Check out the animated show Bat out of Hell on Kickstarter!

Located: The Selfish Gene

toure

“It was a thrill to watch that boy grow inside her, but I must admit during that second trimester as we watched him move around on 3-D sonograms I saw how human they were and my life long belief in abortion rights was – let’s say – jostled. It was life colliding with belief system. I had to rethink my position, but in the end I remain committed to being pro-choice because I cannot imagine arguing against a woman’s right to control her body – and thus – her life.”

I think I prefer the glass of whisky, fire on the hearth, roses and sexy talk when I’m seduced into buying a bill of goods… But, oh well.

Film at eleven.

Comments

  1. Refreshing to see ideology so obviously triumph over the miracle of birth.

    (as opposed to less obviously triumph)

    /sarcasticrantover

  2. Didn’t they abort that kid?

    The kind of boy you want to take home to mom.

    I’m speechless.

  3. Quin Finnegan says:

    This is just awful. Stupifying, really, the way he breezes through the antilogic: “the choice that saved my life”, the farcical dichotomy of ‘autonomy’ and ‘morality’, and all those unconsidered statistics.

    It is very weird when he says, “It was life colliding with belief system”. I would think it commonly understood that this construal would naturally lead to the right decision. Life is basically good, something we naturally desire, and continue to reconcile ourselves to. A belief systems is an abstraction, naturally prone to error, and fungible even when taken most seriously. So why not change the belief? Especially when faced with incontrovertible evidence, like a sonogram of your child.

    This is why “dialogue” is extremely difficult, if not impossible. We’re back in some pre-Abrahamic era of child sacrfice. Sacrifice is always made for some greater good, and when it comes to a “discussion” of “values”, I think we’re already lost. It’s already been made relative.

    I’m sure you all get this better than I do … kids and all that. Man, what a strange defense.

    Thanks(?), JOB.

  4. It was that guy from Covington, La., that was talking about angel and beast conspiring tok put the shiv to the human, wasn’t it?

    I won’t be surprised if this fella suffers from both panic attacks and lower intestinal complaints.

    I thought the (il)logic in this piece was about as well mapped out as one could hope – and on national TV no less!

    As Patrick Archbold would say:

    D.O.O.M.E.D.

    JOB

  5. Okay, I’m going to get in trouble here, but whatever. I don’t think it’s illogical at all. I recently gave my ninth graders the essay “In Defense of Abortion” by Judith Jarvis Thompson from 1971. If you’ve never read it I highly recommend it. We used it to examine the pro-choice position as well as use of analogies. It’s a highly reasonable piece. There is a logic to the pro-choice position, as there can be logic to any position, and Thompson expresses it well.

    My students, all Catholic, found it incredibly dispiriting, and wondered, “How can I argue with this? It’s airtight. It’s irrefutable.” One of them even said he was converted to the pro-choice position after reading it. (I’m still working on him.)

    But basically what Thompson did was this: She was the first pro-choicer to grant that the premise that, yes, a fetus IS a person and that abortion COULD BE considered “killing” or destroying a human life, but she said that there is a difference between just killing and unjust killing and that abortion falls in the former category. Once you shift the argument into these terms, onto these grounds, it gets pretty dicey, as far as logic goes, because there are a million ways to justify something once you grant that, theoretically, something could be justified.

    It seems to me that if Christians stood by the idea that life, always, should trump ideology, we would be on much better ground. If Christians maintained that killing is wrong, period, we would be on solid ground. But as we all know, Christians do not profess this. There are myriad times when killing another human being can be seen as “just,” and once you open this door (“Love your enemies but…” “Love your enemies except when…”), then you’ve already ceded your ground, and your opponent is halfway there. Yes, abortion is a violent, horrible act committed against another person who is seen as a threat, but it would be a lie to pretend that Christian’s don’t allow that violent, horrible acts committed against another person who is seen as a threat are sometimes just, necessary…even laudable!

    The pro-choicers don’t have to prove that abortion is killing. They only have to prove that abortion is just killing. And when there are already so many other examples of “just killing” that all people, including Christians support, well…

    In the words of MLK: “Reason itself is little more than an instrument to justify man’s defensive ways of thinking. Reason, devoid of the purifying power of faith, can never free itself from distortions and rationalizations.”

