Abortion is Murder: In Which I Defend Myself and Make my Case

So, let’s take a look at the discussion between me and commenter Sheila on Lothar’s thread “Abortion and the Pride of the Western World”.

From Sheila’s perspective, she was trying to be reasonable and rational throughout whereas I wildly misrepresented her, quoted out of context, and started attacking her personally.

That’s her perspective. Now here’s mine:

Sheila started off by saying that she thought abortion should be legal even though she’d prefer if people didn’t get them because otherwise women could possibly be put into really bad situations. She implied in the article that because the media (re: pro-lifers) focused more on the slaughtered babies then the women who brought them to the abortion clinic it meant that we didn’t care enough about the women. In her own words:

I was hard core pro-life, all about the baby! the baby! the baby!….until Gosnell. Because the manner in which the babies were killed after being delivered alive, the news coverage focused on the gory details.

Hardly anyone mentioned the women. The woman whose death Gosnell had to account for. The women who were harmed by filth. The women who were physically maimed by incompetence. The women who were deceived as to the actual gestational age of the baby. The very poor, the very young, and the
undocumented, who had nowhere else to turn, no one to give a hoot about them and their lives.

After the trial, I was haunted by the murdered babies, and the women. I knew I had not given women much thought. Knowing that abortion cannot be criminalized, but realizing that ending a developing human being should not be taken lightly, either.

I pointed out, without personally attacking her, that this was a terrible argument. And it was after this that Sheila heavily implied that I didn’t care about raped and suicidal women because I think abortion should be illegal and women have responsibility for their actions. Here’s her comment:

“But I’m supposed to believe this shouldn’t be made illegal because it will leave the women (who CHOOSE to get the abortions) upset?” [She is quoting me there]

No, because making all abortion illegal will put women’s lives at risk. Young girls who are victims of incest or rape, who are at an increased risk of complication and injury carrying the baby to term. Women who have life-threatening complications of pregnancy prior to a baby’s viability outside the womb. Rape victims who are so traumatized that are suicidal. Women whose food stamps or welfare payments are cut in the name of fiscal discipline. And, many other circumstances that you are unaware of, and probably wouldn’t care about, if you knew what they were. The idea that every abortion is obtained by a selfish woman, for convenience, is blinding you to the real dilemma about the vulnerabilities of many pregnant women. I also said that, yes, there are abortions which are obtained too lightly. I am against taking the life of a developing human being with no regard to its humanity. It’s not either/or, it’s both/and. Re-read Rachel’s comments. You’ll see that she is not some pro-choice “radical” feminist. You have named yourself well, “Cynic”.

Let’s note a couple of other things:

1) I NEVER called the author of the original article, Rachel, a radical feminist.

2) I NEVER said I thought every abortion was obtained by a “selfish woman for convenience”.

3) Notice that she is not against taking the lives of children, only when we don’t “recognize their humanity” – in other words, we have to really, really want to kill them and be sad about it.

4) Of course I chose my name well. That was the point of choosing the name. 😉

Now remember – and this is important – she later accuses ME of misrepresenting and personally attacking her. She also later expresses disdain when I point out that accusing me of not caring about the plights of raped and suicidal women is, in fact a personal attack, and implying it about pro-lifers in general (and she is NOT one) is also highly insulting. She started the broadsides here, not me, and she started burning the straw men, not me.

Now, let’s move on. Another important point – Sheila is Catholic. A Catholic who believes that abortion should be legal, people should be able to have more access to contraception, and denies the reality of Hell – in other words, a “progressive” cafeteria Catholic. She is the very type of progressive liberal Crude talked about: The type who really detests your beliefs (just look at the tone of those comments) but who tentatively tries to find common ground because she doesn’t want to lose the good graces of the conservative Christians. I called her out on it:

You are a cafeteria Catholic, picking and choosing what to believe while going to receive the Eucharist anyway with no respect for your Church’s actual teachings.

I am not assuming this about you. I am merely going off of what you yourself have said.

Now, at this point in the discussion, Sheila has changed her tune. She realized that I’m not going to take her bullshit, so she decides to try to be the “rational” one in the hope that she could paint me as the bad guy, because so far she’s played that role:

No, silly, I’m fighting for women so they WON’T choose abortion. The above points plus what else I listed are put into place so that women will not have to choose abortion in the first place. I’m trying to prevent abortions.

You saw “recriminalize” and went a little nutty [I never once quoted the word “recriminalize”, by the by]. I want doctors not to lose their licenses if they are trying to prevent a pregnant woman from dying. I don’t want women going underground because then there is no way to reach them. You can’t help someone who is invisible to you. I am a good Catholic, and you really have no right to say otherwise.

