Abortion

'The Babies Were Going to Die the Next Day'

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Yesterday Scott Roeder, who killed Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller last May, took the stand in his own defense at his murder trial in Wichita. But since Roeder admits to shooting Tiller in the head at his church after carefully planning the act, he really has no defense to offer. Judge Warren Wilbert would not allow him to argue that his crime was necessary to prevent a greater evil—i.e., Tiller's continued murder of unborn children. Nor would Wilbert allow Roeder to argue that he should be convicted of voluntary manslaughter instead of first-degree murder because he acted based on "an unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force." Wilbert nevertheless allowed Roeder to explain his motive to the jury. "I did what I thought was needed to be done to protect the children," he said. "I shot him….If I didn't do it, the babies were going to die the next day." Barring jury nullification, this explanation won't have any impact on the verdict, so the trial seems pretty pointless from a legal perspective. Roeder freely admits to what the law defines as premeditated murder, and under the law his motive makes no difference.

The trial does raise interesting moral issues, however. As I argued in a column when jury selection began two weeks ago, people who claim to believe abortion is the murder of innocents may cite prudential reasons not to follow Roeder's example, but they have not satisfactorily explained why his moral reasoning is wrong. For his part, Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry, who implicitly condemned Tiller's murder last spring, is now hedging:

"George Tiller shed the blood of 60,000 innocent children," Randall Terry, the founder of Operation Rescue, told reporters. Mr. Terry (who is in a legal dispute over the use of the group's name with Operation Rescue's current president, Troy Newman) said that he was neither condoning nor condemning Mr. Roeder's actions, but that people should remember the children.

Update: Today the jury convicted Roeder on all counts after deliberating for 37 minutes.

NEXT: Time to Add on Official Judicial Response to the SotU?

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  1. Jacob,

    If you think that everyone who thinks life begins at conception is under some moral obligation to excuse the murder of abortion doctors, then I guess you also think that people who believe life begins at birth should go around telling women who had miscarriages not to worry since they only lost a non-human fetus clump of cells. I mean if you are not willing to do that, can you really say that you believe life begins at birth?

    1. Even if the fetus wasn’t a person, it doesn’t mean that the parents didn’t want a child, and are potentially devestated at being deprived of the opportunity to have one.

      1. They can always have another one. And if you have ever known anyone who had a miscarriage the sorrow is not just about “not having a baby”.

        Look, abortion is a complex moral issue. Millions of women say they think abortion should be legal but “they would never have one themselves”? Really? Why? It is just a medical procudure and a fetus is just a bag of cells. Of course by any measure it is not just a bag of cells. And every woman who is pro choice shouldn’t be expected to have an abortion herself anymore than every person who thinks it it killing should be expected to cap an abortion doctor.

        Jacobs point is stupid and juvinille.

        1. Nothing incenses me more than that position that “I believe it should be legal, but would never have one myself.” If a person wouldn’t have one themselves, it suggests that they think there to be something deeper than simply a ball of cells, they imply life exists. Their conscience couldn’t live with the act of an abortion. Yet, the state that for purposes of convenience, that killing should be legalized because some women are simply unable to assume the duties of motherhood. It is the height of hypocracy.

          1. “If a person wouldn’t have one themselves, it suggests that they think there to be something deeper than simply a ball of cells, they imply life exists. “

            I would never commit suicide, but I don’t believe the state should tell you that you cannot do so.

            1. As with the argument below, suicide is something that only takes the “moral violator’s” life. It does not threathen to infringe the rights of a third party. However, I simply cannot see any reason a person could believe that abortion is wrong outside of believing in the distinct humanity of the fetus (if there is a reason, I am unaware of it). If it is distinctly human, its life should be afforded the protection of the laws of a just liberty-oriented society.

              1. I agree, and that is precisely why I am anti-abortion.

                However, it is possible to believe the fetus is life but the mother’s property rights supercede its right to life. Pro-choicers have a wider array of possible premises on which to base their conclusion that abortion should not be illegal.

                Which is why it is even more important that for anti-abortion folks, it’s not simply a matter of personal preference. One who sees abortion as murder, and believes that in this case the mother’s property rights are not more essential than the fetus’ right to life, would be remiss to simply excuse abortion.

              2. “I simply cannot see any reason a person could believe that abortion is wrong outside of believing in the distinct humanity of the fetus.”

                Somebody may say that they would never have an abortion because it is not a desirable option for them. This is different than believing that it is “wrong”. It would seem that people who believe it is “wrong” presuppose that abortion is murder and the only time I can imagine somebody saying that “abortion is wrong, but you can have one” is if they are cognizant of the limitations inherent in human perspectives.

                1. In a way you are correct. A person could reasonably assert that they don’t want to undergo said medical procedure to terminate a pregnancy because of whatever risks are associated with it. But I would believe, and in fact have met a great many women, who believe the procedure is “wrong” due to their own understanding of the nature of the fetus, but still support legal abortion. And I still maintain that that position is endemic of the sociopathology of modern society. A belief that it is life but not worthy of legal protection because such would be an inconvenience to unexpectedly pregnant women.

              3. If it is distinctly human, its life should be afforded the protection of the laws of a just liberty-oriented society.

                Enforcement of the protection of the laws requires the use of scarce resources; that is a factor to consider.

          2. Women who say they believe it should be legal, but would never get one themself, could also be for people getting the right to decide what’s right in their own set of circumstances.

            They could also be saying that they oppose abortion, but also don’t want the government getting to decide what is right and what is not (banning things).

            1. It’s not like weed. You can legitimately say its a wrong or foolish thing to do, a vice that adds nothing to one’s life, but be perfectly fine with it being legal for everyone because its their own damn choice to fuck up their lives.

              But if you are personally opposed to abortion, it seems to be it is based in a belief in the life of the fetus. If you believe that fetus is a distinctly human life, seperate from the mother’s (whether that belief is based on a presence of a soul or a distinctly unique human genome), that life trumps all. The protection of life is the bedrock of liberty.

            2. “They could also be saying that they oppose abortion, but also don’t want the government getting to decide what is right and what is not (banning things).”

