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August 14, 2007

Comments

We should leave all the squirming to pro-choice proponents.

"I do have adequate skill, though, to know when an innocent human being is killed without justification, and that's what this debate is all about. It is not about the admittedly more complicated matter of how to prosecute such cases. The questions are separate and you must answer the first before you can begin to address the second.
"I don't have an opinion on the degree of punishment, because that's a separate legislative issue I'm not qualified to answer."

When one is unwilling to confront the full implications of ones positions, is it unreasonable for another to question whether that position has been fully thought through?

"Very few actual homicides rise to the level of capital crimes. It should be up to lawmakers to decide the appropriate punishment in the case of abortion. I'm not skilled in those legal particulars."

Sorry, this is a cop out. This isn't rocket science. Accepting your definitions, a woman hires a doctor to kill her baby. The process allowed time for careful consideration. In California, premeditated murder for financial gain is a special circumstance that allows for life without parole or execution.

"As such, you're challenge is unrelated to the real issue: Does abortion kill an innocent human being?"

Or perhaps, the reason most would recoil from executing or imprisoning for life a woman, a doctor, and a nurse is because we understand that we don't have a person from conception on.

"The process allowed time for careful consideration."

Consideration of what, Alan? What evidence is offered to the woman for her to consider? Some of the time she gets nothing but smarmy propaganda about how empowering her choice is and how constrained her life will be if she doesn't abort; sometimes this includes pressure to abort from the man and even from her family. Most of the time she doesn't see as much as a sonogram (and some people fight every attempt to educate her in this manner). There's no chance for real premeditation, much less for malice aforethought; by and large, the woman considering abortion is taught that her fetus is a parasite, not a human.

Even murder one doesn't automatically result in a death penalty -- there have to be "special circumstances" (at least in California).

The people who create the indoctrination have something to answer for.

"because we understand that we don't have a person from conception on."

Based on _ignorance_, not facts.

Hi William, the personhoon of a fertilized egg will always be a matter of theology and opinion, never fact; and it may well be one of those thing on which folks will simply disagree. Attempting to enforce such issues through the raw power of the state has never and will never work.

It amazes me that conservatives who mock victimhood as a mode of social consciousness turn into such bleeding hearts on this one issue. Sometimes ambivalence indicates a flaw in ones argument.

Alan wrote:

>>”When one is unwilling to confront the full implications of ones positions, is it unreasonable for another to question whether that position has been fully thought through?"

Your implication that Greg hasn’t ‘fully thought through’ his position should be absurd even to a pro-choice proponent. Perhaps you have a problem with his conclusion - but your claim that he hasn't thought it through is unfounded.

>>”Or perhaps, the reason most would recoil from executing or imprisoning for life a woman, a doctor, and a nurse is because we understand that we don't have a person from conception on.”

Alan, “from conception on”? You realize you just wrote “we don’t have a person from conception on.” Do you just type randomly? Perhaps you'd like to "recoil" that statement?


"Even murder one doesn't automatically result in a death penalty -- there have to be "special circumstances" (at least in California)."

Here are the relevant California statutes:

"190.2. (a) The penalty for a defendant who is found guilty of
murder in the first degree is death or imprisonment in the state
prison for life without the possibility of parole if one or more of
the following special circumstances has been found under Section
190.4 to be true:

(1) The murder was intentional and carried out for financial gain...

(19) The defendant intentionally killed the victim by the
administration of poison...

(c) Every person, not the actual killer, who, with the intent to
kill, aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces, solicits, requests,
or assists any actor in the commission of murder in the first degree
shall be punished by death or imprisonment in the state prison for
life without the possibility of parole if one or more of the special
circumstances enumerated in subdivision (a) has been found to be true
under Section 190.4."

Hi Kevin, I think you know that I mean until some point in the pregnancy that will, of necessity, be arbitrary, but conforms to the necessary developmental changes.

"Your implication that Greg hasn’t ‘fully thought through’ his position should be absurd even to a pro-choice proponent. Perhaps you have a problem with his conclusion - but your claim that he hasn't thought it through is unfounded."

Sorry, but if you are unwilling to confront the full implications of what you propose, then the contemplative process is incomplete. History is full of messy situations that were the by-product of theologians and philosophers not thinking things through and then saying "oops".

