“Pro-life” and “pro-choice” activists oversimplify the abortion debate by using catchphrases. Photo credits: Left to Right, Top to Bottom: Elvert Barnes/Flickr, Sylvia McFadden/Flickr, Jordan/Flickr, Duke University Archives/Flickr, Alan Liefting/Wikimedia, University of Toronto Students for Life/Flickr, William Murphy/Flickr, SimonaR/PixaBay, Collage by WhoWhatWhy


Republican Senator Marco Rubio was steadfast. “What else can it be?” he asked CNN correspondent Chris Cuomo. “It” was a human embryo, and Rubio wasn’t backing down. “It cannot turn into an animal. It can’t turn into a donkey. The only thing that that can become is a human being.” Rubio was making a valid assertion — an embryo is a living being with human DNA — one he kept repeating because Cuomo did not quite concede the point.

The conversation — which went nowhere — was emblematic of the abortion debate as a whole.

People on both sides of the debate usually avoid the deeper realities by repeating the same old party lines. But “pro-life” and “pro-choice” aren’t really useful terms, they are black-and-white abstractions that fail to address scientific, ethical, and moral gray areas, such as the definition of “personhood” and the effects that reproductive-related legislation has on the actual lives of women.

The language used by both camps is akin to the all-caps hyperbole of a direct mail campaign, which leads to an exchange of biased catchphrases, not a nuanced debate about the multifaceted issue of abortion.

“Pro-choice,” in suggesting that abortion is only an issue of personal liberty and women’s rights, fails to address the life of the fetus.

“Pro-life,” on the other hand, considers only the life of a fetus, while failing to appreciate the consequences this can have for a woman.

Legally and ethically, one person’s rights must always be viewed in the context of other people’s rights.

During a pregnancy, the rights of the fetus and the rights of women are uniquely inseparable, and any conversation about abortion must necessarily account for the rights of each party.

The constitutional protection of Freedom of Speech makes provisions for public safety (you can’t falsely yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater); as do gun laws (you can’t carry a gun into an elementary school, at least in most jurisdictions). Even “murder,” taking a life through intentional violence, is legal in cases of self-defense.

During a pregnancy, the rights of the fetus and the rights of the woman are uniquely inseparable, and any conversation about abortion must necessarily account for the rights of each party.

Conflating Life With Personhood

When Mike Huckabee remarked in the recent GOP primary that “we clearly know that that baby inside the mother’s womb is a person at the moment of conception” he had already failed to engage “pro-choicers” in any sort of debate that would make sense to them.

He had imposed his own definition and value on the word “person,” one that the “pro-choice” movement does not accept. Indeed, a “pro-choice” candidate would likely respond to Huckabee with a stack of evidence that suggests a fetus is not a “person.”

But both parties are missing a crucial point.

The quest to mark a precise, scientifically determined moment of “personhood” is unlikely to ever be accomplished with certainty. In many ways, the inquiry is less scientific than philosophical: How do we define “person”?

Is a living being a “person” only if it is conscious of itself? In which case, a new-born baby may not be a “person.”

Does a fetus turn into a baby only when it can exist outside of the womb? If so, does the definition of “person” change as medicine advances?

Gray areas abound, and ethicist Peter Singer, who more thoroughly advances several of the arguments above, takes umbrage at both sides of the classic abortion debate precisely because they fail to engage with this grayness.

The fallacy of the “pro-life” movement’s most basic tenet, Singer says, “lies in the shift from the scientifically accurate claim that the fetus is a living individual of the species Homo sapiens to the ethical claim that the fetus therefore has the same right to life as any other human being.”

In other words, even if we agree that a fetus is alive, that doesn’t necessarily mean it should have equal rights with autonomous members of the species.

Surely this makes some sense. “Rights” are not natural attributes ordained through mere existence. Even though an unaborted fetus could become a child or adult, it is neither. (It doesn’t make sense to give a fetus rights just to protect its potential. We pass by “potential” every day — the 300+ eggs a woman ovulates in her lifetime are not considered “lives that could have been.”)

But “pro-choice” proponents ignore the glaring ethical leap that Singer calls out, and are  simultaneously reluctant to admit that a fetus is, indeed, a living thing with human DNA. Instead, they look to science in a fruitless search for proof that a fetus isn’t a “person.”

Even if we agree that a fetus is alive, that doesn’t necessarily mean it should have equal rights with autonomous members of the species.

This is precisely what happened when the “Human Life Won’t Become a Cat” meme was born during a recent conversation between CNN host Chris Cuomo and Republican Senator Marco Rubio. Cuomo, who was raised a Catholic, nonetheless challenged Rubio, asking him to provide scientific evidence for his assertion that “life begins at conception.”

