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Is abortion murder?

There’s a reason that question never goes away – there’s no right or wrong answer to it. Ask a group of people if a zygote qualifies as a person and most of them would probably say no – it’s a POTENTIAL person, not an actual person. Ask that same group of people, however, if a 9-month-old fetus is a person, and a lot more would probably say yes.

What do we learn from that? There’s an awful lot of people out there who think that when the baby is growing inside its mother, there’s a certain threshold it crosses where it graduates from being merely a potential person to being an actual person. But you put yourself on a slippery slope if you say something like that. What you’re implying is that there’s a certain specific, clearly defined point in time that makes all the difference. One day an abortion would be okay, and the very next it’s murder. Who’s to say when exactly that is?

There’s another group of people who like to straddle the fence by saying something to the variety of, “Abortion is murder, but a girl should be able to get an abortion if she was raped.” WTF?! If abortion is murder, but the girl was impregnated by being raped, does that stop it from being murder? Make up your fucking mind!

There’s no clear-cut right or wrong answer to this. So what should we do?

Pro-life people would tell you that we should err on the side of life and outlaw abortion. But how much sense does that make? What they’re saying is this:

“Since there’s no right or wrong answer, we should take the decision out of the hands of the individual and have the state declare that no-one can do this.”

The pro-choice camp, on the other hand, says simply this:

“Decide for yourself.”

On no level – federal, state, or local – should the government have the authority to tell you that you can’t get an abortion. If you believe that abortion is murder – fine. Don’t get one. But don’t try to force your decision on everybody else, and if you’re using religion to justify your argument … well … I’ll listen to you as soon as you enter the age of reason.

Please think twice before giving the government any more power and influence over our lives. Once we lose a little bit of our liberty, it’s really hard to get it back. Government positions, by nature, attract the type of people who like to control the lives of others, and if history is any indication, they do a really shitty job of it. Government screws things up.

Err on the side of freedom.

By: Nick Ahrens

Posted by Nick A., filed under Thoughts. Date: January 8, 2008, 10:04 pm | 20 Comments »

  • Brian Sitz

    Awesome.

  • http://www.myspace.com/jessicrap Jessica

    *applaud*

  • Z

    I have some problems with your argument.

    First two paragraphs, not bad. Do remember that the difference of one day, in a legal context, means a lot and is pretty routine (think: driving a car, getting married, consent, drinking).

    Par. 3. Those who refer to abortion as murder but think it’s acceptable in the case of rape/danger to mother think that way because it is extenuating circumstance, and is therefore NOT murder. If you shoot a guy in the head, it’s homicide. If you shoot a guy in the head because he was trying to shoot you, it’s self defense. There is a moral/ethical/legal difference, even if the outcome is the same.
    Your “quote” (par. 6) of pro-lifer’s point of view is a poor representation. They don’t say “there is no right or wrong answer”. They clearly state that there IS a right answer or wrong answer, ie abortion is wrong. They say based on their own moral/ethical values, some of which is derived from religion.

    Before you cry out that the government shouldn’t enforce morality, remember my example above. When the government says that you can’t murder someone, or makes the distinction between homicide and self-defense, they ARE enforcing morality, not just what is consensual.

    As for his last 2 paragraphs, seems pretty accurate.

    BTW I am completely pro-choice. I just think your argument is kinda weak.

  • Nick A.

    Z, I see where you’re coming from.

    Regarding your comments about paragraph 3, although I know it’s not YOUR viewpoint, I think you’d agree that the argument you described there is pretty subjective itself. Lots of people would probably say the comparison between shooting an aggressor and aborting because of rape doesn’t hold because the aggressor is guilty of something and the unborn child isn’t, etc, etc, etc.

    I understand what you say about my quote in paragraph 6, but I based that quote off the assumption that I’d been able to convince the reader that there is no completely right or wrong answer, hehe. I know it’s wishful thinking to believe that I was able to convince everyone who reads it, but I seriously don’t believe there is any clearly-defined right or wrong answer, which is why I believe the best we can do is leave it to individual choice.

    And I’m not saying that the government shouldn’t enforce morality at all; I applaud the fact that they outlaw murder and make a distinction between homicide and self defense and all that, but in the case of abortion, I don’t think the morality is nearly as well-defined. The idea that we should put women who have abortions into the same category as people like Ted Bundy and the Son of Sam just doesn’t make sense to me.

    Still, I see where you’re coming from.

