I agree with him strongly. He says that the following is a bad "argument against anti-abortionists":
"If you really thought abortion was murder, you'd be out bombing abortion clinics."
"This ignores several things:
1) Prudence is a moral virtue. If an action is likely to make a bad situation worse, it is not moral.
2) As an aspect of the above, respect for the existing law is also a moral virtue. Our role model here should be Socrates: Despite thinking that the verdict in his trial was unjust, he decided that obeying the law was the right thing to do, even at the cost of his own life.
3) We are all sinners. I think abortion is evil, but that doesn't mean everyone who has had one is evil. Good people do bad things sometimes."
He is of course entirely right. Prudence is a virtue. As I said in my post on the same topic, one argument is that attacks may be counter-productive. I didn't mention #2 but I agree with that too, within reason. I'm not sure how much it applies here - we clearly suspend respect when things are monstrously unjust. Still, the point stands true. #3 is true too.
This is all a rather low bar, though. The point isn't that you'd be bombing abortion clinics. That is just one extreme end of a whole spectrum of behavior we'd expect to see if people sincerely thought - not that abortion is wrong - but that it is the murder of a baby. The real point is that we don't see much of any behavior anywhere on that spectrum, and so we really ought to conclude that most people don't actually think abortion is murdering children.
I'll repeat again - Gene is right that it's dumb to say you'd have to be out there bombing abortion clinics if you think abortion is murder. But you would expect a different atmosphere around these things. Take Hitler, who (IF you think abortion is murder) actually commited murder on a smaller scale than the abortion industry today. All the things that Gene mentions hold true there. Guys like Bonhoeffer and Stauffenberg all struggled with exactly these issues. And yet only a few did anything (again - for all the reasons Gene states). But we still acknowledge the basic reasonableness of that decision. Pro-lifers almost universally reject the people that embrace violence. You'd think there'd be a different climate if they genuinely thought this was murder. I'm not saying people would be out there doing it - but you'd still expect to see something different than what you see. These guys aren't pacifists for the most part, which points strongly to another explanation.
So let's not get distracted by this point about actually doing the bombing yourself. Of course you wouldn't see much of that. That's a very low bar to meet.
The other point I raised is - why do pro-lifers even talk to pro-choicers (and this is a point that came to mind recently)? I would hope I would have the strength of character to have nothing to do with people who supported legal toddler murder. And yet modern pro-lifers interact amicably with pro-choicers all the time. This is not the behavior of someone who thinks abortion is child murder, I'm sorry.
UPDATE: One other point - there's a disconnect between Gene's title and Gene's quote that's worth pointing out. One can say "pro-lifers don't really think abortion is murder" without being "against" pro-lifers. I'm not really offering an argument "against" pro-lifers at all. It's OK to think something is wrong and worthy of prohibition without thinking that it's murder. I think stealing is wrong and worthy of prohibition, and I don't think stealing is murder.
Comparative advantage: a partial truth
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