    • Matthew Lickona says:

      Ellen, I disagree. I would be glad to have it out in the open in this way. Right now, the vast, vast majority of arguments for abortion hinge on asserting the actual personhood of the pregnant woman over the not-actual personhood of the fetus. If the humanity of the fetus was generally accepted, I think the pro-choice position would lose a great deal of support. It’s true that people can demonize anyone they deem problematic, be they Muslims in Iraq or fetuses in the womb, but it’s still harder than simply saying, “This is a question of a woman’s right to do what she wills with her own body.” Yes, once we all agree that abortion is killing a human, there’s a new battleground. Yes, some will say that the killing is justified. But the debate will have firmer footing than it does now, when the fetuses plausibly deniable personhood makes everything slippery.

      • Beat me to it!

        JOB

      • I am sure you know much more about the various arguments for abortion than I. It just seemed to me that this guy was recognizing that this was, indeed, a human life: “that boy”…”I saw how human they were”…”It was life colliding with belief system.”

        But he says that, regardless of the fact that he now saw that a fetus was a life and his beliefs were jostled — he still didn’t think that the life should override the woman’s control of her body. To me it sounded like he was echoing Thompson’s argument that, “Yeah, it might be a life, but the woman’s right to her body trumps the life.”

        But upon second look, I see that he says “I saw how human they were,” and not “I saw that they were human.” Still, I suspect that even if he admitted that he saw that they were human, his position would remain the same.

        • You’re probably right – but I wonder if his definition of human is the same as ours. Either way, that remains the rub.

          JOB

          • I disagree! It doesn’t come down to whether both parties have the same definition of what a human is but whether both parties agree that a human can ever be justly destroyed.

            If both parties agree that there are situations in which a human can be justly destroyed, then the next step is to quibble about circumstances. It all becomes circumstantial.

            Or maybe I’m just a zealot. That’s possible.

            • I guess I’m saying that that discussion about who can and can’t be destroyed must presuppose a common understanding of the terms “human” and “nature.”

              Self defense arguments, for instance, it seems to me, can only be made with a clear understanding of what it means to be human.

              Or look at it this way: killing another man’s slave is theft but not murder – or only 3/4ths murder, if you will.

              Unless the two sides can agree on what’s human, isn’t the womb merely a puppy pound and mom merely the SPCA?

              Thought experiment:

              When you ask someone on the proabortion side when human life begins, what does he say?

              (And if he pleads ignornance due to paygrade or some other bulsht, tell him to read P.K. Dick’s “Pre-persons.” It might help the discussion to develop.)

              JOB

              • Yes, if a pro-choicer were to say that the fetus is not human or is subhuman or is something other than fully a human, from conception, then the question of just killing is moot. I absolutely agree that that is the first question that must be answered.

            • Ellen–John Kavanaugh’s Who Count As Persons? Read it. He completely makes the same case, using Thomas Aquinas no less.

              For the record, I agree with you. That darned CW influence.

        • Oh, I’m not claiming to know more about arguments than anybody. I’m just saying that the argument would be on different grounds if everybody acknowledged the personhood of the fetus, and they are grounds I would prefer to fight on.

          • The problem isn’t logical coherence. The problem is with perception and judgment. This guy sees the fetus and recognizes its humanity. But he refuses to treat it like a human being. He justifies himself with words words words. To see what’s in front of one’s nose is a constant struggle. — Orwell. That is where art is supposed to help, somehow. And journalism. Leave JJT to the philosophers, of which we have plenty.

            • Good counsel, Santiago. I’m not much of a philosopher. But then again, I’m not much of a journalist or artist!

              TAGGED WITH: ALPHONSE4LIFE

          • And I’m not claiming that you were claiming that you knew more about it. I was just saying that….oh, nevermind. : )

            No, I hear you. But even if the pro-life movement could prove to all beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was, in fact, human, they’d still find themselves with another battle to fight: explaining why this form of killing is unjust and why the woman doesn’t have a right to “self defense.”

            • Yes, yes, yes. Ellen, I see this everyday in (gasp) Catholic university classrooms. Admittedly most students– I mean people — work from their decision to an argument for it, not vice versa. So there is no magic bullet. Change the culture, promote life, promote *seeing* correctly, promote good arguments, and consider that a life ethic has implications beyond abortion and euthanasia and sometimes capital punishment.

