Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Burning Research Lab, Part 4,999,999 [SK]

Defenders of Destructive Embryo Research never tire of the following dilemma, which they think kills the pro-life case against ESCR. The alleged dilemma goes like this: Suppose a research lab is on fire. Whom should you save: a vial full of frozen embryos or a newborn? Ellen Goodman is famous for this question and she's banking that our moral intuitions will drive us to choose the newborn, thus proving we don’t really think the embryo is human after all.

Melinda Penner nails the primary reason the example fails: It proves absolutely nothing. She writes:

The only reason it's a dilemma is because it pits the value of both against each other. A dilemma is a difficult choice pitting competing values against one another. It wouldn't be a dilemma if there weren't two valuable things at stake. Something valuable is going to be lost with either choice. So the fact that it's a dilemma assumes the value of the embryos, otherwise it would be easy.

I'd probably grab the baby, assuming it was as easy to grab as the embryos, only because of it's viability to survive since the embryos need to remain frozen. After all, the point of saving someone is survival. The embryos are unlikely to survive the rescue in any case because they require strict conditions that probably can't be found in such an emergency. The baby will survive with easily provided help.

Now new variable could be introduced to the dilemma that change that survival calculation - a lab nearby could keep the embryos in their optimum condition, the baby has a terminal disease, etc. There are circumstances where I'd choose the embryos. But it's that issue of survival that determines the choice, not that deep down I think one is really more valuable than the other one. So the dilemma just doesn't prove anything.

I'd also probably save a 30-year-old gall bladder patient over someone hooked up to a respirator from a hospital fire for the same reason, but that doesn't mean one is more valuable than the other. (Emph. added)

There are other problems with Goodman's case. Here's what I said for an upcoming publication:

First, how does choosing to save one human being over another prove the one left behind is not human? Given a choice between saving my daughter and a building full of other people, I would save my own kid. Would that prove the others were not human beings?

Second, the debate over embryonic stem cell research is not about choosing who we’re going to save—as in the case of the burning lab. It's about who we're going to deliberately kill to benefit us. Saving my own kid first is permissible. Shooting those left behind is not, even if it would increase my chances of escape.

Third, moral intuitions are important but they are not infallible. We must examine them in light of reason. A little over a century ago, many Whites thought it unthinkable that anyone would consider Black slaves human beings. Hadley Arkes recounts one such example from chapter 32 of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, where Huck contrives a story to explain to Aunt Sally his late arrival by boat:

“We blowed out a cylinder head.”
“Good gracious! Anybody hurt?”
“No’m. Killed a nigger.”
“Well, it’s lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt.”

Notice it’s simply assumed the black man is not one of us. Thus, it’s no stretch to imagine a proponent of slavery putting the following challenge to a northern abolitionist: “Your barn is burning. You have a choice of saving a Negro slave or a white schoolboy. Which would you choose?” If a majority of abolitionists leave the black kid behind, does that change the kind of thing he is or, more to the point, justify us killing him to get the white kid out?
Ramesh Ponnuru demonstrates just how crazy the alleged research dilemma really is with the following considerations:

If I were in a burning building and in one room was a neighbor's three-week old triplets and in another was your own nine-year old daughter, and I only had time to get into and out of one room safely, who would I rescue?

If I were in a burning building and in one room was the healthy mother of four small children who were utterly dependent on her, and in another were two patients in the final stages of terminal cancer, who would I rescue?

If I were in a burning building and in one room was a research scientist who was making great strides towards a cure for Alzheimer's and in another room were four heroin addicted fifty-eight year old men who move in and out of the penal system and will likely do so for the rest of their lives, who would I rescue?

If I were in a burning building and in one room was a five-year old child and in another were seven people in comas, who would I rescue?

If I were in a burning building and in one room was a five-year-old child and in another were two older women suffering from advanced cases of Parkinson's disease, who would I rescue?

If I were in a burning building and in one room were five men and in another were three pregnant women, who would I rescue?

I could go on.

Answers to any of these questions do not justify actually killing anybody or treating anybody as unequal to anybody else precisely in respect to basic human dignity and the right to life (i.e., the right not to be killed or have one's life used as a mere means to benefit others). In all of these cases, there is no question of my actually killing anyone. The question would be whether I was showing unfair favoritism toward some over others. In answering that question, all kind of things become relevant that would not be relevant to a decision on whther to kill: family ties, the life prospects of the potential rescued beings, the suffering they would undergo if not rescued, etc. (Emp. added)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Get This Book [SK]

In my humble opinion, Johah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism brilliantly describes how we arrived at our current political landscape. Goldberg's thesis is simple: The political left, not the right, is most responsible for fascist thinking and action.

