It’s not the only thing that’s important, but it is really important for us to be able to think, in public, out-loud, as Christians, in our world. This is especially true in hotly-contested (and life-or-death) issues like abortion. I recently ran across two great posts which provide the kind of thinking we should learn and practice when it comes to reasoning with two common pro-abortion arguments.
The first addresses this question:
In cases where the life of a pregnant woman is endangered because of her pregnancy, are Pro-Lifers inconsistent if they say the mother should be saved instead of the baby?
The answer includes this line of thinking:
This is a case where an ethical principle called the law of double effect comes into play. That is, there’s an action you are required to take ethically, the consequences of which, when viewed alone, would be immoral, but when taken in conjunction with the other circumstance, it’s the lesser of two evils. And even though you acknowledge that this is an evil because the death of the child would result, you do not intend the death of the child. It’s not the direct intention of the action. The purpose of the action is to save the life of the mother, not to take the life of the baby, even though that’s the consequence in this dilemma.
It’s short. I encourage you to read the whole thing.
The second article addresses a tweet storm where someone posted this chain of arguments:
“Whenever abortion comes up, I have a question I’ve been asking for ten years now of the ‘Life begins at Conception’ crowd. In ten years, no one has EVER answered it honestly.” It’s a simple scenario with two outcomes. No one ever wants to pick one, because the correct answer destroys their argument. And there IS a correct answer, which is why the pro-life crowd hates the question. 2/Here it is. You’re in a fertility clinic. Why isn’t important. The fire alarm goes off. You run for the exit. As you run down this hallway, you hear a child screaming from behind a door. You throw open the door and find a five-year-old child crying for help. 3/They’re in one corner of the room. In the other corner, you spot a frozen container labeled “1000 Viable Human Embryos.” The smoke is rising. You start to choke. You know you can grab one or the other, but not both before you succumb to smoke inhalation and die, saving no one. 4/Do you A) save the child, or B) save the thousand embryos? There is no “C.” “C” means you all die. In a decade of arguing with anti-abortion people about the definition of human life, I have never gotten a single straight A or B answer to this question. And I never will. 5/They will never answer honestly, because we all instinctively understand the right answer is “A.” A human child is worth more than a thousand embryos. Or ten thousand. Or a million. Because they are not the same, not morally, not ethically, not biologically. 6/this question absolutely eviscerates their arguments, and their refusal to answer confirms that they know it to be true. No one, anywhere, actually believes an embryo is equivalent to a child. That person does not exist. They are lying to you. 7/They are lying to you to try and evoke an emotional response, a paternal response, using false-equivalency. No one believes life begins at conception. No one believes embryos are babies, or children. Those who claim to are trying to manipulate you so they can control women. 8/Don’t let them. Use this question to call them out. Reveal them for what they are. Demand they answer your question, and when they don’t, slap that big ol’ Scarlet P of the Patriarchy on them. The end. 9/9
“No one has ever ever answered” this line of thinking… except that Robert George, a professor at Princeton University, has. He responded over at Public Discourse with a closely-reasoned argument is well worth the time to read. Professor George observes:
We agree that…most people in [these] circumstances would choose to rescue the girl. However, this by no means shows that human embryos are not human beings or that they may be deliberately killed to produce stem cells, or in an abortion.
The first thing to notice is that the case as described is not, in fact, analogous to the suggestion that we should perform embryo-destructive research for the benefits it might provide us, or to the suggestion that it is permissible to abort an unborn human being...
Second, there are differences between the embryos and the five-year-old girl that are or can be morally relevant to the decision concerning whom to rescue. For example, the five-year-old will suffer great terror and pain in the fire, but the embryos will not…
Third, there could be circumstances in which people could agree that it would be reasonable to save the embryos, even if other people, including those with no personal attachment to either the embryos or the girl, might be drawn to rescue the girl instead...
He fleshes each of those points out. And he makes this observation:
The argument here is quite simple: suppose you could save 1,000 comatose strangers or your own five-year-old child; and suppose further that the strangers will only come out of their coma if they are provided food and shelter for nine months. But you are quite confident that no one will, in fact, provide that food and shelter. Then, once again, it seems entirely reasonable for you to save your conscious five-year-old, without this indicating in any way that the comatose strangers are less than fully human, or deserving of less than full respect. Rather, the choice to save the child will at the same time be a sad commentary on a society that is unwilling to provide the necessary resources to nurse the temporarily incapacitated back to full health. We leave it to the reader to refine this example further to make it even more similar to the situation of cryopreserved embryos; we believe the analogy does not reflect well on us as a people.
…but you really should read his whole argument to see why the tweet storm, though it attempts to intimidate, doesn’t hold any water.
We don’t need to be scared, friends. Don’t worry about all of the shouting and feigned righteous indignation. Our culture has cut itself off from the source of truth, and as a result, it can’t see straight. It’s a loving thing for us to try to help people to the light.