REPLY #17 TO
are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his 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
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
. . . 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
(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
(R) Yes, it does.
(MB) Unfortunately for those who oppose abortion, their
strongest argument is still so weak that their entire case suffers for
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
(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
(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
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
(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
(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
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
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
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
(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
(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
(R) I will be amazed if you actually respond to any of these questions on
(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.