So often in our world today, we grind up against those who have strongly held positions that we cannot understand. For myself, at this time, I fail to understand how anyone could hold a pro-abortion or even pro-choice point of view. The arguments “for” seem so weak as to be almost non-existent. Now this might be because I fail to enumerate or see the key insight behind a particular argument. So, below the fold, I’m going to attempt to enumerate all the arguments I know for the silencing of the lambs and summarize briefly why they are fundamentally unsound. My request for any readers of this would be to point out what I’m missing, why my critique misses the point, or to pass this on to someone who might be able to do so.

  • 20 years ago, I was agnostic on abortion. Not caring about abortion is by default a pro-choice position. I arrived at this via what I might term the Eichmann gambit. According to Hannah Arendt in Eichmann in Jerusalem, Eichmann relegated his ethical judgement and responsibility to the state, specifically Hitler. Via social contract, a society clearly must be able to decide who is in or out of its protection. That is to say, a contract between a parties is voluntary, and from the states point of view, that means it as a collective can decide what criteria is satisfied for citizenship. The state has the right to enact the death penalty for crime (in the Hobbsean contractual view … this is accorded merely on the account of us yielding it to the state). If the state decides that infanticide or abortion is legal and right … then it is. However, taking that point of view also means that the Holocaust, the Terror, and any number of clearly unethical immoral actions are also justified. They are not. Neither via this argument is abortion.
  • A second pro-choice argument might be coined the Sodom/Abraham argument. This is the notion that as an adult a person is entitled to the full panoply of rights. As one retreats back through childhood, rights and protections are removed. At some point, taken arbitrarily, the right to life no longer holds for the person. Sometimes developmental milestones are used to demarcate that point such as: viability outside of the womb, ability to feel pain, and the like.The problem is, these milestones are not firm. There is no day, no point at which one can say, today this feature is now present, it was not yesterday. If one can continually retreat this date as Abraham did in his argument with God … where and when does one stop. In Abraham’s discussion with God, Abraham (or the unknown author) stops at ten. Why? The answer to that question might find ones way clear to an answer to a demarcation point, but I am not wise enough to see how that might work.

    For myself, I can see only one firm prenatal ontological point which is not a gradual event. That is that implantation marks an ontological change for the fetus. The relationship and communication between the two individuals, mother and child changes with implantation. Commitment and communication, if unconscious for both, begin in earnest at a that point. As that point is at day 6-12, however conceding this is essentially conceding the argument.

  • A third argument often used, especially with regards to very early abortion is to claim that the presenescent fetus is “just a clump of cells.”However, there are two problems with this.The first is that this clump of cells is genetically unique. It has the potential, unlike tissue scraped from your tongue or the blood from a blood drive collection, to become a new unique human being. The second problem is this. We have no reaction to using hair donated or sold for profit. However, if one was to collect blastocysts from IVF cryostats and not using them for stem cell research but instead salted them down and sold them as an exotic caviar or tried to collect the remains from late term abortion for use our finest kitchens we would, I think (and hope), recoil with disgust at such a notion. If you recoil … is this not a recognition that these items are not just “a clump of cells.”
  • The sanctity of self and the notion that one might control how and who uses my life for support is the main argument of the “violinist” paradox, which I discussed in some depth last night.There is an additional argument against this notion, that is the ontological integrity of myself is a fundamental right. For one to object that my interior self, is not to be used against my will, one should also hold that vaccination is a similar violation for it entails civil intrusion on the same right. Vaccination is a civil decision to recruit and program the immune system of the vaccinated for the purposes and protection of the state.
  • The penultimate argument that I can offer might be termed the Pontius Pilate argument, which is more gracious term than I have used in the past. This argument is that, the decision to abortion is a failure of courage. Pontius Pilate “from that moment” sought to release him. But he didn’t. All the other reasons, selfishness, peer-pressure, worldly affairs, career, and so on led Jesus to the cross. To condemn Pontius Pilate is to condemn a man for failing to posses great courage. Likewise to condemn a woman for committing abortion, for failing to have “great courage” is unjust.However, that is not an argument to make it legal. To make it easier for a woman to fail. It seems to me the reverse might be better for us. To encourage women to not abort via all means possible, legal, social, and other ways. This then, while it might be an argument justifying abortion, it however is not a good argument for taking it out of the legal process.
  • Barack Obama recently commented on abortion, stating in essence that abortion is a thing which is not taken lightly by women and that this is, in essence, a decision for them not the state to make but might be left to them. However, that presupposes that any good argument could be found to justify abortion. Take murder (killing another adult as a civilian) is illegal. It may be that in some cases this is justified, however a trial in a court of law is required to be held in order to see if the circumstances and reasons were justifiable. If there are good reasons for abortion (and from the above it is clear I haven’t found any but that of course might be just a failure of my imagination), it is not clear why such a requirement would be so horrible in the case of abortion. It is also unclear, why the Left, which is normally the side dismissing self-reliance is so willing to depend on it only in this one case.

So what am I missing. Help me “break through the boundary” and understand the “other point of view”.

Filed under: AbortionMark O.ScienceStem Cells

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