Topic: Bioethics

Miss Smith & Mrs. Jones get pregnant on the same date.

Miss Smith is unmarried, uneducated, & poor. 24 weeks into Miss Smith's pregnancy (the result of an incestuous rape), she delivers early due to complications. Baby Smith survives, but has lifelong physical & mental handicaps.

Mrs. Jones is wealthy, educated, and successful in her career. 36 weeks into Mrs. Jones' pregnancy, she chooses to abort Baby Jones, who is neither handicapped, the product of rape, nor the product of incest. Mrs. Jones simply decides that she no longer wants to give birth because she misses fitting into her Size 2 dresses.

Is Herman Cain pro-choice? (Updated)

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Logically, there are a limited number of possible positions for a person to hold regarding government policy on abortion. Here's a Venn diagram that lays them all out.

Venn diagram of possible abortion policies


Anyone who's thought about the issue for more than a couple of seconds understands this. So how do we make any sense of Herman Cain's stated position? He's never given any indication that he's in the blue area above, so we can rule that out. But when you watch this interview on CNN, it's impossible to pinpoint where he stands beyond that.


He says "I think it's a sin." That puts him in either the red or purple area. Moments later, he says "I believe life begins at conception, and abortion under no circumstances." That puts him squarely in the red area. But when pressed on making an exception if his daughter or granddaughter were to be raped and become pregnant, he replies:

It's not the government's role, or anybody else's role, to make that decision. ... It ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make. Not me as President, not some politician, not a bureaucrat. It gets down to that family, and whatever they decide, they decide. I shouldn't try to tell them what decision to make for such a sensitive decision.

...

I can have an opinion on an issue without it being a directive on the nation. The government shouldn't be trying to tell people everything to do, especially when it comes to social decisions that they need to make.

That puts him somewhere in the purple area. If we take him at his word, he would be morally opposed to abortion, but would reluctantly allow it on demand. That's squarely a pro-choice stance. When you take that position, you are in favor of a woman's right to abort her unborn child for any reason or no reason. That is not a pro-life stance.

Now listen to his statements in this Fox News interview with John Stossel.

T.J. Atchison wants to kill the weak to heal himself:

Dr. Donald Leslie, medical director at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, has high hopes.


"We want to cure paralysis," he said. "We want to stop spinal cord injury. How incredible would that be?"

Leslie's mission has begun with T.J. Atchinson, the first step in research that he believes could lead to many steps for those who were told they would never walk again. Atchinson, 21, was the first human with a spinal cord injury to undergo embryonic stem cell therapy.

...

His mother, Anita McDonald, wants this, too, saying that people who oppose the therapy on religious grounds are unreasonable.

"It doesn't matter how long they've been in a chair, they all want to walk again," McDonald said. "I just know a lot of people are against it, but until they've been put in the position, I don't think they should judge anybody."

Despite your emotional, illogical, and ridiculous justification, Mrs. McDonald, I'll happily judge the decision you both made. Harshly. Under your rule, I qualify:

human embryo at 5-6 weeks gestationThanks to today's ruling in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, your tax dollars will now fund the destruction of unborn children.

My stance on this has been unequivocal. It's wrong to heal the sick by killing the weak. They are people.

People hate this young lady

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Watch the video to find out why.

"Safe, legal, and rare" is the name of the game, right?


Let me try that again. "Safe, legal and rare."

How is it "pro-choice" to distort basic facts and manipulate women into aborting their unborn children?

Read more about this sting.

You worked so hard to extract a promise from the Precedent to issue a magic Executive Order, one that can overrule the federal funding of abortion in the Obamacare bill signed into law at noon today. You made such a very big show of accepting your precious little fig leaf, but you're still standing there naked at 5:00 PM.

Where is it, chump?

10:45 Update: Teh One sure is in a hurry to live up to his word, eh? I'll bet it'll help you sleep at night, though, Bart. That is, until Obama decides that his EO is no longer convenient (per Geraghty's Rule), or until some federal judge permanently enjoins its enforcement as incapable of overturning an Act of Congress, or as an "undue burden" on a woman's right to a dead baby. But hey, just trust the most radical pro-abortion president in history. It's bound to go well.

3/26 Update: Stupak's pathetic attempt to justify his action rings hollow.

3/27 Update: Stupak's price? $578 million in earmarks for his district.

Stupak the metaphor

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Bart Stupak as Neville Chamberlain

... then today's betrayal surprised you. I didn't trust him, but wish I'd known that Stupak telegraphed his move:


There's no such thing as a "Pro-Life Democrat." No. Such. Thing.

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8:10 PM Update: For the benefit of my progressive readers, a little taste of what's coming.

Protesters Have Some Friends in the Capitol

Feet from the Capitol, protesters roar when GOP members fly a "Don't Tread on Me" flag from the House balcony.

Roar from Tea Partiers

We're just getting started, and we're not feeling despair. I'm smiling at the thought of November 3rd.

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8:45 PM Update: Linda Goldthorpe for Congress

VA to vets: hurry up and die

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Jim Towey's editorial touched off the debate over the VA Death Book, so here's a copy to read for yourself.

This pamphlet's clearly quite slanted toward the euthanasia side of the scale, so pay it no mind. Instead, educate yourself about advance directives before you make any end-of-life decisions.

In defense of the frail elderly

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A real thought-provoker:

The frail elderly and their families deserve love, support and care from a compassionate society. If we allow willy-nilly healthcare reform, the frail elderly will undoubtedly be targeted, with such rationalizations as "Why devote resources (the liberal euphemism for money) to a hopeless cause such as this?" A physician at our local Tea Party stated one platform of healthcare reform is to withhold vital treatment in the last 6 months of the patient's life.

Do we really want our government deciding when our last 6 months have arrived? They have not done such a good job predicting unemployment or economic recovery: why should we assume they'd be any better at predicting when we are in the last six months of our life?

Obamacare will decide when you've lived past your usefulness. Don't like that prospect? Do something about it.

Slate columnist William Saletan's latest piece completely mischaracterizes pro-lifers:

If abortion is murder, the most efficient thing you could have done to prevent such murders this month was to kill George Tiller.

...

Is it wrong to defend the life of an unborn child as you would defend the life of a born child? Because that's the question this murder poses. Peaceful pro-lifers have already tried to prosecute Tiller for doing late-term abortions they claimed were against the law. They failed to convict him. If unborn children are morally equal to born children, then Tiller's assassin has just succeeded where the legal system failed: He has stopped a mass murderer from killing again.

...

[Pro-lifers' condemnations of Tiller's murder] don't square with what these organizations purport to espouse: a strict moral equation between the unborn and the born. If a doctor in Kansas were butchering hundreds of old or disabled people, and legal authorities failed to intervene, I doubt most members of the National Right to Life Committee would stand by waiting for "educational and legislative activities" to stop him. Somebody would use force.

...

If you don't accept what [Tiller's murderer] did, then maybe it's time to ask yourself what you really believe. Is abortion murder? Or is it something less, a tragedy that would be better avoided? Most of us think it's the latter.

Saletan pretends that there are only two choices available to a pro-life private citizen like me: kill the abortionist myself, or agree that the unborn are not people. That's a false dilemma, and it's a cute but cheap little rhetorical trick.

I'll make this simple, so that even the oh-so-nuanced Saletan can understand. When we're talking about individuals acting as individuals (not military members, police, or other government officials acting in their official capacity), the pro-life argument goes like this:


  1. Killing people is wrong.
  2. The unborn are people.
  3. Abortion kills the unborn.
  4. Therefore, abortion is wrong.

To apply that same reasoning to George Tiller, we'd argue:


  1. Killing people is wrong.
  2. George Tiller was a person.
  3. Therefore, killing George Tiller was wrong.

There are exceptions to the moral principle laid out in this argument, two of which are self defense and defense of others. When one person is about to kill another, and there's no way to stop it short of using force, then it's morally acceptable for the victim (or a third party) to use the necessary amount of force to stop the attack, up to and including deadly force.

Determining how much force is morally justified depends on the specifics of the situation, of course. What kind of attacker are we talking about? What kind of victim? Can we be reasonably sure that the victim's death is imminent? Can the attack be stopped by less than lethal means? Is a government official better situated to stop the attack? If a meth-crazed powerlifter pulls a pistol and charges an elderly man sleeping in his wheelchair, using deadly force to stop him would probably be justified. If a preteen girl pulls a baseball bat and charges an alert and fully armed Navy SEAL, using deadly force to stop her would probably be excessive.

We must engage in the same kind of reasoning when determining how much force is appropriate for a private citizen to use to stop an abortionist from killing the unborn. Since that's the situation Saletan wants us to address, I invite him to consider several pro-life arguments against killing abortionists.

The pro-life stance on deadly force is neither simplistic, unthinking, nor illogical. Abortion rights advocates like William Saletan who say otherwise are either dishonest, ignorant, or stupid. You can decide which one applies here.

The murder of Dr. George Tiller was an evil act that saved no lives. Here are ten reasons to oppose the supposed "justifiable homicide" of abortionists, as explained by pro-life Christian David P. Gushee in 1995:

  1. The use of intentional premeditated lethal force by private citizens to defend the innocent from harm is morally unjustifiable.
  2. However one describes the innocent, it is clearly unjustifiable to use lethal force in their defense when such defense could have been achieved through nonlethal means--means which are unambiguously available today through the moral, legal and nonviolent forms of pro-life activities. The absence of nonlethal means, moreover, does not in itself provide sufficient warrant for using lethal force to protect the innocent.
  3. The killing of abortion doctors does not constitute a meaningful defense of unborn life, because the woman seeking the abortion drives the process, not the doctor. Thus if we really seek to prevent abortion, we will lovingly provide the pregnant woman with appropriate support and viable alternatives to abortion.
  4. The use of lethal force is not justifiable as a form of privately initiated capital punishment, as some have claimed.
  5. The killing of abortion doctors is not morally legitimate as an act of civil disobedience.
  6. The use of lethal force cannot be viewed as an act of resistance to a government which has lost its legitimacy by permitting abortion. The U.S. government retains its legitimacy, and Christians should continue to seek redress through the political system.
  7. The transition from nonviolent to violent forms of action for social/legal change is a perilous and almost always morally unjustifiable step, particularly in a functioning democracy.
  8. The resort to violence as a means leads to a morally disastrous shift of ends, the focus of the activist becoming the destruction of wrongdoers rather than the prevention of wrongs.
  9. A social movement's resort to violence tends to escalate rapidly. The strict limits imposed by just war type thinking are supplanted by crusade-like approaches leading to ever more indiscriminate violence.
  10. The resort to violence is indisputably hurting the cause of the pro-life movement.

Read the whole article for a more in-depth treatment.

On the murder of George Tiller

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In response to today's murder of abortionist George Tiller, I'll quote (with my complete approval) the abortion violence statement put forth by the long-time pro-life advocates at Stand To Reason:

It's always wrong to take a human life without proper justification. Abortion is such a wrong because it takes the life of a valuable, innocent, human being without good reason. Therefore, it is morally obligatory for civilized people to campaign vigorously against such a wrong and use appropriate means to end it.


