Sunday, November 3, 2013

Idle Thoughts -- Pro What?

Give an account of the most prominent pro-life and pro-chioce arguments. In your view, which is the strongest argument on each side? Why ?

The pro-life movement is different internationally from the pro-life movement in America. The pro-life movement in America focuses almost exclusively upon abortion and occasionally upon assisted suicide. These two items are included in the international definition, but it also extends to quality of life for the severely disabled, the death penalty, and an anti war position.

And now we enter into the strange contradiction of those who say that they are pro-life. They are opposed to abortion and to assisted suicide in the strongest emotional terms. Yet, here in the United States, most of these people are also deeply wedded to the death penalty. They also attended the strongest supporters of military actions which resulted in many deaths.

This is particularly strange because the pro-life movement in other countries, as exemplified by the positions of the Catholic Church, are in favor of all life. That is to say, they are as against the death penalty and wars as they are against abortion

This logical contradiction is easily explained. In American politics the emotional issues are utilized as a substitute for logical thought. Thus, an American who says he is pro-life but believes in the death penalty and in frequent foreign military interventions which result in many deaths sees no contradiction between these two positions because one feels right while the other feels wrong. Logic is not an issue in this case.

Many feel this is a totally irrational position, and they certainly have a point. However, to those were holding these positions there's no hypocrisy or contradiction involved. As far as they are concerned, they are trusting their guts. That is to say, they are trusting that their emotions will give them a more accurate picture of what is right and wrong, of what is moral, than will rational thought. In fact, many of them are offended at the idea that rational thought could yield morality. After all, they believe that atheists must be immoral since in their belief system all morality flows from God and it is clear that that which makes you feel good is that which God approves while that which makes you feel bad is that which God disapproves.

The obvious problem with this is much of what we feel is right or wrong is dependent upon societal prejudices, our parents' beliefs, the way we were raised, and many other factors which are highly subjective.

Now back to the American focus, which is on abortion. In so far as the pro-life movement denies people personal choice it would be called conservative. This is in cases such as assisted suicide and abortion. In cases where this pro-life ethic would conflict with government control as in the case of death penalty or war it becomes liberal.

This explains why in America these items are regarded as isolated from each other. The international movement tends not not care whether these issue is conservative or liberal, it tends to judge each situation upon its own moral values. In America, however, it becomes very important to be a part of a strict and rigid group.

So, American conservatives do not wish to support any liberal positions, therefore they exclude war and the death penalty from their position. American liberals tend to be more accepting of the international view, so tend to keep all points united.

The pro-choice movement insists upon several points which must remain legal:

1. Contraception use must remain available to any sexually active individual regardless of his or her age or the parents' beliefs.

2. Emergency contraception use, which can be regarded as a separate issue from one, because it is possible that an emergency contraceptive utilization might prevent a fertilized egg from implantation, must be available. Many pro-life members consider this to be an act of abortion, and therefore, a form of murder.

3. Abortion during the first two trimesters of pregnancy must be available, safe, and legal.

4. Parenthood for loving couples is a right, regardless of sexual orientation.

The American pro-life movement insists upon the following points:

1. Contraception use is acceptable to some, but not all, pro-lifers under certain circumstances. Some condemn contraceptive use in general. Others believe that contraceptives may be used but only if certain conditions are met. If an individual is a minor, his or her parents must approve the contraceptive use or it must be denied to the children under any circumstances.

2. Individuals who religiously object to the use of contraceptives should not be required to provide them even to their employees through health insurance.

3. No contraceptives should be used which prevent a fertilized egg from implanting. Once a human egg has been fertilized it is a full human being and has all the rights of any other human being. This includes the right not to be killed via abortion.

4. Abortion is murder and both doctors and patients engaging in the act should be arrested and punished for the crime.

5. Children should not be taught about contraceptive methodologies except by their parents. This includes sexually active teenagers. The only truly acceptable method of birth control is absence.

6. Parenthood should be allowed only for loving heterosexual couples in a legally and religiously sanctioned marriage.

7. The government must enforce these rules.

And having given that background, to return to the question about the strengths of the arguments:

Let's take the items one by

1. The best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies and all the health problems that result, including abortion, is effective contraception. This is a solution which both sides should be able to approve. It simply makes sense.

2. Preventing a fertilized egg from implanting is a very minor thing. A fertilized egg is simply one single cell. To say that one single cell is the same thing as a baby or an adult human being is absolutely absurd. Millions of fertilized eggs are lost to pregnant women around the world every year, and no one even notices. The argument that it could become a human being, that it has the potential to become a human being, is silly. Any nucleated cell in your body has that potential with the correct scientific advances.

