Tag Archives: abortion

How not to defend unborn human life…

The following picture seems to be viral on facebook now. And despite all the good intentions of people sharing it, it makes no sense at all, and will not in a million years convince anyone except those who are already convinced and want to see their message spread no matter how… But I also am afraid that the unconvinced will be more convinced that the ‘pro-life’ stance (more on that word soon) just makes no sense at all.

Again: This is completely NOT the way to defend unborn human life, the reasoning is just bogus! Does anyone realise how bad an idea looks when it’s brought to you in a way that only makes it look ridicule? (That’s what happens to the Christian gospel too all the time, btw)
But let’s imagine the situation described: If a single cell would be found on a remote planet, what would happen to this cell? The cell  being ‘life’ will not prevent it from all the tests science and the NASA would do on it; and releasing one cell back is not something that happens much either… That one cell, and it’s offspring (mono-cellular life on earth pr0creates really fast by cell division, the chance of finding and keeping only one cell is too small) would in the best case be imprisoned in a lab and investigated by a lot of scientists. But treating it like a human being will never come into consideration by anyone…There are different levels of ‘life’ in earthly life, like human, animal and plant life. Yes, every single cell on earth is considered ‘life’, including the micro-organisms you kill when you boil water or ash your hands with something disinfecting. Mono-cellular life is all around and in us, but it still is a lower form of ‘life’ even than plant-life. A single cell, whether it is a bacterium on your hands, a non-terran cell on a planet orbiting sirius , or in the womb of a woman (and let’s not forget here that there are plenty of human and non-human living cells in the womb, and that non-fertilised egg cells and sperm cells are also living cells and ‘life’)
So the text of the image makes no sense at all in the defence of unborn human life, no matter how  a single-cell zygote is viewed, it being considered ‘life’ will not be of any use. We kill ‘life’ every time we wash our hands, or boil water. If you don’t come up with a reason for the zygote being human life we’re not even in a debate. Please, if the subject is that important to you, don’t treat it like this and ridicule it with nonsense reasoning and bogus arguments. You’re killing your own position!
Oh, and now that I have your attention: let’s add that the word ‘pro-life’ as used by American Christians is of little meaning if you care even a little bit about the actual meaning of word: Life is something that includes born people (and all of non-human life too) so claiming you’re pro-life and being pro-war, anti-helping the poor, pro-death sentence, pro-violence and not anti destruction of nature you’ve made the word ‘pro-life’ worthless The same could be said about ‘pro-choice though, which is also a completely bogus term, both are a very interesting use of language to vilify the other at the expense of the meaning of the term!
(oh, and you can’t go further from being ‘pro-life’ than killing abortionists or bombing abortion clinics, just saying!)
I do believe that human life is to be protected. Born and unborn. I do know that when I saw the first echography of my daughter that I was amazed about how much life and energy that little human larvae had, and did something in her moves that we recognised later after birth… So the human being was there already at that age.But I know the debate about when you can speak of human life is more complicated than this, much more. A third-trimester abortion is just barbaric, but the discussion about a single-cell zygote is something completely different from that. And let’s not forget that the bible is NOT clear about human life beginning at conception, sorry… Let’s not sweep all of that under the carpet either with dumb slogans that make no sense and only make us look dumb, please…
If we really want to be able to call ourselves ‘pro-life’, we should think about these words from Shane Claiborne in the irresistible revolution:
I must say that I am still passionately pro-life, I just have a much more holistic sense of what it means to be for life, knowing that life does not just begin at conception and end at birth, and that if I am going to discourage abortion, I had better be ready to adopt some babies and care for some mothers.
Yes, we Christians should not attack those with ‘unwanted pregnancies’, but help them. We should be known for caring for teenage mothers and making sure that they can make it instead of condemning them. We should win people over with love! Even at the expense of our own western middle-class comfortable life, I think I should add. And I realise I’m nowhere in that…

on the difference between Belgian and American politics, by James Coder.

This is an excerpt from a Facebook discussion That I found worth sharing. James Coder is an American living in Belgium, and he is better positioned than me to see the differences between my country and the old US of A, who can seem pretty alien to me from time to time.

I’m sort of “in both camps” being an American who has lived in Belgium for 20 years.

