July 6, 2010

Not Imposing a Preference Against Killing

Justin Katz

I've liked a good deal of what I've read and heard from Republican Congressional Candidate William Clegg, so it's regrettable to find him taking the same horrible position as his primary competition (and Republican nominee) Mark Zaccaria. Here's Clegg:

While my own beliefs are pro-life, I do not believe that the government should be intervening in what should be a choice between a woman, her doctor, and God. I do not seek to impose my views on another in such a private area. I believe that we can best reduce the prevalence of abortion through awareness and appeals to conscience and that religion can take a prominent role in this effort. In line with my belief in the limits of government, I do not believe that federal funds should be used for abortions. I am also a proponent of parental consent where appropriate, as well as waiting periods. Last, I do not subscribe to the view that there is a Constitutional right to an abortion as originally set out by the plurality in Roe v. Wade, and continued in the decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

The name for this political position used to be "pro-choice," in direct opposition to "pro-life." I've contacted Clegg and his campaign for clarification, but having not heard back in a substantive way, I can only pose my questions here:

  • In what sense can one have "pro-life beliefs" and still believe that killing an unborn child is a legitimate "choice"? The determining belief of the pro-life side is that a human being at the earliest stages of development is indeed a human being, with a right to life.
  • What significance could there be to disagreeing with Roe v. Wade, et al., if one sees government proscriptions against abortion as an inappropriate imposition of a pro-life view? From that stance, does Congressman Clegg side with those who would undo Roe v. Wade or oppose them? The latter sounds more likely.

As with Zaccaria, one gets the distinct impression that, having determined to take an untenable position, Clegg attempts to season his pro-choice mush with a few kernels of conservative principles. The attempted message is that such candidates will be better than their pro-abortion opposition, but pro-lifers shouldn't expect any support from them.

For me, the politics are a secondary consideration. It's a tricky business predicting what candidates will do when they actually face the pressures and compromises of national policy battles. We therefore should weigh heavily their intellectual and philosophical coherency and look for indications of their approach to constructing their positions. As I've said before, the attempt to acknowledge reality and credit the unborn with being distinct human beings while still characterizing their killing as the choice of the mother is monstrous.

Even for all that, though, voters must choose candidates from among those available, making decisions within the context of an array of issues. The politics may be secondary, but sometimes they're all that's left.

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In the GOP Lt. Gov. race Bob Tingle is one of the staunchest Pro-Life people I know. Of those seeking the GOP nod Kara Russo would be clearly Pro_Life,. I do not know about Heidi Rogers and Raymond Murray,.
If you want to help Bob Tingle to get signatures please contact him at 212-6179 or roberttingle@cox.net ,.
Heidi Rogers omitted her abortion stance at the GOP state convention, Bob Tingle did not. Bob mentioned he was "proudly pro-life", was the exact term, I recalled him using.

Posted by: Scott Bill Hirst at July 6, 2010 6:12 PM

Justin, although I know this may be a foreign concept, there are more than two possible positions on every subject. Consider it.

On one hand you rally against big government and then on the other hand you want government to not only be involved, but be so forcefully when it comes to the reproductive freedoms, wombs and bedrooms of others.

That is not a consistent position. If you want to prove to the world that your position if perfect, you'll have to have the misfortune of one of your children being impregnated by a family member (incest) and then finding out that the fetus has terrible defects....and then showing us all that you will not only force her to carry the child to term, but that you will work to pay the millions it may require to take care of her/him....WITHOUT taking advantage of any programs paid for by the taxpayer.

If you can honestly tell us you would take that route, then you are a better man than I...for certain. I would drive my daughter to the doc post haste in such a case.......but that's me. I'm a heathen.

Posted by: Stuart at July 6, 2010 6:14 PM

Wouldn't you want the government to take an interest in your minor daughter's bedroom, Stuart, if one of your relatives were using it to sexually abuse her? Wouldn't you want the government in your bedroom if somebody you know were murdering your wife in it?

Posted by: Justin Katz at July 6, 2010 6:20 PM

Seems like a totally reasonable position to me. More so than labeling as monstrous anyone who even questions whether a non-viable group of cells is equivalent to an autonomous and fully-conscious human being.

Posted by: Dan at July 6, 2010 6:55 PM

Well, Justin, it so happens I know someone who murdered her husband in the bedroom. Guess what? The government treats that VERY differently than murdering someone on the street.

And surely you know...you must...that murder, manslaughter, etc. are in the province of the state and county/city (depends on where you live) - NOT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

Make no mistake about it. You are pimping for big daddy government to deal with reproductive freedoms. As we both know, the strict Catholic Doctrine would say that even a rubber or pulling out would be destruction of life.
"Periodic abstinence and the natural infertility caused by breastfeeding are the only methods deemed moral for avoiding pregnancy"
- seems to be the policy of the church.

Firstly, can you assure us that you and those in your sphere honestly adhere to these tenants?

If so, you are surely welcome to miss all the fun. But don't force others to do so. It's a slippery slope.

Posted by: Stuart at July 6, 2010 7:14 PM


Looks like we've entered that range of topics on which you're unable to resist extremes or even read what people with whom you disagree have written. I wrote:

... the attempt to acknowledge reality and credit the unborn with being distinct human beings while still characterizing their killing as the choice of the mother is monstrous

This clearly does not include "anyone" who questions whether the unborn are distinct human beings. Such people are necessarily deluded and ignoring science, but they do not believe themselves to be sanctioning the slaughter of human beings, and they are acting within a society that has striven to cloud the matter in doubt.

I further did not declare that unborn children are "equivalent" to "fully formed adults." I certainly wouldn't want them driving, buying beer, or voting. That does not negate the reality that the pro-life description necessitates, at the very least, a belief that the unborn have a right to life.