Untenable results are often the product of flawed assumptions somewhere in the process. Blowing off part of the process eliminates a necessary feedback loop.

>>”Untenable results are often the product of flawed assumptions somewhere in the process. Blowing off part of the process eliminates a necessary feedback loop.”

I couldn’t agree more (in general); government does this all the time with economic policies and the like that gets us citizens in big trouble. However, regarding abortion, being unable to give the precise punishment whether it be years in prison, fines, etc. doesn’t hurt the pro-life case. All one has to do is say a punishment should be rendered. Arguing for a certain punishment however, implies one must make up their minds about a particular punishment.

I don’t know what a fair price for a speeding ticket is but I do know that a price must be paid to protect life.

Most significantly:

I don’t have a personal opinion of what kind of punishment a mercy killing in a hospital would warrant but its called murder – regardless of my opinion and applicable punishment.

This is such a weak line of reasoning.

The Lord says of Jeremiah in 1:5 -

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart..."

This seems to suggest the idea of personhood before birth, but even if you'd like to dismiss this assessment as "a matter of theology and opinion", no one seems to argue the fact that a fertilized egg is indeed alive, personhood or no. To engage the argument from different perspective, would you justify the killing of an elderly person with advanced Alzheimers? Sure they're alive, but personhood is absent. It seems to me a subscriber to the idea of "no right to life without personhood" would have to be indiscriminatory in such cases.

alan: "the personhoon of a fertilized egg will always be a matter of theology and opinion, never fact."

Well, oddly, I partially agree with you here (although you mean "metaphysics" when you say "theology"). (I stop agreeing when you contend that theology and fact do not coincide. I hope you're not offended by that.)

Our difference from you comes in that we recognize that metaphysical personhood is not the basis for any existing laws. No philosophers need be called into our courts to prove whether the victim was actually possessed of free will, or capable of reasoning from abstract first principles, or even created in the image of God (or whatever your "test" is for personhood).

Thus, our argument does NOT rest on extraneous metaphysical or theological propositions. It rests on the same principles that inform the rest of the law.

"Here are the relevant California statutes:"

alan, you are not a lawyer. I am not a lawyer. The thought of us attempting to parse an ancient law like this is simply laughable. Most of the words of that statute are vested with hundreds (even thousands) of years of technical meaning, almost none of which we know.

One critical example is the word "intent". In common use, the meaning is simple and clear. In legal use, the meaning is just as clear, but rather different. Did the woman "intend" to kill the fetus, or did she "intend" to carry out a "harmless medical intervention" (in her misinformed opinion)?

The complete solution will obviously require legislation, which will modify the very law you're quoting.

For those like Alan who insist pro-lifers must be certain about legal penalites before they can rationally claim fetuses are human beings, consider this story from today's headlines:

SELMER, Tenn. — A woman convicted last year of killing her preacher husband was free Tuesday after serving two months at a mental facility, according to her lawyer.

Mary Winkler served 67 days in a mental health facility, the name of which has never been publicly disclosed, after her conviction. She will now be on probation, her attorney, Steve Farese, Sr. said. Winkler will live in McMinnville, Tenn., where she lived and worked at a dry cleaners before her trial, Farese said.

Winkler was convicted this year of voluntary manslaughter in the 2006 shooting death of her husband, who was shot in the back as he slept. Prosecutors charged her with murder, but she was convicted of a lesser charge after saying she was abused by her husband Matthew, who was a Church of Christ minister in Selmer. Winkler faces a legal battle with her husband's parents over the custody of her three children."

Me: I guess since the law has different penalites for killing adult humans (some killers get two decades; others get two months), we shouldn't count them as fully human.

Kevin W--You are making a whole lot of sense here. Keep at it.

Not 'a person' Alan, but is it human? DNA evidence can pin point a man through a semen sample. So not only can it identify a specific man, the sample itself can be identified as human. The question then becomes if we can pin point seperately that the semen and the egg are human, then when combined at conception, what other possibility but that it is human is there?
As far as the personhood issue is concerned, unless the interpretation is an artificial personhood, then the state is bound to protect it. Personhood is just shorthand for standing in the law. The law deals differently with artificial personhood such as corporations, than with natural born persons. I noticed that the founders used the word Person/s both to refer to those who could run for office and for slaves in Article I, sec 9. In both cases a capitol P was used indicating there was special significance to it.
If used in reference to man/homo, then it is a product of nature and has genus and species, Homo sapien, if used to refer to an artificial person such as a corporation, it has no genus or species.
I don't think even Congress claims to be able to cause a woman to concieve by statute, so the fetus is Homo sapien.
You may be right Alan about the issue ultimately being decided on theological grounds. The debate does seem to be heading in that direction.

