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Logical Consequences June 1, 2009

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Current Events, Dwight Furrow's Posts, Ethics, politics.
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Most people on both the right and the left have condemned the murder of Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider who has been harassed and attacked by anti-abortion activists throughout much of his professional career.

I don’t blame individuals who are opposed to abortion for this act of terrorism (except of course the individual who actually pulled the trigger). But the logic of the act is inescapable.

If abortion really is the murder of a innocent human being and if a policy that permits abortion is the moral equivalent of the holocaust—this is of course standard rhetoric among anti-abortion activists—then I don’t see how the murder of Dr. Tiller is wrong.

Most of us would take up arms against the Nazis and feel justified in doing so. If abortion really is equivalent to slaughtering millions of Jews for no reason then abortion providers have no more right to expect forbearance than Nazi storm-troopers. After all, beliefs have consequences.

As Ed Kilgore writes:

There’s a tendency of many pro-choice Americans to deny this “radicalizing logic,” in favor of dismissive theories that people who say they oppose abortion in all cases are just lying, or are hypocrites, or are misogynists, or are just culturally reactionary, or are terrified by sexuality. Some of them may be all these things, but there’s no reason to believe that many of these people aren’t sincere in their position on fetal life, and on the goal of ending legalized abortion as the alpha and omega of their own civic life. And so long as that is true, there will always be a significant risk of violence, particularly right now, when it’s beginning to sink in that the tantalizing possibility of overturning Roe v. Wade through Republican Supreme Court appointments is receding into the far distance.

But aside from efforts to brush away anti-abortion activists as yesterday’s news, there’s another misconception that must be addressed in the wake of Tiller’s murder: the idea that a “compromise” on abortion policy that eliminates “controversial” abortions like those performed by Tiller will make the risk of violence–yea, even the conflicts over abortion–go away. That is dangerous nonsense.

Kilgore is right. When people hold beliefs such as “all abortions are murder” there is no room for compromise no matter how much our conciliatory President would like to find one.

So for pro-choice Americans, regardless of their exact position on abortion, the idea that “compromise” can end violence or even “end the culture wars” over abortion is completely illusory and arguably immoral, if you believe that women should generally have first and final say over their own pregnancies. Sacrificing fundamental rights on the altar of phony “compromises” is, by most standards, both immoral and ineffective, as Americans learned in the long run-up to the Civil War.

He closes with some justifiable pessimism:

The “radicalizing logic” of the the right-to-life movement isn’t going away and can’t be abetted short of surrender. We all need to learn to live with that reality, and try to keep the peace as best we can.

 book-section-book-cover1 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

or Visit the Website: www.revivingliberalism.com




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