3. The reason for having abortions remaining safe, available, and legal is simple. The idea of the pro-life movement that by banning something legally you can make it go away is nonsense. Through out human history there have been abortions and attempts at abortion. They often involve toxic substances and physical violence to the body. They often result in the death of both mother and child. The idea that you are saving a life by killing both the baby and the mother is patently nonsense. Personally, I find abortion repulsive and wrong. But I find illegal abortion even more repulsive and more wrong. Abortion is not a good thing, but it is a necessary evil which protects young women from harming themselves.

4. Study after study has shown that children raised in a stable marriage between two parents, regardless of the sexual orientation of those parents, are very well-adjusted and live good lives. There is no moral reason to ban same-sex couples from adopting.

Again, the issues one by one… pro life.

1. Parents normally do, and should, have great control over their children's lives. Issues such as contraception certainly are issues in which parents should have a voice. How can the government take away a parent's right to guide his or her children's moral and ethical behavior?

(And my counter argument: However, this control does weaken as the child becomes older and becomes more and more able to make his or her own choices. Furthermore, the government does not allow parents to deny suffering children basic medical care. A balance is required here. Parents are not absolute dictators. They do not own their children. The children also have rights.)

2. The government should not force people to do things which are against their religious beliefs. Employers who are against contraceptives should not be required to provide them through medical insurance.

(My counter argument: public employers who are providing insurance are engaged in public activities. While churches should not be required provide such insurance, people who engage in a secular business should be governed by secular, not religious rules. Also, there are people who religiously believe that other races, usually Blacks, are inferior and should not be granted medical care. If you accept this argument it means that those people, due to their sincere religious belief, should not be required to get insurance to their Black employees, only their White ones. )

3. Once a human egg has been fertilized it has all the potential to become a full human being. Therefore, it is a full human being. We must treat fertilized eggs exactly as we treat other human beings. They have all the rights every human being has.

(My counter argument: Already described above. Simply because the cell has the potential become a full human being means only that it is a single cell that has that potential. Are we to bury our fingernail clippings? When I clip off the bit of skin on my hangnail should we give that a full funeral?  Also, remember my point about a person has a chance to save a refrigerator full of frozen fertilized eggs, perhaps hundreds of individuals, or a single live baby. Anyone who would not choose the baby is some kind of monster. Clearly a baby is much more than any number of fertilized eggs. The argument is ludicrous.)

4. Any fetus at any stage of development, even a simply fertilized egg, is a full human being because it has the potential to grow and become a human being. Therefore it is murder to kill this group of cells. No society can survive which tolerates murder. The government must enforce this law.

(My counterargument: The same as the counterargument above. However, I add the more developed a fetus is the more clearly more closely comes to being human. This is why abortion should be regulated.)

5. Abstinence solves all problems. If teens and adults are abstinent no one gets pregnant early, there's no need for abortion, there are no sexual transmitted diseases, and the world is much healthier place.

(My counterargument: Yes, in an ideal world this would be true. But in this world, the idea that abstinence will solve all problems is either a very bad joke or an absolute refusal to face reality. Sex will happen. Even the Puritans faced this problem, with many marriages occurring because a woman became pregnant. Pretending there is a magic solution to a real problem does not solve the problem.)

6. God intended men and women to marry. This is obvious because only a man and woman can make a new life. Same-sex couples are unnatural and must be banned by any moral society. This is especially true if they are raising children. Immoral people should not be allowed to raise children.

(My counter argument: Homosexual relationships have been observed in nature in hundreds of different species. If you define natural as that which happens in nature, homosexuality is entirely natural.)

7. Governments must have laws or society will fail. Since pro life positions are moral, approved by God and follow natural law, they must be enforced.

(My counter argument: Pro life positions on abortion and contraceptives are not moral, except by the standards of a fanatical minority. Most Americans believe in safe, legally regulated, limited abortions.  The minority must not be allowed to dictate to the majority.)

Best arguments both sides.


Abortion is destroying a potential human life. The bigger the fetus grows, the more complex it becomes, the closer it is to being fully human. Our instinctive revulsion at abortion does have a solid basis.


Reality is real. Sometimes it is harsh, even brutal. Nevertheless, it is real. Governments must make reasonable adaptations to reality. We do not live in an idealized fantasy world but one that must contain within it many compromises. What we must do, what our governments must do, is the best we can under difficult circumstances.

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