Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fiscal Scolds and Universal Coverage

How is it that social conservatives can argue for our universal obligations to unborn children, at whatever stage of development, and then in the next breath argue against universal health coverage? What, being born ends our obligation to our fellow human being?

I don't think so.

care-reform/ and comments for background.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Exceptionalism and Localism

Great essay at FPR by Kenneth McIntyre - Exceptionalism and Localism. So good, in fact, I stole his title. :)

When I get to the end, this end, "In this view, there is no claim that local self-government will necessarily be virtuous or that it should be allowed carte blanche, but merely that the diffusion of power will lessen the possibility of governmental tyranny." after having read this (paragraph above) , "Though I have a great deal of sympathy for the republican defense of self-government, I think that the second argument for local autonomy is even stronger." I get a certain sense of cognitive dissonance. Social conservatives talk about obligations for individuals but autonomy for communities. Frankly, I don't get why communities of individuals should get autonomy if the individuals themselves do not.

In truth, what it points out is the confusion in the minds of many about just who has autonomy. I do, you do, she does, he does. Every other kind of autonomy is built upon that understanding, an understanding social conservatives seem curiously reluctant to acknowledge.


Hypocrites? No, I don't think so.

Susan McWilliams put up an interesting post at FPR, So: Are We Hypocrites?. The point of hte post is to address the question of hypocrisy with respect to be all about local and community while simultaneously putting your thoughts out on an internet blog.

The answer is, no, Susan, you are not. The world of ideas is much larger than any physical community. You are not building online friendships (thought friendships may develop) you are putting your ideas out there and then defending them (sort of >:). It is no different the reviewing a peer's publications. You do more good at FPR that you could do without FPR.

Which is kind of Utilitarian, if you think about it. :)


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Now Katherine Has Done It!!!!

Katherine, in this post, Workaday Morals at FPR, has gone and sent me 'round the bend once again.

She opens with a standard opening, and Lord knows, I shouldn't get sucked in, but I do, I just can't help it.

"Those of us foolish enough to call ourselves “conservative” are forced to admit that culturally and politically at least we live amidst less and less worth conserving. We can and should continue to mind our own business, and tackle daily life as cheerfully as possible, but some days one wants to take up the fight for the reformation of this bloated and addled culture of ours. Where to find a cudgel?"

Just who do you want to cudgel, Kate? Just who are you to think you have all the solutions? It's not like the past, even the past you so want to recreate, wasn't a hard luck time for most people. Basically, it SUCKED for all but a fortunate few.

There was NEVER a freaking land of milk and honey. Why Kate and her fellow travelers don't get that is beyond me. As hard as it is to believe, Kate, we are in the best of times for the most of the people. More children live to adulthood, more adults have more opportunity than ever before - opportunity to be conservatives, or liberals, or Christians or whatever. And it's all a CHOICE.

Could things be better? Good gravy, YES!!!!! Whining about how the past is past and oh so much better (which it wasn't) is not helping. Helping is doing exactly what you say you should do - being particular in YOUR life. I know you want to save all the babies in Bangladesh, and a little money goes a long wayto help so send some over there, but for most of us, doing the best we can to be good neighbors, coworkers, husbands, wives, brothers and sisters, children and parents - that is the good that we can do.

So go do it! Nobody's stopping you!! Hell, we'll all cheer you on!!!!

FPR Social Conservatives (not all of them) - always looking backward into the historical mists and missing what's happening right now. Sheesh.


Friday, June 12, 2009


Somewhere on Up Turned I got accused of being a utilitarian. Not being sure of all the historical ramifications of agreeing or disagreeing, I ignored the statement. Having had a chance to refresh my memory, I have to completely agree with whoever said it.

Not that we agree on the meaning of utilitarian - in context, I believe the author of that accusation meant that I exist somewhere in the hedonist/moral relativist spectrum. What I mean is something entirely different.

What I mean is that I treat each person as equal in value to me. That can be seen a relativistic, but I kind of assume that I have too high an opinion of myself, so if anything, I err on the side of too much value. :)

I also mean that "pleasure" in the JS Mill sense is not simply, or even mostly, pleasure in the senses, but pleasure in doing right, in caring about others, in being a true friend.

Autonomy, caring about others, explicity arguing for the good of all - yeah, I can get behind the utilitarian smear.

It's kind of funny, but everything social conservatives argue for is implicitly utilitarian - everybody would be better off if only they would do things the socon way!!!! But of course, everyone would not be better off. Just the socons - for a while, until things came tumbling down around their ears, 'cause, you know, that's already happened once or twice?


