Thursday, November 7, 2013

10 Reasons to Have an Abortion?

So I've been made aware of an article on a website called Mommyish, 10 Reasons to Have an Abortion -- Illustrated by Adorable Cats, and written by Eve Vawter. Let's be honest here. Most of her reasons are without substance, so the cat pictures are there to make her argument more emotionally compelling so that you don't notice the flawed reasoning (after all, why would you post cat pictures in an article talking about the death of human beings in an attempt to be "cute," especially if you recognize that most women don't make the abortion decision lightly and since most of the cat pictures don't even illustrate the reason they are included with?). While I think a parenting website is hypocritical to celebrate parenting and support abortion, I agree with Ms. Vawter that one can be pro-choice and be a good parent. As she indicates, the two are not mutually exclusive.

Ms. Vawter's article begins with many of the same pro-choice talking points, which I have responded to ad nauseum on this blog. So I will just respond to her ten arguments directly. In fact, all of her reasons except for the first one beg the question by assuming that the unborn child is not a valuable human being, deserving of the same rights we all are. So without further ado, let's examine her reasons.

1. Having a baby would endanger your life.

This is the only legitimate reason on her list. I have responded to this argument in detail elsewhere, There are other reasons that are at least understandable, like rape, even though they are not permissible. She adds the caveat "or cause you medical hardship," but she doesn't go into detail as to what medical hardship means. If a woman can safely continue a pregnancy, even though she must endure hardship, I don't see this as a legitimate reason to kill her unborn child.

2. Your birth control failed.

This happens quite a bit. But if the unborn child is a valuable human being, then you can't justify killing them on the grounds that your contraception failed. Sex leads to pregnancy. Even by protecting yourself from pregnancy, you are still responsible for the creation of new life because you willingly engaged in that act.

In his book The Ethics of Abortion (New York, NY: Routledge, 2011, p. 162), Christopher Kaczor, responds to an analogy by Judith Jarvis Thomson in which she argues that if it is stuffy and you open a window, and a burglar takes the opportunity to enter your house through the window, you are not obligated to allow him to stay, even if you had taken "precautions" like having bars installed to keep burglars out, and he only got in due to a defect in the bars. To this, Kaczor responds,

"The critic of the burglar analogy could critique the analogy by pointing out that the woman's action of leaving the door unlocked does not cause the burglar to be in the house -- opening the door only removes an obstacle. On the other hand, the man and the woman cause the baby to be where it is, even if they tried to prevent it (just as a drunk driver causes deaths though she may have tried to prevent it, say by drinking coffee to help stay alert)."

Patrick Lee responds to this argument, as well, in his book Abortion and Unborn Human Life (Washington, D.C., The Catholic University of America Press, 1996, p. 118, emphasis in original, as quoted in Kaczor, pp. 162-163),

"Parents have a special duty or responsibility to their children even if they have taken careful precautions to avoid having children, by contraception or natural family planning. For most people realize that contraceptives and other methods of avoiding conception have a certain rate of failure. Similary, drunk drivers are responsible for the damage they cause even if they make great efforts to avoid it. If the baseball I bat breaks my neighbor's window, I still have a responsibility to compensate my neighbor (fix the window) even though I tried very hard to bat the baseball in the other direction. Thus, contrary to Thomson's argument, we are responsible for the natural and foreseen results of our actions even if we try to avoid them."

Contraception failure is not a legitimate reason to have an abortion. One must assume that the unborn are not valuable human beings in order to justify abortion for this reason.

3. You don't want to have a child because of your career.

This is the first picture that remotely has anything to do with the reason, as the cat is wearing a tie (and not even a very professional-looking one). Having a child is not always easy. Pro-life people freely concede this. But this still does not justify taking a child's life. Imagine that a single mother decides to give birth, and after the child is born her boss tells her that if she doesn't come back to work next week, she'll be fired. Would she be justified in killing her child so that she doesn't have to worry anymore and go back to work? Of course not. So if the unborn is a valuable human being, we can't justify abortion for that reason, either.

Also, saying "you don't want to have a child" is misleading, since once a woman conceives she already has a child. If a woman doesn't want to have a child, she should abstain from having sex, which is an act intrinsically ordered toward procreation. Same goes for the guy, too.

