Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My debate reaction: Abortionist begged the question

Two weeks ago at the University of Minnesota, Stephanie Gray (a wonderful pro-life apologist from the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform) debated local Minnesota abortionist Dr. David Baram on the question of whether abortion is a human right or a human rights violation. In response to the event, I wrote the following short letter to the editor of the U of M's student newspaper, the Minnesota Daily, and it was published on April 19. The letter generated a good deal of online commentary and discussion, which you can find here.
I attended the campus event Wednesday night offering two perspectives on the abortion issue. During the question and answer period, I asked Dr. David Baram, representing the pro-choice side, to point to some morally relevant difference between unborn humans and humans who have already been born, such that we may kill the former but not the latter for the same reasons.

Rather than answer my question, he repeated a line he had used throughout the evening: “Abortion is a woman’s decision.”

But this commits a logical fallacy known as begging the question — it assumes the very point Baram needed to prove. Clearly, it is not “a woman’s decision” to murder her toddler; the question at hand is whether the unborn, like the toddler, deserves full moral respect and ought not to be killed for the convenience or benefit of another. Baram’s answer was “no,” but he never offered an argument for this position — not through the entire debate.

It is disappointing to see Baram — and, it seemed, the vast majority of his pro-choice debate cheerleaders — relying on such intellectually superficial rhetoric. It is not worthy of academia.