Since Gene is writing about "moral realism" right now, I thought I'd throw some thoughts I've been having about abortion into the ring. None of this is directed at Gene - it's just something that's popped into my mind as a result of his posts.
I guess I'd call myself pro-choice, but I am very wary of abortion and certainly don't like it. That's a policy/legal position and a gut position of mine. Ethically, I'm not sure what I think about it. But one thing I don't think is that it's a "holocaust" or that it's the moral equivalent of killing babies.
And I think most pro-lifers agree with me on this. The reason is simple - if you actually thought tens of millions of helpless babies were being killed in a holocaust, you would be doing everything under the sun to prevent it. At the very least you'd be cheering on the people that do take it upon themselves to do something about it. You certainly wouldn't be squeemish about using violence. Most of us aren't pacifists (I'm not), and we think violence is justified to prevent harm in a lot of cases. We think it's OK to fight terrorists. We think it's OK for police to use lethal force if a person's life is at risk, etc. So if we REALLY thought tens of millions of babies were being killed, we wouldn't condemn violence to stop it. Since almost all pro-lifers DO condemn violence against abortion providers, and since they don't do much of anything besides protest, write letters, and try to sway public opinion, I have to conclude they don't actually think there's a holocaust going on.
I've held that view for a long time. But there are some good responses to it. Not entirely satisfying responses, but good ones. For example, people will say "well it doesn't help our case if people think we're extremists", or simply "I'm too scared/weak to do it". Maybe... but I would think several decades of alleged baby killing would overcome most of these excuses. If gynecologists started going around ethanizing six month olds at a parent's request, for example, they'd be hunted down by angry mobs in no time. So just admit it to yourself - you actually don't think it's baby killing. You think it's wrong to be sure (as I said above - I think I might agree), but you think that fetuses have less moral weight to them than babies. You demonstrate every day that that's what you actually think, so own up to it rather than berating those of us who have already owned up to it. You don't think abortion is killing a baby, period.
The other thing I've been thinking about more recently is that even if these excuses ("I'm too scared to take action"/"I actually AM a pacifist" [no, in all likelihood you're not]/"It would be counter-productive", etc.) were convincing, it still wouldn't explain the way people who think abortion is baby-killing actually act. So let's say I thought abortion was killing a baby but I gave these excuses for not taking matters in my own hand to stop it - that still doesn't explain why I interact amicably with pro-choicers day in and day out. Think about what amicable interaction with pro-choicers implies. Think about that situation where gynecologists go around killing six month olds to order. And then consider members of society who are just fine with that and think it's a parent's right to euthanize their six month old. Now maybe you're unwilling to join an angry mob, but you'd certainly be so disgusted with the person that embraces child euthanasia that you'd have nothing to do with them. Maybe taking matters into your own hands would be "counter-productive", but it certainly wouldn't be counter-productive to shun those wretches that support child euthanasia. If you actually thought people were celebrating a holocaust of tens of millions of babies you would be so disgusted with them you would want nothing to do with them. You wouldn't want to friend them on Facebook, much less be seen with them in real life. It's just too horrendous a thing to be that casual about.
And yet every day pro-lifers get along fine with pro-choicers. Even when they're arguing about abortion it usually remains civil relatively civil. People organize debates about this stuff and then shake hands afterwards. This isn't how people behave when they think tens of millions of babies are being killed and their debating partner approves of it. The only reasonable conclusion is that almost nobody ACTUALLY thinks this is baby killing. You don't. You do think it's morally wrong, but you think it's of significantly less consequence than that.
And if you disagree with me, then I'd say the vast majority of you have chosen a bizarre way to respond to child murder.