Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Intellectually Honest Pro-Life Strategy

I think pro-life advocacy is, from a utilitarian perspective, a pretty weak way of saving lives, even fetal lives. Three pro-life Republican Presidents have not saved a single fetus. They cut off funding for Planned Parenthood in one county in Texas and it INCREASED the abortion rate. I do believe in a 24-hour waiting period, and having women view an ultrasound, and then choose. That is both pro-choice and pro-life. The only legal arguments that have ever been presented against Roe v. Wade don't argue that the fetus has a right to life and we can prove it. All they do is try to deny that women have a right to privacy in reproductive matters, allowing abortion to be a matter of democratic choice. But that seems absurd, and opposed to the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, because it would imply that fetuses have a right to life in Iowa but not in New York.

The only way to get an intellectually honest pro-life outcome out of the Supreme court would be to argue that fetuses have a provable right to life and then argue on the basis of the Equal Protection Clause that their lives should be protected. But if that is the case, we really have never had a pro-life justice on the Supreme Court, and we have never had a President with an intellectually honest pro-life strategy.

23 comments:

Starhopper said...

"provable right to life"

I happen to believe that a preborn child has a right to life (on the basis of the fetus being a human being), but how will it ever be possible to prove that? It's a philosophical, not a scientific, debate. I've discussed the issue with rational people who deny the humanity of the fetus, and although I do not agree with them, I've heard some damn good arguments in favor of such a position.

Legion of Logic said...

"I've heard some damn good arguments in favor of such a position."

I've not. What I encounter is along the lines of:

"Then masturbation should be illegal!"

"It's part of the woman's body!"

"How many kids have you adopted!?"

"Should we protect cancer cells then!?"

"With cloning, all cells are potential life and worthy of protection, so don't get a haircut!"

"We can't prove when life exists!"

And so on. I have yet to hear a single rational rebuttal to "A fetus is part of the continuum of the human life cycle which begins at the first cell of the new being. It is the exact same organism as the adult that results from it, and the adult is a human life, therefore the fetus is as well."

One Brow said...

"A fetus is part of the continuum of the human life cycle which begins at the first cell of the new being. It is the exact same organism as the adult that results from it, and the adult is a human life, therefore the fetus is as well."

I'll go one better: a fetus is a part of a continuum of the biological life cycle that goes back billions of years and in different directions. If we have to treat every member of that continuum as having exactly the same rights, anyone who does not produce their own food internally will starve.

Cancer is human life every bit as much as a fetus is, and separate from the organism that the original host is, but I'm sure you are not opposed to killing cancer cells.

One Brow said...

They cut off funding for Planned Parenthood in one county in Texas and it INCREASED the abortion rate.

As any rational person would expect.

Again, a fetus having a right to life is not the same as having a right to the usage of a woman's womb. I remember bmiller feels the opposite way, to the degree that a dying person would have a right to one of his kidneys, but most pro-lifers won't explicitly say that the woman's rights are subordinate to the fetus's.

bmiller said...

I had concluded that One Brow is dishonest some time ago.
This last statement is further proof.

Starhopper said...

"I've not [heard good arguments in favor of such a position]."

Well, we're in agreement that we are not convinced by such arguments. But surely there can be good arguments for erroneous positions. The best argument (which, mind you, I do not agree with) for the fetus not being a human being is that the ingredients which make up a cake are not a cake until it comes out of the oven.

I think that's a very good argument. I still disagree with it, but mainly because I believe there are much better arguments for the opposite conclusion.

.

Chad Handley said...

"The best argument (which, mind you, I do not agree with) for the fetus not being a human being is that the ingredients which make up a cake are not a cake until it comes out of the oven."

With all due respect, I think that's a horrible argument. First, it's perfectly licit to do anything to a bowl of cake ingredients that it's okay to do to a cake. We don't treat cakes and their ingredients as being different in kind. It's no better than saying an egg isn't a chicken. Who cares? I'll eat both of them. But it makes no sense to say it's okay to eat an egg, but a chicken is in some entirely different moral category. That at some undefinable an egg becomes something metaphysically distinct and it's no longer okay to eat it. Can you think of any other entity anywhere in the world where it's okay to kill it up until a certain point, and then no longer okay to kill it? This ludicrous metaphysical shell game is only applied to human children.

Secondly, many of the standards used by pro-choice advocates to establish personhood (viability, consciousness, etc) arguably don't apply to newborns, either. Just like a bowl of ingredients isn't a cake, a newborn isn't independently viable, fully conscious, etc. So on the "it isn't a cake yet" logic, if it's okay to kill a fetus it ought to be okay to kill a newborn. Stephen Pinker bites the bullet on this and admits it ought to be okay to kill a child up until the age of about 3 or 4, when it is first capable of fully displaying all the attributes of personhood. (I don't think he draws the conclusion, but I also don't see how he avoids it, that this would mean that mentally ill or handicapped people are somehow lesser persons than others.)

