Anti-abortion group displays graphic images near campus

By  |  Thursday, April 14, 2011 3:29 PM

A member of "Survivors," right, a California-based organization that travels to college campuses to protest abortion, speaks with St. Thomas freshman Andre Arnett Thursday near campus. (Rebecca Omastiak/TommieMedia)

Anti-abortion protestors displayed graphic images of abortions Thursday near St. Thomas.

‘Survivors’, a California-based organization, set up large posters containing images of mutilated fetuses on the public sidewalk along Summit Avenue. The posters evoked a variety of reactions from St. Thomas students.

Freshmen Maura Hinken and Carly LeClaire said the posters made them “lose their appetites.”

St. Thomas senior Tom Kreitzer said he thought the images were “rude,” “insensitive” and “immoral.”

“I think it’s highly inappropriate that a group of people would put posters like that showing really nasty pictures of third-trimester abortions, when that’s pretty much all illegal at this point anyway,” Kreitzer said.

Although some students said the photos were insensitive, Molly Miller, an Augsburg senior who takes a class at St. Thomas, said the images raise awareness.

“I’m an avid pro-life person, so I see nothing wrong with it,” Miller said. “It’s very graphic obviously, but you know, it’s what happens.”

Freshman Michelle Graff found the photos to be “sad and depressing,” but said they were an effective way to send a message.

“If you’re going to change the world, you start with the youth,” Graff said.

‘Survivors’ member Hannah Buckett said the nine-member group goes to college campuses across the U.S. to hand out informational packets and talk to students about abortion.

“We normally go to public campuses. This is kind of different for us,” Buckett said. “We don’t go on campus if it’s a private school, and we just stay on the sidewalk.”

This item was posted in News and has 57 comments so far.


  1. Matthew Plese
    Apr. 14, 2011 3:40 PM

    This is definitely an effective way to send a message. If people want to be in support of abortion, they need to see what abortion is. Ignorance is one of the greatest problems in the world. I like what this group is doing because they are not backing down from being controversial. Any group that stands up for what it believes in and expresses themselves in line with their 1st Amendment rights should be applauded. I applaud this group even if I do find the images disturbing. But, sometimes reality is disturbing. We are not children and need to see the world as it is.

  2. Cristina Leifson
    Apr. 14, 2011 3:57 PM

    I didn’t have a problem with their presence since they were on public grounds and exercising their civil rights, but I agree with Tom, I thought the use of third trimester abortion photos was inappropriate and misleading. Across the United States late term abortions are only legal if the mother’s physical health is endangered. Maybe the group is against that too? I feel like they could have presented themselves differently, but perhaps the use of graphic images works in their favor more often than not, I don’t know. I just found it in poor taste and, like I said, misleading.

  3. John Warkel
    Apr. 14, 2011 3:57 PM

    They should have went to Macalester, I think most UST students agree that abortion is wrong.

  4. Tom Kreitzer
    Apr. 14, 2011 4:43 PM

    John- I think there is a difference between many of us (myself included) not liking abortion and those who believe it should be illegal. While I think we all should work for fewer abortions, I would hate to live in a country that does not allow them. Regardless of your views on abortion, I have a hard time saying that a mother with a pregnancy that could kill her should not have the right to self-preservation.

  5. Kathryn Pogin
    Apr. 14, 2011 5:13 PM

    Personally I was more bothered by the poor argumentation in their written materials than I was by the images. That said, I agree with Cristina and Tom.

  6. John Warkel
    Apr. 14, 2011 7:04 PM

    Well in my opinion (which reflects that of the Catholic Church), abortion is ALWAYS wrong. It is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. I guess they were smart to come to our campus.

  7. Cristina Leifson
    Apr. 14, 2011 10:26 PM

    Unfortunately it’s not always that easy. If a doctor and family know that giving birth to a child would kill an innocent woman because of pregnancy complications, then the doctor and family are stuck with a choice of either killing an innocent human being.. or killing an innocent human being.

  8. Nick Sideras
    Apr. 14, 2011 10:29 PM

    John – Actually that is not the case that abortion is ALWAYS wrong. A distinction exists in cases of abortions between those that are intended and unintended consequences of abortion. In the case of the health of a mother, the mother may receive treatment that does not intend to harm the fetus, but does. That action, as it does not intend to harm the child, would still be a moral action and protect the mother, even though it could lead to the death of the child. There are other cases where abortion is allowed as long as the death of the fetus is not the end of the action. 