Now, the portion of his book dealing with Margaret Sanger, Planned Parenthood, and eugenics is on on-line.

Read it, then go buy the book.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

This is Comprehensive Sex Education [Serge]

The RH Reality blog was nice enough to have a real sex educator explain the advise that she gives teens to help decide whether they are ready to have sex:

As a sexuality educator, I spend most of my time helping parents understand how to talk with their children and teenagers about sex, sexuality, gender, and all of the myriad issues that go along with those things. One question that parents often ask me is how to make sure their teenagers are ready to have sex. Putting aside issues of whether parents should have substantial input and control over their teenager's sexual activities, I found that parents were relying on goals that were far too vague.
She seems to doubt whether parents should have substantial input or control over their childrens' sexual activities. Is there doubt that parents should have "substantial input" into their 14 year olds sexual activities? I guess she doesn't think so.

And so, my list of ten concrete things that teenagers need to do before they have sex was born.
Remember, this list is for teens...

1. Have an orgasm.
Yes, before you start having sex, you should give yourself an orgasm. It's important to know what feels good to you before you can show another person what feels good to you.
Interesting choice for number one. I don't think showing another teenager what feels good to you is one of the main problem teens deal with in regards to sexuality.

2. Know the other person's sexual history.
And I don't mean just vaginal intercourse for this one!
3. Know the other person's STD status, as well as your own.
The only way to know this for sure is to be tested! And if you're both virgins, well, you're not going to be for long. You might as well get that scary first STD testing out of the way so you'll know what to expect next time around.
This is good. If you have never had sex before, you should still submit yourself for STD testing just to get used to the procedure. Since you're relegating yourself to a young life of frequent STD testing, you might as well get the first one over with. Nothing says romance as good as a mutual appointment at the health department to see if there are any pathogens growing within your nether regions.

4. Talk about exactly what STD protection and birth control you will be using.
These two issues go hand-in-hand (for heterosexual couples), and it is the domain of both parties to be intimately involved.

5. If you are part of a heterosexual couple, talk about what happens if the woman gets pregnant.
Here are a few options to talk about, in alphabetical order: abortion, adoption, raising the kid alone, raising the kid together. With the understanding that reality is different than the theoretical, make sure you're both on the same theoretical page.

I'm sure many 15 year olds take the time to discuss whether they will raise their theoretical child together or apart. And they say sexual purity is unrealistic.

6. Have your best friend's blessing.
We can rarely see someone we're in love with clearly. It is often our best friends who can see our lovers and our potential lovers for who they really are. Listen to what your best friend has to say, and take it to heart. If it's not what you wanted to hear, give it some time. Wait a month. A good relationship will be able to withstand another month before having sex. Then ask a different friend, and see what they have to say.
Not a word about having your parent's blessing, but it would be a good thing to get the heart-felt wisdom from your 15 year old best friend. Of course, the waiting part is good advise. A "good relationship" will be able to withstand a large number of months before having sex.

7. Meet your partner's parents.
At the very least, make sure you know why you haven't met your them. The best sex comes out of knowing someone well, and knowing someone's family is an important part of knowing them. (Even if they're really, really different from their family.)
8. Be comfortable being naked in front of each other.
You don't actually have to strip down in broad daylight to make sure you've reached this milestone, but it sure helps!
Because that "uncomfortable when naked" problem is plaguing the nation's sexually active teen.

9. Have condoms on hand.
Make sure they fit right, that they're within the expiration date, and that they haven't been exposed to extreme conditions (like the inside of a really hot car). Condoms should be part of any respectful sexual relationship. There need be no assumption of hook ups outside of the relationship, just an assumption of good sexual habits being made and kept.
Evidence of a respectful sexual relationship: Condoms. My wife will be so surprised.

10. Make sure that your partner has done all of these things too.
Part of a happy, healthy sexual encounter is taking care of everyone's emotional needs and physical health. Both people need to pay attention to themselves and to their partner. That way each person has two people looking out for them. It's just the best way to do things.

