Tag Archives: Abortion

If unborn babies don’t have consciousness or don’t feel pain, may we kill them?

Unborn baby scheming about pro-life apologetics
Unborn baby scheming about pro-life apologetics

Was having a conversation by e-mail yesterday with a pro-abortion atheist, and he gave two reasons why he supported abortion in the first and second trimester. First, he said that unborn babies can’t feel pain, so it’s OK to kill them. Second, he said that unborn babies don’t have consciousness, so it’s OK to kill them. I thought it might be useful to link to something that answers both of these objections.

Frank Beckwith is the author of “Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice“. He wrote that book for Cambridge University Press, a top academic press. But before Cambridge University Press, Beckwith wrote four easy-to-understand essays for the Christian Research Journal. Part IV is the one that has the response to the two questions raised by my atheist friend.

Part I. The Appeal to Pity

Part II. Arguments from Pity, Tolerance, and Ad Hominem

Part III. Is The Unborn Human Less Than Human?

Part IV. When Does a Human Become a Person?

Excerpt:

Some ethicists argue that the unborn becomes fully human sometime after brain development has begun, when it becomes sentient: capable of experiencing sensations such as pain. The reason for choosing sentience as the criterion is that a being that cannot experience anything (i.e., a presentient unborn entity) cannot be harmed. Of course, if this position is correct, then the unborn becomes fully human probably during the second trimester and at least by the third trimester. Therefore, one does not violate anyone’s rights when one aborts a nonsentient unborn entity. [13]

There are several problems with this argument. First, it confuses harm with hurt and the experience of harm with the reality of harm. [14] One can be harmed without experiencing the hurt that sometimes follows from that harm, and which we often mistake for the harm itself. For example, a temporarily comatose person who is suffocated to death “experiences no harm,” but he is nevertheless harmed. Hence, one does not have to experience harm, which is sometimes manifested in hurt, in order to be truly harmed.

Second, if sentience is the criterion of full humanness, then the reversibly comatose, the momentarily unconscious, and the sleeping would all have to be declared nonpersons. Like the presentient unborn, these individuals are all at the moment nonsentient though they have the natural inherent capacity to be sentient. Yet to countenance their executions would be morally reprehensible. Therefore, one cannot countenance the execution of some unborn entities simply because they are not currently sentient.

Someone may reply that while these objections make important points, there is a problem of false analogy in the second objection: the reversibly comatose, the momentarily unconscious, and the sleeping once functioned as sentient beings, though they are now in a temporary state of nonsentience. The presentient unborn, on the other hand, were never sentient. Hence, one is fully human if one was sentient “in the past” and will probably become sentient again in the future, but this cannot be said of the presentient unborn.

There are at least three problems with this response. First, to claim that a person can be sentient, become nonsentient, and then return to sentience is to assume there is some underlying personal unity to this individual that enables us to say that the person who has returned to sentience is the same person who was sentient prior to becoming nonsentient. But this would mean that sentience is not a necessary condition for personhood. (Neither is it a sufficient condition, for that matter, since nonhuman animals are sentient.) Consequently, it does not make sense to say that a person comes into existence when sentience arises, but it does make sense to say that a fully human entity is a person who has the natural inherent capacity to give rise to sentience. A presentient unborn human entity does have this capacity. Therefore, an ordinary unborn human entity is a person, and hence, fully human.

Second, Ray points out that this attempt to exclude many of the unborn from the class of the fully human is “ad hoc and counterintuitive.” He asks us to “consider the treatment of comatose patients. We would not discriminate against one merely for rarely or never having been sentient in the past while another otherwise comparable patient had been sentient….In such cases, potential counts for everything.” [15]

Third, why should sentience “in the past” be the decisive factor in deciding whether an entity is fully human when the presentient human being “is one with a natural, inherent capacity for performing personal acts?” [16] Since we have already seen that one does not have to experience harm in order to be harmed, it seems more consistent with our moral sensibilities to assert that what makes it wrong to kill the reversibly comatose, the sleeping, the momentarily unconscious, and the presentient unborn is that they all possess the natural inherent capacity to perform personal acts. And what makes it morally right to kill plants and to pull the plug on the respirator-dependent brain dead, who were sentient “in the past,” is that their deaths cannot deprive them of their natural inherent capacity to function as persons, since they do not possess such a capacity.