  9. Michael Becker
    Apr. 14, 2011 10:49 PM

    I applaud this group for coming to campus and providing students with an eye opening example of what abortion actually is.  After all this is a Catholic University and I think a lot of times people forget that.  No matter what term the child is aborted, it will look the same, just a little smaller or bigger.  Yes they are gruesome images, but it reflects the gruesome nature of abortion.

  10. Paul Milner
    Apr. 15, 2011 9:26 AM

    Hey Tom,

    Third-trimester abortions are not illegal in several states. 

    My second point is a little harder to make, but hopefully I’ll be clear. Suppose that abortion is illegal. Does this imply that a life endangered mother must continue with her pregnancy? No. There are other medical procedures that save the mothers life and do not directly terminate the fetus’. The fetus will often die as a consequence of these procedures, but this is due to limitations in science and not a lack of desire to preserve life. 

    Is anyone else getting a strange sense of deja vu?

  11. Michael Blissenbach
    Apr. 15, 2011 10:40 AM

    Nick, let me clarify a few points. Abortion is a medical procedure intrinsically designed to destroy the life of an unborn child, and that is always morally wrong according to the Church’s teachings. Now, in cases where the mother’s life is endangered, you are correct in that medical procedures designed to save the life of the mother, but the death of the unborn child must be an unintended consequence. An example of such a procedure would be the removal of the fallopian tube in the case of a tubal pregnancy, whereas an abortion or drugs designed to kill the unborn child and remove it from the fallopian tube would be morally illicit.
    Also, I have a sister who was stillborn at 22 weeks gestation 6 years ago due to a birth defect that was lethal in the womb. My sister is just as human and as special as any unborn child, yet she was considered human by society because she was wanted, and aborted children are not considered human because they’re unwanted. If our criterion for being human is merely based on whether or not someone is wanted by their parents, that’s a troubling reality and doesn’t bode well for society.
    Human life is sacred from fertilization until natural death. It’s important to change laws, but let’s not forget to change hearts, too. Read Abby Johnson’s…

  12. Michael Blissenbach
    Apr. 15, 2011 10:49 AM

    It’s very important to work to change laws, but I also think it is even more important to change hearts, too. I think graphic images can backfire. I think sidewalk counseling, ultrasounds, fetal development images, and, above all, showing love and compassion to women facing unplanned pregnancies and working to help provide them the resources they need to bring their children to term. Pope Benedict XVI once stated “Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.” That includes all human beings. Supporting abortion or having an abortion doesn’t deprive someone of their human dignity. We can never condone abortion, but that doesn’t give us an excuse to hate and not to love and pray for those who support abortion, those who participate in abortion, or those If we can show women facing unplanned pregnancies, as well as pro-choice advocates, that God loves and cares about them, I think that’s a more powerful witness to the sanctity of human life than graphic images. Abby Johnson’s conversion to the pro-life movement illustrates this point, and I encourage you to read her book “Unplanned”. She was won over by the love she was shown by pro-lifers praying and counseling outside the abortion clinic she ran.

  13. James Heaney
    Apr. 15, 2011 11:26 AM

    Tom – Your post implies that you *would* want to live in a society where abortion is illegal except when the physical life of the mother is endangered? Is that accurate? If so, then we can agree right now that at least 97% of abortions ought to be illegal. The number is probably quite a bit higher than that — closer to 99.5% — but the way the Guttmacher Institute gathers statistics deliberately obscures the distinction between “life-threatening” and “health-threatening” pregnancies.

    I don’t blame them; they are the research arm of Planned Parenthood, after all, and Planned Parenthood makes more than 35% of its direct income by doing abortions.

  14. Tom Kreitzer
    Apr. 15, 2011 12:58 PM

    To James:

    No, I would NOT want to live in a society where abortion was illegal except for the physical life of the mother… that was just a certain situation where abortion I believe is justified. I believe (regardless of *your* opinion, or anybody else’s opinion) that learning when “life” exists is a matter that will never come to a consensus. If you don’t believe me, sit in a ethics class. That being said, it cannot be the position of the United States to make that judgement call for everybody.

