The Philosophical Argument Defending the Pro-Life View

Opinion   |   Kristi Burton Brown   |   Feb 23, 2012   |   11:11AM   |  

Have you ever wondered whether pro-life people who believe in the death penalty but oppose abortion are inconsistent; if outlawing abortion will lead to “pregnancy policing”; or why pro-life people are so insistent that a “fertilized egg” is a person? Have you ever philosophically thought out your own position on abortion—whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice?

If you are out there reading this article and you truly believe you are pro-choice, I have a challenge for you, should you choose to accept it. Accepting this challenge is, of course, a matter of choice. But if you think that abortion is sad or tragic; if you find yourself saying that it should be “safe, legal, and rare”; if you wish that abortion didn’t exist, but still view it as a woman’s choice, please take this challenge.

If you are pro-life, you simply MUST take this challenge to better understand and to be better able to argue the pro-life perspective.

Here goes: Back in the 1990’s Professor Michael Pakaluk (Department of Philosophy, Clark University) created a list of nineteen questions for pro-choice people. I challenge you to go read and answer them. Can you? And to really take part in this challenge, you can’t stop reading the questions if they annoy you. You must read each one and truly think through your answer. Are you certain that your pro-choice position is philosophically correct?

Professor Pakaluk also wrote a list of questions for pro-life people. Since he is pro-life, he provided answers to these questions that I’m positive you would find fascinating. Especially if you are interested in philosophy and believe that the pro-life philosophical position is weak, read what Professor Pakaluk has to say.

Here are a few tidbits:
Professor Pakaluk questions why “pro-choice” people don’t do something to stop the killing of babies that they do disagree with. For instance, if you think abortion should be illegal after viability, what are you doing to stop it? If you think forced abortion in China is wrong, how are you working to end it?

Do you do nothing because you do not wish to impose your views on others? But of course then I could ask of you why you ever act morally, since that will always require that you impose your views? When you act against racism, for example, you similarly impose your view on others who disagree. Is it that you are uncertain–you merely believe abortion is wrong after viability, but you have little confidence in your belief? I wonder whether you truly have little confidence in it–and, if you do, whether you are at all justified in having little confidence.

And I would note, furthermore, that this “lack of confidence” of yours, and this–shall we say–paralysis that you suffer, in not doing anything about what, on your account, is a gross violation of human rights, is itself a consequence of legalized abortion, of the abortion mentality, and constitutes an argument against legal abortion–because legal abortion has clearly numbed your moral sensibility, and that of others as well.

Many people debate whether a “fertilized egg” is a person or even a human being. Professor Pakaluk aptly answers people’s arguments on this issue. Here’s part of what he says:

In any case, the pro-life position is more accurately expressed as the view that a fertilized egg is a human being, and that that–namely, its sharing our nature–is what gives even a fertilized egg a moral significance and indeed a certain human dignity. If by “person” you mean simply a “human being,” then of course the fertilized egg is indeed a “person”–this is not ludicrous at all. If, however, by “person” you mean an actually thinking and self-aware being, then of course a fertilized egg is not a person. But then neither is a newborn baby a person in this sense. And it is clear that our rights and dignity do not depend upon our being “persons” in that sense.

But that a “fertilized egg” is “one of us”–is a part of the human community–needs to be approached from the first-person case. You yourself were once an unborn child, before that an embryo, and before that a fertilized egg. If something had been done to damage that “fertilized egg”, then something would have been done to damage you. For example, an alteration bringing about a birth defect would have brought about a birth defect in you.

Ok, are you brave enough to take the challenge? Go here, and answer the questions. Let me know what you discover.

LifeNews Note:  Kristi Burton Brown is a pro-life activist in her home state of Colorado, a pro-bono attorney for Life Legal Defense Fund, and a stay-at-home mom. This column originally appeared at the Live Action blog.