Monday, September 29, 2008

Just war versus just abortion

I read Halden's blog titled Moral Equivalence, War and Abortion, and I thought it was quite good. Reading through the comments, though, I had some thoughts I wanted to add to the conversation.

I recommend reading the blog, but if you're short of time or simply don't care what Halden has to say, I'll briefly summarize what I took away from it: Abortion is wrong. War is wrong. Parties on both sides of politics view one of these two violent acts are more morally repugnant than the other. The Christian ought to not be engaged in this partisan political discussion and instead should be speaking into the entire system which produces the "culture of violence."

One of the comments said that the fact that someone could possibly create an idea like "just war" that it truly is a difficult subject about guilt and violence. He suggested that there really isn't a "just abortion" concept as a corollary.

I disagree. I think there certainly is an idea of "just abortion" and both sides of the argument are equally guilty of exploiting this very concept.

On one side you have some who say abortion is necessary, especially in the event the mother's life is threatened. Their opponents will attack them on their belief abortion is ever necessary, but they will use "life of the mother" as a wedge to image the anti-abortionists as crazy. Clearly they have a doctrine that you can kill to protect life, or even the "pursuit of happiness."

On the converse side of this debate you have those who say abortion is wrong even if the mother's life is threatened. This is a less nuanced view, saying the ability to have life demands a right to that life. The mother loses her right to life by becoming pregnant, in the same way they would argue a murderer should face capital punishment for his actions. The "right to life" side actually takes it further by basically saying manslaughter is also worth capital punishment because many pregnancies are accidental.

As it turns out, those on the "right to life" side tend to also support capital punishment and war. They often use the "just war" card to support war even if the war doesn't fit any criteria for a just war. Clearly this isn't the case of everyone on the right to life side, but a vocal majority.

In life of the mother situations, "just abortion" ideas are used in the same way that self-defense supporters argue their case. Pro-abortion advocates also support abortion for economic purposes, or justify them through moral arguments other than "inconvenience."

So it comes to the discussion of guilt and motive. The unborn child is not purposefully trying to damage the career, livelihood or life of its mother. An enemy soldier, on the other hand, is ordered to kill. However, the "collateral damage" of innocents are not intent to kill, nor would they kill.

We have logical hoops and hurdles in order to justify both just war and abortion.

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