Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Today, freedom of religion dies in the USA


Religious liberty is a cornerstone of the Constitution of the United States of America. The First Amendment prohibits the federal government from making a law ‘respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof’. There is also provision that ‘No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification of any Office or public Trust under the United States’.

Today, ‘the free exercise thereof’ dies not with a bang, or even a whimper, but with almost complete indifference. There will be no marches or protests, no speeches or martyrs, for the coercion will not be a perceptible burden. In fact, it will scarcely change anything, for, rather like the EU’s ‘ever closer union’, the effects will be gradual, incremental; purposely designed to take effect increasingly over the lives of future generations.

As of today, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act decrees that the vast majority of health insurance plans in the USA will be obliged by law to cover sterilisation procedures and contraceptives, including the abortifacient ‘morning after pill’, without cost-sharing by the insured. There is no retrospective mandatory application: current policies will be permitted to run their course. But renewal at the end of a plan will be caught by the new law, ratchet-like, as will all new policies.

Roman Catholics in particular (but also a great many Evangelical Protestants) are pinning their hopes on key test cases to determine what remains of religious liberty and the free exercise of the conscience in these matters: Humanae Vitae is henceforth trumped by Obamacare. The Department of Health and Human Services grants exemptions for the ‘religious employer’ who may be granted ‘safe harbor’ (sic), but the definitions are narrow and derogations temporary (indeed, some lasting only until this date next year). There was talk of the ‘accommodation’ of dissenting views, but it is elusive in the final solution.

Within the year, Christian employers will be forced to make a decision – to follow their religious convictions, or provide their employees with health care benefits; to choose between their interpretation of the Laws of God, or sacrifice to Molech, the Canaanite god of propitiatory child sacrifice.

Some employees will undoubtedly lose their health cover because their employers will refuse to betray their consciences to finance ‘sex without consequences’. These already hard-pressed will then be subject to further financial hardship as they struggle to find the extra dollars to finance their own plans. Most will be unable to afford the insurance, thereby rendered helpless against life’s slings and arrows.

There are glimmers of hope: cases presently before the courts to determine when a company is ‘religiously owned’ or ‘religiously affiliated’, because the ‘bureaucrats in Washington can’t decide what faith is or who the faithful are’. It amy eventually be determined that the public-health interest to compel private companies to offer birth-control services are ‘countered, and indeed outweighed, by the public interest in the free exercise of religion’.

But there is a sense of inevitability: the unbelieving employee’s free choice to contracept or abort is about to become the financial liability of the believing employer.

Rather like same-sex marriage over here, whatever the moral or religious arguments may be, it is appalling politics: David Cameron is costing the Conservative Party thousands of its most loyal supporters and potentially millions of votes. Barack Obama is alienating some 30 million Roman Catholics (about 25 per cent of the electorate) with Obamacare, a constituency which traditionally leans towards the Democrats.

In just three months, we will know if the first black President of the United States is to be reaffirmed and mandated to continue his ‘change we can believe in’, or thrown out of the White House to go down in history as another one-term failure. One thing is certain: if the nation’s Christians - Protestant and Roman Catholic - were to unite to defend their historic religious liberties, the United States of America would most surely get its first Mormon president.

130 Comments:

Blogger John Knox's lovechild said...

Pay for my girlfriend's abortion legislation.

1 August 2012 at 11:15  
Blogger David B said...

Religious freedom is a moral desideratum, but it has never been, nor should it be, an absolute one.

Sometimes other moral desiderata should take precedence, and have historically done so.

One of the most obvious cases in point concerns the moral desiderata of religious freedom and parental responsibility coming up against the moral desideratum of protecting children from harm or death, and in the case of Jehovah's Witness doctrine on blood transfusions v the death of children, then in practise, and in my opinion rightly so, the child gets the transfusion.

It is a mistake to look upon religious freedom as an absolute, and in this case no-one is making anyone use contraception.

I don't see a problem with medical insurance covering contraception, though I would have a problem with forcing people to use it.

David B

1 August 2012 at 11:49  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

This strikes me as being a little like the Catholic Gay Adoptions agency row: something that could have been avoided.

1 August 2012 at 12:04  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

David B:

Whilst I can understand your view, and in many cases tend towards sharing it, in the end what you require for your position to hold is a generally universal hierarchy of desiderata. Except, that we can observe without much difficulty that its universiality is not without detractors.

This needn't fixate on religious matters: there are many people, and nations for whom various points of liberal and Liberal ideology would merely be desiderata conditional on their compatability with other overriding interests. In your case, you appear to view Free Will as secondary to providing all medical options in the specific case of blood transfusions. That's assuming you ascribe competency to the child to decide, but in the absence of which (either by legal or practical definition) you have a prima facie hierarchy of the State over parents where the best care of children is involved.

I have some sympathy on that specific point, but largely it must be said, because I am neither a Jehovah's Witness or against blood transfusions. There are issues on which I would indeed assert death to be the preferable option over coercion - as there are for many religious people, and even one or two die-hard humanists. So I am not without a measure of understanding for the opposing side.

Personally I'd only see coercion as preferable in the case of a very small child, practically incapable of providing consent, and only then if the transfusion was medically critical, and on the basis that their death would deprive them of the right to make a free choice regarding their parents' beliefs on transfusions. But there we see my hierarchy of desiderata emerging: with personal choice very near the top (probably not unlike your own).

One can, after all, be absolute when enforcing non-absolutism.

1 August 2012 at 12:16  
Blogger bananabrain said...

wouldn't it make more sense if one took the view that even if the church organisation concerned was anti-abortion, its employees could not be forced to be and, as such, anyone who didn't want to ask for "insurance for an abortion" on religious grounds simply wouldn't ask, so it would be unused. and couldn't the insurer be sufficiently legally separated from the parent church organisation concerned for the church to not consider itself to be paying directly for abortions? after all, indirectly, even the catholics pay taxes which are used for abortions, if you look through enough causal loops. that's the way i'd fix it, but then i'm a pragmatist on this issue.

b'shalom

bananabrain

1 August 2012 at 12:18  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Bananabrain:

I'd go with your pragmatic route any day. But then it would shift the burden onto the individual, and more important (from a political perspective): the US Government.

Doing it this way allows Obama to advance his own support for abortives (not exclusively mind), but fixes the focus squarely on the Catholics and Evangelicals so that the debate in the media becomes one of the right of religious groups to exercise religious conscience, rather than the far more politically damaging line of: Obama supports abortion (even if he proudly does).

1 August 2012 at 12:34  
Blogger John Thomas said...

If the US Christians (particularly the RC in the US) real get together, the evil Obama will finally lose; no political system or politician has ever beaten the RCC, though it often appears, for a time, that they (the politicians, the State)have the upper hand ... for a while (only, thank God).

1 August 2012 at 13:01  
Blogger bluedog said...

Hard to read, Obama. Born and raised a Muslim, professes to be a Christian but acts like a secularist.

His Grace's comparison with Cameron's obsession with SSM seems particularly relevant. Both Cameron and Obama are advancing policies that have the potential to destroy their own parties.

That the Conservative Party membership has fallen from 300,000 in 2005 when Dave became party leader to 130,000 today is a remarkable failure. Dave faces the real prospect of being the last Conservative PM of the UK. On current membership trends the Conservative Party may become an ineffective rump by May 2015. One can envisage UKIP having a larger party membership than the Conservatives while at the same time having less seats in the Parliament, positions that would surely reverse.

In the meantime, Mitt Romney is looking better by the minute, despite the sneers of the British commentariat.

1 August 2012 at 13:09  
Blogger John Magee said...

"Barack Obama is alienating some 30 million Roman Catholics"...As a neophyte and the king of typos here I hesitate to point out a mistake by the Cranmer Blog creator. There are over 69 million Roman Catholics in the USA. This does not includes about 700,000 Eastern Rite Catholics. It's odd to think there are more RC's in the USA than the combined popultion of the British Isles. I was wondering how long it would take the first Costitutional religious crisus in USA history to reach Cranmer's Blog. This situation has been simmering for over a year with at least 12 USA Roman Catholic Dioceses and 28 RC institutions filing law suits against the USA Goverment over the issues mentioned in this article. I think the coming Constitutional confrontation between the RC Church in the USA and the Obama administration could, in vague sort of way, be compared to the King Henry VIII vs the Vatican situation in the 1520's in England. A few months after Obama became President of the USA he spoke at one of America's oldest and most pestegious RC Universities, Georgetown University in Washington. The Secret Service, the people in charge of protecting the President, were asked by Obama administration to cover up the "IHS" monogram on the wall behind the podium from which Obama would speak. They obviously didn't want him to be seen with the "IHS" monogram behind him in photos. Why would RC Georgetown University have allowed this? Obama's true colors are now showing showing. He recently had secret and now open meetings with the Muslim Brotherhood. An organization which since the 1920's has as it's main goal to destroy Western Christian Civilization and was behind the attacks on 911, 77, Madrid and thousands of other radical Muslim attacks over the past 12 years. Obama has even given over 1.2 billion dollars to the Muslim brotherhood for them to use for what purposes? To hand over to Jihadist lunatics who would dearly love to blow up Washington or New York City using suit case nukes?

1 August 2012 at 13:19  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

David B is ri ... rig ... [insert a word here that means the opposite of 'wrong.']

The US government already routinely coerces the religious conscience and people do not even notice. For example, Muslims and Mormons are coerced on the matter of polygamy. That is an explicitly religious coercion of free exercise. It is explicitly based upon a traditional Christian understanding of marriage. (I also expect the Courts to overthrow the prohibition eventually because it is so closely tied to Christian understanding but that is a separate matter.) It is a mistake to frame this argument in terms of 'rights' and 'free exercise.' The government does have both the right and responsibility to coerce religious conscience. The problem is rather the standard by which the conscience is being coerced.

The West used to be predominantly Christian and so it instantiated Christian understanding into Law. We didn't feel coerced because our moral boundaries formed the law and we had no trouble staying within them. We hardly even noticed them. The Government is increasingly and progressively stripping those Christian understandings from law. That is why we are now coming into conflict with it. The Gov't is erasing boundaries we don't want crossed, and putting up new boundaries we don't want established. So this isn't about the legitimacy of coercion. This is about who is being coerced and the standard by which they are being coerced.

For the Christian, this is the natural order of things. We must learn again how to live in a hostile culture that hates what we love, and loves what we hate. The Gov't has no authority to command what God forbids, or to forbid what God commands. But it does have the power to punish disobedience. If the state compels evil, then we must resist it. If that entails consequences, then we must accept them. This isn't a pleasant prospect, but it is the natural order for most Christians in most places in the world over time. We are to remember that God is the authority over the state, and He will hold rulers to account for their actions.

A man cannot consistently claim the right to coerce the Mormon on polygamy and then assert his right to be free of coercion on the matter of contraception. They stand or fall together. Once a man admits the former, he opens the discussion to the later. He introduces the counter-weight of compelling state interests. Then his ability to remain free of coercion is dependent upon his religious world view maintaining a dominant position in law. Which is what this argument is really all about.

carl

1 August 2012 at 13:25  
Blogger David B said...

A couple of points, Belfast

"...in the end what you require for your position to hold is a generally universal hierarchy of desiderata...."

Well, do I? I don't think so, if I take the view that there is no absolute morality, but that does not deny morality if one view morality as an emergent, and still emerging and developing, part of the extended human phenotype - and indeed perhaps a part of the extended phenotype of some other species, too.

"...Except, that we can observe without much difficulty that its universiality is not without detractors...."

Indeed - but religious texts don't seem much of a help, given both the number of different, and in many cases contradictory, religious texts, and the persistent arguments of interpretation within all of the various texts.

"...you have a prima facie hierarchy of the State over parents where the best care of children is involved...."

To clarify, by personal prima facie hierarchy favours parents of the state, but under some circumstances - as is the case with religious freedom - there seems to me good reason to over-rule what are good moral rules of thumb.

Religious or not, though, I see the human condition as one in which if there is some sort of optimum morality taking care of all circumstances, which I doubt, then it is not accessible to us.

All we can do is to make the best moral decisions we can, and express our moral views as effectively as we can, so that sometimes others may be influenced for good by them, or sometimes others might point out effectively the errors of one's thinking, allowing one's views to develop for the better.

I agree with His Grace more often, and about more subjects, than I anticipated when I came across this blog.

But on this occasion I think him wrong on a number of counts, notably that religious freedom has always been limited, so it can hardly have died today, and that the Catholic Bishops etc are backing the wrong moral horse on this issue.

David B

1 August 2012 at 14:07  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

David B:

"good reason to over-rule..."

True, and I gave you what I suspect is a very similar argument to your own as to how such an over-ruling might occur; but what we have here is an agreement between us that in the case of blood transfusion we can see a reason to "over-rule". The problem with "over-ruling" - as opposed to making no ruling at all (and allowing individuals to work to whatever hierarchy they want) - is that it creates its own justification.

In that sense, your criticism of religious texts on the grounds that they are varied is not particularly valuable: the same is true of any number of philosophies. It is hardly the case that, even on this blog, secular humanists arrive at the same positions all the time (and indeed, on occasion have arrived at contradictory positions, invoking contradicting authorities and arguments). It would be spurious to infer that this makes secular humanism unfit to contribute to a debate on morality as a consequence.

As far as general life goes, I know you're a live-and-let-live liberal. It's the overruling that's the issue: those "moral rules of thumb" are what I'm disputing as the basis for a presumption of the right to "over-rule" other moral criteria. Morality is, when it boils down to it, arbitrary to some degree.

Rather than get all postmodern, though, we do have a very specific application in the case of the US: and that is, that the Constitution has made religious freedom one of its primary desiderata. What will happen, I don't know - but as bananabrain has outlined there are other options available in the implementation of this scheme that would not bring the two principles (on this issue) into conflict.

That's really where my qualified disagreement with your original post comes in: I don't agree that this situation is an inevitable one, and so - unlike an issue like blood transfusions for babies where some form of conflict will almost certainly arise - I don't see that the kind of over-ruling you describe can be justified. For me, the issue of directly funding abortives is a legislative failure. There yet remains quite reasonable, and implementable alternatives that do not require anyone's religious views to be trumped.

"All we can do is to make the best moral decisions we can, and express our moral views as effectively as we can, so that sometimes others may be influenced for good by them, or sometimes others might point out effectively the errors of one's thinking, allowing one's views to develop for the better."

I couldn't agree more with this statement. Though, I do, of course, have a very different sort of morality in mind ;)

1 August 2012 at 14:39  
Blogger Andrew Dalton said...

I am saddened by this. I myself am not uber supportive of Obamacare so I confess a bias. But one of my close friends (Let's call her Kate for the sake of a thread.) Father has been struggling for years with cancer. But these laws modify things in a way that he will no longer be able to be treated. Is it really just if we aid minorities, though I hold nothing against them, by siphoning everyone else? A man I know is dying as a result. May His Grace and Others excuse personal bias.