Marco Rubio Cat Tweet Twitter Screenshot

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio’s recent tweet is absolutely correct — an embryo is a living being with human DNA that will never grow up to become a cat. But is this really the issue? Photo Credit: Screenshot from Marco Rubio’s Twitter Account

Rubio responded that it was just a scientific fact, and then added, “Well, if they can’t say it will be a human life, what does it become, then? Could it become a cat?”

Cuomo insisted that a scientific determination of when life begins is essential to resolving the issue — and Rubio insisted it was already resolved.

A few problems occurred here. First, the two seem to conflate “life” and “personhood.” Rubio is absolutely correct that a fetus is a living being with human DNA — a point the “pro-choicers” are loathe to admit, and which often stalls the conversation, exactly as it did in this case.

But the scientific designation of “life” is not the same as the philosophical question of “personhood,” and if Cuomo is calling for science to provide an irrefutable answer to a philosophical question, he is likely to be disappointed.

Instead of looking for a definitive dividing line between person and non-person, Singer thinks we should consider “the fetus for what it is — the actual characteristics it possesses — and value its life accordingly.” (Quote as summarized in The Oxford Companion to Philosophy.)

Thus, Cuomo could have said to Rubio, “Yes, a fetus is alive. But what is a fetus really? And what sort of rights should we give it based on what it is? And how should we value those rights in relation to the woman whose body it is in?” (For a brief expansion on this point see Section III here.)

The Rape Exception

This weighing of values may be incomprehensible to anti-abortionists who believe a fetus has the same value as a child or an adult. To them, “the right to choose” means “the right to choose murder,” and the vocabulary of “choice” seems woefully inadequate.

But the language of “murder” is just as inadequate. Many “pro-life” proponents actually do weigh the value of the fetus against the rights of the mother, as they demonstrate with their attitudes towards “the rape exception.”

Abortion-rights activists especially condemn politicians who oppose abortion even in the case of rape. But those who see abortion as murder would of course believe any abortion is murder.

To the anti-abortionist, “the right to choose” means “the right to choose murder” and the vocabulary of “choice” seems woefully inadequate. But the language of “murder” is just as inadequate.

Fox moderator Megyn Kelly recently asked pro-life candidate Marco Rubio, who had seemed to support abortion in the case of rape, “If you believe that life begins at conception, as you say you do, how do you justify ending a life just because it begins violently through no fault of the baby?”

Like many of the candidates in the GOP primary debate, Rubio claimed he did not, in fact, support exceptions. But those who go on to compete in the national election will likely adjust their morals to suit the wishes of the majority of voters. Mitt Romney, John McCain, and George W. Bush all eventually made platform modifications for “exceptions” while on the national ticket.

But if a candidate really believes abortion is murder, then support for an exemption indicates that a fetus conceived through rape is less worthy than the life of a fetus conceived another way. This fetus does not have the right to life and can be murdered.

Either the popular “murder” rhetoric is far too strong — and middle ground does exist — or the candidate is inconsistent on the issue of murder.

Even most pro-lifers — 59 percent of pro-life Americans, according to a Gallup poll — believe abortion should be legal in the case of rape. Such people, at least unconsciously, are weighing the value of the fetus against the harm to the mother. Put another way, they are weighing the rights of the fetus against those of the mother. In this case, the mother’s rights have already been violated and would continue to be if she were forced to give birth.

But what rights should a woman have when she is not the victim of a crime? And what are the costs of an unwanted pregnancy?

Real-Life Consequences

A New Yorker article on Planned Parenthood bluntly states: “If a fertilized egg has constitutional rights, women cannot have equal rights with men.”

In the world we live in right now, this is absolutely true. The consequences of anti-abortion laws are almost fully borne — metaphorically and literally — by women. And the politicians who spout “pro-life” rhetoric have “traditionalist” values and can’t appreciate how an unwanted child can negatively affect almost every aspect of a woman’s life.

“Women’s rights” don’t just mean a woman’s right to give birth or not — though that’s part of it. Pregnancy alone has significant costs — physical, mental, financial, and societal. Varying levels of stigma are attached to pregnancy, especially for single women or teens. If pregnancy is considered the cost of indiscretion, then the male party gets off with comparatively few repercussions for the very same “indiscretion.”

The consequences of anti-abortion laws are almost fully borne — metaphorically and literally — by women.

Once a baby is born, someone must care for it. Some women get abortions because they cannot adequately do this themselves. (If a mother is addicted to drugs or an alcoholic — and this is a whole other issue — she may not even be able to properly care for a fetus, never mind a baby.) Approximately one million abortions occur in the US each year. Already nearly 400,000 children are living in the US’s notoriously fraught foster care system — over a quarter of these children are eligible for adoption but have not been adopted.