    To further my point: the United States SHOULD not be in the business of regulating issues or moral convolution. I believe that a man who cheats on his wife engages in immoral behavior, but I don’t think he should be jailed for his offense.

    James, you can throw out statistics like 35% of their direct income all you want, but that is a complete fallacy. Their total revenue from all health care services equals 36%, which includes breast cancer screening, contraception, prenatal care, and other women’s health issues. You just committed the *typical* act of conservatives on the abortion issue: take a statistic and completely distort the truth. Here is a pamphlet that gives you the real breakdown of money going to PP… read it


  15. Tom Kreitzer
    Apr. 15, 2011 12:58 PM
  16. Tom Kreitzer
    Apr. 15, 2011 1:00 PM

    To Michael Becker:

    clearly you do not know the facts.. a fetus does not look like a newborn baby for weeks… until then, it is a blob of cells- meaning that a fetus does NOT look “the same”

  17. Paul Milner
    Apr. 15, 2011 1:49 PM

    To Tom Kreitzer,

    I believe that learning what constitutes “speeding” is a matter that will never come to a consensus… That being said, it cannot be the position of the United States to make that judgement call for everybody.

    Down with speed limits! 

  18. Michael Blissenbach
    Apr. 15, 2011 2:51 PM

    Mr. Kreitzer,
    All laws state what is licit or illicit in the eyes of the state, so all laws, even spending bills, legislate morality. That’s an unavoidable fact of laws. You cannot have a law that doesn’t legislate morality.
    Also, Tom, I look very different at age 24 than I did as a baby, and an elderly person looks very different than a young person did. The same thing with unborn children. Their appearance and/or characteristics may change over time, but they are still as equally human as you or I are.
    All that changes after fertilization is growth.

  19. Michael Blissenbach
    Apr. 15, 2011 3:00 PM

    Also, Mr. Kreitzer, let’s assume for a moment that you are correct in that the beginning of life cannot be determined. That gives you a 50% chance that an unborn child is a human person and a 50% chance that it isn’t. Following that same line of thought, that gives you a 50% chance that abortion is the taking of an innocent human life and a 50% chance that it is not the taking of an innocent human life. Wouldn’t it be better in that situation to assume that an unborn child is a human person? Just a thought.

  20. Dylan Wallace
    Apr. 15, 2011 7:33 PM

    Paul- I dont think that analogy works here…

  21. Tom Kreitzer
    Apr. 15, 2011 10:25 PM

    To Michael (and all others):

    I believe my point regarding the guy being jailed for adultery was to show that while many believe his actions were immoral, he should not be jailed for his actions.

    I have YET to met a person who is pro-abortion. I really hate being labeled as a baby-killer and all of those labels for simply believing there should be a right to choose. According to gallup polls, so does the American Public. In 2009, Gallup reported that 76% of Americans supported some form of legalized abortion while only 22% felt they are illegal in all.

    My point is fairly simple: there are many better (and more appropriate) ways to advocate for new abortion laws then to put up disgusting posters and harass college students going about their day. If you disagree, well then fine… If you should learn one thing in life, it should be that it is near impossible to get consensus on anything… and that includes abortion.

  22. Paul Milner
    Apr. 17, 2011 9:44 AM


    Adultery is a crime in Minnesota, with a penalty of imprisonment for one year, or a fine of $3,000, or both. So, you’ve picket on unfortunate (and comical) example to make your argument.

    Had you only claimed that “there are many better ways to advocate for new abortion laws…” then I would have agreed with you. Unfortunately, you continue to stumble on the road to this conclusion. You’ve spread several common misconceptions about abortions law (see above), you’ve doubted the statistics of others while failing to look critically at those you cite (including refusing to see an obvious conflict of interest),  and you’ve employed shoddy reasoning to boot. 

  23. Tom Kreitzer
    Apr. 17, 2011 6:08 PM


    fair point regarding adultery being “illegal”, yet you seem more interested in besting my arguments than the actual point of my argument. Yes, there are many common misconceptions about abortion…and *your* side of the argument is guilty of them too. If you look at the title of the article I sited, it CLEARLY stated a pro-life bias, but the data still concludes that the majority of people are still in favor of some legalized abortion.

