Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Abortion Discussion, Part III, Including the "Rape Exception" (with Sogn Mill-Scout)

My previous comments will be in red, Sogn's in blue, and my current replies in black.

* * * * *

Frankly I've always been deaf and blind to the fixation on 'closure' vis-a-vis people's remains, but it seems to be a typical human response to death. One limitation of the analogy, though, is that, presumably, a necessary condition of personhood is being alive. That is, after all, why we speak of a person's REMAINS, as opposed to the inanimate corpse or ashes or DNA traces being the actual person.

But my analogy was specifically directed to the idea that this identifies a particular person. We can know for sure that these remains are of this person, based on DNA. Therefore, it is nonsensical to deny the same identification to the youn fetus, who possesses exactly the same identifiers in his or her DNA.

Can you give me a succinct definition of 'person'?

That which is offspring of another person. This occurs at conception, and any other starting point is arbitrary; therefore not compelling. Conception is the point where I possess everything to make me unfold to that being (grown person) I am now. Development means development of the same entity.

So human development can only go back to the moment of conception, because there is no other logical point at which we can stop. Conception is that point at which everything we are (including our soul, if we add theology to the mix) began.

I find myself looking at it in very different ways depending on the context. On one hand it seems true to say "I came into existence when my parents conceived me 47.6 years ago." OTOH, it seems equally true to say "I am not the same person as the Sogn Mill-Scout of 40 years ago when I was a child in second grade."

You are different insofar as a second-grader differs from a 46-year-old man. But you are the same person. If the second-grader was not you, then who was he? He can't be someone else.

If I were to time-travel backward 40 years and meet the 7-year-old Sogn, it would seem ridiculous for an observer to say "this middle-aged man and this child are one and the same person." Or would you disagree with that?

Yes. Identity and "sameness" can be distinguished. "Person" by definition incorporates organic development. Absolute sameness (if we want to get very philosophical) changes every millisecond. That doesn't mean I am someone different from the person who began typing this very sentence. That was me; but just a younger me with some different cells than I have now (some died and some began). I have different air cells in me than I did a minute ago. Etc. So I am different in those senses, but I am still "me."

Perhaps this is where the supernatural soul comes into play again. Of course this is getting quite metaphysical and has nothing in particular to do with abortion, but it's fascinating nonetheless.

Your soul is absolutely individual to you. Since it is a spirit entity, it has an element of unchangeability that a body does not have. A soul is eternal, and it began at the moment of conception, so that it is the theological equivalent of a ray in geometry (I think I have that right; haven't done geometry in 30 years). It begins but then goes on forever.

Oh, you mentioned the "problem of overpopulation." What problem? That is merely another liberal myth, which has been exploded.

I don't know what's liberal about the concept,

The concept is neutral and a fact to be ascertained or discarded. I meant that liberals promulgate this myth.

but anyway, this claim is news to me. Of course not all parts of the earth are overpopulated - Antarctica isn't crowded yet! - but some regions surely are. Or would you say that India and China have healthy population densities?

I'm sure they are a bit crowded, but that is not the same as "overpopulation" as this tremendous risk to the earth. Dr. Jacqueline Kasun, is, I believe, the leading critic of this notion. See her article, "Overpopulation?"

I tend to identify the soul as the essence of the self, and if there is not yet anything remotely resembling a self (as in the case of a zygote), it's hard for me to grasp the concept of the soul as applied to such a being. Simply defining it as a non-material entity tells me nothing as it's a purely negative concept.

It's not a purely negative concept if one starts from the assumption of philosophical dualism: both matter and spirit exist. They are both "positive"; just different. It is only when you adopt materialism that "spirit" becomes a negative, because it is seen as the "opposite" of the matter. You really need to read my paper about dualism and consciousness. It's simply a collection of some of the best thought on the matter. You'll like it. Plenty of food for thought:

A Philosophy of Mind, Consciousness, and the Soul Consistent With Christianity (+ Part Two)

I have not yet carefully examined the doctrine of Immaculate Conception, and I don't pretend to understand it. Did Mary live a sinless life as Jesus did?

