All Life Is Not Equal

This Salon piece by Mary Elizabeth Williams is one of the most vile pieces of self-righteous garbage I’ve ever seen – So what if abortion ends life?

Of all the diabolically clever moves the anti-choice lobby has ever pulled, surely one of the greatest has been its consistent co-opting of the word “life.” Life! Who wants to argue with that? Who wants be on the side of … not-life? [ellipsis in original]

…Yet I know that throughout my own pregnancies, I never wavered for a moment in the belief that I was carrying a human life inside of me. I believe that’s what a fetus is: a human life. And that doesn’t make me one iota less solidly pro-choice.

She writes that pro-choicers tend to fall into illogical contradictions around “the life question” (her words). She misses the contradiction in saying a fetus is a life and then condemning anyone who would oppose destroying that life by claiming they have co-opted the concept of life that she defined herself. I suppose she resents anyone holding her to her own words. She continues about these illogical contradictions with this –

I have friends who have referred to their abortions in terms of “scraping out a bunch of cells” and then a few years later were exultant over the pregnancies that they unhesitatingly described in terms of “the baby” and “this kid.” I know women who have been relieved at their abortions and grieved over their miscarriages. Why can’t we agree that how they felt about their pregnancies was vastly different, but that it’s pretty silly to pretend that what was growing inside of them wasn’t the same? Fetuses aren’t selective like that. They don’t qualify as human life only if they’re intended to be born.

… It seems absurd to suggest that the only thing that makes us fully human is the short ride out of some lady’s vagina.

That  is a key component of the pro-life argument. They question why it’s a baby when the mother intends to carry it to term, but just a clump of cells when the mother doesn’t want to keep it. Williams has firmly and unequivocally stated that a fetus in utero is a life. I’m not sure why a hardcore supporter of abortion would go to so much effort to define a fetus as a human life. So how does she get out of the corner she’s backed herself into?

Here’s the complicated reality in which we live: All life is not equal. …a fetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides.

That’s it. All life is not equal. A fetus does not have the same rights as the mother the woman in whose body the fetus is taking up space. A bit of verbal sleight-of-hand there. “Mother” sounds too emotionally charged, so make it a woman whose personal space is being encroached on.

She ends with this –

I would put the life of a mother over the life of a fetus every single time — even if I still need to acknowledge my conviction that the fetus is indeed a life. A life worth sacrificing.

As the Anchoress astutely observes

A point of order, please: One may certainly sacrifice one’s own life for another. That is what makes it a sacrifice. Sacrificing “another’s” life is not a sacrifice, unless that other person actually (like Jesus Christ or a soldier who has volunteered to serve, or a mother like this one) says, “yes, I will be sacrificed for the sake of others.”

Absent that permission, though, it’s not a sacrifice. It’s just an expedient, and wasteful killing.

In fact, the notion that someone else’s life is “worth sacrificing” for the furtherance of one’s own situation — the mindset that can advance that thinking — is precisely one that deserves the name “diabolical.”

The Bookworm Room follows this line of thought to its inevitable end, in a post about euthanasia –

The writer’s approach to human beings — we must sacrifice innocent lives for the greater good — has the same stark utilitarian logic found in the heartless and soulless socialist state that readily puts humans on a death pathway because they’re too expensive to care for.

All life is not equal. Per Williams, some must be sacrificed for the greater good. But whose greater good? Who decides which of us have greater rights than others?


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

      – The Declaration of Independence


The quote from the Anchoress includes a link to another post of hers, about Chiara and Enrico Petrillo. They had already lost two children. She became pregnant with a third, but soon developed cancer. She declined treatment because of the risk to her pregnancy. She died soon after her son was born. Her husband said [emphasis mine] –

Chiara’s husband, Enrico, said he experienced “a story of love on the cross.” Speaking to Vatican Radio, he said that they learned from their three children that there is no difference in a life that lasts 30 minutes or 100 years.

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Posted on January 24, 2013, in Liberty, Life and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. It’s up there with the NYT piece a while back by the lady who aborted two of her triplets so she wouldn’t have to buy the jumbo-sized jars of mayonnaise at Costco.