    Cut the data anyway you want; that point still stands.

    Also, please don’t talk to me about shoddy reasoning… your point about speeding is absurd: according to the law, anything over the posted speed limit is speeding, just as anything over .08 is legally drunk. You can be fined for either of those actions… I doubt that someone will go to court and say that going 2 mph over the speed limit is not “speeding”. Abortion is not so cut and dry Paul

  24. Paul Milner
    Apr. 17, 2011 10:11 PM


    Yes, there are misconceptions on both sides. I’d happily correct an anti-abortionist too, but I haven’t had the opportunity to in this particular comments section. 

    Yes, the statistic still stands. However, any conclusion that you derive from it can still be questioned. It would be inappropriate to conclude from this statistic that abortion should be legal in all or even most cases. 

    Oh, that? I was mocking you. You had previously implied that on ‘a matter that will never come to a consensus’ the United States should not ‘make that judgement call for everybody’. So, I took your reasoning and applied it to another matter on which there (arguably) will never be a consensus; namely ‘speed limits’. I personally think the speeding limit on 35E going through St. Paul should be 55 and not 45 (amirite, ppl?!). As you saw, this application leads to an absurdity. Thus, the reasoning is in question. Either this reasoning does not apply to determining the beginning of life or there is some fundamental difference that makes determining when life begins subject to this reasoning. At best, your argument was incomplete. I’ll be more explicit next time.

  25. Kathryn Pogin
    Apr. 18, 2011 7:41 AM

    For what it’s worth, (and as long as we’re concerned with the technicalities of these arguments) Tom’s example stands: Minnesota’s adultery law clearly states that when a married *women* has intercourse with another man both are accused of adultery. A married man having intercourse with a woman other than his wife is not per se illegal in Minnesota–it is only illegal should she also be married (of course, the law is terribly sexist–but that’s what it says).

  26. Kathryn Pogin
    Apr. 18, 2011 7:45 AM

    *woman (not women)

  27. Paul Milner
    Apr. 18, 2011 9:02 AM


    I enjoyed that little loophole lol. Not sure what (if anything) it implies for this discussion, but it was pretty funny. =D

  28. Michael Blissenbach
    Apr. 18, 2011 9:12 AM

    Mr. Kreitzer, I do not approve of using photos of aborted children to demonstrate the immorality of abortion. I think that they are gruesome and I think they backfire. Abby Johnson illustrates the fact that such tactics backfire in her book “UnPlanned” I think using fetal development photos and facts about fetal development are a better and more compassionate manner of communicating the pro-life message.
    I also think that pro-choice people sincerely care about woman and have good intentions behind their support of abortion. I just think that the pro-choice position is wrong because abortion destroys the life of an innocent human being, and I think that’s unacceptable.
    Also, public opinion polls mean absolutely nothing to me. I don’t think popular opinion should decide morality or our laws. To do so would be basing our laws off of the bandwagon fallacy. I think the truth should, and we arrive at what is true using reason.

  29. Matthew Rappl
    Apr. 18, 2011 7:23 PM

    Michael, thank you for the insights you offer while commenting on TommieMedia. I find that the things you have to say really ring true with what I have experienced in my own life in dialogue with people – people who are earnestly searching for truth, whether they are aware of it or not.

    Apr. 19, 2011 4:00 PM

    The photos were gruesome and totally inappropriate. The only effect they had on me was that I could not eat lunch. As for abortion, thats a personal choice. It is a human right for one to do as they will with their bodies.

  31. Chris Huber
    Apr. 19, 2011 4:10 PM

    Social psychologists have done a ton of research on a personality type that blindly submits to established authority, is highly hostile, ethnocentric, and rigidly dogmatic, favors restricting freedom and equality more than others, and has trouble spotting flaws in its own reasoning. Turns out activists from one particular side of the abortion debate rack up record-setting scores on this trait. No wonder these discussions often look like people talking past each other more than anything else.

