A snip from a Zenit report on a seminar at Christendom College:

Father Pacholczyk pointed out the irony of a 1940 U.S. law that protects not only the bald eagle, but the bald eagle’s egg.

“If we can see that destroying a bald eagle’s egg is just as bad as destroying a bald eagle, why can’t we see the same thing when it comes to human life?” he asked.

See: http://www.zenit.org/rssenglish-33067

About Schütz

I am a PhD candidate & sessional academic at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, Australia. After almost 10 years in ministry as a Lutheran pastor, I was received into the Catholic Church in 2003. I worked for the Archdiocese of Melbourne for 18 years in Ecumenism and Interfaith Relations. I have been editor of Gesher for the Council of Christians & Jews and am guest editor of the historical journal “Footprints”. I have a passion for pilgrimage and pioneered the MacKillop Woods Way.
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6 Responses to Logic

  1. Alexander says:

    I do appreciate the irony, but the law (your exerpt suggests) was passed in 1940 when abortion was still illeagle (if you’ll pardon the pun) in the US. It might just be that people aren’t often in a position to destroy a bald eagle’s egg, so the issue hasn’t come up often enough.

    Also, it’s not illegal for a bald eagle to destroy a bald eagle egg.

    Also, a lot of people who want to destroy baby people will tell you there’s plenty of adult people to go around. (I wonder how many of them would think it’d be legitimate to make abortion illegal if we were underpopulated. And would any of them agree that it’s possible to disagree about whether our territory is underpopulated?)

    Also, something about being drugged and while unconscious attached to someone who has no liver and needs me to process his blood for him, for 9 months, otherwise he’ll die.

    Also, people often tell me not to ruin a good joke with the truth. I do apologise.

  2. Martin says:

    Alexander your JJ Thompson argument was rebutted a decade ago, basically the entire intellectual argument for abortion has collapsed. Abortion supporters no longer debate. Like chattel slavery, whole industries and social forms have been fertilized by the blood spilled and it has simply become too daunting now for most people to face. A modern-day Wilberforce could do it, and there are possibilities rising up if you look closely. I’m sorry to say that everything depends upon not killing our children. We have to stop or there will be nothing left worth saving. We’re inured to the violence now. God help us.

  3. Matthias says:

    The more recent joke was when the Hamer Liberal Government,here in Victoria,outlawed killing snakes, 1969-70,whilst abortion was beginning under the rulings of Mr Justic Menhenitt of the Victorian Supreme Court.

  4. Peregrinus says:

    OK. I’m reading Fr Pacholczyk’s comment in isolation, divorced from its context, and I don’t know where exactly he goes with this idea, or what he makes of it.

    But, having said that, just viewing this one-liner in isolation, I have some concerns with the argument implicit in the parallel that he draws here.

    The reason US law protects the bald eagle egg (and, indeed, the bald eagle) is because the species is endangered. The individual egg has no intrinsic value; nor, indeed, does the individual eagle. And this argument for why bald eagle eggs should enjoy legal protection is pretty much the complete and exact opposition of Christian views about the unborn human. To suggest the good of the species as the basis for the legal regulation of abortion seems to me to undermine, rather than to recognise, Christian truth. It seems to suggest almost a Ceaucescu-esque prohibition of abortion so as to increase the nation.

    Alexander makes the point that the argument here can be refuted by pointing out that the human species is not endangered (or, at least, not endangered by reason of underpopulation). But even if you get people to accept this rationale for regulating abortion rather than refuting it, it seems to me that you are actually leading them away from the truth, which is a recognition of the individuality and paramount dignity of every human.

    And – no offence intended – if I understand Martin correctly I think he falls into this trap. “I’m sorry to say that everything depends upon not killing our children. We have to stop or there will be nothing left worth saving.” The passion is understandable and admirable, but the argument seems to me to be essentially a consequentialist one; abortion is wrong because of its negative consequences for us.

    You might by such arguments persuade people to support, or at least to accept, legal restrictions on the availability of abortion. But you would do so by obscuring the truth, not by revealing it. I doubt that this is a sound long-term basis on which to build a Christian understanding of human life and human sexuality (or even long-term or enduring support for legal restrictions on abortion).

    • Schütz says:

      Peregrinus! I remember you! Good to hear you again – even if it is this old canard that got you going once more.

      The question of the value of the egg:
      1) The Bald Eagle is valuable; so is the human being
      2) Destroying a Bald Eagle egg is equivalent to killing a Bald Eagle; Destroying a human embryo is destroying a human being.
      3) Because Bald Eagles are valuable, their eggs are protected; because human beings are valuable, human embryos are….

      The reason for valuing a bald eagle and human being are, admittedly, different. Bald Eagles are valuable because they are rare; chooks would be valuable if they are rare. Human beings are even more valuable than Bald Eagles, of course, but their value derives not from the fact of their scarcity (they aren’t scarce) but their intrinsic human dignity and rights.

      If we do not protect human embryos by law, we are effectively saying that human beings are not valuable. That should worry us, because it is a statement not only about human embryos, but also about the value of all human beings.

      • Peregrinus says:

        Oh, sure, I accept all that David. My point is that, in the argument “we protect bald eagle eggs, therefore we should protect human embroyos”, the unstated premise is that human embryos are important in the same way, and for the same reasons, as bald eagle eggs. And that is, as you say yourself, false.

        I’m not making an argument here for not extending legal protection to human embryos. My argument is just that we should not advance the bald eagle analogy in support of a claim for legal protection for human embryos. If we do so we promote falsehood, which is intrinsically wrong, and we undermine the case for the intrinsic dignity of the human person at every stage of life, which is the opposite of the outcome we want. So we have an intrinsically bad action producing a bad outcome

        To be brief, the case for respecting the human embryo is not that it is like the bald eagle egg, but that it is radically unlike the bald eagle egg.

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