Friday, March 02, 2012

Killing babies no different from abortion, experts say


"Killing babies no different from abortion".

If experts say it, it must be so.

Actually, the Ball Bounces agrees with them.

We just differ in its implications.

And that's the way the Ball bounces.

PS. I thank God that I was born of a Catholic mother who did not abort me. Thank God for faithful Roman Catholic witness against abortion and infanticide.

I'm on the Lord's side -- whose side are you on?

24 comments:

Frances said...

Under the rationale of those experts, then capital punishment should be perfectly okay. After all, by committing murder, a person has obviously regressed to being a 'potential person' and - thus - unworthy of protection.

Anonymous said...

This one was difficult to read because it is so repugnant.

These guys call themselves liberal.

RkBall said...

Frances -- Yes. Or how about this. A mother who aborts her own child is obviously sub-human, and lost the right to life.

Alex said...

I'm on your side.

Anonymous said...

Thank God that we have a strong, true, stand-up, compassionate and moralistic leader like PM Harper.

Can you imagine if we actually had liberal leadership again?

Our country was destroyed by decades of left wing rule that allowed criminals to walk free, abortions to occur, same sex marriages, gun control and affirmative action just to name a few.

Now with PM Harper’s new omnibus crime legislation we can rest easy and be assured we are safe in our community.

Thank you Mr. Harper for protecting our children and keeping us safe.

Anon1152 said...

This is fascinating. And I have just read the article that the story you link to talks about.

The original article that has caused such a kerfuffle is here:

http://jme.bmj.com/content/early/2012/03/01/medethics-2011-100411.full

It seems to be... carefully argued. And it is fairly nuanced. I can't say much about it without reading it again (and again) and thinking much more. I do think that upon further reading/reflection I will still think that it is largely wrong. But, full disclosure: I consider myself "pro-choice", and I am not against "euthanasia".

I'll say more about why I think they are wrong later.

For the moment, I want to say:

- I very much doubt that most "pro-choice" people would agree with the argument. That's something you should keep in mind. (Try to keep in mind reasons why most pro-choice people might not agree; what reasons that they have in mind when disagreeing, not the reasons you'd assume they have).

- The death threats that the authors and those associated with them have received are illegitimate and unacceptable. If one is faced with an argument they disagree with, or that they find repugnant, they can ignore it, or make counter arguments. The death threats they have apparently received are not acceptable, and should not be permitted in a free and democratic society. (Note: if I detected anything in their arguments that seemed like an "incitement to violence", or anything that seemed to be encouraging infanticide, I would have a different opinion).

- Reading the article you link to, I found myself wondering if the article in question was written by anti-abortion activists. After reading through the original article, I'm not convinced of that. But it is a possibility. Think of Swift's "Modest Proposal". This possibility is another reason why I think that the death threats are unacceptable. Often, articles or books are written to provoke thought. Often, the most thought-provoking writings are found to be offensive or repugnant. One might find those initial feelings confirmed or denied after further thought. But further thought is what is, first and foremost, called for. Further thought is appropriate. Death threats? Not so much...

Anon1152 said...

One important question to ask here is: what is a person? The definition of "person" is important. I'll say more about this in a moment. First, I want to respond specifically to a couple of comments that have been made here.

Frances said: "Under the rationale of those experts, then capital punishment should be perfectly okay. After all, by committing murder, a person has obviously regressed to being a 'potential person' and - thus - unworthy of protection."

I don't see how this involves "the rationale of those experts". Quite frankly, I don't see how it makes sense at all. A person is morally responsible for their actions. Non-persons are not morally responsible. If a toddler picked up a gun, pulled the trigger, and killed someone, they would not be legally or morally responsible. If a dog kills a child*, the dog is not guilty of "murder". If a dog kills a cat, the dog is not guilty of murder. (I would like to think that if a dog attacked my cat, that my cat would win the battle... but as much as I love her, and as much as I might think that she considers me "her human", I can't say with confidence that she is a person. If she were to kill a dog, aggressively or in self defence, she would not be morally responsible; if she were to kill a human, she would not be morally responsible. Let's get back to that dog example.* The dog is not morally responsible if it kills a human infant. The dog is not a person. They dog will be "euthanized", but it will not be "executed"; the dog's death is not "capital punishment." But the dog's death may still be justified.


RkBall said: "A mother who aborts her own child is obviously sub-human, and lost the right to life."

Here I think that you are assuming that "person" and "human" are synonyms. (Are you?). One of the points of the article you link to was that an infant and a fetus ARE human. To be human, and to be a person, are not the same (though there is certainly a great deal of overlap).