  32. Kathryn Pogin
    Apr. 19, 2011 8:11 PM

    Paul, I’m glad I could amuse you! I didn’t mean anything really by it, except to be a pedant :), but on further reflection I don’t think it’s totally imlaysible that the law itself (among other things) is evidence that, historically, we have been inclined to legislate what woman can do with their bodies in ways we have not been inclined to legislate what men can do. Of course, none of that means anything with respect to whether abortion is actually morally permissable, but it might lend some context to attitudes about it.

  33. Kathryn Pogin
    Apr. 19, 2011 8:33 PM

    Sorry for the typos- commenting from my phone.

  34. Michael Blissenbach
    Apr. 20, 2011 6:58 AM

    Actually, Mr. Huber, I think philosopher Peter Kreeft offers a better reason why there’s a stalemate on this issue, and I’ll post Kreeft’s explanation below.

  35. Michael Blissenbach
    Apr. 20, 2011 7:00 AM

    “First, liberals begin with subjectivity, while conservatives begin with objectivity. Liberals prioritize personal freedom; conservatives prioritize objective truth. Liberals absolutize persons and see truth as relative to persons. Conservatives absolutize truth and see persons as relative to truth. (Both are right in what they affirm and wrong in what they deny. Both persons and truth are absolute.)
    Second, in their anthropology, liberals prioritize the heart, while conservatives prioritize the mind. An attempted mutual heart and brain transplant between a conservative and a liberal failed because no one could find a conservative who would give up his heart to a liberal or a liberal who had any brains to give to a conservative.
    Third, liberals emphasize the abstract universal, the cosmopolitan, the global, while conservatives emphasize the concrete particular: individuals, families, neighborhoods and nations. (Thus, the “bad liberalism” of “leftist” communism is international socialism, while the “bad conservatism” of “rightist” Nazism is national socialism.)”

  36. Michael Blissenbach
    Apr. 20, 2011 7:03 AM

    “Fourth, most obviously, liberals love change and conservatives love permanence; liberals love the new, conservatives the old. That is a matter of temperament rather than ideological content, for anti-Establishment liberals turn into Establishment conservatives when they succeed. And truth is not told by clocks any more than time is told by syllogisms.”
    The full article can be found below, and it has some very fascinating insights:

  37. Michael Blissenbach
    Apr. 20, 2011 7:38 AM

    Also, Mr. Huber, please don’t assume that all pro-lifers automatically accept all of the views of the political right in this country, or automatically associate the Catholic Church’s teachings with the political right.
    The Church’s teachings are neither liberal nor conservative, and there are plenty of the Church’s teachings that make liberals uncomfortable (such as the teachings on human sexuality) and plenty that make conservatives uncomfortable (such as the just war theory and the preferential option for the poor).

  38. Paul Milner
    Apr. 20, 2011 2:51 PM


    What you did there… I see it. 

  39. Chris Huber
    Apr. 20, 2011 4:21 PM

    I didn’t assume anything Michael, unless you consider citing the conclusions of over half a century’s worth of empirical research an assumption. Thankfully we have measures of things like who prizes “objective truth” and things of that nature, which means we don’t need to rely on the opinions of one philosopher to determine what is true. Political conservatism has been found to correlate negatively with both general intelligence and intellectual openness, which seriously undermines the claim that conservatives are the ‘party of the brain’ in any meaningful sense. Furthermore, the claim that “anti-Establishment liberals turn into Establishment conservatives when they succeed” is true to a limited extent, but ignores extensive research showing that endorsement of liberal ideologies reliably correlates with openness to change. As for the association between pro-lifers and the political right, that correlation is well documented by empirical research as well. Certainly there are exceptions that prove the rule, but the general trend is in that direction. For a review of the literature on liberalism versus conservatism, see Jost, J. T., Glaser, J., Kruglanski, A. W., & Sulloway, F. (2003). Political conservatism as motivated social cognition. Psychological Bulletin, 129,…

  40. Brooke Roberts
    Apr. 21, 2011 12:22 PM

    While I am all for freedom of speech, I was greatly disturbed by the way this group went about presenting their ideals. While the photos displayed are REAL, they are also overly graphic. Especially when you take into consideration where this group chose to stand. Yes- they were on public property, but they were near the St. Thomas day care center and on the roads that the children walk on. Small children should not be exposed to these images. These images should also not interfere with their daily excursions. They have just as much of a right to be on the public land, walking where they walk everyday as this group did. But by this group being on campus it interfered with EVERYONE’s daily life. Although I am pro-choice, I do not desire to see these images and the strategic placement of signs made it impossible for me to get to and from my classes without being bombarded by disturbing graphic photos. If I wanted to see the repercussions of a thrid-trimester abortion, I would take the time to look it up myself.
    I am not here to argue if abortion should be legal or not. I am merely stating that the way this message was delivered was highly inappropriate on many different levels. And did not help me agree with their viewpoint, if anything it made me feel ostrasized and belittled.

