September 30, 2014

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December 27, 2012


Re: Abortion Politics 101

From NRO, where there is more:

For more than 40 years, the pro-life community has been plagued with the argument that we care more for kids before they’re born than after. This argument has always been manifestly, provably false. With our money and our time, Christians give far, far more to poor families at home and abroad than they ever give to fight the culture war. As I’ve noted before, the budget of just one Christian relief agency, Samaritan’s Purse, is larger than the budget of every major Christian culture war organization combined. Yet Franklin Graham, the founder of Samaritan’s Purse, is one of the Left’s great bogeymen.

On an individual level, even Christian families that adopt — especially those who adopt across racial lines — can face scorn (and not from white rednecks). My wife and I learned that first-hand when she made the mistake of granting a short (and she thought light-hearted) interview with a Huffington Post reporter at last year’s CPAC. Many of the comments — predictably — were simply appalling. And those comments haven’t stopped, with Facebook and other messages telling her that she simply can’t and shouldn’t parent our own daughter. This is hardly a new phenomenon. In 1994, the National Association of Black Social Workers even called transracial adoption “cultural genocide.”

It took me a long time to realize the following truth: No matter how compassionate, charitable, winsome, and kind you are, if you oppose the sexual revolution you are the enemy. And in many ways, you’re not merely the political “enemy,” you’re also a reprehensible human being. Ann Coulter was on to something when she said on Red Eye that modern culture (and our president, apparently) can forgive Korean pop sensation Psy for rapping his hopes that American soldiers (and their families) die painful deaths, but had he rapped against gay marriage he would never be forgiven.


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6 comments

Didn’t I read somewhere yesterday that one Global Warming guru suggested that the death penalty was an appropriate punishment for those opposed to the theorey because “those people were killing the planet. ”  Neo-Gnosticism running wild…AHH! The times we are now in…

[1] Posted by aacswfl1 on 12-27-2012 at 02:40 PM · [top]

The question of pre-birth personhood has been controversial at least since the time of Aristotle and has never found a unanimous answer in Judaism, Christianity or Islam. Furthermore, although a personal position may be taken according to one’s religious faith, in a secular society with separation of church and state, the secular law provisions for abortion should not be guided exclusively by the religious beliefs of a particular religious institution.

The absolutist position now taken by Pro-Life apologists is NOT the traditional teaching of the Christian Church on abortion. Although the Church has always condemned and discouraged abortion as a deplorable and sinful act, it has generally (until quite recent times) punished recourse to abortion with simple and fairly short periods of penance, especially if the abortion was provoked during the first trimester. Furthermore, the sanctions imposed by the Church were limited to penance and temporary excommunication. Fines or imprisonment were rarely imposed by the state under secular laws for early abortions.

The idea that ALL abortion is culpable homicide is so recent in the Church as to be called a novelty and a departure from classical orthodoxy and a violation of the Vincentian Canon (ubique, semper, ab omnibus). Orthodox teachings are those held in all places, at all times, by all believers.

Moreover, the idea that personhood comes into being at the time of conception is so new that the Roman Catholic Church (which is the strongest pro-life advocate) did not definitively and absolutely adopt that position until 1983 when certain revisions of the Code of Canon Law were made.

In the primitive Church, before the canon of Scripture was consolidated and before the great creeds were adopted, abortion was condemned, but its punishment was not very severe. The Apostolic Constitutions (section 7:3) condemned abortion but tolerated it until the fetus took on a “human shape”.

There is NO direct teaching on abortion in the Bible. There is, however, a rule in the Old Testament that suggests that the destruction of a fetus was NOT necessarily considered to be murder under the Divine Commandments revealed on Mt. Sinai.

“If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no [other] mischief follows: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.
And if any [other] mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life… (Exodus 21:22-23)

In other words, the Judaic Law did not construe the provocation of a miscarriage to be culpable homicide, unless it was accompanied by death of the mother.

The New Testament never specifically mentions abortion. This is significant, because herbal abortifacients were in common use at the time that the New Testament was written. Jesus, Paul, and the other New Testament figures were surrounded by cultures that practiced abortion, but no specific condemnation of the practice can be found in their sayings or writings.

From the 5th to the 16th centuries, although there was no single, universal consensus on the question, generally, the degree of sin attached to abortion was related to the stage of pregnancy and the question (still unanswered today) as to exactly when a fetus receives its soul and become “foetus animatus” (a living person).

