Should People Speak Out If They Believe Innocent People Are Being Killed?

Should people speak out if they sincerely believe that innocent people are being killed?  Most people would give a positive answer to this question.

For example, the government and the military of Syria have been killing tens of thousands of their own citizens.  Thousands of individual people around the world are speaking out against this (even though the Syrian government considers people who speak out against its cruel and evil behavior to be judgmental).   Also, national governments and the United Nations are speaking and working (although, unsuccessfully) to stop Syria’s behavior.

However, Syria’s government is pro choice.  They believe that they have the right to choose to get rid of citizens who cause them inconvenience.

So what’s the difference for the hundreds of millions of people who sincerely believe that it is both cruel and morally wrong to kill the innocent human life in the womb?  In the past 40 years many millions of those developing babies have been killed.

If people who speak out against the slaughter in Syria are heroes, why aren’t the people who speak against the slaughter of the unborn also called heroes?


About Steve Simms

I like to look and think outside the box. In college I encountered Jesus Christ and I have been passionate about trying to get to know Him better ever since. My wife and I co-lead a non-traditional expression of the body of Christ in Nashville based on open participation and Spirit-led sharing. We long to see the power and passion of the first Christ-followers come to life in our time. I have written a book about our experiences called, "Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible--Ekklesia" that is available in Kindle & paperback @
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22 Responses to Should People Speak Out If They Believe Innocent People Are Being Killed?

  1. elizabeth s says:


  2. What a bizarre analogy. There’s a huge difference between government-sanctioned slaughter of individuals and the right of a women to manage her own body. These situations are not even comparable in practice.

    • Steve Simms says:

      The comparison is a matter of belief, David. What if you sincerely believed, from the depth of your heart (I know you don’t, but what if you did?), that killing an unborn baby in the womb was equal to killing a 20 year-old — would you then feel that you had both the right and the responsibility to speak out against it?

      • I understand completely it’s a matter of belief, but that’s the problem. You’re asking people to respond to a question that implies they accept a conjecture that is supported by nothing but (most likely your) belief. Many people accept as true many claims that are quite irrational, and indeed often demonstrably false. You’re playing games with strawman arguments and the reality is that no response (either yes or no) can be considered valid when the conjecture is not supported.

        All you’re doing in fact is saying
        If A = B then should you do C
        where A,B and C can be ANYTHING you like with no actual relationship.

        In otherwords, the question is meaningless in real life.

        There are some very important moral and ethical questions out there that are very difficult to answer and are deserving of deep thought for many reasons, including that they help us understand our selves. But your question is not in that class. Sorry.

  3. Steve Simms says:

    Thanks for the comments, David. It is also a belief that the developing human life in the womb is unworthy of life, has no right to live, and can be killed like a cancer or parasite. Humanity has a history of declaring different types of human life as “not human” and then killing or abusing that part of humanity. If the innocent human life in the womb can be killed at will, why not elderly (or infirm) forms of human life? This is a crucial ethical question? Innocent human life should not be taken by others.

    • Again, you’re making several conjectures one of which is the assumption that there IS an innocent human life in the womb at conception and that its life IS as valuable as another life (the mother). Your conjectures are in fact just beliefs and not everyone agrees with them.

      Much more importantly, what I do accept is that neither you nor I (nor anyone else) has any right imposing our personal beliefs on others who do not share the same belief system (or even if they do!).

      For example, while practicing Christians are often (ordered to be?) anti-abortion, Jewish law allows abortion under a number of circumstances, most importantly when the mother’s life or health (including mental health by the way) would be jeopardized by the birth.

      Do you object to the Jewish belief?

  4. Steve Simms says:

    My point is that if a person sincerely believes that innocent human life is being killed or abused, the ethical action would be to speak out against it. Unfortunately, human history has shown that it is far too easy to claim that certain forms of human life are not really human (blacks under American slavery, Jews under the Nazis, heretics under religious persecuters, etc.). It is easy to say that a person who defends human life is only defending a belief (or myth), however, none of our claims change the reality that abortion ends a developing human life (one moment life is there and then suction pull it apart and it is no longer alive).

  5. Some do accept your conjecture and they ARE speaking out. For the most part, the consequences of their speaking out will be mostly detrimental to many in this country.

    For example, driven by extreme right wing religious beliefs, the Republicans want to shut down Planned Parenthood, a service that helps a tremendous number of women in the country with many health issues (of which abortions constitute about 4%).

