December 6, 2011

Why Abortion is Wrong: The Logical Argument

   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 introductory post for this series here.

   In this first post in the Why Abortion is Wrong series, I'm going to take a look at the key argument pro-lifers put forth against abortion from a logical angle. But first, a quick lesson on logic. Every logical syllogism (a fancy logical term for a common form of a written argument) must both be valid and sound for it to be true. Valid simply means that the syllogism is set up in such a way that, if the premises, or supporting claims are true, the conclusion must be true. A sound argument is a valid argument with true premises. For example, if my premises were "All dogs are animals" and "All animals are alive" and my conclusion was "All dogs are alive," then as long as everyone agreed that my premises were true, my conclusion must be true because the argument is valid. So, with that out of the way, let's take a look at the key argument pro-lifers use against abortion.
   Now, we don't generally speak in logical syllogisms and we often assume premises, so the argument written down will not necessarily look like it would if it were spoken. Generally, however, it follows this format:
Premise 1: Murder is wrong.
Premise 2: Abortion is murder.
Conclusion: Abortion is wrong.
   This argument is a valid argument and follows the most common form of a logical syllogism. Remember, in a valid argument, if the premises are true, the conclusion must be true. I think most sane people would agree with the first premise. Not many people are bold enough to say that murder is wrong, and those people are generally labeled as crazy or evil. So if pro-choicers wish to discredit this argument, they are required to attack that second premise: Abortion is murder.
   Most of us have seen this clash before; this issue of murder is the key distinction between pro-lifers and pro-choicers. One thing, however, that I see far too often is people arguing this issue of murder with two completely different definitions of what murder is. Because of this, I think it'd be a good idea to define murder. Pro-choicers would probably use the definition of murder found at, which reads: "the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice afterthought." A pro-choicer would point out the word "unlawfully" and point out that abortion is currently legal. I, however, disagree with this definition for this reason: Murder is inherently wrong. On the wikipedia page for murder - though I know wikipedia is not the most reliable and trusted source on the web - under the section on the "legal definition" of murder, the author notes that murder is generally considered to be "malum in se," or an act that is wrong in of itself. If this is true, than the definition of murder must not be limited to under the law. If murder is inherently wrong, then even if the law allowed murder, it would still be wrong, as the premise dictates. Instead of that definition, I would argue for a definition based off this page, which would read something like this: Murder is the killing of an innocent human being with prior intent and knowledge of their act.  If we follow this definition, then the argument is both valid and sound and abortion is wrong.
   In my next article in this series, I'm going to take a look at a few of the other key counter-arguments pro-choicers use against this argument. Thank you for reading this article, and please let me know if there is anything you have to say, either for or against what I write.

In Christ,


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