Home > Montana, Social issues > Abortion and dead soldiers

Abortion and dead soldiers

I’m still happy about the election, but I’ve been meaning to write this for a little while.

What is it with people bringing up dead soldiers in Iraq in response to abortion? Scott did it the other day and I think Wulfgar has said something similar.

The argument is that it’s a double standard to be against abortion because it’s the killing of innocent children while being for a war in which innocent people have died.

I don’t get it. The argument works against anyone who isn’t a strict pacifist (which is a group in short supply among MT bloggers). If you’ve ever supported a war, you’ve supported a war in which innocent people died. Which apparently means you can’t be against killing people, through abortion or otherwise. The logic is exactly the same if I make this claim: “So, you’re against the death of innocent people, huh? Yet, you support the war in Iraq, where innocent people are dying every day. I don’t get the double standard.”

The events don’t seem comparable. We tolerate innocent deaths in war because we believe a greater good will come of it (or that the consequences of not engaging in a war will result in more innocent deaths). At least, we rational people tolerate innocent deaths for such reasons. Even with people who seem to think the killing of non-combatants is justified because they’re all crazy Muslims the double standard claim doesn’t work. The real issue with them is their standards for guilt and innocence.

We’re all against the killing of innocent people. Perhaps you think the innocent deaths in Iraq are too much to tolerate. Others don’t, but that doesn’t make it hypocritical for them be against abortion, anymore than being a supporter of the war in Afghanistan makes it hypocritical to be against serial killers. The issues here are the standards for guilt, innocence, and personhood. We need to resolve those differences before making claims about double standards.

Categories: Montana, Social issues
  1. November 10, 2006 at 10:37 am

    Abortion and death by war are both equally offensive to me. It seems that the religious right is keenly aware of the methods and horror of removing a fetus…yet go on blissfully ignorant of children blown to bits or crushed under a builing that has been bombed. Therein lies the rub-they believe that their cause is condoned by God himself, while the right to choose is condemned. I believe that the commandment says “Thou shalt not kill”. Not “Thou shalt not kill, except under these circumstances…”

  2. November 10, 2006 at 2:12 pm

    In all honesty, it looks like the writers of the Old Testament took that commandment to mean “thou shalt not kill Jews, but genocidal invasions of other people’s territory brings glory to God.”

    As I said, the logical conclusion of your argument is pacifism. If that’s what you are, fine. I just didn’t think you were.

  3. November 10, 2006 at 3:37 pm

    I am most certainly not a pacifist. I suppose that the point of my post was that one kind horrible death is no more acceptable than another. We are so oblivious to the reality of pain and suffering, so quick to deflect the feelings that images of death stir within us. No one can convince me that God (if there is such a being) favors one sort of death over another. I grow tired of the self-righteous proclaiming their knowledge of his (her? its?) will.

  4. November 10, 2006 at 5:40 pm

    I suppose that the point of my post was that one kind horrible death is no more acceptable than another.

    I think that’s the part I’m not understanding. I don’t see how you can support any war without accepting that innocent deaths will occur. Most people on both sides seem to agree that innocent deaths in war are a bad thing that we should do everything we can to minimize them.

    I very much understand what you’re trying to get at. I completely agree that we tend to shy away from really considering what we do in wars. The people who would seem to have no excuse for such indifference often appear to be the least concerned. As I said before, wars are typically supported for a greater good (or self defense). Abortion rarely attains such a justification. So I think the issue is how the inevitable innocent death in wars are justified. How much is too much? How important does the cause need to be? I agree that the religious right for the most part goes too far in accepting innocent death. I just don’t see what that has to do with abortion.

  5. November 10, 2006 at 7:55 pm

    Jeff, can you email me please? You should be able to get my address from the post. Sorry for the OT comment.


  6. November 11, 2006 at 9:08 am

    I think of it as a pebble in a pond – concern about others ripples out, but diminishes as it goes. The further away from us, the less we care about people dying for any reason. Were that not true, there’d be no famine in Africa.

    Undeveloped fetuses are far out in the ripple pattern for ‘pro-lifers.’ Anti-abortion people are, from what I’ve seen, fervently old-time religious and, at heart, people who want control over women. They’re no so much concerned about innocent death as immorality – if they lived 100 years ago, they’d be steamed about exposed ankles and women who were so uppity as to want the vote. Were it not for the abortion issue, they would weigh in with some other means of excercising control over the morals of others. They are neo-Victorians.

    It’s rarely what it seems. I get steamed about Iraqi civilians, but it’s more the brazenness with which our government can pose as a liberator while being a vehicle of inumane suffering. It’s flagrant hypocrisy that blows my dress up.

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