1 August 2012 at 14:57  
Blogger IanCad said...

YG,

I'm not so sure that this will benefit Romney. the health plan that was implemented while he was governor of Massachusettsis pretty similar to what Obama has advocated.
No, I think your second paragraph gets to the heart of the issue.
The most it will be, at least, in regards to the White House, will be "A pox on both their houses"
Liberty means no more in America than it does here.

1 August 2012 at 17:01  
Blogger Jim said...

Various Catholic Institutions have taken this to the Supreme Court since it is a breach of religious liberty to force people to pay for someone else to commit a sin. These Institutions (broadcasters, hospitals, universities etc) are excluded by the minimal religious exemption because they employ non-Catholics or serve non-Catholics.
A point to bear in mind is that many organisations self-insure, so even the sleight of hand proposal that the insurance companies will cover the cost (out of higher premiums) doesn't apply. A Catholic small-business owner who self-insures must decide to pay for abortions or be fined and go out of business.

Mr Obama has united all of the Catholic Bishops against him in a way that hasn't happened before. He is calculating that the Catholic Faithful will ignore them. I suspect that he may be surprised.

1 August 2012 at 17:09  
Blogger Paul Twigg said...

Your Grace,

I have to ask what exactly has Obama done over the past 4 years that merits him getting re-elected? But is the world ready for a Mormon President?

1 August 2012 at 17:45  
Blogger David B said...

Jim, even the Catholic nuns have little time for the Bishops, and I doubt that the millions of Catholic contraceptive users will have any more time for them.

I suspect, though it must be said that my view might be coloured with hope, that this quarrel will be damaging to American Catholicism, but helpful to Obama.

David B

1 August 2012 at 18:04  
Blogger John Magee said...

Ian

Please carefully read the first Ten Amendments of the United States Constitution. They are called the "Bill of Rights" and guarantee the people protection FROM the government. Imagine what that must have sounded like to Europeans who read the USA Constitution after it was ratified in 1788 and were themselves living under repressive monarchs or in a region or city under control of a church. The Founding Fathers of the USA knew all about European tyrants and the abuses of a state church. More than anything they wanted to protect the individual rights of the citizens of their country, guaranteed in writing, from an all powerful and intrusive government. The USA is going through a crisus of change (remember that promise of CHANGE Obama talked about in 2008?)today almost equal to their Civil War. It is a bloodless ideological civil war in the USA in 2012 between the Obama's radical left wing Socialist all powerful welfare state Marxist mentality and those on the traditional right who want keep their Constitution as it was intended with the rights of the individual forever intact and protected from an all powerful regulatory government controlled from the top that will constantly chip away at the people's freedoms for the "greater good". Romney stands for the rights of the individual and the free enterprise system and Obama is for the giant collective welfare state. It's that simple. If Obama wins in November the USA will be permanently weakened, especially militarily, and that is not a good thing unless you are China, a nationalist Russia, or a Jihadist.

1 August 2012 at 18:05  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1 August 2012 at 18:21  
Blogger CSPB said...

In 2008, not enough people were aware that Obama had blocked a born alive infant protection measure, thereby supporting infanticide. Moreover, he lied about his actions. Clearly, he has few moral stops and thus, is seemingly capable of doing almost anything to achieve reelection. However, I do believe that in 2012 he will lose the religious vote and probably the election. An Obama win will be catastrophic for the world.
See videos: http://www.catholicvote.org/index.php?/videos/videos

1 August 2012 at 18:21  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Jim: "Various Catholic Institutions have taken this to the Supreme Court since it is a breach of religious liberty to force people to pay for someone else to commit a sin."

It's a curious situation that I don't think I quite understand. I pay taxes into a system yet I don't explicitly consent to everything that the revenue is spent on. In particular, I don't much like that religious charities get tax relief. But hey, no-one cares too much about that because I'm an atheist rather than a theist.

1 August 2012 at 18:21  
Blogger John Magee said...

Paul twigg

Odd that people like to stereotype Mormons (usually they know nothing about them) yet if a person points out the myriad acts of brutality by Islam for the past 1,400 years inspired and demanded by the Koran they are called bigots here. Why isn't the world ready for a Mormon as President of the USA or any other democracy? Romney has every positive qualification to be the leader of a country I can think of. He has a long record of integrity, he is intelligent and has a fine education, he has enormous experience in the buisness world and been very successful, he's served in public office, has no "past" and is a good husband and father. AND he can atcually give interesting speeches without a teleprompter. Compare that to Obama who's only job was as a "community organizer" and later he was a State Senator in Illinois and later briefly served in the USA Senate in Washington. Romney's high school, university, and grad school records are open for all to see so are his medical records. Obama has yet to release any of this stuff about his life. We don't know who Obama really is and we are now discovering his autobiography has holes in it and even some lies. We do know Obama's teenage "mentor" was a family friend named Franklin Marshall Davis, a member of the Communist Party USA and later as an adult Obama had another American Communist as his friend and guide, a Marxist writer named Saul Alinsky. Romney's teenage years were spent in the Boy Scouts. The teenage Obama, who attended an exspensive private school (a "public school" in Britain), sat at the side of a Communist like F M Davis on weekends presumably being home schooled about the coming "revolution". I'll take a Mormon as a President or PM anyday over a moron.

1 August 2012 at 18:33  
Blogger Paul Twigg said...

John Magee,

I asked a question, it was not meant rhetorically and also you have no idea what my faith group is, now do you?

1 August 2012 at 19:15  
Blogger IanCad said...

John Magee @ 18:05,

Perhaps the Bill of Rights would have been a surprise to some of the repressed countries of Europe, but it was hardly that to the British. They had a BofR's a hundred years prior.
I would also suggest that the First Amendment was more of a reaction to colonial history (the Puritan Theocracy) than any foreign influence.
Granted that Mitt Romney was the second best candidate in the Republican field, I still do not expect any less expansion of the state if he were to win.

1 August 2012 at 19:39  
Blogger CSPB said...

David B said...
"...Catholic nuns have little time for the Bishops."

Which nuns? Not the ones I know. I think you are talking about a certain subgroup of aging postmodern feminists and lesbians who long ago got rid of their religious habits (including the virtue of chastity), while promoting abortion and new age religious forms such as prayer circles -common to wicca, voodoo, and perhaps (excuse the category error) the US first lady. As with other groups which have deviated from the orthodoxy, their numbers have fallen of the cliff, their convents transformed into old peoples homes.

“It means all the world to us to know that there are prayer circles out there and people who are keeping the spirits clean around us.” -Michelle Obama.

1 August 2012 at 20:29  
Blogger Jim said...

David B
'even the Catholic nuns'

There are over 50,000 Catholic nuns in America. The dissident LCWR is made up of 1500 'leaders'. The LCWR claim to represent approximately 80% of women religious in the USA, although the views of the individual nuns are not known, only those of their 'Leadership'. They are declining and increasingly elderly. CMSWR represents 20% of the women religious, yet they represent 80% of new vocations; LCWR 20% of new vocations. These younger women pray together, wear habits and look like nuns http://www.cmswr.org/

So you may say that 'some Catholic nuns'. But the future is not with the aging ladies in trouser-suits and styled hair.

And I suspect that the 'millions of Catholic contraceptive users' may perceive a difference between their own actions and the rights of other Catholics to adhere to Church teaching.
They will certainly see the difference between their own use of contraception and other Catholics being forced to pay for sterilizations and abortions.

DanJ0
Catholic moral teaching differentiates between levels of co-operation in sin.
Thus, carrying out an abortion is mortally sinful, Active Formal Cooperation,
while there are lower levels of proximity to sin. See here for a fuller (short) explanation http://thegiftoflife.info/PrinciplesOfCooperationInEvil.htm

Helping to keep the roads clear outside the abortion clinic, as a Traffic Warden, is remote mediate cooperation. And not sinful.

Thus, I pay taxes to the UK government when I buy petrol. They pay 'charities' to perform abortions. My cooperation with this action is highly remote. I do not participate in their sin.

The US Mandate is different. I would be required to hand over my own money to pay for my employees abortion/sterilization – Active Material Cooperation. And sinful.

1 August 2012 at 20:34  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Jim, surely that is their decision to undertake the procedure rather than yours? That is, it's their 'sin'. Besides, why should a Catholic's beliefs weigh more than my opinions as an atheist? Why should my a-religious liberty be worth less than a Catholic's religious one?

1 August 2012 at 20:43  
Blogger Jim said...

DanJ0
Because I shouldn't be forced by law to hand over my own money to pay your abortionist.
Just as I shouldn't be forced by law to pay the drive-by murderer whom you have recruited to shoot your gangland enemy just because I happen to employ you to work in my shop.

1 August 2012 at 21:05  
Blogger CSPB said...

.. why should a Catholic's beliefs weigh more than my opinions as an atheist?-Danj0

That would be a function of the precise beliefs. It is not difficult to see why Catholic beliefs about canibalism might weigh more than those of, say, executed atheist Jeffrey Dahmer.

This might seem like an extreme example. However, the problem is that Obamacare -with its so called death panels- opens the door to Euthanasia
and forces individuals to pay directly for other peoples infanticides.

Please see this interesting comparison of Obamacare with "Fuhrercare".

1 August 2012 at 21:18  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Jim: "Because I shouldn't be forced by law to hand over my own money to pay your abortionist."

I'm probably missing something crucial in all this as I haven't really followed the Obamacare debate at all. It just looks like an NHS-lite, only using the private sector to me.

I'm forced by law to hand over my money to pay for all sorts of things for other people which I might not necessarily agree with. Tax relief on promoting religion, for example.

1 August 2012 at 21:37  
Blogger David B said...

Actually, Jim, Dan is among the most unlikely people to need an abortionist.

But this is not really about abortion as the term is generally understood, is it, anyway?

It is about morning after pills that do not abort foetuses a few months old, but a couple of days. And coils.

A bundle of cells, in fact, not a foetus at all.

When one considers that estimates of the number of fertilised eggs spontaneously aborted before the lady is aware she is pregnant are in the 60 to 80 percent range, and when one considers that if a putative God was concerned about the future of fertilised eggs at that stage then, if powerful enough, he, she or it could presumably intervene to ensure that that fertilised egg could go to term, and, indeed, would not be handicapped, then surely that putative God is the greatest abortionist of all, if one defines abortion in terms of any fertilised egg.

As far as I'm concerned it's a non issue.

David B

1 August 2012 at 22:06  
Blogger John Magee said...

Ian

The USA Declaration of Independence and their Constitution were both conceived in reaction to the oppression the British Americans (and they were citizens of Great Britain at that time)perceived from their mother country prior to 1776. The American Constitution guaranteed freedom of speech, assembly, and other freedoms as well as total religious freedom to all faiths and those of no faith in 1788. I don't think the exact same freedoms granted in the American Bill of Rights and Constitution written after their defeat of Britain were enjoyed by the citizens of Great Britain at that time. The colony of Rhode Island founded by Roger Williams and the colony of Pennsylvania founded by the Quaker William Penn granted total religious freedom to all Christians almost 100 years earlier in the late 1600's. Maryland was founded in the mid 1600's by English Roman Catholic Lord Balitimore as a refuge for English RC's and that colony granted freedom of religion to only Roman Catholics and Anglicans. The Puritans were not a tolerant bunch as you said but they were extremely well educated. They founded both Harvard and Yale Universities in New England and many other universities and colleges in the British colonies and later in the new country of the USA after their Revolution. Other than Georgia the southern colonies were all majority Anglican and openly tolerated Jews and other Christians but not by law. The Anglicans in the southern colonies from Virginia to South Carolina were very tolerant of religion and enjoying life. On the other hand they were the colonies that allowed slavery. As I recall Roman Catholics and Non Conformists didn't have guaranteed religious freedom until 1845 in Britain. However Britain did guarantee Roman Catholics a special status to practice their faith in total freedom in Quebec after the French and Indian War ended and Canada became British. Yet back in England Catholics still had no freedom to worship or equal rights. As you know from history English RC's paid the penal fines and heard Mass in private chapels on the estates of old aristocratic Catholic families or in secret elsewhere. I am not sure about the date when Catholics and Non Conformists were granted total religious freedom in Britain. Was it 1845? Please will someone let me know. Sorry my posts sound like a lecture by that's my style. TY

1 August 2012 at 22:15  
Blogger David B said...

That is to say in terms of abortion, as the term is generally understood, it should be a non issue.

To suggest that the morning after pill, and/or the coil, constitutes abortion as the term is generally understood, seems to me disingenuous at best.

There is, I know, a religious doctrine that any fertilised egg is a human being, but that view seems to me to be....plain silly.

Many people, reasonably enough, protest at the destruction of trees in some environments, but we don't see many objections to playing conkers on the grounds that the players are killing a conker tree.

Some Nanny State fanatics might object to conkers on safety grounds, but that is a different issue.

David B

1 August 2012 at 22:18  
Blogger Jim said...

DanJ0
The Catholic Bishops were very enthusiastic about an NHS-lite and increasing access to healthcare through private insurance. Mr Obama even promised them religious opt-outs which never emerged.

Employers are being forced to pay for health services which view pregnancy as an illness and to fund abortions and other 'procedures' to which they are opposed.

The dispute is about a new legal requirement for Catholic employers to pay for abortions etc or to be fined/taxed out of businss (the law was poorly understood by the law-makers who were told that 'you have to pass it to see what's in it').

1 August 2012 at 22:18  
Blogger Jim said...

David B
Thanks for your comment. I do not think that I am being disingenuous.

But you may be.

May I ask you to complete the sentence
"It is morally acceptable to kill a baby in the womb when....."

1 August 2012 at 22:24  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Jim, I think it's the same in the UK. Employers, employees, and the self-employed pay tax and national insurance contributions. A small part of the national insurance contributions go to the NHS, and the rest of the NHS funding is from tax. We all nominally fund it, including Catholics, and the services, procedures, etc are essentially free.

It's similar for our Armed Services which ought to provide for our national defence but seem to end up on various foreign policy adventures at great expense. I'm not keen on some of those, myself. In fact, they could easily be said to fall under matters of conscience. I still have to pay though.

1 August 2012 at 22:54  
Blogger CSPB said...

"A bundle of cells"

David B: The use words like "small" and "bundle" in this context is scientific nonsense. "Small" is a relative term. Lets do a very rough calculation (more accurate calculations will lead you to the similar conclusions). A mole of any substance contains about 6.02 X 10^23 molecules (Avogadro's number). It follows that a baby human of weight less than 1 gram contains at least 10^20 molecules
(i.e. 10 followed by 20 zeros). To put this in perspective, this number is more than a billion times greater than the number of stars in the Milky Way. On the other hand, it is not very different (in terms of order of magnitude)
from the number of molecules in a fully grown human being. The term "bundle" hides this complexity.

Thus from the earliest moments of the developing human is of an order of complexity comparable with that of an adult and entitled to the same rights to life as an adult.

1 August 2012 at 22:59  
Blogger David B said...

Certainly you may ask me...

"May I ask you to complete the sentence
"It is morally acceptable to kill a baby in the womb when....."

It's a complicated answer, though.

When it becomes a baby rather than a bunch of cells is the simplest answer.