Well, once again, a couple of points:

1) We’re not “driving abortion underground”, we’re making it illegal. By that logic, making thievery illegal is “pushing it underground”.

2) Her position is “I think killing babies is very wrong and I want it to be legal anyway”.

3) I should clarify – I didn’t actually call her a bad Catholic. Instead, I think she’s a cafeteria Catholic who believes what she wants to and receives the Eucharist anyway.

I have no delusions about myself. I am, in many ways, a bad Catholic, and even a hypocrite. But if I disagreed with as many fundamental positions as Sheila does, I would probably be Protestant. Otherwise, I’d be a sham.

4) Now I’m “silly” and “went a little nutty”. Earlier I thought that making abortion legal = not caring about women. You see what’s going on here? Before she was quite clearly the irrational one, so she needs to make sure she switches that around quick in order to make her points.

Sheila says this later as a response to Crude, who pointed out that neither of us think JUST making abortion illegal will solve all of our problems:

“Who said we should ‘simply make them illegal’?” Well, Malcolm did, when he expressed his outrage with my statement that I don’t want all abortions criminalized. Do you support abortions in some cases?

Er, no, I never said that. I said abortion should be made illegal, but never said it was the whole answer. Once again, it is SHE who is misrepresenting ME, not the other way around.

Sheila also made this comment to me:

In the meantime, I’m going to really fight for women–the need for Congress to stop cutting benefits such as SNAP, more job training for women, greater access to contraceptives…I hope I can count on you to join me in these things.

I told her no, I do NOT support increased us of contraception. The answer to stopping people from fornicating is not to provide them tools to help them out.

Later, Sheila accuses me of somehow misrepresenting her views on artificial contraception, even though she agrees that she supports greater access (because they’re so hard to find now, right?). She says this:

I’ve been pretty patient here, trying to discuss my ideas with you [Well, after I made it clear you were attributing opinions to me that I don’t hold and accused me of not caring about women]. I understand that you believe that others outside of the Catholic church are obligated to follow the Church’s moral teachings, since “morality is morality”. I don’t see that they have an obligation to follow a Church that they are not within. We can certainly share our Catholic beliefs, but we can’t impose them.

Obviously this misses the point, which is that these things would be immoral even if the Church did not exist at all. But it has apparently flown wildly over Sheila’s head.

Let’s move down to a lower section of the debate, such as it is.

Sheila claims she is against late term abortion. I respond with this:

Sheila, what is your reason for being against late-term abortion specifically? You have absolutely no logical underpinning for it.

Most people who claim to be against late-term abortion are using some form of personhood theory, where the late-term child is for whatever reason now considered a “person”, be it because of a heart beat, or brain waves, or something else.

But you don’t seem to be doing that. You don’t have a problem with abortion (and yes, I’m using “don’t have a problem” in the very limited way you specify) in certain circumstances because of how difficult and terrible it might make life for the mother. So why on Earth would you make a distinction between late-term and early-term abortions, except some base form of disgust that has no logical underpinning?

Her response, of course, misses the point:

As to late term abortions: it’s not a personhood thing. You have made that supposition about me [No, I didn’t, and she is once again completely misunderstanding what I said – something that seems to be par for the course]. You are incorrect [No, I’m really not]. And, you’ve questioned my Catholicism because I don’t want every abortion to be outlawed outright [partially, but not completely]. So, yes, that’s when you went after my character. Let me give you the chance: is it true that none of the situations I described change your mind about the mother being a murderer? If I’m wrong, I apologize. If I’m right, I stand by my statement [And this is, once again, totally missing the point, which was not that the mother is a murderer, full stop, but that my sympathy doesn’t extend so far as to allow them to kill their own children, which is what they’re doing].

Babies are being saved in NICUs all across the world, who are being killed by late term abortions. There’s no need to kill a viable baby, period. If there are complications in a pregnancy that is that far advanced, delivering the baby is the best way to save a mother’s life. I hope this clears it up for you.

Not quite – this is avoiding the real point of the question. Say we have a woman in a third world country or a ghetto. She searches for an abortion clinic, but cannot find one or is turned down repeatedly (this was actually the plot of a Law and Order: SVU episode). She will be disowned by her family and kicked out of her home if she has this child. Gosh, maybe she’ll even become suicidal!

She finally finds a clinic that will help her willing to do late term abortions. By her logic, getting this abortion is absolutely fine. There is really no way for her to argue against it consistently.

