Thursday, August 22, 2013

Abortion and the "Hard Cases"

I received the following comment on my post entitled "Demolishing Pro-Choice Arguments."

"If raped you feel the woman should be forced to carry to term? If an 11 year old is raped by her father or other relative, she should also carry to term? If prenatal testing identifies gross anomalies, the fetus should still be carried to term even if it will die shortly after birth? If the mother of that poor fetus is carrying her second or third child with gross anomalies and says she will kill herself if forced to watch another infant die, she should be forced to carry to term anyway?

Your world view doesn't work for all of us. I've been pro choice (not pro abortion) for decades. Judge not lest ye be judged."

 
I responded there, but I thought I would also respond (with a few modifications) in a separate post because these kinds of questions are often asked by the pro-abortion crowd.

First of all, I'll point out that her distinction between "pro-abortion" and pro-choice" doesn't really exist. I use the terms interchangeably because they mean the same thing. If I said that I thought a man should have a choice of whether or not to rape a woman, I would rightfully be charged with being pro-rape. In the same way, to be in favor of allowing a woman to choose whether or not to abort means being in favor of abortion.

In discussing the rest of her post, keep in mind that this type of question is often asked as a "gotcha" question. The pro-abortion advocates seem to think these cases "prove" that it is okay to kill an unborn child in at least some cases. The cases mentioned are all referred to as "hard cases." These are the troubling stories that make some people, who would otherwise be pro-life, start to waffle and sweat. They think of how difficult it would be in that situation and their emotions make them want to offer such woman a way out - to fix her situation with an abortion. However, when you apply logical principles to these cases, they aren't as hard to solve as you might think.

Before I talk about these cases specifically, it should be mentioned that even IF abortion should be allowed in these difficult cases, that does not mean that abortion should be allowed for all cases. The vast majority of abortions do not involve rape, incest, or deformities of the child. These cases do not provide any reason to think that a woman should be able to kill a perfectly healthy unborn child, who resulted from consensual sex, simply because she doesn't want him.

In addressing the hard cases, we should do so by applying the same facts and logic that we apply in all other cases of pregnancy. As I have written elsewhere, science tells us that the unborn child is a separate and unique human individual who must, logically, have the same rights that all other human beings have. Applying this knowledge and some additional logic to the hard cases clears up a lot of confusion.

In cases of rape or incest, any child produced is still just as human as any other unborn child. There is no difference between a child conceived in rape and one conceived through consensual sex. And, of course, the child is innocent of any wrong doing. It isn't the child forcing himself on the woman - it was the rapist who forced her. So killing the child isn't the right or fair thing to do. The child doesn't deserve to die for the crime of his father. We don't consider those born from rape to deserving of death, so why give a death sentence before birth for those same children? Nor does having an abortion un-rape the woman. Two wrongs don't make a right, so killing the child is not the answer.

Oddly enough, the incidence of abortion is actually low among women who have been raped. Many rape victims have testified that giving birth has helped them to see themselves as overcomers who found a way to make something good come from their terrible ordeal. They may not have had a choice over what happened to them, but they can choose to do what is right after the fact and give life. On the other hand, having an abortion has been described by some as being raped all over again. Of course, these experiences of women do not determine what is right in these cases, but they do show that an abortion isn't the easy fix for rape that it is thought to be.

As for children with terrible birth defects and other issues, that would be a very difficult situation to be in. But to cut the life of these unborn children even shorter than it already will be seems the opposite of compassion. We don't kill people because they are going to die anyway. We make their short lives as comfortable as possible until natural death. That's what we do for people who are born and it should also apply to those unborn, because they are human beings too.

In cases where the mother threatens suicide or other self-harm, the baby still doesn't deserve to die. A woman who is threatening to harm herself needs help. If someone threatens suicide if you don't kill someone else, you don't for that reason kill the person they want dead. That's insane. You treat the one threatening suicide.

While these hard cases are often fraught with emotion and tough situations, the right thing to do is not dependent on how difficult or emotional it is. Emotion is not a valid basis for making decisions, especially when talking about the life of an innocent human being. Applying logical principles shows that the right thing to do is always to protect the unborn child.

Linked up with WLWW.

