Debunking the Debunker – 3

Next couple of arguments…

Common Argument #3: But I’m okay with abortions in cases of rape.

Your Response: Why only in those cases? Are the lives of children who were conceived by rape worth less than the lives of children who were willfully conceived? If preserving the life of the child takes primacy over the desires of the mother — which is what you’re saying if you if you oppose any legal abortions — then it shouldn’t matter how that life was conceived.

In all possible seriousness and sincerity, I thank the author for this bit of cogency.  He’s exactly right.  If you’re ok with abortion in the case of rape, you’re simply walking an incoherent middle ground.  You’re on the fence, and the discomfort follows accordingly.


Common Argument #4: If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

Your Response: Go home, Todd Akin, you’re drunk.

This is a distraction, but I understand why it was included.


Fisking the response:

Common Argument #5: Adoption is a viable alternative to abortion.

Your Response: This implies that the only reason a woman would want to get an abortion is to avoid raising a child, and that isn’t the case.

Our friend relies a lot on implication, and not enough on the actual words used in his own presentation of the argument.  It’s like a rainbow strawman – if you’ll just look way over there, and perhaps squint, you’ll see this argument is just fraught with implications.

Whether or not a pro-life person felt this way, whatever follows is already off the rails:  Adoption is a viable alternative to abortion.  As anyone who was given up for adoption, instead of being aborted.

Depending on the circumstances, the mere act of having a child in a hospital can cost between $3,000 and $37,000 in the United States.

A fair point, but if we’re on the subject of adoption, the adoptive parents will often help with or cover these costs.

Giving birth is dangerous, too: In the United States, pregnancy complications are the sixth most common cause of death for women between the ages of 20 and 34.

It is true, and the risk cannot be waved off.

Let the honest mind consider:  Many things a young woman may be doing – in addition to risking pregnancy – are associated with risks.

In fact, the greatest danger to women in this age bracket is death by unintentional injuries – in the younger subset, this risk is greater by a factor of 14; for the older subset, the greater risk approaches a factor of 10.

Now, if Millstein is out there, un-unintending lots of consequences for the sake of women’s health, then we might work our way down past suicide, cancer, heart disease, and homicide before we get to complications in pregnancy.  (But this is rhetorical reasoning, fitting for a Progressive, but not for us).

My question is first:  What level of risk would be acceptable?  And isn’t that always an arbitrary number?

Would we say that, once the risk is 5%, then the mother has a greater right-to-life than the child in her womb? 10%?  51%?

My question is second:  Isn’t this beside the point?  We have already seen how pregnancy is not an arbitrary consequence of sex, but a well-established and perfectly natural one.  Even when pains are taken to prevent it.

And so, if a woman wants to avoid the sixth leading cause of death in her age group, she might do well to avoid sex.  Once all of that is said and done, the crux of the argument rests with the fetus’ right to life.

Even before birth, there are costs to pregnancy. In addition to the whole “carrying another human being around in your stomach for nine months” thing, many women, particularly teens, are shunned and shamed for their pregnancies — not only by friends, families, employers, and classmates, but also by advertisements in the subway. There’s also the risk of violent retribution from abusive partners and parents.

While I have heard testimony that conditions are much better than they used to be, and in fact, teenage pregnancy is on the decline, this is an honest and deserved concern.

We should work on this.  I don’t know how, or exactly what the answer is.  I just know the kinds of things I would do in a given situation (or I like to think so).

Cutting to the chase, however – how much shame justifies the killing of innocent life?  Is there an objective measure for this, or should we accept the subjective sense that the shame is “too much” and approve the taking of an innocent life?

As for violence, whether one is pregnant or not, there are measures that can be taken; in the context of an argument, this is a red herring at best.  At worst, it is the same problem a non-pregnant woman faces in an abusive relationship, and one imagines the answer, if there is one, is the same in both cases.

It is awful beyond words, I grant you.  But so is abortion.  Let’s find a way to save both lives.
In short, there are a lot of reasons a woman might seek an abortion. Adoption doesn’t address all of them.

I am tempted to parse this for Millstein, because I am kind*.  One imagines it made sense to him.  But it’s late, and we must leave Millstein some margin to come side with the angels.

*Keep your humor – I’m being facetious.

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