Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Murder vs. Justifiable Homicide

So libertarian Charles Murray recently said of abortion: "It’s a murder—it’s a homicide—but sometimes homicide is justified." (Salute to Matt Archbold.)

Sometimes homicide IS justified. When the only way to prevent an imminent murder is to slay the imminent perpetrator, that is justifiable homicide. There are other cases. Justifiable homicide is the entire point of Just War Theory -- to delineate the cases where nations may engage in mass, military homicide. But it is ALSO to delineate where such use of force is NOT justified. In fact, it makes the case that it is possible for soldiers fighting a just war to commit murder on the battlefield.

By having sex with a man, a woman voluntarily assumes the risk of pregnancy. The pregnancy is certainly not the fault of the child. Even if she becomes pregnant from rape, bear in mind that the child is neither the perpetrator of the rape, nor his accomplice, nor his co-conspirator. The child is every bit as much a victim of the rapist as the mother; he has denied his child its inherent right to be reared by its own parents in a stable, permanent marriage. I don't see any justification for slaying the child.

Murder is unjustified. The lack of justification is what defines "murder" as a subset of "homicide." Cases of homicide which are murder and cases of homicide which are justifiable have NO overlap. Mr. Murray's statement is profoundly irrational. He needs to either admit that abortion is murder, or make the case that it's justifiable homicide, and not equivocate the two.

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