Mr. Brambonius points out something very interesting: in politics, here the word “liberals” means something more akin to the “libertarians” in the… U.S. – and then, the agnostic/atheist variety. They believe that just about everything should be controlled by the market, with very little that’s set aside as “not for sale” – including some things which conservatives tend to think shouldn’t be for sale – like sexual intercourse and “recreational” drugs. Yes, socialism is much more significant here than in the U.S., but many Americans don’t understand how it works. Unfortunately, Americans tend to be so centered on “civil rights” and their own rights that they lose sight of the notion of obligations. One of the main reasons that health care in the United States is so expensive is because of our focus on civil rights, and that any citizen should be allowed to easily bring his doctor to court for malpractice. The problem is that it’s always possible to suggest that, in tragic cases where someone dies or is paralyzed, that the doctor could have done something differently which may have averted the tragedy, and millions of dollars are sometimes awarded in such cases, even when doctors do their best – it’s that “alternative” out there that sometimes swings juries to award people who are crippled, or grieving relatives, millions of dollars, assuming that the doctor or insurance company can afford it. In reality, medical insurance is thus being used to cover the expenses of human tragedy. This is something which can’t be measured economically, so the “system” will always be economically paralyzed and unaffordable to many Americans. In Europe, there is not so much incentive to sue doctors, and not so much of a feeling in cases of tragedy that one has “the right” to sue one’s doctor (unless there is real clear evidence of actual malpractice). Nor is it usually a trial by jury, which means that the European medical system isn’t paying so much to people who have tragic results even though they have had medical attention. It’s the social welfare system which is meant for these cases, and not the “lottery” system of the American medical malpractice courts.

Americans tend to think of almost all ethical issues in terms of “civil rights,” partly because of our history. Europeans think of civil rights more as limit cases, but apply other values when thinking about ethics (which I think is much healthier).

The European social systems simply wouldn’t work for the United States because of Americans’ focus on civil rights – i.e., if one person has something, then everyone needs to have it. Europeans are better, in my opinion, of asking the question: “do we really need this, will this actually help the group we intend to help?” Americans will say: “even if we don’t need it, we SHOULD have it because it’s our RIGHT, and if we don’t get it, then it means that we are second-class citizens and discriminated against and our human dignity violated and likely to commit suicide etc. etc..” We tend to make more of a “drama” out of such things. If we tempered our thoughts on civil rights with thoughts of obligation and sacrifice for the greater good, it would be more likely that European-type social programs would work for us. As it stands, though, imitating the European medical system will just make healthcare much more expensive for most citizens, and decent healthcare will be unavailable to an even larger group of Americans than is the case now; and imitating other European social programs is likely to have a similar effect in the U.S..

A nice example here is abortion. In the U.S., partial-birth abortion – abortion at the very last moment of pregnancy, when labor is artificially induced resulting in part of the fetus leaving the mother’s body, to facilitate the termination of the pregnancy, is legal (though curtailed in some areas), and is regarded by most Belgians as barbarous and hideous. And Belgium women in general don’t feel that they are second-class citizens, or are being withheld the rights over their own bodies by men, simply because they aren’t allowed to have partial-birth abortions. This kind of thinking is particularly “American.” Belgians also have other things on their ethical radars than the simple question of rights: i.e., obligation, and some notion of coherence with the greater good.

Another example is pornography. There is less of a feeling here, “it’s my right, so I can do it, and anyone who expresses disfavour at what I am doing is violating my civil rights.” So there isn’t much porn made here (compared to the U.S.). Prostitution is legal here, but it’s not “mediatized” the way sex things are in the States – and we don’t have the same weird mediatization of prostitutes here, the way porn stars in the U.S. are being mediatized. There’s more of an attitude here: “If I’m doing this, I don’t have to be way out-and-proud about it;” and amongst the public: “this may be a social problem; but we still need to care for the people involved, and if we object, we needn’t yell about it.” So in general, there’s just a lot less polarity, less yelling. I think it comes from an attitude toward ethics which is not based almost exclusively on the notion of “civil rights” and “offense,” but pays more attention to obligations and other values.

I never thought of it this way. I never have been in the US, so I am not able to compare… And James had one more addition about the ‘civil rights’ idea, that’s experienced very differently here than in the USA…

I should add – we have good reason for being obsessed with civil rights.

A profound emphasis on civil rights helped “save” us from some of the effects of one of the worst types of slavery history has seen. We needed to dwell on these civil …rights issues for a few generations, in order to free ourselves of attitudes and systematic forces present which were profoundly unjust toward African American people, and blighted our whole society.

However, since this focus on civil rights was so important in helping us recover from the awful legacy of slavery, we tend to have a rather “knee-jerk” type reaction with regards to ethical problems in general, with the question “how does this relate to civil rights? Is someone’s rights being violated here?” being one of the first things which comes to mind – rather than, e.g., “is there anyone here we can help? Are there any societal bridges which we can build? Are there important values here that we should be considering?”

As a result, it ends up too often being a debate about the “rights” of one group compared to another group. In actuality, in my opinion, civil rights should be more like a last-point defense – it’s more like the “heavy artillery” in an ethics debate. A society should first ask about obligations and the general good. Only when a group feels that its interests are being threatened in an essential manner, should it take recourse in the language of civil rights. E.g., women, by focusing on a “right over my own body,” end up losing sight of the value of mutual respect, and respect for the place of sexuality within society.

