Classic pro-legalized abortion reasoning

pro-choice-baby.jpgWhich is to say, classically flawed.  A commenter on the From one collection of cells to another post made some comments that I thought were worthy to be addressed in a separate post.  I find them to be thoroughly flawed, but they contained many arguments that pro-legalized abortion folks find persuasive.  Here is how I would respond to them:

Ultimately we are not discussing whether a blastocyst is human, but whether it is a sentient human being. The mother clearly is and the fertilized egg clearly is not.

That is an arbitrary philosophical argument that proves way too much.  We are discussing whether a human being is destroyed.  And Theobromophile explained why the sentient criteria is incorrect here.

The mother may have been careless about birth control, or her birth control may have failed, but the fetus is part of her body and it is her body that will have to endure pregnancy and birth and her career that may be curtailed and her poverty into which the child will be forced to live.

Lots of problems here.  Career, poverty, education and the other reasons typically given for choosing abortion would never justify murdering toddlers.  So why do they apply inside the womb?  It is a scientific fact that the unborn are human beings.  Our worth is inherent in our humanity, not in some arbitrary time frame or philosophical and fuzzy “personhood” model.

Using that reasoning, more than 80% of the pregnancies in the world should be aborted, because those children will be born into poverty worse than anything you find in the U.S. 

The concept that abortion is murder is simply not shared by most of the American populace. It is a concept that is not even shared by all Christians. You are right to bring up the parallels, and I would suggest that assisted suicide for the terminally ill in constant pain is one, as are the DNR orders hanging from a loved one’s hospital bed, and certainly the death penalty is another. These are areas where the nation’s morality is still evolving.

There have always been changes in our understanding of moral and ethical behavior and there always will be. Over time our laws change just as our morality changes. We once believed women belonged in the home as property of their husbands, but now they can vote, run for President, and have equal rights with men. We once believed that we could treat some our black citizens as inferior and conspire through law to deny them the right to vote, but we passed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act and now we have elected one to the Presidency. We once believed that gay people should not have the same rights as straight people, and one day soon we will abandon that prejudice. Will this happen with abortion? Who knows?

Until then, those who do feel strongly about abortion on both sides should work together to reduce the number of abortions.

This is pure double speak.  He has already rationalized that abortion is morally good or at least benign, but now he switches gears and says we should reduce the number.  But as I asked in an earlier comment, why should we reduce them?  If you don’t think they kill innocent human beings, why limit them? The pro-legalized abortion lobby insists they are safer than pregnancy and they are a cost effective method of birth control.  If you do think they kill innocent human beings, I’m not sure why you think they should be legal.

Simply scaring young women into rejecting abortion is not the answer. We should work to reduce unwanted pregnancies in the first place, and we have to employ realistic methods, not simply tell people to abstain from sex. I fear that many on the anti-choice side will not join in such an effort because their opposition to abortion is at least partially grounded in a rejection of normal human sexuality and a desire to return women to traditional roles.

He is using multiple logical fallacies here.  He begs the question and assume we are just trying to “scare” women.”  Pregnancy Resource Centers and other pro-life organizations just give the whole story and note the risks of abortion.  If the consequences are real, then “scare tactics” would be legitimate, anyway.

He uses the “anti-choice” dig to imply that we are trying to take away rights. But as I noted in Who is really anti-choice?, my first reaction is that I am not ashamed to be anti-choice, provided that they mean “anti-choice to crush and dismember innocent human beings (regular abortions) or anti-choice to stick a sharp instrument in a baby’s head and suck out her brains (partial-birth abortions, aka infanticide) or anti-choice to let born-alive abortion surviving babies die in closets (the method of infanticide protected by Barack Obama).”

He says it isn’t realistic to tell people to abstain from sex, but the liberal efforts at birth control have been a disaster.  Where is the “audacity of abstinence message” and “hope” that we can convince people to stop participating in such counter productive behavior? 

Fact: If people follow the one man / one woman / covenant marriage guidelines for human sexuality then it would be impossible (or virtually impossible) to get STDs, out of wedlock pregnancies and affairs that destroy marriages and families.  Abortions would go down dramatically. 

The notion that we reject normal human sexuality is outrageous.  Pro-legalized abortionists typically support all sorts of perversions.  We realize what studies show: Married couples have the most and best sex.  Men were designed to be with women.  That’s normal. 