Monday, June 8, 2009

James, James, James

James put up a post congratulating FPR on being both a great place to essay and one so open to discussion.

In his essay, which I mostly like, he disses internet blogs as, I don't know, too common or something. Certainly there are lots of kinds of blogs, and crap blogs are as likely to be found as good ones, but FPR is just another blog. I love the essay approach, but James, let's be honest - most of you all could say what you had to say in one fifth of the time and space it takes you on FPR. What I am saying here is that you like the sound of your own words. Man up!

As for commenters - well, I love them. Even when they just agree with the poster.

Oh well. :)


Friday, June 5, 2009

A Bioethics Rooted In Love

John, at Upturned Earth, pointed me to this essay, Toward a Bioethics of Love by Helen Rittelmeyer at Doublethink Online.

I think this is a valuable discussion. Social conservatives struggle with the whole autonomy thing. I don't know if it's because they can't refute it without resorting to God, or because they believe that God already answered the question and there is no autonomy. Perhaps if they choose the root for bioethics, maybe we can find a way to a common ground that respects the beliefs of each kind of person.

Here is what I had to say:

I think you misstate Autonomy. Autonomy comes to us from ancient Greek: αυτονόμος autonomos, from auto “self” + nomos, “law”: one who gives oneself his/her own law. In modern use in ethics and philosophy, this means self-determination in the context of moral choices. In medicine, for example, this often takes the form of “informed consent” - the autonomous individual chooses for his- or herself. So when you say, “They think so because they believe people are fundamentally autonomous—a strange fiction.” And you are correct, except that you, too, hold some strange fiction that inter-dependence somehow compromises autonomy. It doesn’t. Autonomy is about choice in the context of constraints, external or internal. A person with certain specific disabilities is less self-sufficient than a more or less normally functioning human being, but his or autonomy is not thereby lessened.

In your 91% are included several genetic malformations other than DS. Among them is Anencephaly, a truly horrific malformation where there is essentially no head above the eyes and no brain much above the stem. Babies who survive birth live for hours only. This does not obviate your point about 15% so much as provide a footnote - there may in fact be lives so short and horrific that to not terminate the pregnancy is to insure unimaginable suffering of the parents and the baby.

Science has no vision of the world at all. Some, or even most, practitioners of science do. That vision is as multifaceted as the human beings that hold it. Undoubtedly some human beings, scientists included, envision a perpetually comfortable and easy world. Others hope to reduce disease, or improve the environment, or find some measure of peace for the mentally ill. You have created a straw man, a scientist that may or may not exist for real, but one that surely does NOT hold the view of many, or even most, scientists.

Finally, you have presented no rationale for exchanging love for autonomy as a basis for bioethics. Explain to me how that would work on an informed consent form. Explain to me how an individual making a moral choice could sublet that choice to another, even if love was at the heart of the relationship. Who bears responsibility for the action that follows the moral choice?

As a sketch, this is more of a thin straw. I wouldn’t care that it so were it not that so many conservatives seek just such a straw to which they can cling in their efforts to shut their ears to ethics discussions rooted in autonomy.

There may be such a thing as a bioethics rooted in love. I encourage you to sketch out your thoughts more fully, so that discussion can continue.

I hope she pursues her sketch further. This kind of discussion can only help.


Update - it seems I am not welcome at Doublethink, either. Another post deleted. Such is life!

'Nuther update - Doublethink put the post back. That's thinking twice? Also, read comments for my response (not the only one, just the last one) to John at UE.

FPR and the Environment

Patrick Deneen's essay at FPR, Against the Environment is a perfect example of why I wish I could post there - I'd like to be able to tell him how much I appreciate his essay, and how much I agree with him.

Alas, such is not to be. :)

We simply cannot continue to live the consumptive lives we now have. That does not mean that we must be poorer - we are so poor now in all that matters, poorer would be hard to achieve - but rather that we find our riches in simpler ways. How much we love one and other is not a function of how far we drive in a day in our efforts to find rewarding work, for example. The challenge of the future will be to provide access to rewarding work, and a rewarding life, without requiring so much energy be used, without a need for so many things in our lives.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Atheists Can't Last Long

James Matthew Wilson put up an essay on Burkean Conservatives. Very interesting reading. However, the following quote from Burke, "We know, and it is our pride to know, that man is by his constitution a religious animal; that atheism is against, not only our reason but our instincts; and that it cannot prevail long." seems to me to whistling past the grave yard. More and more Westerners, American and European alike, claim no religious affiliation. That doesn't mean they are largely atheists, but in fact atheist is the fasted growing self categorization.

