Sunday, November 04, 2007

Garry Wills is full of BS on the abortion issue

For years, the pro-abort crowd has been trying to dismiss the abortion debate as a "religious issue"-- in other words, a debate that is really the product of "superstition", therefore, not worthy of discussion.

They've failed miserably to convince people of that point. The pro-abortion lobby in the US even went so far as to create a group of clergypeople who are opposed to fetal rights.

But nobody takes that seriously, either. If abortion is not a religious issue, then shouldn't the abortion lobby not have a clerical arm?

So now comes a new tactic, saying abortion isn't a religious issue.

Garry Wills strings together a piles of sophistries to make it seem like there is no reaons to oppose abortion on religious grounds.

Therefore, abortion isn't a religious issue.

Brilliant right? (*roll eyes*).

The article makes me think of Joyce Arthur's article saying that the Bible is not pro-life (my rebuttal here.).

Re-define the other side as saying things you want them to say, then you can counter with a string of unrelated counter-arguments.

Garry Wills confounds the issue of abortion and the personhood of the unborn child. While the personhood of the unborn child was not universally acknowledged (but almost universally so) abortion was universally condemned by the Church Fathers.

He must know this, as someone who is fairly educated in Catholic doctrine, and he must know that the universal witness of the Fathers is the equivalent of Divine Revelation-- but he doesn't let that extremely inconvenient fact get in the way.

That by itself should quash his thesis.

Not even evangelicals act as if it were. If so, a woman seeking an abortion would be the most culpable person. She is killing her own child. But the evangelical community does not call for her execution

Well, first, the woman isn't doing the killing. And second, the woman is often considered as much as victim as the unborn child, as she is often co-erced.

About 10% of evangelicals, according to polls, allow for abortion in the case of rape or incest. But the circumstances of conception should not change the nature of the thing conceived. If it is a human person, killing it is punishing it for something it had nothing to do with. We do not kill people because they had a criminal parent.

Thank you for making the pro-life argument.

Nor did the Catholic Church treat abortion as murder in the past. If it had, late-term abortions and miscarriages would have called for treatment of the well-formed fetus as a person, which would require baptism and a Christian burial.That was never the practice.

If they'd been alive in the first place. You can't baptize a dead baby.

And I don't know of any requirement for the Church to bury an unbaptized person. I don't know that the Church buries unbaptized adults, either.

The subject of abortion is not scriptural.

But the personhood of the unborn, is. Because the unborn Christ was considered a person in Luke 1.

For those who make it so central to religion, this seems an odd omission. Abortion is not treated in the Ten Commandments -- or anywhere in Jewish Scripture.

And you can draw the same conclusion about pornography. It's a bit disingenuous to say that Christianity can't condemn a behaviour because it's not in the Bible. The Bible has the principles on which Christians can base their judgment.

It is not treated in the early creeds. It is not treated in the early ecumenical councils.

Absolutely untrue.

From the Didache, 1st century, the first statement of faith we have from the Church:

The second commandment of the Teaching: "Do not murder; do not commit adultery"; do not corrupt boys; do not fornicate; "do not steal"; do not practice magic; do not go in for sorcery; do not murder a child by abortion or kill a newborn infant. "

So Aquinas denied that personhood arose at fertilization by the semen. God directly infuses the soul at the completion of human formation.

Aquinas didn't deny that. He just said that material things can't create spiritual things. That's not to say that a soul didn't occur with fertilization; he just argued it wasn't its cause.

But it was a common belief that fertilization coincided with the creation of a soul. Otherwise, what of the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception? Mary's spiritual and biological existence were conceived as synonymous.

Much of the debate over abortion is based on a misconception -- that it is a religious issue, that the pro-life advocates are acting out of religious conviction. It is not a theological matter at all. There is no theological basis for defending or condemning abortion.

Except for the universal condemnation of the Church since the first century, which he conveniently ignores. That is a mortal sin for any supposedly Catholic scholar.

Even popes have said that the question of abortion is a matter of natural law, to be decided by natural reason. Well, the pope is not the arbiter of natural law. Natural reason is.

