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V. Answering Pro-abortion Rhetoric

[The following material is presented here, with permission, from the Center for Bioethical Reform. Priests for Life is grateful to the authors, Gregg Cunningham and Scott Klusendorf.]

I. Abortion Is Good for Society

II. Unborn Are Not Fully Human

III. All Ethical Choices Are Equally Valid

IV. Personal Attacks

V. Abortion Is Needed for the Hard Cases

VI. Even if the unborn are human, abortion is justified

I. Abortion Is Good for Society

A.  If abortion is restricted, women will again die by the thousands from dangerous back-alley abortions

B . Women will still seek abortions, despite the law. Hence, it's best to make sure they can do so safely and legally

C. Abortion should remain legal so that poor women can have the same access to the practice as rich women do

D. Abortion is a safe and simple procedure

E. Women should not have to bear children they cannot afford to feed

F. Abortion reduces child abuse by eliminating unwanted pregnancies

G. Abortion is needed to control overpopulation

 

A. If abortion is restricted, women will again die by the thousands from dangerous back-alley abortions

1. This argument begs the question: it assumes the unborn are not human. Otherwise, this argument is tantamount to saying, "Because some people will die attempting to kill others, the state should make it safe and legal for them to do so." As Professor Schwarz points out, this is not really an argument for abortion (i.e. it does nothing to show that abortion does not murder a child or that the choice being offered is morally justified), but is a kind of veiled threat: "Give us choice or else!" Its appeal is psychological, not moral. (The Moral Question of Abortion, Loyola University Press, 1990, p.141)

But inciting fear over the consequence of restricting an evil behavior hardly justifies that behavior. To cite a recent example, racists once argued that equal treatment for blacks would result in terrible riots and cause untold suffering among law abiding citizens. But this in no way proved that blacks did not have equal rights or that a policy of racial discrimination could be morally justified. The same is true with abortion, as pro-abortion philosopher Mary Anne Warren, questioning the validity of the back-alley argument, readily admits:

The fact that restricting access to abortion has tragic side effects does not, in itself, show that restrictions are unjustified, since murder is wrong regardless of the consequences of prohibiting it. ("On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion," in The Problem of Abortion, Joel Feinberg, et al, Wadsworth, 1984, p.103)

2. The claim that thousands of women died annually from illegal abortions prior to Roe is completely false and cannot be supported by any reliable statistical data:

• In 1972, the year prior to legalization, the Centers for Disease Control recorded 39 deaths from illegal abortion, not 5,000 to 10,000.

• Dr. Christopher Tietze, a leading pro-abortion statistician for Planned Parenthood, The Centers for Disease Control, etc., calls the claim of 5,000-10,000 deaths a year prior to legalization "unmitigated nonsense." Noting that 45,000 women of reproductive age die each year from all causes, Tietze states, "It is inconceivable that so large a number as 5,000-10,000 are from one source" (Harvard Divinity School, Kennedy Foundation International Conference on Abortion Washington D.C., 1967. See also Scientific America, Vo1.220 [1969] pp.21,23).

• Dr. Herbert Rather, a Public Health expert, noted in 1968 that 25,000 women die each year from cancer, lung and heart complications while 7,000 die from auto accidents. These figures do not even account for all the other possible causes of death. Rather told Child and Family magazine (Winter, 1968) that given these statistics, the claim of 5-10,000 deaths a year from illegal abortion was nearly impossible.

• Dr. Bernard Nathanson, co-founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL):

"How many deaths were we talking about when abortion was illegal? In NARAL, we generally emphasized the drama of the individual case, not the mass statistics, but when we spoke of the latter, it was always '5000 to 10,000 deaths a year.' I confess I knew the figure was totally false, and I suppose the others did too if they stopped to think of it. But in the morality of our revolution, it was a useful figure, widely accepted, so why go out of the way to correct it with honest statistics. The overriding concern was to get the laws eliminated, and anything within reason that had to be done was permissible" (Aborting America, Doubleday Pub. p.193)

3. Prior to Roe, the number of abortion related deaths had been declining steadily:

• Dr. Andre Hellegers (late Prof. of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Georgetown University) pointed out in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee (April 25, 1974) that improved medical care and use of penicillin resulted in a drop from 1,231 deaths in 1942, to 133 deaths in 1968.

• Dr. Thomas Hilgers and Dennis Horan compiled a highly reliable study in 1981 using data from the U.S. Department of Vital Statistics. They note that deaths from illegal abortion dropped from 501 in 1940, to 58 in 1970. (Hilgers, et al "An Objective Model for Estimating Criminal Abortions and Its Implications for Public Policy," in New Perspectives on Human Abortion, University Publications, 1981).

4. There is no reliable statistical data to support the claim of a million illegal abortions a year (in the U.S.) prior to Roe:

Reasonable estimates range between 39,000 and 210,000 annually, with a mean of 98,000. (Hilgers,et al New Perspectives on Human Abortion ).

• Daniel Callahan (pro-abortion researcher from the Hastings Center): "The plausibility of the very high estimates of illegal abortions each year does not appear very strong." (Abortion: Law, Choice & Morality, Macmillan, 1970 p.135)

5. Even abortion advocates admit that prior to Roe, abortions were not performed by doctors with rusty coat hangers:

• In 1960, Mary Calderone, then medical director of Planned Parenthood, pointed out that Dr. Kinsey had rightly demonstrated that 84% to 87% of all illegal abortions were performed by licensed physicians in good standing with the law. Writing in the American Journal of Public Health (July 1960) Calderone stated:

"...90% of all illegal abortions are done by physicians. Call them what you will, abortionists or anything else, they are still physicians, trained as such; and many are in good standing in their communities. Whatever trouble arises usually comes after self-induced abortions, which comprise approximately 8 percent, or with the very small percentage that go to some kind of non-medical abortionist. Another corollary fact: physicians of impeccable standing are referring their patients for these illegal abortions to colleagues they know are willing to perform them."

• According to Kinsey's research, only 8% of all illegal abortions were self-induced. Of those abortions that were operative in nature (i.e. involving the use of surgical instruments--knives, probes, etc.) only 1% were self-induced. The other 9% of self induced abortions involved less hazardous methods (Paul Gebhard, et al, Pregnancy, Birth and Abortion, Harber & Brothers, 1958, pp.194,197. Gebhard was Kinsey's chief researcher).

• Kinsey researchers conclude by downplaying the exaggerated dangers of illegal abortion:

"In our sample, ill effects after an induced abortion appear less frequently than had been previously assumed." (Gebhard, et al p.214)

"There is a considerable quantity of material in the literature concerning the horrors of abortions and their deleterious consequences. Our own data shows that in three fourths of the white non-prison sample cases there were no unfavorable sequelae of any sort reported. Among single women about two thirds reported no unfavorable results, whereas among married women, 82% reported none." (p.212)

6. Current restrictions on abortion have not resulted in death or injury to women. When the Hyde Amendment cut off federal funds for abortion in 1976, liberals worked themselves into near hysteria claiming that poor women would die by the thousands from back-alley abortions. A literal bloodbath was predicted. But in 1978, Dr. Willard Cates of the Centers for Disease Control (who had done much to create the hysteria) conceded rather candidly, "The bloodbath many predicted simply is not happening. Our numbers don't show that there has been any mass migration to illegal procedures." (Washington Post, Feb. 16, 1978)

7. As Stephan Schwarz points out in The Moral Question of Abortion, the true response to back-alley abortions is to be outraged at all abortions, to condemn all abortions--not to propose one kind (legal) in place of another (illegal).

B . Women will still seek abortions, despite the law. Hence, it's best to make sure they can do so safely and legally

1. This argument begs the question: it assumes the unborn are not human. Otherwise, the abortion advocate would be arguing, "Since some people will murder others anyway, despite the law, the state should make it safe and legal for them to do so."

2. It is trivial to claim that because the law cannot stop all abortions, prohibitions should not exist:

• Laws against rape do not stop all rape, but no one is arguing that we should repeal these laws.

• Laws against drunk driving do not stop all drunks from driving under the influence, but it's hard to imagine someone arguing, "People are going to drive drunk despite the law, so let's make it safe and legal for them to do so."

• Laws banning racial discrimination are hard to enforce and are often disobeyed. But that hasn't led the NAACP or the ACLU to call for their repeal. Instead, these organizations continue to call for more tax payer money and tougher laws to fight both real and imaginary racists.