And then James says this: "The apparent sovereignty of government in the face of “natural rights” breaks down when confronted with the supernatural sovereignty of the Creator. Or rather, human society is not merely patterned on the natural world, it is informed by its function to bring men to perfection, to aid them in becoming suitable for eternal life. At the heart of Burke’s politics is an eschatology-one that refuses to follow the path of the Revolutionaries and become immanent."

The supernatural sovereignty of the Creator? How many ways can I disagree with him? Even so, I wish the last bit of that quote were true, given how little the first part is. If James weren't seeking to immamentize the eschaton, he would leave the rest of us alone and quit insisting that souls exist, that ensoulment is meaningful, if only we would believe like him. He is free to believe as he chooses, as we are free to accept the consequences of whatever we choose, however little James might think of our choices.

Which I most fervently don't. Believe like James Matthew Wilson, that is.

I can't imagine about whom James is talking here, "If we hear someone deprecating something we deeply love as mere sentiment, we may often fail to provide a convincingly rational riposte, but we may well (depending on the circumstances) be right to punch him in the mouth." :)


PS and update - James Matthew Wilson, I know damn well you see me. >:)

Freedom and Liberty

Lew Daly, a guest contributor at FPR, has posted at FPR an essay on Liberty or Freedom? It is not exactly on point with respect to my earlier statement, "I keep waiting for someone at FPR to tell me what they mean by freedom," but it's at least in the ballpark.

Lew provides some etymology for both words and says this: "Our Bill of Rights is the world’s greatest monument of negative individual liberty. But our Christian heritage bears the imprint of the deeper idea that true liberty—freedom—derives from connectedness, not separation."

So true liberty is freedom, which is connectedness not separation. In at least one sense, this statement accords will with my own beliefs - to be truly free is to do only that which you must do.

In the end, Lew's essay is not helpful in defining what freedoms or liberties are being lost in the current social order. Perhaps it is the sense of connectedness, but Patrick in comments concludes that because freedom, severed from the political, has been corrupted with individualist overtones, the word is rendered into meaningless noise. So we are back where we began - what freedoms are being lost?

Patrick says something else interesting in his comment; "... the Greek idea of freedom - that its opposite is the condition of slavery, which is not only or merely the condition of being a slave, but most profoundly the condition of being subject to forces over which you have no control." Patrick goes on to modify this statment to mean control of appetites, but I wonder if his original, very broad, statement doesn't present his true belief, that free men are in control. If so, what an odd and telling confession.

Patrick, in case you are confused, you are not in control of anything but your choices. Everything else is out of your hands.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Freedom Is Nothing Left to Lose

Freedom. We load up that word with so much meaning, most of it unspoken. I keep waiting for someone at FPR to tell me what they mean by freedom. So far, no one has taken up the challenge. Maybe they don't even know there IS a challenge!!!!

Probably, but maybe not. :)

Carlos Casteneda, that putative charlatan, said at least one profound thing - when you are totally free, you do only what you must do. You must eat, breathe, urinate, defecate and eventually die. Beyond that, what must you do?

I think that is the challenge that faces all of us. What must we do? Nothing is an acceptable answer. Who will enforce anything else? God? Jesus said "believe in me", so if you believe in the God of Jesus, that much you must do, but beyond that? Nothing.

But, must... what a strange word. It's meaning is freighted with culture and family and desire and authority. A grab bag of everything in the world. There are many things we must not do, but few ways to know what we must do.

I think we are always free. We do exactly what we choose to do and nothing else. Our choices are always constrained by consequences, but the choice itself is free. Viktor Frankl, in a concentration camp, decided he could be free, that no one could take that away from him. That in truth, he couldn't even give it up.

In the end, this is what Viktor had to say about what we must do, "I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge." Whatever that is, that is where freedom lies - in doing what you must do, and nothing else.

Not that it isn't a hard path to follow.


