This Weekend In Pro-Abortion Ethics

SCOTUS protest

Let’s examine this by categories….

Warped Concepts of How the System Works: Yet another Women’s March, like all of them, misleadingly labeled to avoid the ugly transparency that “March to be Able to Kill the Unborn at Will” would broadcast, ended up at the steps of the Supreme Court yesterday. Thousands traveled to Washington, D.C. to demand abortion rights, as if the Supreme Court decides complex issues according to who shouts the loudest, is most passionate, or has the coolest signs. Demonstrators surrounded the court,shouting “My body, my choice” and cheering loudly to the beat of drums.

Morons. These assaults on the Curt have driven me mad for decades, as what they demonstrate is that difficult matters of law, precedent and policy can be decided by slogans and the incoherent bellows from a mob. It’s an insult to the Court, the Constitution, and the system. If you have a valid argument, file an amicus brief. These demonstrations, and it doesn’t matter what their goal is our which side of the ideological spectrum they come from, waste time, energy, passion and taxpayer funds. Is the idea intimidation? Good luck with that. Persuasion? Sure, a bunch of screaming and weeping activists are going to persuade anyone but TV talking heads. Narcissistic grandstanding?

There you go.

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Introduction To “Thoughts On What An Ethical Solution To The Abortion Ethics Conflict Might Look Like, Part 2: A Solution” [Updated]

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I’ll post the 25 stipulations from Part I at the bottom of Part II for easy reference; I’ll be quoting the number in some cases. But not right now…I realized that an introduction is necessary.

It’s important to clarify an essential point up front: as long as the two sides in the abortion controversy refuse to acknowledge the validity of the other side’s interest and concern, no solution to the problem is possible, and until that point, it is almost a waste of time discussing it. In this respect, it is like another ongoing ethics conflict, the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians. (That one I believe is hopeless, and the only solution is an unethical one: a war that leaves one side or the other standing. That may happen; I don’t see it as a likely resolution of the abortion question.

Related to this condition precedent to any resolution is the fact that the pro- and anti- abortion sides (Let’s send “pro-life and “pro-choice” to ethics hell where they belong) must stop demonizing the other. That practice makes compromise and literally impossible, and a problem like abortion cannot be addressed ethically without the recognition that balancing of interests must occur at some level.

In this area, abortion separates itself from the ethics and human rights dispute it most resembles. The analogy is useful in some respects (as we shall see), but not in the area of compromise. The period preceding the Civil War was a fiasco of attempted compromise regarding slavery, and every attempt made the situation worse, more unethical, more unjust, and more contentious. Slavery really is an absolutist problem: it is absolutely wrong, and there are not ethical principles on both sides, unlike abortion. The pro-slavery case was economic, making slavery an ethics dilemma (non-ethical considerations vs ethical ones), unlike abortion. Because abortion is an ethics conflict, each side must accept a solution that is partially unethical, or there will never be a solution.

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Thoughts On What An Ethical Solution To The Abortion Ethics Conflict Might Look Like, Part I: 25 Stipulations

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This is Labor Day, after all…

Eventually it is irresponsible and cowardly to criticize all of the rhetoric regarding abortion and not make a serious proposal. I feel like I’ve reached that point.

Let’s start with what we have to work with.

25 Stipulations

I have not labored to put these in order of priority or importance, and many constitute “but on the other hand” reflexes upon considering the previous point. I’ll bold the items that seem particularly important as I post them. I am certain that I will miss some or many points that need to be considered as well.

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Chilling Tales Of The Great Stupid: Bette Midler’s Tweets

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Midelr tweet 3

I love these tweets! The pop music and Broadway diva and actress has provided a cultural, political, anthropological and philosophical artifact for the ages. I could write a book about these twin tweets and what they tell us, not just about Midler, but about a society that produces the kind of celebrity who would produce them.

Where to begin? Well, taken together they are not unethical tweets: I might even argue that they are ethical, because they publicly declare to the world, “I am a complete and utter idiot, and not only do I lack the critical thinking skills of a three-toed sloth, I suffer from a near terminal level of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, being both unable to discern just how stupid I am, but also unable to comprehend the consequences of advertising my disability to the public.” Now there is no excuse for anyone considering having an interaction of any kind with Midler that involves trust—letting her baby-sit a child, for example, or even a guppy—and thus to make the mistake of relying on her judgment. She has none, and has been considerate enough to proclaim it. (Not that she hadn’t provided plenty of evidence before.) The tweets make the world safer. How many social media posts do that?

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Yet Another Texas Abortion Law Freakout Friday Comment Of The Day…

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If only someone had killed them first!

(Sorry, I couldn’t resist, given the upcoming commentary.)

I figure if every time Still Spartan graces us with a comment it gets Comment of the Day status, maybe she’ll weigh in more often.

