Is abortion murder? Murder is defined as “illegal killing with malice aforethought.” Abortion fails this definition for two reasons. First, abortion is not illegal, and second, there is no evidence to suggest that expecting mothers feel malice towards their own flesh and blood.
Not all killing is murder, of course. Murder is actually a small subset of all killing, which includes accidental homicide, killing in self-defense, suicide, euthanasia, etc. When pro-life activists call abortion “murder,” they are suggesting that abortion fits the definition of murder, namely, “illegal killing with malice aforethought.” However, abortion fails this definition for two reasons. First, abortion is not illegal, and second, mothers hardly feel malice towards their own unborn children.
Some might object the first point is overly legalistic. Just because killing is legal doesn’t make it right. Exterminating Jews in Nazi Germany was certainly legal, but few doubt that it was murder.
But why do we still consider the Holocaust murder? The answer is that we hold the Nazis to a higher law. When the Nazis were tried in Nuremberg for their war crimes, they were not accused of “crimes against Germans” or even “crimes against Jews.” Instead, they were charged with “crimes against humanity.” The reason is because there was no legal basis to charge them otherwise. The massacre of Jews was legal under German law. So in order to punish the German leaders for clearly wrong behavior, the Allies had to evoke a higher law, a law of humanity. (1) The Holocaust was condemned as illegal, and therefore murder, because it violated this law.
Many pro-life advocates claim that the same reasoning applies to abortion. Alt…
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…heir legal basis is still a matter of controversy. Germany never signed an agreement of international law prohibiting genocide — indeed, genocide was declared a violation of international law only at the Nuremberg trials themselves. In other words, the Allies retroactively applied international law to the Nazi war crimes. Ultimately, the legal basis for the Nazis’ prosecution rested on the law of world opinion, or even, many claimed, the law of God. This raises many thorny questions, such as: whose opinion? And whose God? When the criminals are as obviously evil as the Nazis, then world opinion tends to be united, and there is no controversy. But what about a subject like abortion, in which the majority of public opinion is pro-choice, and on which most religions have different teachings? In this case, evoking a “higher law” becomes problematic, to say the least.
The Truth About Partial-Birth Abortion
The Truth About Partial-Birth Abortion
Three Works cited On June 28, 2000, Justice Clarence Thomas of the US Supreme Court explained a partial-birth abortion in his dissent re the court’s ruling which overturned Nebraska’s ban on such abortions: “After dilating the cervix, the physician will grab the fetus by its feet and pull the fetal body out of the uterus into the vaginal cavity. At this stage of development, the head is the largest part of the body. [. . .] the head will be held inside the uterus by the woman’s cervix. While the fetus is stuck in this position, dangling partly out of the woman’s body, and just a few inches from a completed birth, the physician uses an instrument such as a pair of scissors to tear or perforate the skull. The physician will then either crush the skull or will use a vacuum to remove the brain and other intracranial contents from the fetal skull, collapse the fetus’ head, and pull the fetus from the uterus.” (Thomas)
Justic Thomas’ statement describes the surrealistic administration of partial-birth abortion, or the near-complete delivery and then puncture-killing of the baby. Most people’s consciences do not disturb them re this procedure because they do not fully understand that the killing occurs when the baby has been almost entirely delivered. A fully viable baby is killed!
Regarding this approach to abortion, a common misunderstanding is reflected by a corrective letter to the Editor of the Wall Street Journal on May 14, 2001, which attempted to right certain wrong statements from a Journal article about partial-birth abortion:
The Journal has informed its readers that partial-birth abortion is a “rare” procedure, “typically performed when the life of the mother is at risk, or the fetus is determined to have severe abnormalities” (“Drive to Ban Abortion Procedure Slows,” April 27.) But those claims, fabricated by pro-abortion advocacy groups in 1995, had been thoroughly discredited by early 1997.
The Journal said that “critics . . . contend the procedure sometimes is used in less dire circumstances.” Actually, it was abortionists and their paid spokespersons who admitted that partial-birth abortion is routinely used for purely elective abortions, usually in the fifth and sixth months of pregnancy. For example, Ron Fitzsimmons, executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, told The New York Times that “in the vast majority of cases, the procedure is performed on a healthy mother with a healthy fetus” (Feb.