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Thursday, April 3, 2014

All You Need to be Pro-Life

[Today's guest post by Kris Skul is part of our paid blogging program.]

This is a follow-up to my March 25 post, “Abortion, Sex Positivity, and the Non-Aggression Principle,” in which I argued that defending the unborn and supporting sexual freedom are not philosophically incompatible. LifeNews.com reprinted it under the title “I Am Against Abortion But Pro-Contraception, So Am I Truly Pro-Life?

It's a rhetorical question, but to be clear, I have never doubted whether I am “truly pro-life.” I was an active member of Students for Life at my alma mater for years. I’ve been to multiple pro-life conferences. I’ve marched in Washington and in various local demonstrations.

Yet LifeNews’ readership seemed divided.

The disconnect, from what I can tell, is largely a matter of semantics. When I say “I’m pro-life,” I mean I oppose elective abortion. I oppose any deliberate, medically unnecessary act done with the intent to end an unborn human's life. That’s it. My use of the term is limited to the political arena, where its opposite is not “anti-life” but “pro-choice” (meaning “in favor of legal abortion”).

Particularly among those who are religious, however, opposing abortion is just one part of being pro-life. The phrase “culture of life,” common in Christian outreach, connotes reverence for all human life “from conception to natural death.” Under this definition, anything intended to thwart the natural progression of life—including abortion, capital punishment, and assisted suicide—is “anti-life.” Artificial contraception falls here because it separates sex from its biological purpose. So does homosexuality and other “unnatural” sexual behavior.

Therefore it is conceivable (no pun intended) for someone to be against abortion but not, in the strictest sense, “pro-life.” And if that’s what you mean by “pro-life,” then I’m guilty as charged. I don’t think it’s anyone’s place—not an individual’s, not an organization’s, and certainly not the government’s—to tell rational adults how to conduct themselves sexually. I believe family planning should be left up to the parties involved, providing the chosen method does not entail deliberately ending a life. And I proudly support the LGBT community.

But why is any of that important? Over 3,000 human lives are lost to abortion each day in the United States alone. When set against destruction of such magnitude, our differences concerning sexuality and theology seem awfully petty.

Conservative Christians are entitled to their beliefs, just as I am entitled to mine. There’s a big difference, though, between saying one can believe X and be pro-life and saying one must believe X to be pro-life. It’s okay to be against birth control (even though I personally disagree). It’s not okay to insist that being against birth control is a requisite for being pro-life. As I noted in my first post, such a narrow vision excludes the majority of American abortion opponents—people whose contributions could be of great help to the cause.

Here’s the bottom line: if you’re against abortion, I’ll stand with you. I don’t care what religion you practice or how devout you are. I don’t care if you’re straight or gay. I don’t care if you’ve had dozens of sexual partners or if you were a virgin on your wedding night. Because none of that matters. What matters is that your end-goal and mine are the same. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s all you need to be pro-life.

36 comments:

Michelle Ewing said...

I stand with anyone who wants to reduce the abortion rate. This includes some who prefer the label "pro-choice". many pro choicers I've met think no woman (expect women who conceived in rape) should have to choose elective abortion over the life of the child. Despite different views on bodily rights and personhood, pro life with exceptions, and pro choice with limitations often have the same end goal. I'd say we mostly agree that the physical and emotional damage abortion can cause is punishment enough for the woman's choice of abortion. I would disagree that the doctor has enough punishment for their actions. To take the life of a unborn child, and hurt a woman physically and emotionally for an unnecessary procedure should be punished more than seeing a woman upset, in pain, or doped up beyond function and seeing the corps that is a direct product of their actions.

JDC said...

"Yet LifeNews’ readership seemed divided."

Just out of interest, on what are you basing this assessment? Lifenews doesn't have a comments section, so it can be difficult to gauge their readership's reaction to anything.

Anonymous said...

LifeNews shared the post on their Facebook page.

JDC said...

Thanks!

Chris P said...

Why do you wish to interfere with other people's lives? Are you a control freak? Nobody is forcing you to have an abortion so please leave other people alone.

Coyote said...

"Nobody is forcing you to have an abortion so please leave other people alone."

You appear to be begging the question here, considering that you consider abortion to be morally justifiable while we do not.

Coyote said...

"I stand with anyone who wants to reduce the abortion rate. This includes some who prefer the label "pro-choice"."

Agreed.

"Despite different views on bodily rights and personhood, pro life with exceptions, and pro choice with limitations often have the same end goal."

Agreed, though not necessarily for the same reasons.

"I'd say we mostly agree that the physical and emotional damage abortion can cause is punishment enough for the woman's choice of abortion."