Some women will raise their children themselves. Of the women who have abortions, 85 percent are unmarried, so an abortion ban is bound to create a plethora of single mothers, causing a far greater burden on women than men. Women who raise children may take a career hit, losing wages and opportunities for advancement while working part time jobs or taking time off to care for children. There is no such career hit for men.

Even without a career hit, the financial burden of raising a child is nothing to sneeze at (more than $245,000 for a middle-income family in the US), and over 40 percent of abortions are performed on women living below the poverty line. Who will support these women financially?

As comedian George Carlin remarked, anti-abortion advocates “are obsessed with the fetus from conception to nine months. After that, they don’t want to know about you. … No neonatal care, no day care, no head start, no school lunch, no food stamps, no welfare, no nothing. If you’re preborn, you’re fine; if you’re preschool, you’re fucked.”

(The inability to care for “unwanted” children could account for some of the larger societal “benefits” of legal abortion — Freakonomics has reported that the access to abortion significantly decreases the crime rate years later.)

Even the burden of preventing pregnancy falls primarily to women. Easy access to birth control is probably the best path to reducing unwanted pregnancies, but it currently consumes significant time, energy, and money — though it’s hard to imagine that if men experienced the same obstacles to having safe sex, and the same potential consequences if they didn’t, that the whole system wouldn’t be run differently. (Gloria Steinem once remarked that if men menstruated, sanitary supplies would be “federally funded and free.”)

The Republican-proposed bill to make birth control available over-the-counter seems like a step in the right direction at first glance, but it could make birth control extremely expensive, costing women up to $600 a year. (As for those opposed to any kind of birth control except for abstinence, their reasoning is almost always purely religious, which should hold no water in a secular society that has its foundations in the separation of church and state.)

If adamant anti-abortionists can’t or won’t advocate for fair access to birth control, how will they meet the much more difficult task of advocating for the women who have no choice but to become mothers? And how will they support the approximately one million children that those mothers give birth to?

If a “pro-life” politician could clearly see the effects of his position, would he be willing to fight for women’s right to birth control, men’s participation in reducing unwanted pregnancies and in child rearing, and health care for pregnant women and infants?

The Larger Issue

It is difficult to take the political abortion debate seriously when both sides endlessly recycle trite, over-simplified language that ignores and even denies the complexity and nuances of what’s at stake. Both liberals and conservatives have repeatedly failed to engage in a real conversation that ventures beyond dogma and rhetoric. If opposing advocates have already chosen their corners and shut their ears, then we have little hope of arriving at an ethical, practical resolution of this issue.

Related front page panorama photo credit: Left to Right, Top to Bottom: Elvert Barnes/Flickr, Sylvia McFadden/Flickr, Jordan/Flickr, Duke University Archives/Flickr, Alan Liefting/Wikimedia, University of Toronto Students for Life/Flickr, William Murphy/Flickr, Collage by WhoWhatWhy

0 responses to “The Failed Rhetoric of the Abortion Debate”

  1. TJ2000 says:

    The abortion debate is the centerfold example of the Republican party’s downfall — trying to shove their personal religious views into the legal system so their specific personal religious take on the subject is criminalitistic to everyone else. This comment posted by a hard-core Republican who utterly despises the left.

    Face it Co-Republicans; you cannot legislate a ‘piece’ of someone without severely violating individual rights. The US Constitution applies to the “born” ( <– Exact word ) citizens. This whole "unborn" argument is utterly based on faith and more so the earlier on it's referenced. Think about it; It's like protecting "unearned" income or "unfinished" legislation – Protect that 20hrs you "plan" on getting with the legal system. WTH.. Republicans don't usually lobby to legalize "protection" of what one person expects on everyone. That's a Democrat game.

    Such personal matters shouldn't even be a legislative debate and if it must be then Roe v Wade at 21-weeks is MORE THAN fair to the Pro-Life thinkers. Go ahead and be personally Pro-Life but get a hold of yourselves – It has no business being a public matter up for popular opinion legislation.

  2. Sargonsin says:

    Correction. Having human DNA and being alive does not make this entity a “Homo sapiens” a human. Sorry. A single human cell is not a human.

    The Biological domain of Taxonomy classifies organisms. To make it into the “club” Homo sapiens requires memberships in a bunch of other clubs (Domain, Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Genus and so on) The zygote simply does have membership in these clubs.

    We can say that the zygote is from a “Homo sapiens” It is a Homo sapiens cell (descriptive adjective use as apposed to the noun) but, it is not a Homo sapiens.

