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PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:42 pm    Post subject: 9 fallacies that surface in the abortion debate Reply with quote

1. The foetus cannot be taken seriously as a person

Before I knew much about the abortion debate, I was entirely uninterested in the unborn baby. When it was mentioned, I accepted uncritically that the "foetus" was just some sort of overdeveloped sperm of no value or worth. Pro-abortion rhetoric convinced me that the baby in the womb was somehow an entirely different class of human from you or me, as though the mere act of leaving the womb and inhaling oxygen conferred humanity on someone. I'm not sure I considered it rationally at the time, but I supported abortion because I had been led to believe there was nothing at stake in the destruction of a human foetus.

The facts were what changed my mind. Of course the unborn child is not some special class of human being, somehow less of a person because it exists in the womb. By any scientific criteria you can name, a complete human life is formed at the moment a sperm fertilises an egg. The creature formed is alive - growing, maturing and replacing its own dying cells. It is human - already unique from any other human who has ever existed, of the species homo sapiens sapiens, with 46 human chromosomes, and can only develop into an adult human as opposed to any other creature. And it is complete - the person in question will grow a great deal over the years that follow conception, but all that is added is just replication of what is already there. There is no scientific doubt whatsoever that a 23 week old baby inside the womb is every bit as human and every bit as alive as a 23 week old baby outside the womb. Yet one is given the full legal rights we all take for granted, and the other can be killed as an inconvenience.

It is obvious why the pro-abortion lobby talk always in terms of a "foetus". It sounds so much less personal and less human to speak of "terminating a foetus" than of killing a baby. All sorts of medical euphemisms are used from time to time: cluster of cells (which of us is not a cluster of cells?), blob of protoplasm and so on. They will call the unborn child anything but a baby.

Some pro-abortion debaters argue that their side talks of foetuses and the other side talks of babies, as suits their agenda. So there is no reason to say one particular side is being dishonest in their use of language to suit their argument - one uses medical terms and one uses more emotional terms, that is all. But this ignores the reality of how people speak from day to day. When a woman is pregnant, all inquiries are after the baby, not the foetus. No one talks about the foetus kicking. No mother who suffers a miscarriage talks about losing their foetus. It is only when the discussion turns to abortion that the medical terms are rolled out to describe the baby that will be killed. It is only when defending abortion that we dehumanise the baby to make the argument for killing her easier. This is not a new tactic. From 'Untermenschen' to 'Nigger', bigots have always invented terms they can use to avoid describing that which they want to kill as human. But calling a Jew 'Untermenschen' does not make him any less human and calling a baby a 'foetus' (a word ironically actually meaning "little child") does not make her any less human.

No pro-lifer argues that the baby should take precedence over the mother. But to fail to recognise that there are two human lives in this question is wilful blindness. In circumstances where neither will die, why must a life be taken at all?

2. 'Pro-choice' is a neutral position on abortion
One of the stranger arguments people often make with abortion is that they don't want to take sides on the matter - what they favour is for the mother to choose whether to abort, they themselves being neutral on the issue. Implicit in this is the idea that on one side is a group of people opposed to abortion under any circumstances and on the other side a group of people supportive of abortion in all cases, whether the mother wants it or not. Being "pro-choice", it follows, is the neutral, middle-ground position.

This isn't an argument that stands up for long. No sane person advocates abortion in every case, so to base one's claim to be neutral between an argument that does exist and an argument that doesn't is clearly nonsense. But the key point that refutes the idea of "pro-choice" equating to neutrality is that it asserts that the choices of the mother should always take precedence over the life of her son or daughter. By siding with "choice", one is declaring oneself opposed to the idea that innocent human life should take precedence over another human's choices, and siding with the abortion-rights idea that what they like to call "a woman right to choose" should come first instead.

The debate on abortion is not between those who want no abortions and those who want all aborted, but between those who want abortion for the convenience of one or both parents, and those who think human life should take precedence over human choice. In the life/choice dichotomy that is the abortion debate, you can be indifferent as to which takes precedence, you can be undecided, you can be unsure, and you can have no opinion at all. But what you cannot be is neutral, because there is no neutral position. Either life comes first or choice does.

3. Restricting abortion means imposing religious morality on others
Many people of all faiths and of none oppose abortion, but it is suggested by some that to be pro-life is to hold a religious position. Therefore, to support pro-life laws is to suggest imposing a religious viewpoint on everyone else, equivalent to making it illegal to eat pork because of what the Koran dictates.

