ProChoice Arguments

Tomlinson & the Burning Fertility Clinic

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Hello friends! As you have likely heard, writer Patrick Tomlinson tweeted out a slightly dramatized version of the “burning research lab” thought experiment, and (for whatever reason) it went somewhat viral and now everyone thinks this is some kind of devastating analogy that absolutely destroys the pro-life position on abortion.

Here’s a link to the first tweet in the chunk (click to to read the whole thing):

The horror!

The problem is, this analogy has been refuted countless times by people well before Tomlinson tweeted it, and hundreds more times since. But it doesn’t stop “news” outlets like LADBible and Salon from featuring Tomlinson, as if he invented this analogy or something.

Usually, I’d just post a response article (like this one or this one or this one or hundreds of others) and leave it at that, but I guess a mere response article won’t do nowadays because the internet has become a place where everyone actively searches for their biases to be confirmed, and who needs to be challenged to change their beliefs, right? It turns out, Tomlinson is also really good at confirmation bias, because he has been blocking people who show the stupid analogy for what it is; nonsense. He blocked Ben Shapiro, which is how I found out about him.
So I made a meme (cuz that’s what I do over at DPLM), tweeted it, and tagged Tomlinson.

In response, he called me “desperate” because making fun of him in meme format is desperate I guess? lol

and then told me that he doesn’t block everyone, just those who “acts the fool”.

So I asked if he is interested in engaging me on the subject.

He never responded to that.
However, he did respond to some other things.

Someone else asked if Tomlinson would save 1000 comatose people or a 5 year old…

… and he said that he would save 1000 people in comas.
As would I. But this still doesn’t justify abortion or the analogy in any way. And I do my best to flesh out why the analogy doesn’t prove what he (and those who think like him) think it does.

Obviously not, and he would never admit such a thing. But that’s what he is trying to get us to conclude with “his” analogy.

It’s true. 1000 comatose patients and 1 5-year-old are not equivalent.
But again, this doesn’t do anything to remove the inherent moral worth of the 5-year-old. I try to explain that to him:

… and he didn’t respond to what I said with anything even remotely coherent. He just responded with a gif saying that I’m missing the point.

So then I tried to get him to explain the point that I missed.

… and apparently he didn’t want to clarify what point I missed.

… and that’s when he told me to “read the fucking thread” and blocked me.

Which is ironic, because I was actually not “acting a fool” at all, but really doing my best to engage with the argument. He didn’t block me when I made a meme (which is arguably “acting a fool”) and decided to block me when I showed his analogy to be silly.

Thanks for confirming the meme, buddy.

I guess any argument is invincible if you ignore those who refute it.
If you’re curious as to how to refute the argument (outside of what I said to Tomlinson), visit the links I provided above. They’re great.

Or look at some of the resources in the comments under this Facebook post!

Or watch Ben Shapiro beat him up a bit on his show, here:

 

Ep. 40 – Abortion as “Murder” & a *Great Debate*

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Hello friends!
In today’s episode, I discuss the term murder and how it relates to the abortion debate, and I include a small portion of a debate/discussion I had with the Great Debate Community on YouTube.

You can listen to the episode here:

Is abortion “murder”?

My conclusion regarding the term “murder” is rather simple.
– One legitimate definition of the word murder entails legality.
– Abortion is technically legal in the US.
– Therefore it is not technically accurate to call abortion in the US “murder”

This doesn’t mean I am justifying it or using the state as a metric for ethics. It merely means I want to be careful with my terminology. Plus, why would we want to use a potentially inaccurate term when we can just describe abortion for what it is? Abortion is the deliberate killing of an innocent, defenseless, unborn human person.

The Great Debate Community

The following link is to the debate in its entirety, although I include only a small portion of the debate in the podcast. A special thanks goes out to Albany Rose who was my special guest participant in the discussion. Not only is she female (which gives her street cred), but she’s done discussions like this before, and considers herself a pro-life atheist. Definitely give her a like on facebook and a follow on twitter and instagram.

