Addressing Some Pro-Abortion Retorts

Bad Arguments Addressed

According to Romans 1:18-32, God has revealed himself to all men as their Creator, Sustainer, Lawgiver, and Judge. We all know that God has created us to exemplify his moral character, but apart from being born again by the Spirit of God, we will only ever suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Rather than condemning sin absolutely, we draw distinctions that have no basis in reality, other than the reality of our own corrupt desire to avoid being responsible to God for our sin.

An obvious example of this in our day can be seen in the arguments made by many abortion proponents. While those who perform abortions, who receive abortions willingly, and who support the practice of abortion know for certain that abortion is nothing other than the murder of an innocent human being, they nevertheless try to argue in favor of murdering the unborn. Their resulting arguments are structurally and ethically corrupt, but this typically will not stop abortion proponents. Instead, they will attempt to formulate more arguments in favor of their sin. They suppress the truth in unrighteousness.

Nevertheless, I think it is helpful to see how enemies of the truth argue. This will help us to see through the threadbare excuses for sin that the world promulgates, and guard us against falling prey to seemingly sound arguments in favor of the murder of unborn children. So I’ve decided to respond to some of the more commonly heard retorts of proponents of abortion. Hopefully, the responses will be of benefit to you.

1. “Unless you’re a woman, you can’t speak to women’s issues” –
This assertion makes all communication impossible, for every person has had unique experiences that shape how they think about certain subjects. Who, then, draws the limits around which unique experiences can or cannot be addressed by any other person? If you say that there is no one who does this, then communication, again, is impossible. If, on the other hand, there is someone who can do this, then the argument falls apart, for at least some mode of communication is possible between the one who has experienced x and the one who has not experienced x.

Even more to the point, if A says that B cannot comment on x because x is an issue only A or people like her can and do experience, and is, therefore, an issue only A or people like her can and do understand, then B cannot even be said to understand that x can only be understood by A or people like her. In other words, if it is true that only people who experience x understand it and, therefore, have a right to speak about x, and A or those like her believe that they can communicate this truth about x to others, then it is not the case that x can only be understood by A or people like her. Furthermore, it is also not the case that x cannot be spoken about by only A and people like her. If B is addressed regarding the specifics of any aspect of x, then B is assumed to have the capacity to understand x by A or people like her.

2. “It is better to abort a child who will be born with a terminal illness, or debilitating genetic deficiency, or extremely short life span than to keep her alive. The child will not have to endure physical suffering; the parents would not have to endure emotional stress and financial stress; and society would not have to bear the weight of using resources to fight an inevitable and irreversible outcome.” –
Ironically, it the superficial self-righteous justification for abortion given above that is the cause of its own demise. Let’s take a look at this in detail.

In the first place, we all are going to die (with the exception of the saints who will be alive during the return of Christ). This end is inevitable and irreversible (from the world’s perspective). Does this, then, justify the annihilation of the human race? After all, if we are all going to die, and our lives are essentially a typically slow process of decomposition, then why subject anyone to the pain and suffering of living, breaking bones, getting ill, watching pets and love ones die, feeling the financial pain and stress of having to take care of one’s on-going needs (e.g. housing, clothing, food, employment, and so on)? If it is morally good to eliminate those who will suffer needless, since they will inevitably and irreversibly meet the same fate, viz. death, then it is even better, morally speaking, to kill all humans….right?

Of course not.
But you see the problem, I pray.

The line being drawn between typical lifespans of suffering and hardship and those of the unborn is completely arbitrary. This reasoning is wicked, and asinine. If one person’s suffering and hardship is good reason to kill them, then how much more justified is the killing of the entire human race? Unless the pro-abortionist is going to likewise justify specicide in the case of humans, she must abandon this foolish kind of reasoning.

In the second place, the pro-abortionist claims made in the above example reduce to the same thing in the end, namely that it is better to not live at all than it is to experience pain and suffering and stress and heartache. This implies that the betterment of one’s intellectual, emotional, and social skills is morally preferable to the perpetuation of an unborn child who may not ever get to experience the betterment of his intellectual, emotional, and social skills. Problematically, however, it is precisely by learning how to deal with pain and suffering and futility and strife and heartache that our intellectual, emotional, and social skills are honed. Save for the sociopath, the experience of suffering helps us empathize with others when they suffer. The experience of dealing with extreme lack forces us to learn wisdom as regards not only our financial resources, but also our social resources. We are intellectually, emotionally, and socially matured by the limitations, stress, pain, suffering, and heartaches we experience. Without them, we would be much worse off than we already are; however, if abortion is advanced on the grounds that it will eliminate those things, then even we will be reduced to savage, mindless, and self-destructive monsters.

Note that this assumption is already presupposed by the pro-abortionist who makes the above claims. The pro-abortionist who makes those claims assumes that empathy, birthed from the mutual understanding of pain and suffering/etc in her and her hearer’s lives, will drive the anti-abortionist to abandon her opposition to abortion. This is self-contradictory, as allowing for abortion for the stated reason above would eliminate the very means by which our intellectual, emotional, and social maturation which largely contributed to our own ability to empathize with those who make the claim that they should be listened to because they are seeking to end pain, suffering, etc.