... Because Terrorism Should Not Pay

John, at Upturned Earth responds to a post by Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings wherein Hilzoy suggests ways in which the outcome of Scott Roeder's murder of Dr. Tiller does not compromise women's access to appropriate health care, including therapeutic late term abortions. i will leave you to read both posts, but this is how I responded to John at his site:

John, you reference two comparable kinds of violence, that then proceed to reference completely incomparable kinds of remedies.

a) Hilzoy says dilation and extraction (IDX) should not be outlawed because it may be the safest method to protect the mother’s health and life. How is your remedy, repeal ALL restriction requiring humane treatment of animals, comparable?

b) Hilzoy says if you are going to be an Ob/Gyn, someone who specializes in womens reproductive health, you need to be trained in late-term abortion techniques, Why? Because sometimes the fetus dies, and sometimes the mother’s life is at risk. She does not say that a specialist in women’s reproductive health MUST provide abortions. Clearly, her implication is that if the mother’s life is at risk and an emergency is underway, even specialists who oppose abortion must be able to act to save the mother. Your comparison refers to non-specialists with no obvious connection to life-saving techniques or services.

c) Hilzoy again speaks to hospitals providing women’s reproductive health services and the requirement that they be able to act to save a woman’s life. She suggests that religious objections would except if the fetus is dead. You suggest research that in not and won’t be emergency in nature is comparable to that of doctor faced with the death of the woman if he or she doesn’t act.

These are entirely unobjectionable changes to current law, ones that put the life of the mother on parity with the life of the fetus while respecting the idea of viability. I understand you do not accept viability as the standard by which abortion should be judged, but it is the law as it is written.

There are many institutions that do animal research. There is now, what, one doctor in the entire nation who will perform therapeutic late term abortions? This is a question of women’s health, John, and your post is extremely cavalier.


and John's response:

These are entirely unobjectionable changes to current law …

Umm … no they’re not. They are deeply, deeply radical changes that run directly counter to many Americans’ convictions about conscience protection and the dignity of human life. It’s one thing to defend them on the merits, and quite another to propose them as a brazenly political measure to “make it clear that terrorism doesn’t work

and my response:

John, in what way are they radical changes from existing law? Emergency rooms are required to handle emergencies. Doctors address threats to the life and wellbeing of women. That is the basic thrust of all of Hilzoy’s piece. What part of her remedies are radical changes? Hilzoy does not require those who object to abortions to perform them - she requires that those who call themselves specialists in women’s health be able to act, when necessary, to protect the health of a woman in their care.

You object to her framing, not to her ideas? You would subjugate women’s health to your distaste for the way Hilzoy characterizes her remedies?

Anti-abortionists use “murder” freely, but Hilzoy suggests eminently sensible, legal and appropriate remedies to actually provide for women’s health, using the phrase “make it clear that terrorism doesn’t work” and suddenly women’s health isn’t important?

Answer me this, if you will: if the mother’s life is in immediate and significant danger (and you may describe immediate and significant however you wish) is it okay to perform IDX , or any other abortion technique you might find less objectionable, in order to save her life?


If John answers, we'll see what he says.


John answered:

What part of her remedies are radical changes?

Umm … the parts that suggest passing a congressional mandate requiring that all hospitals be ready to provide, and all medical professionals instructed in to perform, late-term abortions, not just in cases where the mother’s life is at stake, but also in those in which it is the child’s or the mother’s health that is the issue.

You object to her framing, not to her ideas? You would subjugate women’s health to your distaste for the way Hilzoy characterizes her remedies?

You’re missing the point - badly. The entire point of hilzoy’s post is to suggest those policies as a way to show that “terrorism doesn’t work”. And I responded by showing up that illogic for what it was. My objection to the policies is rooted in a conviction that people shouldn’t be allowed - much less required - to kill other human beings on grounds as flimsy as these.

… if the mother’s life is in immediate and significant danger (and you may describe immediate and significant however you wish) is it okay to perform IDX , or any other abortion technique you might find less objectionable, in order to save her life?


And here is my response:

Passing a mandate that hospitals be able to be hospitals, that specialists in women's health be able to care for women appropriately? Hilzoy goes on to say "There should be religious exemptions, but they should not extend to the treatment of women whose fetus has already died." I think Hilzoy answered your second objection rather pointedly. As for the training, she says this, "Require training in late-term abortion techniques for Ob/Gyn certification. Note that these techniques are also used when the fetus has already died." She doesn't say all providers must provide abortions, she says all providers of women's health must be trained, specifically for cases when the fetus has died and there are no religious objections to be made. Let's talk about the health and quality of life issue. I think that troubles you deeply, that we currently allow such choices to be made up to some point in time. Lets think of another example of where we make such a distinction, but it doesn't seem to create the same tensions in our society. Conjoined twins. Today, we almost always (always? I don't know) work to separate conjoined twins. We do this knowing that the twins, if they remain conjoined, could live long and perhaps even fruitful lives. The choices made in separating conjoined twins sometimes involves the death of one of the twins. Often, we even know which twin will die. Nonetheless, we allow the parents to make a choice involving the death of an already born human being, in order to improve the health and quality of life of the surviving twin. It is the same language, John, the same choice, the same outcomes. Why is making a choice based upon probable health and wellbeing okay in the conjoined twins case and not in the abortion case? If we are consistent in our beliefs, I don't believe we can see a difference. I am glad we agree on your final point. However, just who should perform the necessary late term therapeutic abortion? Someone who only knows c-sections, or someone who knows less invasive techniques, even though that person will not perform abortions under any other circumstance? Jake

More in comments to this post.



