A Moral Choice?

There is an intruder in my building, and I need to figure out what to do. Originally posted at http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/01/a_moral_choice.html and the Ridgewood Blog.

A Moral Choice? By Vostra Guida

I'd like to get your opinion on something. 

I own a building.  Most of the building is made up of non-living areas, but there is one apartment in the building that is a suitable residence.  That apartment, however, is not usually occupied by any people.  From time to time, I might let a friend use other parts of my building, but I am usually very careful to lock the door to the hallway leading to the apartment because I don't want anyone in there.  In addition, my building has an internal alarm system that will let me know if something moves in that apartment.  By accident, one day I forgot to lock those hallway doors when one of my friends came by.

A few days later, my building's internal alarms went off -- alerting me to the fact that something had entered the apartment.  I sent someone to inspect and they reported back to me that there was some food remnants found in the apartment that were not in there before.  There were other signs that something had been or was in the apartment as it did not look the way it normally did.  He could not say for sure whether it was a person, an animal, insects, or something else, but that there was a good chance that it could be a person.  I spoke to a friend of mine who has a similar building and she said that, from time to time she had found a homeless person in the usually unoccupied apartment at her building.

I really was not interested in having someone in the only residential apartment I had in my building, so I hired someone to fumigate the apartment.  When he arrived at the door to the apartment, the fumigator called me on his cell phone to say that he could hear something in the apartment but he could not tell for sure if it was an animal or a person.

I told him I didn't want to know what it was and that I just wanted whatever it was out of my apartment.  So I told him to open the door and place the fumigating bomb in the apartment so that whatever was in there would not cause me any more problems.  So he did just that and left.

When I told some people about what happened, they were extremely upset with me.  They claimed that I had no right to do that and that if there was a person in the apartment -- and the person died from the poison -- I and the fumigator had committed murder!

Who the heck do these people think they are?  Are they insane?  It is my building and my apartment.  What right do they have to say anything about what I do with my building?  Besides, the fumigator and I did not know for sure that it was a person -- it could have been a rat or something else as far as we knew.  Even if it was a homeless person, why should I be held responsible for whatever happens to him/her when he/she was the one trespassing in my building?  Just because I forgot to lock the door to the hallway one day does not mean that some homeless person had the right to start living in my apartment when I didn't want them to live there.

So what do you think?  Did I do something morally wrong?

What if I told you the "building" is my body, the "apartment" is my womb, and the "fumigator" is an abortionist?

Are you still pro-choice?

To me, it is simple.  If you don't know for sure that what is in the womb is not a human life, then how can you justify taking actions that will kill it?

Now, can there be exceptions?  Of course there can.  For example, if another person's existence is threatening to end your life, you have every right to defend yourself, including by killing that other person if necessary.  There may be other limited exceptions that reasonable people can discuss (e.g., rape or incest).  But the point of the above story is to stop all of this "It is my body and I can do whatever I want with it" nonsense in circumstances where your actions may cause the termination of another human life.  The starting point should always be that innocent human life should be protected whenever possible.  Mere inconvenience is not a justification for ending an innocent human life.

Bottom line, if we are not sure whether something is or is not a human life, shouldn't we error on the side of protecting that life?


