Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bob and Jay Making Good Points [SK]

I'm way too busy to get involved in the political brawl between Bob and Jay, other than to say I'm glad to see some spirited, but graciously delivered, discussion on the topic. Seriously, I'm not sure you guys disagree all that much. As for me, they'll be no Rudy yardsigns at my house until the primaries end.

But should Rudy get the GOP nod, pro-lifers need to take a deep breath before sitting the election out. Consider that Hillary, with overwhelming support from a Democrat Congress (does anyone seriously doubt the Dems will have HUGE majorities in 09?), will likely force the American public into a nationalized health-care plan that includes funding for ESCR, cloning, and elective abortion. Even if she's only a one-termer, and I think she would be, I don't think we can easily undue nationalized health-care with a new pro-life president in 2012. We're stuck with tax-funded destruction of human life! (That's almost as bad as SCOTUS stacked against us.)

So, before saying NEVER to Rudy--even if the primary voters select him-- imagine the 09 State of the Union Address with Hillary beaming at the podium, Nancy Pelosi still seated in the Speaker's chair, and a cheering lefty Congress eager to fund the destruction of countless human lives. Rudy won't save all unborn humans, but he might save some. Thus, if I can't promote the good with my vote, I'll at least work to limit the evil insofar as possible.

Right now, I'm swamped with speaking duties that won't let up until November 17. Please don't take offense if I don't respond to comments before then. (Jay and Bob are doing just fine!) At that time, I'll also continue my blogging tour of Beckwith's Defending Life.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Quick Response to Bob [Jay]

This is in response to Bob's previous post and the comments that followed.

I do not share any of your optimism about RG. All of your arguments are based on the belief that you can trust him to mean what he says about his intentions in nominating judges. There is no moral basis for this trust as RG is not morally opposed to abortion, he just has a vague idea about the type of judges he would like to nominate. I also am inclined to find his early shifts in public message on abortion as an indication that he is campaigning and as full of nonsense as anyone.

That said, Hillary made it clear at her recent address to Planned Parenthood that her first day in office will be dedicated to an all out assault on all of the progress that was made in policy under Bush, as limited as that is. So I am in the position of holding her at her word and believing she will do what she says. That means that my objective is to make certain that I do everything in my ability not to allow Hillary into office through the power of vote that I have been given. I would vote for RG if forced to not because I believe for one moment that we can predict what he will do, but because HC has dedicated herself to being an active enemy to all I hold dear. I could not in good conscience allow my actions to assist her in aqcuiring the office that will help her maximize the damage that she can do to the unborn. RG is largely an unkown with elements I despise. Hillary has promised to be a force for the opposition from day one.

I find the idea of voting for RG just slightly less detestable than the idea of doing anything that would ultimately help HC. Now I will resume praying that this is not actually the future choice that we are facing. It is way too early to crown either of them the candidate. This time last cycle it looked like Howard Dean was on his way to a face off versus Bush. Things change. And HC v. RG is terrible for all of us who cherish the sanctity of life.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Practical Pro-Life Politics [Bob]

Yesterday, in USA Today, Michael Medved made the case ("Abortion's Shades of Gray") that today's abortion beliefs "are much more nuanced ... [and that] it's no longer a black-and-white debate." While I may agree with him about today's beliefs and arguments, that does nothing to change the black and white facts about abortion. As Jay pointed out yesterday, there are clear distinctions between all the nuanced arguments, justifications and beliefs that people put forth and the simple issue of the moral status of an unborn, innocent human being. But that is not what I want to address.

Before I make my point, I want to make it crystal clear that, as a pro-life advocate and voter, I will do everything in my power to defeat Rudy Giuliani in the Republican primary process. I will do this for many reasons, not the least of which is his stance on abortion. But, when it comes to electing someone like Giuliani to the presidency (if it does come to that), all the talk of abandoning the Republican party to demonstrate our disgust for his views, or of launching a third-party in protest, are not only inane, but genuinely destructive to the pro-life cause. Let me explain.

Medved points out the key differences between Giuliani's platform and those of the leading Democratic candidates. Here's the list:
  • Giuliani has committed to preserve the Hyde Ammendment, banning taxpayer money for abortions ... the top Democrats urge repeal and favor federal funding.
  • Giuliani applauded the recent SCOTUS decision upholding the ban on partial-birth abortion ... all leading Democrats condemned it in harsh terms.
  • Giuliani supports tougher rules on parental notification for underage girls seeking abortion ... Clinton and Obama oppose such legislation.
  • Giuliani has specifically cited strict-constructionists like Scalia, Alito and Roberts as his models for future appointees to SCOTUS ... top Democrats regularly express conempt for the conservative jurists Giuliani admires and worked against all three of these.

