The hard cases

rock-hard-place.jpgFor many people the hard cases are the exceptions that make the rule.  They would be completely pro-life but they want to grant exceptions for rape and incest, which then leads to lots of other exceptions and eventually to abortion on demand. 

Others use the hard cases as a smokescreen to push for unlimited abortion on demand.

There is a reasoned debate in the pro-life camp regarding whether to go for an incremental approach (i.e., to grant exceptions for rape and incest) or to go for a ban on everything except abortions done to save the life of the mother.  That’s a topic for another day.

But what about the highly charged emotional issues of rape and incest?  Basic and essential pro-life reasoning still applies (it is a human being and abortion kills her) and there are other considerations as well, such as that aborting a baby conceived in rape often multiplies the trauma of the victim instead of relieving it.  At a minimum women who have been raped should understand the consequences of abortion and not be told that it will make everything better. 

If you are pro-choice in these cases, ask yourself this: What if you found out today that your biological father forced himself upon your biological mother when you were conceived.  Would you immediately draw the conclusion that your life wasn’t worthy to be lived?

Before someone scolds me for being unsympathetic to the plight of the raped women, let me assure you that is not the case.  If you want to advocate the death penalty for the rapist then I’d entertain that argument.  But I don’t think the death penalty is the fair thing to do to the innocent unborn child.  And let me repeat that abortion often multiplies the trauma of the victim instead of relieving it.  She was violated once and is now being pressured to kill her unborn child. 

Keep in mind that the incest in question isn’t the case of thirty-something brothers and sisters conceiving a child (not that it would make abortion any better in those cases).  It is the sickening perversions of teen boys and younger sisters or fathers/step-fathers and daughters.  In those cases incest is just a different kind of rape.  Abortions in these cases take human lives and they hide the evidence of the rape.  And abortion providers like Planned Parenthood have repeatedly shown that they would rather hide those crimes than obey the law.

There aren’t easy answers when someone has been raped.  But deliberately killing an innocent human being improves remarkably few situations in life. 

More perspectives here.

23 thoughts on “The hard cases

  1. “But deliberately killing an innocent human being improves remarkably few situations in life.”

    And yet, are you in favor of that sometimes – wartime, for instance? As in Hiroshima, for instance? Or are you always opposed to the state killing innocent human beings? If I remember correctly, you’re not prepared to call that a wrong, so, if that’s the case, are you saying that there are sometimes when exceptions can be made to the taking of innocent human life?

    (And if you think this is changing the topic, by all means, remove my post. To MY way of thinking, this is all of the same subject – the taking of innocent human lives.)

  2. I’ve only had one comment on what I thought would be a controversial topic, so I’ll leave yours.

    Seriously, I almost wrote your comment for you.

    Yes, there are exceptions, such as the life of the mother. I’ve been very clear and consistent on that.

  3. I have replied to Dan about his comparison of killing innocent in war to abortion before, but he is unconvinced and it seems like apples and oranges to me. The death of innocents in war are consequences where the abortion killing is a deliberate choice by the woman (I have trouble saying Mother).

  4. You are right, Mom2. But it appears to be an excuse to avoid a firm pro-life stance. It seems that to be consistent he would be as adamantly pro-life as he is anti-war. There is no other life trade-off with abortion. War has other complexities, such as in self-defense.

  5. I AM firmly pro-life. I think in any and every circumstance, the gov’t ought not be in the business of targeting innocent people for death. Especially babies.

    Here’s what it seems like to me:

    1. We all agree that it is wrong to kill innocents.

    Since that is the case, there is no need to demonize the other by saying “He supports war! He’s a baby-killer!” or “She supports abortion! She’s a baby-killer!” Such rhetoric is unnecessary.

    2. From that starting point, we diverge. I go on to say:

    It is wrong to kill innocents AND the gov’t ought not do so. Period. The gov’t ought not force abortions. The gov’t ought not target innocent civilians. The gov’t ought not participate in capital punishment, since sometimes innocent people are killed.

