The Terrible Logic of Abortion
Many people with whom I disagree seem illogical. I don’t feel that way about people who are “pro-life.”
Other beliefs they may profess unrelated to abortion may be problematic, depending on individuals. And all bets are off with politicians who pander to them. But people who are seriously pro-life seem ethically logical in much of what they say about abortion, including their main point.
They maintain killing gestating humans is the same as killing fully-formed people in the open air.
It’s hard to argue away their position. I can’t put my finger on when life begins. Heartbeat? Sustainability outside the womb?
So I can see people insisting on setting the beginning of life deserving protection with conception or formation of a zygote. It actually harms pro-lifers’ logic if they make 22-week exceptions or exceptions in cases of rape or anything else. If abortion is murder, it’s always murder. The product of a rape is no less deserving of life than the product of love.
I think they’re wrong about the issue in general, but it’s questionable to maintain, as many liberals do, that most pro-life adherents are anti-woman. They just don’t respect the rights of people they see as being willing to kill babies.
Observant Catholics, who form the core of pro-life believers, are somewhat consistent. They don’t believe in capital punishment, either. That doesn’t mean they’re opposed to the rights of crime victims. They just believe that life should be taken only by God, not people.
Must we kill to prevent there being any wicked? This is to make both parties wicked instead of one. –Blaise Pascal, 17th century Catholic theologian, mathematician, scientist
Many people are furious with Pope Francis’ apparent lack of coherence on Russia’s war in Ukraine. He said he appreciates the right of nations like Ukraine to defend themselves but also maintains that there is no such thing as a just war.
The reason for the mixed signals is that the Pope is willing to say almost anything toward the goal of a negotiated end to the killing.
George Bernard Shaw, not the most religious 20th-century thinker, nevertheless wrote a sentence that seemed to reflect this attitude toward both motherhood and war: It is long and painful to create life; it is short and easy to steal the life others have made.
Pro-choice people like me don’t always hear pro-lifers when they talk about their beliefs. We should. Abortion opponents may not hear the logic-based complaints of those who want abortion available, either. They should, too.
For instance, the Vatican has actively opposed enslavement of Christians since the days of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Renaissance, and of non-Christians for the last 300 years or so.
But if we force someone to carry a future human in her body for nine months, isn’t that slavery?
There are several often-accepted medical reasons to terminate a pregnancy, such as ectopic pregnancies and other unsustainable or dangerous conditions. But beyond those, there’s the significant question of what some people can compel other people to do.
We can’t force anyone to work without compensation, even in prison. Forcing pregnancy on someone seems worse: It’s committing them to a nine-month, 24-7 term of hazardous, unpaid employment. And then, responsibility for an unwanted child.
Anti-abortionists shake their heads when women talk about bans robbing them of “control of our own bodies.”
Their confused response: “We’re not talking about your bodies, it’s the bodies of the babies we care about.”
Pro-life adherents maintain that over the last 49 years of federally-protected abortion, many great men and women may have been lost to the world for never having been born.
That only happened in the alternate universe of abortion being illegal. But in our universe, women definitely accomplished things they wouldn't have if they were compelled to carry pregnancies to term and give birth. The nation may be richer for those women’s opportunities than for any good works that might have been accomplished by speculative children they didn’t have.
As the 20-year anniversary of the 1973 Roe v Wade decision approached, crime in the United States began to decline and stayed in decline. We don’t know if that was because fewer unwanted children were born, and those less-loved kids didn’t grow up to commit crimes and other antisocial behavior.
But we can do the math and project that a greater percentage of much-loved children came to the Earth than had before, and they, their mothers and other American women had better opportunities because of planned parenthood.
We can’t credibly speculate about what might have been. But we know what is.
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