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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Response to a Logical Argument for Abortion

This is a response to a video on YouTube I came across entitled Is Abortion Murder? The Logical Answer! by video blogger DixonRants. You can find the video here:

The answer to this question is actually no, abortion is not technically murder. Any educated pro-life advocate will tell you that. When a pro-life advocate says that abortion is murder, what they really mean is they believe that abortion is murder because it is taking the life of an innocent human being. Murder is essentially the unlawful taking of an innocent human life. Abortion is, unfortunately, legal. So under the definition of murder, abortion does not fit the bill. Abortion is, however, unjustified homicide.

So case closed, right? We agree on this, so what more is there to say? Well, I'd like to respond to the other points in his video.

Dixon gives six basic criteria for murder, and they are as follows:

1. The involvement of killing
2. The killing of life
3. The killing of human life
4. The intentional killing of human life
5. The intentional killing of innocent human life
6. The intentional killing of innocent human life that is a person.

Ironically, abortion fits the bill of the first five criteria, and also the sixth if we can make an adequate case for the personhood of the unborn. So by Dixon's own criteria, he would have to admit that abortion is, in fact, murder (even though by the most common definition, an unlawful killing, it is not). Abortion is certainly the intentional killing of innocent human life. Dixon may not agree with the fifth premise, but it is certainly true. I'll explain.

Dixon says that the unborn are not innocent because they can threaten a woman's life. Well, in the vast majority of pregnancies, this is not the case. Women have less than a 1% chance of dying in childbirth or from pregnancy-related issues. [1] Pregnancy is simply not dangerous.

Now, there are rare cases in which a woman will die from her pregnancy (such as during ectopic pregnancy). Life-saving abortions are morally justifiable, if the child is not yet viable (otherwise the child should be delivered so that both lives can be saved). Life-saving abortions can be justified by three separate lines of reasoning (and I will write an article in the future talking about life-saving abortions), but the relevant line of reasoning here is that the unborn, in this instance, is an innocent aggressor. The unborn is only doing what it does naturally, that is, moving down the fallopian tube into the woman's uterus. If something goes horribly awry (such as the unborn implanting in the fallopian tube), this was certainly not the intent of the embryo. The embryo has not developed the capacity to intend anything yet. The unborn is innocent, but an innocent aggressor. Since the woman's life is at risk, it is morally justifiable to go through with an abortion. But this doesn't make the embryo guilty. So under this criterion, abortion would be considered murder since the embryo/fetus certainly is innocent of any wrongdoing.

But now let's look at his sixth criterion. I fully intend to write a post defending the personhood of the unborn (and I will link there in the video when I create the video for it). Pro-life advocates make the case that personhood should be established at fertilization because the unborn have the inherent capacity as rational, moral agents (which is what makes all of us valuable). Plus, the substance view (as given by Francis Beckwith) shows that since we are essentially the same being (that is, the same substance) as the embryo in the womb we once were, if a morally justifiable reason is required to kill us outside the womb, a morally justifiable reason is required to kill us inside the womb.

Dixon actually gives three criteria for personhood:

1. The entity must have consciousness
2. The entity must be self-aware
3. The entity must have a memory

However, Dixon has committed a logical fallacy called begging the question. He is assuming what he is trying to prove. He assumes that a person must be conscious, must be self-aware, and must have a memory, but gives no reasons to support why these criteria must be met for personhood, or whether any can be met for personhood even if all three are not met. Therefore, we can reject his criteria until he decides to give us actual reasons for why these qualities must be there before personhood can be established.

But I'll respond to them anyway. It is undeniable that embryos contain the inherent capacity for these functions. They have simply not developed the capacity yet. So I contend that the inherent capacity is enough for basic human rights, which would include embryos from fertilization.

But is a present capacity to fulfill them what should be required? Let's look at that for a moment. These are all acquired properties. If personhood is attached to acquired properties, then your personhood would come and go whenever you lose these properties. Also, this just means that embryos are less developed than we are, but why does being less developed mean that they are less deserving of basic human rights?

So is consciousness enough? Well, if the present capacity for consciousness is required for personhood, that means we would lose our personhood whenever we fall asleep, get knocked out, receive anesthesia when undergoing surgery, or if we enter a reversible coma. That means that if we enter any of these states, it would be morally permissible to kill us for any reason because we would no longer be a person. A doctor could put us under, then kill us because he doesn't like us and this would be permissible. Could we honestly trust doctors if this was the case?