    Same distinction with “Human life” – descriptive adjective and “A human”

    A zygote is human life but it is not a human.

    • Seriously? says:

      zygotes do have membership in to all of those clubs. Domain- Eukarya, Kingdom- Animalia Phylum- Chordata etc To be a member you have to be have certain characteristics sometime within your individual development. The zygote qualifies.

    • Sargonsin says:

      A zygote does not have a spine, a human brain or a human heart. That it might have these characteristics in the future, does not make it “a human” in the now and nor does it make it a Homo sapiens in the now. This is the “potential” argument.
      It is a single eukaryotic cell from a Homo sapiens. Its individual development ends with the first mitotic division when it creates two identical clones of itself.
      It is the DNA within the zygote that has the potential to create a human. The DNA contains the “blueprint” for a human. The structure of that human will contain trillions of cells. At the time of the zygote, not a single one of those cells has been created.
      If not one cell for the structure of a human exists. How can this human be said to exist ?

    • GEIxBattleRifle says:

      Just because the zygote doesn’t have a heart or brain doesn’t disqualify it’s species membership that has long been established since the mid 1970s in embrology, taxonomy,biology,phylogeny, genetic-DNA organism-life etc. Just like because a house doesn’t have electricity or water utility yet, doesnt disqualify it from being a house. Your rhetoric and sophistry has been noted.

    • Sargonsin says:

      That you completely ignore the science I presented and have no science of your own to present is no reason to stand on a soap box and cry “Rhetoric, sophistry”.
      Having human DNA shows that a zygote is “from” a Homo sapiens .. just like every other human cell. That a human cell is from a Homo sapiens, does not magically turn it into one.
      Using your “House” analogy: The structure of a human is made of cells.
      The zygote will never be one of the cells that makes up that structure. Not one cell in the structure of a human has been created.
      If no cell in the structure exists (comparatively no brick in a brick building) now then can a human be said to exist ?
      The DNA contains the “blueprint” for a human. At the zygote stage this is all that exists of the human that may be created and nothing more. A blueprint of a building is not a building.

  3. Irukandji says:

    Humans are going to destroy themselves due to overpopulation and limited resources. That’s a really good reason to be for abortion rights, btw. Euthanasia rights should also be made available to everyone.

  4. It’s arbitrary to say that a fetus does not have the same value as a child. Does a child have the same value as an adult? If so then you simply can’t dismiss the fetus. Don’t confuse “being human” with “being at some later stage of development”.

  5. Rosemary Diehl says:

    Most pro lifers believe that abortion should be legal in the case of their 13 year old daughter getting pregnant

    • Drew Hymer says:

      Do you have any evidence to support your slander, Rosemary Diehl?

    • Rosemary Diehl says:

      Yes I have seen it with my own eyes, protesters who protest at the clinic where I volunteer have brought their children in for procedures

    • Drew Hymer says:

      So, you have anecdotal “evidence”, and you say “most” pro-lifers. In other words, you really have no evidence to support your claim. Would you like to adjust your claim to “some”?

      By the way, you should name the supposed hypocritical pro-lifers and, if they have facebook pages, provide a link so they can defend themselves.

  6. Fram60 says:

    Abortion is one issue where there is no middle ground, therefore no way to reconcile differences. I am anti-abortion because of the damage to babies, as well as the damage to women who live with the knowledge that they killed their child. I am close with many women who had abortions, and all but one said they wish they had not done it.

    I disagree with the assertion that once a baby is born the pro-life people don’t care or do anything to help. I have supported many charities that help with physical, emotional and social needs of these children and mothers, and also for the women who had an abortion. What life situation is a woman in if she believes her best option is to kill her child? To these women I say please, please, please learn to forgive yourself. Stop sabotaging your life because you made a choice which was your ‘right’. It is completely unnatural for a mother to kill her child, and this ‘choice’ has long term consequences for the woman. I know of only pro-life organizations that truly care and nurture these women. Pro-choice groups continue to insist there is nothing to feel guilty about, so refuse to help these women with the aftermath of abortion.

    • Alissa Wolf says:

      First of all, abortion is not “killing a child.” A fetus is not a child; it merely has the potential to be a child. If your assessment was correct, then our jails would be filled to the brim with women who had abortions. I know of many women who had abortions for legitimate health reasons, such as my friend who was diagnosed with lupus right after she became pregnant. I know of a woman who had an abortion due to being brutally raped. I know of a woman who already had three children. Right after she got pregnant with her fourth, due to failed birth control, she and her husband were both laid off from their jobs, and her husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Not one of these women regretted their decision to terminate their pregnancies. Women have abortions for a variety of complicated reasons. The bottom line is, the procedure is – thankfully – legal. And it’s a private matter.