But there are caveats, concerning rape, incestuous rape, when the mother's life or mental health becomes at risk, when it becomes apparent that if the baby is live born all it can expect is a short and painful life. And the choice of the person carrying the foetus, up to a point.

The current British abortion laws seem sensible enough to me.

Insisting that the coil or morning after pill counts as ending the life of a baby does not seem sensible to me.

David

1 August 2012 at 23:03  
Blogger Jim said...

DanJ0
I have tried to explain the difference. The moral issue is not that we are all linked to sin, rather the closeness of the link.
The farmer who grew the barley didn't kill the child who was run over by the drunk-driver.

When I buy petrol, I am not personally giving money to an abortionist. The petrol station operative takes my money. She then passes it to her employer, who pays it to the taxman, who then provides resources to HMG, which then funds the NHS, which then gives money to local areas, which then choose to fund abortions by giving money to 'charities'.

The US Mandate forces me to pay the abortionist/sterizor in cash from my own pocket.

1 August 2012 at 23:06  
Blogger Jim said...

David B
You avoided the question.
When does the 'bunch of cells' become a baby?

Presumably, we can agree that the fertilised cell is a human being, since it is not a tree being or a cat being.

So the question is when that being becomes a 'baby'.

If you are unsure of the date for this event, then I would suggest that we should err on the side of caution. As in the case of a driver passing a group of children playing who spots a large cardboard-box in the road. Does it contain a human person? Who knows?

Should we drive straight ahead and flatten the box, or stop. Just in case there is a human being inside.

I repeat
"It is morally acceptable to kill a baby in the womb when....."

1 August 2012 at 23:16  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Jim, I pay my taxes as I am required to do by law and some of the money is used to provide free abortions in NHS hospitals whether I like it or not. The NHS has a family planning service too and they give out free condoms if you want them. I don't really see the difference between the money going out electronically and distributed, and literally told to hand over some cash directly to the various services. We both know where the money is going and our part in it. As an atheist, I don't get to tick boxes saying which organisations or activities I approve of or disapprove of and adjust my tax burden accordingly.

1 August 2012 at 23:34  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Interesting, but to me at this point it's interestig only if it hurts Obama and hikes Mitt's percentage points. There're a lot of issues we can yak on about endlessly, but the looming disaster trumps all.

I just got back from the US a couple of days ago after a busy schedule and without a chance to get a feel for things from anyone apart from fellow truckers. Mostly Americans from all over, a handful of Mexicans from Monterrey and a few fellow Canadians. All of us are depressed and worried that if that insane commie-lite klutz in the oval office gets another four years, not only will our life get even harder, not only will the US economy flat-line or tank, but the rest of the world is going down as well, and the rest of the world isn't nearly as polite. It's that serious, I sh*t thee not.

There is not a single trucker ...including unionized ones, Teamsters, Hispanic or Black American... I've met in the last couple of years who would vote for Obama. Now, some of you more sophisticated types may chuckle at the idea of a bunch of redneck truckers knowing much about anything, but we are more educated than you'd think, we read a lot, we got all day and night to listen to the radio and we natter-up some fancy talk on the CBs, some of which would put the networks to shame. But above all, we see the working innards of our continent from up close and behind the tarted-up façades, and we're the first to feel every bump and hickup in the economy. And we are very worried and quite unhappy. Unhappy enough to mope around and kick a few cans if we have to bear another four years of Obamanomics.

So what, you may think. But look around your house, open your fridge, look in your medicine cabinet, peek out your windows and count how many things other than the trees and the air you see that weren't shipped by truck. Then, imagine your life without us. Hmmm. Wind mills, solar panels, sustainable urban gardens, bicycles, fairy-farts, hopes and wishes instead of fishes? Bwa-ha-ha-ha! Good, you get the picture.

To all you Yanks out there, especially my fellow Red Sea Pedestrians, most of whom seem to have signed a suicide-pact with the Dems: Whatever your beef with Mitt may be, forget it. Grit your teeth, swear a little and get him in, and give him a majority. You may not like his politics, his looks, his religion, his whatever. But he actually held down real jobs and knows how to run things, and he, more than anyone in sight, can release the leash on that formidable economic beast that is America. It's the only thing that will literally save our collective behinds. That's a guarantee.

1 August 2012 at 23:35  
Blogger Paul Twigg said...

Obama has done nothing for the loyalty the UK has shown the yanks for an age and instead treats us with contempt, refusing to help us even with the threat of that ever increasing nationalistic Argentine President . Hopefully Romney will correct that; the man might be gaffe prone, but so was Reagan and he was one of the best Presidents of America, although with President Reagan came Mrs Thatcher. Where is the 2012 version of the UK Thatcher now?

1 August 2012 at 23:53  
Blogger David B said...

Jim

it seems to me that the question of when a bunch of cells become a baby is similar to the question of when a child becomes and adult, or the question of when a person reaches an age when they can legitimately consent to sex.

The answer to these questions must necessarily be arbitrary, but within a sensible range.

20 weeks or so would seem to me a reasonable arbitrary but sensible figure for when a foetus becomes a baby, as 18 years or so is a reasonable figure for when someone becomes an adult.

A bit of flexibility is called for, though.

There are difficult cases, regarding pregnancies with, in worst cases like incestuous rape of under-age girls, when the pregnancy is discovered late, where there is serious danger to the life of the potential mother, when the foetus is likely to live a short and painful life where a speedy judicial process could extend the period.

But just as 18, or 21 is a sensible age for adulthood, 2 or 3 isn't.

2 or 3 days from fertilisation does not seem a sensible idea for granting babyhood to foetuses.

Nature would seem to agree. As I say, something in the 60 - 80 percent range of such foetuses are spontaneously eliminated, before anyone becomes aware that there is a pregnancy.

With, as I say, minimally the acquiescence, maximally the choice, of any putative god.

David B

1 August 2012 at 23:57  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Jim:

In fairness to David B, I don't think you will ever find that he is disingenuous or anything other than honest.

Might also be worth noting that the traditional Jewish understanding of when a foetus is properly a child was when it had "quickened" (i.e. moved for the first time). Whether you consider that to have any bearing on your own position I don't know.

It's also worth noting that whilst contraception and abortives are both equally rejected by the Catholic Church, the argument that use of contraception by Catholics defaults any objections to abortives is a little less sound: most of us, regardless of our final position, would agree that there is a difference between preventing conception, and deliberately ending it after it has occurred.

But all of that obscures the point about this legislation. Whether we agree with them or not, the fact is that there are many people for whom both contraception and abortion are morally unacceptable. In terms of attempts to make non-believers abide by these views, I generally fall on the side of secularism (even when I may share the belief), but for the most part Catholics do not enforce their doctrines on others. They do however object to being forced, artificially, into a position where they are forced to choose between providing healthcare for their employees and adhering to their beliefs.

It's not a situation that *needed* to have occurred. It would have been perfectly possible to provide finance for these services without compelling employers to provide for them directly. And what would the result have been? Provision would not have been affected, Catholics could have continued to abide by their sincere convictions, and their employees could have had healthcare insurance.

Instead we get a situation where religion and law are brought into conflict, and in which, almost inevitably, sincere believers like Obama will crush contradictory views. That's why it's ok to criticise Obama: not (necessarily) because he supports abortion provision or contraception, but because this legislation has been needlessly divisive.

2 August 2012 at 00:00  
Blogger CSPB said...

Paul Twigg said...
"Obama has done nothing for the loyalty the UK"
This is well exemplified by his return of a bust of Churchill. Recent White House denials that this unseemly event ever occurred illustrate Obama's lack of respect for truth.

Avi is correct. We are on the edge of the abyss.

2 August 2012 at 00:32  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

"Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's."

A time for Catholics in America to decide just what is legitimate for the State to insist upon and what is not.

2 August 2012 at 01:03  
Blogger CSPB said...

David B"20 weeks or so would seem to me a "reasonable arbitrary but sensible" figure for when a foetus becomes a baby."

Arbitrary yes, but why sensible and reasonable? Which is the more sensible and reasonable, to play
Russian Roullette with a full chamber or with a single bullet. Answer: Neither. The sensible and reasonable course of action is to refuse to play.
Ironically you talk about being sensible and reasonable yet use arguments based on scientificlly meaningless notions as "bunches of cells".

2 August 2012 at 01:05  
Blogger John Magee said...

Jim

When you eat from the government trough of free benefits sooner or later the government will want to be paid back for the free "meals". Nothing is free or without strings especially when government is involved. Religious organizations in the USA thought they could get all kinds of goodies from the gov't under Bush's Faith-Based Iniative Programs using tax dollars to be given to churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, etc to distribute money to the poor in hopefully more efficient ways than a government welfare office can. Most religious organizations thought it was a great idea at the time but most conservatives and libertarians were worried and against this tax dollars to be given to religious charities and future church vs state problems which the Catholic Church now faces which the above article discribes so well. Now the Catholic Bishops in the USA have to pay the piper and the piper Obama now demands their total cooperation with his nationalized health care program so they better shut up about their concern over being forced to have Catholic institutions hand out birth control and the morning after pill to employees as well as abortions at RC hospitals over "silly" concepts like moral or religious values The Catholic Church's charities in the USA were probably the biggest and were also the largest recipients of tax dollars and now the government wants payback with loyality. Sooner or later Evagelical Protestants, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, Hindu's and any other religious group that took government aid will face the same situation the Catholics are facing now with the Obama administration. If Obama wins I have no doubt his Justice Department will go after the Catholic Church, traditional Protestants, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, etc if they refuse to marry a gay couple in their houses or worship. These religious organizations are supposed to be exempt but an all powerful Obama in his 2nd term will do as he pleases. He could care less about the USA Constitution. The man is a Marxist and hates his own country. The left hates religion. The USA is facing an ugly church vs state Constitutional crisus caused in large part by religious organizations stupidly agreeing to take government money.

2 August 2012 at 01:55  
Blogger David B said...

CSPB refusing to play is one thing, preventing others from playing is another.

But it isn't a game of Russian Roulette.

Abortion sometimes saves the life of a mother of other young children, in circumstances when the foetus would be unlikely to come to term, and to forbid it in a blanket fashion in such circumstances is unconscionable.

Tantamount to murder.

Abortion is sometimes the least of evils, IMV.

Given that, which you may not, but I do, then it becomes a question of drawing lines, just as a line has to be drawn on who gets to vote or consent to sex.

It is a fuzzy line, since every circumstance is different.

But lines have to be drawn.

What sort of time is required for a foetus to give a mother a kick?

Something like the sort of time for the foetus to survive independently of the mother?

The latter is the line I'd draw, except in exceptional cases.

Refusal to draw a line leads to all sorts of evils for individuals who have been born and brought up.

I am not pro abortion, but I do think it sometimes the lesser of evils.

In individual cases, unless the pregnancy is more advanced than the rule of thumb mentioned above, then I take the view that the person best placed to decide what is the lesser of evils is the woman who has been impregnated, whether through rape or folly.

Not me, or you.

David B

2 August 2012 at 02:01  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

AnonymousInBelfast, this is not a correction, as you may be entirely right, given how many traditions we have, but my understanding of the standard position is that Jewish law considers the fertilised ovum as a fluid without a special status for a period of forty days. Afterwards, the foetus becomes a part of the mother, an ubar yerekh imo, but still does not acquire personhood until birth. This position is based on Exodus 21:22, where someone who has struck a woman and caused her to abort is required to pay damages for injuring the mother, and is not accused of murder or manslaughter.

That being said, abortion has never been treated lightly by the Orthodox and occurs very rarely, especially nowadays. It is considered a violation of the body and contempt of G-d. At the same time, the mother's life or health take clear precedence and in rare cases where the foetus presents a serious or highly likely threat to her, abortion is firmly advised. There is no exemption, however, for cases of rape, physical defects of the foetus, economic hardship, inconvenience or "choice." Just the kind of a position to get people's ganders up on both sides of this debate!

2 August 2012 at 02:17  
Blogger John Magee said...

Dodo

The USA Constitution decided that in 1788 in the First Amendment to the their Constitution. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishsment of religion, or prohibiting the free exersize theof...." It's called the "establishment claus" and is often confused with "separation of church and state" which is not mentioned in the USA Constitution. To put it simple. The Obama administration has declared war on the Roman Catholic Church in the USA by trying to force the Church to do things that are against it's fundamental beliefs. Stay tuned. Did you like Obama in 2008? That smile, his expert reading of the teleprompters, and his "charm" that so many suckers bought into not knowing anything about the man. All the Obama supporters knew was they hated Bush because the left wing media told them to think that way for 8 years after 911. Obama is a Marxist and he wants to cripple the USA. I hate to say this but his whole life points to the fact he hates his own country. He is a traitor. It's that simple or that complex depending who is trying to understand the man.

2 August 2012 at 03:05  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

You post is very interesting and informative Avi on the Jewish position of when life occurs. It also explains why all the women I know (Catholics inclusive) have only ever consulted Jewish obstetricians.
Maybe the reason also why so many marry Anglicans. Never thougth of it in this way before.It is not very comforting to know that your Catholic husband is going to have you killed if there is a problem in pregnancy
where a decsion has to made between choosing the wife or the unborn foetus.

2 August 2012 at 03:31  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Avi:

Thanks for that - I'd meant to clarify that the view on quickening was roughly the one current to when Jesus taught, and made the difference between imposing a fine if a miscarriage was caused before it, or requiring atonement if it was caused after quickening. That said, there do seem to have been quite varied ideas regarding when exactly formal quickening occurred - I've heard the 40 days before, and also 20 weeks (as per the modern limit), but my knowledge is pretty scant beyond that.

I do know that the Catholic Church has permitted abortion historically - at least technically - in 1312 abortion was allowed if the foetus wasn't "human looking" (one wonders how they would have known?). However, I'm always wary of equating present day ideas about abortion and miscarriage to an era with a very different understanding of pregnancy.

I fully support and endorse the eminently sensible position you outline as being the Orthodox response to abortion.

2 August 2012 at 04:31  
Blogger CSPB said...

David B: You argue that

"...refusing to play is one thing, preventing others from playing is another."
But both are often necessary. We may simultaneously refuse to commit infanticide and legitimately prevent others from killing themselves. You claim that

"..it isn't a game of Russian Roulette.:

Let me make the analogy clearer. In Russian Roulette the only ethical option is to play with no cartidges. In drawing an arbitrary line between life and death, the only ethical option is a line through the moment of conception. Drawing arbitrary lines is a dangerous game. Philosophers such as Singer have drawn lines well after birth. You yourself admit that such lines are "fuzzy". This is indicative of the fact that there might not exist a rational criteria for drawing such a line. Indeed, the acceptance of such "lines" has lead to the killing of millions of unborn and even born babies. Ultimately, to say that

"lines have to be drawn".

is a nice sounding cliche, not a scientific or philosophical argument. The possibility of not drawing certain lines should not be discounted. Whenever lines are to be drawn, there arises the question of who will get to draw them. In the case of Obamacare, it will be death panels, composed of faceless bureaucrats

You say that

"Abortion sometimes saves the life of a mother of other young children".

