Problems with the Pro-Choice Position
Updated: Sep 12
The abortion debate is the preeminent issue of our time. Taxes, inflation, the economy, Russia, China - any discussion around these topics is subordinate to the issue of abortion. What is abortion? Some may try to muddy the waters by using euphemistic definitions such as “a procedure to end the medical condition of pregnancy.” This would be akin to defining slavery as “the condition of prescribed productivity regarding one’s labor.” These are both mealy-mouthed definitions intended to distract and confuse the argument. Slavery is the ownership of another human being, and abortion is the intentional killing of a baby in the womb. An intrinsically evil act, such as murder (the intentional killing of an innocent person), can never be justified. The ends do not justify the means. There are no exceptions to this rule. Circumstance does not make an intrinsically evil act morally acceptable. To be on the right side of morality, and the right side of history, one must hold the no-exceptions pro-life position. Despite this fact, there are those who advocate for legal abortion. Some even celebrate it. Abortion is seen as freedom to the depraved. These people could be defined as pro-abortion. These are the wild-eyed liberals, the radical man-hating (and traditional-woman-hating) feminists, the perverse gender-theory ideologues, and the self-proclaimed Satanists. However, there is a great mushy middle position that the majority of Americans take. They would define themselves as pro-choice. Many would say they are “personally opposed” to abortion in certain circumstances, but vehemently defend its legality. This I think is the overwhelming position of the current generation. It is to these lukewarm souls that I would like to address myself here.
DUPED AND SCARED
Before I tackle the arguments themselves, I would like to explore why people hold this view. Why would one advocate for the legality of something they are personally opposed to? First and foremost, I do not think they have a well-developed understanding of what abortion is. Many have been duped by the euphemisms of the pro-abortion crowd. Control the language and you control the narrative. Few people would advocate for the murder of an infant, so they simply convince themselves that abortion involves neither murder nor infant. The thought of killing a baby is a little unpleasant to most people, so calling an abortion a “procedure to end a pregnancy” and calling the human in the womb a “fetus” or “clump of cells'' makes them a bit more comfortable with the whole affair. The second reason I believe this pro-choice view is so common: it is easy. To be unapologetically pro-life is difficult. Our culture does not like it. One must be ready to give a reason for their stance, to defend it. The pro-life position is met with derision and the holder dismissed as radical. On the other hand, a pro-choicer can escape the metaphorical torch and pitchfork toting mob, and at the same time soothe their tingling conscience by saying “I am personally opposed but…” This is why many may support a ban on late-term abortions, but fiercely defend a “woman’s right to make decisions about her body” with regard to earlier term abortions. I would argue that this pro-choice position is the most absurd, the most spineless, and the least intellectually honest.
“My body, my choice” - a common refrain from pro-choice women. This line of argument seeks to restructure the debate around issues of personal autonomy, as if procuring an abortion were akin to clipping one’s fingernails. They will also speak of “reproductive rights” and refer to “a woman’s right to make decisions about her body” instead of saying abortion. One can see the strategy: attempt to shift the focus from the unborn child in the womb to the mother. By dehumanizing or outright ignoring the unborn, they can sidestep the uncomfortable discussion about life or death, seemingly making this a simple women’s rights issue, but this begs the question: a right to do what? The discussion must be refocused: what an abortion does, and to whom. If one gets distracted from this, the argument will devolve into petty squabbling about bodily autonomy and so-called women’s rights. If the discussion is centered around the fact that an abortion takes the life of an innocent person (the definition of murder), then it is easy to dismiss these shallow claims of “my body, my choice.” No one in civilized society, not even pro-abortion advocates, would claim that they can choose to murder someone. Do not fall for the slithery tactics to dehumanize the unborn and argue over so-called women’s rights.
IS IT MURDER?
This will naturally lead to disagreement over if an abortion is in fact murder. If one understands the unborn to be human life, then it follows that abortion is nothing less than the legalized murder of a baby in the womb. It doesn't matter if that human looks different than an adult - they are at a different stage of development - they are human none the less. This should be obvious, but because there is so much social emotion surrounding this issue, to many people it is not. Pro-choicers will use several methods to skirt this obvious truth. They may say “it’s not a baby, it’s just a clump of cells.” Notice the familiar tactic to dehumanize the unborn. Well, you are a clump of cells, and I am a different clump of cells. Does that give you the right to kill me? The fact that a fetus is different in size and appearance than you is irrelevant. You are different now in size and appearance than when you were six months old, and you will be different in size and appearance when you are seventy. These differences are incidental, your right to life remains throughout these changes. This “clump of cells” argument is very weak, and easily dismantled.
They might use viability (the ability of the fetus to survive outside the womb) as a justification, claiming “the fetus does not have a right to life before viability.” This too crumbles under the microscope of basic reasoning. According to this view, a fetus acquires their right to life due to external circumstances. However, today the age at which a fetus is viable is much earlier than 100 years ago, thanks to advances in medical technology. In 10 years from now, it may be even earlier. In countries with less-developed medicine, it is later. Viability cannot be what endows a person with the right not to be murdered. Surely something so fundamental as the human right to life is not determined by such a fickle sliding scale.