              Its a full bore exercise.

              I’m teaching natural law theory right now, and while I don’t like teaching it (hard to teach, abstract, challenging reading for the grumpy students who’d prefer the 10 commandments rehashed), it is enormously refreshing to discuss aboriginal moral truths.

              Then again, my students think my take on what’s refreshing and fun is a bit off.

              • Full bore indeed. IC, any chance you’ll be attending the Walker Percy conference in the fall?

                P.S. Yay! “During their annual meeting, USCCB voted to support Dorothy Day’s cause for sainthood. To steal a line from Peter Kreeft about his heroes Jesus and Socrates, Dorothy Day certainly has something to offend everyone.”

                • Potential patron saint for so many – including post-abortive mothers. But there is much to recommend her – and much that the bishops can learn from her. She was not, how shall we say it? as concerned with pastoral delicacies as our shepherds might be…

                  Best DD story ever: DD was making the rounds of her Catholic Worker Houses and discovered that in at least one of them the workers were treating the house like a bordello – not literally, of course, but when she found that many of her volunteers were cohabitating she kicked the lot out and told them something along the lines of “You are here at the behest of the Lord, not your own lusts.” or somesuch.

                  That was a personal anecdote not likely to make it into many bios of the woman – but somewhere I seem to remember she had a fierce reaction – much along the lines of poor Eveyln Waugh – after they gutted – er, I mean, revised the Mass.

                  Finally, again, memory fails me where I heard this, but when asked about ecumenism and the concern that her Catholicism – and especially her great love for the Mass – would effect her relations with other “faith groups” in helping poor she responded much as Mother Teresa did – “Without the Blessed Sacrament my work would be virtually impossible” or something along those lines.

                  JOB

                  • Oh, wow. I wasn’t even thinking about the tie in with abortion, but you’re right, that’s true. They need a saint, too, don’t they? I just grabbed for The Long Loneliness and flipped it open and this is what I flipped to (no joke):

                    “No matter how much one was loved or one loved, that love was lonely without a child. It was incomplete…I will never forget my blissful joy when I was first sure that I was pregnant…I remember feeling so much in love, so settled, so secure that now I had found what I was looking for.

                    It did not last all through my pregnancy, that happiness. There were conflicts because Forster did not believe in bringing children into such a world as we lived in. He still was obsessed by the war. His fear of responsibility, his dislike of having the control of others, his extreme individualism made him feel that he of all men should not be a father.”

                    • OK, a few more and you’ll be ready to teach an entire course – “The Politics and Culture of Abortion in Western Civilization”

                      Thompson
                      Aristotle
                      Day
                      Ovid (“Amores” – Book II.xiv, which offers an argument against abortion)
                      Pope Sixtus V, Effraenatum (1588 landmark bull declaring abortion and contraception morally illicit)
                      Hemingway (“Hills Like White Elephants” and “A Farewell to Arms”)
                      P.K. Dick (“The Pre-persons”)
                      Harry Blackmun (Roe V. Wade decision)
                      John Barth (“The End of the Road”)
                      Lickona (“Alphonse”)

                      What else?

                      JOB

                    • Did Forster eventually become a suave TV personality by any chance?

                      JOB

                    • Oh, and I forgot – IC’s suggestion: John Kavanaugh’s “Who Count As Persons?”

                      Mabye some Pete Singer too?

                      JOB

                    • Yes, perhaps that will be the next course after “The Hunger Games and the Gospel Message of Nonviolence,” which I am 80% serious about. It will be like a board game: For ages 12 and up.

                  • “War is murder wrapped in flags” definitely doesn’t pass the pastoral delicacy test.

                • Ellen, I can’t be at the WP extravaganza. Alas.

        • Quin Finnegan says:

          Thanks, Ellen. I think you are right in saying that proponents of abortion now grant that a fetus is a human life, and thanks for the heads up on the Thompson article. That was part of the point I was trying to make above – the debate over whether a fetus is a human life or something more like a cantaloupe seems to have run its course, and as the video shows, most proponents of abortion acknowledge that a fetus is a human life. I know Matthew knows more about this than I do, but I think we’re seeing more and more abortion proponents like this guy and Ms. Thompson.