    • Sargonsin says:

      Your logical fallacy/ (assumed premise) is that a “baby” actually exists at conception.

      This is an unsupported claim. Until you can make a coherent argument showing that this single human cell (Zygote) is in fact a “baby” you have no business making this claim.

      The fact is that “Experts Disagree” even about when human life begins. There are 5 main perspectives (Metabolic, Genetic, Embryological, Neurological, Environmental) and only one puts the beginning at conception.

      Even then, claiming “human life” begins here does not mean that a living human exists at this point. Every human cell is “human life” but these are not humans.

    • GEIxBattleRifle says:

      Human embryologists the experts on human development, have already confirmed that a human begins to exist after fertilization. Any of there textbooks say this and even pro choicer philosophers like Peter Singer, Michael Tooley, and David Boonins have already acknowledged that fact.

    • Sargonsin says:

      No one has “confirmed” that a human exists at fertilization. There are 5 different scientific perspectives on when “human life begins” and even this is not the same as saying “a human exists”.
      Those perspectives are (metabolic, genetic, embryological, neurological and ecological). Only one puts the beginning of human life at conception.
      And saying “human life begins here” does NOT mean a human exists.
      The fact of the matter is that “Experts Disagree” and Science has not “Proven” that a zygote is a human.
      Biology – the domain expertise makes no such ridiculous claims. Taxonomy (sub- domain for classifying Homo sapiens) gives specific characteristics required to achieve that designation. A zygote does not even come close.

  7. I don’t know why when it’s already been settled by law, (Supreme Court) 1973 and backed up again in 1976, that it’s still an issue. Why don’t you ‘anti abortion’ people get behind fighting the SCOTUS, when they really do something wrong like the 2000 election results. That decision, inadvertently cost millions of lives and ruined the rights and liberties of the population of America. This abortion situation has been addressed and a decision has been made. Live with it! It is the womans choice and no one else’s.

    • Drew Hymer says:

      Roe v. Wade was far worse that Bush v. Gore. Roe v. Wade, without any regard to what the constitution actually says, trashed the laws of all 50 states. It ushered in the murder of over 55 million innocent human beings. There’s really no comparison.

    • Sargonsin says:

      You need to stop with the logical fallacy = assuming the zygote is a human when you have not proven, or even attempted to support this claim. A claim which is at the very heart of the abortion debate.
      Either provide evidence that shows this (assumed premise) is true or stop inferring that this claim has been proven true.
      What is the difference between this human cell (zygote) and every other human cell – none of which are considered to be humans- that makes it a human and the others not ?

    • Drew Hymer says:

      A zygote is not the same as “every other human cell”. A zygote is a complete organism, complete human being. One of my skin cells is merely part of an organism, the human being that is me. So, you’re confusing a part (a human cell) with the whole (a complete human being).

    • Sargonsin says:

      Repeating your claim over an over “A zygote is a human because -its a human- its a complete human being” is not proof of claim. It is logical fallacy by definition.
      The whole point of this debate is to give “the why” evidence or arguments that support your claim that a zygote is a human.
      Merely repeating your claim ” it’s a human, its a human” is not an explanation for anything.

    • Drew Hymer says:

      I didnt just repeat my claim. I answered your question. A zygote is a complete human organism while a human cell is part of a human organism.

      You can know a zygote is a complete organism because she directs her own development. She grows herself from within just like all of us do. She needs oxygen, food and protective environment and she grows and matures as we do. So, she is, from the beginning of life, a complete human being.

      I hope that help clears up your confusion.

    • Sargonsin says:

      You did repeat your claim. Your claim is that the zygote is a human. You then said “The zygote cell is a complete human as if this backed up your claim. w
      Then in this post you change your claim and say “Zygote is a complete human organism”. (using a descriptive adjective (human) instead of the noun (human)
      How is a human cell any less a human organism than the zygote ? A human cell is “human”, and it is just as much an organism as the Zygote.
      Not one thing on your list (growth, maturation, needing oxygen, food, protective environment) is a difference between the zygote and every other human cell.
      You not given any non fallacious rational as to why this human cell should be considered a human.
      You have not shown how the difference between the zygote an other human cells qualifies it as human. All you have done is talked about things they have in common ?

    • Except the woman who’s body it’s growing in. I’m talking ‘first three months’.

  8. chefjas says:

    Great article, however I’m not sure it will help us in the deabte as the two positions are so polarizing. Having said that, I am one of those that struggles with and understands both sides of the coin. My mind is still not made up after forty years of introspection.

