Monday, August 31, 2015

Our Fundamental Worship And Praise Problem

This evening I watched on the National Geographic Channel "Inside North Korea," an hour-long special from 2009 with Lisa Ling. She accompanies a medical team visiting the country to do cataract surgeries and train North Korean doctors. Most of it was what one might expect from a documentary about North Korea, but the end of the program was a big shock for me as it showed how those who regained their eyesight due to the medical procedure emotionally thanked their country's former dictator for healing them, not the medical team.

The way the people reacted was exactly like fundamentalist religious people act when they give credit to their god for doing something done by doctors (or anyone, really). If you watch the episode beginning just after the 41 minute mark, you'll see what I mean.

I can't help but think we humans have a fundamental flaw that allows so many of us to worship in this manner. So many of us are willing to misdirect our praise, and we do this for real people as well as fictional ones--it doesn't seem to matter. Once that part of this unfortunate aspect of some of us is tapped, it is apparently open to be directed without integrity.

I can only hope that at some point our descendants will outgrow this serious problem.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Self-Defense, Fetal Personhood, Stand Your Ground All Support Abortion Rights

With misleadingly edited Planned Parenthood videos putting abortion in the news, I think it's important to again bring up a missing justification for abortion that hardly ever gets the attention it deserves: self-defense.

A pregnancy certainly is an assault on a pregnant woman's body. She, therefore, should be legally allowed to take measures to end the attack, including abortion. The legal recognition of self-defense as a valid action goes back millennia.

But adding to a valid self-defense claim are two tactics pushed by anti-abortion forces that actually increase the legality of abortion. The first is what's known as the fetal personhood idea. If, as supporters of this idea desire, a fetus is declared to be a person like any other, the claim of self-defense against that "person" becomes just like any other claim against any other person. There is no exception to the legal concept of self-defense when one person is being attacked by another. This is constitutionally supported  under the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection clause.

The second tactic comes form those who support "stand your ground" laws, the legal idea that "individuals can use force to defend themselves without first attempting to retreat from the danger." These laws exist in some jurisdictions now and are being pushed by conservatives to be enacted elsewhere.

People who to try to outlaw abortions don't realize it, but these combined legal points actually increase the legal justification for abortion at any time.

So, if a fetus is not legally seen as a person, there is no basis in the law on which to outlaw abortions because the pregnant woman is not harming anyone. On the other hand, if the fetus is declared to be a person, a pregnant woman actually has the addition legal support of the universal tenet of self-defense that clearly allows an abortion to be performed if so desired, and in areas where "stand your ground laws" exist, her legal justification is even more solid.