In other words, when it comes to the abortion issue, a Giuliani presidency would look no different from that of George W. Bush. In fact, given the likelihood that the next president will appoint one or more justices to SCOTUS, positive (though incremental) steps toward the possibility of overturning Roe would move noticeably in the right direction. The alternative would be an utter disaster.

Along those lines, some have expressed dismay toward the seemingly opportunistic late change in Romney's abortion views. Point granted. But my sources tell me that Romney convened a meeting of several pro-life advocates and asked them to make their case. After that meeting(s), his view was changed. Given that organizations like the Life Training Institute exist to "persuasively communicate the pro-life message," does it make sense to chastise those for whom our message may actually have been persuasive? Can we not consider the fact that our arguments may be working? I have no way of knowing Mitt Romney's motivation for seeing the pro-life light. But motivations are irrelevant if his policy stance agrees with ours. Romney has never given any indication (that I know of) to doubt that point.

So, at risk of re-igniting the wrath of the purists out there, I simply propose that we keep our collective eyes on the mission at hand and take every practical and effective step we can to achieve it. As a former Marine, I hate the idea of losing tactical skirmishes. But, more importantly, I refuse to submit to strategies that have no hope of winning the war.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Terribly Sad, but Not Justification [Jay]

This article by Rowan Pelling for the Telegraph is well meaning, heartfelt, and completely misses the point. She is writing simultaneously the day before she goes for a 20-week check up on her unborn child and during the week of the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act in Great Britain. She shares several scenarios where friends or acquaintances were forced into a dilemma where they had to choose between a poorly timed pregnancy and some other option that was gut wrenching and terrible. For example:

"Take the young woman whose mentally unstable boyfriend said he would kill himself if she continued with her pregnancy, or the wife who felt it would be injurious to her own health and her familial responsibilities to have another child in her late forties?"

I have no doubt that these situations were emotionally trying and difficult. That said, is she arguing that the emotional instability of the father gives us sufficient cause to terminate the life of an innocent human being? Does she believe that a woman who is pregnant at an unusually advanced age is morally justified in destroying innocent human life, much less the life of her own child? She must believe so, because barring the acknowledged humanity and value of the unborn it is completely unnecessary to justify abortion at all. If the unborn life does not matter and has no value as a being, then you do not have to come up with such compelling arguments to defend legalized abortion. If the unborn human life is intrinsically valuable, then the examples, though difficult, are nowhere near the neighborhood of compelling enough.

How about these?

“What about a friend of mine who fell pregnant when she had just started her own company and knew her colleagues' jobs and investors' return depended on her being chained to her desk for the next two years?

I know of several families where three or four children arrived in almost as many years and the parents felt an already strained marriage couldn't survive a precipitous extra arrival.”

Do you see the insanity that is underlying in these anecdotes? They appeal to emotion, but they create a system that is terribly dangerous. My coworkers will suffer financially if I do not abort this unexpected life?! Well that is life in the grown up world people. We lose jobs (believe me I know), the market changes, economies go in the tank, and people unexpectedly leave positions which results in income loss and unemployment for others. That is what we call life. What it is not is justification for ending the life of an innocent unborn human. As for the marriage, are you seriously suggesting that destroying children is a morally acceptable path to marital reconciliation? Why not kill some of the ones that you already have? If getting rid of the unborn life is helpful, think of how much more helpful picking off one of the older ones will be. Pick the one you like the least. If you think I am being ridiculous and insensitive then tell me why it is any different. Because the older child is alive? So is the unborn child. Because the older child is a person? Now we are getting to the point. As Scott would say, AHHH! Then if the unborn child is also a person/human being with intrinsic value, it is equally wrong to kill them as well. This means the emotional anecdotes are really not helpful. They may tell us why people have abortions, but they never explain why it is morally right or even acceptable for them to do so.

Here is the strange logic of the pro choicer in all its glory, though. In the same article she writes both of the following:

“Women who have abortions for social rather than medical reasons also often face tough dilemmas. While I don't doubt there are a small number of callow young females who will abort a foetus with less thought than they give to their manicure, I have yet to meet or hear of one.”


“All the women involved in these cases revered the miracle of life, but they also had to acknowledge the miracle of getting pregnant when you're, variously, on the Pill, using a condom, having a period or over 45. The consequences of owning a womb and wanting a sex-life aren't always tidy.”