What about self-awareness? If this is your argument, then it proves too much. You would have to also support infanticide, because humans don't actually become self-aware until probably sometime in the second year of her life. [2] So you would have to support killing children until after their first birthday if this is your view. Additionally, people are not self-aware when they lose consciousness, so the same criticisms for consciousness are also applicable here.

And how about memory? Well, studies have shown that children don't start building memories until their second year of life. [3] So the same criticisms for self-awareness apply here (which means you would have to support killing children until after their first birthday). Also, people do not have the present capacity to utilize their memory when they lose consciousness, so you are, again, subject to the same criticisms as the view that consciousness is an acceptable criterion for establishing personhood.

Also, what about someone who is in a car accident and suffers severe brain damage, so that all of their memories are erased and essentially have to begin again as a blank slate? This would mean that it would be morally permissible to kill this human since he does not have any memories.

So clearly, these three criteria, on their own, fail. But what about all three together? Well, if you took all three together, you would have to support killing children until after their first birthday, when memories and self-awareness become established. However, adding three bad arguments does not a good argument make.

Say I come across a burning building. I find a bucket to fill up with water, but it's full of holes. I find four other buckets, but they're all full of holes. I can't put the four other buckets inside the fifth bucket and expect to be able to fill the buckets up with water. All three criteria have failed, so together they fail to be acceptable criteria for establishing personhood.

A couple of last points, Dixon claims that the brain doesn't fully develop until the end of the third trimester (and even gives a conservative estimate at the end of the first trimester). But this is clearly false. Your brain doesn't actually fully develop until you're 25. [4] So if a fully developed brain is what is required, then it would be morally permissible to kill children, teenagers, and adults until they're 25, for any reason.

Finally, Dixon does mention that losing one of these properties would downgrade your personhood status, such as becoming a vegetable. But as I have shown, there are other reversible states that you would also lose your personhood during (such as sleep, under anesthesia, or in a reversible coma). So you would not only lose your personhood permanently if you were a vegetable, but you would also lose it temporarily in these other reversible states.

[1] 8.8 out of 100,000 women die from pregnancy-related issues or in childbirth. This is less than 1% of pregnant women.
[2] Kagan, Jerome, The Second Year: The Emergence of Self-Awareness, 1981.
[3] For example,

Monday, June 25, 2012

What is the Unborn?

Before you can even answer the question of whether or not abortion is moral, you must first decide what the unborn is. For if the unborn is not human, then no justification for abortion is necessary. It would be no different from having a mole removed or a teeth pulled. But if the unborn is human, then no justification for abortion is adequate.

If it's true that no one can tell when human life begins, then the benefit of the doubt should go to life. We should not be aborting the unborn because there's a chance we could be aborting living human entities. If a hunter hears a rustling in the woods, does he shoot right away or does he make sure the rustling wasn't caused by another human? Unless he's Dick Cheney, he's going to make sure it's a deer he's aiming at and not a human. Or if you're driving down a road in the dark and you see the outline of something that may be a child or may simply be the shadow of a tree, do you drive into it or do you slow down?

However, it's not true that no one can tell when human life begins. We can actually make the pro-life case in ten seconds or less: The unborn are alive because they grow, they are human because they have human parents, and living humans like you and me are valuable, aren't they?

The unborn from fertilization are alive because they grow. They also exhibit other forms of life, such as cell division, metabolism, and response to stimuli. In fact, the only thing the unborn need to survive are adequate nutrition, a proper environment, and an absence of fatal threats. That's all any of us need. There is no point in human development at which the developing entity goes from non-life to living.

The unborn are also human from fertilization. We know that everything reproduces after its own kind; dogs have dogs, cats have cats, and humans have humans. They have separate human DNA from the mother. In fact, if the unborn organism were simply a "part of the mother's body," then the pregnant woman would have four arms, four legs, two heads, four eyes, two noses, and roughly half the time male reproductive organs. But this is absurd. At no time during human development does the unborn ever go from "non-human" to human.
Some people think of the unborn entity as being constructed in utero, like a car. In fact, this probably accounts for why many people think pro-life advocates are so ridiculous, because they have a wrong view of what development in utero is. With a car, you have all the parts in front of you. They do not make a car on their own. It requires an outside builder to put all the pieces together into what we understand is a car. A car is not present from the beginning, because the parts that make a car can be used in the construction of something else (such as a boat or a plane).

