Friday, February 5, 2010

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.