These four essays are a very good introduction to common responses to pro-abortion arguments. I recommend that people get familiar with this, as once you look into it, you will see that the abortion issue can be debated with as much confidence as William Lane Craig defends Christian theism. You will have the same access to scientific evidence and rational arguments on this topic, and so you will have the upper hand. And that’s fun.

The best introductory book on the abortion / right to life issue is “The Case for Life” by pro-life debater Scott Klusendorf. The best comprehensive book is a tie between “The Ethics of Abortion” by Christopher Kaczor, and Frank Beckwith’s “Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice“.

Whose job is it to teach young, unmarried women not to delay marriage for fun and thrills?

Do young women understand how to get to a stable marriage?
Do young women understand how to get to a stable marriage?

I found a very interesting post on a blog called Oz Conservative, which is run by an Australian traditional conservative. In the post, he looks at two women who wasted their 20s on fun and thrills. Both of them are childless and unmarried. And they are complaining that they should be married with children. How did it happen?

Excerpt:

Rachael spent her youth going out with the bad boy type:

relationships have never been my strong point. Historically, I’ve picked good-looking villains and addictive personalities.

I’ve had a ball and many passionate experiences, but nothing functional enough to constitute a long-term future and never anyone ‘normal’ enough to bring home to meet the parents.

Although she puts a positive spin on being single, she admits:

I’m realistic. I’ve probably missed the boat as far as children are concerned, and that is a shame…

[…]Yes, the life I have today is not quite the one I envisaged 20 years ago as a young woman. I foresaw a satisfying career along with 2.4 children and a handsome husband.

Then there is Bibi, now 44. She tells her story this way:

I am staring down the barrel of a lonely future without a man, let alone children.

And how do I find myself in this perilous position? One reason is undoubtedly that men like young women. Yes, I was young once and all that. In my 20s and 30s I wasn’t exactly a supermodel, but I was constantly surrounded by men. The trouble is I wasn’t necessarily looking to settle down back then…

Now that I am, there are very few available men out there and the ones there are would be more interested in my teenage nieces than in me…

[…]Bibi has a lot of friends in exactly the same boat:

In my close circle of friends, there are eight of us who are single and childless. This is a generational phenomenon  –  we are all aged between 37 and 45.

When our mothers were that age, such numbers would be unimaginable.

Like many women writing this kind of literature, when she looks back she recognises the negative influence of feminism on her generation of women:

I think the feminist teachings of the Sixties and Seventies seeped into our brains. My mum couldn’t be called a feminist, but I, too, grew up thinking we could be anything we wanted to be and have a fulfilling career, life and relationship…

[…]What she is trying to say here is that feminism pushed marriage and motherhood down the list of priorities (“there was more to contend with beforehand”). She admits that she was led into the magical kind of thinking I described earlier in which there is nothing in reality to limit having things as you want them to be (“we didn’t realise that men wouldn’t be interested … my generation was spoilt – unrealistic, even”).

The comments to the post are very interesting.

I was thinking about whose job it was to warn young Christian women about these bad choices, and I remembered a passage from the Bible.

Titus 2:3-5 explains:

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.

Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children,

to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

The problem is that many older Christian women made a lot of mistakes in their youth, especially with alcohol and premarital sex. And for most of them, it’s more important that they not feel guilty about it, than that they warn younger women not to make the same mistakes. So, instead of admitting guilt and setting boundaries, they often tell young women that it doesn’t matter what you do in your 20s because God, the cosmic butler, will make everything work out in the end.