Alan said,
"Hi William, the personhoon of a fertilized egg will always be a matter of theology and opinion, never fact; and it may well be one of those thing on which folks will simply disagree."

Guess what Alan, the personhood of ALL PEOPLE will always be a matter of theology and opinion...some theology and opinion that rises to the level of fact. And folks will always disagree that all Jews are humans, so what?

"Attempting to enforce such issues through the raw power of the state has never and will never work."

What issue ISN'T enforced through the raw power of the state?! Essoteric, poorly argued ideas like hate-crimes legislation will also NEVER work but that doesn't say anything about it being a right or wrong principle. I'm sure there were folks who thought a woman's vote would never work, pulling out of Iraq would never work, fighting Hitler would never work etc.

"It amazes me that conservatives who mock victimhood as a mode of social consciousness turn into such bleeding hearts on this one issue."

Because it's principled, not seated in emotion like your party's victimhood issues. Every pro-choicer loses the claim to champion the defense of the weakest minorities among us who have no voice. Duh.

"Sometimes ambivalence indicates a flaw in ones argument."

...which explains why Dems flip-flopping on the war is not a principled position no matter which side they adopt this week.

"..which explains why Dems flip-flopping on the war is not a principled position no matter which side they adopt this week."

Hi William, sauce for the goose and all that :-). Waiting.

alan, are you waiting for me? What for?

Whoops -- using a public browser. The "waiting for me?" post was mine.

The fact that Alan chose that one single statement out of Doug’s entire post about abortion really says it all.

"Guess what Alan, the personhood of ALL PEOPLE will always be a matter of theology and opinion" - Doug

Alan,
Are there any abortions (such as elective, post-viability abortions, etc.) you think should be illegal?

If so, what punishment do you think women should receive for obtaining those kinds of abortions?

Hi Jivin, my ambivalence is an advantage here. While I don't consider the fetus a person in a legal sense, it is certainly not nothing, hence I have no problem with including the fetus in the murder statute with its current exceptions (California penal Code) as i know the reason for the inclusion and agree with it.

Unlike early abortions, post-viability abortions (especially third trimester ones) are a serious medical procedure. As far as I can tell the penalty in California is suspension of the practitioner's license. As doctors have six figure annual incomes and rely on good standing, a suspended license is a life-changing event and is probably a sufficient deterrent while protecting the medical community from over zealous and grandstanding prosecutors.

Hi William, the California Penal Code isn't ancient (effective high noon, January 1, 1873 and much amended since) and isn't hard to undestand in general terms. If all you we arguing was belief you and Greg would have a point. However, you are stepping into the public square and advocating policies and legislation that will compel some of our fellow citizens to continue a pregnancy against their will and which will deprive others of their liberty and property. You don't get to punt on the consequences of that which you advocate. Sound public policy requires weighing choices against consequences. If one isn't willing to do the work necessary to even understand the consequences of what one advocates then perhaps one should remain silent.

We have a Constitution. Fidelity to that Constitution may make some things impossible. Substantive due process is a valid concept.

Doug, can you write a post without waiving the bloody shirt?

"What issue ISN'T enforced through the raw power of the state?"

Is this what you want folks, or would you rather have a constitutional republic? The ideological direction of the "pro-life" movement has made many of its adherents indifferent to the consequences of their policies. If that is the company you wish to keep, at least you've been warned.

"Hi William, the California Penal Code isn't ancient"

The terms of the law are. Terms like "malice" have to be understood in legal context. Trying to parse them apart and argue about shades of meaning is purely stupid.

"and isn't hard to undestand in general terms."

Yes, especially in what we call "clear-cut cases". But we're not dealing with a clear-cut case. In particular, we're dealing with a case for which an express exception was carved out of the law and advertised for decades as being beneficial to practice.

Determining malice and such will require some procedures that are not normally done -- and probably we'll decide to shortcut the many problems by assuming in the law the absence of malice, on the grounds that in general, society has made it difficult to be accurately informed about the humanity of the fetus, and therefore to develop anything that might be malice towards it. That would preclude first-degree murder.