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thetentman January 23, 2013 at 11:31 PM
Please resume your medications.
thetentman January 24, 2013 at 02:23 AM
Do you celebrate your birthday or your conception day?
Vostra Guida January 24, 2013 at 02:37 PM
I celebrate my birthday as that is the tradition. Based on your comment, I assume that you believe that human life does not begin until after birth, and the "logic" you offer in support of that position is the fact that we choose to celebrate birthdays. Pretty weak argument. What proof do you have that human life does not begin until (whatever you want to call the baby) is expelled from the mother? To be fair, like you, I have no proof of when human life begins. I may have my beliefs, but no proof as to when the exact moment in time life begins. And that is the point of my story. When you are dealing with the possibility that another human life exists inside the womb, we should error on the side of protecting it with only limited exceptions.
Vostra Guida January 24, 2013 at 02:37 PM
Unable to put together an intelligent response thetentman finds comfort in an attempt at mockery.
thetentman January 24, 2013 at 03:19 PM
What gives you the right to determine what a woman can or cannot do with her body. Is this a moral right or based on religion? Do you support the death penalty?
Vostra Guida January 24, 2013 at 04:20 PM
Did you even read the story? What gives us the right to tell the building owner that she cannot throw a poisonous bomb into the apartment without first making sure that a homeless person is not in there? The story does not rely on any religious beliefs, it relies on the fact that we don't know when life begins so until we do, we should protect an INNOCENT human life with few exceptions. That is what gives society the right to tell all of us what we can and can't do with our own bodies. I can't do whatever I want with my body if it will kill you, can I? What does the death penalty have to do with this conversation?
bob January 24, 2013 at 04:21 PM
It's my building, my apartment and as long as I follow my conscience and the law I should have every right to do as I see appropriate. Stay out of my building please.
thetentman January 24, 2013 at 05:00 PM
The story is a tortured fabrication of your fertile, but limited imagination, and is tailored to your point of view. What should have happened in the story is that the police should have been called. As of now abortion is legal in this country and a woman has every right to choose what to do with her body and no one has the right to tell her otherwise. I do not understand your moral imperative to protect life. We kill in wars, with drones and sanction death all the time. You have the right to believe whatever you want about the sacredness of life but you do not have the right to impose it on others especially when the legal system disagrees with you..
Joe videodummy January 24, 2013 at 05:18 PM
Vostra Your tact and approach works for me but, well, people use a more compasionate approach today. In most cases they call the police, in some cases they call an attorney, and in a few cases they enter the apartment themselves and confront the intruder head-on. All three ways will get some results, but only the last way will give you personal satisfaction. The problem is, it will also get you in the most trouble if the intruder becomes hostile and you have to escalate to other measures like using a baseball bat to calm the situation down a little. During these times you need to appeal to your softer side and ask yourself if it's really going to be worth it. Poisioning the intruder sounds more like 'fun' - not to me of course- but the compasionate public may not see the same enjoyment in it as we do.
Vostra Guida January 24, 2013 at 09:10 PM
Joe, I'm not sure you understood the story. I do not agree with the approach taken by the woman in the story and I don't think poisoning someone sounds "fun".
Vostra Guida January 24, 2013 at 09:37 PM
Why, thetentman, do you always resort to ad hominem attacks? What does it matter whether my imagination is limited or boundless in this context? Don't worry, I can take it, but it really does not speak well of your own intelligence or compassion. You next attack my story as being tailored to my point of view. Have not all of your comments been tailored to your point of view? Does that make your thoughts invalid? Yes, abortion is legal in this country (with some limitations). What does that have to do with this conversation. Just because something is the law does not mean that it is right (slavery was once legal too, women were not allowed to vote, etc.). With respect to my "moral imperative to protect life" guilty as charged. I do think it is important to protect innocent life. The lack of respect for life has been hurting this country for some time now. As for killing in the context of war, you can read about it at http://soldier-ethicist.blogspot.com/2005/10/killing-in-war-rights-based.html (I am not an expert). Finally, I have not imposed anything on you or others. I have offered my thoughts on an important issue. It may persuade some, it may persuade none, but in the U.S. we are allowed to say what we think. And I am allowed to seek changes to laws that I find to be unjust. Finally, our current laws against murder impose someone's beliefs on the rest of us, don't they? Are you ok with those laws, or do you believe in every man/woman for himself/herself.
thetentman January 24, 2013 at 11:09 PM
Vos, You wrote the story seeking attention for your belief that abortion is morally wrong and I agree. However society has made the judgement that it should be allowed and in light of a woman's right to control her own body I agree with the law as it now exists. I am glad that I never had to make the choice. I am also glad that the waning influence of religion will soon reduce the amount of zealots who believe on imposing their will on others.
Vostra Guida January 25, 2013 at 01:29 AM