Anon1152 said...

Personhood is an extremely interesting and important concept. But I think there is a problem with the focus on "personhood" here. A fertilized egg is not a person. To call a fertilized egg a person stretches the concept beyond all recognition; beyond all usefulness. But that doesn't mean that a fertilized egg doesn't deserve legal protection, nor does it mean that harming a fertilized egg isn't morally wrong. I think that it's a miss steak [sic] to try to categorize non-persons as persons in order to secure certain standards of treatment for those non-person entities. I think it's a miss steak logically/intellectually but also strategically.

And I think that the authors of the controversial article are wrong insofar as they focus on (or seem to focus on) personhood as the most important category when it comes to how infants or fetuses are treated. I think that anti-abortion advocates who try to get fertilized eggs categorized as persons are also making a miss steak. The argument: "A fertilized egg is a person, therefore it deserves the same protection as any other person" is a horrible argument. (It hasn't succeeded recently: there was a referendum in Mississippi recently trying to categorize fetuses as persons, and it failed... and I was surprised, but comforted).

I think it's important to talk about what we mean by "person". It might be important to talk about what we mean by "human", but the authors of the controversial article explicitly say that a fetus is human. What is a person? How should a person be treated? And... can we say that entities that are not persons should be treated in certain ways without trying to call them persons?

-anon1152


* There was a story in the news about a family dog killing an infant. Unexpectedly and inexplicably. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/alberta-family-euthanize-pet-husky-that-killed-newborn/article2356077/

RkBall said...

"The death threats they have apparently received are not acceptable, and should not be permitted in a free and democratic society."

Isn't arguing for infanticide a form of "death threat"? Just not to people who read and therefore feel threatened by it.

RkBall said...

When I read it, I assumed at first it was written by the "other side". It was so extreme. It would make sense if it were.

RkBall said...

"To be human, and to be a person, are not the same (though there is certainly a great deal of overlap)"

This would depend on the definitions one gives to human and person. For me, I would define all human beings as persons. A newborn baby is a person. An unborn baby is a person. A dying woman is a dying person. Etc.

However, I have not studied the issue philosophically as you may have, so I'm open about the issue.

Anon1152 said...

RkBall wrote: "Isn't arguing for infanticide a form of "death threat"? Just not to people who read and therefore feel threatened by it."

I was wondering if you'd say something like this. And I'm glad you did. Not because it helps my argument, but because... it makes me like you more. So perhaps it's still self interest. But I digress. What you say (quoted above) is the strongest counterpoint I can think of (at the moment) to the argument I was trying to make. I hadn't thought enough about how to respond when I first posted. After some more thought... I can still only offer a few points, rather than a full counter-argument.

---- First, they were not saying that they or anyone else SHOULD kill any particular infant (or "post birth fetus"). They were not talking "to" any particular infant, nor were they talking to anyone who was responsible for such an infant. [I just changed what I wrote. Instead of "was" I had previously typed "considers themselves". Even given my more parsimonious choice of words, I realize that I've opened, or started to open, a metaphorical can of worms].

---- Who said anyone was "arguing for infanticide"? The authors argued that "after birth abortion" was permissible in certain circumstances. They explicitly used this term (rather than the term "infanticide") because they didn't think that what they were talking about should be considered "infanticide." But, as I ways saying above, they were not arguing that any particular infants or fetuses should be killed (or "aborted"). Arguably, they weren't even advising anyone to kill/terminate their fetus/baby. (But I realize that is arguable). They also explicitly used the term "after birth abortion" rather than "euthanasia"... I would be inclined to use that term, but the do have a good (and perhaps more honest) reason to avoid using the term. I'm not sure what to think about this. But I do have in mind something I mentioned earlier, about a dog that was "euthanized". Of course, perhaps the dog's dogness doesn't warrant the term "euthanasia" either.

---- You are right that infants and fetuses are not "people who read". But neither is my cat. A newborn, or a fetus, is not able to read, or speak, or listen and comprehend. The question isn't whether or not they are "people who read" or even people who can "feel threatened" but rather, whether or not the are people (persons). There are surely cases where entities are "threatened" even though they can't read/speak/listen/comprehend, and where such threats would be unjustified. But I don't think that the authors in question were making that sort of argument. I detected no "eliminationist" rhetoric; no demand that any infants be killed; no demand that any fetuses be killed. (You could use the terms "born" and "unborn" here too, if you prefer). There was no sense of an argument about these babies (born or unborn) being a threat to the rest of society or the world, no sense that they were "vermin" that needed to be "exterminated" as a matter of necessity. [You might argue that instead, they argued for the permissibility of an abhorrent choice, on the basis of a cost-benefit analysis that didn't respect these fetuses/infants/humans as entities beyond price. I realize that that might be morally problematic... but even still, the authors didn't say or suggest that anyone out there should or must kill anything or anyone].

