Abortion: September 2006 Archives

Rauch & Penalver: There is no Moderate Pro-Life Position


Update: Ramesh points us to his own explanations of why it's reasonable to favor abortion restrictions without wanting to throw women in jail.

They are here, here and here (already cited below).


There's been an interesting back and forth over at Mirror of Justice that was sparked by this Jonathan Rauch review of Ramesh Ponnuru's Party of Death.

Rick Garnett starts here
Eduardo Penalver replies
Back to Garnett
Garnett also quotes a bit of Ponnuru's own refutation of the Rauch/Penalver critique (the piece he quotes can be foud here.)
More Penalver
One last bit from Garnett

The critique in Rauch's review that fails to impress Garnett but which finds support from Penalver is this:

“Eight-week-old fetuses do not differ from 10-day-old babies in any way that would justify killing the former,” [Ponnuru] writes. “The law will either treat the fetus as a human being with a right to be protected from unjust killing or it will not.” If those are the only choices, and if the right position is that an early-term fetus is a full-fledged person, why not impose jail terms on women who seek abortions? After all, they are taking out a contract for murder. Instead of confronting that question, Ponnuru equivocates, mumbling that “the pro-life movement” does not necessarily seek jail time for women and that fining doctors and revoking medical licenses might suffice.

He believes that discarding or destroying embryos should be forbidden, but should it be punishable as first-degree murder? If not, why not? If an embryo is morally indistinguishable from a newborn, then killing it is surely a heinous crime. If human life is “inviolable,” then why should it matter whether a hopelessly vegetative patient — someone like Terri Schiavo — left instructions not to be fed? Surely, from Ponnuru’s perspective, the doctors caring for her cannot ethically conspire to starve her to death even if she would prefer to die. If every abortion is infanticide, could even the most life-threatening pregnancy be ended? We don’t have a “health exception” to the murder laws.

This argument is being increasingly used against pro-lifers, especially since the release of Ponnuru's book. As pro-lifers succeed in making it more and more clear that abortion is an unjust killing, abortion supporters shift the debate and accuse them of not having the courage of their convictions. Rauch, indeed, does not express much disagreement with Ponnuru's arguments in Party of Death. If abortion is murder, then why not the death penalty for mothers who abort? Since pro-lifers don't generally support any criminal sanctions for these women, then they must not really believe that abortion is murder, or else there is some other inconsistency that makes pro-lifers wrong. Whatever the answer is, pro-lifers are wrong, wrong, wrong.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Abortion category from September 2006.

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