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Murk & Clarity

June 2, 2009
by

I’d like to think that If I lived in Germany during the Holocaust, I would have killed as many Nazis as I possibly could have. If each of the men I killed had a wife and children, so much the better. I would have relished the agony I put those families through. In the context of the Holocaust, there was no time for peaceful resistance; the program of murder had to be interrupted, no matter how drastic the means.

It’s sick shit.

Regardless of your own views about the ethics of abortion, take a moment to empathize with its opponents. Since Roe v. Wade, about 45 million pregnancies have been terminated by medical procedure in the United States. For the people operating under the assumption that human life begins at conception, 45 million human beings have been murdered with the blessing of our government. That’s nearly four times the number of Holocaust victims.

When I think about the issues in those terms, I am always surprised by how rare it is for abortion doctors to be murdered. After Dr. George Tiller was assassinated on Sunday, people were quick to point out that murder in the name of life is a contradiction in terms, and the killer was a hypocrite.

I disagree.

Before I go on, let me say that I believe that there are a million good arguments as to why abortion should remain universally legal up to a certain stage in fetal development. All of my moral positions begin with the question of suffering. One should be careful not to induce suffering in another sentient or conscious being. Everything we know about sentience and consciousness indicates that they are experiential states dependent on a functioning nervous system.

If a fetus’s nervous system is not developed to the point that the fetus can experience suffering, I do not believe that there is a moral obligation to preserve the pregnancy, nor do I believe that abortion at this point is equivalent to murder. However, at a certain stage in development, it becomes evident that the fetus is experiencing something; at that point, the pregnancy should only be terminated under grave circumstances.

I know that many people do not share my views. To them, moral duty is not owed to the conscious, but to human life, which they believe to begin when an egg is fertilized. While I think this stance is faulty for a variety of biological and philosophical reasons, I take at face value that it is what underpins the so called pro-life movement.

With that in mind, it’s easy to understand that pro-lifers feel they are living in a time and place similar to Holocaust-era Germany. To them, a state-sanctioned practice has killed tens of millions of people.  Within this worldview, killing a doctor who performs abortions is tantamount to killing a Nazi – an unambiguously pro-life act.

I wish there were a way to disabuse members of the pro-life movement of their assumptions but until that happens, the next doctor’s murder is only a matter of time.

Sad to say it,

b

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