I’ve got a few loose threads running around. I’m going to pick a smaller one tonight. Last night I quoted Wendell Barry on the public and private nature of sex and the consequent dialog in our society which has lost its sense of community. And I think we should take seriously the notion of moving our discourse out of the conservative/liberal divide and center it around community. With that in mind (and another loose thread to nip) in this comment trail, commenter Boonton suggests that there is not good “pro-life” answer to:

A good question that ended up getting EO to ban a commentator was based on a hypothetical fire. You rush into a IV Fertilization clinic that is on fire. There happens to be a live baby in a crib crying. There is also a heavy 60 pound mini-freezer whose label says it contains 150 frozen fertilized eggs. There are only moments to spare and you can only carry one out. Which is it?

The initial response, which you can follow (but I’ll summarize) is that there is at least one problematic feature to this, that the IVF is problematic for many who hold pro-life positions, e.g., the Catholics. I suggested that one might make a problematic moral question in the context of an extermination/concentration camp, but that the different arguments might ignore a “Gordian solution” (in the case of saving IVF blastocysts its that IVF is problematic in the case of the camp … it is the mere existence of the camp). Mr Boonton leaped at an mistaken notion of what such a “camp moral quandary might be”, so before going further I’ll offer that as an aside before going on to the real point. In the context of a camp, a analogous moral question might be, you are in position to save either one child imprisoned in the camp or 5 (pick a number greater than 1) children of the guards … you know that tomorrow everyone in the camp will die. Whom do you save, the one child or the five? The one has had a recent life filled with horror, the others benefited from luxury not of their making but as a result of their parents choices (crimes) and (abuse of their) positions of power.

So the matter at hand with the asides finally set, err, aside, is that we want to discuss abortion in not in a “cold-blooded mechanical” fashion, but instead in the language of “respect, responsibility, sexual discipline, fidelity, or the practice of love.” Now we live in a culture which has been dominated by a particular (Christian-Greco-Roman) culture. What this means is that our narratives describing what comprises healthy community all involve a healthy helping of ethics which include a disavowal of abortion, and for now what that means for those of us in our culture is that abortion is a symptom of a breakdown of community. So, I’ll turn the tables back on the pro-choice crowd, how does abortion fit into your notion of healthy community? And if it doesn’t why is the question of pro-choice/pro-life on the table? For the question at hand isn’t one structuring law right, its recovering community.

Filed under: AbortionMark O.

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