This is equivalent to saying that the end justifies the means. Whenever this moral axiom has been weakened, chaos has ensued.

The Catholic position on such rare situations is decribed in this article.

In the case of an ectopic pregnancies (half of which resolve themselves) the article argues that

"removal of the tube, with the secondary, and unintended, effect that the child within will then die is directed towards the good effect (removing the damaged tissue to save the mother's life) while only tolerating the bad effect (death of the ectopic child). We may never directly take the life of an innocent human being, though we may sometimes tolerate the indirect and unintended loss of life that comes with trying to properly address a life-threatening situation such as an ectopic pregnancy."

Double effect reasoning then applies.

You argue that

"Refusal to draw a line leads to all sorts of evils for individuals who have been born and brought up."

To draw lines on this basis requires the ability to predict the future. Such "quality of life" reasoning almost killed Beethoven, Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion among others.

You claim that in the cases such as rape, abortion is "the lesser of evils" But pregnancy is not an evil. The abortion does nothing to stop the rape. Time travel would be necessary to do that! The rape exception is one of the standard appeals to emotion used by judicial activists, to promote the legalization of abortion. It ignores completely the dangers inherent in weakening fundamental ethical principles protecting human life. Undermining these moral axioms has lead to the current climate of infanticide and euthanasia.

The rape exception argument, by stressing only the psychological pain of carrying the child of a rapist, completely ignores the right to life of the unborn child, who, if aborted becomes an additional victim. It also ignores the long term psychological and physical damage to women caused by abortion -often resulting in lifelong depression, sterility, suicide or breast cancer. Seeing ones child dismembered is not psychologically healthy.

Finally, you state that

"The person best placed to decide what is the lesser of evils is the woman"

This makes no sense. There is no unique "woman's perspective" on abortion. Ethical axioms are decided by human reason. Some women totally lack reason -just as do some green eyed one legged men.

2 August 2012 at 05:29  
Blogger CSPB said...

Erratum: Replace "infanticide" in line 4 by suicide.

2 August 2012 at 05:42  
Blogger John Magee said...

Interesting to see how the most important church vs state Constitutional crisus in the history of the USA which is the message in this article is side tracked into hearing lectures about when Judaism considers life begins in the womb. Did life begin for the Son of God when his Father's Holy Spirit fertilized an egg in the womb of the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation? YES! The Roman Catholic Church's support for the unborn is known to the entire world and doesn't have to be questioned or redefined by a non Christian to Catholics and Anglicans. The Roman Catholic Church supports human life from conception to natural death. As unpleasant as this may be for Obama's fans let's stick to the topic of this article: President Obama's war on the RC in the USA over contraception and abortion as part of his universal health care program for the USA.

2 August 2012 at 07:46  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

The Roman Catholic Church supports human life to natural death. Correction Mr Magee,. The Roman Catholic Church supports human life to natural death except in the circumstance of a pregnant woman whose life will be sacrificed to that of her unborn foetus and probably by a practising Catholic doctor.In a natural situation they would both die. A decision has to be made whom to save.Chilling stuff. Incidentally I do not know any Catholics personally who would sacrifice their wives None of them are converts BTW.Converts are not terribly popular amongst Catholics as a rule. Their attitudes, zealous and over excitable likened to the discovery that the sky is blue is an irritant.

2 August 2012 at 09:38  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Avi said ...

" ... my understanding of the standard position is that Jewish law considers the fertilised ovum as a fluid without a special status for a period of forty days. Afterwards, the foetus becomes a part of the mother, an ubar yerekh imo, but still does not acquire personhood until birth."

But what constitutes 'personhood'? Jewish scholar Rashi said that a foetus is not a viable soul until it's been born and killing it to save the woman is permitted.

According to Jewish teaching a foetus is not a person - this dehumanising of the child in the womb is what permits its murder for whatever reasons secularists now find acceptable.

Isn't Jewish ethics based on considerations of when the foetus acquires a soul? Up until this point it is life but not a 'person' and should be respected to some extent as potential life made in God's image.

As Christians we believe in the santity of life from the moment of conception and the foetus therefore has equal rights before God.

I think this is the point of departure and not as suggested by some that Catholics do not value the life of women. Different moral issues come into play.

Jewish law not only permits abortion to save the life of the mother - it insists on an abortion. The mother's life takes precedence over the life of the foetus. The Mishnah states that where there is danger to the mother's life, an abortion can be performed at any stage from conception until the head of the infant emerges - the point at which a soul and personhood is aquired.

Rabbi Jacob Emden (1697-1776) extended this and argued that abortion is permissible if a child was conceived in an adulterous relationship because of the emotional distress of giving birth to an 'unwanted' child:

"Even if the mother's life is not in jeopardy, but only so as to save her from an evil associated with it that would cause her great pain... Our ruling is: in general it is certainly forbidden to destroy a foetus, but in the case before us of a married woman gone astray I hereby state my humble opinion that it is permitted, perhaps it is even worthy of being regarded as amitzvah.'
(Sh'eilat Yavetz No.43, Rabbi Jacob Emden)

Other Rabbis follow Maimonides and take a more restrictive view, saying that abortion is only really permissible when the life of the mother is directly threatened.

Christian and Jewish approaches are, it seems, based on different beliefs about when God creates a material being with spiritual attributes i.e a soul and the status of 'personhood'.

2 August 2012 at 12:40  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Dodo,what moral issue comes into play which makes the life of an unborn foetus more important than the life of the mother?

2 August 2012 at 13:37  
Blogger CSPB said...

Cresida de Nova:

I think the article mentioned in my previous post at http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/medical_ethics/me0140.htm provides a more accurate description of the Catholic position than that in your post. In particular, I see not requirement that the life of the mother be sacrificed in the way that you suggest. Where are you getting your information?

CSPB

2 August 2012 at 13:39  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Your article only discusses ectopic pregnancies.Information comes from a Catholic education.If a choice must be made between the life of an unborn foetus and a mother in any circumstance the unborn foetus will take priority
Yes or No
CSPB

2 August 2012 at 14:16  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

I have often suspected (though confess to not knowing with any certainty) that the position on abortion that many arms of Christianity takes derives its existence from the Virgin Birth. Because Jesus is the Son, He must have been God from the moment of His conception - and so, it goes, at one point in the Incarnation, God was a fertilised cell.

My only concern about this principle is that it is only possible to hold such a view with modern scientific knowledge of pregnancy. It's easy to think like that when we know about, and have likely seen microscope pictures of zygotes subdividing. For us, abortion is going to principally be about that moment onwards. For the past, when what was known of pregnancy was largely derived from exterior observation and corpses, the picture is a little less clear. I'd suggest that the concern over the Image of God in abortion was more primarily focused on the pregnant woman: that abortion was a violation of the woman with child, rather than just the child in the womb as a separate entity.

In that sense, Cressida's concern for the health and wellbeing of pregnant women is, I suspect, more in line with the historic attitudes of Christianity to abortion and pregnancy. Our medical knowledge is both a gift and a curse, giving us precise information (and so making incumbent upon us moral decisions about the exact beginning of life).

Personally, I think the 1312 ruling about looking like a human is generally a good one - concerns about the unGodly discrimination against disabled people not withstanding. A foetus with a beating heart, a working brain, and a generally anthropomorphic body should be entitled to consideration as a person - there is no virtue in humanity if it is not extended to those who cannot defend their claim to it. In the awful choice between the health of the mother and the child, though, I'm with Cressida.

As it happens, though I'm also very uneasy about abortifacients like the morning after-pill. Not so much because I fear for the "ensouled" zygote (a subject which, rationally, nobody knows), but because of what it says about respect for the Image of God in women. In that sense, I am concerned by a society that comes to regard the deliberate termination of pregnancy casually. Though it must be said, I have no problem in principle with preventing "contra-" conception, with the same caveat that casually removing all trace of procreation is not a particularly healthy thing, either for individuals or society.

2 August 2012 at 15:15  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Miss Cressida and AIB, now look at what you've done by starting me off and goading me into all that there furrin' Joo stuff talk to ruin Magee's one day in the sun as the site representative of Real Catholics, Fragile Anglicans and the Constitution of the Yoo-nahted States of 'merica and undisclosed Truther sites. All without a single spell-check either, which is good, because it's the only way to tell Magee's shite from mangled Wiki rip-offs. I'd stay away from the Mageeisms and stick with Carl's sober take on things American, for fear of developing a taste for squirrel hunting in the Ozarks and an urge to pack a Ryder truck with fertilizer.

Anyhoo, Cressida, the preference for the foetus’ life is puzzling and I wonder what the basis for that is. Halakha doesn’t address the question of when life begins and the forty days of the foetus’ state as a “liquid” in the Talmud appears to be based on Greek custom. I doubt though that a Catholic physician could get away with choosing the foetus’ life over that of the mother without losing his license or worse.

I’m curious about this seemingly Christian “quickening” and the requirements for atonement, tschuvah, in Christianity, AIB, as it may hint to established Jewish custom which has been forgotten. Magee doesn’t know this, and there’s no point in upsetting him further, but Jesus and everyone around him were observant Jews and most Christians were Jews for at least a couple of centuries during which Christian law and custom were barely distinguishable from Jewish.

Dodo, you actually got it right. Just to clarify, R' Emdem's position is a minority one, and I am limiting the discussion to Orthodox Judaism, not the liberal interpretations which play rather loosly with the definition of the threat to the mother's health. A minor correction; Rashi did not make new law, he merely confirmed a long-standing legal tradition.

I didn't have to wait long to find the cheap shot, though: "According to Jewish teaching a foetus is not a person - this dehumanising of the child in the womb is what permits its murder for whatever reasons secularists now find acceptable."

Really? You are trying to link current secular positions, laws and attitudes on abortion to Jewish law, which most Jews even barely know about? Yet aren't modern Western laws and mores based on Christian heritage and morals as you and many here argue over and over again? In practical terms and past and current applications, the majority Jewish view is fairly straight-forward; it holds that abortion is permissible only to save the mother's life or health. It skirts around discussions about when life begins and about souls and considers only the sanctity of living, walking humans and their bodies...under whose legal "umbrella" the foetus gains protection. A different approach. Surely you can't deny that the basis for this approach is made perfectly clear in Exodus? Or that your Gospels fail to directly address or modify it perhaps because early Christians were more concerned with results rathen than mysticism and dogma and saw no reason to tinker with existing Jewish law which worked rather well? And so, we have a situation now where abortion is extremely rare among even moderately religious Jews, even among those in the liberal sectors, apparently more rare than among other peoples, includng Christians. Including Catholics. I'd say then, that this much-maligned "legalistic" and limited Jewish approach which to you may appear as treating the foetus as a "dehumanizing" appendage of the mother actually succeeds in protecting life far better than the fuzzy and touchy-feely approach with its vague talk about sanctity of life or right to life.

2 August 2012 at 15:49  
Blogger CSPB said...

Cresida de Nova:

Out of curiosity, where did you get your Catholic education? I would imagine it is difficult to get a good one un the UK.

You ask "If a choice must be made between the life of an unborn foetus and a mother in any circumstance the unborn foetus will take priority.
Yes or No. "
"

Neither. It is impossible to provide a Yes-No answer to an ambiguous question. The nature of the "choice" is undefined.

If the question concerned, say, the licitness of a direct abortion in the case of an ectopic pregnancy, my short answer would be NO.

According to the Catholic encyclopedia,

".." no action is lawful which directly destroys fetal life. It is also clear that extracting the living fetus before it is viable, is destroying its life as directly as it would be killing a grown man directly to plunge him into a medium in which he cannot live, and hold him there till he expires.

However, if medical treatment or surgical operation, necessary to save a mother's life, is applied to her organism (though the child's death would, or at least might, follow as a regretted but unavoidable consequence), it should not be maintained that the fetal life is thereby directly attacked. Moralists agree that we are not always prohibited from doing what is lawful in itself, though evil consequences may follow which we do not desire. The good effects of our acts are then directly intended, and the regretted evil consequences are reluctantly permitted to follow because we cannot avoid them. The evil thus permitted is said to be indirectly intended. It is not imputed to us provided four conditions are verified, namely:

That we do not wish the evil effects, but make all reasonable efforts to avoid them;
That the immediate effect be good in itself;
That the evil is not made a means to obtain the good effect; for this would be to do evil that good might come of it — a procedure never allowed;
That the good effect be as important at least as the evil effect.

All four conditions may be verified in treating or operating on a woman with child. The death of the child is not intended, and every reasonable precaution is taken to save its life; the immediate effect intended, the mother's life, is good — no harm is done to the child in order to save the mother — the saving of the mother's life is in itself as good as the saving of the child's life. Of course provision must be made for the child's spiritual as well as for its physical life, and if by the treatment or operation in question the child were to be deprived of Baptism, which it could receive if the operation were not performed, then the evil would be greater than the good consequences of the operation. In this case the operation could not lawfully be performed.


Continued in following post.

2 August 2012 at 16:22  
Blogger CSPB said...

Continued from previous post.

Why is it that Ireland, where abortion is banned, has the lowest maternal death rate in the world whereas the United Kingdom, has over five times Ireland’s maternal death rate?

In fact, a group of Ireland’s top obstetricians concluded some years ago that

there are no medical circumstances justifying direct abortion, that is, no circumstances in which the life of a mother may only be saved by directly terminating the life of her unborn child.”


Proponents of abortion claim that to avoid "rupture of membranes"
abortion is a “recommended option.”


However, according to Colleen Malloy, M.D., a neonatal physician at
Northwestern University:

.. surgical abortion, which mutilates the fetus and also poses some risk to the mother, is not the best medical option in this situation. Expectant management and use of antibiotics is. The majority of time the woman will miscarry — a far more natural event than an abortion. Furthermore, approximately 10 percent of the time the hole in the membranes can seal up and the pregnancy can continue to viability. The protocol followed in Catholic hospitals in this scenario is a legitimate, valid and safe option for premature rupture of membranes, one that is best for both mother and child.


Returning to topic. My position is that there, absolutely no reason for Obamacare to compel Catholic hospitals, charities, schools, and individuals to participate in practices which are not only immoral but also medically unnecessary.

If we were really concerned about the life of both mothers and children then we should abolish abortion.

2 August 2012 at 16:25  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Avi

Looked into the quickening thing a bit further. It seems to derive from a response to the Septuagint version of Exodus 21:22-23:

"And if two men strive and smite a woman with child, and her child be born imperfectly formed, he shall be forced to pay a penalty: as the woman’s husband may lay upon him, he shall pay with a valuation. But if it be perfectly formed, he shall give life for life"

The translation on perfect formation is slightly different from the Hebrew, which I'm told reads as "there is no disaster". However, several historians have been of the mind that the translation is not a mistake per se, but a conscious attempt to assert a Judaic ethos about the sancity of the Image of God in Hellenistic Culture. Philo (20BCE - 50CE) commenting on the passage took the view that:

"if the offspring is already shaped and all the limbs have their proper qualities and places in the system, he [the man that struck] must die, for that which answers to this description is a human being, which he has destroyed in the 'workshop of nature'"

Obviously, this can only be known post hoc: without modern instruments it would be impossible to know if a foetus was human in shape and form. Hence the role of quickening as a rough and ready guide. Although there were a number of strict legal interpretations as to when quickening occurred (distinct from the usual natural occurence at 18-20 weeks), in practice, the baby moving provided a diffinitve moment when the offspring carried could be said to be human, and thus provide a guide to the moment when abortion became forbidden.

