent to murder. It is murder. And that’s why a woman’s right to choose ends with the existence of a fetus inside her. This is what they say they believe.

    [A human fetus is a human being. Anything is "equivalent" to itself.]

    What do they do?

    •They make policies allowing abortion in cases of rape and incest. This is inconsistent with believing abortion is murder. If Casey Anthony had proven that Caylee’s conception was the result of rape, would we have dismissed the murder charges out of hand?

    [Individuals of most cause groups do and say things that are inconsistent with the group's stated positions.]

    •They dismiss the “murders” committed by their own. Rick Santorum’s wife Karen had a second trimester abortion. Curiously, nobody’s picketing her house calling her a murderer.

    [She is not a habitual repeat offender. The point is not to publicly accuse people of murder; it is to get them to stop murdering.]

    Nobody’s suggesting that Rick was an accessory to murder and therefore unfit for political leadership. In fact, lots of people — anti-abortionists included — are defending Karen’s decision as “difficult, but acceptable.” Perhaps Karen’s case could be called “self defense,” but the point is still valid: When anti-abortionists have abortions, they are usually just reprimanded and forgiven.

    [As I stated above, Individuals of most cause groups do and say things that are inconsistent with the group's stated positions. I have no information as to whether Mrs. Santorum is "Pro-Life" or "anti-abortion" herself, or is a member of any "Pro-Life" or "anti-abortion" group.]

    •Which brings up a very important point. What are anti-abortionists proposing as a penalty for women who have abortions? If abortion equals murder, then the punishment ought to be the same. For premeditated murder (abortion is premeditated by definition), it’s often death. If not death, it’s life in prison. Why aren’t anti-abortionists proposing death for abortion?

    [“Pro-Lifers” and “anti-abortionists” generally see the aborting mother as a victim, not as a perpetrator. Generally they do not even want to have professional abortionists put to death, just prosecuted for various procedural or licensing violations. Justide Harry Blackmun pointed out the inconsistency:

    [Note 54b: in Texas, the woman is not a principal or an accomplice with respect to an abortion upon her. If the fetus is a person, why is the woman not a principal or an accomplice? Further, the penalty for criminal abortion specified by Art. 1195 is significantly less than the maximum penalty for murder prescribed by Art. 1257 of the Texas Penal Code. If the fetus is a person, may the penalties be different?]

    •According to anti-abortionists, the new life begins when the egg and sperm unite. If this is true, why are anti-abortionists so opposed to birth control? Granted, there are a couple (only a couple) of abortifacient birth control methods, but most prevent the union of the egg and sperm. No creation of life, and therefore, no possibility of murder. Why wouldn’t anti-abortionists be strong supporters of birth control use, distribution, and education?

    [The chief argument is that the ready availablility of (true) contraception encourages promiscuity. as no contraceptive method is 100% effective, more unwanted pregnancies result as a result of the increased frequency of sexual relations, thus more abortions.]

    •According to their own beliefs, they routinely commit murder. Protestant women account for almost 40% of abortions in the U.S. Add in Catholics and you’ve accounted for nearly 70% of all abortions in the U.S. If they really, genuinely believe it’s murder, then they’re committing murder at a rate that would make Pol Potswell with pride.

    [Who is this “they”? Many Protestant sects are not “Pro-Life” but are either ambivalent about or favoring abortion at the mother’s election. Of the non-“Pro-Life”/”anti-abortion” sects, there are some members who are personally opposed to abortion but leave the decision up to others, like the mother. Of the “Pro-Life”/”anti-abortion” sects, many individuals are not “Pro-Life”/”anti-abortion at all or who leave it up to the mother.
    [The situation is similar with Catholics. Just because the official position of the Vatican is "Pro-Life"/"anti-abortion" does not make all Catholics so.]

    These inconsistencies are puzzling. The anti-abortion lobby is vehement, angry, and persistent. They have introduced over 1000 bills in state and federal legislatures to restrict women’s rights, de-fund abortion providers, and intimidate doctors. Why, with all this fervor, are they being so soft on the actual act of abortion? And why are they so opposed to programs which would reduce abortions — like condom distribution and sex education (both of which have been proven to work all over the world)?

    [What is so puzzling? Most people, even those who are personally opposed to abortion, are not interested or not motivated to try to convince mothers not to kill their children. Being a member of a sect hardly proves agreement with all or any of its official policies.]

    Posted by Mac | May 14, 2012, 4:00 pm

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