    Again, comparing “blacks under slavery, Jews under Nazis” with “mother and unborn child inside mother” is completely bogus. They are not even close to being similar situations. You’re just repeating your intial conjecture and expecting everyone to accept it.

    As for the claim that abortion ends a developing life, it can also be the case that non-abortion can end an already existing life. Why do the mothers’ right not count?

    • Steve Simms says:

      That is the same argument used to defend slavery — the rights of slaveholders.

      Because I believe that life begins at conception you have labeled me right wing. (My leftist friends think I’m right wing and my right wing friends call me leftist.)

      I think abortion should be treated like suicide. As a society we discourage suicide and try to prevent it, however, we don’t criminalize it. If a person can be strongly encouraged not to take her own life, why shouldn’t she also be strongly encouraged not to take the life of her developing child in her womb? And in the case of the life of the mother, that is a choice between lives — taking one life to save another (ie. self-defense). Tim Tebow’s mother was told that she needed to get an abortion or she would probably die, and we all know how that turned out.

  6. I accept (with some reservations that are beyond the scope of this discussion) that you have the right to your belief. Indeed you might even be right. However, I contest the notion that you have the right to IMPOSE your position on others who do not share your underlying belief system, whether they be other religious groups (e.g, Jews) or non-religious groups. I note that you have not answered my question concerning the rights of other religious groups who do not share your position that the lives of the fetus and mother are equal.
    Because I believe that life begins at conception

    I haven’t labeled you anything other than someone with an irrational belief system, something that is true of anyone who clings to contradictory “facts”.
    you have labeled me right wing

    It’s hard to criminalize suicide, isn’t it? How do you punish someone who killed themself? More importantly, this country does a terrible job of handling people with mental health issues. If you don’t have a huge amount of money and you have mental health issues, you’re royally screwed. Very sad.
    As a society we discourage suicide and try to prevent it, however, we don’t criminalize it.

    Are you now suggesting that the mother is allowed to make that choice?
    And in the case of the life of the mother, that is a choice between lives — taking one life to save another (ie. self-defense)

    Sigh — I had hoped to avoid Godwin’s law but your argument applies equally well to Hitler’s mother and we all know how THAT turned out. Hindsight is not the way to decide these things.
    Tim Tebow’s mother was told that she needed to get an abortion or she would probably die, and we all know how that turned out.

    • Steve Simms says:

      I’m not saying impose, but persuade. (I said don’t criminalize.) However, society does justly impose (in most cases) on those who want to kill innocent human life, regardless of their religious or other beliefs. That’s why we have laws against murder.

      There is nothing irrational about believing that life begins at conception. Through out human history most people have believed that a pregnant woman is “with child.” (That’s so logical that even primitive peoples can understand it.) A woman who wants an abortion often says “I don’t want this baby,” not “I don’t want this tissue.”

      “The beginning” is when something starts and if you examine the process of reproduction, the logical conclusion is that a human life starts at conception. I think you are being illogical in denying that obvious fact (in order to back up your emotional belief that abortion is no big deal).

      So we disagree, David. Our culture is divided on this issue. However, democracy is all about debate and compromise. I think treating abortion like suicide could be a possible compromise (not making it illegal, but working strongly to prevent it). Do you have any ideas for a compromise? Democrats used to say that they want abortion to be rare (that was a good starting point for compromise). Perhaps we should go back to that position.

  7. ireland says:

    I don’t know what I said that would imply that (a) I’m arguing from an emotional belief and (b) I consider abortion to not be a big deal.
    in order to back up your emotional belief that abortion is no big deal

    So let’s be clear on both of these before continuing (or perhaps even winding up). First of all, I think abortion is a HUGE deal — I’ve seen families destroyed by problems over the issue (on both sides). Secondly, I have been trying from the beginning to leave both emotions and belief out of the discussion.

    In fact, I think it is YOU who is arguing from emotional belief. The reality is that in many topics, what people have believed throughout history has turned out to be wrong and what people “belief” is not a good guide as to what is actually true (or false). By the way, both Michael Shermer (“The Believing Brain”) and Jonathan Haidt (“Why Good People are Divided by Religion and Politics”) are excellent resources to understand the evolutionary reasons for why people believe things that are often not true and how our brains deal with moral and ethical issues.
    Through out human history most people have believed…..

