Opinion

Open letter attacking Ben Carson’s pro-life views fails on every point

Following Dr. Ben Carson’s strong stand for life over the weekend on Meet the Press, the Huffington Post is attacking the presidential candidate with an open letter to Carson by playwright, political science professor, and self-professed “ordained minister and a person of faith” Monica Bauer.

After some lip service to how Carson “seem[s] like a sincere person who wants to do the right thing,” she proceeds to challenge him on “a couple of things that just maybe no one in your circle has ever discussed with you.”

As we will soon see, this condescension is mostly projection:

First of all, if it is as simple as all that, and all abortions were about killing a baby, how do you explain the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade? This was a 7-2 decision. It was not simply liberals versus conservatives.

Even if they’re Supreme Court justices, a pool of nine people is hardly representative of broader public opinion. Add in the facts that one of the dissenters, Byron White, was actually a Democrat appointee, or that what we think of as modern conservatism hadn’t even fully formed at the time (the GOP wasn’t even officially pro-life until a few years later), and there’s nothing here that tells us anything meaningful about Roe’s merits.

Do you think the members of the Court’s majority were under the influence of Satan?

Does Bauer think setting up cartoonish theories of the Justices’ motives that Carson never suggested makes her case stronger or weaker?

Because if you believe all abortions kill babies, then you’ve just called seven distinguished Supreme Court Justices baby-killers.

It wouldn’t be the first time the Supreme Court ruled in favor of evil; remember their role in keeping slavery and segregation legal? Since when do public officials’ “distinguished” status mean they’re incapable of doing morally abominable things?

The Supreme Court made a distinction between a late-term abortion, where there is an actual baby who could be born and survive outside the mother’s womb, and an abortion in the first trimester, where you really must agree to the science here, that a cluster of cells or a less than half ounce fetus is not anywhere close to a definition of an actual baby. It is a potential baby, but it is potential.

Two things here: first, having taught constitutional law, Bauer really ought to know that the Court actually didn’t claim to know their dividing line between potential and actual babies was correct; they stated outright they “need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins.” Contrary to Bauer’s later contention that SCOTUS stuck to “the unbiased view of science,” they used the (supposed) absence of scientific consensus as a justification for ducking the question entirely. Even assuming they sincerely believed that, shouldn’t the fact that we now do have a clear consensus mean it’s time to reevaluate Roe?

Second, what Bauer is saying isn’t actually “the science here,” so why “must” we “really” agree with it? “The science” has clear criteria for all the relevant aspects of a “real baby”—whether it’s alive, whether it’s human, whether it’s an organism—and none of them rest on an embryo or fetus’s size. That’s why the real science has conclusively established that from conception onward, the baby is actual, not potential.

There is no real functioning brain, therefore no real humanity. I understand the brain is your specialty. So surely you know all about fetal brain development.

The presence of a brain is also not included in the criteria for humanity (linked above). As Scott Klusendorf explains:

A brain-dead individual has suffered an irreversible cessation of the body’s ability to function as a coordinated organism. He or she is properly dead. Embryos, meanwhile, don’t need a brain to function as coordinated organisms. Something else coordinates their bodily systems so that they function as living organisms.

Further, it’s remarkable that she is telling the neurosurgeon that he doesn’t understand the brain’s significance. Humility would instead counsel considering the possibility that just maybe she should be learning from his expertise on the subject, not the other way around.

The Supreme Court allowed states to limit late term abortions, where the fetus really is a baby with a functioning brain, and may decide to allow abortions then only to save the life or health of the mother.

Not quite the complete picture—Roe’s companion abortion ruling, Doe v. Bolton, defined “health” to include any conceivable “physical, emotional, psychological, [or] familial” impact of a pregnancy, effectively meaning the power to kill one of those babies Bauer concedes “really is a baby” is only limited by the abortionist and abortion seeker’s ingenuity in creating justifications.

But early on, when the vast majority of abortions are performed, science calls these fetuses and not babies for a reason.

Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, WebMD, the US Health and Human Services Department, and Merriam-Webster, all of which use “baby” to refer to the preborn, would be very surprised to learn they don’t follow science.

You think God tells you all abortion is murder […] The Court cannot take into account the view of one religion over another; that is the whole point of forbidding an establishment of religion.

First, abortion isn’t just murder according to religion; it’s also murder according to secular science and the legal and philosophical foundations of the United States. Second, if one believes in the Judeo-Christian God, it’s not just that one “thinks” He deems abortion murder. His Bible objectively condemns the shedding of all innocent blood, makes no exception for before the innocent are born, and speaks of God knowing His children before birth.

You would be the first to say you base your position on your interpretation of the Bible. Well then, you are free to try and convince others of the righteousness of your cause. You are free to try and convince a majority. But until you do, to the extent that you could actually pass a constitutional amendment banning abortions, you are stuck.

Not true. The Fourteenth Amendment provides sufficient legal basis for abolishing abortion without a constitutional amendment, and while the separation of church and state does forbid violating people’s actual rights by forcing them to follow a particular religious tenet, it does not say that religious values cannot inform the principles we apply to non-sectarian questions of justice—after all, the whole point of America is protecting rights that were “endowed” on the people “by their Creator.”

This is a terrible position to be in, because you honestly think you live in a country where people regularly kill babies. But I live in a country where I think the government regularly decides to take money that could be used to save the lives of born children, and instead of spending it on their care, decides to spend more money on the military.

So wait—now Bauer does think it’s okay to suggest government actions are deeply immoral? Just a few paragraphs ago it was unthinkable to suggest SCOTUS legalized killing babies because they were so “distinguished”!

This is also a terrible position to be in for me, because I can cite you chapter and verse all over the New Testament where Jesus doesn’t just suggest we take care of the poor, he commands it.

He commands taking care of the poor. He does not command that we outsource our commitment to the poor to the government, or prescribe a specific government policy of helping the poor. As one of the best memes floating around Facebook lately puts it:

Jesus Help Your Neighbor Big Government Meme

[I]f your side ever wins, then my daughter and her daughters will be forced to stay pregnant, when their life circumstances, their own physical and mental health, would be much better served if they could safely terminate a fetus of one or two month’s gestation, about half the size of the palm of your hand.

Don’t be so sure the “choice” to abort would be safer in the long run. From mortality and infertility to breast cancer and psychological problems, the fallout of abortion is far uglier than the media and the abortion industry have led you to believe.

And at this point, when my side has won, we haven’t forced your daughter, or her daughter after her, to do anything against her will.

Responsible lawmaking isn’t about just making sure your children are safe and throwing everyone else’s children to the wolves. Your side is forcing every American to be born in the future into a nine-month window of Russian roulette, during which one person in their lives holds absolute power to deprive them of their lives, health, and freedom—far more harmfully, comprehensively, and permanently than what your side would be “forced” (not really) into by not having abortion.

This is one area where Ben Carson’s calm, unflappable demeanor is an asset. There are plenty of politicians who would respond to this motley assortment of falsehoods and clichés by stumbling over themselves to parse their words and reassure voters more wishy-washy on abortion that they’re not so bad after all.

But if Carson simply continues to turn in performances like the one on Meet the Press—cool, confident articulation of the pro-life case and the failure of pro-abortion logic—the difference between their truth and the emptiness of attacks like this one will be perfectly clear to those paying attention.

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