4. You feel you are too young.

So apparently you could be any age, and if you feel you are too young, go get an abortion. Needless to say, this argument begs the question because again, if the unborn are valuable human beings, we can't justify killing them because the mother feels she is too young, unless in extreme cases where her youth would pose a significant threat to her life if the pregnancy continues.

5. You feel you are too old.

Apparently the author believes that a woman should be able to have an abortion just based on her whims. She does begin by saying she is "very pro-choice," so I'm guessing that probably means she doesn't really think any reasons are off-limits for having an abortion. At any rate, this begs the question for the same reason the others have.

6. You feel strongly about overpopulation.

What does it matter how you feel about overpopulation? What matters is whether or not you're right. There's little evidence to suggest the world really is overpopulated (in fact, from what I understand, the entire world's population can fit inside the area of the state of Texas), but even if we were, that does not justify abortion. Think about it. My friend Josh Brahm would say, why stop at abortion? Why not just round up all two year old children one time and kill them all, to lower the population? Can't do that because you can't kill human beings? Then if the unborn are also human beings, you can't justify abortion to help solve overpopulation. Try to look for actual solutions that doesn't involve killing an innocent human being.

Besides which, does anyone ever really have an abortion because they feel strongly about overpopulation? Highly doubtful.

7. You are worried about the health of the baby.

Now we reach the ultimate pro-choice smokescreen. Killing someone is rarely in their best interests. I mean very rarely. Even if you're worried about the baby's health (and the irony of her calling the unborn child a baby and yet advocating killing the baby for incredibly frivolous reasons is not lost on me), the answer is to let doctors heal the baby, not to kill the baby. Doctors need to work on finding cures for illnesses, not just killing every child that comes up with an incurable ailment. Besides which, we are not morally justified in taking someone's life prematurely.

8. You want no relationship with the person who got you pregnant.

Ms. Vawter says that if you get pregnant from a one-night stand, that's enough justification to get an abortion. She indicates rape and incest, which are difficult cases to be sure, but if someone's father is a criminal, that doesn't make the child any less valuable because of it. A difficult situation simply does not justify murder. And to the case of a one-night stand, I can only say, give me a break. Apparently Ms. Vawter believes that women should not be held responsible for their actions, which leads me to wonder which side is really the one that doesn't trust women?

9. You don't want to have a child.

Another easily dismantled reason. Not only does it beg the question, but once a woman conceives she already has a child.

There are only nine reasons, but no bother. Ms. Vawter claims she could have come up with a hundred more, but it would have been nice if she could have come up with a second good one. Abortion cannot be justified by situations because not only does it beg the question, but situations must be looked at on a situation by situation basis. And ironically, as J. Warner Wallace points out, these reasons wouldn't justify killing the cats in these pictures, so why should we justify abortion for these reasons? Have pets become more important to us than unborn children? Vawter did say she hopes a counter-list will be compiled soon, so I will take her up on that offer. On Friday, I will present a list of ten reasons not to have an abortion. You can check on my blog Friday at 8:00 AM PST if you're interested in seeing that list.


Crystal Kupper said...

Dear goodness, she makes pro-choicers look like mindless idiots.

Rachel Menges said...

"You don't want to have a child because of your career."

This imp

Rachel Menges said...

These aren't reasons to have an abortion, they're reasons not to have sex!!!
"You don't want to have a child because of your career."
This "reason" seems to imply that women who have children can't have a successful career because they are weak and can't handle the stress from children while working. Um, excuse me?? Women are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves plus their children, all while working. It's harder, but definitely do-able. Women are tough!!

Clinton said...

I know. Many pro-choice arguments cause you to sit back and wonder which is the side that really trusts and respects women?

Clinton said...

She's apparently not as open to dialogue as she claims, either. I posted a link to the article on my personal blog, wanting to get a discussion going, and she deleted my comment.

Max said...

Yes, she does! As someone who is pro-choice I have to say that using cat pictures to trivialize abortion is a real crap thing to do.

Part of the problem of posting mindless drivel of this sort is that it elicits responses such as "if a woman doesn't want to have a child, she should abstain from having sex, which is an act intrinsically ordered toward procreation. Same goes for the guy, too." I'm guessing that particular line of argumentation has limited, if any, persuasive value.

But to be fair, the proper response to abortion cat picture lady probably entails quite a more bit of snark anyway. I'm just not sure what value there is in that particular dialog.