    I admit the Salon piece is more ontologically ambitious. Still, the case of the triplets presents an interesting case re: the comparative valuation of (snort) “life.”

    1) To be worthy of life means to be non Costco inducing.

    2) When three lives are equally Costco inducing, life worthiness is determined by a roll of the dice. Or more like Russian Roulette with four rounds in the cylinder.

    Or even better: Life is like a box of chocolates, where two out of every three chocolates is laced with cyanide.

    • To be worthy of life means to be non Costco inducing

      That’s essentially what most arguments for abortion come down to. It’s the worldview that sees a baby as a “punishment.”

      I wonder what the surviving child thinks. It doesn’t seem like this woman is making any effort to hide what she did.

      Did you notice at the very beginning of the piece, she said she never knew her father, and never missed him except for the additional economic and societal security he could have provided? It seems to be the underlying concern for everything she did. It’s all about the benjamins.

  2. Revised version

    Definition of life: Life is like a box of chocolates with two out of every three laced with cyanide. You never know if you’re gonna get it.

  3. “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

    That’s the final goal of the left, innit? We are all cogs, things to be assessed by our utility and destroyed once our usefulness is outlived. Completely replacable, completely interchangable.

    I wonder if this lady will ever go up against a death panel in her retirement and be determined a “useless eater” to be euthanised.

    One of the ultimate powers one can have is the power of life and death over another living thing, human or not. Any kid who has held a bug in his or her hands has, in some small way, wielded this power and made the decision to squash the bug, or let it go.

    This sick society can’t crumble fast enough for me. We don’t deserve to have what we have.

    • The left sees everyone but themselves as pieces in a great social machine, to be operated, maintained, and directed by them.

      I wonder if this lady will ever go up against a death panel in her retirement and be determined a “useless eater” to be euthanised.

      This is where the term “useful idiot” comes into play.

  4. I’m so tired of these people. Back in 2008, Henry Morgentaler was inducted into the Order of Canada “for his commitment to increased health care options for women, his determined efforts to influence Canadian public policy and his leadership in humanist and civil liberties organizations”.

    I argued with pro-abortion morons on facebook (on an a page dedicated to protesting the award) that there was no logical reason, based on their stance, that one shouldn’t be allowed to kill a newborn or even a 3 year-old, since a newborn or 3 year-old can’t fend for itself either.

    It’s only taking their position to its logical conclusion.

    Further, really one might say that all of us are nothing but bundles of cells and that if you inconvenience me, why, I should be allowed to shoot you.

    They said I was being ridiculous and that would never happen.

    Lo and behold.

    • I suppose I should have added that Morgentaler is a well-known abortionist with a chain of clinics, who started out breaking the law here in Canada to perform abortions. He’s a holocaust survivor who has made himself filthy rich (literally) off killing Lord only knows how many,

    • They said I was being ridiculous and that would never happen

      Peter Singer is one of the people arguing for “after-birth abortion.” The term is an attempt at a morally neutral name, instead of calling it murder.

      • Just like ‘pro-choice’ sounds innocuous – and now ‘abortion’ or ‘termination of pregnancy’ (but not of human being) has come to sound just as innocuous to the mass of sleep-walkers.

        I suppose you saw this – sad to say, I don’t think it’s a hoax, but it really is getting difficult to tell the parody from the real thing these days. I kind of wish I hadn’t seen it and I apologise in advance for even posting it, but wtf!

  5. Dear Lord. This is the sickest pro-choice argument I’ve ever heard. But at least it’s more honest.

    • It’s the honesty that makes it so evil. She knows EXACTLY what abortion is – murder of a helpless life – and still defends it as if her life depended on it. Or should I say her lifestyle depends on it.

      I’m a mom who loved the lives she incubated from the moment she peed on those sticks, and is also now well over 40 and in an experimental drug trial. If by some random fluke I learned today I was pregnant, you bet your ass I’d have an abortion. I’d have the World’s Greatest Abortion.

      That’s the kind of loving mother she is. I wonder if her “all life is not equal” stance extends to her own children.

