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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

An Examination of "20 Arguments Against Abortion," Part III

This will be part three in my series of replying to Bob Seidensticker's rebuttal of pro-life arguments. You can find part one here and part two here. You can find the article I'm critiquing here.

Argument #11: But the fetus has a soul!

I really do wish Seidensticker would have taken an honest approach and at least attempted to answer these questions. Instead of arguing against the proposition that the fetus has a soul, he just insists that there are difficulties with this proposition, therefore the proposition is false. Unfortunately for Seidensticker, not only is that a non sequitur, but these difficulties are rather quite easily explained.

Regarding twins, the pro-life claim is not that every single human being begins life at fertilization. The pro-life claim is that the fusion of sperm and egg at fertilization, under normal circumstances, produces a new human being (and this is attested by the science of embryology). If an embryo twins, then the embryo that results from the twinning began life at the twinning. This means that a new soul is created when the new human being is. And if the embryo recombines, this is the death of the organism which means that the soul leaves the body. However, considering that not all Christians are substance dualists, and not all pro-life people are Christians, one does not have to believe in the soul to be pro-life. As I've heard Scott Klusendorf say, one does not have to take a position on the soul to believe that it's wrong to kill innocent human beings.

Regarding conjoined twins, it seems patently obvious that they would each have a soul since they are two unique human beings. And of course, a human being cloned from a skin cell would have a soul since a human being is created. Someone with severe brain damage would also be a human being, so they would have a soul. I really don't know what Seidensticker is trying to accomplish with this rebuttal, but he didn't even try to engage with the actual argument.

Seidensticker also gives a statistic that 50% of conceived zygotes fail to implant, but this statistic is dubious. First, considering how grievously misinformed Seidensticker was regarding how much safer abortion is than childbirth (see part two), considering that he provides no source for this claim should lead us to be even more suspect toward its accuracy.

Argument #12: Unborn children are innocent, whereas adults may not be.

Seidensticker again tries to dismiss arguments by appealing to his fallacious Spectrum Argument. This won't work as his argument clearly fails. He makes the assertion that a fetus is not a child, but this is just question-begging. He doesn't attempt to prove it. I'll quote from someone he likely admires, Christopher Hitchens: "That which is asserted without evidence can just as easily be dismissed without evidence." But it seems quite obvious that a fetus is, in fact, a child, since a child is just a young human being. Plus, one definition of "child" in the dictionary is "a human fetus." And the word "fetus" comes from the Latin word for "offspring."

So the argument stands undefeated. Besides, what is usually meant by "innocent" when someone speaks of killing an innocent human being is that they usually have in mind innocence of any crime deserving to be killed, as opposed to capital punishment in which you are putting to death a convicted murderer. In this respect, the human embryo/fetus is certainly innocent.

So this argument stands unrefuted, but Seidensticker responds to some similar arguments:

Argument #12a: Argument from Maslow's Hierarchy.

Seidensticker asserts that the two human lives are not comparable and appeals, again, to his fallacious Spectrum Argument. So that can be summarily dismissed.

He also argues that killing a blasocyst bothers him less than killing someone in another country in a war or someone on death row, but this hardly seems relevant. I'm sure killing a homeless person would bother him less than killing one of his children, yet that doesn't mean the homeless person is less of a human or less valuable in terms of intrinsic human value than his children are.

Argument #12b: We should defend the defenseless.

This time, Seidensticker just gets lazy and points to his fallacious argument again. But as I mentioned in part two of this series, being more vulnerable gives us more of an obligation to protect an individual, not less of an obligation.

Argument #12c: Parallels to Other Dehumanized People Groups.

Again, Seidensticker points to his fallacious argument. However, this is a very powerful argument because it shows that human beings have committed serious moral wrongs by dehumanizing groups of people in the past (blacks, women, Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, etc.). Appealing to an imagined spectrum won't help. In fact, it would be possible for white slave owners to argue from a "spectrum," choosing some other arbitrary characteristic: for example, "Like with all colors, there's a spectrum. We know that black is not white, but where does white begin and black end? We know that blacks are not persons by appealing to this spectrum." This is obviously fallacious when trying to dehumanize someone based on skin color, and it's obviously fallacious when trying to dehumanize someone based on an arbitrary characteristic like the ones Seidensticker appeals to in his argument.

Argument #12d: Burning IVF Scenario.

I've responded to the article Seidensticker refers to in the question here. He again refers to his fallacious argument. Nothing more really needs to be said here, just see the article of mine that I linked to.

Argument #13: Adoption is the answer.

Adoption can be a difficult decision for a woman to make, but this doesn't negate the fact that abortion is seriously immoral so this would be the right thing to do if a woman doesn't want to raise the child. Besides, while it may be difficult for both mother and child, it can also be a great thing for both mother and child, as in the case of Colin Kaepernick and Rebecca Kiessling, who was conceived in rape and adopted out rather than aborted.

Plus, Seidensticker actually misrepresents the statistic he quotes here. The statistic says that only two percent of unmarried women place their child up for adoption. This doesn't mean that adoption doesn't work, it means that of all pregnant unmarried women, only two percent decide to adopt out. The reality is that there are many more couples waiting to adopt than there are children to adopt because the ones that would go up for adoption are being aborted.

Argument #14: Is someone with one less cell a person?

Seidensticker refers to the blue/green spectrum to respond to this argument. I'll let this one go, since this is not the way I would handle Seidensticker's fallacious argument. See the linked article here for why Seidensticker's Spectrum Argument fails.

Argument #15: Women should take responsibility for their sexual encounters.

Seidensticker is now showing that he'll just use any old argument he can think of to try and respond to these arguments. I really don't think that sex education is poor in the United States. I was taught in the eighth grade that sex produces babies, and it only takes once to conceive. This is just getting embarrassing for Seidensticker.

Seidensticker tries to appeal to a case where someone accidentally shoots himself, but this is just a false analogy. When a doctor heals someone, they are repairing damage to the individual. When an abortionist performs an abortion on a woman, he/she is killing an innocent human being, a human being with rights just like we have. Abortion is a violation of rights, whereas repairing a gunshot wound is not.

Finally, Seidensticker tries to make the case that using contraception is not accepting the risk of pregnancy any more than eating a sandwich is accepting the risk of choking. However, this is another false analogy. Procreation is an inherent function of sex; the way our species reproduces is by having sex (as is the case with all mammals). Using contraception merely adds an obstacle to pregnancy but it does not change the intrinsic nature of sex. Conversely, the purpose of eating is to nourish the body. You eat to survive, not to choke.

Five more arguments to go, and I will tackle them in my next article.

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