June 04, 2009

Re: Did George Tiller Deserve to Die?

A thoughtful and honest pro-life reader sent me this message about my earlier post “Did George Tiller Deserve To Die?”:

Your post on Tiller was very thought-provoking because it demonstrates a weakness in the pro-life position (or at least the weakness of those who call themselves pro-life) on this issue. I would certainly be interested to read more of your thoughts on the topic if you expound upon them.

If indeed life begins at conception and if indeed abortionists are murderers, why would we condemn a man who kills someone who has performed literally thousands of murders and would likely continue his actions and would murder again? If we follow the logic of the pro-life movement the only conclusion is that Tiller should have been killed.

It shows either a lack of consistency or intellectual honesty on the part of those who claim to be pro life for them to fall all over themselves to condemn Tillers murder.

[Freddy] Gray’s premise is wrong. Killing of human beings is not intrinsically wrong. As you point out, there is no basis for this in Christian tradition nor it is found in the Scriptures. The Commandment is “Thou Shalt Not Murder.” Killing in combat (in a just war), executing murderers, etc is not intrinsically wrong. Sometimes it is the the moral and just thing to do.

Perhaps it is time that we shed the idiotic and Orwellian labels that we use about abortion and state what the positions are. One side is for legalized (and often times State-subsidized) abortion. The destruction of nascent human life in the womb. The other side is against legalized abortion or at least would like to restrict it. To call oneself ‘pro-life’ or ‘pro-choice’ is the play with words.

To answer your question?Did George Tiller deserve to die? Yes. But I would hesitate to say that in public because I could end up on one of DHS’s lists of potential terrrrrrrists.

An interesting question I have for you, because I think your position completely logical is this: If Tiller did not deserve to die, at what point does the destruction of human life warrant the killing of the person who is carrying out the destruction of that human life? If this man was aborting children in the third trimester, why is it morally different than if the child were born 2 months early and then stabbed in the neck with a scalpel? Would a man who killed a newborn who was born at 8 months deserve to be killed?

Your question about prosecuting mothers is a very good one and one that is far too easy to dodge for the pro-life person. My answer is also a non-answer (see how easily I dodged it). Ultimately, what we have in the US right now is a cultural problem, not a legal problem. I wish to change people?s minds, not to turn the power of the State upon them to enforce my will. Since we live in a very unhealthy society, abortion is not seen as the abhorrent thing that it is. I generally agree with you that we need to dejudicialize the question, apply the 10th amendment, send it back to the states and then go about changing hearts and minds. Since I believe that instinctively we as humans find abortion objectionable I would rather appeal to peoples reason and nature to change the society around them, rather than apply the Lefts tactics of enforcing my will upon people with the power of the State. The early Christians went about things in that way. They rejected the unhealthy and corrupt society around them and turned it around one convert at a time.

To answer the reader?s question directly, I?d have to confess to a bit of wishy-washiness of my own. I find the Roe decision to be a patent miscarriage of justice, and, moreover, I share pro-lifers horror over the fact that not only is abortion approached rather callously by so many but it?s even depicted as some form of ?liberation? or as a ?public good? that must be state-subsidized. This being said, the abortion or exposure of feeble or unwanted babies wasn?t invented in the 1960s and, sad to say, has been present throughout human history. Ultimately, I don?t want to prosecute people who take part in the practice. (Though from what I?ve read about the goings-on in Dr. Tiller?s office, I don?t think his death marks any great loss to mankind.) I applaud pro-lifers who want to change hearts and minds, but the massive expansion of state power required to make all abortion illegal is something that I simply can?t support.

Also, for more on this issue, I?d suggest everyone read my friend Daniel McCarthy?s excellent essay on abortion from last year, ?Life Beyond the Party.? Dan goes into the problematic justifications for ?life? by movement conservative figures like Ramesh Ponnuru?who seem to be pro-life for the same abstract, human rights-y reasons that they?re pro-war! Dan also talks about Murray Rothbard?s and Walter Block?s interesting justifications for being pro-choice on the basis of natural law.       


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