“The Basis for Defending All Human Life” Series

Different people often have different reasons for defending human life—specifically,  of course, the unborn.  For some, it’s a personal experience that converted them.  Perhaps they had an abortion and now regret it.  Maybe they are an abortion survivor or had a sibling aborted.  For others, it just makes sense that human life begins at the beginning, and it just makes sense that every human life is precious and worthy of protection.

Of course, you also have your pro-lifers with a heightened sense of justice who would like to ensure that the world is a place where justice is equally enforced.  Others are drawn to the underdog or the innocent and have a passion to speak up for the voiceless.  Some believe that abortion is the civil rights issue of our day and feel a responsibility to take a stand.  There is a countless myriad of reasons why people defend human life.

Life Potential Unborn Child PhotoI asked my Facebook friends to explain, in a sentence or two, why they are pro-life.  Here is what they said:

“Because my mom was…”
“God COMMANDS it… ‘Thou shalt not murder.’”
“The Scriptures state that we need to stand for those who cannot stand for themselves.”
“Because I’m a woman.”
“I am pro-life because I have been blessed by the God of the living to know that there is no acceptable alternative.”
“Because God created us in His image, and He commands us not to kill.”
“I am pro-life because the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away-not man.”
“I am pro-life because I believe God is the creator of every person. Only HE can decided when a person’s life should end, no matter how old they are.”

You can probably gather from these answers that I have a lot of Christian friends who believe that the Bible teaches us to be pro-life.  However, if I asked many of my friends to explain in depth why they are pro-life, I’ll bet that many of them would also have scientific, medical, moral, legal, and human reasons to be pro-life.  I know I do!

Recently, (also on good ole’ Facebook) I engaged in a debate with other pro-lifers about whether we can know when human life begins—from both a Christian and a scientific standpoint.  Legal issues were also brought up in the course of this debate that reached at least 115 comments.  Whew!

Needless to say, this got me thinking.  ALL pro-lifers need to have the ability to knowledgeably defend our position—whether we write blog articles, give speeches, sidewalk counsel, volunteer on a campaign, pray, or talk to our friends about the issue.
It’s great to be able to knock down the lies of Planned Parenthood and company and the illogical arguments of pro-choicers that me meet.  In fact, we absolutely must be able to do that, too.  Many articles on this blog can equip you for that, including ones from Kristen Walker and Deanna Candler.

However, I’ve decided to start an article series called “The Basis for Defending Human Life” so that we can equip ourselves with accurate knowledge.  Right now, I’m planning to write about the Christian basis, the scientific/medical basis, the legal basis, and the human/moral basis.

First, though, two questions for all of you:

  1. What basis for defending human life from the very beginning would you like to hear about?  Have I left out an important one?
  2. Why are you pro-life, in one or two sentences?

I look forward to hearing your answers!

In the meantime, I encourage you to do some research of your own.  I recommend “Why Pro-Life?” (which you can download on Kindle for 99 cents) and “Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?” by Randy Alcorn, “The Third Time Around” by George Grant, “Why Can’t We Love Them Both?” by Dr. and Mrs. J.C. Willke, and this incredibly awesome research paper.

  • Matthias

    1. Defend it by refuting the idea that the baby is a “parasite” and using the mother’s body without her permission and so she doesn’t have to be forced to go through with the pregnancy.
    2. I am pro-life because abortion is murder, and thus intrinsically wrong, and because all human life is infinitely precious and beautiful, because humans are made in the image and likeness of God. All human beings have immense dignity.

    • Oedipa

      “Parasite”. Whoa. I’m deeply sorry if a pro-choice advocate made that argument to you because that’s offensive. I’m proud to make my argument about proper family planning and womens’ rights.

      Conversely, I hope this isn’t another “straw-man” for the Right to knock down easily. When you pull out the stupidest arguments that some people are making, it makes me think you’re afraid of the smartest ones.

      • Kristiburtonbrown

         Out of curiostiy, Oedipa, what do you think are the smartest arguments that pro-lifers are afraid to refute?

        • Oedipa

          I don’t think you’re afraid to refute anything Ms. Brown, and I applaud the substantive series of articles you’re planning. That said, I feel the need to call a straw-man a straw-man. No credible pro-choice advocate would think of calling a fetus a parasite. Emphasis on credible. One can go out and find a wing-nut anywhere. I can find some on this site.