The rights of African Americans were seriously in jeopardy for many decades after the abolition of slavery. But in my opinion, many interest groups invoke rights (a kind of ethical “trump card”) when they would do better to recognize conflicting values, and instead search to find resolutions which seek to honor the values present, instead of focusing on a single “right” which theoretically “trumps” the other values in question. This is, after all, the whole point of civil rights which are “inalienable.” It is a line which the state, and individuals, must never cross – that line where civil rights are violated. But when we are always referring to our civil rights – we become a society of individuals who continually insist: “that’s my space, you can’t touch that!” And persons who are too insistent in such a manner – never learn to cooperate. Europeans didn’t have to wrestle with the evil of slavery as Americans did, they did not have this “trauma” – as a result, their ethical discourse itself is less traumatized – and is not so entrenched in the language of the victim whose rights have been violated. Europeans do well to realize that Americans are still somewhat traumatized by slavery – and that we see the effects of this in the way that we talk about ethics (which, like effects of trauma in general, should not be emulated, but rather avoided).

[From this facebook discussion, but I'm affraid you have to be a friend of a friend there to read it through...]

I’ve never realised the depth of these differences. I’ve always kinda noticed that Americans are affraid of something called ‘socialism’ that has nothing to do with our socialist party, and that they project weird fears of their president or on the healthcare isuue… Maybe one day I’ll be able to understand them more… Much thanks to James for this explanation!!




I am a Christian. I try to follow Jesus, and sometimes I feel like a great failure in that. But sometimes I also see things that are called christian that are far far far away from anything I see in the words of Jesus, the bible or the tradition of Christianity. Like the (mainly american) use of the term ‘pro-life’. I am not American, so there is a cultural gap, this I am aware of and I understand.  But if the term ‘pro-life’ means just anti-abortion, and mostly in combination with pro-war, pro death penalty, pro-guns and anti-environment, you loose me. And everything I know about Jesus… Ifail to see what’s so ‘pro-life’ about it then…

Oh yes, I am pro-life, and I want to be more and more pro-life. In a more consequent and holistic manner I guess. Yes unborn people are people too, I believe that unborn children have the right to live. That’s something christians of all denominations and times stood for. The first christian writing we have, the didache’, already writes against it.

But whether it’s the state’s job to make it illegal I don’t even know, and I think if we really would be serious about abortion as christian we’d have communities who were ready to adopt both mothers and children. And we should live out the conviction that every human being is of unmeasurable value. But to just vote for the candidate who is supposed to be against abortion (though none of these ever made abortion illegal or changed much about the situation in america) and to make that the definition of ‘pro-life’ is bad rhetoric as best.

Life doesn’t exactly stop at birth you know. No, au contraire, birth is the beginning of human life as a seperate being. So I’m all for the life of unborn peaple, and of children, adults and elderly people. And I think we as Christians should oppose things that are anti the life of any human being. All life should be protected .

That means we shouldn’t kill people, and we shouldn’t support the killing of people. War is not something that brings much good most of the time. The first Christians were ready to die themselves for their faith (or for their loved ones) but never to kill. We shouldn’t use weapons meant to kill fellow humans. I know the pacifism debate isn’t easy, and that not everybody can accept the position of people like John Howard Yoder who hold to complete pacifism. But every follower of Jesus should accept that violence is alays an evil, even if it’d be the lesser of 2 evils… And that we are called to love our neighbors and enemies. I think that means not killing our fellow humans. (like one of the 10 commandments already commanded…) Same with death penalty. Especially with all those stories of innocents being executed.

A side note: the oppression of women, blacks or native americans (the real americans, whose continent is violently stolen by us white people) is totally against Jesus too, and we should oppose that with everything we are.

And there’s more life on this planet than homo sapiens alone. As a christian who believes in God the Creator of heaven and earth, we should take care of creation. We should not be cruel to animals. We should not destroy ecosystems just to make money.

Wat I just cannot understand is creationistic anti-environmentalism. If you believe that God is creator, then we should take care of creation. Destroying the creation in name of the ammighty dollar is a big middle-finger to the Creator then… Every species we loose is a loss, wheter one believes in special creation or evolutionary creation. It’s bad stewardship. We should care for creation if we take the Creator seriously.

The only purpose of the State that can be justified from a Christian viewpoint is to make it possible for all the people in the country to live as good and peaceful as possibble. There are no acceptable higher goals. The economy should be for the people, and the people should not be consumers to keep the economy machine growing. The lie of the need of growth should be abandoned for the economy of enough. There is no higher goal in power. the goal should be all the people living together in the counrty, even the ones we don’t like. And taking care of the country, the nature and the animals. None of the possible higher goals in politics I can accept as a christian.