  6. This reminds me of a news story from a little over a year ago on “selective reduction”, which just means murdering one of the two or three babies you are carrying. This article is just chilling to read:

    • She felt that twins would soak up everything she had to give, leaving nothing for her older children. Even the twins would be robbed, because, at best, she could give each one only half of her attention and, she feared, only half of her love. Jenny desperately wanted another child, but not at the risk of becoming a second-rate parent. “This is bad, but it’s not anywhere as bad as neglecting your child or not giving everything you can to the children you have”

      I had no idea parental love was such a zero-sum game. Does love come in buckets drawn from a well in the backyard to be distributed equitably?

      And Heaven forfend any child should not be under mom’s full scrutiny every waking minute of the day. Can’t they amuse themselves at all for a bit while mom is attending to one of the other kids?

  7. I reviewed the article and I think I know what the author is doing now. She’s exploiting the ambiguity in the terms “life” “a life” “a human life.” She will use one of these phrases to make certain points, and studiously avoid them when it wouldn’t look good. For instance, the title. She doesn’t call it, “So what if abortion ends a human?” Or the secondary title: “All humans are not equal.”

    This is not honest. It’s supposed to look honest, to make her appear bold, forthright, and taboo-busting. And it’s probably composed precisely to generate just this sort of reaction from pro-lifers.

    Pro-lifers: “So you admit you’re destroying a life? So you’re saying flat out all life is not equal?”
    Mary Elizabeth Williams: “Of course I’m destroying a ‘life,’ you moral browbeating idiot! Of course not all life is equal. Is a weed equal to a dog? Enough of this nonsense!”

    But, if she was really honest she would come out and say, “This human is not worthy of life.” “Not all humans are equal.” Or, “This thing is not worthy of being called human.”

    She won’t say that. She can’t say that. She just bobs and weaves around “life” “a life” “a human life” carefully avoiding saying exactly what she really means. Faux audaciousness.

    • That’s a very good point. I think for the most part she may be doing exactly that. But right in the middle she doesn’t just let the cat out of the bag, she throws the cat down and dances a jig on it –

      But we make choices about life all the time in our country. We make them about men and women in other nations. We make them about prisoners in our penal system. We make them about patients with terminal illnesses and accident victims. We still have passionate debates about the justifications of our actions as a society, but we don’t have to do it while being bullied around by the vague idea that if you say we’re talking about human life, then the jig is up, rights-wise.

      It seems absurd to suggest that the only thing that makes us fully human is the short ride out of some lady’s vagina. [Emphasis mine]

      I can’t see how that can be interpreted any other way than as saying not all human life is equal.

    • I can’t see how that can be interpreted any other way than as saying not all human life is equal.

      I definitely agree that this is what she’s saying. At the same time, there’s some places she’s saying it, and other places she’s avoiding saying it, either to misdirect us or to misdirect herself, or both. You can spot the places in the paragraph you quoted. For instance, if I change some of the innocuous sounding or ambiguous expressions to the ones in bold I get:

      But we make choices about [life –> killing people] all the time in our country. We [make them about –> kill] men and women in other nations. We [make them about –> kill] prisoners in our penal system. We [make them about –> kill] patients with terminal illnesses and accident victims [Note: she probably meansTerri Schiavo]. We still have passionate debates about the justifications [of our actions –> for killing people] as a society, but we don’t have to do it while being bullied around by the vague idea that if you say we’re talking about human life, then the jig is up, rights-wise. [She switches back to “human life” here, meaning it applies to everything she’s just said, but she has studiously avoided it in the rest of the paragraph. Nice touch to introduce “rights-wise” when in the context of her paragraph it means “right to kill people.” ].

      It seems absurd to suggest that the only thing that makes us [fully human –> worthy of not being killed] is the short ride out of some lady’s vagina. [Back to “human” again.]

      I still think it’s very evasive, full of euphemisms. It’s only brash and shocking in certain bits, and only by appearance. The rest of the time she’s in full rationalization mode.

      • This is what Thomas Sowell refers to as “verbal virtuosity,” it’s verbal sleight-of-hand to fool the rubes into buying whatever nonsense the speaker is selling.

        I strongly recommend you read his book Intellectuals And Society if you haven’t already. It was [ublished a few years ago, and there’s a revised and expanded version released in 2012 (which I haven’t gotten yet, need to do that).