The fact is that no law can stop all illegal behavior. Hence, the issue is not, "How many people are breaking the law?" but "Is there a sound moral principle (such as protecting human life) that justifies the law?" If there is, the law remains valid in principle despite widespread disobedience. Writes Professor Schwarz:

Perhaps what the objection has in mind is that there would be widespread resistance to outlawing abortion. That should not be a factor in deciding law. "We will protect you as long as it is not too difficult to do so, as long as it meets with popular approval." Imagine saying this to a minority suffering discrimination. Persons must be given equality before the law because it is demanded by justice, not because (or only if) it is easy. (Moral Question of Abortion, p.209)

3. Laws restricting abortion were quite effective prior to Roe. Reasonable estimates (see above) on the numbers of illegal abortions prior to 1973 range from a low of 39,000 to a high of 210,000 annually. Once the practice was legalized, however, totals jumped to over 1.6 million per year. Hence, prior restrictions were effective at limiting the number of abortions. (Hilgers, et al New Perspectives on Human Abortion, p.78)

C. Abortion should remain legal so that poor women can have the same access to the practice as rich women do

1. This piece of pro-abortion rhetoric assumes that abortion is a moral good that poor women will be denied if the practice is restricted. But this begs the question since the morality of abortion is precisely what is at issue. As Beckwith points out, the question "Are the unborn human?" must be answered (and not merely assumed) before the question of fairness is even asked. "Equal opportunity to eliminate an innocent human being is rarely if ever a moral good ...It is not true that the vices of the wealthy are virtues simply because the poor are denied them." (p.59)

2. Consider also the bizarre moral precepts we could derive from such reasoning:

• "The smoking of crack cocaine should be legalized because, after all, the poor cannot afford such a glamorous drug as can the rich."

• "It's wrong to restrict child pornography because the rich can still obtain these materials illegally while the poor cannot."

As Stephan Schwarz points out, "If abortion is the horrible crime that it has been shown to be, then neither rich nor poor women should be allowed to perpetrate it. They should be made equal not by allowing the poor to kill their preborn babies, but by a more vigorous enforcement to prevent the rich from doing so." (The Moral Question of Abortion, p.211)

3. It is blatantly untrue that, prior to Roe, illegal abortions were mostly sought by poor, uneducated minority women.

• According to Kinsey's research (Gebhard, et al ), white married women from the upper classes were most likely to resort to illegal abortion:

"Although the public is accustomed to think of induced abortion as a desperate resort primarily of the unmarried, actually it is clear that the vast majority of illegal abortions are performed upon married women. (p.119)

"Among grade school and high school educated women, the Negro wives have lower rates of induced abortion than do whites, despite the fact that the Negro wives have higher conception rates ....

"One is left with the impression that the Negro wives of less than college education are as a group quite fertile ...and rather opposed to induced abortion." (pp.165-166)

• Blacks who did abort were (like their white counterparts) better educated and of higher economic status than those who did not:

"The induced abortion rate [for blacks] is much higher among the better educated ...This sequence is in keeping with our finding that among white non-prison women the better educated, when pregnant, resort to induced abortion more than do the less educated. (Gebhard, et al p.160)

"Among single women of lesser education, the Negroes are far more likely to have live births and less likely to resort to induced abortions ....

"The better educated have a higher proportion of their conceptions terminated [from induced abortion]. The Negro college educated women aborted 81% of their pregnancies (essentially the same percentage as for white college women), the high school educated women 25%, and the grade school 19%. These last two figures are much lower than among comparable categories of white women." (p.162)

• Women who did abort (both white and non-white) did so primarily to preserve their "status" or enhance their own lifestyles:

"As a rule induced abortion is strongly connected with status striving. Abortion is practiced to preserve reputation, to provide much for a few children rather than a little for many children, to maintain or raise a level of living, and the like. These motives are weak or even absent in the people of the lowest social stratum." (p.181)

D. Abortion is a safe and simple procedure

1. Abortion advocates are in the privileged position of being able to claim this is true without having to report data that may show otherwise. Thanks to a "zone of privacy" established by the courts, clinics can hide any information damaging to their trade. Hence, the only information available on abortion complications is that which is voluntarily reported by the clinics.

2. Nonetheless, abortion is not safe--not because we question its safety, but because abortion advocates question its safety:

• American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology (8/89): Using a laparoscope (a camera inserted through the abdominal wall to observe the female organs), three noted abortionists examined the internal organs of women having just undergone first-trimester suction abortions. The camera picked up what often goes unnoticed (until complications develop later on), and the three abortionists concluded, "Most uterine perorations go unrecognized and untreated." In fact, these experts found that uterine perforations from first trimester procedures happen seven times more often than previously thought. Perforations of the uterus are dangerous for several reasons, most notably, they may provoke life-threatening internal bleeding or, equally as dangerous, leave scar tissue in the uterine wall that may "blow out" during a subsequent pregnancy. (Steven Kaali, et al, "The Frequency and Management of Uterine Perforations During First Trimester Abortions," American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 8/89, Vol. 161: pp.406-408)

Journal of the National Cancer Institute (11/2/94). The pro-abortion researchers conducting this study found that women under the age of 18 who abort their pregnancies at eight weeks gestation or beyond are 150% more likely to contract breast cancer by the age of 45 (only 13% of all breast cancers manifest by that age). Asked why they buried this fact in the fine print of a table, researchers responded, "We didn't want to alarm anyone before more research is done." (See Time, 11/7/94, p.61)

The study also found that for women who have had both an induced abortion under age 18 and a positive family history of breast cancer, the relative risk was infinity. (All 12 of the women in the study who fit this category had breast cancer.) The National Cancer Institute study is now the 25th peer reviewed study in the medical literature suggesting a link between abortion and breast cancer. (Janet Daling, et al, "Risk of Breast Cancer Among Young Women: Relationship to Induced Abortion," Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 11/2/94 Vo1.86: pp.1584-1592)

• RU 486: Misconceptions, Myths and Morals (Janice Raymond et al, Institute on Women and Technology, Cambridge MA.): As mentioned earlier, the list of contraindications and complications for this drug make it unsafe for nearly everyone. But even for those women who qualify for the drug, the procedure is anything but a simple "do it at home" abortion kit. Writes proabortion researcher Janice Raymond:

"The only thing private about RU 486 is that the final stage of the abortion, the expulsion of the embryo, often happens at home--or someplace else. To call this an at home abortion is deceptive, to say the least, since most of the treatment transpires at the clinic or hospital and is extremely medicalized. What actually happens at home can be an excruciatingly long wait for the embryo to be expelled from the uterus, accompanied by pain, bleeding, vomiting, nausea, and other complications that are drawn out over a substantially lengthy period of time, compared with a conventional abortion ....We are talking about a non-private, extensively medicalized, and complicated procedure." (Raymond, et al, pp.27-29)

• Edouard Sakiz (Chairman of Roussel Uclaf, the pharmaceutical company manufacturing RU 486) bluntly describes why the drug is not a panacea for women seeking a safe and easy abortion procedure:

"As abortifacient procedures go, RU 486 is not at all easy to use. In fact, it is more complex to use than the technique of vacuum extraction. True, no anesthetic is required. But a woman who wants to end her pregnancy has to 'live' with her abortion for at least a week using this technique. It's an appalling psychological ordeal" (Raymond, et al, pp.50-51)

• Abortion Practice (Warren Hern, pp. 103-4): Dr. Hern explains why abortion is anything but a safe, simple procedure devoid of any risks:

"A high level of operator skill is at least as important in abortion as it is in any surgical endeavor. Abortion is a blind procedure that proceeds by touch, awareness of the nuances of sensations provided by instruments, honesty and caution. While competent orientation in the performance of an abortion is essential, abortion, almost more than any other operation, demands experience to develop skill.

"Well-trained, highly experienced, and reputable gynecologists found, to their dismay, that when abortion became legal and they began performing them, the complication rates were frequently quite high. Certain competence in other aspects of pelvic surgery does not in itself assure competence in abortion.

"Operative competence in abortion comes first through observation of an experienced and highly competent practitioner; second through performance of early, uncomplicated abortion under direct supervision until confidence and smoothness is gained; and third through practice."

