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« Hitchens's Challenge Solved | Main | Resources to Help Church Leaders Equip Their Members to Defend the Unborn »

September 09, 2008


As a British European, I have to say that I think it's a real shame the way this issue has been politicised in your country. Over here, we leave this kind of thing to the only people who's opinion matters. The mother, the doctor and the family. The idea of this being something that government should intervene in is.. ..tasteless.

Good points.. but... It also reminds me of an article that you wrote some time ago
(The "Famous Violinist" argument) where you discussed the idea that some who support the pro-choice platform actually don't deny that the fetus is an actual life.

Because this argument completely accepts and allows for life beginning at conception, it is challenging. But it draws out issues on a different level in the direction personal responsibility, accountability, and parenthood.

The "Famous Violinist" argument was devised to bolster the concurrent belief that a fetus is a life, but abortion still comes down to personal choice. Of course, it falls flat because it fails to admit that there typically is personal choice involved prior to conception. And it also fails to admit, given that life begins at conception, then so does parenthood. The fetus is in fact a child - a viable family member with same blood and DNA as the parents (not some stranger who hooked himself up to her body and forced her to become his host, as the Famous Violinist agrument presupposes.)

Just some food for thought. So, I wonder, how would we engage someone like Joe Biden on these terms? Just curious.

I agree with Jim - if the unborn is not a life, then the government should not be involved. The key, however, is in the "if". If the unborn is in fact a life, then lack of government intervention would be much more then "tasteless." Arguments can be made one way or the other about when life begins, but the implications of defining life only as that which begins outside of the womb and being wrong about that conclusion should make one lose sleep at night...

Real science proves unborn babies are innocent human beings.

Former abortionist Dr.Bernard Nathanson says that Real-Time Ultrasound, which gives a moving picture of the unborn child in the womb; Electronic Heart Monitoring,which detects fetal heartbeats, Brainwave Monitors,which measure brain activity, Fetoscopy, which allows a physician to actually eyeball the baby, simply astounded him.

Such techniques as Cordocentesis even allow medical diagnosis,treatment and surgery in utero.

"I finally came to the conviction that this was my patient. This was a person! This was purely a change of mind as a result of fantastic science and technology."

Dr.Bernard Nathanson fastened an Ultrasound machine to a woman undergoing an actual abortion, and produced " SILENT SCREAM",a film that justly horrified the nation. It showed the fetus trying desperately to move away from the vacuum, and then its body parts were successively sucked off. The film produced a massive campaign of defamation agaist Dr. Nathanson from liberal-thinkers.

This only made him more determined, so he decided to show an abortion from inside the womb. He attached a camera to a Fetoscope and inserted it during a D&E abortion. The resulting film was "ECLIPSE OF REASON", and so it is.

Abortion is the murder of innocent human beings!

I ran essentially this argument on my blog and the answer that came back was "We permit all kinds of things we think are wrong."

An example given: actions that some think of as child abuse are permitted because not everyone thinks those actions are abuse.

Any thoughts on a proper response?

Chris b.
On the first read, it's tough to get past the patent idiocy of even aligning the two; that is the first sign that the argument will not hold much weight. Although both physical abuse and abortion are morally apprehensible that is where the comparison stops. ALL logical persons would count the act of physical abuse as immoral (although there is a discrepancy as to the varying degrees of abuse which should make the act illegal) and ALL logical persons would count murder immoral. Since there are no varying degrees of murder—the victim dies every time—the act itself would be counted illegal by ALL logical persons. There can be no debate about how persons disagree as to the varying degrees of murder. So the blogger has no real argument does he? Besides, no one really “permits all kinds of things we think are wrong” we fight it by protesting and voting for politicians who share our views. Now, when it comes to the “life” of a fetus, the question to be asked and the only question that matters is “is the fetus ALIVE?” If it is alive then terminating its life is murder and if it is not alive then there is nothing wrong with terminating it. I know, I know… “is the fetus alive?” is what we’ve all been disagreeing about but really that is what it all comes back to. Question the blogger about this issue and have healthy debate and tell him to keep non-essentials out of it. They love to cloud the issue since there is no other way to win!

