Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Sing It Together Now: "My Booooooody" [Aaron Brake]

Joy Behar of The View recently commented on the issue of abortion:

There are several versions of the “my body, my choice” argument. Behar’s version seems to be the unsophisticated sort so here are a few quick points to keep in mind when responding.

First, clarify the nature of abortion. Abortion is the intentional killing of an innocent human being. This definition should be uncontroversial.

Second, focus the debate on the one question that matters: “What is the unborn?” Notice the other host in this video raises the issue of whether or not the father has a say in the abortion. This doesn’t get to the heart of the matter which is, “What is the unborn?” If the unborn is not a human being, no justification for elective abortion is necessary. If the unborn is a human being, no justification is adequate.

Third, the “my body, my choice” slogan is prima facie false. A woman cannot do whatever she wants with her own body, and neither can a man. There are plenty of laws which restrict our freedom with what we can do with our own bodies (e.g., drug laws, prostitution, public urination, indecent exposure, etc.). More to the point, laws always restrict what we can do with our own bodies when what we are doing brings harm to another individual. This is exactly what is happening in the case of abortion, where the mother’s decision not only brings harm to her unborn but intentionally kills him or her.

Fourth, Behar seems to assume there is only one body involved. But it should be obvious there are two: the mother’s and the unborn. While the mother’s body is certainly involved, it is not the mother’s body that is being aborted. After all, the woman survives the abortion (in most cases) while the unborn doesn’t. This is also confirmed by science. The unborn from conception has a totally unique, individual, and separate genetic code. The unborn has a separate central nervous system, may have a different blood type and, in the case of a boy, a different gender. In other words, a pregnant woman does not have four arms, four legs, and two heads. A woman does not transform into a hermaphrodite when pregnant with a boy and then back to a female after birth. There are two bodies involved, not one. So this is not so much about what a woman can do with her own body as it is what she should be permitted to do with the body and life of her unborn.

Finally, present counterexamples where appropriate. Perhaps what Behar means to say is that a woman is sovereign over her own body and, even if the unborn is a human being, the mother still has the right to kill him or her. In this case it may be helpful to provide counterexamples which go against our moral intuitions. For example, if a woman can do whatever she wants with her own body, may she intentionally cause birth defects to her unborn child? May she take the drug thalidomide during pregnancy knowing this could cause her child to be born without arms or legs? Unless they are a moral monster, the answer should be, “No.” But if it is not morally permissible for a woman to intentionally cause birth defects to her unborn child based on the “my body, my choice” position, why is it permissible for the woman to kill her unborn child? 

First simplify the debate and then argue. This is the pro-life two-step.

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