The notion that we want to put women in their place is outrageous as well.  Nearly all the volunteers and workers at CareNet are women.  Early suffragists were strongly pro-life.  It is a gross perversion of feminism to imply that women must have the right to destroy their children to be considered equal to men.

Also note that we could easily play the motive game to demonize our opponents.  I could posit that you just hate God and are rebelling against him by affirming the “right” to destroy innocent human beings.  I could assume that you know abortion is a sin, but that by affirming it you make your own sins look less bad by comparison.  And on and on.

But I don’t do that.  I stick to the facts: Scientifically speaking, abortion kills an innocent human being.  Morally speaking, we should defend the innocent from being murdered.

9 thoughts on “Classic pro-legalized abortion reasoning”

  1. Great post. I think you spoke to the issue pretty well. What we need a stricter interpretation of the Constitution. A lot of people think pro-lifers want to change the Constitution but really we just want the government to enforce the protection already provided for the unborn within the existing language.
    It is tragic this issue has been so politicized. It’s very clearly wrong and a fetus is clearly a person but people are told what side they should be on early in life and rarely take on objective second look at it. It comes down to red and blue philosophy more often than not.
    I also love the “pro-lifers don’t help reduce the number of abortions, they just complain” statements you see all the time in postings. An overwhelming percentage of pro-life people are members of some kind of church and the church does so much for single moms and poverty-stricken homes that goes unpublicized it would shock people. I have a feeling these people know this but it’s much easier just to put the church in a box and call it ‘bad’.
    Another ironic thing is that, in America, we tell teenagers that alcohol is not good for them and to “wait” to partake until are of an age that the government has deemed them to responsible enough for the responsibilities alcohol consumption brings with it yet we tell them sex is for people who are in love and they should wear protection always if they think that their ready because it’s your call. I guess the logic is “they’re going to do it anyway so lets tell them how to do it ‘right’.” So, following that logic, we should probably start telling teens how to shotgun a beer without dripping on the carpet and when/how to safely dismount from a keg-stand. Just a thought

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  2. 4Sim,

    You say, “It is a scientific fact that the unborn are human beings. Our worth is inherent in our humanity, not in some arbitrary time frame or philosophical and fuzzy ‘personhood’ model.”

    What is the scientific fact specifically that identifies a fetus as human, as having humanity? You rule out some chronological mark and notions of personhood.

    But what exactly is the marker for humanity? It sounds like you think DNA is, is that right?

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  3. Feodor,

    The simple fact that the unborn would not exist without its parents engaging in the very act designed to bring about its existence. THAT is the marker for its humanity. THAT’S what makes it human and a person. Chronological marks or notions of personhood are just examples of subjective lines of demarcation used to forgive one’s own lack of self-discipline and/or accountability. Such is nothing more than cheap rationalizations. It’s absolutely mind-boggling that such arguments were ever given the time of day. Their proponents should have been roundly mocked at the first utterance of such arguments and chided for their selfishness.

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  4. What is the scientific fact specifically that identifies a fetus as human, as having humanity? You rule out some chronological mark and notions of personhood.

    Nice bait and switch. Neil is talking about being a member of the human race, which is a scientific fact. You are introducing a nebulous concept of “personhood,” designed to include those groups that you like and exclude those that you don’t like. Why should we dole out rights to those whom we believe have more “humanity” (whatever that may be) than others? Should Norman Rockwell get more rights than an antisocial, reclusive scientist?

    Back in the day, everyone agreed that African-Americans were humans, but only those crazy Christian abolitionists thought that they were people, too.

    We should have learned that any member of the human race, no matter how oppressed, downtrodden, or defenceless, is a person. We don’t decide, as a society, whether various minority groups have enough “humanity” for us, or whether they are “persons” or not, before granting them unalienable and basic civil rights.

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  5. Whether the soul has entered the body at conception or at a later time is a secondary consideration. A body is being built for the soul, and destroying it is criminal, even if the soul has not entered yet. Also, the body of the mother is not her own; everything animate or inanimate is God’s property. Neither should animals be slaughtered, as the Lord hates hands that shed innocent blood. (Proverbs 6:16-17).

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  6. “Back in the day, everyone agreed that African-Americans were humans, but only those crazy Christian abolitionists thought that they were people, too.”

    With apologies to Neil for going way off topic; Theo, thanks for remembering my crazy Christian ancestors, hardly anybody does these days. One of my ancestors was very nearly hanged for helping runaway slaves. Fortunately for me, his friends broke him out of jail the night before his scheduled execution.