To further make his point, Dr. Hern quotes fellow abortionist Dr. William Rashbaum:

"When I first started doing abortions, I took my boards in obstetrics and gynecology and therefore knew I was competent to do it. After I had done my first few hundred, I realized how silly I had been in my previous viewpoint. After I had done a thousand, I thought I was an expert, but by the time I had done 5,000, I realized that I was learning a lot. At this point, having done somewhere around 12,000 procedures, I'm beginning to think I'm reasonably competent." (p.104)

And yet, by law, any licensed physician can perform abortions at any point in the pregnancy for any reason.

3. Abortion advocates have demonstrated that notwithstanding their rhetoric to the contrary, they really don't care about the safety of women:

• Despite Dr. Hern's observation that abortion is a "blind procedure" requiring a great deal of operator skill, abortion advocates spent the better part of 1994 pushing the Clinton Health Security Act that would have mandated that states allow nurse practitioners and midwives to perform the practice. Since 1990, the elimination of "Doctors-Only" laws has been a stock theme of leading abortion advocates:

"While most states do not allow physician assistants to perform abortions, abortion-rights advocates are trying to change that." ("Abortion Clinics Search for Doctors in Scarcity," by Sara Rime, New York Times, 4/31/93)

"Qualified nurses and physicians' assistants should be permitted to perform uncomplicated early abortions and to take up the slack from doctors." (Anna Quindlen, abortion advocate and columnist for the New York Times, 1/13/93 p.A-21)

"The use of non-physician providers should be pursued." (Dr. David Grimes, Obstetrics and Gynecology, 10/92, p.722)

"Mid-level clinicians such as physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and certified nurse midwives offer considerable promise for expanding the pool of qualified abortion providers." (National Abortion Federation, 1991)

"HSA [Clinton Health Security Act] would make other improvements in insurance coverage that would have important ramifications for reproductive health care coverage. It explicitly covers the services of "health professionals," not just those of physicians, and states would be prohibited from adopting arbitrary bans on the provision of services by non-physicians, such as nurse practitioners and nurse midwives." (Alan Guttmacher Institute, Washington memo, November 9,1993)

• Unfazed by the host of troubling contraindications for RU 486, feminists are demanding that the drug be sold over the counter to women everywhere--including in third-world countries where access to back up medical care is nonexistent. But as Janice Raymond points out, the drug is anything but easy, and is safe only when its use is strictly monitored by competent medical personnel--who are hard to come by in developing countries: (see page 200-210)

"There are a host of conditions, contraindications, and complications that expose the fallacy of the 'safe and effective' claims for RU 486/PG abortion. To begin, close medical supervision is necessary to establish the existence and length of pregnancy; to monitor bleeding and possibly perform a blood transfusion; to administer narcotic analgesics if women experience severe pain; to use ultrasound to determine complete expulsion of the embryo and tissue after the final treatment protocol; and to perform a conventional abortion if the chemical is incomplete and/or the pregnancy continues. Added to this fact is that many women do not seek--or have access to--medical treatment promptly enough for chemical abortions to work. (p.31)

"The abysmal safety statistics from conventional abortions in third world countries are often cited in defense of chemical abortion. But the RU 486/ PG method is as unacceptable in these countries for the same reasons as poorly performed conventional abortions--lack of trained personnel and supervision." (p.51)

Raymond goes on to say that the same abortion advocates who wail about the harm done to women in third world countries (by unscrupulous physicians) are quite willing to let these same women suffer from heavy bleeding, incomplete abortions and infection brought on by RU 486 (pp.51-52). In short, abortion advocates are playing politics with the lives of poor women in their quest to legalize an extensively medicalized and highly complicated abortion pill.

• Abortion advocates ignored the concerns of many in the medical community while pushing to introduce the questionable drug Norplant in 1990. Five years later, many women who received the implants and are now finding them hazardous to remove, are joining a class action lawsuit against those marketing the drug, claiming they were not adequately informed of its risks (Newsweek, 7/18/94)

E. Women should not have to bear children they cannot afford to feed

1. This argument only works if you begin with the assumption that the unborn are not human. Otherwise, this would be a good argument for killing off any family member who happens to strain the family budget.

2. While we can certainly sympathize with a mother of four small children who is pregnant and impoverished, it does not follow that abortion is morally justified. We must first ask, "Are the unborn human?" for if they are, we must weigh the mother's right to be relieved of economic stress against the unborn's right to life. When that is done, we find that hardship does not justify homicide--ever.

3. This argument cannot be used to justify the current prochoice position of abortion-on-demand. That position states that a woman has a fundamental right to an abortion for any reason she sees fit during the entire nine months of pregnancy. The argument from economic stress, if successful at all, only establishes a right to abort in cases of extreme hardship, not for any reason the woman sees fit.

(To expose this pro-abortion smoke screen, offer to take care of the mother's economic problems and liberals will still argue that she is entitled to a dead baby.)

F. Abortion reduces child abuse by eliminating unwanted pregnancies

1. Liberals are the only ones with the gall to suggest that the way to end child abuse is to execute its potential victims!

2. Obviously, this argument only works if you begin with the assumption the unborn are not human. For since when, on other occasions, have we ever thought that people forfeit their right to live if they are "unwanted" by others? It might be argued that the homeless are largely unwanted by society, but that hardly justifies killing them. Instead, we rightly recognize that the inherent worth of a person has little to do with him or her being "wanted." Hence, only by assuming that the unborn are not human can a pro-abort justify their destruction on such grounds.

3. Although it has no bearing on the morality of abortion (i.e. abortion is wrong even if the unborn are unwanted), there is no evidence whatsoever that unwanted babies in the womb become unwanted and abused children outside of it:

• According to a major study by Dr. Edward Lenoski, professor of pediatrics at USC, 91 % of abused children are very much wanted before birth. The mothers in the study had purchased maternity clothing two months ahead of most expectant mothers. Many of the abused children were named after one of the parents. 90% of these youngsters were also born within wedlock, indicating they were planned and wanted. (E.F. Lenoski, "Translating the Injury Data Into Preventive Health Care Services," USC Medical School, unpublished 1976)

• Dr. Vincent Fontana, author of the landmark study The Maltreated Child (1976), has investigated thousands of abuse cases nationwide. He personally directed the establishment of the first (and largest) medical facility devoted exclusively to the treatment of abused and battered children. In his book, Somewhere A Child Is Crying, Dr. Fontana takes aim at the pro-abortion lie that killing babies solves child abuse:

"It is unfair, uninformed, and, I believe dangerous to preach the doctrine that abused and neglected children are unwanted and to imply that unplanned children are going to be maltreated. The assumption that every battered child is an unwanted is totally false. Many maltreated children are children who were very much wanted before birth In search of a quick and easy solution to the ugly reality of child abuse, a great many people have come up with glib answers based on the pill and other birth control devices, planned parenthood, vasectomies, and abortions for the asking. Abortion is the favorite theme of the moment. At might be a wonderfully neat solution, if it were only not quite so sweeping and simplistic, or if it were only valid." (Macmillan, 1973, pp.239-40)

4. Researchers like Dr. Fontana point out that child abuse stems from a number of factors, none of which have anything to do with wanting or not wanting a child. Those factors most often cited include:

• Parents who were abused themselves as children

• Parents caught in the grip of uncontrollable anger

• Parents who view children as parental property

• The dangerous assumption that children have no rights

• Hurt, lonely and guilt-ridden parents who want to do the right thing but who erupt with pent-up frustration when they fail. (Fontana, pp.75, 227, 233, 239-41)

5. There is no such thing as an "unwanted" child:

• The National Committee for Adoption estimates that there are currently two million American families who want to adopt a child but who can't because of bureaucratic obstacles. (Press release, 12/5/90)

• The pro-abortion claim that only healthy white babies are wanted for adoption is blatantly false. After the Fund for a Feminist Majority made this assertion in the film Abortion Denied, the National Committee for Adoption countered with a press release to set the record straight:

"The myth that no families want to adopt minority infants is often repeated ...Infants who are legally free for adoption, regardless of race, do not wait for homes. In fact, there is a waiting list of screened families who want to adopt seriously disabled newborns, including babies born with Downs Syndrome and spina bifida." ("Adoption Group Sets Record Straight on Abortion Film," Dec.5, 1990)

The press release went on to note that of the 60,000 children adopted annually, at least one third are "nonwhite or hard to place children with significant health problems, including babies born testing positive for the AIDS virus and drug-exposed infants."

