The rape exception makes no sense

Many pro-lifers believe abortion should be permitted if the mother seeking one became pregnant because she was raped. This position makes no sense.

If the unborn is a human being, then the rape exception says it’s acceptable to kill a human being if her father raped her mother, or if her existence causes her mother emotional distress, or both. Following this logic, a mother of a three year old girl conceived in rape may kill her daughter for the same reasons.

If the unborn is not a human being, then no special exception for rape is required. Mothers may freely abort for any reason or no reason.

To resolve the controversy over abortion in the case of rape, simply answer one question: “What is the unborn?”

The rape exception to abortion

Whichever way you answer that question, there is no moral difference between the two fetuses in the photo above. They’re either both human beings, or they’re both not.

Rape is evil. Period. Murder is evil. Period. Murdering an innocent third party using rape as an excuse is evil. Period.

When you shut down your ability to reason your way through a problem, and rely instead on your emotional responses, you risk making a horribly wrong choice.

The rape exception for abortion

Clear away your emotions for one brief moment and think. If the unborn is not a human being, then the rape exception is unnecessary. But if the unborn is a human being, then the rape exception is unjustified.

So go answer the most important question.

10:15 Update: Even a pro-choice atheist gets it. C’mon, you people are embarrassing the pro-life cause.

10/30 Update:

The rape exception to abortion

A thought experiment on the “rape/incest/deformity exception” in the abortion debate

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.

Anthony Kennedy on abortion: steady as Jell-O

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.”

What are you doing about abortion?

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?

Fatally flawed: the violinist argument for abortion rights

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”

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.

First an abortion on British TV, now on American radio?

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.

Archbishop to UK Catholics: “The truth about abortion is too icky for you to see.”

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

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.

Forecast: partly cloudy with TRO flurries

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.

FDA: “Don’t nuke that bun in the oven”

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