Because of the lack of consensus on when ensoulment occurs, first trimester abortions were tolerated to a much greater extent than later ones because the fetus had not yet become a person. Eventually, only first trimester abortions fell outside the scope of culpable homicide. Similar views were held after the Reformation by the Anglican and most Protestant churches (and are still held by several denominations).

Among the great theologians and moralists of the early Church, St. Jerome was in the forefront of those who may be rightly called “misogynists”, that is, those who did not share our contemporary egalitarian views on women and their intellectual equality with men. Nevertheless, even Jerome did not accuse women of infanticide when they procured for themselves abortions. Jerome said, “The seed gradually takes shape in the uterus, and it [abortion] does not count as killing until the individual elements have acquired their external appearance and their limbs. (“Epistle” 121,4)

When, in the early 7th Century, the Church began specifically codifying what it considered to be sexual sins, abortion made the list, but in terms of punishment, abortion was well behind the sins of contraception, fellatio, and sodomy. In fact, the punishment for consensual fellatio, even within marriage, was at least 7 YEARS of penance, whereas the punishment for abortion was a mere 120 DAYS.

Later, St. Augustine of Hippo argued that abortion before ensoulment was not infanticide.  Pope Innocent III in the early 1200s, ruled that the fetus had no soul until it was “animated”, usually around the 24th week, that is, near the end of the second trimester of gestation.

Only in 1588 did the pendulum swing in the other direction (temporarily). Pope Sixtus V, in a departure from previous Church law, made all abortions illegal.

In due course, however, Sixtus V was reversed by Pope Gregory XIV, who tolerated abortions up to 16½ weeks as not equivalent to the killing of a human being, as no soul was present.

Even St. Thomas Aquinas himself, who is arguably the most influential theologian in early Christianity, did not consider a fetus to be a human person until the quickening (i.e., the time when the fetal movements have become obvious).

The toleration shown by Pope Gregory XIV remained the official teaching for three hundred years, until 1869, when Pope Pius IX again declared all abortions to be homicides.

But even Pious IX’s postion was not the final word.

It was only in 1983, a mere 29 years ago, that all vestiges of the distinction between the “foetus animatus” (fetus with a soul thus a person) and “foetus inanimatus” (fetus without a soul thus not a person) were quietly removed from Canon Law.

I respect everyone’s right to hold the personal opinion that all abortion is culpable homicide. You are in good (but limited) company, historically speaking. However, those who decry abortion but would tolerate it at least in some circumstances during the first trimester are also in good (and widespread) company.

What disturbs me is the contemporary distortion or ignorance of the historical record by those want to impose their absolutest view.

In the 19th century, abortion was generally unregulated in the United States. In the early 20th century, many states had laws prohibiting abortion. However, it was rare for those laws to be applied in cases where an abortion was procured during the first trimester of pregnancy. When sanctions were applied, it was almost universally against the physician and never against the mother although it was the mother who sought the abortion and who (from the standpoint of moral theology) should have been found guilty, since any involvement of a physician was accessory.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade deregulated first trimester abortion and left to the States the regulation of second and third trimester abortions. That decision restored to our secular law the practice that has been the norm (ubique, semper, ab omnibus) in religious law (except for a few brief periods) for the last four thousand years.

Generally where there is a conflict of rights (e.g., those of the mother vs. those of the fetus), we make reasonable accommodations that only absolutists refuse to accept. If a fetus is aborted to save the mother’s life or in the case of rape or incest, that accommodation is certainly not reasonable from the fetus’s point of view (if the fetus were capable of forming a point of view). In non-theocratic societies, people begin with absolute principles and then adapt them to the myriad circumstances of a society in which very large segments of the population are unable to agree on absolute principles.

The question that absolutists avoid is this: Why do modern Pro-Lifers consider every instance of abortion to be a culpable homicide? We allow the defense of justifiable homicide and involuntary manslaughter in other areas of human life, and our ancestors for over two millennia have generally allowed a pregnant woman to procure a first-trimester abortion with little or no punishment. It would seem logical, sensible and morally justified to recognize the right to some kinds of justifiable abortion in situations more varied than the usual cases of physical health of the mother, rape and incest.

[2] Posted by Qalam96 on 12-29-2012 at 09:22 AM · [top]

RE: “I respect everyone’s right to hold the personal opinion that all abortion is culpable homicide. You are in good (but limited) company, historically speaking.”

