Gut Check Part Three – Answering Objections

This post is related to the one below, and continues the same grim topic. If the subject matter is one you cannot forgive me for discussing, please read no further.  I am an opinionated man, but prefer not to offend, if it can be avoided.

I made the argument that aborticide is a dereliction of a parent’s duty of care, and that this duty extends to prenatal care.

None of the objections were anything other than irrelevant. For convenience, I have grouped them below, that I may answer them at once.


One response was that I was an idiot or a lunatic. This is ad Hominem. I don’t count this as an objection, it is merely a verbal flourish, something like the scream a samurai utters before he strikes, or blowing a trumpet before a charge. People make noise in battles, and those who see an argument as a battle make noise, not words. 

The first objection was that I was being hypothetical. Would that I were. There is a real case of a woman who was wounded during an abortion. Her twin sister was not so lucky, and died. The operation was a failure because the patient lived. The means used to kill the baby, saline abortion, did not kill the baby, who then was born and grew up to adulthood, still suffering the cerebral palsy induced by the operation. Her name is Gianna Jessen. ( As rare as finding someone who escaped Auschwitz, she escaped the abortion holocaust.

My argument is not hypothetical at all. If you say that no harm can be done to the unborn in the womb, that their pain and suffering somehow does not “count” because they were not really persons to you in your imagination yet, because you don’t regard them as being human beings, then, logically, the cerebral palsy inflicted on her by her mother was not an injury, not a dereliction of the mother’s duty to see to proper prenatal and postnatal care.

If you can say that a mother loves her child, and, at the same time, can give her child a lifetime-long crippling disease, then you contradict yourself. No matter whether Gianna Jessen was properly alive by your definition, or properly a human person by your definition, the fact is that she is human now, and crippled now, and that your philosophy in action crippled her.

The second objection voiced was that I was not using the correct vocabulary as approved by the politically correct language of the pro-abortionists. This is definitional quibbling. The logic of the argument does not change merely because arbitrary labels used to point to concepts change. In logic, the form of the argument matters, not the labels. In philosophy, the concepts matter, not the labels.

This second objection is also deceitful, and all honest men should be offended by the naked insincerity of it. The point is to rob the victims of humanity before death, so as to hide the emotional impact of what is done. For similar dishonest reasons, mothers in abortion clinics are not allowed to see the sonograms the technicians use.

This second objection is also scientifically illiterate. To refer to the homo sapiens in the womb as “a fetus but not a child” or “a fetus but not a human being,” from the point of view of a biologist, is worse than false: it is mere is nonsense. As if someone were to insist that an egg is not a member of the animal kingdom, or that an acorn of the vegetable kingdom, or that eggs and acorns were not alive, or somehow not members of the species which generated them (but membership in species is defined by no other criteria but generation—that is why a mule is considered a different species as a horse).

The third was that I said life begins at conception. I said nothing of the kind: indeed, the point of my argument is the opposite: it is that the duty of parenting obtains before life begins.

The forth was that I said the child was a person with rights. I said nothing of the kind, indeed, the point of my argument is the opposite: the duty of parenting obtains before personhood is invested.

The fifth was that only women have the intellectual equipment, moral stature, needed to discuss this issue, or the pragmatic experience. A person not a woman so said. This is another form of ad Hominem, a type called polylogy, the assertion that the rules of logic differ according to race or sex or some other collective membership. One is reminded of Nazis claiming Relativity was “Jewish physics.” This is not a serious objection: it need not be dignified with an answer.

The sixth was a half-serious claim that we celebrate birthdays, not conception days, and that Christians celebrate Christmas, not the day Christ was conceived. The most adroit answer, one that made me smile, was to point out that the Feast of the Annunciation is May 25 th. Touché.

But even as a half-serious point, this objection is an error: the birthday celebrates birth, not the creation ex nihilo of a baby out of non-baby. The birthday celebrates the successful conclusion and fulfillment of the pregnancy, a most significant step in the child’s development, the heroism of the mother in her labor, in the same way that the Fourth of July celebrates the successful progress of the Revolutionary War and the heroism of the patriots.

Now, the war was started before 4 July 1776 and concluded after; nor was our current Constitution in place. But by the logic of the pro-Abortionists, no one could be a patriot on 3 July 1776, because the country as a legal entity did not yet exist. One can have no duty and no love to a non-existant country, right?

By this logic, the founding fathers had no love for their country, no duty toward it, and the patriots who bled and died under British bullets and Hessian bayonets were under no moral or ethical obligation to do anything. Only sacrifices made after the country is born are worth mentioning. Benedict Arnold was not a traitor! Acting to abort the country before birth is morally acceptable!     

The seventh objection was that I was making a religious argument. This was not only irrelevant, it was the opposite of the truth (as well as being an embarrassing betrayal on the part of the speaker, otherwise a right guy, of his ugly bigotry). While it is true that I am a Christian now, I invented this argument back when I was an atheist, and brought it forward almost word for word into my journal here. I said nothing religious of any kind, and the argument does not change based on religious sentiment or dogma one way or the other.

Ironically, the only people making a religious argument are the pro-abortionists. Here is the significant quote:

“Life and a person are two very different things. I’m not arguing against the taking of lives; I’m arguing that a person isn’t a person before a certain point. Clearly, those cells are live and they are human. Those things in my mind do not make a person with rights alone.”

What is here called a “person with rights” refers to an immaterial, unidentified, undefined measure of the thing that makes up persons with moral significance when dealing with ethical questions: persons in the eyes of the law, persons in the eyes of our fellow men.

What is the imponderable, undefined, non-material substance that makes us truly human called? Every prior age called this substance a soul.

If stated clearly, their argument boils down to a claim that a baby does not have a soul until birth. Before birth, it is not a thing made in the image of God, its life is not sacred. Therefore may be killed at the pleasure or need of the mother, as it is no more morally significant than a housecat. (Actually, most pro-abortionists are more chary of the lives of housecats than of human children, since they would object to slaying a housecat on demand, without some showing of need or hardship.)

This mysterious and undefined imponderable essence, this soul, only enters or transubstantiates the child when the skull clears the birth canal: this is neither a legal doctrine nor a scientific fact, nor a deduction from reason. It is an article of faith, a dogma.

Under the current law, which permits partial-birth aborticide, the child is only human when his head clears the birth canal: if he is breech, that is, feet first coming out of the womb, he may be killed at the mother’s pleasure, even though, were he the same in every way, except turned upside down, he would be a human with a soul, and all the rights and privileges and protections recognized and honored by our laws. A more arbitrary and stupid conceit cannot be imagined, that turning a baby upside down turns him into a human person, but there you have it.