The cruel logic of treating abortion as murder

For a long time the leaders of the Republican Party have said that “abortion is murder,” but, until now, they haven’t meant this literally.

130306_prolife_abortion_605_reutAll the Republican presidential candidates from George H.W. Bush to Mitt Romney have opposed abortion, but made exceptions, such as for women who are pregnant as the result of rape or incest.

No such exception would be allowed by Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson, Rand Paul or Mike Huckabee, according to a report by Thomas B. Edsall of the New York Times.

If you honestly believe that abortion is murder, it is logical to say, as Huckabee did, that friends of a 10-year-old girl in Paraguay who became pregnant after being raped by her step-father has no more right to commit murder than anybody else.

Edsall noted that the top 15 Republican candidates, including Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina, all agree that life begins at conception.  This sounds strict to me, but Edsall pointed out that, to some of the most powerful anti-abortion groups, it is not enough.  To these groups, life begins at fertilization.

The difference is that conception begins when the fertilized egg is implanted in the womb.  Most fertilized eggs fail to be implanted.

The importance of this difference is that the “morning after” birth control pill works by preventing implantation of a fertilized egg.   Experts disagree on whether IUDs prevent implantation of fertilized eggs.   Extremist anti-abortionists think such forms of birth control are the same as abortion.

But if preventing a fertilized egg from being implanted is abortion, then God would be the greatest abortionist of them all.

That’s why so many philosophers, Christian and otherwise, have believed that human life begins with quickening, when the fetus is capable of independent movement within the womb, or when the brain is fully formed, and the unborn child is capable of experiencing pain, or viability, when the baby is fully formed and capable of survival outside the womb,

In my opinion, if you want to reduce the number of abortions, you should reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies.  If you want to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, you should increase access to knowledge and means of contraception.  If you want to do these things, you should support Planned Parenthood.


The Republican Conception of Conception by Thomas B. Edsall for the New York Times.   Most Republican voters do not follow the cruel logic I describe.  That’s a dilemma for the Republican candidates.

Planned Parenthood Means Fewer Abortions by Michael Specter for The New Yorker.

How False Narratives of Margaret Sanger Are Being Used to Shame Black Women by Imani Gandi for Reproductive Health Reality Check.

Mitch McConnell and the Planned Parenthood Atom Bomb by Ben Domenich for The Federalist [Added 9/3/2015]  Evidently the current Republican Congress is not going to try to defund Planned Parenthood.

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5 Responses to “The cruel logic of treating abortion as murder”

  1. Holden Says:

    There are always extremists on all sides of the argument. To call any type of abortion a murder is ridiculous. BUT- I always like to raise the following hypothetical question:

    If a woman who is in the third trimester were walking down the street and a robbed burglar approached her to rob her and in the process, stabbed her in the stomach, which resulted in the unborn child/fetus dying, but the mother survives…. Is the crime considered a murder or simply assault with a deadly weapon?


  2. philebersole Says:

    Holden, I’m glad you disagree with extremists who say that all forms of abortion are murder. These extremists dominate the Republican presidential race, and still do not satisfy more extreme extremists.

    In answer to your hypothetical question, I think that in the case of an unborn child who was viable, or who had sufficient brain activity to indicate awareness, I think the crime you describe should be treated in exactly the same way as if the woman had a baby in a carrier in front of her, and the criminal killed the baby.

    I think the hypothetical situation you describe would be highly unusual — much more unusual that an underage girl becoming pregnant through rape or incest. Do you think such an underage girl should be forced to bring the fetus to term?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. John Pennington Says:

    All abortions mark failures. Women who do not want to conceive should be able to prevent pregnancy, which, given our 7.3 billion population, should be a primary policy everywhere. If it were always possible, the abortion rate would plummet. Unfortunately, many people want to prevent women from obtaining the medical care that would help them because of their ideology, thus acting in direct contradiction of global need. This allows them to yell a lot about irresponsible teens, meaning mostly black teens, but does nothing good.

    What to do when such a failure occurs is more difficult. The belief that a fertilized egg is a fully-formed human is simply ridiculous. There are many obstacles to overcome before a cell, or even a lot of cells, becomes a viable human, and the fertilized egg or the resulting zygote is often lost for natural reasons.

    Ah, but determining when a probable human emerges, there’s the rub, and it’s a reasonable thing to debate. But we don’t debate. All discussion is ended by people whose belief is ideologically set, often contrary to what science knows about the matter.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Fred Says:

      It seems we are in a sexual recession. Teen pregnancy rates, as well as overall fertility rates, have plunged. We’re currently at a replacement rate of 1.76 which means as a country the population would be declining if we eliminated immigration.

      Easy access to abortion and birth control in the larger population states has something to do with it but the largest share of the reduction seems to be due to social media.

      “The internet has made it so easy to gratify basic social and sexual needs that there’s far less incentive to go out into the “meatworld” and chase those things. This isn’t to say that the internet can give you more satisfaction than sex or relationships, because it doesn’t … [But it can] supply you with just enough satisfaction to placate those imperatives … I think it’s healthy to ask yourself: “If I didn’t have any of this, would I be going out more? Would I be having sex more?” For a lot of people my age, I think the answer is probably yes.”


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