Yes. But it was possible for her to sin. She simply chose not to (as Adam and Eve could have). And she had to be freed from original sin to get her back to a place Adam and Eve were before the Fall. God, on the other hand, cannot sin, by nature.

I think it's better that so many people are uneasily living with a moral contradiction. I guess that's because I see that as a more hopeful or promising situation since there's already an active state of cognitive dissonance which could be exploited, whether Socratically or otherwise, to move people over to a consistent pro-life position.

I was speaking in terms of "to whom much is given, much is required." If these people know that what they are doing may very well be radically wrong, then they are more at fault and more wrong than those who are purely ignorant. So in that sense they are worse, but in another (the one you are highlighting), there may be more hope (but not necessarily) that they will change. The ignorant people, on the other hand, may very well change when they get the proper information (as I did, almost immediately).

Whereas the hard-core abortionists, like those extremist feminists we were just mentioning, have so hardened their hearts for the sake of consistency that they are much less likely to receive the truth.

This is a problem of the will, and rebellion.

Cognitive dissonance is one of Truth's (or God's) best opportunities, as I see it. Look at me in my recent turnabout. And I was converted from a carnivorous lifestyle to panzoism due to the same Chinese water torture process playing relentlessly on my acute cognitive dissonance toward animals. After all, which do you think is the more Satanic attitude? Look at the Lewis quote on your blog, where Lewis (courtesy of Milton, I guess) envisions Satan saying "Evil be thou my good." Once you manage to fully convince yourself that bad is really good you're truly perched precariously on the precipice of hell, wouldn't you say?

Yes. Our will and spiritual development will determine how we respond to the cognitive dissonance, which is the key here. If you and I had had our dialogue ten years ago (and you read Kreeft's book, talked with your wife, and whatever else you did), it is highly unlikely that you would have changed your mind, then, because you were in a different place (even an atheist, if I have the chronology right).

I did not hold my androgynist opinions "like a sheep, in ignorance." On the contrary, I was heavily invested in defending and reinforcing them, so it's all the more remarkable that they have since been undermined.

Yes. When I believed in so-called "pro-choice," and sexual and political liberalism, and feminism, and all the rest, I hadn't thought much about it on my own. I was only being a good little brainwashed clone, and product of the media, entertainment world, and the public schools and the big college that I went to (with a major in sociology and minor in psychology: two highly-secularized fields, like most today).

Isn't it an intrinsically evil act to kill babies, children, and defenseless women? You certainly claim that killing babies is intrinsically evil. Is it so only in the last few centuries, or perhaps only since Christ? But, no, I believe you've argued, at least in the context of panzoism, that intrinsically evil acts can't change over time. Hmmm. I think you can see where this is going. In certain ancient stories preserved in the early historical books of the Hebrew scriptures, God is clearly depicted as commanding His people, the Israelite army, to absolutely exterminate entire tribes or nations, explicitly including the women and children.

Numbers 31:13-18 (following the Israelite army's divinely ordained slaughter of the Midianite men)

[13] Moses, Eleazar the priest and all the leaders of the community went to meet them outside the camp. [14] Moses was angry with the officers of the army-the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds-who returned from the battle. [15] "Have you allowed all the women to live?" he asked them. [16] "They were the ones who followed Balaam's advice and were the means of turning the Israelites away from the LORD in what happened at Peor, so that a plague struck the LORD's people. [17] Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, [18] but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

Gruesome stuff! Was this slaughter not intrinsically evil?

As I said in my previous reply, this was all by God's command, and God has the prerogative to judge as He deems fit. No one can deny this if they accept a biblical worldview, or even accept a non-biblical theism where God is Creator. God could kill us all at this moment and it would be perfectly justified, because we have all rebelled against Him and failed to live up to His commands. But God is also loving, so He has mercy on us.