Dank Pro-Life Memes on facebook, instagram, and twitter

Here’s a link to the community.
Here’s the debate:

Ep 35 – Top 10 Worst Pro-Choice Arguments

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Welcome to the Fetal Position podcast, where we defend life and liberty! In episode 35, Nicole and I beat up the top 10 worst pro-choice arguments in existence. There certainly more terrible arguments for abortion, but we only addressed 10.
If you have any more you want to add to the list, join the private Facebook group and let us know! For show notes, go to TheFetalPosition.com/35. Please rate/review/share the show to help create a culture of life 🙂

10. The unborn isn’t human
I’ve addressed this in my previous episodes (episode 11, episode 21)

9. The freakanomics argument (like in this video)
Ultimately, economic arguments don’t address the primary issue of whether or not it is ok to have abortions to begin with. This economic argument could easily be used to justify killing toddlers.

8. Calling people “anti-choice”
Anti means against, pro means for. So it’s not even really an argument to just call someone anti-choice. We’re against abortion. We all know that.
We’re against the choice to kill innocent, defenseless, unborn human children. We’re not going to apologize for that.

7. All pro-lifers are “anti-woman” and just want women to be punished for their reproductive freedom!
It wasn’t the pro-lifers who said that women will be punished with children. It was Obama. And we’re not against women having sex at all. We’re against women killing their offspring. Plus, a significant portion of pro-lifers are women (along with many feminists), and it’s gonna be hard to say that feminsts are anti-women. Lol.

6. “Life began a billion years ago, and it’s a continuous process”
While this may be true, there is a point in time at which a new human organism comes into existence. Stop dodging the issue!

5. If abortion is murder, then masturbation is genocide and menstruating women are serial killers.
This just flat out misunderstands that the unborn is a human organism, whereas gametes are just cells. Haploid cells. Stubborn scientific illiteracy can be hard to combat.

4. “You’re not pro-life, you’re pro-birth”
Most of the time, this is not an argument against abortion. It’s just a complaint that you don’t agree with them on various political issues like government social safety nets or whatever.

3. If fetuses have the right to life which means they can use the woman’s body without her consent, I have the right to life so I can take your organs without your consent.
I go into much more detail about this in episode 7, but this is just a basic misunderstanding of the concept of rights. If we kill an unborn human being, we are violating their right to life (as well as other rights, like bodily autonomy).
If you refuse to donate blood or organs, you’re not violating anyone else’s rights. You’re just saying no. That decision may result in harm or death, but it isn’t a violation of someone’s rights to decline the procedure because you don’t have a right to my organs. However, taking an organ from you without your consent is a clear violation of your rights.
During this part of the episode, it skipped a beat a little bit. I don’t know why it did that. The file on my computer doesn’t have that error. Oh well.

2. Human tumors have human DNA and are growing, therefore human tumors are persons with a right to life! (“just a clump of cells” argument)
Misunderstanding of what an organism is. The tumor is alive, yes. And the tumor is human, yes. But it is human in the adjective sense, not in the noun sense. An organism is a human in the noun sense.
An organism is a collection of biological parts that function together to sustain the existence of the whole being that possesses the qualities of life. A tumor is not an organism.
Bad Argument.

1. (This one comes from this stupid article) If the fetus is a person, why don’t we…
– Issue conception certificates?
– Send them to a pediatrician instead of an OBGYN?
– Claim them on our taxes?
– Start counting age from conception forward?
– Tell everyone right away? Instead we keep it a secret for 3 months!
– Give the fetus its own food?
– Have the fetus live outside the womb?
– Consider the pregnant woman to be two people? A pregnant woman should be allowed to drive in the carpool lane!
– Have funerals for miscarriages
– Have a census that counts fetuses?
– Finalize adoptions until after the baby is born

There are many more that could have been included here but these were the ones that we thought deserved to be at the top of the list

If you enjoyed this or thought it was absolutely terrible, let me know in the comments below, on the facebook page, private facebook group, twitter, or by email (FetalPositionPodcast@gmail.com). Thanks so much for reading/listening!

Ep 32 – Consenting to a Fetal Invasion with Clinton Wilcox

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Thanks for joining me for episode 32! In this episode, I am joined by Clinton Wilcox (of Life Training Institute and Justice for All) to talk about the issue of consent, whether abortion is self-defense or not, and the argument that the fetus is an invader or a little rapist because s/he violates the bodily autonomy of the woman against her will by implanting into her uterus.
Click here to listen to the podcast in a new window.