The presence or absence of consciousness is another angle they may try. “Before a certain point in the pregnancy, the fetus is not conscious, so it is not a person and does not have a right to life.” To which I respond: does an unconscious adult lose their right to life? Would it not be murder to smother someone that is in a coma? You cannot define a human person by its current ability to think, feel, choose, or reason. You must define it by its inherent capacity to perform those human acts. Notice also that these arguments generally only apply to very early in the pregnancy, yet many pro-choicers that utilize them support abortion much later into the pregnancy as well.
Ultimately, there are two points to emphasize. The fetus is alive, and it is human. It is not part of the mother’s body. It is a unique individual with its own DNA from the moment of conception. This is scientifically proven. Yes, it looks strange. Yes, it is dependent on the mother to survive (so is a newborn), but it is undeniably a human life. That is simply what human life looks like at that stage of development. However, even when this fact is conceded, the pro-choice crowd still has a trick up their sleeve: appeal to emotion.
For a human act to be considered moral, three things must be considered: the object of the act itself, the intention, and the circumstance. All three elements of the act must be good in order for the act to be morally good. If any of the three are evil, the act itself is evil; this is why we can say that the end (intention) does not justify the means. The object of the act is the thing actually done, and can be morally good, neutral, or intrinsically evil. For example, giving to the poor is a good act, scratching your head is a neutral act, and adultery is an intrinsically evil act. The intention is the “why” behind the act. One’s intention can make a good act evil, but never an evil act good. For example, the object of giving to the poor is good, but if one’s intention is prideful or self-serving, with no regard for the poor, the act itself becomes evil. Conversely, the object of the act of lying is intrinsically evil, and no good intention can make the act good. The circumstance involves elements of the who, when, how, etc. surrounding the act. The circumstance can increase or decrease the moral goodness or evil of an act, but can never change an evil act to a good. For example, telling an “innocent white lie that hurts no one” is less morally bad than telling a serious lie that hurts someone in order to benefit yourself. In either case, lying is intrinsically evil, and a seemingly benign circumstance does not change that. If the object of the act itself is morally evil, no intention or circumstance can make it morally good. This is obvious in acts such as rape or murder.
Pro-choicers strongly appeal to circumstance to justify abortion. When you hear “exceptions in the cases or rape, incest, or the life of the mother,” this is what they are doing. They are giving examples of very difficult and powerfly emotional special circumstances surrounding the act of abortion in order to justify its morality. As we have seen, however, the object of the act of abortion is the killing of an innocent human. This is the definition of murder, and murder is an intrinsically evil act. No good intention or difficult circumstance can change that. This appeal to circumstance evokes an extremely strong emotional response in most people, and I find that this is the sticking point that many pro-choice advocates simply cannot overcome. They truly are empathetic to the mother, as they should be, but because they have been conditioned to dehumanize the unborn, and because they lack a knowledge of what constitutes a morally good act, they do not show the same empathy to the unborn child.
There are some pro-life arguments that I find weak and flimsy, and should be avoided. I will address two here.
The first involves attempting to show that humanity would be better off had all the aborted babies been born. You may hear “think of how many doctors have been aborted that could have found a cure for cancer” or some such reasoning. The problem with this line of argument is twofold: 1) You are getting distracted from the real issue: that abortion is murder, and 2) You are falling into some flavor of utilitarianism. It simply does not matter what the unborn baby would or would not have done with their life, it is still a tragedy that they never had the opportunity to live it. Even if you knew that a baby would never benefit society in the ways you value, they would still deserve to live.
The second is focusing too much on the physical or mental health effects of abortion on the mother. You hear this when pro-lifers talk about how many mothers come to regret their abortion, or how dangerous the operation is to the mother’s health. Again, with this argument, the attention has been shifted from the unborn child. This is an emotional appeal, trying to make your opponent feel sorry for the mother, when they should be feeling sorry for the dead baby. While acknowledging that the mother in many cases is truly suffering, the fact that she is choosing to kill her child cannot be overlooked. In addition, many women may not suffer these ill effects, but this in no way makes the abortion less grievous.
ABORTION AND SLAVERY
It is common for liberal-leaning individuals to view everything through the lens of contemporary racial hyper-sensitivity, jumping to conclusions and finding the bogeyman of racism behind every corner. This includes most pro-choicers. While I believe this is nonsense, it can provide an opportunity to “speak their language.” A parallel can be made between slavery and abortion, between abolitionists and pro-lifers. If I were alive in the 1860s, I would consider slavery to be the most pressing issue of contemporary politics. The legalized ownership of other human beings is self-evidently reprehensible. Just as in the 1860s, when advocates of slavery dehumanized the African Americans in order to justify their abuse, so too do the modern-day advocates of abortion dehumanize the unborn in order to justify their murder. One brand of discrimination is based on skin color and ethnicity, one is based on size and development. If slavery is bad, murder is worse. Abortion is to 2023 America what slavery was to 1860 America.
When all of these points are fairly considered, I find the pro-life position to be bulletproof. I believe it is the only logically consistent position one can hold on the issue of abortion. More people need to give fair consideration to this issue, take a stance, and defend it. This is an issue that goes far beyond “a woman and her doctor.” We live in a country that allows the murder of its most vulnerable citizens in the very place where they should experience the greatest love and safety. We must advocate for a federal ban on abortion from the moment of conception, with no exceptions. As Pope St. John Paul II said:
"You are called to stand up for life! To respect and defend the mystery of life always and everywhere, including the lives of unborn babies, giving real help and encouragement to mothers in difficult situations. You are called to work and pray against abortion."
© 2023 Stephen Jacob Edwards