I would certainly support that; in fact, I would go further. But before I do, I need to get some vague feeling from you that you'd _care_. Do you?

These details are important, as you said. There are tons of them. It'll take a long time, because there are many circumstances to be weighed. These are (once again) decisions that belong to the legislature, and they're the sort of thing that make laws longer.

"If all you we arguing was belief you and Greg would have a point."

Well, I'm glad to hear you concede all our points.

"However, ... You don't get to punt on the consequences of that which you advocate."

I don't. Greg doesn't. There ARE consequences. The law that illegalizes abortion will have to specifically address that -- it would be foolishly shortsighted to simply remove the exclusion and require the judge to apply a law not originally built for these circumstances. It's clear that changing the law to include abortion instead of excluding it would have to add special circumstances in order to be fair.

But what those rules would be is NOT for me or you to decide. We can talk about it, but only if you're willing to admit that because the nature of the cases is different, the law will have to provide special circumstances to allow judges to apply it fairly.

"Is this what you want folks, or would you rather have a constitutional republic?"

Don't demagogue, please. The rule of law means that the state _punishes_ infractions of the law by means of "raw power". Even constitutional republics. That's what the law and the state are.

-Billy

"The terms of the law are. Terms like "malice" have to be understood in legal context. Trying to parse them apart and argue about shades of meaning is purely stupid"


Sorry William, shades of meaning are what lawyers do in court. Dealing with the general case is very different. The meaning of malice is clear here; read the statute and any good dictonary. We are not dealing with cases at all, rather a general principle. We treat the murder of a child the same as that of an adult and if there is no qualitative difference between an unimplanted fertilized egg, a five year old, and a sixty year old then there is only one way to deal with the murder of that egg.

"Determining malice and such will require some procedures that are not normally done -- and probably we'll decide to shortcut the many problems by assuming in the law the absence of malice, on the grounds that in general, society has made it difficult to be accurately informed about the humanity of the fetus, and therefore to develop anything that might be malice towards it. That would preclude first-degree murder."

This is contrary to law and precedent and we wouldn't want to go down that road.

""If all you we arguing was belief you and Greg would have a point."

Well, I'm glad to hear you concede all our points."

Tsk, my point was clearly that as long as you kept the discussion out of policy and law you all had a lesser responsibility to consider the real life implications of what you advocate.

"would certainly support that; in fact, I would go further. But before I do, I need to get some vague feeling from you that you'd _care_. Do you?"

I'm not sure what you mean here. do I care that you advocate policies that would play havoc with the Constitution and peoples' lives - of course.

"Don't demagogue, please."

I'm not. You all just haven't fully thought through the implications of what you advocate, except for Doug, who has already stated that he would be happy with an authoritarian state.

Interesting review:

http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=bypassing_young_womens_abortion_rights

(copy to here to link)

"The meaning of malice is clear here; read the statute and any good dictionary."

In case you're willing to learn, here's what I meant: the dictionary definition of "malice" requires "desire to inflict harm" or "evil intent". The dictionary definition of malice doesn't tell you how it works in the law! Read the encyclopedia (Wikipedia isn't bad) for a better profile; you'll see that defining it isn't the issue; establishing standards for proof is the issue.

And that's one of the problems here. How can you show that women who commit abortion have malice against their fetus? At present, most of them are told repeatedly, over and over, that their fetus isn't even "a person". They have access to no contrary evidence. How can you have malice against an impersonal target?

Rather than ask thousands of judges to spend hundreds of hours developing new common-law standards for establishing malice in this special case, the legislature can make it explicit that we recognize the circumstances, and although we don't condone the actions (and we do punish them), we consider the intent.

There's also a principle that one should "ease into" a new law; allowing people to have a chance to understand the new law.

I can't educate you on this, because you WANT to believe what you already believe. But these are all principles of law; we can't violate them, and you can't pretend that we're obligated to violate them.

Even if I believed that all mothers guilty of abortion deserved death or long imprisonment (I don't), I couldn't ask for legislation NOW that allowed that sentence -- because of the above principle of law.

"Doug, who has already stated that he would be happy with an authoritarian state."