I could go on but if this is the best argument the pro-choice side has, I don't think they have anything that can be termed "strong." I'm with Legion on this one. Forget never having read a good argument against the personhood of a fetus, I've never read an argument against the personhood of a fetus that wasn't absolutely terrible.

Joe Hinman said...

I still believe that RU486 could solve (does not kill a fetus) the whole problem. The only reason the conservatives and fudnies wont push that is because abortion is such a great organizer tool they don't want to solve it.

Joe Hinman said...

One Brow said...
"A fetus is part of the continuum of the human life cycle which begins at the first cell of the new being. It is the exact same organism as the adult that results from it, and the adult is a human life, therefore the fetus is as well."

I'll go one better: a fetus is a part of a continuum of the biological life cycle that goes back billions of years and in different directions. If we have to treat every member of that continuum as having exactly the same rights, anyone who does not produce their own food internally will starve.

cutting your fingernails is sin by that logic,

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
I had concluded that One Brow is dishonest some time ago.
This last statement is further proof.


Believe it or not, that is how I honestly remember our last conversation. If you would like to clarify further, I will certainly alter my opinion. What is your reasoning for saying that a fetus has to right to use a woman's body against her will, but not other person has the right to make use of another person's body?

One Brow said...

Joe Hinman said...
cutting your fingernails is sin by that logic,

Fingernails and hair are not alive. Trimming off a wart would be a better example. Outside of that, I agree. However, I'm not the one using a "continuum of life" to support my position, I'm criticizing that argument.

bmiller said...

@Joe,

I still believe that RU486 could solve (does not kill a fetus) the whole problem.

Do you think it would have been morally wrong for Mary to use RU486 to abort her child?

Starhopper said...

"With all due respect, I think that's a horrible argument."

First of all, I said it was (to me) an unconvincing argument. Where we seem to differ is that I regard many arguments as "good", even when they lead to erroneous conclusions.

It's a reasoned argument with no false premises, and as far I can determine,no fallacies. Where I part with the argument is that I counter with "apples and oranges" - people are not cakes. (And you know what? From a strictly Logical perspective, that ain't such a good argument either.)

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
Do you think it would have been morally wrong for Mary to use RU486 to abort her child?

Would it have been wrong for God to force Mary to pregnancy against Mary's will?

Starhopper said...

"Would it have been wrong for God to force Mary to pregnancy against Mary's will?"

Absolutely, it would have been wrong. That's precisely why He sent the angel Gabriel to get her permission. Mary's "Let it be" (i.e., "I consent.") was the beginning of Mankind's redemption.

bmiller said...

Believe it or not, that is how I honestly remember our last conversation. If you would like to clarify further,

How do you like that for chutzpa. He lies about my position and then offers to let me defend myself against the things he made up. Like I said. Dishonest, and now creepy.

One Brow said...

bmiller,

So I went back to check on the last argument. You think that if I forcibly connect myself to you, without your consent, so I can use your kidneys, than you can not disconnect yourself, even if you have a small risk of death by staying connected. However, if we are not already connected, you think you have no moral obligation at all. You see no disconnect between these positions.

Better?

bmiller said...

He just can't help lying.

Here was my exact quote:
I have the right to say no and resist your intention. But an unborn child has no intention to harvest any organs nor intention to harm the mother in any way at all. By the way, it simply doesn't follow that being pregnant is the same as someone taking your kidney by force. Good heavens.

We're done.

One Brow said...

bmiller,

If I connect myself to you, then I have no intention to harvest organs nor to cause you any harm. So, you don't have the right to resist my intentions, according to your logic, correct?

Legion of Logic said...

Let's fully explore the kidney analogy.

Let's say Frank intentionally engages in "Behavior X". Behavior X is known to have risks, but Frank chooses to engage in it anyway. Lo and behold, the risk becomes realized, and due to Frank's intentional behavior, Wendy is temporarily dependent upon one of Frank's kidneys to survive. Note that Wendy had nothing to do with Frank's choices - no input, no realization he was doing Behavior X, no ability to avoid the outcome. Wendy is completely innocent, and then through no action of her own, she is dependent upon Frank's kidney for nine months in order to live.

Would any rational, moral person claim that Frank has no responsibility to Wendy?

One Brow said...

Legion of Logic,

Are you arguing that Frank should be forced by law to to allow Wendy to connected to him?

Legion of Logic said...

One Brow,

Are you arguing that Frank has no obligation to help the innocent Wendy survive the situation he put her in through his own intentional behavior?

One Brow said...

Legion of Logic,

Under our current system of laws, Frank can be forced by law to help Wendy monetarily.

There is a difference between "obligation" and "forced by law" regarding Wendy being directly connected to Frank. If you are only arguing for the former, I have no disagreement.