This blog was originally posted at my personal blog Mind the Evangelical here.
If one wants to be prepared to defend the pro-life position there
exists a number of great resources from philosophers around like Francis
Beckwith, Stephen D. Schwarz, Christopher Kaczor and Patrick Lee. Yet
very few people who hold to the Pro-life view have ever perused their
pages of their books, this leaves many of them unequipped to deal with
some of the popular Pro-choice slogans and arguments that are often
appear at first rhetorical powerful yet in reality are short on
In light of this I thought I would very
briefly in a few sentences respond to some of the most popular
Pro-choice slogans and arguments. Some people might accuse me of
attacking straw-man arguments, however in reality these arguments are
both popular and frequently used. I'm more than happy to engage with the
more sophisticated moral questions surrounding the Pro-life position
but that is for another day.
1. 'It's a women's right to choose.'
course we all respect someone's right to choose, it would make you seem
like a moral monster to deny something western civilisation values so
highly. However, clearly there are many circumstances where the right to
choose has its limitations. No-one is trying to tell women they can't
choose what to eat or who to talk to but the idea that choice is
absolute is nonsense. One must clarify what is being referred to when we speak about having a right to choose to do something. If I wanted to choose to shoot my dog or beat a child for fun
you would likely be abhorred at the nature of my choice and tell me that
I have no such right to do so.
few people think that we should be able to kill other human beings with
impunity which means that the nature of this 'choice' begs the question
and assumes something about the nature of the unborn. That they are
different, less valuable, outside of our moral circle, disposable and
whose geographical location justifies their killing in the name of
Western autonomy. Clearly whether someone is male or female they do not
have the 'right' to choose to do whatever they want. Dressed up in more
philosophical language we would find ourselves responding to the bodily
autonomy objection that has been suitably refuted elsewhere ad nauseam.
2. 'Don't like abortion? Don't have one.'
try and use similar logic on some other moral quandaries, 'Don't like
slavery? Don't own one.' Don't like wife beating? Don't beat yours.'
Don't like child abuse? Don't abuse yours. Don't like strawberries?
Don't eat them. What this slogan does quite effectively is that it moves
abortion from being something that may be an objective moral wrong that
kills a developing and innocent human being to one of personal tastes.
Very few people would accept that preferring strawberries over apricots
is morally similar to preferring to keep slaves or not, yet this is the
category the slogan is putting abortion in. Slavery is wrong because it
treats intrinsically valuable human being's as a commodities that can be
traded and sold.
However the real crime of this
slogan is that it promotes the idea that those who are Pro-life only
think abortion is wrong because they don't like it, which is false.
Whether someone likes strawberries or apricots is a personal preference
that no-one would disagree with, but equivocating between that and an
act that kills another human being is absurd and assumes moral
relativism. This leaves the proponent of such a slogan in the position
of having no authority to tell us that neither slavery and wife beating
are wrong if I happened to like them. Lets get this straight, when
someone who holds the Pro-life view says abortion is wrong they are not
simply saying they don't like abortion, they are saying it is
objectively wrong regardless of how someone may feel about it.
3. 'Keep your Rosaries off my ovaries.'
could be said in response, keep your ideology off my theology? I'm not a
Roman Catholic and have never prayed the Rosary, however what this
slogan seems to be suggesting is that any objections to abortion that
may have some religious basis must stay out of the discussion. This
assumes a few things. Clearly there are many religious people who are
pro-choice so religious arguments may-well be of importance to them and
if abortion is wrong then they would want to know. Secondly, in the
grand scheme of things the Pro-life position is not necessarily a
religious position, one can be a theist, pantheist or atheist and still
be Pro-life. The fact that many Christians are Pro-life may be
observably true but the wrongness of killing unborn human beings through
the means of abortion would still be as wrong if it were said by an
atheist. To be clear the Pro-life case doesn't have a gender or religion
even if there may be a theological frame-work that best supports its
Also as far as I'm aware those that hold
to the Pro-life view whether religious or secular are not trying to tell
women who they can and can't have sex with. Certainly the slogan makes a
good sound-bite but in terms of substance like the other two I briefly
responded to they are in reality pretty poor.
I'll add the next three soon. Please let me know your thoughts.