  • Joe

    THE BIBLE SAYS ABORTION IS MURDER. ABORTION STOPS A BEETING HEART. STOP KILLING THIS CHILDREN!

  • Zero

    Joe: The bible says nothing about abortion. The technology to do so did not exist at the time. You are a moron.

    Read this: http://www.ffrf.org/nontracts/abortion.php

    Everyone else: Quite frankly, no person should be forced to hold any opinion, period. If you think that killing an aggressor is wrong, so be it. However, I should be allowed to defend myself, no? If you think that abortions are amoral, fine, and you have every right to say so. However, you do not have the right to force your opinion on anyone else.

  • http://www.iansouter.com Ian

    Hey Joe, spellcheck much?

  • http://fallofhate.blogspot.com BJNebraska

    “if you’re using religion to justify your argument … well … I’ll listen to you as soon as you enter the age of reason.”

    I love it! :)

  • Patrick

    Like the above poster said, the first two paragraphs are pretty spot on. In your third, you mentioned rape. Personally, I don’t agree that people who get raped should be allowed to abort their babies. While I’m sure many people say this to appear moderate, it doesn’t make much sense. I am completely against abortion unless the mothers life is at risk in deciding to keep it. I also believe that a person is alive as soon as it becomes a fetus. Very early on.

    I believe that there is a right answer, and that answer is that abortion is killing. Just like a Pro-lifer would say that their answer is the right one.

    I believe that abortion is a state issue. Why a state issue? Because I believe abortion is murder, and states deal with murders, something the federal government should stay out of. I support the government defining life at conception, how a state chooses to punish anyone who has an abortion is up to them. If the state wants to make it illegal and fined, sure. If a state wants it to be a crime, but have no penalty, fine. If a state wants it to be completely legal, then it is again their choice.

    I’d also like to point out that I don’t believe it’s murder for religious reasons. I am not religious at all. I just truly believe it’s killing. Murder? Not sure. But killing, definitely.

    The problem with the whole issue is on both sides. The pro life side uses religion to justify their opinion. This is the wrong way to approach the issue, because the pro choice side just uses their religious justifications against them by saying the church should stay out of government issues.

    It’s not a religious issue though. It’s an issue between life and death, and we need to come together and decide if a fetus really is life. If you believe it is life like I do, then you should probably be disgusted that they are being killed. If you don’t believe it’s alive, then I can understand your point of view.

    Also, I didn’t want this to come across as an attack or anything.

  • Patrick

    Also, in my third paragraph, first line, I meant to say “killing”, not “murder”.

  • Margaret

    You really need to learn more about Abortion before you write an piece like this. Your “pro-life” arguments are woefully incorrect. It is obvious you have never talked to a pro-life person and you get your facts from what the pro-choice people say the pro-lifers say. It is really ignorant to put forth someone else’s view and not even have it right.

  • Nick A.

    OK, Margaret, what am I missing?

  • http://www.iansouter.com Ian

    I’ve noticed that most of the pro-life people are the same people that fall in behind our president when he sends a bunch of our citizens off to die for a bunch of lies. George Carlin said it best, “We need lots of live babies so they can grow up to be dead soldiers.”

  • Patrick

    ^And what’s that have to do with anything?

    (also, I would like to add that I don’t like the current president at all. Just thought I’d put that out there…)

  • Z

    @Nick
    Yes, my example is rather subjective, as evidenced by Patrick’s opinion. However, I wasn’t necessarily saying that aborting and homicide are the same thing. I was just giving an example of another topic in which moral/ethical/legal distinctions are made.

    Oh, and thanks for actually replying and not fire bombing me.

    @BJNebraska and Nick
    OK, religion blows, I get it. But never put it too far out of your head that Reason, without regard to human values and emotion, is brutal. Humans aren’t robots. We make irrational choices. Of course, this is just my philosophical POV.

    @Patrick
    I’m on the fence about state power. At heart I think that the people should have their right to make choices I don’t agree with, but I sorta just want to “err of the side of liberty.” An article I think you might like: http://www.reason.com/news/show/120792.html

    Sloppily touching base and i’m out.

    And remember kids, don’t feed the trolls

  • John

    I’m pretty pro-choice, but I think your logic is wrong here. If abortion is the killing of an innocent being, as pro-lifers believe, it’s not appropriate to let individuals decide for themselves. Look at how our entire justice system is based on the presumption of innocence. We err on the side of protecting innocent life, as I think we should. That’s why executions cost more than life imprisonments–the cost of erasing any shred of reasonable doubt that a convicted killer is innocent is astronomical (though of course we aren’t always correct even after the appeal process finishes). If one believes that there’s any chance that a fetus is actually a child, it’s a perfectly reasonable response to say that the state should step in and protect that possible innocent life.