Anon1152 said...

Oh, as for the "personhood" category...

I haven't studied it enough either. But it seems important. And I need to know more.

If I may quote Hobbes:

"A person is he whose words or actions are considered either as his own, or as representing the words or actions of another man, or of any other thing to whom they are attributed, whether truly or by fiction."

and:

"The word Person is Latin, instead whereof the Greeks have proposon, which signifies the face, as persona in Latin signifies the disguise or outward appearance of a man, Counterfeited on the stage..."

"So that a person is the same that an actor is, both on the stage and in common conversation; and to personate is to act, or represent, himself or anther; and he that acteth another is said to bear his person, or act in his name..."



Kant said: "A person is a subject whose actions can be imputed to him [...] A thing is that to which nothing can be imputed".



I know these are not singular or exhaustive definitions of "person"... I'm just putting them out there to give you an idea of what I have in mind when I think about "persons".

RkBall said...

Well, it's like arguing that philosophers have value that student philosophers don't, so therefore student philosophers should be killable. Not threatening any one in particular, understand, just saying that, sure they're potential philosophers, but since they are not yet philosophers, they can't be considered philosophers, so it should be OK to kill them.

A student philosopher might nonetheless feel threatened by this line of argumentation!

The psalmist says of God "you knit me in my mother's womb. Notice didn't say my body, or my embryo-predecessor, or my fetus-predecessor, but "me". And me-ness is the ultimate test of self-conscious personhood. I think (of myself as a me), therefore I am (a person). I was, before I had the ability to think of myself as an I am. By analogy, I was asleep, but now I have awakened. Still the same me.

The undeveloped human is a continuum with the developed human; they are inseparable in their identity.

PS -- I'm currently reading the Logic of the Heart. Because I'm not a philosopher, I can only read 2-3 pages per day. But, I'm slogging through.

RkBall said...

The Bible doesn't speak of person, as far as I know. It speaks of man, and him created in the image of God. Nor does it speak of heterosexual or homosexual -- just male and female -- or fetus or embryo. It does speak of a man knit together in his mother's womb. And it speaks of babies, children, and men and women (but not adults, as far as I know). Words have power; by them we frame our reality.

Anon1152 said...

OK. I tried responding to more of what you just said... but realized I was confusing myself. Which means I have zero hope of not being confusing to others.

I do want to ask about "Logic of the Heart."

I'm not familiar with that.

I am familiar with the internet(s)...

Is this what you're referring to?:
http://www.amazon.com/Logic-Heart-Augustine-Pascal-Rationality/dp/0801035996

RkBall said...

"Is this what you're referring to?"

Surely you mean, "Is this that to which you are referring"??!!

just kidding!

Yes. What's missing from the title is how he throws Humes and Descartes and Aristotle into the mix.

I think he does a great job; every page is so well worded and reasoned. If I were to say in a nutshell what I think he is saying, it would be this: Human beings are not Mr. Spocks and we shouldn't delude ourselves into thinking we are. We are passionate beings, and to deny this is to deny something fundamental about our humanity. He further argues something along the lines that those who deny God end up ultimately in denying some essential aspect of themselves.

L.M. Muffett said...

And praise God for the thousands of unborn babies that die every day due to spontaneous abortions!

Our Lord is the greatest abortionist of them all!!!

Oh, and have you Googled "birth defects" lately? Please do so and then say "Praise Jeeezus" a few times!!!

RkBall said...

LMM - thank you for your post.

Anon1152 said...

"Surely you mean, "Is this that to which you are referring"??!! "

I'm now trying to find a reason to use the sentence fragment: "up with which I will not put". Even though "to" is a preposition while "put" is not. But I digress.

*

"Human beings are not Mr. Spocks and we shouldn't delude ourselves into thinking we are. We are passionate beings, and to deny this is to deny something fundamental about our humanity."

Well. I would agree that human beings are not Mr. Spocks. Except perhaps for this human being, but I guess that guy was more of a "doctor" than a "mister".

If I weren't so well grounded in reality, I would feel the need to point out that Vulcans were the first extraterrestrial species that made contact with Humans, and that we and the Vulcans are very similar. In fact, Vulcans have extremely powerful passions. Their logic is not innate, it is learned. It's something that they have cultivated to deal with their extremely powerful (and often destructive) emotions.