Mark at FPR speaks of Corporate Capitalism and the Loss of Virtue. I believe that Mark speaks of a genuine problem, but it is the implications of this passage that I find interesting:

"Because of the asymmetry between profits and virtue, a regulatory bureaucracy is erected to make up the difference. Regulations become a substitute for virtue. Of course, as regulations increasingly pressure corporate executives, they will naturally find themselves focusing on the bureaucratic minutia of the regulations rather than on the self-imposed moral probity that virtue requires. Regulations, then, can have the unintended effect of distracting from the cultivation and practice of virtue."

In a sense, this is the argument that I have heard religious believers make against atheists - that without an authority setting the rules and providing punishment for disobedience, people will not seek virtue. I am not saying that Mark holds this position - I don't know if he does or doesn't.

In no small part, it is the definition of virtue that is at issue with corporations. As Mark notes, virtue as defined by Friedman is as follows:

“... there is one and only one social responsibility of business–to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud."

I take Friedman's "social responsibility" to be the equivalent of Mark's virtue. Looked at in that way, most corporations are nearly perfectly virtuous. The complication, of course, comes about in those evil externalities; polution, harmful labor practices, etc.

Any roads, I would be interested in Mark's take on question of atheism and the role of an authority figure.


Respect for the Beliefs of Others

The beliefs of others. What does this phrase mean? It certainly includes religious beliefs, but what about atheists and agnostics, who have a functioning system of beliefs but no religious beliefs? Religious belief is often defined as belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny. Clearly, atheists and agnostics do have religious beliefs. Just as clearly, they have beliefs about the world, about ethics, and about justice and equity that constitute a system of beliefs.

Most of my life I have considered respect for the beliefs of others as a rule I must follow. As honestly and as completely as I am able, I maintain, in both speech and action, respect for the beliefs of others, religious or systematic. Too many things in this universe remain unknown and unknowable.

This morning I had a moment of clarity strike me - that others should respect my beliefs as well.

Admittedly, that will be a hard row to hoe, because my personal beliefs are not sustained and illuminated by thousands of years of written words. Even so, I follow no cult that might be offensive to mainstream religions, I respect the idea of belief as sustaining for all human beings, and I respect the beliefs of others and do not seek to change their beliefs, at least where those beliefs do not act in the real world in opposition to my beliefs.

Abortion is a such real world opposition. I do not believe that a blastocyst of less than 100 cells is a human being in anything but potential. I do not believe that a woman's autonomy must be sacrificed for the good of that clump of cells.

Now, in the spirit of our common respect for each other's beliefs, I ask that those whose beliefs run counter to mine respect my beliefs and refrain from calling abortion murder. I make this request not as an individual, although that should be sufficient, but as an informal, unappointed representative of the many, many citizens of this nation who share with me these specific beliefs about abortion.

Our nation is a nation of laws. Until such a time as our laws make abortion illegal, and may that day never come, I ask that all of us refrain from referring to abortion as murder.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Patrick Deneen on Gay Marriage

Patrick, talking about gay marriage at FPR says this, "American marriage - and relationships in general - are increasingly defined above all by the imperatives of individualism, and thereby subject to the demand that any particular relationship is contribute to an individual’s personal development and satisfaction. If not, then it is subject to fundamental redefinition."

He states things exactly correctly, and gets the main point completely wrong. Committed marriage is an ongoing act of personal development, not as a goal, but as a product. People give up on it not because they don't get enough development but because the personal development required to make a true marriage is actually quite hard. Many marriages that stay together do so even though the partners have not grown, and the marriage is not functional in any meaningful sense. Is this a desired outcome? I don't see it.

Marriage is hard work. Good work, but hard. Patrick, we are inevitably and irrevocably individuals with the the unassailable authority to choose. Limiting that choice by ramping up consequences for choices of which you disapprove is no more than whipping the deckhands until morale improves. It ain't gonna work.

