Why aren't pro-lifers more extreme?

Reading the other anti-abortion threads here and on other message boards, it occurs to me that, given what pro-lifers say they believe, they don’t ever seem to do much. They shout at women in front of clinics and lobby for bills that make life shittier for women but which haven’t got a hope of actually banning abortion, but that’s about it.

Surely, if they believed what they say they believe, they’d be out killing abortionists en masse. But they’re not. Conclusion: They don’t really believe what they say they believe.

The only explanations I can think of is that either (a) they don’t really have the courage of their convictions, or (b) they’re more interested in hurting “godless harlots”.

Of course, when pushed on this matter they normally say things like “Of course we wouldn’t kill an abortionist. Killing abortionists is murder and we’re pro-life!” or something like that. But to me, that smells like bullshit. If you believe a foetus is a real person and absolutely equivalent to you, me, or anyone else, then, morally speaking, killing an abortionist is no more a ‘murder’ than killing a terrorist to prevent an attack. Not only is it morally right, but it’s the kind of thing that’s worth going to jail for even if everyone else disagrees. I mean, if you could press a button and go back in time and kill the 19 hijackers before 9/11, you’d probably do it, right? I know I would. If you really believe a foetus is the equivalent of a regular person from the moment of conception, what’s the difference?

(P.S. - For the record, by the way, I’m 100% pro-choice. In fact, it’d probably be fairer to class me as pro-abortion. I reckon many of the problems we face as a species are ultimately caused by the fact that there are too many people in the world. If I was in charge, not only would there be no restrictions on abortion at all, but I’d probably give you a tax credit for it or something. But that’s for another thread. I just wanted to make my stance on the subject perfectly clear.)

Because, despite how satisfying it is to demonize the people on the opposite side of an argument. most people are reasonable about almost everything.

But how is it reasonable, from a pro-life perspective, to restrict your opposition to waving placards and whining on message boards?

Let’s say you lived next door to a family with abusive parents. Let’s say you heard them beating up their kids. And let’s say you knew the police wouldn’t do anything. Would you be prepared to use deadly force to save the children? I know I would. Indeed, using deadly force in that situation would be the reasonable thing to do. What would not be reasonable would be to sit around with your thumb up your ass tutting about it and thinking “Somebody should really do something about that.”

Besides bitching, moaning, protesting, and pushing for laws that restrict abortion there isn’t much more that pro lifers can legally do.

At the moment stuff they could do that would actually stop some abortions will land them in jail for the rest of their lives.

That’s a damn big deterrent for most sane people. And even a large fraction of not so sane people.

That sounds like evidence that they don’t share your views on violence (except for the ones who do), not evidence that they don’t believe what they say they believe.

You don’t consider any of this to be extreme?

Not the norm, of course, but not all that unusual either.

What I remember is that they only need to kill a few of the remaining abortionists in some areas to discourage many doctors to go into the field. AFAIR in some regions of the USA that is working for those “pro-lifers”.

And one more point, while I see that one side is mostly pushing for more restrictions, the ones in favor of choice do not go and impose or order pro-lifers to get abortions, IMHO this is one issue were one side is really unreasonable.

Thing is, we know that a lot of these people aren’t pacifists. The overlap between pro-lifers and Iraq war supporters is fairly large. Also, while I couldn’t find polling numbers, the states in which pro-life sentiment is highest also tend to be the states which are most pro capital punishment. So I guess if they don’t share my views on violence, the question is: why not?

I suppose fear of prison is a pretty reasonable answer. However, if you truly believed that you would save hundreds, maybe even thousands, of innocent babies (which, if pro-lifers are to be believed, is what they think fetuses really are) then surely you ought to consider the possibility of being caught to be an acceptable risk.

I’d say acts of violence directed towards abortionists are pretty unusual, given how many tens of millions of pro-lifers there are in America.

There have been abortionist murderers.

But majority of people can have a healthy disagreement on policy issues and still respect the rule of law.

It’s odd that you find it strange that more people aren’t willing to break the law over their individual convictions. So much that you dismiss them as not really being sincere in their beliefs.

So tell us, on what issues would you be willing to kill someone else over?

That doesn’t mean they feel morally justified in murdering another person. War is morally distinct from murder (at least to most people), and capital punishment is also distinct from one person taking it into their own hands to kill someone else.

There’s also the practical fact that killing someone has a high chance of landing you in prison, or executed.

Different moral influences? (Divine command ethics, or deontology, vs. whatever school of ethics you believe in, perhaps). That’s hard to answer, as I am not myself anti-choice.

How many people have flown over to Iraq or Syria to fight against ISIL? Does my unwillingness to be branded a criminal by my government in order to go fight them make my belief that they are irredeemably evil people any less sincere?

If the only way I could save an innocent person from imminent death was by killing their attacker I think I’d do it.

But my point is that, if pro-lifers really believed what they say they believe, they don’t really have any reason to consider killing an abortionist to be murder.

I would discount Divine Command theory because the Bible makes it clear that a fetus is not the equivalent to a born human (Exodus 21: 22-23 / Hosea 13: 16). As for deontology…well, I’m happy to believe that explains why some pro-lifers wouldn’t kill an abortionist, but what about the utilitarians? There are tens of millions of pro-lifers in America. They can’t all be deontologists.

To be honest, I think you probably nailed it when you said that the main reason pro-lifers aren’t more violent is fear of punishment. But if that’s true, shouldn’t we question the strength of their convictions?

I see your point, but I don’t think the comparison works. Firstly, it’s obviously far riskier to go fight ISIS than kill an abortionist. Secondly, killing an abortionist would have much more impact than killing a thousand jihadis because as Gigobuster pointed out, not only would you be stopping the abortions that abortionist would have carried out but you’d be discouraging other doctors from going into the field.

I’m aware I’m getting dangerously close to arguing for violence towards people who I think do a necessary and important job. That’s the last thing I’d actually want to happen. I just can’t reconcile the beliefs of pro-lifers with their (relative lack of) extreme action.

The pro-life movement tends to pull up short of advocating strict enforcement of child support laws … it’s easy to bully young women in trouble … going after half the father’s income every month is too difficult to bother with.

My female relatives tell me I’m anti-abortion, seems fair to me, I don’t possess the plumbing to have an opinion myself.

Yes, but if I blow up an abortion clinic or shoot an abortion doctor, chances are that anybody that was going to get an abortion will just go somewhere else.

So, chances are, I"ll be putting myself at great risk but not actually saving anybody, but just killing a few for no good reason.

Maybe, depending on the specifics of their moral code.

The Catholic Church, among others, disagrees with that interpretation…I’m not a Christian, let alone a biblical scholar, so I’m not in a position to say they are right or wrong in their scriptural interpretations.

In this case, a utilitarian might believe that political action was more likely to result in the end of legal abortion than a series of killing sprees would. I’d agree with that, myself.

I don’t think so. Further, the relative strength of someone’s beliefs is a pretty poor basis for evaluating the merits of their beliefs. Hitler and Mao weren’t short on conviction; that didn’t make them right. If a pre-war Southern abolitionist kept quiet to avoid a beating or murder, that didn’t make him wrong.

If I believed there was an ongoing campaign to kill thousands of people, I imagine that that would be an issue whcih I would be willing to kill someone else over, if I thought it would help.

I think that last part is the answer to the OP’s question, btw. I would guess that most pro-lifers would not see what limited they could do in terms of extreme action as having much effect, as compared to less extreme actions.