To our fellow pro-lifers who oppose abortion
And our fellow peace advocates who oppose nuclear weapons
Here are some reflections on the connection between the two. Both of them rely on the idea that it’s acceptable to kill large numbers of innocent people.
Archbishop Fulton Sheen, “The Approach of Midnight”
How do we know the limits of the identity of the state of Illinois? By its boundary lines. A basketball court? By its foul lines. How do we know our own identity? By limits; by boundaries; by law; by order. And I think we lost all of these at 8:15 in the morning August the 6th 1945 when we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. That bomb blotted out boundaries of life and death, civilian and the military; and trust among nations. And so abortion from that point on is defended on the ground that one may do whatever he pleases.
Herman Kahn, On thermonuclear war, Princeton University Press, 1960, p. 50
(a nuclear strategist, illustrating the callous point of view to prenatal life)
Probably of limited significance to us are the so-called embryonic deaths. These are conceptions which would have been successful if it had not been for radiation that damaged the germ cell and thus made the potential conception result in a failure. There will probably be five million of these in the first generation, and one hundred million in future generations . . . On the whole, the human race is so fecund that a small reduction in fecundity should not be a serious matter even to individuals. It is almost completely misleading to include the ‘early deaths’ or embryonic deaths in the same total with the major and minor defects, but this is sometimes done by scientists who have overemphasized the abstraction ‘genetic death’ and thus lost sight of the difference in terms of human tragedy of a serious defect or an embryonic death.
Julianne Wiley (founder, Prolifers for Survival)
Julianne Wiley, Consistently Opposing Killing, Praeger, 2008, p. 106
Chapter 12, Activists Reminisce: An Oral History of Prolifers for Survival
To me nuclear weapons and abortion were perfect bookends, symmetrical images of each other. They both involved a frank commitment to targeting innocent targets, and they both depended on the calculated willingness to destroy them deliberately. Looking at it from a reasonable definition of murder -- the deliberate killing of innocent persons -- it was to me not debatable. I mean, it was not like nuclear power which had calculable risks that could be compared against other risks. Or even conventional war, which can have degrees of limitations, which makes a just war preferable to an unjust peace. The two issues struck me as being so absolute they set up a kind of a north and south pole, a whole magnetic force that drew in a lot of other issues because of the clarity of those two.
Christopher O. Tollefsen
Excerpt from On the Dangers of Thanking God for the Atom Bomb
by Christopher O. Tollefsen, August 5, 2015
Each August I am rather struck by the vociferous support for the atomic bombings, often expressed by those with whom I share what I take to be basic pro-life commitments to the inviolability of human life. . . .
There can be no doubt . . . that the bombings were carried out with the intention of inflicting massive civilian casualties in order to demoralize Japan and break its leadership’s will. These civilians included the aged and infirm, women and children, all of whom were innocent in the relevant sense of just war doctrine—they posed no threat—and the last of whom were categorically innocent in every way. . . .
Its proponents even now justify it primarily . . . not by denying the intention of killing the innocent, but by reference to casualties prevented . . . [thus passing over] the subsequent history of our nation, a history that includes further acts of indiscriminate killing during the Vietnam War, a standing resolution to destroy the Soviet Union if it were first to attack us with nuclear weapons, and the eventual adoption by the nation in its domestic affairs of death as a solution to be embraced for its consequences—before birth, as in abortion or human embryo destructive research—or at the end of life, in [Physician-Assisted Suicide] and euthanasia. These are, sadly, natural choices for a country swayed by consequentialist justifications; the way to those choices was paved by the literally catastrophic choice to destroy Japanese cities (as before them, German cities) for the sake of military gain.