Disclaimer: This isn’t a comprehensive rebuke of the pro-choice position:
I got into a conversation this evening with someone taking up the dubious “pro-choice but personally opposed position.” I thought I would share with you a bit of my reply.
The person I was dialoguing with said, “I don’t think you can label abortion right or wrong—it is merely unfortunate.”
It isn’t often that you get a softball when dialoging with abortion apologists, but this was a hanging curve. Why would abortion be unfortunate? Why exactly? There must be a reason—and that must be a reason that the person thinks to be worthwhile, or they would have just said, “I wouldn’t have one, but I don’t care what others do.” Notice, the person said it IS unfortunate.
I replied, “Your first point is noted; however, I could easily say, Eichmann and Goebbels didn’t enjoy killing Jews—that isn’t why they did it. They just worked for Hitler.” Its not like it was their fault. They were just “following orders.” How unfortunate for them! I went on to say, “You would rightly note that such thinking is reckless and irrelevant. They were guilty of actual crimes against humanity.” But, what If I replied, “What crimes? Nah, it was just unfortunate that they did that.” How would they reply to that? To what absolute would they point? How do they know what is right or wrong? By preference? By feeling? In some countries, they love their neighbors. In others, they eat them. Do you have a preference? Or is the latter just unfortunate? This coincides with my friends previous statement that “Abortion is unfortunate.” This is nothing more than relativism.
If things are just fortunate or unfortunate, there is no right, no wrong…No evil. Things just are. Things are just unfortunate or not.
But here is the rub: Why would a thing be unfortunate in the first place? In calling someont unfortunate, isn’t a person making a truth claim or a judgement by saying this? Why is abortion unfortunate, rather than just something that happens—arbitrarily in nature? I can think of no other reason to call it unfortunate except for the fact that the developing fetus might just in fact be a person—and we know that killing persons is wrong—whether on purpose or by accident. Can you think of another reason why an abortion would be unfortunate? This is the problem with the “I’m pro-choice but personally opposed” fallacy. Why would a person be personally opposed? For what reason? I can only think of one.
I noted that, “You go on to state that an abortion is between a woman and God.” That is a VERY interesting line. In fact, I haven’t heard that phrase uttered by anyone on the pro-abortion side…EVER. I commended them for it. What I often hear is, “It’s between a woman and her doctor.”
The truth is, when we bring God into the equation, we subject ourselves the world of absolutes. “It’s unfortunate” goes out the window when it comes to moral questions. Therefore, the apologists for abortion cleverly remove the word God from the decision process. When we enter this paradigm, what we personally believe about the morality of an issue doesn’t matter. Under a theistic paradigm, things are either right or wrong, regardless our relationship toward them. Right exists whether we acknowledge it or not. The same goes for wrong. They are ontological categories. If a thing is right, it is right even if we do not acknowledge that it is right.
But back, to the initial issue, my friend was basically saying, “Just because you have a religious qualm with abortion, that doesn’t mean that the federal government should be able to legislate.” So, I applied the same logic to another issue: “Just because you have a religious qualm with slavery doesn’t mean that the federal government should legislate against it.” Do you see the problem? If our religious convictions can be pushed aside, then what are we left with? If God is taken away, all we have left is man and the State. That is a precarious position to be in.
And even at that, the use of the word “shouldn’t” invokes the absolue. Why? Is slavery wrong or is it just something that we “shouldn’t” do? Why “should” the federal government legislate against slavery? Who says?
In a relativistic framework, one could say, “I’d personally rather they didn’t keep slaves,” but they cannot say “shouldn’t.” Why?
Could it be because we know that things are either good or evil? If that is so, how long will we continue to call abortion unfortunate?
Here are the basic questions of abortion:
Does abortion take a life? I’d argue, yes. Some might reply, “But we don’t know that a fetus is a life.”
In this case, there are only have 4 possibilities:
- The fetus is a life and you know it
- The fetus is not a life and you know it.
- The fetus is a life and you do not know it.
- The fetus is not a life and you do not know it.
Only one of those justifies an abortion. The problem is, no embryology text supports #2. So you are left with 1, 3, and 4.
How many potential babies will we allow to be murdered based on an agnostic (1, 3, or 4) position?
If a baby might just be under a haystack/or not—would you feel comfortable jabbing a pitchfork into it to find out?
Not a chance.