Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that “being human” begins at conception. I am not referring to the secular, scientific definition, a person rather than an animal. I’m talking about the religious body-soul combo. In other words let us assume that fetuses have souls.
Does this assumption impact the moral implications of abortion? I think it obviously does. A soulless fetus doesn’t just look like an embryonic human – after looking like an embryonic fish, and an embryonic chicken – but it has a human soul. That would mean abortion involves more than just a mother and a growth within her womb. Abortion impacts an eternal soul, and could be considered the killing of a human being. It means abortion is murder.
So far we are building the impassioned case put forth by the largely fundamentalist Christian, anti-abortion, point of view. And that is exactly what I want to do. But you’ll have to stay with me to see where I’m going, because I intend to expose their hypocrisy; shoot them down using their own ammunition, so to speak.
Let’s consider the popular Christian stance on killing. It’s a sin. It’s the seventh of the ten commandments. Thou shalt not!! No equivocation on God’s part there. Well, except for his exceptions.
He did tell the Israelites – through his representative Moses – to stone to death a man who was picking up firewood on the Sabbath. No regard is mentioned for justifying motives the man might have had that could have lessened the punishment. Nope. Broke the rules – death!
That would indicate that God’s ethics are deontological, i.e., the morality of an action is bound by rules and without exception one is duty-bound to obey them.
But there are many instances where God’s ethics are consequential, or utilitarian, i.e., the morality of an action is to be judged solely by its consequences. The Old Testament is replete with examples where killing of entire populations is permissible if it benefits the Hebrews.
Even the destruction of all but eight souls in the great flood of Noah was justified by the end result, a better world. At least that was the plan.
And then of course the ultimate act of consequentialism on the part of God was sacrificing his son for the salvation of mankind.
So what about the killing of unborn babies? Which is the proper ethical rule to follow; the deontological or the consequential?
The anti-abortionist has not a single doubt as to the answer. Killing is wrong… period. But isn’t this a bit hypocritical? Are Christian ethics deontological? Only when it suits them.
Sixty-three percent of people who identify themselves as members of the religious right supported the war in Iraq. A majority of fundamentalist Christians believe that innocent children must die as “collateral damage” if America is to protect itself from foreign threats, e.g., Nazis, communists, and terrorists. And that is consequentialism. The end justifies the means.
The death penalty is another example of Christians with consequentialist ethical views on killing. While not all Christians surveyed support capital punishment, a significant percentage do.
I don’t think I have to provide statistics to assert that Christians support the owning of guns for self-defense. They do. And that is evidence ipso facto that killing is acceptable if it results in a greater good – staying alive. They may want to go to heaven, but not just yet.
So, Christians believe that killing for the greater good is acceptable. How then does that have anything to do with the question of abortion? What is there about an abortion that could possibly be for the greater good? I think that’s an easy question to answer.
What is the greatest of all possible “good?” What is the ultimate “gold ring” that Christians devote their entire lives to obtaining? It’s heaven! For their souls to reside in heaven for eternity. Isn’t that the entire focus of Christianity?
So, abortion kills a baby and releases its soul to heaven. Correct me dear Christian friends, but isn’t that a noble reason… the most noble reason of all… to kill?
But maybe bodies are like automobiles. A living soul doesn’t get behind the wheel until after they come off the assembly line. There is evidence to support that view, but that’s for another post.