Russell and Duenes

Court-Sanctioned Killing

with 4 comments

Let’s see if I understand this.

The Supreme Court ruled, in the 1992 case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, that, “in some critical respects abortion is of the same character as the decision to use contraception . . . .  for two decades of economic and social developments, people have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail.”

The Court’s ruling in Casey reaffirmed their 1973 rulings in Roe and Doe, namely, that abortion is constitutionally legal through all nine months of pregnancy. The Casey Court would not overturn Roe because, as they said above, for several decades, “people have organized intimate relationships and made choices…in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail.” I am told that this constitutes the legal doctrine of “reliance,” which according to one of my commentors, means, “It’s not fair for the law to change all the time. If I’ve oriented my entire life around x law as elaborated by a court, it’s not fair if that court just changes its judgment in the next second. That’s the same basis for why we have the concept of Stare Decisis (i.e., precedent).” So far so good.

But if Roe shouldn’t be overturned due to this doctrine of “reliance,” then let’s look at one aspect of Roe more carefully. In Roe, the Court said, “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins.” But the Court was wrong on this point. It’s not a difficult question: scientifically or theologically. It begins at conception. Thus, the Court erred in their supposed agnosticism regarding when life begins. Abortion does not take a “potential life,” as the Court phrased it, but an actual, full human life, just as valuable as my life. This is not a legal point I’m making here, but a scientific, logical, rational, and metaphysical one. And the Court got it wrong. So now, armed with this truth, let’s return to the Court’s statement in Casey, only this time, let’s substitute for the word “abortion” the proper phrase, “killing one’s own child,” which is what is really happening with abortion, the Court’s opinion not withstanding.

“In some critical respects killing one’s own child is of the same character as the decision to use contraception . . . .  for two decades of economic and social developments, people have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of killing their own child in the event that contraception should fail.”

Now, in this case, does that sound like “sound legal doctrine” to you? The Court simply redefines human life as non-human life, then builds a doctrine of reliance upon that redefinition, and then says that it can’t be overturned because people have organized their life around it, and thus it must be upheld due to “precedent” (Stare Decisis). But if their redefinition of human life doesn’t hold up under scrutiny, and if, in fact, the unborn are full human beings; then this means that people have been organizing their lives around the killing of their own children. Indeed, this is what they have been doing. But no Court is bound to respect the fact that murdering one’s children has 30-plus years of legal precedent.

“Reliance” in this case is not sound legal doctrine. It is not just. It is Court-sanctioned killing. And Lord willing, it will end, sooner rather than later.

-D

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Written by Michael Duenes

March 31, 2011 at 11:49 pm

4 Responses

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  1. “But the Court was wrong on this point. It’s not a difficult question: scientifically or theologically. It begins at conception. Thus, the Court erred in their supposed agnosticism regarding when life begins. Abortion does not take a “potential life,” as the Court phrased it, but an actual, full human life, just as valuable as my life.”

    I agree that if the court’s premises are found to have been wrong then they are under a duty to change the law by overruling Roe v. Wade (and I think one of those premises that warrants overturning it is the shoddy constitutional interpretation). Also, I want to reiterate that I rarely support the use of the doctrine of reliance in constitutional interpretation.

    But the fact is that determining when an organism receives natural rights (or, more accurately, which kinds of organisms have which kinds of rights) is obviously a difficult question or else, as you argue, the Court’s course of action would be simple and defined.

    You ought not be so conclusory about the rightness of the arbitrary line of conception. Conception itself is muddy – is “conception” when the sperm enters the ovum, when cell membranes of each fuse, when chromosones are captured by the mitotic spindle? What if science lets us discover a billion more processes within each of those processes? Which one of that billion is the real line? True, the fusing of gametes creates a “new” organism with unique DNA, but DNA can’t define an organism (or else, someone with a DNA mutation later in life would be have to be considered an totally different person). Anyway, even if a black and white line exists, i’m not quite sure we know of it yet.

