It is all well and good to mount moral outrage over the destruction of a little clump of cells nestled somewhere trying to grow. That’s just fine, all other factors equal. If it was just a little clump of cells somewhere trying to grow, it would not be the huge, monster issue that it is. But there is infinitely more to the story. What lawyers call mitigation and extenuation.
It isn’t an isolated issue and it cannot be treated as such any more than it can be said rigidly that it is ALWAYS mandatory to tell the truth or avoid killing in war. Truth telling has much more weight than lying, and other things being equal, it is always better to tell the truth, but not ALWAYS. I am reminded of the parable about the Roman guard coming to the door of the resident hiding innocent Christians in the basement, asked do you have any Christians in your basement (so we can kill them on the spot)? If strict truth telling is the maxim, then paradoxical harm can and does result. Accordingly, the preservation of life carries more weight than killing, but not ALWAYS. If the ALWAYS maxim is ALWAYS carried out, harm can and does occur. Had we taken the position that killing is ALWAYS wrong, then we would have sat on our thumbs and watched Hitler destroy the world. Sorry…..there is NEVER an excuse to kill another hominid so we’ll just shake our finger at them and tell them they aren’t being very sporting as the Storm Troopers advanced on us with bayonets.
It is VERY difficult for me to believe that anyone currently arguing this point is willing to tell me that it’s the right thing to allow the Roman to kill the Christians, or would have been the right thing to do to sit and watch Hitler take over the world without fighting, and necessarily killing, to preserve the world for humanity. So…..given that no one is willing to ague this, then it must be agreed that SOMETIMES lying and killing might be in the best interest of the greater good. Once we accept that, it then simply evolves to a matter of “which” lies might be appropriate and “who” is the right person to kill. If anyone does want to argue that we should all be killed in our beds to avoid having to take a life, then we no longer have a conversation here.
There are realities in life that extenuate the maxim that the preservation of life is foremost. One of those realities is that the carrier of that clump of growing cells is inexorably involved in the process, and that carrier is a “real” person with a real life, not a potential person with a potential life. And that real person has a fundamental driving force that is so powerful it has never been harnessed in the history of society. That fundamental force is the overwhelming, incapacitating compulsion for sexual intercourse. Like a fart, so powerful an elephant can’t hold it.
Females of childbearing and near-childbearing age indulge in various forms of sexual intercourse (with a huge supply of willing males) with a compulsion that is hard wired into the genome and impossible to assuage. It cannot be controlled or diverted or managed. It just happens, and it is such a powerfully consuming compulsion, the practical aspects of avoiding unwanted pregnancy are frequently left in the dust. the coming to of senses occurring after the red mist lifts. That’s just the way it is.
I remember when legal abortion was not available in the 60s, my father the surgeon told me that the staunchest opponents of abortion were as quick to sneak in the back door of an illegal abortion mill as anyone else when it affected their family. He predicted the legalization of abortion as early as the late 60s, if only to stop women from dying in septic shock with coat hangers sticking out of them. Current statistics, and although I cannot put my hand on them right this minute, that one out of three childbearing age females will have an abortion in their lifetimes are very convincing. Rapes, being carried away with the heat of the moment and well-intentioned birth control malfunctions and you have a very big pool of situations where the harm to the “real” person by a “potential” person is very real indeed. A situation where “real” lives are ruined in real time in a real society.
Your 17 year old daughter, just admitted to Harvard to start a career, caught in the heat of passion in the back seat of a car. Shaking your finger at her and telling her..sorry, the preservation of a rice sized bundle of cells comes before your life now. Sorry your life is ruined but there are no exceptions. Your Downs-syndrome daughter who didn’t understand the situation and will now be saddled with a baby she cannot fully comprehend. The ruptured condom, the failed BC pill or IUD……sorry no exceptions. The “welfare mother” with three kids she cannot support and will never be able to support, whose potential son awaits the age where he’ll be welcomed into the growth industry of Crips and Bloods and prison. The product of a rape from a sociopath’s genes mixing with your daughters.
These are mitigating and extenuating circumstances that MUST be considered in a just society. The ability to survive in a hostile environment is the ability to prioritize. And prioritization, by it’s nature, is sometimes neither fair nor equitable, but it must be accomplished in order to survive. Sometimes it’s a higher priority to prioritize the needs of one life over another. An active life as opposed to a virtual life. Maybe not totally moral, but necessary. Morality is sometimes an ideal that cannot be maintained. We should always try, but we cannot always succeed.
Accordingly, I am quite content to take the position that we should not lie and we should not kill. Most of the time. And I am very thankful that women have the right to choose.
I don’t bring this up to argue it. No one will change their mind on this issue because of anything I or anyone else thinks about it. I simply bring it up to tell you the logic of my opinion.
That’s the end of my participation in this thread.