• Jake

Abortion: What if You Were Wrong?

Wonderful, you are reading this. I hope you disagree with me. If you have had an abortion, encouraged someone to do so, or in general, firmly hold a pro-choice view, this article will not be fun to read. That said, it represents strong character and purposeful open mindedness to consider the opposite view fairly and patiently. This is exactly what I believe both sides need to do.

Step back from the emotions and rhetoric for a moment, regardless of what side of the issue you are on, and ask the question honestly, “Would I want to know if I was wrong?” For me, the answer is a resounding “yes”. There is no possible way an article on this topic will avoid hurting people’s feelings; that is not at all the intention, but it will be a by-product, just like an article from the pro-choice position would offend and enrage my side of the issue. But the solution cannot be to hunker down in our respective bubbles to avoid offense. Instead, please read the following with the same charity and goodwill you would wish for myself and others to approach your arguments. If you have a reply to this article, I will do just that; I will read it and consider it with a charitable disposition and an open mind.

The Principle of Caution

I would wager you don’t want to ever take an innocent life on purpose. For instance, if you saw a person absentmindedly walk into the middle of the road while you were driving, what would you do? Obviously you would swerve, slam on your brakes, and honk your horn. Any reasonable person would rightly panic at the thought of hitting that person and possibly killing them.

What if you were driving on a long trip in the dark and suddenly, out of the corner of your eye, you see what looks like a person in the road? Although more likely it’s a shadow or a mailbox, maybe you think there is a 1 out of 10 chance it is a person. What do you do? Obviously you still stop, your adrenaline still surges, and even at this small possibility you are jolted into high alert.

Bear with me now as I extend our thought experiment. If immediate and decisive action to avoid taking an innocent life is well justified to save one person with 1:10 odds, what would this principle of caution tell us if we thought 1 million possible people were crossing the road?

In this case, with 1 million people who could die if we misjudge, the principle of caution jumps from an albeit slightly reckless 1:10 to 1:10,000,000. In other words, if a 1 in 10 chance of killing an innocent person is too much for you, as evidenced by the way you currently do ordinary things like drive a car, then to be consistent you would have to be 99.9999% sure the nearly 1 million unborn lives which are ended each year (in the US alone) are not really people, but just shadows and mailboxes.

Tell me, is there a 0.00001% chance that the unborn are people and the pro-choice position is wrong? If you grant me even that tiny possibility, then we all, with adrenaline surging, must crank the wheel of our politics and culture and slam the brakes on the abortion industry immediately! Anything less is irrational, reckless, and contrary to the way we all actually live our lives.

In this article, I will give a word about rational argumentation and repentance, then briefly lay out a few arguments stating why abortion is wrong and why unborn lives are worth protecting. Finally, a lengthy questions and objection section will conclude. Again, if you disagree with me coming into this argument, good; you are the one to which I am writing. It will take some effort, but please be open minded, lay your emotions on the topic aside, and give this a fair reading. After all, if there was even a small chance that you were on the wrong side of this debate, wouldn’t you want to know?

Reason and Repentance

There is a place between tolerance and violence; it is called rational discussion. Tolerance by itself opens up a space for injustice and evil to flourish unopposed. Violence determines right and wrong based on who can be more vicious and powerful.

However, Reason’s casualties are falsehoods and lies, not neighbors and friends. Reasonable discussion allows us to find and share truth in common, as opposed to enjoying our private deceptions by ourselves.

I am sure you have strong feelings about this issue; you ought to. However, our feelings do not determine what is right and wrong. Using our emotions as our guide to truth is foolishness. Emotions must be trained and directed by reason, not allowed to run wild and cause us to act on purely animal instincts.

With this in mind, when I attack abortion as wrong, does that mean I am attacking the pro-choice person, or the woman who had an abortion? No, I am attacking the ideas they hold and the actions they have taken. Lies are like cancer in our minds. When allowed to flourish and feed, they grow and metastasize, ultimately destroying us. A surgeon removing a tumor is caring for the patient while brutally assaulting their disease.

