Why Abortion is Wrong is a series that attempts to view the issue of abortion from a number of different views and angles. You can see the last two posts for this series here.
In this post, I'm going to examine some of the key counterarguments pro-choicers might bring up against the key argument for pro-lifers. I did a post on that argument here, and I examined one argument against it, the question of defining murder. Just as a reminder, to disprove this argument, one would have to attack one of the premises. The argument is logically valid, so if the premises are true, the conclusion must be true. Just as a refresher, the argument is:
Premise 1: Murder is wrong.
Premise 2: Abortion is murder.
Conclusion: Therefore, abortion is wrong.
Now let's take a look at some counterarguments against this argument.
As I said in my last post, I doubt anyone would seriously challenge the first premise, so they would have to attack the second premise or admit the argument as true. As I defined (and defended) murder before, it is the killing of an innocent human being with prior intent and knowledge of their act. I doubt anyone would like to challenge the innocence of a baby in the womb, so a pro-choicer would probably attack the idea of the fetus being a "human being." The definition of "human being" is no help to this discussion, as it is commonly defined as "any individual of the genus Homo" (dictionary.com has that exact definition, other definitions are very similar). So, as the definition of human being is no help to this discussion, the fetus cannot be clearly defined as a human being. However, it cannot be clearly defined as a non-human being either, and so we are at a stalemate. The question then is this: Are we willing to take the risk of murdering someone because we "don't know" if it is human or not? In the United States legal system, a man is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Why shouldn't we extend the spirit of this idea to the womb?
Another key argument pro-choicers use against abortion has to do with the reasons behind the abortion. They say that not having an abortion would be wrong, for a number of different reasons. If they admit that abortion is an evil, they would argue that it is the lesser of two evils. Better to have a child never born than to have a child unloved or a child that brings pain. However, an alternate explanation is not a refutation, and if they fail to attack the original argument, abortion will be classified as murder. From there we have a logical sequence of questions. Is it right to murder someone simply because they will be "unloved" or will bring pain? Is it right to kill an innocent human being to avoid an inconvenience? Now, it is important to note here that I do not want to seem insensitive. I understand that many abortions happen because of extreme circumstances that could cause a lot of pain for the mother. But, at the same time, I don't believe that avoiding pain is worth a human life. Also, there are other alternatives to abortion in such cases. Adoption saves the life of the baby and removes the reminder of pain from the mother's life.
This debate really centers around the idea of what constitutes a human being. If a fetus is defined as a human being, I see no argument that pro-choicers could use that would be able to defeat this one. I'd like to end with one key thought: I have seen countless arguments as to why a fetus should or should not be called a human being. As far as I can tell, neither side of the debate can truly defeat the other on that point. I have yet to see an argument for or against a fetus' humanity that is definitive. If we cannot find a truth in this debate, why are we risking the lives of those involved? If we cannot tell whether something is right or wrong as we do it, we should consider the possible consequences if it is wrong. In this case, we would be responsible for over 50 million deaths. Is that worth the risk?
In my next post, I'll be taking a look at the Biblical argument against abortion. If you have any comments, points, or random thoughts on this post, post a comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd be happy to respond to anything you have to say. Thank you for reading!