5 comments:

  1. Thanks for this post, really thought-provoking.

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  2. 'her distinction between "pro-abortion" and pro-choice" doesn't really exist' yes it does pro choice is about respecting someones right to choose what is right for them even if you do not agree or are against their choice. Pro abortion is for abortion for every pregnancy ( China's one child policy is pro abortion.
    'if I said that I thought a man should have a choice of whether or not to rape a woman, I would rightfully be charged with being pro-rape. In the same way, to be in favor of allowing a woman to choose whether or not to abort means being in favor of abortion.'..... every man does have the choice he can choose to rape or he can choose to walk away, comparing the rape of a breathing, living person with the removal of ( in most cases) a group of cells is not the same.
    .' The vast majority of abortions do not involve rape, incest, or deformities of the child.'.... wrong many women don't report rapes, rape is a horrific trauma that alot of women don't talk about,
    'It isn't the child forcing himself on the woman'.... actually the embryo is forcing itself on the women, she doesn't want it there and it has implanted itself inside her body regardless of her feelings.
    ' the incidence of abortion is actually low among women who have been raped. Many rape victims have testified that giving birth has helped them to see themselves as overcomers who found a way to make something good come from their terrible ordeal. They may not have had a choice over what happened to them, but they can choose to do what is right after the fact and give life.'.... again most rapes aren't reported or ever spoken of,
    'On the other hand, having an abortion has been described by some as being raped all over again.'.... Actually they say they are relieved it's over and they can move on,
    'But to cut the life of these unborn children even shorter than it already will be seems the opposite of compassion' All the while you force the mother to suffer dragging out the heartache, risking complications to the women, but the fetus got to "live" for a few months longer inside of the women, yep that makes sense.
    'In cases where the mother threatens suicide or other self-harm, the baby still doesn't deserve to die'.... if the women commits suicide then the embryo is no longer viable either way its not going to be carried to full term, at least the breathing person can be hopefully saved and helped
    ' especially when talking about the life of an innocent human being.' the embryo is a "potential" human, it does not have life yet as it neither has the features of a human or the ability to sustain life without the attachment to the uterus, it does not yet have they necessary organs to survive.

    also what do you anti choice people think should be a punishment for abortion providers and the women obtaining them, should you manage to force your belief that abortion is murder on everyone else and manage to make it illegal?, 25-life in prison? thats the norm for murder isn't it?

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    1. Everyone agrees that a woman has a right to choose to have her baby. Everyone agrees that a woman can have her baby and give him up for adoption if she chooses. So what choice is it that the "pro-choice" crowd is in favor of? What is this choice that the pro-life crowd disagrees with? It's the choice to have an abortion. The fundamental issue is that "pro-choice" people think it's okay to make the choice to abort. So they are in favor of abortion - if the woman chooses it. That's pro-abortion. The analogy to being pro-rape is accurate. If you think it's okay for a man to choose to rape a woman if he wants to, you're pro-rape. If you think its okay for a woman to choose to abort her child if she wants to, you're pro-abortion.

      As for an unborn child being "a clump of cells" or a "potential human," you really should learn some basic biology. Technically, all human beings are clumps of cells - but each human being is an organized clump of cells that functions as a separate individual. This applies equally to both the born and the unborn. So, an unborn child is not JUST a clump of cells. He is a human individual. Nor is there anything "potential" about his humanity. An unborn child is a potential adult, but not a potential human. A human being is formed at conception and continues his or her existence until death. So a single-celled human zygote is already a human. There is no such thing as a "potential human."

      As for an embryo forcing himself on a woman, are you really attributing intent to an embryo? Are you really claiming that an unwanted embryo is guilty of a crime by forcing his unwanted presence on his mother? Because if you're claiming that an unwanted embryo can be rightfully killed for "forcing" himself on his mother, that is exactly what you are saying. You might want to rethink that one.

      "[T]he embryo is a "potential" human, it does not have life yet as it neither has the features of a human or the ability to sustain life without the attachment to the uterus, it does not yet have they necessary organs to survive."
      In response to the above quote, quite simply, you are wrong. As I said earlier, there is no such thing as a potential human. The only requirement for something to be a human (i.e. the features of a human, in your words) is that it be a living organism with human DNA. There is no requirement that any certain organs be present, that the organism can survive on his own, or anthing else. Being dependent does not make someone less human. Lacking some organs does not make someone less human. The unborn child is very much alive, and this can easily be proven scientifically. Your argument basically boils down to "an unborn child doesn't look like me, so he can't be human." That same type of argument has been used to justify racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination for centuries. But the truth is that an unborn child is, in fact, a human being, even if he looks a little different from those of us who are older and have already been born.

      What it really comes down to is that all human beings, regardless of their size, dependency, or level of development are equally human and should have equal protection under the law. How inconvenient they are or how different they look is irrelevant and should not be used as a basis for discrimination.

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  3. Well stated. Once one can justify abortion it is only a small step to justifying infanticide, the killing of the old and ultimately to genocide. The purpose of name calling is to impute a status that is less than human to people in order to remove them. It is why there is an emphasis on the "fetus."
    If we define being human to being able to take care of ourselves then given the need for government are we not stating that we cannot take care of ourselves?

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