Friday, February 26, 2010

The structure of moral reasoning

"A moral conclusion about the goodness or evil of a human act is deduced from two premises: a major premise, which states a general moral principle (e.g. 'we ought to pay our debts') and a minor premise, which sees a particular situation as coming under that principle (e.g. 'international debts are debts'). Thus the essential pro-life argument is as follows. The major premise is: 'Thou shalt not kill' — i.e., all deliberate killing of innocent human beings is forbidden. The minor premise is that abortion is the deliberate killing of innocent human beings. The conclusion is that abortion is wrong."

-- Peter Kreeft

The ad hominem fallacy and pro-choice rhetoric

A person commits the ad hominem fallacy when he attacks his opponent rather than deals with the argument at hand. It happens all the time. The problem is that the personal attack, even if it's true, has no bearing on whether or not a particular position or viewpoint is true. As an argument it's totally fallacious.

Philosopher Ken Samples offers this explanation of the ad hominem fallacy, and how to counter it:
General George S. Patton, Jr.'s standing order during the Second World War was to "attack, attack, attack, and, if in doubt, attack again!" That approach certainly worked well for the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II. However, when it comes to logic and peacetime, the attack needs to be focused on the argument, not on the person.

Informal fallacies—defects or errors in reasoning—cause arguments to break down. The ad hominem fallacy (argument against the person) occurs when one arguer presents his point and the second arguer ignores the point, instead attacking the character of his opponent. This tactic is not only personally offensive but also logically unacceptable because it violates two core principles of reasoning. First, a person has an intellectual responsibility to respond to the content of an argument. Second, the character attack itself is irrelevant to the person's argument (whether or not it is true). Even morally flawed people can present sound arguments.

The ad hominem fallacy comes in three identifiable varieties:

1. abusive: directly denouncing character (old-fashioned name-calling).
2. circumstantial: raising special circumstances in an attempt to discredit a person's motives (also known as "poisoning the well").
3. tu quoque: accusing the other person of hypocrisy as an attempt to avoid personal criticism (tu quoque is Latin for "you too").

To criticize a person's character may be appropriate—if the person's character is the logical issue at hand. For example, jurors in a courtroom need to know if a witness has been found guilty of perjury in the past. Believability is closely connected to the issue of discerning truth.

For dealing with ad hominem attacks, I offer two recommendations: (1) Don't give in to the temptation to respond in the same abusive manner, and (2) help the arguer (and others) to see that the attack is logically irrelevant and then refocus attention on the argument at hand. Once the focus is back on arguments and not a person, listeners (even opponents) are likely to consider and be persuaded.
How does this fallacy come into play in the abortion discussion? Aside from name calling, here are a few common claims:

"Men can't get pregnant, so you can't tell women what to do."

But whether or not abortion is morally wrong and should be prohibited is totally independent of the person (male or female) making that claim. Any argument has to be considered on its merits, not dismissed simply because of who is offering it.

Put differently, the pro-life position is not gendered. I am male, but my argument isn't.

"Think of the bizarre rules we could derive from this argument," Scott Klusendorf writes: "'Since only generals understand battle, only they should discuss the morality of war.' Or, 'Because female sportscasters have never experienced a groin injury, they have no right to broadcast football games on national television.'"

(As an aside, perhaps the majority of pro-life Americans are women, not men, including the vast majority of those working in pro-life pregnancy care centers. Are their views not legitimate? Further, the Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion on demand was decided by nine men. Should it be overturned for that reason?)

"You can't oppose abortion if you're not willing to adopt the unwanted babies."

How does my personal willingness or unwillingness to adopt babies have any bearing on the morality of abortion? This is like saying, "Unless you're willing to take care of my five children, you can't object when I drown them in a lake."

In any case, many pro-lifers do adopt children -- over a million couples are currently waiting to adopt -- and about 3,000 pregnancy care centers across the nation stand ready to help pregnant women and their children.