In the situations above, it was a specific historical circumstance. He was preserving His people, and He decided to judge other nations which had already become wicked. He judged Israel later, when they became wicked (using the Babylonians and Assyrians). Murder is intrinsically evil, but not all killing is murder, and God's sovereign judgment is not murder. He gave us life in the first place, and He can take it away.

1 Samuel 15:1-3

[1] Samuel said to Saul, "I am the one the LORD sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the LORD . [2] This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. [3] Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, CHILDREN AND INFANTS, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.'"

Perhaps abortionists are under the impression that God has commanded them to slaughter children in the womb. I'm not being frivolous, I'm just trying to illustrate why I view the bible differently than you and why, in particular, I find the doctrine of inerrancy preposterous. I'm also helping my case by citing your own insistence that intrinsically evil acts (presumably including killing infants) are such absolutely, for all time, and are not situationally relative.

I have answered, quite reasonably and plausibly, I think, given a prior commitment to theism and biblical revelation. In other words, this is no grounds for the charge of internal inconsistency. You simply haven't thought your position through properly.

The [raped] woman has unwillingly and through violence been invaded by an unwanted being who will force various degrees of serious change in her life, severely for at least nine months, and to a great degree indefinitely thereafter. The woman has a prima facie right to pursue her own life plans and to maintain control over her body. Another being cannot supersede that right unless she gives (at least tacit) consent by engaging in voluntary sexual intercourse. That prerequisite is emphatically not met by rape impregnation.

This is where human mercy breaks in upon strict standards of "fairness" or "justice." One has compassion on the small human being who didn't choose to come into existence as a result of the horror and violence of rape, either, and therefore, shouldn't be punished by torture and death simply due to unfortunate origin. I gave several analogies which defeated this scenario.

There is an irreconcilable conflict of interest here and the rape victim cannot be obligated to surrender control over her body

The child is not her body. You still talk the rhetoric of pro-abortion.

if she gave no form of consent to that sexual intercourse which caused the conception. She therefore has the right, partially analogous to self-defense, to reject the innocent incipient child within her, even though that child has an inalienable right to life. It does not have the inalienable right to possession of the mother for nine months or more. This is a tragic conflict of rights, to be sure, and I say again that I deem it laudably heroic or saintly if such a woman can overcome the violence done to her by accepting the child into her life. I cannot see, however, that such a course of action is morally obligatory, much less something to be forced upon the woman by legal coercion.

Because the first duty of law (and government, acc. to Jefferson) is to protect life. There are lots of terrible situations in life, but as Christians, we believe God's grace is sufficient to guide us through them and enable us to persevere. Christian ethics require heroism at times; no doubt about it. It's a very high standard. Murder of an innocent child does not cease to be so just because we are in a difficult bind and fell victim to a tragic, horrendous crime. We pay the consequence if we choose that course. Now we have committed a more terrible act than the rapist who victimized us: he raped, but we committed murder (and of our own child -- which remains true even if the father is a rapist).

Furthermore, on pragmatic grounds alone, from the point of view of outlawing and eliminating the vast majority of abortions, I think it would be extremely foolish for pro-lifers to hold out for an absolute ban if they could much more easily pass anti-abortion legislation by allowing an exemption for rape victims.

Yes, but we're far away from that, sadly. The pro-aborts (including Kerry) had to even protest about the bill where it is a further crime to kill a pregnant woman. God fobid we acknowledge the child as a human being or a person! That would never do (even though every pregnant woman knows this full well).

Killing a preborn rapist's child to restore the woman's control over her body is not murder.

It certainly is.

No contraceptive method is 100% effective, and any modestly informed sexually active person knows that. One must bear the responsibility of one's accidents when one knows (or ought to know) the risks involved. The act of violence that is rape is no accident and thus no responsibility accrues to the impregnated victim.

You acknowledge that this really is the right thing to do. You don't want to make it compulsory because it is difficult.