• The Los Angeles Daily News (July 19,1992) reports that African American adoptions rose 91 % in Los Angeles County between 1989 and 1991. This compared to increases of 57% for white children and 39% for Latinos. Statewide, black adoptions were up 39% between 1989-91, far outdistancing white adoptions. The article went on to point out that many prospective parents want to adopt minority infants, but are thwarted by bureaucratic obstacles. (A-p.8)

G. Abortion is needed to control overpopulation

1. A society that accepts bloodshed as a solution to hunger has a problem a whole lot worse than hunger.

2. But if we are going to accept bloodshed as a means of preserving scarce resources, why kill babies? After all, they don't eat that much. Carried to its logical conclusion, we ought to kill adult males because they eat more than everyone else! In short, as Dr. Nathanson points out, we are not going to end starvation in Ethiopia by aborting in Manhattan.

3. This argument, like nearly all pro-abortion rhetoric, begs the question: it only works if you begin with the assumption that the unborn are not human, a premise pro-lifers reject for good scientific and philosophical reasons. For if the unborn are indeed human, this would be a good argument for executing all toddlers--after all, we'd certainly have more resources to go around if we did so.

4. It is also important to note that this argument does not support the radical position of most "pro-choice" advocates. Remember, the "choice" they are offering is not that abortion should be legal only when needed to solve world hunger, but that any woman can kill any baby at any point in the pregnancy for any reason or no reason. The argument from world hunger/overpopulation, if successful at all, would only justify those abortions needed to curb overpopulation, not for any reason the woman sees fit.

5. Furthermore, arguing for abortion rights on the grounds of world hunger confuses "eliminating a problem" with "finding a solution." To cite an example, killing off all AIDS patients would certainly eliminate the AIDS problem, but it would not solve it. This is because such action would violate the moral principle that it's wrong to kill people simply because they are a burden to us or stand in the way of something we want. ( See Beckwith, p.62)

6. Nonetheless, liberals would be hard pressed to name just one social problem they say will get worse if we return legal protection to unborn babies that has not gotten considerably worse since abortion became legal. Why hasn't our country experienced any of the marvelous benefits liberals said we would enjoy for sacrificing our children? After all, crime, violence, child abuse, teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and poverty have all skyrocketed since Roe. So what's the problem, have we just not killed enough babies to solve these problems? Is 30 million not enough since 1973? (The great questions above come from Mark Crutcher's Life Dynamics Seminar Workbook, p.39.)

7. The problem of world hunger is not the fault of too many unborn babies, but too many socialist governments who do not know how to run a national economy:

• Investor's Daily (July 7,1993): Article concludes that policies, not people, cause poverty:

"Population growth almost certainly does not hinder, and perhaps even helps, economic growth ...The most important benefit that population growth confers on an economy is that people increase the stock of useful knowledge. In the long run, the contributions people make to knowledge are great enough to overcome all the costs of population growth." (Julian Simon, author, Population Matters )

"The current population of the world and any foreseeable population that we might have over the next century can easily be accommodated." (James Miller, Director of Research, Population Institute)

• Economist P.T. Bauer: In a free market economy, population growth increases the standard of living:

"Since the 1950's rapid population increase in densely populated Hong Kong and Singapore has been accompanied by large increases in real income and wages. The population of the Western world has more than quadrupled since the middle of the eighteenth century. Real income per head is estimated to have increased by a factor of five or more. Most of the increase in incomes took place when population increased as fast as, or faster than, in the contemporary less developed world." (Equality, the Third World, and Economic Delusion, Howard Univ. Press,1981, pp.43-44. Cited in Beckwith, p.60)

• Colin Clark (former director of Agricultural Economic Institute at Oxford University): If farmers around the world were to use the best methods now in use, enough food could be produced to provide an American-type diet for 35,100,000,000 people, almost 10 times as many as now exist! Since the American diet is a very rich one, Clark found that it would be possible to feed three times as many again--30 times as many as now exist. (Cited in Beckwith, p.61)

8. It is simply untrue that Americans do not have the resources to care for unborn babies. Consider the spending habits of U.S. consumers, which suggest that we can take care of people without killing one another:

Peanuts$1 billion yr. (National Peanut Council)

Popcorn$1.2 billion yr. (Nielsen Marketing Research)

Chewing gum$2.3 billion yr. (National Assoc. of Chewing Gum Manufacturers)

Cookies $3.4 billion yr. (Nielsen Marketing Research)

Potato chips $4.6 billion yr. (Nielsen Marketing Research)

Movie box office receipts $4.8 billion yr. (Academy of Motion Pictures)

Candy $6 billion yr. (Nielsen Marketing Research)

Ice cream $10 billion yr. (Int. Ice Cream Association)

Soft drinks $30 billion yr. (EPM Communications)

Restaurant dining $173.8 billion yr. (National Restaurant Association)

Beer $50 billion yr. (Beer Institute)

Legal gambling $300 billion yr. (Discovery Channel, Cronkite Report)

Pet grooming $175.3 million yr. (Pet Industry Joint Council)

Cat furniture $23.5 million yr. (Pet Industry Joint Council)

Heaters (terriums) $37.7 million yr. (Pet Industry Joint Council)

Dog snacks $39.3 million yr. (Pet Industry Joint Council)

Licensed sporting goods $2.2 billion yr. (The Licensing Letter, 1993)

Guns and ammunition $10 billion yr. (National Rifle Association)

Non-beer alcoholic beverages $39 billion yr. (Beer Institute)

Cosmetic products $27 billion yr. (Drug & Cosmetic Magazine)

Lawn & Garden Products $6.1 billion yr. (Better Lawn & Garden Products)

9. Americans spend more money per year on beer (50 billion) and pet acquisition ($63 billion) than they do on pediatric care for children ($49 billion). We spend more money on legal gambling ($300 billion) than we do on Alzheimer's disease for senior citizens ($80 billion). The notion that we can't afford health care costs and hence must ration care to unborn babies is nonsense.

II. The Unborn Are Not Fully Human

A. The brain of an unborn child resembles that of a fish and is incapable of full consciousness

B. Abortion extracts an unthinking/unfeeling tissue mass

C. Pro-lifers dehumanize women by equating a single celled zygote with a fully formed adult woman

D . A woman has the right to control her own body

A. The brain of an unborn child resembles that of a fish and is incapable of full consciousness

1. There are a number of problems with this argument, not the least of which is the mistaken assumption that one must look human in order to be human. To cite an example, mannequins look human but are not remotely so, while the bearded lady and the elephant man don't look at all human but are. It should also be remembered that there was a time not long ago when many people thought that blacks didn't look human either. (See "Man in the Zoo," American Heritage, 10/92.)

2. The argument that brain development determines personhood is exactly the same argument that Darwin and his followers used a century ago to dehumanize women and African Americans. These men contended that women were biologically and intellectually inferior because their brain capacity was less developed than that of a man:

• Charles Darwin (The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex ):

"[Man] attains a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can women--whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands. If two lists were made of the most eminent men and women in poetry, painting, sculpture, music (inclusive of both composition and performance), history, science, and philosophy, the two lists would not bear comparison. We may also infer, from the law of the deviation from averages, so well illustrated by Mr. Garlton, in his work on "Hereditary Genius" that-the average mental power in man must be above that of women." (D. Appleton & Co.,1896, p.564)

• Gustave Le Bon (Darwin disciple and father of social psychology):

"[Even in] the most intelligent races [there] are large numbers of women whose brains are closer in size to those of gorillas than to the most developed male brains. This inferiority is so obvious that no one can contest it for a moment; only its degree is worth discussion ....Women represent the most inferior forms of human evolution and...are closer to children and savages than to an adult, civilized man. They excel in fickleness, inconsistency, absence of thought and logic, and incapacity to reason. Without a doubt, there exists some distinguished women, very superior to the average man, but they are as exceptional as the birth of any monstrosity, as, for example, of a gorilla with two heads; consequently, we may neglect them entirely." (Cited in Stephen Gold, The Mismeasure of Man, Norton & Co., 1981, pp.104-5)

3. This argument not only dehumanizes unborn babies, but many people walking around outside of the womb. If a conscious sense of self is what indeed makes one human, then the reversibly comatose, the momentarily unconscious and the sleeping would all have to be classed as non-human.

4. The rights of individuals in our society are not based on their current (actual) capacities, but on their inherent capacities. To borrow an example provided by Beckwith, no one doubts that newborn humans have fewer actual capacities than do day-old calves. Baby humans are rather unimpressive in terms of environmental awareness, mobility, etc. Yet this does not lead us to believe that the cow belongs in the nursery while the infant can be left in the barn. To the contrary, we rightly recognize that although the infant currently lacks certain capabilities, it, unlike the cow, has the inherent capacity to function as adult persons do. Yet if individual rights are rooted solely in one's current capacities, the cow should enjoy a higher moral status than do newborns.