However, the unborn's development is different. It directs its own development from within. It does not have an outside builder, it directs its own internal growth and maturation, and this entails continuity of being. Professor Richard Stith illustrates the difference with the following analogy:

"Suppose we are back in the pre-digital photo days, and you have a Polaroid camera and you have taken a picture that you think is unique and valuable -- let's say a picture of a jaguar darting out from a Mexican jungle. The jaguar has now disappeared, so you are never going to get that picture again in your life, and you really care about it. (I am trying to make this example comparable to a human being, for we say that every human being is uniquely valuable.) You pull the tab out and as you are waiting for it to develop, I grab it away from you and rip it open, thus destroying it. When you get really angry at me, I say blithely, 'You're crazy. That was just a brown smudge. I cannot fathom why anyone would care about brown smudges.' Wouldn't you think that I were the insane one? Your photo was already there. We just couldn't see it yet." [1]

As pro-life philosopher Scott Klusendorf notes, "The science of embryology is clear. From the earliest stages of development, the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings. Therefore, every 'successful' abortion ends the life of a living human being." [2]

Embryologists, who are the experts in the field on human embryos, consistently agree that the unborn are alive and human from fertilization, without significant controversy. Consider the following from the most-used textbooks on the issue:

"Although life is a continue process, fertilization (which, incidentally, is not a 'moment') is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte." [3]

"A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo)." [4]

There are many more examples I could give. In short, you didn't come from an embryo, you once were an embryo. Sophisticated pro-choice philosophers also know that human life begins at fertilization.

"It is possible to give 'human being' a precise meaning. We can use it as equivalent to 'member of the species Homo Sapiens.' Whether a being is a member of a given species is something that can be determined scientifically, by an examination of the nature of the chromosomes in the cells of living organisms. In this sense there is no doubt that from the first moments of its existence an embryo conceived from human sperm and eggs is a human being." [5]

"Perhaps the most straightforward relation between you and me on the one hand and every human fetus on the other is this: All are living members of the same species, Homo Sapiens. A human fetus after all is simply a human being at a very early stage in his or her development." [6]

In fact, Alan Guttmacher, former president of Planned Parenthood, in 1933 (a full forty years before Roe v. Wade was passed), wrote:

"This all seems so simple and evident that it is difficult to picture a time when it wasn't part of the common knowledge." [7]

The facts of science are clear: human life begins at fertilization.


There are certain objections which are raised against the life and humanity of the unborn.

1) Human life doesn't begin at fertilization, it began tens of thousands of years ago.

This is a rather bizarre objection. I'm including it here because I've now heard it twice. It's simply semantic nonsense. A new, unique, genetically distinct human being is created at fertilization (as is attested by the science of embryology). In fact, the quote by O'Rahilly and Muller even attest to the fact that life is a continuous process. However, fertilization is that critical landmark that establishes the creation of a new, gentically distinct human organism.

2) Skin cells/hair follicles/sperm and eggs are human.

A pro-choice advocate who claims that zygote/embryos/fetuses don't have a right to life because we would have to give a right to life to cells, sperm, eggs, etc., because they are also human make the elementary mistake of confusing parts with wholes. The embryo from fertilization is a unique entity that directs its own development from within. Left alone, a skin cell will not develop into a mature human, but that's exactly what a zygote will do. All of the embryo's parts work together for the good (survival) of the whole organism.

Once the sperm and egg unite, they cease to exist and a brand new human organism exists. It makes no sense to say you were once a sperm or somatic cell. It makes complete sense to say you were once an embryo. The sperm and egg merely contribute genetic material to the creation of a new human organism.

3) Twinning/Freezing

A pro-choice advocate I debated with once claimed that you can't freeze an adult human, but you can freeze an embryo and it will come back to life, so the embryo cannot be human. This is faulty reasoning. First, embryos can only be frozen up to seven days after fertilization, but the embryonic stage lasts up to three months. After that, it is a fetus. But embryo and fetus are just stages of human development, like infant, toddler, adolescent, teenager, adult, and elderly.

Second, even though a very early embryo can survive the freezing process, it doesn't follow that they are not human. This just means that early embryos can do one more thing that more mature humans can't (they can also survive without a heart or a brain).

