Tuesday, November 30, 2021

An anti-abortion argument

1. Infants, however undeveloped, are considered persons whose lives are protected by law.
2. Fetuses differ from infants in four ways represented by the acromym SLED. The differ in size, in level of development, in their environment, and in their dependency.
3. Size is not a morally relevant difference when it comes to the right to life. The fact that I am bigger than my wife, but smaller than Shaq, doesn’t affect the right to life that we all possess.
4. The unborn is less developed than an infant, but I am more developed than an infant. So this can’t be a basis for discrimination with respect to the right to life.

5. The unborn in a different environment from an infant. It’s inside a womb, and the infant is outside the womb. But this is not a relevant difference. We would consider a law silly that said you can’t kill me inside my house, but you can kill me outside my front door.
6. Degree of dependency is not a relevant difference. Toddlers are more dependent than adolescents, but does that mean that an adolescent has a greater right to life than does a toddler? An elderly person becomes more dependent with time, but we don’t’ question the right to life of the elderly, do we?
7. All beginning points for the right to life, except for conception, are matters of degree, of a person having something that you can have more or less of. But that raises the question of how much is enough.  You either are conceived or not conceived, but you can have more or less of the SLED properties. Therefore, conception is the relevant difference that confers a right to life. 

26 comments:

B. Prokop said...

This is one issue where the toolbox analogy is most helpful. You can fashion all sorts of reasonable sounding arguments on both sides of this debate (recall what I wrote in another thread about "rationalizations"), but all these wonderful sounding arguments melt like a spring snow in the noonday sun at the sight of a newborn baby. When you realize that this object of irresistible love was inside the womb just moments ago, then all the gas is let out of the "pro-choice" position.

I say this from immediate personal experience. My daughter just gave birth on Tuesday to my second grandchild, whom I cannot look upon without helpless tears of joy. I dare anyone to say it would have been all right to murder this baby on Monday, on the legal grounds that he had not yet passed through the birth canal.

Unknown said...

Great post! An apologist and graduate from Biola University spoke at my high-school on these same points in the same way. Some of my thoughts:

The problem with nearly every pro-abortion argument is the denial of the child's rights and being human. While calling "it" and "infant" or a "fetus", they say it is not human...but how is a "fetus" not a person, if a baby is a person, and an infant is an unborn baby? What makes the baby any less human if it is just smaller? What excuses man-slaughter? Child-slaughter? Would not that child defend its own life for itself if it could? Is this not killing someone who is innocent while it is still easy to do so, taking advantage of their weakness, before they could grow up to become like you and desire to live and defend their life?

In every case, arguments in favor of abortion should be considered with the child's personhood in mind.

When they say, "but if you don't provide abortions, then women will do it themselves in some back ally and hurt themselves."

they should consider the reality that this means, "if you don't provide abortions, then you will not be helping women commit child slaughter. And we really should help them, since, you know, children are less important than the women's feelings, especially in cases such as rape where they don't want the kid. Why wouldn't we help people kill children? Why don't we try to justify all child murders by pointing to the diminutive cases in which women actually have to chose between life and giving life?"

If those considering abortion did everything in their power to be consistent with the implications of the act of abortion, there would be no need for abortions. If every abortion doctor spent his life fighting for the rights of the unborn, providing for them, etc....there would be no need for abortion. There is always a way to save a life. With the same effort we would save a Mark Watney from death on Mars, we would save every last child...but this can't happen if we continue to deny their personhood. It is tantamount to the human right's issue of racism, whereby one considers another non-human for lacking some trait they cannot control--in the same way, abortion sympathizers advocate for rejection of the humanity of unborn children, and slaughter then en mass as an act of genocide.

Limited Perspective said...

Aside from Bob's argument from experience, I have found the argument of what is wrong with murder to be the most persuasive: What is wrong with murder? It deprives someone of the rest of their life. Smarter people than I have built that into an argument that has convinced me that abortion is wrong.

But, what can I do?

If there was someone shooting up a local school from a position near my home, I have a couple of rifles to grab and wouldn't hesitate to take them out. At the same time, I wouldn't ever consider violence against an abortion clinic. Perhaps a good pro-life philosopher can help me justify my instinct. Or not.

Ilíon said...

Dave Duffy: "If there was someone shooting up a local school from a position near my home, I have a couple of rifles to grab and wouldn't hesitate to take them out. At the same time, I wouldn't ever consider violence against an abortion clinic."

Ah, but do you jump on the tutt-tutt bandwagon to condemn someone when she (*) decides to "take out" the local abortionist as she (*) prepares to perform her (*) first murder of the day?


(*) I'm mocking "gender inclusive language"; the point being that the pseudo-conservative pussies who use it (yes, among others, I am looking at you, Jason Pratt) would *never* use 'she' in that situation.

Ilíon said...