5. From the moment of conception, the unborn child has the inherent capacity to have a functioning brain. Hence, there is no ethical difference between it and the reversibly comatose, the momentarily unconscious, etc. who enjoy the protection of law despite their current inability to "think" as self-conscious adults.

6. That the early zygote is absolutely unconscious only means that he is unable to function as a person, not that he lacks the being of a person. And it is being a person that matters. People under anesthesia cannot feel pain, think or communicate, but this simply means they cannot function as human persons, not that they cease to be persons.

B. Abortion extracts an unthinking/unfeeling tissue mass

1. The statement is blatantly untrue:

• The Journal of Medical Ethics reports on a study from the University of Edinburgh where 10 week developing baby girls will be killed in utero so that the eggs within their ovaries can be implanted into the bodies of women unable to conceive. These are the same baby girls we are being told are nothing more than undifferentiated tissue and now we discover that by 10 weeks gestation, these baby girls are so fully formed that their ovaries will have produced every egg they will ever produce as adult women. (And those eggs are sufficiently mature to be capable of fertilization.)

We are forcing motherhood on baby girls whose personhood we are denying. We are saying these baby girls are not people, but we are forcing them to become mothers.

• The Los Angeles Times quotes the American Academy of Pediatrics as saying it is unethical to expose a pre-term baby to any painful procedure without the benefit of anesthesia. 15,000 times a year, we are killing babies of the same age (in utero) with no anesthesia.

• Discover (2/91) reports on doctors at the University of California (San Francisco) conducting fetal surgery to repair herniated diaphragms on babies 22 to 24 weeks gestation. Both mother and baby are given the benefit of anesthesia prior to the procedure. (The article states, "A precise dose of anesthetic had put both the mother and the fetus to sleep.")

• Abortion Practice (p.303): Dr. Hern discourages the use of general anesthesia during the abortion procedure due to its well known risks and hazards. Hence, there is not even secondary anesthesia reaching the baby.

• Lancet (July 9,1994): Unborn babies (19-34 weeks) undergoing fetal blood transfusions are shown to have the same hormonal responses to pain as do older children and adults. The researchers noted that even without testing the hormonal response, unborn babies reacted to the placement of the transfusion needle (in their abdomens) with "vigorous movements." The study, the authors concluded, "provides the first direct evidence that the fetus has a hormonal stress response to invasive stimuli." The authors go on to recommend that doctors use anesthesia when performing any potentially painful operation on the unborn--including abortion:

"This applies not just to diagnostic and therapeutic procedures on the fetus, but possibly also to the termination of pregnancy, especially by surgical techniques involving dismemberment." (Emph. added)

(Such as the dismemberment techniques taught by Dr. Hern in Abortion Practice, pp.129,139,150-1,154)

2. By the eighth week of pregnancy, all physiological systems are present. This is why fetologists have concluded that the unborn child may experience pain as early as eight weeks but certainly by 13 weeks:

• Dr. Vincent J. Collins, professor of anesthesiology at Northwestern University and author of Principles of Anesthesiology (the leading medical teaching text on the subject), observes that the neurological pathways required for pain are present at eight weeks and are fully functioning by 13 weeks. Dr. Collins also points out that the presence of the cerebral cortex is not necessary for the sensation of pain. Even complete removal of the cortex does not eliminate one's capacity to experience pain.

• But even if the cerebral cortex were needed in order to feel pain, the pro-abortion claim of an unthinking, unfeeling fetus until week 32 would still be way off the mark. The New England Journal of Medicine has reported that electroencephalographic bursts in both hemispheres of the fetal brain can be seen as early as 20 weeks. These bursts indicate the beginnings of a functioning cerebral cortex at that time. (11/19/87)

3. Ultimately, the ability to experience pain has no bearing on a person's status as a human being and hence cannot be used to justify abortion. To say that it does is to grossly confuse the concept of harm with the concept of hurt. A man in a coma whose throat is slit by an intruder certainly feels no hurt, but he is nonetheless harmed. He was still a person at the time of his death. And his attacker is still guilty of a heinous crime. Likewise, abortion is still an act of violence that kills a baby even if its victims feel nothing as they undergo dismemberment.

C. Pro-lifers dehumanize women by equating a single celled zygote with a fully formed adult woman

1. This argument is purposely misleading. The target of an abortion is never a single celled zygote, but a six week (or greater) developing baby with a functioning heart and brain. In the words of abortionist Dr. Warren Hern, "there is evidence that abortions performed earlier than 6 weeks from the LMP (last menstrual period) have a greater rate of continued pregnancy and complication." Hence, they are seldom done prior to that time. (Abortion Practice, p.301) In short, the logic of this argument seems to be, "Because it is OK to kill a zygote, we can therefore dismember a child at a later stage in the pregnancy."

2. In reality, the argument is a strawman. The pro-lifer is not saying that an adult woman is equal to any cell, but that a conceived zygote with the inherent capacity to function as a human being is worth protecting whatever its size may be. (We do not, for example, advocate protecting a cell which falls from her arm, since that single cell does not have the natural inherent capacity to function as a human being.) In essence, the pro-lifer is arguing that size does not determine rights. Large people are not entitled to more rights than small people. (Men, for example, do not have more rights than women simply because, on average, they are larger.)

3. Furthermore, the argument misrepresents the word "equal." When pro-lifers say that all human beings are equal in their right to live, they are not saying that all human beings are equal in function. Rather, the pro-lifer is arguing that all human beings, regardless of size or ability, are equal in nature (being). No one, for example, is arguing that we appoint a zygote or a fetus to the Chair of Logic at a major university. But because a zygote is not "equal" to a female professor in critical thinking skills does not mean that he shouldn't share an equal right not to be butchered. (A newborn baby, for that matter, is not "equal" to an adult woman in terms of function either--although few would use this to call into question its status as a human being.)

4. Finally, it is a non sequitur to say that because pro-lifers believe that small persons should be treated with dignity that the value of larger persons (i.e. women) is thereby diminished. Treating persons with dignity at whatever stage they are at (including the one cell stage) does not logically make developed people worth less. It simply means that we must expand our concept of personhood to include those we previously sought to dehumanize. (Not long ago, many people opposed civil rights legislation for blacks on grounds that such legislation would threaten the inherent dignity of whites.)

D . A woman has the right to control her own body

1. The unborn child is not part of a woman's body, but a genetically distinct entity. It is attached to the mother, but is not a part of her.

2. To say that the unborn child is part of its mother is to say that the mother possesses four legs, four arms, four eyes, two heads and, in the case of a male child, a penis and two testicles.

3. Furthermore, we can take a white baby conceived in a test tube and transfer it to the body of a black woman and the baby will still be born white. Hence, we know conclusively that the unborn child is not part of its mother's body.

(See Beckwith, pp.123-135 for a full discussion of the bodily rights arguments put forth by feminists.)

III. All Ethical Choices Are Equal

A. There is no consensus on abortion; hence we must not legislate against it

B . The question of when life begins is a philosophical one that cannot be proven scientifically

C. I'm personally opposed to abortion, but...

D . Pro-lifers should not force their morality on others

E . The issue isn't whether abortion is right or wrong, but are we going to trust women to decide?

F. Pro-lifers are narrow minded and intolerant while pro-choicers are inclusive

A. There is no consensus on abortion; hence we must not legislate against it

1. This piece of pro-abortion fancy makes the mistaken assumption that the absence of consensus means the absence of truth. But the fact that people disagree does not mean that there are no answers. To cite an example, there was a time a few centuries ago when many people disagreed with the idea that the Earth was round. But simply because someone argues that the Earth is flat, and someone else argues that it is not, does not mean we can't know if the Faith is indeed flat. Consensus or not, it is still possible to objectively weigh evidence and test arguments according to the dictates of sound reason.

2. If it is indeed wrong to pass laws whenever there is a lack of consensus, then the abortion advocate must admit that Roe v. Wade was an unjust decision. In Roe, the Court ruled that all 50 states must grant women unrestricted abortion rights. But at the time of the ruling, only 19 states had liberalized their abortion laws; 31 others had not despite being lobbied to do so. Hence, Roe imposed on the majority of states the legal obligation to permit abortion-on-demand despite a clear lack of consensus on the issue.

