Monday, October 26, 2009

"Impartial, eh?"


At the beginning of this debate, the moderator said that Stephanie would be representing the "pro-life" side and that Dr. Kluge was representing the "pro-abortion" side. There was a brief (and quite good natured) roar and some ribbing over the "slip".

He was supposed to use the accepted euphemism, you see. Please! it's "pro-choice".

Now, here's something interesting.

Some time ago, the editor of the Vatican's derivative leftist rag daily newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Gian Maria Vian, said, with apparently a perfectly straight face, that President Obama, because of his comments at Notre Dame University had revealed to his (Vian's) satisfaction that he (Obama) was "not pro-abortion, but really was merely pro-choice".


let me explain something to you, Mr. Editor of the Vatican's newspaper.

Let's say, to take things out of the emotion-riven issue of abortion for a moment, that we are talking about being pro-bank-robbery. Let us imagine, for a moment, that there is a significant political movement to legalise bank robbery on the grounds that to criminalize it makes it unsafe for all concerned, bank robbers and security guards, staff and bank customers. Part of the political work of this movement has been to change the "tone" of the debate, and to re-frame it. Instead of talking about the victims of bank robbery, (who, after all are mostly just already insanely wealthy bank shareholders and insurance companies) they believe that the debate should focus instead on the rights of bank robbers.

They have created the expression "pro-choice" to describe the position that they hope will become accepted in the debate. To be "pro-choice" on bank robbery is to say that while one would oneself not necessarily wish to rob a bank (having, strangely, some vestigial Judeo-Christian moral qualms about private property), they do not feel it is right to impose their personal beliefs on others who might want to make the "choice" to supplement their income in this way.

So, being "pro-choice" is not the same thing as actually supporting bank robbery. You can be against bank robbery and still pro-choice. It's a brilliant political ploy, giving people a nice-sounding reasong to support people's "rights" and to be generally fair-minded and calm, and yet, still be seen as moral people who would never directly support something bad.

The public eats it up, because it is really just totally complimentary and wonderfully self-congratulatory and there is nothing the public of our time likes better than getting something for nothing.

But, let us examine the idea of being pro-choice on bank robbery a little more closely, shall we?

If you say that you are in favour of someone being allowed to "choose" to do something, are you making a comment on the moral admissibility of that thing? Are you saying that bank robbery should be legal because it is itself morally innocuous? If you say that people should be allowed to choose to rob a bank you are saying that your own moral qualms about it are not absolute. A pro-choice person will never be able to say that robbing a bank, a thing that violates the rights of the person to protect his property, is inherently immoral: wrong. He can only ever say that he personally does not like bank robbery, as he does not like brussels sprouts.

Indeed, to say that someone ought to have the "right" to rob a bank, is to say that there is such a right and that a person may exercise it at will. One has said at least, that there is no real moral objection to bank robbery. It is fine. It's just not my personal thing.

A person who is pro-choice on bank robbery thinks there is no moral objection to it and that it is a right that should be protected under the law.

He is pro-bank-robbery.

Get it?

So, when the moderator said at the beginning of Miss. Gray's debate, that her opponent would be taking the "pro-abortion" side, he was speaking factually.

But in our times, the facts, reality, are biased.


Scott W. said...

Excellent. Like another commentor put it--the difference between pro-choice and pro-abortion is merely a matter of proximity to the clinic.

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

Very good, Hilary. Here's a question for you: should women who procure an abortion go to prison? Why/why not?

I'm asking b/c I am in two minds myself. I do want the abortionists to go to prison, but I don't necessarily want the women to go to prison. But there was one woman online who wrote about her impending abortion who was just so horrid, I can honestly say I'd be very happy to see her in prison.

I realise this is all academic since abortion is legal, or at least not prosecuted, throughout the West. Still interested in your thoughts.

HJW said...

What you are asking is really whether if abortion were a criminal offense, women should be prosecuted as well as the doctors who do the act on the same charge.

I would imagine that there are a sizable proportion of women who, even if abortion were criminal, could not be prosecuted because of the problem of coercion. Women who are going for abortions are nearly all pressured in some way, and in many cases the pressure could be seen as coercion. That being said, there are plenty of women who seek abortions because it is legal and because they simply want to. I think these women would be deterred by a law making it not legal. The minority who are left, who freely sought an abortion, who were not pressured or coerced and who moreover still sought it even though it is a criminal act, could be prosecuted under such a law.

That being said, I do not believe that the accessory to a murder (which is probably the most likely type of charge) could or should be punished to the same degree as the one who actually does the act itself.

When abortion was illegal, and in most cases a criminal offense, the law understood that it is the doctors committing the act who are the most culpable, and women were rarely if ever charged and convicted. But of course, that is not to eliminate the legal possibility. Those who kill wantonly should be punished under the law, individual circumstances notwithstanding.

This all keeping in mind that I have no training in law and is merely my personal opinion as a citizen of western democractic states who believes in the rule of law.

Noah D said...

I remember a pro-abortion type back in college saying that they wanted to be called 'pro-choice' because "'pro-abortion' has negative connotations."


(Somewhere I saw an excellent turn-around of a classic pro-abortion phrase: 'Don't like slavery? Don't buy one.')

Anonymous said...

Thankyou, Hilary. That's what I needed.