"Difficult" strikes me as a trivializing word.

The preceding strikes me as an unnecessary, judgmental sentence.

But leaving that word choice aside, your statement is incorrect. Saying that something is morally admirable and heroic is not tantamount to saying it's obligatory. It would, for instance, be very saintly and heroic for me to devote all my spare time to, say, volunteer work in a homeless shelter, or rescuing abused animals and/or children. It is not, however, morally obligatory for me to do that. We are not all called or obliged to be Mother Theresa. What I'm talking about is the common distinction between duty and that which is "above and beyond the call of duty." I don't believe we can rightfully mandate the latter by law.

You miss the distinction between not doing some heroic thing and doing a sinful thing. One can always say they could be more saintly than they are. That applies even to Mother Teresa, and everyone who ever lived, save Jesus and Mary. But the ethical difference between that and deliberately murdering an innocent preborn child is immense. Now you have committed an indefensible, immoral act.

The other reason I don't want to make it compulsory for impregnated rape victims to give birth is the pragmatic reason I mentioned above. From what I've seen, polls consistently show much stronger support for outlawing abortion if a rape exemption is included; support drops off precipitously when that exception is omitted. Don't you want to eliminate, say, 99% of abortions even if that leaves 1% legal? Or are you such a purist that you'd rather continue the status quo until you can get an absolute ban in effect?

No, I would support that, and then work for total pro-life consistency. Everyone who voted for both Bushes or Dole is doing this because that was their position. The merciful person will save the 99 drowning folks if they can, rather than sit and say they won't lift a finger unless all 100 can be saved. That's why I was in rescues. We were out to save this child about to be murdered in this clinic, today.

Sometimes morality requires heroism. If my wife gets paralyzed tomorrow and I have to take care of her as an invalid the rest of my life, that will require heroism and great sacrifice on my part, but I would be obligated to do it. That's how life is sometimes. There is a purpose to everything in God's Providence, even the bad stuff.

See, that's the very difference I'm talking about. You took a vow to your wife that explicitly invoked the risk of such horrible circumstances as you mentioned ("for better or worse, in sickness and in health"), whereas the rape victim in no way consented to taking on the obligation of a new life. Your care for your paralyzed wife would not be above and beyond the call of duty; it would be precisely your duty, given your marriage vow.

I grant the difference you note, but being the mother of a child completely dependent on you is another such obligation, even though you didn't consent to the conception. For that matter, every unplanned pregnancy in a marriage is of a similar nature. You could be doing everything right to avoid pregnancy (for good or bad reasons) yet here it is. Do you now have the right to kill the child because you didn't wish it to be? No. The rape situation is of the same kind, despite the fact of the trauma of the rape. The child is here now. One can either choose to nurture the child or kill him or her.

As for caring for a very sick spouse; sure that is part of the vow, but today, people are more and more willing to take any escape route from situations that are "inconvenient" to them. And so we have the assisted suicide movement. You yourself voted for euthanasia (and now regret it). Rather than care for a person in that situation, many would opt to kill them off. People are removing feeding tubes, even when they aren't caring for a sick person (the hospital is). My family went through this, as my brother died of leukemia. We didn't stop feeding tubes. But when he started failing in his kidneys and so forth, we didn't accept extraordinary measures to prolong an already miserable life. That is a big ethical difference, and is an entirely Catholic and traditional Protestant distinction.

As in the rape situation, it is an involuntary, difficult situation. Only one involves a vow to care "for better or worse, in sickness and in health," yes, but still, people don't reasonably expect to be in the situation of caring for an invalid, and it calls for heroic sanctity, whether one made a vow or not. The mentality today is "kill the person who makes life difficult, or who has a difficult life." But the Christian position is: "every life is infinitely valuable and made in the image of God."

I'm not saying the woman owns the child, nor that the child is not a distinct individual person. I'm saying the woman has not consented to giving that person possession of her womb, so she should not be forced by law to do so.