3. Using the abortion advocate's own logic, we'd also have to conclude that the abolition of slavery was unjust because there was no consensus on that issue either. Nor was there consensus on much of the civil rights legislation enacted over the last three decades. But few abortion advocates would dispute that slavery and racism are wrong, regardless public opinion.

4. Finally, just as there is no consensus for making abortion illegal, there is also no consensus for making it legal. As Stephan Schwarz observes, the objection argues equally against the pro-abortion or pro-choice side: "Abortion should not be legal because there is no consensus for making it legal." (The Moral Question of Abortion, p.202 ff)

B . The question of when life begins is a philosophical one that cannot be proven scientifically

1. This cuts both ways. Isn't the belief that a woman has an intrinsic, fundamental right to an abortion also a philosophical belief that cannot be proven scientifically and over which many people disagree?

2. If no one knows when life begins, then this is an excellent argument for infanticide as well as abortion. For who is to say that life begins at birth? Or, to cite another example provided by Francis Beckwith, how can we stop a Satan worshipping neighbor who believes that life begins at age two from sacrificing his toddler to the unholy one? After all, no one knows when life begins.

3. The argument is self-refuting and question-begging. To say that no one knows when life begins, and that abortion should remain legal through all nine months of pregnancy, assumes that life does not begin before birth. Hence, abortion advocates really do claim to know when life begins.

4. Finally, if "no one knows when life begins," killing the unborn should not be tolerated since it may be the taking of a human life. What would we think of a structural engineer who chose to blow up an old building without first checking to see if anyone was inside? Yet that is exactly what abortion advocates are doing. They are saying, "We don't know if the unborn are human, but we are going to kill them anyway."

C. I'm personally opposed to abortion, but...

1. This argument fails because it does not tell us why the person offering it is opposed to abortion. Most people who oppose abortion do so because they believe that the unborn are human persons and hence have a right to protection under the law. But if the abortion advocate concedes this, his argument is tantamount to saying, "I personally oppose the dismembering of an unborn child, but you can do it if you like. I won't force my morality on you."

2. During his 1858 debates with Abraham Lincoln, Stephan Douglas repeatedly asserted that while he was personally opposed to slavery, he felt each state should have the right to vote it up or down. To see how ridiculous such reasoning is, imagine someone saying, "I'm personally opposed to drunk driving, but I won't force my morality on the way other people drive." Next time you hear this "personally opposed" cliche, ask "Why are you personally opposed? If it's just tissue, why be opposed at all?"

D . Pro-lifers should not force their morality on others

1. Since when is it wrong to force moral principles onto others? Laws banning rape, theft, murder and incest invariably force a moral perspective onto others, but few complain. This is because it is widely recognized that these laws protect the free moral agency of others who have a right not to be harmed by aberrant behavior.

2. Laws banning abortion are no different. If the unborn are indeed human, restricting abortion is perfectly just since the free agency of another person, the unborn child, would be violated by the practice. Hence, the abortion advocate must beg the question and assume the unborn are not human in order to argue this way. (Otherwise, the woman having an abortion would be forcing her moral perspective on her unborn child.)

3. During the 1960's, many people opposed civil rights legislation, saying, "You can't legislate morality." Dr. Martin Luther King responded, "It is true, the law cannot make the white man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me."

4. Abortion advocates enjoy imposing their morality when it comes to tax financed abortions for poor women. Many Americans do not approve of abortion and do not want tax dollars spent funding it. But "pro-choicers" are insistent that these Americans must pay for the procedure anyway, regardless of how they feel.

E . The issue isn't whether abortion is right or wrong, but are we going to trust women to decide?

1. Every single law we make is intended to take decision making ability from someone. (To cite an example, when the F.A.C.E. bill was passed by Congress in 1994, proabortion liberals did not contend that we ought to leave it up to each individual pro-lifer to make his or her own moral decisions about clinic protests. Rather, liberals assumed pro-lifers could not be trusted and passed laws that demonstrated that distrust.)

2. Try this: "The issue isn't whether rape is right or wrong, but are we going to trust the men of this country to make their own decisions about their sexuality?" Or, "The issue isn't whether sexual harassment is right or wrong, but are we going to trust male employers to make their own staff decisions?" The truth is that all human beings are capable of making immoral decisions, particularly in a time of crisis. Laws are needed to protect other innocent human beings from having those decisions inflicted upon them.

3. As a matter of fact, any law that could apply to women suggests that society does not trust them to make that decision. Why is it abortion advocates only complain about the ones applying to abortion? To be consistent, they should be calling for women to be exempted from all laws. (Imagine a liberal arguing this way: "The issue isn't whether or not it is wrong for pro-life women to block access to abortion clinics, but are we going to trust these women to make up their own minds without the state interfering?")

F. Pro-lifers are narrow minded and intolerant while pro-choicers are inclusive

1. To begin with, it is the so called 'pro-choice' position that is narrow minded and intolerant. It says that only big, strong people have rights while little, dependent people do not. The pro-life position, in contrast, is that every person, regardless of size or ability, has rights that must be respected. Hence, it is the pro-choice position, not the pro-life position, that is narrow and non-inclusive.

2. Although abortion advocates market their position with the rhetoric of neutrality, they nonetheless work to impose their perspective on others. The so called "pro-choice" position is not a neutral position. It says that no unborn children have a Constitutional right to life. It says that pro-lifers are obligated not to interfere in a woman's choice to have an abortion. It says that peaceful pro-life protesters have no right to pray in front of an abortion clinic and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law if they do so. This is not neutrality. Rather, it is imposing a moral perspective on pro-lifers who believe it is their duty to rescue the unborn from being butchered. Evidently, pro-choicers don't take their own rhetoric of tolerance seriously.

3. Liberals don't really believe that all ethical views are valid and must be tolerated in a pluralistic society. It's hard to imagine, for example, an abortion advocate saying to Operation Rescue, "I am pro-choice, therefore, I will gladly tolerate your right to protest in front of my clinic."

As we have seen, the views of Operation Rescue are not tolerated in today's pluralistic society. To cite another example, many people in the nineteenth century believed that slaves were not human persons. Most slave owners argued that because there was no consensus on the humanity of African Americans, slavery should remain legal. Would pro-choicers tolerate such a view in today's society?

4. Finally, the argument begs the question. As Beckwith points out, the fundamental reason why the argument from pluralism doesn't work is because you cannot appeal to the fact that we live in a pluralistic society when the very question of who is part of that society (that is, whether or not it includes unborn children) is itself under dispute in the abortion debate. (Beckwith, p.157)

IV. Personal Attacks

A. Because men don't get pregnant, only women should decide the issue

B. If pro-lifers were true conservatives, they would want government out of the bedroom instead of in it.

C . Pro-lifers do not care about those who are already born such as the homeless, unwed mothers, etc.

A. Because men don't get pregnant, only women should decide the issue

1. This argument is nothing more than an ad hominem attack against any male opposed to abortion.

2. "Arguments don't have genders, people do," writes Beckwith. Since many pro-life women use the same arguments offered by pro-life men, it behooves the abortion advocate to answer these arguments without fallaciously attacking a person's gender.

3. Furthermore, to be consistent with his own reasoning, the abortion advocate would have to admit that Roe v. Wade was an unjust decision--after all, it was decided by nine men. He must also be willing to dismiss all of the male lawyers currently working for Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, etc. on abortion related issues. Since no pro-abort would agree to such terms, we can restate this argument to say, "No man can speak on abortion--unless he is pro-choice."

4. Lesbians and post-menopausal women don't generally get pregnant, should they be forbidden to discuss the issue?

5. Finally, imagine all the bizarre rules we could derive from this argument:

• "Since only military personnel know what it is to fight in battle, only they should discuss the morality of war."

• "Since female sportscasters have no clue what it is like to be kicked in the groin while playing football, only men sports-casters should broadcast the Super Bowl."

• "Since only black people were subject to slavery, no one else has a right to condemn it."

• "Only Jewish people have a right to condemn the Holocaust."

B. If pro-lifers were true conservatives, they would want government out of the bedroom instead of in it.

1. Conservatism has never meant that anything goes. The most basic tenant of conservatism is that government has a primary responsibility to protect the lives of its citizens. Hence, it's disgraceful for abortion advocates to suggest that freedom from government means that government looks the other way while one human being kills another. In the words of Thomas Jefferson:

"The care of human life and happiness, not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate objective of good government."

