Friday, April 01, 2016

Prolife strategy

Trump blundered into the abortion this week by remarking on the need to punish women who have abortions. Of course, Trump doesn't really believe that. It did, however, make an old issue resurface, and I see some confusion on the part of Christians in responding to Trump.

i) Certainly there are women who have uncoerced abortions. There are women who have abortions for convenience. There are men and women who have no compunction about killing somebody who's an obstacle to their ambitions, so long as they can get away with it.

ii) That said, laws have more than one function. Some laws are designed to exact justice. Conversely, some laws are designed to deter certain kinds of social behavior. And many laws attempt to do both.

iii) As a practical matter, it isn't politically feasible to pass laws that punish women who have abortions. Not only do such laws have no possibility of passage, but the very effort to sponsor bills to that effect would backfire. It would play right into the hands of the abortion lobby. 

That isn't fair, but in a just world, we wouldn't have abortion on demand in the first place. 

iv) In addition, the dispensation of justice is ultimately up to God. Up to a point, it's good to have laws that punish wrongdoing, but at the end of the day, no one will elude justice. That's what the final judgment is about. 

v) In the meantime, the primary goal of the prolife movement is to prevent as many abortions as possible, given the political realities. With that in mind, we focus on deterrence rather than retribution. The priority is to save lives, not exact justice. 

Moreover, given the political climate, these are competing values. Ideally, it's good to have laws that deter wrongdoing and punish wrongdoing alike. But if you can't do both, then you should prioritize saving babies, and leave it to God to right the scales of justice. We have no duty to engage in futile, counterproductive tactics. 


  1. As though I don't already suspect that he isn't the conservative he wants us to believe he is, strawmanning the real conservative position and claiming it as his own position only gives additional evidence of positional deception on his part.

  2. I realize our culture is plainly so corrupt that murder for hire is permissible when the victim is pre-born, yet it seems perfectly logical to me that if a mother paid a physician to suck out her 3-month old's brain, or else rip him apart limb-from-limb because she didn't want to care for the child, that both the doctor and the mother would be complicit in said murder.

    All things being equal it seems like the same approach should apply equally to the murder of the pre-born.

    I've not looked into it, so I'm not sure where people think Trump went astray, except of course that wild-eyed leftists will seize upon such basic, logical conclusions and run away screaming about back-ally abortions and rusty coat hangers and such; but don't they do that anyway?

    1. The question is not about assessing the issue on the merits, but doing what's achievable rather than shooting ourselves in the foot.

  3. I'm glad you're addressing this in some fashion. I checked to see if you would.

    "Some laws are designed to exact justice. Conversely, some laws are designed to deter certain kinds of social behavior. And many laws attempt to do both."

    I think the second classification is the easier for which to find examples. Speed limit laws would seem to fit. They're primary purpose is to curb behavior (and maybe in some instances provide a revenue stream for the state.) They're not so much about retribution. Yet the only effective way of curbing behavior is to assign penalties for infractions. For the rich the cost of a speeding ticket or resultant higher insurance premiums isn't efficient. Whereas the inconvenience of mandatory court appearance and threat of losing one's drivers license is effective. The ultimate design is to effect behavior, but the best way to do that is to dish out penalties that actually work.

    Laws with exacting justice as primary concern I find work the same way. I see retributive justice for murder primary; yet curbing societal behavior at least to some degree is at least an unavoidable byproduct (if not an intended one).

    So, I think I agree though I might be hard pressed to find laws that are intended to do both equally, exact justice and curb behavior.

    "The question is not about assessing the issue on the merits, but doing what's achievable rather than shooting ourselves in the foot."

    Yes, but I don't think the solution is to decry all penalty for women in such cases, which is what I see the GOP establishment and prolife movement has done. That penalty for breaking the law takes a back seat to curbing behavior the two are in the same car, which the GOP establishment has seemed to have glossed over and even outright denied in some cases.

    "...and I see some confusion on the part of Christians in responding to Trump."

    Included in that number are you taking issue with this those who've decried the mother's accountability for her actions, placing the blame solely on those who'd perform illegal abortions? And, do you have in view those who've suggested either that (i) anti abortion laws shouldn't apply to mothers or (ii) they should apply yet without exacting any justice whatsoever?

    Frankly, when I heard one Fox News panel severely coming out against Trump not having thought through the issue, I thought to myself "what an irony..." What I'm seeing is that the confusion you've referenced pertains to the conservative establishment too. Very sad.

    1. i) On the one hand, there are prolifers who have a double standard for women. They act as though women aren't responsible agents. I disagree.

      That said, even homicide allows for mitigating circumstances, depending on the situation.

      ii) On the other hand, you have Abolitionists who act as though we can conjure just laws and convictions on demand. But saying what ought to be the case doesn't make it happen.

      iii) Even if the law classified abortion as murder, prosecutors sometimes face a dilemma: they must take into account whether jurors are prepared to convict the defendant as charged. If the jury thinks the prosecutor overcharged the defendant, the jury will acquit the defendant, which means the defendant gets off scott-free (given the prohibition against double jeopardy). And it only takes one vote to acquit. Murder convictions must be unanimous. In that event, the killer isn't punished at all.

      iv) Juries are loath to treat mothers who kill their kids the same way they treat fathers (or live-in boyfriends) who kill their kids. Take high-profile cases like Andrea Yates and Susan Smith. That's unfair, but given the jury system, if the jury pool is morally blind, it doesn't matter what the law says. You can't get tough on crime if jurors are soft on crime.

    2. "I see retributive justice for murder primary."

      i) I don't think preventing murder is less important than punishing murder.

      ii) If the two come into conflict, we must choose one or the other. If we can't do both, then we must prioritize.

      iii) Given the jury pool, it would be nearly impossible to secure a murder conviction for abortion, even if abortion was illegal. But we can have more success if we aim for deterrence rather than retribution, and leave retribution in God's hands. Do what we can in the here and now; let God take care of the hereafter.

  4. Sounds like we are at least in general agreement. Maybe you're not done addressing this but I think Fox botched it a bit.


    1. I wrote: "I see retributive justice for murder primary."

      You responded "i) I don't think preventing murder is less important than punishing murder."

      Actually, I agree. I'd even say that in some cases preventing murder can even be more important than punishing murder. I wasn't intending to address degree of importance when I spoke of that which I find primary. My point was narrow. Given a murder, justice in that particular case is what I'm calling "primary" (whether it ever prevents future murders or not). The prevention of possible future murders due to capital punishment is at best a byproduct, which I would never label as less important.