"You're inconsistent for not opposing war or the death penalty, and for not supporting government welfare programs, sex education and the promotion of contraception."

Pro-lifers actually hold a variety of views on issues like war, capital punishment, welfare, contraception and sex education. We don't all agree. But suppose I do hold contradictory views: It simply doesn't follow that my view on abortion is mistaken. A pro-choice advocate must deal with the argument itself.

"Pro-lifers don't care about babies once they are born."

This is certainly false, but again, the killing of unborn children is not justified by my alleged apathy toward the plight of a 5-year-old in poverty.

So, the issue at hand (in an abortion discussion) is not me or my other views and alleged inconsistencies. It's abortion, and whether or not it unjustly takes the life of an innocent human being.

Scott Klusendorf has more on pro-abortion ad hominem attacks here.

GAMC does fund abortions in Minnesota

According to current Minnesota law, pregnant women on the General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) program are supposed to be transferred to the Medical Assistance program, so GAMC would not be involved in paying for any abortions.

But the most recent statistics from the Minnesota Department of Human Services reveal that in 2007 there were 68 abortions paid for by GAMC funds at a cost of more than $25,000 to Minnesota taxpayers.

At health care summit, Pelosi misleads on abortion

Yesterday at the big health care summit, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denied that the current health care reform legislation would fund abortion. Douglas Johnson of National Right to Life responds:
Speaker Pelosi has her own idiosyncratic dictionary, one in which federal agencies can pay for abortion on demand without spending "public funds" or "taxpayer funds" for abortion. In ordinary English, however, this is deceptive claptrap. ...

The Senate produced a final bill that is the most pro-abortion single piece of legislation to reach the floor of either house of Congress since Roe v. Wade. It would result in direct federal funding of abortion through Community Health Centers, tax subsidies for private plans that cover abortion (including some federally administered plans), and pro-abortion federal administrative mandates, among other problems.
Learn more about abortion in health care here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Golden Rule and abortion

"Abortion is wrong because of the most simple, obvious, and universally accepted of all moral principles: the Golden Rule, 'Do unto others what you would have them do unto you, and do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you.' Combine this principle, as one premise, with the fact that a human fetus is a fetal human, a human being, as the other premise, and you get the conclusion that abortion is wrong."

-- Peter Kreeft (Three Approaches to Abortion, p. 31)

New Obama proposal makes pro-abortion health care bill even worse

The following is a news release from the National Right to Life Committee.


WASHINGTON -- The following statement may be attributed to Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the federation of right-to-life affiliates in all 50 states.

Any member of Congress who votes for the final legislation proposed by President Obama will be voting for direct federal funding of elective abortion through Community Health Centers, and also an array of other pro-abortion federal subsidies and mandates.

The health bill passed by the Senate in December (H.R. 3590) had become, by the conclusion of the Senate amendment process, the most expansively pro-abortion bill ever brought to the floor of either house of Congress since Roe v. Wade. The Senate bill, as passed, contained seven distinct problems pertaining to abortion policies. (The bill passed earlier by the House, H.R. 3962, contained none of these pro-abortion components, thanks to adoption of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment on the House floor on November 7, 2009, by a vote of 240-194.) President Obama today proposed "a targeted set of changes to" the Senate-passed bill. None of President Obama's proposed changes diminish any of the sweeping pro-abortion problems in the Senate bill, and he actually proposes to increase the funds that would be available to directly subsidize abortion procedures (through Community Health Centers) and to subsidize private health insurance that covers abortion (through the premium-subsidy tax credits program).

If all of the President's changes were made, the resulting legislation would allow direct federal funding of abortion on demand through Community Health Centers, would institute federal subsidies for private health plans that cover abortion on demand (including some federally administered plans), and would authorize federal mandates that would require even non-subsidized private plans to cover elective abortion.