In opposing this evil, one is justified in using only the degree of force necessary to stop any harm that it is within his power to prevent. Therefore, one is never justified in using lethal force when other measures are available.

Since there are no imaginable circumstances in which lethal force is the only means available to end the harm of abortion, then lethal means are never justified.

Killing abortionists is, therefore, also an example of taking human life without proper justification. To do so would be to violate the basic principle of life that pro-lifers are committed to defending.

Therefore, Stand to Reason does not condone violence to end the harm of abortion and does not knowingly associate with those who do.

I hope the murderer is brought to justice swiftly.

Dr. Samuel Stupp and Dr. Ramille Capito explain their research in the field of Bionanotechnology and its contributions to regenerative medicine:

I'm a C-6 quad due to a diving accident in 1998, so this research fascinates me. What's even better is that no embryonic stem cell research is involved.

Steel yourself. The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform somehow managed to post a video of a 20-week abortion performed by Dennis Christensen at the Madison Abortion Clinic in Wisconsin.

When the abortion rights crowd blandly lectures you about preserving "choice", this is what they mean:

Hat tip: Jill Stanek

Let's Never Find Out: Part 3 -- Punished

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What follows is a re-post of Jay Anderson's original piece.

NOTE: This is the third of what will be 13 daily posts from various members of the State of Ohio Blogger Alliance (SOB Alliance) on why Barack Obama is a dangerous, objectionable, and objectively unfit candidate to be president of the United States. Parts 1 and 2 of this series are linked below.

Let's Never Find Out: Part 1 -- The Mortgage Meltdown and Obama

Let's Never Find Out: Part 2 -- Drill, Baby, Drill

The daily videos involved will be from
NeverFindOut.org, a project of Let Freedom Ring.

This post is part of the HOPE ON Project (Help Ohio Prevent Electing Obama Now).

__________________________________________________________

Video -- "Punished with a Baby" (direct YouTube link is here):




Transcript:

Punished

WOMAN:
Senator Obama, I'm afraid. In March, you told America:

OBAMA: "I've got two daughters. If they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby."

WOMAN: Punished. I'm afraid because I'm a mother and I can't imagine what this country would become if its President could look upon a baby as a punishment. And I'm afraid, because those children that you spoke of as a punishment would be your very own grandchildren.

ANNOUNCER: What happens when we elect a President who has disregard for human life? Please, America, let's never find out.
__________________________________________________________

HOPE-ON ProjectMy Comments:
I've been pointing out on a regular basis (almost daily, sometimes with several posts per day on the topic) that Sen. Obama is an unfit candidate for the presidency from a pro-life perspective. But, without a doubt, the most comprehensive critique of Sen. Obama's record on life has come from Princeton Professor Robert P. George. As the Catholic Archbishop of Denver, Charles J. Chaput, recently put it:

Anyone interested in Senator Obama's record on abortion and related issues should simply read Prof. Robert P. George's Public Discourse essay from earlier this week, ''Obama's Abortion Extremism,'' and his follow-up article, ''Obama and Infanticide.'' They say everything that needs to be said.
In a nutshell, Professor George points out that

  • Sen. Obama supports legislation that would repeal the Hyde Amendment, which protects pro-life citizens from having to pay for abortions, and which has been credited with saving over a million lives.

  • Sen. Obama has promised that "the first thing I'd do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act", which would create a federally guaranteed "fundamental right" to abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, including "a right to abort a fully developed child in the final weeks for undefined 'health' reasons", and would abolish virtually every existing state and federal limitation on abortion, including parental consent and notification laws for minors, state and federal funding restrictions on abortion, and conscience protections for pro-life citizens working in the health-care industry.

  • Sen. Obama, unlike even many "pro-choice" legislators, opposed the ban on partial-birth abortions when he served in the Illinois legislature and condemned the Supreme Court decision that upheld legislation banning this heinous practice.

  • Sen. Obama has referred to a baby conceived inadvertently by a young woman as a "punishment" that she should not endure.

  • Sen. Obama has stated that women's equality requires access to abortion on demand.

  • Sen. Obama wishes to strip federal funding from pro-life crisis pregnancy centers that provide alternatives to abortion for pregnant women in need.

  • Sen. Obama, despite the urging of pro-life members of his own party, has not endorsed or offered support for the Pregnant Women Support Act, the signature bill of Democrats for Life, meant to reduce abortions by providing assistance for women facing crisis pregnancies.

  • Sen. Obama, as an Illinois state senator, opposed legislation to protect children who are born alive, either as a result of an abortionist's unsuccessful effort to kill them in the womb, or by the deliberate delivery of the baby prior to viability. The Obama campaign lied about his vote until critics produced documentary proof of what he had done. In fact, Sen. Obama continues to lie about his inhuman voting record in regard to the Illinois Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, even stooping so low as to run a disgusting television ad attacking the disabled survivor of a botched abortion.


  • As Professor George notes, "You may be thinking, it can't get worse than that. But it does." Just keep reading.

    And Professor George is, of course, 100% correct in concluding that "Barack Obama is the most extreme pro-abortion candidate ever to seek the office of President of the United States." Let's not provide Sen. Obama the opportunity to put his anti-life principles into practice. Let's never find out what it's like to live in an America with such a man at the helm who deems the least of these our brethren to be an inconvenient "punishment".


    A message for my Catholic friends

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    Some things are more important than others. Please remember that when you vote.

    McCain radio ad on stem cell research

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    This radio ad is too vague. What kind of stem cell research is McCain advocating? It matters a whole lot to me and to other pro-lifers. Specifics, please.

    I'm not the only one asking.

    Video: When does life begin?

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    "Choice on Earth, good will to all"

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    This message from Cecile Richards (the president of Planned Parenthood) just arrived in my inbox:

    **********************
    Planned Parenthood
    "Choice on earth..."
    A message from Cecile Richards
    **********************

    Choice on earth...good will to all.

    As I reflect upon the past year and consider the next, I can't help but feel a sense of good will. Good will toward the women, men, and families that we serve. Good will toward you, my Planned Parenthood family. And good, determined will to accomplish the work that lies ahead in the new year.

    Warm wishes for you and yours during this holiday season. And thank you for your help and commitment.

    Many thanks,

    Cecile Richards, President
    Planned Parenthood Federation of America

    View the e-card sent to you by Cecile Richards and Planned Parenthood here:
    http://www.ppaction.org/ct/Z7qZXO51fLal/ChoiceOnEarth

    **********************

    The link goes to this image:

    This press release from Students for Life of America just arrived in my inbox.

    Alberto Hodari, abortionistLast month, Dr. Alberto Hodari spoke to students at Wayne State in Detroit about his career performing abortions. In his speech, Hodari told students that doctors have a license to lie to their patients (34:05).

    The video of the entire speech with captions has now been released on Google Video.

    ...

    The speech took place on November 9, 2007.

    Also in the speech, Hodari talks about going to Mexico to do experiments on pregnant women that were outlawed in the United States (38:57). He invited students to come watch an abortion he performed (11:57) and he also spoke about how little he washed between abortions because it chafed his hands (12:13).

    "To hear Hodari speak, one wonders if Michigan is the third world," SFLA Executive Director Kristan Hawkins said. "Planned Parenthood complains about 'back-alley' abortions, even though Hodari is running a business where he's barely washing his hands between abortions."

    Student President Ashley Tyndall said, "Several women have died while getting abortions with Hodari, and yet the Michigan board of health has never investigated him. How many women have to die before the bureaucrats start telling Hodari to wash his hands and tell patients the truth."

    I'm disgusted, but not at all surprised. When you make a living by killing inconvenient children, you're not going to get too worked up about lying, practicing in unsanitary conditions, or doing things with pregnant women that you can't do in America.

    This savage in a snappy suit is indoctrinating our future doctors and hopes to recruit more abortionists. Do you find that acceptable?

    If our politicians in Columbus can find a way to enact H.B. 314, the state medical board will be able to "limit, revoke, or suspend an individual's certificate to practice, refuse to register an individual, refuse to reinstate a certificate, or reprimand or place on probation the holder of a certificate" if that individual violates this new language in the Ohio Revised Code (emphasis added by Yours Truly):

    Sec. 2317.561. In addition to the requirements in section 2317.56 of the Revised Code, if an obstetric ultrasound examination is performed at any time prior to the performance or inducement of an abortion or the physician performing or inducing the abortion determines that an ultrasound examination will be performed as part of the abortion procedure, the physician shall do both of the following prior to the performance or inducement of the abortion:


        (A) Provide the pregnant woman receiving the abortion the opportunity to view the active ultrasound image of the embryo or fetus;

        (B) Offer to provide the pregnant woman with a physical picture of the ultrasound image of the embryo or fetus.

    The requirements of division (A) of this section shall be performed at no additional charge to the pregnant woman.

    4-dimensional ultrasoundI looked through the Ohio Revised Code for any other mentions of the word "ultrasound" and found nothing that requires an abortionist to perform one. I'd bet that the standards of practice for an Ohio Ob/Gyn require an ultrasound before an abortion, but I'll confirm my hunch with my sister-in-law since she's an Ob/Gyn resident.

    I'll check the Ohio Administrative Code in a bit.

    --

    Update 1: My search for the word "ultrasound" in the Ohio Administrative Code yielded 13 hits. Only the first five look like they're worth examining. More on this later.

    Update 2: I found nothing in the Ohio Administrative Code about requiring Ambulatory Surgical Facilities (a term that includes abortion clinics) to do an ultrasound before performing an abortion. Unless you choose to interpret Administrative Rule 4731-18-01(A)(1) really really broadly:

    4731-18-01 Standards for surgery.


    (A) The surgeon of record in an operative case shall personally:

    (1) Evaluate the patient sufficiently to formulate an appropriate preoperative diagnosis;

    Too general to hang your hat on, in my opinion. Now it's on to the Ohio Medical Board Rules.

    Update 3: I found nothing in the Ohio Medical Board Rules requiring an abortionist to perform a pre-abortion ultrasound. Now I'll try the National Abortion Federation's Clinical Policy Guidelines, which serve as the abortion industry's self-published minimum standards of care for abortion providers. I haven't found any comparable document published by any regulatory body or professional association in Ohio that would set the minimum standards of care for Ohio's abortionists. Unless someone can prove me wrong, I'm forced to conclude that Ohio abortionists are governed by the NAF's Clinical Policy Guidelines.

    Here's the latest clip of Fred Thompson on YouTube. He sent this video greeting to the National Right to Life Convention:

    Fellow pro-lifers, don't dismiss any candidate solely because he was once wishy-washy on life ... or was even pro-abortion.

    I too was once in favor of abortion rights, back when I didn't think about issues nearly as much as I simply emoted about them. After I graduated from college, some intelligent and persuasive pro-lifers confronted my ignorance in a friendly way, offering lots of facts and logic, and I realized that I had been wrong all along.