  41. James Heaney
    Apr. 21, 2011 2:00 PM

    Well, I dropped out of this for a few days, but, in the meantime, Tom accused me of perfidy.  This is disappointing, since my numbers are sound.  He should take a closer look at the report he cites; I relied on the same report (actually, the more recent 2009 update, but same difference).  PP’s “health center income” amounts to about $4 million.  PP’s 2009 annual fact sheet informs us that PP performed 332000 abortions in 2009.  The Guttmacher Institute (Planned Parenthood’s research arm) informs us that a conservative estimate of the average cost of a typical PP-style abortion (i.e. a simple 10-week D&E) is $451.  Multiply 451 * 332000 and divide by 4000000.  Planned Parenthood makes about one-third of its profits (its “health center income”) from abortion.

    Anyone who’s been telling you otherwise, Tom, is lying.  Lying — about abortion, anyway — is really more a liberal problem than a conservative one.

    I’ll leave it to others to continue dissecting Tom’s risible proposition that if there’s no “consensus” on who “counts” as a human life, we’re all free to decide for ourselves.  I thought that doctrine went out with the Dred Scott Case.

  42. Tom Kreitzer
    Apr. 21, 2011 8:30 PM

    First off, I will refer you to Senator John Kyl’s statement last week about PP’s services being 90% abortion… Do not tell me that lying about abortion is a liberal thing… Conservatives do it more blatantly and more often than you would admit. Conservatives also lie about funding for pp (implying that taxpayer dollars fund abortion) all the time, so don’t say that “liberals” lie more…

    Secondly, I (unlike many) will admit that I sometimes make mistakes. Yes, it does turn out that 1/3 of their REVENUE comes from abortion services, but that does not count the rest of the money that is used in planned parenthood (like donations, grants, etc.)

    Third, really?! You are not seriously considering taking slavery and equating it to the abortion issue. Are you implying that because I may not agree with you that life does not begin at conception means that I may also make the statement that a black man is not equal to me? 

    That sickens me that you would even try to compare these things-

  43. Tom Kreitzer
    Apr. 21, 2011 8:35 PM

    for the record… in case if anybody is confused, James is implying that I am racist by this statement- anybody else outraged?

  44. Kathryn Pogin
    Apr. 22, 2011 10:58 AM

    James, that report you’re talking about has separate data for revenue and expenses. A little more than a third of the revenue comes from the health center, but you’ll note that with out taking expenses into account, that does not mean that more than a third of their profits come from the same source.

  45. Kathryn Pogin
    Apr. 22, 2011 11:25 AM

    Michael, this is really getting off topic, but I just wanted to point something out about that quote– there’s a difference between thinking “truth is all relative” and thinking that, given our human limitations, our perspective on the truth is relative to our subjective positions. I don’t think I know any liberals that think the first, but I do I know quite a few who think the second. As to the part of the quote that says “[N]o one could find . . . a liberal who had any brains . . .,” it’s not particularly civil and it’s strangely at odds with some conservative stereotypes about liberals (e.g., intellectual elitists).

  46. James Heaney
    Apr. 22, 2011 1:25 PM

    Kathryn: you’re right. My mistake. So the accurate statement is: “PP makes about a third of its operating revenue (which discounts government funding, donations, etc.) by the provision of abortions.” Sorry.