These women revere life and she has never heard of a woman so insensitive as to not agonize over the need for her abortion. But then later she writes:

“The scale of public disquiet over the hideous irony of killing 24-week-old babies in one ward while trying to save them in another demonstrates a widespread demand to engage with the ethical dilemmas.

Although I am theoretically pro-choice, I was horrified by this weekend's statistics detailing foetuses aborted in the South-West between 2002 and 2005 for having club feet (54) and extra or webbed digits (26).”

Why so horrified? Why the scale of public disquiet? Because no matter how much we want it to be otherwise, abortion is a bloody awful mess. Emotions run high and lives are irrevocably changed by unexpected children, but we must stop being a people that sees permanently killing life as an answer to temporary problems. We need it legal for the really tough cases, and then also if the child is physically inferior, and in case it disrupts my financial planning, and if it is a girl and I wanted a boy, and ah hell I just don’t want to have a baby. Let me have sex and live free. The callousness grows because without extreme justification, all of these decisions are in the same moral family. And Rowan just does not get that point.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Dr. Beckwith Comment Jackpot! [Jay]

I sometimes wonder why I bother reading the comments at so many blogs and websites. Most are information dumping and silliness. I have personally ceased to comment on other sites after finding out through some considerable effort that people are not listening. Occasionally I will be moved to contribute, but only when I feel like the thread is so missing the point that a new thought needs to be introduced just so that it is there in the midst of the mess of argument. Then I find stuff like this at STR Blog and I remember all over again that you never know who you are going to run into.

Frank Beckwith decided to post a small rant in reference to this post and this story in Newsweek about a shift in the evangelical mindset toward a greater tolerance for homosexuals. The answer is pure gold and the type of comment searching jackpot that will keep me mining for intellectual gems.

This story is the secular equivalent of the naive, though well-meaning, white person who refers to his black friend as "well-spoken." It reveals, in other words, the latent bigotry harbored by secularists who have come to believe the stereotypes about Christians that they helped to perpetuate over the past thirty years.

Admittedly, we don't help ourselves, at times. Nevertheless, it is clearly the case that Christians are far more tolerant of their moral deviants than are secularists. Christians have ministries to those struggling with sexual identity; secularists have "sensitivity classes"--quasi-fascist re-education sessions--for those who challenge their orthodoxy. Christians can sit through college classes for 15 weeks hearing their faith attacked, and they pray for their professors, and often inquire with folks at places like STR on how to best address these attacks in a winsome manner. Secularists alert the thought-police and scream "hate crime," homophobe, intolerant, etc. Christians put up with incessant media attacks upon their virtue. We can't even get a soda or haircut or go to a doctor's appointment without being forced to listen to some trashy music or subjected to some ridiculous soap opera. In fact, I am at Starbucks right now with a coffee cup that includes some crazy "wise saying" by some pontificating half-wit. We are confronted by entertainment options that include scores of sit-coms and dramas where nobody goes to church and their are more homosexuals than southern Baptists, though in the real world it is quite different. We put up with some s**t that we should be put in the tolerance hall of fame (if there is one).

When was the last time you heard of a Christian group requiring the state to conduct church services in a gay bathhouse? Yet, if an elderly Christian couple does not want to rent a room to a an unmarried cohabiting same-sex couple, the PC police will scream discrimination and force these Christians to have sin take place under their roof. All in the name of "tolerance."

Rant over.

But it was not over, because another commenter jumped in where fools rush in and mistakenly challenged Frank on the rights of Christians to discriminate in the use of their private homes as rental property. It must be noted the commenter later claimed that he thought the discussion was over a public business and not a private home, but the response from Dr. Beckwith is classic none the less.

I didn't get the memo in which the secular society was given the metaphysical power to be the arbiter of the parameters of Christian belief.

The couple in my illustration own their home--their private domain; so private, in fact, that the Supreme Court has asserted that the government cannot tell them whether or not they can use contraceptive devices, engage in sodomy, or arrange for an abortion at the local clinic. And yet, if they want to exercise their religious liberty by forbidding the occurrence of sin on their property, the government will intervene and force them to disobey conscience.
It is beyond me how anyone cannot be disturbed by this state of affairs.

A brief postscript, I know it is superfluous in the pro-life movement to say that Dr. Beckwith has been influential in our thinking. That said, I consider it a privilege and an honor to be on the same side as such people as he and Dr. William Lane Craig, whom God has blessed me to know personally. The writings and presentations of those two men helped usher me into the modern Christian philosophical movement. I am constantly amazed that the Christian family has such as these that have dedicated their considerable intellectual resources to engaging the culture for the Kingdom. That they both freely interact on the Internet and field questions and comments is a testament to the tremendous hearts that God has given them to compliment their minds. This is not hero worship, but just honest appreciation for brothers in Christ who have helped make me more than what I was.