              I think there’s a matter of degree here. I’m opposed to the government banning men from having dorky hippy pony tails, even if my life would be better if I never had to look at one again. I am OK with the government “banning” the tossing of a lit pipe bomb into a room full of school children. I don’t think the latter position makes me some freaky statist or is generally incompatible with a libertarian world view.

              Even in the pipe bomb case though, I would only be legally/morally justified in using violence against the perpetrator if doing so was immediately necessary to prevent the bombing from taking place. If I had foreknowledge of such a plot and decided to execute the individual instead of alerting the authorities, I would be guilty of murder. Likewise, if I had and took the opportunity to execute the perpetrator after the act was committed and there was no immediate danger, I would be guilty of murder – even if there was no question that said perpetrator was going to be executed for his crimes.

              1. Certainly there is a matter of degree. The reason why abortion is such a fought over issue is because of where people say life starts.

              2. TXLimey, I think you did a good job of explaining my position.

                If you kill someone before the act, you are guilty of murder because there’s no certainty the act will take place, pre-crime was wrong in the movie and it’s wrong in real life.

                If you kill the person after the fact it’s revenge and that’s wrong as well.

                Now there’s certainly some subjectiveness when it comes to judging the time between pre-crime and stopping the deed but killing someone over something that “was going” to happen the next is certainly pre-crime murder.

          3. Nothing incenses me more than the position that “If you wouldn’t do it yourself then no one should be allowed to do it”. There is nothing whatsoever hypocritical about holding the position that for purposes of convenience, killing should be legalized because some women are simply unable to assume the duties of motherhood.

            1. I wouldn’t kill a human being who didn’t pose an imminent threat to my own life, nor do I believe anyone else should be permitted to. I think that is rational.

              I wouldn’t do heroin or crack or a toothless hooker, but dude, if that’s your bag: rock out brotha!

              The distinction is life, the bedrock of liberty. If you believe its life (and I fully recognize and appreciate the arguments of those who don’t and am more than happy to address those independently), but if you believe that fetus is life than you MUST believe that life is worthy of legal protection.

            2. So I assume euthanizing a six-year-old should be a legal choice for parents who are unable to support that six year old by extension.

              1. Why don’t we flip that argument on its head? Why isn’t it murder for a woman to have her period without trying to conceive?

                1. 23 chromosomes does not a human make.

                  1. “23 chromosomes does not a human make.”
                    *********
                    I know! It’s like she’s intentionally killing it before it even gets all of its chromosomes!

                    1. The sarcasm in that comment is fairly juvenille and seems a last resort for someone who refuses to address the salient scientific point upon which I base my understanding of where life begins. I can understand, and even empathize to a degree with, the arguments against life at conception (satience, dependence, etc.), but I try to make a point of respectfully disagreeing. I don’t mock the arguments of dissenters with red herrings, or comments intended to make their logical process where its not by taking it to a false extension.

                    2. The sarcasm was meant to lighten up the fundamental difference we have on when life begins. When I make a thoughtful argument, you can tell. When I make a throwaway argument, it just means that there’s no further progress to be made. No intent to offend.

                    3. Sorry for my reflexive defensiveness then. No offense taken… it was humorous in that light, just not when I thought you were painting me as a Catholic Pope lol.

        2. They can always have another one.

          I have. I had a friend who had a miscarriage two years ago after a six month pregnancy. She and her husband were upset because he has fertility problems, and they had been trying to get pregnant for years. So, you giant fucking asshole, you cannot always “just have another one.” I can see what you’re getting at, but dismissing a miscarriage is staggeringly rude irrelevant of the status of the fetus.

        3. Well said. I’ve felt the same way about this argument from Sullum since I heard before.

        4. What I find odd is when people say that abortion should be safe, legal and rare. Why rare? What’s the implication? No one says heart transplants should be safe, legal and rare.

    2. I would be respectful of a woman who just had a miscarriage, but I also wouldn’t be attending any funerals for miscarriages.

    3. Life might be “the bedrock of liberty”, but we have identified in the law various circumstances under which it is legal to take a life.

      The pro-life side has always hung its hat on the argument that “life begins at conception.” While I find much to fault with that conclusion, even if we assume that is the case, I have never been convinced that that conclusion ends the discussion. OK, so life begins at conception. Yet there are times when you can legally take the life of another.

      What we’re talking about is a public policy decision – even if we agree and conclude that abortion takes the life of another, it could certainly be a policy decision to allow it under specific, limited circumstances and not outlaw it in total.

      And as far as those women who say it should be legal but they wouldn’t have one – I don’t see any inconsistency there. I also have met people who say they believe guns should be legal, but they would never own one.

      As others have said, perhaps these women feel they are not in a circumstance where they would need or want an abortion, but that it should remain available as a safe and legal medical procedure in certain cases.

  2. “but they have not satisfactorily explained why his moral reasoning is wrong.”

    This is just as specious as claiming that Muslims aren’t adequately denouncing suicide bombers.

  3. I think Jacob is making a fantastic point. This was being argued about on one of the local talk radio shows this morning. A caller said he thought what Roeder had done was justified, and the (conservative) host was very upset to hear that, saying he hoped this guy wasn’t the face of the pro-life movement. But there is a legitimate argument here. Would it be justified to kill a terrorist that you knew had killed a hundred innocent civilians? You could say, well, the law can handle that, but in this case, the law doesn’t handle it. What to do?

    1. It is an insipid point. First, murdering this guy didn’t prevent any abortions. It is not like he was the only abortion doctor in America. Second, the act, by hurting the anti-abortion cause, will probably cause more abortions. So, the entire premise of the question is bullshit.

      Second, just because you believe something to be true, doesn’t necessarily give you the right to go murder people and break the law. Yes, I think abortion is murder. But I understand that other people don’t. I think they are mistaken in that view. But I don’t think their mistake gives me or anyone else the right to murder them.

      Third, this kind of logic applies to the other side as I point out above. If you really believe life begins at birth, then you ought to be telling heartbroken women who just had miscarriages what fools they are.

      1. It is an insipid point. First, murdering this guy didn’t prevent any abortions. It is not like he was the only abortion doctor in America. Second, the act, by hurting the anti-abortion cause, will probably cause more abortions. So, the entire premise of the question is bullshit.