That's not what he said. Don't demagogue. He said that the state always by its nature exercises "raw force" (your words) to enforce the law. If you meant something special when you said "raw force" it's long past time for you to explain it -- Doug took it at its face value, as do I.

As such, it's simply factually and theoretically true -- the state's writ is backed by _raw force_, force that will end in your death if you oppose it with any success. Even the law against shoplifting is backed by deadly force -- they may not exercise it normally, but that's because most shoplifters don't oppose the law so much that they are willing to fight the people who enforce it.

Ah, I found the phrase I was looking for, "mens rea". It means that in order for a crime to occur, there must be a guilty mind -- you have to actually *mean* to do the crime. Wikipedia (again) is quite informative on the topic.

Hi William, here is the relevant California statute:

"188. Such malice may be express or implied. It is express when
there is manifested a deliberate intention unlawfully to take away
the life of a fellow creature. It is implied, when no considerable
provocation appears, or when the circumstances attending the killing
show an abandoned and malignant heart.
When it is shown that the killing resulted from the intentional
doing of an act with express or implied malice as defined above, no
other mental state need be shown to establish the mental state of
malice aforethought. Neither an awareness of the obligation to act
within the general body of laws regulating society nor acting despite
such awareness is included within the definition of malice."

You may be confusing mens rea with belief. Consider this: a constitutional amendment is passed and we now have a legal person from conception on. Abortion is now wholly under the murder statutes (Equal Protection). a woman finds herself pregnant and desires not to so be. She goes to her doctor, asks him to make it so and is informed he can't as at this point (say the fourth week) as everything appears OK and she is in no danger so under the law they both would be committing murder.

In order to get an abortion she (or any person) seeking an abortion is going to have to engage in a series of acts that make it clear that they knew they were violating the law.

'Mens rea" doesn't mean one internally accepts that something should be illegal, only that one knows one is breaking the law. With abortion the nature of the act would make a mens rea defense quite difficult.

Besides Wikipedia, you might also check out Staples v. United States and Cheek v. United States.

"Even if I believed that all mothers guilty of abortion deserved death or long imprisonment (I don't), I couldn't ask for legislation NOW that allowed that sentence -- because of the above principle of law."

Fine, but this is inconsistent with any belief that abortion is the murder of a person, which is my point. BTW, where did this come from:

"There's also a principle that one should "ease into" a new law; allowing people to have a chance to understand the new law."

We are going to "ease" into an expansion of the murder statutes?

You all have backed yourselves into a corner with your insistence on conflating abortion as a social problem with theological concepts of personhood.

Again no demagoguery, here's the quote:

"If the more authoritarian state is freeing Dred Scott and treating him equally with all men then it is a properly authoritarian state...or are the robust rights of the black man another symbol of an authoritarian Bush Whitehouse?"

Like authoritarians everywhere Doug is willing to trade freedom for chains as long as he finds the chains to his liking.

"We are going to 'ease' into an expansion of the murder statutes?"

As with any change in the law, YES.

Especially one in which the culprit doesn't prima facia _know_ that there's a victim.

"'Mens rea' doesn't mean one internally accepts that something should be illegal, only that one knows one is breaking the law. With abortion the nature of the act would make a mens rea defense quite difficult."

So does a mother know she's taking the life of an innocent human being? Probably not, given current misinformation.

"So does a mother know she's taking the life of an innocent human being? Probably not, given current misinformation."

Hi William, all she needs to know is that it is against the law and it is impossible for one to make the arrangements necessary to effect an abortion without becoming aware of that if one is in a jurisdiction where it is illegal. Your are confusing belief as to the nature of something with knowledge of what the law allows. These are two different things.

If one knows something is illegal and one does it anyway that satisfies mens rea. Go read Cheek and Staples, please.

There is so much focus on the nature of the unborn as a 'magic bullet" that you have lost the ability to see the practical difficulties. In Ireland the unborn are persons. It was found to be necessary to provide an "escape hatch". All a pregnant woman has to do is relate some suicidal ideation and she can get an abortion. The Irish people support banning abortion AND the escape hatch.

alan, I don't have a problem with "seeing difficulties". I see them. That's why I support putting these more complex provisions into the law in order to be merciful to women in the present climate.

Perhaps later generations would remove those provisions. Perhaps not. Either way, we have justice tempered with mercy.