Is this a far-fetched hypothetical? Yes, but it makes a point: Sheila’s supposed pro-life position only applies to circumstances she deems don’t make women upset enough (and she was the person who used emotional distress as a good excuse for an abortion, not me). Her being against late-term abortion does not follow from what she said if the mother getting it is really, really sad.

I answered her question:

It is merely a bald fact that in order for an abortion to take place the mother needs to walk into the clinic and decide they want a doctor to snip their child’s spine (and yes, first trimester fetuses have spines and limbs) [she got this wrong earlier in the thread].

That is the mother’s choice. It is a choice that can be heavily, heavily influenced by forces beyond her control, but ultimately she has to be the person to willingly choose it.

And because of that, her child is dead. Because of a decision she made.

So are many of the examples you gave murderers, full stop? Not exactly. But they have blood on their hands.

Finally, Sheila’s position turns to complete mush:

Yes, murder should always be illegal. Not all killings are murder, though. And, I don’t want to get bogged down in those weeds. I know that the Catholic Church makes no distinctions when it comes to abortion, and that’s what you are presenting here. I didn’t make abortion legal, and I am not keeping it legal, either. Nor have I driven someone to get an abortion, or be an escort for anyone getting an abortion, or given money to anyone for an abortion, and on and on.

Is there any Catholic teaching with which I disagree? Yes, I believe abortion ought to be done if the woman will die without it. That’s self defense, which the Church allows except abortion. But I would still adhere to that teaching, because that is my duty as a Catholic. So, as in the case of the ectopic pregnancy, I’d opt for surgery.

The Church has this way of allowing self defense during time of war, too, provided that the war is a “just” one. Not too many wars are just.

Well, this of course allows for several rebuttals.

1) Okay, let’s make it legal for a mother to kill her child, who has done absolutely nothing wrong and whose only crime is to be present in the place it’s supposed to be. But nope, no siree, this isn’t murder. And darnit, I’m still a Good Catholic(TM) even if I believe that!

2) Self-defense applies to being attacked. The baby is not attacking you.

3) No, you yourself do not keep abortion legal. You just want it kept legal, and support its legality. That’s a non-point.

4) “I won’t get bogged down in those weeds”? Holy mother of all copouts, Batman. What should and shouldn’t be legal is what was at stake there in the first place. The distinction is crucial to her whole lame argument, and the fact that she won’t make it tells me she doesn’t know how that distinction can really be made, and is bluffing. Sheila ends it with this.

I’m really tired of all of this back and forth. And now that you are mixing up things I actually have said, you’ll get the last word. I’m not even going to read any more of your comments. It’s too hard to keep you from misconstruing everything I say, and spinning it to your liking. If I believed wrongly that you had no compassion for the women–just saying “I care” isn’t strong enough, you need to back that up with how you’d help them–then I sincerely apologize. You are a devout Catholic, and I appreciate your POV.

The problem with this apology is that it’s tied up with the idea that I need to prove that I care about women first. So it’s not a real apology. She also says I misconstrued what she’s been saying the entire time, which I think I’ve shown is rather a laugh. I ended our exchange with this:

Leave if you want to, Sheila. I’ll end it with this: Your theory is that killing babies should be legal, and this is somehow a better situation than not allowing babies to be killed. You’re more concerned with the situation of the mother than the baby they kill – and yes, you are. Otherwise you’d agree without hesitation that abortion is always evil and should be illegal. But your priorities are very badly mixed, and you don’t seem to realize it.

You have not been misrepresented, Sheila. You started off by misrepresenting ME, I called you out on it, and you glossed over it. I was responding to an actual, legitimate point you made about contraception – one you admitted you hold! We both agree, at any rate, that that is a point you made and a position you hold, and I responded to it. There was no straw manning going on there.

Your position has been criticized, because Crude and I both think it’s a morally questionable, to say the least, position.

Ultimately, you believe that abortion should be legal for the sake of the mother.

I believe it should be illegal for the sake of the baby.

And if you think, somehow, having the ability to slaughter your child enshrined into law is a good thing, then I think you’re fooling yourself. If it were true for any other stage of development, you’d be horrified at the concept. But with abortion, well, women will be mistreated!

So, no, I stand by every word I wrote.

I will add this, in case Sheila ever reads the thread: Sheila, if I believed your apology was sincere, I’d be happy to accept it, offer one in turn if at times I was being too aggressive or misrepresenting you, and move on. But you tied it into the idea that I need to prove that I care about women first, because otherwise you don’t believe me. That’s not an apology, that’s passive-aggressiveness.

I offer out an olive branch, IF you offer an apology with no strings. If I still have misrepresented you, which is always a possibility, I apologize for my part.