It puts the 1312 position of the Catholic Church in place as a continuation of the Septuagint line, and interestingly, it appears in England to have been a common-law arrangement. (In fact, a common-law arrangement that eventually found its way into jurisprudence during the 18th Century).

Whereas Christianity inherited and retained the Septuagint largely in isolation, its position on abortion seems to have been modified in Judaism by the Mishnah (particularly Ohalot 7.6) resulting in the difference between the present Orthodox position you outlined, and the position of the Catholic Church. Personally, I found it quite refreshing to read the Jewish reasoning in finding the foetus valuable and a thing to preserved rather than destroyed, without ascribing it nefesh or insisting on absolute parity between abortion and murder.

2 August 2012 at 16:26  
Blogger bananabrain said...

what avi said at 15:49 - precisely. judaism takes the view that the mother's good overrule's the foetus' - the switchover point is that at which the child's head is out, as far as i remember. it may be wrong, but at least it's clear and workable - and the modifying factors of quickening and health also make each case individual in nature - thus, emden may be a minority opinion, but, as they say, those who wish to rule accordingly "have somewhat on which to rely", i'd have thought.

@aib - what you said, with the caveat that philo, though interesting, is not considered an authoritative source because he was such a hellenising softie-pants poo-ur gosh chiz.

at the risk of further esoteric derailment, the 40-day rule (generally considered a heuristic for quickening) is intimately associated with pregnancy and birth, as it has the numeric value of the letter "mem" which is also considered to resemble a womb, including an opening on the lower surface, as well as being associated with the 40-odd weeks of pregnancy, the word "mayim", meaning water (associated with amniotic fluid) and of course the various words for "mother" - EM, or if you prefer, mama!

even more incidentally, the word for womb, ReHheM, is also the root of one of the most used Divine Names (both jewish and islamic), Ha-RaHhaMaN, "The All-Merciful".

b'shalom

bananabrain

2 August 2012 at 16:43  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

CSPB:

You raise some good points regarding natal care, and I imagine that there is something to be said for natural processes in many cases. For me, as I wrote above, it's the culture of casual abortion, and with it a commensurate disapproval in the medical profession to precisely the kinds of medical care you describe.

One quibbling point, though, on the statistics. Does the maternal health factor in the number of women in the Republic who travel to Britain for abortions? About 6% of conceptions in Ireland end in abortion - compared to about 8% of conceptions in England, and around 7% in Wales. (I'm going on conceptions because it's the easiest to compare).

Obviously we need to tread carefully equating conceptions-to-abortion with maternal health, not least because in the UK women who have one abortion are many more times likely to have multiple abortions throughout their lives (I simply do not know whether this is the case in Ireland), which will have a different medical impact. It's also worth noting that Ireland does already possess in its medical ethics guidelines full authorization to use procedures that may indirectly harm a foetus in order to save the mother's life (though not, obviously, direct abortion).

2 August 2012 at 16:56  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Bananabrain:

Actually that comes as no great surprise with regards to Philo.

One of the things that became apparent to me when I was reading up on the development of pregnancy theories was that there was a marked difference between those theorists (philosophical or legal) who wrote in a largely Hellenistic, or later Roman culture, and those who wrote from Palestine. Both Jews and early Christians in the Roman world seem to have taken a more pronounced and strident view against pre- and post-natal practices that they observed there. Which may also provide an explanation for the disparity.

You can certainly see this in 2nd Century apocalyptic texts in Christianity where a common image associated with the Beast/Anti-Christ is those who procure abortions or commit infanticide.

2 August 2012 at 17:01  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Of course CSPB I should have realised you were an American,firstly because of your atrocious lack of refinement and secondly because of the slick Pollyanna pap sweeping statement format
that you adopt
e.g Irish obstetricians claiming that a mother's life will not be saved by the abortion of a foetus. This view would be contested by many obstetricians from other more civilised countries.

Also an m.d.'s opinion from Northwestern
Hospital is of little significance in the greater scheme of medical opinion. You are a very insular people .Only 8% of you have passports and you know little outside your own culture (or should I say lack of)It is an impertinence to make disparaging remarks about any education facility in the UK Catholic or otherwise.

The question I posed was unambiguous
It is possible to give an answer.
You are slipping and sliding to avoid answering truthfully.
I refute your statement stating that there is no such thing as a medical situation where a foetus must be aborted to save a mother's life.
And again I state ,in this situation
the Catholic position would be to sacrifice the mother's life rather than to abort the foetus.

Your American Catholicism is notorious for its excessive liberalism and is almost indistinguishable from Anglicanism in twisting and tweaking dogma to suit popular appeal.

2 August 2012 at 17:38  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

You guys...and the lady...are making me work here. In no particular order, then.

AIB, the Septuagint version from which the RC Church derives its views and rulings on abortion is, does indeed significantly alter the meaning of the passage. The Hebrew version states" When two men fight, and one of them pushes a pregnant woman so that her fruit be expelled, but no harm (ason) befall (her), then shall he be fined as her husband shall assess, and the matter placed before the judges. But if harm (ason) befall (her), then shall you give life for life.

The Septuagint translates this as, And if two men strive and smite a woman with child, and her child be born [miscarried] imperfectly formed, he shall be forced to pay a penalty: as the woman's husband may lay upon him, he shall pay with a valuation. But if it be perfectly formed, he shall give life for life (LXX).

This change from harm to formed is enough to alter the entire meaning of the passage of course, and yes, as banana and as you point out, this is connected to Hellenism and its ideals. Clearly the original Hebrew refers to penalties for harm to the woman, not for a perfectly formed foetus. However, we are discussing religion here, not modern injury law. If Magee is hovering about, still seething over the affront and dangers of the Joos here about to lead his flock astray with tricky Joo scripture, he can rest at ease; Christian interpretation, however derived, has now acquired a legal and moral standing for Christians through history, custom and layers of Church law.

Speaking of the lex talionis and the life for life, eye for an eye and so on, it's often assumed that the Torah requires a death penalty or mutalation as a punishment for inflicted harms. The accepted meaning, however, is that this refers to monetary penalties or compensation, and that the intent is to establish that victims be compensated only according to the harm and in an egalitarian manner. In all other law codes, the status of the victim and the perp determined the price. So, as one moves down the class ladder, the pauper or the slave's life become worth pennies or nothing. Instead, the Torah attempts to fix the "price" regardless of the perceived social value of the victim and perp and uniquely for the times, values a woman's life equally.

2 August 2012 at 18:34  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Btw, I meant to cite the source for the comparison between the Septuagint and Hebrew translations. It's from an article by Dr Leila Leah Bronner, "Is Abortion Murder? Jews and Christians will Answer Differently."

Dr Bronner ends her article with some very contentious, but still verywise words, in my opinion:

We cannot settle the issue of abortion...because we have no secular way of dealing with the religious doctrine of ensoulment and because we do not acknowledge that ensoulment is tied to a particular religious tradition. Our unwillingness to acknowledge that even our supposedly secular canons of morality and ethics are shaped by religion also complicates the abortion debates. In the United States, abortion often is discussed under the guise of secularity but our opinions are shaped by religious teachings. The teachings of the Judaic and the Christian traditions, for example, differ profoundly on the issue of abortion, and difficulties result when such differences are elided. More authentic moral and religious considerations may well help to move us into framing the abortion debate in new ways, ways that are more respectful not only of historical sources but also of the multireligious society in which we live.

2 August 2012 at 18:48  
Blogger John Magee said...

Cressida

You said: The Roman Catholic Church supports human life to natural death except in the circumstance of a pregnant woman whose life will be sacrificed to that of her unborn foetus and probably by a practising Catholic doctor.In a natural situation they would both die. A decision has to be made whom to save.Chilling stuff. Incidentally I do not know any Catholics personally who would sacrifice their wives None of them are converts BTW.Converts are not terribly popular amongst Catholics as a rule. Their attitudes, zealous and over excitable likened to the discovery that the sky is blue is an irritant.

"Probably by a Catholic doctor"? Where are your statistics to back that fantasy? The word "probably" indicates you can't back up what you posted.

Like you I don't know of any Catholic men who would allow their wives to die for any reason. Are you suggesting the Catholic Church sanctions murder?

Neither you or I will ever be a foetus again but we will either be very ill or terminally ill someday or possibly live to a great age. In a future secular era when the old and weak have no value our lives will likely be found "worthless" by a medical system that will allow euthanasia to get rid of "useless eaters" ( a Nazi term for the mentally ill the killed). I know that when that era comes the Roman Catholic Church will defend the right to live for those helpless people to not be murdered "legally".

What does my being a convert have to do with the cost of tea in China anyhow? My mother was Czech and a Roman Catholic so I grew intimately familiar with Roman Catholicism going to Mass several times a year with her, usually at Christmas and Easter, and as I am in my mid 60's it was the Latin Mass. I have always been a Catholic in sympathy and familiarity. I simply went home to the true Church when I chose to see a RC priest for instruction.

Since you are so concerned about religious fanatics here are some Old Testament values on "life" you may find interesting. These quotes from the OT are part of the "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" OT beliefs the gentle the Jesus, who taught love and forgiveness, released us from. As you would say "chilling stuff"

Deuteronomy 22:22 "If a man is found sleeping with another man's wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die."

Leviticus 20:10 "If a man commits adultery with another man's wife--with the wife of his neighbor--both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death."

Proverbs 6:32 "But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself." He destroys himself by being put to death as shown above.

Leviticus 21:9 "And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire." Why should only a daughter of a priest gets burnt to death if she profanes herself? Why can't this law apply to all daughters?

Deuteronomy 25:11-12 "If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity." This doesn't make any sense what so ever! Why should the woman get her hands cut off for defending her husband? It's not like she was cheating on him or anything like that

2 August 2012 at 18:53  
Blogger John Magee said...

AVI said: Miss Cressida and AIB, now look at what you've done by starting me off and goading me into all that there furrin' Joo stuff talk to ruin Magee's one day in the sun as the site representative of Real Catholics, Fragile Anglicans and the Constitution of the Yoo-nahted States of 'merica and undisclosed Truther sites. All without a single spell-check either, which is good, because it's the only way to tell Magee's shite from mangled Wiki rip-offs. I'd stay away from the Mageeisms and stick with Carl's sober take on things American, for fear of developing a taste for squirrel hunting in the Ozarks and an urge to pack a Ryder truck with fertilizer.

Anymore insults? I just turned the other cheek.

2 August 2012 at 19:20  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Ha ha ha ha, Magee. You play the valiant martyr role almost convincingly for the nasty little piece of work you are. I'll raise you; you can have both of my "cheeks," as in polib moj prdel, po český...if you remember any of your Czech. Mine's almost gone, otherwise I'd have gone all flowery on you.

Btw, the "chilling stuff" you so lovingly lifted off the "Jewish Studies" compilations on the goose-stepper sites of yours was never applied, had no standing in Jewish law neither then, nor today. Hence no need to de-activate the already deactivated. But you probably know that and hope that no one else does.

2 August 2012 at 19:59  
Blogger John Magee said...

AVI

So I am now a "nasty little piece of work"? Interesting stuff coming from a so called "religious scholar". Anymore dirt to throw at me? ... Got any insults of my Irish and Czech roots that you want to get off your chest too? Yes, I'm all those things you say I am. Nor I can't lay claim to be a brilliant scholar like you say you are. It must be wonderful to be a genius and chosen like you. I can only imagine what it must be like. Even so,I can't envy you, endlessly hoping for Moshiach and he never comes. Not knowing Jesus Christ the Messiah, what a dark existence that must be.

By the way, anyone can use on line translation web sites to pretend they know a few words in another language. And I am accused of being a "Wiki rip off" artist. All I do is post verbatim what other people atcually said or what is in the books they put their faith in. That's all.

"the Constitution of the Yoo-nahted States of 'merica"

That was an arrogant slap at rural Americans and I thought your ilk hated stereotyping.

A lot of people in the USA who live in places like the Ozarks you sneered at and mocked with your bigoted swipe died for the preservation of the "Constitution of the Yoo-nahted States of "merica" so your ilk could flap their jaws and live in freedom when they chose to come and live or visit the "Y00-nahted States of 'merica".

Why single out people in the Ozarks to deride? I live a long long way from the Ozarks, but I think I would like to visit that region someday because the few people I have met from that part of the USA were always kind and decent folks. No chip on their shoulder or superiorty complex.

A real truck driver would never sneer at rural or working class people because it's my guess most truckers are from those places.

Finally. Look up the word POSEUR and then look in the mirror.

2 August 2012 at 21:05  
Blogger CSPB said...

"This view would be contested by many obstetricians from other more civilised countries--Cressida de Nova

Evidence please. Also, do explain why you think that the US and Ireland are "less civilized", whatever that means. Which nations do you consider "civilized enough" that their scientists can be trusted? I take it that you consider yourself as deriving from a more civilized culture. Congratulations!

2 August 2012 at 21:17  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

cressida said ...
"Dodo,what moral issue comes into play which makes the life of an unborn foetus more important than the life of the mother?"

Their lives are equally sacred - that is the moral point that comes into play.

The principle, discussed many times before, is that it is never permissible to do evil (kill a child in the womb) to achieve a good (saving the life of the mother).

AIB
There are 'Catholic' websites promoting the pro-choice arguments both for abortion and for contraception. They 'retell' some the history of theological and canonical development.

St. Basil the Great, (374-5), stated the position. He found the distinction between formed and unformed morally irrelevant:

"A woman who deliberately destroys a fetus is answerable for murder. And any fine distinction as to its being completely formed or unformed is not admissible among us."

This website gives a good summary of the Catholic teaching and is worth a read.
www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=3361

Here's an important section from it:

One of the key sources of the 'ensoulment' debate within Christianity is the Septuagint mistranslation of a passage in Exodus.

Ptolemy II of Egypt is supposed to have brought seventy (or seventy-two) scholars to Alexandria, and in seventy (or seventy-two) days they are supposed to have completed the translation from Hebrew to Greek.

The passage in Exodus (21:22-25), an ordinance of Moses, prescribes the appropriate punishment for causing an accidental miscarriage. The Hebrew text clearly states that a man who causes a miscarriage must pay a fine if the woman does not die, but if the woman dies, he must be put to death according to the more general law: "Whoever strikes another so that he dies, must be put to death" (Exodus 21:12).

But an incorrect translation (intended or unintended) in the Septuagint version gives a totally different meaning to this Mosaic Law. The word "zurah" or "surah," which means "form," is erroneously used for the word "ason," which means "harm."