HT: Stand to Reason Blog

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Trounson's Group Being Investigated for Scientific Fraud [Serge]

Alan Trounson is the incoming director of the $3,000,000,000.00 California Stem Cell Agency. While he chooses how to divy up such an amount for "scientific" research, it should be noted that his group in Monash University, Australia is being investigated for scientific fraud.

This report from the very pro-ESCR California Stem Cell Report pretty much sums up the attitude among those committed to get the "truth" about this issue:

Trounson Reports Not Appearing in American Mainstream Media

For the California stem cell agency, the good news is that the Australian stories about an investigation linked peripherally to its incoming president, Alan Trounson, have not really surfaced in the United States.

The usual online searches today failed to turn up any significant stories on the matter in the mainstream American media.
Business as usual.

HT: Wesley Smith

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What are We Doing? [Jay]

There will be no links to other articles on this post. I will not be analytical in the academic or philosophical sense. I sat down to write this because I am sad tonight. Scott does not often share his feelings on this blog, but as most of you are aware, I am not Scott. The emotional aspects of the pro-life movement are central to my expression because I am an emotional man. And tonight this emotional guy is sad because I have been studying and reading and meandering about the internet and I was struck again with the simple question that drives me to write and speak and advocate for the pro-life movement in the first place. What are we doing?

That is the meat of the matter right? What are the unborn and what are we doing to them? All of the clever arguments for those who support the rights of cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and abortion amount to explanations as to why we are allowed to do something to another life, but this is the simple question that addresses the ultimate morality of bio-ethics. The unborn may not feel pain, they are not self aware, the embryo lacks any physical characteristics that look human, the terminally ill are often depressed and in pain. I understand that many of the things that others say about the objects of our actions are true. I also grasp that there are benefits to the deaths of these human beings. A frightened pregnant teenage girl gets to have a brief surgical procedure and move on with her life. The unused embryonic humans can be a benefit to our research and help produce therapies and cures for children all over the world. Families anguishing over loved ones suffering and cognitively absent get to release that loved one from the terrible agonizing prison of their broken body and begin to pick up the pieces of their lives. But what are we doing? Without explaining anything to me about the condition or context of the object of my actions or the positive end results of those actions, what are we doing?

There is very little argument that the unborn, the terminally ill, the severely brain damaged, and the extreme elderly are not human beings. Some others may wish to quibble over their utility or their inclusion into the moral family of personhood, but no one really argues that they are not human beings. So what are we doing? In the case of abortion, we are terminating the lives of human beings in gruesome procedures because we find ourselves pregnant as a result of sex. Who cares that we all know that sex is the leading cause of pregnancy? We end the lives of human beings on a massive scale because the natural and expected human life that was begun as a result of our actions is not wanted. I know that there are hard cases such as rape and incest, but only an idiot would pretend they represent abortion. About 95% of the time, we just don’t want the baby. And so we kill the unborn human being. All of the rest of the arguing is to explain why that is okay. What we are doing is ending human life for convenience.

How about the terminally ill? My mother was telling me about her living will. She said that she wants all measures to prolong her life removed in extreme cases so that I would not be burdened to make the decisions I made with my father for her. She said that this included artificial feeding tubes like those removed from Terry Schiavo. I asked my mother if she understood that whatever her wishes were, I had no intention of dehydrating her to death. They will have to drag me off to jail before I will be a party to that. What we did to Terry was deny her basic human necessities. We stopped feeding her. I respect my mother’s desire to not be kept alive by invasive and extreme medical measures, but I will not be a party to dehydrating her or anyone else to death. Nor will I be a part of poisoning them to death by an overdose of prescription drugs. That is what we are doing.

Finally, what about embryonic stem cell research and cloning? We are creating little human lives and then quickly destroying them or harvesting them for their stem cells. We are endlessly lectured that taking these liberties with a human being will produce great cures to terrible maladies. We are assured that this stage of development does not physically resemble anything that would be likely to incite emotional responses similar to the well formed aborted fetuses in graphic images used by pro-lifers. We are told that these lives that hold no potential of progressing to being a person can rescue us from all sorts of terrifying illnesses. I am reminded of a scene from the movie Extreme Measures where Hugh Grant has been confronted by Gene Hackman. Hackman’s character has been secretly experimenting on the homeless to produce a cure for spinal chord injuries. He tells Grant’s character of the courage it would take to kill one innocent human being if it meant ridding the world of cancer. Here is the end of the exchange:

Hackman: Helen hasn't walked for years. I can cure her. And everyone like her. The door's open. You can go out there... ...and put a stop to everything and it'll be over. Or we can go upstairs and change medicine forever. It's your call.