    Since then I've become an amateur pro-life apologist by reading voraciously, hosting debates, volunteering with local pro-life organizations, sitting on the board of a crisis pregnancy center, studying for an M.A. in Bioethics while simultaneously earning my law degree, publishing a pro-life legal note against embryonic stem cell research, and blogging here on bioethics.

    Yet I once supported abortion rights. Does that make me a flip-flopper? According to some narrow definitions I've been hearing lately the answer is yes (good discussions here and here and here). That's ridiculous. The mere fact that I've had a change of mind and heart doesn't justify the flip-flopper label. I've given money to, volunteered for, and argued on behalf of the pro-life movement since my switch. If I had done nothing (or worse, if I'd switched back to being pro-abortion to gain some kind of advantage or benefit like Dennis Kucinich did) then I'd be vulnerable to charges of flip-floppery or a lack of seriousness.

    Fred Thompson used to be mushy on abortion. He doesn't deny it. I suspect that his former stance came from his strong federalist tendencies and a lack of serious reflection on whether the unborn is actually a person like us in every morally relevant way. Since those days, Fred's voting record in the Senate and his public writings and speeches have been solidly pro-life. The man gives every indication that he now believes human beings have a right to life from the moment of conception, and that the federal courts overstep their authority when they support a constitutional "right" to abortion.

    Becoming a serious pro-lifer is a good thing. We pro-lifers know this because we try to persuade as many people we can to join us, and we heap praise on those who do. I understand the emotional appeal of feeling suspicious every time we hear a politician claim to be on our side. Resist the urge to emote; think instead. Look at the declared pro-life politician's record before you dismiss him out of hand. Some of them really are on our side.

    Are you sitting down? Read page 17 of today's majority opinion in Carhart v. Gonzales:

    The Act does apply both previability and postviability because, by common understanding and scientific terminology, a fetus is a living organism while within the womb, whether or not it is viable outside the womb. ... We do not understand this point to be contested by the parties.

    Did you catch that? According to the explicit and undisputed wording of Supreme Court, a fetus in the womb is a living organism. The fetus is not a "potential life." It's a life.

    The obvious follow-up is to ask what kind of organism the fetus is, and the answer is as straightforward as it is undeniable. The fetus is a human organism. A human being.

    That's a huge legal victory. Common sense and science finally enjoy the muscle of the Supreme Court to back up what every honest person with half a brain knows: the unborn are human beings.

    Now we can really start to undermine the silly pro-abort argument about the unborn being human but not "persons."

    Like clockwork, the people who want to preserve a woman's right to slaughter her child in mid-birth have begun wailing about today's Supreme Court ruling upholding a ban on partial birth abortion. I'm feeling a delicious mix of gratitude and schadenfreude. I'll update this post as the spluttering continues.

    Planned Parenthood:

    This ruling flies in the face of 30 years of Supreme Court precedent and the best interest of women's health and safety. Today the court took away an important option for doctors who seek to provide the best and safest care to their patients. This ruling tells women that politicians, not doctors, will make their health care decisions for them.

    Calling partial birth abortion a "health care decision" is like calling rape an "alternative lifestyle choice."

    Vanessa at the Feministing blog: "We're f***ed."

    Eleanor Smeal:

    This propels women's right to abortion and birth control to the center of the 2008 presidential election. Elections matter: this ban is a direct consequence of a Republican, ideologically driven president and Congress, which ignored the science-based opinions of such leading medical authorities as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in passing this ban and signing it into law.

    Already, the decision in Gonzales v. Carhart will mean that women with troubled pregnancies will be forced into more dangerous situations, putting their future ability to have safe and healthy pregnancies at risk. Older women will be especially affected, as amniocentesis results are released later in the pregnancy. The health and safety of adolescents and pre-teens will also be more at risk, as they are often forced to delay their decisions about whether to abort because of lack of control over their own lives or inadequate funds.

    Ralph Neas:

    The replacement of moderate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor with ultraconservative Justice Samuel Alito has brought the Court to the brink of judicial disaster.

    Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon:

    It's a strike at the concept that women have independent value. If you reduce a woman to a baby factory, then one who needs a late term abortion is malfunctioning in her purpose somehow, so if she dies, she's scrap metal, I suppose. Or scrap blood and tissue, as it were. I hate to be blunt like this, but there it is. They skipped over the preliminaries about what kind of rights women should have and attacked the idea that our very existence and health matters if we've failed in our duties as fetal incubators.

    Here's the text of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Gonzales v. Carhart (it's a PDF file), which upholds the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. Hallelujah! Thank you, God!

    You'll find excerpts here.

    More blogging:
    Bench Memos summarizes the ruling (I'm surprised, given Kennedy's past).
    Matt Lewis points out Rudy Giuliani's flip-floppery ... with video!

    Rudy Giuliani keeps repeating variations of this nonsensical statement:

    "I'm against abortion. I hate it. I wish there never was an abortion and I would counsel a woman to have an adoption instead of an abortion ... But ultimately I believe it is an individual right, and the woman can make that choice."

    I want to know why he hates abortion, but nobody ever asks him that question. No matter how he responds, he'll make no sense.

    • If he hates abortion because it kills a human being, then he's arguing that although he hates it, women should still have the right to kill human beings. I'd love to hear him try to untwist that logical knot.
    • If he hates abortion because it ends a "potential life", then how can he justify any restrictions on abortion at all? A "potential life" by definition cannot be an actual (sacred?) human life, so why the objection? He also has to explain what that aborted thing actually is, if it's not a life. Calling it a "potential something" isn't enough. It has to already be something, because it's not nothing. So what is it?
    • If he doesn't actually hate abortion and just wants to preserve the legal status quo, then he's just another liar who'll say anything to fool the conservative base into voting for him. I would bet a lot of money that this is where Rudy actually stands, but I'd also bet a lot of money that he'll never admit it.

    If there's any way to make logical sense of Rudy Giuliani's abortion stance without unmasking him as a liar, I'd love to hear it.

    --

    4/13 Update: Hugh Hewitt blew a golden opportunity today.

    Secular fundamentalism, exposed

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    Over on NRO, Patrick Lee & Robert George review Lee Silver's new book on bioethics and dismantle his arguments against "religious fundamentalists" who supposedly wrap their religious objectives in scientific rhetoric.

    A sample:

    Silver says that the claim that human embryos are human beings at an early stage of development is "hidden theology." This could mean two different things. First, as this claim is presented in the book, Silver asserts that we actually hold our position on the status of the human embryo on theological grounds. We are, he suggests, hiding this fact, manufacturing arguments that sound scientific, but are in reality merely a cover for our real, theological, and indeed, "fundamentalist" grounds.


    To describe such a claim as an ad hominem argument is to exaggerate its standing. It is nothing more than ad hominem abuse. Silver knows that we are Catholics, and so he uses that fact to suggest that our real ground for believing that human embryos are human beings is Catholic doctrine. But here he has things exactly backwards. Our ground for believing that human embryos are human beings is the indisputable scientific fact that each human embryo is a complex, living, individual member of the human species. Although our claim does not rest on the authority of the Catholic Church, or any other religious body or tradition, we find the Church's teaching against human embryo-killing credible precisely because it -- unlike Silver's contrary teaching -- is in line with the embryological facts. If "fundamentalism" consists in obstinately clinging to a moral, religious, or political view in defiance of empirically demonstrable findings of science that falsify its premises, we are not the fundamentalists in this debate. It is Lee Silver himself who has fallen into a form of fundamentalism.

    The biological fact that human embryos are human beings in the earliest stages of their natural development is, to say the least, inconvenient for Professor Silver. So he commits the very offense of which he accuses us and others who oppose his agenda. He hides his ideology under a veneer of science. But the veneer is easily pulled off and the truth exposed. Just examine any of the major embryology texts now in use in American medicine. What you will find is the teaching that a new human individual exists from the earliest embryonic stage forward. That individual is a complete, though, of course, developmentally immature, member of the human species, whose life -- whether it lasts for nine minutes, nine days, nine years, or nine decades -- is a human life.

    Read the whole review.

    You don't need to refer to any religious or scriptural authority to make a solid case that the unborn are people too.

    Hat tip: LTI Blog

    Pro-abortion lunacy, illustrated

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    Check out the improvised seal at Pandagon, and tell me you don't feel just a wee bit of cognitive dissonance. "Irony" is putting it mildly.

    By vetoing the bill that would have authorized federal funds for embryonic stem cell research, President Bush is not "banning" anything.

    Embryonic stem cell research remains legal under federal law. You are free to destroy embryos and harvest their stem cells without fear of federal prosecution. You just can't get federal tax dollars to fund your research; you have to fund it yourself, or get a state or local government to foot the bill.

    In fact, the federal government will fund your research on embryonic stem cells as long as you use the cell lines derived before August 9, 2001.

    Pundits and politicians argue about stem cell research in a way that seems complicated, but it doesn't have to be that way. Whenever things get foggy, just find out which kind of stem cell research they're arguing about.

    1. With one exception (see #3), embryonic stem cells are harvested from a human being in his or her earliest stages of development, before those cells have had time to specialize. By definition, this requires cutting up the developing human being. This kills him or her without fail, and it's why most people object to this type of research.
    2. Adult stem cells are found scattered among mature cells in your tissues or organs. They are very basic cells much like an embryo's cells, and they can differentiate to yield the major specialized cell types that make up your tissues and organs. The primary roles of adult stem cells in a living organism are to maintain and repair the tissue in which they are found, but they can be coaxed into becoming other types of mature cells. Nobody has any moral objections to research on adult stem cells, and the federal government funds it.
    3. The only way to collect embryonic stem cells without killing embryos is to use the tissue found in umbilical cords and placentas, which are expelled during childbirth. Very few people know about this source of stem cells, which can eliminate any "need" for embryo destruction.

    It's all about definitions. Once you narrow down the subject, the argument becomes much more straightforward.

    I've synthesized these definitions from my own work, from the NIH, and from ClearlyExplained.com.

    Today the U.S. Senate will vote on H.R.810, a bill which would allow Uncle Sam to spend your tax dollars to help researchers destroy human embryos in the name of science. Here are three basic reasons to call your Senator and ask him or her to vote against spending tax dollars on research that destroys human embryos:

    1. It's immoral because it unneccessarily kills human beings.
    2. It's unnecessary because adult stem cell research is already more successful and holds more promise ... and all without killing any human beings.
    3. It's politically unpopular when it's explained clearly.

    Defeating this bill would not ban stem cell research. It would only prevent the federal government from spending your tax dollars to fund research that destroys human embryos. Destructive embryo research would still be legal as long as it's funded privately or funded by a state or local government.

    Contact your Senator and urge him or her to vote "no" on H.R.810. If you're interested in watching today's Senate debate live, C-SPAN2 has you covered.

    --

    Update: Evangelical Outpost understands things quite clearly.

    This fall the U.S. Supreme Court will be tackling partial birth abortion again. Two cases overturning the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 will get a final hearing, and we'll get to see where our two newest Justices stand on abortion. SCOTUSblog has posted a summary of what's in dispute. I dug up the published opinions from both Courts of Appeals, so you don't have to rely on the mainstream media to tell you what's in them (both are Adobe PDF files):

    8th Circuit:
    Gonzales v. Carhart
    9th Circuit:
    Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood
    (Kook Warning: this is a Judge Reinhardt opinion!)