Logical Conclusion said...

Somehow, I don't think she'd like it too much if someone posted kitty pictures and used arguments similar to hers in support of slavery.

And for anyone arguing slavery is totally not the same thing, you're right. Slaves at least get to live. (Slavery is absolutely wrong, too, and tragically, alive and well, and by all means we should fight it equally. It is possible to oppose slavery AND abortion. Abolitionists of the past sure did)

Max said...

First, intrinsically ordered by WHOM? Is this just a descriptive term or is it a normative one? If normative, where does the normative come from? Does it come from the orderer?

Second, if your target audience is fundamentalist Christians then I'm sure that the "sex is only for procreation" line of argumentation is at least somewhat persuasive. However, my understanding is that the people that you want to convince fall outside that audience.

Do you think that chastity until you want kids is likely to be a big seller? Looking around I'd say that their seems to be a limited market for it.

My opinion, for what its worth, is that secular audiences are not going to find that very convincing. Again my opinion, you'd be better off advocating that "If you don't want kids, you and your partner better use birth control and use it right because abortion shouldn't be an option."

LN said...

But that implies we'd think it's ok to have an abortion should regularly-used BC fail. But we don't. So the options are (1) don't have sex or (2) have sex and then keep/raise/give away a child if you get pregnant. Which one of those is more palatable in your opinion?

Max said...

I don't think it implies that abortion is ok. To be clear, I think that (at least in some circumstances). But I don't think that (2) is inconsistent with abortion is never (or almost never) ok either.

And I think we're going to have to sell (2) because chastity until you want children is not a path (IMO) very many people are likely to find very rewarding and those who do are probably in the pro-life camp already. And I say "we" in that I don't think "eh, just get an abortion" is a working position either.

For what its worth, I think that the reason that Europe in general has less unplanned pregnancies, less abortions, more abortion restrictions is, in part, because people in Europe generally do (2) and not (3- no contraception, have abortion if pregnant).

My guess is that telling people to do (1) often results in (3) "just happening." I don't think that is the whole story but I do think it is part of it.

I realize, of course, that, while we seem to agree that less abortion is a good thing, we diverge at some point as well. I suppose one question is whether it is possible to work together where we agree while, at the same time, doing the opposite where we disagree.

Clinton said...

It's irrelevant whether or not the argument is persuasive, but that the argument is true. It's true that the act of sex is intrinsically ordered for procreation. I believe it was intrinsically ordered by God, but if you don't believe in God, it was intrinsically ordered by nature, just like the act of eating is intrinsically ordered toward providing sustenance to our own bodies. Anyone who is informed in logic would be persuaded by a logical argument, even if you don't originally agree with the conclusion. The reality is the act of sex is intriniscally linked toward procreation. Because of this, if a woman engages in sexual intercourse and winds up pregnant, she bears a responsibility not to kill the child that she conceived. This is different from the reality that eating too much junk food makes you fat. You can lose weight and it's a beneft to you without being a detriment to someone else. But the problem is that in the case of sex, another human being is conceived. So simply saying that a woman "made a mistake" and should get to erase it through abortion doesn't work, because there is another human life in the equation.

Max said...

Because GOD adds the normativity. Without god, what does?

My mouth is intrinsically ordered to enjoy salty, fatty, sugary foods. So I suppose that makes me intrinsically ordered to eat caramel corn. Does that mean I have to eat caramel corn? Of course not. Why? because describing my taste buds does not, in-itself, is not normative. It is just descriptive.

Is sex intrinsically ordered for procreation. Sure, if what you are doing is describing how babies are made. But, again, that is just descriptive. You're arguing that this description is normative; that is, that because its my nature, I have certain ways I ought to act or not act. Why? You said that its because God makes us a certain way. If you're right, of course, then you're right! But without God...

And if your goal is to reduce abortions then you'd better hope your arguments are persuasive. Unless your goal is JUST to argue about abortion REGARDLESS of whether or not it has any effect on how many abortions take place. I assume, however, that that is NOT the case.

Clinton said...