When it comes to twinning, this also doesn't follow that just because some embryos twin, that there wasn't one whole human organism before that. As Patrick Lee points out, "if we cut a flatworm in half, we get two flatworms." [8] However, can you seriously argue that prior to the split, there wasn't one distinct flatworm? Also, admittedly, we aren't entirely sure what happens during twinning. Does the original organism die and give rise to two new organisms, or does the original survive and engage in some sort of asexual reproduction? Either way, it does not call into question the fact that there was one distinct organism prior to the splitting.

4) Miscarriages.

People often point to the high number of miscarriages that occur (many of which are flushed out of the woman's body). However, how does it follow that just because the woman's body may miscarry, that the unborn isn't human? How does it follow that because nature spontaneously aborts unborn humans that we may deliberately kill them? People die of natural causes, but that does not justify murder. Natural disasters (e.g. tornadoes and earthquakes) kill many people at once, but this does not justify bombing cities.

[1] Richard Stith, "Does Making Babies Make Sense? Why So Many People Find it Difficult to See Humanity in a Developing Foetus," Mercatornet, September 2, 2008; .
[2] Scott Klusendorf, The Case for Life, Crossway Books, 2009, p. 35.
[3] Ronan O'Rahilly and Fabiola Muller, Human Embryology and Teratology, 3rd ed., New York: Wiley-Liss, 2001, p.8
[4] Keith L. Moore, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 7th ed., Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2003, p.2
[5] Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), pp.85-86.
[6] David Boonin, A Defense of Abortion, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2003), p. 20.
[7] Alan Guttmacher, Life in the Making: The Story of Human Procreation, New York: Viking Press, 1933, p. 3.
[8] Patrick Lee, Abortion and Unborn Human Life (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University Press in America, 1996), p. 93.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Sex-Selection Abortions

There has been a battle in our government over sex-selection abortions (that is, abortions for no other reason than their gender). There was a measure put forth that would ban sex-selection abortions, but our government voted recently against this measure. [1]

At first blush, this seems pretty ridiculous to me. However, upon closer examination of the pro-choice position, can you really blame them? When the Roe v. Wade decision was passed, the Supreme Court decided that no one can tell when human life begins (despite blatant scientific evidence to the contrary), then took it upon themselves to declare that life begins at birth and made abortions legal through all nine months of pregnancy.

Now, if the unborn are mere "clumps of cells" or "tissue," and are not "humans" as we are, then why is sex-selection abortion wrong? If a couple is trying to conceive, is the father wrong for hoping he gets a son? As long as he doesn't mistreat or abuse his child if she turns out to be a girl, of course it's not wrong. And if abortion is about the woman deciding whether or not she wants to be pregnant, not about whether or not she wants to remain pregnant (as pro-choice advocates assert), then what's the harm in aborting a child because she's not the gender you want? You're not causing any harm to anything, if the thing you are aborting isn't a human.

Polling data actually suggests that the majority of Americans (in fact, 86%) believe that sex-selection abortions are not only immoral, but should be illegal. [2] So let's take this a step further. Say a woman gives birth to a girl and when the girl is two, the father decides he doesn't want her and wants to try again (he really wants a boy). Would he be morally justified in taking the child's life because she's female? Of course not! So why do we feel so strongly that sex-selection abortions are horrible? Could it be because the unborn that we are aborting is a human? Why would sex-selection abortions be a human rights violation based on gender, if abortion itself isn't a human rights violation based on race (human)?

Steve Wagner suggests disgust over sex-selection abortions might be for one of at least three reasons: It's sexist, it's a crime against society, or it's a crime against humanity. But none of these reasons work unless the unborn are actually human. If it were merely sexist, then this could be remedied by ensuring that an equal number of male and female fetuses are aborted. Yet no one recommends killing male fetuses to balance the numbers out. It's not a crime against society. Concerns for the beauty and order of society do not really account for our disgust. It is perceived as wrongs not against something but someone. And it can't be a crime against humanity unless the beings being wronged are actual humans. Potential humans cannot be harmed. In order to be a potential something, it is an actual something else. If it is merely a potential human, that would make it actually something less significant, like an animal mass or tissue organism. But it is not a crime against humanity to remove a piece of tissue or kill an animal organism. [3]

Christopher Kaczor would add, "Discriminating between non-persons, for example plucking the red roses but leaving the white, is not ethically problematic in itself, since these plants do not have rights nor do they merit equal respect as persons." [4] Sex-selection abortions are simply not morally problematic unless the entities being discriminated against are fully human with the same moral worth we have.