I am tempted to disagree with you on this. After all, do you have a similar view to people who go to doctors to commit infanticide only to feel physical and emotional damage about this afterwards? Also, I want to point out that it might be (much) easier to secure cooperation (in the event of an abortion ban) from females who get illegal abortions (in regards to acquiring information to help track down illegal abortion providers) if one threatens to prosecute them for refusing to fully cooperate with the authorities on this (if these females *do* fully cooperate, though, then I don't think that they should be punished at all for getting illegal abortions).

"I would disagree that the doctor has enough punishment for their actions."

Agreed, but perhaps for (somewhat) different reasons. It appears that it is more practical to track down and punish the providers when it comes to illegal things/products, whether it be abortion in the event of an abortion ban or something else.

"To take the life of a unborn child, and hurt a woman physically and emotionally for an unnecessary procedure should be punished more than seeing a woman upset, in pain, or doped up beyond function and seeing the corps that is a direct product of their actions."

To be fair, though, these females came to these doctors to get abortions (in other words, these abortions were (often) the idea of these females, rather than of these doctors).

Chris P said...

So you think my wife should have died and my friend should have carried her father's baby to term when she was little more than a child. Your morality SUCKS.

Coyote said...

I did not say that. You appear to be strawmanning my position here.

I consider most abortions to be morally unjustifiable. Of course, there are exceptions and I *do* consider some abortions to be morally justifiable. Also, I am open to changing my mind on this issue, as well as on various other issues.

Michelle Ewing said...

You bring up some great points. but jailing a woman for not complying with authorities wont stop her from getting another abortion. abortion is different than other intentional killings because the death of a human is not the motive and many have great pressure to get an abortion. I would disagree that abortion is often the mother's idea, most post abortive mothers felt pressure from family and friends to get an abortion. from there, unless they go to a CPC or possibly their regular doctor (if they even have one), are referred to an abortion clinic, pressured to schedule an abortion, or they prep a room for the abortion they tell her is the best thing for her and her family. if it wasn't for pro choicers telling her what to do and doctors pushing abortion like it's a cure all, I think very few women would abort.

Michelle Ewing said...

Sorry to hear that you and your wife had to go through that. and sorry for your friend. sexual abuse is already so hard to deal with. to become pregnant because of it is devastating. for me abortion would have been to hard, but I think it is necessary for women to have the choice in having a baby. if you did not make the choice to create a life through sex and were raped instead, the decision to abort should be well thought out and in the allotted time we currently have.

though, SPL does not take a stand on the rape exception, I would like to point out that all pro life legislation has exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother.

Chris P said...

Sorry - your last statement is totally wrong.

Chris P said...

You said exactly that " we do not" "consider abortion morally justifiable". If you do, why is your morality so superior to others that you can dictate their lives? Other people's lives and living conditions are totally different from yours.

x91 said...

Ah, the old "If you don't like abortion, don't get one" argument.


"If you don't like X, don't do it" is valid so long as the action in question does not inflict harm on anyone beyond the actor, e.g.: "If you don't like gay marriage, don't marry a person of the same sex." "If you don't like marijuana, don't smoke it," etc. etc. Fine.



But once said action inflicts harm on somebody else (in this case, the fetus), it is no longer morally acceptable. Obviously, if you do not believe the fetus is deserving of basic human rights, we will continue to disagree; in that case, we have nothing further to discuss.


"Exceptions" (rape, incest, life-of-the-mother) account for less than 5% of all abortions in the United States. This is a red herring. As Coyote noted, some of us readily accept abortion under these circumstances.

Chris P said...

It is not "somebody else" - a fetus is not a somebody. A fetus is NOT deserving of basic human rights because it is not a human - it is part of the mother. Please stop projecting your values on other people. I don't go around telling people to stop smoking, drinking, smoking pot, driving too large a car.....

x91 said...

"A fetus is NOT deserving of basic human rights because it is not a human - it is part of the mother."

So the mother has two hearts, two brains, two sets of DNA?

"Please stop projecting your values on other people. I don't go around telling people to stop smoking, drinking, smoking pot, driving too large a car....."



Neither do I. Re-read my comment.

Chalkdust said...

[I]f it wasn't for pro choicers telling her what to do and doctors pushing
abortion like it's a cure all, I think very few women would abort.

Women who try to get abortions and are turned away have consistently worse outcomes than women who try to get abortions and succeed. Women who try to have children and fail also have worse outcomes than women who try to have children and succeed. Not all women are the same; some of us will do better if we have children now, and some of us will do worse. What I took away from both of those studies is that women are smart and competent enough to figure out which category they fall into.