What the doctor would like best is for the patient’s own body to reject the disease and maintain its health independently. This is what those in the pro-life movement wish for others. We want to destroy the lies that both kill unborn children and imperil your soul. Most of all, we want to see recognition of the evil of abortion leading to repentance, not retribution for those who support it.

Repentance is neither denial of the truth nor destruction of the person. Denial fails to understand the wrong that one has done, and instead leads to a life avoiding consequences and condemnation. Destruction is the opposite; it recognizes wrongs but doesn't recognize mercy. Therefore the weight of the wrongs crush the person who has committed them. The right way is to recognize wrongs but be shielded from destruction by mercy through repentance.

Pro-choice people living in denial of the evil of abortion think the only alternative is destruction. The pro-life side, to them, represents these forces of shame, destruction, and condemnation. Why would someone possibly want to join them? But I think they have it wrong; the pro-life cause is pro- your life, too. We want your life to never be caught between these extremes. Instead take the middle way. Choose repentance.

Maybe you think my mind, and the minds of other pro-life people, are the ones riddled with lies. Go ahead and state your own case, or give answers and arguments as to why we are incorrect. Do so openly and honestly, laying any emotions and vitriol to the side, and take a seat at the table of reason. Here I will seek to do just that.

Innocent. Human. Life.

Premise 1: It is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human life.

Premise 2: An unborn child is an innocent human life.

Conclusion: It is wrong to intentionally kill an unborn child.

Those of you who remember philosophy 101 class know this is a valid deductive argument, where if the premises are true, the conclusion necessarily must be true. So, are the premises true?

I really hope no one takes issue with the first premise. If you do, I don’t really know what to say to you. Maybe one could come up with a scenario to find a loop hole? For instance, what if a villain forces you to kill either Bob, or Linda and Harry. You choose to kill only Bob in order to spare 2 lives instead of just one.

One might say you didn’t intend to kill Bob with your action, instead you intended to spare the other two, and killing Bob was the means to do this. Therefore, your act lacked intention. Or else one could point out you are not doing anything; you are being forced to act in this circumstance. The villain is doing the killing and you are just another victim. Finally, one might say that yes, killing Bob or killing both Linda and Harry are both wrong, and one ought to choose the one which is less wrong.

Any way you slice it, it seems hard to imagine how we could reject the premise “It is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human life” without condoning murder, which we all should oppose.

What about the Second Premise: “An unborn child is an innocent human life”. To affirm this one as true, we must investigate the three claims: innocent, human, and a life.

Innocent: The unborn child has not the power nor the opportunity to do anything wrong, much less something so wrong it warrants death. In our society, in the most grave circumstances, we can put criminals to death by law. What possible standard would a unborn child meet that would warrant death? What could they possibly be guilty of? The answer is nothing and therefore they are innocent.

Human: The unborn have human parents, human DNA, and are part of a normal human life cycle. How could they be anything other than human? After all, you, the reader, were once at this stage of development. Therefore, if you deny that they are human, you are also denying that you are human. Maybe they become human at a certain time? The burden of proof now rests on you to disprove that the thing all of us humans were at one point, which has distinct human DNA and human parents, is not human but something else. And then you need to explain how these things become humans.

You could come up with an ad hoc set of standards to try and justify this very strange conclusion. Maybe it is not human until there are brain waves? But that is both completely arbitrary and rooted in nothing more than an attempt to avoid the obvious conclusion of the argument. Furthermore, if this was the standard, then people in a coma are not humans and rats are humans! Go ahead and substitute a heartbeat or any other criteria and it will yield similar nonsensical results.

A Life: If it wasn’t alive then there would be no need to abort the unborn child in the first place...so it is obviously a life we are talking about. Maybe one could say it is not a separate life from the mother? Here are some of the many problems with that. The child has separate DNA, a separate body, different cells, different parents, and is completing a separate human life cycle. If the point is that it is dependent and therefore not a separate life, then this precludes you from being a life, since you are dependent on grocery stores, water utilities, and houses to survive. More obviously than that, a newborn child is dependent on the body of her mother for life, and yet the child is obviously a separate living thing. An unborn child meets every scientific and philosophical standard I have ever heard of to qualify them as alive.

