…but I still can’t resist. Below is a real letter I just sent in to the Sun-Times.
In Neil Steinberg’s Sunday column (“Abortion foes push beliefs to the brink”), he admits that in 30 years of thinking about abortion he finally developed a “hunch” that opponents of the practice don’t really believe abortion is murder but only “hurl” the “rhetoric” of murder because it is a “strongest argument against the practice” – although one wonders why Neil believes opponents are in need of such self-deception in the first place and he doesn’t give Sun-Times readers any ideas about why we might be in such a state of introspective illusion . Neil is also oddly convinced that “the vast majority of abortions” occur when the child in the mother’s womb is “the size of a grain of rice”. No matter that there is no way Neil could know this fact given that the CDC* doesn’t report any detail on the roughly 61% of abortions that take place at 8 weeks or less – obviously a child aborted at 6 weeks is considerably larger than a grain of rice (and in fact, should Neil want to take a fetal development course anytime soon, he would discover that an 8-week old fetus has all of its major systems in place – the child is visibly a miniature baby.) Of course, for those of us opposed to abortion in toto, these details don’t really matter – we want the barbaric practice stopped completely.
Which brings us to the second curious feature of Neil’s confused thinking – he spends a lot of words in the column strangely convinced that abortion opponents have never thought through the logical implications of the abortion equals murder argument, namely that those who commit abortions and/or facilitate abortions are murderers and/or accomplices in murder. Here is a newsflash for Mr. Steinberg – before the Supreme Court made one of the worst decisions in its history with Roe v Wade, most States did indeed have laws on the books that made abortion illegal and considered it a felony crime to be punished accordingly**. Why this is shocking or hard to believe is beyond me, but there you have it – this abortion opponent (and I suspect a solid majority of my fellow opponents) would like abortion to be illegal and the act of abortion to be considered a form of murder.
Now I certainly don’t get “misty thinking about the mass trials we’re going to have of all those murderous mothers and their accomplices once the laws are changed” because I don’t want mothers to seek out abortions in the first place and I’m quite sure that once we change the laws behavior will dramatically change as well. Not right away, not for everyone, but slowly and surely more and more mothers will realize that abortion is indeed murder, as the law says, and they have no right “to choose” to murder their baby, no matter how small or vulnerable it is inside their womb.
Below is the complete text of the column, which is even worse than I had the space to analyze in a relatively short letter to the editor. In fact, this recent column sort of rises to the level of bad as outlined previously by The Czar, who properly ‘fisked’ Neil’s earlier bad column over at the Gormogons place.
Last Modified: Apr 10, 2011 02:21AM
Abortion is murder.
Or so its vocal opponents say. Loud enough that the government of the United States spent Friday preparing to shut down, in large part because a group of zealous congressmen wants to make sure not a nickel of tax money goes to fund one abortion which, as I mention above, is murder, in their view.
Or is it? Do they really believe that? I never stick my hand into this particular cage unless something occurs to me that I haven’t heard constantly in the howling vortex that passes for debate on this subject, and watching the government prepare to come to a skidding halt emboldened me to wonder: The argument is, abortion is bad because it’s murder — the immoral (though not, in our country, unlawful, not yet) taking of a human life, in nascent form. Correct?
Sincere conviction — or mere rhetoric?
I won’t go into all the bloody details — you know them by heart by now. Abortion opponents (I’ll call them “pro-life” when they care about life that isn’t marinating in embryonic fluid) focus on the rare, late-term abortions, where the fetus is basically a child; proponents of the right to choose (nobody is a proponent of abortion itself, no matter how much you think the procedure should be safe, available and legal) focus on the vast majority of abortions, where the developing child being killed is the size of a grain of rice. That is a vastly familiar discussion that nobody is interested in considering, least of all me.
The question that came to mind while waiting for the machinery of government to seize up Friday afternoon is this: If abortion is murder, then why aren’t those who oppose it pushing to put people who perform abortions — the doctors and nurses — and those who instigate them — the mothers — and who facilitate them — the fathers — in prison?
That’s what we do with actual murderers. If I shoot Mr. Pink, then I go to jail, and my pal who loaned me the gun goes to jail, and my cousin who drove the car goes to jail.
Yet that isn’t what we’re discussing here. Even the most passionate, stand-on-a-street-corner-with-a-5-foot-tall-color-photograph-of-diced-fetal-parts-and-scream-at-traffic opponent of abortion isn’t getting misty thinking about the mass trials we’re going to have of all those murderous mothers and their accomplices once the laws are changed.
Why is that? They think abortion is murder. And they want it stopped by law, because it’s murder. Yet it seems a special variety of murder which, though illegal, nobody should go to prison for the rest of their lives for having committed (or maybe they just keep that part of the plan quiet. First change the law, then build the prisons).
And the hunch that I’ve had — and it only took me 30 years of thinking about this, so if it seems odd, please muse on it for a day before writing to me — is that “abortion is murder” is not a sincere conviction, but mere rhetoric. It’s something they say, the strongest argument people against the practice — invariably because of religious scruple — can hurl, which they tell themselves they believe and want others to believe too, but that they do not actually support in practice.
“Murder” after all is a legal definition we apply to certain forms of killing. Humans far more developed than fetuses are killed every day under circumstances society decides are acceptable. For instance? Traffic accidents. About 33,000 Americans a year are killed on the road. We focus on the “accidental” aspect and wash our hands — except in those cases involving drinking, recklessness, etc., which we do consider murder — as the price we pay for getting from one place to another. But we allow people to drive those cars at those speeds. If the maximum legal limit were 20 mph, we’d still get where we’re going, eventually, and few of those people would die.
But we’re willing to lose 33,000 Americans a year, to say they are killed but not murdered, in the name of easy mobility.
Nobody likes abortion
As with traffic accidents, abortion is the price our country — and, I hate to tell you, most Western industrial nations — accept as the cost of being the kind of society we want to be (that is, when the nation is functioning). Abortion isn’t an issue in Saudi Arabia. Nobody likes abortion, but if we want a society where 60 percent of adult women are in the work force, where women have control over their lives and do not depend on their menfolk to tell them what to do — then those deaths are not murder.
Not everybody agrees. If you do not accept this society, but yearn toward a mandatory faith-based culture, a return to the imagined Eden when your religion ran things, then your argument is obvious:
Abortion is murder.