        Tiller was medical director at a clinic that was only one of three in the whole nation to perform late-term abortions. So yes, his killing may have prevented some abortions.

        Certainly, the destruction of all three clinics would. Would this be acceptable?

        1. No it wouldn’t you stupid fuck. As I say below, the doctor is killing people because of a mistaken perception of reality. His mistake, no matter how grave, doesn’t give me the right to murder him.

          1. Can you read? I was simply responding to your assertion that George Tiller’s death did not prevent any abortions, Because of the specific nature of Dr. Tiller’s clinic, it may very well have been the case that it did.

            A mistaken perception of reality is irrelevant. You don’t excuse people who kill because they think that Jews, black or gays are non-human. Why would you excuse people who think babies are nonhuman?

            1. It is possible for a person to believe that murdering children is wrong, but that vengence killings, or even preventative killings, are similarly wrong. Ghandi, MLK, etc. These were men who believed that non-violence was the guiding principal, and that they would not resort to the tactics and methods of their enemies.

        2. You would first have to prove they wouldn’t have gone anywhere else. You are simply assuming they wouldn’t.

      2. Sounds like your intolerance for vigilantism is greater than your intolerance for murder.

      3. Yes. This is affected by two things. 1) Abortion is legal and 2) the pro-choice position is reasonable.

        The first is more important. An abortion doctor has broken no laws, so punishing him would be similar to retroactive lawmaking: regardless of my opinion about what the law SHOULD be, the fact that he did not break the law means he is subject to the protection of those laws.

        I think abortion should be illegal. That does not give me the right to execute those who practice abortion under the protection of the laws.

        Point 2 is more conceptual and less concrete, but suffice to say there are sound philosophical bases for the pro-choice position. This is why I think leaving the issue to the states is the best solution.

        Abortion doctors commit atrocities in my view, but they are not evil.

        Point 1, as I said before, is more important.

      4. the act, by hurting the anti-abortion cause, will probably cause more abortions

        I submit that this premise is flawed. How will the potential harm to the public’s perception of the anti-abortion crowd “cause” more people to get abortions? That’s a silly proposition.

    2. From a moral point of view, abortion doctors are not malliciously killing children. They certainly don’t go to work every day thinking “how many kids can I kill today”. They are killing children in the mistaken view that life doesn’t begin until birth. They are actually trying to do good. For that reason, even if you believe abortion is killing, abortion doctors are not Auszwitz guards.

      1. You would have found a number of people in the Third Reich who would disagree with your assessment that Jews were people. Yes, you might think that murder was being committed at the camps, But I understand that other people don’t. I think they are mistaken in that view. But I don’t think their mistake gives me or anyone else the right to murder them.

        1. That is just idiotic. Really, you hitting new lows for stupid. I think abortion is killing. But, it is a debateable issue. When life begins is defitinely debateable. Wether or not living breathing thinking human beings are fully human based on their religion is not debatable.

          You are just trolling. No one is this stupid.

          1. I’m doing neither. You are just ignoring the fact that various groups have been dehumanized throughout history, from black slaves (whose possession of a soul was once an item of debate in parts of the United States) to Jews to gays.

            Because of the culture we have been raised in, we don’t regard such things as ambiguous, but that’s merely a there-but-for-the-grace-of-god.

            Your argument can be used to defend anyone who has been taught to dehumanize a certain class of people.

            But in the end, it’s still irrelevant, it doesn’t matter what the camp guard belives; the point is to get rid of the camps.

            1. “Your argument can be used to defend anyone who has been taught to dehumanize a certain class of people.”

              It can only be used if you are an idiot who thinks that every concept must be applied to its complete extreme. We know with certainty that Jews are human beings. We do not know with the same certainty that fetuses are. I think they are. You don’t. You have a reasonable if mistaken case to make. You have no reasonable case to make that Jews are not human beings.

              1. We do not know with the same certainty that fetuses are.

                John, this is one of the most stupid statements I have ever read. Certainly, we don’t know if a fetus is a human fetus, it could be a dog fetus. Claiming that an undeveloped human being isn’t human is, beneath retarded.

                Do you even know the meaning of the word “fetus”? It appears you do not. From Miriam-Webster Online:

                : an unborn or unhatched vertebrate especially after attaining the basic structural plan of its kind; specifically : a developing human from usually two months after conception to birth

                It might be arguable when conceived humans should be guaranteed rights, but no serious person questions when life begins. They teach it in 9th or 10th grade biology.

          2. Dude, you’re an asshole. There’s no need to call someone a stupid asshole just for arguing a point.

        2. But I don’t think their mistake gives me or anyone else the right to murder them.

          So if you were in the presence of a neo-nazi that was about to kill a Jew, based on his profoundly wrong belief that said Jew was sub-human, you would not feel morally justified in preventing that?

          If you are going to claim that the pro-life crowd should take its position to the logical extension of condoning Roeder’s actions, then you should similarly believe that you would have a moral obligation to kill said neo-nazi in a preventative effort.

          1. No. Because there are varying levels of mistakes and certainty. I am 100% certain to the point that I would kill someone that someone’s religion doesn’t make them less human. I am pretty damn certain that being conceived makes someone human. But, I am understand that there are reasonable people who disagree with me. For this reason, I will not be out killing abortion doctors.

            You are engaging in the worst sort of sophistry. Reasoning is for making distinctions. Just because some “mistakes” are so obvious as to be unsupportable doesn’t mean every mistake and disagreement is.

            1. John, my point wasn’t addressed at you. I was responding to Tacos who seemed to indicate that he would not be comfortable killing a guard at Aushwitz in a preventative manner, which would seem quite odd to me considering that he is arguing you should feel morally compelled to murder abortionists.

              1. The Aushwitz argument doesn’t really work. If the Aushwitz is pointing the gun at the Jew, then yes using deadly force works.

                However, in order for it to be the same, the abortion doctor would have to have the abortion instrument in his hand and the women right on the table next to him.

                If the abortion doctor is shot if he’s away from the clinic or in his office then it’s revenge. He does abortions, but it’s possible (maybe not likely, but it’s possible) that right before he was shot he decided abortion is not right and he wasn’t going to do anymore. Thus, it’s revenge, not preventing a greater evil from taking place.