    I’ll put this another way. Before slavery was abolished in the US, some people looked at slaves as property, while others looked at them as people. Abolitionists wanted the state to step in and prevent the immoral imprisonment of people, even though slaveowners disagreed with the underlying premise that slaves were not property, but human beings. Was this inappropriate? According to your logic, abolitionists should have stepped back and said:

    “Well, there is widespread disagreement over whether slaves are people or property. So instead of having the state to step in, we should allow individuals to decide which category slaves fall into. If you think slaves are people, fine–don’t buy one. But if you think they’re property, enslave away.”

    Would that have been acceptable? I don’t think so. What they actually argued was:

    “Though there is widespread disagreement about whether slaves are people or property, those who believe that they’re property are incorrect. To allow those who falsely believe that slaves aren’t people to imprison others is immoral. The state must step in, declare that slaves are people, and stop this injustice.”

    Of course, the parallels aren’t perfect, and I’m not necessarily saying that the pro-life argument is correct. I’m just saying that, if someone has the belief that abortion is the killing of an innocent being, it’s perfectly logical to seek to make abortion illegal.

  • Nick A.

    (In response to John’s comments)

    We indeed have a justice system that errs on the side of protecting innocent life, but that by itself doesn’t prove that it’s morally justified to apply that type of logic to abortions.

    And as far as your slavery example is concerned, I’ll agree with you on one thing: the parallels definitely aren’t perfect. In the slavery case, the morality is much more well-defined, and more people back then should have seen it that way. From your comments, I think you’d agree with me on that.

    But for the reasons I outlined in the essay, the morality of abortions is NOT so well-defined, especially considering the fact that it’s the woman who bears the burden of carrying the baby inside her own body for 9 months.

    Leaving it to individual choice is the most morally-justified and “common sense” solution. An individual knows more about her own life than society as a whole ever can. Let her use the sources of wisdom that are closest to her own life to make a decision, and if she decides to get an abortion, let her deal with the feelings that come with it as she may.

    I’m curious, though (since my take on the issue didn’t impress you), what is YOUR justification for being pro-choice?

    (And mind you, I don’t mean that in a smart-alec kind of way; I’m honestly curious.)

  • John

    (In response to Nick)

    I agree that the morality is much more well-defined for slavery, but that’s only apparent in retrospect. No matter how easy it is to look back and criticize people for being so blind as to think that slaves weren’t people too, we have to remember that what’s obvious now wasn’t obvious then. So while from my perspective, an embryo is not a human life on par with an infant, I have to accept that that belief is in large part a product of the culture and time in which I live. It’s possible that in the future people will look back and be appalled at that belief.

    I agree that women know more about their lives than society can, but with that said, if a pro-life person believes that an embryo is a child, leaving abortion to individual choice is just not a viable option. If someone wants to carry out an act you believe is the murder of an innocent, you will seek to stop them, regardless of how justified they think they are. Letting them come to their own decisions and “deal with the feelings that come with it” wouldn’t be acceptable to someone who believes that a murder is occurring.

    (I do completely agree, however, that it’s silly for pro-lifers to say that abortion is murder, but okay in the case of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is threatened.)

    With that said, I’m pro-choice. This is mostly because, on the whole, restrictive abortion laws don’t decrease the incidence of abortion. (http://economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9989951) So there’s really not much justification for making abortion illegal if all we’ll be doing is endangering the lives of mothers. I am personally opposed to abortion, because I feel that since no one really knows when a fetus becomes a human life worthy of society’s protection, we should try to err on the side of protecting what may be a human life. But since laws are fairly ineffective in this situation, it makes more sense to allow individuals to seek abortion if they choose while trying to discourage abortions on a cultural level.

    I do think that Roe v. Wade was a blatant overstretch of judicial authority and should be reversed, but that’s because of the case itself, not my feelings on abortion. And were Roe v. Wade to be overturned, I’d oppose abortion bans locally.

  • Patrick

    @Nick: For people who are pro-choice, no it isn’t an easily definable line between what’s right and what’s wrong. I can understand if you thought that. But for someone who is pro-life, then it’s very well defined. Just as defined as slavery was to people who were abolitionists.

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