I'm not convinced you're using the term "normative" correctly. Whether God or nature, sex being intrinsically linked to procreation is, in fact, normative. Either way, because that's the normal method of procreation. Normative is an adjective meaning "establishing, relating to, or deriving from a standard or norm, esp. of behavior." That can certainly be true, even if it's only nature that has intrinsically ordered it. You seem to be arguing that only if God exists, would sex being intrinsically linked to procreation generate a moral obligation.
You've missed the entire point of the argument. Your taste buds are intrinsically ordered to taste; nothing can be derived from that. It doesn't mean that you are obligated to only eat a certain thing, especially since there are various tastes that your taste buds can differentiate between. The argument is that since sex is intrinsically linked toward procreation, and a new human life results from that act, then you are responsible for creation of that life and are obligated not to kill it. The obligation comes from that fact that you are responsible for creating a new human life. You keep harping on the fact that sex is intrinsically ordered toward procreation, but that's not what generates the moral obligation in pregnancy. It's the woman's (and man's) responsibility in creating a new living human being.

Drew Hymer said...

"intrinsically ordered" means that sex naturally leads to the creation of a new human being.
It has nothing to do with an "orderer".

Max said...

In my opinion, the moral responsibility stems not from how babies are made, but from the fact that we are talking about a human being. While "intrinsic ordering" is neat turn of phase, its merely distracting from the real issues at hand.

For example, I take it that we would agree that whether the fetus was created though intercourse or through IVF, the question of whether or not an abortion is morally (or should be legally) permissible would be EXACTLY the same. That is, it is the being that is developing inside of the woman that is important, not the means by which the being is created. We have moral duties to other beings that stem from their existence (and its value) not from this or that biological process that creates that being.

Clinton said...

You may not like the phrase, but that's irrelevant, again. What matters is, it's true. Different acts can have different moral equations. For eample, if the reason that a woman can't abort is because she and her boyfriend/husband had sex, that may be true and IVF may be immoral for another reason. The fact is that it's a true fact of the world that sex is intrinsically linked to procreation. You haven't shown that it's not, you've only shown that you don't like the sound of it. But "I don't like the sound of that" isn't an argument against it. It's a pretty undeniable fact that babies come from having sex, even if we can create them in other ways, too.
I already told you that the moral obligation is generated because there is a human life at stake. If you are responsible for the creation of that life, be it through IVF or natural intercourse, then you bear moral obligations to that child, including the obligation not to kill it.

Alycia said...

Well, considering that the whole purpose of sex is to procreate, I would have to agree with Drew. Take into account that according to Guttmacher, 56% of women said they were using a contraceptive method the same month they got pregnant, so the chances of getting pregnant even when using contraceptives look pretty bad. Contraceptives are failure of a security net. If you don't want to get pregnant, don't have sex, you don't need religion to figure that one out.

Max said...

The whole reason to have sex is to procreate, eh? Says who? You? Well, good for you. If that is what your purpose is, great, good luck procreating!

Its not my purpose and It certainly is NOT why I have sex. And I don't see any reason why I should let you decide what my purpose is.

Alden Smith said...

You don't want a child because o career? I have three female professors and they all have PH'D's and kids and all three have had very good careers. So that's a bad argument. You are too old? A women can have a kid from the time to she hits her first period to about the age of 39 safely. You can go over 39, but that would actually increase the chances of have a child with a medical condition. Birth controlled failed? Well BC is only 85% effective in most cases actually thats why you use a condom and BC or you get your male partner clipped which is 100% effective than a woman getting her tubes tied. Why because sperm is tiny and her body wants to get pregnant she may not but her body does. That is the whole point of the reproductive system to reproduce. Seriously these are terrible arguments for abortion. Besides medical science is to the point where they can detect any sort of risk factor and be ready to treat it during the 9 months of pregnancy it's safer to have kids now then to get abortion.

Anton said...

once a woman conceives she already has a child.

Except she doesn't.

Calling a fertilized egg a "child" only gives you the rhetorical ability to accuse the woman of being a "baby killer" if she chooses to terminate the pregnancy. I wish we could have a more sincere and probing dialogue about women's rights and families in this society, but moralistic grandstanding always gets in the way.

Clinton said...

You can keep repeating this "matra" of "moralizing" all you want. Repeating yourself enough times doesn't make it true. If I thought you were interested in a discussion, I'd take your accusations more seriously. Considering you don't read a thing I say and are only interested in incessant trolling, I'm not going to bother.

Anton said...

Putting your fingers in your ears and repeating I can't hear you, baby killer! Baby killer! La la la! isn't exactly the best approach to dislogue either.