          In any event, I’ll give you my “smart” argument: the best way to promote healthy fetuses, babies, and families is to promote the health and well-being of women. Subordinating womens’ bodies, rights and health to the protection of embryos undermines that. And the call for that subordination is, in the most part, coming from a religious or philisophical point of view that shouldn’t be prescribed for the entire populace, who by-and-large, don’t share that same view-point. And it can’t be prescribed, thanks to Griswold v. CT.

          • DavidM

            Here are the problems I see with this ‘smart’ argument: Premise 1 is vague, ad hoc, and lacking in justification. Premise 2, same thing. Premise 3 is an ad hoc question-begging assertion. Premise 4 is an inappropriate (irrelevant) appeal to authority. – Moral of the story: I won’t call you a wingnut, I’m sure you’re sincere, but your ‘pro-choice’ advocacy doesn’t appear to be even remotely convincing (at least if we think intelligently about it and apply universally recognized basic rules of critical thinking, as any ‘credible’ advocate of a position should be prepared to do).

          • Oedipa

            I’m glad last semester’s logic class was so stimulating for you, and apparently Aristotle pups your tent, but I’ll appeal to the Supreme Court any time I damn please, thank you very much, my “question-begging assertion” is really just the reality of the socio-political landscape, and if we dismiss with the debate class self-righteousness, we get to what the
            crux really is: subordination. You’d, apparently, subordinate the woman to the
            embryo. I’d do the reverse.

            In the end, son, here are lots of moral trade-offs and internal conflicts within both
            those positions that you can’t plot onto a debate schematic.

          • DavidM

            In other words, then, you have no response to my valid critiques of your (not-so-)smart argument, other than to repeat the same fallacies and dismiss my criticisms with more fallacious nonsense? Well pooh-pooh on you. If you don’t care to be reasonable, I sure can’t force you to be. N.B., however, that pointing out violations of basic rules of critical thinking is not self-righteous. (It may of course be pointless, as when talking to someone who doesn’t care to be reasonable.)

          • Oedipa

            - The appeal to authority happens to be a reference to a precedent setting ruling of the Supreme Court. No matter how sophisticated your skills in the discipline of ‘logos’ might be, it’s unsophisticated to dismiss the importance of Griswold.

            – If you have an opinion that says healthy women aren’t the center-piece of healthy pregnancies, and thus healthy families, then I’d love to hear it. If you don’t believe that outlawing abortion is, in fact, a subordination of women’s bodies to embryos, then I’d love to hear that, too. If you don’t form those kind of opinions because they won’t meet a
            threshold of logic you think they should meet then I’d suggest you stay out of public policy
            debates where rhetoric really matters more.

            – I don’t know how you quibble with the idea that the opposition to abortion is based in religious and/or philosophical view-points. Or that a republic isn’t necessarily obliged to indulge the view-points of a minority (or a majority!), even if that view-point is a central tenant of their beliefs. But that’s politics. You’ll be disappointed again if politics has to meet some logical threshold.

          • DavidM

            If you seriously wish to have a discussion that is ‘political,’ and thus (in your view) brazenly, unabashedly illogical, I leave that discussion to you and your ilk. I consider such discussions (which don’t care to meet any logical threshhold) to be a waste of time.

          • Oedipa

            You’re right, it’s become a waste of time, but not by my doing. I actually posited my beliefs. You’ve said nothing substantive in this discussion except hold up an abstract notion of what a classical debate workflow should look like.

            Frankly, I’m glad you’re hung up on winning your arguments with such rhetorical rigidity. Because in the big wide world of rhetoric in all it’s flovors, it’s doomed to failure.

            I wish you well in convincing your church cell partners how clever you are. I’m sure it goes off like gang-busters, and does wonders for your own ego.

        • Guest

          Something I have been mulling over recently:
          There are many different medical treatments, including a majority of cancer treatments that cause extreme damage on the reproductive system and make it almost impossible to get pregnant for a long time after. Please note this is not just about women. Certain cancer treatments on men have been proven to cause sterility for months after. These risks are covered by the doctor before hand so the patient is KNOWINGLY enetering into an understanding that they are increasing their chances of lifelong/temproary infertility.

          If “All the measures which impair the viability of the zygote at any time between the instant of fertilization and the completing of labor” are considered abortificants…Using the same logic wouldnt many cancer treatments etc also be considered abortificants?

          Keep in mind the “hostile” (as someone coined it on your site) womb is a bi-product of many treatments. Many women use birth control as a medical treatment, and curbing their fertility (or if we have it your way killing babies) is a biproduct. As it is for many medical treatments. Ive never heard pro lifers distinguish that those using birth control for medical treatment as opposed to contraception are not commiting abortion.