Thus, the Septuagint version conveys the meaning of the foetus "not being further formed" rather than the woman "not being further harmed." The penalty, therefore, was now understood to be a fine if the foetus was not formed, but death if the fetus was formed. Thus, through a mistranslation by Hebrew scholars who were conversant with Greek thought, the distinction between the "formed" and "unformed" or "pre-formed" foetus was given moral significance and Biblical authority. Hebrew thought had never divided man into body and soul. The notion that the foetus could be unformed was more compatible with contemporary Greek thought, which had already believed that human life begins at some stage in foetal development when "ensoulment" or "animation" takes place. Aristotle had identified this time of animation with observable movement.

2 August 2012 at 22:28  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Avi said ...

"I didn't have to wait long to find the cheap shot, though: "According to Jewish teaching a foetus is not a person - this dehumanising of the child in the womb is what permits its murder for whatever reasons secularists now find acceptable."

Understand it as you choose. Here's what the Talmud says:

"If a woman's labour becomes life threatening, the one to be born is dismembered in her abdomen and then taken out limb by limb, for her life comes before [the life of the foetus]. Once most of the child has emerged it is not to be touched, for one [life] is not be put aside for another."
(Mishnah Ohalot 7:6, second century CE)

"As long as it did not come out into the world, it is not called a living thing and it is permissible to take its life in order to save its mother. Once the head has come forth, it may not be harmed because it is considered born." (Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki), 1040-1105 C.E.)

"If a pregnant woman's labour becomes life threatening it is permitted to dismember the fetus in her abdomen, either by a medication or by hand, for it is like [an assailant] pursuing her [in order] to kill her."
(Mishneh Torah, Moses Maimonides)

2 August 2012 at 22:35  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Thank you Dodo for your honest answer. It was what I understood to be correct..something every Catholic knows except for CSPB who claims he is a Catholic and writes reams of irrelevance to obfuscate a simple truth i.e.a foetus is not permitted to be aborted even if it means the death of a mother.

2 August 2012 at 23:21  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

bananabrain said ...

"at the risk of further esoteric derailment, the 40-day rule (generally considered a heuristic for quickening) is intimately associated with pregnancy and birth, as it has the numeric value of the letter "mem" which is also considered to resemble a womb, including an opening on the lower surface, as well as being associated with the 40-odd weeks of pregnancy, the word "mayim", meaning water (associated with amniotic fluid) and of course the various words for "mother" - EM, or if you prefer, mama!"

Ummm ... and your point with all this 'numerology' and 'word' play is?

By the way, the "40 day rule" was based on Aristotle's ideas for a male. As I recall, his time frame for a female was 19 days.

Go figure - what great cosmic 'insight' do the 'numbers' and 'words' tell us here?

3 August 2012 at 00:25  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

cressida
I always try to play a 'straight bat' with you.

There is nothing incorrect in what CSPB has written. True, he rambled on a bit and then sought to justify the Church's moral position by claiming abortion was, by and large, unnecessary and women's lives could be saved in other ways. He may or not be correct - I am not an obstetrician. However, it really isn't too relevant a point.

Bottom-line Catholicism is and despite what AIB is suggesting always has been clear - abortion is an evil act.

On a more personal level, how on earth could a man and a woman, committed to their faith, make such a decision? May God help them. I know people who have been in these situations. It is casual and unthinking abortion that is the crime.

3 August 2012 at 00:43  
Blogger CSPB said...

CSPB said...
"This view would be contested by many obstetricians from other more civilised countries--Cressida de Nova

I'm still waiting for evidence from what you call "civilized" countries.

3 August 2012 at 00:57  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

You can wait till the cows come home. I am not engaging you in any more discussion. Your dishonest communication and extraordinary rudeness is breathtaking.

3 August 2012 at 03:23  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Dodo, I agree with your last paragraph and fortunately I have not known anyone who has had to face this awful situation,rare as it may be.

I must say that although we are at odds over a number of issues I do think your present an honest and human face to Catholicism compared to the others on this blog.I wish I could say that you are a typical practising Catholic but alas you are not and more's the pity!

3 August 2012 at 03:37  
Blogger John Magee said...

The message in this article "Today, freedom of religion dies in the USA"..."Religious liberty is a cornerstone of the Constitution of the USA...". Obama is trampling on his own country's concept of freedom of religion guaranteed by the USA's Constitution by his war on the RC Church over his unpopular national health care which will force Catholic institutions (and soon those of other faith's too) to do things against their basic religious beliefs and no one here gets the importance of this matter?

3 August 2012 at 03:43  
Blogger CSPB said...

I stated above that there is no unique "woman's perspective" on abortion. Ethical axioms are decided by human reason. Some women totally lack reason...

Your comment strengthens my belief in this statement. I had at no point intended to offend you or anyone else. My criticism of Catholic education in the UK was based on my own Catholic education in the UK, and you label me impertinent for that! Do you really expect me to censor myself by not commenting on my own religion on a religious blog! That is crazy.

If you are so concerned about rudeness you might consider apologizing to the many Irish and American (I don't know if you mean North or South) readers for your implication that they are in some way less "civilised" [sic].

3 August 2012 at 04:04  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Avi said ...

"Anymore insults? I just turned the other cheek."

Which displays a complete ignorance of Christ's words and what they meant in time He spoke them.

The maxim is supposed to convey the idea that one does not defiantly respond like for like when one is offended in some way. It was intended to contradict the idea prevalent at that time in Judea of an 'eye for an eye' or a 'life for a life'.

3 August 2012 at 11:42  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Dodo:

I didn't intend to offer the Septuagint with any comment regarding whether or not it should be considered binding today - merely that it is from where we get much of our tradition (and indeed, some of the Vulgate, though admittedly not Exodus). In that sense, though we know now that some of the Septuagint is strictly incorrect in terms of translation, that wasn't known, and in any case, wasn't an issue to the Early Church, or for that matter the Hellenized Jews.

It was more to note that both Jews and Christians in Hellenic culture were faced with (fairly widespread) abortion and infanticide. In that culture, it was hardly surprising - and to my mind, was necessary - for both communities to be more strident. Many of the early writers (both Jews and Christians) make specific mention of the "casualness" with which Hellenic and Roman culture abused the sanctity of life. In Palestine, a more nuanced and considered position was possible precisely because the general principle of sacred life was a given. You yourself have on several occasions pointed out the importance of a generally Godly culture in Christ's immediate historical context when reading Scripture as opposed to reading the epistles written largely to Gentiles.

3 August 2012 at 12:38  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Dodo:

Whilst the link you provide is absolutely correct that there is a very strong and consistent strain of opposition to abortion (I cited early apocalyptic texts as just one example) - it is a little disingenuous, simply because what "abortion" means has varied quite substantially throughout history. I said in an earlier post that we have to realise that the modern Catholic position is founded on medical knowledge that our forebears simply did not have - and this considerably affects how we think about the issue. That's not to say that one ought to automatically regard the modern perspective as being wrong as a result, but it is important to recognise that the Catholic Church has at various times condoned interventions in the wombs that would now be considered abortion.

Putting it simply, modern doctrine holds to immediate animation - historic Catholic doctrine does not, and takes an (unrepudiated) Aquinan view of delayed ensoulment as of the 1312 Council of Vienne. Abortion prior to quickening (roughly: cf. differing stricter definitions - but the point is, there was a cross-over during pregnancy rather than at the start) was explicitly not equated with murder - indeed there are multiple provisions to expressly avoid handing over those who procure or cause early abortions for punishment from the State (i.e. death penalty). Aquinas himself thought it to be an offense against marriage - in the sense that it deprived the husband of his rightful offspring - but took the Aristotelian view that the early foetus did not possess a soul, and so could not be human (i.e. not nefesh - the Jewish position). It wasn't even an excommunicable offense. In fact, there is at least one example of it being used in 13th Century England that I know of to justify the early termination of a Cistercian Nun's pregnancy by her confessor.

St. Antonius of Florence usually gets invoked - but it would be false to describe him as "pro-choice" both because it is anachronistic, and because his use of early "abortion" was not considered "abortion" at the time. In fact he was emphatically against late term abortion - or as he put it, the murder of an ensouled child in the womb. But he didn't consider, and nor did the Church, a foetus to be a person in the early days - which by the 16th Century had been formalised to 40 days for men and 80 days for women. (Though, one only has to observe that the gender of a child would only be determinable post hoc, which surely impacts on how that timeline should be read in terms of practical implementation. As a further aside, Antonius was also against Caesareans precisely for the reasons you outline: that the mother's life was equally valuable).

Lest you think this is all the work of dastardly revisionists, the 1974 Declaration on Procured Abortion specifically resists engaging in the ensoulment debate and "expressly leaves aside the question of the moment when the spiritual soul is infused [because] There is no unanimous tradition" (n.19). Modern doctrine moves decidedly away from the issue of the soul's inception, and so finds that abortion is always a great moral evil from conception onwards. This may very well be the right thing to do, but it is also undeniably a shift in doctrine, closing out early-term (or "pre-ensoulment") abortions without directly condemning the Church's past tacit and sometimes explicit support for them.

3 August 2012 at 12:38  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

John Magee:

" to do things against their basic religious beliefs and no one here gets the importance of this matter?"

I've outlined above my response to this, so I won't repeat myself - but yes, I agree, this is a conflict that should never have occurred, and could only be thought to be good by those who expressly want conflict with Catholic and Evangelical Christians on this matter.

3 August 2012 at 12:49  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

AIB
Not so much "a shift in doctrine" as clarification of the doctrine given the earlier mistranslation of the Hebrew into Latin with all this Greek nonsense of "pre-ensoulment" and animation and when life becomes 'rational' life with a soul. Where both past and present meet is the belief it is evil to kill life in the womb - for whatever reason.

This is the Christian position, abortion is murder, unless one adopts the Judaic principle that abortion is a form of self-defence and is mandatory under certain circumstances.

3 August 2012 at 13:21  
Blogger CSPB said...

JJohn Magee:
"... no one here gets the importance of this matter?"

My take on this is as follows. Any nation that kills its own children will rapidly become a moral sewer. Then, as night follows day, a system like Furhercare or Obamacare will result. After all, the morals of an elected government do tend to mirror those of the electorate. To preempt the adoption of systems such as Obamacare or the current NHS, people must turn against moral evil. Hence this discussion is not an opportunity cost.

On a more practical note, The following are the addresses of three organizations who are suing the US government on this issue:

1. http://www.thomasaquinas.edu
2. http://www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org
3. http://www.thomasmore.org

And here is one PAC:

4. http://www.catholicvote.org/index.php?/site

Your donations would be greatly appreciated.

Crux

3 August 2012 at 14:05  
Blogger CSPB said...

AIB:
"Does the maternal health factor in the number of women in the Republic who travel to Britain for abortions? "

A good question. I have not yet found the answer. A breakdown of the abortion rates for the Republic can be found at http://www.nationalrighttolifenews.org/news/2012/07/births-and-abortions-in-ireland-today/


You are correct to point out that in the Republic less than 6 percent (and about 1% for married couples) of pre born babies are aborted. However in Europe as a whole, the Guttmacher Institute has estimated that the corresponding rate is one in three and about one in four in the UK.

In the US 45 percent of preborn black babies are aborted - Obamacare will surely increase this number.

3 August 2012 at 15:05  
Blogger bananabrain said...

wrt the change from "harm" to "formed" - of course, in hellenic thought, any form of disability or deformity was a subject for shame and disgrace, so it is a significant change.

wrt the lex talionis, the simple way to understand how the sages thought about things like this is to do a thought experiment, namely: what happens if a blind man pokes your eye out? you can hardly poke his out in return. consequently, we must be talking about the monetary equivalent of an eye, or in other words, damages. this is in contradistinction to the hammurabi-type approach which, unlike the jewish approach, *did* result in "prevalence" of retaliatory violence, does not provide for the practicalities and minutiae. and jesus has not released *us* from these laws - indeed, the Torah itself provides the mechanism by which human interpretation gives us a reasonable and balanced way for the law to be fulfilled, without requiring anyone to get nailed to anything as a sort of cosmic lightning rod for sin.

@john magee: wrt all Torah death penalties - as usual, a literalist approach to the Text itself without benefit of the oral tradition that it is mediated through gives you an outcome that is absurd in terms of normative judaism; you're reading the lecture notes, not hearing the lecture, nor have you done the necessary pre-homework. there are a number of checks and balances that apply to all capital cases which make a conviction in any of these cases virtually impossible; the sages did not approve of the death penalty and made strenuous efforts to ensure that in all cases it was commuted to lesser forms of punishment. in fact, in many of these cases, the penalty would have ended up being spiritual and social. the short answer, in other words, is you don't know what you're talking about.

i wouldn't say i didn't know jesus - he sounds like a top sort of bloke, albeit a bit in-your-face and intense, but that doesn't make him the moshiah.

@dodo:

re the esoteric stuff, i said it was a derailment! now, although greek and hebrew numerology both have the letters "mu" and "mem" respectively as 40, the "mu" doesn't look like a womb, it looks like a M. and the greek word for "water" is "hudor" - so you can see that while the numerology "works" in hebrew, it doesn't in greek. plus, of course, aristotle post-dates the texts from which hebrew numerology is derived by quite a few centuries. so, if anything, i'd say he got it from us! also, his impact on jewish thought (which was considerable) notwithstanding, he cannot be regarded as a religious authority, which got quite a few of the mediaeval rationalists all bent out of shape, but that's really off the point now. i do appreciate a good scorning though, so well done.

re all the talmudic stuff, it is the easiest thing in the world to take decontextualised statements from someone else's religion as support for straw man arguments, ain't it? look, it's quite simple. there is a hard decision here - the baby or the mother. catholicism goes with the former, judaism with the latter. it's a judgement call, but i hardly think either side has much of a case to criticise dissenters on moral grounds. G!D Forbid any of us should have to make such a decision, albeit doctors have to do this every day. fortunately, you and i are in 100% agreement on this: "It is casual and unthinking abortion that is the crime."

b'shalom

bananabrain

3 August 2012 at 15:51  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Dodo:

I'm not looking to get into an argument beyond this very fine point, but the "Greek nonsense of "pre-ensoulment" and animation and when life becomes 'rational' life with a soul" was, quite simply Catholic doctrine for centuries.

In fact, it still is Catholic Doctrine - the 1312 Council of Vienne confirmation of the Aquinan view of ensoulment has never been refuted. All that has happened is that they have moved to a position where modern pronouncements do not incorporate the theory (or any of its alternatives) in the rationale for their existence. De facto this means that non-immediate animation is no longer pre-eminent, but not because it has been rejected: it's because the modern Catholic Church uses a different criteria and works from modern medical knowledge.

The simple point I was trying to make is that whilst the Church has with an extremely high degree of consistency maintained opposition to abortion throughout history, what "abortion" has meant, and how it has been defined has changed so that in the past it is a matter of historic fact that the Catholic Church has permitted and condoned what it now describes as abortion.

