Where does life begin? At conception, or at consciousness? That’s a valid argument to be carefully considered by both sides.
Another valid argument: Which matters more? The 50,000 conscious women who, according to the World Health Organization, die each year from illegal and unsafe abortions, or the yet-to-be-conscious fetuses in the womb that cannot yet suffer, but will nonetheless be deprived of ever having a life?
These arguments are valid, because they are primarily about the well-being of individuals, both inside and outside the womb. Unfortunately, fired-up individuals on both sides of the aisle often employ arguments that are just plain illogical. And it’s getting worse the more our country gravitates toward ideological extremes.
I predicted in 2016 that if Donald Trump were elected president, his right-wing extremism would embolden and strengthen left wing extremism. I hit the nail on the head, especially regarding economics and feminism. In fact, it has gotten to the point where I wonder whether the proposals of both sides aren’t intended to embitter the opposition rather than solve our problems.
For example, feminist Georgia State Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick emailed her legislative counsel on 3/11/19 with a request to draft a bill called, “Testicular Bill of Rights”, which “requires men to obtain permission from their sexual partner before obtaining a prescription for Viagra; ban vasectomies in Georgia and criminalize the doctors who perform them. Classify sex without a condom as “aggravated assault.” Require paternity testing at 8 weeks of pregnancy and require expectant fathers to begin paying child support immediately. Last but not least, Kendrick proposed a 24-hour waiting period on any men wishing to purchase any porn or sex toys in the state of Georgia,” according to Rolling Stone Magazine.
This was supposedly in response to Georgia Republicans’ “Heartbeat Bill” which banned abortions 6 weeks into pregnancy, when a fetus’s heartbeat can first be detected. Kendrick told Rolling Stone her bill is intended to “bring awareness to the fact that if you’re going to legislate our bodies, then we have every right to propose legislation to regulate yours.” This brings us to…
Bad pro-choice tactic: Writing ironic legislation to make some sort of point.
The Heartbeat Bill sends a clear message – that Republicans want to effectively ban abortion. That’s why pro-choice activists get so upset over it. Likewise, the “Testicular Bill of Rights” sends a clear message – that feminist legislators want to punish men, sexually, for no practical reasons other than revenge and point-making. Anyone who thinks Republicans and undecided voters will be swayed to the pro-choice side of the isle by this tactic is purely delusional. Rather, since these vindictive measures will officially be written into a bill, the bill’s language will, instead, serve as fodder used by right-wing media and politicians to convince the masses that the Democrats are tyrannical.
Bad pro-choice argument: Government can’t tell us what to do with our bodies.
Yes, the government can tell us what to do with our bodies. And for those of you on the political right, it can also tell us what to do with our money and our property. Why? Because this is a civilization; and that’s how civilizations work.
Look at it from a man’s viewpoint: Is it wrong for the government to tell a man what do with his body by prohibiting him from using his reproductive organs to rape women?
No. Why not?
Because that would be using his “right to do what he wants with his body” to hurt someone else who has been given no choice in the matter. That’s why we already have laws that “regulate” men’s “bodies” and limit what they can do with their reproductive systems. Likewise, anti-abortion activists believe that those who have and perform abortions are using their bodies to hurt a living being with no choice in the matter – the fetus; therefore, they want to limit a woman’s right to do what she wants with her body when exercising such a right injures her child’s body.
Bad pro-choice argument: Abortion opponents hate women and their rights.
Most single-issue anti-abortion voters are women! My own sister, who doesn’t care for politics, is staunchly anti-abortion, because she says that when she was pregnant, she felt something special – that the fetus inside her womb (who is now my 10-year-old niece) was definitely alive. Millions of women feel the same way. They are not anti-woman. In fact, half the fetuses they long to save from abortion are female.
Bad pro-choice argument: What gives men the right to legislate our bodies?
