Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Why you really can't be all that Pro Life

My Daddy forgot to pull out

The problem with moral absolutes, like being Pro Life for example, is that they make lousy foundations for moral and ethical beliefs, because it's so damned hard to be a human being and actually be 100% Pro Life. You'll see what I mean here in just a second.

First of all, the assumption if you're Pro Life is that every single human life has value. Some might say animal lives can be included here, but the double burger I ate for dinner says otherwise. Let's keep this simple, however, and just stick to the widely held belief that if you are Pro Life that you believe in the sanctity of human life.

Problem 1 is that anyone who voted for President Bush can't be Pro Life. He single handedly oversaw the execution of over 100 death row inmates while Governor of Texas, not to mention all innocent people who have died during the continued occupation of Iraq. You can support President Bush all you want and I am Ok with that, but please stop saying you're Pro Life, because if you believed in the sanctity of life, you wouldn't have voted for the original governator. That's like Rush Limbaugh saying he's Pro Hillary Clinton.

Problem 2 comes along with Catholics, and anyone else who has used pulling out or natural family planning as a method of birth control. Turns out, that the rhythm method, which I had previously assumed meant having sex with a black person, probably results in more dead embryos than abortion, because people have sex at the fringes of fertility, when pregnancies are most likely to fail. More details on that here.

Problem 3 arises for any of the remaining Pro Life crowed that didn't vote for Bush and aren't Catholic. Do you believe in immunizations as a health policy? Who doesn't? You see, the problem with immunizations is that we know that by immunizing everybody when they're children, there is a very small risk that a few kids will die every year from their immunizations. But Ryan, immunizations save thousands of lives every year? Welcome to Utilitarian Decision-Making 101. If you think a few dead kids every year is worth preventing the return of small pox and polio, you can't be Pro Life. You're putting your own well-being above the risk that some innocent children may die, so that we all don't have to work about things that used to wipe people out like crazy.

And there's nothing wrong with that, as long as you don't go around telling people how Pro Life you are. The bottom line is that unless you didn't vote for President Bush, never have sex, and don't get your shots, you can't really be Pro Life. And even then, I would argue that you're not Pro Life because you're putting your own life ahead of society's well-being by not getting your God damned shots.

See how tricky ethics can be in real life? Better head down to church and start praying.


Justine said...

Good post.

Anonymous said...

unless you like believe in mythology you should realize that prayer doesn't work - e.g.,2933,189691,00.html

I understand your point that living in this society means that one must compromise our values in order to function within the society - i.e. vote for the candidate that we think, overall, is the closest to our moral values. When I vote I fully realize that I'm not voting for someone who has the exact same moral values as myself. I would prefer that I could vote for a candidate that values life the way I try to (e.g. is pro-life, anti death penalty, anti-war, ect). However, one doesn't seem to exist (at least within the two party system that we have).

Who you vote for is not necessarily a reflection of your values but of whom you hopefully think is the closest to your values. Thus, if I vote for a president based on the "pro-life" issue (by pro-life I mean less abortions, war, disease, ect) I vote for the one that is going to hopefully results in the least amount of death not the one that isn't going to result in any death. The question of should we immunize or not is based on a comparison of the number of lives that would be lost if we immunize all children to the number of lives that would be lost if we didn't. My assumption is that immunizing all children results in less death then not. Therefore one is not devaluing human life by being in favor of immunization. When you choice immunization you are not choosing one life over another, you are choosing a better chance at life for everyone.

I would like to frame your point in a different context by using the old question of which value(s) and or life is more valuable. For example, do you abort a fetus that is going to more likely than not result in the death of the mother? What if it has only a 10% chance of killing the mother or a 40% chance? When do you decide to abort? What if neither will survive if you don't abort. Or, if you do not believe in killing people - do you kill someone who is going to kill you if you don't kill them. For example, should I kill an intruder who has a shotgun pointed at my head if I get the chance? Is the value of individual control over ones body more important than the value of an unborn child? Is population control more important then pumping out as many babies as we can? Is it okay if I choice to only have 2 kids instead of 10? Is it okay to bomb another country if they fly planes into our buildings? Is democracy more important than the lives of those who have died in Iraq? Does a dead dad in Iraq care if Saddam Hussein is no longer in charge? Those are the value choices that we face on a daily basis that define who we are. Is our choice of president a reflection of what we value the most – yes but not 100%.


Ryan the Angry Midget said...

All the examples you provided are exactly why people can't be moral absolutists about being Pro Life. There is nothing wrong with trying to promote the sanctity of life. What gets me are people who don't understand that you can strive to be Pro Life, but as a society we make decisions every single day that aren't Pro Life.

I'm not saying people have to be against immunizations to be Pro Life, I'm saying people should realize that we're sacrificing a few lives for the good of society. We should recognize it as such, instead of people pretending that they are morally superior because they are Pro Life. People like Brenwah, who is not a moral absolutist by any stretch of the imagination, understand that fact. The fundies that voted for Bush because he's Pro Life, don't fucking get it.

leptodactylous said...

"unless you like believe in mythology you should realize that prayer doesn't work - e.g.,2933,189691,00.html"


Tell me you have your tongue so far into your cheek that it is about to break through into free air. If not, tell me you did not take a study of narrow scope--which the researchers themselves emphasized "...can't address whether God exists or answers prayers made on another's behalf."--and use it to make an absolute generalization of such sweeping scope. If you can't tell me that either, please say that you did not mean to throw down on that topic.

ptg said...

Ryan, I see what you are doing! You bait someone into trying to defend logically a decision they have made irrationally. Once they bite, your relentless application of vise-like logic crushes the hapless Right to Lifer's wispy, faith-based arguments. Your victim is forced to resort to prayer!

It is fun to watch. However, I worry that one of your scalded pigeons will resort to casting spells or some other bad ju-ju. Be careful!

Matt W said...

I understand your POV, but I kind feel like you are stretching for analogies to prove your point. What you are doing is much like some posts I do - someone, somewhere pisses me off with their indifferent or worse yet, elitist, attitude that is based on ignorance(also called blind faith by some) and you want to sound off on it. The vaccination bit makes sense, but it's comparing decisions for public health to decisions made for personal health (in its best case scenario usage). I understand that laws governing both are at the center of this discussion, though.

The pulling out/rhythm method thing is just pure proof too much of my tax dollars go to scientists with bullshit ideas on things to study. Take that guy's salary and cure cancer. Fix cold sores. Create male BC and end vasectom.. I can't finishing typing that word. Anyway, if they can't prove it, and they can't quantify it, it's conjecture at this point. I don't challenge the scientific possiblity, but I REALLY want to be a fly on the wall when the idea for this study was brought up ( and approved)

By the way- just in case anyone was wondering- I am pro-Choice. The ability of the individual to choose their fate and have a degree of freedom over what happens to and in their body should be unarguable. I'm not trying to convert anyone, though, and respect their right to believe whatever they want. Just keep legislation out of it. But here we all are..