If abortion is a religious issue, then nearly everything is. What people usually mean by this is that abortion is exclusively a religious issue, of no concern to those who do not share the unproven faiths of pro-lifers. As many religions stress the value of an eternal human soul, and many pro-lifers express themselves in religious terms, the two are not unconnected. But it is entirely wrong to suggest that an ethical issue like abortion becomes entirely a religious matter because the religious give their views on it. The book of Exodus commands that no one should commit murder. That does not mean murder is an exclusively religious issue, and it certainly doesn't mean that laws against murder would breach a tradition like the United States' separation of church and state.

Not only is it false to say that opposition to abortion is a religious position, rather than ultimately one of civil or human rights, but it is insulting. Do such people really believe that it is impossible for an atheist to care about the unborn? Do they honestly think that the supreme value and importance of innocent human life is something only a religious person can understand? I certainly hope not.

So it would not be imposing religious morality to restrict abortion. But would it be wrong on the grounds that it is imposing any sort of morality? Well the trouble with this argument is that every law is imposing morality. A law that bans theft imposes anti-theft morality on others. No one has a problem with this because no one is really a moral relativist in practice. We all know that individuals have certain rights that surpass the wishes of others to do as they please. Whether the Lockean rights to life, liberty and property, or the more expansive rights of the European Human Rights Act, all of us accept that some individual protection should be granted. For the unborn, pro-lifers ask only for the most basic right of all - the right to life. This is not about imposing on anyone, but about preventing the greatest imposition of all: an execution of a person innocent of any crime, and guilty only of being an inconvenience. That would be the true imposition, the true case of illegitimate force.

Ironically, pro-abortion people always accuse their opponents of what they are most guilty of. It is they who want to make laws based not on an objective criterion like the protection of innocent human life, but on the subjective valuations of the mother. Try telling someone who favours abortion that abortion should be illegal because it kills, and they will say that that doesn't matter, because it only kills a foetus. Explain that a foetus in a human womb is a human being by any scientific definition, and they will say that it is not alive. Tell them that the baby in the womb is in fact alive, and they will say that the baby may be a human life, but it is not what they consider to be a person. So by an entirely arbitrary and subjective notion of what does and does not deserve the right to life through being their notion of a person, they defend themselves. That is a truly unjust case of imposing morality, every bit as much as justifying slavery because although the black man is a human and is alive, he is not a person in the sense that you mean it.

4. "I would never have an abortion, but the choice is for others to make for themselves" or "If you don't like abortion, don't have one"

It is not inconsistent for someone who would never box in their life to want boxing to remain legal. Someone may hate the very taste of coffee, but that does not mean they need ban it. They could always simply stop drinking it. It would not necessarily be hypocritical for someone who hates fox-hunting to believe in others' liberty to hunt. Some try to extend this liberal principle to abortion: just because someone may think abortion immoral, distasteful and wicked, it is argued, they need not oppose it.

Having categorised boxing, coffee and hunting as three things one can quite consistently dislike without believing they should be banned, we ought to examine some things one could not consistently oppose without wanting them banned. A clear example would be rape. It would be utterly absurd to say "Don't like rape? Then don't commit any". This is because when someone is saying they find rape distasteful, they are not simply talking about disagreeing with the choices others make, as may be the case with hunting, but they are opposed to the very idea that anyone should force a woman to have sex with them.

The question is whether abortion goes into the first category - a matter of choice, like boxing or coffee-drinking, with no essential rights involved - or the second - a matter of fundamental individual rights, which cannot be negotiated and are not simply about the preferences of one person. Whichever side one takes in debating it, abortion does not fit into the first category, as both of the above statements wrongly suggest.

If one holds that innocent human life is sacred and valuable and that this value remains whatever the preferences of others, then abortion is clearly a matter of individual rights. No one can hold that abortion is a violation of individual rights while thinking it should remain legal anyway. That is what is so absurdly hypocritical about those who claim they personally oppose abortion but still want it legal. Logically, the only reason to believe that it would be wrong personally to have an abortion is if you thought the baby that would die has a right to life. But if your own baby has a right to life, why doesn't anyone else's? If the baby in your womb is an innocent human being, how does that change for babies that end up in the bodies of those who would be willing to have an abortion? Does the body know at conception whether the mother is pro-life or pro-abortion and produce a human baby in the first case but not the second? What if the mother changes her mind in the middle of the pregnancy? It is here that the absurdity of this position becomes clear. They are essentially arguing that someone's right to life should depend on the standpoint their mother took on abortion - that their own children have a right to life but the children of pro-abortion women do not. If this is not hypocrisy, nothing is.

Equally, to say that opponents of abortion should simply "not have one" is to miss the argument completely. Pro-lifers are not saying that it is their personal preference that individuals have rights, but that innocent human life should be protected whether in the body of a fervent pro-lifer or a conscienceless woman on her seventh abortion. It makes no sense at all to argue that if someone doesn't like slavery, they don't have to buy a slave. Yet that very argument was used in the US in 19th century, and is used now as a defence of abortion. Abortion is either murder or it isn't. To sidestep this question and pretend it is merely a matter of preference, like the choice between washing powders, reveals either ignorance or dishonesty.