You do only marginally better than Dan. First, whether the government treats a murder differently in a certain location does not negate the fact that it accesses that location to investigate (or, better, to stop) the crime.

Second, the distinction between state and federal governments is irrelevant in this discussion, especially inasmuch as I believe abortion ought to be an issue for the states.

Third, the Catholic Church does not consider "a rubber or pulling out" to be "destruction of life," because the Church acknowledges that no life has yet been created. The Catholic morality of contraception is founded in terms distinct from abortion.

Posted by: Justin Katz at July 6, 2010 7:35 PM

Ah, so contraception and pregnancy and abortion are not closely related?

My former carpenters helper, an Italian Catholic, got his first GF preggy because he had heard (I guess the lack of sex education in his school) that women cannot get preggy on the first shot......amazing. It pretty much ruined his life from there on, as they had the kid and got married...and then divorced within 5 years.

It's not radical to think that family matters....should be decided by families. It is, however, extremely radical to pimp for big government to do so.

As to states and abortion, you already lost that one....big time....even if you won it! Consider....let's say there were enough Catholics in RI to outlaw it here (I doubt it, but you may know better) - you 100% know that it would be legal in MA and elsewhere - just a short drive away.

So, if you truly believe in states rights, why not just pretend that the above happened...we get to vote a popular vote on the issue. According to Gallup, only 19% of people living in the NE United States want to ban abortion. So, if you are into representative democracy, you lose.

Can you explain, in light of those stats and states rights, how this even becomes a debate? And, no, government does not have to take into account what the Pope says.

BTW, I may have mentioned this before but I belonged to a religious group years ago that was 100% anti-abortion, but would NEVER have imposed it on anyone else in a legal stance. Rather, we started a clinic and offered to deliver babies for free and then place them if the mom did not want them.

I have not changed my views from that time. It's a chuckle when the real anti-abortion crowd...who walk the walk (myself included) have to defend the general population of the USA from the Fundamentalists Christians who wish to impose their doctrines on the general public.

Oh, and BTW - Tea Party also polls as pro-choice.

Posted by: Stuart at July 6, 2010 9:30 PM


I know first hand that Heidi is definitely pro-life. However, as she and most others are aware, the office of Lt. Governor is not one conducive to advancing any position on virtually any issue, whether it be pro-life, pro-gun, illegal aliens, etc. Unlike in Congress (which is mainly what this post has been referring to), the Lt. Governor's position has no constitutional ability to enact anything legislatively or even by judicial fiat (not that I recommend the latter). Heidi focused on what she would do to remove power and expense from the operation of the Lt. Governor's office, not on what she might do if elected. However, she has stated that she would support the Republican governor, and since that person is pro-life, she would be supporting his position as well.

I have to admit to being slightly amused that you would be bringing up candidates comparitive stances on life issues, since you are not pro-life yourself.

Et Al,

The idea of defining oneself as "pro-life" not only has to do with what one considers wrong for themselves personally, but also what one might be able to support legislatively if and when one is in a position to affect it. If one believes that abortion is the killing of innocent human life, then it's an absolute moral position.

PS Speaking as to legality, as opposed to morality, and I know it may be a semantic argument, but I do not refer to abortion as "murder," simply because the legal definition of murder is "the unlawful taking of a human life." Currently, although utterly despicable and morally evil, abortion is "lawful" (one will note that historically, a lot of evil things have been "lawful"). In the legal sense, homocide is not interchangable with murder. That being said, abortion is killing or homocide, and as such, is almost never morally justifiable.

Posted by: Will at July 6, 2010 9:52 PM

If there is a building burning down, on the second floor is a day care with 5 children. On the first floor is a IVF clinic with millions of fertilized eggs in tubes. Where does a pro-life person run to, the second floor to save the 5 children, or the first floor the save the millions of potential children?

Posted by: swazool at July 7, 2010 9:27 AM

>If one believes that abortion is the killing of innocent human life, then it's an absolute moral position.

Not at all. Render under Ceasar what is his.
People believe all kinds of things drummed into them by religion. The Scientologists (including MANY famous and otherwise intelligent people) think we all have aliens inside of us. The Mormons think many of them are chosen as Prophets and should have many wives.

Does that mean they should lobby the government and legislature for laws relating to those positions?

I would say not.

Anyone is free to write and stand on a soapbox, but when you impose your "morals" or religious beliefs upon others you have crossed the line.

Posted by: Stuart at July 7, 2010 9:57 AM

Arguing with Justin is like arguing into a vacuum. He has his peculiar set of beliefs and he never lets reality interfere with them.

Justin is a man who lives only above the neck; somatic realities are never allowed to penetrate his persona.

If you want to know how he operates, check The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine or whatever is currently coming from the Vatican. The man hears and obeys. It's that simple.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at July 7, 2010 11:45 AM

Lefty, I understand the appeal of hierarchy and authoritarianism......but always hold out the hope that people eventually learn to think for themselves.

I know....it's a reach! But if we don't all believe this, then there is absolutely NO hope.

The fact is that much of the civilized world has already moved on from fundamentalist religion. People have learned to separate the good parts (community, ideas, etc.) from the bad parts (control, authoritarianism).....

We are running a bit behind the curve here in America, but we will eventually get there.

Posted by: Stuart at July 7, 2010 2:25 PM

We are behind the curve indeed, Stuart. We must go East before we can go West.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at July 8, 2010 2:01 PM

Hey,OTL,why don't you just act on your prattlings and head off for a lamasary in Tibet to find wisdom?Oh,forgot,the communists destroyed them and killed many of their occupants.

Posted by: joe bernstein at July 10, 2010 6:43 AM
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