As I said, I don't take that as a specious argument that Catholicism is historically pro-choice - I've tried to be very careful in qualifying my assertions. But it does mean that the position that the Church presently occupies is not as clear-cut in its history as articles like the one you linked to suggest.

3 August 2012 at 17:37  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

CSPB:

Thanks for that - the stats I cited were from the OFNS for 2010, and were specifically for conceptions - with the Irish stats also being for conceptions for 2010, hence my comparison of the two. "Pregnancies" tend to narrow the field down, as it is my understanding that in Europe official stats don't consider all conceptions to be pregnancies until they go past a certain point. Which means that while the stats I cite will tend to reduce the proportion, they will also better reflect early-term abortions (which you are also opposed to).

What struck me as the most interesting part of your post was regarding the medical benefits of natural pre-natal care (especially in the tragedy of non-induced miscarriage). It's something I'll have to look into more. There are still cases, where women's health is genuinely threatened by being pregnant, and in that instance I tend to support, especially where the pregnancy is early-term, the option of abortion being open to the woman. However, from a historical perspective it strikes me as somewhat bizarre that as medical skill has increased, so the stated need for abortion has increased. Go back 700 years, and pregnancy killed - quite a lot actually. I could well see how early-term abortion of difficult pregnancies would have been a serious option. But fortunately maternal death rates are now very low, and what would have killed a medieval woman may now be handled as a matter of ease.

I also take extreme opposition to the non-resucitation of babies who have survived a late-term abortion process. It strikes me as deeply wrong that a baby that survives is summarily denied the right to life simply because it has been determined that it should be aborted. But as I've outlined above, this is in my view the product of exactly the kind of culture that the Hellenic Jews and Early Christians alike villified and rejected.

3 August 2012 at 17:49  
Blogger John Magee said...

CSPB

The cornerstone of the modern feminist moevment is abortion. They are obsessed with the subject. Their hatred of religious people who oppose abortion is well known. They are women who hate the purpose their bodies were created by God: to have babies. Tell one that and you will face her wrath I can assure you! I agree with your view that a nation that allows abortion on demand is on it's decline racing full speed to it's moral collapse.

5 August 2012 at 03:28  
Blogger John Magee said...

CSPB

The cornerstone of the modern feminist moevment is abortion. They are obsessed with the subject. Their hatred of religious people who oppose abortion is well known. They are women who hate the purpose their bodies were created by God: to have babies. Tell one that and you will face her wrath I can assure you! I agree with your view that a nation that allows abortion on demand is on it's decline racing full speed to it's moral collapse.

5 August 2012 at 03:28  
Blogger CSPB said...

John Magee:

Unfortunately, extreme feminists live in their own closed thought world and reasoning with them is almost impossible. On the other hand some of the most effective leaders in the Pro Life movement are women. Magaly Llaguno of Vida Humana Internacional and Judie Brown of the American Life League come to mind.

This video of crazed pro abortion and pro homosexual extremists is very disturbing.

5 August 2012 at 14:55  
Blogger CSPB said...

John Magee:

Unfortunately, extreme feminists live in their own closed thought world and reasoning with them is almost impossible. On the other hand some of the most effective leaders in the Pro Life movement are women. Magaly Llaguno of Vida Humana Internacional and Judie Brown of the American Life League come to mind.

This video of crazed pro abortion and pro homosexual extremists is very disturbing.

5 August 2012 at 14:55  
Blogger John Magee said...

CSPB

Radical Feminist organizations like the world to think they have a vast following of like minded nasty women. They dont and won't.

6 August 2012 at 23:37  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Goodness, I think no name and Magee
are in need of some spiritual counselling and preferably from a non American/Irish priest. Your
apparent misogyny has reach danger level.Homosexual thoughts and activity are disallowed as you both know but sublimation into misogyny is not allowed either.
Tut tut!A trip to confession in order I say.

7 August 2012 at 05:07  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

cressida

'No Country for Women', recently posted:

"It is so urgently necessary for women to become dangerous feminists in dangerous patriarchal, misogynistic, religious society.

I hope brave women sing and sting like Pussy Riot in all the religious temples, churches, mosques, synagogues all over the world against religion and religious oppression of women. Please don’t say that the time hasn’t come yet."


Feminism is often associated with anti-religious views and with promoting actions contrary to the teachings of the major faiths.

Are the Abrahamic religions misogynistic and oppressive towards women?

8 August 2012 at 13:28  
Blogger CSPB said...

Way of Dodo the Dude said...

"Feminism is often associated with anti-religious views and with promoting actions contrary to the teachings of the major faiths."

Dodo: I totally agree.

The threat to the Roman Catholic Church in the UK is
well described in this series of articles by

8 August 2012 at 18:05  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Apart from being very EE naff, Pussy Riot is not worth the publicity. I disapprove of any religion being desecrated.

I think feminists can hold religious views.They should not all be labelled as dykes and lipstick lesbian man haters..

I think misogynists are either latent homosexuals or have mother issues.
Certain strands of Christianity seem to produce a plethora of them.
Christianity per se does not oppress women.
Islam oppresses women.
Liberal Jews revere Jewish women.
I do not know anything about Orthodox Jews.

8 August 2012 at 18:20  
Blogger CSPB said...

@Cressida de Nova

It's hardly mysogynistic to disapprove of this: http://youtu.be/L6d4OmLnLGc
The truth is that the accusation of woman-hating is a worn out rhetorical device employed by radical feminists to shift attention away from themselves.

8 August 2012 at 22:27  
Blogger CSPB said...

Cressida de Nova:"Liberal Jews revere Jewish women."

But not their children. According to
this article

"Abortion as a Liberal Jewish value has been a stunning success. In New York City, where Sanger first set up shop, 74 percent of all Jewish children are members of the traditionalist Orthodox religious group. Liberal Jews are already panicking over the prospect of a future Jewish population in New York City that is staunchly conservative and religious. "

8 August 2012 at 22:36  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

cressida said ...

"I think misogynists are either latent homosexuals or have mother issues."

Of course some are open and active homosexuals and women can be mysogynists.

One should draw a distinction between feminism and radical feminism.

Feminists campaign for women's rights which is right and proper but also promote bodily integrity, autonomy, and reproductive rights for women - contraception and abortion. It is in this area they challenge Christianity. The other area is whether women can legitimately be ordained as Bishops and Priests.

For an insght into Orthodox Judaism you should consider Rabbinic teachings on the creation of humankind in Genesis. Aggadic midrashim 'fills in' parts of the bible often in mystical ways.

Rabbis in these extra biblical accounts teach Yahweh created Lilith as Adam’s first wife. She was created along with Adam and formed from the earth, just as he had been; however, Yahweh used filth and sediment instead of pure dust to create her. Adam and Lilith never had a happy relationship because she challenged his authority. She also took offense to having to lie beneath Adam during sexual intercourse. Lilith eventually deserts Adam and becomes a demoness who from her union with Adam produces innumerable demons who continue to plague mankind. Yahweh later avoids the problem of a woman’s defiance and claim of equality by creating Eve from Adam’s rib. And we know what she did!

8 August 2012 at 22:50  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

I am not a radical feminist. But the days of women barefoot continually pregnant and chained to a kitchen sink are over and I am glad of that.

My views on abortion and contraception have already been expressed on this blog.And they are not compatible with Catholicism.

Any pressure being exerted on the Church to accept women priests and practising homosexuality I cannot take seriously.If one understands Catholicism one understands this is not even a consideration.

Catholics who will not accept the current teachings on the hot topic issues(probably about three quarters of them when it concerns taking contraception) should simply stop being practising Catholics.

9 August 2012 at 02:15  
Blogger CSPB said...

Cressida de Nova:

I took the time to look at a couple of your previous posts concerning the contraception and abortion.
issues but failed to understand your position. Maybe I was looking at the wrong thread --my
circumstances do not permit me much time for blogging. However, what struck me was the disproportionate anger you seem direct to those whose viewpoints do not coincide with your own.
Anger, even in a good cause, can be a danger to the soul, and it is not my wish provoke it in anyone. Anger is also infectious. It would perhaps be preferable to terminate this discussion than summon up this demon. That said, I do believe you are seriously mistaken in your positions.

For example, in one of your arguments, you single out a most exceptional case, namely that of a nine year old child who was raped. You claim that:

"Not so long ago a nine year old child was raped by her stepfather. Her mother procured an abortion for her. The Bishop of the diocese summarily excommunicated the mother and the doctors attending her. I am confident that he along with every other sadistic sanctimonious cruel clergyman posing as a Christian will rot in hell."

As a Christian, I would not wish it on anyone to "rot in hell". It is interesting that you single out the Bishop and not the rapist for punishment. Is it not the case that excommunication is automatic for those who procure an abortion? It does not, as far as I know, require a statement by a Bishop.

Also, how do you value the life of the unborn child? Perhaps you do not believe that the unborn are fully human or have a right to life. The Bishop was trying to defend the baby. His intention was obviously not to punish the child. If we are going to start killing someone in rape cases, would it not be more logical to start with the guilty rapist rather than the innocent baby? And, how much did the mother know? Was she covering up for the rapist?

Also, have you considered that the girl who undergoes the procedure, will likely suffer physical, psychological and spiritual consequences from the abortion far exceeding those arising from the rape? I happen to know more than a few women who have suffered grievously, for many years, after an abortion.



But there is much more to the above case than meets the eye.

Continued...

9 August 2012 at 07:26  
Blogger CSPB said...

Continued.


For many years, a number of international bodies, include the UN Committee on Human Rights [sic], the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), have employed "high impact litigation", in an attempt to impose certain global agendas on countries which do not otherwise accept them. These agendas include the legalization of abortion in Latin America and, in European countries in which abortion is already legal, the abolition of conscience clauses for doctors who refuse to carry out such operations. This strategy of systematic litigation is being employed to achieve a new international order, in which unelected groups of ideologues, unquestioned by anybody and answerable for their actions to nobody, impose their agendas on entire countries by deception and control of the media.

The case of the 9 year old, which you cite above, is a perfect example of how this agenda is carried out. What appeared in much of the "Western" media is a pack of lies. What actually happened, as discovered by a Nicaraguan paper, "El Nuevo Diario", has been described in this article as a tangled web of rape, murder, deception and coverup.


As I pointed out above, allowing abortion in these "special cases" ignores completely the dangers inherent in weakening fundamental ethical principles protecting human life. Undermining these moral axioms has lead to the current climate of infanticide and euthanasia. Abortion, often without the consent of the parents, has now become common in the case of under age girls and rape is routinely covered up by governments and the abortion industry.

Nor does contraception prevent abortion, as many advocate. Apart from the fact that hormonal contraceptives can act as abortifacients, most abortions occur after contraceptive failures. Such failures after prolonged use are mathematically inevitable In reality, promotion of contraception is a ploy on the part of the abortion industry to increase the number of abortions.

CSPB

9 August 2012 at 07:29  
Blogger bananabrain said...

@cressida de nova - *all* forms of judaism revere women, although often in ways that some feminists think are rather sexist, in terms of home-makers, mothers and wives etc. however, it is also notable that women are considered the primary educational influence on children and as judaism is a lifelong learning culture, it is impossible to imagine how this could be achieved without the active collaboration of women as teachers either of their children or in general. this does not of course mean that other roles for women are not celebrated - the "far above rubies" "valiant woman" of proverbs is also a business woman and a talented entrepreneur in her own right - indeed, she sounds rather like superwoman, or indeed like the famous sephardic grandee dona gracia mendes, who was an extremely successful merchant venturer and community leader. of course, you can also spot some powerful women in the bible, including the "seven prophetesses", resistance fighters such as yael, judith and hannah, not to mention the wives of the patriarchs and of course zipporah, who sounds pretty formidable.

@dodo - of course the sort of "millie tant" feminist that thinks that transgressive gestures are the only way to challenge the phallocratic hegemony, lilith is held up as a paradigm in a way not unreminiscent of the studentish adoration of che guevara. just because something's in a midrash doesn't mean it's straighforward; lilith - who did not "become" a demoness but already was - is associated with "bad sex" - of the junky, joyless, promiscuous, exploitative sort, distractive thought and waste, which more sensible people can also see is not something to celebrate. i should furthermore point out that there is *no problem whatsoever* with women going on top and, moreover, if you want to go into the issue of jewish sexual ethics i might point out that in the halakhic small print of a valid marriage contract it is an enforceable duty for the husband to meet his wife's sexual demands - and not vice-versa. in short, a wife can divorce her husband if she finds him sexually inadequate, unsatisfying or repulsive. and that's about as traditionalist a view as you get.

b'shalom

bananabrain

9 August 2012 at 11:15  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

B Brain
That would account for why Jewish Princesses are so smug:)Jewish sexual ethics sounds great.Of course all this good will and generosity would only apply to Jewry.Is there anything in your religion that says that you should extend yourselves to Gentiles and treat them with kindness and equal importance?

9 August 2012 at 12:26  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

bananahead
To me the tale of Lilith is a piece of nonsense dreamed up by Rabbis. It is unbiblical and, say what you will, casts women in a negative role. How could she have been a "demoness" already? Wasn't she, according to your tradition, created by God from less worthy material than Adam? Are you saying God created a "demoness" as the first woman who then went off into the world to spawn demons? All sounds a bit 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' to me, I'm afraid. And Eve, how do you understand her sucumbing to the serpent's temptation?

So, what chance a woman Orthodox Rabbi anytime soon? As I understand it, the Talmud held that women were not allowed to serve in positions of authority over a community, such as judges or kings. The position of official rabbi of a community, mara de'atra ("master of the place"), is treated as such a position. This ruling is still followed in traditional and orthodox circles but relaxed in branches like Conservative and Reform Judaism.

And, as asked, what are the teachings on Gentile women? Also, I just cannot get my head round the Israeli marriage laws. I'm wondering if this to stop people from marrying a "demon" or "demoness".

cressida
Jewish sexual ethics are no different to Christian sexual ethics. Ask Carl Jacobs, he'll tell you all about the the marital contract and St Paul discusses this too.

There will therefore be other reasons for Jewish Princesses being smug.

9 August 2012 at 13:50  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Dodo ,even I know that Jews are discouraged from marrying 'out'.
Obviously a Jewish man who marries a shiksa is not going to treat her in the same way as a Jewess.

My question was about Gentiles.
Christians are supposed to treat everyone equally with respect and not be discriminating of class religion or race.I could be wrong but somehow I do not think this Christian ideal is incorporated in Judaism.It is an exclusive religion
and centres on itself.I am not being critical when I say this. They help and support each other in ways we Christians do not.
Christians do not seem to support each other because they are too busy spreading the love and largesse to all and sundry.