[3] Wagner, Steve, Common Ground Without Compromise, p. 53.
[4] Kaczor, Christopher, The Ethics of Abortion, p. 198.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Thought Experiment: The Burning IVF Facility

Dean Stretton imagines a case in which an emergency arises and a person is faced with the choice of rescuing ten frozen human embryos or five adult patients. Since virtually everyone would choose to save the adult patients rather than the embryos, this indicates that the patients have a higher moral status than the frozen human embryos. [1]

On the surface this seems to make sense. After all, the pro-life case is that from fertilization unborn human beings are morally equivalent to adults. You would think the ethical thing to do would be to rescue the greatest amount of humans possible, in this case the ten embryos.

However, these embryos have been conceived through IVF. That means we have no idea what's going to happen to them. They may be implanted into a woman hoping to conceive (or several different women), or they may be used for research. This is tragic, but we simply don't know the ultimate fate of these embryos. On top of that, even if they are scheduled for implantation, there's no guarantee that all of them, or even any of them, will take. They may not implant. Therefore you would be morally justified in rescuing the adults, even over a greater number of human embryos.

Consider it like a case of triage. Two people are in mortal danger and a doctor can only save one. The doctor will save the person with the greatest chance of survival. Does that mean the other person is less valuable than the person she saves? Of course not. But if she tried to save the person with the most extensive injuries, she may end up losing both. In this case, since the fate of the embryos is uncertain (nor could it ever be certain), saving the adults would be morally justified because they have a 100% chance of survival if you rescue them.

But what if you take it a step further? What if you knew for certain that all the embryos would be given to women, and technology has advanced to the point now that we can guarantee that all, or at least the vast majority, would implant.

I still would not change my answer. First, if there is a genuine emergecy (say the building is on fire), I'm not going to waste time trying to read the label or find the paperwork to ensure that these embryos were scheduled for implantation. I'm going to make the most logical, life-saving choice and still save the adults.

Second, how would choosing to save one entity over another prove that the entities I didn't save aren't human? In fact, we could change the conditions of the scenario. Say you're in a burning building. In one room is your mother (or choose any other living relative), and in another room is a complete stranger. You only have time to save one. I would almost guarantee you would save your mother. But does that mean the one you didn't save wasn't human?

Third, even if we were told ahead of time that these embryos were scheduled for implantation, we would still be morally justified in saving the adults. As Christopher Kaczor explains,

"...killing a regular person and killing the President of the United States are equally wrong as killing. The regular person and the President have equal rights to live. However, unlike killing a regular person, killing the President may also generate global instability, upset millions of people, and perhaps even prompt massive retaliation or world war. These factors make the assassination of any world leader more grievously wrong than killing a private citizen, but, nevertheless, killing the President and killing a private citizen are equally wrong with respect to the violation of the right of life...we have moral justification for treating human beings enjoying basic equal human rights in different ways. If forced to choose between saving the President of the United States and four other national Presidents and Prime Ministers, rather than ten unknown patients, most people would choose the Presidents and the Prime Ministers. To choose to save Presidents and Prime Ministers rather than plain persons is not a denial of the equal basic rights of those not saved, but rather a recognition that deaths of world leaders adversely affects many more people than the deaths of regular patients. Similarly, in virtue of the fact that the adult patients have received an 'investment' from their parents and society in terms of education and upbringing, have future plans that would be thwarted, have responsibiities to discharge, and have strong relations with others, it makes sense to choose to save five adult persons rather than ten frozen embryos. In choices about who to save, various circumstances can determine who is chosen without a denial of the fundamental equality of the human beings involved. The embryo rescue case does not show that human embryos lack basic human rights." [2]

Pro-life advocate Scott Klusendorf notes,

"...moral intuitions are important, but they are not infallible. We must examine them in light of reason. A little over a century ago, many whites thought it unthinkable that anyone would consider black slaves human beings...Thus, it's no stretch to imagine a proponent of slavery putting the following challenge to a northern abolitionist: 'Your barn is burning. You have the choice of saving a Negro slave or a white schoolboy. Which would you choose?' If a majority of abolitionists leave a black kid behind, does that change the kind of thing he is...?" [3] In other words, is the black slave non-human even if a slavery abolitionist would leave him behind to save the white schoolboy?

[1] Stretton, Dean, Critical Notice--Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice by Francis J. Beckwith. [review article]. Journal of Medical Ethics, 34(11), p. 795, as cited in The Ethics of Abortion by Christopher Kaczor, Routledge, 2011, p. 139.
[2] Kaczor, Christopher, The Ethics of Abortion, 2011, pp. 89, 139.
[3] Klusendorf, Scott, The Case for Life, p. 42.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Where Do We Draw the Line?