I suppose the best things that can be said about this list is it seems a very good case for sexual purity. It certainly shows the chasm between what the average parent wants for their teen and what the sexual educators believe is best. The advocates of comprehensive sex education often claim that they wish to increase the communication between teens and parents, but nothing on this list even mentions that.

Friday, December 12, 2008

NEJM to Women: You Can't Handle the Truth! [Serge]

Anyone who needs evidence that doctors do not often make the best logical thinkers need look no further than this amazing article in the New England Journal of Medicine. At issue is the S. Dakota law than mandates that doctors provide to their patients certain information as part of the informed consent process. I must admit that I am uncomfortable with the way part of the law is written, but I am amazed at the objections of the medical community with some if the wording in the statute. To put things in perspective, I am involved in an informed consent conversation with patients between the ages of 15-25 literally every day I am at work. I know a bit about this. Lets see what the NEJM objects to:

The majority in Rounds [the case that declared the law constitutional] dismissed the First Amendment argument by focusing on the statute's inclusion of a definition of "human being" as "an individual living member of the species of Homo sapiens, including the unborn human being during the entire embryonic and fetal ages from fertilization to full gestation."1 The reference to this definition, the court found, makes the description of the fetus as "a whole, separate, unique, living human being" a biologic, rather than ideological, one.
This is because the description of a human embryo or human fetus as an individual living member of the species homo sapiens is completely true, accurate, and scientifically verifiable. Using the term human being in that context is accurate, and is biological. I'm starting to wonder what the problem is.

But although state legislatures have substantial discretion to define terms used in their laws, they cannot merely use the iteration of definitions to cloak religious, philosophical, or metaphysical language in statutory garments and call it "scientific" or "biologic."
Read that last sentence slowly. Despite the fact that the statute clarifies exactly what it means by a human being, and truthfully states it is a human being that is killed during an abortion, the author seems to believe that the term is really some form of cloaking device for religious (!), philosophical, and metaphysical language! How dare we use scientific truths to cloak our religious ideology and foist it on unsuspecting young abortion patients! Believers of all sorts need to take of the "statutory garments" off of any scientific term we use, regardless of their truth, to reveal the religious or ideological underpinnings.

As a side note, I am a follower of Jesus Christ and an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Should I be concerned about any cloaked religious meanings when I use the term "third molar teeth" in my consent form? Just asking.

Proof of cloaked meaing in true scientific terms? This should be good...

The dissent in Rounds noted that "human being" has no specific scientific or medical meaning and that its meaning varies with the context. Although it may refer to purely biologic characteristics, especially when distinguishing humans from other species, "it also may be a value judgment, indicating entitlement to the moral or political rights shared by all persons."2 Post notes that the question of "whether the fetus is a human being is thus understood by all sides to the abortion controversy to be an essentially contested moral proposition."4 In its abortion cases, the Supreme Court has shied away from making value judgments related to the term "human being," when life begins, or whether the fetus is a "human life." The Eighth Circuit's position that the use of the definition resolves the ideology question is overly simplistic, at best.
We should worry about cloaked ideology because any term can have different meaings based on context. First, I believe this is wrong. I am unsure of any context in which the basic meaning of "human being" as a member of our species would be incorrect. Granted that some may have used the term inaccurately in the past, but that doesn't make it incorrect to use in any context as long as the term corresponds to an organism of our species.

Secondly lets consider the context in which the term human being is used. It is used in the context of an informed consent discussion. In other words, the context is a doctor stating "this is the thing that I need your permission to cut apart and suctioned out of your body." Why should the accurate biological description of the "thing" be inappropriate?

I could go on further but lets move on a bit...

The requirement that women sign each page of the disclosure document allows them no latitude to decide for themselves how much or little detail they wish to have about the procedure. The requirements of certification and for writing and recording of questions and answers in the medical record will have a chilling effect on open discussions between physicians and patients and are likely to "compel a woman to conform her speech to the state's chosen messages."2
Before I continue let my explain the informed consent process for wisdom teeth surgery, one that most would agree is a far easier decision to make than whether or not to have an abortion. The patient views a flash presentation showing the risks of the surgery, complete with drawn pictures of impacted teeth, the nerve in the jaw, etc. They have to press a button that they understand each aspect before they click to the next one. The have the opporunity to ask questions both to me and in the flash demonstration at any time, and these questions are documented and written in the chart. They then read a detailed 1 page consent form describing all of the risks of surgery and anesthesia (including death) and initial every paragraph. This is not optional - third molar surgery is an elective procedure. I don't know one surgeron that would be willing to cut something out of a patient without the patient knowing what the procedure entails.