    Here's the conventional wisdom on who supports the ban on partial birth abortions:

    SCOTUS vote prediction

    Kennedy is the wild card here. While he's pro-abortion in general, he joined the conservatives in the Court's first crack at partial-birth abortion (too bad there were only three plus Kennedy, because they lost):

    The Court's decision today, in my submission, repudiates this understanding by invalidating a statute advancing critical state interests, even though the law denies no woman the right to choose an abortion and places no undue burden upon the right. The legislation is well within the State's competence to enact.
    Justice Kennedy, dissenting
    Stenberg v. Carhart

    Kennedy's dissent encourages pro-lifers and hints that he might join the conservatives again this time around. Unfortunately, it was also written six years ago. Kennedy has been sliding steadily leftward during his tenure on the Court, and it's anybody's guess how much "evolving" or "growing" he's done since 2000. With Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement, he has assumed the role of the swing voter, and that kind of power is very seductive to any Justice with no discernable judicial philosophy.

    There's plenty of reason to worry. In an abortion case eight years before he confronted partial-birth abortion, Kennedy penned this doozy:

    At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.

    The man's unpredictable. He overturned a state constitutional amendment denying special rights for homosexuals because he deemed it "inexplicable by anything but animus." Magic 8-ballHe overturned an anti-sodomy law. He agreed with Justice Scalia that juveniles should be eligible for the death penalty ... but then he flip-flopped. He opposed the McCain/Feingold muzzle on free speech. He supported government redistribution of private property. He opposed a federal anti-gun-possession law. He supported ending the Florida recount in the 2000 presidential election. He upheld Oregon's institution of doctor-assisted suicide.

    Enough! My brain hurts. If anyone can assemble Kennedy's opinions into a coherent judicial philosophy, it'll be news to me. For all we know he uses a ouija board to help him decide.

    So will Anthony Kennedy object to infanticide again? I can't shake the sinking feeling that it all depends on how much his wife values those cocktail party invitations from Washington's liberal "in crowd."

    Most Americans think that abortions after the first trimester are illegal, but that's not true. Thanks to rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, a pregnant woman can get an abortion at any time through all nine months of pregnancy, for any reason. The window below summarizes how the Court built its machinery of death. Click anywhere inside the window to cycle through the cases:

    That's the short version. Here's a bit more detail if you're curious.

    In Griswold v. Connecticut, the Court ruled a Connecticut law prohibiting contraceptive use was unconstitutional because it violated the 14th Amendment's implied "right to privacy" enjoyed by married couples in the home.

    Eisenstadt v. Baird extended Griswold's reasoning and held that a Massachusetts law prohibiting distribution of contraceptives and contraceptive information was an unconstitutional invasion of the privacy of unmarried people, and unfairly treated them differently from married people.

    Roe v. Wade expanded the "right to privacy" to include a "right to abortion," which overturned a Texas abortion ban statute. Roe established the infamous trimester framework: in the first trimester, there were no abortion restrictions of any kind; in the second trimester, states could only limit abortions in ways that protected the mother's health; in the third trimester, states could supposedly ban abortion.

    In Doe v. Bolton, a case handed down on the same day as Roe, the Court expanded the right to abortion by striking down a Georgia statute which prohibited abortion unless the mother's life was in danger, the preborn child was severely deformed, or the preborn child was the product of rape. In striking down Georgia's abortion statute, the Doe court required that all abortion statutes include a "health of the mother" exception. The factors to be considered in determining "health risk" involved "physical, emotional, psychological, and familial factors, as well as the woman's age."

    Obviously, any woman can use this enormous loophole to get an abortion at any point in her pregnancy. All she has to do is claim that the thought of motherhood is depressing, or that she isn't ready to enlarge her family, or that she's too old to bear another child, or ... well, you see the point. Always remember Doe v. Bolton and its all-encompassing "health exception." It's what opened the door to abortion on demand.

    Nineteen years later, Planned Parenthood v. Casey did away with Roe's trimesters and concentrated on viability as the key issue, with the majority opinion stating, "We reject the trimester framework, which we do not consider to be part of the essential holding of Roe." Casey struck down most of a complex Pennsylvania abortion statute, and created an "undue burden" test for balancing a state's interest in protecting the preborn against a mother's wish to abort her child. Under this test, any state regulation that "has the purpose or effect of placing a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus" is an unconstitutional "undue burden" on a woman's right to seek an abortion. Most significantly, though, the Casey decision left the "health exception" requirement untouched, so abortion on demand was preserved. Silence can be deadly when a court refuses to undo injustice.

    Most recently, Stenberg v. Carhart held that a Nebraska law criminalizing partial-birth abortions was unconstitutional for two reasons: 1) it placed an "undue burden" on a woman's right to an abortion because the ban was supposedly too vague and could therefore be stretched to ban other types of abortion; and 2) it lacked a Doe-style "health of the mother" exception. Again, abortion on demand remained sacrosanct, much to the delight of pro-abortion radicals.

    So there you have it. Any woman in America can get an abortion at any time in her pregnancy, for any reason. Spread the word, and let's puncture the ignorance of our fellow Americans. It'd be a worthy step toward protecting the most vulnerable human beings on Earth.

    Text of Ohio's proposed abortion ban

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    The Ohio House is debating a bill that would ban abortion, but rather than relying on what the media tells you is in the bill, why not read it for yourself? House Bill 228 is very long, and a lot of it deals with lawsuits. Here are the relevant chunks that would rewrite the criminal penalties related to abortion.


    Sec. 2919.12

    (A) No person shall do any of the following:

    (1) Perform or induce an abortion;

    (2) Transport another, or cause another to be transported, across the boundary of this state or of any county in this state in order to facilitate the other person having an abortion.

    (B) Whoever violates division (A)(1) of this section is guilty of unlawful abortion. Whoever violates division (A)(2) of this section is guilty of facilitating an abortion. Unlawful abortion or facilitating an abortion is a felony of the second degree or, if the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a violation of this section, sections 2919.123, 2919.13, or 2919.14 of the Revised Code, or former sections 2919.121, 2919.151, 2919.17, or 2919.18 of the Revised Code as they existed prior to the effective date of this amendment, a felony of the first degree.

    (C) Whoever violates this section is liable to the pregnant woman, to the person who was the father of the fetus or embryo that was the subject of the abortion, and, if the pregnant woman was a minor at the time of the abortion, to her parents, guardian, or custodian for civil compensatory and exemplary damages.

    (D) Division (A)(1) of this section does not apply to a person who provides medical treatment to a pregnant woman to prevent the death of the pregnant woman and who, as a proximate result of the provision of that medical treatment but without intent to do so, causes the termination of the pregnant woman's pregnancy.


    Sec. 2919.123

    (A) No person shall knowingly give, sell, dispense, administer, otherwise provide, or prescribe RU-486 (mifepristone) to another for the purpose of inducing an abortion in any person or enabling the other person to induce an abortion in any person.

    (B) No physician who, prior to the effective date of this amendment, provided RU-486 (mifepristone) to another for the purpose of inducing an abortion as formerly authorized under division (A) of this section as it existed prior to the effective date of this amendment shall knowingly fail to comply with the applicable requirements of any federal law that pertained to follow-up examinations or care for persons to whom or for whom RU-486 (mifepristone) was provided for the purpose of inducing an abortion.

    (C)

    (1) The state medical board shall compile and retain all reports it receives under division (C)(1) of this section as it existed prior to the effective date of this amendment. Except as otherwise provided in this division, all reports the board receives under division (C)(1) of this section as it existed prior to the effective date of this amendment are public records open to inspection under section 149.43 of the Revised Code. In no case shall the board release to any person the name or any other personal identifying information regarding a person who uses RU-486 (mifepristone) for the purpose of inducing an abortion and who is the subject of a report the board receives under division (C)(1) of this section as it existed prior to the effective date of this amendment.

    (2) No physician who provides RU-486 (mifepristone) to another for the purpose of inducing an abortion as formerly authorized under division (A) of this section as it existed prior to the effective date of this amendment shall knowingly fail to file a report required under division (C)(1) of this section.

    (D) Whoever violates this section is guilty of unlawful distribution of an abortion-inducing drug. Unlawful distribution of an abortion-inducing drug is a felony of the second degree or, if the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a violation of this section, section 2919.12, 2919.13, or 2919.14 of the Revised Code, or former section 2929.121, 2919.151, 2919.17, or 2919.18 of the Revised Code as they existed prior to the date of this amendment, a felony of the first degree.

    If the offender is a professionally licensed person, in addition to any other sanction imposed by law for the offense, the offender is subject to sanctioning as provided by law by the regulatory or licensing board or agency that has the administrative authority to suspend or revoke the offender's professional license, including the sanctioning provided in section 4731.22 of the Revised Code for offenders who have a certificate to practice or certificate of registration issued under that chapter.

    (E) As used in this section:

    (1) "Federal law" means any law, rule, or regulation of the United States or any drug approval letter of the food and drug administration of the United States that governs or regulates the use of RU-486 (mifepristone) for the purpose of inducing abortions.

    (2) "Physician" has the same meaning as in section 2305.113 of the Revised Code.

    (3) "Professionally licensed person" has the same meaning as in section 2925.01 of the Revised Code.



    Sec. 2919.13

    (A) No person shall purposely take the life of a child born by attempted abortion who is alive when removed from the uterus of the pregnant woman.

    (B) No person who performs an abortion prior to the effective date of this amendment or who, on or after the effective date of this amendment, performs or induces an abortion in violation of section 2919.12 or administers RU-486 (mifepristone) to another for the purpose of inducing an abortion in violation of section 2919.123 of the Revised Code, shall fail to take the measures required by the exercise of medical judgment in light of the attending circumstances to preserve the life of a child who is alive when removed from the uterus of the pregnant woman.

    (C) Whoever violates this section is guilty of abortion manslaughter, a felony of the first degree.


    Sec. 2919.14

    (A) No person shall experiment upon or sell the product of human conception which is aborted. Experiment does not include autopsies pursuant to sections 313.13 and 2108.50 of the Revised Code.

    (B) Whoever violates this section is guilty of abortion trafficking, a felony of the first degree.


    Sec. 2919.24

    (A) No person, including a parent, guardian, or other custodian of a child, shall do any of the following:

    (1) Aid, abet, induce, cause, encourage, or contribute to a child or a ward of the juvenile court becoming an unruly child, as defined in section 2151.022 of the Revised Code, or a delinquent child, as defined in section 2152.02 of the Revised Code;

    (2) Act in a way tending to cause a child or a ward of the juvenile court to become an unruly child, as defined in section 2151.022 of the Revised Code, or a delinquent child, as defined in section 2152.02 of the Revised Code;

    (3) If the person is the parent, guardian, or custodian of a child who has the duties under Chapters 2152. and 2950. of the Revised Code to register, register a new residence address, and periodically verify a residence address, and, if applicable, to send a notice of intent to reside, and if the child is not emancipated fail to ensure that the child complies with those duties under Chapters 2152. and 2950. of the Revised Code.