Suppose that Biden truly does believe that abortion involves the killing of the innocent, and that he recognizes that he believes this purely on the basis of the teachings of the Catholic Church. On the surface, Biden's belief would seemingly commit him to supporting anti-abortion laws—after all, Biden presumably thinks that in general the killing of the innocent should be banned. However, if Biden also has a few other seemingly reasonable beliefs, then he might in good faith refuse to promote anti-abortion laws. Here, then, are the seemingly reasonable beliefs that Biden might also hold:

(1) that some of my beliefs are such that I cannot reasonably demand that all citizens in a pluralistic society accept them as capable of providing grounds that justify coercive legislation

(2) that among the beliefs described in (1) are the beliefs which I accept purely on the authority of the Catholic Church

(3) that I should promote a coercive law only if I can reasonably demand that all citizens accept the law as justified

Since we initially supposed that Biden’s belief regarding the evil of abortion is something he recognizes himself to accept purely on the authority of the Catholic Church, (2) and (3) imply that anti-abortion laws are laws which Biden may think he shouldn't endorse. The upshot is that Biden may have coherent (even perhaps reasonable) grounds for refusing to endorse anti-abortion laws despite believing that abortion involves the killing of the innocent.


Thanks for the response to my question. In a lot of my conversations about the upcoming election the abortion issue has been coming up a lot.

"Religiously based view" that life starts at conception, indeed! I though it was a fact of biology, not religion that life starts at conception.

Funny how the left wants to enact policy using a faith-based definition of what constitutes a Human life, instead of basing their decision on the science of the matter!

The next time I speak with someone who is "personally opposed" but neutral or pro-choice in policy, I'd like to ask the following question:

Do you think that aborted babies will enjoy the beatific vision? If they don't; why not?? If they do, how can you possibly endorse their slaughter???

Hi Jim,

I noticed that in your country you have laws against murder and that your government intervenes to enforce these upon your populace. As a Martian, I have to say that I think it's a real shame the way this issue has been politicised in your country. Over here, we leave this kind of thing to the only people who's opinion matters. The murderer and the families involved. The idea of this being something that government should intervene in is.. ..tasteless.

Aaron from Mars

Carmine N:

I respectfully think you miss the point in regard to Biden's position here. It appears that his beliefs on abortion are based partly (if not fully) on his religion. However, I think it is immaterial to this discussion as a whole as to whether his beliefs are based on religious reasons or something else. No matter where his beliefs come from, if he believes that life begins at conception and, therefore, abortion is the taking of innocent life, how can he ignore his beliefs or put aside his convictions and not stand up against it? (I will leave that for others to debate). As Greg pointed out, you either believe something to be true or not. There is no in between. I also think you reinforce the paradox of his position with the last sentence in your 12:24 PM post. I would ask: How could he reasonably or coherently argue to allow something that he truly and fully believes would "involve the killing of the innocent"? Just as words matter, so too do beliefs. Thanks!!

Garry: Thanks for your comment about the scientific evidence. That was great.

I've notice that no one has engaged with my comment at all. I'm not sure whether it is because I didn't make my point well or for some other reason.

I agree that abortion is murder and is not equivalent to the violinist example given in Gregory Koukl's article, but why not engage with the article?
I think there are reasons why it is an important argument to engage -- especially the false belief that the woman who is pregnant is the only moral agent and that decision is primarily about what she chooses to do with her own body, almost at the level of a discussion on property rights. While not as important as the murder issue, I think we need to engage it.
Does anyone else have any thoughts?

Aaron, that was near perfection! ;)

Brad B

Senator is very close to the correct position on abortion. Not quite there but very close.

He's right that life (and personhood) begin at conception. He's also right that this does NOT imply that abortion should be banned.

He doesn't quite go far enough, to the true answer. Which is: abortion is homicide but abortion on demand is JUSTIFIABLE homicide.

This is painful for everyone to admit. Painful for PCs to admit "homicide" and painful for RTLs to admit "justifiable". But it is the right answer.

"We permit all kinds of things we think are wrong."

First, if something is wrong is permitted, it is not because we believe that people have a right to the wrong, for that would be absurd. The wrong is permitted because the common good is best protected by permitting it. For example, treating people rudely is wrong. But we don't criminalize rudeness, since we believe that the social structures that arise from human interaction are more efficient means to limit rudeness. So, we permit rudeness, but not because we think people have a right to be rude. Rather, we believe that the government has a duty not to interfere because of the good provided by social institutions and practices that make rudeness less likely.

Second, the claim is at too high a level of abstraction to help us. One must look at the particular wrong and its severity. So, if abortion is truly the killing of an innocent human being, and if the protection of an essential human right is necessary for the common good, then the community has an obligation to protect its most innocent and vulnerable members.