Here is one problem, offered for illustration: The Senate bill, due to a last-minute amendment, provides $7 billion for the nation's 1,250 Community Health Centers, without any restriction whatever on the use of these federal funds to pay directly for abortion on demand. (These funds are entirely untouched by the "Hyde Amendment" that currently covers Medicaid.) Obama today proposed to increase that figure to $11 billion, but without adding a prohibition on the use of the funds for abortion. (The House-passed bill would provide $12 billion, but in the House bill the funds would be covered by the Stupak-Pitts Amendment.) Two pro-abortion groups, the Reproductive Health Access Project and the Abortion Access Project, are already actively campaigning for Community Health Centers to perform elective abortions. In short, the Senate bill would allow direct federal funding of abortion on demand through Community Health Centers. A memorandum documenting this issue in further detail is posted here:

The abortion-related differences between the House-passed and Senate-passed bills are far, far greater than one would gather from reading superficial summaries such as those published repeatedly in the mainstream news media. These thumbnail sketches have tended to focus exclusively and superficially on certain provisions associated with Senator Ben Nelson. NRLC believes that the Nelson provisions are unacceptable, but the pro-abortion problems in the Senate bill go far beyond the flawed Nelson provisions. A letter from NRLC to U.S. House members, explaining the multiple pro-abortion components of the Senate-passed bill, is posted here:

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) produced a 13-page memorandum that throws the many unacceptable provisions of the Senate bill into stark relief, which is posted here:

A substantial number of pro-life Democrats in the House, including some lawmakers whose names have not been mentioned on the various published lists, have told their constituents that they are not going to vote for the Senate-passed bill because of the abortion problems. For pro-life Democrats, President Obama's proposal only makes matters worse. The only thing that would fix the Senate bill on abortion is permanent, bill-wide language that is functionally identical to the Stupak-Pitts Amendment adopted in the House on November 7, 2009.

The Obama proposal also would force rationing of lifesaving medical treatment, a matter that will be the subject of separate comment by the National Right to Life Committee.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The importance of supporting pregnant women

Frederica Mathewes-Green writes:

The most important thing pregnancy centers provide will always remain the individual friendship and support that a pregnant women needs. When I began research for my book, "Real Choices: Listening to Women, Looking for Alternatives to Abortion," I had the goal of discovering the main reasons women had abortions. I thought that if we could rank-order the problems women faced -- material, practical, and financial -- we'd be able to address them more effectively.

To my great surprise, I found that these practical forms of support were only secondarily important. Woman after woman told me that the reason she'd had an abortion was that someone she cared about told her she should. The people she needed to lean on for support in a crisis pregnancy, like her boyfriend or mother, didn't supply that support, but instead encouraged her -- and sometimes, sadly, coerced her -- to have an abortion instead.

While pro-choice advocates present abortion as an act of autonomy, pregnant women experience it rather as a response to abandonment. Pregnancy is the icon of human connectedness, binding a woman to her child and the father of the child. Abortion shatters those connections and leaves her desolate.

Thus, when I asked women, "What would you have needed in order to finish the pregnancy?" repeatedly they told me, "I needed just one person to stand by me."

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Minnesota House fails to remove abortion funding from GAMC program

MCCL-backed amendment would end injustice of taxpayer funded abortion in GAMC

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota House of Representatives today failed in a 67-67 vote to pass a ban on taxpayer funded abortions in the state's General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) program. Supported by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), the ban would have been the first limit on public funding of abortion since the Minnesota Supreme Court imposed abortion funding.

"State representatives today failed to vote in accord with the people of Minnesota, the majority of whom do not want to be forced to pay for elective abortions," said MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. "MCCL has renewed its call on state lawmakers to reverse this injustice."

Minnesota taxpayers have been required to fund elective abortions since the Minnesota Supreme Court's 1995 Doe v. Gomez ruling. In that decision, the Court created a state "right" to abortion on demand and obligated taxpayer funding of abortion.