  9. Laurie says:

    Great Circumspection . . . here. Pat yourselves on the back on this one . . . .

  10. A womans right to chose is the only choice! Government, stay out of the freedom of choice issue.

    • Drew Hymer says:

      And since child molestation is a choice, spousal abuse is a choice, rape is a choice, drive-by shootings are choice, Government should stay out of the freedom to choose molesting children, abusing a spouse, raping someone or shooting someone in a drive-by.

      Can’t you see the emptiness of the lame “choice” propaganda?

    • philip.dennany says:

      It’s the right of loving mothers to kill her own kids? Why not extend that right up to voting age? A woman’s choice was to take necessary precautions before doing her fun natural child conceiving/entertainment thing.

  11. Westcoastdeplorable says:

    Great article, and you’ve hit the nail on the head. Both sides are at
    loggerheads because both sides have a point. IMHO it all comes down to a
    Woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body, because when it
    comes right down to it, the fetus is a part of her until separation at
    birth. Perhaps instead of trying to ascertain when “life” begins we
    should instead look at when the fetus is viable to exist w/o the mother,
    as a starting point to address if/when abortion should be “illegal”.

    • Drew Hymer says:

      WestCoastLiberal, i agree that we shouldn’t try to ascertain when “life” begins, because the science is clear (as Maria Adelmann admits) that conception begins the life of a human being.

      The science is also clear that the unborn is not part of the mother’s body at any point in the pregnancy. It’s like claiming a patient is part of the hospital.

      Your point about viability is contradicted by the entire point of any civilized society. Usually, we look at someone’s weakness or needs and see those weaknesses as a good reason to help the person. But you want to flip that on its head for unborn babies. You look at her weakness and use it as an excuse to kill her.

      Adelmann points out that there’s a conflict of rights between the mother and her unborn child but this is false, because we must consider obligations. Our obligation to care for our children trumps our bodily rights.

      And since parental obligation is unaffected by the location of the child, parental obligation applies before birth. So WestCoastLiberal, a “Woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body” is overridden by her obligation to care for the kid.

    • What if it would be catastrophic for the mother and the baby due to certain circumstances? Leave the woman alone to make her own decision. Nobody has the right to tell a woman what she can or can’t do in this situation. Sorry but that’s the way it is. If your the kind of person who’s so worried about this being ‘illegal’, start at ‘illegal undeclared wars’ where millions of innocent men, women and children are killed, and then do something about that!

    • Drew Hymer says:

      “catastrophic for the mother”? You mean her life is in danger. Life-saving medical treatment is valid even when it may cause the death of the unborn child.

      Dissapointed William, you offer no argument to counter my argument that parental obligation trumps bodily rights. Parental obligation is based in the fact that the parents cause the child to be in need while at the same time causing the child’s inability to care for herself. This puts the parents under debt to care for the child.

      Since the parents cause the child’s needs and the child’s inability at the beginning of the child’s life, parental obligation also begins at the beginning of the child’s life.

    • If she had a baby at this time, it would ruin her life and brining up the infant would be a problem because it would be impossible to do it right. I get a kick out of all you MEN who think you have all the answers, And you’ll never know what it feels like to be in a situation that a woman, with an unwanted pregnancy, finds herself. It’s the womans body. It’s her decision. You have no right to even open your mouth!

    • Drew Hymer says:

      DW, you’re saying that because the baby’s existence “ruins her life”, she can kill the baby. That’s just sick.

      I’ve explained that parents have an obligation to care for their children. You provide no counter argument. Because you don’t have one. You think if you pound the table that’s good enough. Well, it isn’t. Provide an argument or admit you’re wrong.

      Going on…. parental obligation doesn’t disappear simply because the children are difficult or “ruin their life”. Part of being a person is fulfilling your moral obligations that you owe to others, especially to your own children. Killing the one to whom you’re indebted is moral cowardice, disgusting and should be illegal.

      You say “you’ll never know what it feels like to be…a woman, with an unwanted pregnancy”. Ok, so experience is the issue? Let’s see how that works for you.

      Well, we’re not arguing about pregnancy. We’re arguing about abortion. And you don’t know what it’s like to have your arms and legs ripped off, to have lethal poison injected into heart, or to have your brain sucked out of your skull. Since you don’t know what it’s like to be an innocent baby murdered, you have no right to support abortion.

      One more thing, your “you should shut up” statement only gives away the weakness of your position. Please offer a real argument. You can start by answering my argument about parental obligation.

    • The SCOTUS answered your argument in ’73 and again in ’76. Go talk to them. I’m finished talking to someone who doesn’t have any idea what he’s saying.Bye Bye.