I hope that helps.


> abortion is homicide but abortion
> on demand is JUSTIFIABLE homicide.

Beg the Question much?

SoMG -- You are correct on the first part (since abortion is, by definition, "homicide"), but you haven't made any justification for calling an abortion "justified" (which is what Mike is alluding to).

Biden also makes a similar mistake on the ESCR issue. Apparently, he thinks Palin isn't *really* concerned about handicapped people, because she isn't in favor of ESCR. My question for the senator: "do the ends *always* justify the means?"

I seriously can't comprehend why I am treated as invisible. Good bye.

Deb, I think it's because you were bringing up a new topic (i.e., the Violinist Argument), and people wanted to discuss the post more directly and stick to the subject of Biden's comments. I'm sure it's nothing personal.

As a Californian, American. I find your statement very telling Jim. How quickly one side steps taking a stand based on moral absolutes.
The issue isn't political, but moral. The duty of our goverments here, local, state and national, is to protect life. The very reason for government, is because individuals tend to see their circumstances within the narrow confines of the immediate circumstance. It is being played out in the political arena though.
The medical evidence (DNA) is overwhelming. To follow the point Greg made, the next logical step for the pro-abortion advocates, is to implement some sort of means testing. Peter Singer thinks parents should be able to
"abort" their children up to 30 days after birth. I mean why not. If the "Biden principal" is true, all we have to do is call it a 'modified choice.' We can believe that it's wrong to 'choose' our two week old child out of their life, but not enforce our will on others.
I still feel that God is giving this nation a clear choice, maybe last chance. We have the 'child as punishment' view of Obama, and Biden's intellectual 'modified choice' statement. Opposing it are Mccain's voting record and Palin's plain simple Christian faith. Both sides are right out in the open now. The two postions couldn't be more clearly opposite.
In Ezekiel 14 & 16 God talks about when a nation sins against Him. We'll see I guess.


Are you referring to the present legal status of abortion? We obviously recognize that the law allows abortion on demand, so it fits the technical legal designation of "justifiable homicide" - i.e. the legal killing of another person. Certainly you are aware that this is the start of the problem, not the solution.

Just because abortion is permissible under the law does not make it okay! Abortion laws as they now stand violate everything we know about biology, ethics, justice, governmental powers and duties, and first and foremost the intrinsic, self-evident value of human life. Calling it "justifiable homicide" only restates that it is legal to kill unborn babies. We know this, SoMG. The point is that this law is unconscionably wrong. Abortion is not justifiable; it is murder. Government's primary purpose for existing is to defend its citizens' inalienable rights to life and liberty. Government (ours and England's) fails in its primary function when it sanctions the murder of its most helpless subjects. This is an abhorrent, unconscionable evil that must be stopped immediately.

A reply to Deedub (2:31, Sept. 9th):

What I am suggesting is that Biden need _not_ be interpreted as “ignor[ing] his beliefs or put[ting] aside his convictions." I agree that that would otherwise imply a lack of integrity of some sort on Biden's part. One of my points, abstractly put, is that a person may sincerely hold a belief and yet, because of additional beliefs, he may in good faith refuse to act on the first belief in the way he should be expected to act if not for those additional beliefs. This point is actually very simply and is easy to illustrate: suppose I believe that I am dying of thirst (this will be the belief that others question). You expect me to drink what to all appearance is a tall glass of water that is right in front of me. Moreover, my failure to take the drink might make you doubt my belief—until you are informed that I am convinced (and let’s suppose also that I have good grounds for being convinced) that the glass in front of me is actually full of paint thinner.

I admit that to make sense of Biden’s position on abortion is a bit more involved. However, in my earlier post I try to sketch one possible explanation. There I directly answer the last question of your post, and in doing so I show that Greg Koukl has too hastily accused Biden of a blunder (at least this time).


Amy, thank you very much for taking the time to reply!

However, I would disagree that somehow Greg's "violinist" article and Biden's comments are not related.

In fact, Greg's violinist argument is exactly about the issues he raises in his comments on Biden about how someone can believe that life begins at conception, yet can justify killing the child. Their logic (faulty as it may be) is similar to what Carmine just wrote.


What is the violinist argument? Would you explain it for us?