Taxpayers have been forced to fund abortion procedures done under both GAMC and Medical Assistance (MA), the Minnesota Medicaid program. In 1993, taxpayers paid about $7,000 for 23 abortions performed in cases of rape, incest, or where the life of the mother was in danger. In 2007, taxpayers funded 3,914 abortions at a cost of $1.58 million, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services; the total since 1994 is 47,115 abortions and $14.1 million.

These statistics demonstrate that the abortion industry has used taxpayer funding to greatly increase its revenues by exploiting low-income women.

"Taxpayer funded abortions—forcing citizens to pay for the killing of unborn children—is an issue that rises above partisan and ideological politics," Fischbach added. "Minnesotans must not be forced to pay abortionists for their destruction of innocent human life."

MCCL is Minnesota's oldest and largest pro-life organization with more than 70,000 member families and 240 chapters across the state. For more information about MCCL, visit

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Human beings are not like constructed objects

A follow-up to the last post:

We can see major problems with viewing human beings as "constructed" when we get into the details of who counts as a valuable person and who doesn't. On the constructionist view, human organisms are valuable for certain functional characteristics (they must "look human," be viable, etc. -- they must be "fully constructed" to a certain degree).

But the criteria offered by defenders of abortion and embryo-destructive research always seem too arbitrary to justify radically different treatment of different classes of humans. Richard Stith points out that in the case of constructed objects, such as a car, everyone has their own idea of when the car-in-construction officially counts as a car. Do we really want to take the same approach to valuing human beings? Maybe we aren't "fully human" until we reach maturity at about age 18 or 21, so children and teenagers don't merit full respect and protection.

Constructionist criteria is arbitrary, totally undermines our intuitive notion of human equality (construction is a matter of degree, after all), and can exclude obvious examples of valuable human persons. It seems clear that human beings are not like constructed objects at all. We are living organisms who maintain our identities at each stage of development even as we gain and lose abilities. We have our dignity and our right to life by virtue of what we are, not by virtue of arbitrary, degreed characteristics we may acquire.

Human beings are not made -- they develop

Richard Stith writes of a New York Times op-ed claiming that "most Americans ... see a fetus as an individual under construction."

According to Stith, "This widespread vision of the embryo and fetus as 'under construction' is the key to understanding why good people may find pro-life arguments to be absurd or otherwise non-rational, e.g., religious, particularly with regard to embryonic stem cell research."

Stith gives this example:
Just think of something being constructed (fabricated, assembled, composed, sculpted – in short, made), such as a house, or a scholarly article – or take a car on an assembly line. When is a car first there? At what point in the assembly line would we first say, "There's a car"? Some of us would no doubt go with appearance, saying that there is a car as soon as the body is fairly complete (in analogy to the fetus at 10 weeks or so). I suppose that most of us would look for something functional. We would say that there is a car only after a motor is in place (in analogy to quickening). Others might wait for the wheels (in analogy to viability) or even the windshield wipers (so that it's viable even in the rain). And a few might say, "It's not a car until it rolls out onto the street" (in analogy to birth). There would be many differing opinions.

However, one thing upon which we'll probably all agree is this: Nobody is going to say that the car is there at the very beginning of the assembly line, when the first screw or rivet is put in or when two pieces of metal are first welded together. (You can see how little I know about car manufacturing.) Two pieces of metal fastened together don't match up to anybody's idea of a car.

I think that this is exactly the way that many people see the embryo, like the car-to-be at the very beginning of the construction process. In the first stages of construction you don't have a house, you don't have a car, you don't have a human individual yet. You don't ever have what you're making when you've just started making it.
Thinking of the embryo in this way is scientifically mistaken. It is not a correct understanding of the nature of living things, which are not constructed, but rather develop. We know this as a matter of fact.