Grant: Maybe you're right. Those men upstairs, maybe... ...there isn't much point to their lives. Maybe they're doing a great thing for the world. Maybe they are heroes. But they didn't choose to be. You chose for them. You didn't choose your wife... ...or your granddaughter. You didn't ask for volunteers. You chose for them. And you can't do that. Because you're a doctor. And you took an oath. And you're not God.

I agree with the next line as well. I don’t care if you can cure every illness in the world. Who and what we are is at least or more important than the results that we can achieve through our scientific efforts. They promise a world free of so much horror, but at what cost? I know what we are doing. They may yet accomplish all that they say they can, and then the world that my son and daughter live in is suddenly free of some terrible things while grimmer all the same. Because what we are doing is shaping what we are becoming. And what we are becoming if we continue to terminate the lives of innocent human beings as an answer to medical, financial, emotional, or research needs is as terrible as what we are already doing every day. And that makes me sad tonight.

Faith, Science, and Stem Cells: What's that Term Again? (Part 6) [Serge]

Others in the series.

Whereas I previously posted about confusion regarding scientific and faith-based claims, this next part is more disturbing. Anyone can make a mistake in making a faith-based claim and claiming that it is scientific. However, the ESCR and human cloning debate has also illustrated a clear attempt at deception which is intentionally designed. All one has to look at is the terminology used.

I believe there should be two responsibilities for scientific education: the discovery of empirical truths and the accurate dissemination of such truths to the general public. The accurate determination of scientific truth necessitates the very precise language used by scientists. Any reading of a scientific journal by one unfamiliar with the terms used can be a frustrating experience. However, scientists often change the precise technical jargon with more lay-person based descriptions in order to help the public understand the truths being reported.

This is very common in my work. I recently dictated an operative report for a patient with a minimally displaced fracture of the right mandibular body and the left mandibular subcondylar region necessitating the procedure of a closed reduction with Erich arch bar stabilization along with a period of rigid intermaxillary fixation. If my partners read the report they would know exactly what the diagnosis and treatment were. However, I don't believe I used any of those terms when describing the diagnosis or the procedure to the patient. I told him that he had broken his jaw in two places and that I needed to wire him shut for a time for him to heal properly.

The terms "broken jaw" and "minimally displaced mandible fracture" are pretty much synonymous. Yet using the more formal term to a patient without explanation would be confusing. Also, there are many in the public who believe that a "fracture" is somehow better than a "break". If I used this knowledge in order to deceive my patient, I would be guilty of malpractice. If I told him that his jaw was only "fractured" when I did not think that he correctly understands that term - I would not be living up to my responsibility.

In short, using technical terms in order to deceive instead of accurate available lay terms is wrong. Likewise, using terminology in ways that deceive an unsuspecting public should be the goal of science to avoid and expose in all instances. Instead, as we will see, the "scientific" establishment endorses such behavior in the name of scientific advancement. I want to look at a number of examples, but we will start with the word "cloning" next post.

Free Medical Advice! [Serge]

Don't do this. Trust me.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Jail Time for Beasts Gone Wild? [SK]

Elephants in India have nearly destroyed a village. Why not prosecute them for destructive behavior? After all, if self-aware animals have the same value as humans, let's make the former take responsibility for damage done to the latter.

Hey PETA, it's only fair, right?

As Wesley J. Smith points out, we won't prosecute the beasts because we don't expect them to act like us:

If humans had done this to the village, it would rightly be condemned as an evil act of aggression and lawlessness. But elephants are amoral. They are just being elephants. They are indifferent to the suffering they are causing to another species.This illustrates one of the crucial differences between human beings and animals. Only we are truly moral beings understanding of right and wrong, good and evil. And we have a unique capacity to empathize with "the other." We care about them, even if they can't care about us. That is one reason we try to save elephant habitats and protect these magnificent beasts from poaching, while they will destroy villages, kill the unwary, and generally disrupt human life without a moment's hesitation. And that is a distinction between us and animals with a huge difference.
HT: Second Hand Smoke

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Extrapolating the Pro-Abortion Choice Strategy [Serge]

As usual, life has been busy, but I've been working on a new strategy to confront another evil in our culture: drunk driving. In fact, here is a speech that I've written which explains the strategy in detail. I have learned much from our pro-abortion choice opponents, so maybe applying their strategy here will bring new insights.