We just had a situation where one woman who had a successful marriage tried to give younger women some very basic advice about how to be attractive to marriage-minded men. And what happened was that she was attacked by pretty much everyone. The reaction seemed to be strongest from Christian women, however, who insisted that God’s grace meant that Christian women didn’t have to care what the Bible taught about morality and wisdom. The important thing was that they follow their desires in the moment, because to exercise self-control would be “horrible” and would “send the wrong message”. Telling a woman not to do what she feels like is worse than murder, because women must always do what feels good. Who cares about the words of the Bible, when a woman has feelings that are a direct line to God’s mysterious will for her happiness?

One of the commenters on this blog put it this way:

I’ve been observing this phenomenon among so-called “Christians” for well over a decade. Concepts like “tolerance” and not being “judgmental” took hold in our culture and many Christians absorbed the mindset completely. If you point out that what someone is doing is sinful or might potentially lead to sinful behavior, they act defensive or turn the tables on you and say “well, you’re not perfect either!” Some even say that they do certain things for the express purpose of not being “legalistic,” because clearly, legalism is far worse than compromising one’s witness. Jesus has become a postmodern hippie whose primary message is “let’s all be cool to each other.” The only sins left are transgressions against the belief that everyone is equal and worthy of acceptance.

In reading the responses to Lori Alexander’s article, my greatest takeaway is that people are rationalization machines. If they’ve made mistakes, they won’t humbly acknowledge them and use the wisdom of their experience to guide others in the right direction. Instead, they’ll try to find a way to argue that their mistakes weren’t mistakes at all, and that the real sinner is the person who’s judging them for what they did. It’s a deceitful, selfish game, and anyone who plays it is an enemy of the Gospel. Their argument essentially boils down to “every woman, regardless of whatever bad decisions she’s made in life, is entitled to a loving husband who’ll provide for her.” Same way everyone’s entitled to free health care, regardless of whether sufficient medical resources exist, I suppose. It doesn’t work that way, ladies.

And they use this feminist scare word “shaming.” How dare you “shame” me? I would go so far as to say that shaming is a good thing, because it incentivizes proper behavior. Men have good reasons for wanting their wives to be virgins, and if you remove the stigma against premarital sex, a lot of women are going to take Biblical teaching on the subject less seriously. If Christian men as a whole agreed that they would only marry virgins, I guarantee you that a lot of women would think twice about what kind of men they associated with. If you feel “shamed,” it’s probably a sign that you haven’t truly repented of your sins. Sin separates us from God, and if you see your sins for what they are, you should have no problem condemning the sins that you yourself have committed and discouraging them in others.

I’m sorry for this long-winded ramble, but it disgusts me how much politically correct rot has infested the churches, and this entire incident just confirms that Paul was correct to forbid women teaching. When everyone is afraid of upsetting women, we get false teachers popping up everywhere spreading a destructive message with nothing but rhetoric behind it. The end result? Fewer marriages, fewer children, fewer people taking Christian teachings seriously, and more people being miserable and lonely. Once you start ceding ground to liberalism, the whole thing eventually unravels. Lots of good Christian men and women can’t find a spouse anymore, because their society has lied to them and they don’t realize it until it’s too late. Did their churches stand against the world? Did their churches provide them the guidance they needed? Or were their churches too afraid to be seen as “out of touch,” and did they prioritize numbers over holiness and correct teaching? If we are sincere believers, it should be obvious which is more important.

Many of the women who chose to delay marriage for fun and thrills with the bad boys grew up in married Christian homes. Parents and pastors have, for one reason or another, decided that it is too unpleasant to warn young Christian women that their behavior may involve some costs in the long term. They don’t want to make them feel bad, and women’s feelings are so very much more important than what the Bible says, or even what peer-reviewed research on marriage best practices says. Even theologically conservative pastors just don’t have the courage to address the influence that feminism has had on the goal-setting and decision-making of young, unmarried women. It’s much easier to blame men when the woman’s fun and thrills plan doesn’t work out.