And, IF you accept my olive branch, then I’ll be happy to tone down my comments on the sincerity of your Catholicism. The reason they were so pointed was because you were pointed first – but if you agree to really end this on a good note without offering conditionals, then I will in turn start conversing and disagreeing with you more civilly.

I think, though, that my case has been very well made.

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17 Responses to Abortion is Murder: In Which I Defend Myself and Make my Case

  1. Crude says:

    I was not exactly enamored with sheila’s mode of argumentation, and I’ll have a post of my own coming up soon explaining why. She was swinging wildly, accusing left and right, and had severe trouble even being consistent.

    • I was not enamored because I think she pretended to have the moral high ground and had no clue what the implications of her position actually was. She also repeatedly and continually wildly misrepresented me then I claimed that I was the one who was misrepresenting HER.

      And I was not enamored because I think that she claims to be Catholic and receives the Eucharist while really being a progressive Christian, who only occasionally allies with the conservatives because she still wants that “good Catholic” card.

  2. Zippy says:

    Most Catholics do not seem to realize that the Church doesn’t just teach that abortion is morally wrong: she also teaches that every Catholic has a grave duty to oppose the legality of abortion in civil law (cf Evangelium Vitae). Catholics who do not unequivocally support making all abortion illegal are in open opposition to the doctrine of the Church.

  3. lotharson says:

    Dear Malcom, I just wrote a new comment clarifying my position:

    Progressive Christians are far from being unified on that issue.
    Thus you should be very cautious while writing generalizations about them.

    Lovely greetings and good night,

  4. Hello

    I also believe the churches teaching on abortion.

    I would say though that its unclear if it is murder. Murder is the intentional unjustified killing of a human. (or something like that).

    The I think everything fits except possibly the intentional part. Sure having an abortion is an intentional act but so is shooting at what you think is a manikin. If you shoot at what you think is a manikin and later find out it was a human being that is not murder.

    Some women may know they are killing a human being, others may not. If they do not believe they are killing a human being then it’s not murder.

    • That’s a real stretch. By your logic the Nazis weren’t murderers, because they considered Jews subhuman.

      • I think you might be stretching the logic. But yes if someone really thought they were not killing a human it is not murder.

        I think its less of a stretch if someone uses ru 486 or an iud and they really don’t think they are killing a human.

        Sure some people who have an abortion likely know full well they are killing a human being. I’m just saying I don’t think we should assume that. Pro-choice lobbyist have been very good at clouding this issue.

      • I really, really don’t buy it. There’s invincible ignorance and culpable ignorance. These women, at least for the most part (and I mean like 99% of the time) are at least culpably ignorant, because the facts are there, the biology is clear, and they still refuse to see that they’re human.

        I think the Nazi analogy is perfectly apt; how is that a stretch?

      • I think many girls might not really believe they are killing a human being when they use an IUD. But I doubt anyone killing the Jewish people really didn’t believe they were killing human beings.

      • Oh and I am not sure the doctrine of invincible ignorance applies to what we are discussing. If someone thought a person was a manikin its not murder and I don’t think the doctrine of invincible ignorance has anything to do with it.

      • Sure it does. How easy is it to tell it’s not a manikin? How readily available is the information? And how much do you have to foll yourself?

        More than that, who thinks it’s a manikin?

      • You might be right that it can apply in Catholic teaching. I don’t usually think of it in those terms though.

        But in any case in deciding whether it is murder as meant by what most people will call murder you need to prove they intended to kill a human being. If they made a mistake and killed someone not realizing they were dealing with a human being it is not murder. It might still be wrong, but its not murder.

      • I think this splitting hairs is a distraction from the real point: Women are making the conscious choice to have their children ripped apart by surgical instruments.

        If a woman does not think the fetus is her child, she is not merely ignorant. She is deluding herself.

        Whether or not Nazis who kill Jews are or aren’t murderers isn’t really relevant when we say that what the Nazis did to the Jews is pure evil, and that nearly everybody would regard their behaviors as murder whatever the exact technical definition.

      • You seem to only address the fetus. Are you leaving out the zygote and embryo as a human being?

        I don’t think its “splitting hairs” to say someone is not committing murder unless they know they are killing a human being.

      • You say you don’t think it’s “splitting hairs”, but really, I’ve illustrated pretty clearly why the whole discussion misses the point entirely.

        And yes, I consider zygotes and embryos to be human. I’m sure the logical follow-up is “Do I believe killing them is murder?” My answer is maybe, maybe not, by technical definition. Who cares? It’s immoral and should be illegal, and the people doing it should confess to their sins afterward either way.

  5. Pingback: That’s Fair Enough | Malcolm the Cynic

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