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Pro-Life

Abortion: The Struggle Between Objectivity and Subjectivity

I’ve noticed in the past that as I debate the moral issue of abortion, it seems as though people tend to ignore reason in lieu of emotional appeals. Upon further examination of the issue, I am even more convinced that this is the case. But what is at the bottom of this appeal? Why is it that something which must have an objective answer is treated like subjective, lukewarm hogwash? The reason, I believe, is because the issue of abortion is involved in the overarching debate of subjective (relative) versus objective ethical theories.

What reasons do I have for making this claim? First, we must examine the most prominent pro-choice arguments. Pro-choice arguments generally fall into two broad categories:

1) Devaluing the fetus

2) Pointing towards the value of personal choice/control over one’s own body

Now, 1) fails miserably on a number of logical and scientific levels. See my other posts on the topic for discussions of these reasons (notably, this post and this one). But if 1) is rejected, then 2) may be the only way for pro-choice advocates to argue for their position. Unfortunately, 2) boils down to a kind of subjectivism about morality which ends up being self-defeating.

I am reminded of the echoing catch-phrase popular with politicians, “I am pro-choice, but against abortion.” What does this mean? Often, those who say such things generally mean that whatever someone else wants to do is fine with them. We shouldn’t try to limit the choices others make. We don’t have any reason to regulate what choices someone else can make or can’t make. And sure, I think abortion is wrong, but what right do I have to force my morality on others?

Initially, such arguments seem to make intuitive sense. The problem is that while the argument is trying to avoid forcing any “ought” statements, it has one huge “ought” planted right in the middle of its train of thought. That is, that “We ought not limit the choices of others.” But why should this be the case? There are certainly a huge number of cases in which I would limit the choices of others. Rape, for example, would be one instance where I would say this choice is not to be allowed. Perhaps the argument could be modified, then, and say that as long as one’s choice doesn’t harm anyone else, we ought not limit it. But then this pushes the burden of proof back onto argument 1), which is becoming ever more difficult for the pro-choice advocate to uphold.

Not only that, but having an “ought” statement like any of those above goes exactly contrary to what such statements are asserting. What if I choose to disagree with the statement that we “ought not limit the choices of others”? Should my choice to disagree be limited?

Furthermore, what reasons are their to argue that one should have absolute and total control over one’s own body? For if we do think that this is the case, we should then cease efforts in trying to limit substance abuse, cutting, anorexia, suicide, bulimia, and the like! These are all cases in which someone is simply making choices about his/her own body! If I want to cut myself, that should be my choice! If I want to starve myself, that should be my choice!

No, the bottom line is that the pro-choice camp wants to advocate total relativism. On this view, that which is ethically right for one person is okay for that person. There are innumerable difficulties with such a view (I’ve only touched on these above).

Thus, it seems to me that the pro-choice advocate has insurmountable difficulties with his or her position. First, this view cannot accurately measure when one’s “personhood” begins objectively. Second, it desires to claim an objective “ought” statement which ultimately defeats itself. Third, it runs contrary to scientific advances in measuring the stages of life of the human. Fourth, it stands on shift philosophical soil, for it is unable to accurately define “personhood” in any sufficient manner.

Thus, I conclude, as I’ve done so many times before, that to be pro-abortion is to hold a view that is positively irrational.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from citations, which are the property of their respective owners) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author.

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About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick has an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. His interests include theology, philosophy of religion--particularly the existence of God--astronomy, biology, archaeology, and sci-fi and fantasy novels.

Discussion

16 thoughts on “Abortion: The Struggle Between Objectivity and Subjectivity

  1. Typical misdirection from the right. When will conservatives stop using children to push their political agendas?
    Being pro-choice is all about making sure that women who need abortions to save their lives have access to abortion clinics. But, maybe that didn’t cross your mind.

    Posted by Charles Wentling | September 15, 2010, 11:40 AM
    • I suggest you do your research a little more thoroughly. Most pro-life activists would grant that abortion can be morally permissible in the case of saving the life of the mother. But why should we rely on just words back and forth? How about some facts:

      Dr. Alan Guttmacher, a member of Planned Parenthood back in the late 60s, said “Today it is possible for almost any patient to be brought through pregnancy alive, unless she suffers from a fatal illness such as cancer or leukemia, and, if so, abortion would be unlike to prolong, much less save, life” – in The Case for Legalized Abortion Now, published Berkeley, California, Diablo Press, 1967).

      Dr. Landrum Shettles states that less than 1% of all abortions are performed to save a mother’s life- in Landrum Shettles and David Rorvik, Rites of Life. Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan 1983.