I agree with almost nothing in her post (other than that the Texas law is bonkers and that it will be struck down, contrary to the bleating of the pro-abortion hysterics), but it’s a provocative and well-written opinion.

Here is Still Spartan’s Comment of the Day, which I hereby decree to be on the relevant post, “Texas’s Clever Anti-Abortion Law.” And I wrestled with myself and lost—at the end, I will re-post my original comment to it.

***

“A quick internet search informs me that there are over 400,000 unwanted or neglected children living in foster care in the United States right now. Why do we want policies creating more unwanted and/or neglected children? Pro life advocates are quick to point out that there are people lined up take newborns, but yet they don’t seem to want the over 400,000 children who are desperate for homes right now. They also don’t seem to want babies born with special medical needs who often end up in foster care.

No one seems to care that most girls and women who seek abortions do so out of desperation: poverty, abuse, fear. I have never met a woman who celebrated the fact that she had one, but I have met many who were grateful that it was available — either for one of the reasons I listed above or because of a birth control failure. All of these women I know went on to have children with partners at a later time, when they were financially able to care for a child and were in a safe and stable relationship. If the initial abortion had not happened, their lives most likely would have gone down a different path and these other children would have never come into being — children who have the benefit of a stable and loving home.

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Texas Abortion Law Freakout Friday Continues: Psaki And Althouse

Psaki

I. Psaki

The exchange yesterday that Biden White House paid liar Jen Psaki had with reporter Owen Jensen, of the Eternal World Television Network (EWTN), a Catholic news organization, raises this conundrum: if there is persuasive ethical argument for abortion and abortion advocates have been defending Roe v. Wade for half a century, why are they so bad at it?

“Why does the president support abortion when his own Catholic faith teaches abortion is morally wrong?” the reporter asked. It’s a fair question, of course, and one that Joe Biden has (badly) tap-danced around for decades, claiming that he accepts the teachings of his church but refuses to impose his religious beliefs on others. This means, of course, that he believes abortion is murder but advocates it anyway. It is not a serious, honest or ethical position.

Psaki’s answer, as many of her answers do, ducked the question, saying that the President “believes that it’s a woman’s right, it’s a woman’s body and it’s her choice.” It’s a woman’s right to kill a human being? That is what Psaki is saying Biden believes, if he is as faithful as he claims. Typical of her ilk, her answer pretends that the only issue is the woman’s body and rights. Then Jensen asked who Biden thinks “should look out for the unborn child?” That is also a fair question, since Psaki’s answer was a Jumbo: “Unbornd child? What unborn child?”

Her next answer was worse:

“He believes that it’s up to a woman to make those decisions and up to a woman to make those decisions with her doctor. I know you’ve never faced those choices, nor have you ever been pregnant, but for women out there who have faced those choices, this is an incredibly difficult thing.”

An unborn child is either a life, or it isn’t. Biden’s faith states that it is. Despite that, the President believes that a woman can magically make a life a non-life by choosing to do so, along with her doctor How does that work, Jen? Then she stoops to the “men have no right to have a position on abortion” cheat, which would be unnecessary if she had a reasoned, persuasive defense of abortion beyond “Roe v. Wade says it’s a right, so it’s a right.”

No, Jensen’s never been pregnant (but he could be, Biden’s trans constituency should remind her), but he has been a fetus, and so has Psaki. Thus both should recognize the importance of the fetus’s right to exist.

Ah, but the moral and ethical dilemma posed by an unwanted pregnancy is difficult, Jen says. Yes, it’s difficult. Difficulty is not an argument for taking an innocent life. Is this the best a devoted abortion advocate can do under focused questioning? Apparently it is, at least when the advocate is as incompetent as Psaki. Was Sean Spicer really any worse than this hack? I don’t see how, except that he was working for President Trump.

II. Althouse

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Texas’s Clever Anti-Abortion Law

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The Texas law, which went into effect yesterday when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to block it on a 5-4 vote. (Guess which justices were on each side. Next question: Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb?) The law bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is after about six weeks of pregnancy. Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a constitutional right to abortion until a fetus was viable (by the medical standards of 50 years ago), would seem to preclude such laws, which other states ( Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky and Ohio) have passed only to have them held in limbo by the courts The Texas law is the first to be implemented, in part because it approaches the issue from a clever (some might say diabolical) perspective.

The law does not make exceptions for rape or incest, as it should not: if the objective is to protect the human life of the unborn child, how that life came into being is irrelevant. It does permit abortions for health reasons, allowing a termination only if the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life or might lead to “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.” The clever part is this: the Texas law doesn’t require state officials to enforce it, meaning that abortions won’t he halted by government action. The Texas law deputizes private citizens to sue anyone who performs an abortion or “aids and abets” a procedure. Any citizen has standing, regardless of connection to the patient, the abortion doctor or the clinic and may sue and recover legal fees along with $10,000 if they win.

