A Bad Argument Against Anti-Abortionists

"If you really thought abortion was murder, you'd be out bombing abortion clinics."

This ignores several things:

1) Prudence is a moral virtue. If an action is likely to make a bad situation worse, it is not moral.

2) As an aspect of the above, respect for the existing law is also a moral virtue. Our role model here should be Socrates: Despite thinking that the verdict in his trial was unjust, he decided that obeying the law was the right thing to do, even at the cost of his own life.

3) We are all sinners. I think abortion is evil, but that doesn't mean everyone who has had one is evil. Good people do bad things sometimes.


  1. Very good points!

    Kind of a low bar though, don't you think?

    1. I don't get the low bar reference here. Please expand.

    2. I go in more detail on my blog.

      Basically, everything you say here is exactly right. But one would think there is a much wider spectrum of behavior that would be relevant to think about than just going out and doing some bombing.

      Wouldn't we see more waffling about "well, that bomber or that shooter did have a point - but I would never do it because of the reasons Gene states". But we don't see that - we see universal condemnation among pro-lifers. That seems odd. Other people who lash out against legally consecrated mass murder generally get some approval. Why is there so little in this case?

      And further down the spectrum we still don't see much activity.

      If you - for example - really thought this was child murder, I doubt you'd be having anything to do with the pro-choicers that advocate this stuff. And yet lo and behold - you're a very nice guy that I'm guessing has lots of pro-choice friends.

      So just talking about bombing itself seems like a low bar.

    3. Am I just being unduly harsh, or am I expecting too much?

      Is it too much for me to declare "if I met a guy that said toddler murder should be legal I'd be creeped out and want to have nothing to do with him"

      Is it too much to anticipate that that's how I (and almost anyone) would respond?

      I don't think so. I think it's very likely that that's how I would respond.

      Isn't there some empirical content to the fact that we don't see most pro-lifers acting like this?

    4. "But we don't see that - we see universal condemnation among pro-lifers"

      Daniel, you can count me as a pro-lifer who wouldn't condemn someone for destroying an abortion clinic. I'd do it myself if I weren't a coward who is afraid of jail time.

      I'm also anti-war but I still pay taxes for the same reason.

    5. I'm with you, but I don't think they're talking about destruction of property. This particular sneer makes even less sense if you don't believe we should have capital punishment.

  2. 1)In the just war doctrine there is that one little bit about actually having a reasonable chance of winning. No one has a reasonable chance of winning as long as the main action among pro-lifers is voting for the fraud the Republicans field for them.
    2)Socrates isn't impressing me much. If political law runs contrary to moral law, it ought to be disrespected.
    3)In human terms different sins cause different injuries, to the individual as well as the society. One would think the fact that good people do bad things some times would be a good reason for a strong response; the lack of a strong response encourages more good people to do bad things, for good people do this bad thing for a very real reason, and so it goes on until the social structure is totally shot.

    1. "Socrates isn't impressing me much. If political law runs contrary to moral law, it ought to be disrespected."

      Widely applied, the result of this line of thinking is continual civil war.

      "One would think the fact that good people do bad things some times would be a good reason for a strong response"

      Or for mercy and forgiveness?

    2. Widely applied, the result would be ending political law. Continual war happens because people think their political organizations sanctify their predations on other people. If Socrates' decision to obey unjust laws is moral, then why bring abortion up? They don't get to make the choice, but the victims are achieving the same adherence to political law.
      A strong response does not preclude mercy and forgiveness.

    3. "Widely applied, the result would be ending political law."

      As I said, civil war!

    4. What do you mean by political law?
      What do you mean by civil war?

      From my understanding, someone actually has to prosecute war. Removing law from legislative bodies who are prone to change what's legal on a whim (as well as to advance their career) would seem to me to reduce the possibility of war significantly.

    5. If not war, then civil disobedience and the disintegration of your society.

    6. I just don't see it, which is why I asked for a definition of terms.
      If anything the state of war exists now, and the people are increasingly finding disobedience ceasing to be about protests and instead being a part of getting by.
      The ever changing whim of D.C. satisfies no standard of law. It is not something you agreed to, nor does it fit with common law, nor natural law. It makes less sense than a king's edict.

    7. "If anything the state of war exists now..."

      Our polity has been in better shape. But read up on what a *real* civil war is like, and you won't think that anymore.

    8. I'm assuming we don't differ much on what war is, but that we differ on what political law is.


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