    Of course, it is because the question of “when life begins” (I think the question is misleading because “life” is present in any organic compound, it just changes forms) is a difficult one that we have court cases at all. If reasonable minds all agreed on a line, we wouldn’t have had all the jousting in courts in the first place (although plenty of jousting might still have taken place outside the courts).

    Joshua House

    April 1, 2011 at 9:51 am

    • Josh – I’m afraid the embryology textbooks do not agree with you. It’s not as “muddy” as you make it out to be. But even if it were, for the purposes of abortion, or even stem-cell research, your points would be irrelevant. We don’t do anything with embryos until they are at least several days old, and no one has a surgical abortion that early (although the “morning after” pill comes into play). Everything is not arbitrary, Josh.

      DNA by itself does not define an organism. But your point about mutations is, well, not to the point. A mutation would indeed change the organism, but what it wouldn’t do it make an entirely new organism. But all of this is specious. The Court, when it said that it would not decide when life begins, was just giving themselves cover for their wicked decision, as people do when under the power of sin (again, back to Romans 1).

      Also, I disagree with you last point. The decision about when life begins is NOT a difficult one. “Reasonable minds” are not disagreeing over it because it is a scientific or intellectual challenge. That’s because “reasonable minds” are still affected by sin and naturally rebel against God’s truth apart from special grace. People are disagreeing over it because the human problem is moral and spiritual, not intellectual and legal. We are depraved in every part of our life: intellectual, emotional, and spiritual. This is the “noetic” effect of sin. Thus, people can be staring straight at a truth which shines as brightly as the brightest star in the universe, as the Pharisees constantly did, and still justify themselves and continue in their sin. Or to quote Jesus, “Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.”

      -D

      russell and duenes

      April 1, 2011 at 3:26 pm

      • “But even if it were, for the purposes of abortion, or even stem-cell research, your points would be irrelevant.”

        My points matter because, as a lawyer, I want the exact definition of when/if an organism has certain natural rights. Yes, they are extreme and, perhaps, impractical, but that was not the point of the exercise. The point was to push you/whoever to spell out the principle by which you accord certain organisms natural rights. “A mutation would indeed change the organism, but what it wouldn’t do it make an entirely new organism.” That’s good that you believe that, but my questions sought to extrapolate why you believe such. I took an entire course on the question of personal identity (i.e., how do we know we are the same person today as we were yesterday?) and I can tell you the subject is anything but easy.

        “This is the “noetic” effect of sin.”

        I love that word, “Noetic”. It’s fantastic. Anyway, two points regarding that:

        1. There were self-proclaimed christians on the Court… so the noetic effect is presumably no greater upon them than it is upon you.

        2. Assuming, arguendo, that the justices weren’t Christians and also that the noetic effect disappears/lessens when one “becomes a christian” how does one know how to become a christian in the first place. In other words, if we really are totally in the dark before Christ, how do we find Christ in the first place? As I see it, there are two possible answers to this:

        First, one might say that we don’t find Christ, he finds us. Ok, fine, then a select few don’t have the noetic effect of sin and others are stuck in the dark. It follows that no dialogue can take place between the groups because the select group will simply insist upon their rightness because they are no longer in the dark. Moreover, those in the light can’t even trust that anything they say will be understood at all by those in the dark. In that case, reasonable dialogue between those in the light and those in the dark is a useless waste of time.

        Second, one might say that there is a certain amount of natural revelation that lightens our way to find Christ. Ok, then isn’t this natural revelation universal? And, if so, can’t those in the dark possess enough to at least to make a rational decision about whether to seek Christ or not? And if they do possess such reason, can’t they apply such reason to other matters of life, like writing Supreme Court opinions. In that case, the opinions of the Supreme Court can be every bit as reasonable as one’s choice to become a Christian. No more and no less.

        In sum, there are 3 possible conclusions to draw from my discussion of your “noetic” argument:
        1. The Christians on the Supreme Court on equal noetic footing as you
        2. The members of the Supreme Court are simply in the dark and there is no use in trying to convince them rationally of your side. Hence, those in the light’s only goal in relation to the Supreme Court is not somehow get them to spit out conclusions that agree with the enlightened reasoning of those in the light.
        3. The entire Supreme Court is on equal noetic footing, at least in regards to the choice you made to become a Christian.