Scott Klusendorf puts it like this:
Embryos aren't constructed piece by piece from the outside; they develop themselves from within. That is to say, they do something no constructed thing could ever do: they direct their own internal growth and maturation, and this entails continuity of being. Unlike cars, developing embryos have no outside builder. They're all there just as soon as growth begins from within. In short, living organisms define and form themselves. An oak tree is the same entity that was once a shoot in the ground, years before it had branches and leaves.
In other words, each one of us was once an embryo. Embryos are whole organisms from the beginning of their existence, fully programmed to develop themselves through the different stages of human life. Stith adds a helpful analogy:
Here is a non-biological example of development. Suppose that we are back in the pre-digital photo days and you have a Polaroid camera and you have taken a picture that you think is unique and valuable – let's say a picture of a jaguar darting out from a Mexican jungle. The jaguar has now disappeared, and so you are never going to get that picture again in your life, and you really care about it. (I am trying to make this example parallel to a human being, for we say that every human being is uniquely valuable.) You pull the tab out and as you are waiting for it to develop, I grab it away from you and rip it open, thus destroying it. When you get really angry at me, I just say blithely, "You're crazy. That was just a brown smudge. I cannot fathom why anyone would care about brown smudges." Wouldn't you think that I were the insane one? Your photo was already there. We just couldn't see it yet.
You can find more about fetal development here, and Scott Klusendorf summarizes Stith's analysis here.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Choosing life is not a gamble

Contrary to what some pro-choice observers have claimed, the Tim Tebow Super Bowl ad does not "implicitly promise" that if a pregnant woman opts against abortion, her child will grow up to be a Heisman trophy-winning quarterback. After all, some babies grow up to be criminals (as abortion defenders like to point out).

The point, rather, is that Tebow's mother recognized her unborn son as the valuable person he was (and is). Every human being, at every stage of his or her development, is deserving of the same respect.

One writer puts it well: "Choosing life — the choice Pam Tebow made — is not gambling on the value of the child, it's realizing the child has value at all."

Friday, February 12, 2010

How abortion affects the African-American community

February is Black History Month. For pro-lifers it should call to mind the disproportionate effect of abortion on the African-American community.

Minority women constitute only about 13% of the female population (age 15-44) in the United States, but they underwent approximately 36% of the abortions.

According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, black women are more than 5 times as likely as white women to have an abortion.

On average, 1,876 black babies are aborted every day in the United States.

This incidence of abortion has resulted in a tremendous loss of life. It has been estimated that since 1973 Black women have had about 16 million abortions. Michael Novak has calculated, "Since the number of current living Blacks (in the U.S.) is 36 million, the missing 16 million represents an enormous loss, for without abortion, America's Black community would now number 52 million persons. It would be 36 percent larger than it is. Abortion has swept through the Black community like a scythe, cutting down every fourth member."

Monday, February 8, 2010

'Vegetative' patients show cognitive abilities

From the Wall Street Journal:
In a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, four of 23 patients diagnosed as being in a vegetative state showed signs of consciousness on brain-imaging tests.

Even more significantly, one patient was able to answer yes and no questions using the researchers' technique—indicating the potential for communication with people previously considered unresponsive. ...

The study, using a technique Dr. [Adrian M.] Owen first implemented in a 2006 study of brain activity in one vegetative patient, demonstrates the challenges of determining awareness in brain-damaged patients. Some estimates put misdiagnosis as high as 40%, Dr. Owen said. It's possible some of the vegetative patients in the study had some consciousness but that brain injury may have left them deaf or incapable of responding, he said.
I hope discoveries like this will make us less willing to starve and dehydrate to death "vegetative" patients like Terri Schindler Schiavo. We simply know too little to make a confident, accurate diagnosis in many cases.

But the broader problem is that we wrongly value patients for what they can do, mentally or otherwise, rather than for what they are. We see people as valuable instrumentally instead of intrinsically. So certain classes of (always vulnerable) human beings -- the unborn, sick and disabled, like Terri -- are excluded from respect and protection as part of the human family. That must change.