9 August 2012 at 15:18  
Blogger bananabrain said...

@cressida: why on earth should goodwill and generosity only apply to other jews? the Torah teaches us:

"love the stranger, for you were strangers in egypt" (deut 10:19)
"do not mistreat a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in Egypt." (exodus 22:21)

this is about as strong a general principle as it gets.

i should also add that the word "shiksa" is about as acceptable as the "n-word". it is not used in polite society and i will not have it used in my presence without informing people of such in no uncertain terms; it is clearly in breach of the Torah statements above; i say this just as a point of information, as you presumably don't mean to offend.

your question "about treating everyone equally with respect and not [being] discriminating of class religion or race" - there is a difference in treating everyone with respect and treating everyone the same. clearly jews and non-jews cannot be treated the same in respect of jewish law, but that is not the same as discriminating against them any more than treating men and women differently in sporting events or the military. by the same token, it is absolutely forbidden to steal from, harm or even embarrass *anyone* - not just jews. from the perspective of halakhah, this is interpreted *extremely* widely. we don't see the point in ignoring differences between people where these are relevant - it is, for example, clearly not "discriminatory" to insist that the witnesses of a marriage contract be educated in Torah law, as they could be called upon to testify as such in front of a beit din on this basis.

judaism is not "exclusive" so much as it is particularist. like yourselves, we believe ourselves to be working not only for our own good, but for that of humanity as a whole; we believe that G!D Commands us thus - we don't believe that everyone is Commanded to do as we do; we have 613 of these obligations, while others have only 7, the "noahide laws".

b'shalom

bananabrain

9 August 2012 at 16:46  
Blogger bananabrain said...

@dodo:

i dare say the tale of lilith could be described as "a piece of nonsense dreamed up by Rabbis", but then again, so could the virgin birth, the resurrection and don't even get me started on the book of revelations. yes, it's "unbiblical" - midrash is midrash; it's far later - and this particular one is clearly aggadic. if it is used to cast women negatively, then why cannot someone else be used to cast women positively? the Torah is not short of such role models and frankly you would have to look extremely hard to find anything of practical relevance in this particular episode. i think one should be very, very careful before drawing political conclusions from anything in the Creation story or its ancillary texts; it is a highly recondite and esoteric set of statements, not practical legal principles; you are using the sort of argument that nahmanides ridiculed during the disputations.

>How could she have been a "demoness" already? Wasn't she, according to your tradition, created by God from less worthy material than Adam?
by definition, if she wasn't created human as adam was, she was by definition less "worthy" - but then we say the same of angels.

>Are you saying God created a "demoness" as the first woman who then went off into the world to spawn demons?
no, G!D Created, according to the midrash, a demoness who took it upon herself to, er, conjugate with adam who, at the time, was pretty much having it off with anything that passed, as no mate had been provided for him.

>All sounds a bit 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' to me, I'm afraid.
well, it's myffic, innit? it's a good legend, but we don't go around locking our wives up because guinevere had it off with lancelot, do we?

>And Eve, how do you understand her sucumbing to the serpent's temptation?
that's a far more interesting question. the eden story, for us, is about how humans became humans - what it is to be human; the Torah considers this to be about free will. the serpent misled eve with a cunning choice of words, but the result was the very first "choice", which of course made necessary the concept of responsibility for choice. and if you have this free will, you can choose wisely or poorly. without free will, there's no such thing as sin. and if we chose to take on responsibility for our actions, we could no longer remain in the edenic state of innocence.

>So, what chance a woman Orthodox Rabbi anytime soon?
it's already been mooted in the US. there's no reason that a woman can't be learned in Torah (as per the Talmud) but the issue will be around being a halakhic decisor. personally i have no problem with it, but orthodoxy does rather tend to move at the speed of the slowest conservative.

b'shalom

bananabrain

9 August 2012 at 17:20  
Blogger bananabrain said...

>As I understand it, the Talmud held that women were not allowed to serve in positions of authority over a community, such as judges or kings.
well, clearly there were ruling queens even in talmudic times, so that's not right. as for judges, look at deborah. biblical precedent overrules talmudic. and once you get into the historical, you get some very eminent women in positions of authority, so this feels like a straw man, albeit one which is even relied on, wrongly in my opinion, by the ultra-orthodox.

>The position of official rabbi of a community, mara de'atra ("master of the place"), is treated as such a position. This ruling is still followed in traditional and orthodox circles but relaxed in branches like Conservative and Reform Judaism.
that's a rule about takkanot ha-kehillah, community regulations. in any given community, someone has to make halakhic rulings and a local decision has a certain amount of authority, although there are any number of cases where one can overrule the mara de'atra. of course, if you have accepted the m-d-a as your personal rav, then the rulings made by that person are binding on you personally; it's really quite a complex area.

>And, as asked, what are the teachings on Gentile women?
go and study, as someone said. that's a massive, general enquiry that you can't possibly expect a succinct answer to. if you have a more specific question, ask it.

>Also, I just cannot get my head round the Israeli marriage laws. I'm wondering if this to stop people from marrying a "demon" or "demoness".
what "israeli marriage laws"? you mean the ones which make people go to cyprus? it's political. either you marry under the auspices of the municipal chief rabbinate (controlled in all cases by the ultra-orthodox) or you marry in a church or in a mosque or another religious location; there's no civil marriage in israel, largely because of the historic surrender of a massive amount of power to the rabbinate by ben-gurion. if you are asking about the general jewish laws, then of course intermarriage is prohibited, as are any number of laws which are intended to prevent fraternisation which might lead to intermarriage, as per the famous joke:

http://www.jewishjokes.net/jokes/329/forgot.php

but if you are suggesting that jewish law equates non-jews with demons, then i'm pleased to tell you that that is total bollocks; you're getting us confused with those nutters from the "nation of islam" sect.

b'shalom

bananabrain

9 August 2012 at 17:20  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

banana
Thank you for a full and direct answer. It is appreciated. And of course my last comment regarding demonesses was "bollocks" and was asked in jest, although I do wonder why Orthodox Judaism is so controlling when it comes to inter-marriage.

Catholicism was as equally opposed to mixed marriages until relatively recently. This was toprotect the faith of the Catholic and was not based on any myths or complex rulings.

As for Adam and Eve the interesting point for me is where the serpent, intent on disturbing the peace of Eden, came from?

Christian teachings on the virgin birth, the crucifixtion and resurrection, are all derived from our sacred, canonical scripture which includes the Hebrew texts, or from Apostolic tradition (the latter is controversial). These are not fables or myths.

It would help me to understand your faith better if you could clarify what parts of the Talmud is considered binding, coming from God to Moses orally, and which is not authoritative.

" ... we don't believe that everyone is Commanded to do as we do; we have 613 of these obligations, while others have only 7, the "noahide laws"."

The Noahide Laws to me seem to be essentially a 'religion' without the need for belief in God. Do you believe all nations are equal in the sight of God? That God is the God of all people, not just the tribes of the Israelites, and He loves them all individually?

9 August 2012 at 20:23  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Thank you B Brain for the information.From the Stranger in Egypt Torah quotes you could interpret this as meaning that Jews
would be required to make friends of non jews and include them in their lives.Or is this where 'particularism'kicks in, whatever that means.

I have found Jews to be the opposite in my experience.They are a closed shop .I can understand the reasons for it but maybe it is not such a great idea.Maybe those words from Exodus were meant to protect you somewhat from being discriminated against.If the greater population knew how generous and intelligent Jews were
a lot of the myths would be put to rest.

10 August 2012 at 03:46  
Blogger bananabrain said...

@dodo:

>I do wonder why Orthodox Judaism is so controlling when it comes to inter-marriage.

it's quite simple. there are not very many jews. every time a jew intermarries, the next generation may be lost. it's not about who you are or what you believe - it's about what you do to sustain our culture. there is no shortage of christians or muslims - call it a necessary safeguard in the face of overwhelming demographic challenges.

>Catholicism was as equally opposed to mixed marriages until relatively recently. This was toprotect the faith of the Catholic and was not based on any myths or complex rulings.

"the faith of the catholic" is also arguably based on myths and complex rulings about what words like "homoousion" mean; this is such a poor debating point one wonders why you brought it up.

>As for Adam and Eve the interesting point for me is where the serpent, intent on disturbing the peace of Eden, came from?

It's an interesting one, isn't it, considering that we don't believe in a "devil" as such. "ha-satan", in judaism, *works* for G!D - he's like a sort of celestial public prosecutor, who will do what he can to encourage wrongdoers to incriminate themselves, but he works for "the system", as it were, having no independent reality other than what the Divine Allows.

>Christian teachings on the virgin birth, the crucifixion and resurrection, are all derived from our sacred, canonical scripture which includes the Hebrew texts, or from Apostolic tradition (the latter is controversial). These are not fables or myths.

er... sorry, the virgin birth has no basis in hebrew scripture other than the famous mistranslation, crucifixion is a misattribution caused by the need to retrofit prophecy to meet christian needs and resurrection is hotly debated, but certainly cannot be said to apply to anyone before the anticipated messianic age. from my point of view both virgin birth and resurrection are pure myth and fable, whereas crucifixion is a punishment for insurrection under roman military law, horrific of course, but with no religious element to it. i suggest we agree to disagree on this, because i don't think you have a leg to stand on.

b'shalom

bananabrain

10 August 2012 at 14:19  
Blogger bananabrain said...

>It would help me to understand your faith better if you could clarify what parts of the Talmud is considered binding, coming from God to Moses orally, and which is not authoritative.

let me put it this way - the only things i consider "faith-based" in my belief system are the 13 principles of maimonides, which are a later synthesis. everything else is simply a matter of how sacred texts are interpreted and who has the authority to say what, as well as what makes sense within the context. so, with regard to the Talmud, *everything halakhic* in it is considered binding by all traditional jews (i don't care for the term "orthodox" as it gives an importance to theology that simply doesn't apply, "orthoprax" would be more correct), whereas everything *aggadic* in it one may treat as one wishes, as long as one's final position emerges as sufficiently mainstream not to upset anyone, which is harder than one might think - even maimonides had his books banned occasionally. however, even if you consider everything in the talmud to be "binding" and "authoritative", that still doesn't generally get you to a point where you can actually follow it - it needs further interpretation before you get to the code. the only thing that is "binding" in the sense that you appear to mean is the shulhan 'arukh (C16th) and, for ashkenazim, the rema's gloss on the shulhan 'arukh, known as the "mappa". saying that "the talmud is binding" is like saying that "hansard is binding" - the final picture doesn't emerge until the case-law is tested. and if you are asking if G!D Gave the mishnah and gemara to moses at sinai, i would have to say that while moses received the prophetic insight and understanding into Torah, which includes the Oral Torah, that's not the same thing as receiving the precise texts edited by r. yehuda ha'nasi in the C2nd and the editors of the babylonian talmud in the C5th. i'm sorry if this is confusing, but judaism is a lot more complicated than you apparently realise.

>The Noahide Laws to me seem to be essentially a 'religion' without the need for belief in God.

not really. they are closer to a notion of "natural law" or the formulation i prefer, a set of tests for establishing whether someone is a "good person" - an atheist can certainly qualify.

>Do you believe all nations are equal in the sight of God?

if you mean equal as in "the same", then no. we each have our task in the world. if you mean equal as in "of equivalent value", then i don't see why not. it would be dreadful if we had "The Good News" and didn't want to share it, but similarly just because something is right for us doesn't mean it is necessary right for everyone. it is *hard* to be jewish. it is a major commitment which in many cases puts you at odds with your surroundings and often makes people want to kill you. why would we inflict this on anyone else? it's a different matter if they wanted to embrace it out of commitment, but we couldn't in conscience *ask* people to take this stuff on.

>That God is the God of all people, not just the tribes of the Israelites, and He loves them all individually?
if G!D Is G!D, then G!D Is G!D to everyone.

b'shalom

bananabrain

10 August 2012 at 14:19  
Blogger bananabrain said...

@cressida:

>From the Stranger in Egypt Torah quotes you could interpret this as meaning that Jews
would be required to make friends of non jews and include them in their lives. Or is this where 'particularism'kicks in, whatever that means.

i think that would depend; "love", i think, means care for and, in my view, interact with, whereas "not oppress" merely covers treating people correctly and not stealing from or harming them. the fact that the Torah feels it necessary to include both statements is the jumping-off point for the debate about why. certainly i make friends of non-jews and include them in my life (interfaith dialogue being a case in point) - but that has to come with limitations; pres. obama said something very interesting in his autobiography that has stayed with me: "if everyone is family, then really no-one is"; for me, that's precisely the point. it is human to care more for one's nearest and dearest, as well as those from our group - the idea to love everyone in the universe is, for us, something that we can feasibly expect from only an elite group of experts amongst the esoterically inclined, who are big on the whole universal love thing; to mandate this from the man in the street, as christianity does, seems to us an unrealistic standard to expect.

>I have found Jews to be the opposite in my experience.They are a closed shop. I can understand the reasons for it but maybe it is not such a great idea.

do you feel the same way about other ethnic groups who can be clannish in the face of outsiders? because pretty much every other group is. when you have a history like ours it is sometimes difficult to avoid a certain amount of suspicion and paranoia about peoples' motives. i myself consider it important to challenge that and i am not alone in this.

>Maybe those words from Exodus were meant to protect you somewhat from being discriminated against. If the greater population knew how generous and intelligent Jews were
a lot of the myths would be put to rest.

i would hope that you'd be right. unfortunately there is a considerable body of evidence that certain people really dislike it when jews "look and talk just like them", as they consider it in some way covert. you can't win, really, so some people just give up.

b'shalom

bananabrain

10 August 2012 at 14:30  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

bananabrain

We don't agree but I respect you and your presentation of your faith. As you say, it is indeed complex and many layered.

No doubt we will discuss points again and in particular your misunderstanding of Christianity.

I think one of our fundamental points of difference is our understanding of the origin of evil (by the way, the first sin of disobedience wasn't necessarily sexual) and the nature of the incarnation and Messiahship.

b'shalom

10 August 2012 at 14:53  
Blogger John Magee said...

Bananabrian

Judaism is the promise. Christianty is the fullfillment. Perid, end of story, have a nice day.

10 August 2012 at 19:20  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Mr Magee
Come now, you can do better than that!

Your posts impress with your detailed knowledge of history and the Church. However, engagement with a member of a faith other than Christianity requirea a little more effort that the equivalent of "yah, boo, sucks", don't you think?

To my mind there are only two faith choices - Judaism (as originally practiced minus all the oral add ons and 'mysticism) and Christianity (as presented by the Catholic Catholic).

I completely agree with your position but also think we can learn a lot about our own faith from an open discussion with practicing Jews and maybe inform them about ours.

11 August 2012 at 00:17  
Blogger bananabrain said...

generally speaking, we are quite "informed" enough already. what seems to upset people is that that doesn't lead to conversion. of course it's then that it turns nasty.

b'shalom

bananabrain

13 August 2012 at 11:20  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

B brain that is over reacting. Some of us are genuinely interested in our older brother's beliefs and to try to understand why Jesus rejected some (not all) of your beliefs.

I do not think one can ever understand Christianity unless you have an understanding of Judaism and the OT which I have learnt from this site is different from the Torah . I alway thought that the OT was the Torah but Avi says it is not the same.

Just a thought...if you believe the Messiah is coming you must wonder if he is going to come from the diaspora or from Israel.Will he demonstrate extraordinary powers such as miracles to denote difference from ordinary humans?

14 August 2012 at 05:46  

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