Abortion is murder. Ergo, abortionists are murderers, exactly on moral par with hit-men. And, ergo, those who procure abortions are murderers, exactly on moral par with those who hire hit-men.

Victor Reppert said...

Do you remember this moment in the Trump campaign? What I think it actually showed is that Trump was adopting the pro-life position to get the nomination of a pro-life party, and wasn't familiar with it.

http://www.npr.org/2016/03/30/472444293/trump-calls-for-punishing-women-who-have-abortions-then-backtracks

Ilíon said...

^ What *I* take that to be is that a "morerate" (which is to say, a "soft liberal") New Yorker, who had never given much thought at all to the issue was asked a "Gotcha" ... and answered it by the inherent logical implications of the premise that "Abortion is murder" ... and then found himself vilified by the leftists (as per natural) *and* by the professional "pro-life" establishment.

Limited Perspective said...

Do you remember this moment Victor?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKp3k_8h8Qc

Stone cold Hillary

Ilíon said...

Quoting Crooked Hillary from the video: "[As a senator, I voted *against* the bill to criminalize "aborting" already-born "fetuses"] because, Roe v Wade very clearly sets out there can be regulations on abortion do long as the life *and the health *mother** are taken into account. And when I voted as a senator, I did not think that that was the case."

Isn't it odd? The murderess is a "mother", but the baby human being whom she hired some butcher to murder is not even a human being. Maybe it was really a kitten. Is *that* where "crazy cat ladies" come from?

I'm no doctor, but it sure seems to me that forcing a breach-birth delivery, *then* pausing the delivery so you can punch a hole in the infant's skull and evacuate the brain, then crush the skull, before finally removing the now-dead baby human being is a tad more dangerous to "the life and the health mother" than a normal delivery of a live baby would be.

Also, isn't it odd that to the pro-aborts, *any* regulations on abortion mills -- such as requiring the hired murderer to have admitting rights at a local hospital -- endanger "the life and the health mother"?

bmiller said...

It's been a long time since Victor posted a pro-life argument without commenting (himself) how dumb or misguided pro-life people are.

Thanks for the memories.

bmiller said...

Oops. Guess I missed that he reposted this as a hit job on Trump.

Silly me.

Starhopper said...

I'm glad Victor re-posted this, if only to remind certain persons of the fact that I have always been anti-abortion. What I am opposed to is the politicization of the issue. As I said just a few minutes ago on another thread, it is a category error to do so. If there is no room for compromise, then it does not belong in politics... and the two sides on this issue appear to be irreconcilable.

Victor Reppert said...

I didn't repost this as a hit job on Trump. I teach students, and run into people, who are knee-jerk pro-choicers who can't see how anyone but an idiot or a male chauvinist pig could possibly be pro-life. I'm pretty averse to abortion and am particularly disturbed by the move away from "safe, legal, and rare" to the "shout your abortion" mentality, combined with the claim that it isn't enough to be pro-choice, you should actually be pro-abortion. Some who are pro-choice view fetuses as worthy of moral consideration, which means that even if they oppose legal restriction on abortion, they still believe that fetuses have moral standing and that some serious justification is required to be able to say that any abortion is morally acceptable,. Others hold the fetuses have no standing and that an abortion should be no more cause for moral concern than removing a mole from your nose. I find such a position horrifying, but it is becoming more popular--perhaps as an overreaction to pro-life successes. But before you can debate this issue you have to understand the opposing sides. The abortion issue inevitably impinges on politics, but both sides have turned this into a political issue primarily, and I think that is harmful.

Starhopper said...

You are correct, Victor, that both "sides" desperately need to make a good faith attempt to understand the other's point of view. I understand the extremist pro-life stance. If a fetus is indeed the same as any person you see walking around, then to terminate its life could very well be a criminal act. But I also understand the por-choice position. If a fetus is not a person, then there ought not to be anything standing in the way of terminating it.

The anger and vitriol that both sides engage in today does no good for anyone, and the demonization of the other side ("Baby Killers!" "War on Women!) is extremely harmful (and dangerous) to our society.

bmiller said...

I find such a position horrifying, but it is becoming more popular--perhaps as an overreaction to pro-life successes.

I think it's becoming more "popular" because the "safe, legal, and rare" people are revealing that they really didn't mean "rare" in the first place now that there is a chance of it actually becoming rare. Not all anyway.

Some who are pro-choice view fetuses as worthy of moral consideration, which means that even if they oppose legal restriction on abortion, they still believe that fetuses have moral standing and that some serious justification is required to be able to say that any abortion is morally acceptable,.

Who exactly is weighing the justification to see if an abortion is morally acceptable? Who exactly is requiring this justification? What are the moral consequences if the abortion was not morally justified and what is the compensation to the wronged? No one I guess.

I wonder if those who have this view consider themselves off the moral hook for tut-tutting the poor moral decisions of those mythical people whom they've never met and personally tut-tutted not to choose wisely and who chose foolishly.

bmiller said...

fetuses as worthy of moral consideration

Oh and what is exactly does "moral consideration" mean?

bmiller said...