              2. The Aushwitz argument doesn’t really work. If the Aushwitz is pointing the gun at the Jew, then yes using deadly force works.

                However, in order for it to be the same, the abortion doctor would have to have the abortion instrument in his hand and the women right on the table next to him.

                If the abortion doctor is shot if he’s away from the clinic or in his office then it’s revenge. He does abortions, but it’s possible (maybe not likely, but it’s possible) that right before he was shot he decided abortion is not right and he wasn’t going to do anymore. Thus, it’s revenge, not preventing a greater evil from taking place.

              3. The Aushwitz argument doesn’t really work. If the Aushwitz is pointing the gun at the Jew, then yes using deadly force works.

                However, in order for it to be the same, the abortion doctor would have to have the abortion instrument in his hand and the women right on the table next to him.

                If the abortion doctor is shot if he’s away from the clinic or in his office then it’s revenge. He does abortions, but it’s possible (maybe not likely, but it’s possible) that right before he was shot he decided abortion is not right and he wasn’t going to do anymore. Thus, it’s revenge, not preventing a greater evil from taking place.

            2. Slave owners in did not think of their slaves as fully human. They were protected by law. They also had good intentions such as helping “darkies” they honestly believed would be worse off without slavery.

              According to your logic, it was wrong to help slaves escape, much less kill slave owners if that was necessary to free slaves.

              1. Name Here Please, not sure if you were replying to me, but if you were the slave/abortion comparison doesn’t work.

                The Slaveowners are holding the slaves there, the slaves liberties are currently being taken away from them (they’re curently being held as slaves).

                With the abortion, unless the abortion doctor is not permitting the woman to leave, there’s still a chance that she will leave. There’s also a chance that something else could happen that would keep the procedure from taking place.

                Until the doctor gets out the vacumn it’s no different than her walking into a store, her walking into the abortion office does not harm the fetus/baby.

                Now when the doctor gets out the vacumn and she’s on the table there’s imminent harm to take place. Even then it’s possible something will happen to stop the procedure, but considering how short the timeframe it is deadly force is more understandble.

    3. Jacob was destroyed in the previous thread, Im surprised he brought it back up.

    4. Would it be justified to kill a terrorist that you knew had killed a hundred innocent civilians?

      It depends on where the terrorist is.

  4. All because the law says it is legal dosen’t mean its right. Slavery was legal and We know that is was wrong then as it is now. There as to be evil in a person to kill 60,000. babies for profit. To Kill the Doctor is wrong. nether are right in their actions.
    http://www.suckitupcrybaby.com

    1. Spammers, though, should spend a goodly amount of time with a pasty on their pecker.

  5. Why not shoot the doctors who train other doctors to perform abortions?

    1. I say we take off and nuke the place from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure to stop all abortions.

      1. We should require that abortion doctors deliver the baby then kill the mother. I think that was an Onion article some time ago.

        1. That’s how they do it in Poland.

  6. I recall hearing about an experiment in cognitive science some years ago. In this experiment subjects were asked by two groups of people to eat a cockroach. In one group the experimenters asked nicely and pleaded. In the other group, the experimenters were rude and intimidated them.

    Afterwards, the subjects (the ones who ate the cockroach) were interviewed about how the cockroach tasted. Curiously, the ones who were intimidated into it thought that it tasted better than the ones who were cajoled into it.

    The point of this was to illustrate how human beings tend to confabulate rational reasons why they did something, instead of admitting they were coerced into it. They would say the bug didn’t taste that bad, and it wasn’t that big a deal, instead of acknowledge they did something they didn’t want to.

    IMO, It’s likely that most abortion opponents WOULD say that it was moral to kill the abortion doctor, if it were not for the threat of prison time or the death penalty. On top of that, social conservatives are *already* people who are more ready to obey laws and say that breaking the law is immoral by itself.

    1. “IMO, It’s likely that most abortion opponents WOULD say that it was moral to kill the abortion doctor, if it were not for the threat of prison time or the death penalty.”

      I certainly wouldn’t. I believe abortion to be killing another person. But am I so certain in that belief that I think it is okay to go and kill someone over it? No. It takes a hell of a lot of certainty to go and kill someone. And abortion, despite my beliefs on it, isn’t it.

    2. IMO, It’s likely that most abortion opponents WOULD say that it was moral to kill the abortion doctor, if it were not for the threat of prison time or the death penalty.

      Is it also your opinion that most people antiwar would say that it were moral to kill American troops?

      Anyone who says that “taxation is theft” finds it moral to kill IRS agents in self-defense?

      1. or that any senator or congressman who opposes health care reform should be shot?

        1. Exactly.

  7. Interesting to see how one of my own principles (favor of jury nullification) could subvert the rule of law if taken to the extreme. If enough of the population agrees that it is morally correct to kill abortion doctors, and that segment is generally willing to admit that belief, such killers would likely get away with it. Expanded further, ANY crime becomes unpunishable if enough people consider it acceptable. So while ideally jury nullification is a check on abuse of the law against the innocent, it is also potentially a faciliator of vigilante justice and replacement of the law by popular opinion, ultimately culminating in Might makes Right. Interesting.

    @John: I don’t equate a fetus with a sentient human and I AM comfortable with the idea of women shrugging off miscarriages as merely the loss of a clump of cells. I don’t usually tell them not to worry about it because they probably won’t spontaneously come around to my line of reasoning, so my interference only hurts them further.

    1. Wasnt that the theme of “A Time to Kill”?
      It is part of why I disagreed with the ending of the novel (even though I support jury nullification). I dont support vigilantism. Which also applies to the abortion case. The proper way to handle the Doc is to get the law changed and then convict him of murder if he continues preforming abortions.

      1. I always thought the theme of that film was showcasing just how shitty and actor Matthew McConehy (sp?) is.

        We always refer to that film as Some Time to Kill.

        1. It was a film?

          Yeah, I know, I just chose not to see it. I was referring to the novel. Same applies for any Dune references.

      2. For a random guy to kill those rapists would be wrong. For the father of that little girl, it’s something different.

        Some people may say the law is more important than my revenge. I’m OK with those people being a better person than me. I just hope they’re not on my jury because those rapists would be dead.

