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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Different Type of Abortion

A friend shared an article with me from someone named Catherine Deveny about what she calls "financial abortion", the idea that if a woman can decide she doesn't want to be a parent and opt out through abortion, men should be able to do the same. I didn't know who Deveny is but after doing a little research I discovered that she's an Australian comedian.

The idea behind "financial abortion" is that if a man indicates to a woman before they have sex that he does not want to have a child, and the couple uses contraceptives to try and ensure that she doesn't get pregnant, then if the contraceptives fail and the woman winds up pregnant, he has the right to opt out during the early parts of pregnancy. This means he can essentially sign all his rights, responsibilities, and privileges of fatherhood away, cutting all financial and emotional ties with the child. She says a "financial abortion" is also known as a "paper abortion" or "statutory abortion", but this is literally the first I've ever heard of this idea. I'm left to wonder how there can be so many other people who call this idea by other names. It's certainly not an idea that's gained any traction in the abortion literature. Deveny indicates that the idea came from sociologist Francis K. Goldscheider in 1998. David Boonin, however, has argued that even though (he believes) women have the right to an abortion, it does not follow that a father has the right to opt out of pregnancy since the question of whether or not to have an abortion or whether or not someone should pay child support are two different questions, and a legal obligation to pay child support does not necessarily translate into a moral obligation to pay it (see Boonin, A Defense of Abortion, Cambridge University Press, 2003, 4.11). I may respond to Goldschedier's article in the future, because it rests on very problematic assumptions.

Read the rest on the Life Training Institute blog.

Friday, December 2, 2016

An Analysis of Arrival (from a pro-life perspective)

I recently saw the movie Arrival in my local theater. Some have been touting this movie as a pro-life movie, and one of the protagonists, Louise Banks (played by Amy Adams), as a pro-life ion. I'll be examining this movie from a pro-life perspective, but for an excellent analysis of the themes in the movie, check out this review from J.W. Wartick.

Obviously there will be spoilers in this review, since I'm going to be analyzing it. So if you haven't seen the movie and don't want it spoiled, go and see it before you read this review. It's an excellent film, well worth your money.

Arrival is a film about a group of alien spacecrafts that reach earth and hover over various locations around the globe, such as the United States, China, and Russia. Nothing is known about the aliens, so the United States brings in a linguist, Banks, and a physicist, Ian Donnelly (played by Jeremy Renner), to see if they can learn how to communicate with the aliens. Banks eventually starts to learn their language (as well as linguists from the other powers which have their own alien spacecraft), but human paranoia starts to take over and the temporary alliance between these powers as they study the aliens starts to fracture. It becomes a race against time to understand the aliens' language well enough to learn why they are here.

Read the rest at the Life Training Institute blog.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Response to Joshua Stein's Critique of Christopher Kaczor

If you haven't yet read The Ethics of Abortion by Christopher Kaczor, you should definitely consider reading it. However, I was asked to give my thoughts on a critical review written by Joshua Stein about Kaczor's book. Ordinarily, reading over this review, I wouldn't have given it a second thought. It doesn't present any serious challenges to Kaczor's book, and he mainly complains about the methodology of the book rather than actually responding to any of Kaczor's arguments. But since I was asked, I'll respond to Stein's claims below.

I've interacted with Stein some on Facebook. From what I've gathered, he's a philosophy professor but to my knowledge, hasn't done any work in the field of philosophy, itself. Other than that, I don't know much about him, but you can read his critique on Goodreads here.

The first thing I noticed is Stein's complete lack of engagement with Kaczor's book. He doesn't provide any page numbers so you can see if he's correctly understanding Kaczor's arguments, and he doesn't even seriously engage with any of them. Compare Stein's critique with one of my critical critiques on Amazon.

Read the rest at the Life Training Institute blog.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Amanda Marcotte is At it Again

And by "it", I mean completely frothing off at the mouth about the "evil" "misogynistic" "anti-choice" movement. Ruth Graham over at Slate wrote a surprisingly well-balanced article about the more alternative pro-life advocates, such as Kelsey Hazzard (of Secular Pro-Life) and Aimee Murphy (of Life Matters Journal). Her article is called The New Culture of Life. This article also led the United States Library of Congress to contact various organizations mentioned in the piece, like Life Matters Journal and New Wave Feminists, informing them they've selected these organizations' webpages for inclusion in the Library's web archive focusing on public policy topics. Seriously, give it a read (note that I don't necessarily agree with all the statements made by the pro-life activists in that article).

True to form, Amanda Marcotte of Salon is not happy that someone would present pro-life people in a positive light, preferring to live in her fantasy world that pro-life people are all stodgy old men who want to control women's bodies. So she wrote a hit piece about the pro-life movement in response to Graham's article, called Hip to be Square: Is there really a feminist, secular anti-choice movement? (Spoiler: no). Clever, right? Not only is it a completely dishonest article, devoid of any serious research, it is also borderline libelous. Seriously, don't give it a read.

Marcotte's piece truly is painful to read. Not only is she completely dishonest about pro-life people, her lack of serious research is astounding. A number of pro-life people were mentioned in her article, including me. I'm going to set the record straight on Marcotte's claims about myself (and Rebecca Stapleford, who was mentioned along with me). I'll leave it to my friends to respond to Marcotte if they so choose.