Terri's brother, Bobby Schindler, puts it this way: "Nobody should have to earn the right to hydration. We should do everything we can to care for these people, regardless of how responsive or unresponsive they are. We are morally obligated to care for these people."

The difference between Barack Obama and William Wilberforce

At the Life Training Institute blog, Jay Watts writes:
In the course of his [recent] speech, President Obama recalled the efforts of Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, and William Wilberforce as examples of people who saw God in the faces of their enemies. Here is where President Obama's delusion is most apparent. He is so eager to cast himself in the light of those great men and see similarities in the resistance they faced that he misses the common thread that unites them and excludes him. It certainly was not their shared civility and gift of articulation.

Those men are remembered in high esteem because they refused to compromise basic principles in relation to the equality and value of all human life. They faced down injustice with courage and strength in the face of resistance that was well beyond common political incivility in declaring a whole race of human beings as less important than another. We honor them because we understand that it would have been easier for them to care less, but that the particular evils that confronted each of them demanded people of strength be willing to commit themselves to opposing those evils. Whether by design or in the course of those unfolding events, these men joined their lives to the struggle for freedom and equality for all time.

You do not join the ranks of those men by passing legislation that any old democrat at any time would champion if they held the presidency. You do it by recognizing that injustice and inequality are still present today and that a group of human beings are currently the victims of terrible inhumanity. The unborn human beings that are destroyed and exploited today, like all the powerless before them, are in need of men and women of courage to stand up and seek the recognition of their basic humanity.
But President Obama chooses not to stand up on their behalf.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Women in jail if abortion is illegal? No

"If abortion is made illegal the woman having one will be a criminal. How much time should she do?"

That's what this website asks. It's an emotional argument that abortion advocates often seem to make: that it follows from the pro-life view that women having abortions should be treated like murderers and thrown in prison. But it doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

First, even if the reasoning is sound, it does nothing to disprove our claim that abortion unjustly takes the lives of innocent human persons.

Second, criminalizing women simply does not follow from the pro-life view that abortion is a grave moral evil and should be prohibited. To think so requires "a simplistic view of the purpose of criminal law and the penalties for violating it," Francis Beckwith writes. Abortion advocates who make this argument have not thought it through very carefully. Let me quote Beckwith at length (Defending Life, 108-111, emphases mine):
This argument ignores the pre-legalization laws and penalties for illegal abortion and possible reasons they were instituted. Although it is clear that these laws considered the unborn human persons, in most states women were granted immunity from prosecution and in other states the penalties were very light. ...

It seems likely that by prudently balancing the unborn's personhood, the evil of abortion, the desperation of the woman, and the need for evidence to insure a conviction, jurists and legislators in the past believed that the best way to prevent abortions from occurring and at the same time uphold the sanctity of human life was to criminalize abortion, prosecute the abortionist, grant immunity or a light penalty to the woman, and show her compassion by recognizing that she is the second victim of abortion. ...

Because of a general lack of understanding of the true nature of the unborn child -- likely due to decades of cultural saturation by abortion-choice rhetoric and little serious philosophical reflection on the pro-life position by the general public -- most citizens who procure abortions do so out of well-meaning ignorance.

The woman who will seek and obtain an illegal abortion is really a second victim. Women who seek illegal abortions will probably do so out of desperation. Not realizing at the time of the abortion that the procedure kills a real human being, some of these women suffer from depression and guilt feelings after finding out the true nature of the unborn. ... [I]t is likely that the pregnant woman will not be fully informed of the unborn's nature (e.g., "You're not carrying a baby, it's a 'product of conception,' 'blob of tissue,' 'a bunch of cells,' etc.")
Note that this site does nothing to address or refute such thoughtful thinking about appropriate criminal law and penalties. And it provides no justification for its own claim that severe penalties for women should follow from the pro-life position, even though that's the premise of the entire website!

The pro-life position in no way entails that women be punished for having abortions. Pro-life organizations, including National Right to Life, oppose punishing women for abortion -- ever.

