The Confluence of Idealism and Pragmatism

by thoughtsatlarge

Progress occurs when idealism and pragmatism merge.  However, whether due to the explosion of the internet, or globalization in general, rather than having a better understanding and acceptance of our fellow earthlings, we have splintered society to the point where we only associate with like-minded individuals or groups.  Discussion, debate and compromise have given way to intransigent positions and hatred of others.   All issues now have rabid followers with hardened stances, whether it is gun control, abortion, unions, welfare or UFO’s.   Carl Sagan wrote,

“The chief deficiency I see in the skeptical movement is its polarization: Us vs. Them — the sense that we have a monopoly on the truth; that those other people who believe in all these stupid doctrines are morons; that if you’re sensible, you’ll listen to us; and if not, to hell with you. This is nonconstructive. It does not get our message across. It condemns us to permanent minority status.”

(By the way, it was Richard Feynman who replied to the notion of UFO’s with this calculated response:

“…from my knowledge of the world that I see around me, I think that it is much more likely that the reports of flying saucers are the results of the known irrational characteristics of terrestrial intelligence than of the unknown rational efforts of extra-terrestrial intelligence.”)

No more fractious issue exists than abortion.  Since the Supreme Court’s decision was handed down on January 22, 1973, Roe v. Wade has been a lightning rod for generations and has resulted in a binary opinion status with their corresponding labels of “Pro Life” or “Pro Choice.”  No discussion, no debate, no compromise.  Passion runs deep on both sides.  Each side batters society with horror stories and images designed to persuade an imaginary, nonexistent, undecided populace.

In response to the image below, my son has attempted to suppress emotion and rely on fact to convey a rational position.

Here, for your consideration, is my guest blogger’s post:


1. Abortion is murder

2. Liberals “want to force taxpayers to pay for her to be killed”

3. Liberals value the egg of an eagle more than a human fetus

4. The punishment for murdering an eagle is greater than that of infanticide


1.  Abortion is not infanticide. Abortion ends the life of a fetus, but it is not murder. Abortion is not murder in any sense of the word other than the biological. Personhood does not begin at conception. The death of a fetus can in no way be equated to the death of a conscious adult.

Mary Ann Warren, in her article “On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion” identifies five traits that differentiate personhood from merely the biological definition of being a person. These are consciousness, reasoning, self-motivated activity, the capacity to communicate, and the presence of self-concepts. Neither a human fetus nor an eagle fetus possesses these qualities. Therefore, the fetus is not a person and the eagle fetus is not an eagle. To equate abortion to murder, especially using such a juvenile and slanted phrase as “not only is it legal to kill her” does nothing but cheapen and delegitimize the “pro-life” argument.

2.  Three percent of all Planned Parenthood health services are abortion services. Other services provided by Planned Parenthood:

– Preventing more than 584,000 unintended pregnancies annually

– Providing 770,000 Pap tests and 750,000 breast exams annually

– Providing more than four million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections annually

– Providing educational programs for more than 1.1 million young people and adults annually

“The Hyde amendment, passed in 1976, excludes abortion from the comprehensive healthcare services provided to low-income people by the federal government through Medicaid.”

ACLU – “Public Funding for Abortion”

“If a woman chooses to carry to term, Medicaid (and other federal insurance programs) offer her assistance for the necessary medical care. But if the same woman needs to end her pregnancy, Medicaid (and other federal insurance programs) will not provide coverage for her abortion, even if continuing the pregnancy will harm her health.”

ACLU – “Public Funding for Abortion”

The Supreme Court case ‘Webster v. Reproductive Health Services’ ruled that states were not required to fund abortions that were not medically necessary.

The duty of the government is not to bow to the bigotry of religious groups or overpowered lobbies. Individual objections are not enough to deem abortion legal or illegal. The simple truth is that abortion is the choice of the woman. No panel of elderly men or amount of Bible quotation can be allowed to strip this right from women. Responsibility and freedom cannot be political footballs, only mentioned when they are convenient.

3.  Liberals support a woman’s choice, not the denial of all human potential. The debate is over potential human life, not the “slaughter of babies”. Every prominent Supreme Court ruling has agreed with this, rejecting the “fetus’ right to life” argument.

4.  Infanticide is prosecuted as homicide. Killing bald eagles is not. The chief difference here, which should be obvious, is that eagles are not people. They do not have Warren’s five qualities of personhood. Yes, bald eagles were taken off of the endangered species list in 2007, but those who kill them do face possible prison time and fines. Any person who kills another person faces a lot more than a fine, and rightly so. Animals do not have more rights than humans. Abortion has nothing to do with the economy. Government funds are disallowed from funding abortions.

The proposed laws changing the punishments for infanticide are based on mental health studies and illnesses. Referencing them in this to prove the conservative position is completely inappropriate here.


The comparison between the egg of an eagle and a fetus is inflammatory. Every position or fact in this picture is exaggerated. It paints liberals as hateful murderers and conservatives as the moralistic, enlightened few. Abortion is legal in the United States of America. I can only hope that this continues to be true. The current trend of conservatives having medieval stances on social issues can do nothing but slow progress in civil rights. Abortion is not infanticide. Abortion is not murder in the comparative sense that this photo implies. In the history of The United States, when has the side of freedom and choice not won in the end? The bigots and the judgmental have an alarming habit of converging on one side where abortion is concerned. The loudest voices among us are not always correct.