        I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on this reasoning.

        Joshua House

        April 1, 2011 at 5:46 pm

      • Josh – I may not be able to give you a truly substantial answer because I simply don’t have the time. But here are some initial thoughts.

        1) You say you want an “exact definition of when an organism has natural rights.” You say you want to “push me the spell out the principle by which I accord an organism natural rights.” But then when I tried to give you one, you essentially said that it was impossible because we simply don’t know how many steps there are between when the sperm penetrates the egg and when cell division begins and so forth. So no matter what I say, you’ll be saying that I’ve not been exact enough. So I’ll leave it at this, and I believe this is plenty exact. At the moment, nay, the second that the sperm physically penetrates the egg wall, I would give that human being all the rights that I myself am entitled to. At that point, everything is in place for that tiny human being to grow and mature by its own self-direction. At that point in my own mother’s womb, I believe Michael Duenes truly came into existence as a separate person. Do I need to know the exact nano-nano second? I don’t think so. If you do, I don’t want to discuss this with you anymore. You can keep discussing it with your other philosopher friends or whoever.

        2) How do I know I’m the same person today as I was yesterday? I think this is actually quite easy. The Bible says so. The Bible says that God created me in my mother’s womb. He created me in his image, a human person who will exist for eternity. He is not agnostic about when I came into being, and I don’t think he means for me to be either. Clearly the Bible says that I’m responsible for all my actions through every period of my life. I was conceived in sin, as David says. In fact, the Bible says that my personal identity is somehow tied to Adam’s, for his sin is passed down over the whole continuum of humankind to me, and then beyond me to my children, in an unbroken chain. Does the Bible spell all this out with scientific precision? No. Does it need to? I don’t think so. I don’t know what your course material was for this class, but if it didn’t include significant biblical exegesis and theology, then I’m not much interested in what such a class taught. I think science and philosophy would support my view, but I’d have to take a much longer time to spell it out, and I’m not prepared to do that.

        3) Lots of people profess to be Christians. But Jesus said, “By their fruits you will know them.” Sin has its effects on everyone, redeemed and unredeemed. My point was that sin invades every area of our being, and I gave a statement from Jesus, but you didn’t interact with it at all. I said the Court’s faulty reasoning in Roe was not a result of a mere intellectual deficiency, but a moral and spiritual one. Whatever the justice’s religious views were at the time, his mind was clearly darkened in its understanding, and this was due to the “noetic” effects of sin. You then went into some kind of syllogism or something.

        I’m not particularly interested in what any particular Supreme Court justice professes, ultimately. I’m interested in his or her intentions and actions. And their action in Roe was to say that we don’t know what the unborn is, with the intention of permitting mothers to kill their unborn children. But God tells us what such unborn children are, so whatever their profession of Christianity at the time, they were not listening to God. I don’t care if you think this sounds presumptuous. Jesus assumed that Scripture was a lot clearer than you make it out to be. And when people got it wrong, Jesus often said to them, “Have you not read…” or “Is this not why you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?” This, I believe, is what he would have said to the justices that ruled in favor of abortion through all nine months of pregnancy.

        You made a point about WHY people disagree over when life begins. You said that “reasonable” people were differing. You made it an intellectual and legal issue. And my point was that there is nothing “reasonable” about saying that we don’t know when life begins. A person who says this is staring at a truth that shines brighter than any sun – namely the truth that the human embryo is a full human being from day one – and then denying that it’s true. That’s not reasonable. It’s sinful.

        But if you’d like to read more about the embryo, I’d suggest you pick up a copy of Robert George and Christopher Tollefsen’s book: “Embryo: A Defense of Human Life” and thoroughly digest it’s contents. But I know you’re a busy young man, and I’m a busy older man.

        That’s as far as I want to go on this subject.

        -D

        russell and duenes

        April 1, 2011 at 10:09 pm


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