          Because it always ends up with a discussion of victims. Yes, the fetus is a victim, but it can also be said (with ample justification) that the real victim is the woman. In cases of rape or incest, certainly, but those are only the most obvious forms—so the argument goes.

          Which is why I brought up the word “sacrifice”, for clearly some form of sacrifice is involved. Either the fetus is sacrificed for the better life of the people performing the sacrifice, or sacrifices must be made for the life of the fetus. The question is whether we want to live in one of those many civilizations based on child sacrifice—in part, but to a degree we can’t recognize—or a world in which people sacrifice themselves for some greater good.

          And I like what JOB says below re natural law and Christian ethos. Without the latter, the former is just a justification for sacrifice. The problem (for Thompson et al.) is that we can’t now rid ourselves of that Christian ethos, and that’s why I think it’s sophistry rather than logic.

          As Matthew says, that’s the difference between Christianity and civilization.

          • Judith Jarvis Thomson says:

            Yes, I’ll grant that a fetus is a human life. More of us are admitting this because a human fetus will obviously not develop into a goat.

            I would probably liken an abortion to self-defense more than I would liken it to child sacrifice. However, I do think you could say that a woman who gets pregnant and doesn’t want the child and doesn’t want to be pregnant but chooses to give birth anyway IS making a form of self-sacrifice. And I, too, would like to live in a world where people sacrifice themselves for the greater good. Who wouldn’t?

            However, while sacrificing one’s self for the greater good is a nice thing to do, noble even, it should not be required of people by law. I might choose to live in near starvation so as to donate all my money to a soup kitchen. This would be a nice thing to do, but it should not be required of me. I should not be punished by society or threatened or seen as a criminal if I choose not to perform this loving act of self-sacrifice.

            As a Christian, surely you believe that every human is given free will, and must choose to act out of love or from some other motive. A person cannot be compelled, through threat of punishment or pain, to do a loving deed. Self-sacrifice cannot and should not be compelled. (Thus, I would also be against conscription, which is merely a form of slavery — someone else having a right to your body, your time, and your life. If someone chooses to sacrifice himself for his country, I may admire him. Nobody, however, should be forced to do so.) Carrying a child — whether wanted or not — to full term and giving it life is an act of love and should be admired and respected; but it should not be required. The mother should not have to sacrifice herself if she does not want to. Love must always be a choice or it is not love.

            • Ms. Thomson,
              Thanks for commenting! Agreed, love must always be a choice or it is not love.
              I think it is probably important to consider the “form” in the “form of self-sacrifice” that is carrying a child to term.
              Can we agree that the law may require us to make certain forms of self-sacrifice? I am required to pay taxes. I am forbidden from taking my neighbor’s car (or life), no matter how much I might desire it. In both cases, my self must give something over for the sake of others.
              Of course, a woman carrying a child to term is not the same as paying taxes. It’s a much more extreme sort of self-sacrifice. But can we agree that certain forms of self-sacrifice may be required by justice?

              • A slightly closer comparison: it is illegal to neglect or abuse a child post-birth. And yet the proper care and feeding of a child post-birth requires a good deal of self-sacrifice. I would say that this form of self-sacrifice may be required by justice. Love need not enter into it.

                • My friends call me JT, like Justin Timberlake says:

                  I’m one step ahead of you Lickona: “If a set of parents do not try to prevent pregnancy, do not obtain an abortion, but rather take it home with them, then they have assumed responsibility for it, they have given it rights, and they cannot now withdraw support from it at the cost of its life because they now find it difficult to go on providing for it. But if they have taken all reasonable precautions against having a child, they do not simply by virtue of their biological relationship to the child who comes into existence have a special responsibility for it. They may wish to assume responsibility for it, or they may not wish to. And I am suggesting that if assuming responsibility for it would require large sacrifices, then they may refuse.” There is also a stellar analogy in my essay about a seed that drifts in through my window, lands in the carpet, and starts to sprout. It’s just full of gems, I’m telling you.

                  • Yo JT,
                    I wasn’t going there. I was just trying to argue that self-sacrifice may be required by justice, without love entering into the consideration.

                    • My friends call me JT, like Justin Timberlake says:

                      I hear you. See my other response re: justice/self sacrifice.

