Night Owl Mk. II

HomeSite 4.0
Created with Allaire HomeSite 4.0

Last Update: 18 Oct 99

Return to "Abortion" essay

Back to Philosophy page

Please feel free to E-mail me with your own comments on this issue or on anything else included in my Philosophy of Life section. Debate is good!

Please report any problems with this page to the Webmaster!


Boldfaced statements are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.

Italicized/emphasized comments prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.

My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text and are prefaced by my initials (MB).

(R) I read many of your responses to your Abortion page and thought I would offer a few of my own. Many of them will undoubtedly be echoed on your pages, but instead of arguing with your responses to other people, thought I would start from scratch.
(MB) OK, let's see what you have to say...

In a perfect world, <snip> Unfortunately, however, we do not live in a perfect world, nor, are we likely to do so any time in the foreseeable future. Therefore, I feel that abortion must remain an option.
(R) This is a logically inconsistent argument - the antecedants don't necessarily relate to the conclusion. Abortion as an option has nothing to do with us living in a perfect world. I could use the same antecedants and conclude that Abortion ISN'T an option.
(MB) My essay's argument was a before-the-fact rebuttal to a common line of anti-abortion argument concerning what they feel would happen in a "perfect world" and was meant to refute views which are based upon unrealistic "perfect world" scenarios. Also, since such arguments claim that abortion would not exist in a "perfect world", it was only necessary for me to point out that we do not live in a perfect world. Therefore, abortion exists as a reality. Since it exists, it is an option that must be considered -- even if the result of that consideration is to completely reject the procedure. "Perfect world" arguments are nothing more than tactics of evasion which do nothing but avoid having to answer difficult questions directly.

The Bible-thumpers will rant and rave about "murdering babies" - despite all medical evidence to the contrary.
(R) It's a semantic argument. As long as you can convince people that you're talking about "fetuses", you're on semi-solid ground. The minute it becomes a "baby", you're toast.
(MB) That's correct. This is why precise terminology is required instead of emotional appeals.

I feel that this argument smacks of little more than attempting to force-feed their own morality to those who don't wish to partake of it.
(R) Can you give me one reason why I should be "force fed" the morality of "choice" when I don't wish to partake of it, nor wish to live in a society that tolerates it? Why isn't your view "force feeding" but my view is?
(MB) Simple. If a woman has an abortion, her decision does not affect your life in any way. Your life would be exactly the same as if you had never known about the woman's abortion in the first place. You (or, more properly, your wife) are not obligated in any way to also have an abortion just because that other woman was permitted to have one. Therefore, you can't claim that anything has been forced upon you.
    On the other hand, if you actively work to prevent that same woman from having an abortion, your action *does* affect her life very significantly, and she can rightly claim that your morality has been forced upon her.

Combine this with the staggeringly incompetent view that it doesn't matter even if the woman became pregnant as a result of rape or incest
(R) Would you be incompetent to suggest that I was less of a person if I was conceived through rape or incest? I would say yes. Therefore, if we're talking about babies (and it is my view that we are), the manner of conception, regardless how horrible, does not affect the humanity of the child.
(MB) The "humanity of the child" was not the point being debated. The point was the circumstances of the conception of the child and how they contribute towards the mother's decision of whether or not to have an abortion. The relevant question is whether or not the woman must be forced to bear a child that she unwillingly conceived through the actions of a man who is not, in any way, the woman's chosen life partner.

(R) Actually, it's a strange sort of "Original Sin" argument. It seems that in your view, children conceived through violence are somehow less worthy of life than those conceived through love.
(MB) This has nothing to do with whether or not any individual life is more or less "worthy" than any other life. That, in itself, is a separate issue of debate. The point is whether or not the woman must be forced to bear a child who was conceived unwillingly as a result of a violent act.

. . . and the religious argument(s) against abortion aren't worth the effort that it takes to shout them out.
(R) This is a rather self-contradicting statement, given your massive website.
(MB) Not at all. The unworthiness of the religious arguments against abortion certainly doesn't mean that those who strongly support them won't make the effort to push them. If they do so, then they must be addressed and refuted. That is the purpose of this forum. Saying that an argument is unworthy is not as effective as demonstrating that point.

The strongest argument against abortion concerns the question "When does life begin?".
(R) Yes, it does.
(MB) Unfortunately for those who oppose abortion, their strongest argument is still so weak that their entire case suffers for it.

