Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Reductio ad absurdum? How about ad nauseum...

The basic goal of a reductio ad absurdum ("reduction to the absurd") argument is to take someone's position and find an extreme example that would bring about an "absurd" result if the same logic is applied. This can be an acceptable argument so long as the logic is being applied in a consistent manner and all relevant factors are taken into account.

A common argument used to attack just about any legislation restricting or outlawing abortion is that of the case of rape or incest. This is employed as a reductio ad absurdum by appealing to an extreme circumstance. Are rape and incest horrible crimes? Absolutely, and so the argument goes that because the pregnancy is the result of this horrible crime those vitcims should have the right to deal with it in the manner they see fit. This argument is made over and over again every time abortion legislation comes up. When a little logic is applied to the situation however, we'll see that this argument relies on emotion rather than reason.

I recently came across an interesting article written following South Dakota's landmark law in 2006 banning all abortions except those necessary to save the lift of the mother. The article was written by Jan LaRue, chief counsel for Concerned Women for America, and dealt with the topic of why abortion bans shouldn’t include exceptions for victims of rape or incest.

The fundamental question that is raised by the issue of such cases is, "What makes the case different from other cases where abortion is ostensibly forbidden?" The answer has nothing to do with the child whose life will be terminated, but rather the circumstances under which the child was conceived. In other words, the child is condemned to be the victim in the termination of his or her life because the mother was herself a victim in the conception of it.

The article puts it this way:

Since the law does not permit a victim to aid her recovery by killing her rapist, why should the law permit her to kill the innocent unborn child? If aborting the child will aid in the woman’s recovery, why not permit her to kill the child at any age?

To do so is to make the child suffer for the crime committed by his or her father. It is why:

  • We do not permit a parent of a murdered child to kill the child of the murderer.
  • We do not permit a victim of robbery to steal from the robber’s child.
  • We do not permit a victim of arson to burn the home of the arsonist’s child.

Somehow, the morality and sense of justice that is so obvious when considering these questions escapes many when the same principles are applied to the pre-born child.

To be sure, cases of rape and incest are terrible for the woman. However, I cannot see the justification for terminating the life of an innocent child because of it. It only compounds the crime by making the innocent child suffer for the sins of the guilty father. As the article points out, many studies have shown that those victims who do carry their pregnancies do not regret it and that their child actually "brought peace and healing to their lives."

So when it comes down to it, while the argument for rape/incest exceptions attempts to make a strong case on emotion grounds, it really ignores both the emotional and legal results. Killing an innocent child will not undo the crime that was done to the mother. All it will do is repond to one crime with another.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Great Quote

I haven't really commented much on the Virginia Tech shootings last week, mainly because though I find them tragic and heartbreaking I don't find them surprising at all. In a recent article, Chuck Norris (of all people) had the following to say about our collective culpability in this tragedy:

We teach our children they are nothing more than glorified apes, yet we don't expect them to act like monkeys. We place our value in things, yet expect our children to value people. We disrespect one another, but expect our children to respect others. We terminate children in the womb, but are surprised when children outside the womb terminate other children. We push God to the side, but expect our children to be godly. We've abandoned moral absolutes, yet expect our children to obey the universal commandment, ''Thou shalt not murder.''
I could not have said it better. As a society we reap what we sow, and we've sown a lot of ugly the past forty years.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Fighting for Survival

A recent study found that roughly 1 in 30 babies aborted for medical reasons are born alive. The procedure typically involves taking a series of tablets which alter the behavior of the womb lining and then trigger contractions and miscarriage. The death of the baby is typically the result of the trauma of premature birth, but in many cases the baby is born alive. Needless to say, there are rarely any heroic efforts involved in keeping the baby, now a fully protected human being by law, alive. In fact, babies past roughly 22 weeks are often given a lethal injection directly into their heart to ensure they are dead before the tablets trigger delivery.

According to the article, doctors are currently treating a three-year-old child that is still alive after "three botched terminations." Because the study was only focused on cases of abortion as the result of disability, the fact that the majority of abortions are for non-medical reasons leads one to wonder just how many babies are surviving these attempts to end their lives.

The article also contains one story I want to share as written:

Thirty years ago, Gianna Jessen's mother had an abortion when seven-and-a-half months pregnant.

The abortion failed and, 18 hours later, Gianna (pictured) was born alive.

She suffered cerebral palsy as a result of the botched abortion, yet has defied doctors' predictions that she would never walk.

In fact she has run a marathon, is an accomplished singer and writer and travels the world to campaign against abortion.

Her mother was 17 when she decided to have the abortion. Weighing 2lbs when she was born, she spent several months in hospital fighting for her life, before being placed in a foster home.

Her cerebral palsy, which was caused by her brain being starved of oxygen during the abortion, was diagnosed at 17 months old. Doctors said she would never be able to crawl or even sit-up unaided, much less stand or walk.

Now, after several operations and years of physiotherapy she has proved them wrong. Gianna does not know why her natural mother chose to abort her.

She said: "If abortion is about women's rights, then what were my rights?

"No decision is solely yours to make. All decisions affect another human being - whether it is for good or for ill.

"If people are going to talk about abortion, then it's important for them to know that these babies can be born alive and survive."


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Victory for Life!

The Supreme Court of the United States of America got one right for a change! In a 5-4 split, they voted to uphold the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act as Constitutional. While it's very narrow in their focus, laws like this one and the Unborn Victims of Violence Act are a positive step towards protecting the right to life of the unborn.