    3. I then offer the caveat: In some cases, individuals ought to be allowed to make medical decisions about the lives of their loved ones. Those decisions should be informed with all the pertinent facts and they should be the decision of the family. Gov’t ought not tell them to take this medical procedure or not.

    2. From this point, we converge (stepping back to point 2). Neil goes on to say:

    Sometimes, the gov’t OUGHT to be allowed to make the decision to kill innocent people. If the gov’t has a “good reason,” then it is okay for the gov’t in those circumstances to make a decision to kill innocents sometimes.

    3. You then go on to say: BUT in NO circumstances should individuals be allowed to kill innocents (except in the case of pregnancy where the life of the mother is at risk and in the case of capital punishment where we’re pretty sure someone is guilty).

    Is that a fair summation of where we stand? Where we both make exceptions to the No Killing of Innocents rule?

    In your case, you make the exception to allow the gov’t to do so in sometimes (showing WAY more faith in the gov’t than this so-called liberal has) and in my case, I say that in medical decisions, gov’t ought not intervene.

    If that’s fair, then the question is: which exceptions are more reasonable? Which are most consistent with a Pro-Life and Pro-liberty ethos?

  6. “individuals ought to be allowed to make medical decisions about the lives of their loved ones”

    That is a little vague for me to assess. What exceptions would that consider? Is it just for the life of the mother? If she’s really sad about it? Etc.? How would you protect the unborn with laws?

  7. I personally would advocate making it more clearly for “medical reasons,” and not “because I don’t want a baby.”

    So, is my description a fair summation of where we both make exceptions for the general rule: Don’t kill innocents?

  8. No. That is waaaay too vague.

    And you over play the innocents in war bit. Unless you think that appeasement and pacifism are workable solutions then gov’ts must always be ready for war. Of course they should minimize the death of innocents.

  9. I’m sorry, does that mean that my summation is not fair? If not, where have I misspoke so I don’t inaccurately describe your position?

    (And, by the way, I DO think that Just Peacemaking Actions are extremely workable solutions that would be much more effective than war-as-solution. No one is advocating appeasement and “pacifism” covers a range of behaviors, so I’ll stick to Just Peacemaking, which has been fairly solidly defined.)

  10. As to “medical reasons” what definition are you advocating? It’s such a gray area (what constitutes a risk to the mother’s life and medical necessity and what doesn’t), that I’d be reluctant for gov’t to get too far involved. Would we define it as a doctor’s statement that this pregnancy is a 75% risk of harm to the mother as sufficient? 90%? And, if so, 75% of what?

    I just don’t trust gov’t enough to give them too much leeway in making medical decisions. At the same time, I’m opposed to so-called “abortions of convenience.”

    • I just don’t trust gov’t enough to give them too much leeway in making medical decisions.

      Dan, I appreciate your attempts to work through tough issues.

      My take on this question, which applies to many others: but we already do that! (or, as in the case of total abortion bans, have already done that!).

      Some states already make elective abortion, beyond the 7th month, illegal. Yet we don’t see people freaking out about this. While this may be partly due to the reality that most women who would get an elective abortion would have done so long before then, the real issue is that women seeking an elective abortion and a health-based abortion act in different ways.

      For example, no sane pregnant woman who gets suddenly and violently ill will hightail it over to Planned Parenthood and request an abortion. She’ll go to the local emergency room and see the surgeon or OB-GYN who happens to be there that day. Obvious difference.

      Also, you’re forgetting that the government wouldn’t be making these decisions to begin with; it would just prosecute them if it had some reason to suspect that illegal abortions were taking place. Think about it. A doctor wouldn’t call up some faceless bureaucrat and try to get approval for a D&X; he would decide that the woman was seriously ill, document the problem, perform the procedure, and be ignored by law enforcement, who wouldn’t have any reason to investigate.

      While I do not want to make light of the problems that could come from an unwarranted investigation into a physician’s abortion records, I will note that it would take something rather egregious for a DA to commence prosecution, and something even worse for a jury of 12 to bring a conviction. The bad PR that comes from harassing doctors and the realities of such a case will do much to ensure the integrity of the system.

  11. I think that morally, there is a big difference between civilians killed in war as opposed to specific individuals killed in a one on one basis.

