The Profiteering Argument

In everyday discourse terms like “contract killing” “mercenary” and “profiteering” are offensive accusations. They connote slander and liable. This body of terms, when used literally, point to a person who is receiving payment for killing someone. This inference is clearly slanderous because it seems deeply unethical to make money, or even make a living off of killing people, or in this case, killing a human being (it’s disputed whether the child[ren]-in-utero count/s legally as “person/people”). Yet, this “career” is precisely the kind of contractually arranged killing involved in every paid abortion. To make this argument stand, however, some qualifications need to be added and some caution extended.

mercenary opsFirst, we should distinguish normal military senses of these terms from their sense used here, in abortion. The more common use of “mercenary” is in reference to military settings, where soldiers make a profession out of combat, allying with foreign armies, and that can and does include training for, planning, and conducting missions to kill military targets. There may even be “collateral damage” and “casualties of war” who are not intended targets but are innocent victims such as human shields, bystanders, and family members. Without excusing or defending these sorts of behaviors, we may treat these as a sidebar, since abortion is not a military exercise in that sense. The “targets” are not morally, politically, or legally guilty characters who’ve waged war (declared or undeclared) against the nation or state. The targets for execution are always innocent victims. “Enemy combatants” might be justified targets on the battle field, but they are never targeted in abortion. Instead, abortion always targets the morally and or legally innocent. If military mercenaries, war profiteering, or contract killing is even theoretically justified–maybe it is, maybe it isn’t–that remains a different matter than the sense used here, in the sterile setting of an abortion doctor’s office. There is another sense of “military” which may correctly describe abortion, but this sense is clarified later. For the time being, it should be admitted that any “mercenary” sense of abortion is not strictly and literally a military sense of the term where children-in-utero are strategic targets of political or otherwise foreign military opposition.

Second, the terms “profiteering” and “contract killing” are used literally, not metaphorically. These terms point to the idea of death-profiteering and have clearly negative pejorative force, but to the extent that they factually describe an abortion industry where people make wages by killing other human beings in contractual arrangements they are still appropriate terms. Abortion as it is normally done involves paying doctors to kill a human being, ending a pregnancy relation between mother and child, and this arrangement involves contractual standing between the patient and doctor. As such, this scene is literally “contract killing” and “profiteering” from human death. No assumption is made here that “contract killing” or “death-profiteering” require illegal behavior; though some onlookers might want to infer illegality when hearing such disparaging terms. Legal things can be evil, and good things can be illegal. Even if contract killing, profiteering, and mercenary work are legal they could still be highly unethical and constitute, in themselves, an evidence base against legalized abortion (-on-demand). A term to avoid however would be “assassin.” This term comes close to the idea of death-profiteering but assassination carries undue connotation of political targets or some other target of established notoriety, whereas the unborn child is not necessarily a human being of notoriety or political standing.

Third, the term “mercenary” has a broad range of meaning with senses and implications that might not be rightly imported into this debate. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, it has four main senses. In the adjectival form it means 1) “motivated solely by a desire for monetary or material gain,” or 2) “hired for service in a foreign army.” These two senses are mirrored in the nominal form (the 3rd and 4th senses); so, a mercenary is 3) “a hireling” or 4) “someone employed for service in a foreign army.” Although the connotation may suggest otherwise, when calling an abortion doctor “mercenary,” one cannot safely assume abortion doctors themselves are greedy, worldly, money-grubbing, or intend anything that would reduce the value of human life. Also, the terms could, problematically, suggest disloyalty since affiliating with a foreign army could set a person against the interests of his homeland. Clearly, the term “mercenary” has some tenuous connotations. The term can however be used to describe a person who is hired for what would otherwise be a military type of act, in this case, killing a person. Presumably, many abortion doctors operate with charitable interests intending to help serve struggling women and families through their medical practice. But, that presumption is just that, a presumption, a well-intended and gracious interpretation of the circumstances. The facts of the matter, however, show a monetary transaction where a medical professional is hired for the explicit purpose of killing another human being and ending a pregnancy. There is at least a monetary motive. There may be other more altruistic motives as well, but these remain conjectural. To the extent that the contract includes monetary gain, and the action is more like military than medical practice (i.e., killing instead of saving life), then the abortion doctor’s practice can be correctly described as mercenary.

But one may object that abortion is medical practice and this military connotation is misleading. True, the work of an abortion doctor is not literally a military act, as if he were operating as a soldier with military objectives such as assassinating warlords, or busting up terror cells, etc. The “targets” in abortion are always innocent victims who do not qualify for legal or moral guilt in the normal sense of those terms. The child-in-utero is not a military target, yet he or she is the normal target in abortion. The terms “death-profiteering” and “contract killing” do literally describe the work of an abortion doctor but the term “mercenary” seems to import a military connotation that isn’t quite right. For this reason, one may prefer to leave this term “mercenary” out and try a simpler route of argument, using other terms instead, without the added explanatory baggage. But the term “mercenary” might not have to be ruled out if the act of abortion is shown to be more like militant than medical.