This means that the Supreme Court will have to consider not only whether the Texas law in unconstitutional, but whether it can even be challenged in court, what the SCOTUS majority called “complex and novel” procedural questions. Predictably, while the majority opinion was relatively restrained, the dissenters freaked out.

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Comment Of The Day: “From Garry Wills, A ‘Bias Makes You Stupid’ Cautionary Tale”

I could tell that Garry Wills’ weak and logically distorted defense of Catholics who support abortion was a disgraceful display for a distinguished historian; indeed, almost any objective reader could. I was hoping one of the commentariat would delve into the substance of his desperate historical and theological argument, and Rich in CT delivered with gusto.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “From Garry Wills, A ‘Bias Makes You Stupid’ Cautionary Tale.

Garry Wills is either pompously ignorant of the theological topics he purports to write about, or he is lying.

His article is scatter-shot, meant to intimidate and confuse unprepared Catholic Apologists who might attempt rebuttal. It offers so many arguments that it is difficult to cohesively refute because it changes topic so quickly. Yet, it touches each topic so quickly because its analysis or portrayal of the content is blatantly distorted or outright wrong. It falls apart entirely upon any sort of careful review.

I shall address it point-by-point, rearranging it slightly to form a more logical, cohesive rebuttal.

No one told “Matthew” or “Mark” or “Luke” or “John” or Paul, or any other New Testament author, that he should condemn this sin of all sins.

Matthew portrays Herod as a monster for slaughtering the young children of Bethlehem. Luke has the infant John leap for joy in Elizabeth’s womb in the presence of Mary (obviously, Luke would approve of injecting saline into the fetal John’s heart to end his nascent life…). Most importantly, no Pharisee attempted to trap Jesus by asking whether he approved of abortion.

Early Christians did not disagree on abortion, so it was not addressed in scripture. Saint Paul writes extensively about the disagreements in the early church. No one wrote to him asking if abortion were permitted, so he did not need to address it.

Other early Christian writings, however, did address the topic: the first century catechism, the Diache, specifically condemns abortion and infanticide. Many over the centuries have argued abortion should not be condemned, but never denied that the Catholic Church taught it was a grave sin from the beginning.

Even major figures of religious history do not tell us that the fetus is a person. St. Augustine says he searched Scripture trying but failing to find out when in the procreative process personal life begins.

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From Garry Wills, A “Bias Makes You Stupid” Cautionary Tale

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                                     Abortion authority, Aristotle…

“Bias Makes You Stupid,” an Ethics Alarms slogan so perpetually relevant that it has its own topic category, has seldom been so tragically demonstrated than by Garry Wills’ embarrassing op-ed in today’s New York Times titled “The Bishops Are Wrong About Biden — and Abortion.” Wills is one of America’s most prolific and provocative public intellectuals. Now an emeritus professor of history at Northwestern, he has written more than 50 books on such diverse topics as Richard Nixon, John Wayne, and the Gettysburg Address. I’ve read those three and a couple of others; he’s an unusually good writer for a historian, rigorous in his scholarship and fair in his selection of references. But Wills is also a Roman Catholic and an academic liberal and progressive, so he is apparently plagued by guilt and cognitive dissonance. It is most depressing to watch this man whose analysis I have so often admired descend into the most hoary of logical fallacies, rationalizations and worst of all, intellectual dishonesty in order to defend, of all people, Joe Biden, who in a game of Scrabble with Wills would be placing words like “CAT” on the board while the historian was laying down SYZYGY on a triple word score.

Progressives feel they have to defend abortion to stay on “the team,” and frequently get themselves into the worst logical traps when they try to do so. Here’s how desperate Wills is: he actually wrote this: “The opponents of abortion who call themselves “pro-life” make any form of human life, even pre-nidation ova, sacred. But my clipped fingernails or trimmed hairs are human life.” A lie AND a ridiculous analogy! Only the most extreme and radical of “pro-life” activists argue that a fertilized egg that fails to adhere to the uterus is the equivalent of a human life; that is not a mainstream position of opponents of abortion, since such pre-fetuses are self-aborting. And as Wills well knows, his fingernails and hair will never develop into a human being if nature is allowed to take its course. That argument is signature significance for a biology ignoramus or a con artist, yet Wills is neither…or wasn’t, until his pro-abortion bias made him stupid.

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Comment Of The Day: “Comment Of The Day: ‘Ethics Heroes: The US Conference of Catholic Bishops’”

Socrates

We have a veritable Comment of the Day chain. Sarah B.’s COTD yesterday on the Ethics Alarms post applauding the U.S. Catholic Bishops for preparing to hold Joe Biden accountable for his open support of abortion had inspired two excellent questions, in sequence, from reader Curmie. Both were answered with brio by Ryan Harkins.

