Thursday, 31 May 2007

What's the difference between a child massacre and abortion?

The Catholic Church provides the answer in yet another display of razor sharp sense of proportion and plain logic. The Holy Keepers of Divine Wisdom, or at least, some of them, seem to believe that abortion is equal to two child massacres a day. These words of Godly Insight came from a cardinal not from Latina America, not from Africa, not from the United States, not even from Poland, but from our very own Keith O'Brien.

In a sermon marking the 40th anniversary of the Abortion Act of 1967, the pious and humble minister of god said that the daily rate of the abortion "crime" is equal to two Dunblane massacres a day. The Dunblane massacre took place 11 years ago in a little town of the same name to the North of Stirling. Sixteen children of 5 and 6 years of age were shot dead by a raving lunatic. It appears that for Mr O'Brien, killing primary school children is equal to discarding a bunch of mindless cells. I cannot even begin to imagine how offending this similitude must have been to the parents of the Dunblane victims.

O'Brien went on to instruct catholic voters to reject politicians who don't struggle against abortion laws, while also telling catholic politicians that failure to act against the "unspeakable crime" of abortion could result in them being barred from receiving holy communion. Being from Greece, I am used to casual interventions in social and political matters by the clergy, from little stupid protests against removing "Religion" from ID cards to outright hilarious calls to "reconquer" Constantinople.

This however caught me completely off guard as, for as long as I have lived in Scotland, incidents of religious freaks going all doomsday on the media were to me tales from the far away mystical lands of US Jesusland and Poland. At least they haven't yet targeted Homoagitating Gay Teletubbies.

26 comments:

Louisefeminista said...

I am glad you have raised, Korakious, this as I read this morning and it had me suffering a bout of apoplexy. It is an absolutely surreal and offensive comment to make.

It is a woman's right to control her body and fertility and Keith O'Brien really should mind his own business when a woman chooses to have an abortion. He can fuck off as far as I am concerned.

haygirl said...

I live not far from Dunblane and remember this day like it was yesterday.

The two acts are nothing of the same 'Abortion is a womans right to terminate her baby' for whatever reasons. I'm not saying I agree with it but it is her choice.

Dunblane was a massacre where a complete bas^^rd through HIS choice took the life of those innocent children, where he had no right too.

Our government wonders why Sectarianism is an issue in this Country when you have the leader of the Catholic Church making fucked up statements like this - he has just reverted his religon back 200 years of progress.

Renegade Eye said...

Guys like him don't really care about the fetus, it's women's subjugation that they are about.

voltaires said...

I've never really understood why or how it is that the anti-choice lobby get so much (relatively uncritical) coverage in the press. Given that it's perfectly possible even to be personally opposed to abortion whilst not supporting a legal ban on the procedure. The debate is skewed - it should really be about freedom under the law rather than whether or not at this or that stage a foetus is viable. To take it in those terms is to attempt to debate on terrain where the anti-choice people have a built in advantage, because it accepts their initial terms of engagement.

Louisefeminista said...

And now this... http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6714557.stm

I wouldn't be surprised if they are gearing up for an attack on time limits.

Renegade Eye: Yeah, you are right. Religion has a history of keeping women firmly under the thumb..

Korakious said...

Organized religion, mainly.

Rob said...

I know this is going to sound really controversial, but surely once you accept the Catholic position on when 'life' emerges, what this guy is saying is a logical consequence.

Even points about 'a woman's right to control' don't necessarily stack up if you accept that life begins at conception, because it is difficult to justify taking a life on these sorts of ground.

Also, the line that life 'scientifically' begins at a certain point won't work either, because it still requires a background philosophical debate about what 'life' is, and what sort of beings are worthy of rights.

But once you accept that a foetus is life, then abortion is murder (in a 'moral' sense), so it can be equated as such.

Branch said...

Bah! I say that life begins a few years after birth. A being with no self conception is not life (from a moral point of view). For one to be alive one must be a person. There.

Rob said...

Branch, I am often tempted to take that point of view, as it seems consistent with a materialist world view.

Obviously, the problem is that supporters of abortion who hold to this view are compelled to admit that a mother can kill a new born baby - since it hasn't acquired 'life'. This baby may also be - in a real sense - dependent upon the mother.

Of course this is where the - able to survive outside of the womb argument comes in, but that means adding another dimension to the moral equation.

Korakious said...

Branch was me.

The thing is, from a moral point of you, there is nothing more wrong with killing a 2month old infant than with killing a 6 month old embryo. My objection to the former is on aesthetic rather than moral reasons.

