Philosophical Multicore

Sometimes controversial, sometimes fallacious, sometimes thought-provoking, and always fun.

More Arguments For and Against Abortion

Posted by Michael Dickens on April 21, 2009

Pre-Script: I have a correction. I used to argue that killing a just-fertilized egg is no different from killing an unfertilized egg. This is not entirely true. Before fertilization, an egg only has 23 chromosomes, and is not capable of life. But after fertilization, it can be considered fully human. The remaining question is, does this matter?

This website has a lot of arguments dealing with abortion from a supposedly factual perspective. There seems to be some subjective analysis of the supposedly objective facts. But facts aren’t necessarily objective: there are lies, damned lies, and statistics (Benjamin Disraeli). For example, facts can be falsely applied, or the methods of acquisition can be flawed.


The Three Questions of Abortion

There are three questions that are basic to the entire abortion controversy:

The first is: “Is this human life?” As we will see, the answer clearly is Yes. That answer is a medical and scientific one, for we cannot impose a religious or philosophic belief in our nations through force of law. The second question is: “Should we grant equal protection by law to all living humans in our nation?” or,

“Should we allow discrimination against entire classes of living humans?”

The third question is about Choice and Women’s Rights.

I agree that these three questions are important, and I agree with their answer of the first question. The website has a different page that attempts to justify the first answer by talking about theological definitions and scientific definitions, but I do not see that it needs justification.

This page uses the following arguments against abortion:

When two rights conflict with each other the most fundamental and important right should prevail.

The right to life is the most basic and important right that we have.

I would correct that. The right to life is sometimes the most basic and important right that we have. The “sometimes” depends on the situation, and on what “we” means. “We” is poorly defined. Does it mean all animals? Most people do not think that all animals have the right to life, but ants and starfish are just as alive as we are. In fact, so are plants, and we treat plants like we own them. What gives us the right to own plants? Well, the same thing that gives us the right to own very premature fetuses. And yes, fetuses are human, while plants are not. But I hardly see how that is relevant. Humans do not have more rights than other living beings just because they are human. Humans have more rights because of self-awareness.

One argument that I never would have thought of but a friend told me about is this: fetuses have no experiences and no memories. A life with no experiences is not worth as much, and a life with more experiences is worth more. I don’t know the justification for this, but I still think it is pretty reasonable.

Moving on to is abortion safer than childbirth? This page essentially cites that 7 out of every 100,000 pregnant women die from childbirth, while 1 or 2 out of every 100,000 die from abortions. It doesn’t say if it is 1 or 2 out of every 100,000 who get abortions, or out of every 100,000 who get pregnant. This is a case of misleading statistics. To effectively compare the two, it should be out of every 100,000 who get abortions.

But the entire premise of using this to justify one side or the other is flawed. It does not matter what the chance of death is; as long as it’s reasonably low, it should be people’s choice whether they risk it. It is not the government’s job to protect people from those minor risks by illegalizing the action in question. For example, a lot of people die from car crashes, but the government would never think to ban cars. Far more people die from smoking, but that’s staying too.

The linked page then goes on to counter a bunch of pro-abortion arguments that weren’t good in the first place, because of the flawed premise about using death rates to base legalization of abortion on.

I’m not going to discuss the number of abortions conducted, since it is flawed for the same reasons, but I want to point out something. On the page about the number of abortions, the website says, “Complete discussion of the numbers ‘war’ and what is believable and what is not.” You can’t always believe what some sources tell you, but of course you can believe what this website tells you.

I will also skip the section about abortion and the Bible: “What does the Bible have to say about abortion? Plenty.” For the Bible to have any weight at all, we must prove that a) the Bible is the word of God, and b) God is the ultimate authority on morality. Even so, God is not anti-abortion (not pro-life, since that’s as stupid a term as pro-choice).

“Every Child a Wanted Child” is a great slogan. Who can argue? That isn’t the disagreement. It is how to achieve such a goal.
“Every Child a Wanted Child” should be completed with “and if not wanted, kill!”

Another irrelevant argument. It’s not “Every Child a Wanted Child” but “Every Fetus a Wanted Fetus”. We have no right to kill a self-aware human with a life and experiences. But a fetus is neither self-aware nor does it have experiences. An early-stage fetus cannot feel pain, nor does it have any real form of consciousness. So yes, if a fetus is not wanted, kill it (or him or her, if gender has developed yet).

To thus complete the sentence removes the mask from this misleading slogan and reveals it for the monstrous evil that it is.

*cough cough* appeal to emotion *cough cough* ad hominem *cough cough*
Well that’s not actually an ad hominem, since it’s not an attack against a person, it’s an attack against the slogan. But it’s still not a rational argument, and only serves to insult the slogan.

“Since when does anyone’s right to live depend upon someone else wanting them?”
It doesn’t. A fetus in the first trimester has no right to live. In the second, probably not. In the third, maybe. Abortion in the third trimester is questionable, but I don’t know enough about the development stages of a fetus to make an informed decision on the third trimester.

Time for another non sequitor. Over at this site, it responds to five pro-abortion arguments. I’m not going to go over any of the arguments, but I just want to point out something that I found funny:
“It’s my body/ a women’s choice”

So I’ve done some research, but I can’t find any information on the development of a fetus. If anyone has some info, please let me know or point me to it in the comments below.


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