    (B) Whoever violates this section is guilty of contributing to the unruliness or delinquency of a child, a misdemeanor of the first degree. Each day of violation of this section is a separate offense.

    (C) For the purposes of this section, a child is "emancipated" if the child has married, entered the armed services of the United States, become employed and self-subsisting, or otherwise become legally independent from the care and control of the child's parent, guardian, or custodian.

    Urgent help needed to save a life

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    John Hawkins is asking for help to save the life of a hospitalized Houston woman who doesn't want to die ... but the hospital is hell-bent on removing her treatment. This one's a real Catch-22 situation, so publicity will be essential to breaking the impasse.

    Update: A life spared!

    A self-identified abortionist ...

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    ... who agrees he's destroying life and thinks his work helps women feel "born again"? Believe it.

    Talk about a cauterized conscience.

    Adult stem cell transplants get results

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    More good news from the frontiers of adult stem cell research.

    Scott Klusendorf, a master pro-life apologist, includes a pithy quote in his May 23rd blog post on the personhood of human embryos:

    The critical difference between a collection of cells and a living organism is the ability of an organism to act in a coordinated manner for the continued health and maintenance of the body as a whole. It is precisely this ability that breaks down at the moment of death, however death might occur. Dead bodies may have plenty of live cells, but their cells no longer function together in a coordinated manner.

    I have got to commit this one to memory, verbatim. It certainly will help me respond to arguments from small size (like Michael Kinsley's).

    It's just a clump of cells

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    If you've been following the embryonic stem cell research debate, then you'll probably be interested in this cartoon that I found ... thanks to Stand To Reason.

    (Continued from Part II)

    Human by nature, not by function

    The more philosophical opponents of the pro-life position often object to such straightforward summaries of their views. They argue that the unborn are not people because they cannot function in the same ways that we do. They claim that a true "person" meets certain criteria; he or she has feelings, self awareness, consciousness, the ability to feel pain, the ability to interact with his or her environment, or some other criteria from a list of adult human abilities. Following this reasoning, since embryos and the rest of the unborn have few or none of these capabilities, they cannot be people and need not be protected from destruction. Note that those who use this argument take their criteria for personhood as givens, without any attempt to explain why a person must possess these traits.12

    This belief system is known as functionalism, a belief that suffers from several flaws.13 First, someone can fail to function as a person and yet still be a person. Many unconscious humans cannot feel pain, and unconscious humans are neither self-aware nor can they reason, but we still consider them people. Second, someone must be a person in order to function as one. One grows in the ability to perform personal acts only because one already is the kind of being that can do so (i.e., a person).14 Third, one's right to live does not depend on one's intelligence. If functionalism is correct, then personhood could be expressed by an "intelligence curve" in which human beings move toward full personhood in their early years, reach it in middle age, then lose it with advancing age and the accompanying loss of mental function. This makes no sense. Fourth, functionalists cannot escape the problems posed by personal identity. Paul Cox and Scott Rae point out the nonsensical implications when they explain, "if I do not exist until sometime after my birth, in what sense is the birth mine? The only way for 'my birth' to be more than a linguistic convention is to admit that 'I' existed before I was born, or at least at the time of my birth."15

    Applying logic and common sense, we can see that any embryo commands the same moral status that the same human would command as an adult. Functions don't matter in this moral determination. That being has a human essence that makes certain functions possible, and allows the being to retain a personal identity through change.16 Humans may lose the ability to think critically, but as long as they stay alive they remain themselves because they have a human nature. The underlying essence of a thing, not its functional abilities, tells us what kind of being it is. We function as people because we are people.

    So what?

    So where has all of this personhood analysis led us? A civilized culture would recognize the immorality of killing people for medical research purposes. For scientific and philosophical reasons, it seems abundantly clear that the unborn, including embryos, are people. Therefore, killing the unborn for medical research purposes is immoral. Pro-life advocate Scott Klusendorf summarizes these arguments better than perhaps anyone else:

    Scientifically, the [pre]born come from human parents who, according to the law of biogenesis, can only produce human offspring. Philosophically, the differences between fetus and newborn are differences of function, not essence (or nature). The unborn human retains its identity as a person through time and change because it possesses a human nature. Consequently, destructive embryo research is a serious moral wrong. It strips the unborn human of its inherent dignity and treats it as a disposable instrument to be used for someone else's benefit. A decent and civilized society cannot tolerate such an act.17

    So there it is ... my basic argument, based largely on the reasoning of people much smarter than I. I find it quite persuasive, and please note that it doesn't ever refer to any religious tradition for authority.

    What do you think?

    --

    Citations

    12) Neither do these theorists clearly explain how much moral weight each criterion carries, nor which combinations of criteria tip the scales toward personhood.

    13) For a discussion of functionalism and its counterarguments, see Koukl, Precious Unborn Human Persons, p. 20-35.

    14) Cf. Peter Kreeft, "Human Personhood", All About Issues, Jan.-Feb. 1992, p. 29 (questioning whether the "level of ability to perform certain human acts define the value of a person").

    15) Scott B. Rae & Paul M. Cox, Bioethics: A Christian Approach In A Pluralistic Age, p. 169 note #13 (1999).

    16) Id., p. 159-69.

    17) Klusendorf, Fetal Tissue and Embryo Stem Cell Research, p. 40, note #100.

    (Continued from Part I)

    The SLED Test

    Having scientifically established the humanity of embryos, we next use logic to consider the philosophical differences between unborn human beings and those human beings we unequivocally consider "people." The unborn differs from the newborn in four ways: size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency. One can use the acronym SLED to easily remember these four categories.9

    We first think about size (the "S" in SLED). Embryos are smaller than newborns, but we know size is not relevant for determining personhood. I am over six feet tall and weigh nearly two hundred pounds, which makes me far larger than most of my female colleagues, but no one can credibly claim that I am therefore more of a person than they are. We intuitively understand that size is irrelevant when determining if a human is a person.

    Next, we consider differences in level of development (the "L" in SLED). A newborn is less developed than a toddler, who is less developed than an adolescent, who is less developed than an adult. All are properly accorded equal status as people under the law, even though they look different. Prepubescent children have not yet developed sexually, but we consider them people. Retarded children with severely underdeveloped brains also count as people. So what should we logically conclude when we observe that embryos are less developed than newborns? We realize that we cannot define people based upon how developed they happen to be. We must define people based on what they are. A person has the innate capacity to perform personal acts, even if that person cannot do so at the moment. A human being's level of development is irrelevant when assessing personhood.

    What of differences in environment (the "E" in SLED)? The human embryo inside the mother is in a different environment than the newborn baby, and the human embryo frozen in a bottle of liquid nitrogen is in a very different environment than either of the other two human beings. Environment, however, has no relevance when it comes to deciding which human beings are people. I did not become less of a person by getting out of my car earlier today, nor did I become more of a person by sitting down in front of my computer. My status as a person does not change depending upon which side of my bed I choose to sleep on tonight. Nor does it matter if I put on scuba gear and descend sixty feet underwater. Clearly, where one is has no bearing on who one is.10 Likewise, a newborn girl's short trip down the birth canal cannot logically make her more of a person than her identical twin about to follow her. By the same token a frozen human embryo is no less entitled to our protection, even though it sits suspended in a bottle rather than growing in a womb.

    Last, we think about differences in degree of dependency (the "D" in SLED), which lawyers and politicians call "viability." Those who argue that viability makes all the difference are wrong. If they were right, many born human beings would have to be considered "non-people." For example, everyone dependent on pacemakers, dialysis machines, insulin, respirators, or wheelchairs would forfeit their status as people. After all, each relies on external help to survive and none are viable in the true sense of the word. In fact, newborn children cannot honestly be considered viable either, because without the care and feeding they receive from their parents, they quickly die. If we refuse to strip diabetics and newborns of their personhood on viability grounds, by what logic can we do so to embryos? As one former abortionist points out, there is no moral difference between a unborn child 'plugged into' and dependent upon a mother and a kidney patient plugged into and "dependent" upon a dialysis machine.11 Degree of dependency has no bearing on a human being's status as a person.

    That covers the "SLED Test." We can see, then, that the unborn child differs from a newborn child in only four ways: size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency. Individually, none of these criteria have anything important to say about whether a human being is a person, and no combination of these criteria carries any additional moral weight.

    Continued in Part III ...

    --

    Citations

    8) Id., p. 22; See also "Biogenesis and Abiogenesis", New Advent (stating "all visible organisms arise only from germs of the same kind"), originally at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02571a.htm.

    9) Scott Klusendorf, Fetal Tissue and Embryo Stem Cell Research: The March of Dimes, NIH, and Alleged Moral Neutrality, p. 32 (2000); Stephen D. Schwarz, The Moral Question of Abortion, p. 15-18 (1990) (coining the acronym SLED ... widely popularized by Klusendorf).

    10) Beckwith, Politically Correct Death, p. 114.

    11) Bernard N. Nathanson & Richard N. Ostling, Aborting America, p. 213 (1979).

    The continuing debate over embryo stem cell research spurred me to revisit an old article on the subject that I wrote roughly three years ago. The main thrust of my article argued against federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, but I had to lay some basic scientific and philosophical groundwork to make my point. This post pulls a sizable chunk of my article out by itself, since it can stand alone with very little need for updating or editing.

    Most folks have debated the legality, the economic benefit, and the scientific merit of experimenting on human embryos. I'm happy to argue against federal funding on all three grounds, but the issue of what the embryo actually is should concern us the most. Here's my argument in its barest form:

    1. Embryos are people.
    2. People shouldn't be killed for medical research purposes.
    3. Therefore embryos shouldn't be killed for medical research purposes.

    Background (admittedly very brief)

    In the summer of 2001, the moral implications of embryonic stem cell research (or "ESCR" for brevity) came to the forefront of America's consciousness as President George W. Bush wrestled with the claims advanced by both sides of the debate over possible federal funding of that research. After months of consultation, study, and reflection, the President delivered a speech outlining his intention to permit federally-funded ESCR only on those lines of human embryonic stem cells in existence on or before the date of his speech.1 President Bush's statements illustrate the competing arguments he struggled to reconcile, as excerpted below:

    On the first issue, are these embryos human life -- well, one researcher told me he believes this five-day-old cluster of cells is not an embryo, not yet an individual, but a pre-embryo. He argued that it has the potential for life, but it is not a life because it cannot develop on its own. An ethicist dismissed that as a callous attempt at rationalization. Make no mistake, he told me, that cluster of cells is the same way you and I, and all the rest of us, started our lives. One goes with a heavy heart if we use these, he said, because we are dealing with the seeds of the next generation.2

    However well-meaning, President Bush's decision to permit limited funding still went too far by lending an air of legitimacy to research founded upon the intentional killing of human beings. Researchers eager to get funding realized their advantage immediately. One of them reacted to the speech with frank pragmatism, saying "[i]n the long run, this number of 60 will be a forgotten relic of the political debate. The important thing is not so much the number 60. It's really that the green light went on for federal funding of this research."3 This scientist understood that President Bush made a critical exception to his prolife principles, exposing himself to politicians' ability to stretch an exception far beyond its original scope. Although President Bush made a mistake in his moral reasoning, his example need not be repeated.