And by the way. You should get back on msn. And finish that draft post!

Rob said...

The thing is, from a moral point of you, there is nothing more wrong with killing a 2month old infant than with killing a 6 month old embryo. My objection to the former is on aesthetic rather than moral reasons.

J has put that argument to me, I'm not sure how much I buy it though. I certainly don't think a lot of supporters of a woman's right to choose would agree with you either.

Do you think there should be a time limit after which you can't get an abortion?

Will be back on MSN and posting in a week, once exams have finished, but at the moment I can't really afford to let myself get sucked into doing no work.

Korakious said...

Just how point of view turned out as point of you I can't explain.

Anyhoo, the opposition of people to the destruction of infants is based on an emotional attachment, rather than reason, an attachment, which is aesthetical in nature. The born child is similar to a human and therefore is treated and regarded as such. The embryo however is something faceless, that's not really part of anyone's life other than the mother's, and even for her, the embryo is only present in a passive manner. It doesn't laugh, it doesn't grab our fingers and it doesn't cry.

The psychological mechanism is essentially the same with that in people who are perfectly capable of going to Tesco's to buy beef steak, but cower away with horror and disgust when someone tells them that s/he is a hunter.

Korakious said...

Also, I do not think that there should be any limits on when abortion can be carried, unless of course there are heath matters involved.

AN said...

"from a moral point of you, there is nothing more wrong with killing a 2month old infant than with killing a 6 month old embryo. "

That is bollocks, and reactionary bolloks at that.

The difference is that human society has a collective responsibility to care for all people. No one who has had a child would agree that a foetus is the same as a baby. You can't love a foetus, but you can love a baby, and that is an animal emotional thing away from reason.

The issue about viable foetuses is one of balancing a woman's right to choose about her own body, with the collective social responsibity to care for all people. There are no easy answers to that because it is a genuine moral dillema, which is why safe early abortion without stigma minimises the difficult borderline cases.

And in reality the terminations of viable foetuses are rare, and the health professionals anyway face the similar everyday decsions of whwtehr to let (wanted) premature births survive or not.

Korakious said...


The difference is that human society has a collective responsibility to care for all people.


But beings with no personality are not "people", unless you define humanity as a strictly biological condition, in which case, everything with human dna is human, from a cell, to me.

You can't love a foetus, but you can love a baby, and that is an animal emotional thing away from reason.

And the shepherd loves his dog, but is quick to drive all wolves out of his area.

What we love and can love is entirely dependent on its relative position as part of human society. Hence, in Western society, it is acceptable to eat deer, but rather barbaric to eat dogs. Does a deer somehow have less moral value than a dog? That would be nonsensical, unless you accept that "this is moral" is simply a more fancy way of saying "this makes me feel emotionally satisfied", in which case, there's no point in discussing any supposed universality of morality.

Similarly, a fetus occupies a lower place in human society than a baby, because one can actually interact with the latter and therefore becomes more emotionally attached to it. But if, as you imply, emotional attachment is what makes the baby more morally worthy than the fetus, then you are forced to accept that if society does not feel emotionally attached to a particular group of people, then there is nothing morally wrong about killing them.

From the point of view of the persecuting group, you would of course be right as for them, it would indeed be ok to kill them (the Gypsies, the Jews, the communists, the witches), they would be facing no moral dilemma as they would have no emotional attachment to the untermenschen etc.

The only way to extend responsibility to those to which you are not emotionally attached, whether individually, or as a group, is to recognize them as persons with individual personalities, which is what humanity consists in.

The only way to win the argument against the anti abortion numpties is to reject and refute their terms of debate for within that framework, they automatically win. A human being's right to not just life, but a good, healthy life necessarily tramples another human being's right to chose. If you do not reject the claim that the embryo is human, you lose the debate, a priori. But rejecting the embryo's humanity necessarily implies that you will also reject the baby's humanity as well, as there is nothing that magically confers human-ness upon the baby simply by sliding out of a vagina.

Of course, people cannot, and ideally, should not have to, deal with the emotional complications of killing a baby, but again, this has more to do with de facto attachment, rather than moral worth. The problem is essentially the same that people face when choosing to have an abortion at a late stage of pregnancy. It is easier to discard a ball of cells, but much harder to discard same when it has start forming distinguishable parts.

Mike said...

Now, coming from a Marxian perspective, it is important that the woman who has the child, has absolute control over her body. She is the one performing the labour of carrying this child.
It is not I, nor a priest nor the leader of a nation is carrying this child, so why should we have a decision over the body and labour of this woman?

