Friday, June 15, 2007

Comments from Baker Article (Part 2) [Jay]

These are the comments left for Mr. Gerard Baker in response to his post on Hollywood and abortion on The Times Online. These are actual statements that I cut and pasted without the entire comment and the identifier tags of the author. We can say with certainty that you may run into one of these arguments.

Try this one:

I believe that abortion is the termination of a human life, albeit in its earliest stages. I also believe that a woman has a right to do it. When chose to abort my first pregnancy, many years ago, I knew that I would be a poor and unhappy single mother and a burden to my family and society. Because I delayed childbearing until I was older, I am a happy, married mother who contributes to society and is materially secure enough to provide my children with a good start in life. I have never regretted my choice, and I feel that if one considers all factors, I did what was morally correct.

This argument concedes the humanity of the unborn, but places a higher value on the autonomy of the woman to make decisions about the right of that life to live or die based on financial, sociological, and marital status considerations. She obviously thinks that the developmental stage is somehow significant as well. But the morality of terminating innocent human life is not subjective to financial pressure is it? Would she condone my killing my young children because it would benefit my wife and I right now and make us better able to take care of possible future children? If not, why not? Does she think that human life in the earliest stages of development lacks value? What contextual pressures are present in her description that makes killing the unborn a moral action?

How about this doozy:

The fact is that the baby is a parasite on the mother and has no intrinsic right to life. Our nature mean we nurture our young, but they have no natural right to it.

Peter Singer type stuff here. The unborn clearly are not fully human. They only derive value as we develop an emotional attachment. Singer once said that the only true tragedy of the very young infant dying is that it emotionally hurts the parents. The newborn itself possessed no real value inherent to its nature. Of course this raises the question when does a pile become a heap and what kind of atrocities would you condone under this line of thinking? When do the unborn cease to be parasites and become something of value? Do you deny all natural rights and assume that only positive rights as granted by crafted law exists? What makes any law truly just then?

An oldie but a goodie:

Woman are not baby making machines. It is a woman's right to chose whether to be one.

Beyond the poor construction of the statement (We are not, unless we want to be, then we are), it fails to recognize that women do not often get pregnant by divine insemination. If you do not want to have a baby, it might behoove you to avoid activities that tend to result in babies. After failing to do so, you are not suggesting that innocent life must be sacrificed to enable your ability to continue to make poor choices with obvious results are you? What are the unborn? If they are human beings then you do not get to kill them to avoid the logical consequences of your actions. There is a less violent and destructive path to avoid being a baby making machine. Sex is the only action that people seem to delude themselves into believing that they have a “right” to do it as often as they like with no repercussions no matter how much the science of procreation and infectious diseases informs us otherwise.

Oh no! The earth is over crowding as I paste this one!!

This is nonsense. How can anyone argue, in an age where world population is approaching 7 billion and the planet is going to hell in a hand-basket from ecological collapse, that there is anything noble or necessary or unselfish in encumbering the world with yet another unwanted child? The vast majority of women who have abortions do not in fact "agonize" over the decision. Recent attempts by the Religious Right to prove that abortion "harms women" by turning then away from their divinely ordained function as foetus incubators keep foundering on the sheer weight of medical evidence proving that women who have had abortions are no more depression or suicide-prone than anyone else.

So many bad arguments in so short a span that I am a bit overwhelmed. I love the pattern, though. Assertion, different assertion, and not a shred of evidence. The call for depopulating the world is always a bit odd. The depopulation folk want the right to kill all of those other people cluttering up their world. You may remember the speech reported on here, where Eric Pianka delivered an address to fellow scientists calling for the elimination of 90% of the human population of the earth to save other species. The scientists reportedly applauded presumably believing that people as important as them could not be killed by the desired Ebola strain to wipe out the undesirables. Population explosion and over population has been argued for 200 years and continually fails to sucessfully predict anything. (see here) Throw in a healthy dose of global climate disaster and you have a hodge-podge of junk science condoning killing actual people for theoretical problems. Even if it could be proven that these concerns were legitimate, as I have said repeatedly, "lets start killing people!" is a terrible solution.

Now are you arguing that as long as women do not agonize over the decision and have no resulting health problems they ought to be able to kill as many unwanted children as they want? That could be scary.

The “women can not be stopped from doing truly important things” argument is next.

There's nothing inherently good about being self-denying. I don't want to live in a world full of frustrated people, and I don't thank you for promoting this. If it were possible that, say, Churchill in wartime (or Einstein, or Edison) were to suddenly find himself pregnant, it would not be moral of him to choose to abandon his great work and keep the baby. Women, too, sometimes have great work to get on with that is unrelated to procreation, if you can imagine that.

Apparently if any of those three men had become impregnated then it would have been moral for them to get abortions to wage war on Hitler, publish in physics and write letters encouraging the creation of the atomic bomb, and electrocuting animals to push DC over AC power.(Sorry for the editorial comment) Not sure what the point is here other than women should not have to stop their lives and raise children while they are doing much more important and personally fulfilling tasks. If the unborn are not human beings then there is no need to argue this point, but if they are… well you have got to be kidding. Who decides what ultimate goals and life works are important enough to justify killing human beings? Does the probability of success in these goals play into the decision? Is this back to the old, “abortion is the great sexual equalizer” stance?

The same writer makes this final comment:

What motivates you to confuse fetuses with children?

Saying that the unborn are whole, distinct, and living human beings is not a confusion of categories. It is a claim about the nature of the unborn. They do not have to be children to matter. Identifying them as a fetus establishes nothing relevant. The next assertion by this man was that the motivation to call the unborn humans is sexist. Even if it were true, (Not an admission) so what? That is the genetic fallacy. I can be as sexist as the day is long and it does not impact the arguments in favor of or against that truth claim I have made about the nature of the unborn. Even if you proved I was sexist, you still have to address my arguments. My motivation for presenting an argument says something about me, not the issue at hand.

3 comments:

  1. This is a great series that you've begun, Jay. Nice work and excellent observations, as usual.

    I love this line of yours: "Sex is the only action that people seem to delude themselves into believing that they have a “right” to do it as often as they like with no repercussions no matter how much the science of procreation and infectious diseases informs us otherwise."

    That nails it. Excellent word smithing on your part.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Jay writes:

    The next assertion by this man was that the motivation to call the unborn humans is sexist.

    And speaking of sexism, did anyone point out to this man that since he cannot get pregnant, he should have no say in the abortion debate?

    Didn't think so.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Jay writes: Would she condone my killing my young children because it would benefit my wife and I right now and make us better able to take care of possible future children? If not, why not? Does she think that human life in the earliest stages of development lacks value?
    Way to go Jay! Trot out that toddler! Lori V.

    ReplyDelete

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