A year ago yesterday, blogger Libby Anne wrote a piece called Why I Lost Faith in the "Pro-Life" Movement (notice the term pro-life is in scare quotes). Yesterday I linked to a much better article by Jennifer Fulwiler which was a response to this article. The difference is that Fulwiler became pro-life after learning the truth about the unborn entity, and Libby Anne became pro-choice because of misinformation and due to the fact that she didn't know the facts about the unborn entity. She claims she believed that fetal personhood began at fertilization, but she clearly didn't have any reason for believing that, other than possibly that she was raised believing it. Otherwise the fact that she perceived others didn't really believe that way would not have affected her views on fetal personhood. It's a classic red herring. So while I am perfectly willing to consider the possibility that I am wrong on this, and despite Libby Anne's assertion that she wants to convince people like me otherwise, the fact is that she doesn't make a single cogent argument against fetal personhood.
Libby Anne said that the reason she became pro-choice is because she was convinced that the way to lower the instances of abortion was pushing contraceptives, and not making abortion illegal. But no one who actually considers the unborn to be human beings would accept this argument, since we can't justify leaving murder legal just because it doesn't eliminate all instances of murder. Now it's true that many pro-life advocates believe that contraceptive use is immoral, but this doesn't in any way show that they are inconsistent, since the pro-life advocates who believe contraceptive use to be immoral also believe in the traditional family structure. Their stance on contraceptives is totally independent of their stance on abortion.
Her first piece of evidence is that, according to an article in the New York Times, making abortion illegal does not decrease it. Now, fellow blogger from the same website Marc wrote an article refuting Libby Anne's alleged evidence, so see that article for why this claim is false. But again, even if making abortion illegal didn't restrict abortions, that's beside the point. Even if murder or rape did not decrease the amount of murders or rapes committed, we must still make these acts illegal because human dignity requires it, and anyone who commits these acts should be punished, and punished severely. This is just a red herring.
She also fell for the pro-choice line that abortions are safer if they're legal. But for some reason, as a self-proclaimed pro-life advocate, she failed to realize that every successful abortion is fatal -- for the unborn child. And even children born alive after an abortion are not necessarily safe at Planned Parenthood. So Libby Anne's entire section here fails due to a simple fallacy: correlation does not prove causation. Abortions are not safer because it's legal, abortions are safer because medical technology has advanced since abortions were legalized. I have also responded to the "safe" abortion claim in another article. Also, see Marc's second part of his series to show why these claims are also false.
Libby Anne's third piece of evidence is that contraception greatly reduces the instances of abortion. She has fallen for pro-choice talking points about the pro-life movement, that wanting to ban abortions is about controlling women's bodies and their sex drives. This couldn't be further from the truth. The pro-life movement believes that people should have sex responsibly, as sex produces a living human being, a child that is dependent on his/her mother for survival. This dependency does not grant the right to end the child's life. If anything, it gives the mother a greater obligation to care for it, due to her partial responsibility in conceiving the child and the fact that those who are more vulnerable deserve greater protection. And yes, Marc wrote a part three showing the claims that Libby Anne makes are false.
It's at this point that Libby Anne became pro-choice. It's because of three red herrings that have no bearing on whether or not the unborn child is a living human being with the same rights and values that we all have. Kristen Walker Hatten of LifeNews has also written a piece responding to this article, pointing out Libby Anne's inconsistencies in her argument.
At this point, Libby Anne finally talks about the zygote. But shockingly, she doesn't make any attempt at a cogent argument that the unborn are not valuable human beings. The only two things she says about it are irrelevant: First, the zygote/embryo/fetus is growing inside another human being's body. This doesn't tell us anything. The fact that it's growing and developing tells us that it's a unique human being. The fact that it is growing inside the mother does not in any way negate its moral status, and I'm not aware of any pro-choice advocate who claims that it does (they make the claim that the fact that it is inside the mother's body gives her a right to kill it, but that's another argument for another time). Her second point is that she considers birth as the dividing line. Again, no one in the literature supports birth as the dividing line. That's because it's one of the worst places you can draw to give the unborn rights and values, as there is no fundamental change between the fetus five minutes from being born and the newborn five minutes after being born.
After these two stunningly bad attempts to justify her position, she again argues for pro-life inconsistency. She returns to her position that many pro-life people oppose contraception, although she seems to think that all pro-life people oppose contraception, which would be news to organizations like Secular Pro-Life and Pro-Life Humanists. So this is simply a strawman argument against the pro-life movement. Even many pro-life Protestants don't oppose contraception, but the reason that pro-life Catholics oppose it is because it is contrary to God's plan for the family. It has nothing to do with the abortion issue. So Libby Anne's discussion about the pill is interesting (and possibly correct, though I think the verdict is still out on whether or not it actually does prevent implantation), but it has nothing to do with the truth or falsehood of the pro-life position.
She also accuses the pro-life movement of "playing fast and loose" with scientific evidence, ironic coming from someone who denies fetal personhood based on shoddy reasoning when all the scientific evidence is against her. But there are good reasons to believe that abortion raises a woman's risk of breast cancer and causes depression after an abortion. But again, these arguments detract from the issue, which is why I never make them. As my friend Josh Brahm says, there's a difference between what's wrong with abortion and why abortion is wrong. Abortions do hurt women, and women do die from abortions, but that doesn't mean that abortions are wrong, in and of themselves. Abortions are wrong because they unjustly take the life of an innocent human being.
Libby Anne's next argument regards the unborn who are naturally killed during abortions. I haven't checked her work, but her argument that pro-life women should use the pill because more human zygotes would be saved is a confusion of basic ethics -- the end does not justify the means. If the pill does cause abortions (and I believe the jury is still out on that), then a woman would not be justified in using it just because she was trying to save conceived human beings. It also fails to take into account women who are trying to conceive, and other factors. But even if the pill doesn't cause an early abortion, there are still other factors to take into consideration, like the ethics of sexual conduct. But even so, Libby Anne is making another simple mistake of ethics -- the fact that human beings die naturally does not justify our taking their lives intentionally. I have responded to a similar thought experiment regarding this claim.
Also, her argument that Barack Obama has done more to save unborn children than any president in U.S. history is laughable. Obama is arguably the most pro-abortion president we've ever had. The 2012 election's party platform was largely based on the freedom for a woman to obtain abortions.
Libby Anne's final point is that those who want to make abortion illegal should desire to make caring for children more affordable. I wholeheartedly agree, but it is not in the scope of this article to talk about Republican or Libertarian policies. However, again, this is a red herring because even if it was unaffordable to raise a child, this would not justify our killing the child.
It is patently obvious that Libby Anne's conversion to the pro-choice position was not based on anything regarding the nature of the unborn child, but on shoddy studies by the pro-choice side, and even shoddier reasoning. There are hypocrites on both sides, but most pro-life people genuinely want to see unborn human lives saved, and leaving abortion legal is not the way to get that done.
Like what you read?
Official Comments Policy:
This is my blog and I reserve the right to delete any comments that don't abide by these rules and/or don't contribute to the overall intellectual atmosphere of the blog. I don't mind comments from people who disagree with me, as I am very much open to reconsidering or revising anything that I write.
1. No swearing or otherwise profane language.
2. No insults or otherwise abusive language, toward me or any other commenter.
3. No spamming or trolling.