Jonathan Hielkema, a student at Calvin College, a Christian college in Michigan, has posted an article he wrote called Pro-Choice at Calvin. I'm not very familiar with the college, but it seems that Calvin College has failed this student, not just because they haven't instilled proper theology in Hielkema, but also because they haven't taught him how to think critically. There are good arguments for the pro-choice position, but Hielkema doesn't seem to be aware of any of them, instead appearing to content himself with sophistry and denying science.
One glaring problem is that Mr. Hielkema doesn't seem to be very gracious with his brothers and sisters in Christ in Calvin College Students for Life, preferring to refer to them as "anti-choice" (which is just a ridiculous non-sequitor) rather than the more accurate "pro-life." I would imagine that Hielkema is also anti-choice -- when it comes to things like rape, murder, and theft.
I believe that universities, especially Christian universities, should be hotbeds of intellectual activity, and people should be free to express their doubts and differing opinions. But they should do so gracefully, especially to fellow believers. Hielkema's article would be right at home at other pro-choice sites like Jezebel or RH Reality Check.
So how can I claim that Hielkema is deficient in critical thinking? Take this paragraph, for example: "Argumentation is not likely to change anyone's mind unless they are already wavering, but persuasive use of evidence and skillful storytelling are both useful tactics in defending abortion."
Come again? The whole point of a logical argument is that you investigate it, and if sound, you are logically obligated to accept the conclusion. Argumentation won't change a closed-minded person's mind, but someone who is trained to follow logic where it leads should be convinced. Then he says that persuasive use of evidence is a useful tactic in defending abortion, but one might wonder if he really believes this, as he completely ignores the scientific evidence that human life begins at fertilization.
He continues, "Facts, while indispensable, are not sufficient, and need to be contextualized and used to maximum effectiveness in an argument. These have to be paired with a strong ethical argument as well."
By this point, one might wonder if Hielkema is even aware of what the pro-life argument is. I'll give you a very simple iteration of it: Premise one, it is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being. Premise two, abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being. Conclusion, therefore, abortion is wrong. How much more of a strong ethical argument can you get than abortion is murder and murder is wrong? Here are even more arguments against abortion.
"For instance, merely citing the fact that countries with more restrictive abortion laws see just as many abortions as more permissive countries is useful, but it is useless by itself if the person opposed to you believes laws should reflect their idea of morality...If you don't have a framework for criticizing their reasons why abortion is wrong, you won't be as persuasive."
No, I would point out that Hielkema's argument criticizing my argument is a red herring, which is a logical fallacy. Whether or not making abortions illegal lessens the instance of them is irrelevant, because it doesn't refute the pro-life argument. Plus, notice how he doesn't even give us any evidence that his claim is correct. In fact, the number of abortions increased dramatically in the United States after abortion was legalized in 1973. Pro-choice people seem to believe that women can't be law-abiding citizens.
However, even if it wasn't true, and it didn't lessen the instances of them, it is irrelevant. Even if making rape and murder illegal didn't lessen the instances of them, it is still right to make the acts illegal because we have to respect human dignity, and those who commit these acts need to be punished. Until Hielkema can actually refute the pro-life argument that the unborn are innocent human beings and killing them is wrong, then he doesn't have a leg to stand on, to say nothing of the fact that he believes the very thing he is critiquing -- that the laws should reflect his idea of morality. There's nothing wrong with that, but Hielkema has not done the work of supporting his view of morality.
Hielkema calls the pro-life argument, that the unborn are human beings, an assertion. This would be news to embryologists, who consistently agree that the unborn are human beings from fertilization (see the linked article, above). Hielkema has decided to ignore science and any semblance of common sense, instead arguing that the unborn have no life of their own, but exist only with permission of the parent. First, the unborn is a living organism -- it has a life of his own. But the argument that the unborn only exists with permission of the parent is absurd. If we take it to its logical conclusion, parents should be able to kill their children at any point up until they move out and support themselves. This is simply absurd reasoning, in every possible sense of the word "absurd." Pro-life people are very much concerned with the difficult situations that a woman may find herself in, but these situations do not justify killing her child. For example, suppose a woman gave birth but when her child is two years old, she loses her job and now no longer can support her family. Does she have the right to kill her two-year-old child to make it easier to feed her older children? Of course not. So we also can't justify killing a child in the womb for that reason. Hielkema's response here is simply question begging.
Now in some rare instances pregnancies do become life-threatening, and in these situations an abortion, provided the child is not yet viable, is permissible. But a woman can not have an abortion in the off chance that the pregnancy may become life threatening. If she could, then we could also allow a parent to kill her two year old child in the off chance that he may grow up to kill his parents (which is rare but has been known to happen). Presumably Hielkema believes in God, he should understand that the female body has been designed (by God) to facilitate pregnancy.
Hielkema goes on to assert that some 5,000 to 10,000 women a year were killed by illegal abortions. This is a well-known fabrication, an outright lie that was told in order to get abortion legalized. But one of the pioneers of legalized abortion, Dr. Bernard Nathanson in his book Aborting America (New York: Doubleday, 1979), p. 193, had this to say: "It was always 5,000 to 10,000 deaths a year. I confess that I knew the figures were totally false, and I suppose the others did, too, if they stopped to think of it. But in the morality of our revolution, it was a useful figure, widely accepted, so why go out of our way to correct it with honest statistics?" In fact, in 1972, the year before abortion was legalized in the United States, how many women died from illegal abortions? According to the U.S. Bureau of Vital Statistics Center for Disease Control (as cited in Dr. and Mrs. J. C. Wilke, Abortion: Questions and Answers, rev. ed.), due to the advancement of medical technology only 39 women died from illegal abortions. Legalizing abortion doesn't make it safer, advancements in medical technology and antibiotics has made it safer (which is misleading in itself, as abortion is deadly to the child).
Hielkema really isn't even trying in this article to make a cogent argument. He uses the tired old tripe that pro-life people are sexist (apparently because it's not sexist to claim that women need to become like men to be equal to them) and racist (despite the fact that abortion is one of the biggest killers of people of color). But hey, when you don't have an argument, demonize the opposition. The argument that poor women won't be able to afford abortion while rich women will is another question begging argument, since if abortion truly is murder, then we shouldn't legalize it just so poor women can do it, too. We should make it illegal so that rich women can't legally do it.
Hielkema asserts that abortion is a necessity and a right, but I would wager he doesn't have a very good grasp of what rights actually are. Rights, as outlined in our Declaration of Independence, are inalienable and endowned on us by our Creator, the same Creator Hielkema probably believes in, and among these are the rights to life (the most important one), liberty, and property (the original terminology). No one has a right to kill anyone unjustly. In fact, a true discussion of rights leaves an unresolvable dilemma for pro-choice people.
Again, Hielkema's article (despite his assertion, without evidence, that the pro-choice position is more moral and correct) is nothing but an exercise in futility. There's not a single compelling argument that he gave, despite his constantly trying to hammer it in that they are. Repeating yourself does not add weight to your arguments.
Not only has he engaged in complete sophistry, but his position is untenable when you honestly look at the Scriptures. God has revealed that first, we are not to murder, and that human beings are made in God's image. The unborn share our common human nature as those made in the image of God. Arguing that we can kill those made in God's image, especially in light of Jesus' teaching about the Good Samaritan and how much Jesus loved and cherished children, is folly, simply incorrect, and borderline blasphemous.
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