    • Drew Hymer says:

      SCOTUS answered the slavery problem too in 1857. In 1973, SCOTUS imposed its own policy preference for baby-killing instead of following the constitution.

      So far, you’ve offered “shut up, because you’re a man” and “that’s the law, get over it” . Not too impressive, to put it nicely. Perhaps, you should come up with good reasons to support your position beyond the shallow pro-abortion talking points.

      I’m still waiting for you to explain why i’m wrong about parental obligation applying before birth.

    • Drew Hymer says:

      SCOTUS never answered any of the arguments against abortion. In fact, Blackmun outright lied in Roe v. Wade when he said there was no scientific consensus on when life begins.

    • One other thing. To listen to you it sounds like if a woman was pregnant at say three months and she was playing tennis and had a miscarriage. The way you feel that same woman should be charged with ‘negligent homicide’. Your pitiful. I feel sorry for your mind. It must be hard to live with yourself.

    • Drew Hymer says:

      You pretend you know my answer to your suggested scenario and then attack my imaginary answer. You obviously don’t know how to make a rational argument.

      A miscarriage is not a negligent homicide.

    • GJ says:

      Your argument depends on the analogy between the choice to hurt someone else –rape etc– and the woman;s decision about her own body which has an embryo/fetus in it. First, you should understand, as most people do, that a pregnant woman is in a unique situation; no other :choice” is precisely analogous to having a life within you, a life that cannot exist without you for many months. Second, you assume that the rights of the fetus equal or even take precedence over the life of the mother because the fetus is “alive” and “human”. But the whole essay is about questioning that reasoning. Both mother and fetus are alive; but their rights are different, because their situations are different, and the entire situation is unique. You either haven;t read the article carefully or you willfully ignore what it’s saying. Usually, such an uncompromising anti-abortionist position is rooted in a religious argument: a “soul” is somehow embedded in the embryo at the moment of conception (I believe Thomas Aquinas allows 24 hours) and all souls are equal whatever their fleshly clothing. But those of us who reject this supernatural argument have to make do with moral arguments based on the facts of the matter, such as viability etc., and an always difficult and uncertain balancing of rights in a unique situation

    • Drew Hymer says:

      GJ, i agree pregnancy is unique. The baby is directly dependent on her mother for food, shelter and oxygen as well as the removal of wastes and CO2. That’s the way it goes for mammals in early development. Pro-aborts often take this fact as justification for killing the baby. But the baby’s needs in no way lead to that conclusion. Rather, the baby’s needs point to the parents’ obligation to care for the baby.

    • Drew Hymer says:

      GJ, you say that i assume that the “rights of the fetus…. take precedence
      over the life of the mother.” But nowhere did i assume that. You just
      made that up. If you look at what i actually wrote, you’d see that i
      said when the mother’s life is in jeopardy, removing the child would be

      It looks like it’s you who didn’t read Adelmann’s
      pro-abortion piece very closely. It covers a lot of stuff, but nowhere
      does it say that pro-lifers assume the baby’s life is more important
      than the mother’s. The fact is the mother’s life is rarely on the line
      while the baby’s life is. Pro-lifers just recognize that the baby
      shouldn’t pay with his life because he’s inconvenient to his parents.

      Normal pregnancy does not provide a conflict between the mother’s life and the baby’s but Adelmann believes it provides a conflict of rights. That’s the most important point in the essay. I simply point out that the conflict doesn’t exist because parental obligation trumps the parents’ rights. Parents must use their bodies to care for their children. Birth (the location of the child) is completely irrelevant when it comes to parental obligation.

    • Whyfor says:

      That is a bit like saying the man was murdered by a robber and so what are you going to do about war.

    • Sargonsin says:

      “Because the science is clear”. This is abject nonsense. Forgive my use of such a harsh term but you can not have objectively studied this question much as you do not even get the terminology correct (its “Human life”) and in the context of this conversation- Terminology matters.
      There are 5 “main” scientific perspectives. The reason they are called “perspectives” is because they are opinions and none is considered scientific fact. These are Metabolic, Genetic, Embryological, Neurological and Environmental.
      Only one of these perspectives (Genetic) puts the beginning of human life at conception. This perspective is widely believed by the ignorant raging masses but, has fallen out of favor among many scientists due to some various issues.
      Second even if we say “Human life” begin here. This does not mean that a human exists. Every human cell is “human life” but, a human heart cell is neither a heart nor a human.

    • Drew Hymer says:

      The science is clear on this subject. In 1981, a US Senate committee held hearings on when human life begins. Scientist after scientist after scientist explained that an individual human begins his life at conception. Pro-aborts could not offer scientific testimony that human life begins at any other point. The evidence is overwhelmingly clear. I’d love to do the same hearings again.

