Inside Out

Listening to NPR’s coverage of the Supreme Court’s recent hearing of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban on the way home from work yesterday, I realized (to my surprise) that I am against the ban.

There are two reasons. The first is practical: in the hearing, even the pro-life attorney was cornered into admitting that the partial-birth abortion ban will not save the lives of any babies! All the ban would acheive would be to cause babies to be aborted internally, instead of partially-birthed.

The other reason is more philosophical (although also, I think, ultimately practical): the partial-birth abortion ban concedes that life begins at birth. Why is partial-birth abortion more wrong than internal abortion? Why can we legislate against partial-birth abortion, but not internal abortion? The only possible reason is if a baby is “more alive” if it is halfway out than if it is inside! This contradicts (turns inside out, even) the fundamental principle on which pro-life is based: a fetus is a person.

So as I see it, the ban on partial-birth abortion is about as useful as if somebody had been able to get Hitler to agree to kill Jews less grotesquely.

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13 Responses

  1. Interesting post. I disagree that the first point is worth abandoning support for such a ban. Although killing Jews was hideous, killing them less grotesquely would at the very least have been a modest, minor (and yes, ultimately unsatisfactory) step in getting Hitler to recognize Jews as valuable humans — and if that occurred, what next? This gets to the very heart of why pro-choicers resist partial birth abortion bans so vehemently: they readily agree the procedure is horrible, but they still support its use — not because of any “health of the mother” reason, but because they fear the slippery slope. If they lose one inch, won’t they lose more?

    Your second point is more compelling and worth consideration. The question then is this: would winning the first step on a slippery slope be worth a temporary concession? Or would it instead give pro-choicers even stronger grounds to say, “We know life doesn’t begin until birth because we’ve already codified that into the partial-birth ban!” A good question.

    In the end, though, I doubt legislation is the key at all. These are life issues, not legal issues, and for conservatives to funnel their energies into lobbying for legislation is really no different from lazy liberals who pass off their charity work by voting for welfare programs. The best way to fight abortion is man by man and woman by woman, supporting people to choose life over death.

    Even if the legal battle is won, abortion will most likely continue. If the cultural battle is won, the legal battle won’t matter one bit.

  2. My point is that the partial-birth abortion ban rides the slippery slope the wrong way (thus pro-choicers should be supporting it, because as you note, it codifies into law the concept that born=alive).

    Of course, if the first point is factually incorrect (if the partial-birth abortion ban would actually prevent, rather than modify abortions), then I’m behind it all the way. Let’s save as many babies as we can.

  3. The Bible says we should abort fully birthed persons who high handedly oppose God’s Law; folks like abortion “doctors”.

  4. Of course, if the first point is factually incorrect (if the partial-birth abortion ban would actually prevent, rather than modify abortions), then I’m behind it all the way. Let’s save as many babies as we can.

    Maybe it would save lives. Why would a woman choose a partial-birth abortion? Only because she postponed the decision until the last moment, right? A ban on the procedure would prompt women to make their decisions sooner, as you argued — but there’s bound to be the occasional procrastinator who still waits until the last moment. Perhaps those lives would still be saved.

    Of course pro-choicers will argue, “But what kind of life will that child have? Every child should be a wanted child! Forcing a woman to have a child under those conditions is a setup for a childhood of neglect and abuse!”

    But hey — given the choice, I’d take the neglect and abuse. Just give me the chance to live. Odds are I could make it through whatever an unwilling parent could dish out for 18 years.

  5. Why would a woman choose a partial-birth abortion?

    Testimony to the Supreme Court indicated that partial-birth vs. internal is not the woman’s choice as much as the doctor’s prescription — and often an in-progress internal abortion turns into a partial-birth abortion for technical reasons.

    However, I could certainly see a woman making a stand “if the only technically safe (for me) way to have an abortion is if it is a partial-birth abortion, then don’t do it”. For that effect, the public debate and raising of national awareness is worthwhile.

    But hey — given the choice, I’d take the neglect and abuse. Just give me the chance to live.

    Indeed, if the life of an unwanted child were really not worth living, the suicide rate would be a LOT higher.

  6. I think it’s a good law, because we’re getting at abortion little by little. Let’s get what we can, and then keep reaching for more. This is what the pro-abortion crowd has done for years.

    Another question (where our theonomist brothers might actually serve a constructive purpose): How do we handle pro-abortion arguments that Mosaic law only fined a man who struck a pregnant woman and caused the death of her baby, but levied capital punishment on the accused if the mother died?

    Exodus 21:22-25 – When men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no harm follows [italics mine], the one who hurt her shall be fined, according as the woman’s husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. If any harm follows [italics mine], then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

  7. It says, “and yet no harm follows.” The word translated “miscarriage” here means pre-mature birth. But if harm follows the pre-mature birth, the verse clearly gives the prescription – life for life. Of course, minimally, the attacker would have to have all his teeth knocked out…

  8. Thx, theonomist! The ESV validates Ron’s translation:

    “When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

  9. No problem. To those who think the Bible places less value on the life of pre-birth sons and daugters, they should simply read on:

    Exodus 21:28-31
    28 “If a bull gores a man or a woman to death, the bull must be stoned to death, and its meat must not be eaten. But the owner of the bull will not be held responsible. 29 If, however, the bull has had the habit of goring and the owner has been warned but has not kept it penned up and it kills a man or woman, the bull must be stoned and the owner also must be put to death. 30 However, if payment is demanded of him, he may redeem his life by paying whatever is demanded. 31 This law also applies if the bull gores a son or daughter.

  10. I’ll take an abortion ban any way I can get it. It’s a step towards a world where no more innocent babies are murdered. People are sad about the number “kids” we’ve lost in the war (as am I), but multiply that number times 10 or even 20 and you might have the number of kids we’ve lost to abortion. So sad.

  11. KJV is actually pretty good with this Hebrew:

    (KJV) If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.

    The word for “depart” here is a verb that can also mean to give birth, or in some cases, to be born. The word here translated “fruit” means literally something born. So while all of these English translations seem to be ok, there is something in the original language that is simply lost in translation.

    Whatever translation it was that translated this as a miscarriage is sorely mistaken. This is simply a premature birth, and I think that’s very clear.

  12. Oh, sorry. A good idiomatic translation would be, “so that her child is born”…

    But I’m no Hebrew scholar…

  13. The ESV probably translates it as “come out” to retain the active (rather than passive) of the verb, as if it is the baby coming out, rather than the baby being born.

    And that’s cool, because it seems to draw attention to the fact that this is an unnatural birth. Ordinarily, when a mother gives birth to a child, it would be a simple verb, subject, object construction. So you’d have “gave birth to” “mother” “child”. Here you have no object, just a subject. The mother didn’t give birth to the child, the child came out. See the nuance?

    that’s probably why it’s worded that way. If I had to guess.

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