Then I eagerly await your response to my "child who turns up at the North Pole" analogy.

This is ingenious, and well worth pondering, but it fails to succeed by Catholic ethics and principles of moral theology. First of all, this is a rather extraordinary hypothetical. It's very surreal nature makes it less powerful of an argument because it is implausible to use a situation that would virtually never occur as an analogy for a situation that happens thousands of times a year (pregnancy by rape).

I don't see the improbability of a thought experiment as in any way relevant to the moral principle(s) it illuminates. You'll need to argue further for that claim. Furthermore, if you're right about this, then it militates equally against the very thought experiment you press upon me below (the arctic orphan).

I only said that relative rarity makes an argument less plausible, not invalid. These thought experiments are more effective if they have some chance of actually occurring in real life. After all, the analogy is to conception by rape, which happens thousands of times a year. How often do we wake up connected to a famous violinist using our kidneys against our will?

As for my analogy, that was intended as a defeater to yours (you have forgotten the overall context). In other words, my reasoning was, "I am not all that impressed by fantastic analogies which would hardly ever occur, but SINCE you bring one up, I will provide one which presses upon YOUR position and makes YOU squirm, and you will have to reply to the difficult dilemma it poses, as it is equally analogous to the rape situation as your example is." That was my reasoning.

Now this is true, but runs afoul of the nature of rape. Given the traumatic nature of the violation it may be psychologically impossible for some rape victims to accept the fact that the life within her is her child.

Then it is our duty to point this fact out to her, as compassionately as we can, and at the right time, painful as it might be.

You are proposing that we coerce rape victims, by law, into adopting a certain attitude toward the being to whose existence and dependency they did not only not consent, but fiercely and rightfully resisted when they were raped.

A consistent pro-life ethic of right to life of persons (defined as beginning at conception) would require this, yes. No one ever denied that every moral law and standard will create some very difficult situations. Good movies are filled with those. But we need to think about these terrible situations rationally, not just emotionally.

Married couples who didn't plan children, but now find that a pregnancy has occurred, are in an ethically similar situation, in terms of involuntariness. The only difference was the act of rape. The woman needs counseling and loving support after that, of course, but I don't see how it necessarily follows (even on an emotional or psychological plane) that she has to hate the child because of how he or she was conceived.

Wouldn't the same reasoning logically lead to hatred towards a born child who came from a terrible father who is now abusing the child and the mother too? That is no grounds to hate the child and kill the child. At least in rape, the crime was relatively short in duration. In child-beating and wide-beating and molestation and ioncest cases, it can go on for years. But do we conclude that the child should be killed? No. Nor should we decide that the child of rape has to be killed.

Let me make a hypothetical scenario of my own (if we're gonna "play philosophy"). Suppose you are living (for some unknown reason I don't have to come up with! Maybe you're a hermit or loner or something) 10 miles from the North Pole in a shack. You have a lifetime supply of food and medical stuff and everything else you need. Now, one day, a two-year-old child shows up out of nowhere. You have no idea how or why this happened -- not a clue. But it did, and the child is now here. And you have no contact with the outside world.

You had no "responsibility" for the child appearing. You weren't having sex. You had nothing to do with it. The child has nothing directly to do with you. Except that now, there she is (we'll make the child female, since I have a two-year-old girl myself :-), and she is in your care. According to your reasoning, you have a perfect right to toss this little girl out in the snow to die (well, okay; no suffering, so you instead can give her a sleeping pill and then suffocate her with a pillow). You have conceded that a conceived child is a person from the beginning. So there is no ethical difference whatsoever. If you can kill a child of rape in abortion, you can kill this little girl, and try to justify it. But who would do such a thing? It doesn't matter if you are "responsible" for her existence or not. She is in your care now.

This is ingenious, but not convincing. I think there's a qualitative difference between having a life violently implanted against your will within your body versus your scenario in which I'm merely being inconvenienced through no act of violence, nor is my body slipping out of my control because of the unexpected presence of this little girl.