Yes—those of us who have seen ultrasounds are in good (but limited) company, historically speaking, as well.  ; > )

RE: “The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade deregulated first trimester abortion and left to the States the regulation of second and third trimester abortions.”

Not at all. Roe v Wade—as was acknowledged later—allowed abortion in all three trimesters, and under the most ridiculous of assertions as in “health [whatever freight we wish to load into that word]” of the mother.

RE: “We allow the defense of justifiable homicide and involuntary manslaughter in other areas of human life . . . “

Yes - -and the definitions of those words are particularly *spelled out* in ways that could not in any way justify killing a million babies in the womb a year in the US.

Even were we to *apply* those particular spelled-out definitions of those two legal concepts—“justifiable homicide” and “involuntary manslaughter”—to abortion, the total would amount to around 2-4% of what is currently allowed.  It’s rather patently obvious that “involuntary manslaughter” does not include calculated, pre-meditated ripping of a human being from limb to limb or the pouring of saline all over the body. And it’s rather obvious that “justifiable homicide” does not include “this person is dreadfully inconvenient to my plans and must be killed.”  With *that* definition, my day would be filled with slaughter of other adult human beings!  ; > )

[3] Posted by Sarah on 12-29-2012 at 10:44 AM · [top]

RE:  “The question that absolutists avoid is this: Why do modern Pro-Lifers consider every instance of abortion to be a culpable homicide?”

We don’t.  For example, -I- consider killing the unborn human being as justifiable, when the life of the mother is at stake. 

RE:  “We allow the defense of justifiable homicide and involuntary manslaughter in other areas of human life,”

Fortunately, a few hundred years of jurisprudence has given us narrow definitions of both types of unfortunate circumstances - definitions which tease out whether self-defense applies to killing, or whether criminal negligence applies in the case of a manslaughter. 

Both of these are bound up in the question of intent.  No intent, no crime.  Since abortion is a moral crime very much bound up in intent, I’m not following the wisdom of comparing non-intent acts with one that is replete with intent?  Personally, if I were a murderous pro-abortion activist, I would have cited killing during wartime, as it’s more apples to apples. 

RE: ” and our ancestors for over two millennia have generally allowed a pregnant woman to procure a first-trimester abortion with little or no punishment.”

{shrug}  Our ancestors did a lot of things.  In my Dad’s side of the family, they’ve got mostly black hair, when they should be blonde.  That’s from the Spanish occupation.  We have redheads as well - that’s from the Viking incursions. 

RE:  “It would seem logical, sensible and morally justified to recognize the right to some kinds of justifiable abortion in situations more varied than the usual cases of physical health of the mother, rape and incest. “

To people like yourself, who escaped the womb without having their brains sucked out, and who grew up to be the sort who don’t empathize with weaker human beings.  I suppose.

[4] Posted by J Eppinga on 12-29-2012 at 12:02 PM · [top]

Strawmen Qualam96. 

There is NO direct teaching on abortion in the Bible.

  So?  That line of arguement is a dead end.  There is NO WAY to read Holy Scripture as anything BUT pro-life.   

Certainly there are some pro-life absolutists but most will grant an allowance for extreme instances such as rape, incest or the mother’s health.  However, the vast majority of abortions are not the result of any of these circumstances.  Abortion has become just another form of contraception.  The questions that pro-abortion absolutists avoid are these: Where is the responsibility of the parents?  Given the multitude of other choices that never seem to enter the discussion, why MUST abortion be considered an acceptable choice?

[5] Posted by Nikolaus on 12-29-2012 at 05:37 PM · [top]

The problem our culture has today, which is supported by the Fed govt, esp the Dems, is a severe lack of personal responsibility. 

Fiscal cliff - no prob, just kick the can down the road, as Congress has for the past 50 years.  Don’t even bother passing a budget.  In fact, include $330,000,000,000 in new spending to reward your campaign contributers vs. $25,000,000,000 in cuts!

Want to have sex all the time with anyone you want?  No problem, use contraceptives.  They fail (or you fail to use them)?  No problem, just get an abortion.

Don’t want to work?  No problem, just apply for one of the 80 or so Federal handouts and similar state programs.

To bad it’s your OWN CHILD you are killing.  And TOO BAD the Fed Govt is bankrupting our once great country.

[6] Posted by B. Hunter on 1-5-2013 at 05:02 AM · [top]

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