      You see, Charles, the key in the abortion debate is that all too often people tend to do exactly what you’ve done-hurl insults rather than consult the facts.

      In your response you’ve actually committed several fallacies of reasoning:
      1) Ad hominem- “Typical misdirection from the right” “…push their political agendas…”
      2) Special pleading- You’ve portrayed the primary impetus for being pro-choice as being to save women’s lives, when even pro-life advocates agree that these abortions are morally permissible.
      3) Fact checking- You’ve made assertions that simply are not backed up by the facts

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | September 15, 2010, 12:12 PM
    • Hi, Charles. Speaking of misdirection… I wonder if you would mind providing evidence of even one case in which any woman actually needed an abortion. Just one case of actual need will do. Being forced by boyfriend or husband or parents will not qualify as need for abortion, though it would seem to qualify for the need for new boyfriend, better choice of husband (and willingness to resist his bullying), and lots of prayer for conversion of heart and mind for parents, boyfriend, or husband.

      I await your evidence. Peace be with you, Charles.

      Posted by Disciple | September 16, 2010, 7:39 PM
      • goodmenproject.com/2010/10/23/confronting-life/#comment-4319

        What would you say to an afghan woman who was raped, her virginity lost at that moment, and is now pregnant, if other peolple find out, she will be stoned to death.

        “Willingness to resist his bullying”- you misogynist pig

        Posted by Gloria | November 1, 2010, 5:46 PM
    • Its better for a woman to loose her personality as a woman/a girl, but she have not go against God’s wills. Doing abortion is against God’s will as well as it is inhumanity.

      Posted by Desdery M. Sulle | November 9, 2012, 3:36 AM
    • Murdering an innocent human being is never necessary to save another person’s life.

      Posted by wholearmor61018 | November 9, 2012, 5:50 PM
  2. Charles, I noticed you asked, “When will conservatives stop using children to push their political agendas?” Good for you. You recognize the preborn as children. That’s a start. Many in the pro-abortion camp will not refer to the preborn as children and would counsel you not to.

    And nice exaggeration by the way. You summed up the entire debate with, “Being pro-choice is all about making sure that women who need abortions to save their lives have access to abortion clinics.” So that’s what being pro-choice is ALL about?

    How about the truth if you can handle it. Being pro-abortion is about:

    1) income for Planned Parenthood
    2) keeping expenses down
    3) fewer “useless eaters” to destroy the planet
    4) fewer blacks due to racism
    5) impregnating women, many instances repeatedly, without consequences
    6) raping women, many times repeatedly, without consequences
    7) impregnating under age girls, many times repeatedly, without consequences
    8 ) getting rid of so-called defective preborn children
    9) abortionists getting off on murdering preborn children
    10) using aborted babies’ body parts for experimentation
    11) using the bleeding heart argument that paralyzed people need to be treated with embryonic stem cells
    12) women athletes doping their blood with oxygen by becoming pregnant on purpose several times then aborting
    13) putting college ahead of a child
    14) putting a career ahead of a child
    15) putting a hobby ahead of a child

    Need I go on? Get a clue, Charles.

    When a pregnancy occurs that could threaten the mother’s life, then the doctor has two patients (or more in the event of twins, triplets, etc.) and should do everything within his power to save them both. If it’s inevitable that only one of them will survive, it’s never right for two people to die when only one has to. And many times, the preborn child in distress dies naturally.

    If you believe preborn children don’t have a right to life based on choice, then don’t be surprised if someone decides your or I don’t have a right to life for whatever reason. In other words, be careful what you wish for.

    Scott

    Posted by Scott Evans | September 19, 2010, 9:34 PM
  3. “Furthermore, what reasons are their to argue that one should have absolute and total control over one’s own body? For if we do think that this is the case, we should then cease efforts in trying to limit substance abuse, cutting, anorexia, suicide, bulimia, and the like!”

    Firstly, these things that you state are caused from mental dysfunction or illness, people who need help.

    I noticed all of you are men and will NEVER be pregnant, therefore shouldn’t be making decisions on what a woman can or cannot do within her body, you can’t decide for her, don’t we live in a democratic America, where the first amendment declares a separation of church and state? Peoples’ moral values differ in many ways and nobody should have the right to decide whats right or wrong for each individual.

    furhtemore, Scott: “raping, women, many times repeatedly, without consequences”??!! WHAT the hell is wrong with you? you are adjudicating these crimes to abortion rights?? these problems surge from deeper imbalances in society which people like YOU propagate.

    “putting college ahead of a child” if you cannot take care of a child, why are you obligated to have it?, most abortions occur after failure of contraceptives, why would you condemn a woman to years of caring of a child when child rearing should be a JOY? All of this while the man walks away as if nothing ever happened.

