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Abortion is NOT Genocide!

Incredulity

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When they see us on campus with the “Genocide Awarness Project,” they are incredulous.  They storm over to us and insist on educating us about the definition of genocide, as if there is only one.

They imagine that we have never looked it up for ourselves.  They don’t realize that there are at least three different classes of definitions of genocide:

  1. legal definitions, intended to support prosecution in court,
  2. popular definitions, intended to convey meaning to a general audience, and
  3. scholarly definitions, postulated by scholars to help them understand and study the phenomena more completely.

We, of course, are looking at the term more conceptually, as a scholar might, as opposed to more concretely and more narrowly, as a judge and jury might if they were being asked to incarcerate somebody for life.

How do we answer the angry student?  First of all, we agree with him, “You are right, abortion is nothing like genocide … IF.”  You can imagine the expressions we get.  They don’t hear the “IF” at first.

We go on to say that if pre-born children are not living human beings, then abortion does not kill humans and there are no relevant similarities between abortion and genocide.

But if pre-born children are living human beings — science tells us they are — then abortion kills 1.2 million living humans every year in the US. If not genocide, what else would we call it?

UN General Assembly Resolution 96, adopted in 1946, describes genocide as “a denial of the right of existence of entire human groups, as homicide is the denial of the right to live of individual human beings …” Resolution 96 goes on to say it is a crime “whether committed on religious, racial, political or any other grounds …” (emphasis added)

With abortion, the “entire human group” denied the right of existence is unwanted, pre-born children.

In 1948, the UN adopted a more narrow legal definition of genocide to support prosecution in court. As a concession to the Soviet Union, who feared Stalin’s mass murders might be considered genocidal if broader language were employed, the UN omitted references to social and political groups.  (The Study of Mass Murder and Genocide, Robert Gellately and Ben Kiernan, in The Specter of Genocide: Mass Murder in Historical Perspective, Cambridge University Press, 2003, p. 18)

However, others have adopted more comprehensive language. For example, French law adds “[any] group determined by any other arbitrary criterion.”

Abortion is a form of age discrimination, in that it targets unwanted children of a certain age. Their destruction is justified based on arbitrary age- related factors such as size, level of development, environment (location), and degree of dependency.

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