One act of violence is not grounds for another one, far worse. As for bodies "slipping out of control," that would be news to my wife, who has had four children. You are being a bit melodramatic. I feel my waistline is slipping out of control. :-) My ears are out of control when my three boys and very loud young girl are all around. Life is filled with such situations. It doesn't make it right to murder an innocent child.

She has a right to life, to be sure, just as the violently conceived child of rape does. But the toddler's right to life conflicts with a much less compelling right on my part than is the case in rape pregnancy. The toddler's right conflicts only with my right, such as it is, not to be inconvenienced, or bothered, or interrupted in my activities. The right to life of the child of rape conflicts with the raped woman's vastly more weighty right to the security, safety, and control of her own body. To compare these two conflicts as if they are equivalent seems absurd to me. It also seems like yet another attempt to trivialize the situation of the rape victim - a disturbingly prominent theme in your absolutist moral scheme.

You forget that my analogy and thought experiment is a defeater to yours about the world famous musician with the kidney problem. That didn't involve violence or rape, and neither did mine. They are exactly analogous, as far as I can see. If you accept the reasoning of the other, whereby you can kill the violinist to preserve your "rights," then you have to accept the position that killing the poor little girl in the arctic is also perfectly acceptable. And this, of course, shows, why the experiment fails in the first place. We can imagine it in a bizarre scenario with a violinist stuck to us. But we can't imagine throwing a toddler out into the cold snow to freeze to death.

And kindly spare me the sanctimonious feminist bleeding-heart liberal, "how much more compassionate we are than you "absolutist" intolerant right-wing Christians" lecture about "trivializing" the plight and suffering of rape victims. I've done no such thing, and nothing I have written suggests it, so I resent this insinuation. It's an extremely difficult and painful ethical situation; no one denies that (no one I have ever met anyway).

I am simply following through what I believe is a consistent ethic of right-to-life. Every ethical viewpoint will entail very difficult situations. If you say I have no compassion for the woman (which is not true at all; I would gladly take such a woman into my home if finances allowed it, and adopt the child, too, if possible), I could easily reply "who are you to talk about 'compassion' when the result of your 'compassionate ethics' results in the death of a child and deprivation of its entire earthly life simply because of who his or her father happened to be? And you are willing to let this happen even while acknowledging that the child has a right to life."

Compassion? Remember, there are two human beings and persons involved here (as you only recently came to believe at age 46). It is hardly "fair" or "compassionate" to hold a position which --when balancing the interests of two human lives -- leads to one being killed and the other avoiding the trauma of pregnancy with the child of rape.

So your compassion for the woman (which I don't deny) leads to the quick solution of death for the second person involved. My compassion for the child (as well as the woman) leads to a difficult situation for nine months, but then the possibility of the woman giving the gift of life to counter the horrible crime which resulted in its commencement. She can feel good about that and not have the extra burden of having killed her child, in addition to the rape.

I say that is by far the better option of the two, and more compassionate even concerning the woman, because I am not advising her to commit a wrongful act that will not alleviate her trauma from rape (nothing can but time and God's grace, and loving concern from friends and family), but only add to her problems, since she will be committing an act even worse than the rapist did. She "defeats" the rapist by refusing to sink to his level or to be dominated by him to the extent of killing her own child. She will bear a life rather than taking one or making another miserable.

Think of the recent Good Samaritan laws passed in some jurisdictions, partly inspired by the death of Princess Diana. In the enactment of these laws it has (reasonably, IMO) been decided that the right of a passerby or neighbor not to be disturbed or inconvenienced or "put out" must be subordinated to the right to life of a victim of crime or accident whom the passerby or neighbor is in a position to easily help. Refusal to render assistance in such situations can and should be construed as depraved indifference (I don't know if that legal term is used in these laws, but that's the practical implication).