"I am here tonight to deal with a large problem confronting our culture, which is teenagers getting injured in drunk driving accidents. I believe we can all agree that we should work to decrease the number of injuries in these accidents, and we also agree that despite our efforts, these injuries occur all too frequently. We need to do something different.

Presently, our focus right now is attempting to educate kids that drinking and driving is wrong, and they should not do it. In other words, we have an "abstinence-only" drunk driving education policy. And yet we still have this problem. Furthermore, we threaten those who drink and drive - even those who are not involved in an accident - with civil punishment including loss of their license and even incarceration! And yet this problem still exists! This is simply a remnant of the faith-based neo-con right wing religious wing nuts who believe there is objective right and wrong. Clearly, we need another strategy, and I believe we can borrow one from those involved in the pro-abortion choice reproductive freedom (to kill their offspring) movement. Let me highlight my new plan.

First, since we know that many teenagers are going to drink and drive, educating them not to will never be effective. We need to send them off into the real world with better protection. I propose that we eliminate barriers to access for improving one's chance of surviving a drunk driving accident. Specifically, I propose that we offer, at taxpayer expense, the ability for teens who wish to drink and drive to have their cars modified with roll cages, five point restraints, and driving helmets. This is a scientifically proven way to decrease deaths in accidents. If such devces can save the life of a NASCAR driver traveling at 200 MPH, why do our drunk driving kids deserve any less? We will end up saving money in the end because of all of the decreased medical bills. Them cars are much easier to put together than our teens.

Second, I find it a travesty that our kids are being "educated" merely by being told that drunk driving is wrong. What about those who choose to drink and drive anyway? Alcohol abstinance training will be a joke to them, and better education is the answer. I propose that use "comprehensive" drunk driving education. For those who agree that drunk driving is wrong - great! However, for those who choose to drink and drive - they need better education. Specifically I propose that we lay out a structured drunk-driving skills course that the students can use to practice their drunk-driving skills. During school, for those who are interested, they will be given a teacher-observed dose of alcohol. They will then be able to get behind the wheel and attempt to finish a driving skills course while they are intoxicated. This will give them a real-life skill that they can use to avoid accidents when they make the choice to drink and drive. For those who believe this would actually encourage other students to drink - well, I guess they are wrong. Or something.

Lastly, we have had a generation of kids who did not have the advantages of my proposed education program. And yet a number of them are being punished for drinking and driving. You simply can't regulate morality, and previous attempts have failed. For that reason, I recommend that we decriminalize drunk driving immediately, including clemency for those who are being punished right now for this "victim less" crime. The one thing that we can never consider is making this a crime ever again. We must decrease the number of drunk-driving deaths by education and protection, not by making criminals out of those who merely make the choice to drink at high speeds. Although I do not drink myself, and would never drink and drive, I am completely pro-choice on the question of drunk driving. We simply need to make it safe, legal and rare. Thank you."

Do you think this idea will get much traction?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ending Abortion With A Group Hug (Jay)

I have to admit, I have read this article by Mike Adams at a couple of times and I still do not get his point. Mr. Adams regularly polls his students at University of North Carolina – Wilmington on what group they would most like to ban from the college campus. This year it appears pro-lifers have made that list. The reason is that groups like the Genocide Awareness Project and Justice for All bring large graphic visual displays of aborted human beings and this creates anxiety and resentment in the students, especially the students who have had abortions in the past.

I can appreciate that Mr. Adams does not personally feel as if the pictures are a good tactic, but his alternative tactic is so Utopian that it calls into question why he would bother writing it at all. Here is an excerpt.

“First, I think we can start by replacing pictures of the dead, dismembered fetus with pictures of some live ones. Instead of reminding people of what a horrible thing they did in the past when they had an abortion we can focus on what a beautiful thing the fetus is and how much more beautiful it can be in the future.

Next, we’ll need to convince the kids that if they do not want to keep their babies there are people who do. And if they cannot take care of their babies there are people who can. This is really not as difficult as we make it out to be.”

This is odd because I thought crisis pregnancy centers all over the United States were already trying to do this. I need to check with the counselors tomorrow here at the CPC where I work to verify this, but I am confident that these things come up with the 400 women a month that our CPC counsels.