Are the policies of the secular left good for children?

Why do people think that CNN are biased leftist clowns?
Why do people think that CNN are biased leftist clowns?

The buzz on Friday was all about a fake news article put out by Time magazine, and later celebrated by CNN and the Washington Post. Let’s quickly review the mistakes in the Time / CNN / Washington Post propaganda, and then we’ll ask the question in the title: do people on the secular left really care about children?

The review comes from The Federalist:

The cover features a 2-year-old Honduran girl sobbing as she looks up at Trump, with the words “Welcome to America.” Inside, TIME reported the little girl was one of those separated from her mother because of the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy on families crossing the border illegally. She was taken “screaming” from her mother by border agents, the report claimed.

[…]“The original version of this story misstated what happened to the girl in the photo after she taken from the scene,” the correction reads. “The girl was not carried away screaming by U.S. Border Patrol agents; her mother picked her up and the two were taken away together.”

Reuters talked to the little girl’s father, who said she was not separated from her mother. The Honduran government confirmed his version of events. A border patrol agent who was at the scene, Carlos Ruiz, described what actually happened to CBS News.

We were patrolling the border, it was after 10 o’clock at night. We asked her to set the kid down in front of her, not away from her … and so we can properly search the mother. So, the kid immediately started crying as she set her down. I personally went up to the mother and asked her, ‘Are you doing okay, is the kid okay?’ And she said, ‘Yes, she’s tired and thirsty and it’s 11 o’clock at night.

The father also revealed the mother left three other children behind, and was crossing the border in search of a job — not in search of asylum. She didn’t tell any of them when she left. He told The Daily Mail the photo “broke his heart,” and he didn’t support her decision.

“Why would she want to put our little girl through that?” he said. “But it was her decision at the end of the day.”

In addition, Immigration and Customs Enforcement told media outlets the mother was attempting to cross the border illegally for a second time — moving her crime from a misdemeanor up to a felony.

“I don’t have any resentment for my wife, but I do think it was irresponsible of her to take the baby with her in her arms because we don’t know what could happen,” the father added.

He also claimed he heard the mother paid a smuggler $6,000 to get her across the border .

Even after the facts came out, Time continued to defend the piece, but then was forced to print a major correction. Time was celebrated by other #FakeNews media. CNN posted an article praising the #FakeNews story, before correcting it. The Washington Post also celebrated the #FakeNews story, until they had to issue a correction, but they hid the correction. A commonsense interpretation of these facts shows that the mainstream media really has no interest in reporting the news objectively. As I explained before, all the peer-reviewed studies show that the mainstream media is almost entirely composed of secular leftists.

But nevermind all that. I want to focus on whether the people on the secular left, and their allies in the #FakeNews media, really do have an authentic concern for children.

Do secular leftists really care about children?

This article by Trevor Grant Thomas from The American Thinker lists a few secular leftist policies that are anti-child, and then I’ll excerpt one, and add some that he missed.

The list:

  1. abortion (kill unwanted children)
  2. welfare state (makes women to swap fathers for welfare)
  3. poverty (socialism and fatherlessness kills prosperity)
  4. public schools / teachers unions (against school choice and voucher programs)

The excerpt is about #2:

Even longer than they have ignored the right to life, American liberals have worked to build a massive welfare state that has played a terrible role in the destruction of the family — especially the black family. Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh again reminded Americans which political party enabled generations of children — again, especially black children — to be separated from their parents.

The Democrat Party exists on dependency, and people that escape it pose a problem. So don’t buy that the Democrats care about separated families. Because, after all… the Democrat Party literally subsidized single motherhood in the black community for decades. It was called AFDC.

The Democrat Party promoted a welfare policy that gave single women additional money for every child they had. The father need not ever be around. In many cases, the father was not even known, the father was not even identified because the Democrat Party assumed the role.