        1. If the law had refused to convict, then the father killing them would have been okay. But, the law was in the process of doing its job, he shouldnt have stepped in.

          I think Johnson had some application of this, would have to google it.

  8. What is really insulting about this argument is that it essentially says that people who are pro life don’t really believe what they say. They don’t actually beleive life begins at conception. They just think that way because they hate women or something. Bullshit.

    1. It should be insulting. To believe that life begins at conception means you stand idly by while hundreds of thousands of the most innocent lives in the world are slaughtered. The tens of millions of you that think that should be fighting a bloody war in the streets against anyone who lets this holocaust occur. How can you stand it? How can you sit by while babies are murdered every day? Maybe it’s insulting because you feel guilty for not doing enough to stop it.

  9. Barring jury nullification, this explanation won’t have any impact on the verdict, so the trial seems pretty pointless from a legal perspective.

    Well, aside from that whole Constitutionally-guaranteed, due-process-of-law, trial-by-your-peers.

    I would be respectful of a woman who just had a miscarriage, but I also wouldn’t be attending any funerals for miscarriages.

    I helped set up a memorial program for parents who had miscarriages and otherwise lost pre-term babies. I was astonished at how many people drew great comfort from it.

    1. “I was astonished at how many people drew great comfort from it.”

      I think religion is a good thing and many people derive comfort from it. But it doesn’t mean I believe in god. I don’t like the argument that unless you heckle some poor woman you don’t really believe in pro-choice. I mean, it’s the choice that is the thing. Does anybody believe that a woman on her way to the abortion clinic who finds out that she had a miscarriage is going to have a ceremony about it? I mourn the death of an aspiration, whether that is to have a child or not to have a child.

  10. Because no private individual, acting for himself alone, can deprive another person of their life, no matter what that person has done to deserve it.

    If you are looking for a secular reason, this is because doing so deprives a person of life without benefit of law or due process, and if you argue for a private right to take human life for your own reasons regardless of the law, it’s a very short trip to a pure, violent anarchic society.

    If you are looking for a Christian reason (and I suspect that most of the anti-abortion folks are), this is because, as St. Paul wrote, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)

    1. If you are looking for a Christian reason (and I suspect that most of the anti-abortion folks are), this is because, as St. Paul wrote, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)

      I take great offense everytime the pro-choice crown instantly assumes that pro-lifers are almost wholly christians or religious of some nature. I myself am an atheist, yet believing that a distinctly different and human genetic code residing in a womb does not fall under the panopoly of self-ownership does not equate me with any belief in a soul.

      As to the Christian point about vengeance: Is it not reasonable to argue that the killing of Tiller was justified on preventative grounds instead of vigilantism? Forgive my lack of biblical knowledge (again, recognizing the atheism and all), but I would assume that there is a passage somewhere stating that the Lord would not mind a person exercizing force in order to save others less capable of defense.

      1. The only new testament example I can think of off the top of my head is when Peter (IIRC) cuts off the ear of the soldier come to arrest Jesus. Jesus was “less capable of defense (not having a sword on him)”. He chastised Peter and then healed the soldier.

        Okay, soldier above should be “servant of High Priest”. Malchus, specifically, as John identifies it. John also is the only gospel that identifies Peter as the one who did the cutting. All 4 gospels cover the event though.

    2. But he wasn’t taking his own revenge. This Bible verse is being twisted. He was trying to save people’s lives and save mothers from making a terrible mistake.

      Brave men and women die every day trying to protect our country from evil. If you use that logic, then you must believe that there can be no military or law enforcement, which I would argue would lead to an anarchic society.

      1. But he wasn’t taking his own revenge. This Bible verse is being twisted. He was trying to save people’s lives and save mothers from making a terrible mistake.

        So why would not you or I get to kill the police officers who killed Pedro Navarro-Oregon, let alone any Houston PD officer?

        The Houston PD is known to have kill people while breaking into their homes to look for drugs.

  11. As I argued in a column when jury selection began two weeks ago, people who claim to believe abortion is the murder of innocents may cite prudential reasons not to follow Roeder’s example, but they have not satisfactorily explained why his moral reasoning is wrong.

    Because even if Tiller was a murderer (and by my principled and consistent views [not religious, I am agnostic] the man WAS a murderer), his life was not Roeder’s to take – Tiller did not attack Roeder or steal from him. Tiller took those lives with full consent from the State and the callous women that allowed it, but in the same way it is not moral nor ethical to go and invade a different country just because the leader is a mass murderer nor would I travel miles to kill someone else’s assailant even when the assailant did not commit aggression against me, so in this case Roeder had no business going around to kill a man that did not commit acts of agression against HIM.

    That’s why he was wrong – one does not right an evil act by committing ANOTHER evil act. The evil act that can morally be corrected is curtailing the State’s coercive powers to protect and even abet the act of abortion. That’s the greater evil.

    (Disclaimer: My argument that abortion is indeed murder comes not from religious beliefs but from consistent moral and ethical principles, first the priciple that we own our own bodies and that they are not other’s to take or kill, and also that the arguments that a person is a PERSON the moment he leaves the uterous are specious.)

    1. Jeez – “uterous” = uterus

      The evil act that can morally be corrected THROUGH CURTAILING is the State’s coercive powers to protect and even abet the act of abortion.

      1. “My argument that abortion is indeed murder comes not from religious beliefs but from consistent moral and ethical principles, first the priciple that we own our own bodies and that they are not other’s to take or kill.”

        So we can kill a person if [s]he enters a dwelling, but not a uterus? The solution? Curtail the State’s coercive powers to protect and abet the act of home defense.

        1. You can consider the act of getting pregnant and not taking reasonable precautions to prevent pregnancy, since they are widely available in the modern world, an implicit invitation.

          1. Under your regime, a pregnancy resulting from rape would still be a distinct human DNA residing in the womb. If you’re going to take into consideration the woman’s motivations, then it really isn’t about the clump of cells anymore.

            1. Re: Lamar,

              Under your regime, a pregnancy resulting from rape would still be a distinct human DNA residing in the womb.

              Both Sudden and YOU are equivocating – embryos do NOT “enter” a uterus. Also, one does not fix an act of aggression by committing a DIFFERENT act of aggression against a 3rd person.