We’ve never had such a Socratic Comment of the Day exchange before, and maybe I should have a separate category for such delights, but I don’t. So I’ll just introduce this by saying, “Here is Curmie and Ryan Harkins collaborative Comment of the Day on the post,Comment Of The Day: ‘Ethics Heroes:The US Conference of Catholic Bishops.” (Curmie plays Socrates.)

Curmie: One question, or rather series of related questions, for Sarah B, from a long-lapsed Protestant:

As respects “grave matter,” is there an inherent element of volition in the act itself (it wasn’t an accident), and if so, is there a distinction between literally not knowing the sinfulness of an act (had no idea the Church forbids a certain action) and deciding for oneself that the act is innocent, despite Church doctrine? And, assuming any of these distinctions are relevant, are we talking about a disjunctive yes/no, or something along the lines of a continuum?

I’m thinking of the Ancient Greek and Shinto (to name two) concepts of pollution (as opposed to sin), and wondering if Catholicism is closer to the former than I had hitherto believed.
In a pollution-based theology, Oedipus is still guilty of incest despite his active attempt to avoid it. In today’s world, according to this idea, a driver who hits and kills a child who ran out into the street is still guilty, although the event was entirely accidental, and the driver did everything possible to avoid hitting the child.

Ryan Harkins: In backing up, the Catholic Church teaches that a sin is mortal if it meets three requirements: first, that it is grave matter; second that the sinner knows that it is grave matter; and third, that the sinner consents, or intends, to commit that act. Grave matter is grave because of the extent of damage it does, and this is regardless of intent. Killing someone is grave matter; they are just as dead if you didn’t intend for them to die. I think St. Paul encapsulates this idea in his letter to the Romans when he writes, “Sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses (Rom 5:13-14).” The point is that even though you don’t know that what you are doing is wrong, because the act itself is inherently wrong, it will still cause harm. So the gravity of an action is not a matter of volition.

Where volition enters the picture is in the second two conditions. A person might not know that an act constitutes grave matter, but this could either be an unintentional state, in which he is not culpable for his ignorance, or it could be willful ignorance on his part. One aspect of being Catholic is the assent to the Church as authoritative, infallible on matters of faith and morals. A Catholic then has an obligation not just to follow the Church’s instructions, but to learn what the Church actually instructs. This touches on what Sarah B was saying on primacy of conscience: we should follow our consciences, but we have a duty to properly form our consciences as well. On some matters where the Church has not made any official pronouncements, the faithful are allowed flexibility of opinions. But on many issues that are hot topics today, the Church has made pronouncements, and those are, as far as any Catholic is concerned, infallible and made so through the protection and guarantee of the Holy Spirit.

A Catholic does not evade culpability by concluding privately that an action the Church condemns is actually innocent. His rejection of Church authority would actually be itself grave matter, on the order of the great sin of the Devil, who said, “Non serviam.” The sin of pride has long been held as the father of all other sins. It is the sin by which we seek to supplant God as the arbiter of good and evil. For a Catholic, who ought to know that the Church claims infallibility on matters of faith and morals, to reject Church teaching, he either has to deny the Church, or he has to believe he has some higher authority than the Church.

As for whether we are speaking of a disjunctive or a continuum, my answer is both. When it comes down the end of the day, either you have committed a mortal sin or you haven’t. But because of the third condition for a sin to be mortal, the question of whether one actually committed a mortal sin can become murkier. Take an addict, for example. It is a sin of gluttony to engage in debilitating drug use. So the use of hardcore, recreational drugs like meth, cocaine, and heroin is grave matter. (The use of lesser drugs like caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and a few others do not fall into this category because the impact of moderate use is not very large. Drugs that have practically no “moderate” dosage are the ones that would constitute to grave matter.) But an addict has lost a great deal of his capacity to resist temptation. As he tries to quit, his falling of the wagon and using is of lesser severity than someone taking those drugs the first time. As he progresses, and he regains control over his appetites, then his culpability in slipping up and using again increases.

So there can be debate over whether a sin was actually mortal, due to the degree in which a person consents to a wrong. If someone resists temptation for a long time, but is eventually worn out by the struggle, did he really consent when he finally gave into temptation? However, this line of questioning can be destructive. Overly scrupulous people can argue themselves into condemnation over the slightest of offenses, and any of the rest of us would really like to rationalize our sins into the venial category, given the opportunity.

Of course, any of this is tangential to the question of public support of abortion. On this the Church is very clear. Abortion is a grave evil, perpetuated against the most defenseless and the most innocent members of the human race. Any Catholic politician who advocates for expanding access to abortion is defending an intolerable evil, and any excuse of being personally opposed is insufficient. A politician is to be held to a higher standard in this regard than a private citizen because of his capacity to influence legislation one way or another. Since the Church has expressed all this, there should be no excuse for any Catholic politician.

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