I want to understand what all these things mean to "moderate" pro-choice people.

Will I ever find out?

bmiller said...

Thought that my comment wasn't being posted so I kept trying 2 more times.

Found out it was a Blogger problem and started deleting the redundant posts. After the first deletion I stopped. Figured God wanted me to leave the redundant posts.

So I'm leaving them.

What's the answer? Will I ever find out?

Victor Reppert said...

What it means is that if you abort a fetus you are giving up something from a moral perspective. You are taking something away that, all things being equal, ought to continue to exist. For example, if you lie, you are doing something bad. Not necessarily wrong, in that there may be circumstances that make lying the morally best choice, but your lie still inflicts a harm. You need something substantial, (sheltering Jews from the Nazis would be the strongest example, though some would argue you don't need something that strong) to justify lying.

In the case of homicide, the standards are very stringent for when that is permissible, and we use the criminal law to punish those who commit homicides that do not meet that standard. Pro-lifers think the same standards should apply to abortions, which means that no abortions except (maybe) those that endanger the mother's life are justified, and those who engage in abortion, at least the abortion providers, should be punished by criminal law. (They do not normally, for example, hold that women who get abortion should be prosecuted, and they don't typically think that abortion should be a capital crime even if it is a crime. But if you take the pro-life position to its logical conclusion, abortion should be punished to the same degree as other homicides.)

Moderate pro-choicers see a lower threshold for morally justifiable abortion than for justifiable homicide, but it's still a serious threshold, some of these pro-choicers think that few abortions meet the moral standards.

bmiller said...

Thanks for the reply Victor.

What it means is that if you abort a fetus you are giving up something from a moral perspective. You are taking something away that, all things being equal, ought to continue to exist.

What is the "something" you are giving up and/or taking away that makes it a moral question? Why ought it continue to exist? The language is so amorphous there is nothing there to either agree with or disagree with.

If you ask me why lying is wrong, I can answer that lying is wrong because it is a sin against/perverts justice to your fellow man who deserves justice.

Who do these moderates think are being deprived of deserved justice when the unborn are being aborted?

Moderate pro-choicers see a lower threshold for morally justifiable abortion than for justifiable homicide, but it's still a serious threshold, some of these pro-choicers think that few abortions meet the moral standards.

There are laws against unjustifiable homicide that these moderates apparently approve of. Yet they oppose any laws with any threshold in the case of abortion. So it looks like these moderates simply don't think any homicide is committed in an abortion under any circumstances. So I don't think there's any reason for moderates to compare their stance on abortion to homicide at all. It seems to them it's a category mistake.

Which brings us back to the question of why they think this is a moral question at all if there is no human life involved.

Victor Reppert said...

Homicide is certainly not the one wrong one can commit. The lives of some beings who are not fully-fledged person have value, to be sure, even if they lack the value of fully-fledged persons. If something is a potential person, the killing them for any reason or no reason seems to be a bad thing.

bmiller said...

Homicide is certainly not the one wrong one can commit.

Certainly. But moderates compare this serious threshold to homicide. If there is no human being or person involved then there are no grounds to compare it homicide at all. I wonder why they would make that comparison.

So it seems conclusive that moderates don't believe homicide is involved in any way shape or form in an abortion. Instead the consider the unborn an unperson or partially-fledged person. I think I know why it is wrong to kill a person. I still don't know why it's wrong to kill an unperson. Maybe I value an unperson and you don't. What makes either of us wrong from an objective moral viewpoint?

Victor Reppert said...

Why would it be objectively wrong only to kill persons?

bmiller said...

Of course I think it's objectively wrong to kill innocent human beings whether other people claim they are persons or not so I'm probably the wrong person to ask. But asking that question of me won't help me understand the moderate stance toward the unperson.

What, according to moderates, makes it objectively wrong to kill unpersons?

I assume all people would claim it is objectively wrong to kill persons. That's obviously not the case with unpersons, even on the pro-choice side.

bmiller said...

Once again, I understand I am committing an unjustice to a person when I lie to them or kill them. Who, according to moderates, suffers an injustice if an unperson is intentionally killed by a person?

bmiller said...

The problem with the position as I see it, is that once one grants that the unborn are things that are not "persons" and that only "persons" have an objective right to life, you are left with the conclusion that "unpersons" do not have an objective right to life.

To assert that unpersons have "value" concedes that their "value" depends on the particular person that is doing the judging. You may pay $500 to see the Stones in concert while I wouldn't pay 10 cents. That's just how valuation works.

If I were pro-choice, I would wonder who you thought you were to tell me what to do with my body when I wasn't hurting anyone (which you even admit).

Maybe people are leaving the ranks of the "moderates" since they realize it makes them into busybodies with no compelling reason to criticize people making their own decisions without causing harm.