While I don't agree with your needless personal attacks (just because someone disagrees with you does not make them a religious zealot) I respect your right to your opinion. My opinion is not based on religion (if it were, my argument would have been that God or the Pope tells us that life begins at conception). My point is that I am not so arrogant as to believe that I know for sure when life begins, and that if people are honest with themselves, they would have to admit that they too do not know for certain when life begins. If people recognize that point, then my hope is that they too would feel that our laws should be tempered so as to risk the loss of life only in the most necessary circumstances. In my opinion (and you are free to disagree) the circumstances should be limited to where the life of the mother is at stake or in the case of rape. While I recognize that the second circumstance (rape) is technically incongruous with my general belief in protecting innocent life (technically the fetus conceived in rape did not do anything wrong itself), I could not look at a woman brutalized by a rapist and demand that she be brutalized every day for 9 months as she carried that baby to term and then force her to live the rest of her life knowing that she brought into this world something that is half her and half her rapist (and adding insult to injury the rapist might have parental rights). I do not think that other circumstances (like inconvenience) justify abortion.
Vostra Guida January 25, 2013 at 01:45 AM
thetentman, Unless YOU make the laws, all laws are based on the imposition of someone else's beliefs/opinions (not necessarily in the religious sense) on others unless the law is, at the time of its adoption and from that day forward, universally accepted by ALL people as a just law. Law IS the imposition of society's will, and society's will is determined by the beliefs and opinions of its people. You could go live on an deserted island alone if you want to live where only laws imposed by your own will must be followed, but short of that, you will be living under at least some laws made by others and based on the beliefs of others. That is why civil discourse is important so that people have the opportunity to hear the ideas of others and decide for themselves whether they agree or disagree. And we are lucky to live in a country where we have a say as to the laws that get written via our right to vote for representatives that share our beliefs, values, opinions, etc. You like the abortion laws as they currently exist. I would make some changes. Isn't that what makes our country special? If abolitionists or suffragists did not seek to change unjust laws, we might still have slavery and might still be denying women the right to vote. Let people talk, keep an open mind, respond with thoughtful points without personal attacks, and perhaps we will end up with a better world.
kevin January 25, 2013 at 03:37 PM
So according to your beliefs it would have been okay to fumigate the property if the "visitor" was a rapist? Or was "left there by a rapist?
Vostra Guida January 25, 2013 at 04:23 PM
By week 6 the heart is beating. By week 18 hearing is possible. By week 24 pain is felt (some argue it is earlier). Nevertheless, under New Jersey law, THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO RESTRICTION AS TO HOW LATE AN ABORTION MAY BE PERFORMED. It is legal up to the moment of birth. NJ also does not require parental notification (minors are permitted to get abortions without parental notification, let alone consent -- yet the school nurse can't give your kid an aspirin without parental permission). NJ does not require infants who survive an abortion to be given life-saving medical care (those babies are allowed to die on the table without any care). I think most people would agree that there is room for change in our laws here in NJ. Nationally, there have been over 55 million abortions since 1973 when Roe v. Wade was decided. And in 2009, 41% of all pregnancies in New York City ended in abortion and that number is at 60% for the black community. Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/07/nyregion/07abortion.html?_r=1. Given all of the above, our laws on abortion can and should do better than being rooted in the philosophy of "it is my body and I can do whatever I want with it."
Vostra Guida January 25, 2013 at 04:39 PM
Kevin, Do you believe a woman who was raped should be forced to have the baby? I do not. And as I admitted above (see post from 8:36 pm on Thursday, January 24, 2013), my position with respect to the rape exception is incongruous with my general belief in protecting innocent life. But in the end, in the case of rape, I cannot in good conscience, considering all of the physical and emotional trauma that goes along with rape, prevent a woman from acting to put that horrible experience behind her (or at least try to). I know some women have given birth under those circumstances and that is to be respected, but in my opinion it is one area where there must be flexibility. I don't know where you stand on the rape question, but if you are against that exception your are calling me a hypocrite (and I really do not have a defense to that other than what I explained above). If you are in favor of the rape exception along with abortion generally, your tactic is exactly the type that makes it impossible for people to reach compromise on the abortion issue. You want all people who feel that our abortion laws are too liberal to take a stance against abortion in the case of rape because it would allow you to paint them as monsters. Sorry, but I simply do not fit into that mold, and I am comfortable with that.
JAFO January 25, 2013 at 04:56 PM
The basis of your position is that "When you are dealing with the possibility that another human life exists inside the womb, we should error on the side of protecting it with only limited exceptions". This is where I struggle with the abortion argument as I'm not sure anyone is qualified to determine when life begins. You seem to believe that life begins at conception (or some short time thereafter). Many others disagree, and I can't fault them for thinking otherwise. Any educated person should recognize that logical arguments can be made for both positions. My personal feeling is that since both "sides" can be right, we need to grant the building owner permission to make the decision they feel comfortable with. I may disagree with their ultimate decision, but why should my opinion dictate what their actions need to be?
Vostra Guida January 25, 2013 at 06:10 PM
