In “Putting baby killers on the spot (10/1/98),” “pro-life” advocate Ray Kerrison criticizes those who “camouflage” their “assaults” (arguments) with “euphemisms.”
For example, is an acorn a tree? Is stepping on an acorn the same as chopping down a tree? Is an egg a chicken? Is breaking an egg the same as slaughtering a chicken? Is a potential entity the same as an actual one?
In regard to abortion, is an embryo the same as a human being, a baby, or even an “unborn baby”? Is Mr. Kerrison correct in identifying a doctor who removes an embryo from a woman’s body as a “baby killer”? Is he correct to imply that the United States is morally equivalent to Nazi Germany in that both have engaged in a “bloodletting” and a “holocaustic horror”? Could it be that the principle of man’s right to life identified by the founding fathers was intended to apply to potential human beings, but not to actual ones?
If Mr. Kerrison is in favor of intellectual honesty and precision, why doesn’t he frame his argument in terms of an alleged right of an embryo to sacrifice the individual rights of living human beings, and then try to defend such a position, if he can?
Like the environmental movement and the animal rights movement, the “right to life” movement places at its center of concern the opposite of human welfare. Those who would sacrifice man’s rights to such alleged objects of compassion as trees, laboratory rats or embryos are not lovers of life, but haters of mankind.
Context for the above, added 2019:
My opposition to the pro-rights movement specifically concerns their irrational notion that a human life, fully endowed with political rights, begins at the moment of conception, and their immoral notion that abortion needs to be prohibited thereafter, i.e., during the entire term of pregnancy.
My view is that, epistemologically, pregnancy represents a nine-month-long borderline case, at the beginning of which, when there is a fertilized egg, there is clearly no human life at stake, and at the end of which, when there is a newborn baby, there clearly is. Therefore, it can be reasonable to argue against abortion in the later stages of pregnancy, but not in its early stages. Also: in a full discussion of abortion, the moral stature of the decision needs to be distinguished from the separate political issue of what should be the proper application of the principle of individual rights. As regards the former, I believe that for a decision to have an abortion to be fully moral, it must be made at the earliest possible point after which the pregnancy has been detected and the abortion is possible, and that it becomes increasingly irresponsible and immoral for one to perform an abortion as the term progresses. However, that is separate from the political and legal determination of whether at a late stage of pregnancy the principle of individual rights applies to the fetus before birth, or conversely, whether at a late stage of pregnancy the prohibition of abortion violates the individual rights of the woman. Contrary to the claims on both sides, neither of these determinations is self-evident.
Just as the least rational members of the left often use an unfounded smear of “racist” to attempt to preemptively shut down rational discussion on issues having nothing to do with race, so similarly do the least rational members of the religious right often use an unfounded smear of “murderer” to attempt to preemptively shut down rational discussion on an issue having nothing to do with murder.