    As matters stand, Congress still thinks ESCR is morally wrong, the President agrees but wants to allow it for already dead embryos, NIH researchers think it's acceptable, the courts lie somewhere in between4 (albeit much closer to the NIH's position than to that of Congress), the fifty states have yet to reach a consensus, laws from overseas offer little guidance, and public opinion seems to waver5 ... depending on whose opinion polls and public pronouncements one believes (see my original article for the background information that supports my summary of these groups' positions). Since the fight over statutory law continues, and since case law offers few precedents that favor the reasoning behind the pro-life position (that is, "embryos are people"), it would be wise to consider a purely philosophical and logical solution to the problem.

    Thinking it through

    If we pick apart the moral confusion surrounding ESCR, we can discover why it is actually very wrong to condone it. We can pierce the moral fog by applying established laws of science, clear principles of logic, and intellectually honest philosophy. We must answer just one question: what is the unborn?

    If we can make a compelling argument that the unborn is a human person entitled to the same measure of respect and protection that we accord any newborn infant, then our reasoning proceeds predictably. If we know that intentionally killing an innocent human being is a moral wrong, and if ESCR requires the intentional killing of an innocent human being, we must then conclude that such research is a serious moral wrong. When we examine the only question that matters ("what is the unborn?"), we find that the unborn are people for three reasons.

    First, human parents only produce human offspring, which means the unborn are members of the human community. Second, the four differences, discussed in greater detail below, between the unborn and the newborn are morally irrelevant. Third, the unborn are human people because they have a human nature, not because they perform certain functions.

    Human offspring are human by definition

    We begin with the obvious truth that human parents produce human offspring. The embryo is genetically unique, and possesses the inherent capacity to develop into an adult. It is human from conception, although immature (just as a newborn baby is immature). The unborn, therefore, is not a potential human but a human with great potential.6 Living things do not change from one kind of being into another over time. They only change their form. What they are stays the same.7

    The Law of Biogenesis, established unequivocally over a century ago by Louis Pasteur, states that each living thing reproduces after its own kind.8 Logically building our reasoning on this objective truth, we must conclude that human parents can only produce human offspring. To reject this scientific law and deny the humanity of the unborn, a supporter of ESCR must clear two hurdles. First, he must explain what the unborn entity actually is if it is not human, and second, he must explain how two human beings can violate the Law of Biogenesis by mating to create a being that begins as a non-human but later becomes one. Until someone refutes the Law of Biogenesis, science forces us to admit that human embryos are human beings.

    Continued in Part II ...

    --

    Citations

    1) Press Release, President George W. Bush, Remarks by the President on Stem Cell Research (Aug. 9, 2001).

    2) Id.

    3) Ceci Connolly et al. "Viability of Stem Cell Plan Doubted: Bush Policy Could Limit Research, Scientists Say", Washington Post, Aug. 20, 2001.

    4) As you're probably aware, the American legal system's persistent confusion on the personhood of the unborn, despite nearly three decades of U.S. Supreme Court pronouncements categorically refusing to recognize that status, suggests that legal precedents alone will not end this debate. In Roe v. Wade, Justice Blackmun clearly understood the implications of recognizing the personhood of the unborn. He wrote in the majority opinion: "If [Texas Attorney General Wade's] suggestion of personhood is established, [Jane Roe's] case, of course, collapses, for the fetus' right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment." Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 133, 156-57 (1973).

    5) The same moral fog blinds us as well. For example, actor Michael J. Fox wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times, focusing on points like the following: "Stem cell work uses ... embryos produced during in vitro fertilization, a process that creates many more fertilized eggs than are implanted in the wombs of women trying to become pregnant. ... Most of these microscopic clumps of cells are destined to be destroyed-ending any potential for life." Michael J. Fox, "A Crucial Election for Medical Research", N.Y. Times, Nov. 1, 2000. Fox misunderstands the issue. If embryos are people, then destroying them through medical research in an effort to extract some benefit from their impending doom is no more permissible than conducting harmful experiments on death row prisoners and then excusing the crime by saying "well, they're going to die anyway."

    6) Francis J. Beckwith, Politically Correct Death, p. 94 (1993).

    7) Gregory Koukl, Precious Unborn Human Persons, p. 21 (1999).

    Pope objects to Groningen Protocol

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    Wes Roth just e-mailed me to let me know that Pope John Paul II made an appeal to end the Groningen Protocol:

    The Pope has urged doctors and authorities in the Netherlands to think again about their increasingly far-reaching decisions on euthanasia.

    He issued his appeal as it emerged that a group of senior Dutch doctors had formally reported themselves for killing 22 terminally ill newborn babies. Their admissions were intended to force the authorities to agree to regulate the practice.

    Pope John Paul II said on Saturday: "I urge the authorities and medical personnel and all those who exercise an educative role to weigh the gravity of these questions."

    ...

    The Pope expressed his objections while receiving the new Dutch ambassador to the Vatican, Monique Frank.

    He said: "For several years Dutch society, marked by the phenomenon of secularisation, has set in motion a legislative policy concerning the beginning and the end of human life.

    "The Holy See has not failed to lay out its clear position and to invite Catholics in the Netherlands always to bear witness to the most absolute respect of the human person, from conception to natural death."

    I'm glad he's speaking out. But for all the effect he'll have on today's Dutch, the Pope may as well shout into the wind.

    I've commented on the Groningen Protocol before (here, here, and here). I'll be gone most of tonight so I'll be blogless, but my initial observation is straightforward: what more do we expect from a radically secular society? A callous disregard for human life flows predictably from a worldview that denies the existence of objective moral standards, much less any obligation to obey them.

    Do the Dutch see the well-worn path they've started on? They don't ... and this road bends ever downwards. It's doubly disappointing to see this banal form of evil sprouting in a place that once was a center of Calvinist thought and reformation. For once, the often over-used Nazi comparison applies.

    We in America would be wise not to keep following the Dutch.

    What are you doing about abortion?

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    If you're a pro-lifer, stop for a moment and ask yourself what you're doing to fight abortion in a concrete way. Roe v. Wade just turned 25, and we've seen lots of marches and vigils and essays from our side. Meanwhile, the slaughter continues.

    Do something more. Volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center near you. Help your local right-to-life organizations by manning their booth at the county fair, by organizing a visit by an out-of-town seminar speaker, or by helping them lobby your state and local elected officials to enact pro-life legislation. Donate money to organizations that actually do more than posture and pontificate, and actually persuade the undecided to become pro-life. To use a football analogy, get in the ground game and run the ball downfield. If you truly understand that babies are being murdered daily in your own city, then you'll get involved.

    I'll be away this evening at a crisis pregnancy center event, so I'll probably not be blogging much. Think about chipping in, alright?

    A loud silence on the Left

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    Click on these links and tell me if you notice what's missing from the search results:

    Technorati
    Daypop
    Google
    Yahoo

    What's missing is any mention of the Groningen Protocol on the major liberal blogs. Why are the self-styled Champions of The Downtrodden™ so silent? Do they really have no opinion about a system of government-sanctioned killing of children under age twelve?

    Hugh Hewitt on the Groningen Protocol

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    In his newest column for The Weekly Standard, Hugh Hewitt looks at the Groningen Protocol for non-voluntary euthanasia of children in the Netherlands. He wonders if the 21st Century will be even bloodier than the 20th:

    This is either a low point, or a point of no return. The establishment of "independent committees" to dispatch non-consenting humans is nothing but a death penalty committee for innocents. Once begun, it is impossible--simply impossible--to limit the concept with any bright line. Abortion, of course, has always been limited by the physical act of birth, and once out of the womb, only the most extreme "reproductive rights" advocates have argued that the baby's natural right to live can be compromised by the mother. But now the Netherlands has gone farther--much, much farther. If the "severely retarded" may be killed upon appropriate motion, second, debate, and majority vote, why not the moderately retarded? Why not the mildly retarded? Why not, in fact, anyone the "independent committee" deems as usefully dispatched.

    Incredibly, the nation's elite media has turned a collective blind eye to this story, though the Los Angeles Times did, on the day following the Drudge headline, find time to put on the paper's front page, above the fold, the story that Salmon and Steelhead May Lose Protection, but not a column inch of ink for a radical leap past Kevorkian land into the regions of Mengele.

    Lest anyone bring up Godwin's Law, kindly remember that this is actually how the Nazis desensitized German culture in preparation for the Final Solution.

    Since The Weekly Standard is read by the heavy hitters in the White House, you can bet this will show up on President Bush's radar. Watch for references to the Groningen Protocol in upcoming presidential speeches on the partial birth abortion ban, and maybe even in speeches on judicial nominations in general.

    The Groningen Protocol

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    I heard something frightening on Hugh Hewitt's show yesterday. Low-key news coverage reveals that systematic euthanasia of children has begun in the Netherlands:

    A hospital in the Netherlands - the first nation to permit euthanasia - recently proposed guidelines for mercy killings of terminally ill newborns, and then made a startling revelation: It has already begun carrying out such procedures, which include administering a lethal dose of sedatives.

    ...

    The Groningen Protocol, as the hospital's guidelines have come to be known, would create a legal framework for permitting doctors to actively end the life of newborns deemed to be in similar pain from incurable disease or extreme deformities.

    The guideline says euthanasia is acceptable when the child's medical team and independent doctors agree the pain cannot be eased and there is no prospect for improvement, and when parents think it's best.

    I recoiled from this news as soon as I heard it, but some of you reading this are thinking "what's the big deal?" Let me illustrate the big deal with a hypothetical situation.

    Stem cell scoreboard

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    John Kerry's blog on stem cell research:

    Embryonic stem cell research has great potential to save lives and cure disease.

    Wrong. The score is 56 - 0 when comparing successful medical treatments derived from adult vs. embryonic stem cells. In fact, the embryonic stem cell research advocates have negative points on their side of the scoreboard.

    Killing the weak to heal the sick

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    I'd heard just about enough of the blather about a supposed "ban" on stem cell research, but John Edwards' speech about helping the crippled to walk through embryo stem cell research pushed me over the edge.

    In 2002 I published a Note (the term for an article by a law student ... mine's available below) on federal funding of human embryo stem cell research in Health Matrix, the health law journal at Case Western Reserve University. My article built on the reasoning of Scott Klusendorf, the most effective pro-life debater I know.

    In that article I picked through peer-reviewed studies and the history of stem cell research, analyzed the state of applicable medical research law, and applied scientific and philosophical considerations to the debate. I conclusively demonstrated that federally funded human embryonic stem cell research is illegal, immoral, and unnecessary. To my knowledge, nothing significant has changed. There are no legal restrictions on privately funded stem cell research on human embryos, repugnant though it is.

