Friday, April 30, 2010

Why we show newborn babies (the logic of the pro-life case)

PZ Myers complains here about pro-life groups using images of already-born babies. Abortion kills fetuses and embryos, not infants, so showing pictures of newborn babies to argue against abortion is dishonest, he says.

Myers specifically points to the billboards of Prolife Across America. (For some reason he also mentions MCCL, but none of the billboards he discusses are ours; our billboards, see photo below, are not actually subject to this criticism.) Myers writes:
All of [Prolife Across America's] signs feature cute baby pictures coupled to factoids about development, and they thoroughly enrage me — I see them all along the roadsides on my drive in to Minneapolis. They are basically generating false associations about development.
One billboard Myers singles out has a photo of a baby with this text: "Face it: I had eyes, ears and even my tongue! 28 days from conception."

But there's nothing mistaken or dishonest here. It would be one thing if the baby said, "I'm only 28 days from conception!" That would be false. What the baby actually says is, "When I was only 28 days old, I already had these features (eyes, etc.)."

By using the image of a newborn baby, pro-lifers are asserting that that baby is identical to her prenatal self, i.e., to the being who would have been dismembered and killed had her mother chosen abortion. To kill that fetus would have been to kill that newborn baby, only at an earlier stage of her development.

So there is a profound logic to the pro-life case and how we make it. But it seems lost on Prof. Myers.