    Tom: for liberal counter-examples of abortion dishonesty, I refer you to then-state Sen. Obama’s series of dishonest and contradictory statements about why he voted against a bill to protect infants who had been born *alive* (after surviving an abortion) from immediate infanticide. I refer you to Planned Parenthood’s impassioned defense of partial-birth abortion in which it frequently implies or (claims outright) that it does not involve partially birthing the infant. To Sarah Stoesz’s attack on the North Dakota women’s-right-to-know bill, where she said (contrary to all biology) that it was false that the fetus is “biologically a human life.” The list goes on ad infinitum in every abortion argument back to Roe. (For the record, taxpayer dollars *do* subsidize abortions on the federal level and directly fund them in Minnesota. You’ve been deceived.) But I suppose it would be impossible to quantify which side has told more (or more egregious) untruths, so I’ll lay it to one side.

    For the rest, I’ll need another post.

  47. James Heaney
    Apr. 22, 2011 1:35 PM

    Actually, I’d argue that abortion is quite a bit worse than American chattel slavery, in terms of both total bloodshed and inherent evil. The more apt comparison, in terms of moral scale, is the Holocaust. But that’s not what I was getting at.

    My point was simply that the abortion rights advocate must take an entity which is plainly a human being — at least, on the biological level — and argue that that human being does not have personal rights, for whatever reason. Slavery advocates did the same thing. So did the settlers who massacred Indians. So did the Nazis. (Indeed, Nazi propaganda about how the disabled do not have lives worth living finds an exact parallel in arguments favoring abortions of severely disabled and Downs Syndrome-positive babies.) The eugenicists did the same thing, so they founded Planned Parenthood. Humans have done it throughout history, and we’re doing it again today.

    You’re not a racist, Tom. I’m certain you consider all people of color your moral equal (at least after birth). Rightly so. But — right or wrong — your arguments join an ancient intellectual tradition of dehumanizing the vulnerable and the unwanted. I mean, just *read* Dred Scott. Then read Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The parallel is eerie.

  48. Paul Milner
    Apr. 22, 2011 1:38 PM


    Hi again. This post will be shorter and less thought out since I have a paper I should be working on…

    You’ve mistakenly interpreted Jame’s comment.  He is comparing your reasoning for justifying abortion to the reasoning used to justify slavery in the dred scott case. Since the latter was thrown out long ago, the argument is that your reasoning should also be thrown out as well. You made the same mistake in your response to my speeding limit example. Be careful next time.

    James did not even come close to calling you racist… not even if you squint your eyes just right. 

    Besides (and James forgive me if I’m putting words in your mouth), James is unlikely to compare slavery to abortion. After all, abortion kills more ‘people’ per year then slavery ever did. 


  49. Chris Huber
    Apr. 23, 2011 10:37 PM

    While I certainly don’t think James was accusing anyone of being a racist, he did come very close to violating Godwin’s Law which is also pretty annoying. More importantly, I do think he’s overlooking the common argument that no one–born or unborn–has the right to be sustained by another person’s vital systems against that person’s will. We all have a negative right to life–i.e., the right *not* to be killed, but arguably none of us have the positive right to use another person’s body to sustain our own. So long as the only thing keeping you alive is another person’s body, that person could justifiably end your life by refusing you the use of their body.

  50. Paul Milner
    Apr. 25, 2011 1:58 PM


    You can’t “violate” Godwins Law, unless you made a thread of infinite length that does mention Hitler… even if he did, it would still be less annoying then mis-representing psychology studies to engage in ad hominem. But, thats water under the bridge I guess.

    I don’t understand your argument, probably because you stated it in such brevity. It sounds something like the famous Thomson violinist argument. Even if we grant that the mother has the right to choose what is and is not attached to her body, there is no reason to believe this right would overrule the fetus’ right to life and furthermore no reason to believe that this same right would not apply to the fetus and thereby prevent the mother from exercising her right.

    That might have been a little short, but Azeroth needs saving dontcha know. 

  51. James Heaney
    Apr. 26, 2011 3:41 PM

    Paul: Worst. Excuse. Ever. :P

    Chris is definitely going the J. J. Thomson route, and I admit I have a soft spot for her. Her argument is so refreshingly brutal, and she has a great way with words. I like that she concedes the fetus’s personal rights at the outset, then goes on to argue (intelligently) for a right to kill said person. However, it seems to me that *admitting* that, for whatever reason, you are murdering innocents makes the Nazi comparison more, not less, apt.