As if saying that it's a matter of natural law excludes the possibility of it being a religious issue. The sophistry is ridiculous.

The Pope is not the arbiter of natural law, but he is certainly its interpreter.

If we are to decide the matter of abortion by natural law, that means we must turn to reason and science, the realm of Enlightened religion. But that is just what evangelicals want to avoid.

That is absolute BS. Pro-life Evangelicals are just as capable of defending the pro-life cause based on reason as Catholics are.

Who are the relevant experts here? They are philosophers, neurobiologists, embryologists. Evangelicals want to exclude them because most give answers they do not want to hear. The experts have only secular expertise, not religious conviction.

Does he even know what he's talking about? The pro-life side constantly refers to the witness of embryologists and other medical professionals. I would love for embryologists to convince the whole world that human beings begin at conception.

So evangelicals take shortcuts. They pin everything on being pro-life. But one cannot be indiscriminately pro-life.

Nice. He redefines "pro-life" for it to mean what HE wants it to mean, not what pro-lifers mean by it.

"Pro-life" is the belief that unborn human beings should have equal legal protection under the law. By "unborn human beings" we understand beings in gestation who are members of homo sapiens.

If one claimed, in the manner of Albert Schweitzer, that all life deserved moral respect, then plants have rights, and it might turn out that we would have little if anything to eat. And if one were consistently pro-life, one would have to show moral respect for paramecia, insects, tissue excised during a medical operation, cancer cells, asparagus and so on. Harvesting carrots, on a consistent pro-life hypothesis, would constitute something of a massacre.

Nice. So he attributes the "pro-life" label something entirely different than what pro-lifers mean by it, thereby creating a strawman and knocking it down.

Opponents of abortion will say that they are defending only human life. It is certainly true that the fetus is human life. But so is the semen before it fertilizes; so is the ovum before it is fertilized. They are both human products, and both are living things. But not even evangelicals say that the destruction of one or the other would be murder.

Sperm are not homo sapiens.

Defenders of the fetus say that life begins only after the semen fertilizes the egg, producing an embryo. But, in fact, two-thirds of the embryos produced this way fail to live on because they do not embed in the womb wall. Nature is like fertilization clinics -- it produces more embryos than are actually used. Are all the millions of embryos that fail to be embedded human persons?

Yes, they're human persons, and the argument is not whether nature has the right to take life (as if we can argue with a nature) but whether one human being is allowed to killed another unborn homo sapiens.

The universal mandate to preserve "human life" makes no sense. My hair is human life -- it is not canine hair, and it is living. It grows. When it grows too long, I have it cut. Is that aborting human life?

A hair is not a homo sapiens.

An evangelical might respond that my hair does not have the potential to become a person. True. But semen has the potential to become a person, and we do not preserve every bit of semen that is ejaculated but never fertilizes an egg.

No, the Evangelical would say the the zygote is a person, and the hair is not. The sperm is not a person.

Nice how he puts arguments in pro-lifers' mouths in order to debunk them.

The question is not whether the fetus is human life but whether it is a human person, and when it becomes one. Is it when it is capable of thought, of speech, of recognizing itself as a person, or of assuming the responsibilities of a person?

The question is: are fetuses human beings (i.e. homo sapiens) and are all human beings equal?

Opponents of abortion like to show sonograms of the fetus reacting to stimuli. But all living cells have electric and automatic reactions.

All living cells are not homo sapiens. They are not organisms.

These are like the reactions of Terri Schiavo when she was in a permanent vegetative state.

What a load of BS. Terri was not in a vegetative state.

Aquinas, following Aristotle, called the early stage of fetal development vegetative life.

And notwithstanding, Aquinas condemned all abortions.

Given these uncertainties, who is to make the individual decision to have an abortion?

But he didn't answer the question: is the fetus a homo sapiens worthy of equality or not?

Once again, the pro-abortion side is afraid to confront that issue. He builds up a bunch of strawmen so that he can debunk them, but doesn't face the issue: is the fetus a human being? And are all human beings equal?

They never seem to get around to answering that question.