    • It wouldn’t matter much, except that this is specifically a battle for language.

      She’s saying, “I hate it that you people have the term ‘life’ and that it gives you tactical advantage. I’m going to own the term ‘life’, in a bold tactical maneuver, and by doing that I’m going to mix it up so that ‘life’ doesn’t clearly mean ‘human life’, which it unfortunately does when you use it. I hope you won’t notice what I’m really doing, because you’ll be all in some kind of tizzy over my audacity (ha!). Hopefully, you won’t notice all the places I glided over the word ‘human’, and don’t use the word ‘kill’ where I actually mean ‘kill.’ If all goes as planned, the word ‘life’ will be defanged. Just don’t think about the fact that we’re talking about ‘human life.’ That is all.”

    • This is true and thanks for pointing it out. It’s quite a clever trick, since so few will see the wool being pulled over their eyes since it requires a level of literacy that is no longer taught. Even so, it is still mind boggling the way people can rationalise just about anything, not that this is anything new.

      • Additionally, I find it so infuriating the way ‘conservatives’ just go along with the left’s co-opting of the language. Why are ‘conservatives’ so bad at taking and maintaining the frame? FFS! Bitch slap the lot of them!

      • Yes, true. But “pro-life” still holds the frame, so to hold on to the word is to keep holding the frame. That’s what she’s upset about. Her stated goal is “lets-get-real-here” clarification, but her real goal is to obsfucate the word “life” and then separate it from “human” and “baby” and “kill” whenever it feels yucky to her.

        So, no, ma’am, we’ll stick with “pro-life.” It does indeed mean “human life.” You got that part right. It doesn’t refer to weeds and cockroaches. So just follow through on that, ma’am, and try to be consistent. You’re almost there!

      • They also act like ‘choice’ is sacrosanct. They think they’ve got you when they accuse you of being “anti-choice”, but to that I say, “Yes, when it comes to the option of killing an unborn human being, I am anti-choice.”

        This also plays into this language of ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ that I have been pointing out lately. These words are simply new age glosses over good and evil, but positive does not imply good and negative does not imply bad or evil. I like to use this as an example: “You should kill that guy” is positive statement with an evil outcome; “I will not kill that guy” is a negative statement with a morally sound outcome (assuming here that “that guy” is simply an innocent party).

        So ‘anti’ is seen as ‘negative, and ‘pro’ is seen as positive’, hence the term ‘pro-life’ being more popular than ‘anti-abortion’, since culturally we think ‘positive’ means ‘good’ and ‘negative’ means ‘bad’. This totally distorts the conversation and the resultant ‘thinking’.

        Note: I am not saying ‘pro-life’ is a bad term or that there is anything wrong with positive (in the sense I have talked about) statements – or indeed negative ones. It’s the implied value judgement that goes along with it that creates problems in the dialogue. Call me a pedant, but it just bugs the hell out of me. It’s next to impossible to have a productive discussion on serious issues when the language is being deliberately mangled in order to obfuscate.

        It’s not really all that difficult to explain, but for some reason it mostly falls on deaf ears.

      • All good points. It should be clear enough that a negative command (don’t kill) can be good and a positive one (kill) can be evil, but unfortunately it often isn’t.

        I suppose one has to give the power of rhetoric its due, to some extent. Like, advertisers use positives because they resonate with human psychology (“It’s a beautiful day. The sun is shining. You’re relaxing. You’re feeling good. Mmmm. Yeah. Uh-huhhhh. And most of all, it’s just a great time to chug down a can of Duff.”)

      • I find it so infuriating the way ‘conservatives’ just go along with the left’s co-opting of the language. Why are ‘conservatives’ so bad at taking and maintaining the frame? FFS! Bitch slap the lot of them!

        Conservatives are usually too busy DOING things to spend time cultivating the skill of talking out their asses.

  8. But on the plus side, it humanizes her, in a strange way. For all the forthrightness, she’s hiding from the enormity of what she’s talking about–claiming to call a spade a spade, but desperate to call abortion everything but what it is. She hasn’t graduated up to Peter Singer status quite yet.

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