Your entire argument hinges on the idea that we want to simply declare abortion to be the same crime as killing an adult. We don't. We admit that they are different acts -- although both acts kill a living human being, they have different causes and motives.

Abortion is murder -- but not all murders are the exact same crime, and not all murderers get the same sentence. The details are up to the legislature and courts to decide; as supporters of the rule of law we encourage the legislature to do the deciding.

"Your entire argument hinges on the idea that we want to simply declare abortion to be the same crime as killing an adult. We don't. We admit that they are different acts -- although both acts kill a living human being, they have different causes and motives."

If they are different acts then why not the possibility that there might be different approaches to dealing with it?

If the reality is that the instigator of the "crime" cannot be punished, then that same reality will demand that punishment for her agents will not be severe. We know from past experience that that regime will simply lead to an illegal abortion industry and robust travel opportunities.

Perhaps, all this points to a simple conclusion - criminalization isn't the answer and tying your theologically based concept of humanity to abortion as a social problem has been a strategic mistake.

I will once again ask a simple question - if we could cut the number of abortions by a few changes in social policies to a level equal to or (more likely) below what criminalization would do then why insist on criminalization?

"If they are different acts then why not the possibility that there might be different approaches to dealing with it?"

Yes, that's what I've been saying.

"If the reality is that the instigator of the 'crime' cannot be punished, then that same reality will demand that punishment for her agents will not be severe."

If that's the case, I'm not too stressed out. If all we can do is take away their license, that's at least something. I suspect that stronger penalties are appropriate and possible, but for the sake of argument, even that conclusion isn't unacceptable.

"Perhaps, all this points to a simple conclusion - criminalization isn't the answer..."

You've entirely failed to argue that, you know. It's not that you haven't _shown_ it; you haven't even argued it. All you've done is argue that we _must_ punish women more severely than we believe we must. And now that you've finally accepted that you were wrong, you're trying to claim victory somehow.

"... and tying your theologically based concept of humanity to abortion as a social problem has been a strategic mistake."

If abortion is a social problem, it's _because_ the fetus is a human individual. Otherwise abortion is the same type of problem as commercial team sports -- it consumes a few public dollars and wastes some people's time, but otherwise not an issue.

"I will once again ask a simple question - if we could cut the number of abortions by a few changes in social policies to a level equal to or (more likely) below what criminalization would do then why insist on criminalization?"

This conversation has gone on too long, and this is a bit much of a change in topic -- we're not going to be able to argue this out here.

First, it's not "more likely"; it's actually barely possible, vaguely suggested by some data.

Second, the alternatives are not exclusive; although it takes work to implement them together, it'll take work to implement them separately.

And finally, I'm all for social policy changes. We've spoken in favor of things like mandatory sonograms, waiting periods, counseling, and so on. These things have won instant opposition from the pro-aborts almost across the board, apparently because they would lower the abortion rate (but that's speculation on my part, and perhaps uncharitable). And those are _simple_.

"You've entirely failed to argue that, you know. It's not that you haven't _shown_ it; you haven't even argued it."

What has been demonstrated quite clearly by this whole discussion on penalties is that just about everyone is uncomfortable with following through on the logic of these two propositions:

" (A) human life shall be deemed to exist from conception, without regard to race, sex, age, health, defect, or condition of dependency; and

(B) the term `person' shall include all human life as defined in subparagraph (A); and

(2) the Congress recognizes that each State has the authority to protect lives of unborn children residing in the jurisdiction of that State."

It should be obvious that it is not going to be politically possible to punish women as murderers and abscent that we are not going to punish doctors as murders. If I am correct in my (not original) assertion that abortion laws are class based and are designed to control some women while allowing the "right sort" of women to still have access to abortion, then it follows that all achievable abortion laws will accomplish is to create an illegal abortion market in this country and enrich abortion providers in other lands.

That seems, to me at least, a pretty good argument for checking ones premises and trying another approach.

"It should be obvious that it is not going to be politically possible to punish women as murderers"

Well, you seem to believe that all murderers get at least life in prison. So yes, if you're THAT hardline then you're right, you're going to get a lot of opposition against treating women who have abortion as murderers.

Of course, I should add that you're going to get a lot of opposition against treating all murderers that harshly. I wouldn't have expected such extremism from you -- of course, I know that you're just faking it.

"and absent that we are not going to punish [abortion] doctors as murders."