Your little theory that no woman who gets an abortion actually wants it? It's not supported by the data. Women who think they want abortions do better if they get what they think they want, and women who think they want children also do better if they get what they think they want. And, frankly, I find this theory really offensive. At least one woman who I know and respect has had an abortion, and rather than respecting her ability to make her own decisions, you are saying that she was stupid and was tricked by "pro choicers telling her what to do".

Coyote said...

Yeah, I agree with you that some/many females get abortions due to their own free will and desires and without pressure from anyone else.

However, I do want to point out that the information which you posted here does not necessarily make abortion morally justifiable.

Also, as for respecting someone's ability to make their own decisions, I certainly do this. However, I don't see why I should respect their decisions in cases where their decisions are morally unjustifiable.

m17l6s85 said...

"Here’s the bottom line: if you’re against abortion, I’ll stand with you. I don’t care what religion you practice or how devout you are. I don’t care if you’re straight or gay. I don’t care if you’ve had dozens of sexual partners or if you were a virgin on your wedding night. Because none of that matters. What matters is that your end-goal and mine are the same. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s all you need to be pro-life."


Love it!

Coyote said...

Well, using your rationale here, why exactly should anyone be able to use their morality to dictate to others how to live their lives?

Chalkdust said...

I think I need to apologize for some aspects of my last comment. I misread your name as "Michael Ewing", that is, I thought you were male. I still think that your beliefs are incorrect and cause harm, but I would not have reacted in quite the same way to what I perceived as misogyny if I'd realized you were a woman.

Chalkdust said...

While of course I'd like to convince you that denying an abortion to a person who wants one is an immoral violation of their bodily autonomy, that really isn't what I was going for here.

There is this myth in pro-life circles that women would be better off if they were unable to obtain abortions when they thought they wanted them. For the reasons listed above, I am pretty well convinced that this is false.[1] So what I am trying to do here is to get pro-lifers to admit that when they try to criminalize abortion, they are not campaigning for a political issue that has no downsides. (Everyone wants to believe that their pet political issue has no downsides. Everyone is wrong.) I want pro-lifers to admit that criminalizing abortion does real and tangible harm to adults. You may think that the harm an abortion ban does to women is outweighed by the good it does to unborn children (and there's a whole other debate over how much good an abortion ban actually does), but I want you to admit that you are doing harm, justifiable or not, to women.

The reason I care is that there is a great deal that can be done to mitigate those harms: comprehensive sex education, affordable highly-effective contraception, good prenatal care, health insurance that is no more expensive for people with uteruses than people without, open adoption options that consider preserving the birthmothers' mental health to be a priority, subsidized day care for low-income women, etc. etc. etc. I don't want anti-abortion legislation to come into existence, but if it does, I want to see pro-lifers saying, "Okay, we have enacted this policy that greatly benefits unborn children; we are now morally obligated to mitigate the real harms our policy does to women."

[1] This is a more specific claim than the claim that "abortion harms women". I do think that sexually-active people with uteruses are better off using birth control and not getting pregnant in the first place than if they get pregnant and have abortions, so in that sense abortion harms women. I just don't think that this is the right comparison---if you're debating whether abortion should be legal, the question is not is abortion better than not getting pregnant (no), the question is is abortion better than going through with a pregnancy that you don't want (yes).

Coyote said...

I myself am not a woman, at least not yet (of course, my username is not Michelle Ewing; it is Coyote). Of course, the idea of me eventually getting a sex change (I myself am gender-fluid and strongly prefer the female body over the male body) does seem pretty appealing to me.

That said, I don't think that I myself said anything misogynistic here, especially considering that I myself detest both misogyny and misandry.

Chalkdust said...

....aaaand for attaching that comment to the wrong comment (it was supposed to be a second reply to Michelle).

Michelle Ewing said...

I've never hated someone because of their sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, political views, or diet. If my gender was male, this wouldn't change. My views might be incorrect, just like anyone's, and that's why I am open minded. As for causing harm, i'm not sure how. I support most other reproductive choices (i'm on the fence about donating for embryonic stem cell research and I think it's wrong to commit statutory rape as well as forced rape). I think it's harmful to tell a woman that she needs an elective abortion, or abortion s an empowering choice. If you see a woman at her weakest moment (besides death in the family) it would be either after a rape or when she's going for an abortion.

I'm not into shaming women because of their reproductive choices. unfortunately, we do live in a world where abortion is a bit more reasonable than life. with all the stuff a baby needs, it is literally impossible in some areas to parent without abandoning your emotional support system. and adoption, although a loving and caring choice, it is harder physically, and for most, harder emotionally. and when you have a different abled child, it is harder to find an adoptive home. foster care is a sick joke ( no offence to good homes.) and all these choices women are feel much more shame.

to end abortion, we need to first provide women and their families with resources for parenting. do more adoption referrals. revamp CPS and the foster care system. and quit shaming women for reasonable reproductive choices.