5. Abortion is ultimately an issue of women's rights

One of the more desperate and feeble attempts to shut the abortion debate down can be seen in those who argue that because men cannot become pregnant, and so cannot have an abortion, the issue is nothing to do with them. They go on to suggest either that men's opinions have no right to be heard at all, or that abortion benefits women against men.

The answer to this is a simple biological fact: half of unborn babies are female. So for every male aborted, a girl dies too. The ratio is actually less favourable to women in countries where boys are valued more highly than girls. For example, in India it has now become common for women to pay for a cheap ultra-sound scan and then pay for a cheap abortion if the baby is revealed to be a female. They then rinse and repeat until a boy comes along. So the idea that abortion is a blow for women is belied by the reality of millions of girls being killed in the most brutal and cruel way.

Well, okay, maybe abortion does kill at least as many girls as boys, it is conceded, but with men unable to become pregnant, women are the ones who have abortions, and usually get to decide. Therefore, the issue is for women to decide on, not men. But this argument is contrary to all democratic principles. We do not require that only servicemen get to air their views and cast their vote on matters relating to war. Nor do we demand that only the sick get a say in healthcare. Democracy gives everyone a say. One need only see where such an argument will lead to see its greatest flaws. To argue that because only women can commit abortion, they should be the only ones to decide the laws relating to it is equivalent to arguing that rape laws should only be determined and discussed by men, because they alone can commit this offence. Democracy means everyone having their say, whether or not the issue in question directly affects them, or directly benefits them.

6. It is hypocritical to be pro-life if one does not adopt babies or pay for their upkeep oneself

Like the feminist argument, this sort of accusation attempts to shut down the debate, this time by suggesting that one must demonstrate personally one's commitment to the children who would result from restricting abortion. Certainly, it is a wonderful thing if one can afford and is willing to help with such cases. But to argue ad hominem that because someone does not or cannot carry out their convictions in terms of direct assistance, their argument is wrong, is to confuse the argument with the arguer. Something is no more or less true depending on who says it. Accusations of hypocrisy are easy to throw around, but while they may harm the reputation of the accused, they do not affect their argument.

To say that one cannot oppose abortion without being willing to adopt half a dozen children is like saying that one cannot support a war without offering oneself up to fight or that one cannot oppose slavery without being willing to feed and clothe many former slaves. To support the right to life, liberty and property of a person does not mean one must support them in other ways. An injustice is an injustice.

Again, the greatest hypocrisy comes from the general position of the left. If a man impregnates a woman, they say, then it is only right that he take responsibility for the baby. Even if the father didn't want her, he should still pay child support to her meals, clothing etc. He chose to risk pregnancy, they tell us, so he should take responsibility for the consequences.

This all sounds reasonable enough, and it would be, if only they applied the same argument to women. But they don't. They do not say that the mother chose to risk pregnancy and now must take responsibility for the baby that results. Instead they say the choice over whether the baby lives or dies is entirely up to her, and one she can determine to her own convenience. This is real hypocrisy and inconsistency.

7. Restricting abortion would make no difference; it would just mean more women dying from 'backstreet abortions'

Though the argument is often stated this way, clearly something different is meant, as more women dying would be a difference. First, do abortion laws and a pro-life climate reduce the number of abortions? The best example of this is Poland. When the Soviets left, Poland's religious and humanitarian traditions resurfaced. In the 1980s, there were about 100,000 abortions a year. By 1990, this figure was 59,417. So clearly, when people begin to believe that abortion is wrong, they start to change their behaviour. It would be bizarre indeed to suggest that social attitudes are totally unaffected by the abortion laws and the democratic endorsement of them.

But what about the accusation that abortion means more deaths from backstreet abortions? In fact, the declining number of deaths by backstreet abortion continued pretty much unaffected in both Britain and the United States after abortion was legalised. It should also be emphasised how few this was: around three dozen a year in the whole of the United States, or fewer than one per state. So either illegal abortions were very rare, or very safe. If they are very safe, then one cannot argue that an abortion ban would be a threat to women's lives. If they were very rare, then clearly, pro-life laws did discourage illegal abortions, saving lives of the women in question, and the babies who were conceived.

As a final example of this tendency, Poland banned abortion except in cases of rape, incest or disability in 1993, and in the following year, 782 babies were legally aborted (as against 100,000 a decade ago) but no one at all died from an illegal abortion.

8. Abortions are justifiable because they keep down the population, lower crime and spare some children a miserable life

The utilitarian argument for abortion is more cruel than most, but it deserves to be dealt with. Even if one accepts that the unborn child is an innocent human life, that does not mean protection for her, the argument goes, because such protection would mean an excessive population, enabling poorer babies to be born and go on to commit crimes, or ensure someone is born into an unhappy home.

