Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The proportionality argument

In an e-mail conversation the other day, I allowed that I thought the U.S. Church was correct in its teaching that the life issues were to be taken as primary among the public considerations used by one's informed conscience as one votes. My friend and correspondent wrote something like this: "Well, you know that this terrible war in the Middle East is cutting short some lives and futures, too."

He has a certain point--a war may be a bad thing. I was tempted to buy into this informal equivalence argument. Fortunately, I gave it a moment's thought. There is a significant difference between the personal action of abortion and the decision of a government and its responsible parties to order hostile actions to be conducted in the name of their people.

Further, unless one is using nuclear weapons, the loss of life is grossly disproportionate, and that disproportion falls incriminatingly against abortion. The commonly accepted statistic for 2005 (slightly outdated, but one I recall clearly) is that 1.2 million elective abortions were performed in the U.S. By contrast, 4,191 American soldiers have lost their lives in the Iraq conflict--none last month, by the way. Using a ratio of abortions per day in 2005, that number of 4,191 abortions was performed in about 32 hours, 1 1/3 days, in that year. Granted that there would certainly be other arguments about war and about abortion, the sense that "they both take life" doesn't seem anything but a dodge to me.

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