Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Trojan horse abortionists

My latest round of replies at Joe Carter and Justin Taylor's blogs:

steve hays
    October 29, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Booth is artificially dichotomizing moral and legal obligations, as if moral obligations are never legal obligations.

    “If he dies of thirst because I failed to share my water with him…”

    It isn’t your water. The lifeboat is equipped with standard rations. They don’t belong to one passenger rather than another.

    Also, the law can require many things. The law can require doctors to report apparent child abuse or statutory rape.

    There are also Good Samaritan laws which require bystanders to render reasonable aid to injured, ill, endangered, or otherwise incapacitated individuals.

    Moreover, Muller’s argument is circular. The law is whatever law we choose to pass. You can’t say we shouldn’t pass a law because we don’t have a law that does that, for it’s precisely the absence of such a law which justifies enacting a law to deal with that situation.

    He then resorts to the incendiary rhetoric of “a Christian version of sharia law,” as if legally requiring parents not to murder their own children is equivalent to rule under the Taliban. That’s not a serious engagement of the issues. Rather, that’s a tacit admission that his position is indefensible, so he has to resort to scurrilous comparisons.
    steve hays
    October 29, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Booth Muller

    “I think Steve, however, is conflating moral and ethical obligation. That is, he continually seems to be arguing that because there is a moral obligation there is or ought to be a legal obligation. Nonsense.”

    That’s an ironic disjunction in the context of a guy who’s defending the rape exception for abortion. Why does he think rape is illegal in the first place? It begins with a moral obligation not to rape women (or men or children). We then codify that moral obligation into law. The legal obligation presupposes the moral obligation.

steve hays
    October 29, 2012 at 10:01 PM


    “Steve, a red herring argument is one that leads away from the topic being discussed, therefore, I don't think that when JR asked for a specific quote and prohibition from scripture against the rape exception, it falls into the category of red herring. In fact, he quoted a specific example in scripture where such a possiblility actually exists: Numbers Ch. 5: vs.16-22.”

    Explain how you think the passage in Numbers establishes or even suggests a rape exception for abortion.

    “Furthermore, the act of murder is legally defined as one with malice aforethought and does not include such things self-defense or justifiable homicide. What I think the argument is - is that in the case of rape, (unlike pregancy that results from consent) if the women decides to opt for something like the morning after pill (the only thing that I think I would even consider), the argument that such an action would be categoried as murder does not appear to be a strong one. I understand that you disagree with that. But the argument is not strong. Period.”

    Since the baby isn’t threatening her life, the self-defense/justifiable homicide argument is inapplicable.

    “I'm pro-life. I am a pro-life advocate.”

    What you give with one hand you snatch back with the other.

    “And I am a combat veteran. I willing signed up to give my life for my country, if need be. I answered that call and continue to.”

    And how, exactly, is that relevant to the issue at hand?

    “But I also work with with women in shelters who face the kinds of situations we are pontificating about here.”

    We have to take a position one way or the other. So either we, we’re “pontificating.”

    “I know I'm not coming at this issue from the same seat as most of you. That's fine. But would you please try to respect my position? Thank you very much for exercising mutual respect.”

    I respect respectable arguments for morally and intellectually respectable positions. I don’t respect slack arguments or emotional manipulation to leverage an evil policy.
    steve hays
    October 29, 2012 at 10:21 PM


    "And I am a combat veteran. I willingly signed up to give my life for my country, if need be. I answered that call and continue to. Willingly. Not forced by law."

    Of course, Joe Carter is an ex-Marine. So is Tony Perkins (president of the Family Research Council).

steve hays
October 29, 2012 at 11:07 PM


“Those were agreed upon examples of killing that is non-murder.”

So you’re attempting an argument from analogy. For that to work, you’d need to demonstrate that abortion in case of rape is relevantly analogous to self-defense/justifiable homicide. You can’t simply assert an analogy; you have to provide a supporting argument.

“I have not seen anyone here, Joe, Aaron, Justin or you prove that giving the woman the morning after pill right after the rape is legally considered murder. That's something that is absolutely missing from the discussion, I think.”

i) You may well be the first commenter on this thread to narrow the discussion down to the morning-after pill.

ii) Of course, if you think abortion is justifiable in case of rape, then, presumably, you wouldn’t limit that to the morning-after pill.

iii) If we classify the morning-after pill as an abortifacient, and we classify abortion as murder, then, yes, that would be equivalent to murder.

Of course, that could get us into a rather technical medical discussion.

iv) The question at hand is not the legal status quo, but what laws ought to be enacted or repealed.

Moreover, it would be sufficient to ban the morning-after pill.

“Numbers 5 is clearly a priest executed invocation of a miscarriage.”

Several problems:

i) This is a test for adultery, not rape.

ii) Some of the key Hebrew terms are obscure.

iii) Arguably, the ritual sterilizes a guilty wife rather than inducing a miscarriage. Cf. J. Currid, Numbers (EP 2009), 92-99.

steve hays
October 29, 2012 at 11:19 PM

In addition, even if, for the sake of argument, we grant your contention that Num 5 is describing an induced abortion (and I just cited evidence to the contrary), that hardly justifies the morning after pill. Your inference is fallacious:

As one Christian philosopher has pointed out:

The passage is clear that God is the agent, and it doesn't actually matter if God does it through either method or if the reader or hearer didn't see the distinction between the two methods. The point is that God is the agent, and they would have gotten that. This is a procedure given at God's command, and the result is something God is ultimately responsible for, with humans responsible only for doing as he commands.

