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April 20, 2007

Linking abortion and death penalty debates

Though many folks on both sides of the political isle view debates over abortion and the death penalty to be completely unrelated, here is one op-ed seeking to link the two.  This piece is authored by John Lillpop, who claims to be "a recovering liberal."  Here's is the heart of his lament:

[A]ccording to liberals like Hillary, women have a "constitutional right" to kill a fetus that is close to birth.  Those same liberals will argue that it is "cruel and unusual" to stick a needle into a brutal serial killer in order to deliver justice.

April 20, 2007 at 09:14 AM | Permalink


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What I find interesting is that liberal justices will fall all over themselves to be solicitous to the rights (real and invented) of killers, yet not even have the intellectual curiosity to see through the difference between the right not to be pregnant for the sake of the mother's health and the right not to be a mother at all. No one disputes the right to terminate a pregnancy to undergo a treatment regimen. The dispute is over the intentional killing of the fetus.

Posted by: federalist | Apr 20, 2007 10:00:58 AM

Huh? Hilary Clinton does not want to abolish the death penalty--she supports its continued use, though with safeguards such as easy availability to DNA testing where such could prove/disprove innocence. Lillpop is being more than a little disingenuous in trying to link her with death penalty abolitionists.

Posted by: anon | Apr 20, 2007 10:49:50 AM

OK. The logical endpoint of this argument is the death penalty for doctors who perform abortions, and ALSO FOR THE WOMEN who choose to have an abortion.

Because killing a fetus-person is exactly equivalent to killing a post-fetus person. And women are really just incubators for the "legitimate state interest" in protecting fetus-persons from harm.

Death penalty for the doctor.
Death penalty for the mother.

Do let us know how that works out for you, Mr. Lillpop.

Posted by: tekel | Apr 20, 2007 11:38:49 AM

and federalist: No one disputes the right to terminate a pregnancy to undergo a treatment regimen.

I hate to be the first one to tell you this, but your statement is factually untrue.

Posted by: tekel | Apr 20, 2007 11:43:13 AM

Somehow I doubt that Hillary would shed a tear if capital punishment were judicially abrogated; moreover, there is little doubt that she would appoint judges who would do so.

well, yes, tekel, I think that some people would dispute that women who are pregnant should not interfere with "nature", but those people are on the true fringes--sorry for not being as precise as possible--in any event, my point is that a woman who say, for instance, gets in a car wreck at 7 mos gestation--no one (or at least very few of us) would say that she doesn't have the right to terminate the pregnancy by inducing labor and having the kid--the issue is whether she would have the right to affirmatively try to kill the kid while doing so. More people would say that pre-viability, she would not have that right, but still very few as a percentage of the population. In any event, it is interesting how liberal judges leave no stone unturned in determining the rights of killers, but yet blithely ignore the plight of viable fetuses which have their brains sucked out.

Posted by: federalist | Apr 20, 2007 12:57:11 PM

I don't get conservatives life federalist who claim to be against the overreaching hand of government but who support the death penalty & oppose abortion.

I oppose the death penalty because I don't like giving the government the power to kill. If 5000 years of recorded human history teaches us anything it is that governments will always use that power to the detriment of their citizenry. 130 million lives were taken by "executions" and noncombat related state sanctioned killings in the 20th century, even one more is too many.

Likewise, I don't want a government so powerful, so strong that it can tell a woman who was raped she must have a child, a woman whose fetus is irreparably damaged she must carry it to term, or tell a woman -- as the Court did on Tuesday -- that she must carry to term even if the pregnancy is potentially life threatening when there is a medically safe way of ending her pregnancy but that it can't be performed because it is not "theologically correct."

Posted by: anon | Apr 20, 2007 1:25:50 PM

well, anon, the reason you don't "get" my view is that I make a distinction between sucking the brains out of viable fetuses and executing murderers.

The difference is between innocence and guilt . . . . . and it's the difference between the legitimacy of actions where government has the "consent of the governed" and where it does not.

In any event, you have given the government the power to kill. Anon, under his powers as commander-in-chief, ChimpyMcBushHitlerHalliburton could wipe out every man, woman and child in Iran. And the ability to execute murderers is a pittance compared to the awesome powers government has over our daily lives, none of which are conditioned on us killing someone.

And anon, please stop couching the right to kill viable fetuses in those terms. This is not about the right to terminate the pregnancy, but about the right to not be a mother. Huge difference. Inducing labor at 7 mos. is no big deal--sucking out the brains is. At least get that right.

Posted by: federalist | Apr 20, 2007 1:58:00 PM

of course, the other version of lillpop's tired rhetoric is:

"according to conservatives a clump of cells inside a womans's body should have more constitutional protections than a real live actual human being who is facing the death penalty. potential life is more important than actual life."

equally vapid, i think.

Posted by: wheeler | Apr 20, 2007 5:03:42 PM


What if we call the death penalty a "very late-term abortion" could we then count on your support to oppose the death penalty?

Posted by: karl | Apr 20, 2007 7:32:07 PM

I will always oppose abortion generally and support the death penalty.

Posted by: federalist | Apr 20, 2007 7:36:33 PM

Usually its the liberals who don't understand the distinction between abortion and the death penalty.

Here (Lillpop's op-ed, not necessarily the comments), the stupidity comes from the conservative side.

Some of us (me included) think that the life of a convicted murderer is inherently less valuable than other life and may be cast aside as long as you've been sufficiently careful to determine that the person is actually a murderer. Some don't.

Some of us think that the life of a fetus is inherently less valuable than other life or less valuable than the mother's right to bodily autonomy because either (1) the fetus is not fully developed or (2) they place a really high value on a woman's right to autonomy. Some people disagree.

These are different criteria for valuing life, and Lillpop doesn't appear to understand the distinction. I agree with "Wheeler"--this op-ed is pretty vapid stuff, as is most of the rhetoric on the other side linking DP and abortion.

I'd be interested in seeing a good argument for the proposition that this distinction is meritless, but I haven't seen any serious attempt in that direction yet.

Posted by: WB | Apr 22, 2007 2:54:49 PM

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