              1. My apologies Old Mex, I generally try to address points as they arise, no matter how frivolous or inapplicable I feel they are, as I think Lamar’s point is. That’s why I tried to follow his reasoning and state how it would not follow that abortion should be permitted without actually pointing to the err in the initial reasoning.

                I think you and I agree on this fundamental matter for fundamentally similar reasons.

              2. Still doesn’t explain why pro-lifers usually say that its OK to abort rape babies. Not always, but that’s a difficult political position to sustain.

                1. I don’t think, generally, that pro-lifers believe it to be acceptable to abort rape babies. However, I think most pro-lifers are willing to accept permitting such abortions as a means to garner enough public support for meaningful restrictions on abortion.

                2. Re: Lamar,

                  Doesn’t matter what some people think – judge the argument by its merits, not by who says it.

                  If it is not moral to kill a fetus under the argument that it is a person, then what difference does it make if the fetus came to be from a forced sexual act? What is immoral is naked aggression, period.

                3. Still doesn’t explain why pro-lifers usually say that its OK to abort rape babies. Not always, but that’s a difficult political position to sustain.

                  Because they also usually say that is okay to kill intruders, whether into someone’s home or a sovereign nation. It was not murder for Polish troops to kill German troops during the Blitzkreig.

                  It would be difficult to find a reason why rape babies should be safe from abortion, but not the unborn of Dresden and Tokyo during the 1940’s.

            2. Life of the mother would presumably be a condition that permitted abortion, as that fetus would be a threat to your own right to life at that point. The rape argument is compelling to permit abortion as well, and I suppose under the trespassing argument raised by me above, it would logically follow. That said, I don’t think its an entirely apt analogy and is largely a red herring.

            3. Under your regime, a pregnancy resulting from rape would still be a distinct human DNA residing in the womb.

              It does not matter how it got there, a fetus is distinct human DNA. Pregnancy is not a necessary result of rape. Emergency contraception is an effective way of dealing with the potential and is a standard part of a rape exam. It also works very well when other contraception is known to have failed.

          2. Then consider abortion an explicit revocation of that invitation.

        2. Re: Lamar,

          So we can kill a person if [s]he enters a dwelling, but not a uterus? The solution? Curtail the State’s coercive powers to protect and abet the act of home defense.

          Wow! What a great strawman – give the man a prize! What do we have for this contestant, Johnny?

          The State does not protect you – YOU protect you. Haven’t you learned anything yet?

          Embryos do not “enter” a uterus. Schmuck.

          1. Embryos don’t enter a uterus? Why, I do believe you’ve made a game changing observation! Where do they come from? Thin air? Magic? Do they come from parts that enter the uterus and are assembled within, wherein the name of the parts is changed? I mean, if a Cadillac doesn’t enter a Cadillac factory, then how did it get there? Don’t trivialize this by being that way.

            1. Re: Lamar,

              Embryos don’t enter a uterus?

              Go and dust off your biology book, Lamar. Embryos do not ENTER the uterus, zygotes do. The embryo is what’s INSIDE the embryonic SACK, which exist only AFTER the zygote sticks to the mother’s uterine wall.

              1. Sorry I bungled the irrelevant terminology.

                1. Re: Lamar,

                  Ah, now you’re being disingenuous – there is nothing irrelevant about the terminology, because what IS aborted are not zygotes but embryos or fetuses. The terms used are very relevant.

                  1. But I’m OK with aborting embryos, so what does it matter if I called them by the wrong name?

                    1. Lamar,

                      You were not arguing that you are all right with killing embryos, you said they ENTER the womb in your “clever” strawman above, which is NOT TRUE.

  12. The Babies Were Going to Die the Next Day

    And if not for Tiller, many of those “babies” would have died after birth anyway. My understanding is that Tiller only offered late-term abortions for terribly, horribly defective pregnancies.

    And we’re not talking down’s syndrome here, we’re talking babies born without brains who don’t even have the ability to suckle.

    So, given the dreadful choice between watching their baby starve to death or having their baby aborted some parents chose the abortion.

    Thanks, Tacos, for touching on this.

    1. And if not for Tiller, many of those “babies” would have died after birth anyway.

      Im pretty sure ALL of them would have died after birth. Unless they are breeding immortals in Kansas.

      1. I should have written “died soon after birth (hours or days).”

        1. But you didnt, which allowed pedantic humor on my part, so Thanks.

          1. Mouse over my name @2:07.

    2. 60,000? That’s a pretty big number of fetuses this Tiller fellow aborted. How many women do you know that have had late-term abortions due to a horribly defective pregnancy? I’m in my 50’s and I have yet to know one.

      Again, 60,000 is a huge number. 3,000/year for twenty years. 10/day for twenty years. I would in no way buy into the argument that these were all horribly defective pregnancies.

      1. Tim Tebow’s mom.

        Oh, wait….

      2. OK, Gobbler, according to the Wikipedia article on anencephaly (WARNING: disturbing, sad-making pictures of anencephalic infants and fetuses), this occurs in roughly 1 per 150K-200K births. CDC stats say there were 4,265,555 US births in 2006. That would be roughly 21 anencephalic births per year (using 1/200K).

        However, the Wikipedia article doesn’t address the number or rate of anencephalic pregnancies which are mercifully terminated.

        Plus there are other fetal abnormalities which result in infants who inevitably die a few hours or days after birth.

        I also believe that some of the pregnancies terminated by Tiller were the dead-in-the-womb sort. Assume that nobody here has any problems with that sort of abortion. (John?)

        Not to discount your personal experience, but mine differs from yours. When I was in my thirties a lifelong friend and his wife were expecting, and learned that she was carrying an anencephalic fetus. She did not terminate, delivered the child, and he died within a day and a half (basically dehydrated).

        1. So your answer is 1?

          1. Uh, no, it’s Zero (0).

            Remember, you asked about aborted pregnancies. My friend chose not to abort.

            I was more interested in whether someone here (John, OM) would argue that anencephalic (etc) pregnancies should be carried to term, or address the humanity of an anencephalic fetus, but nobody here has chosen to address that.