Sage: I was referring to the article Greg Koukl previously wrote:

Here is part of the introduction:
"Not only was the argument compelling, but Thompson made a stunning concession when she acknowledged the full personhood of the unborn. Having conceded what pro-lifers were trying to prove, she short-circuited their argument from the outset.
My first impulse was to throw in the towel. The argument couldn't be answered, I thought. This is often the case with carefully worded philosophical treatments. At first glance they appear compelling." - Greg Koukl

Sage S, no I am not just saying abortion on demand is legal. Of course I know that you already know that. I'm saying it is JUSTIFIABLE. Not only that it is legal but also that it SHOULD BE legal.

What justifies abortion on demand, even though it is homicide? Well first of all I claim the right to kill anything and anyone, person or no, innocent or no, who is located inside my body, including unborn persons and (hypothetically) already-borns who enter. This right is part of the meaning of the word “my” in the phrase “my body” and I claim it for all women and (hypothetically) for all men.

Sometimes RTLs argue that women who have sex make an intrinsic or “naturally implied” commitment to the fetuses they conceve. I agree that they do that but not all commitments are or should be enforced by government (eg suppose I promise to donate an organ and then change my mind) and in any case the only commitment they make INTRINSICALLY by having sex is: if you form in my uterus, you get to use it for as long as it takes me to discover the pregnancy and have it terminated; longer than that only if I so choose. You all may not like or approve of this limited commitment, and it’s fortunate for everyone that sometimes women choose to make greater ones and I won’t argue with you if you say that ALL women OUGHT to choose greater ones every time they have sex, but it’s all the commitment the sex act implies by itself in real life. Allowing you a short life inside my body does NOT obligate me to allow you a longer one there any more than giving blood would obligate me to also give the next donation the (innocent) patient might need.

The right to kill persons based on location inside my body isn’t all. I also claim the right to withhold the contents of my bloodstream including, but not only, the oxygen I breathe, the water I drink, and the nutrients I eat and digest, from unborn persons, just as I am entitled to withhold them from (innocent) already-born persons (including my children), even at the cost of their lives and even for reasons of mere convenience.

Still not done. I claim the right to avoid major medical/surgical trauma even at the cost of an unborn person’s life, just as I am entitled to avoid it at the cost of an innocent already-born person’s life.

(Apropos of which, the literal meaning of the word “innocent” is “not harmful”, from the same root as “noxious” and “nausea”, and in this sense unborns are most definitely not innocent. They cause at least trillions of dollars worth of harm every year.)

Any one of these rights, which are collectively called “body-ownership”, would justify abortion on demand even though it is homicide, and I claim all three.

“Wenn Tugend und Gerechtigkeit
Der großen Pfad mit Ruhm bestreut,
Dann ist die Erd ein Himmelsreich,
Und Sterbliche den Göttern gleich!”

"Well first of all I claim the right to kill anything and anyone, person or no, innocent or no, who is located inside my body, including unborn persons and (hypothetically) already-borns who enter. This right is part of the meaning of the word 'my' in the phrase 'my body' and I claim it for all women and (hypothetically) for all men."

I had to read this twice to ensure I got it right. So, if someone sticks their finger in your ear, you can kill them. In what mixed-up world does the location of a being change who owns it and/or its basic nature? A baby in a mother's womb isn't part of the mother's body, unless mom has two blood types, two genetic codes, four arms, four legs, (potentially) two different sexes, etc. This is foolishness.

"Allowing you a short life inside my body does NOT obligate me to allow you a longer one there."

Would that argument hold if I used it to justify sitting my one-year-old in a dumpster and abandoned him? "Hey, officer, I took care of the thing for a year, and I'm just tired of changing diapers, and I don't have any *obligation* to allow it to live here any longer."

Your other arguments fall prey to the same flaw. Why should I be obligated to sacrifice the food in my home for that screaming thing? Why should I be obligated to cause financial trauma to our household on its behalf?

I think your view is most clearly summarized by your portrayal of an unborn child as a disease. Ask the next pregnant (and unselfish) woman you see: "how's the disease?"


So if your ownership of your body frees you to kill any human person located inside your womb, then who owns the baby's body? Certainly not you - for that would violate its inherent, absolute "body-ownership." Doesn't the baby own its own body? If so, how could your body-ownership possibly trump another person's body-ownership?

Your arbitrary self-preference amounts to the most extreme self-exaltation - that you would call your own life so far superior to other people's, that they should die rather than inconvenience you. This sounds fervently psychotic to me...


Which is of greater moral value - the inconvenience of sharing your body's nutrients with someone else, or the value of a human life?

