“Abortion is murder”
We’ve all doubtless heard today that an anti-abortion activist acted in an insane manner. We’ll also probably hear a lot about how this shouldn’t reflect on the anti-abortion movement at all — it’s a completely isolated incident, etc. In line with other discussions going on today, though, I’d like to point out that the position that “abortion is murder” is fundamentally insane, and if people really work themselves into a place where it seems to make sense, acting insanely is the logical consequence.
The very fact that there are so few anti-abortion terrorists is actually evidence that the slogan “abortion is murder” does not match up with any recognizable moral intuitions. Certainly I would hope that no one would have the same disapproval of a woman who had an abortion and a woman who had purposely murdered her post-born baby.
But let’s look at another example. We all know of situations where someone has accidentally killed a baby. Even if it’s truly not their fault, we think it’s appropriate that they feel remorse. But if abortion is murder, then miscarriage is unintentional murder. The woman’s body naturally fights against the fetus for resources, and just as the accidental killer of an infant always thinks “there’s something I could’ve done differently,” surely a woman who suffers a miscarriage could think along the same lines and should feel some amount of remorse that her body accidentally killed this human being inside of her. Yet isn’t that a monstrous thing to say? Wouldn’t you instinctively want to punch someone who said such a thing to a woman who suffered a miscarriage?
Obviously no one wants to draw such an insane conclusion from a widely-used slogan like “abortion is murder” — but such insane conclusions are possible because the slogan is itself insane. It’s not a deeply held moral conviction we should “respect,” it’s an amoral conviction that actively fights against our moral instincts and, when fully accepted, leads to insane behavior.
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