Another reply to Mary

This comment, in response to Mary's comments on this post, is too long for the combox, so I'm making it into a new post.

Remember that "abortion" means the premature termination of a pregnancy [or other process] without reference to how or why this happens. Miscarriages are included.

Yes, Mary, that's exactly what I said. My argument is that given the drastic differences between spontaneous and procured abortion, this terminology is outdated.

Like it or not, the secular, legal definition of a human being in the USA begins at birth.

Again, I know that. I believe it is unjust, and that's why I, and many others, are working to change that.

That means your statement "abortion is always murder" is simply not true, since murder only applies after birth in the USA. It's an emotive slogan, but quite ridiculous.

Actually, Mary, you are mistaken. Case in point is the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, in which someone who kills a pregnant woman can be charged with two homicides.

Also, it's true that all abortion is not legally murder in this country. I have never disputed that. Morally, however, it is murder. Legality is not the same as morality. Black people were persons even when the law said they weren't. Jewish people were persons even when the law said they weren't. Unborn children are persons even though the law says that they aren't.

Please don't use such sloppy language, it makes the argument look either ignorant or deceitful, and I know that you would not want to give that impression.

Absolutely not, but I hope you've written to Representative Speier and said the same. It is very sloppy indeed to claim that you had a procured abortion when the baby actually died of natural causes and had to be removed from your body via a procedure that is also used for the purpose of procured abortion.

I understand that you believe that a zygote has a right to life, as does a fetus. So say that, clearly, without the "abortion is always murder" trope.

If a zygote, fetus, etc. has a right to life, then procured abortion is always murder. It's not "trope," it's truth.

My personal experience with abortion is second-hand and is limited to wanted pregnancies that were killing the mother, or where the zygote or fetus was already dead or dying (six months along, in two cases).

If the baby is already dead, then it's not a procured abortion. Spontaenous abortion is not murder. Procured abortion always is. Do you understand the difference between natural death and murder? Killing your grandmother is not the same as if she dies in her sleep, for example. Same concept.

As for a case where the pregnancy (not the fetus, the pregnancy) is causing a life-threatening medical condition, all treatments thereto would fall under the principle of double effect (for an explanation of how this applies to abortion, see here: Abortion and Double Effect). Simply put, if the fetus' death is an unintended side effect (not the result) of a treatment to save the mother (such as the removal of a diseased fallopian tube in an ectopic pregnancy) then it is not a procured abortion as the fetus was not directly killed.

These were terribly traumatic events, and I would hate to imagine the additional trauma these mothers (yes, these were all second and third pregnancies to married women) would have gone through in the USA.

Why, given the above? Check out www.benotafraid.net for stories of women who did not procure abortion in such cases and yet had wonderful, healing experiences.

I think abortion is to be avoided if possible,

Why?

but not by using a blunt instrument like an anti-abortion legislation. Would you support improved access to contraception to avoid abortions?

No, because it doesn't work. All contraception does is give people a false sense of security that they can have unlimited, irresponsible sex, and then when their birth control fails and conception occurs they resort to abortion. Actually read Leila's post that she linked in the comments, instead of ignoring it, for an explanation of why the stats you posted in the combox aren't an accurate representation of the problem.

Remember, this law would apply to non-Catholics, so the Catholic prohibition on contraception is not relevant to this argument.

Agreed. Again, read Leila's link. There are many non-Catholics who are beginning to realize the link between contraception and abortion.

One thing I am resolute on is that another woman's reproductive life is none of my business.

Unless she's committing murder (i.e., procured abortion), in which case it is everyone's business.

I do believe that if you want to take the proposition that "abortion is tantamount to murder" as true, then the appropriate action is to boost access to contraceptive options.

Unfortunately, reliance on contraception only leads to more abortion because it provides a false sense of security.

If you think differently, then why? Is it really the unborn that is your main concern? Or is it other women's sexual activity?

I want everyone (men and women) to be responsible adults. That includes not having sex if you're not prepared for a pregnancy. See my reply to SallyStrange in the previous post. Otherwise, the norm becomes procured abortion, which is murder, and I oppose murder.

Also, Mary, you never responded to my points about the dehumanization of unborn children.

Comments

  1. What a great post JoAnna! I'm impressed that you were patient enough to go point by point through this very flawed argument that presents itself as "logical" while actually being nothing of the sort (because I was getting impatient just reading the counter argument!).

    It's sad when people mouth arguments they've heard (the last question reeks of that to me because that was what was repeated so often at my CINO liberal college, as if, by saying you just care about my sex life over and over again it would somehow make it true and make it more important than the actual life that was at stake in these scenarios) without delving beyond what they've been told and actually facing the reality of a life that is lost.

    Your response is graceful and honest. Thanks for a great post!

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  2. Cam, exactly. Mary, I am not sure you know how silly it sounds to say that pro-lifers are sort of pretending to care about unborn children, but only because our real motive is to delve into women's sexuality! I mean, seriously? This is something you would actually think? Who would take that seriously? I assure you, no one has that kind of time. We are pro-life because it's life and death for these little children of God being eliminated brutally every single day. To think that we would use those little dead bodies as a ruse, simply so that we can focus on your sex life is.... well, I really don't have any words. It's almost surreal.

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  3. Mary and Leila, and others reading this

    I did not say that your real motive is to delve into women's sexuality. I am saying that it is inconsistent to wish to prevent both abortion and contraception. Your solution for those not wishing to have (more) children is abstinence - and if this is not trying to control other people's sexuality, then it is hard to imagine what it is about.

    If you find that promoting contraception is blatantly un-Catholic, then you may not be old enough to remember the massive changes that Vatican II brought about, and the disruption it caused among Catholics. You are not reflecting on how the Church changed its approach to fasting during Lent when its people were starving during the Great Depression. Let alone the teachings about babies who died before they were baptised. The pope is sometimes wrong, even on grave issues, as popes have been from time to time throughout the ages.

    Our Church changes as the world changes, as it must. The days of getting married young and having ten children, several of whom would probably die, are gone.

    The social fabric has changed. I am not trying to convince you that abortion is a good thing - I am trying to convince you that we must work to increase the chances that each child is a wanted child, and that the means are there to house, feed and educate each child.

    This will be my last post here.

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  4. Mary, please know that I am sincere when I say this: I am so sad. You and I were both victims of very, very poor catechesis. If you go to my blog and read my reversion story at the top, you will no doubt find so much of your own experience there. It is the greatest regret of my life that most Catholics do not know their faith, because we were never taught.

    So much of what you say is indicative of misconceptions about the Church. For example, please read this post, which explains the difference between doctrines (which never change; the moral law) and disciplines (which can and do change; like eating meat on Fridays or fasting).

    If nothing else, please read this one post, and you will see that it's just the beginning of what we were never taught, and what most still do not understand:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2010/09/catholics-you-must-understand-this.html

    Blessings!

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  5. Well said, Leila, and thank you.

    I am saying that it is inconsistent to wish to prevent both abortion and contraception.

    No, it is not. It would be inconsistent only if we were also promoting a culture of unrestrained, irresponsible sexual behavior as well. But we (that is, faithful Catholics) do not. We believe that sex is a special, awesome, holy gift from God that should occur between husband and wife in the context of a valid marriage.

    Your solution for those not wishing to have (more) children is abstinence - and if this is not trying to control other people's sexuality, then it is hard to imagine what it is about.

    Have you ever heard of Natural Family Planning? I've used it since 2003 to both achieve and avoid pregnancy. It's a wonderful and, more importantly, a moral alternative to abstinence.

    If you find that promoting contraception is blatantly un-Catholic, then you may not be old enough to remember the massive changes that Vatican II brought about, and the disruption it caused among Catholics.

    The Catholic Church has never promoted contraception, so I'm not sure what you're referring to here; it's very true that DISSENTING Catholics used Vatican II to promote contraception, but the Catholic Church has never done so.

    You are not reflecting on how the Church changed its approach to fasting during Lent when its people were starving during the Great Depression.

    That's because it never did.

    "54. But no reason, however grave, may be put forward by which anything intrinsically against nature may become conformable to nature and morally good. Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious." Pope Pius XI, December 31, 1930.

    Let alone the teachings about babies who died before they were baptised.

    If you are referring to Limbo, that was only ever theological speculation and was never official doctrine. I wrote a blog post about that here.

    continued below....

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  6. The pope is sometimes wrong, even on grave issues, as popes have been from time to time throughout the ages.

    You need to read up on Papal Infallibility, as it appears you don't really understand the concept. I'd also be interested to know what exactly the Pope has been wrong about, in your opinion. The Pope is not impeccable, but when he teaches on faith and morals in conjunction with the Magisterium, his teachings are protected from error by the Holy Spirit. This is Catholic teaching.

    Our Church changes as the world changes, as it must.

    Also wrong. The Church's teachings have not changed in 2,000 years. Our understandings of the doctrines have changed, but the core teachings never have.

    The days of getting married young and having ten children, several of whom would probably die, are gone.

    You're absolutely right that our infant mortality rate has improved with the advent of improved medical practices and medicine, and that is a wonderful thing. It's also true that women don't typically marry as young as customary in the past (although I married at 20, and my husband and I will celebrate our 10th anniversary this September).

    However, neither of those facts justify the direct killing of unborn children (abortion) or the deliberate frustration of the marital act (contraception). This is also Catholic teaching.

    I am not trying to convince you that abortion is a good thing

    If it's not good, why do you defend its existence?

    I am trying to convince you that we must work to increase the chances that each child is a wanted child, and that the means are there to house, feed and educate each child.

    I absolutely agree. However, at the same time it's still a moral evil to kill children because they are unwanted, whether they are born or unborn, or if they are or may live in poverty.

    This will be my last post here.

    That's unfortunate; I was enjoying our discussion. Feel free to return at any time, or chime in at Leila's blog. I really do recommend reading the post she linked to; it's something everyone who claims to be Catholic should read.

    St. Augustine, pray for us.

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  7. JoAnna and Leila, you're doing wonderful work for the unborn. Keep it up!

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  8. I read through this and I'm seconding what Elizabeth said. Thank you!!!

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