2. Abortions are generally not performed in bedrooms, but even if they were, so what? The "bedroom" has never been beyond the scope of law and no decent citizen needs to fear that. To cite an example, many cases of rape and incest occur in bedrooms, yet no one complains that government is invading personal privacy by prosecuting these heinous acts. This is because we rightly recognize that the issue here is not "privacy," but "protection": the law is simply shielding women and children from demented individuals who use bedrooms for their crimes.

3. To clarify this principle further, should a 50 year old man who lures a child into having sex be indicted if the act took place in his car but not if it took place in his bedroom? If a man beats his wife, should it be legal if done in their bedroom but not legal if done in their living room?

4. Simply put, when an action is morally repugnant, like tearing the arms, legs and face off of an unborn child, it does not become acceptable simply by doing it in the privacy of one's bedroom. True conservatives know this.

C . Pro-lifers do not care about those who are already born such as the homeless, unwed mothers, etc.

1. This question is a fraud and liberals know it. What kind of mentality says that when somebody prevents the deliberate slaughter of an innocent human being, they suddenly become responsible for solving all of the world's problems? Imagine the gall of someone saying to the American Cancer Society, "How can you claim to care about people when your organization is doing nothing for those with other health problems such as AIDS, heart disease, and diabetes?"

2. These kinds of ad-hominem attacks are not restricted to the uneducated, however. Recently, the mother of all advice, 'Dear Abby,' took her shot at the character of pro-lifers. She did so by endorsing a letter from an angry liberal which can be paraphrased as follows: "You anti-abortion people say you care about unborn babies, but you don't give a rip about them once they are born or about the mothers who must carry them. How dare you protest a woman's right to choose abortion!" I felt Abby deserved a pro-life response, which is reprinted here:

Dear Abby,

Not only was the reprint "An Open Message to Abortion Protesters" filled with inflammatory rhetoric, it managed to incorporate, within the space of just a few lines, a number of glaring fallacies.

To begin with, the column implied that it is hypocritical to protest abortion unless one is willing to adopt babies, care for unwed mothers and baby sit for single moms. Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that pro-lifers are not already doing these things. What I want to know is this: how does a pro-lifers alleged reluctance to adopt a baby or house an unwed mother justify the act of dismembering an unborn child? While it's true that pro-lifers have a duty to help those involved in a crisis pregnancy (both mother and baby), it is not true that abortion is justified whenever that obligation is left unmet. To cite an example, imagine how bizarre it would sound were someone to argue, "Unless you are willing to marry my wife, you have no right to oppose my beating her." Or, "Unless you are willing to hire ex-slaves for your business, you have no right to oppose slavery. (Indeed, this was the very argument slave owners made a century ago.) This kind of reasoning is commonly known as the ad hominem fallacy: instead of defending the behavior in question--be it wife beating, slavery or abortion, the accuser attacks the character of those opposing such actions. In short, Abby, we pro-lifers want to hear you pro-choicers defend the act of killing a defenseless child before you assault us personally.

Second, the claim that pro-lifers shy away from adopting babies is a bald faced lie that a little research on your part would have uncovered. According to the National Committee for Adoption (press release dated 12/5/90), there are two million American families who wish to adopt, but who can't because of bureaucratic obstacles. Furthermore, the Committee points out that even those babies born with handicaps-including spina bifida and AIDS--do not wait for homes. In fact, of the 60,000 babies adopted annually, one third are non-white or hard to place children.

Now, for those of you who are pro-choice, I have a question for you. Besides offering to kill her child for her, assuming she has the money to pay you, what help do your abortion clinics offer a woman facing a crisis pregnancy? If a 14 year old girl comes to one of your clinics and says that she does not want an abortion, but needs, among other things, a place to live, free medical care and financial support, will your clinic take some of its abortion profits to assist her? For anyone who is interested, you can get a quick answer simply by looking under 'A" in the phone book!

In sharp contrast, virtually all pro-life Crisis Pregnancy Centers will do their best to provide these services for that girl. (Unlike the abortion mill, these centers must raise their own funds rather than billing the taxpayer.) But here's the real surprise: One of the first things you learn upon volunteering at a pro-life center is that when the local abortion mill fails to sell a woman an abortion, they refer to one of our centers for help! Now, don't get me wrong, we're delighted to assist, but it speaks volumes about the so-called "pro-choice" community: these people aren't offering choices, they are selling abortions--at the expense of desperate women.

To sum up, Abby, those of us who are pro-life will make a deal with all of you who are pro-choice: First, if you'll agree to defend the abortion act itself--in other words, the dismembering and crushing of an unborn child--without fallaciously assaulting our characters, we'll agree to stop protesting at your clinics. And second, if you'll agree to stop killing these children, we'll agree to take them off your hands and raise them--gladly!

Be advised: make Dear Abby and every other abortion advocate defend killing babies! Then make them defend their financial exploitation of women. The results will be abortion advocates who think twice before assassinating your character.

V. Abortion is Needed for the Hard Cases

A . Abortion is justified in cases of rape

B. Abortion is justified in cases of fetal deformity

A . Abortion is justified in cases of rape

Should the child be forced to forfeit her life so that her mother can feel better? (Would we expect the mother to forfeit her life to benefit the child?) This is not a lack of compassion for the mother, it is the refusal to kill an innocent human being even if it helps someone else feel better.

Suppose you were a solider captured by a cruel enemy who demanded that you help torture your fellow soldiers or be tortured yourself. Is it right to accept the offer so as to avoid your own suffering? Or, is it better to suffer evil rather than inflict it?

1. This argument does not justify the pro-choice position of abortion-on-demand. Remember, liberals are not saying that abortion should only be legal in cases of rape, they are saying that any woman should be able to kill any baby at any point in the pregnancy for any reason or no reason. If this argument is successful at all, it only established a right to abort in cases of rape, not for any reason the woman sees fit.

2. The argument begs the question: it assumes the unborn are not human. For if the unborn are indeed human, then we must weigh the woman's right to be relieved of mental suffering against the unborn's right to live. The verdict, at least philosophically, is simple: hardship does not justify homicide, even if it relieves one of a terrible burden.

3.Abortion does not un-rape a woman. She only ends up trading one problem for another. The solution to the violence of rape is not the violence of abortion. The solution is to stand with the mother:

Abortion Practice (p.84): Dr. Hern admits rather candidly that abortion does nothing to treat the trauma of rape:

"Victims of sexual abuse and rape deserve special care. However, the abortion counselor should recognize that the emotional trauma experienced by the rape or incest victim cannot be treated adequately, if at all, in the abortion clinic setting.

"All rape and incest victims, as well as victims of other kinds of physical abuse, should be referred for appropriate psychological counseling and support."

Dr. Sandra Makhorn (Noted author and rape counselor): The primary problem facing the rape victim is not pregnancy, but the attitudes projected by others:

"The belief that pregnancy following rape will emotionally and psychologically devastate the victim reflects the common misconception that women are helpless creatures who must be protected from the harsh realities of the world. [This study illustrates] that pregnancy need not impede the victim's resolution of the trauma; rather, with loving support, non judgmental attitudes, and emphatic communication, healthy emotional and psychological responses are possible despite the added burden of pregnancy." (Cited in T. Hilgers,etal, New Perspectives on Human Abortion, University Pub., 1981, p.194)

4. We should see both mother and child as victims of a crime rather than as tainted property: The Los Angeles Times reports how Indian women who are the victims of rape are often forced into prostitution by their families who see them as "tainted." Their families literally are selling them off to be killed. This is barbaric. But we do the same thing to unborn children in America for the same reasons. A better approach: treat both mother and child with care.

B. Abortion is justified in cases of fetal deformity

1. In our quest for the perfect baby, we inadvertently kill 14,000 healthy babies a year with the use of amniocentesis. (See, Los Angeles Daily News, 4/26/94)

2. The argument does not support the pro-choice position of abortion-on-demand. If successful at all, it only establishes a right to abort in cases of fetal deformity, not for any reason the woman sees fit.

3. The argument begs the question: it assumes the unborn are not human. Otherwise, the abortion advocate has just sanctioned killing off all toddlers who are handicapped.

4. While we can certainly sympathize with those parents struggling to raise a handicapped child, it does not follow that abortion is justified. We must first ask if the unborn are human--for if they are, it is not true that hardship justifies homicide.

