My latest Live Action post:
Each presidential candidate had his ups and downs in last night’s CNN Republican debate, but former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had the evening’s most memorable moment. Moderator John King posed the following question:
Since “birth control” is the latest hot topic, which candidates believe in birth control and if not, why?
The audience’s raucous booing made clear they weren’t interested in the press’s latest talking point, and neither was Gingrich. He turned the tables beautifully:
I want to make two quick points, John. The first is there is a legitimate question about the power of the government to impose on religion activities which any religion opposes. That’s legitimate. But I just want to point out, you did not once in the 2008 campaign, not once did anybody in the elite media ask why Barack Obama voted in favor of legalizing infanticide. So let’s be clear here. If we’re going to have a debate about who is the extremist on these issues, it is President Obama, who, as a state senator, voted to protect doctors who killed babies who survived the abortion.
Right on cue, Naureen Khan of National Journal sprang into action to defend the president and the press:
According to Politifact, an independent fact-checking organization that looked into similar claims made by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum on the campaign trail, Obama voiced his opposition to the new legislation as a state senator because it would have given legal status to fetuses and would thus have been struck down by the courts, and because Illinois already had laws to ensure infants who survived abortions would be given medical attention.
We have developed ways of talking that enable us to pretend that the point can be blinked away. In the case of abortion and embryo research, the main technique is to suggest that there is some great mystery about “when life begins,” and that this alleged question is a religious or philosophical one. Yet science has since solved the mystery. From conception onward, what exists is a distinct organism of the human species. The philosophical question is what we make of that fact. To jumble these issues together—the essentially scientific question of categorizing an embryo as human and living, and the moral question of whether it follows from that categorization that it has a right to life—is a logical error. Justice Blackmun, of course, proceeded in just this erroneous fashion in Roe. And if we are not careful, talking in terms of “meaningful life,” or, as [author Ronald] Dworkin does, of “life in earnest,” can lead us into this error as well.
All of us who read this page were once human embryos. The history of our bodies began with the formation of an embryo. We were those embryos, just as we were once fetuses, infants, children, and adolescents. But we were never a sperm cell and an egg cell. (Those cells were genetically and functionally parts of other human beings.) The formation of the embryo marks the beginning of a new human life: a new and complete organism that belongs to the human species. Embryology textbooks say so, with no glimmer of uncertainty or ambiguity.
That new organism is alive rather than dead or inanimate. It is human rather than a member of some other species. It is an organism distinct from all others. It is not a functional part of a larger organism (the way a kidney is part of a larger organism). It maintains its own organic unity over time. It directs its own development, according to its genetic template, through the embryonic, fetal, and subsequent stages. Such terms as “blastocyst,” “newborn,” and “adolescent” denote different stages of development in a being of the same type, not different types of beings. At each of our earlier stages of life, we have been, as we are now, whole living members of the species Homo sapiens. (hardcover, p. 77-78)
“Zygote. This cell results from the union of an oocyte and a sperm during fertilization. A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo).” … “[The zygote] marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.” (Keith L. Moore and T.V.N. Persaud, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 7th ed., Philadelphia: Saunders, 2003, pp. 2,16)
“The zygote thus formed represents the beginning of a new life.” (J.P. Greenhill and E.A. Friedman, Biological Principles and Modern Practice of Obstetrics, Philadelphia: W.B. Sanders, 1974, p. 17)“When fertilization is complete, a unique genetic human entity exists.” (C. Christopher Hook, MD, Mayo Clinic, as quoted by Richard Ostling in an AP news story, 9/24/99)“The beginning of a single human life is from a biological point of view a simple and straightforward matter—the beginning is conception.” (Dr. Watson A. Bowes, University of Colorado Medical School)
“I think we have deluded ourselves into believing that people don’t know that abortion is killing. So any pretense that abortion is not killing is a signal of our ambivalence, a signal that we cannot say yes, it kills a fetus.” (Faye Wattleton, President of Planned Parenthood, 1997 Ms. Magazine interview)“Clinging to a rhetoric about abortion in which there is no life and no death, we entangle our beliefs in a series of self-delusions, fibs and evasions. And we risk becoming precisely what our critics charge us with being: callous, selfish and casually destructive men and women who share a cheapened view of human life…we need to contextualize the fight to defend abortion rights within a moral framework that admits that the death of a fetus is a real death.” (Naomi Wolf, “Our Bodies, Our Souls,” The New Republic, October 16, 1995)