Marriage is not about children, or at least not only about children. It is about two people (or more? though as hard as it is for two people, more seems all but impossible) making a life together. Marriage in this country has not been about children for a long, long time. Intentionally childless marriages are not new. Gay marrriage is no more than recognizing that we are beings inhabiting a specific body, where context is set by the body but the choices are made by the being.

Patrick goes on, "Marriage is a condition in which individuality is subsumed to the larger considerations, demands, and obligations of culture and commonweal. At the most basic level, we sacrifice our autonomy on behalf of the good of a “unit” now defined as a couple, not two individuals." Again, he missed the point. Individuality is not subsumed by marriage. Individuality is inalienable, or unfixable, depending on your POV. Partners bring their individuality to the marriage, and then in a long process of give and take, of mistakes and forgiveness, learn how to be a human being whose self defined circle of "me" includes other people, and choices are not made for the good of a single individual but for the good of whoever is included in that circle.

Patrick simply can't get it that we are inescapably individuals, that every act is a choice; that our individuality is inalienable and must be accommodated, not assumed away. Until he gets that much, his prescriptions for a better future for all of us will remain infeasible, or worse, counter productive. Which is a bad, as at least the FPR folks are talking about and working toward a future that is radically different, and fundamentally more human, from that we currently experience.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Rights, Autonomy and Abortion

Daniel Larison at Eunomia says something totally interesting in an otherwise tangentiall related topic. He says, "It is rather like using the language of rights and autonomy to oppose abortion. At first, it seems like the smart move, because it speaks to people in a language they will readily understand, but by buying into the assumptions of one’s opponents the debate’s outcome is fixed before it even starts."

I find this statement immensely interesting. If I take him right, he acknowledges that the idea of rights and autonomy is opposed to the position he holds, along with many other conservatives. His statement is an admission that if the question is framed as one of rights and autonomy, anti-abortionists cannot support their position.

So, if it isn’t a matter of rights and autonomy, then what is it that undergirds their position with respect to abortion? They can no longer use the death of the fetus as an argument, because that goes directly back to the rights of the woman as an autonomous being. So just what authority to conservatives can turn to support their position?

I can imagine that one source is someone's interpretation of the will of God. And it would have to be a more or less modern interpretation, because the bible is all but bereft of references to abortion incidents - and what there is, is in the old testament. Not the best source for modern life.

I asked Daniel to amplify his remarks. We'll see what happens. He is articulate, passionate, and mostly logical. If he answers, it will be thoughtful and eloquent.

Truthfully, though, I expect no answer.


Update - Daniel did respond, and I am grateful. Here is what he said, "This whole discourse of competing rights is what lead to the creation of abortion rights in the first place. As I understand it, abortion is wrong because it violates the dignity of the human person, desecrates the image of God and ignores the obligations we have to the weak and defenseless. It also sunders in the most violent way the obligations of parents to their children; it is a kind of impiety directed toward children. In the end, competing rights claims are competitions over power, and unborn children can never effectively contest for that power because they are dependent and helpless. The very dependency that serves as the basis for denying the child the rights of a full person is the thing that obliges us to protect that child. In my view, it is ultimately far more effective and much more true to think of this question in these terms. I have not encountered many pro-lifers who share that view as of yet, but I will keep working on it."

As I said, thoughtful, articulate, eloquent, passionate and mostly logical.

I don't agree that dependency grants the fetus rights superior to the woman's. In the end, Daniel's response comes down to this, "... abortion is wrong because it violates the dignity of the human person, desecrates the image of God and ignores the obligations we have to the weak and defenseless."

Abortion violates the dignity of the fetus. What about violating the rights of the mother? Is dignity more important than rights and autonomy? How do we even compare such things?

Abortion desecrates the image of God. So does murdering Tiller. Christians of all stripes (which is not to say all Christians, or even many) are glad he was murdered. I guess it's a numbers thing. That makes it kind of for sale, doesn't it? I'll trade you one Tiller for a few thousand dead babies.

We have many obligations to the weak and defenseless, most of which we conveniently find ways to ignore. We do not have the right to take away a woman's autonomy to expunge our guilt. Whatever guilt is to be borne, is hers and hers alone. A woman is an independent and soverign being - we don't get to decide for her. Application of the laws of this nation constrain choices by consequences, but current law says there are no legal consequences for choosing abortion.

I am okay with Daniel stating that God says abortion is bad. God didn't tell me that. Who is to say who is right? Until we get proof recognizable to all that God says a blastocyst a few hours old is a human being whose rights supercede that of the mother, I remain pro-Choice.