3. “Bodily autonomy is a fundamental human right naturally possessed by everyone. To outlaw abortion, therefore, is to eliminate a woman’s ability to exercise bodily autonomy.” –
This kind of reasoning is irrational in several regards. Firstly, if everyone has the right to exercise absolute bodily autonomy, then there can be no legal restrictions on what anyone does with their body. This knife cuts both ways, then, for if it is true that absolute bodily autonomy is possessed by all men, and that restricting the ways in which individuals use their bodies is an immoral thing to do, then any restriction on how, say, a serial killer uses his body is likewise immoral. This may seem like an extreme case, so let’s take an example from the very abortion debate we are referencing. If bodily autonomy is absolute, then there will never be a just restriction of how others use their bodies, including those who oppose abortion. So if it is the case that bodily autonomy is morally good, and the restriction of bodily freedom is not good, then it follows that the anti-aboritonist’s bodily expressed opposition to abortion cannot be violated by anyone.

Concluding Remarks

I presented my arguments above in order to show that the retorts of pro-abortionists are not only immoral but also fallacious. If retort 1 is true, then it is necessarily false. If the value hierarchy assumed by retort 2 is true, then retort 2 is expressly immoral. And if retort 3 is true, then abortion and anti-abortion advocacy are equally condemned. It needs to be said that these objections are probably not what you’ll hear on the street from women and men on their way to enter the abortion clinic. However, they are objections that you will likely hear in discussions online or among your family members or non-Christian friends and family in some other context. My responses are meant as a guide for you think through the logical problems of the pro-abortionist retorts. Perhaps by pointing out that the above listed objections are inherently self-defeating and, therefore, false, you can show how irrational the thinking behind pro-abotion advocacy is, and by that further draw emphasis to the reality of sin’s effects on the heart of man.

Soli Deo Gloria
-h.

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Rhetorical Tricks of the Enemies Trade Pt. 4a – Biblical Trinitarian

Over at BiblicalTrinitarian.com, I’ve recently published part 4a of my ongoing series looking at various maneuvers and tricks used by enemies of the faith in their argumentation (i.e. Rhetorical Tricks of the Enemies Trade). Here is an excerpt of the article, which you can read in its entirety here.

An Apologetical Reflection on Dialogical Rules of Engagement

Language use varies not only from one group to another, but also from context to context. Academicians, for instance, generally seek to constrain subjective, emotive language as much as possible in order to focus their readers’ attention on the content being argued either for or against. Outside of academic circles, generally most of us employ subjective, emotive language, interestingly, to the same end. Persuasive interpersonal communication, in fact, seems to rest largely on a speaker’s apparent subjectivity and empathy, whereas non-persuasive communication of this kind is deficient in apparent subjectivity and empathy. Within their respective contexts, granting that interlocutors are aware of the context’s rules of engagement (e.g. whether they are engaging in a specialized academic disputation or an informal conversational debate), these modes of communication are not problematic. However, if one is unaware of the rules of engagement, then he is bound to misunderstand the meaning of his interlocutor’s assertions.

For example, the word “all” can function in several different ways in any given informal context. Informal contexts often use the word all hyperbolically, as a means of emphasis. Contextually, assertions of the variety “All x are y!” typically are not quantitatively precise, but serve to emphasize a large quantity of some particular “y.” “All” would mean “most,” not each and every individual x. More precise informal contexts may involve the use of “all” in conjunction with a place, signifying not the entirety of that place’s population, but the entirety of the people representative of that place. The sentence “All New Yorkers are Yankees fans,” for instance, does not mean each and every New Yorker is a fan of the Yankees. Rather, it means that all native New York baseball fans are Yankees fans. The quanitative all here is precise, but it is limited to a subset of the absolute All in the tautologous assertion “All permanent New York residents are New Yorkers.” The precise use of the word all, in other words, is shown to be relative to a particular subset of the complete set of permanent New York residents.

Oftentimes, as has been mentioned already, a failure to properly interpret the informal use of, for instance, the universal quantifier all can lead to much confusion between interlocutors. Informal discourse must be interpreted according to the rules of engagement employed by interlocutors. As regards formal discourse, similarly, the rules of engagement must be understood if proper interpretation is to be achieved. What is key to achieving understanding between interlocutors, then, is both parties understanding the rules of engagement. Are they engaged in informal discourse? Then set-A rules apply. Are they engaged in formal discourse? Then set-B rules apply. The broader categories of formal and informal, moreover, can be further refined so as to ensure that formal scientific discourse, for instance, is not interpreted according to the rules of engagement in formal philosophical, or literary contexts.

To put the matter simply: The words we use typically have several meanings, and these meanings are native to particular contexts. The contexts here refer to (i.)a general dialogical context one is engaging in (e.g. Formal vs. Informal), (ii.)the sub-context of that general context (e.g. Formal-Philosophical vs. Informal-Philosophical), and (iii.)the narrow context between specific interlocutors (e.g. Formal-Philosophical-Ontological vs. Informal-Philosophical-Ontological). With this in mind, we may be able to better articulate our own arguments, as well as better understand which criticisms against our argumentation are legitimate and which are not.

The explicit purpose of this article is to better elucidate and, therefore, understand illegitimate criticisms of theologically sound argumentation, i.e. criticisms that ignore dialogical contexts.

Soli Deo Gloria
-h.