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  7. 1. A fetus, unlike a toddler is completely dependent upon the mother for life and is a part of her body. The fetus cannot be cared for by others like a child. Seeing the fetus as part of the mother’s body does not argue for or against abortion.

    The fetus is a human fetus and a human being. Just because someone is dependent on you doesn’t mean you are allowed to kill them.

    2. I did not argue that abortion is morally good, or even benign, but that it is a decision that should be left to the mother, not one that should be dictated by the state. If anti-choice advocates were truly interested in lowering the number of abortions, they would want to work to reduce them and pro-choice advocates would join that effort. There are any number of decisions that people have to make during life that are difficult and when they can be avoided that is a good thing. That doesn’t mean that the decisions are wrong or right, just that they are difficult.

    Why isn’t it morally good or benign? Why is abortion a difficult decision?

    I addressed your “if pro-lifers were truly interested” sound bite here – Pro-lifers don’t care about kids after they are born?

    3. I have to assume that “Pregnancy Resource Centers” don’t really give the “whole story” since they don’t point out the benefits of abortion. The point of their effort is to scare the woman so she won’t have the abortion. To pretend otherwise is ridiculous.

    You speak from ignorance. The benefits of abortion? How pathological. A human being is murdered. A woman gets to feel guilty the rest of her life for killing her kid. The guy gets away with sex without consequences (well not really — it is bad for them, too).

    For those with open minds who want the truth about Crisis Pregnancy Centers, read more about Crisis Pregnancy Centers.

    DL, pro-legalized abortionists like you are like gold.

    4. Pro-choice advocates are no happier with the use of “pro-life” by anti-abortion advocates than the other way around. As I have argued earlier, in most cases the anti-abortionists don’t really have a consistent ethic of respect for human life anyway.

    Thus says the one who doesn’t understand the difference between and innocent human being and a guilty one.

    5. Liberal efforts at birth control have hardly been nearly as much of a disaster as conservative efforts to promote abstinence as the only proper method. Check the statistics on this one.

    I did – http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/2007/09/17/abstinence-still-the-best-option/

    6. Yes if everyone lived the way you thought they should, we might have a lower incidence of STDs and unwanted pregnancies – this is the real world however, not your fantasy world.

    Actually, I’m a realist. I know it is a fallen world. I also know that you are living in the fantasy world if you think teens will follow your birth control advice.

    7. Since you define “normal human sexuality” as the types of sexuality you condone between heterosexual married people only, you can pat yourselves on the back for being so open minded. Normal is what most people do, not what you thing is right for them to do.

    So you are saying homosexual behavior is abnormal?! Didn’t know you were a homophobe. Don’t worry, it will be our secret.

    8. One’s ideas or feelings about God have nothing whatever to do with being pro-choice. I don’t believe in the idea of sin, nor the idea of God, so that argument is beside the point.

    You seem to believe in right and wrong, as you’ve said pregancy centers spread lies, we are causing pregnancies, etc. A little consistency would be nice.

    9. Followeroftheway seems to think that abortion is banned in the Constitution. Simply not so. The Constitution deals with restricting government from interfering with the rights of citizens – like the right to control their own bodies.

    Many pro-choicers concede that Roe v. Wade was bad law. You have to have quite an imagination to find abortion rights there.

    10. Personhood is not a nebulous concept. It is essential to understanding what it means to be human. Persons have a unique ability to be conscious of themselves and aware of the passage of time, etc. Those are not qualities shared by embryonic life forms regardless of their genesis. Comparing fetuses to African-Americans is a disgusting bit of warped logic. Slave owners and segregationists knew that African-Americans were persons, they just considered them second-class persons without the intelligence and skill of white people. That view was defended by most of the conservative Christian groups of the day.

    Yes, what it means to be human. Such as a human fetus. Again, check the embryology textbooks. I’m always surprised to find the pro-aborts being so anti-science. All of a sudden they turn into postmodern philosophy majors when the topic turns to the humanity of the unborn.

    11. Lastly any reference to a soul or to God in the abortion debate is clear admission that this is a religious issue, not a political issue. It should be dealt with as a religious issue, not legislated by the state.

    You can’t be serious. That is like saying, “Any reference to stealing, murder, etc. is a clear admission that _____ is a religious issue, not a political issue . . .”