That means it isn't a case of deciding on your own to kill someone or to have an abortion. It's more like the case of Jehu being commanded to take out the family of Ahab than David reasoning his way to the conclusion that Solomon will eventually have to kill Joab and explaining to him why. It's a case of following a direct command of God, with God ultimately responsible for the results, so it's more like cases where God administers justice directly than like cases where we have to reason through a case based on the relevant moral principles that apply to us as humans.

steve hays
October 29, 2012 at 11:30 PM

For a further discussion of Num 5:

    October 30, 2012 at 9:14 AM

    Still would like to see the legal and logical argument that proves that abortion in the case of rape is murder. I haven't seen you or others do that yet.
        steve hays
        October 30, 2012 at 11:09 AM

        Your question is confused. One doesn't need a special argument to show that abortion in case of rape is murder. Rather, if abortion in general is murder due to the status of the infant, then that principle applies to individual cases. How the child was conceived doesn't change the status of the child, per se. That's the genetic fallacy.
        steve hays
        October 30, 2012 at 11:57 AM

        It’s odd that abortion proponents seem to think the circumstances of conception taint the child in case of rape, but not in other cases. Except for rape, most folks don’t think how you were conceived is relevant to the child’s value.

        Traditionally, there was a social stigma attaching to illegitimacy or “bastard” children. This stigma was due in part to the fact that illegitimacy blurred the lines of inheritance, as well as a double standard regarding women who fooled around.

        Nowadays, however, many who defend the rape exception would never consider illegitimacy to be grounds for abortion. We don’t think a child conceived in the course of a premarital or extramarital liaison is less deserving of life. That despite the fact that we make think adultery is immoral. Yet that doesn’t transfer to the child.

        By the same token, you have children of prostitutes. That’s certainly a sordid way of coming into existence. Yet we don’t disvalue such children. Indeed, we’d regard that as bigotry.

        Likewise, infertile couples often resort to reproductive technologies. Yet we don’t think the fact that these children were conceived differently, through artificial means rather than the “old-fashioned method,” is relevant to their worth.

        And that’s despite the fact that some reproductive technologies are morally controversial. But even if you think the reproductive technique is ethically compromised, you don’t think that has any bearing on the status of the child, thus conceived. In all such cases, we accept the child on his own terms.

steve hays
October 30, 2012 at 12:07 PM


"Yes, and the rape exception only accounts for about 1/5000 situations. So, we should not make this the all or nothing line in the sand, like someone else has said."

What makes you think the relative frequency of an evil has any bearing on the moral character of an evil? It's quite rare to die at the hands of a cannibal (a la Jeffrey Dahmer). That's far more infrequent than 1/5000. Does that mean we shouldn't draw a line in the sand in the case of homicidal cannibalism? Should we not take a hard line against homicidal cannibalism? Should we have a cannibal exception to murder? Does the rarity of homicidal cannibalism make it less than an "all or nothing" issue?

What accounts for the profound moral confusion that you and JR exhibit?

steve hays
October 30, 2012 at 12:28 PM

One of the many problems with the abortion proponents on this thread is their failure to grasp the nature of mitigating circumstances. Say a kid is bullied at school everyday. Maybe he’s not physically hurt. But he’s constantly humiliated.

Suppose he gets so fed up that he goes on a shooting spree, killing any student or teacher in sight.

He’s committed murder. He’s guilty of murder. He should be convicted of murder.

However, the fact that he was provoked through incessant abuse is a mitigating factor. We can take that into account when it comes to meting out the appropriate punishment. The extenuating circumstances don’t change murder into something less than murder, but they can mitigate the degree of culpability.

If, say, abortion in case of rape was outlawed, if we classified abortion in case of rape as murder, that doesn’t mean the penalties would necessarily be the same. We can make allowance for the attenuating circumstances.

And, of course, laws to ban abortion are generally designed for their deterrent value rather than their retributive value. The point is to discourage abortion. So, for instance, the law can target the “abortion provider,” or a boyfriend who pressures a girl into having an abortion.

    steve hays
    October 30, 2012 at 3:37 pm


    “Since I asked a question I think it would apparent I was not sure what you were saying in the multiple post you have made. This particular sentence prompted me to ask the question: The legal obligation presupposes the moral obligation.”

    Notice that I was responding to Booth Muller on his own terms. That was a tacit presupposition of his argument.

    “Are you saying that since there is a moral obligation to protect the life of the unborn even in the case of rape that there should be also a legal obligation to do so?”

    I’m saying we have moral obligations to family members which properly translate into legal obligations.

    “…the politicizing it in a way that I think has been damaging to the church and it’s witness.”

    How is attempting to provide legal protections for the weak and defenseless damaging to the church and its witness?

    If there were a move to euthanize the handicapped, and Christians opposed that move by attempting to enact legal protections for the handicapped, would that damage the church and its witness?

    If anything, wouldn’t it be damaging to the church not to advocate for the most vulnerable members of our society?

    I don’t know what you mean by a “real solution.” Just as the law is no substitute for evangelism, evangelism is no substitute for the law.


  1. I'm thankful you are putting your mind to good use to help out in more popular level avenues.

  2. I ran into someone trying to use the Numbers 5 passage at Trevin Wax's blog last week. His claim was that the drink itself was an abortifacient. That might be used to try to get around the idea that God is the agent, but it has its own problems. As a test for adultery, it's ineffective if the drink is a natural abortifacient. The woman could have had an affair and not gotten pregnant or else the woman could have not had an affair and gotten pregnant from the husband and resulting in the abortion of a baby conceived legitimately.

    “…the politicizing it in a way that I think has been damaging to the church and it’s witness.”

    This is the new scare tactic. "politicizing" is the new boo-word for evangelicals, like "discrimination" in the homosexual debate.

    1. The potion itself is harmless, for it has no effect on an innocent wife.