(What was the German passage you quoted - Nietzsche?)

What do you intend to do with the women who have abortions? Execute them for murder? Imprison them for life? What do you do with the women who abort their children?

You see, if you REALLY mean what you say, then the mother is guilty of murder, and currently, we either imprison them for life, or we exdcute them. Otherwise, you are just talking loud and saying nothing.

The bottom line is simple: currently, abortion is legal. Women have the ability to choose, one way or the other. If you wish to change that, then you have to change all aspects, including teh punitive aspects. I have yet to hear any of you make the argument that women who abort their children should be either executed or sentenced to life imprisonment.

Regarding the relationship between slavery and abortion: I wish you all would quite trying to tie the two together. For over two hundred years, white people took advantage of the fact that they could treat blacks as chattel and make money off of their labor. After the end of slavery, through such practices as sharecropping and the various "Black Code" laws, whites continued to benefit off of the labor of blacks.

It took blacks finally getting tired of this abuse in the 1960s before whites begrudgingly gave up most of the legal aspects of white priviledge. Most of the social aspects remain to this day.

I am opposed to abortion, but until this nation makes amends for the theft of our labor for over 200 years, the oppresssion of black men, women, and children until the 1960s, and the systematic denigrating of black communities to the present, do not borrow our pain for your pet issue. When white Christians really get tired of abortions, then they will fight against it the same way that Nat Turner fought against slavery. Until then, you are talking loud and saying nothing.

SoMg, the issue is not the woman's intended commitment. She is responsible for the child's neediness. Just as she would have to breastfeed her child if that were the only possibility, she must endure the pregnancy.
If she is not responsible for the child's need to be in the body (Boonin-Silverstein), the father is not responsible for the child's financial needs.
Saying that the baby is no worse off being aborted than never conceived is irrelevant as well. Remember, the same reasoning is applicable to the father.
One induces the creation of needs AND rights when one induces life creation.

After reading these comments to Greg Koukl's blog entry, it is obvious that some of the respondents have completely missed his point. Although he is on record as being pro-life, his point seems to me to be that Senator Biden has made some statements that reveal either ignorance or duplicity on the issue of abortion. Politicians whose chief political goal is to remain in office, particularly during campaigns, are noted for their double-talk. Greg's point is not that Biden is an evil pro-choice advocate, but that his statements on this particular issue do not endure critical thinking. I've been listening to Greg and reading his materiel for ten years and can tell you that when conservatives make similar blunders, he is just as quick to criticize them. If you want change in government, I suggest you vote for someone who represents his views with a bit more candor than Joe Biden. It's not just that he is pro-choice (although that should be a factor), but that his disingenuousness make him a poor choice as our VP.

I have to ask a question: if you are suggesting that abortion is wrong and should be banned, what about stopping the action that caused the abortion in the first place? We all know that premarital sex account for the majority of abortion in the first place. So by using the line of logic posted here:

"I don't agree with premarital sex for me, but I can't stop someone else from having premarital sex themselves."

Does that logic make sense? Can't we ban premarital sex, which would include all sex outside of marriage, rapes, incest, etc? If we can't, why not?

To stop abortions, we should just ban premarital sex.

>>if you are suggesting that abortion is wrong and should be banned, what about stopping the action that caused the abortion in the first place?... To stop abortions, we should just ban premarital sex.

Here's the key to understanding the difference between banning abortion and banning premarital sex: We do not want to ban abortion merely because it's wrong, we want to ban it because it violates rights granted by the Constitution because it kills innocent human beings.

In other words, we're not in the business of banning everything that is wrong. However, it is a core duty of government to protect the lives of its citizens (particularly those who can't protect themselves); therefore it's within the government's rightful authority to ban abortion.

So if the unborn are citizens, why don't they get social security numbers upon conception? Why do their parents have to wait until birth to write them off on their taxes?

In accordance with religious belief, especially Christianity, noone is born "innocent". We are all born with sin, are we not? So your argument has some flaws within it.

If the government is to protect the lives of its citizens, then shouldn't premarital sex be banned because it could potentially be protecting the lives of women who may experience unhealthy and even fatal effects of abortion? Shouldn't premarital sex be banned because you would also be protecting many people from contracting STDs (since we all know that not everyone uses a condom)?

Shouldn't the government ban something that is wrong if the action can lead to citizens experiencing pain or even death? Isn't that what human rights protection is all about, protecting citizens from harm as outlined by the constitution?

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