The immoralities that I have condemned in the past two days showed up in the headlines again this morning, this time relating to the issue of abortion. Apparently, a number of pregnancy counseling centers that receive federal funding have been giving out false information about the risks of abortion. In this way, they have sought to prevent people from making fully informed decisions regarding their own health choices – attempting instead to manipulate them into doing what these counselors wanted them to do.
Two days ago I illustrated my point with a story about of a group of people caught in a fire. In this story I had a priest give those trapped in the building misleading information in order to manipulate them into taking a more dangerous route out of the building so they would not tread on sacred ground.
The people who work in these pregnancy resource centers are doing the same thing as that priest – giving people false and misleading information to manipulate them into choosing a more dangerous route that does not tread on their sacred ground. In this case, they give false and misleading information about the dangers of abortion.
For some reason these people are not willing to respect their clients enough to tell them the truth. These people have decided to lie to and manipulate those who come to them for help.
This form of deception can be described as a form of tyranny.
If I wanted to deprive you of the freedom to make your own choices – to bend your choices to my will rather than leave you free to exercise your own will – I could do so by using threats of violence. I could say, "Do as I will you to do, or I will have Bubba here do things to you that you will surely not like.” I might have my thugs visit you at your homes some night and break both of your legs, or haul you off to prison to face some very unpleasant 'questioning', or I may take away your livelihood so that you cannot find work, pay your bills, and feed your family.
However, if I wanted to bend your choices to my will, I do not have to break your legs. Indeed, I do not even want to break your legs. I want you to obey my commands. So, what I am seeking is to make you believe that your legs will be broken if you do not obey me. If I can cause you to believe this, even if it is not true, then I have chained you to my will just as effectively.
Note that these two situations are entirely different from the situation that exists if I warn you about a true cause and effect. If I tell you, "You will likely break your legs if you complete that action (e.g., jump out of a third-floor window onto concrete),” I am not attempting to bend your will to my own. I might not even care if you break your legs in this circumstance. I am simply giving you information that you can use to make a fully informed choice. I will leave it up to you to decide if your action is worth the possibility of breaking your legs. It may well be if, for example, the building were on fire and you would burn alive if you did not jump.
I am not morally responsible for the interaction between your legs and the concrete – that interaction will be what it is regardless of my actions. I am, however, responsible for your broken legs if I send Bubba out with a baseball bat to break them. I am also responsible for your false belief that displeasing me will result in your legs being broken if I feed you that false belief as a way of controlling your actions. In both of these cases, I act so as to manipulate your actions. When I do that, I am denying you your freedom and making you a servant of my will.
In the case of the pregnancy resource centers, they are doing exactly the same thing when they threaten that their clients will suffer an increased risk of breast cancer or emotional problems if they have an abortion. Instead of saying, “If you do not obey me then your legs will be broken,” these deceitful individuals are saying, “If you do not obey me then you will get breast cancer and suffer emotional trauma.” If these claims are true, then their statements are like those of the person warning another of the hazards of jumping. If their statements are false, then their statements are like those of the thug threatening harm in order to bend another person to their will.
This news article specifically concerns people who get government funds to use in an operation that operates on the same moral level as a family of gangsters. The operation that they are funding threatens harm to those who disobey the wishes of those who run the pregnancy resource center – harms in the form of breast cancer and emotional trauma that research says does not exist.
These pregnancy resource center workers are acting like the priest in my story of two days ago, using false claims to manipulate those caught in a hazardous situation into taking a more dangerous route so that they will not walk across the priest’s holy ground.
Yesterday, I wrote about the fact that we do not teach people how to make intelligent decisions.
One of the things that caught my attention in this article was a statement about Molly Ford from Care Net, one of the organizations receiving federal funds and passing out false information. The article reports:
But Ford said that pregnancy center counselors don't need statistics to tell them that many women undergoing an abortion experience severe emotional trauma.
Recall that yesterday I wrote about a person considering several types of treatment for an illness. Treatment options included “No treatment” where 90% of the people died, and “Treatment E” where 97% of the people died.
Now, somebody in Molly Ford’s position who has the job of trying to sell Treatment E could honestly say, “We don’t need statistics to tell us that many people who use Treatment E are cured.” Indeed, if their treatment center treats 1000 people, then they will know of 30 people who are cured. However, they are still morally reprehensible for their decision to sell Treatment E – since, if those same 1000 people would have done nothing, 100 of them would have likely survived, instead of 30. In spite of the fact that this agency knows of 30 survivors, statistics show us that, in fact, they killed 70 people.
Ford’s moral culpability is made much worse by the fact that these people offer a consulting service. People are supposed to come to them for advice. People are coming to them to get help in making an intelligent decision. Molly Ford’s comments above show that the people at Care Net are professionally incompetent when it comes to making intelligent decision. Any organization that uses decision-making procedures that could have them recommending Treatment E over no treatment at all does not have the professional competence to advise others on how to make intelligent decisions.
For the government to be paying these people to help others make decisions is as bad as the government paying engineers who could not pass a basic math class.
The principles that I have used so far lead to one more conclusion that I would like to mention.
I have spoken about how it is fundamentally immoral to say to people, “Do what I tell you to do or Bubba here with the baseball bat will have to break your legs.” This is a gangster mentality, and gangsters are very far from the paradigms of virtue.
But, let’s just pretend that we have a person with a gangster mentality. This gangster, however, is a bit dissatisfied with Bubba’s limits. Some of the people he wants to control think that they can take Bubba out. Bubba has its limits. So, instead of using Bubba as an enforcer, our gangster decides to tell the people that he has an omniscient, omnipotent, invisible Bubba who does not simply break legs. This super-Bubba has the power to make anybody who disobeys this gangster suffer forever in an afterlife.
This would make a sweet situation that anybody with a gangster mentality would drool over.
If only it were possible to convince people that an omniscient, omnipotent, invisible Bubba with the power to make people suffer forever in an afterlife actually exists.