Of course, they're (in general) murderers with different circumstances. Anyone except the hardest of hardliners recognizes that there are different types of murders.

"If I am correct in my (not original) assertion that abortion laws are class based"

VERY not original. Not having anything specific to do with abortion, either. It works for the rest of the murder laws, as well as all the other laws. Who was it who said, "The law, in its majestic equality, forbids both the rich and the poor from sleeping under bridges."

Really, we understand that you don't want this law. But this argument argues for too much -- it argues against ALL laws.

Check your premises, please. Try another approach.

Hi William, I believe the average sentence for murder and manslaughter is around 10 or 12 years. This doesn't include those sentenced to life with the possibility of parole who serve longer terms on average and includes those sentenced to voluntary manslaughter who serve less and thus bring the average down. We can therefore assume that second degree murderers, on average, serve longer than 10 or 12 years.

if you want to make Dr. Paul's "Sanctity of Life Act" law then it would seem to me that the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments would preclude defining the deliberate taking of the life of any unborn "person" differently that that of any born person.

Based on any reasonable reading of California law that would leave us with first and second degree murder as our options. If you read the law differently please point it out. It simply isn't acceptable to avoid the question by holding to the "Anyone except the hardest of hardliners recognizes that there are different types of murders."

Let us know what type; the law is clear as I see it. If I am wrong point out where. For convenience i have posted the relevant statutes, corrected for the passage of the "Sanctity of Life Act" or like legislation.

"187. (a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought."

"188. Such malice may be express or implied. It is express when
there is manifested a deliberate intention unlawfully to take away
the life of a fellow creature. It is implied, when no considerable
provocation appears, or when the circumstances attending the killing
show an abandoned and malignant heart."

"When it is shown that the killing resulted from the intentional
doing of an act with express or implied malice as defined above, no other mental state need be shown to establish the mental state of malice aforethought. Neither an awareness of the obligation to act within the general body of laws regulating society nor acting despite such awareness is included within the definition of malice."

"189. All murder which is perpetrated by means of a destructive device or explosive, a weapon of mass destruction, knowing use of ammunition designed primarily to penetrate metal or armor, poison, lying in wait, torture, or by any other kind of willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing, or which is committed in the perpetration
of, or attempt to perpetrate, arson, rape, carjacking, robbery,
burglary, mayhem, kidnapping, train wrecking, or any act punishable under Section 206, 286, 288, 288a, or 289, or any murder which is perpetrated by means of discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle,
intentionally at another person outside of the vehicle with the
intent to inflict death, is murder of the first degree. All other kinds of murders are of the second degree..."

",,,To prove the killing was "deliberate and premeditated," it shall not be necessary to prove the defendant maturely and meaningfully reflected upon the gravity of his or her act."

"192. Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice. It is of three kinds:
(a) Voluntary--upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion.
(b) Involuntary--in the commission of an unlawful act, not
amounting to felony; or in the commission of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner, or without due caution and circumspection. This subdivision shall not apply to acts committed in the driving of a vehicle."

BTW, this item is in section 7 of the California Constitution:

"(b) A citizen or class of citizens may not be granted privileges
or immunities not granted on the same terms to all citizens.
Privileges or immunities granted by the Legislature may be altered or
revoked."

"I believe the average sentence for murder and manslaughter is around 10 or 12 years."

I'm not sure how much my suggested law would lower that average. I believe it would lower it.

Last I checked, there's no law against new laws changing averages, is there?

And as for "privileges or immunities"... How is this significant? A mother can decide to kill her fetus and suffer no legal consequences now. This probably comports with this law because anyone who becomes pregnant can take advantage of this law, and anyone who's a fetus can be victimized by it. It's entirely fair. With my suggested law change, things shift slightly; mothers still get special treatment, but less special than before. Their unborn children get protected, though.

I understand your opposition; I don't understand why you think this last paragraph is a point against me. Unless, of course, you also think it's a point against the current California abortion law.

Alan’s argument:

A. Pro-Life advocates can’t agree on punishment for abortion (aka they ‘squirm)

B. If they can’t agree or decide on punishment; they don’t understand the implications of their position

C. If they don’t understand the implications of their position; abortion must be allowed.

D. If abortion must be allowed - it is also okay.


After snack and recess; we’ll have nap-time.

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