VI. Even If the Unborn Are Human, Abortion Is Justified

A. "Unplugging the Violinist"

B. Why Thomson's Argument Fails

C. Review of why Thomson's argument fails

A. "Unplugging the Violinist"

1. Most arguments for abortion try to show that the unborn child is not a human person--at least not in the same sense as those of us walking about outside of the womb. But a growing number of academics are resurrecting a defense of abortion first put forward by MIT Professor Judith Jarvis Thomson in a 1971 essay entitled "A Defense of Abortion." In her essay, Thomson bites the bullet: she willingly concedes the pro-life position that the unborn are indeed human from conception but argues that no woman should be forced to use her bodily organs to sustain the life of another against her will. Just as it would be unreasonable to demand the use of your neighbor's kidney should yours fail, so to the unborn child, though fully human, does not have the right to use its mother's body to support its own life in the event its mother wishes to withhold such support.

2. To illustrate her point, Thomson spins the following tale:

"You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with an unconscious violinist, a famous unconscious violinist. He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Society of Music Lovers has canvassed all available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help. They have therefore kidnapped you, and last night the violinist's circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own. The director of the hospital now tells you, "Look, we're sorry the Society of Music Lovers did this to you--we would never have permitted it if we had known. But still, they did it, and the violinist now is plugged into you. To unplug you would be to kill him. But never mind, it's only for nine months. By then, he will have recovered from his ailment, and can safely be unplugged from you." Is it morally incumbent on you to accede to this situation? No doubt it would be nice of you if you did, a great kindness. But do you have to accede to it? What if it were not nine months, but nine years? Or still longer? What if the director of the hospital says, "Tough luck, I agree, but you've now got to stay in bed, with the violinist plugged into you, for the rest of your life. Because, remember this. All persons have a right to life, and violinists are persons. Granted you have a right to decide what happens in and to your body, but a person's right to life outweighs your right to decide what happens in and to your body. So you cannot ever be unplugged from him." I imagine that you would regard this as outrageous." ("A Defense of Abortion," Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (1971) pp.47-66. Cited in Beckwith, p.128)

Just as one may withhold support and detach himself from the violinist (we are asked to assume), so too the mother may withhold support and detach herself from the child. Abortion is such a detachment.

B. Why Thomson's Argument Fails

1. Thomson's argument tries to justify abortion as merely the withholding of support. But it is also something else--the killing of a child through dismemberment, poison or crushing. Thomson may (we assume) withhold support from the violinist--she may not kill him. (i.e. it is one thing to withhold support; it is quite another to slit your victim's throat.) "Assume that the woman has no duty to sustain the child," writes Professor Schwarz. "This means only that she has the right to withhold her support from him. It does not give her the right to kill the child--which is what abortion is ....Thomson seizes on the withholding of support aspect of abortion, suppressing the deliberate killing aspect." (The Moral Question of Abortion, p.116)

Consider the following example provided by Schwarz. I return home to find a stranger in my house who will die unless I take care of him. Assume that I have no duty to give my support. May I then throw him out even if it means tossing him off a high cliff or into a deep lake where he will drown? Of course not. That I throw him out in the name of withholding support does not mean that I don't do something else--kill him. That the woman throws the child out in the name of withholding support does not mean that she does not also do something else--kill the child. As Beckwith points out, "Euphemistically calling abortion the 'withholding of support' makes about as much sense as calling suffocating someone with a pillow the withdrawing of oxygen." (Beckwith, p.133)

To sum up, if the only way I can exercise my right to withhold support is to kill another person, I may not do it.

"My duty not to kill an innocent person takes precedence over the exercise of my right to withhold support." (Schwarz, p.117)

2. Thomson's parallel between the violinist and a pregnant woman compares two things that are not alike. We may not have the obligation to sustain strangers who are unnaturally plugged into us, but we do have a duty to sustain our own offspring. If Thomson's argument works at all, it is only because it casts the unborn child as an intruder with no natural connection to its mother's body. But this is exactly the opposite of the mother-child relationship where the child is naturally housed within its mother. Hence, "The very thing that makes it possible to say that the person in bed with the violinist has no duty to sustain him; namely, that he is a stranger unnaturally hooked up to him, is precisely what is absent in the case of the mother and her child." That is to say, the mother "does have an obligation to take care of her child, to sustain her, to protect her, and especially to let her live in the only place where she now can be protected, nourished and allowed to grow, namely the womb." (Schwarz, p.118)

Pro-abortion philosopher Mary Anne Warren poses one other objection to Thomson's analogy: other than in the case of rape, a woman cannot claim that she is not responsible for the pregnancy. Hence, she is not like the woman who finds herself plugged into the violinist against her own will.

3. Thomson's portrayal of pregnancy as a nine month prison bed casts a blatantly unfair prejudice against pregnancy. Pregnancy is not a disease, notes Dr. Nathanson, and "few pregnant women are bedridden and many, both emotionally and physically, have never felt better. For these, it is a stimulating experience, even for mothers who originally did not want to be pregnant." (Aborting America, p.220)

4. Even if the child were an intruder, this still would not justify abortion. Thomson argues that the unborn child is an intruder in the woman's body, similar to a burglar in one's home. Just as one has the right to remove the intruder, so too the woman has the right to remove the child. This argument fails.

First, the child is not an intruder. He is precisely where he naturally belongs at that point in his development. "That a woman looks upon her child as a burglar or an intruder is already an evil, even if she refrains from killing her," writes Schwarz.

Second, even if the child were an intruder, that would only justify removing her from the woman, not killing her. As Schwarz mentioned earlier, I cannot throw an intruder out if that also means killing him by throwing him off a cliff or drowning him in a lake. And that is, of course, what abortion is: killing the child. Abortion is wrong because it is much more than the mere removal of a person. It means cutting a child into pieces, burning its skin, etc. Since Thomson assumes that the unborn are human, we can ask who would ever consider doing such things to a born person who was deemed to be an intruder?

Some liberals argue that the unborn child is a "parasite" living off its mother's body. But assertions of this sort betray a total ignorance of the mother-child relationship. As anyone who has ever taken a seventh grade biology class knows, a parasite is always of a different species than its host. This is clearly not the case with the unborn child who was conceived with its mother's own flesh and blood. A parasite is an alien being who should not be present. The child, in sharp contrast, is where it naturally belongs at that stage in its development. (A child who is breast feeding, like the parasite, draws nourishment from another person, but this relationship can hardly be called parasitic. This is because the child's relation to the mother is indeed a proper one.)

5. Thomson mistakenly assumes that all moral obligations to one's offspring are voluntary. Given that Thomson grants that the unborn are human, what kind of morality are we left with? Is there really no obligation to others who are dependent on us? To borrow an example provided by Dr. Nathanson, suppose only the breast feeding of infants were available, as is true in many cultures. Or, take an exact case from pediatrics where the infant can tolerate only the mother's milk for nourishment. Is the mother justified, in either case, in "unplugging" the baby from her breast (and hence committing infanticide) on grounds that she is not obligated to use her body to sustain the life of another?

As Beckwith points out, society clearly does hold people responsible for moral obligations whether they want to assume responsibility for them or not. To cite an obvious example, drunk drivers are held responsible for killing people while driving under the influence whether they intended to kill or not. This is because although they may not have wanted to harm anyone, they willed it by driving intoxicated. Likewise, the mother's responsibility for her offspring stems from the fact that she engaged in an act, sexual intercourse, that she fully realized could result in the creation of another human being--even though she took precaution to avoid such a result. She may not have wanted to become pregnant, but she willed it by giving consent to the sexual act. Hence, she has a moral obligation to sustain her offspring whether she voluntarily accepts this obligation or not. (Beckwith, p.129)

If the unborn are human, as Thomson concedes, why should the mother's duty to care for the child be any different before birth than it is after?

C. Review of why Thomson's argument fails

1. Abortion is not merely the withholding of support, but the direct killing of a child. If the only way I can withhold support is to kill another person, I may not do it.

2. We may (we assume) not have the obligation to sustain strangers who are unnaturally hooked up to us, but we clearly do have a duty to sustain our own offspring.

3. Even if the child were an intruder, that would justify only her removal from the woman's body, not killing her. If the only way I can remove an intruder from my home is to kill him by throwing him off a cliff, I may not do it.

4. It is unfair for Thomson to portray pregnancy as a nine month prison bed. Many women enjoy the experience.

5. We clearly do have certain moral obligations to others even if we do not voluntarily assume them. Since Thomson assumes that the unborn child is human, why should the parent's duty to care for the child differ before birth?

Public Speaking on Abortion

 

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