A few months ago, there was a woman who was abandoned while pregnant by her boyfriend, who was actually married to another woman. Distraught, this woman, who was pregnant, took rat poison in an attempt to kill herself. Friends convinced her to seek help at a hospital, but it was already too late for the unborn child. She received treatment for the poison and gave birth on New Year's Eve, but the child died four days later. The full story can be read here:

I really sympathize with her position. I have struggled with thoughts of suicide in the past. The only thing that got me through the darkest period in my life was my faith in God. Thankfully she had friends nearby who cared enough about her to urge her to get help and save her.

But this raises some serious questions. Just how far can we go to protect the unborn from harm? Pro-choicers constantly raise a smoke screen by claiming that we place a greater value on the fetus than on the woman, but this couldn't be further from the truth. We place equal value on both and since the right to life is the most basic of all human rights, since the fetus is just as valuable as the woman then no justification for abortion can ever be sufficient to warrant killing the unborn human (with one exception, where the mother's life is in immediate danger and the child cannot also be saved, then abortions are justifiable).

Some ask, as an attempt to trap or embarrass pro-lifers, what should happen to a woman should abortion become illegal again? Should they go to jail for murder? Hardly. At most, they'd be an accomplice. However, there's no reason to believe that the same principles that applied before Roe v. Wade wouldn't also be applied if Roe v. Wade were overturned. A woman could be given immunity if she told law enforcement who performed the abortion.

The right to life is the most fundamental of all human rights. Every unborn child should be protected. Even pro-choicers will say that if a woman doesn't have an abortion, then she bears responsibility for caring for the child because she is choosing to keep it. So it puzzles me that there are pro-choicers who are enraged that she's being held responsible for killing her child by attempting suicide while pregnant with her kid, the child she chose to keep and raise (almost to term before she attempted suicide).

Since the child died four days after birth, there were some who were questioning whether it really was the rat poison or the medications she received at the hospital. Regardless of which it is, she wouldn't have needed the medicine if she hadn't taken the rat poison. She would still be at fault.

So the question has been posed: Where do we draw the line? I believe laws that protect the unborn would be a good thing. I don't believe we should be paranoid and assume that anything she does, she should be held liable for as potentially dangerous to the child. Nor do I believe we would be. Before Roe v. Wade was passed, as far as I know, they had to be able to prove there was malicious intent to the unborn. Saying that a woman will be arrested for drinking caffeine is a scare tactic and frankly, a slippery slope fallacy.

I am sympathetic to this woman's position and I'm glad she was able to get help so that she didn't succeed. But we need to be cognizant that our actions have consequences on others, and pregnant women need to be aware of this, too. This woman is not being punished for being pregnant, she's being punished for the death of her child. If a woman was distraught and drove her car off the side of the road into a river with her child in the back seat, but she was rescued at the last minute and her child still drowned, should that woman not be punished? The simple fact that the child was inside her shouldn't make her exempt from harming the unborn child.

In fact the child died after she was born for four days. If she shouldn't be held responsible for the child's death, does this mean that a woman should be able to do whatever they want with their bodies including harming the fetus, and not be held responsible after the child is born? Thalidomide was a drug used back in the 1960's to ease morning sickness. However, it also caused children to be born without arms and legs. If a woman requests thalidomide, knowing full well that her child may (or probably will) be born without limbs, should she be held responsible for her child's state? Should the doctor be held responsible for prescribing the medication, knowing full-well what it does?

One might also ask in this case, where do we draw the line?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Completely Disputable "Indisputable Abortion Facts," Part III

And in this last part, I will finish with the last four of these alleged "indisputable abortion facts."

IAF 9: Donating to the pro-life cause is a bad investment.

Russell's arguments are getting more desperate. As I have already shown, Russell is using inflated figures, as only 10-25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. It's very sad and unfortunate, but it does happen (and more often than it should). However, the pro-life cause is dedicated to helping pregnant women who feel they can't carry their child keep their child, and help give the child the best chance for life. Pro-lifers help women who are already pregnant. Did you catch that? It doesn't matter what percentage of pregnancies end in miscarriage because pro-lifers are helping women who are already pregnant. We know that miscarriages, in most cases, can't be stopped. It's an unfortunate natural process (and sometimes unnatural). But we can help women who are desperate and don't think they have any other options.