The problem with pro-choice rhetoric

Here's what a former celebrity says in a new Planned Parenthood video (responding to the pro-life Tim Tebow Super Bowl ad, which will showcase Tebow's mother's decision to choose life):
My mom showed me that women are strong and wise. She taught me that only women can make the best decisions about their health and their future. ... We're working toward the day when every woman will be valued; where every woman's decision about her health and her family will be respected.
Another former celebrity adds:
I want my daughter to live in a world where everyone's decisions are respected. ... My daughter will always be my little girl. But I am proud of her everyday as I watch her grow up to be her own person, a smart, confident young woman. I trust her to take care of herself. ... We celebrate our families by supporting our mothers, by supporting our daughters. By trusting women.
And Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards says: "We must respect the ability of every woman to make important medical decisions for herself and her family."

There's one major, fundamental problem with all of these statements, and with the vast majority of other statements pro-choice advocates make in defense of the pro-choice position. They all beg the question, or assume the key point at issue. Namely, the above statements are only plausible (as defenses of permitting abortion) given the prior assumption that abortion does not involve the unjust killing of an innocent human being. But isn't that the question we should be discussing?

No one denies that women are worthy of tremendous respect. And if abortion is morally tantamount to a tonsillectomy, then we should indeed "respect the ability of every woman to make important medical decisions" in this matter.

But if abortion is the killing of a valuable human person like you, me, toddlers and 10-year-olds, then it will not work to say that "women can make the best decisions" about whether that person may be dismembered and killed, and therefore such killing should be legal. No one would accept this reasoning for a second if we were talking about the killing of toddlers. No one argues that we must "trust and respect" parents' decision about whether or not to drown their 10-year-old children.

So all the popular pro-choice rhetoric begs the question regarding the moral status of the unborn. The issue isn't about "trusting women" any more than the issue of rape is about "trusting rapists"; it's about whether the unborn is a valuable person with a right to life, like a toddler or 10-year-old, in which case killing him or her (like killing a toddler or 10-year-old) is wrong and should be prohibited.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Why we celebrate women who choose life

Pro-choice advocate Amanda Marcotte writes:
[Pro-lifers have] fallen into the habit of celebrating women who made the choice they approve of, and by accident, this puts them in the position of celebrating choice. But it really goes deeper than that. This strategy of celebrating women who have babies when others might not really points out how the dignity of all women -- including anti-abortion women -- requires the right to choose. ... The common denominator in all these stories is that the woman at the center is being celebrated for her bravery in making a specific choice -- and that if she didn't have the right to choose, then she wouldn't be a hero at all.
But imagine someone inherited a 19th century southern plantation, and he decided to free all the slaves. We would call him a hero for doing the right thing, even though the law and culture permitted him to do otherwise. True, he wouldn't be much of a hero if slavery were illegal, since he would just be following the law.

But that doesn't mean we should give people back the right to own slaves, in order to make heroes of people who opt out of slavery! And it doesn't follow that when we celebrate the man's heroism, we are "celebrating choice" with regard to whether or not to own a slave (on the contrary!). Nor does it infringe on a man's dignity -- or deny his status as a moral agent -- if we do not permit him to enslave other people.

The same is true when we applaud women who courageously choose life, even though the law and culture (wrongly) allow them to do otherwise.

Franken's celebration of abortion at odds with Minnesotans

Senator will speak today in praise of deadly Roe v. Wade decision

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) denounced plans by Sen. Al Franken to speak at a NARAL Pro-Choice America event in Washington, D.C., today in celebration of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on demand throughout all nine months of pregnancy.

"Senator Franken should not be celebrating the deadly Roe v. Wade decision as keynote speaker at a NARAL luncheon," said MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach. "As Senator Franken rejoices over abortion in Washington today, the majority of Minnesotans oppose abortion on demand, which has resulted in the deaths of 52 million unborn children."