                    • I’ll be the lunk head here: don’t you take responsibilty for producing a child once you’ve engaged in sex? i.e. contraception is against nature and therefore if a child results from the contraceptive failure, the onus is not on nature but on you – kinda like betting on a losing horse?

                      Somewhere along the line, we began to believe contraception was a slam dunk – but as is always the case when humans try to fool mother nature, we got caught in the net on the rim…

                      The seed isn’t coming into the window uninvited, I guess I’m saying.

                      JOB

              • My friends call me JT, like Justin Timberlake says:

                Why, you’re welcome!

                Is paying taxes a form of self-sacrifice? I would not say so, because I think the term “SELF-sacrifice” implies that it comes from one’s self, one’s own choice. What happens if I don’t pay taxes? The Feds fine me or throw me in jail. I pay mostly for fear of punishment, regardless of whether I find it just or unjust. The illusion of choice could perhaps be preserved if, every December, Americans had to write a check for their share of taxes owed. Everybody knows what would happen in that case, which is why taxes are “deducted” before the person who earned it can ever lay hands on it.

                “But,” you say, “surely we all agree that having some of the fruits of our labor confiscated is just, otherwise we wouldn’t consent to it. By choosing to continue to live in our society, we consent to it. Those who don’t consent to it can move to Antarctica. Therefore, the fact that we stay here and file our taxes every year means that, deep down, we believe it is just.”

                Okay, okay, let’s say that’s true. And I’ll even pretend that it’s not done by force, and that by continuing to live in this society, we are volunteering the fruits of our labor for confiscation out of a noble sense of self-sacrifice: It is a choice because we continue to live here. Okay.

                So, certain forms of required self-sacrifice (though I wish we had a better word) may be required for justice, i.e. the greater good, but can we both agree that there are limits to both the form and degree of self-sacrifice that the State can justly require?

                First: externals. How much can the State (or society) require of me when it comes to their expectation that I should “sacrifice” my wealth and possessions for the greater good? I think we can all agree that there should be limits. Most people would call a 95% tax rate unjust, and some people’s bar is much lower (see: Stamp Act). Most people would say it is just to garnish the wages of man who abandons his child, but people would debate about whether it is just to garner one man’s wages to pay for the education of another. Surely, there must be limits to these things. Without limits to how much the State can require of us, we are slaves.

                Consider then how much more limited it must be when talking not about externals, but about one’s physical being. The requirement to pay taxes to sustain a war is a very different thing than being required to go fight it (the risk to your life, the physical hardships, the mental anguish, the discomfort, the trauma, not knowing, for months on end, what is happening on Mad Men). Slavery is such an abhorrent concept because it involves the possession of one’s very body by another. (And slavery was once justified as necessary for the greater good.) So if there are limits to what the State can justly require in terms of self-sacrifice on an external level, imagine how much more important that becomes when demanding something of another person’s body.

                So I think the question isn’t so much about self-sacrifice, but about this: Do human beings possess an unalienable “right to life”?

                Let’s say you are sick and need a new kidney and will die if you don’t get one. Let’s say I have two, both perfectly good, and I only need one. Should the law require me to engage in a form of self-sacrifice so that you may remain alive?

                I think we can both agree: first, no; second, that this analogy is not a good one for abortion for about a thousand reasons; and third, that there are limits to both the form and degree of self-sacrifice that the State can justly require.

                • I wasn’t trying to make an analogy between taxes and abortion; I said as much. I was trying to establish a principle about the justice of the state requiring self-sacrifice in certain circumstances.

                  Yes, absolutely, there are limits to the form and degree of sacrifice the state may justly require.

                  If the fetus is human, why is it okay to require a fetus to self-sacrifice but not a mother?

                  • JT would probably say that the fetus is not making a self-sacrifice. The fetus is being killed. But it is just killing. Why? Because one human being’s right to live does not apply when its only way to go on living is to require of another human being a DEGREE of self-sacrifice that the other does not wish to make.

                    For all other questions, I will direct you to “In Defense of Abortion”!

                    I will add in conclusion: I think don’t think we do the prolife movement any favors if we pretend that the pro-choice position isn’t rational, logical. We may disagree with the logic or see things a different way, but it’s not irrational. If anything struck me about her essay it was the overall reasonableness of it. It was so frighteningly reasonable.