So why should it be different for something as potentially life changing as an elective abortion? Regardless of your position on whether abortion should be legal, shouldn't a patient seeking abortion be given the most accurate information possible, or should we claim that they cannot handle the truth and should be protected from knowing what they are consenting to? I think enough of women to believe that they can handle the truth. I wish the rest of the medical establishment did also.

Two Links [SK]

Paul Manata has a good piece on how some abortion-choice advocates wrongly construe pro-life arguments, then falsely claim victory in refuting them.

Rebecca Merrill Groothuis on a lapse in moral reasoning:

I have heard the argument that God cares as much about social justice issues (such as poverty and racism) as He does abortion, making a vote for Obama okay. I certainly believe God puts a very high priority on caring for the poor and I, too, have wanted to see equality demonstrated through a "minority" president. But to equate having a better income or the desire for a first black president, regardless of his positions on abortion and morality, to the issue of killing 50 million babies is not justice—it is a gross distortion of justice and a great deception. I fear that we have been desensitized to this issue of abortion. I believe it kills babies and takes innocent life. Let's not forget this in our noble attempts to be kind and conciliatory.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Same Sex Marriage Fallacies [SK]

This blog is about bioethics, but the issue of SSM relates to a primary question in debates over abortion and ESCR: Who are we as a people and how can we best contribute to the common good?

Though I won't dwell on the question of SSM in many further posts, here are some excellent links that lend insight to the issue. Most are replies to a recent Newsweek article suggesting the Bible supports SSM:

Robert Gagnon’s rebuttal to Newsweek's sloppy theology

Justin Taylor’s summary of the Gagnon article

Beckwith on The Failure of Justificatory Liberalism in First Things

Rob Bowman on the fallacies of SSM theological arguments--a reply to Tony Jones

Mollie Hemmingway on Newsweek

Justin Taylor links to lectures on Bible and Homo Sexuality

Update 10: 21 PM--Christianity Today goes after Newsweek

For continued coverage of SSM from a Christian worldview, look for additional posts at www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net and theologica.blogspot.com

Update 12/16--Stand to Reason has more on bad same-sex marriage arguments here and here.

History of California's Prop. 8 and how judicial tyrants are poised to overrule the people can be found here.

Update 12/30 Patrick Lee on why marriage is inherently heterosexual.

Update 1/08/09 Melinda Penner on Getting to the Real Issue

Update 2/27 Greg Koukl on SSM challenges and responses

Greg Koukl, Doing What Comes Naturally

Greg Koukl, SSM: http://str.typepad.com/weblog/2010/01/samesex-marriage.html

Melinda Penner on what marriage is:

Andrew Cline on SSM

Albert Mohler on The Bible and Homosexuality

Robert George, et al, write on the purpose of marriage.

Robert George and Ryan T. Anderson on a natural law definition of marriage.

I will update this post as more material comes up for review.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Stem Sell Nonsense [SK]

Jivin J has a great post that raises three questions pro-ESCR advocates Amie Newman and Rick Weiss fail to answer. First, if the embryos in question are not human beings, why have any restrictions on ESCR? Second, why these particualr proposed restrictions rather than others? Third, what's the proper relationship between science and ethics?

Jivin writes:

While Newman struggles to understand the difference between science and ethics, Weiss fails to provide reasons for why his suggested restrictions should be in place in the first place. Why only provide funding for research on cell lines from human embryos created for reproductive purposes? Why do the embryos have to be in excess of medical need and slated for destruction? Why shouldn’t the federal government provide funding for research on cell lines created from human embryos who were created with the intention of killing them for their cells?

His piece doesn’t even attempt to answer these questions. There seems to be no ethical anchor for his position. If killing human embryos for research isn’t ethically wrong, then why are stem cells derived from human embryos created solely for research not “ethically derived human embryonic stem cells?”
Read the whole post.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Hey Christian, Go Read Something! [Serge]

Recently a received a kids Christmas catalog from Christian Book Distributors (here it is online). As I thumbed through it, I was surprised at what I found, or more specifically what I did not find. I saw page after page of DVDs, CDs, Christian jewelery (a guitar pick on a chain labeled "pick Jesus" was a standout), T-shirts, sweatshirts, and occasionally, a book or two. In fact, I decided to count - on the first 37 pages of this catalog from a Christian bookstore, there were approximately seven pages of books. On the other hand, there were over seven pages of DVDs and over ten pages selling sweatshirts and T-shirts. It seems as Christians, we are far more likely to buy our kids a shirt that says "rooted in faith" than to give them the tools they need to defend their faith in the face of a hostile culture.

