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A Murder of One

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Some years ago, I was sitting in a tree stand in Sampson County, North Carolina. Less than an hour after ascending into the stand, a beautiful doe stepped into my field of vision. I raised my 30/30 and set my sights just behind her right shoulder. Just as I was about to pull the trigger, I saw something moving along the outer perimeter of my field of vision. I glanced to my right and saw a young fawn grazing just 25 yards away from its mother – the doe I had nearly shot. I had to draw my weapon down for a moment and reassess the situation.

After I took a second careful look at the doe and the fawn, I made a decision. I took the shot and watched the doe run about fifty yards until she rolled over under a tree and died resting in a bed of leaves. As I turned around and got ready to step down out the tree stand, I saw the fawn stop and turn around to look for its mother. Seeing nothing, the young deer turned and ran off into the distance.

When I came upon the fallen doe resting in the bed of leaves, I was relieved to see that my assessment of the situation was correct. She was no longer nursing. That meant her young fawn was ready to survive on its own. That is important to me because I would never want to see the fawn left to fend for itself and try to survive on its own unless it was ready to do so. I try to show a concern for helpless young fawns that exceeds our president’s concern for helpless young humans. It isn’t hard to do.

I’ve never met a pro-abortion liberal who disagreed with my assertion that the young fawn is living and fully a deer even before it has the capacity to survive on its own. But many liberals view the unborn as less than persons simply because they lack the ability to survive on their own. This strange deference to the deer (but not the human) is symptomatic of a deeply confused worldview – one that refuses to see man as made in the image of God.

Several weeks ago, I ran across one such person. I assume she was a person though she may well have been dependent on the government for her survival. She argued vigorously that the unborn are not persons until they are capable of surviving on their own. She was somewhat emotional as she argued with me. So I struggled for just the right example to come to my mind – one that would convince her that dependency did not undermine personhood. I wanted to plant a stone in her shoe by making her think deeply without deepening her defensiveness. Within seconds, it came to me.

Because I teach law courses, I am forced to illustrate points by using hypotheticals, which I must often think up on the spur of the moment. In the middle of our discussion of dependency and personhood, I asked the young women to consider the following hypothetical:

I am a member of a gang that has just decided to retaliate against a rival gang for a drug-related murder. While driving by the home of the rival gang member, I fire ten shots into what I thought was his bedroom window. Unfortunately, I was wrong. The room housed two of his siblings. Consequently, the bullets struck and killed both of his twin sisters. How many counts of murder should I face in court?

Without hesitation, the pro-choice woman said “That’s easy. Two.” Then I asked her the $64,000 question: “Would it change your answer if they were Siamese twins?” Without hesitation, she replied, “Of course not.” Checkmate.

I followed up by reminding her that the twins were not only physically connected to one another but also dependent on one another for survival. If depending on another for survival does, in fact, undermine personhood then I was responsible for zero, as opposed to two, counts of murder. In other words, the dependency argument that gives license to kill unborn babies also gives license to kill Siamese twins. And that is no mark of compassion.

Shortly after we ended the conversation, the woman stood up and thanked me for talking to her. When she stood, I noticed a bulge around her waistline. About a minute later, her pro-life friend approached me and thanked me, too. It was then that I learned she was five months pregnant. In other words, as she was making the dependency argument she was carrying a baby that was not “viable.”

Ideas have consequences so we must be prepared to answer them with both logic and evidence. The stakes are always high. Abortion season lasts twelve months out of every year.

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