      One doesn’t have to be a scientist to explain the facts. Living things do not change species as they mature. Something doesn’t begin life as a giraffe and later turn into an elephant. Rather, living organisms mature according to a certain pattern because of the type of organism they already are. So, if you’re a human being now, you were a human being when your life began.

    • Sargonsin says:

      I gave you 4 scientific perspectives that provide evidence that life begins at other points.
      Your claim “The evidence is overwhelmingly clear” was proven false in the last post simply on the basis of these other perspectives.
      Your “things to not change species” comment is silliness.
      There is no “Homo sapiens” at conception. In order to be “Homo Sapiens” the entity must have all the requisite characteristics and a zygote has almost none. There is no “Homo Sapiens” such that such it can change species. A human is being created. That something came from a human, such as a human cell, does not make that entity a human or a Homo sapiens.

    • Drew Hymer says:

      It’s just nonsense that you gave scientific perspectives of anything. All you did was write four words. They are nice words, I grant you. Try giving evidence, instead.

      Wow, you think living things can change species? You’re starting to sound like a science-denier.

      I’m willing to go along with you for a ride. If a human being is being created, when exactly does the human being come into existence? Backed by what evidence?

      I made an appropriate appeal to authority, that scientists explained in a Senate hearing that life begins at conception. Why don’t you address that argument? Here are three quotes from the hearing (there are plenty more):

      “By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception,”

      “the answer is most assuredly that [lfie begins] at the time of conception.”

      “I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception…. I submit that human life is present throughout this entire sequence from conception to adulthood and that any interruption at any point throughout this time constitutes a termination of human life”

    • Sargonsin says:

      You made the claim “The Science is Clear” – that life begins at conception but give no evidence to support your claim and in fact do not even know the correct terminology. “Human life”

      I gave you the names of the 5 main Scientific perspectives (4 of which conflict with your claim) and now it appears that you were not even aware of these perspectives calling them “Just Words”.

      In order for you to show that your “Science is Clear” claim is true. You would need to refute each of the contradictory claims. This is how “Science” works.

      Lets take the “Metabolic” approach. No need to describe all 4 as I only need to show one conflicting approach to prove your claim false.

      This perspective states that Animate does not come from inanimate. Human life is a continuum. Both egg and sperm are “human life” and before this came other human life.

      “The metabolic view takes the stance that a single developmental moment marking the beginning of human life does not exist. Both the sperm and egg cells should individually be considered to be units of life in the same respect as any other single or multicellular

      Your claim “The Science is clear” is demonstrably false.

    • Sargonsin says:

      “I made an appropriate appeal to authority, that scientists explained in a Senate hearing that life begins at conception. Why don’t you address that argument? Here are three quotes from the hearing (there are plenty more)”

      1) your appeal to authority is fallacy because you did not give “The Why”- what these “experts” argument was….

      2) You falsely claimed that there were no refuting comments from other scientists. I showed this claim false by giving a link where these other scientists baulk.

      Now you speak as if your original claim was not proven false ?

      Then you give 3 of the most nonsensical examples of “evidence” imaginable.

      1) “By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception,”

      Of course life is present at conception. This does not mean it began there ?

      2) “the answer is most assuredly that [lfie begins] at the time of conception.”

      Thanks for the “Repetition of claim” What part of “Repeating a claim is not proof of claim” Do you not understand ? Really now. How many times do we have to go over this ?

      The question here is why is it that human life can be said to begin at conception and nowhere else ?

      The 3rd comment rehashes the first two.

      Absolutely no explanation of how these conclusions were arrived at.

      This is a Clown show masquerading as Science.

    • Whyfor says:

      It isn’t her own body. Not at any stage. It is neither a tumor nor an extension of her body. It is a new being, created between the union of a male sperm and a female embryo and to survive, it is connected to her life support. Yes, it would not be able to survive on its own but most women who have abortions now cannot themselves survive on their own without state support of some sort or another.

      One thing people seem to miss is that abortion is a surgical procedure in most instances and can, and often does, harm the woman carrying the new life. Drugs that kill the fetus also often cause irreversible harm to the woman. It is males who largely get away scott free from any physical harm to themselves and free from any responsibility either to the woman they have inseminated or the resultant baby at any stage in its development. Men who do love to be fathers and/or who would love to be fathers are also victims.

      Being able to conceive, carry and produce a child is one of the most beautiful things one can imagine. That the forming and birth of new human life even enters into the realm of legality shows what an emotionally and morally sterile society we have become.

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