Defense of the Voiceless - Abortion
Abortion is a very heated and controversial topic in our society. There are many people on both sides of the fence and even more arguments that have been put forth defending one view over another. The default Christian position has traditionally been to protect the unborn life, to defend the person who cannot yet defend themselves. Although the Christian's intentions are normally pure, one mistake is commonly repeated when presenting the pro-life stance: using the Bible as an authoritative source. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that the Bible doesn't have authority here...it does. However what I am saying is that the person arguing for the pro-choice position normally isn't Christian, so why would they respect anything the Bible has to say on the matter?
It would be like a Christian trying to convert a Muslim to Christianity because the Bible says he should ...yet the Muslim gives the Bible no authority and therefore dismisses the Christian's truth claims altogether.
So with that point fresh in our minds, lets start from square one and develop a pro-life argument without any reference to the Bible. This way we can be on equal footing with our opponent while completely sidesteping their dismissal of Scripture. It should be noted that this argument relies on the opponent's belief in inherent rights. For example: "people have a right to choose their sexual orientation" or "the mother has a right to choose what she does with her body". These are the same type of rights that serve as the keystone of the American Constitution - "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness". Since your opponent wouldn't be arguing with you in the first place unless they believed in inherent rights, we can safely proceed with our case.
The initial goal of our argument is to ask "What is it?" (in reference to the unborn). The answer to this question will entail certain inherent rights depending on what exactly it is. In this case, we are dealing with an unborn, alive human. Arriving at this conclusion is rather simple and has been formulated by Steve Wagner like this:
- If the unborn is growing, it must be alive.
- If it has human parents, it must be human.
- And living humans like you and I are valuable aren't they?
Neither of the first two premises can be denied since they are biological facts, therefore the opponent must show that either:
- This human does not deserve the rights of other humans
- This fetus does not yet deserve to be labeled a human. (The definition of what it means to be human must be changed for this one to work.)
In both objections the opponent is attempting to strip the unborn of the basic rights of life. This then raises the question of what exactly separates us from the unborn and whether or not these qualities are useful in determining inherent rights. If we look closely, however, we find that all the characteristics used separate you and I from an unborn person are completely arbritrary and do not connect to the idea of value in any way. The folks over at Stand To Reason have conveniently catagorized these characteristics into the easy-to-understand acronym S.L.E.D.
S. - Size
L. - Level of Development
E. - Environment
D. - Degree of Dependency
None of these characteristics have anything whatsoever to do with the value of a person...yet these are literally the only differences separating us from the unborn. This then leads us to the conclusion that the unborn should have the same rights as all other persons, such as the right to live.
The last part to be covered deals with handling the objections that will be thrown at you. I've compilied a list below with some of the more common objections and how to handle them. You can access the sources I used to write this post at the bottom of the page.
Objection:The fetus is unconscious and doesn't even have the capacity to think or reason in any way. It will not feel any pain nor can it care whether it lives or dies.
Answer: Although this may be true it doesn't affect the rights or value of the human fetus in any way. Consider a fully grown person who has fallen into a coma and is on life support. This person would be completely unconscious and unable to think, reason or care. Do we therefore have permission to kill this person? Would you feel the same if this happened to someone dear to you?
Objection: The fetus is part of a woman's body and therefore she can choose whether the baby should live or die.
Answer: The fetus may be dependent upon the woman's body for survival...but this does not mean that it is part of the woman's body. The fact that a fetus has a unique DNA signature, its own circulatory system, etc... points to the fact that the fetus is in fact a separate being. This idea is also supported by the existence of in vitro fertilization (where the egg is fertilized outside the body first) as this would not be possible if the unborn was part of a woman's body.
Objection: Until the fetus is born, it should not be given the rights of a person.
Answer: (This question violates the "L" in our S.L.E.D. test.) How is location relevant to the value of a person? If I move 7 feet to the right or left will I gain or lose any value? Then how does a fetus moving 7 inches down the birth canal magically grant it rights?
Objection: The baby will cause the woman an enormous amount of financial hardship if it's born.
Answer: The fact that the baby will cause hardship is unrelated to its value. If a toddler was causing its parents financial hardship do they have a right to kill it? Of course not! The only difference between a fetus and a toddler is the level of development...and we've already found that this is an arbitrary trait unconnected to value.
- Debate 1