Since our legal system has many laws prohibiting the taking of human life, if it can be conclusively demonstrated that "human life" also applies to an unborn fetus, then those laws would also apply. However, our legal system never has granted the other rights and privileges of "human life" to the unborn.
(R) Has it ever crossed your mind that our legal system might be wrong?
(MB) Of course. Has it ever crossed your mind that it might just be right? My view is supported by the highest court in the land.

(R) Remember, this is the same legal system that defended the horrors of slavery for nearly a century, and upheld "Jim Crow" segregation laws for another century after that. Is this the rock that you base your argument upon?
(MB) Nope. Remember that those laws were changed when the evidence accumulated to the point where change was required. This has not happened in the case of attempts to change the legality of abortion.
    Let's also not forget that the horrors of slavery were justified by appeals to the Bible and that numerous historical atrocities have been sanctioned in the name of "God" since Man first invented him. Much of this continues even today. Is this the rock upon which you wish to base your arguments?

To make the moralistic "life begins at conception" argument a legal fact would bring about all make and manner of ugly ramifications that would have no justification either in medical fact or in societal custom.
(R) It seems that your argument here is that it would be a hassle if the law were to recognize the "life begins at conception" argument.
(MB) Not at all. I'm saying that the "life begins at conception" argument has not been sufficiently reasoned and to enact laws based upon this inadequate reasoning would inevitably lead to numerous serious problems.

(R) Gee, I'm amazed that the slave owners didn't try that one - it sure is compelling . . . (sarcasm)
(MB) They did! One major argument of the slave owners immediately prior to the Civil War was what they were going to do with all those free Blacks if slavery was to be abolished. They argued that it would be "easier" to keep them chained up -- which, of course, would have kept the institution of slavery in force.

(R) Again, what is more important - convenience or that we do what is right?
(MB) What's most important is justifying any claim that any given behavior is either "right" or "wrong". Your statement is a false dichotomy in that it suggests that something which is convenient can't also be "right".

Without the supporting medical evidence, it becomes very difficult to force the moralistic argument against abortion onto those who are non-Christian and, therefore, do not believe in what the Bible might have to say.
(R) What is this "medical evidence" that you keep talking about?
(MB) The evidence that would support the Xian notion that life begins at conception with its implication that this "life" possesses a "soul" and/or derives from "God" and is, therefore, something "special".

That would be just as foolhardy an effort as it would be to force a non-Muslim or a non-Hindu to act in a certain way just because the holy books of those religions says to act that way.
(R) It has nothing to do with holy books or a certain religion, it's about respect for life, and for the record, pretty much every religion has some edict against indiscriminate killing.
(MB) Quite true, but from where do those edicts derive? Heck, neither humanism nor atheism nor any other belief system approves of indiscriminate killing, either, so what's your point? In fact, the moralistic argument against abortion *does* depend on the doctrine of the Xian religion.

Until such time as medical evidence proves otherwise, I think it's clear that the unborn can not be regarded as being "human" - at least in the eyes of the law.
(R) Can you suggest what that medical evidence might be?
(MB) Evidence that anything is actually "lost" by aborting a fetus would qualify. Evidence that a fetus in any stage of development prior to viability is no different from one that has gained the ability to survive on its own would also be compelling.

(R) What is the goal that the anti-abortion people should be aiming for?
(MB) The goal should be an argument that is based upon reason and clear evidence instead of emotion and arbitrary doctrine.

(R) For example, let's say that you set the threshold of "babyness" at "capable of living outside the womb." I've got news for you, medical science is fast encroaching on this threshold every day.
(MB) What you are saying is hardly "news", but it is not what I was referring to. You can hardly claim "viability" for an undifferentiated mass of cells that can be artificially kept alive for a short period of time in a petri dish. You also cannot claim it for a fetus which has not yet sufficiently developed the necessary organs which would be required to support its continued life if it was no longer attached to its mother.

(R) I will be amazed if you actually respond to any of these questions on your site.
(MB) Why would you be amazed? I respond to *all* questions. In this case, the questions are anything *but* difficult ones for me. I'm not sure why you consider them to be so strong.

Created with Allaire HomeSite 4.0 .......... Last Update: 18 Oct 99

Earthlink Network Home Page