Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Is Waterboarding Worse Than Abortion?

Check out Conor Friedersdorf and his essay, "A Question for War on Terror Hawks."

Friedersdorf basically equates the actions of one lone wacko with those of an international terrorist network that's responsible for the 9/11 attacks, as well as a number of other terrorist atrocities around the world in recent decades.

Why such equivalence? Friedersdorf wonders what the reaction would be had President Obama "declared two or three of these extremist pro-lifers" as enemy combatants? "Should President Obama have the prerogative to order the waterboarding of these uncharged, untried detainees?"

Folks can read the whole thing for a sense of Friederdorf's total unseriousness. But my friend Jan at Vinegar and Honey has written along these lines in her post, "
It Will Never Make Sense To Me." Jan compares waterboarding and late-term abortions. Maybe Mr. Friedersdorf might like to respond to her questions:

There has been much discussion about the pros and cons of "water boarding" and whether or not it constitutes "torture." Also, of great concern are the "rights" of the recipients of the water boarding technique.

I know what the word "torture" means, as defined by a dictionary, and I know what the word conjures up in my own mind. What I really don't understand is what the difference might be if a "terrorist" is tortured by the water boarding method, as compared to an abortion, and especially, a partial-birth abortion performed on an innocent fetus, in terms of suffering.

Maybe what I'm really trying to reconcile in my own mind, is how the opponents of water boarding, who vehemently protest the cruelty of it, and diligently pursue "justice" and "protection of civil rights" for the recipients of it, justify the pain and suffering endured by the innocents who have done nothing, but are tortured in the most inhumane way during an abortion--while at the same time loudly protesting the mistreatment of some very bad people intent on killing us, one and all.I looked up a few things about both subjects. Perhaps, you will tell me what you think, after we compare the two.

Water Boarding

Water boarding as it is currently described involves strapping a person to an inclined board, with his feet raised and his head lowered. The interrogators bind the person's arms and legs so he can't move at all, and they cover his face. In some descriptions, the person is gagged, and some sort of cloth covers his nose and mouth; in others, his face is wrapped in cellophane. The interrogator then repeatedly pours water onto the person's face. Depending on the exact setup, the water may or may not actually get into the person's mouth and nose; but the physical experience of being underneath a wave of water seems to be secondary to the psychological experience. The person's mind believes he is drowning, and his gag reflex kicks in as if he were choking on all that water falling on his face.

Pain In The Unborn

“The neural pathways are present for pain to be experienced quite early by unborn babies.”– Steven Calvin, perinatologist, University of Minnesota.

An unborn child at 20 weeks gestation “is fully capable of experiencing pain... Without question, [abortion] is a dreadfully painful experience for any infant subjected to such a surgical procedure.”– Robert J. White, MD., Ph.D. professor of neurosurgery, Case Western Reserve University.

“At 20 weeks, the fetal brain has the full complement of brain cells present in adulthood, ready and waiting to receive pain signals from the body, and their electrical activity can be be recorded by standard electroencephalography (EEG)”– Dr. Paul Ranalli, neurologist, University of Toronto.

An unborn child has less legal protection from feeling pain than commercial livestock.

In a slaughterhouse, a method of slaughter is deemed legally humane only if “all animals are rendered insensible to pain by a single blow or gunshot or an electrical,chemical, or other means that is rapid and effective, before being shackled, hoisted,thrown, cast, or cut.” (Section 2 of the Humane Slaughter Act, 7 USC 1902).

By contrast, D&E abortions, performed as late as 24 weeks (well after the child begins to feel pain), involve the dismemberment of the unborn child by a pair of sharp metal forceps.(9) Instillation methods of abortion (performed even in the third trimester) involve the replacement of up to one cup of amniotic fluid with a concentrated salt solution, which the unborn child inhales as the salt burns her skin.The child lives in this condition for up to an hour. In neither of these techniques is the unborn child provided with any form of anesthesia(1013)

Robert George writes in his essay, "Obama and His Pro-Life Apologists," something rather thought-provoking: President Obama knows that an unborn baby is human. He knows that the blood shed by the abortionist’s knife is human blood, that the bones broken are human bones. He does not deny that the baby whom nurse Jill Stanek discovered gasping for breath in a soiled linen bin after a failed attempt to end her life by abortion, was a human baby. Even in opposing the Illinois Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which was designed to assure that such babies were rescued if possible or at least given comfort care while they died, Barack Obama did not deny the humanity of the child. What he denied, and continues to deny, is the fundamental equality of that child—equality with those of us who are safely born and accepted into the human community."

The sad part of all of this, is that the President is not the only one who persists in defending the rights of the women who choose to abort, and the abortionists, but sadder, still, is the fact that they all put more value on the well-being, and lives of a terrorist, than they do on an innocent little child who has no one to come to his defense as a human being with the right to live.

Is water boarding worse than being burned alive, poisoned, or torn to pieces?

From Vinegar and Honey, "It Will Never Make Sense To Me."


Mark Harvey said...

I went through SERE training and I was water boarded, placed in the hot box, had my elbows tied together, swam in filth, breathed putrid air and several other "interesting" events took place. However, no one ever inserted an object into my cranial cavity and sucked my brains out.

Just sayin'.

cracker said...

With this line of thought....

(Abortions are torture, just like water-boarding....if I'm reading this authors intent correctly(?))

The next connection is that,

bombing is torture....

therefore war is torture

outlaw torture

then you outlaw war, bombing , water-boarding and abortions.

Sounds like a serious pro-life agenda

jim treacher said...

Folks can read the whole thing for a sense of Friederdorf's total unseriousness.

No need, that's a given. Way to go, Cruddy Cons.

courtneyme109 said...

So far more journalists than terrorists have been 'waterboarded".

So far no journalists have volunteered to have their finger nails ripped out, have irons bungee corded to their bodies -- or -- volunteer for an abortion.

Conor Friedersdorf said...

I do not equate the actions of one lone wacko with that of an international terrorist organization -- obviously Al Qaeda is infinitely more dangerous and murderous than fringe pro-lifers in the United States, and I'd never assert otherwise.

The fact remains that if you give the President broad powers to fight terrorists -- or if you assert, as Bush did, that he inherently possesses those powers -- he can abuse those powers, using them to fight not just arguably existential threats like Al Qaeda, but also far lesser threats like pro-life extremists.

That is the point of my post -- that while I do not favor using War on Terror techniques against fringe anti-abortion protestors, lots of conservatives are advocating levels of presidential power that would allow such an unfortunate thing to come about.

To me, this suggests that conservatives should change their stance on executive power. I'd appreciate it if you grappled with my actual argument rather than assuming bad faith, constructing a straw man, and knocking it down.

AmPowerBlog said...

"I do not equate the actions of one lone wacko with that of an international terrorist organization ..."

Ah, but you do, Mr. Freidersdorf. You do ...

Conor Friedersdorf said...

Um, Donald Douglas -- no, I don't! If I did I'd tell you. If you disagree, please excerpt the portion of my post that leads you to believe otherwise.