IAF 10: The US Constitution governs morality.

The 14th Amendment declares when we become citizens. However, as you are no doubt aware, it is not legal to kill illegal immigrants. Being a citizen of the United States does not mean it is legal to kill someone who is not a citizen.

IAF 11: The Pro-Life Movement has failed to stop abortion.

I don't think we can adequately state how old the Pro-Life Movement is. Early Christians were pro-life, sure, but I'm not sure how old the "movement" has been, especially since our country has only been around for over 225 years.

However, we make murder illegal, even though in the thousands of years murder has been considered wrong it has never stopped. Neither should abortion be legal, even though making it illegal would not stop it altogether. It would reduce the instances of abortion, as I believe that most women are law-abiding citizens.

Yes, it is Biblical that we have dominion of the animals (it's in Genesis 1). Anyone who would murder another person is not pro-life, and so Russell's argument about additional deaths by the pro-life movement is irrelevant. People do wrong things, but that doesn't make their arguments bad. It only makes the person bad. Additionally, Russell's figures are arbitrary. He gives no resources to back it up. He is just like most pro-choicers, making up stats and figures to support their cause that have no basis in reality.

IAF 12: There is no "moment of conception."

And now, we realize Russell's extreme ignorance of the pro-life view. Our view is not based upon any "moment of conception" or upon belief in a "soul." There are pro-life atheists (e.g. Atheists for Life) who don't believe in a soul. Christians believe in a soul. We believe that every living human has a soul and since we are alive from fertilization, the soul enters the body then.

But all of that is irrelevant to the pro-life position. We believe that it's wrong to kill an innocent human being, and no pro-choicer, not even Russell, has produced any evidence to subvert the scientific fact that we are living humans from fertilization.

Russell must also not be up on history (especially church history). There has not been any official "decree" from early Christians of just when the soul enters the body. This is because there was no consensus on when life began back in the early centuries A.D. However, the early church fathers held out judgement for when the soul enters the body until such time as we could know for sure. Now that it has been scientifically proven, the question of when the soul enters the body, from a Christian perspective, has been laid to rest. The "moment of conception" was not originally sold as anything. It is simply a misnomer than many well-meaning pro-lifers still use.

Russell has twice mentioned IAF 13, but there is no such IAF. I wonder if he meant IAF 3?

At any rate, this entire article that Russell composed is rife with scientific inaccuracy and just plain bad arguments. There are many pro-choice philosophers who make much better arguments than Russell does. One would wonder why Russell doesn't just abandon this article and use the better arguments his side has to offer?

Completely Disputable "Indisputable Abortion Facts," Part II

Continuing from part one.

IAF 5: The birth rate dropped leading up to Roe v. Wade, then increased after.

On the surface, you would think this supposed "fact" is counterintuitive -- by not killing unborn babies before Roe v. Wade, then killing them afterward, somehow the birth rate has risen (granted there were illegal abortions going on before Roe, but not as many as Planned Parenthood would have you believe -- certainly not nearly as many as after abortion was legalized).

If you would think this supposed "fact" is counterintuitive, you would be correct. In fact, Russell uses blatantly wrong figures to try and support this "fact." I looked at his spreadsheet, and I doubt he actually charted his graph based on the spreadsheet. Unless I'm misreading his spreadsheet (which I don't think I am), then the birthrate has stayed pretty stagnant since 1950. In fact, according to the first column (which is the column for "births"), the highest number of births occurred in a pre-Roe year, 1957, with 4,300,000.

But as I stated, his figures are just blatantly wrong. In fact, according to this website: ( ), which takes its figures from the United Nation's World Population Prospects: The 2008 Revision Population Database, the world birth rate has been steadily dropping and has never picked up, even when countries like the United States have legalized abortion.

But how about the United States alone? This appears to be the website that Russell may have gotten his information from: . But take a look at the numbers. In fact, for several years after Roe v. Wade, the number of live births was still lower than the years leading up to Roe v. Wade. In 1972, the number of live births was 3,258,411. It took five years for the number of live births in post Roe United States to climb over the number of live births from 1972. Additionally, the birth rate has been steadily dropping and hasn't picked back up.