            1. I too find the 60,000 number to be astounding.

            2. Re: Tonio,

              I was more interested in whether someone here (John, OM) would argue that anencephalic (etc) pregnancies should be carried to term

              That is not relevant, Tonio, and let me tell you why: An Abortion is an act of aggression perpetrated by the abortionist. What is evil is the act itself, not the intention behind it. You might say there is ample cause to justify terminating a fetus if it has no brain, and you would be right – that would be a good reason, but that would not JUSTIFY the act.

              […] or address the humanity of an anencephalic fetus, but nobody here has chosen to address that.

              A baby with no brain has no chance of living outside the mother. However, that does not give cause to a person to abort it, for the simple reason that it is still not his life to take.

  13. I await Reason’s cover story on why assassinating George W. Bush and Dick Cheney would have been a moral act. Clearly, by Jacob’s logic, the writers MUST believe that.

    1. If they committed treason, death is the punishment. I care less about the method than the reason.

      If some peasant in Pakistan wants OBL dead and shivs him at the dinner table, it’s just as good as if we apprehend, try, and execute him in the public square. Maybe better, cuz you know we’d fuck it up…and by “we” I mean our benevolent masters in government.

  14. tough subject. one needs to get a reference point. what does the Bible say about killing people to save others?

    http://www.biblegateway.com

    I think it says we’re to set a good example, spread the Gospel, baptise and train disciples, and let God take care of the murderers…

    We need to do our part to train our neighbors not to do the things that make abortions likely or desirable…

  15. I know a woman who believes second hand smoke kills people. Can she murder a smoker because she really believes the smoker is killing others?
    What about the environmentalist who really believes a SUV driver is killing ‘Mother Earth’ and the people who live there?

    1. “What about the environmentalist who really believes a SUV driver is killing ‘Mother Earth’ and the people who live there?”

      They’re called Earth Fist!-ers…I mean “First!-ers”

      in re your smoking argument, that woman would be known as a Californian

    2. The distinction could boil down to passive vs. active murder… abortion would clearly be a mode of active and imminent murder, assuming one believes it is murder, and the argument could be made that only active murder warrants immediate violent action as a preventative measure.

  16. Nothing incenses me more than that position that “I believe it should be legal, but would never have one myself.”

    I don’t think anyone should do anything I don’t do (or don’t want to watch them do), and I don’t think there should be any laws. Champa champa.

  17. “Roeder freely admits to what the law defines as premeditated murder, and under the law his motive makes no difference.”

    Is this true? If the babies were born and lying in a nursery that the doctor was about to blow up, could he shoot him premeditatedly and have no defense?

  18. However, it is possible to believe the fetus is life but the mother’s property rights supercede its right to life.

    Sure. And those who believe this probably also believe that if a stowaway is discovered when the ship is on the high seas or the plane is airborne, then the captain (as owner’s representative) has every right to throw the stowaway overboard.

    1. “Sure. And those who believe this probably also believe that if a stowaway is discovered”

      Anybody who believes in defending their personal property with a weapon must also believe in killing stowaways.

      1. There are reasonable limitations on this right to defend one’s property, and if you try and shoot anyone who steps on your front lawn in the course of walking down the street, I’m sure you will find that the law makes pretty clear distinctions between an armed burgler entering your house at night with intent to bind you and steal your possessions and a child who accidently walks into you house thinking its the neighbor’s house where his friend had invited him.

        1. There was a kid who was shot on Halloween a few years back (Asian kid as I recall) who was shot and killed for coming to the wrong house. I don’t believe his killer was ever charged.

          1. He was charged but acquitted (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoshihiro_Hattori). It’s hard to see how any way of justifying that verdict, given that the homeowner went out onto his carport and confronted the “trespasser” who was already heading back to his car.

      2. Re: Lamar,

        Anybody who believes in defending their personal property with a weapon must also believe in killing stowaways.

        I believe in killing stowaways – because if the damned fools are HURT while stowing away in MY property, I can get sued for damages! Preferably the bastards are DEAD and BURIED than living off my estate.

        So there. The moral is: DON’T TRESPASS, MORON!

        1. You have absolutely no proof that their parents weren’t married.

          1. Sure he does. Look at the birth certificate.

  19. As I argued in a column when jury selection began two weeks ago, people who claim to believe abortion is the murder of innocents may cite prudential reasons not to follow Roeder’s example, but they have not satisfactorily explained why his moral reasoning is wrong.

    Then I guess you didn’t read my explanation of how it’s wrong because the harm being avoided isn’t imminent. There’s a lot of difference between killing an abortionist while he’s in his kitchen preparing mac and cheese or in his church attending Sunday services, and killing him when he’s in his clinic getting ready to insert the suction tube. (Which is why, by the way, an abused spouse shouldn’t be able to set her husband’s bed on fire and get off on self defense. It’s also why Bush was wrong to invade Iraq. I’d be interested, however, in hearing how pro-lifers who agree that Bush couldn’t wait until Saddam’s threat become imminent can avoid concluding that Roeder’s act was justified.)

    1. Exactly. That’s what I said above. It the difference between self-defense (or defending a victim) and revenge.

    2. Saddam’s threat was already happening, people were being tortured to death. Maybe that doesn’t justify invading, but you can’t say he wasn’t causing immense suffering and pain and widespread murder ALREADY.

      Besides, there is another argument, that even Heinlein mentions in “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” when the old guy says to the main character: (paraphrased) “are there acts we justify and when we decide as a people that we do not allow individuals to decide” and he cites execution as one such act. We have always considered it wrong for an individual to decide this, but most societies do not consider it wrong when a the government (in the form of a judge) decides it.

    3. Roeder hides in the operating room. The doctor gets the suction tube and is ready to go. Then, as harm to the innocent ‘life’ is imminent, Out jumps the defender of the innocent. BANG!
      Now it’s not murder?

  20. I’ll take a crack at Jacob’s question (not saying my argument won’t be full of holes, but nothing ventured.) If one believes that abortion is murder he should still avoid violence against abortionists because he will not have actually defended the children he sees as potential victims, even if every abortion clinic in the country were run out of business women who wished to abort could still go the unsafe back alley route, putting their own lives at extreme risk as well. So the violence has accomplished nothing more than to make the killer feel better about himself or something like that.