The case of the arctic orphan which you submitted is a classic Good Samaritan case. I would be guilty of depraved indifference to the fate of this child if I were to refuse to help her and thereby abandon her to certain death.

Great. You just defeated the reasoning of the philosopher you cited, because you have just accepted the fact (by consistent analogy) that you can't kill the violinist. To do so would be "depraved indifference." Since that analogy was to pregnancy by rape, and mine was analogous to it, you have just exploded your own case (without, obviously, even being aware of it).

You evidently want to assimilate rape victims to this kind of case, but I refuse to reduce a person's right to the security, safety, and control of her own body to a case of mere inconvenience.

Again, where pregnancy is involved, it is not just the woman's body. You have to eliminate this thinking from your brain. It's irrational: logically and ethically. Your only choice is to ditch the "violinist" argument, because I just defeated it decisively by your acknowledgement that you would not kill the little girl. That's what my analogy was designed to do, and it succeeded wonderfully!

FWIW I think a great number of people, other than strict Catholics, would agree with me (noted not as appeal to numbers but only to illustrate the normality or non-eccentricity of my view).

Let them come argue the case, then, and see if they would kill the little girl in my scenario.

You would be right if your artic orphan case were a sound analogy to the impregnated rape victim, but, as I explained above, it isn't.

I missed it. I saw no explanation that defeated the analogy and showed it was no such thing. If my scenario isn't analogous, then neither is your "sick violinist" analogy.

Are there medically POSSIBLE situations in which a birthing mother's life would be lost (so far as the doctor could determine) unless the doctor KILLS the child? I don't know, but if so, the woman's right to life must surely outweigh that of the child since this is a paradigm case of self-defense. Would you say that the mother would be within her rights to kill the child in self-defense to save her own life in that case, but her doctor (to whom she has entrusted her care!) would be morally forbidden to save her life and would thus let her (his primary patient) die to save the child? I hope that's not what you'd argue. I find the idea loathsome, but I know that is the impression some people have of Catholic morality, i.e. that when it comes right down to an inescapable CHOICE of lives (however unlikely in reality), the baby is deemed more important than its mother. I hope such people are misinformed because that's a horrible inversion of morality and would constitute another prima facie reason to reject Catholicism.

Nice wrongheaded sermon. As an abortionist (excuse me: serial child-killer) told me that this would virtually never actually occur, it is a moot point. No need to argue it.

This is another case where Catholic morality can seem heartlessly indifferent to suffering.

This, coming from a person who thought killing animals was indefensible cruelty but accepted abortion of human preborn persons until a few weeks ago? C'mon! It seems to me that the realization that you have been dead wrong on a crucial ethical issue involving millions of human lives legally slaughtered every year would cause you to suspect that you may not fully understand Catholic rationales for our ethics. And that would soften this strong, somewhat offensive "Catholics are so heartless" rhetoric that you want to maintain (a bit of "intellectual humility").

After all, it was the Catholic Church which was the greatest advocate of the position you have now adopted (with a few situational exceptions). Even anti-Catholics will acknowledge that, in trying to think of anything good at all in the Catholic Church. Kreeft is a Catholic, so am I. So that being the case, maybe we have some decent reasoning for other positions you deem "heartlessly indifferent," huh? Just maybe; a possibility . . .

I have always appreciated your dedication to dialogue, and your fairness with your disputants.

Thank you very much (I appreciate this compliment, especially in light of the common complaint against me from the anti-Catholics, that I have anything but a dedication to fairness or dialogue). And I would like to end on a positive note after another draining, emotional exchange. I reiterate my great admiration for your change of mind (and my criticisms above do not affect that if you read carefully), and for your own actively working mind and love of dialogue also.

Even where we completely disagree and you tick me off a bit, I respect that about you, and always will, because there aren't many who are willing to even work through issues at all. I'm proud that you want to "hang out" at my blog, and I think our dialogues can be helpful for many people to work through these issues, by reading passionate advocates on both sides who are amiable (for the most part!) with each other.

God bless,


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