First, one must question the idea that the population of this country, or any modern Western country is too high. In Britain, our population is actually predicted to be more or less stable over the next fifty years, dipping a little. For stability in a population, each woman must have an average of 2.1 children (2 to replace herself and the father, and 0.1 to account for deaths in childbirth etc.). In Britain it is currently about 1.8, and we are predicted to face 2 million immigrants over the next decade. Our problem is not too many children, but too few. Much of modern Europe is now losing its culture through so many abortions necessitating mass-immigration.

Second is the argument that abortion disproportionately affects the sort of class of people who become criminals, and therefore abortion cuts crime. Killing another human being in order to do this is a brutal enough solution. To execute them in their infancy for a crime they cannot any longer commit is barbaric. A good criminal justice system and police force, and respectable social attitudes cut crime best. We should not think that killing innocents is an adequate or moral replacement.

Third comes the suggestion that many babies would be better off aborted than adopted or unwanted. The arrogance of such a position is clear: who are they to decide this for people who have not yet even been born? What gives them the right to declare another person's life so miserable it must be cut off just as it is beginning?

Ultimately, civilised morality is based on non-negotiable principles: the right to life being one of them. To say that such notions can be overrun for the convenience of society in general is a monstrous and pointless defence of abortion. If innocent human life deserves protection, then it is irrelevant. If it does not, then it is superfluous.

9. Even if it kills a tramp to throw him out of my house into the cold, I have a legal right to do it

Some in the abortion debate concede the immorality of abortion, but defend it legally as a matter of control of one's body. One may have a duty to look after another human being, but for the law to enforce that duty is imposing on the person an unreasonable burden. It may be cruel to throw a tramp out of one's house into a blizzard, but one has the legal right. But pregnancy is unlike any property situation. To extend the tramp analogy, if one had invited the tramp into one's home, then sucked his brains out before throwing him out into the cold, the law would look on it slightly different. Since nearly all abortions are for consensual sex - the choice to risk pregnancy - the baby is not an imposition, but a chosen tenant.

One also wonders about the legal rights and duties of parents and their children. No mother would legally be allowed to throw her baby out into the cold one day because she had paid for the house, as was her right. Why? Because certain legal obligations are imposed along with motherhood. We therefore grant the right to life and to "impose" to a born baby, and rightly, but not an unborn baby. This is not a permanent obligation, and this mother could look after the baby until the point at which she could give her up for adoption. But this could just as well be done by a pregnant woman who did not want her baby in the womb. What we do not allow with born babies of 23 weeks in the womb is for the mother to kill them. Sadly, for no reason anyone can explain logically, we do allow babies of 23 weeks inside the womb to be "evicted" in a murderous way. No one suggests the baby is not a human life, nor that she is guilty of any crime. But still we let our own convenience come first.

"The old law permitted abortion to save one life when two would otherwise die. The new law permits abortion to take one life when two would otherwise live." - Herbert Ratner.

adapted from http://www.freerepublic.com/fo.....5378/posts
There was an argument for capital punishment in the original piece but i thought that position was too weak to be worthy of inclusion.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That was certainly an awesome post, and an excellent deconstruction of many key pro-choice arguments!

I myself am pro-life.

However, we have to be realistic here.

There's the cultural/ethical side of the debate, and the legal side of the debate. The legal side of the debate won't change until the cultural/ethical side of the debate changes.

The key is not to argue, flat-out, that elective abortion should be illegal ("elective" meaning any abortion done for a reason other than severe health concerns for the mother). The key is to make a compelling argument that elective abortion is tantamount to killing an innocent human being, and that such acts, when looked upon as "no big deal", can help contribute to a harmful culture of lawlessness and disorder. Basically, when people rationalize away elective abortion, they can and will rationalize away anything, which is partly why it's important to stand up to such rationalizations and say "No, elective abortion is not right. It is a big deal".

Only when a solid majority of people view abortion that way can you even begin to hope to change the law. And hence, it is only when a solid majority of people view abortion that way, that it is prudent to breech the legal side of the abortion debate.

First, the goal is to change hearts and minds. Then, later on, perhaps we can change the law itself as well.
Alan A.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 9:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

4. "I would never have an abortion, but the choice is for others to make for themselves" or "If you don't like abortion, don't have one"

I agree with this one though.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 7:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You might have noticed that none of the 9 arguments are "pro-life". These are just nine fallacies that the "pro-choice" side uses. If we are to have a mature debate on the ethics of abortion in a civilized society such as ours, these fallacies must be avoided.
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9 fallacies that surface in the abortion debate

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