    I expect reporters and even editors to fall for hype now and then, but politicians running for president have science advisors whose job it is to keep their guy from saying stupid and dishonest things. The facts are not in doubt:

    1. There is no ban on stem cell research. The only restriction is on federal funding of research on stem cells derived from embryos destroyed after August 9, 2001.
    2. Embryonic stem cell research derived from destroyed embryos is morally repugnant, especially since those cells are obtainable from umbilical cords and placentas.
    3. Embryonic stem cells hold less scientific promise than stem cells from adult sources.

    John Kerry and John Edwards need to fire their advisors and apologize for a shameless lie that cruelly gives false hope to people with spinal cord injuries.

    Here's a PDF version of my Note, published in 2002.

    Are We Killing The Weak To Heal The Sick?: Federally Funded Embryonic Stem Cell Research


    More coverage:
    Redstate (read the comments; they're great)
    Wizblog (a fellow Clevelander)
    TigerHawk
    Considerettes
    Truth, Lies & Common Sense
    Just One Minute
    Wes Roth
    Confessions Of A Political Junkie
    Jay Reding
    The Corpus Callosum (opposing view)
    Evangelical Outpost
    Citizen Z
    Daniel W. Casey
    Power Line
    Polipundit
    Sean Gleeson
    bLogicus
    Back of the Envelope
    Drink This ...

    --

    UPDATE (9:33 PM): Arthur Chrenkoff sees a pattern of exploitation in the Kerry/Edwards campaign's use of the handicapped:

    John Edwards is engaging in cynical political game at the expense of the sick and the suffering. Not satisfied with using triple amputees to deliver letters for the Kerry campaign, the Dems are now using the chronically ill and the incapacitated to whack Bush over the head: you see, Bush is mean, because he provokes the terrorists, he makes your gas more expensive, and he sends your jobs overseas. He's so mean, in fact, that he will keep the sick sick for the sake of his extremist moral agenda.

    And I do mean "use" literally and pejoratively.

    --

    UPDATE (10:04 PM): This post just merged at high speed into today's Beltway Traffic Jam.

    --

    UPDATE (10:17 PM): Paul at Wizbang is as pithy as you can hope to be.

    --

    UPDATE (11:59 PM): Before you revel in embryo stem cell dreams, consider the proven nightmares.

    I hope John Kerry doesn't exploit Christopher Reeve's death to flog President Bush about stem cell research on human embryos. There is no ban on stem cell research; you can legally kill all the embryos you like as long as you don't fund your research with taxpayer money.

    No matter. I predict Kerry will keep up the lie, and say something close to "George Bush killed Christopher Reeve." He might even get Dana Reeve do it for him on TV.

    Unless MoveOn.org beats him to it.

    --

    UPDATE: Kerry hasn't blatantly painted Bush with responsibility for Reeve's death yet. He's only implied it obliquely. But I'm certain down to my bones that Kerry will find a way to hit Bush with this during the third debate this Wednesday. Watch for it at the end of a Kerry rebuttal, when Bush has little or no time to respond. It'll be something along the lines of "if not for the ban on stem cell research imposed by this Administration, my dear late friend Chris Reeve might be alive and walking tonight." Kerry will deliver the lie with his best attempt at a mournful expression and sympathetic voice.

    Watch for new widow Dana Reeve to silently show up at Kerry's side after the debate, too.

    UPDATE (Oct 12, 12:22 PM): John Edwards, shameless ambulance chaser, jumped in with both feet today (link to follow). For now, see Drudge. I'm having difficulty choosing the words to accurately describe my contempt for this new low in political pandering.

    UPDATE (1:00 PM): Edwards said "When John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk. Get up out of that wheelchair and walk again." Bull. There is no cure for spinal cord injuries. Furthermore, no peer-reviewed embryonic stem cell research study to date has shown promise for finding a cure. Not one. They're still stuck on the scarring problem. Go ahead and look, but you won't find anything, believe me. I keep up to date on this topic, and I'm fairly familiar with the state of the law on federal funding of embryo stem cell research.

    UPDATE (1:39 PM): I've been waiting to fire this broadside all year. Hey, Kedwards ... catch!

    Adult stem cells create new jawbone?

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    A German man who lost his lower jaw to cancer has a new one today. His doctor grew one for him in the muscles of his back, and the man's own adult stem cells probably caused the growth.

    For comparison's sake, the number of jawbones grown using embryonic stem cells is still zero.

    Hat tip: Drudge

    This was originally going to be a comment tacked onto the end of this post about abortion on Wizbang, but it got a bit long. Thank goodness for trackbacks!

    In Paul's post, he comments on John "Waffles" Kerry's incoherent statement on abortion and the beginning of life:

    A Catholic who supports abortion rights and has taken heat from some in the church hierarchy for his stance, Kerry told [The Washington Post], "I oppose abortion, personally. I don't like abortion. I believe life does begin at conception."

    ...

    ... Kerry has often said abortion should be "safe, legal and rare" ...

    Paul takes Kerry to task for saying that he thinks it should be safe and legal to kill babies ... and I'm on board 100% with that observation. Now, some very thoughtful reader comments followed, including the following from Jack (who has his own blog, TigerHawk):

    Actually, it is possible to argue that "life" begins at conception and believe that some abortions should be lawful without legalizing "murder." It is not a politically attractive argument, but you can make it nonetheless.

    There are actually two arguments.

    ...

    The second argument turns on "duty to rescue" and our notions of personal autonomy. No American court, not even the Supreme Court, can require you to donate bone marrow, or even blood, to save the life of your autonomous child. That is your choice to make, and if you decide not to do it we may abhor your choice but we will not hold you down to extract the marrow.

    Well, if we won't require you to donate tissue to save the life of your already born child, why do we require you to "donate" tissue to the fetus that is attached to you? I've never understood that, and do not believe that we should. Therefore, separation from a fetus should be lawful, even if deplorable. [emphasis added]

    This is a variation of what's known as the violinist argument, first articulated in 1971 by Judith Jarvis Thomson. In her analogy a famous violinist develops a fatal kidney problem, so his friends rescue him by kidnapping a healthy bystander and plugging the violinist into the bystander's kidneys. The kidnappers tell the victim that he shouldn't unplug the violinist, since it would kill the poor musician ... and after all the violinist can be safely unplugged after nine months (oh, how clever). Thomson then asserts that if it's wrong to prohibit the bystander from defending himself from such an imposition on his body (however temporary), then it's also wrong to prohibit a woman from "unplugging" an unwelcome fetus making similar demands on her body. Eileen McDonagh uses a variation on this theme today, but the basic argument's the same.

    Sounds pretty tightly reasoned, right? It can really flummox an inexperienced pro-life apologist. But it suffers from some critical flaws.

    • Unlike the violinist example, abortion isn't "letting someone die". It's actively killing someone.
    • The violinist bears responsibility for allowing himself to be hooked up to the bystander. The unborn child neither consents to being conceived nor to being aborted. This matters. "Conception followed by eviction from the womb could be compared to capturing someone, placing him on an airplane, and then shoving him out without a parachute in mid-flight." -- Libertarians For Life
    • The mother's womb is the baby's natural environment. He's not trespassing; it's where he belongs.
    • A mother's responsibility toward her child trumps her personal liberty. Greg Koukl puts it well:

       

      The violinist analogy suggests that a mother has no more responsibility for the welfare of her child than she has to a total stranger. ... Blood relationships are never based on choice, yet they entail moral obligations, nonetheless. ... If it is moral for a mother to deny her child the necessities of life (through abortion) before it is born, how can she be obligated to provide the same necessities after he's born? Remember, Thompson concedes that the fetus is a person from the moment of conception. If her argument works to justify abortion, it works just as well to justify killing any dependent child. After all, a two-year-old makes a much greater demand on a woman than a developing unborn.

      Thompson is mistaken in presuming that pregnancy is the thing that expropriates a woman's liberty. Motherhood does that, and motherhood doesn't end with the birth of the child. Unlike the woman connected to the violinist, a mother is not released in nine months. Her burden has just begun. If Thompson's argument works, then no child is safe from a mother who wants her liberty.


     

    John Kerry's campaign

    Scratch one pro-abort analogy.

    --

    Correction: I mistakenly credited Kevin with Paul's writing, and have fixed that oversight. My bad, Paul.

    C'mon, say it with me: "abortion"

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    Rich Lowry at NRO observes that for people describing themselves as "pro-choice", uttering the word "abortion" is a rare thing indeed.

    Oscar Wilde famously spoke so many years ago, referring to homosexuality, of "the love that dare not speak its name." Today, of course, homosexuality shouts its name and affixes it to marriage licenses. But there is a new kind of open secret -- "the right that dare not speak its name."

    In a June decision, a federal judge in San Francisco ruled the recently passed partial-birth-abortion ban unconstitutional. The right to abortion is as legally secure as ever, but its advocates have never been so apparently ashamed of the practice itself. If pro-choice advocates believe in the necessity and goodness of their position, one would expect them to say something like, "We support abortion -- that's A-B-O-R-T-I-O-N -- so women can eliminate unwanted children." Instead, they take refuge in the foggiest corners of obfuscation.

    In April, supporters of Roe v. Wade held a rally in Washington in support of the right to abortion. But you would hardly know it. The rally was called the "March for Women's Lives" -- well, for the lives of women who aren't very, very young. The word "abortion" was almost verboten among people who support the right to it.

    This is nothing new (the linked essay is an Adobe PDF file), but it's good to be reminded that the pro-aborts are the ones playing fast and loose with language and facts. Restoring meaning to the word "abortion" is a key part of the pro-life apologist's task.

    Syndicated talk radio host Glenn Beck, a conservative pro-lifer, spent a major part of today's three-hour show discussing his intention to broadcast the sounds of an abortion on tomorrow's show, commentary-free. Basically, he's calling the pro-choice bluff that says "it's just a surgical procedure, nothing more."

    Although he's known for masterfully-done gags and parodies, he's also been known to get deadly serious for long stretches. I'm not sure whether this is a giant publicity stunt, or whether it's real. How in the world does a conservative pro-life talk radio host find an abortionist willing to allow microphopnes into the clinic? What kind of woman agrees to her abortion being broadcast to millions?

    I'm a pro-lifer's pro-lifer, but I'm not buying this one.

    If you're interested in listening in, here's how to find an affiliate that carries his show.

    --

    UPDATE: I was right. It was a stunt.

    Gunner, target: idiot pro-abort marchers

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    In the "feminists & light bulbs" vein

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    ScrappleFace: 38 Million Not Expected at DC Abortion Rights Rally

    The American Association of Aborted People (AAAP), a political inaction committee, said none of its 38 million members would participate in the protest march.

    Haw!

    And now for something ... completely different. Here's a silly church leader's response to the BBC's plan to televise an abortion:

    The Catholic Church condemned the programme. A spokesman for the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Birmingham, said: "Any film that shows an abortion is abhorrent to Catholics."

    Abhorrent, yes ... but is it factually accurate? That's what matters.

