July 22, 2013

How Being Anti-Abortion Is Like Being Anti-Slavery
An appeal to the Pro-Life movement

I am not the kind of person who is frustrated when my opponent makes a point that I am not prepared for. My reaction is usually, "Huh. I should research that." But what really grinds my gears is when an ally makes a really bad point.

I'm sure as fellow pro-lifers you can empathize with that. Here we are, trying to stop people from killing babies, and somehow we are treated as horrible people. With a vast majority of the media on one side, all they have to do is quote any pro-life advocate that misspeaks, or when a stupid person who happens to be pro-life... well speaks. This is why it is incredibly important for us to really focus on messaging, because there are millions of lives that count on us communicating our message well.

So I propose a two piece plan. First of all, we need to associate ourselves with a historical movement which was not only successful, but recognized as a good thing by the general public, as well as one that we have a legitimate association with. And lo and behold this isn't that difficult: slavery.

So similarities between Pro-Life and Abolitionism:
  • Both have to do with human rights. At the end of the day, that is all that we are fighting for: that the rights of a particular group of humans is recognized and respected. And not just the right to speak or anything like that, but the right to be treated as human beings.

  • Both have to confront dehumanization. I want to make it perfectly clear that I do not think that being Pro-Choice is anything like being Pro-Slavery. Abortion and slavery are very different institutions, and thus the defences for them are very different. That said, since both abolition and Pro-life are based on recognizing a group's humanity, opposition to us must include why that group isn't fully human. This means that we can look to how such dehumanization was combated in the 19th century, and see if any of it is translatable. And of course maintain the campaign of showing people how these children really are children through pictures and other such means.
  • Both are religiously motivated. I am not ashamed of this, but it is important to point out how religion plays a role in this debate. It is because the issue which really divides the two sides is whether or not an unborn child is human, and defining what a human is outside of religious circles is difficult. Indeed, the very notion of human rights was founded by religious circles, and it is questionable whether the concept can really survive when societies shift to secularism. But philosophy aside, when we are accused about being overly religious, we can look back and point out how important religion was to the abolitionists.

  • Both are driven by an uncompromising ethic. It is as difficult to compromise on the killing of children as it is to compromise on men, women, and children living in chains. Which means that we should be the first who are appalled by sex-trafficking, bigotry, and all denials of humanity that exist around the world. Don't let the liberals own those issues. Those should be our issues.

  • Both are movements championed by the Republican Party. Just saying. 
Right now the Pro-Choice movement gets a lot of distance by connecting itself to the feminist movement. We really should be using the same kind of rhetoric since we are really grounded in the same tradition as the abolitionists. So let us celebrate that heritage and proclaim it. 

The second piece of the plan is to stay on message. We are about human rights. The unborn child has rights. That's it. Any objection, and I mean "any", can and should be answered from that basic viewpoint. 
PC: What about in the case of rape?
PL: Does that justify killing the offspring?
PC: What if the mother's life were in danger?
PL: Yes, she also has the right to life. We don't ignore the women, and therefore there is not simple answer, but such a question should recognize that both lives are equally precious.
PC: It is the woman's body?
PL: There are two person's bodies in question here. Both should be respected
Just this simple rule would prevent us from saying anything dumb. Nothing more needs to be said. The argument stands for itself. If the conversation shifts to why is the child human, than that is exactly where we want it to go! Focus all of our energy on that one point. The Pro-Life movement stands or falls on that point. Therefore let it!

Thank you.


Anticipated Serendipity said...

To address your last point first - you're talking about two very different Republican parties, just saying.

These situations are not analogous, they really just aren't. At its very basic, slavery takes people against their will and forces them into situations and actions they would otherwise never consent. In the most "pro-life" view, abortion does not fit this, it doesn't even come close. If your claim is so just and so right, why compare it to anything else? Why can it not just be?

Abolitionism freed humans from bondage. Anti-abortion methods embrace bondage by removing choice from the woman. Even if you endow the fetus with all the rights of a born human being, this still does not supercede the woman. The fetus cannot live without the mother prior to viability, this is medical fact. In no other situation do we force others to harm or cause a detriment to themselves for the sake of another, regardless of the reason this other person may need help. Check out McFall v. Shimp. Let's make it more extreme - say you and I are the only genetic match in a 1,000 mile radius and I attack you and remove your kidneys causing you to fall into renal failure and the only local hospital has limited dialysis function; butfor my kidneys, which the hospital could do an immediate transplant, you would die. And I am the sole cause of you needing that treatment. I am under no legal obligation, and neither the hospital nor you has the power to compel me, to help you. I can choose to let you die. To grant the fetus the rights you are championing here is to give the fetus MORE rights than a born person has - it would actually lose rights upon being born. Women on the other hand would lose rights as soon as she is capable of giving birth - a span of about 13-55.

Lastly, the only cure for slavery was abolitionism, plain and simple. The anti-abortion crowd routinely backs agendas, politicians and legislation that are counter-intuitive to their proposed goal. If your aim is truly to reduce the number of abortions, you do that by reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies. If the pregnancy is wanted, then there is no desire to abort it - obviously. We reduce the number of abortions by providing low-cost health care, easy access to birth control, wide-spread availability of sexual education, and providing financial and emotional support for struggling families. It has been shown time and time again, that when legal access to abortion is restricted, the numbers of abortions do not go down, they simply become more dangerous. It has also been shown that when abortion access as well as other health care initiatives like prenatal care and general reproductive care, are highly accessible, abortion rates actually drop. School districts with abstinence-only education have some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy and schools with comprehensive sexual education not only have lower rates, they have higher rates of delayed sexual activity among teens, especially surrounding intercourse. And when intercourse does happen, it is more likely to be protected, which not only lowers STI rates, but pregnancy rates and therefore abortion rates.

