Why Not Kill Abortion Doctors?

Subject: Abortion

Dear Father,

Dennis Prager is a conservative Jewish commentator who frequently speaks about abortion. He is pro-choice but believes most abortions are immoral and he doesn't believe there should be abortion on demand throughout pregnancy. (if you're not familiar with him, he has a website dennisprager.com) He frequently asks this question: "if abortion is equal to murder, why not kill abortion doctors?" In other words, if you had a chance to prevent the murder of over a million human beings a year....is it not morally right to kill the perpetrators if given the opportunity?

He obviously isn't advocating the murder of abortion doctors. He is raising what seems to be a valid moral argument. Certainly, most people look at the murder of an abortion doctor as a repugnant act, but most people would feel differently if a murdered doctor were responsible for the murders of hundreds of babies and children after birth. I don't believe this difference is responses to be the result of a secular society's conditioning but rather, a natural instinctive recognition that there is a big difference between destroying a two month old embryo and murdering a two month old child.

What is your response?


Dear Pat,

That is a very provocative question, well stated. I am curious how people responded. FIRST THINGS Magazine had an article and several letters to the editor which addressed the question - but, as you can imagine, did not come up with any clear conclusions. I would like to ask it in a bit different way.

This is the scenario: Suppose a couple had been trying to have a baby for many years. They had given up hope, but then almost miraculously, they discover they are pregnant. They can't contain their joy, so they start telling their family and friends. One of them considers they will be unfit parents, the child would suffer and there are too many children in the world anyway. He convinces a doctor, for a small fee, to drug the mom and perform an abortion. She wakes up and sees on the table the fetal remains - tiny feet, head, hands, arteries. Is what the doctor did illegal? Should it be illegal?

Our moral response indicates the philosophical underpinnings of the "right to abortion." In the above scenario the baby has great value because the parents want him. In a normal abortion the baby's value is considered small - or even negative - because the parents, at least the mother, does not want him.

German philosophers in nineteenth century, like Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, believed the fundamental reality is Will. That philosophy has triumphed in our culture, especially in the abortion debate. It seems to me that what you refer to as a "natural instinctive recognition" really is an expression of the view that human worth is not something instrinsic, but rather because we are wanted or valued by others. Do you see what I mean, Pat?

There's obviously much more that could be said about why people consider the murder of an abortion doctor a repugnant act. I do myself, but not because he is innocent. By the way, do you know how many U.S. abortion doctors have been murdered since January 1973?


Fr. Phil Bloom

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