Debate rages at the U of Alabama, Part 2

Alabama Crowd

GAP creates modulated conflict that draws a crowd and creates a forum in which abortion advocates are forced to defend the decapitation and dismemberment of little human beings.

In Part 1, FAB reported on a recent column in the University of Alabama student newspaper attacking the Bama Students for Life, apparently for hosting GAP in April.  I responded, and now John Speer has answered:

Sir, you don’t present any reasoned arguments. You offer an emotional appeal which is heartfelt, but lacking in any substantive evidence. You want to shame me by reducing the discussion to absurdity-either I want to kill babies or I don’t. There is more substance to the argument than my feelings. I don’t like abortions, but I have no right to tell an individual what they can or cannot do with their body. Please research some facts on infant mortality, lack of access to prenatal care, and the dangers of pregnancy.

Moreover, I did not call for censorship, I said guidance, also known as teaching.  In other words, we should lead by example and demonstrate to students what respectful debate should resemble. I cannot respect students who engage endorse BSFL tactics. I apologize, but that is the reality. There are pro-life groups I respect, BSFL is simply not one of them.

I responded:

Mr. Speer, thank you for your reply. I’d like to address your points.

The most important objection you raise is that we offered no arguments nor evidence for our position, only an emotional appeal. But in fact, that objection is easily rebutted because the pictures of abortion are the very best evidence that abortion is a violent act that decapitates and dismembers a small human being. I’ll take for granted that we all agree killing human beings is wrong, so why is it OK to kill certain human beings that are smaller and more defenseless than ourselves? Call me crazy, but it seems to me that the burden of proof lies with those doing the killing. Pejoratives and ad hominems do not make your case.

You are right to object to telling an individual what she can do with her own body. We all agree to that. But when an individual intends to carry out an act of violence that kills another human being without justification, then a civilized society is compelled to intervene, to protect the weaker from the stronger. We have a whole host of laws that prevent one person from acting to kill another (laws against murder), harm another (e.g., laws against assault, fraud, etc.), or put another person at risk of harm (e.g., laws against speeding).  All of these laws restrict the choices of people who would harm others.

People who advocate systematic injustice often couch their arguments in the language of choice. Even Stephen Douglas stated that he was opposed to slavery, but he believed that the Southern states should have the right to choose whether to be slave states or free states. At a personal level, people in those states were completely free to exercise choice in whether to own a slave or not. With systematic injustice, everyone gets a choice but the victim.

I know of no facts on infant mortality or lack of access to prenatal care that would justify killing an innocent human being. Regarding the dangers of pregnancy, we make a compelling case that abortion is justified when the life of the mother is in danger. In the case of ectopic pregnancy, for example, removing the baby to save the life of the mother is the only bio-ethically sound alternative.

You absolutely did call for censorship. You said that the BSFL should be “monitored” and given “strong guidance” because they are “uninformed.” Apparently, uninformed means “disagrees with Mr. Speer and his friends.” Of course, you wouldn’t submit to monitoring and “strong guidance” for your own column. In your mind, that wouldn’t be necessary because you are not “uninformed.” Let’s apply your rule both ways. If I claim your column offended me as much as our pictures offended you, and if I claim that your leftist views are a “high-profile disaster” for the entire country, shouldn’t you be subjected to special government monitoring and “strong guidance” as well?

Who is going to decide whose speech needs to be monitored and strongly guided and whose is not? You? Would you be for “strong guidance” if I (or somebody like me) were assigned by the government to monitor you and strongly guide you in the preparation of your column? Call me a simple country boy — which I am — but the line between “strong guidance” and censorship is impossible to discern, especially when it is applied only to certain people (i.e., those who disagree with Mr. Speer and his friends).

You say that you want respectful debate. Imbedded in that claim are two false assertions. First, you imply that the debate surrounding our GAP display was not respectful. On what do you base that claim? Despite enduring many ad hominem attacks throughout both days, we were able to have hundreds of respectful encounters with people who disagreed with us. Some resulted in changed minds. Some concluded with a handshake and a promise to respect each other despite our differing points of view. If you didn’t see that, you just were not looking. Second, your version of “respectful” is that you control the terms and conditions of the debate. You seem to be saying that showing pictures in public is not respectful and comparing the mass slaughter of preborn human beings to the mass slaughter of other people groups is not respectful. In other words, you want a debate in which we don’t present our evidence nor make our arguments. Or maybe you just want the debate to happen behind closed doors, where few people will see it. We don’t think it is disrespectful to show people pictures of reality.

Finally, regarding respect, we ask for none. Social reformers don’t expect to be popular, especially among defenders of injustice. We don’t care what people think of us, nearly as much as we care what people think of abortion. However, we do insist that our unalienable right of free speech be respected.

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3 Responses to “Debate rages at the U of Alabama, Part 2”

  1. September 19th, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    Bill Fortenberry says:

    I noticed your comment about abortion being justified in cases of ectopic pregnancy. You should check out my research on more than 400 live births from ectopic pregnancies. I have calculated that there is somewhere between a 97.7 and a 99.6% likelihood that the mother will survive an ectopic pregnancy that is allowed to continue to term, and I have documented a 24% likelihood that the child will survive as well. You can find my research online at: http://www.personhoodinitiative.com/ectopic-personhood.html

  2. September 20th, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Fletcher says:

    Before I could accept your medical conclusions, I’d have to consult my medical staff, which would take several weeks, I suspect. I would encourage you to recruit a team of pro-life OB-GYNs to review your conclusions and either endorse them or not.

    However, your medical conclusions notwithstanding, there is still the prevailing medical opinion that ectopic pregnancy puts a woman at significant risk of death, and we must account for that.

    As far as I know, there is no precedent in American law that requires one person to give his own life for another. A woman has every right, if she chooses, to have a baby removed from her body that presents a significant risk to her life. Medical science should do what it can to save that baby’s life, but right now, saving both is not thought to be possible in most cases.

    This is NOT a denial of personhood for that unfortunate child. It is simply a recognition that it is likely that both persons cannot be saved, and so it is logical to save the one life that we know can be saved, as opposed to letting both of them die.

    Similar circumstances can arise in a hospital emergency room when a catastrophic event results in more dying patients than there are doctors and facilities to treat them. Doctors must focus their attention on people who have a reasonable chance of living, even though they might have to leave untreated other people who are still alive but probably can’t live much longer. Passing up the one patient who probably can’t live to help the patient who probably can live is not a denial of personhood. It is simply doing the best that can be done under difficult circumstances.

  3. September 20th, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Fletcher says:

    At some level, with this topic and others, we have to listen to the professional judgment of people who are trained to give it. I have to be careful here, because there are many mistakes I want to avoid, including

    1. Submitting to the tyranny of “experts.” They can be wrong for so many reasons. They can be incompetent. They can be driven by agendas. They can be driving by the profit motive. They can be influenced by groupthink. They can simply be acting under the influence of the best science available at the time.

    2. Accepting my own conclusions, when I am not an expert. After my first statistics class, I believed I could do anything. After my second, I wasn’t so smart. Now, I have a PhD minor in statistics, and I wouldn’t trust myself to run a t-test.

    Somewhere, there is a middle ground where we listen to experts, but make them detail the basis and limitations of their conclusions. Right now, the experts are telling us that an ectopic pregnancy puts a mother at risk of death.

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