Maybe you're right and the anti-abortion movement should act like the abolitionist movement - go for the actual cure and really address the issue you profess to care about. If you want to lower abortion rates, empower women - don't enslave them.

Jc_Freak: said...

"These situations are not analogous, they really just aren't."

Glad we agree, but I explicitly said this within my post. I said, " I want to make it perfectly clear that I do not think that being Pro-Choice is anything like being Pro-Slavery. Abortion and slavery are very different institutions, and thus the defenses for them are very different."

My point is not that the situations are the same, but that the ethos or character of the two are similar, and if you disagree with me on that point, fine. I'll just agree to disagree with you on that.

You also say, "Even if you endow the fetus with all the rights of a born human being, this still does not supercede the woman." This is exactly my point, and my reason for critizing the Pro-life movement. Because the heart of the Pro-life movement is similar to the abolitionist movement, we should strive to emulate them more, and ensure that we are respecting the women equally with the child. The fact that many pro-lifers don't bothers me immensely. So I find most of your complaints moot.

I actually specifically address this with my second example. If you asked me directly, I would say that it falls into the ethical arena (and this is ethics, not morality, there is a difference) of self-defense and therefore should be justifiable. This would also be true of major physical trauma, such as danger to the vertebrae, or something similar.

So I don't really think your response is to me, but to the movement which I am actually criticizing within my post. I think what might have confused you is that I am criticizing them from the inside, and not in an attacking way, but in a way that is calling the movement to focus on something higher.

Anticipated Serendipity said...

Your answer, to me, seems out of step with your above post. Even now re-reading your post, I don't see what your comment says. However, you wrote it, so if you say your comment is what you meant, obviously I accept that. Furthermore if what you are saying is that you support other venues of reducing abortion rates and don't seek to put the fetus ahead of the woman but rather you personally are against abortion in most cases for moral reasons, them frankly I would say you're pro-choice. Pro-choice isn't pro-abortion - its pro reproductive choice. This means being pro-birthing choice, pro-birth control, pro-adoption, pro-parental rights, pro-education, pro-ending sexual violence and coercion, etc. I know many, many pro-choice people who personally abhor abortion and would likely personally advise women of the other choices available to attempt to dissuade them from abortion. They remain pro-choice because they maintain its an individual issue, not a legislative one. The National Advocates for Pregnant Women is a pro-choice organization and they fight for women to be able to KEEP their pregnancies, not end them. If you are saying that THIS should be the future of the pro-life movement, you will hear nothing but support from many many people.

Jc_Freak: said...

I don't have time at the moment to sort through everything you said on the first post (and I'm only going to publish one of them due to my rule on length), but I find it odd that you seem to have such an absolute definition of pro-life yet a nuanced definition of pro-choice (I recognize spectra exist on both sides). Naturally there is more to be pro-choice than just accepting abortion, just as there is more to being pro-life then just rejecting it. But it is one's stance on abortion that determines one's side.

I just read this post, which seems to agree with me on my stances. I don't see how recognizing the need for an abortion is a few specific circumstances (like when the woman might die), but feeling it showed be outlawed in most instances is somehow pro-choice.

Jc_Freak: said...

*should, not showed

Anticipated Serendipity said...

Feeling abortion should be outlawed is not pro-choice. This is frankly one of issues with this post and your statements - you're not being clear on what you are advocating. You say that you don't support the fetus being put above the woman but that is exactly what you're doing if you support abortion being outlawed unless its some exception that you deem worthy. So what is it? What are you actually advocating other than in some way shape or form acting like abolitionists?

I don't have an absolute definition of prolife, which if you published my comments would be clear. I accept that there is dissent and disagreement as its a movement populated by a diverse group of people. But in its relevant post, which apparently I can't comment on because they don't get published, you were making sweeping defenses of the movement. And while there is diversity in the movement, there is also consensus and publicly stated goals of agencies and leaders that are vastly supported by the movement. To make a defense of the movement and to then refuse to acknowledge these goals and beliefs, which again was the subject matter of the post, is unfair and nonsensical.

what I have repeatedly done is made a distinction about is morals vs. laws, and with laws I include politics. As you remain unclear on exactly what you're advocating, I simply pointed out that to be prochoice does not mean to be "pro-abortion" as there are many in the movement who personally abhor it but for public policy reasons don't support it being outlawed (check out Amber Marlowe).

Jc_Freak: said...

"you're not being clear on what you are advocating"

Because that wasn't the point of either post. My posts have more to do with rhetoric than on the ground action. However, it is certainly worth stating: I believe that a fetus is a human being with human rights. Therefore, no fetus should be killed without probable cause, such as self-defense. I don't have a desire to legislate anything else. So, for contraception for instance, I believe it should be legal.

I most certainly do not believe that any legislation should influence a non-pregnant woman.

One thing that I have to be clear about is that this isn't an issue that I have done a lot thought or study. My beliefs on the matter are rather abstract and based off of general guidelines instead of the kinds of specific questions or situations that you would be far more aquainted with. So I am not sure that I could give an answer that you would find adequate without prompting. But then, my posts were meant to be rather limited in what they asserted for precisely this reason.