Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Solving abortion or any moral and political problem is not a matter of who shouts the loudest. It's a question of "mental computing." In the words of the always superb magazine The Economist: "At first glance, the task . . . looks impossible . . . The secret, as with any computing task, is to break the problem into smaller, more managebable chunks." The Economist is not talking about abortion, but its point is relevant to that subject.

That's exactly what I'm trying to do with the hideously complex and controversial issue of abortion.

My abortion columns will total at least four in number. It's important for those concerned with sharply reducing the number of abortions in the US (and perhaps overseas) to at least read quickly through all the columns. Doing this series is at times mind-boggling. Column 2 (this one) will come up around noon Wednesday. Column 3 will come up later today (Wednesday afternoon or early evening). Please send your comments, as several people have done.

(In column 1, I'm changing the numbers and the cost related to women who have abortions mainly because they're poor. Of the women who have abortions, more than one-in-five cite lack of money. My solution is to give them money to prevent abortions.)

I appeal to good people, including Dr. Laurence White and Larry Perrault, both important figures in Houston politics and thought, not to settle for a pro-life position that is little more than an assertion of moral superiority. Frankly, people who are against MOST abortions, and I'm one, shouldn't be pro-life for the sake of being pro-life. We need to get beyond extremist rhetoric (e.g., comparing the U.S. to Nazi Germany and calling embryos "infants"). Those approaches exacerbate the problems involved with abortion.

If you haven't read Dr. Laurence White's letter to Mike Huckabee (and Larry Perrault's comments), please take a look at:

If you're deeply interested in this issue, please read the following (plus the footnoted material if you have time), which is authoritative:

If you want to see Biblical references RELATED TO ABORTION, the pickings are rather lean. The key passages are in Exodus: "22: And if two men strive and smite a woman with child, and her child be born imperfectly formed, he shall be forced to pay a penalty: as the woman’s husband may lay upon him, he shall pay with a valuation. 23 But if it be perfectly formed, he shall give life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe." This text, the Septuagint. written around 250 B.C., which is even before my time.) On the subject of abortion, Jesus left no recorded words. The New Testament of the Holy Bible is silent on the issue

In the History of the West -- and especially in the important writings of early (18th century) legal scholar William Blackstone -- the concept of "quickening" (the first detectible movements of the embryo, which occur about midway through a pregnancy). In discussions of when (and if) abortion should be permissible, quickening plays an important role.

If you'd like to stay away from ancient philosophical questions regarding quickening and go the more contemporary discussions, take a look at: First Fetal Movement : Quickening, from the American Pregnancy Association, as well as Fetal movement: Feeling your baby kick,

Someone's going to ask me something like the following: "You say the Bible is mostly silent on abortion, but what about the admonition "Thou shalt not kill?" The idea that abortion (after quickening) might be homicide is an old one, but murder is a legal question. Some of my fellow Christians tell me that capital punishment is murder. However, our legal system does not in any sense defense the execution of people who commit murder as in any way itself "murder."

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has indicated that abortion is not murder. Also, Justice Blackstone said in the 18th century that in modern society (he meant Great Britain) abortion (after quickening of the foetus) is not viewed as murder, but rather as what he called a "heinous misdemeanor." The passage from Exodus seems to foreshadow Blackstone's view.

Frankly, discussing abortion as murder is a great way to make rhetorical points that help ensure the problem will never get solved. Moreover, half the people in America who regard abortion as a form of manslaughter (or even murder) believe it should be permissible in almost all cases.

At some point, I'll put up a link to a blogger called "The Libertarian," a Ron Paul-site that has an excellent debate between pro-choice and pro-life people (including yours truly). The exchange is intense, but highly civilized, and points up the divide between social conservatives and libertarian conservatives. Basically, the libertarians say abortion should be none of the government's business, while the conservatives say it is society's moral duty to protect the unborn.

The overall goal -- the humane approach -- should be to reduce the number of abortions and, relatedly, increase the number of adoptions. It should not be to make debating points.

More to Come . . .

It's fascinating to me to see the people who visit this site. In the last 24 hours, I've had visitors from Boulder, CO; Washington, DC; Orange, TX (twice), Rockville, MD; Elizabethtown, PA; Waianae, HI (twice, hi Sanity); Port Angeles, WA (a frequent visitor); Detroit, MI (twice); Branch, MI (twice); Atwood, IL; New York, NY; Caldwell, NJ; Ventura, CA; Nothridge, CA; Portand, OR; Anchorage, AK; Little Rock, AR; Colorado Springs, CO (hi Adam); and Austin, TX (twice); among many others, including several locations overseas. You're all very welcome here. Please feel free to leave comments and suggestions. Please note the comments to my columns on abortion and the one on gays and evangelicals.

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