Supreme Emergency

I’ve been reading Moral Philosophy: A Reader, 4th edition (edited by Louis P. Pojman and Peter Tramel) and found it to be very interesting, enough so that I’ve actually said to people, “I’m enjoying studying philosophy.” One essay caught my attention because of my interests in history and ethics. I have always been a World War II buff and the last part of this book (Applied Ethics) contains three essays regarding that period of time and the morality of bombing civilian population areas. In reading the selections on this topic, I found parallels in the abortion debate that should make us stop and think.

The essay that really caught my attention was an excerpt from Just and Unjust Wars by Michael Walzer. In a war, one of the conventions modern nations attempt to keep is that combatants fight with other combatants and that civilians should not be targeted. Yet, there are times, called supreme emergencies by Walzer, where it is justifiable to break those conventions. So what defines a supreme emergency? Walzer states:

It is defined by two criteria, which correspond to the two levels on which the concept of necessity works: the first has to do with the imminence of the danger and the second with its nature. The two criteria must both be applied. Neither one by itself is sufficient as an account of extremity or as a defense of the extraordinary measures extremity is thought to require. Close but not serious, serious but not close–neither one makes for a supreme emergency. (Pojman and Tramel, 450)

And that’s exactly what the pro-aborts do: create a situation in the minds of abortion-vulnerable women so that they feel they are in a position of close and serious danger. They tell women: you’ll never finish high school or college; your career is in danger; there’s no way you can handle another child in addition to the ones you already have; you were expecting to have one child not twins; you’re going to have too many challenges while raising a child with a mental or physical disability; you will be reminding of being raped every day you look at that child. By playing on the fear that the women may already have, rather than counseling them and supporting them, pro-aborts have created a sense of supreme emergency.

Although most Americans think about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki when thinking about the bombing of civilians during WWII, the fact is the Nazis did it extensively to England and the Soviet Union; and in retaliation, the British did it extensively to Germany and German-held territories. The British justified it by saying “tactical use of bombers [against military targets] could not stop Hitler and that the destruction of cities could” and “the bombers alone…provide the means of victory.” (455)

And that’s exactly what the pro-aborts do: they tell abortion-vulnerable women that the only option they have is to get an abortion. If that wasn’t true, what would explain the fact that although the largest abortion provider in the United States, Planned Parenthood, claims to make adoption referrals, 92 percent of the pregnant women they serve abort their babies? Or that some affiliates have abysmal numbers adoption referrals, in one case, Planned Parenthood of Indiana had only 12 adoptions in 7 years.

The next step is to dehumanize those you are about to act upon. Walzer notes that the Allies did not bomb occupied French civilian areas because they were seen as allies, the Allies had “special commitments to the French,” and the goal was to free the French from Nazi occupation. But the German citizens, though not in control of Nazi policy or the execution of the war, were seen as part of the problem. They were faulted for contributing to the Nazi war effort and therefore were to be punished in addition to the Nazi leadership. Walzer explains that some might have thought that “it makes sense to say that there were more people in German than in French cities who were responsible (in some fashion) for the evil of Nazism, and we may well be reluctant to extend to them the full range of civilian rights.” (456)

And that’s exactly what the pro-aborts do: the original arguments supporting abortion included calling the pre-born baby a mass of cells, a clump of tissue, or a parasite. Now that scientific and medical progress has shown those claims to be false, the pro-aborts now say that the pre-born baby isn’t really a person, it’s just a potential person and that since it needs the continued assistance of another (the mother), then it’s the mother’s rights and desires that are more important than the pre-born baby’s. Can you also hear how these arguments are made to support ending the life of those with disabilities, the terminally ill, or the elderly? The quality of life they have or will have do not meet our definition of what it means to be a person so why shouldn’t we help them end their lives?

Finally, Walzer notes that the British bombings of German cities, after the initial bombings in late 1940, were no longer justified by July 1942 when Winston Churchill stated:

In the days when we were fighting alone, we answered the questions: “How are you going to win the war?” by saying: “We will shatter Germany by bombing.” Since then the enormous injuries inflicted on the German Army and manpower by the Russians, and the accession of the manpower and munitions of the United States, have rendered other possibilities open. (456)

Certainly by 1945 when the Germans Army was in collapse and the war was about to be ended, the continued bombing of civilians was no longer needed, therefore the bombing of Dresden, which killed approximately 100,000 people, was an unjustifiable act.

And that’s exactly what’s still happening today: with the availability of resources available from public and private organizations, women facing unwanted pregnancies are not alone. There are places to turn to, there are people willing to help. Yet 1.2 million abortions in the United States are still performed every year and over 40 million abortions per year occur worldwide. This all happens despite the fact that there is no close and serious threat to be addressed by ending these innocent lives.

Finally, speaking about the innocent civilians in German cities bombed by the Allies during WWII, Walzer writes:

We can recognize their horror only when we have acknowledged the personality and value of the men and women we destroy in committing them [acts we would not normally do]. It is the acknowledgement of rights that puts a stop to such calculations [to justify these acts] and forces us to realize that the destruction of the innocent, whatever its purposes, is a kind of blasphemy against our deepest moral commitments. (457, additional comments are mine)

It’s time to acknowledge the rights of the baby in the womb. It’s time that we speak up for them. And it’s time “to realize that the destruction of the innocent, whatever its purpose, is a kind of blasphemy against our deepest moral commitments.”

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