Friday, April 21, 2006

Party of Death - Book Review - Part One

I recently received Ramesh Ponnuru's new book, The Party of Death, and have been reading it on my lunch break during the last two days. Besides the fact that receiving this book for free is the first tangible thing I've gotten from almost a year and a half of blogging, Ramesh is probably my favorite writer for the National Review so I've looked forward to reading this book for quite some time.

As of today I've read the first seven chapters and enjoyed them thoroughly. In the first chapter, Ramesh takes the time to shatter the myth of what Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton did and dismantles Judge Blackmun's "flimsy" reasoning and the media's acceptance of the "first three months" line. Chapter two discusses how the abortion issue has realigned the political orientation of many individuals, the abandonment of prolife principles by many Democratic politicians, and the "personally opposed" stance of politicians like Mario Cuomo. Chapter notes how many Democrats have taken advocacy of abortion to the extremes of wanting tax dollars to pay for abortion and their disapproval of Unborn Victims of Violence law. Chapters four and five discuss partial-birth abortion. Chapter six addresses whether abortion has brought about social good (such as a reduction in crime) and how those arguments are "something of a sideshow." Chapter seven (which was my favorite chapter so far) discusses personhood and other arguments used in an attempt to argue away the rights of the unborn.

Though I'm only a third of the way through the book, if the rest of the book is like the first seven chapters (and I'm guessing it is), Ramesh Ponnuru has taken the stores of knowledge prolifers have acquired over the past 30+ years and condensed that knowledge into an enjoyably readable 248-page tome on arguably some of the most important political issues of our time.

Some quotable quotes so far:
"But saying that Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the first three months of pregnancy is like saying that World War II pitted Germany against Great Britain: It's true in a narrow sense, but it's very far from being the whole story."

After posting a classic discussion between Rick Santorum and Barbara Boxer - "These are the difficulties one takes on in defending the killing of a human being inches away from being born: You're forced either to defend infanticide openly, or to draw distinctions that amount to a deadly game of Hokey-Pokey."

"The legislators who tried to outlaw partial-birth abortion were trying to work around (the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court used birth, a change of location, to transform a fetus to a human being). Conceding that the Court would not allow them to protect life within the womb, they tried to mark an outer boundary to the abortion right: to establish that they could protect human beings partway out of the womb. It is this attempt to draw a limit that the courts put down. In the process, they ascribed their own irrationality to others."

"The argument for the sanctity of life is straightforward. If human beings have intrinsic dignity and worth, then they have this dignity and worth simply because they are human beings. It follows that all human beings have this dignity and worth. They are equal in the fundamental rights that attach to being human. These rights - and to have any rights at all must be to have the right not to be killed - cannot depend on particular qualities that some human beings have and others do not."

"There is a radical difference that separates both an adult human being and a human embryo from both a kitten and a sperm cell. The first two are complete, living human organisms and the second two are not. Yet the party of death ignores that basic difference while making a difference of degree - the adult's greater age and development of his capacities - the basis of a radical difference in treatment."

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