But I digress. I would like to take a look at the book you mentioned at some point in the future... hopefully before the 23rd century.

*

"He further argues something along the lines that those who deny God end up ultimately in denying some essential aspect of themselves."

I'd like to investigate this claim further. A lot depends on what "God" means. I have seen some lectures/talks online, given by Daniel Dennett (one of those atheist "four horsemen") where he talked about how in the past, God (or gods) were very specific, but that over time "God" has become a less-well-defined-concept. People define God in ways that even he (Dennett) might agree to. Or... to which he'd agree.

There may be a way to reconcile your (his) claim that "those who deny God end up ultimately...denying some essential aspect of themselves." I want to suggest an interpretation that makes that claim "true" for theists and atheists. For you, Man is made in the Image of God; for them, God is made in the Image of Man. Whether or not you view theology as anthropology or anthropology as theology... denying God is, in a sense, denying an essential aspect of humanity.

RkBall said...

In the west, the God who is denied is not some this-or-that, but, inevitably, the God revealed in the Old Testament and the New, and, more particularly, in Jesus Christ. IOW, the Christian God. It is this God who made us, and to whom we must give account. It is this God that Dennett and Dawkins and others shake their angry fists at.

Anon1152 said...

"In the west, the God who is denied is not some this-or-that, but, inevitably, the God revealed in the Old Testament and the New, and, more particularly, in Jesus Christ. IOW, the Christian God. It is this God who made us, and to whom we must give account. It is this God that Dennett and Dawkins and others shake their angry fists at."

They shake their angry fists at the idea of God. But of course, shaking of fists is a metaphor. They really think, speak, write books... and that has always been more powerful than any angry fist. Think of scripture: the word.

And while I may agree that "in the west the God who is denied is not some this-or-that", the specification of that God, the non-this-or-that-ness, comes from the believers, not the non-believers. Believers believe in God... but they specify God in very different ways.

Even if we acknowledge that there is a God, and that God is the God of Abraham... there is room for ambiguity (or incomprehensibility... many pious theists will say that God is ultimately incomprehensible to the human mind). The God of Abraham is, to the Jews and Muslims, One. To the Christians, the God of Abraham is One... and Three. Well, to most Christians. There have been "non-Trinitarian" Christians.

My point was not that the God who is denied isn't The God of Abraham. My point is that the God of Abraham is conceived of in many different ways, even by those who believe in the God of Abraham. The Christian God the God of Abraham... and the God of Abraham is also the Jewish God and the Muslim God.

RkBall said...

I would go along with you except for the last part. The Islamic God is not the God of Abraham and is not the same God as worshipped by Christians -- he is a distorted fabrication derived from a false revelation. I would put Islam in the same box as Mormanism, and, to a lesser extent perhaps, as the Jehovah's Witnesses. The true God is seen in Jesus Christ.

Anon1152 said...

"The Islamic God is not the God of Abraham and is not the same God as worshipped by Christians "

Well. You may disagree on the details. But the Christians, Muslims, and Jews all believe that they worship the God of Abraham (and Noah, and Adam).

At least, that's my understanding of those three religions. If we disagree... we could perhaps conduct a survey.

This doesn't mean that you are, in essence, wrong. It could be that Muslims (or most Muslims) don't quite know all they should about the God they worship. But that doesn't mean it's not the God of Abraham. They say it is. They trace their ancestry back to Abraham, through scriptures shared by the Christians and Jews (the three "Abrahamic" religions).

-anon1152

Post Script:
A human analogy: often, a well known and liked person is exposed as someone who should not be well known or well liked. For example: Russell Williams. Canadian Armed Forces Guy; in charge of CFB Trenton; associated with people like the defense Minister Peter MacKay.

http://news.ca.msn.com/canada/background-russell-williams-timeline

http://i.thestar.com/images/ec/c5/eefe47844c01ad9bfd2cf2d01e70.jpeg

http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/3637226.bin



By the way, and for the record: I don't mean to suggest that anyone is guilty by association here. The Russell Williams example is the best one I can think of at the moment of someone who was well respected, but shouldn't have been. This says nothing about Peter MacKay, Muslims, Jews, the Canadian Armed Forces, or even other serial killers.

Perhaps a Christian example would be Judas (the early Judas) or Satan (before he was Satan).. when they were favoured by the son and father respectively (or together... I don't have enough brainpower to think about the trinity at the moment). But I think those examples are more prone to misrepresentation and distracting debate.

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"