Sunday, October 21, 2012

If You Think Abortions Kill...

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This might be a little late to comment on a remark made by Joe Biden in the 2012 U.S. Vice Presidential debate, but here goes. Joe Biden said this:
With regard to -- with regard to abortion, I accept my church's position on abortion as a -- what we call a (inaudible) doctrine. Life begins at conception in the church's judgment. I accept it in my personal life.

But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews, and I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the -- the congressman. I -- I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that -- women they can't control their body. It's a decision between them and their doctor.
When you think about it, this is a very interesting position. It would seem that Biden agrees with the pro-life view that human personhood begins at conception, yet disagrees that abortion should be outlawed. But as philosophy professor Francis J. Beckwith points out in an article I recently read,
if the unborn [child] is a full-fledged member of the human community, and if a community’s end is justice for all persons under its authority, then a community that were to permit the unjustified killing of such beings would not be doing justice. But not just any injustice, but a deeply serious one, an injustice that says that members of one segment of its population may kill members of another segment without any public justification whatsoever.[1]
By my lights, Biden has some explaining to do regarding the ethical coherency of his position. If one thinks abortions really do kill innocent people, why condone its legality?

[1] Beckwith, Francis J. “Zygotes, Embryos, and Subsistence” Philosophia Christi 14.1 (Summer 2012) p. 210