Contrast this to what our kids will see at the local Barnes and Nobles. Sure, there may a small section of DVDs, CDs and gifts, but mostly they will be see books. Lots of books. They may not be able to buy a T-shirt with a quote from Richard Dawkins, but they will see the God Delusion prominately dislayed. Of these two options, Chritian and secular, which do you believe our curious children will take more seriously? Which do you believe will influence our kid's worldview more?

Let me be clear that I do not fault the Christian bookstore here - they are a business. I'm glad they exist, and hope they make a profit to stay in business. It is not their fault that Christians are more apt to buy a DVD they can feel safe to stick into the player than to read JP Moreland. The problem lies with us. How seriously do we study our faith? How have we grounded our worldview? Do we really seek to follow Christ and be his disciple? Is this committment to the truth the kind of thing we wish to advertise on a T-shirt?

For Christmas this year, do your child a favor. Buy him of her a challenging book. Read it with them and discuss it afterwards. Take the time to challenge your kids about worldview issues after they consume secular media. This will last far longer than a T-shirt or a guitar pick.

Friday, December 5, 2008

At Least One Campus Gets It [SK]

The University of Calgary--with its eager desire to prosecute peaceful pro-life students for displaying graphic images of abortion--needs to read this editorial from the Oklahoma University Daily. The editorial is in response to the Justice for All exhibit, which you can view here.

Whether you’re pro-choice or pro-life, it’s impossible to walk down the South Oval without cringing at the giant photos of mutilated fetuses on display.

But the presentation by the Justice for All is constructive, if cringe-inducing.

The people who stood alongside the display on Monday and Wednesday and answered questions from passers by were well-informed about the issues they were discussing.

Unlike the students present at some demonstrations, they knew what they were talking about and were able to talk about it compassionately.

They were respectful and reserved. Instead of shouting people down, they were quiet until people approached them and started talking. Then, they answered questions with what appeared to be genuine feeling and intelligence.

Their views are controversial, but they were presented in a compelling and coherent format. The giant photos didn’t make up the sum total of their presentation; they were also armed with brochures and handouts that offered interested students even more information about one of the nation’s most divisive issues.

But what we appreciate most about the Justice for All isn’t that they managed to communicate their message effectively, it’s that they succeeded in inspiring civil conversations about a controversial subject.

They made a “Free Speech Board” where students could write any reactions, even negative ones, to the display. They provided notebooks for people to record whether they supported or opposed the display of graphic photos on the South Oval. Most importantly, they talked to people.

Over the years, dozens of different groups and individuals have trotted down the South Oval in efforts to raise awareness about something, be it homelessness, genocide, or the very real danger that women who wear lipstick are bound for hell.

These people have tried a variety of formats, from harassing students for money to staging protests to standing on benches and screaming at people.

Of all of these groups and all their methods, none has been more effective at creating a space for discussion than the Justice for All. On Wednesday, the scene on the South Oval was one of remarkable calm, considering the nature of the photos that were on display.

Along the sidewalk, pro-life and pro-choice advocates traded barbs, but closer to the photos themselves, small groups of people were gathered, talking — at normal volume levels — about abortion. Others were paired off, talking one-on-one.

Everyone clearly felt strongly about what they were saying, but they were saying it with at least a modicum of respect and none of the hysteria that tends to accompany the topic.

Regardless of where you stand on the abortion rights spectrum, it’s difficult to deny that the Justice for All has done an admirable job of creating a much-needed space for debate that is passionate but civil.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Question About Distinct, Living, and Whole [SK]

Anonymous writes:
I have some sort of flat-footed questions to ask: First, what is the significance of being a "distinct, living and whole human organism"? And why single out these particular features? Also, how do you define the terms "distinct," "whole", "human" and "organism"? (And why think we've got the right definitions?)

Thank you in advance for your answers.

The reader correctly summarizes my position--namely, that embryos are distinct, living, and whole members of the human species regardless of their size or location. As is true of infants, toddlers, and teenagers, embryos are human individuals at a particular stage of their development and thus they do not differ in kind from the mature adults they will one day become.