                    Merton: “We rely on the sane people of the world to preserve it from barbarism, madness, destruction. And now it begins to dawn on us that it is precisely the sane ones who are most dangerous…The whole concept of sanity in a society where spiritual values have lost their meaning or have been adulterated for idolatrous means, has itself become meaningless.”

                    • Matthew Lickona says:

                      Ellen, have you read Fr. Smith’s confession in Percy’s Thanatos Syndrome?

                    • By the way, I would just like to clarify that these are not my opinions:

                      “The fetus is being killed. But it is just killing. Why? Because one human being’s right to live does not apply when its only way to go on living is to require of another human being a DEGREE of self-sacrifice that the other does not wish to make.”

                      I was merely saying what I thought Judith Thomposn would say based on my reading of her article. I was merely trying to represent the essence of her argument. Just for the record! I don’t believe in killing. Period.

                    • Ellen,

                      No worries! I think we all kinda figgered that out.

                      JOB

  6. Ellen,

    Good point. I’ll take a look at Thompson’s work. But this fella’s “logic” carries at least one whopper of a false premise, doesn’t it? The baby’s personhood is subsumed in that of the woman’s?

    If we assume that’s true, then yeah, I guess it does all make sense in the bright light of our brave new world…

    You might supplement Thompson’s piece with Aristotle’s Politics Book VII, Ch. 6 – to show that your students that Thompson’s post-Christian argument is nothing new under the sun:

    “As to the exposure and rearing of children, let there be a law that no deformed child shall live, but that on the ground of an excess in the number of children, if he established customs of the state forbid this (for in our state population has a limit), no child is to be exposed but when couples have children in excess, let abortion be procured before sense and life have begun; what may or many not be lawfully done in these cases depends on the question of life and sensation” (VII, 17 – 1335b, 20-26).

    It’s interesting that Aristotle is queasy about procuring abortion before the quickening (i.e. ensoulment) and yet not so much about out-and-out infanticide. Give us time, of course, and we’ll catch up to the Greeks sooner or later. In fact, maybe someday, when it comes to unwanted infants born alive, we’ll ALL see the wisdom of that late junior senator from Illinois…

    If Thompson adds anything to Aristotle, I suppose it would be the inversion of the relationship between the individual and the law – we’re not only each our own pope anymore, I guess, but we maintain our own sovereign throne, parliment and court.

    The real problem is that, of course, without natural law interpreted by a Christian ethos, the logic of such arguments is as steely sharp as a guillotine’s blade. So, techinically, you’re correct – wielded simply as a tool to do what it’s supposed to do, the formal logic in the fella’s argument is airtight; but materially – well, “Hole, meet truck.”

    As for the doctrine of self defense – it seems Thompson’s argument disregards distinctions that Christian philosophy would make.

    JOB

    • Re: Aristotle. I recall having a chat about ten years ago with a fellow I’d known in high school. We went ’round about abortion for a while, and finally, he concluded, “Every civilization has had a policy of infanticide.” “Maybe so,” I replied, “but that’s where Christianity differs with civilization.”

      • Yes, I seem to remember some professor saying something to the effect that with the advent of Christiantiy the individual person crossed over from “human doing” to “human being.”

        JOB

    • JOB,

      Thanks for the Aristotle. We are talking about him this week in fact, so, very timely, and I will most definitely share that with them. (Every class seems to be starting with a 15-minute-long “But real quick, back to the Defense of Abortion article…”)

      But this fella’s “logic” carries at least one whopper of a false premise, doesn’t it? The baby’s personhood is subsumed in that of the woman’s?

      Well, I’m no logistician, but I think the premise is: The baby is a person/life in human form; the woman is a person/life in human form. (Matthew disagrees with me on this, and he may be right about the vast majority of pro-choice arguments. Maybe most of them don’t proceed from this premise, but I’m talking about the ones that do.) Then, from there…

      I think the argument is: Although that baby may be a person, that person is perceived by the woman, for whatever reason, to be a threat to her, so she has the right to destroy it. It is killing, but it is just killing. If the baby/person/life wasn’t perceived as a threat, then she wouldn’t have the right to destroy it, i.e. and it would be unjust killing. After all, whom, or what, are we allowed to say she can legitimately perceive as a threat? Only she can determine what threatens her, because it is her body, her life, he time, etc. It is considered just killing because the woman perceives the other as a threat to her person (again, for whatever reason), and she is the sole rightful determiner of what is or is not a threat to her, and thus she sees it as a form of “self defense.” Thus it is just.