    That is NOT a logical conclusion, it is a belief based what you think “life” means. There is “life” in yogourt yet people have no problem eating it. However (see below), my objections (and therefore the reason I responded to your article) are not based on the validity of this claim.
    “The beginning” is when something starts and if you examine the process of reproduction, the logical conclusion is that a human life starts at conception

    I have absolutely no problem with the concept of reducing the need for abortions and better yet would be to reduce the number of unwanted pregancies. The physical and mental health consequences to the mother are also relevent (even if the pregancy was desired).

    I certainly don’t agree one bit with the notion that it is not a big deal and/or should not be taken seriously. However, let’s remember the reason I responded to your article (actually there are two reasons). I responded mainly because I found your analogy to be seriously flawed, as I have explained in earlier posts. But more importantly, I responded because of my concern of “absolutism” in this area.

    You mentioned logical conclusions earlier. Understand first of all that by definition, “belief” can have no place in a logical discussion. If you take out religious belief (and you have to because different religious groups have different and mostly contradictory beliefs), then neither you nor I has any right to impose our personal view about abortion on someone who has a different (or no) belief. Much as you believe people should speak up on this issue (and that’s independent of the flawed analogy), I think we also are obligated to fight back against the nonsense being spewed out by people like Todd Aiken.

    The deep polarization in the US has caused many people to think that the world is 100% black or white. If I’m right, you MUST be wrong. The pro-life crowd (most of who are belief based) have persuaded many people to believe that pro-choice people are actually advocating for abortion and that’s absolutely not true.

    There are many reasons why an abortion might be the appropriate choice, with physical and mental health reasons being the obvious (but not the only) ones. But as long as people try to ban abortion no matter what the reason and no matter what the consequences, it is necessary to push back. It’s not the person banning abortion who has to live with the consequences of that decision.
    So we disagree, David……

    • Steve Simms says:

      Thanks for the discussion, David. Maybe we haven’t gotten anywhere, but at least we have been pleasant with each other.

      One thing that is a fact (and not a belief): Before an abortion there is life in the womb. (If a human fetus was found on Mars scientists would proclaim — “Life Discovered On Mars.”) Then after an abortion that life has been ended.

  8. Donna Eden says:

    Good question. It is not a very good thing to live with. We suffer consequences for all wrong that we do, don’t we? Abortion is a wrong that we have to live with too. I have had 3 abortions in my lifetime. For a very long time the guilt was tremendous. Seeing children, teenagers, even still today, adults; I wonder what my children would look like, be like, what profession they would get into/ All of that runs through my mind. It is a terrible thing to have to live with. I still have a hard time forgiving myself. I think that is the hardest part to have to live with. I am just grateful that Jesus led me to a place of healing for what I did. He allowed me to receive healing and to be able to forgive myself, to the place where I can admit and share it and to be able to talk about, and to live with it. If it wasn’t for Jesus and God, I would’ve committed suicide, but He led me down the road of forgiveness and saved me from hell. I would not recommend abortion, but if it’s already done, seek Jesus. He will lead you into healing and forgiveness. He loves us all unconditionally. Try it, it works.

  9. ireland says:

    Maybe….it is certainly tragic that you have had to deal with 3 abortions but I would argue that you would have suffered much less guilt were it not for the stigma imposed in the first place by organized religions (and consequently society) that are ordering you to consider it to be a sin in the first place, etc.

    In other words, much of that guilt is BECAUSE of what you have been told by those claiming to speak for Jesus. THAT is the real tragedy.

    These issues (and I have had a number of encounters with people in similar situations) are extremely complex but the feelings of guilt (and suicidal impulses) can be addressed by mental health professionals and the real sin is that our society makes it extremely difficult for regular people to get useful access to such services.

    Steve, people like Donna are suffering unnecessarily BECAUSE of the consequences of irrational belief systems. This is why I speak out and argue that such things need to be left to individuals and their families (if appropriate) without the pressure and stigma coming from religion.

  10. ireland says:

    By the way, I give you (Steve) much credit for your willingness to allow this discussion to continue on your site without going to the usual ad hominem attacks that one often sees on the web.

    • Steve Simms says:

      Thanks, David. I believe in respecting people and their viewpoints, even when I disagree with them. In my view, name calling and/or personal attacks show that a person has no confidence in her/his position. I also appreciate your willingness to debate without personal attacks. All the best to you!

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