The argument can take many forms, but the general idea is that consenting to sex is not equivalent to consenting to pregnancy. It isn’t the act of sex that makes someone pregnant; sex merely creates the embryo. The embryo then invades the woman’s body and that is what causes her to become pregnant. While this may be technically correct, divorcing pregnancy and sex isn’t something that can be reasonably done without rapidly descending into incoherence. There is a direct causation here. Every act of pregnancy (barring artificial means) comes after an act of sex.
The reason the pregnancy occurs is because of the existence of the embryo, and sex causes the embryo to exist. There is a necessary chain of events. The small gap in time between sex and implantation of the embryo isn’t something anyone should consider to be morally relevant, especially given the biologically necessary chain of events that leads to pregnancy.

The next step in this line of argument comes from Eileen Mcdonagh’s book, Breaking the Abortion Deadlock: From Choice to Consentas well as David Boonin’s A Defense of Abortion, and other sources. It essentially states that the conversation shouldn’t always be about the woman’s choice or fetal personhood, but about consent. The argument is that a woman must grant continual consent to the unborn child, and she has the right to revoke consent at any point throughout pregnancy, and when she does, she can expel the invader from her body. The analogy is often used to compare the fetus to an invader or a rapist who is using her body without her ongoing consent. On a related, important note… both Clinton and I are sympathetic to the idea that if a woman revokes consent mid-coitus, that anything other than the man stopping completely ought to be considered rape and should be condemned completely.

On the topic of consent, it’s important to make this point.
Consent itself is not what grounds the rightness or wrongness of an action. Consent is important because it can turn something from right into wrong (rape, for example), but you can’t argue that consent is the thing that makes an act moral, because that’s question begging.
It is possible to not have consent to something and it still be a perfectly moral (or potentially supererogatory) act. For example, Aladdin did not consent to being saved by the Genie in this scene, but our moral intuitions certainly side with the moral rightness of what the Genie did.

One very important thing to highlight is other areas where consent is important, but not the primary reason to behave in a certain way. Imagine if I invited a friend onto a free helicopter ride and it turned out that he was a communist. Now, obviously I would have to throw the pinko commie out of my helicopter, and if consent was the only thing to consider, I would be justified in doing so. But given the fact that I consented to him coming onto my helicopter in the first place, and I am the reason he is dependent upon me, I cannot simply revoke consent, chuck him out of the helicopter, and say, “I didn’t kill him, it was his lack of viability outside of the helicopter at 10,000 feet up that killed him”. Obviously I would be guilty of murder in that case. The reasonable thing to do would be to wait until the helicopter lands, and then berate your friend for believing such foolishness.
In a similar fashion, if a woman knowingly consented to the action that causes a new human being to come into existence and to be 100% dependent upon her for survival, it is unreasonable to remove the child and say, “I didn’t kill him, it was his lack of viability outside of the womb that killed him”. The reasonable thing to do would be to wait until the end of pregnancy.

There is also an argument that says that abortion should be legally and morally permissible because some pregnancies are life threatening. While it certainly is the case that pregnancy can be life threatening, we cannot use the life threatening pregnancies to justify elective abortions in situations that are not life threatening. I am in favor of abortion when the pregnancy is, in fact, life threatening. That is a legitimate self-defense argument, but we have to be careful to apply it appropriately. Far too often we treat the unborn as if s/he isn’t morally equivalent to a living human being, but that’s just simple question begging and we need to be more careful to avoid that.

Here’s Clinton’s website, which has links to his writings on Secular Pro-Life and other sites.

If you enjoyed this or thought it was absolutely terrible, let me know in the comments below, on the facebook page, private facebook group, twitter, or by email (FetalPositionPodcast@gmail.com). Thanks so much for reading/listening!

 

Ep 30 – What Makes a Person a Person? with Josh Brahm

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Hello friends and Fetal Position listeners! Today, I have one of my pro-life mentors and president of the Equal Rights Institute, Josh Brahm, on the show with me to talk about personhood. We go pretty deep, philosophically, but it’s nothing that you can’t handle.
It might just mean you have to listen twice 😉

Click the media player at the top of the page, or click here to listen to it in a new window.