“Whether a being is a member of a given species is something that can be determined scientifically, by an examination of the nature of the chromosomes in the cells of living organisms. In this sense there is no doubt that from the first moments of its existence an embryo conceived from human sperm and eggs is a human being.” (Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, 2nd Edition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993, pp. 85-86)
“If I see a case…after twenty weeks, where it frankly is a child to me, I really agonize over it because the potential is so imminently there…On the other hand, I have another position, which I think is superior in the hierarchy of questions, and that is “who owns this child?” It’s got to be the mother.” (Dr. James MacMahon, Abortionist)“When you do a D & C most of the tissue is removed by the Olden forceps or ring clamp and you actually get gross parts of the fetus out. So you can see a miniature person so to speak, and even now I occasionally feel a little peculiar about it because as a physician I’m trained to conserve life and here I am destroying life.” (Dr. Benjamin Kalish, Abortionist)“It [abortion] is a form of killing. You’re ending a life.” (Ron Fitzsimmons, President of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers)“I have never denied that human life begins at conception. If I have a complaint about our society, it’s that we don’t deal with death and dying. Do we believe human beings have a right to make decisions about death and dying? Yes we do, and those decisions are made every day in every hospital.” (Tim Shuck, Clinic Counselor)“We know that it is killing, but the states permit killing under certain circumstances.” (Dr. Neville Sender, founder of Metropolitan Medical Service, an Abortion Clinic in Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
UPDATE: Speaking of libertarians and social issues, Ann Coulter nukes Ron Paul and company along similar lines, in a column so good we’ll let slide her misguided infatuation with Chris Christie:
Most libertarians are cowering frauds too afraid to upset anyone to take a stand on some of the most important cultural issues of our time. So they dodge the tough questions when it suits their purposes by pretending to be Randian purists, but are perfectly comfortable issuing politically expedient answers when it comes to the taxpayers’ obligations under Medicare and Social Security.
If they could only resist sucking up to Rolling Stone-reading, status-obsessed losers, they’d probably be interesting to talk to.
In my book “Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America,” I make the case that liberals, and never conservatives, appeal to irrational mobs to attain power. There is, I now recall, one group of people who look like conservatives, but also appeal to the mob. They’re called “libertarians.”
A couple years ago, I was asked:
As those of us from Generation Y (born from the late ’70s through the mid ’90s) are beginning to emerge into the political culture it’s time to start the discussion: what will be our role in helping articulate Conservatism? What distinguishes those of us in Generation Y from generations past?
My answer, in a nutshell, was that if conservative principles are true, then they are true for every generation:
We Generation Y Conservatives are the inheritors of an incredible moral & intellectual legacy, and our task is not to remake conservatism in our image, but to faithfully pass it down to the next generation and proclaim its timelessness.
I was reminded of that exchange this morning as I came across this post at Generations for Life:
As teenagers, college students, and young adults under 38, are we fully aware that we are survivors of a genocide that has killed 1/4 of our peers?
Even at an amazingly Catholic school like Franciscan University of Steubenville, peoples’ lives are affected by abortion. There are students here who have stories of how their biological mother considered abortion, but instead placed them up for adoption. There are also students who have siblings who were aborted.
What does it mean to us that our generation is missing a quarter of its members? The people that could have been our classmates, co-workers, and neighbors were never given the fundamental chance to live that we take for granted.
This. This is the fundamental calling of so-called Generation Y Conservatism.
Thanks to a handy page on Pro-Life on Campus, I’ve updated my blog post presenting the evidence that modern science unambiguously considers human life to begin at fertilization/conception. It’s a helpful one-stop reference that has the potential to convert the simply misinformed; if you haven’t bookmarked it already, please do so right away.
I recently came across an old essay by Judith Thomson, which offers a defense of abortion that basically boils down to: yes it’s a person, but it’s still okay to kill him/her in most cases anyway, since the mother never gave him/her express permission to use her body.
Other than, y’know, CREATING the baby.
Why do pro-choicers ever win elections, again?