The normal sense of “medicine” or “medical practice” entails health care. Broadly, medicine refers to “The science and art of diagnosing and treating disease or injury and maintaining health” (American Heritage Dictionary). Pregnancy is a physical condition but it is not a disease. Treating a pregnant woman for hypertension, nausea, or hormonal imbalances would constitute medical treatment, since her physical condition is in flux, it can eventuate harmful symptoms or diseases, and her health requires additional monitoring in this special time of her life. But pregnancy itself is not a disease. As such, it is not normal medical practice to “cure” pregnancy by a policy of ending it wherever possible. If one could “end” the flu wherever it appeared, that would be good medical practice. Likewise for cancer, asthma, diabetes, and so on. Pregnancy is not among these things though it is, admittedly, a precarious state rife with threats and challenges to the mother’s health. If abortion were medical treatment in the same sense as administering a nearly 100% successful cure for a disease (such as the polio vaccine), then abortion should be administered wherever there is a pregnancy, and especially where pregnancy reaches epidemic proportions. Clearly, no abortion-choice advocate thinks of medical practice this way. To the abortion choice advocate, abortion is thought of as a health-related choice to which every birth-capable woman should be entitled but not obligated. She can have an abortion, but she does not have to have one, nor should she have one for the sake of ending an epidemic–mass pregnancies are not an epidemic. To the abortion-choice advocate, pregnancy is not a disease to be cured–or else one should advocate for more and more abortions, as many as there are outbreaks of pregnancy. Instead of saying, “keep it safe, keep it rare, and keep it legal” one would have to say, “keep it safe, keep it legal, and keep ’em coming.” Even the most adamant abortion-choice advocates do not think this way. Nor should they. Instead, they understand pregnancy as a circumstance that the mother should have the option to discontinue at her leisure.

But if pregnancy is not disease, then it is not strictly something to be “cured” by medical professionals. There are health concerns involved in pregnancy, and medical practice should address these. But to the extent that one’s treatment of pregnancy includes killing another human being, it is no longer clearly or rightfully a “medical” act. Any claim to “medicine” is contradicted by willfully harmful and deadly behavior. Medicine is about cultivating health, not harm; it is about healing not killing; it is about promoting life not promoting death. There is a broad category for actions that include death and killing for the “greater good.” This is the normal stock and trade of military actions. War is hell. Pacifist and military activists alike can admit that. Military exchanges often include loss of life, even in successful missions where a greater cause is advanced. Abortion is, in this way, akin to military action where–supposing for the sake of argument–there are “greater goods” advanced at the expense of human life. Meanwhile, it is tenuous to call abortion practice “medical” since pregnancy is not a disease, and as a physical condition pregnancy can be treated to promote health, prevent disease and injury, and all that can be done without killing any human beings.

It may be objected further that doctors still should honor the wishes of their patients, and they may include aborting a child-in-utero. Generally speaking, doctors should honor their patients wishes, provide informed consent, and seek to help not harm their patients. Medical ethics affirms all of these. Medical ethics however becomes much more conflicted when the persons wishes including harming oneself–such as a person operating out of a clinical paranoia or depression. And medical ethics would normally oppose any patient who wishes for the doctor to kill another human being. Yet abortion is the willfull killing of another human being. Even when it is admitted that medical ethics, over the years, has come to accommodate cases of abortion, the overall body of literature on the subject reveals a deeply conflicted and, thus, internally inconsistent literature. It is difficult, if not impossible to assimilate abortion-on-demand (i.e., abortion cases not including moral threats to the mother’s life) into a clear, internally consistent, normal sense of “medicine.” When people go to a medical doctor, they expect him or her to promote life, promote health, treat diseases, and maintain integrity with the principle of non-malfeasance. the patients interests are honored, but not if they include killing another human being. They expect the doctor to treat human life as intrinsically valuable, not as merely instrumental values–where people are objects valued strictly in terms of their usefulness not  to others. Abortion does not fit any of these, not consistently at least. It may promote the health and interest of a woman who does not want a baby, but it does so in a way which kills the child-in-utero. It refutes its own claim to “medicine.” Abortion treats the gestating human being as instrumentally valuable (according to whether the mother wants the baby). A class of human beings becomes disposable, with no intrinsic value that must be respected by the doctor. To the extent that doctors treat human life so casually as to be disposable at the whim of another person, that doctor is not acting as a medical practitioner but as a mercenary.

In conclusion, abortion is literally contract-killing and death-profiteering. It can rightly be understood as mercenary in the sense of receiving payment for  willfully harming and killing against another human being, an act which is not medical but military in its instrumental treatment of human life. 

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About intelligentchristianfaith

Married man. Teacher. Theologian. Philosopher. Workout nut. Prefer cats to dogs. Coffee buff. Transplant to Texas. Carolina Panthers fan. Perpetually pursuing the world's best burger.
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