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Sunday, July 15, 2007

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Rensslaer

Al,

Sorry to hear you're still having health difficulties, but good to hear it's better than it might have been. We miss you around the Forums!

I definitely agree with you on the war, and its necessity -- I've blogged on the subject at least twice this year.

But Giuliani is a non-starter with me (not that you're necissarily supporting him, but the Decision 08 guy is). I'm not a single-issue voter, even on the war (and I think he's hardly the only pro-war candidate), and I disagree with Giuliani on just about every issue other than the war. He might as well be a Democrat.

I remember just a few years ago, when I was more of a "pragmatic Republican" than I am today -- I might well have gotten along with the fact that he favors killing children. But now, I see "that pesky, divisive abortion issue" for what it is -- a matter of killing children. I see it as equivalent to a candidate who favors killing Jews -- it's not something I can set aside to make a pragmatic vote for the lesser of two evils.

AL Hurd

I appreciate the words, Renss. Hope to back sooner rather than later.

However, I must quibble that Rudy "favors killing children." What he favors, as far as I can tell, is the ability of an individual to make that choice on their own without the federal government stepping in (regardless of how right or wrong the choice may be.) To me, that is the most conservative position if one really wants to consider small government conservatism. To be sure, the practice of abortion itself is clearly killing unborn children, but rather than have the big old Feds tell me what is right and wrong, I'd rather promote a culture where one's raising and public temperment informed that instead. I tend to feel the same about some of the other issues your general social conservative would bring up in regards to Rudy.

I do support him, yes. And I am a single issue voter right now. I seriously doubt it will be terribly important in the near term that abortions are carried out if a bomb goes off in New York City because we have elected someone not willing to fight terrorism. Keeping someone out of the Oval Office that presided over a small number of children being killed, would very possibly instead see many, many children potentially destroyed in terrorist activities. If and when we can find a solution to the war, then I'll entertain thoughts towards domestic issues, both large and small. Until then, those other issues simply muddy the water (in an already dirty water town.)

AL

EDIT - Here's a good piece by The Baseball Crank looking at Rudy and his problems with the GOP base: http://baseballcrank.com/archives2/2007/07/politics_good_p.php

Rensslaer

The issue, really, is whether abortion is taking the life of an innocent human being.

You've granted that "the practice of abortion is clearly killing unborn children", so...

Think of it this way: Would you support someone whose platform included as a major issue a plank which would remove restrictions against murder, preferring to allow people to "make that choice on their own without the federal (or any) government stepping in (regardless of how right or wrong the choice may be)"?

Personally, I would not, and I'm betting neither would you, or any other conservative.

And since you've yourself made the link between abortion and killing children...

It seems hyperbole on one level to say this, but on another level not:

More people die from abortion every day than die of terrorism anywhere in the world.

The Centers for Disease Control figures indicate 2,300 abortions every day (and they admit that's a conservative figure). How many die from terrorism every day? Every month? Every year (other than 2001)?

Terrorism is important to deal with -- and I'm with you on it -- but abortion isn't something to be swept under the rug as relatively unimportant.

Renss

AL Hurd

If you think I consider abortion unimportant, you have misunderstood. I think the practice itself is abhorent, but not the most pressing issue when compared to the issue of Islamic terrorism. Nor do I think it is the government's responsibility to counteract abortion and every bit of it's responsibility to combat terrorism.

Thus, I do not think the true issue is the death of unborn children as much as it is where the line is drawn with government involvement. You make the analogy towards adult murder, but fortunately, the morals and ethics of that practice were settled years ago. Unfortunately, the morals and ethics of abortion have not been settled, and I do not look towards the federal government to take care of that.

In truth, the number of abortions has gone down over the last 20 years or more. This is not due to heavily restrictive laws (though I will certainly concede things like parental consent does help and was necessary.) The practice has lessoned in many peoples eyes/minds precisely because discussion of the morality of abortion has been on peoples lips. That is the only way to truly lesson the practice - not outlawing it. If there were some way to overturn the bad law made by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade, I would be perfectly happy allowing each and every state to make the decision of whether or not they would allow abortions. The conservative approach should not be to include more government, but to get government out of the way and allow the better angels of man's nature take over when it comes to the personal responsibility to make such a drastic choice. That is what should be talked up...not some sort of Federal Law outlawing the practice entirely. One, it could and will never happen. And two - nor should it.

It is hypocrisy to suggest on the one hand that there is too much government and then to expect yet another level of such to contend with a moral issue. I am not suggesting you have done so, but that this seems the general position. I do not want government dictating morals, but rather, my own heart and mind should be sufficient (from abortion to drugs to sex and on and on and on.)

Now, if you want to discuss the rights of children (both born and unborn) we could move on to an entirely different set of parameters that in the end, could possibly include the victims of abortion. But any constitutional amendment must protect and preserve a right, not deny such.

Good discussion, Renss. I ought to do a blog post on this and may over the weekend.

AL

Rensslaer

Al, I've seen these arguments before, and I'm not insensitive to them, but I don't find them compelling because if my principle is correct, none of them matter. Society has been brought to think of unborn children as having less rights than pets, and to think of the act of abortion -- the murder of children -- as equivalent to speeding through a stopsign.

First, government can never dictate morals (though it's trying to, now, with the thought/hate crimes legislation).

But government dictates moral behavior every day. That's what laws are! And that's all that they are -- rules for living in civil society which are not allowed to be contravened without punishment.

