Opinion | The ‘Ethic of Life’ in the Political Arena

Responses to an essay by Tish Harrison Warren. Also: Tom Brady and the crypto crash; Bill de Blasio and Chirlane McCray’s breakup; artificial intelligence.
Opinion | The ‘Ethic of Life’ in the Political Arena

To the Editor:

Re “‘You Can’t Protect Some Life and Not Others,’” by Tish Harrison Warren (Opinion, June 28):

Ms. Warren calls for a “consistent ethic of life” and complains: “I already know that I won’t feel represented by the platforms of either party. I know I’ll feel politically estranged and frustrated.”

It would be nice if each of us could find a political party whose platform represents our views 100 percent. That would require dozens or more political parties. Instead, the U.S. has two major parties.

Absent reforms such as ranked choice voting, which would allow voters to express their preference among multiple candidates, the two-party system inevitably leaves virtually everyone frustrated that neither major party represents their views fully.

Politics inevitably involves compromise. You vote for the party that best represents your values, even if you disagree on some things.

The good news is that for those with a “consistent ethic of life,” the choice between the two parties is not even close. Despite the cynical appropriation of the “pro-life” label by Republicans, in practice the Democratic Party is the one whose policies — including on climate change, health care for all, gun control, the death penalty, and concern for ordinary workers, the poor and anyone marginalized — value human life.

Victor Thuronyi
Sandy Spring, Md.

To the Editor:

Tish Harrison Warren’s essay is an inspiring and challenging plea for the major political parties to make room in their platforms for those of us who embrace the “consistent ethic of life,” sometimes referred to as “the seamless garment.”

A priest in the Anglican Church in North America, Ms. Warren cites several Roman Catholic sources in presenting her argument for the consistent ethic of life “from womb to tomb.”

Her essay is an excellent example of ecumenism at its best. It gives me, a Roman Catholic priest, encouragement and hope.

Robert Lauder

To the Editor:

Tish Harrison Warren’s essay makes a fundamental error in not distinguishing an entity that is alive, such as a fetus, from a life. A fetus is certainly alive, but so are many entities that do not have the same ethical and moral status as human beings.

Whether a fetus is a life is a different matter entirely. It is an ethical, moral and religious question on which different religions, and different individuals, hold different views.

Ms. Warren’s ideas notwithstanding, political parties should not promote the views of one religion over the others, or legislate an individual’s most sacred and personal code of ethics.

The real problem that emerges from Ms. Warren’s essay is not the lack of an American political party that gives equal value to the rights of fetuses and the underprivileged. It is the unexamined assumption of Ms. Warren and the “whole life” movement that a being that is “alive” is self-evidently a “life” in the fullest sense of the word.

Deborah Beck
Austin, Texas

To the Editor:

Tish Harrison Warren’s ethic about consistency in protecting all life needs moral examination. Her assumption is that genetic human life is as valuable as conscious human life. But conscious human life develops gradually as the nervous system of the fetus interacts with stimuli.

This does not occur early in pregnancy and does not reach full development until after birth. It is consciousness that is of value. Most human beings realize these facts, as a guide to subjective, moral “common sense.”

John Brodsky
Swarthmore, Pa.
The writer is a retired general practice doctor.

To the Editor:

While I am impressed with the beautifully written and thoughtful essay by Tish Harrison Warren, I believe that all issues can be negotiated and worked out except for abortion.

The “pro-lifers” will not accept any status quo that allows for any abortion, and “pro-choicers” will not give up women’s inherent right to control their own bodies.

The only solution that we see is to get religion out of the national conversation entirely. How will that fly with Ms. Warren?

Elliot M.L. Bloom
Mashpee, Mass.

To the Editor:

No matter how hard Tish Harrison Warren tries to make her case, there cannot be an established true religion that is part of the law of the land in a democracy.

Women in a democracy have to be allowed to decide what is morally correct for them, without having the religious beliefs of others forced on them, by a government that doesn’t understand that equal rights is the basic fundamental of democracy.

Laws that have decided that a couple of cells that have formed in a woman’s body have more rights than the woman they are in must be seen as oppressive sexist legislation by any real democracy.

M.W. Schwartzwalder
Walden, N.Y.

To the Editor:

Re “Hyping the Crypto Rush, Only to Lose Millions” (front page, July 7):

Three words could have prevented all of this turmoil: “Trust but verify.”

All of us, even celebrities, have an ethical obligation to do our due diligence when promoting, well, anything.

Thirty minutes of research would have ​persuaded Tom Brady, who promoted the FTX cryptocurrency exchange, to run the other way.

As the fallout demonstrates, taking a closer look at something that seems too good to be true is both the right thing and the smart thing to do.

Bruce Weinstein
New York

To the Editor:

Re “After 29 Years of Marriage, Former Mayor and His Wife Are Separating” (news article, July 6):

Bill de Blasio and Chirlane McCray provide an excellent example of how to behave when one’s marriage may be coming to an end. Well, I don’t know about holding a press interview, but to quickly reach mutually acceptable terms is best for all involved.

I have been representing people in divorce for 30 years. If more men were like our former mayor, we wouldn’t need to fight so hard for full financial disclosure, adequate support and fair division of assets. How one approaches the breakdown of a marriage is a test of personal integrity.

Ann Schneider

To the Editor:

Re “The Risk From A.I. Isn’t Just Existential,” by Evgeny Morozov (Opinion guest essay, July 2):

Although experts on artificial intelligence warn us of the “risk of extinction” if advances in the area are not properly regulated, there are few if any specifics on what those dire circumstances will look like. Is there to be a collapse of the human will as chatbots run roughshod over us?

There is vast territory and capacity in the human brain that we still don’t understand, much about how the organ works that we have yet to discern. Where reside, for example, affection, conscience, instinct, courage, a love of all things beautiful, the seat of our very soul?

Yet we are asked to believe that an artificially intelligent being whose mind we have designed to mimic that small portion of our minds that we have managed to figure out will somehow be able to outwit us.

If we are to worry about the “risk of extinction,” we have far more to fear from our flesh and blood fellows.

Margaret McGirr
Greenwich, Conn.