      The Thompson article uses a series of analogies, one of which includes a woman trapped in a house with a baby that is ever-increasing in size, and the baby will ultimately crush her to death if she doesn’t kill it first. “Surely, no one would ever claim she should have to stand idly by and be crushed to death,” Thompson writes. (Hence, the discussion about the benefits and pitfalls of analogies.)

      The self-defense thing is an opening too, as almost anything can be distorted and rationalized to be “self-defense,” as we saw with the Iraq War.

      The rest of your response may take me a few more hours to process.

    • JOB,

      Thanks for the Aristotle. We are talking about him this week in fact, so, very timely, and I will most definitely share that with them. (Every class seems to be starting with a 15-minute-long “But real quick, back to the Defense of Abortion article…”)

      “But this fella’s ‘logic” carries at least one whopper of a false premise, doesn’t it? The baby’s personhood is subsumed in that of the woman’s?”

      Well, I’m no logistician, but I think the premise is: The baby is a person; the woman is a person. (Matthew disagrees with me on this, and he may be right about the vast majority of pro-choice arguments. Maybe most of them don’t proceed from this premise, but I’m talking about the ones that do.) Then, from there…

      I think the argument is: Although that baby may be a person, that person is perceived by the woman, for whatever reason, to be a threat to the woman, so she has the right to destroy it. If the person wasn’t perceived as a threat, then she wouldn’t have the right to destroy it, of course, and it would be considered “unjust killing.” But whom, or what, are we allowed to say she can legitimately perceive as a threat? Only she can determine that, because it is her body, her life, he time, etc. It is considered just killing because the woman perceives the other as a threat to her person (again, for whatever reason), and she is the sole rightful determiner of what is or is not a threat to her, and thus she sees it as a form of “self defense.” Thus it is just.

      The Thompson article uses a series of analogies, one of which includes a woman trapped in a house with a baby that is ever-increasing in size, and the baby will ultimately crush her to death if she doesn’t kill it first. “Surely, no one would ever claim she should have to stand idly by and be crushed to death!” she writes. (Hence, the discussion about the benefits and pitfalls of analogies.)

      The self-defense thing is an opening too, as almost anything can be distorted and rationalized to be called “self-defense,” as we saw with the Iraq War.

      The rest of your response may take me a few more hours to process.

  7. OK, so there’s two terms that need to be introduced into the discussion – what it means to be human and what nature is. (Not just human nature, but the stuff that generally happens and generally happens for a purpose).

    But I guess I’m with Mr. Lickona – I tend to think that whatever they want to call it – and Santiago makes this point too – they refuse in some definitive way to admit it’s a human.

    It sort of reminds me of the Jeff Foxworthy routine (speaking of analogies) where the bank comes to repo his car. When the repo man make it clear he’ll take a check, Jeff breathes a sigh of relief. “Well, why didn’t you tell me that in the first place? I thought you wanted money! You want a check? Sure, I can write you a check! How much you want?”

    The disconnect is not in the logic per se, but in the use of the terms. Even if the fella recognizes that this is, as you rightly point out, something approaching human, I have yet to hear the argument that OK, it’s human, but we ought to downgrade it’s status the way the blacks were in the antebellum days of ol’ Massachusetts. “You see, my personal sovereignty is only possible if I am allowed to control the natural things that take place in my body.” The same natural things, the frustration of which inspired so much pity and fear in the Greeks during their dramatic festivals….

    The only way to do this is to redefine human and redefine nature. In so doing, I think – to come full circle – our bad angels and worse beasts contrive to spawn monsters from the Id.

    JOB

    • Yes, perhaps. Perhaps the indicator of his position really is that phrase “how human they were,” in which “human” is used as an adjective describing only certain human-like qualities, and not as a noun referring to something with a particular nature.

      I would look up “human” in the dictionary to see if it is both a noun and an adjective but it’s almost 5:00. Mad Men Season II is calling…

      Thanks for engaging with me on this. A visit to the Korrektiv is always sure to be stimulating and clarifying!