One of the reasons I wanted to have Josh on the podcast is because of his interesting approach to answering the difficult question of personhood. Is the unborn a person? And if so, how in the world can we communicate that to other people? We dive deep into it during the show and you should definitely listen to it, but the thrust of his approach is pretty straight-forward. Here’s my summary of his position on this.

The Equal Rights Argument

  1. Don’t we all deserve the right to life?
  2. Doesn’t that mean there is something the same about us? That we all have equally?
  3. What is that property that grounds us all having an equal right to life?

When we look out into the world, we see people with varying IQs, sizes, abilities, races, etc. But there is one thing that we all know about any group of people. And that is that they all have the right to life. Given how different they all are, what exactly is it that grounds that right to life? This can’t be a degreed property because that wouldn’t ground the equal right to life that we all have and recognize. This is trying to extract a principle based on the clear cases of personhood, and once we figure out that principle, we can use that to figure out personhood generally.

Josh (and the others who have worked on this argument) say that it is something like humanness. Something like being a human.

He says something like humanness deliberately, because he doesn’t want to say that you have to be a human in order to have the right to life or to be a person. After all… Kryptonians, Vulcans, and Heptapods are not biological humans, but they certainly seem to have the right to life.

At this point, the pro-choice advocate may try to attach personhood to something other than something like humanness. Perhaps they say sentience or awareness or something  like that. At this point, the pro-choicer is begging the question, and to illustrate this, Josh uses an analogy.

The Zoo Shooting Analogy

There’s a shooting at a zoo, and the shooter fires 6 bullets and kills 6 entities:

  • A cockroach
  • A squirrel
  • An elephant
  • A newborn
  • A toddler
  • An adult woman

Imagine a circle where everything within the circle has an equal right to life. The pro-choicer’s personhood criteria will either have too many things within the circle (like squirrels and cockroaches) or have not enough within the circle (like human newborns).

So what grounds equality? Perhaps it is sentience.
If sentience is the criteria, and sentience is defined as the ability to perceive the world and experience things, this would entail that cockroaches are within the circle. And this would mean that cockroaches and adult humans have an equal right to life.

So they might move to something like self-awareness.
But if self-awareness is the criteria, then the elephant would have an equal right to life as the toddler and the adult woman, but the newborn does not! Elephants pick stickers off of their heads while examining themselves in a mirror and newborns don’t have self-awareness until at least 3 months. And that’s clearly a problem. If they bite this bullet, they’re just guarding turf. Very rarely does someone actually believe it is morally neutral to kill a newborn.

At this point, they might go to something like human + sentience.
They might feel as though this might solve the problem. All humans are persons, but they know they want to exclude the unborn. This is incredibly ad hoc. They know where they want to end up, and they’re combining features in order to get there. They’re essentially just saying “my personhood definition can be boiled down to ‘all humans except unborn humans’

So, as demonstrated by this thought experiment, the pro-choice advocate’s criteria for personhood either allows too many or too few entities into the ‘right to life circle’, or it is simply ad hoc and they’d need to give a positive reason to believe it. They can’t just assert it.

But let’s jump back to what exactly it is that makes a person a person. Remember, we’re working off of the idea that the thing that grounds personhood is something like humanness, but it is not biological humanness because Spock and Superman are totally persons too.
… if they exist, of course.

So what is it? What is a better way to understand something like humanness? It is something that all humans have that isn’t just biological humanity.

It is having the intrinsic ability to think and act morally.

An immediate ability is an ability you can do right now. An intrinsic ability is an ability that you have in virtue of the kind of thing you are. This isn’t a potential ability, it is an ability that you have because of the kind of thing you are. If you pick an immediate ability, you’re going to get wrong answers. The key here is to ask about the intrinsic ability to do what? At the moment, thinking and acting morally makes the most sense at the moment. And members of the human family are entities that are naturally ordered to thinking and acting morally.

It’s also possible that personhood is grounded in the fact they are a member of a rational kind. It seems to me that if we assume a dualistic paradigm (in philosophy of mind), both criteria work. Dualism would be ok with both the intrinsic ability to think and act morally, as well as the member of a rational kind. However, physicalism wouldn’t likely give much credence to the intrinsic ability criteria (if that is grounded in a soul or a spirit of some kind), but would give credence to the member of a rational kind criteria.
[I really enjoyed this aspect of the conversation]

Resources mentioned: