Has U.S. abortion language created climate of violence?

June 1, 2009

The murder of Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller has been condemned by prominent groups and activists on both sides of this divisive and emotive issue.

USA-POLITICS/

But the language used by some opponents of abortion rights who reviled Tiller for his work providing late-term abortions remained very strong.

Take this statement by Dr. James Dobson, founder of the conservative evangelical group Focus on the Family.

We are shocked by the murder of George Tiller, and we categorically condemn the act of vigilantism and violence that took his life,” Dobson said in a statement. He went on to say that the perpetrator must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

But he also said: “Tiller recently faced serious charges related to the killing of babies in violation of the law, by the most grotesque procedures administered without anesthetics or compassion.  We profoundly regretted the outcome of his legal case, believing the doctor had the blood of countless babies on his hands.  Nevertheless, he was exonerated by the court and declared ‘not guilty’ in the eyes of the law. That is our system, and we honor it.”

Randall Terry, founder of the anti-abortion rights group Operation Rescue, made Dobson’s strongly-worded comments about the “blood of countless babies” seem moderate by comparison. Terry didn’t even condemn the murder but he expressed concern about Tiller’s soul in his statement.

George Tiller was a mass-murderer. We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God,” Terry said.

Most of the opposition to abortion rights in the United States is faith-based and the movement has been led mostly though not exclusively by evangelical Christians and conservative Catholics.

Opponents of abortion rights regard the procedure as murder, though virtually all of the U.S. based activists insist that their fight must be done within the parameters of the law. That is why even the staunchest of opponents such as Dobson say that those who kill abortion doctors must be held accountable for their crimes.

But some supporters of abortion rights have long argued that the language used by opponents — with terms such as murder, blood-stained, destroy or holocaust frequently evoked — create an atmosphere that fosters violence. This angle was raised today on various U.S. news programs such as the Ed Show on MSNBC. Tiller himself had been shot before by an abortion opponent and his clinic was bombed in 1985.

If you really think abortion is mass murder why would you work within the law to stop it?

What do you think? Has strong language dangerously enflamed abortion passions on the ground in the United States? But if you equate abortion with murder or mass murder shouldn’t you be able to say so freely? Should the deplorable actions of the very few stifle free speech for others on this issue?

(Photo credit: Anti-abortion demonstrators unfurl a giant sign on the side of North Table Mountain in Golden, Colorado August 26, 2008 referring to the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN 2008 (USA)

100 comments

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I am curious to know the gender-based preference for supporting pro-life and pro-choice. For both liberal and conservative christians. Women’s views mught be more pro-choice in my opinion. But this is men’s world and in US especially is (proven by CEDAW not ratified; 1 among 8 countries in the world)–meaning this is all decided by men. So gender-based opinion of conservatives and liberal women will tell a lot.

ABE: Is that true about adoption that pro-lifers do not adopt (in your experience). I am sure it won;t be 0% but the reliable data must be existing on this. Ironically as many others pointed out this is clear that pro-life is such a ridiculous word because conservatives are more for pro-war, pro-gun…..

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

The stark tragedy of the Tiller murder underscores the obligation we all share to tone down our rhetoric, to reach, if not consensus, at least sufficient mutual respect to avoid demonizing each other. I believe this starts with the imperative to use phrases that are factually accurate to promote our views. In fact, if accuracy doesn’t serve our purposes, we should wonder whether there may not be something terribly misguided in what we are trying to promote.

This applies to both sides. A woman who claims “No-one has the right to limit what I may do with my own body” should acknowledge the falsehood of claiming that only one body is at stake. Within her is a second, living body, and its fate is not only significant, but at the crux of the entire abortion debate. On the other hand, I believe it is reprehensible for any pro-life activist to refer to abortion as the killing of an “unborn baby”. Fetuses are not babies. In early pregnancy, when most abortions occur, the fetus bears almost no relationship to a baby. A baby has conscious awareness, hopes, dreams, wishes, even regrets and expectations. The nervous system of the early fetus is too primitive for any of these preciously human attributes, or even for the primitive awareness of pain. The beginnings of these elements of being human develop gradually starting in late pregnancy and continuing through childhood.

If pro-choice women stopped saying, “It’s my body”, and pro-life advocates stopped claiming “you’re killing babies”, the arguments will probably continue, but in a more respectful and less violence prone environment.

If we who claim to be human can’t stop the demonizing, the angels who watch over us may wonder why any form of human life is truly worth preserving.

I think a large part of the problem stems from the definitions used in the argument. A baby/infant, is a living being, whose daily activities include sleeping, crying, eating, and going through lots of diapers. A human fetus exists in a womb and is in development. A fertilized egg is what happens when sperm meets egg. As a female, I feel like my health and well being is more important than a fertilized egg. I also believe its more important than a clump of cells. And I find it insulting to be told by pro-lifers that the clump of cells attached to a uterine wall is more important than a living breathing human woman.

Abortion is tragic. No on wants to have an abortion or just wakes up and goes “hmmm I’ll think I’ll have an abortion today”. But often times abortion is necessary for the health of the mother or if the fetus is deformed.

Dr. Tiller performed late-term or 3rd trimester abortions. Any elective abortions occur much earlier. 3rd trimester abortions are dangerous for everyone involved. Women do not get these abortions without a good reason.

Oh and just to be clear, Dr. Tiller has nothing when it comes to Mother Nature. The number one abortionist in the world!

Posted by Eimi | Report as abusive

I don’t in any way condone the murder of Tiller, however I think it needs to be noted that his killer was very much more merciful in how he chose to kill Tiller than what Tiller was in the gruesome murder of thousand of unborn babies … George Tiller was not torn apart while still alive limb by limb nor did he have a sharp instrument thrust into the back of his neck and his brains sucked out as he did to HIS victims. It is our inept and corrupt “justice” system that is responsible for the reaction of people who give up on the system and take matters into their own hands, not the always life-affirming actions and words of the pro-life movement. Again, I am not condoning the actions of the George Tiller murderer but I do think we have to recognize that the man he murdered was a mass murderer himself.

Posted by Mary | Report as abusive

I do not understand, how people can condone murder for someone who was doing his job… Doesnt matter if you are pro or against abortion, people should not terrorize doctors for doing their jobs…

Posted by John | Report as abusive

It doesn’t really matter what you think, it is what is in the Constitution. Freedom of Speach and Freedom of Religion are both enumerated rights. We don’t need a government committee to tell us what words we can or can’t use. Advocating the murder of someone is against the law in some instances, but calling something murder isn’t. Unless you change the Constitution, that is the way it is, period. Don’t like that, pass a Constitutional amendment putting defined limits on free speach…but don’t try to bend/end run/reinterpret the the laws…you leftist are bending the laws so much to your will you risk snapping them all.

Posted by infocyde | Report as abusive

Language can be used to illuminate or to obfuscate. That which is inflammatory is far more subjective. Arguing for or against abortion, the death penalty, civilian bombing, euthanasia and war is not entirely without purpose. However the inconsistencies of many of our positions suggests we all should reconsider our views. Hopefully logic and reason will prevail for each and every one of us.

It is the understanding of the wise hunter that the herd must be thinned in order to insure it’s survival. In the process plant life is not over foraged and the hunter (predator) is sustained. Some times even the hunter must control his own numbers. This is all a part of the circle of life.

Man has created an alternate reality, civilization. We are still the hunter but are unsure as to how to exercise our nature in this new reality. Sometimes our nature exercises us. Perhaps we should teach our children who and what we are. Then we can teach them how to think rather than what to think. Indoctrination like ignorance is a formidable foe lending itself to encourage emotional reaction rather than reasoned action.

Climate change is devouring our fresh water and arable land. Our increasing numbers puts ever greater pressure upon these and other diminishing resources. If man does not change, the violence he visits upon his brother, sister and Mother Earth will lead to his and the planet’s demise.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive

I believe 80-90% of this argument is based on religion alone, therefor a question of opinion not of common sens. The other 10-20% are people who think women use this as contraception.

I know quite a few women that had abortions. Or should I call them girls as in most cases they where between 19 and 24 when it happened: accidents, split-ups (the guy runs off), rape… Not one of them described it as being pleasant and none would have done it willingly.

The alternative to abortions are unwanted children and that to me is a much bigger crime. Do people really want to send all these children to orphanages? Or force parents to keep their children? How cruel?!

Of course you will hear of miracle tales where women chose to go through with it and love their children today, which you could say benefits society. Then on the flip side you get all these “alley kids”, millions, growing up in the streets (insert picture of homeless child sniffing gasoline here) and that sometimes turn out to be delinquents, and later criminals, which more than outweighs the nice happy stories.

Conclusion: you lose less than you gain. Abortions stay.

Pro-choice advocates say: “It’s not a baby.” Or, “it’s a defective baby.” Or, “it’s an unwanted baby” (by the birth parents).

So, in one case the argument is that an unborn human is NOT a baby, but in the other case it IS a baby, except it’s not “up to par.” Or, it’s an ill-timed or inconvenient baby (or thing?), who or which is not appreciated.

Whether you agree or disagree with the existence or non-existence of a “baby,” the fact remains that in late-term abortions, the procedure itself makes the arguments enormously complicated.

A late-term abortion (such as the many Tiller performed) means that the “whatever you want to call its” head is punctured, “brains” are suctioned out, skull collapsed, arms and legs ripped from the body and evacuated from the uterus. The
“thing” or baby squirms and fights against this procedure (read anything by famous abortionist William Hern of Boulder, CO to confirm). Further, the uterus is then excised of remaining tissues and vacuumed to avoid body parts being left behind, which can cause an unpleasant infection. After that, the body parts actually have to be reassembled to make sure everything is accounted for. The body parts, of course, are reassembled in what at least seems to mimic a very young human being: head, ears, arms, hands, legs, feet, torso, genitals.

So what is this “thing” anyway? Don’t we all know?

Inconvenience aside, maybe adoption is a better choice, and less “inconvenient” in the long run.

Posted by Tam Bruener | Report as abusive

Now lets have a look.

Shooting unarmed man in church = wilful murder. Set out in law. Set out in bible (near beginning, I recall). Shooter going to hell. No issues.

Abortion does not equal murder. It is not set out as such in law. In fact, I fail to see abortion set out as such in the bible. So whether the victim goes to hell is between him and the big guy, assuming the big guy isn’t actually Zeus or Baal or somthing.

So whatever you might think, religion wise or socially, will not change the fact that this doctor was not a murderer. Otherwise he would have been charged with murder. QED.

And why are people trying to create some moral equality between the murderer and murdered? Why all the hidden attempts to make it sound like he had it coming?

If you have any balls, then just say ‘he deserved to be murdered’. You might sound like a typical religio-nutjob condoning murder of people who fail to conform with your ideals, but at least you will be staying true to yourself.

And isn’t that the important thing?

Posted by Anon. | Report as abusive

It is commonly stated that men oppose abortion more than women, but the facts are otherwise. Surveys consistently show that women are slightly more pro-life than men. (If you want to verify this, you can do so in mere minutes by using a search engine.)

Posted by Vegasprof | Report as abusive

If abortion is not the killing of lives, I don’t know what best describes it. Maybe doctor Tiller was killed at the will of God, as those babies aborted by Tiller for birth could not rest in heavenly peace. Late-term abortion is also dangerous to the mother giving birth. If we support pro-choice, we should also support the choice of someone seeking to be born to this world.

Posted by Malcolm | Report as abusive

Anon-
You seem to be making the (faulty) assumption that legality and morality are the same thing when you say “he obviously wasn’t a murderer because he wasn’t prosecuted for it.”

By the same logic, drinking alcohol was immoral during prohibition, but is ok now. A flexable morality like that is no morality at all.

Who ever thinks the Murderer has done the right thing by killing the Doctor, I have one question for them – Will you take the murderers charges and go to Prison ????

If not don’t support the Murderer – You are creating a murderer by supporting the murderer, are you not ? To become hero for you guys one more murderer will come from any where….. Don’t we already have lot of sick people who murder for 100 bucks robbing a Gas station or 11/7.

Don’t make people think that murdering someone is a great thing or that is what we need to do to solve the problem.

Don’t you feel the pain or sorrow of the Murderers family ???

Any one of you out here who supported the Murderer I beg you to understand that Murdering some one is not the solution or a right thing. Please don’t create Murderers..

PEACE

Posted by Hellrazor | Report as abusive

Malcolm –

It’s logic like yours that makes me glad I left organized Christianity. Do you truly believe in a loving Deity with the powers ascribed to him by most of the world’s religions would happily and willfully withhold a peaceful spiritual rest from an unborn child lost through no choice or will of it’s own? I think it’s time we re-evaluate what true logic tells us should happen, rather than blindly following a book that doesn’t answer the questions raised by the world today, despite the best of efforts and intentions by good people to do so.

Posted by TheQuestioner | Report as abusive

(1) If you are not a woman, shut up about abortion.

(2) If you are a woman and don’t believe in abortion, don’t have one. If you are a woman and do need one, they’re legal in most countries not controlled by religious extremists.

(3) If you think your religion gives you the right to kill people who disagree with you – congratulations! You share your moral code with the people we’re fighting in Afghanistan. There is NO difference between you and them. Dr. Tiller would have been killed in Afghanistan for the same reason he was killed in Wichita, and by people of the EXACT same mindset.

Posted by J of S | Report as abusive

Even if you disagree with the process of abortions, making the process illegal will not reduce the demand for abortions. The Pro-Life Movement’s reasoning is the equivalent of believing that making foreclosures illegal will solve the foreclosure problem. There are reasons people want abortions. If you reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies, you will reduce the number of abortions. However, if abortion is made illegal, as the Pro-Life Movement would have it, a black market will sprout up, just like it did in the days of Prohibition. Pregnant women will become a vulnerable class, subject to criminal prosecution and social rejection. The best solution is to keep it legal, show people all the options, give people a choice, and support them in whatever choice they make.

Posted by cheesebox | Report as abusive

J of S-
I’m not a woman, but I’ll shut up about abortion when I have the option to pass up child support. You may think no man has a right to tell a woman what to do for 9 months, but then no woman has the right to tell me what to do with my paycheck for 18 years.

The issue of abortion or other medical conditions and their treatments, becomes a complicated mess when viewed through the religiously inclined prism. It impairs rationality and clouds the judgement. Morality is not the birth right of a theist and we have seen examples of morality–pedophiles in the church. Many of US forefthers were agnostic or atheists but layed great foundations of a nation, whose pillars are rudely shaken by theists Bushes and the likes, who spit the Word “GOD” every other sentence and explain their actions–and we all know what those actions are. Pro-anti-life in Iraq.

HPV anti-cancer vaccine is another issue where religion does not allow science to step forward and offer preventive measures.

Also, pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion, it means both pro-life and if needed pro-abortion. Agreed the definiton of the need is where whole argument hinges upon. But religion should be kept for spiritual purposes and not jump in to impose morality-based solutions. Then why cry when Richard Dawkins jumps in to say that there is no Abrahmic GOD. Religion has to be OFF the mind of US policy maker’s head (US is not a christian state). At least there is one case where Christian theology meddled with science when Galilio provided provided evidence that earth is not central as the bible says—well he was prosecuted for that.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Correction:
But religion should be kept for spiritual purposes and not jump in to impose morality-based solutions for medical problems–not an area of their expertise.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

It is ashame that Dr.Tiller was murdered.
Yes, the man who did this should be punished.
Just as those who do Abortions and Late Term abortions as Dr.Tiller did. They also should be punished for Murder.
Regurlar Murder..Not ok. Not Legal.
Authorized Murder..OK..Legal. (Abortions)

Posted by Shirley | Report as abusive

rajeev-
The bible does not say Earth is the center of the universe. Galileo was prosecuted because the chruch adopted the geocentric idea from Aristotle.

@the bible does not say Earth is the center of the universe. Galileo was prosecuted because the chruch adopted the geocentric idea from Aristotle.
- Posted by Drewbie

Drewbie: You are right. Catholic Church’s view was based on Aristotle and Ptolemy’s ‘earth in the center’ idea and Galileo’s work was in conflict with the Church’s those beliefs and poor guy was sentenced.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

yes the death of tiller was cold blooded,the perpetrator should be executed.to appeal to our fair minded liberals,when it occurs let him sit on the knee of guy who killed the young solder outside the army recruitment center.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

Drewbie.

On the contrary. You seem to be the one thinking that morality and legality are the same.

Abortion does not fit the legal definition of murder. Hence, by definition the doctor is not a murderer.

And no amount of perceived immorality as to his actions can change that fact.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

There are approximately 500,000 children in the foster care at any time in the United State — many of those children are adoptable, but will not be adopted — why don’t “pro-life” advocates step forward to adopt them now? Do they want the forced return to warehouse orphanages for still more unwanted children? I’ve never heard a so-called “pro-life” advocate answer those questions honestly.Making abortion illegal will not stop abortions, it will just stop safe abortions.

Unwanted children in the world

They had names and faces once. Now they have coroner’s numbes. — Social workers call them their “worst outcomes”.

Those children’s voices call out from small graves to those who truly care about child welfare. Learn more about them…..Read their stories.

Children Who Didn’t Have to Die – Website http://suncanaa.com/

what an convenience that,s the impression that is been given by some of our contributors.it is all that dam fetuses fault,i can imagine that if an abortion doctor screwed up and the mother died during the procedure they would blame the fetus.stop shifting the blame the sad reality is bad parenting, full stop,over the last 30years.at one time when a baby was born it was given priority but not now the modern idiom is self first,my life, my own interests are paramount.remember the old saying “what goes round.comes round “that is why we have so many screwed up people these days,you can not suppress the guilt of murdering you own child i don,t care what they try to tell you.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

To Drewbie

I thought alcohol became immoral first then with the consensus of the majority of the public it became illegal. Then some viewed it as a necessary evil, while others viewed it as moral so long people have personal responsibility \”temperament\” while still others held their original stance. Now I would argue drinking is a socially accepted behavior, and I would even call it moral because so many people do in fact drink.

As far as I can observe from history morality is relative in both time and space. Assuming the definition of morals to be intimately felt convictions, that a person feels, of what is \”right\” and which they will choose above all else when conflicted. (sort of like a default opinion)
Anyway, marriage for example a while back was considered to be very \”right\” some would say it still is, and back in the day if you weren\’t married you had something wrong with you, now people do the same thing as get married but with out the tittle. However to some, they are still immoral for not being recognized in the eyes of the church/God. Another classic example is atheism.
Divorce is another issue, it used to be \”wrong\” or immoral, then under the \”right\” religion it became \”right\” or moral. However, to some it\’s still considered immoral. However, today divorce is very common. Even arguably a necessity.
Note that divorce became \”right\” out of convenience. Hmmm abortion may display some of the same characteristics.

Anyway my final point is that because people hold different VALUES they will come to different conclusion regarding moral obligations. Hence this whole debate.
So if we really want to debate lets look at the values we hold and why we hold them, and contest those.
I think this debate can best be compromised by the pro-choice stance. Someone alluded to this earlier.
Here\’s why.
By keeping abortion a personal choice you are allowing people with different values to make different choices regarding this \”moral\” issue. Thus satisfying both parties. So, the pro-lifer can choose to have a child, while the pro-choicer can choose to have an abortion.
I think the problem is, it\’s a tough compromise. Maybe leaving it up to the states may appease the pro-lifers more, but I haven\’t thought about the consequences or legal obligations of that situation. That\’s probably a whole other debate. May polarize this country more so than it already is.

Posted by George Harisson | Report as abusive

The short answer to this essay is yes. The longer answer is that the religious right has not only created a climate of violence but has also hijacked the language of late term abortion to suggest, even in the minds of the pro-choice, that these are had by people too lazy to get around to a termination before the start of the second trimester.

I had a late term abortion. If you’d asked me before I would have said, “I will never have a late term abortion.” But I didn’t understand who exactly it is who is having late term aboritions, and you probably don’t either unless you’ve been through it yourself.

I was forced to choose to terminate a much wanted pregnancy in the 20th week due to a poor prenatal diagnosis. I wouldn’t wish this choice on anyone. It is the hardest choice a parent will ever have to make.

You don’t just wake up one day and think “I’m going to have a late term abortion.” These procedures are painful, protracted (at least two days and usually more), and will forever live on the patient’s heart as an emotional scar.

Thank goodness there are compassionate doctors who risk their lives, as Dr. Tiller did, to provide these terminations for medical reasons. I hope you will never have to know their compassion personally as I did because with it comes devastating heart break.

Posted by sadpatient | Report as abusive

I don’t believe speech should in anyway be regulated. If I did, then there a lot of things that liberals and the media say that I find inflammatory or false and should be regulated.

Maybe the news media should be regulated. After all, accurate information is necessary for proper functioning of society and so that voters can make informed decisions. Maybe the media should be prosecuted for biased news stories. Does freedom of speech mean freedom to lie or mislead or to misrepresent opinion as fact? Maybe freedom of speech means the freedom to express an opinion, not to present misleading or biased news stories as fact. That would be fraud not freedom.

Posted by questionmark | Report as abusive

Operation Rescue held peaceful protests at Tiller’s clinic. One can disagree with them but one can’t disagree that they were totally dedicated to working within the law. Immediately after Tiller was murdered, Operation Rescue and others condemned the act.

In contrast, the day before, a soldier was murdered at a recruiting station in Arkansas. I checked one of the leading Muslim organization’s (CAIR) website. Any apology? Nope. Why are the liberals trying to impugn organizations like Operation Rescue and imply they are complicit but are totally silent on the Muslims’ “complicity” in the murder the day earlier? Why? Because they are hypocrites only looking to score points against the pro-life groups.

(And Obama who is over kissing the hind-quarters of some of the world’s leading despots – who routinely persecute Christians – he says nothing about the murder of the soldier.)

Posted by robroy | Report as abusive

It is terrifying that the religious right has hijacked political discourse and discussion in this country to such a disproportionate level.

Having to be subjected to the drivel these people spout in many ways makes any reasonable person feel like they’re losing IQ points. What’s worse is these people are actually a minority.

It is hate speech, nothing more, nothing less – and these people, these heartless, thoughtless fundamentalists should not be allowed to broadcast their messages of intolerance any longer.

Perhaps it’s time everyone with a functional sense of perspective took action, stood up and said “no more!” to these religious crazies.

Posted by Andy | Report as abusive

Words create the climate for deeds. There can be no doubt that the language used by those who hold themselves out as morally justified give tacit permission to those who then kill. I’d like to see tort litigation against those who justify violence to compensate the families of the victims of politically based violence.

Posted by Rosemary Williams | Report as abusive

andy,the headline of this selection of blogs is called FAITHWORLD,so you would assume that the discourse would be between people of faith, with perhaps different opinions ,but the dialog would be between people who look at subjects from the prospective of their beliefs.but answering to remarks from your posting it has always been the trade mark of liberal thinking to close down any remarks that goes against their agenda.(proud to be a christian fundamentalist)

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

@George Harrison:

First, I would like to point out that there are two people going by Ben on here, and in my only other post, I used the same “@name” convention as above.

To address your points:

Personal Responsibility –

If you have resource constraints, believe yourself to have poor parenting skills, or consider having a baby ‘an inconvenience’ or ‘a mistake’, then you should not have unprotected sex.

The same world that is filled with pain and deprivation is also filled with love, joy and beauty.

Racism/Speciesism -

I do not consider myself a racist, nor do I think anyone else (but you) would. Your position as a Veganarchist is quite disturbing, at best. I suppose that if, as you say, it is WORSE to eat the meat of an animal than to abort a baby, we would be better off eating an unborn baby than an animal. Is that REALLY the position you are taking?

If I had to choose between preventing the death of a human or an animal, I would choose to save the human in every case. If that makes me a ‘racist’ in your book, I’m a little scared that there are people like you on the earth. Your moral compass seems to be broken beyond repair.

Let’s take a couple of your arguments out to their logical conclusions:

One, you stated that animals need to at least be given equal consideration. Since, in your view, humans are animals, should not an unborn human at least be given the SAME consideration you are willing to give animals? You seem to be a specieist AGAINST humans!

Two, you used Einstein as an example of a human that was more valuable than at least some animals, correct? If Einstein would have been aborted, the world would have been deprived of his genius. I am sure that at least a couple of Einsteinian style humans have been aborted. Who knows what diseases they would have cured, lives they would have saved, inventions they would have brought forth. That’s one of the troubles, there is no way to know.

Just because we are hungry? So do you propose outlawing all killing of animals….by other animals? Have you ever watched the Discovery channel? It’s a cruel world out there. If I am in the forest and happen upon a hungry bear with a taste for human flesh, I will most likely be lunch. Eating other creatures is how the whole circle of life exists on this planet, like it or not.

I am not even going to touch your whole ‘not all humans are valuable’ statement, as it is clear by your defensiveness that even you don’t believe that. And any idiot can see that institutionalizing that argument is what lead to Hitler’s Germany. ‘Nuff said.

On your thought experiment:

I choose to save you. I know where my Dad stands with God. I also know that he would prefer to die if it meant someone had a chance to get to know his Savior. Since it seems quite obvious that you know nothing of God, I choose to save you to give you a chance to perhaps know God before you die. Perhaps he could teach you about the value of a human life…

Posted by Ben | Report as abusive

@Andy:

The real problem is people like you (on both sides) who are unwilling to even look at any viewpoint but your own. If people like you had your way, the constitution would be out the window tomorrow. Hate speech is one step from the thought police.

What would happen if tomorrow a law was enacted punishing anyone saying something bad about Christianity as ‘hate speech’. You would be guilty of it. Think it can’t happen? The UN is already looking into something like this right now (specifically to protect Muslims, but I believe it covers all religions). Hate speech laws must be abolished now! The right to free speech was enacted SPECIFICALLY to protect unpopular speech.

I do not agree with what you are saying, but I defend your right to say WHATEVER you want!

@George Harrison (again) :)

The problem, morally, with saying that abortion is a personal choice – to those of us who believe that life begins at conception – is that it is akin to saying murder is a personal choice. I don’t see ANYONE here arguing that the idiot that murdered this doctor should not be punished because he was making a ‘personal choice’!

Posted by Ben | Report as abusive

@drewbie
Hear, hear on the J of S reply!

@suncana
Many in the pro life camp do exactly that. As a matter of fact, my Grandmother got an award from the state for being a foster parent to more than 35 children over the years. Two of which got adopted and are my Aunt and Uncle now. How is that for an honest answer?

Posted by Ben | Report as abusive

Hypocrisy in Religion, my favorite.

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment that you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

Christianity. Matthew 7.1-5

Also that thing about “Thou shall not kill”

And if you stop and think about it, those unborn children are not even born of sin, their soul has no stain upon it.
Where do you think those unborn souls go? Pretty sure they go back to heaven in Gods mercy.
Is this just God testing those people who wish to be like him, like God, and be a Judge over the actions of their brothers and sisters?

Posted by C. D. Walker | Report as abusive

George Tiller was a fine man. He was able to transcend a boundary and a subject that most people could never approach with an open mind. He was a faithful man and spirtually strong. I think he can handle his accountability in his afterlife.

There are plenty of strong people that understand the necessity of this task. It is regretable that so many of us are weak and believe ourselves strong that this practice scares us.

Crucify me if you will, human life is cheap. It has been and always will. Crying for American babies does nothing to stop genocide in other countries. Only educated persons with the knowledge and a worldview can comprehend the damage we do with overpopulation.

Humanity is a bastion of art, culture and technology in the universe. Its also a plagued civilization, because it is ruled by fear and ignorance. In broader context we need to educate ourselves to understand that sometimes hard decisions are needed and required.

Either on the birth or near death end of business we need to make some tough choices about who stays and who goes. I personally beleive mothers should be able to make their choice about a child they carry. Those that are incapable of doing so, usually request not to be resucitated and yet we keep them on life support against their own living wills.

Its not about God and if you wiegh this in morale light; the answer is that these women need their choice and sometimes life is not worth keeping for the greater good.

Posted by Anthony Rodriguez | Report as abusive

@anthony

Let me present you with a scenario to prove a point:

You are standing on the edge of a very tall building. Which is the worse crime by me:

a) For me to see you starting to fall and do nothing when it was within my power to act.

b) For me to push you off while you are solidly standing on the edge.

?

Neither are good, but B is the worse crime, right?

If that is your contention as well, then the answer to solving your ‘overpopulation’ problem (have you been in an airplane recently?) is to deny healthcare to all citizens. Then at least we are following the crime in path A rather than actively killing them as in path B.

My obvious contention is that they are both crimes, and neither is an option we should follow. If we can save, we must.

Do you not see where your thought process leads, and how dangerous it is? Hitler thought along the same lines. Some life just isn’t worth much. I vehemently disagree.

Posted by Ben | Report as abusive

@anthony

Furthermore, you wrote, “Sometimes life is not worth keeping for the greater good”. What, then separates you from the person who took George Tiller’s life?

Judgement, you will say. And you may indeed be right. However, since I can not trust your judgement anymore than you can trust the murderer of George Tiller, don’t you see that your solution will never work? It requires SOMEONE making a value judgement of human life based on a set of metrics that may be inaccurate, as was the case in this murder.

Posted by Ben | Report as abusive

c,d. walker,your remarks about unborn children and newly born children not being born with sin,is this part of a progressive interpretation of biblical text?or is it your own interpretation?i hear many new theories from our “all roads lead to god “new age christians which confuses people like me with fundamental original beliefs.in the old testiment when a jewish baby was born it was suggested that the mother had brought sin into the world because the baby was born with the sin of adam and eve,so there was a period of time that had to elapse, and i think there had to be some sort of separation before they were accepted into the community.also because there is no specific mention about abortion rights in the bible, this is always used as an excuse by progressives that want their faith to compliment what they believe politically,so their interpretation is stretched beyond imagination and normally to follow a particular lifestyle.the scripture about the plank and splinter in the persons eye is used to make us all aware of our own faults,before we comment on some other person,s sin.but as true believers although we cannot chastise none believers we are expected to gently correct each other.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

I always thought the ‘virtuous unbaptised’ were supposed to end up on the first circle of hell? Or was that just in Dante’s fiction?

I know the Vatican recently said that unborn children end up in Heaven (and not Limbo as they had previously insisted for centuries).

But this might just have been part of the “Super Fun Happy Overhaul” that the church did under Pope Spud to try and become more friendly to the young people.

So much for a simple issue…

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

Someone here said “crying for aborted babies here will do nothing to help genocide in other countries”. Actually the more that we desensitize ourselves to the fact that what grows in the womb is human life–(is it a vegetable, mineral, or animal living and growing inside?–no , its human life) the more lives outside the womb become just a little more cheap, a little less worth getting worked up over. If mothers’, who ought to be the most sensitive human beings to human life being precious, as they carry it in their wombs for 9 months, are helped to devalue that life within when its inconvient or posses a difficutly for their future, well then we have dulled the sensitivity to life of a voice that might othewise cry out immediatly, loudly and long about all the other human lives taken in various ways. To have ever to have allowed abortion to be evil was to cause us to see each other as less valuable, and when that happens its all the more easier to do things on both sides of murder that are injust, to ones fellow man

Posted by ED | Report as abusive

Just as abortion in general is considered without regard to cause and effect to the likes of; I am pregnant now what rather than considering ahead of time whether to engage in pregnancy causing activities the question “Has U.S. abortion language created climate of violence?” misses the point that it is abortion that, by its very nature, created a climate of violence—abortion is violence itself.

Perhaps the real question should be:

Has U.S religious views created a climate of violence?

Or has it just created a climate where people try to implicitly justify a murder, by trying to equate the murder of a man to a medical procedure they personally disagree with?

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

anon, not one posting from conservatives have tried to justify the killing of tiller.the guy who perpetrated the crime should be charged with 1st degree murder and executed if found guilty.i disagree with baby dismemberment, not that tiller should have been killed.my only concern as a “spirit filled” christian that this guy could be accepted in a church congregation and carry out greeters duties as though he had a normal occupation,this is so bazaar.although he seemed to lavish money on people that justified him,like the state governor for instance, i feel sorry for his family but i feel no remorse over his demise because what he did was despicable in my opinion.but the bible says”vengeance is mine says the lord”it is not ours and most of the god fearing people i know would not hurt a fly, me include

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

Reply to Ben

Point / Counter Point
Personal Responsibility
I agree if you find yourself in circumstances unfavorable to becoming a good parent / taking care of children then you should not have unprotected sex. However, accidents do occur, and when they do occur I feel that you should have the choice of rectifying them to the best of your ability. If for you that means getting an abortion I feel that, that avenue should be left open. Why punish yourself, your partner, and the child? Abortion is not a push button solution. It is a difficult road for those who choose it. It is also a lesson hard learned. Yes there are repeaters but, I would argue the majority of people learn their lessons, and if they are taught and encouraged by society to be more responsible i.e. that abortion is not to be taken lightly, it is not the only and final option on the table, then it may save more people’s lives. This I feel even you would agree with me on. (the whole education about abortion should not be taken lightly)
Yes the world is also beautiful but, pain and pleasure they are not equal. They do not rain down on us all equally. Some of us feel one more than the other. Unfortunately. So, for some it may be in their best interest.
Racism/Speciesism
Firstly, I am 100% not advocating for the consumption of fetuses. Furthermore, I am not advocating the killing and consumption of any living animal. I would like to point out that we humans have a choice when selecting what we will eat for nourishment. Hence, the vegan/veg. lifestyle. Other animals, such as lions, crocodiles, and many others do not have that luxury or even perhaps the mental capacity to defy their instincts when finding/eating food. We do and that’s where morality steps in.
Secondly, I do not consider you a racist. (I trust you on this) However, I do consider you a specieist, and here’s why.
“If I had to choose between preventing the death of a human or an animal, I would choose to save the human in every case.”
By this statement you are saying that no matter what, under any circumstance a non-human animal will die. You are not giving the animal equal consideration of whether or not it deserves to live. You are simply selecting the human to live as a blanket win all trump choice. The whole equal consideration thing means you think about it, you weigh out the pros and cons of each scenario. What I’m arguing is that humans and non-humans are closer than we think and we should rethink our relationship to animals.
As far as being specieist against humans this is entirely not true, and my statement about Einstein should have proven this. However, if faced with a situation I would look at both the human and the animal to try and make a justifiable conclusion. I would not choose the animal over the human in all cases. In many human fetus example-cases perhaps I would, depending on the animal, but I can’t concretely tell you which one I would save unless more information is presented. So, in fact I am giving both equal consideration.

Posted by George Harrison | Report as abusive

Reply to Ben Continued

As far as outlawing the killing of animals by other animals (non-human animals) goes… really? First off as I said we humans have a choice as to what we eat, animals for the most part do not, and in any case we most likely would want to leave their diets to them because we would probably disrupt their ecosystem / food chain. This is a minor point. My central argument is that animals don’t have much of a choice, where as we do, and thus it is in my opinion immoral to kill an animal for consumption when perfectly good alternatives exist, and in many cases are healthier. As far as eating animals is concerned I could make the compromise that if they are not factory farmed it’s not too bad, or if their farming methods are sustainable it is in my book an acceptable loss, because it is an acceptable gain. No, I’m not being a hypocrite, I still have my ideals I’m just being a incremental realist. In any case if you wish to discuss any issue here further we can exchange e-mail addresses and continue our polite discussion.
As far as Einstein is concerned, yes I 100% agree if he were to be aborted the world would have been deprived of his genius, and that would have been a shame. You may be also correct that the world may have seen many more Einstein types or Da Vinci or other arguably great genius however, this argument of potential is not good. The world may have also aborted some Hitlers, Stalins, Mussolinis, (insert despot/tyrant/mass murders here). So in this case it would have saved us from their wrath. Because we cannot really quantify nor make very good probability statements about this argument I would say it does not help, nor hinder this debate, at this time. So, as you said there is no way to know.
My defensiveness was well placed, and you agreed with me that not all human life is equal, which is what I was trying to prove, by choosing to save me instead of your father in the thought experiment. I’m not advocating for a state sponsored human sterilization program. What I’m more leaning to is the right to die, and abortion, it’s more the choice of these things. This is also a good point on logical extensions. Just because something is logical does not mean it is necessarily neither smart nor correct. I think you agree with me on this statement. So, because it would be ill-advised to sponsor a state run human killing program, let’s not. End of story. If you think my arguments lead down this road I’m afraid you’re mistaken. All I was trying to prove was that human lives are unequal, and that people should be given the choice to do what they want with them in very specific situations.
As far as the thought experiment is concerned, it seems you placed more worth on my own life than your fathers. So we were not equal. Had we been equal then we both would have died or all three of us would have died. So it seems that not all human lives are equal. I think that human lives are plenty valuable; I just find some to be more valuable than others. Well, I know some things about God, however you are correct in believing me to be an atheist. I don’t particularly prescribe to your God, however I would be more than willing to talk to you about religion, the bible, etc. As I’ve said I would be more than willing to set up a communication link outside of this blog to further discuss any issue here or new ones. You’re a pretty intelligent person.
Oh and technically murder is a personal choice, and one lives with the consequences—lawfully and consciously. Abortion is the same way, I’m sure some people regret it, however where we disagree is the law portion and whether it is applicable in the same way to the abortion of a fetus as it is to the murder of a person.

Posted by Georg Harrison | Report as abusive

I know most religions profess peace, but hasn’t history taught us a different lesson? How much blood has been spilled, how many lives lost, due to religious wars?
One could argue that religion itself produces a violent culture-it inspires a believers with beliefs so powerful they blind people from their once commonly shared humanity and give way only to divisive branches of “salvation”.
So maybe it’s not the abortion debate that may produce a climate of violence, it may be the way the religious climate interacts and behaves.
Religion is a personal choice, and our founding fathers knew that, the first European immigrants knew this as well, and so that may be the only compromise. If religion is a personal choice doesn’t it follow that abortion is too?

Posted by George Harrison | Report as abusive