In summary, an unborn child is innocent, without even the ability to do wrong, much less a wrong that warrants death. She is human because she has human parents and human DNA. She is a life. If that were not true, abortion would not be possible because there would be no life to end. We all agree it is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human life. Therefore, having affirmed that the deductive argument is valid and the premises are sound, we conclude it is wrong to kill the unborn. If you have followed this argument, then why would you not now oppose abortion?

Are you awake? After that argument, do you think those shadowy figures crossing the road might be more likely to be real people? Are you going to hit your brakes, or change direction? The default position ought to be extreme caution. If you are on the fence about abortion, then I would contend you should be firmly on the pro-life side.

Let me make another analogy. If you were in the old south and didn’t know whether or not slavery was wrong, what should you do? Obviously if there is even a minuscule chance that slavery is wrong, and your nation has a whole race enslaved, this cannot be tolerated. It is obvious today that just because black people look different than white people, this doesn't mean they don’t have basic rights. In the pro-life movement, it is equally obvious that just because the unborn look different than we are used to, this doesn’t mean we can violate their most basic right to life.

The Toddler

At this point, the reader may be thinking, “hold up; other things could outweigh the concerns about abortion, even if abortion is wrong. What if, for example, the mother can’t care for the child, the child is disabled, or it was conceived through incestuous rape?”

All of these miss the core point: what is an unborn child? If I asked you if a mother could kill their 2 year old child because, “the mother can’t care for the child, the child is disabled, and it was conceived through incestuous rape”, what would you say? Obviously the answer is no. Why?

I imagine you would suddenly sound a lot like me from a few paragraphs prior. The 2 year old is an innocent human life and therefore these circumstances, although horrible, don’t in any way justify intentionally ending that life.

Either we must be consistent in our standard and apply the same standards to unborn children as we do to born children, or there has to be an unbelievably ironclad reason that erases all uncertainty as to how the unborn are not innocent, human, or living things, which as shown above is not the case.

This is a Secular Argument

Read above; are my arguments against abortion religious in nature? Did I quote the Bible? If you simply read the arguments, could you have figured out if I was a theist or an atheist, a man or a woman? Often, pro-life advocates are accused of being theocratic by forcing religious opinions on others. Where is the religion in my defense? Even my call for repentance could be read as secular advice.

Nothing at all would stop a blue haired, atheistic, communist, gay, feminist, transgender person, who in the past had 12 abortions, from adopting all of what has been argued. For all you know at this point, the author has just described themselves.

(If you are a Christian and you don’t think that abortion is wrong, then I am shocked at your Biblical and theological illiteracy. Email me; I will try to nicely show you the basics of the faith you so tenuously grasp. )

Racial and Gender Injustice

Many who are pro-choice are on the left. Such people often are quite aware of injustice regarding race and gender. Why aren’t you upset that today, more black babies are killed in New York City than are born? Minority babies and female babies are disproportionately aborted. In fact, abortion facilities are often intentionally located in poor or minority neighborhoods.

Questions and Objections:

Objection: You pro-life people don’t care about anything other than the fetus. You don’t care about the mother, the child when it’s older, the poor, or about healthcare for those who don’t have access. You just have your narrow pet issue and ignore everyone else’s needs. If you are going to be “pro-life”, why don’t you go all the way?

Answer: People nicer than I often answer this question by citing the numerous ways that pro-life organizations actually do all of these things, and in much greater numbers than pro-choice groups do. However, I am calling this one as I see it. This argument is dumb and completely misses the point of the debate.

The whole abortion issue revolves around the question, “What are the unborn?” If, as I have defended, they are Innocent Human Lives, that means they are just like you and me, your neighbors and friends. I assume you support the laws prohibiting people from killing your next door neighbor. Oh, but wait! This means by your logic you should go “All the way” with your ‘pro-neighbor’s life’ position and feed him, pay his bills, get him health care and, strangely, even take care of his mother. This is obviously absurd. Even if pro-life people don’t lift a finger to help anyone, they are still just as justified in supporting laws protecting an unborn baby as you would be for supporting laws that criminalize infanticide of the same child a few short months later.