If you want to talk about honestly separating families, the Democrat Party wrote the book on it and promoted it and campaigned on it and won elections on the basis of separated families where the government took over the economic responsibilities of the father.

Never forget that it was Democrats who destroyed the black family in America.

Black women were more likely to be married before welfare programs
Black women were more likely to be married before welfare programs

For my contribution, I’ll note that the two great redefinitions of marriage, no-fault divorce and same-sex marriage, were both championed by secular leftists. These deprived children of their biological mother or father, or both in the case of gay adoption. The sexual revolution also a project of the secular left, made sex about recreation instead of keeping it inside of a life-long commitment. Finally, the secular left under Obama increased the national debt from $10 trillion to $20 trillion. This basically means that future generations of children will have all their income taxed away to pay for the hedonism of secular leftists today. The Democrat Party is truly the party of slavery – children not yet born are their slaves.

Here is a corrected version of the Time Cover with the inaccuracies fixed:

This is what the Time magazine cover should have said
What the Time magazine cover should have said (Source: The Daily Caller)

OK, and finally, check out this hilarious tweet by an actual journalist, Stephen Miller, who accurately predicted how CNN would attack anyone who pointed out the mistakes in the Time story. He tweeted that to Brian Stelter of CNN. And sure enough, CNN later mailed out an attack on the fact-checkers that matched Miller’s prediction almost word for word.

Scott Klusendorf discusses abortion and euthanasia at the Summit Forum

Scott Klusendorf, President of the Life Training Institute
Scott Klusendorf, President of the Life Training Institute

Here’s the video, featuring my favorite pro-life speakers Scott Klusendorf. Scott is the founder and President of the Life Training Institute. LTI’s mission is to make a rigorous, rational defense for pro-life positions with respect to a variety of ethical issues. If you listen to Scott, you will learn a lot, and learn it from someone who has been tested on the battlefield of ideas.

Three topics:

  • right to life of the unborn
  • reproductive technologies
  • end of life questions

40 minutes of guided discussion, 20 minutes of Q&A. This video was apparently recorded in the summer of 2016.

Abortion:

  • the 1-minute case for the pro-life position (excellent)
  • dealing with those who dismiss the pro-life case as religious
  • how and when do people win arguments?
  • how does one get better at discussing moral issues?
  • who are some of the best books to get informed about life issues?
  • what are some of the best books from the other side?
  • what is the SLED test? do pro-abortion scholars accept it?
  • if abortion were illegal, who should be punished and how much?
  • is it inflammatory and dangerous to say that abortion is killing?

Assisted reproductive technologies:

  • how should we speak to people considering ARTs?
  • what is the underlying issue in ART discussions?
  • should pro-lifers be opposed to all use of ARTs?
  • what should pro-lifers think about surrogacy?
  • which books provide an introduction to ART ethics?

End of life issues:

  • what is the central issue in end of life discussions?
  • should treatment always be continued or are there situations where treatment can be withdrawn?

Final issues:

  • if a student wants to take courses in bioethics, where should they go to take courses or do a degree?
  • what is the policy situation for pro-lifers in terms of legislation and SCOTUS decision-making?
  • what are some policies that pro-lifers can support as incremental measures that move the issue in the right direction?

I liked this discussion. I tried to listen as someone new to the issue and he did a good job of not assuming any prior knowledge of the debate. My favorite part was his survey of books and arguments on the other side, and what they say. I don’t think that most people realize what the implications of the pro-abortion worldview really are for things like infanticide, and so on. The discussion about who should be punished for abortion and how much was new to me – and that actually came up during the last election, during the GOP primary. Personally, I would let the woman get off, and just prosecute the doctor.

It’s very very good to listen to crystal clear thinking on these controversial issues from someone who has encountered the other side in their writings, and in public debates with them. Not to mention having to interact with people making decisions in these areas.

