Skip to comments.Wesley J. Smith: Abortion Morality Not About “Feelings”
Posted on 03/04/2012 11:03:32 AM PST by wagglebee
The after-birth abortion article continues reverberate, this time in a column by Telegraph columnist Jenny McCartney, who takes issue with the bioethicists claim that a newborn and a fetus are equally killable because of their supposed mutual lack of personhood. But McCartneys argument all comes down to feelingswhich is real problem in our societythat is, infanticide is wrong and abortion isnt becuase a mother will feel the death of a newborn more grievously than a miscarriage of a fetus. From The First Breath of a Person:
I dont know whether, at any point while the authors refined this somewhat tortuous argument, they were actually viscerally repelled by the notion of killing newborn babies. Perhaps they told themselves that repulsion was a lowly sensation which they must suppress, and that they were honour-bound to follow the higher path of logic all the way to infanticide. Of course, if logic is flawed or divorced from compassion, it can lead one to a very bad place indeed.
This gets us into Leon Kasss wisdom of repugnance territory, which is a valid starting point , but not the sole criteria for determining morality and certainly not the end game (as he wrote). But note that there was once widespread repugnance over abortion. It can be taught out of us. Back to McCartney:
It would be a moral and intellectual relief to cling to a clean line of logic all the way from conception to birth, and argue that a fertilised human egg should be every bit as valuable to humanity as a newborn baby. But I dont think it is, and not just because I cannot bring myself to condemn a woman who undergoes an early abortion for serious reasons, despite the lurch of sadness such news triggers.
A womans sense of loss at miscarrying after a few weeks an event about which she might even be unaware is quite different in scale from her grief at miscarrying at five months, and further again from the trauma of stillbirth. A foetus tends to accrue value from the moment of its conception, in line with the mothers physical and emotional investment in its existence.
Thats expresses so much of what has gone wrong with modern society, doesnt it? We have lost the ability to think critically. Indeed, too often, we dont think. We feel. If it feels good to us today, it is right today. If it feels bad tomorrow, it is bad tomorrow. More:
I had feelings for both of my children before they were born. I was protective of the very notion of them, and I examined their scans with pleasure. But something extraordinary happens at the moment of birth, when babies suddenly appear in the world in all their naked, elemental glory. At that moment, they assert themselves as human beings separate from their mother.
But what if a mother had a different feeling? What if she saw the baby and was repulsed? Or is the morality of the thingwhich is different from the legalitya matter of majority feelings?
By the way, I have seen such arguments made in bioethics. But basing morality on feelings is the core of relativism, allowing us to do what we want and, as Oprah tells us we should, feel good about ourselves. But feelings are ephemeral. They justify expedience. They are the house built of straw and cant provide any real basis for determining morality or ethics. Indeed, the process of desensitizing usthat is, changing our feelingsabout killingabortion, now euthanasiais the current modos operandi for shattering Western morality and liberty.
Someday we may see a future Jenny McCartney writing that sure, she took pleasure when she saw her baby emerge from her body, but nothing compared to when her child took her first step, or said her first word. That meant she was really an independent person seeking her own way in the world. Thus, who is she to condemn an unfortunate mother who felt that her baby ill served her future plans and who couldnt bear the emotions of another family raising the infant, for deciding to have her newborn painlessly killed?
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The Pro-life movement may save Western Civilization.
It is perfectly stated. Wesley J. Smith is an author whose work is well worth reading.
It occurred to me, listening to Andrew Wilkow discuss this on Friday, that pro-lifers have an opportunity to change the discussion now that more commentators are advocating open infanticide. The term “post-birth abortion” is an absurdity: “to abort” a process means to stop it before it reaches its goal, and the process of gestation has reached its goal when the baby is born.
Abortion isn’t about ending pregnancy - we learned that when the Death Eaters insisted that viability of the unborn baby isn’t relevant. It’s about killing the baby. Rather than the oxymoronic “post-birth abortion,” we need to say “infanticide,” every time. And instead of “abortion,” we should be talking about “prenatal infanticide.”
Exactly right. Language matters far more than many may realize, despite all of the warnings we have received (think of George Orwell’s “!984”. It can manipulate our perceptions and impressions of an issue, and in a very subtle way. Euphemisms can be deadly.
Yes, look at how we went from “sodomite” to “homosexual” to “gay.”
Exactly. It sounds so benign, so happy and pleasant. It implies none of the repulsive images of the Folsom Street Fair. No thoughts of AIDS, or any other diseases associated with the lifestyle. It's a perfect example.
Not only that, but it goes from a label that specifies the behavior, to a label that names an idea or an identity, to a description that calls to mind a whole array of lifestyle factors without, for most people, ever suggesting anal sex. I had to get my husband to explain to our sons what “gay” meant, because in popular media the key behavioral component is never mentioned.
Excellent analysis. All meaning is stripped from the word. It is more than benign. It is misleading. It is a lie.
It’s like Gay Related Immune Deficiency became Acquired Immune Deficiency:
That is a key point, and the reason why the babies are dismembered alive until dead and then their tiny arms and legs drawn out.
Abortion is about killing the baby.
All abortions are; partial-birth abortion is just a particularly vivid example, with the baby being born and then murdered.
When the actual process is described, it’s hard to call it “reproductive health” anymore. That’s why there’s such howling from the advocates about any discussion that uses concrete terms.
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