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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Abortion Arguments You Shouldn't Make

It seems Ray has recently started to shift from evolution denialism to posts regarding abortion. I will spend several posts discussing abortion this month, probably from a perspective few are familiar with. As I wrote in an earlier post, I have only recently become both pro-abortion rights (legal) and pro-abortion (moral). I'll also offer a history of abortion and Christianity. As many are familiar, the Bible is silent on the matter of abortion -- as it is on many moral questions.

In this first post, though, I will just address a few of the arguments/statements I have seen posted in several blogs and comments to those blogs.

Arguments/statements that abortion rights advocates shouldn't use.
To preface this, a person is not the same as a human being. A person, in a legal and philosophical sense, is someone or something with rights. When we discuss at what point personhood is attached, we are discussing at which point the human has rights, philosophically speaking. The philosophical demarcation should, arguably, be the same as the legal demarcation. Just remember that a person is someone or something with rights -- just like a corporation or a church is, legally, a person.

Calling anti-abortionists "anti-choice" is as ridiculous as calling pro-abortionists "anti-life." Anti-abortionists aren't against choice; they just see the preborn as a person whereas you don't. To relate it to slavery, you could separate the sides as Pro-Liberty (anti-slavery) and Pro-Choice (pro-slavery) where the fundamental difference focused on whether blacks were persons. Calling abolitionists anti-choice is as ridiculous as calling anti-abortionists anti-choice.

Pro-Life versus Pro-Choice
To go in line with the above, we do our discourse a great disservice when getting behind the banners of the sloganized terms "Pro-Life" and "Pro-Choice." We are all in favor of both. Addressing these labels reminds me very much of the clash of the Federalists and the Republicans in 1800. Thomas Jefferson, as he so often did, addressed these labels eloquently in his inaugural address:
But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.
It may be more cumbersome, but the appropriate labels of pro-abortion rights and anti-abortion rights should be used. If you insist on using the less-than-correct labels, then at least capitalize them properly and stray from falling into the above trap.

Caricaturing the Opposition
Don't caricature the anti-abortionist position as masturbation being a Holocaust of sperm or scratching your nose to being a Holocaust of skin cells. It would be as fair as a caricature taking the birth-demarcation beyond there to any arbitrary point, including past infancy or even past death.

If this is a response to the specific argument of "potential life," then this is something fair to bring up as a discussion topic on the difference. Too often, though, this is a general response issued to anti-abortion rights advocates.

The Contradication of Anti-Abortion Rights and Pro-Death Penalty
Don't say that it doesn't make sense for someone to be anti-abortion rights and pro-death penalty -- that statement just makes no sense. If the preborn is a person, then its right to life remains intact as it is guilty of no crime. A convicted murderer, on the other hand, has lost his right to life the moment he violated another's rights.

Misrepresenting their position like this would be just like saying "it doesn't make sense that you're for abortion rights but also for imprisonment... you say a mother has liberty while a convicted felon does not? Can someone say 'contradiction'?"

Those who march under the banner of "Pro-Life" advocate life for those who have the right to it, just the same as those who march under the banner of "Pro-Choice" advocate choice for those who have the right to it. Those who are against abortion but for the death penalty no more advocate life for a convicted felon than those who are for abortion advocate choice for a convicted felon to choose not to be imprisoned.

Arguments/statements that abortion rights opponents shouldn't use.
Let's not forget the cringeworthy things that those on the other side make. When I was an anti-abortionist and in fact participated in a debate on it, nothing irked me more than sharing the proverbial stage with those who voice these arguments.

Slippery Slope to Infanticide
Accepting abortion is no more of a slippery slope to allowing infanticide than opposing abortion is a slippery slope to prohibiting contraception or prohibiting abstinence. The boundary is firmly fixed at conception as the opposite boundary is fixed at birth.

The Pro-Life Label
What I noted on these labels above applies equally here. In fact, anti-abortionists should want to shed the label of Pro-Life. Those on the pro-abortion side have misconstrued it horribly so as to make a mockery of the stance in terms of the death penalty and "potential life."

I could continue on for each, but I think that this covers the major points (with the notable omissions of gender and religion related arguments). As mentioned, the next abortion post will be on Christianity and abortion.


Milo said...

Slippery Slope to Infanticide
Accepting abortion is no more of a slippery slope to allowing infanticide than opposing abortion is a slippery slope to prohibiting contraception or prohibiting abstinence. The boundary is firmly fixed at conception as the opposite boundary is fixed at birth.

I think there is a slippery slope leading to banning contraception. Even now there are pharmacists that wont dispense birth control pills and hospitals that wont give the morning after pill to rape victims. John McCain says a fertilized egg has human rights. What else could that mean? IUD's, birth control pills, morning after pill all work in part by preventing the implantation of a "baby with human rights". I fully believe there is substantial right wing evangelical support for not only banning abortions, but most forms of birth control. Hopefully the majority of Americans would never stand for it. But if they could make condoms available by prescription only for married couples I bet they'd do it in a heart beat. Call me paranoid

DisComforting Ignorance said...

I don't think it's a slippery slope. Rather, it's just some of those who oppose abortion are also against contraception. I think it would be like saying (not the perfect analogy) that permitting abortion is a slippery slope to permitting suicide (such as physician-assisted suicide). It's not a slippery slope, it's just some of those who support abortion support suicide for the same reason -- the right of someone to do what they want with their own body. The two issues fall into the same ideology/moral concern.

When I was anti-abortion, I was always in favor of any contraception that acted before fertilization, including EC. Prior to fertilization, they're just material of two different people, so there's no pathway from one to the next.

Pharmacists who refuse to dispense such medication do so on moral grounds, just as they used not to give birth control to unwed females.

Milo said...

How do you seperate the anti-abortionists from the anti-birth control group if a fertilized egg has human rights? Is there an anti-abortionist group that agrees that rights begin sometime after implantation? So in fact, if abortions are banned in this country based on the fact that a human life starts at conception doesn't that automatically ban many forms of birth control?