So as you can see, not only was Russell using inconclusive figures for his "spreadsheet" and creating a graph which really doesn't reflect the information in the spreadsheet, his reasoning is flawed. For example, technology always improves way of life. The reason for more live births has many different explanations, including advances in technology. For example, premature children can be born earlier now than they could in the former half of the 1900's because technology has advanced. Not only that, but as education grows so does our ability to keep and care for our children. For example, the rate of abortions has declined, which surely accounts for more live births. Also, you need to look at how many women are getting pregnant. Less women may be getting pregnant due to advances in birth control or in willing to abstain from sexual intercourse. There are many different factors that go into a birth rate.

We see that Russell has created a false dichotomy, that the only factors resulting in a birth is if a woman has an abortion, or if a woman doesn't have an abortion. There are many more factors that go into the number of live births than just if a woman chooses to abort or not.

But now Russell delves into the paranoid. He claims that our system would have collapsed under "pro-life rule" had "pro-choicers not stepped in and save the day." This is a ridiculous assumption. First of all, it's just that, an assumption. Secondly, being pro-life does not lead to the death of children and it does not affect the birth rate at all. I have already shown that the birth rate has been steadily declining, pro-abortion laws or no pro-abortion laws. But again, in the long run it doesn't matter -- what does matter is that abortions kill living human beings, and that is why they need to be stopped.

Even more ridiculous, now Russell thinks that he has come up with some "magical information" that should cause all pro-lifers everywhere to repent and claims that pro-choicers should stay away from us. There is much more blood on the hands of the pro-choice side than the pro-life side. We are trying to save lives. I have made rational arguments for my position on pro-life and Russell, so far, has not made a single rational argument for his.

It's just simple common sense that if you kill more children, there will be less live births. No amount of skewing the evidence will put Russell in the right.

IAF 6: Pro-Life leaders excommunicate followers despite no evidence to support their claims.

I gave scientific evidence to support our claims in the first part, so this statement is clearly false.

But what does it matter? If pro-life leaders excommunicate people who don't agree with them, does this affect their argument? No. This may show that they're not very nice people or that they're not willing to have discussions on the matter. But it doesn't affect their argument one way or the other. This so-called "law" is a smoke-screen to detract from the real issue.

People like Russell have obviously not taken a very good look at the pro-life side, which is full of young people and women. The only reason "pro-life leaders" tend to be male is because in most religions, women are not allowed to hold high positions in the church (which, as far as Christianity is concerned, is due to a misunderstanding of Scripture, and at any rate, it's only certain denominations as there are many female Christian pastors). And to assert that only males are pro-life is as misogynistic as people claim pro-lifers are.

Now, "murder" is a legal term. It refers to an unlawful killing and abortion, unfortunately, is legal. So abortion is not murder in the legal sense of the word. However, it is unjustified homicide. This is backed up by philosophy and science, the pro-choice position is not.

Russell seems to believe that there are jihads everywhere. I personally don't know a Christian pastor who doesn't allow differing of opinions, so long as it doesn't detract from normal operations of the church. I don't know a single pastor who would excommunicate someone for being pro-choice. Russell has given sites regarding decisions made by the Catholic church, but I'm Protestant. If the Catholic church does it, it doesn't make it right and it doesn't mean that every religion follows all of their teachings. That's why we have different religions in the first place. Russell seems to think he can speak for everyone.

So again, this "law" just doesn't matter in the long run. It's a smoke-screen to detract from the real issue, the humanity and value of the preborn.

IAF 7: Abortion is not mentioned in the Bible.

You know what else is not mentioned in the discussions of murder? Pushing someone into a shark tank. Or cutting the brakes in someone's car. There does not have to be an exhaustive list in the Bible. Christians are expected to know what is right and wrong. The Bible explains that we are valuable because we are made in God's image, and that we are not to shed innocent blood (which abortion does). The Bible doesn't mention abortion because Christians were no killing their unborn children. In fact, they would rescue Roman babies that were legally left out to die.

I have already explained why the passage in question does not support abortion in an earlier post. But I'll abridge it here: The Bible indicates harm to the fetus. If two people are fighting and hits a pregnant woman, causing her to give birth prematurely, if there is no permanent harm done, then the offender is to pay back what the husband desires. However, if the child is seriously injured or dies, then they are to repay life for life, tooth for tooth, etc.

IAF 8: Christians have believed they've heard directly from God regarding abortion being murder.

Again, this "fact" doesn't matter, Russell is just using it to complain. So what if some Christians believe they heard directly from God on the matter? That doesn't affect the arguments of the pro-life side, that abortion is wrong because it takes the life of a living, valuable human being.

In my next entry, I'll finish with his last four "fact."