    NOBODY PLANS AN ABORTION, IT’S A TERRIBLY DIFFICULT DECISION TO MAKE, WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WHERE OUT OF OPTIONS?

    I recommend you read these articles:
    goodmenproject.com/2010/10/23/confronting-life/#comment-4319
    hblog.dianahsieh.com/2010/09/personhood-movement-is-anti-life-part_24.html

    Posted by Gloria | November 1, 2010, 5:39 PM
    • “Firstly, these things that you state are caused from mental dysfunction or illness, people who need help. ”

      This is called the logical fallacy dicto simpliciter. Maybe I’ll grant this for the sake of argument, though.

      “I noticed all of you are men and will NEVER be pregnant”

      Ad hominem fallacy. Just because I’m a man, I cannot be excluded from a discussion of morals. Also, Disciple is a woman.

      “therefore shouldn’t be making decisions on what a woman can or cannot do within her body, ”

      Appeal ad misericordiam, another logical fallacy. So far, nothing to commend your response.

      “don’t we live in a democratic America, where the first amendment declares a separation of church and state?”

      Non sequitur. There is no need to appeal to the church to be against abortion. Also, the law =/= objective morals. If murder were legal, would it be right?

      Furthermore, I made no appeal to anything religious in this post, so your entire argument is nothing but a straw man to this point.

      “Peoples’ moral values differ in many ways and nobody should have the right to decide whats right or wrong for each individual.”

      Unsupported maxim. You’ve gone from “people’s moral values differ” to “there is no objective right and wrong’ this does not follow. Your argument remains illogical.

      “if you cannot take care of a child, why are you obligated to have it?, most abortions occur after failure of contraceptives, why would you condemn a woman to years of caring of a child when child rearing should be a JOY? All of this while the man walks away as if nothing ever happened.”

      You acknowledge the baby is a child, and yet you think somehow that we have the right to murder it due to inconvenience. I don’t see any justifcation for this. Killing the innocent is always wrong. Furthermore your second argument here is another appeal ad misericordiam, a logical fallacy. So is your next statement “NOBODY PLANS AN ABORTION….”

      Therefore, considering every single point you’ve made is some form of a logical fallacy, I have no reason to accept your conclusions. The illogical position remains pro-choice.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | November 1, 2010, 6:35 PM
  4. You should also watch this documentary:
    msnbc.msn.com/id/39826191

    Posted by Gloria | November 1, 2010, 6:00 PM
  5. Gloria asked, “What would you say to an afghan woman who was raped, her virginity lost at that moment, and is now pregnant, if other peolple find out, she will be stoned to death.”

    I would advise her to not let anyone know if at all possible. She’d be stoned to death whether she had the child or not. It’s the rape she would be stoned for, not the child.

    Gloria, what would you say to an American woman who was raped, her virginity lost at that moment, and is now pregnant? If other people find out, they would adopt her child if she didn’t want him.

    Posted by Scott Evans | November 1, 2010, 8:02 PM
  6. (This is in regard to your first comment, Gloria. I haven’t the stomach to read the rest right now, while I am still digesting dinner.) So, Gloria, let me get this straight: I’m a misogynist, though I am actually a woman myself and I certainly do not hate women. I also do not hate children who are born of women, as you and I once were. I’m adopted myself and I think that is a good way to handle pregnancy if one cannot keep and raise the child. The problem is not that the woman “needs” an abortion but that her barbaric culture wants to demand both her own death and that of her unborn child. You have not presented an argument for abortion. You have presented more evidence that abortion advocates very often do not understand fully what they are talking about. And certain cannot claim to care for women, especially if they don’t care for them at all stages of their lives.

    Peace be with you, Gloria. Though I doubt seriously that you will find peace as long as you are campaigning for the destruction of innocent lives.

    Posted by Disciple | November 6, 2010, 5:52 PM
  7. Ooops. Meant “certainly” cannot claim, not “certain” cannot claim. Still getting used to the new keyboard. That’s my excuse and I’m stickin’ to it!

    Posted by Disciple | November 6, 2010, 5:54 PM
  8. Hi Ladies and Gentlements, Is it morally right for the elected oficials to accept consideration like being offered preferencial treatment, travelling, accomodations and reduction in fare. When they take a vacation, the hotels and restaurants they visits, may discount their bills; but their citizens lives under poor conditions; Is it right?

    Posted by Desdery M. Sulle | November 9, 2012, 4:27 AM

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Abortion and Unborn Human Life by Patrick Lee « - November 30, 2010

  2. Pingback: Sources for Pro-life Apologetics « Ratio Christi- Apologetics At The Ohio State University - October 22, 2012

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