Roe v. Wade is one of the worst examples of judicial activism in the history of U.S. jurisprudence. Seven unelected justices overturned decades of legal precedence in nearly every state, which protected unborn children and their mothers, and established absolute abortion on demand. The wrongly decided ruling was based on a falsehood that the U.S. Constitution contained a "right to privacy" that included the killing of unborn children in the womb.

The results of Roe v. Wade have been tragic. A total of 543,000 unborn children have been killed in Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Women have died needlessly from botched abortions. Many women have been injured from dangerous abortion procedures and by unscrupulous abortionists; some women have been left infertile.

Franken assumed the office of U.S. senator in July 2009 after thousands of voters' ballots had been thrown out in a lengthy judicial battle.

"Senator Franken's strong support of abortion on demand regardless of the reason, regardless of how late in the pregnancy, regardless of the age of the pregnant girl, regardless of coercion by the girl's parents or the baby's father—all of this demonstrates how far out of touch he is with the people of Minnesota," Fischbach added. "Minnesota deserves better than Al Franken."

MCCL is Minnesota's oldest and largest pro-life organization with more than 70,000 member families and 240 chapters across the state. For more information about MCCL, visit

Monday, February 1, 2010

Why the pro-life movement is a great movement for social justice

Notre Dame professor Dan Philpott describes the March for Life as "a cousin of Vaclav Havel and the Czechoslovak Velvet Revolution of 1989, of Mahatma Gandhi and his nonviolent marches of the 1920s and 1930s and of the American Civil Rights movement."

"Like these other causes," Philpott predicts, the pro-life movement "will one day be viewed by a broad consensus of people as a bright segment of what Dr. Martin Luther King called the long moral arc of the universe that bends towards justice.

"Skeptics will bristle at these comparisons," he continues, "but in three essentials the pro-life movement belongs in this great tradition."
First, it is a movement for human rights. Like all human beings, the fetus possesses inalienable human rights, just as do slaves in America, Bosnian Muslims, Rwandan Tutsis and global victims of sex trafficking. Today, unborn persons amount to an entire class of human beings who are excluded from the most basic of all human rights, the right to live. In America more than a million of these humans — the most weak, vulnerable, and voiceless of humans — are killed every year, some 50 million since 1973. Two million are killed every year in India, seven million in China, and more than 42 million worldwide.

Though leading human rights organizations rarely mention the unborn, their human rights are violated in numbers that far exceed those of the greatest human rights calamities of the post Cold War era, including the genocide in Rwanda and wars in Yugoslavia, Sudan or the Congo. In pleading for the legal protection of the human rights of the unborn, the marchers advocate for nothing other than what is prescribed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international legal covenants and the Declaration of Independence.

Second, the pro-life movement, like history's other great protests, is a popular grassroots movement, easily the largest of our time. Thirty-six marches had taken place before this one, and the event has brought some 200,000 marchers (by some estimates) to Washington D.C. annually since 2003. Though other single protest marches have been larger, what other cause can boast such en masse consistency? ...

A third resemblance between the pro-life movement and previous great protests is vaguer but still important: it does not simply denounce injustice but also invites a better future. Just as Dr. King not only condemned racism but also raised the vision of a nation where "little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers," the pro-life movement has followed Pope John Paul II in calling for a "culture of life" where even the least "useful" are valued and protected. Not one message at the march condemned women who had chosen abortion. Featured rather was the "Silent No More" campaign of women who spoke of the devastating impact of abortions on their lives. Thousands of marchers are involved in pregnancy centers that help pregnant women find viable alternatives to abortion. ...

What I discovered at the March for Life was not the cause of the angry, the insular and the frightened but rather the cause of Saint Peter Claver, who defended the rights of the slaves in the New World in the 17th century; of William Wilberforce, the English evangelical who pleaded for the end of the slave trade year after year until finally achieving victory in the 19th century; of Gandhi and King and Dorothy Day and Mother Teresa; and indeed of the God who hears the cry of the poor.