Each of these points can be clarified as follows: To say the embryo is distinct means it is different in kind from any cell of its parents. Sperm and egg, for example, cease to exist at fertilization, their role restricted to surrendering their constituents into the makeup of new entity, the embryo. From the start, this new entity not only directs its own internal development, it has something completely different from both parents: its own unique chromosomal structure. Later, it will bear other distinctions such as different blood type and different internal organs. (For a summary of the science of embryology, see here.)

That the embryo is living seems obvious on the face of it, as dead things don’t grow. Scientists generally agree that anything that exhibits irritability (reaction to stimuli), metabolism (converting food to energy), and cellular reproduction (growth) is alive. Not only does the embryo exhibit all of these things, it develops itself in ways conducive to its own survival and maturation. True, there is some limited disagreement about how we should define “life,” as some things have only some of the characteristics of living things (for example, viruses). However, just because we don’t know if a specific thing is alive does not mean we can’t know if anything is alive. And anything the exhibits the three qualities above is living.

It’s also clear the embryo is human, since it comes from human parents and has the genetic constitution characteristic of human beings. Put simply, human parents produce human offspring. To deny this, one must explain how two human parents can produce offspring that is not human but later becomes so.

Most importantly, the embryo is a complete or whole human organism rather than part of another living entity. All of its cells work together in tandem toward the growth of a single entity, the embryo. Mere clumps of cells do not function this way. Maureen Condic, Assistant Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the University of Utah, writes:

From the earliest stages of development, human embryos clearly function as organisms. Embryos are not merely collections of human cells, but living creatures with all the properties that define any organism as distinct from a group of cells; embryos are capable of growing, maturing, maintaining a physiologic balance between various organ systems, adapting to changing circumstances, and repairing injury. Mere groups of human cells do nothing like this under any circumstances. The embryo generates and organizes distinct tissues that function in a coordinated manner to maintain the continued growth and health of the developing body.
Robert George and Patrick Lee summarize embryonic development this way: “From conception onward, the human embryo is fully programmed, and has the active disposition, to develop himself or herself to the next mature stage of a human being.”

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Steve Wagner Accepts New Position with Justice for All [SK]

The Stand to Reason Blog reported the news of his move today.

I've known Steve since we first had lunch together in early 2001. Over enchiladas and rice at El Torito, Steve informed me of his desire to leave the teaching profession (he taught music) and pursue full-time pro-life apologetics work.

Since then, Steve has emerged as one of the finest (if not the finest) trainer of pro-life students and a terrific communicator for our cause. I have no doubt he'll make a substantial impact at Justice for All.

Two additional thoughts:

First, Stand to Reason gets high marks for not only recruiting talented Christian apologists, but graciously releasing them when opportunities for advancement arrive. I've seen other ministries clutch onto staffers and lay guilt trips on them when a move is forthcoming. Not so at STR--I know from experience. I'm certain Steve would agree.

Second, Justice for All, with its emphasis on training pro-life students, is a tailored fit for Steve. David Lee, JFA's Executive Director, is a perfect pro-life ambassador with a passionate vision to impact college campuses throughout the nation. I look forward to the ministry impact Steve and David will make working together in the years ahead.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Since You Could be Attacked, We Must Shut You Up [Serge]

This seems to be the main argument from the University of Calgary in their decision to disallow the public display Scott discussed here. Here is a portion of their letter that they sent to the organizers:

Of course, the violence that the pro-lifers warned about is the violence that could be perpetrated upon them. They are informing the school that a small amount of security would help to decrease the chance of any attacks upon them. The school's response is cowardly and pretty amazing - in order to be safe they cannot let any "discussion" comparing abortion with the holocaust and the Rwandan genocide.

Imagine a group that wished to protest against campus rape. They had images and were prepared to discuss comparisons of rape with the issues of other violence and other forms of past abuse of women. They were concerned that a small minority of the men who viewed these images and discussion could be upset enough to attack them - despite the fact that there were no attacks during the other five times that the signs were displayed.

Would the woman's group be made to hide their signs and limit discussion of the issue in the name of safety? Would they accept that?

Living life without being confronted with points in which you disagree is not a basic human right. A college campus is the perfect venue to explore the more controversial issues that confront us. This craven attempt to protect the students from a viewpoint that they may disagree with is morally vacuous, and unworthy of a higher learning institution of any form.