Trump will cut $60 million of taxpayer-funding of Planned Parenthood

Barack Obama speaking to Planned Parenthood
Barack Obama speaking to Planned Parenthood

The money will instead be given to women’s health care providers who do not perform abortions. I looked around to find an article that didn’t just report the decision, but also what PP would do about it, and how that was likely to work out for them. In cases like this, it really matters how the policy is phrased. That determines whether it can stand up to a court challenge.

Life News reports:

The Trump administration is announcing new regulations today to partially defund Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses of tens of millions of tax dollars. This is the second time Trump has taken steps to revoke taxpayer funding for the nation’s biggest abortion business — after yanking taxpayer from from International Planned Parenthood during his first week in office.

The United States spends about $260 million in Title X funds annually for family planning for low-income individuals, and Planned Parenthood is a huge recipient of those funds, as much as $50-$60 million annually.

But under the proposed “Protect Life Rule,” Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses would not receive any of those tax dollars unless they completely separate their abortion business from their taxpayer-funded services, The Washington Examiner reports. That would mean housing their family planning services elsewhere — potentially in separate buildings and coordinated by separate staff and organizations from its abortion enterprise.

“This proposal does not necessarily defund Planned Parenthood, as long as they’re willing to disentangle taxpayer funds from abortion as a method of family planning, which is required by the Title X law,” a Trump administration official said. “Any grantees that perform, support, or refer for abortion have a choice – disentangle themselves from abortion or fund their activities with privately raised funds.”

Of course, Planned Parenthood is unwilling to do so. Abortion is its primary focus, and it already is threatening a lawsuit to stop the defunding. However, the proposal is modeled after similar Reagan administration rules that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in Rust v. Sullivan in 1991.

The Life News article also had some helpful paragraphs about how this new policy builds on the previous pro-life policies of the Trump administration:

The Trump administration has cut several other streams of funding to Planned Parenthood as well. Soon after Trump took office, he signed the Mexico City Policy to prevent the funding of groups that promote or perform abortions overseas. This includes the International Planned Parenthood Federation, which received tax dollars under the Obama administration.

In addition, in 2017, the Trump administration cut millions of dollars in grants to Planned Parenthood through the failed Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program. HHS spokesman Mark Vafiades told the New York Times last year that there is very little evidence that the program was successful. However, the abortion chain recently filed a lawsuit challenging the cuts.

Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion business in America, aborting approximately 320,000 unborn babies every year. Its most recent annual report showed a record income of $1.46 billion, with about half a billion dollars coming from taxpayers.

In addition to reversing the Obama administration’s funding of abortion, the Trump administration is reversing the Obama administration’s policy of forcing Christian organizations to provide health insurance coverage for abortion.

Life News reported on that, as well:

A federal district court issued an order Tuesday that permanently prevents the federal government from enforcing the Obamacare abortion-pill mandate against four Christian universities in Oklahoma represented by Alliance Defending Freedom. The order also declares that the mandate violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The Obama-era mandate forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception through their health plans under threat of heavy penalties. The Department of Justice, under the Trump administration, abandoned its defense of the flawed mandate, which the Department of Health and Human Services implemented during the previous administration.

“Religious organizations have the freedom to peacefully operate according to their beliefs without the threat of punishment by the government. Today’s order fully affirms that freedom and provides permanent protection from the mandate,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor.

“These universities no longer have to fear being forced to pay fines for simply abiding by the Christian beliefs they teach and espouse, and they are no longer required to fill out forms authorizing coverage for abortion-inducing drugs,” Baylor explained. “The government has many other ways to ensure access to these drugs without forcing people of faith to violate their deepest convictions.”

ADF attorneys represent Southern Nazarene University, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Oklahoma Baptist University, and Mid-America Christian University, all of which specifically object to providing abortifacients.

I don’t think most Democrats realize just how pro-abortion the Obama administration was. But they should have been able to predict it from the multiple times that Obama voted for abortion born-alive infants when he was a state senator in Illinois. Although Trump’s record on abortion was mixed before the election, he’s been good at canceling out some of Obama’s pro-abortion policies. Good for him.