By now most everyone has heard of the shooting of the late-term abortion provider in his church. Needless to say the blogs are a chatter today about the incident with pro-lifers making sure to make clear and unqualified condemnations of the act. And they should. There is no justification for such violence.
However, there is an interesting push-back that comes from outraged pro-choice advocates. They might say, “There are those who believe abortion is murder and that the million children killed every year under American law amounts to a Holocaust. Yet these same people condemn the murder of abortionists. There seems to be a contradiction at work here in that hardly anyone would have a problem with the the assassination of a Nazi SS Officer working at Auschwitz. Many might even consider it heroic. Why not consider abortionist murderers heroes too?”
The seriousness of the objection has been noted. Justin Taylor linked to an article by Greg Koukl that attempts to respond to this objection, but judging from the comments in his blog, at least one person rejects it and calls the abortionist’s murderer a “hero.” Koukl seems to leave the question of whether killing an abortion doctor is morally justified, yet rejects such an action for utilitarian reasons. I left a comment that I will reproduce below (edited to admit a clarification) that takes issue with Koukl’s response.
Judging by some of the things your commenters say, like
“All someone did was abort the abortionist” and“Sounds like there is a hero in jail to me,” it looks like the Koukl’s argument is in trouble. The purpose of Koukl’s argument is important, because it refuses to mitigate the immorality or even allow for justification of the murder of abortionists. If you are of the persuasion that killing abortionists should be condemned you have to be seriously disturbed by these comments.
However, if Koukl’s argument fails then you should not be disturbed by them.
Mike andDavid apparently agree that it would be inconsistent to condemn both the killing of the abortionist and the killing of the unborn by the abortionist. If we were [inconsistent] we might tacitly admit that we don’t really believe that the unborn child is fully human and deserving of the same protection adult humans do.
Koukl goes wrong when he says, “It simply does not follow that if one believes that abortion is murder then he would advocate killing individual abortionists.” [But] Advocating is NOT the issue; moral justification is. It actually DOES follow if you believe that:
(1) innocent life is to be protected
(2) one’s right to life is forfeited when one takes innocent life
(3) taking the life of one who has forfeited their right to life is morally justifiable.
The issue of advocating (3) is another matter entirely. Koukl does not advocate it, because it would not have the pragmatic result of ending the problem of abortion. He does not say anywhere that the killing of abortionists is objectively wrong, just like he does not say anywhere that killing Nazi SS officers would be objectively wrong. Koukl’s argument fails to demonstrate “that there is no necessary contradiction in the view that abortion is a holocaust, yet the killing of individual abortionists is properly condemned.” It is only condemned on utilitarian grounds, and whether or not that is sufficiently “proper” is highly debatable.
The only way I see an objective condemnation of abortionist killers is to deny (2). That has implications for many things, but in this case it is what compels
Mike andDavid to say what they say, and it is problematic for Koukl.
What do you think?