    Peacemaking can work in some circumstances. But how do you deal with an enemy who insists on unconditional surrender.

    For that matter, what about someone who is willing to kill you for your wallet.

  12. I have pretty much made up my mind that I am opposed to abortion in cases of rape and incest. And I am becoming less supportive of any abortions at all.
    Sometimes we just need to trust God.

  13. Dan continuues to use the tired old argument that we (meaning the U.S.) deliberatly targets innocent men, women and children in what he insists is an illegal war.

    Dan, I am not going to say it again:

    We don’t deliberately target any innocents.

    If innocents die in war by our hand, it is unintended collateral damage, which is an unfortunate side effect of war in general. War is hell indeed, but in the war that we are presently engaged in, our enemies do not wear a uniform that identifies them as our enemy. because of this, more innocents die by our hands than in previous wars, with the exception of the bombs detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and on that point, you and I have already agreed they should be considered war crimes.

    As to the subject of abortion. My opinion, nay, conviction is this:

    Abortion is always wrong regardless of the circumstances. Whatever choices that were made, either by the woman, or a rapist, or a relative, the baby is never the one at fault and as such, should never be the one punished.

    As to the reference to abortion to preserve the life of the mother, I believe abortion is till wrong, and a decision to end the baby’s life to save the life of the mother takes the decision of life or death out of God’s hands and places it into an imperfect mortals (even if the mortal is the best medical professional on earth) hands. I say, if we are to err, err on the side of God.

  14. I’ve always been opposed to abortion with the exception of preserving the mother’s life if it is at risk. I don’t disagree with Mark’s feelings philosophically, but to force a woman to risk her life is where I won’t go. I’d be proud to know a woman who would on her own volition, but I wouldn’t seek to influence that decision too strongly.

    Any other situation where the mother’s life is not at risk is all the same to me. George H.W. Bush was asked what he would do if his daughter was raped and got pregnant as a result. He began by saying, “Well it seems to me that there are TWO victims…” I agree. I’d prefer those be disallowed as well.

    If there’s no threat to the life of the mother, then there is no compelling reason restricting the government from protecting the child’s constitutional right to life. We continually hear of protecting the woman’s health, yet I’ve yet to hear of a health reason beyond the risk to her life that would take precedent over preserving the child’s life. Plus, the notion of “medical decisions” is a sham, as it suggests that there is any real discussion of medical options when an abortion is considered. Perhaps there are those very rare occurrences, but I’ve never heard one illustrated in support of the claim, thus I’m suspicious when I hear it.

    I see little point in once again trying to explain to Dan the stark differences between abortion and the bombing of civilian targets. He’s shown that he’s incapable of appreciating the distinctions between them. But I will say this: I’m not so much in favor of bombing civilian targets as I am in favor of never promising not to.

    Imagine Dan, that you spoke to me in a manner I found insulting, and I dropped you like a bad habit. Upon regaining consciousness, you will understand a few things about me that might not have been clear previously, particularly if I never promise to abstain from further physical outbursts. You will be pretty certain that weighing your words in my company is a good thing to do. You will likely avoid any similar confrontations. You will have this unshakable feeling that should I feel so insulted by you in the future, you will again be laid out. And you will definitely not repeat that which caused your slumber in the first place. Now I won’t say that my behavior is any way acceptable, because it wouldn’t have been. But that one action, and the fact that I won’t promise never to do it again, will forever affect relations between the two of us. You might think that I’m a terrible person for having acted that way on that occasion, but if from that point on, I demonstrate that I seek to live harmoniously with everyone, including you, eventually, you would realize that you just crossed a line that you likely would have no intentions of crossing again anyway, but that I am capable and willing of reacting strongly to certain provocations.

    Better still would be that you’d have such an awareness without me ever having to act like that, or even better still, that you would never have crossed that line or have any intentions of doing so. For an individual, such actions are reprehensible except for the most life threatening situations. For a nation, it’s downright necessary for our foreign neighbors to have that awareness. We decked Japan in the ’40’s. I hate the idea that other nations may come to feel that we are no longer capable of acting thusly. It’s dangerous to our people.