Naturally, as the 2008 Presidential Election is building, several candidates have made public statements regarding the ruling:

"I could not disagree more strongly with today's Supreme Court decision. The ban upheld by the Court is an ill-considered and sweeping prohibition that does not even take account for serious threats to the health of individual women. This hard right turn is a stark reminder of why Democrats cannot afford to lose the 2008 election. Too much is at stake - starting with, as the Court made all too clear today, a woman's right to choose." - John Edwards

Sweeping prohibition? Hardly. The bill does not prevent abortion at any stage of pregnancy. It merely outlaws a particular method of abortion, namely the brutal and unconscionable act of partially delivering a living child, inserting a catheter into the back of his/her head and removing the contents of his/her skull. But ultra-liberals like Mr. Edwards want to protect the "right" do to this under the Constitution. Mr. Edwards also flat out lies about its provisions for "the health of individual women." The PBABA still allows for the method in cases where it is necessary to save the mother's life.

"This decision marks a dramatic departure from four decades of Supreme Court rulings that upheld a woman's right to choose and recognized the importance of women's health. Today's decision blatantly defies the Court's recent decision in 2000 striking down a state partial-birth abortion law because of its failure to provide an exception for the health of the mother. As the Supreme Court recognized in Roe v. Wade in 1973, this issue is complex and highly personal; the rights and lives of women must be taken into account. It is precisely this erosion of our constitutional rights that I warned against when I opposed the nominations of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito." - Hillary Clinton
Funny how "departure from past rulings" is decried when it's convenient to one's views. By such rationale, these people should oppose many of the civil rights rulings earlier in this century. Then there is the "health of the mother" exception. The exceptions being referred to here are so broad as to not serve as exceptions at all, but rather measures designed to ensure that a abortions would never fall outside them. The "stress" involved in gaining weight from pregnancy falls under such a definition (lest the "mental health" of the woman be adversely affected and she be forced to deal with the consequences of her actions). Last, we have the invocation of the Stenberg v Carhart case of 2000 where the Supreme Court struck down (by a 5-4 split vote) a Nebraska law banning partial-birth abortions in the state. Conveniently, Hillary ignores the fact that the majority opinion in that case made it clear that it sought to give blanket protection to any woman who sought an abortion in the second trimester even in the absence of pre-existing maternal or fetal health problem. Moreover, the definition of "partial-birth abortion" is much more specific in the PBABA, and the bill itself contains data from five years' worth of Congressional investigation and hearings which find that partial-birth abortion is not only NOT necessary to preserve "health" but also poses a much higher risk to the woman than other methods.

"I strongly disagree with today’s Supreme Court ruling, which dramatically departs from previous precedents safeguarding the health of pregnant women. As Justice Ginsburg emphasized in her dissenting opinion, this ruling signals an alarming willingness on the part of the conservative majority to disregard its prior rulings respecting a woman’s medical concerns and the very personal decisions between a doctor and patient. I am extremely concerned that this ruling will embolden state legislatures to enact further measures to restrict a woman's right to choose, and that the conservative Supreme Court justices will look for other opportunities to erode Roe v. Wade, which is established federal law and a matter of equal rights for women. " - Barack Obama
Boy it this a telling statement. Last time I checked the Constitution of the United States of America, Mr. Obama, establishing federal law is not in the job description of the Judicial Branch. All Obama is doing is lamenting the fact that conservatives are (at least in his view) beating liberals at their own game by using the judiciary to enact law. Of course, that's not the case at all. This act was lawfully passed, and upon being asked to review it by the angry anti-lifers the Court upheld it as constitutional.

And how in the world is this an issue of "equal rights for women?" I'm pretty sure I, as a man, don't have the "right" to a partial-birth abortion that women are allegedly being unconstitutionally deprived of. Of course, we won't be concerned with the "equal rights" of children who are literally inches from birth. No...we're much more concerned with the ability of a woman to kill a living child in a non-life-threatening situation. Even English "common law," which was cited by the Court in Roe v Wade as the historical basis used in the definition of personhood (defined therein as being at the point of "quickening" when the baby begins to move inside the mother's womb), would not account for this procedure and I GUARANTEE even the liberal justices who rendered the 1973 decision would have upheld this piece of legislation.

John Edwards is right about one thing...this raises important issues for the upcoming election. I have no respect whatsoever for anyone who would put politics ahead of ethics to the point of supporting one of the most heinous and deplorable medical procedures ever performed on defenseless human beings.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Stem Cell Cure for Diabetics

Another medical breakthrough has been made with the aid of stem cells, and once again it involves the non-embryonic variety!

Thirteen out of the fifteen people who participated in this trial, which utilizes stem cells drawn from their own blood, no longer have to endure daily insulin shots to control their Type 1 diabetes. The results of the trial have scientists very optimistic about the possiblity of a "cure" for Type 1 diabetes in the next decade.

Of course, the article still laments the opposition to embryonic stem cell research by implying that we are missing out on so many major cures because we choose the ethical path of preserving life. By the rationale being used, we should start conducting medical trials on the comatose, invalids, etc since humans are the best and most accurate test subjects for developing cures for human diseases, right?

Still, this trial stands as yet another example of medical advancements from stem cell research that does not depend on the destruction of life.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Monday, April 02, 2007

Another Stem Cell Breakthrough

A British team has announced that they successfully grew a human heart valve using stem cells. Trials will begin soon with animals to test the viability of the valves, and if all goes well they could begin work on using these valves for the thousands of patients out there with valve-related heart problems.

What equally interests me in this article is what is glossed over: the fact that once again scientific breakthroughs have been made using non-embryonic stem cells. To date, all the major advancements derived from stem cells have been using non-embryonic stem cells, and new advancements are constantly being made.

This latest advancement simply reinforces the fact that we can continue to use ethical science (that does not rely upon conceived human beings as cell farms) to improve our health and quality of life.

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