    Graphic images cut through the overwhelming background noise of our busy, visually-oriented pop-culture world. There's a reason that the local news channels lead their broadcasts with fires and car crashes: we're wired to notice things like that. It's proven beyond doubt that a similar approach works for the pro-life movement. Why else would abortion advocates recoil and complain so bitterly about our photographs of bloody fetuses?

    I take it the good archbishop wants to keep Catholics blissfully unaware of the horrors happening daily in British abortion clinics, rather than risking any harm to their tender feelings. He must think his flock are literal sheep.

    Abortion on British TV, but not here

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    Hat tip: Drudge

    The Observer reports that the BBC's Channel 4 will screen a graphic film showing an abortion on April 20th.

    Any attempt to do that here on ABC, CBS, or NBC would be ... well, aborted. In America, land of free speech, our most divisive issue is never confronted in its gory reality on TV. Pro-life activists have been forced to get creative with efforts like The Reproductive "Choice" Campaign or The Genocide Awareness Project. Their tactics get coverage, and by extension their photos get airtime on TV despite the media's reluctance to show them.

    The British approach is refreshingly open:

    "I decided to include images of 10-, 11- and 21-week-old aborted foetuses in my film because, however shocking, repulsive and confrontational they are, they represent the reality," Julia Black, the independent film-maker behind the programme, writes in today's Observer.

    "Aborted foetuses from 10 weeks on look like tiny babies. Rationally, we know abortion ends the life of a potential human being, but why, when we see what they look like, are we so shocked?"

    I'd say we're shocked because our consciences scream "stop killing!" when we see dead children.

    Now that the Unborn Victims of Violence Act is in effect, watch the news over the next few days and you'll likely see some pro-abortion activist request a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against enforcing it.

    The abortion industry plaintiffs (The National Abortion Federation, Planned Parenthood, and the ghoulish Dr. Leroy Carhart) got a TRO within hours of the enactment of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 (eventually they got three of 'em). They feared that public support of the ban was too strong to resist, and that posed a thorny problem. Solution? Shop around for a sympathetic federal judge with an itchy trigger finger, and bang! Keep those suction tubes a-hummin' during the trials!

    Now the abortion industry confronts a law that recognizes the personhood of the unborn, and they can read the writing on the wall. If they don't gut this bill, the will of the people might actually be preserved ... and that hurts the abortionists' bottom line.

    Watch this site and the plaintiffs' Federal Abortion Ban Trials site for breaking news on the coming legal smackdown.

    For feminists who care more about image than substance, this heart-warming tableau ...

    UVVA signing
    President Bush Signs Unborn Victims of Violence Act

    ... ought to make up for this appalling lack of politically correct diversity:

    PBA Ban signing
    President Bush signs Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003

    I'm sure the gals at NOW are on board this time. I expect they'll endorse President Bush soon. Yup, any minute now ...

    FDA: "Don't nuke that bun in the oven"

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    On Saturday, the AP reported that the FDA had issued a warning against nonmedical "keepsake" sonograms performed to give expecting parents an early look at junior without a visit to the doctor. After last year's report of 3D sonograms catching pictures of unborn babies smiling from the womb, entrepreneurs have been opening sonogram centers to answer the demand from pregnant couples.

    The FDA is worried that these nonmedical sonograms are being performed with too much energy for too long a time, putting unborn children at risk for birth defects. Sounds reasonable. I'm just wondering what the implications of a shutdown order would be.

    The abortion industry hates the drain on their profits that results when pregnant moms see that they're carrying recognizable little people inside, not just a "nonviable tissue mass" or "product of conception." Naomi Wolf, in her article "Pro-Choice and Pro-Life" (New York Times, Op-Ed., April 3, 1997), saw things clearly when she said:

    When someone holds up a model of a six-month-old fetus and a pair of surgical scissors, we say "choice" and we lose.

    She also wrote in a different essay:

    The pro-choice movement often treats with contempt the pro-lifers' practice of holding up to our faces their disturbing graphics ... [But] how can we charge that it is vile and repulsive for pro-lifers to brandish vile and repulsive images if the images are real? To insist that the truth is in poor taste is the very height of hypocrisy. Besides, if these images are often the facts of the matter, and if we then claim that it is offensive for pro-choice women to be confronted with them, then we are making the judgment that women are too inherently weak to face a truth about which they have to make a decision. This view is unworthy of feminism.

    The truth really is on our side. However, if these 3D sonograms become harder to obtain, the pro-life movement will have lost a great way to show our visually oriented culture that the unborn are people. I hope the commercial sonogram shops dial back the power and exposure enough to protect the unborn while still making a profit, so that more people finally see the truth.

    --

    UPDATE 4/3/04: FDA Targets Ultrasound Photo Shops, Pro-Life Groups Concerned

    The infanticide lobby is back

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    3 Court Battles Begin Over Abortion Law (AP)

    Three federal judges enjoined enforcement of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 last year, and today the trials started. If you thought the final result of Stenberg v. Carhart was twisted, just wait. I guarantee that the trial judges and Courts of Appeal will reach new extremes of legal contortionism to try to get around the exhaustively detailed findings of fact that Congress put into the bill. I pray the U.S. Supreme Court wises up and upholds the ban when these cases hit their docket.

    This is going to be a brutal legal fight, but we have truth on our side. Once the public sees graphic images of first trimester abortions, then sees the familiar PBA diagrams again, the dam will burst. Judges can't ignore the citizenry forever.

    You'd think that the pro-aborts in the Senate would have learned not to let Dianne Feinstein argue their case on the record ... but you'd be wrong.

    Here's what she said on Thursday while arguing against The Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004 (Congressional record, pp. S3145-S3146). I can't resist the opportunity to set the hook, reel in this poor idiotfish, and club her with a ClueBat™.

    Mr. President, we do not address when life begins. I just read Justice Blackmun's opinion in Roe v. Wade. It is interesting, because he goes back to the Stoics, the Catholic Church, to the Middle Ages, and discusses the difference of opinion of when life begins, the difference of opinions in science. Then he reaches his conclusion that because these differences are so vast, the law generally does not directly enjoin that point of when life begins. [emphasis added]

    The law certainly does say when life begins, Senator. It begins right after birth and not a moment before, according to the late Justice Blackmun and his black-robed intellectual heirs. An unborn child may be aborted at any point during pregnancy for any reason or no reason.

    In Roe v. Wade, Blackmun refused to say "life begins in the womb", so he effectively said "there's nobody there ... go ahead and kill that thing."

    In Doe v. Bolton, the infamous health exception means a pregnant woman need only claim that her "health" is in jeopardy (meaning anything from life-threatening consequences to unverifiable mental/familial/age-related stress), and voilá! Instant access to an abortion.

    Stenberg v. Carhart says it's quite alright to perform partial-birth abortions, in which the nice abortionist delivers all but the head of a full-term unborn child, stabs her in the head with scissors, sucks out her brain, then crushes her empty skull and delivers her now-dead body.

    Sounds to me like the Supreme Court's pretty sure that there's nobody there to be protected ... at least not until everything's outside of mom's body. So do everybody a favor and stop trotting out this "we do not address when life begins" nonsense like it's an actual argument.

    You have heard the most poignant, disturbing, heartrending stories on this floor. I respond to them like everybody else does. But I also know if you give a fertilized egg rights in the Federal law, it is going to have repercussions downline. If you declare in this bill you can prove a 1-day-old fertilized egg was a victim and therefore murdered, how do you turn around and say in another law you can proceed with embryonic stem cell research? You have the same 1-day-old fertilized egg. If it is murder here, is it not murder there? What are the repercussions of doing that? They are enormous. [emphasis added]

    You're exactly right, Senator. It's pretty twisted logic to say that a man's a murderer if he kicks his pregnant girlfriend and kills her baby, but he's a noble provider of a critical service if he's an obstetrician and sucks her unwanted baby into a sink when she asks him to.

    I wonder which way the abortion debate would be resolved if we put illogical situations like these to a vote? More on that in a moment.

    The other side doesn't talk about this. They talk about women who are 7 or 8 or 9 months pregnant. They talk about the most heinous and brutal assaults. But the bill does much more. The bill says a 1-day-old fertilized egg is a member of the species Homo sapiens. Translation: It is a person. Translation: It is a human being. [emphasis added]

    Um, Senator, what species is that fertilized egg a member of? How can a male Homo sapiens and a female Homo sapiens mate in such a way to produce offspring that are not members of the species Homo sapiens? If it's not a human being, then what is that thing in there? A dog? A cat? A unicorn?

    That is the problem, and this Senate, before it passes out this bill, should understand it and should understand there is an alternative, and the alternative aims to impose the same penalties, but doesn't create that victim fertilized egg, 1 day old -- by nobody's stretch a human being -- possible of becoming a human being, but not a human being. I have live cells, but they are not capable of producing life. [emphasis added]

    Wait, let me make sure I've got this right. Nobody thinks a 1-day-old zygote of the species Homo sapiens is a human being? Funny, but I seem to recall certain Senators complaining about vast mobs of drooling right-wingers wanting to impose their views on everybody. Those folks don't think that little thing in there is a human being?

    The sperm was alive, and so was the unfertilized egg, and after they joined nothing died (I know, give the abortionists time and they'll take care of that). If nothing died, then that little thing we're talking about is a living entity, so it can be properly called a being. What kind of being is it? Well, a human sperm merged with a human egg, so the resulting being must be a ... gosh, this is so hard, isn't it Senator? Whatever might the answer be?

    Nobody thinks it's a human being, you say? Right. Got it. Thanks.

    But once the child, the fetus in the womb, is capable of living, that is a different story. I am the first one to admit that is a different story. But everything in this bill, the underlying bill, goes back to the basic definition of what is being done here, and that is that personhood, life, is being given to a 1-day-old fertilized egg. [emphasis added]

    It's a different story? You support a viable fetus' right to life? This is news, considering your record of supporting partial-birth abortion in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2003. I look forward to hearing how "different" your position is when we're not talking about 1-day-old zygotes.

    I saw the terrible morbidity and the terrible things they did illegally in back-alley abortions. At that point, I said this is so terrible. Then Roe v. Wade passed in 1973, and a woman could control her own reproductive system, particularly in that first trimester. [emphasis added]

    I wondered earlier about this whole abortion rights mess coming to a vote.

    So Roe v. Wade "passed"? Passed what, Senator? It didn't pass through any legislative body I've ever heard of. It wasn't a bill, because it wouldn't have stood a snowball's chance in hell of getting through Congress. It was a lawsuit that made it past 7 unelected old men in black robes, which is still your only hope for keeping abortion on demand legal. Was that what you meant?

    I tried to perfect the bill. ... I have made it crystal clear in my remarks. We will have the same penalties [in the amendment] for the same crimes as the underlying bill. We will avoid one thing, and that is determining when life, for the purpose of law, actually begins. [emphasis added]

    What you're trying to avoid is the truth, Senator. You don't like having to defend the killing of children, so you throw up a smokescreen of almost-arguments and catchphrases, hoping against hope that we rubes out here in flyover country won't catch on. I'm not betting much on your side's chances, now that your stranglehold on the media is broken and your grip on the education system is loosening.

    ClueBat™ application complete.

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