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  8. 1. A fetus, unlike a toddler is completely dependent upon the mother for life and is a part of her body. The fetus cannot be cared for by others like a child. Seeing the fetus as part of the mother’s body does not argue for or against abortion.

    The fetus is a human fetus and a human being. Just because someone is dependent on you doesn’t mean you are allowed to kill them.

    So I assume you are OK with any abortions provided that the umbilical cord is still attached?

    2. I did not argue that abortion is morally good, or even benign, but that it is a decision that should be left to the mother, not one that should be dictated by the state. If anti-choice advocates were truly interested in lowering the number of abortions, they would want to work to reduce them and pro-choice advocates would join that effort. There are any number of decisions that people have to make during life that are difficult and when they can be avoided that is a good thing. That doesn’t mean that the decisions are wrong or right, just that they are difficult.

    Why isn’t it morally good or benign? Why is abortion a difficult decision?

    I addressed your “if pro-lifers were truly interested” sound bite here – Pro-lifers don’t care about kids after they are born?

    3. I have to assume that “Pregnancy Resource Centers” don’t really give the “whole story” since they don’t point out the benefits of abortion. The point of their effort is to scare the woman so she won’t have the abortion. To pretend otherwise is ridiculous.

    The benefits of abortion? How pathological. A human being is murdered. A woman gets to feel guilty the rest of her life for killing her kid. The guy gets away with sex without consequences (well not really — it is bad for them, too).

    You speak from ignorance about pregnancy centers. For those with open minds who want the truth about Crisis Pregnancy Centers, read more about Crisis Pregnancy Centers.

    4. Pro-choice advocates are no happier with the use of “pro-life” by anti-abortion advocates than the other way around. As I have argued earlier, in most cases the anti-abortionists don’t really have a consistent ethic of respect for human life anyway.

    Thus says the one who doesn’t understand the difference between and innocent human being and a guilty one.

    5. Liberal efforts at birth control have hardly been nearly as much of a disaster as conservative efforts to promote abstinence as the only proper method. Check the statistics on this one.

    I did – http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/2007/09/17/abstinence-still-the-best-option/

    6. Yes if everyone lived the way you thought they should, we might have a lower incidence of STDs and unwanted pregnancies – this is the real world however, not your fantasy world.

    Actually, I’m a realist. I know it is a fallen world. I also know that you are living in the fantasy world if you think teens will follow your birth control advice.

    7. Since you define “normal human sexuality” as the types of sexuality you condone between heterosexual married people only, you can pat yourselves on the back for being so open minded. Normal is what most people do, not what you thing is right for them to do.

    So you are saying homosexual behavior is abnormal?! Didn’t know you were a homophobe. Don’t worry, it will be our secret.

    8. One’s ideas or feelings about God have nothing whatever to do with being pro-choice. I don’t believe in the idea of sin, nor the idea of God, so that argument is beside the point.

    You seem to believe in right and wrong, as you’ve said pregancy centers spread lies, we are causing pregnancies, etc. A little consistency would be nice.

    9. Followeroftheway seems to think that abortion is banned in the Constitution. Simply not so. The Constitution deals with restricting government from interfering with the rights of citizens – like the right to control their own bodies.

    Many pro-choicers concede that Roe v. Wade was bad law. You have to have quite an imagination to find abortion rights there.

    10. Personhood is not a nebulous concept. It is essential to understanding what it means to be human. Persons have a unique ability to be conscious of themselves and aware of the passage of time, etc. Those are not qualities shared by embryonic life forms regardless of their genesis. Comparing fetuses to African-Americans is a disgusting bit of warped logic. Slave owners and segregationists knew that African-Americans were persons, they just considered them second-class persons without the intelligence and skill of white people. That view was defended by most of the conservative Christian groups of the day.

    Yes, what it means to be human. Such as a human fetus. Again, check the embryology textbooks. I’m always surprised to find the pro-aborts being so anti-science. All of a sudden they turn into postmodern philosophy majors when the topic turns to the humanity of the unborn.

    11. Lastly any reference to a soul or to God in the abortion debate is clear admission that this is a religious issue, not a political issue. It should be dealt with as a religious issue, not legislated by the state.

    You can’t be serious. That is like saying, “Any reference to stealing, murder, etc. is a clear admission that _____ is a religious issue, not a political issue . . .”

    I feel kinda guilty. I should have left some for Theobromophile to address.

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