    Neil, forgive my rambling. I’m done now.

  15. I’m just asking a question:

    Is it a fair summation to say that you all think that in some circumstances, it is okay (a moral good, even, according to you) to deliberately kill innocents – even innocent babies?

    That is what I’m hearing you say. That we both agree that the general rule is that it is wrong to kill innocent babies but we both have exceptions to that rule. The life of the mother in both of our cases and in cases of war, in your case.

    Why is that not a simple Yes or No answer? I’m trying to clarify our positions. If I’m mistaken about your position, just let me know and explain how I got it wrong.

    (And Mark, despite your protestations to the contrary, we HAVE CLEARLY targeted innocents and some people here call that a moral good – Hiroshima, Dresden, Nicaragua, etc. Additionally, we sometimes take actions – as in Iraq – that we KNOW will result in the deaths of innocent babies and, while we are not “intentionally” targeting the babies, we know they will die nonetheless. The road to hell, you know…)

  16. Dan, the problem with your line of reasoning is that you use this apparent dilemma as a reason to do nothing in the case of abortion and to do something in the case of war. It is like your pro-“same-sex marriage” heresy – you rationalize that we just can’t be sure based on the Bible so we should err on the side of SSM.

  17. Neil, I do not “use” that reasoning to “do nothing.” That is a misrepresentation of my position.

    Instead, as I’ve clearly stated, it is my consistent reasoning explaining my position. Period. I am opposed to the gov’t killing babies. You are not. If you want to call that heresy, you may, of course. I think saying that we can kill the children of our enemies is a heresy, as well. And a heresy of the greatest kind, spitting on the words of Jesus.

    If we want to insist on calling one another heretics, we surely can. Does that help?

  18. Now, as to the topic at hand:

    I’m still interested in knowing how y’all would define the exception for the life of the mother. Suppose you have the support to change the law to outlaw abortion except in the cases where it places the mother’s life at risk.

    How do you write the law?

    “Abortion is outlawed except when the pregnancy places the mother’s life in danger” – something like that?

    If so, who decides what is and isn’t an acceptable level of danger? If a doctor says, “I aver that this pregnancy will place the mother’s life at risk – there’s 100% chance she will die.” Is that what it means? Will any doctor do or will it have to be a gov’t doctor?

    What if the doctor says, “I can’t say for sure that she’ll die if she goes through with the pregnancy, but there’s a 80% chance the mother will die”? Will that be acceptable?

    What if the doctor only gives her a 40% chance of dying or of maybe being “only” seriously ill – who gets to make that call? Will we establish a Bureau of Abortion Approval (BAA)? Will we trust the doctors to make that call? The mother/family themselves?

    This is a sincere question that gets to the heart of my problems with outlawing abortion: How would you write the law?

  19. Right now, Dan, there are thousands of people (at least) for whom the medical experts have given such opinions, saying, “You’ve got, at best, two months to live, two years to live, you won’t make it past 40.” How do they do that? Society has accepted that they have the skill and experience to make such pronouncements. Thus, it isn’t too much of a push to believe the same would hold in the case of abortion. There likely would be signs for which a second or third opinion would support. It’s such a rare occurence, there’s likely to be similarities in the distress experienced by the mother and/or child. As to how the law would be exactly written, I’ve not the medical expertise to hazard a guess. My concern would be for the abuse that would certainly occur as some doctors who support “choice” might fake it. It would be difficult to enforce in such cases, but the impact on society would eventually persuade away from abortion on demand and the behaviors that rendered it necessary.

  20. “How do you write the law?

    “Abortion is outlawed except when the pregnancy places the mother’s life in danger” – something like that?”

    Yes, something like that. Ultimately I think the decision has to rest with the mother, and I think that is what the law should say.

    I would hope that the mother would make the decision prayerfully with the direction of the Holy Spirit.

    Will there be abuses, doctors who are willing to certify a health risk for money, and things like that. Almost certainly, no law can stop all murders or any other crime for that matter. But our society would be sending the right message, and ultimate justice is in the hand of God.

So, what do you think?

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