Michelle Ewing said...

I never used the term Stupid. I don't think abortion is the cure all. In all killing of humans, it's immoral, but in some cases it's logical. ( like killing someone in self defense). If someone wants abortion illegal in most cases, they should support making the other options more reasonable. To do anything other than that, your not prolife or pro choice, you're pro abortion or pro birth at that point. any that way of thinking is just curl.

Coyote said...

Yeah, I suspected as much, but I still wanted to respond to you here and to explain my own views on this.

Coyote said...

Can you please respond to me whenever you will have some extra time and energy? Thank you very much.

In short, though, I want to point out that my views in regards to enforcing an abortion ban and in regards to penalties for illegal abortions is based on the goal of achieving the best *results* in regards to this.

Michelle Ewing said...

Sorry for the slow reply. If post abortive mothers wont stop getting anther abortion because pro-life extremist are calling them murderers, showing them corpses of fetuses, and telling her she would be a horrible mother, I don't see how that could help in a violent place like prison. Maybe add a mandatory rehab for abortion and say "rehab or jail" and it would work for the non-compliant mothers. I think that these women need love and healing, not additional punishment if it can be avoided. after all we do the same with drug addicts.

I honestly think either the first or sometimes second abortion, the woman should have to consent to sterilization. "my body, my choice" would at least be half true. she'd never abort again, it would run "doctors" out of business, and if she truly didn't want a child she should make sure it never happens again. if she wants children well be a birth mother. in 18 years, they might let her act like a bonus parent. and with the abortion clinics dropping like files, the donation of money to abortion would probably be redirected.

either proposal would take a lot of money to get into law. for right now, we should focus on changing the nation to where there is little demand for abortion, and more demand for adoption and parenting resources.

Michelle Ewing said...

Do you think we should do anything to make it so fewer women get abortions?

someone45 said...

Maybe stop closing down PP- you know the place that gave poor women cheap access to birth control.


Yes I know that most people hate the thought of paying for another person's birth control, but if it helps to lower the abortion rate wouldn't it be a good thing.

Michelle Ewing said...

Birth control is paid by mandatory health insurance in the US and it is illegal to charge a co-pay. as for birth control that needs to be inserted, in not sure if they can charge, but if they did an I had the funds I would donate funds for a woman to go to her regular doctor and get it done. Planned parenthood closes it's own doors. if they do it because over half the population wants abortion restricted, then how much do they really care about women?

Coyote said...

"I'm an American too."

Thanks for sharing this info.

Also, I will respond to the rest of your posts again within the next several days. I actually already responded to all of them yesterday, only to discover afterwards that my replies did not get posted for some reason.

As a side note, I sincerely and genuinely want to thank you for getting me to think more about the abortion issue.

Coyote said...

"I'd also say I've never met anyone I would call "pro-abortion"."

How exactly do you define "pro-abortion" here? Personally, I've interacted with some people who considered themselves to be "pro-abortion".

"One quick note: "pro-aborts" bothers me more than "pro-abortion people". I don't know why, but it does. (Maybe because "pro-aborts" is carefully chosen to be an ugly set of syllables, maybe because "pro-abortion" is an adjective modifying a person and not a noun implying there is nothing more to this person than their views on abortion.)"

By that rationale, isn't the term "pro-choicers" just as offensive, since it implies that "there is nothing more to this person than their views on abortion"?

Chalkdust said...

How exactly do you define "pro-abortion" here?

Someone who specifically wants more pregnancies to end in abortion, or at least, for all (or some) women to have children at significantly below the replacement rate.

By that rationale, isn't the term "pro-choicers" just as offensive,
since it implies that "there is nothing more to this person than their
views on abortion"?

I recognize the need for a short abbreviation for one side or the other. Most people would describe themselves as "pro-lifers" or "pro-choicers", so it's not that unreasonable to assume that the person I am talking to would prefer to be called a "pro-lifer" if I need a short term. (Of course individuals are welcome to ask for a different term, but "pro-lifer" and "pro-choicer" are defaults.)

I just feel that if you're specifically and deliberately not using someone's preferred term, as a matter of common courtesy you should take an extra second to be as accurate in your new term as you can. "Convenience of 'pro-lifer'" or "insulting but accurate description of 'forced-pregnancy activist'": pick one.

Ginnie said...

The Church is against hormonal birth control because it has the potential to kill fertilized eggs, aka, human zygotes, as well as it's interruption of our natural fertility. Why was this not mentioned?

I find it difficult to support the spread of hormonal birth control as it has the ability to kill human life, and it's upsetting when pro-lifers don't know this fact.