      • Yes, I agree. That’s what makes his comment all the more surprising – and why I posted it in the first place: in effect, the fella’s saying, Don’t you understand? Human life be damned; I’m too selfish to acknoweldge anything but my own selfishness. Trapped in the dispair of not knowing he’s in dispair, perhaps?

        JOB

      • And – no, thank you for making it lively!

        Happy mad manning!

        JOB

  8. I’m going to vent my spleen a little at this point by giving some responses which might seem a bit unrelated on their face. And since long dialogue threads usually end when I do this kind of thing, go ahead and stop reading now so I won’t waste anyone’s time. I’ll just list them here:

    1. Providing the Thompson essay to her 9th grader students was an act of tremendous intellectual chivalry and worthy of admiration.

    2. Webb’s Law states that people do what they want and find reasons later. That student was inclined to that mode of thought already or she wouldn’t have adopted it.

    3. The taking of a human life isn’t always wrong. The Church has never taught that all killing is morally equivalent. It is always wrong to intentionally take an innocent life, or to take a life unjustly.

    4. Ordinary people who might be open to a pro-life mode of belief obviously recognize Point #3 and reacted with satisfaction when Bin Laden was executed and when that mother defended her children with a shot gun. In other words, they recognize God’s moral law in the book of nature.These folks wouldn’t be persuaded a whit by that sort of consistency.

    5. Those who accept God make the mistake of looking for too much continuity in a fallen existence. Those who reject God, like our friend in the video, are surveying the earth for new lies to justify their throne of self.

    6. If God’s people were not so inconveniently present in the world, they wouldn’t bother with the justifications. So, why don’t you all go somewhere else so that guy can finally be happy. You bastards.

    7. I was once tripping on acid in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco and I heard one homeless guy in Washington Square say to another homeless guy, “don’t fuck with my paradise.”

    8. I dropped acid once and went to a nuclear freeze rally at some hippy dippy church and felt the presence of evil. I spent the rest of the day detoxing on a golf course in Golden Gate Park. Everyone played through.

    9. I really believe there are people who are searching for truth who are sincere, who are moved by truth and great minds. But, unless they make a leap of faith they will probably descend into unreason. Augustine seems to have fit that description pretty well based on what I know, but what good did it do his soul.

    That’s all.

  9. notrelatedtoted says:

    I’m late to the party, but HOLY BLANKETY-BLANK. Was that a clip of a MAN saying abortion saved HIS life?!?

    Bwwwwwwwwwwwwwwahahahahaha!

    Good thing she had that abortion, dude! Otherwise you’d be stuck in some crappy apartment with her and working the graveyard shift at the local big box store. But now you’re on tv!

    And where is she, I wonder?

    The funny thing about the war on women is that I’m not sure who is on what side.

  10. notrelatedtoted says:

    And this is just too good:

    “In a nation where 40% of children are born to unwed mothers, we are hurting our nation by making family planning harder. I thank God and country that when I fell into a bad situation, abortion was there to save me and keep me on a path toward building a strong family I have now – and I pray that safety net remains in place. People who have children when they’re prepared leads to stronger children, stronger families, and thus stronger adults and a stronger America.”

    I wonder what the demographics are on that 40%? I’ll be there are some interesting socio-economic factors hidden in there. If only there was some kind of solution to the problem of unwed mothers. Granted, it would probably involve a great deal of self-sacrifice, but gosh! Maybe the government will think of something and roll out some helpful PSAs.

  11. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says:

    Sorry I missed the action, but thanks to all participants for leaving the record to read.

    Ms Finnigan should write a series of those Peter Kreeft type books where like Voltaire or John Stuart Mill or Ayn Rand gets schooled by Plato in hell.

    • Sheesh. Don’t have what it takes. After writing all of this that day, I think I knew a little bit what C.S. Lewis felt like after writing The Screwtape Letters: “Making goods ‘bad’ and bads ‘good’ gets to be fatiguing.” But it felt necessary somehow.

      Maybe Big John, Bully needs to write a Catholic version of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. I must admit, I’m intrigued!

      Matthew: No, I haven’t read Thanatos Syndrome. I’ll put it on my list!

      • Ellen, I love and respect you. However, please don’t be intrigued by anything related to LSD. It is totally demonic. Please do not let your students attach any glamour to the drug at all.

        Thanks. Christ be praised.

    • I’d buy that.

Leave a Reply to job Cancel reply

*