Voters! And half of those voters are women! That’s how a representative democracy works. To say a male representative cannot regulate a woman’s reproductive rights is like saying that a female legislator cannot vote to punish men for sexual assault, because that would be a woman regulating a man’s reproductive rights.
Bad pro-choice argument: It’s my “right to choose.”
To me, the “right to choose” sounds more like something that you would have in a cafeteria than it does a stance on an argument of whether someone else gets to live.
“Choice” is not more important than the well-being of those your choices hurt. Few who are pro-choice think the “it’s my right” refrain is valid when NRA members use it to argue why they should have unlimited weapons access. Their right to possess incredibly dangerous toys that serve no practical purpose but to kill lots of people costs innocent people their lives. Likewise, the right to abortion costs innocent fetuses their lives.
Nearly every legislative debate pits one person’s right against another person’s right. Two decades ago, the debate was over the right for people to smoke cigarettes wherever they wanted vs. other people’s right not to breathe that smoke. This is even true when it comes to more obvious crimes, such as the right to have whatever car you want vs. the right to not have your car stolen by someone who wants it. To simply proclaim your right over and over without giving any consideration to those your rights might harm is pure selfishness. That’s why, whenever people use the “it’s my right” argument, regardless of context, all I hear is “Me, me, me…I get whatever I want…to hell with everyone else.”
Bad pro-life argument: Abortion stops a beating heart.
The heart is nothing more than an organ that pumps blood. It’s not your soul. Yes, it’s vital to our survival, but then so is the digestive system. There is no logical reason to conclude that life somehow starts at the first heartbeat. From God’s perspective, life most likely begins at one of two places: It either begins when the DNA for the new being is constructed. Or it begins at consciousness, when the person takes their first breath. The first is the more scientific definition, while the second is more biblical, because the Bible says God formed Adam and then breathed life into him.
Bad pro-life argument: Abortion is murdering babies.
Abortion is not murdering babies; it’s killing fetuses. The difference is that babies are conscious, while fetuses are incapable of consciousness during the first two trimesters, due to a lack of a thalamus in the fetus’s brain. Babies, as well as all children, feel pain and fear, while fetuses do not. Therefore, the idea of a baby in the womb experiencing fear and agony during an abortion is inconsistent with the facts. That’s why Christians should prioritize the well-being of conscious children, such as refugees fleeing violence, above the well-being of fetuses. One might ask why we can’t do both. But the answer is that our political parties force us to choose between one or the other.
As I like to say…
“Abortion stops a beating heart. Rejecting refugees & invading nations stops a beating heart, kills a conscious brain, and torments a sensitive soul.”
Bad pro-life argument: Psalm 139:13 says, “You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” That means God designs each of us while we are in the womb; therefore, abortion is murder.
Two verses later, Psalm 139:15 says, “I was woven together in the depths of the earth.” So, should we believe that God makes babies underground? Unlike much of the rest of the Bible, Psalms are not a literal description of what happened or how things work. Rather, they are imaginative poetry filled with metaphors and symbolism.
Bad pro-life argument: Because Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born, I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations,” that means God forms all of us in the womb; therefore, abortion interferes with God’s will.
The inclusion of “I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” indicates that God is describing how Jeremiah is different from most other people, since it’s quite obvious that not every person is designed to be a prophet. Therefore, it’s logically inconsistent to apply any of this passage to humans universally, since some of it is clearly specific to Jeremiah’s situation.
Summary: While most abortion-related arguments are terrible, both sides have some valid points, a few of which I mentioned at the beginning of this article. Others include the valid pro-life argument that if the woman chooses to take an unnecessary chance on getting pregnant, she does not deserve a second chance before the child she created deserves a first; and, on the pro-choice side, if your argument is a religious one, the Constitution forbids forcing the beliefs and practices of a religion on the entire nation.
Therefore, since both sides do indeed have some valid, compassionate concerns, let’s stop demonizing the people on the side we disagree with. They are not monsters for their views. Rather, we are monsters when we refuse to try and understand their views.
-K. Scott Schaeffer