But the truly bizarre part is later in the article as he writes the following:

“We take these children from very early on and love them like there’s no tomorrow. Then, after we have them firmly convinced that they are loved - because they are unique and they bring great joy to their parents who simply could not imagine life without them -we are ready to let them out into the world. Then, when tomorrow does come and the children encounter those who do not love them like their parents – those who want children to drink and do drugs and do other things children should not do – then they will not listen because the voices telling them to do bad things are coming from those who do not love them like their parents. Then it all becomes so obvious why Jesus had to speak of Satan and hell but spent even more time talking about unconditional love.

Maybe the key to not hurting those who have had abortions is stopping to remember that they are someone else’s children, too. And maybe if we would share with them the Good News of Jesus rather than the bad news of genocide, they would be convinced that we are the type of people who should keep and care for their babies. Then, I suppose everyone would be happy and pro-lifers and pro-choicers could stop trying to show each other who is morally superior to whom and why. And I guess the babies would be happy, too.”

I firmly believe the love of Christ is central to winning the battle of abortion, but I fail to see how advising us all to love children so much that they never get abortions constitutes a sound tactic. He fails to critically address the displays beyond saying that they upset people, which I am pretty certain is the point of the exhibits. Just love the kids and abortion will go away. Well we will get right on that, Mike. Let say that we also try to stop the 1.3 million legalized surgical abortions a year while we are raising the next generation of hyper loved kids just for kicks.

But for a moment lets act like this article wasn’t weird and had a point. Lets say he is arguing that we will make more tactical advances at winning hearts and minds by convincing and inspiring people to love the unborn and themselves. We need to build up, not tear down, the general public. So I am talking to a young woman who has had an abortion. I show her the beauty of the unborn. I show her the miraculous complexity of early cell differentiation and the surprisingly complete looking 8-week-old gestational age unborn child pictured here. Then she looks at me and asks, “Is that what my child looked like?” “Yes,” I say warmly smiling back at her with my best “Mr. Sensitive pony tail man” aura. “So that was what my child looked like when I got the abortion?” Uh oh. Now here is the rub. As she connects her unborn child that she aborted with the beautiful images and poetic descriptions of the unborn life I am framing my argument around, do you think it makes the reality of what she has done easier? Do you think that she will not be offended once she realizes that I am saying she had her beautiful unborn child violently vacuumed from her uterus? Or cut into pieces and extracted? Or pulled limb from limb? Or poisoned and burned with saline?

I do not often use graphic images when talking. I actually have that picture of the 8-week old pre-born projected on a large screen. Then I explain why abortionists have to wait to abort the unborn life until it is old enough to reassemble the body parts and account for all of the pieces of the child to prevent the mother from getting sick from tissue that is not properly removed. People gasp and cry and turn away. I do not shy away from graphic images,though, because the truth is that abortion is ugly. It is very ugly. You can play nice for a while, but sooner or later it comes down to 3 questions:

1 – What are the unborn?
2 – How do we determine their value?
3 – What are we doing to them?

If they are human beings with a natural right to life then the answer to number three is grotesque and horrifying. How do we not confront it? Mr. Adams, are the images untrue? Do they deceive those who see them in any way? If not, then it seems an odd concession to those who wish to protect the legal right of Americans to kill the unborn for elective reasons because it offends students. That would just be crazy.

HT: Stand to Reason

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Stuff to Read [SK]

Melinda Penner: Why worldviews must account for good as well as evil:

Any religion or view of reality needs to make sense of both moral categories. That is one of the key tests to evaluate religions and worldviews. If evil needs an explanation, so does good because neither is a natural property that can be explained in purely material terms. I wish the problem of good bothered people more. I think they'd arrive at God, and specifically Christianity, as the best explanation more commonly.
Jivin J writes about misleading claims from Michigan's ESCR advocates.

Wesley J. Smith documents the move for human extinction becoming mainstream with intellectuals.

How Sad [SK]

My daughter's school sent home the following notice yesterday:

Who: 1st grade students

What: Come dressed as a superhero (no swords, guns, or other violent accessories--nice superheroes only)!

Why: To celebrate reading the story 'Space Pup.'

Each Child is encouraged to dress as a superhero.
Seriously? You mean Joshua Chamberlain, Ulysses S. Grant, Winston Churchill, Douglas MacAarthur, George Washington, Samuel Adams, and the men and women fighting terrorism in Iraq need not apply?

My problem isn't that the school bans toy weapons. (Though I think that's sometimes ridiculous as well.) My issue is the definition of a 'nice' superhero--that is, one that doesn't fight. Well, is it 'nice' to let a sexual predator mess with your kid if the only way you can stop him is with force? What a horrible lesson to teach our kids, especially young boys who may one day be called on to defend their wives or dependent children. The only superhero this school allows is a cartoon celebrity like 'Space Pup.'