Secondly, this is not a question of more or less government, or levels of government. It is one of definition. I would never suggest MORE government for anything. I'm suggesting expanding the definition for the existing laws to protect those people who remain unprotected -- to expand the practice and enforcement of our laws to protect rights which already exist.

If you've read my blog, you know that I see the answer to all this as Personhood - the same expansion of definition which ended slavery nationwide. Is a black woman a person, or a piece of property? Is an unborn child a person, or a piece of property? That is the critical question here, and they are equivalent questions.

I actually oppose parental "consent" laws, because they are very like allowing someone to get a government "permit" to hold a slave. It grants a "right of consent" for one person to say it's all right for a second person to kill a third person. Besides that, it undermines the definition of personhood.

Do laws outlawing slavery violate the "right" of a person to hold a slave? According to the logic of Planned Parenthood, they do. But in our society no person has the right to hold a slave -- a person -- hostage to do with as they please. The government divested them of their "property" because it is always wrong to take an innocent man's freedom. Likewise, no person has the "right" to dispose of another person as if they are medical waste. No one has that "choice" as a right, any more than anyone has a "choice" to hold a slave or kill a Jew.

So, again, the question comes down to who is considered a person, and who is not. This is worth a whole 'nother post, but I can assure you, once you start drawing arbitrary conditions or lines which define personhood other than "from fertilization to natural death", then you leave in question alot of other questions, such as:

- Should a person be allowed to live past the point where they contribute to society, or should government euthanize them?

- Does a retarded person have a full right to life?

- Do you have the right to remain on life support at all? Even in a coma? If so, where do you pull the plug? (I saw an instance just this week where a woman said she didn't want to be on life support more than 4 days, but on the 5th day she awoke from her stroke/coma)

- Do you have a right to be retarded? In some countries you don't -- you are mandated to be aborted.

- Does a person's right to life change when they are in a coma? If they are unconscious? If they are sleeping?

- Does a handicapped person have as much of a right to life as everyone else?

All of these questions go to viability, worth to society, age, level of development, etc. -- all the conditions which people use to try to define an unborn child as a non-person can also be applied to an adult person in another situation (which puts their own rights in question). We can either hold a pragmatic view, and go down a slippery slope (which the US is going down already), or we can hold to a principle of rights to every person.

AL Hurd

I promise to touch on this more when I post over the weekend, but allow me to say I certainly see the point you are making (and appreciate it greatly, make no mistake.) I think what makes this particular issue so very problematic is that instead of just looking at one indivudual's personhood, we are now talking about at least two (if not three if one considers the father's rights in any of this.) How do you dictate to one person while holding the second's rights sacred? Or conversely (as it is now) - we hold the rights of the mother to be legaly sure, but not the rights of the child she carries. Who gets "the shaft" in the end?

Ideally, personal responsibility would solve this issue, but I think we both know that as long as government is willing to take care of those who won't take care of themselves and people are not willing to take on their own general responsibility like providing for their old age or healthcare, they certainly aren't going to do the right thing in terms of waiting to have sex or using proper protection to be sure they do not get pregnant. Further, there are certain circumstances (though rare) that muddy the water - rape and incest, obviously.

Lot's to consider in the whole argument, to be sure. I am enjoying the back and forth and thanking God that we are both able to discuss without resorting to cheap argumentation ploys one sees so many employing these days. In fact, it's the only reason I am discussing it at all. The minute we get a nutjob in here (not bloody likely), I am done. ;)

Rensslaer

I know some nutjobs... want me to call them? :D

At what point, then, does the mother gain legal responsibility for her child, if ever?

At what point does the mother gain moral responsibility for her child?

At what point can she no longer absolve herself of responsibility?

Birth? A week or so after birth (as Sen. Boxer contends)? Viability? When the baby starts to look human? When the baby's heart begins to beat? When the baby can take care of herself? When the baby is adopted?

Dependent, certainly, on your answer to those queries, you must then ask yourself whose rights are paramount at that point. What makes a difference for the mother's responsibility for the welfare of the child at 1 month after birth that she didn't have at 1 month before birth? Presumably, you believe that at some point the mother does not have the "right" to allow the kid to die.

The difference, perhaps, is that I believe the mother has no "right" to allow the kid to die, ever. Starting when that kid became a human being -- whether you believe this child was chosen by God, or by a chemical reaction, that remarkable instant is at fertilization, when the child's DNA and who she will be has been established for the rest of her life, no matter how long that might be.

Rensslaer

AL Hurd

To answer your question directly, the mother has responsibility for the child from the moment of conception (in fact, prior to in that the mere decision to embark on the act that might create such is surely a responsibility.) The child itself has zero for the mother as it has yet to form the ability of thought as far as responsibility and understanding are concerned. Thus, the mother has the great ability to recognize said responsibility where the child is not yet a "thinking" creature - but nonetheless, a creation to be respected and cared for.

The rights are inherent, but as far as the government is concerned, they have yet to begin until that child is a full fledged member of the census. Regardless, the mother has full responsibility for the child. And yet, after the child is born, there are no laws that suggest a parent must remain on top of the child in education - only that they must "go to school." There are no laws that demand that a parent invest in the child a sense of citizenship or even the very same personal responsibility that has led to this situation. Yet this does not absolve them of their wrong towards their child.

My earlier point is - a child has little to zero protections as the current law stands. If we are to look at Federal responsibility towards parental responsibility, then we must consider the entirety of childhood when the "person" is at their most weak and vulnerable period. And in doing so, how invasive must we be to ensure such a thing?

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