    To address the analogies about someone throwing a pipe bomb into a nursery full of children or a Death Camp guard, these are a little different. It would be completely moral to shoot the pipe bomber if it would prevent him from throwing the pipe bomb, this would be a clear case of using violence to defend an innocent party. As for the Death Camp Guard, if killing him were to greatly increase the chance of liberating the prisoners then it too is justified. If, however it will certainly only result in the violent death of one extra person it is not justifiable (even if the Nazi had it coming.) Legitimate defensive violence is okay, violence for the sake of retribution is not. Killing Tiller was really an example of the latter, even if we grant the notion that abortion is murder.

    I’m sure it’s not an airtight argument, but I’ll throw it out there anyway.

  21. I know plenty of people who believe that killing animals is murder yet they would not – as far as I know – support a law making meat illegal. If vegetarians became a majority and they claimed that meat was murder, would it be proper for them to ban it? Why not?

    1. R: I, Kahn O’Clast,

      know plenty of people who believe that killing animals is murder

      Those people are on drugs – animals are not humans, so killing them is NOT murder. You can only murder humans, not animals. The reason? Animals have no rights, since they lack reason and the capacity to act with purpose.

      […]yet they would not – as far as I know – support a law making meat illegal.

      Oh, they would – many animal rights activists are pretty consistent in their views. They happen to base their views on wrongheaded arguments, but they are consistent.

      If vegetarians became a majority and they claimed that meat was murder, would it be proper for them to ban it?

      No.

      Why not?

      Because that would constitute a naked act of aggression against people that have not harmed them at all. Using the State’s coercive powers does not make the aggression any less immoral.

      1. OM, just because you don’t believe that killing animals is murder, doesn’t mean that others can’t.

        Just because I don’t think that fetuses are by any stretch of the imagination “people” doesn’t mean that I don’t accept that you and John feel that they are.

        While I disagree with your views, I avoid being presumptuous enough to tell you what your views are.

        1. Re: Tonio,

          OM, just because you don’t believe that killing animals is murder, doesn’t mean that others can’t.

          Who said they can’t? I certainly did not. I simply argue that they are nuts, that all.

          Just because I don’t think that fetuses are by any stretch of the imagination “people”

          That tells me that either you lack imagination or that you cannot stretch it enough. If a fetus is not a person, by logical reasoning neither is a new born baby, nor a child, not even a teenager. Or do you want to argue personhood by degree?

          doesn’t mean that I don’t accept that you and John feel that they are.

          It’s not a question of feelings for me (I cannot speak for John). My position is based on pure reason and logic.

          While I disagree with your views, I avoid being presumptuous enough to tell you what your views are.

          I don’t – if a view makes no sense or is based on faulty logic or appeals to emotions, I say it like it is, I have no qualms about it. It makes NO sense to give personhood to a child just after passing the birth canal but not right before – what’s the difference? One argument for abortion, that fetuses are not complete humans, can also be applied to newborn babies. It can be applied to a child, or even a teenager.

  22. if a person believes abortion is murder and that murder is wrong why would they think its morally right to murder an abortion doctor.

    1. Because he’s really a PhD and practicing medicine without a license.

    2. Re: Hacha Cha,

      You tell me – I don’t know. I consider ANY murder as evil, even the slaying of this doctor.

      I would not go around and try to find evil people to kill if none of them have acted aggressively against me. That would be foolish and evil in itself.

  23. No because there is a 3rd option: he COULD have kidnapped and imprisoned the doctor for life in his basement. That would be respect for life and also stopping what he thought was murder. He could have destroyed his clinic at night when no one was there. There are other acts of violence he could have committed that were not murder.

    But he didn’t, he murdered the doctor, because he is crazy.

    So no, abortion opponents aren’t the ones that HAVE to defend this.

    But I was thinking about who would, and I realized people who think “battered wife syndrom” is an excuse for murdering a husband. If you think taking a life is ok when a life is not in immediate jeopardy, and that you have the right to make that decision. Those people are the ones that shoudl defend this.

  24. Does anybody object to the fact that a guy who is facing life in prison doesn’t have the right to make whatever argument he wants to the jury?

  25. You people sure waste a lot of space debating what abortion is.

  26. The issue is keeping government out of reproductive decisions.

  27. Not only do I support abortion but I think we should have more of it. Many people that are having kids shouldn’t be, and there is nothing worse than a shitty parent raising a shitty child. I think having kids is a huge responsibility and many people don’t see how raising children in fucked up situations can really fuck up the child, and the worse part of it is that the cycle repeats itself quite a bit (ie. children who grow up in abusing households are more likely to abuse or bring an abuser into their household).
    As for the fetus, it needs a host to survive I don’t see why that host should be subjected to carry it if it does not want to.

    1. I totally agree.

    2. Re: Ziggy,

      Not only do I support abortion but I think we should have more of it. Many people that are having kids shouldn’t be, and there is nothing worse than a shitty parent raising a shitty child.

      For that there are contraceptives, or simply asking women to stop dating assholes.

      I think having kids is a huge responsibility and many people don’t see how raising children in fucked up situations can really fuck up the child,

      I sometimes read the statement “kids can be a huge responsibility” as “kids are too much hassle” when the former is said or written by people that see kids as a huge responsibility. I see having kids a blessing from nature, not just the result of my ability to reproduce but the privilege to see that a new person can enter life with the experiences and wisdom I can give him or her.

      and the worse part of it is that the cycle repeats itself quite a bit (ie. children who grow up in abusing households are more likely to abuse or bring an abuser into their household).

      Indeed, the State should see to it that assholes don’t reproduce – because if not, then not enough women will submit themselves to abortion to maintain the gene pool clean!

      As for the fetus, it needs a host to survive I don’t see why that host should be subjected to carry it if it does not want to.

      Why stop at that? Why not also kill teenagers who refuse to leave the host’s home? Why, those ungrateful bastards, not letting themselves be slain for the greater good (i.e. mine, the host)!

  28. … and the religious freak terrorist goes to jail…

    woo hoo!

  29. it is a dilemma to make a choice between human freedom and mercy for living for a female.In legal system, case may be complicated, however, one can not commit a crime for a moral reason. oppositively, i see it as a good excause for his action. morality and law can hardly compare, in other words, they invole different fields and make contributions to society respectively.

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