I had a fairly heated online discussion, recently, with a very old friend, about abortion. I noticed that he did not actually address any of the questions or points I raised, which left me thinking he had not really been arguing in good faith.
But that made me reflect: was I arguing in good faith? Or to put it another way, was I in any way open to being influenced by his arguments?
On reflection, I think I was; but it would take arguments I have never heard, and cannot conceive of, to make me think that abortion is an acceptable solution to a problem pregnancy. I would have to be convinced either:
1 That the unborn human being (or foetus, or embryo, for those who like to use these medical terms to hide the reality of what we are discussing) is not, in fact a human being
2 That some human beings have the right to decide that other innocent human beings do not have the right to live
3 That the (lesser) rights of some human beings can be deemed more important than that most fundamental right, the right to life.
Point one of these is settled by science. We know perfectly well when a new human life is conceived: at conception. There is no other starting point. The pro-abortion lobby try to obfuscate this by introducing a notion of personhood – but that in fact is an attack on point two.
Point two is the real point at issue. What the abortion advocates are really claiming is that some people (mothers-to-be, social workers, doctors, abusive partners, abusive rapists….) have the right to decide that an unborn human being does not have the right to life, and that life may therefore be terminated.
The talk of personhood is a smokescreen here: and a particularly insidious one. Once one arrogates to oneself the right to decide who is and who is not a human person, one is on a very dangerous path. Indeed this is the route to genocide and to the destruction of the weak or the mentally disabled, or indeed anyone who doesn’t meet the necessarily arbitrary criteria of those who decide. This is raw power hidden behind fine-sounding words.
The third point is really a subset of the second, but deserves special mention as the abortion debate is often framed in terms of a woman’s right to choose. As so often, rhetoric is used to hide the reality; no pro-abortionist finishes that clause: a woman’s right to choose to end the life of another human being…
Whatever crisis a woman faces, to say that it gives her the right to end the life of another human being is a huge claim. As I say, I cannot conceive of an argument that would convince me that such a right exists. But I will argue in good faith: if someone can convince me of that (or points one or two above) I will re-think my stand on abortion.
Another guest blog by our Trustee, Andrew. Thank you!
Get in touch if you would like to contribute to our blog posts.