    There is much to say about the Thomson argument, and it has been, at great length, elsewhere. The easy (brief) replies are that it only *possibly* applies to rape cases (since all others assume responsibility for the natural consequences of sex by engaging in it), that the analogy is bad because one has the right to unplug the violinist and *allow* him to die, but not to deliberately dismember him in order to ensure his death (as in abortion), or even that one *would* have a right to use another’s body to sustain his own life.

    I think the most damning point against Thomson’s case, though, is that I’ve never met a single person who really believed it. It is deployed exclusively by pro-choicers who deny the humanity of the fetus but don’t want to talk about it.

    Sorry about the Godwin…

  52. Chris Huber
    Apr. 27, 2011 10:43 PM

    Yep, that was my shortened version of the Thomson argument, which I do actually believe James. I also don’t buy into the argument that having sex is equivalent to a contractual acceptance of its possible unintended consequences. Sure, you’ll have to deal with the consequences, just like you would have to deal with the consequences if you got HIV from having sex. That’s simply a statement of reality though, which in no way implies that you have to deal with that consequence in any one particular way. Hence, one way to deal with the consequence of pregnancy would be to have an abortion.

    I’ll forgive you for the Godwin of course, as long as you’ll forgive me for pointing out once again that when it comes to the core personality trait that made Hitler what he was, pro-lifers score off the charts. In the one study I’m aware of that sampled pro life activists exclusively, the group *average* right-wing authoritarianism score (220) fell just short of what Bob Altemeyer defines as “Hitler level” (230 and up), setting the all time record group score out of literally hundreds of studies. Of course, the disturbing personality profiles of its adherents (with exceptions, of course) doesn’t in itself disprove the pro-life position. But it ought to give one pause, I think.

  53. Paul Milner
    Apr. 28, 2011 7:55 AM

    Actually, its completely irrelevant. But, I’ve expressed my disgruntlement and now must abide by Rule 14.

  54. Kathryn Pogin
    Apr. 28, 2011 8:40 AM

    James, I wonder if you’ve read the entire article by Thomson? She addresses those objections at length.

  55. Chris Huber
    Apr. 28, 2011 3:05 PM

    Good call Kathryn, I probably should have just mentioned that…

  56. James Heaney
    Apr. 28, 2011 9:18 PM

    I’ve read the piece in full *many* times. The “people seeds being thrown at a screened window” analogy, however, is simply so poor I’m genuinely surprised when people buy into it. It’s not a surprise or bad luck when sex leads to pregnancy; it is the natural ends of the act. The abortionist “deals” with that consequence the same way a bullemic deals with nutrition.

    But, Chris — you say you really believe it. Do you mean, you actually believe in the personal rights of the fetus? Or simply that if you *did* believe, you still wouldn’t agree with the pro-life stance? I ask because I spoke carelessly; I don’t doubt that pro-choicers are sincere when they say they think the argument works, and was wrong to imply otherwise. But I’ve never met someone who is otherwise pro-life, who says, “Fetuses are real, moral entities equivalent to you and me, but, unfortunately, we can’t give them legal protection without compromising ladies’ liberty.”

    But, yeah, one thing TM is not conducive to is thorough, long-form debate, as I think we’ve all encountered in the past few posts.

    Wasn’t the Altemeyer study published in 1981, and considered not pro-lifers but the entire right-wing? Since pro-lifers were still by-and-large Democrats around that time, it seems…

  57. Chris Huber
    May. 2, 2011 8:40 PM

    I suppose I wouldn’t say that a fetus is really a moral entity like you or I are. I wouldn’t draw a moral equivalence between what is technically a human being and a fully formed human person and all that entails. In that sense, I suppose I fit your criteria for not “believing” the argument since I don’t really see a fetus as equivalent to you and I.

    The Altemeyer study may have been in the 80’s. He’s conducted hundreds of studies of RWA, many of which were around that time. In any case, the RWA/pro-life correlation has been replicated in other studies as well.

    The particular number I was referencing was for members of a pro-life group, not conservatives in general. It certainly seems to be the case that the pro-life position was more popular among Democrats in the 80s than it is now, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Democrats were the majority of pro-lifers. The data suggest that pro-life is and was a predominately conservative position, given that it correlates so strongly with the core conservative trait, right-wing authoritarianism.

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