I only know a few of the posters here are Marxists themselves, but I would hope that if you follow the theories of Marx closely, and understand that labour (and creating value) should belong not the the capitalist but the the one performing the labour, then it would follow that women should be the decision makers over whether or not a baby is born.

Anonymous said...

Korakious -

Could the distinction between foetuses and infants (under 1 year old) not be made that the traits which we use to define 'personhood', which are essentially psychological traits, have started to develop by experience of the outside world?

They are only observable when the infant reaches 1 year old, but they must have developed (within that 1 year or so) to become observable by that stage - meaning a moral distinction can be drawn - as such traits can't develop in a foetus.

(its Neil btw)

Rob said...

She is the one performing the labour of carrying this child.

If you want to do the labour analogy properly then the child is also the 'labour' of the man, since he objectifies himself through it as well. If anything the woman (on this reading) is like a 'machine' who synthesises the labour into a new product.

So imagine it thusly - product X has two ingredients A and B. A and B both need to be 'mined'. It takes labour to mine A and B and then they are mixed through a machine. The point is that the people who mined A and B have also contributed some labour to it.

In fact your perspective sounds like the perspective of the capitalist - because I own the machine I own the product of the labour.

Also, if you want to adopt a moral perspective on the LTV Marx doesn't say the work should belong to each individual proletarian. He says that because commodity production is now such a socialised activity it is necessary that the working class as a whole take control of production as a whole.

On a more straightforwardly political level Marx never advocated giving each worker the exact amount of value he contributed to production, and certainly didn't expect that each worker would have a direct stake equal to his contribution.

So on your reading, at the very least, this becomes an issue that ought to involve both parents. Yet on a broader reading, considering that a good degree of labour went into producing the life of the mother, and seeing how all of this feeds back into the social totality the issue becomes one of collective decision rather than a woman's right to choose.

Korakious said...

And isn't this why Marxists reject traditional family structures?

Rob said...

Yes, among other things.

Korakious said...

I love how you supposedly stay off msn so as not to waste any time but reply to comments here within minutes. :P

Rob said...

Comment posting takes up very little time compared to MSN.

In my triumphant return I will post muchly.

Mike said...

In reality, the man is only an external input within the process. Much as those who mine in the mines for metals to be used in the future to produce cans or those who fish for tuna, to put tuna in these cans. The production process of a child has equally been socialised. However, it is not the profits of the tuna product that is shared tall the inputs in the process, but to that company who produced the tuna product (we must understand there is a difference between the price paid and the profit).

It is in fact the woman (or the company), that puts these inputs to use to produce the final product. She, as a labourer (not a captialist), is the one who spends months performing the labour to both produce and care for this product, as it is developed.

In this sense, it is not the capitalist argument, but an argument for the labourer.

If you are assuming the male also performs labour, this is true, but has a very limited role during the whole production process. It could be argued too that the capitalist performs labour, and this is true, but it is quite a limited role, compared to the labourers (woman). They (the capitalists or males), do put input into the final product, but they are not the ones actually performing the labour to produc value, they are providing the ability or potential value (child or capital), while the actual creation of value (baby, product) is performed solely by the labourer.

Therefore, it should be the decision of the one performing, how they will use their labour. However, as we see in our modern society, neither the labourer, nor the woman has ownership over their body in absolute terms, as we always have moral critiques and the media to ensure this structure of society exists. This does not mean though, that no woman has the right to an abotion, but this issue and moral still exists as a peer-pressure in society. An example of this is a woman in Saskatchewan, who had been charged with leaving a child she had just given birth to in a Wal-Mart, due to the pressure and financial issues of actually having an abotion done legally. In this situation, she shouldn't have had such moral placed on her, so as to make a better decision, without moral guilt.

Now, with regard to the economy becoming more socialised, I agree, and this is very true in our society. However, the difference here is, that we can't outsource the production of babies to other nations, and we cannot break up the production to be performed over large number of labourers. By adding inputs, this does not mean you have ownership over this product, as you should know with socialisation. If I provide you the tuna for the production of Rob's Tuna, does this mean that I own part of the profits gained? All I did, was provide you some Tuna, that you could have done whatever you wanted with. I did not create any new value with regard to your product, however, you, or the workers of your company do perform labour to create value.

btw, Rob, this is Eauz from PoFo.

Korakious said...

Glad to see that pofo is taking over the blogosphere :)

Mike said...

I'm surprised that I haven't had any Mothers come after me, because I related their child to that of a commodity in society, and the production process it goes through.

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