Below, I'll quote the two paragraphs in Marcotte's article that directly relate to me:

As [Matt] Dillahunty pointed out to me, a "good chunk of [Secular Pro-Life's] blog posts are written by Christians/Catholics", showcasing exactly how difficult it is to drum up much interest among the non-religious for a cause devoted to meddling with other people's sex lives. A perusal of the Secular Pro-Life blog seemed to confirm this observation, with several blog posts being written by Catholics like Rebecca Stapleford and Clinton Wilcox.
Wilcox is one of the two Secular Pro-Life representatives that Dillahunty has debated. On his personal blog, Wilcox argues, "I, myself, have met people who said they did not come to Christ until after they became pro-life" and writes that anti-choice arguments are a good way to lure people into converting to Christianity.
There are at least a half dozen inaccuracies in just these two paragraphs, alone. Let's start with the fact that neither I nor Rebecca Stapleford are Catholics. I am Protestant. Rebecca is also a friend of mine. While she became pro-life as an agnostic, she is now an Evangelical Protestant.

Now let's talk about how she "perused" (does she even know what this word means?) the blog at Secular Pro-Life, found "several" articles by Rebecca and me, and apparently that was enough to conclude that a "good chunk" of SPL's blog posts were written by "Catholics". First, how much is a "good chunk"? If Dillahunty means a lot, then sure. But what does this prove? It certainly doesn't prove that the majority have been written by religious people. In fact, most of the writers for SPL are non-religious. Instead of looking up how many articles Rebecca and I wrote, maybe she should have looked at who the writers are and compare their religious affiliation.

Now let's talk about her calling me a "representative" of SPL. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a representative of Secular Pro-Life. I do write articles for their blog and I walk with them whenever I attend the Walk for Life, but I am not a representative of their organization. Marcotte is confusing their willingness to work with religious people as their actually being religious.

I also made it very clear to Dillahunty before we debated that I am not a representative of SPL; I write for their blog and was interested in debating him. At no point did I claim to represent SPL. Whether Dillahunty told Marcotte this or Marcotte is assuming it is unclear. Either way, someone is being dishonest here.

Two more inaccuracies to note. She points to an article I wrote on my "personal blog", but the blog she pointed to was the Life Training Institute blog, not my personal blog. Additionally, she claims that I am deceiving people into becoming Christian by first making them pro-life. This, of course, is blatantly false. She is taking my words out of context and paraphrasing them to mean something I obviously didn't mean to any honest observer who reads my article. What I actually said is that my discussions on abortion naturally lead into questions of ultimate reality and human value, and that while sometimes you can convert an atheist to Christianity without talking about the pro-life issue, sometimes atheists need to know that we have reasonable answers to other issues before they take Christianity seriously.

Salon has never been a paragon of critical thinking, but it's truly mind-boggling that they would allow such a deceitful piece to be posted to their website. In just two paragraphs, Marcotte bungled many facts that would have been easy to verify. She also seems intent on painting the pro-life movement as inherently religious, but I wasn't aware the proposition "murdering a human being is wrong" is an inherently religious one. At least we can take comfort in knowing that they can't refute our argument that abortion is wrong because it intentionally kills an innocent human being, so they have to resort to name-calling and alarmist caterwauling.

Author's Note: I'll add articles written by the others mentioned in Marcotte's article to respond to her as I become aware of them.

Here's an article written by Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa (language warning).

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Is Making Abortion Illegal Legislating a Religious Viewpoint?

The pro-life position entails that since unborn human beings are full human persons at fertilization, if you kill an unborn human being at any point in his/her development, you are committing an act of unjustified homicide which should be forbidden by law. Of course, many pro-choice people believe, not having actually listened very closely to the pro-life argument, that the pro-life view is grounded only in a religious belief. So they respond that we cannot legislate a religious point of view into law.

Read the rest of this article at the Life Training Institute blog.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Must We Convert the Culture to Christianity to End Abortion?

It seems every so often I run across someone on Facebook (rarely in personal activism) who asserts that we must convert people to Christianity in order to end abortion, or that we must share the Gospel at all times with people, whether or not we make pro-life converts. To do anything less goes against God's teachings.

This may sound super spiritual on the face of it, until you stop and consider that, as Augustine said, "wherever truth may be found, it belongs to his master" (On Christian Doctrine, II.18.28). Or as it is commonly paraphrased, all truth is God's truth. Whenever we share the truth about abortion, that it is the unjustified killing of an innocent human person, we are sharing God's truth. Now, it's possible that someone would only be converted after you share the Gospel with them and they come to understand the universe as God does. But it's also very likely that someone will not take the Gospel seriously until they hear a Christian give a reasoned defense of one of their positions in another sphere of knowledge.

Read the rest at the Life Training Institute blog.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Is Consent to Sex Consent to Pregnancy?

In her book Breaking the Abortion Deadlock: From Choice to Consent, sociologist Eileen McDonagh argued that pro-choice people should move the debate from being about choice to consent. In other words, instead of arguing a woman has a "right to choose" abortion, they should be arguing that an embryo only has the right to a woman's uterus if she grants consent to the uterus, and only if consent is ongoing. She argued that sex doesn't make a woman pregnant, sex only creates the embryo, and it's the embryo that makes the woman pregnant. Since the embryo occupies the woman's uterus against her will, the embryo is essentially a rapist, or a parasite (or perhaps one of the aliens from Alien). Since the embryo is essentially a rapist, the state has an obligation to protect her from this invader in the same way the state would use the police to protect her from an actual rapist.

That's the thesis of her book, essentially. McDonagh has succeeded to some degree in changing the abortion debate to be about consent. I don't encounter this argument when I'm talking to a pro-abortion-choice advocate in person. But I occasionally encounter this argument in on-line discussions. It doesn't hold up to scrutiny, and it's not an argument that is seriously defended by most pro-abortion-choice people. It's more of an argument pro-abortion-choice people keep in their quiver as a backup.

Read the rest at the Life Training Institute blog.