          Also, If we are using the same logic…. alcohol has a horribly detremental effect on fertility. Would this be considered an abortificant as well? If the personhood laws pass couldnt this restrict ANYTHING that could potentially be an abortificant?

          Please note I tried to pick a fairly middle of the road quote about why birth control is an abortificant.

          • DavidM

            Interesting question. The principle you need to apply here is the principle of double effect. You can look it up, but essentially, if an action has two effects (call these the good effect G, which is intended, and the evil effect E, which is unintended but foreseen) and (1) the action is itself permissible (say receiving a cancer treatment), then we can perform the action as long as (2) E is not the cause of G, (3) E is not intended in itself, and (4) G constitutes a proportionate reason for allowing E. Hopefully you can see how to analyse each of the scenarios you presented based on these criteria. Let me know if you still think anything is unclear.

          • DavidM

            And just to be clear, if an action passes all four criteria, then not only are we justified in performing the action, but there will be nothing morally illicit about the way in which we do so. Actions which fail criterion 3 may still be justified as regards carrying them out, however they cannot be wholly virtuous (i.e., they are partly vicious).

      • Sarah M

         The comparison of a fetus to a parasite was commonly used by early modern feminists to support their position on abortion. I’d be wary about calling an argument used by the likes of Simone de Beauvoir “the stupidest”! And I’ve personally seen it trotted out in conversation by many abortion advocates (maybe I only know offensive pro-choicers?). But I’m sure Ms. Brown will give this line of reasoning, which is hardly a straw-man, a more thorough examination in her blog series than we can in the combox.

        • Oedipa

          I’m sure there were alot arguments made by Left Bank existentialists that wouldn’t fly today.

          • David M

            Sarah M is right, this argument has a venerable tradition and is still frequently enough trotted out today. Your calling this a straw man or implying that it is no longer used seems to be based on ignorance or on the fallacy of definitional dodge (a.k.a. no-true-Scotsman fallacy). FYI, pro-lifers typically don’t accept that ANY pro-abortion arguments are ‘credible’ or that ANY of them fly today, so your point here is irrelevant and/or question-begging.

          • http://www.facebook.com/maidrinrua Maidrin Rua

            Very recently I’ve seen the “parasite” comparison used in a British newspaper when writing about pregnancy.

          • Oedipa

            Well, it’s a horrible argument, I haven’t been exposed to it (what you so kindly call my ignorance), and if the pro-choice movement decided to take it up as their banner they would immediately suffer for it.

            But, here, I’ll put this in terms maybe more amenable to you: you can’t win a debate with an association fallacy.

      • MoonChild02

        Most of my friends have made the “parasite” argument, at one point or another. I usually have to correct them on the definition of a parasite, “An organism that grows, feeds, and is sheltered on or in a different organism while contributing nothing to the survival of its host.” Then I have tell them of all of the contributions that children give to their mothers (like fetal stem cells that heal illnesses and protection from breast cancer). My friends never agree with my definition, and we usually leave it at an impasse.

        • guest

           I would never have thought of a fetus as a parasite but in fact it exactly fits that definition. In fact, a fetus can threaten the survival of the host.

          • DavidM

            Moon: A parasite is, by definition, of a different species.
            guest: Look it up, don’t just believe anything that happens to support what you want to believe. Thanks, btw, for demonstrating that Oedipa was wrong.

          • DavidM

            …although in Oedipa’s defense, I guess ‘guest’ might just be a ‘wing-nut’ – or at least not a ‘true Scotsman’ ;)

          • MoonChild02

            Thank you for catching the error that I did not. I copy/pasted the above definition of “parasite” from the American Heritage Stedman’s Medical Dictionary at Dictionary.com. I didn’t catch that the American Heritage Science Dictionary defined a parasite as one of another species.

            Here is the entry from the American Heritage Science Dictionary:
            An organism that lives on or in a different kind of organism (the host) from which it gets some or all of its nourishment. Parasites are generally harmful to their hosts, although the damage they do ranges widely from minor inconvenience to debilitating or fatal disease.

            Here is the link which I copied both definitions from:
            http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/parasite

          • DavidM

            Thanks for the clarification and link. I guess, then (with tongue somewhat in cheek), the other option for the pro-abortionist is to go with the secondary definition of ‘parasite': “a person who receives support, advantage, or the like, from another or others without giving any useful or proper return, as one who lives on the hospitality of others.” Unfortunately if they still wanted to be ‘pro-choice’ about killing ‘parasites’ they would have to grant that it might be okay to kill useless, ungrateful kids of any age as well all sorts of other people (people on welfare, perhaps). Point being: even if we were to grant that some human beings are ‘parasites,’ it clearly wouldn’t follow that we have a right to kill them.

  • MoonChild02

    1. The scientific/medical basis.

    2. I’m pro-life because abortion hurts women, men, and children!

  • Sarah M

    1. The legal or scientific basis
    2. Because the unborn are both alive and human, they deserve to be treated the same way Christ taught us to treat all people: with love, deference, and dignity. Violence against the unborn is a sin and a crime.

    Thank you for letting us chime in and I’m looking forward to reading the series.

  • http://www.facebook.com/maidrinrua Maidrin Rua

    1) Scientific
    2) Human life begins at conception – and a civilised society doesn’t kill its young

  • http://www.facebook.com/maidrinrua Maidrin Rua

    Oh and great idea!

  • http://prolifemn.blogspot.com/ PWS

    Kristi, you are correct that there are many different reasons, motivations, etc. for becoming pro-life. But those reasons and motivations lead us to embrace the same, singular truth: that elective abortion is a serious moral wrong and ought to be prohibited by law as a matter of basic justice. This truth is supported by the facts of science (specifically human embryology and developmental biology), which show that the entity killed by abortion is a human being; a foundational moral principle, which states that every member of the human family is equal in fundamental dignity and rights; and a core principle of law (affirmed in our Declaration of Independence), which says that the government ought to protect basic human rights. The three premises (scientific, moral, legal) that support the pro-life position.
    I would recommend Klusendorf’s “Case for Life,” Kaczor’s “Ethics of Abortion,” Beckwith’s “Defending Life,” Lee’s “Abortion and Unborn Human Life,” and George and Tollefsen’s “Embryo.”

  • April

     1.  As a parallel to slavery – show how many people didn’t think it was wrong at the time and how this parallels the pro-choice viewpoint.

    2.  Because abortion cannot be justified and the Roe decision didn’t even consider the unborn

  • http://twitter.com/FaithRocksUSA Adele HelenTerzis

    We msut fight for the sanctity of life. The unborn have a right to live, just as we do.

  • DavidM

    1. Perhaps, the rhetorical basis is important to mention, in other words, the need to understand your pro-abortion audience in order to grasp what is required to communicate compassionately and effectively with them.
    2. Because I’m not (a) stupid (most pro-abortion arguments are plain old stupid), (b) callous (I suspect the great majority of hard core abortion advocates have been deeply wounded and are scarred and scared to face the truth), or (c) indifferent to my moral duties (sadly many abortion advocates – even weak ones – seem to simply be lacking in any kind of good-faith, sincere devotion to trying to understand their moral duties).

  • Reagle777

    1. I’d like to hear about all the ones you listed above.
    2. I am pro-life because the Bible teaches me to be and because life is a God given right that every person is entitled too.

  • oldmanbob

    Kristi, good ideas nd good questions, keep it up.
    1.  I don’t know when God puts a soul in a baby, but I do know that He does not want me to kill anyone.  Since we will all face Him in the end (at my age that could be soon and could be soon for anyone reading this) the risk of killing a human just does not add up.
    2.  Because Jesus died for me, rose for be and is coming back for me and that He Loves all us He has made is reason enought to be pro-life.

  • Connie

    1-I am pro-life because abortion kills not only the baby, but the spirit and dignity of the mother too.
    2-Because abortion turned me into an anger, depressed, guilty, and hopeless woman who only by the Grace of God through prayer and communion with the Lord, I was able to reconcile with abortion and found peace.  It took 25 years to find forgiveness.  Forgiving oneself is the most difficult thing to accomplish.

  • DavidM

    Dear Oedipa,
    I find it so sad that you accuse ME of being focused on my ego – and why? – because I criticized the obvious flaws in your argument and you didn’t like it (and apparently you don’t like logic altogether, and so you resort to the good old ad hominem, which isn’t clever at all, even if it does make you feel clever). Get out of the gutter. If you don’t even respect yourself enough to try to be rational, why expect that anyone else will respect you?

  • DavidM

    Please note: “Positing your beliefs” is NOT, as such, substantive. (If I happen to believe that highly educated Christians who argue rationally are navel-gazing a-holes who just don’t get rhetoric, and I say so (I ‘posit’ my belief), that isn’t substantive.) Saying something intelligent IS substantive.