JAFO, First, let me thank you for offering your opinion without attacking me personally -- very refreshing. To be clear, I do not count myself among those who think they know when life begins (I admit I do not and I think that no one really knows). As a result, and because we may be talking about life and death, I think we, as a society, should craft laws that error on the side of caution and do our best to limit the chances that we are doing something horrific. We have many laws in this country that endorse one side over another where both sides might be "right." Just to give you a simple example, some people think all speed limits should be 25 miles per hour because that will significantly reduce deaths. Some people argue that 25 miles per hour is too slow for today's world and that we need to be able to go faster to get where we are going. Both sides might be "right" but we don't say "since both sides have valid arguments we will let each person choose what they think is right." Instead, we make laws about speed limtis and impose consequenses on those who speed. As I said before, every law is based on someone's opinion dictating what the actions of others may be. I think our law in NJ, that permits abortion up until the moment of birth, is extreme. As a result, I have a right to advocate for laws that would change that law, just as you have a right to advocate keeping that law.
JAFO January 25, 2013 at 07:41 PM
100% in agreement that everyone has the right to advocate for or against laws. That's what makes our country great. And yes, there is no arguing that every law, at its core, is based on someone's opinion taking precedent over another's. In fact, when we question the legality of those opinions on which laws are based, we turn to SCOTUS for assistance. In the case of abortion, we all know how SCOTUS feels. Again, I may not agree with their opinion, but as an educated and open-minded person, I can accept their decision. Incidentally, using your speed limit analogy, would you be in favor of a universal 25 MPH speed limit as that would "error on the side of caution"?
Vostra Guida January 25, 2013 at 08:07 PM
Yes, we all know how the Supreme Court has ruled in various decisions regarding abortion. We also know the Supreme Court has had some pretty bad decisions in the past that have been reversed or have been overruled by statute (for example, decisions relating to slavery, suffrage, "separate but equal", etc.). As an educated and open-minded person, I can disagree with the Supreme Court's decision and seek to have it reversed. By the way, the reversal of Roe v. Wade would merely mean that each State has the right to determine what rules it wants in place regarding abortion (it does not mean that abortion would be outlawed nationwide). As for your question about 25 MPH, I think speed limits are generally a good idea, and I think the current laws do a good job of trying to balance the competing interests. But keep in mind, the intent of driving a car is not to end a life, while the intent of abortion is to either end what is either already a human life or what will become a human life. A car accident is an accident. An abortion is not an accident. I would be against a law that said "Speed limits are a matter of personal choice, so everyone can drive at whatever speed they want to according to their own conscience."
Steve R January 29, 2013 at 06:34 PM
Let me get this straight - you have something in your womb. It might be human, it might be an animal. Even a rat. Hmmm... I think you need to find a different apartment!
Vostra Guida January 29, 2013 at 07:06 PM
Steve R, The pro-choice/pro-abortion side does not recognize that what is growing in the womb is a human life. They argue that it is merely a bunch of cells. The point of the story is that none of us knows for sure if it is a human life or not, and thus should not act to end whatever is in there if it might be a human life. If I had said that the woman in the story knew for sure that it was a human being, the pro-choice/pro-abortion crowd would reject the premise of the story (they would say I was making an invalid assumption). I hope that helps you better understand the analogy.
bob January 30, 2013 at 03:31 AM
Pro choice does not equal pro abortion. Once again I say it's my building, my apartment and I should be able to maintain it in the best way I can.
Bob Royal January 30, 2013 at 12:36 PM
Bob, I can understand why you would want to distance yourself from abortion - it is a horrible thing . But you can't deny that pro-choice means you are in favor of having abortion as a legal and morally acceptable choice to make (and since the article carved out the main exceptions from its critique, and based on your comment, you are in favor of abortion as a choice under any circumstances). But hey, if saying you are not pro-abortion makes it easier for you to sleep at night, who am I to stop you.
Vostra Guida January 30, 2013 at 12:51 PM
Bob, Your "pro-choice does not equal "pro-abortion" argument is like saying "I'm not pro-slavery, I just think it should be a legal and morally acceptable choice." Yes, "pro-choice does not mean you would select abortion as a solution, but at a minimum you are supporting it as a solution for others.
Steve R January 30, 2013 at 03:38 PM
Vostra, Further clarification needed... when you say "but I am usually very careful to lock the door to the hallway leading to the apartment because I don't want anyone in there", I assume you are talking about taking birth control. Or are we to take this literally, and assume you have a chastity belt? You also wrote "Most of the building is made up of non-living areas". Exactly what parts of your body are non-living? And when you say "From time to time, I might let a friend use other parts of my building", what exactly do you mean? What parts of your body are you allowing friends to use? Sorry to ask so many questions... just curious.
Vostra Guida January 30, 2013 at 11:55 PM
Steve R, It is an analogy. If you would like the reference to locking the door to be birth control it is birth control (if you would like it to be a chastity belt, so be it). "Non-living areas" refers to places where another human life cannot live (i.e., other than the womb). The "other parts of the body" that some of the woman's friends may have enjoyed from time to time are whatever parts you want them to be other than the woman's womb (I will let you use your own imagination) other than the womb.


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