God help us.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Beckwith #8: Science and the Unborn [SK]

Previous Posts on Beckwith's Defending Life:

#1 Overview of major themes
#2 The nature of moral reasoning
#3 What Roe said and did, part 1
#4 Roe, part 2: Blackmun undercuts his own case
#5 Roe, part 3: Blackmun's viability errors
#6 Metaphysics and abortion debate
#7 Thomson's 'Equal Reasonableness' Isn't Reasonable

Chapter 4:
Before launching a sophisticated philosophical defense of the pro-life position grounded in the substance view of human persons (the subject of chapter 6), Frank summarizes what science tells us about the unborn and why popular objections to that science don't work.

The scientific case goes like this: From conception (or the completion of a cloning process), the unborn are living human organisms. Unlike bodily cells which are merely part of a larger human being, human embryos, from the beginning, are whole human entities (though they have yet to mature and grow). True, science can't tell us how to value the unborn (any more than it can tell us how to value a 10-year old), but it can give us the facts we need to determine the kind of thing that's killed by elective abortion. (You can see a summary of the scientific evidence here.)

Frank then deals with objections to the scientific case for the unborn. Three of the most popular (Frank deals with 5 in particular) are as follows:

1) Twining. Cloning advocates sometimes claim that because an early embryo may split into twins (up until 14 days after conception), there is no reason to suppose that it’s an individual human being prior to that time. Hence, early embryo research (prior to day 14) is morally permissible. The flaws in this argument are easy to spot. First, how does it follow that because an entity may split (or even recombine) that it was not a whole living organism prior to the split? As Patrick Lee points out, if we cut a Flatworm in half we get two flatworms. Would advocates of destructive embryo research argue that prior to the split, there was no distinct flatworm? I agree that twining is a mystery. We don’t know if the original entity dies and gives rise to two new organisms or if the original survives and simply engages in some kind of asexual reproduction. Either way, this does nothing to call into question the existence of a distinct human organism prior to splitting.

(FYI, Ramesh Ponnuru asks a great question: If the early embryo prior to twinning is merely a hunk of cells and not a unitary organism, why doesn’t each individual cell develop individually?)

2) Miscarriage. Abortion and cloning advocates cite the high number of miscarriages as proof that embryos are not individual human organisms, but what follows from this? Suppose miscarriages are indeed common: How does this fact refute the claim that embryos are human beings? Many Third-World countries have high infant mortality rates. Are we to conclude that those infants who die early were never whole human beings? Moreover, how does it follow that because nature may spontaneously abort an embryo that I may deliberately kill one? Admittedly, these miscarriages are tragic events. But just because natural disaster happen doesn’t mean massacres are justified.

3) Ignorance. Philosopher David Boonin discounts the pro-lifer’s claim that the newly conceived zygote is a distinct, living, and whole human organism. How can this be, he argues, when we don’t know the precise moment during the conception process at which the new zygotic human being comes into existence? Here Boonin is both right and wrong. True, we don’t know exactly when during the conception process that the zygote comes to be. Some embryologists argue that it happens when the sperm penetrates the ovum while others point to syngamy, when the maternal and parental chromosomes crossover and form a diploid set. But as Beckwith points out, although Boonin raises an important epistemological question (When do we know that sperm and egg cease to be and a new organism arises?), he’s mistaken that his skepticism successfully undermines the pro-lifers strongly supported ontological claim that the zygote is distinct, living, and whole human being. “It may be that one cannot, with confidence, pick out the precise point at which a new being comes into existence between the time at which the sperm initially penetrates the ovum and a complete and living zygote is present. But how does it follow from this acknowledgment of agnosticism that one cannot say that zygote X is a human being?” Boonin, writes Beckwith, “commits the fallacy of the beard: Just because I cannot say when stubble ends and a beard begins, does not mean I cannot distinguish between a clean-shaven face and a bearded one.”

Moreover, Boonin’s skepticism cuts both ways and serves to undermine his own case. Abortion advocates typically claim that until a fetus has value-giving properties such as self-awareness, rationality, and sentience, it does not have a right to life. But since when can we know the precise moment that those properties come to be in the fetus? That is, at what exact point in the pregnancy does the unborn become rational enough to warrant a right to life? No one can say, though abortion advocates suggest that it’s somewhere between 24 weeks to 30 weeks. Despite their lack of certitude on these questions, few abortion advocates are willing to surrender their views. However, if the pro-life position is refuted by a lack of certitude, so is the pro-abortion one.