Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Modern Human Experimentation [Clinton Wilcox]

Business Insider reports that scientists in Oregon have successfully edited the DNA of viable human embryos efficiently and apparently with few mistakes. The embryos in question were embryos with severe genetic defects that had no chance of developing into older human beings. And because these edits affect embryos at the genetic level, it will affect the genes that are produced in their sperm and ova, meaning that whatever changes are done to the embryo will also be done to any children that embryo eventually produces. This has led to fears that it may affect the course of human evolution. And of course, it has also spurred on fears that this will lead to “designer babies,” parents picking and choosing traits that they find desirable and eliminating traits that they don’t. Stanford University law professor and bioethicist Hank Greely, however, has tweeted that there’s a difference between embryos you implant and embryos that you edit which are “not to be transferred for possible transplantation.” Editing embryos you don’t intend to implant is not a big deal.

And showing us why calling someone a “bioethicist” does not mean they really are a reliable authority on ethics, legal scholar and “bioethicist” R. Alta Charo does not consider this to be unethical.

If you are a regular listener to our podcast, you heard my interview with Elijah Thompson of the Fetal Position podcast. We had a discussion about the ethics of genetic enhancement. You can listen to that if you’re interested on some of the discussion around genetic enhancement, itself. But this is tantamount to human experimentation. We rightly condemn the likes of Dr. Josef Mengele, who performed dangerous and painful experiments on Jews during the Holocaust, and we rightly condemn the United States Public Health Service for the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments on black people. This is no different. We are dealing here with human experimentation, except that doctors are allowed to get away with it, just as Mengele and the Public Health Service were, because embryos and fetuses today are not considered legal persons. R. Alta Charo is wrong when he says that this is not unethical. In fact, this might even be worse than Mengele or the Public Health Service because at least they didn’t create Jews or black people for the express purpose of experimenting on them.

If we’re talking about genetic therapy, in which we’re only trying to treat diseases, then genetic enhancement is not ethically problematic. If you’re talking about enhancing someone beyond the natural qualities of humanity, then there may be ethical concerns. But experimenting on human beings, even one you’ve dehumanized to make it easier to sleep at night, is always seriously wrong.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Down's Syndrome and What It Means To Be Human: A Response to CBS

There has been a recent headline from CBS regarding the "disappearance" of Down's Syndrome within Iceland has been making the rounds on social media as of late, and has provoked much justifiable outrage among those within the pro-life community. I will weigh in with some thoughts here.

Ironically, the title of the article happens to be "What kind of society do you want to live in?" The authors seem to imply that the virtual disappearance of Down's Syndrome within the country of Iceland is a good thing, and give a positive tone throughout the article.

The first line reads:
"With the rise of prenatal screening tests across Europe and the United States, the number of babies born with Down syndrome has significantly decreased, but few countries have come as close to eradicating Down syndrome births as Iceland.
It is here that we get a glimpse of what the authors are trying to hide within the piece while trying to shed this statistical outcome in a very positive light: The reason we are close to eradicating Down's Syndrome in Iceland is because we are "terminating" the individuals with the condition prior to birth.

Indeed, the article is one massive exercise in "begging the question"; that is, it assumes the unborn are not human, and can therefore be "terminated" prior to the full realization of the condition. To illustrate this concept, imagine what would happen if a story was run on the virtual disappearance of child abuse directed at disabled children within Iceland. Child abuse rates were at virtually zero. Then suppose we take a look at the reasons why the numbers were so low: Parents were being allowed to kill their children all the way up to age 8, as long as it was done quickly and quietly, with the advice of the family doctor. Would there be outrage? There'd better be. And yet, when it comes to these children prior to their births, CBS writes a piece discussing this idea as if it were good news.

In fact, one of the hospital staff members who helps counsel the women regarding the genetic test, Helga Sol Olafsdottir, makes this very point in the piece:

"We don't look at abortion as a murder. We look at it as a thing that we ended. We ended a possible life that may have had a huge complication... preventing suffering for the child and for the family. And I think that is more right than seeing it as a murder -- that's so black and white. Life isn't black and white. Life is grey."
The "life is grey" assertion is absurd. Would anyone apply that to the idea of parents eliminating their toddlers in order to prevent "suffering" for the child or the family members? I think we would view such a person as a moral monster. And yet, we do it with the unborn human, simply because we assume that being unborn justifies killing them somehow.

There is no difference in kind between these children before birth and after birth. The only differences are the child's size, level of development(which can determine your currently exercisable abilities before birth, as well as far after), the environment that they currently reside in, and the degree to which they depend on those around them for their immediate needs. As Stephen Schwartz has highlighted, none of these differences really matter in the long run, as they all come in degrees, and can come or go through the course of our lifetimes. If these differences really do in fact matter, then human equality is a dangerous, repressive myth that needs to be abolished. That is absurd, and terrifying to think about.

How then should a civil society respond to something like Down's Syndrome? Probably by responding the same way we should for anyone else: With love, care, and respect for their shared humanity. Killing them before they are even aware of concepts like love and respect is never going to be the right answer.

In fact, a recent video titled "NOT SPECIAL NEEDS" illustrates this plainly. Advocates for those with Down's Syndrome pose a very important question to the audience: What "special needs" do these individuals really need? How about the same opportunities as the rest of us? And doesn't that include the right to live, just like everyone else? Anything less is not "pro-choice", but is instead the very bigotry that the West has worked tirelessly to eradicate, and has failed many times in doing so. Indeed, it asserts that we can know better what life with Down's Syndrome will be like than the individuals who have the condition do, and will impose our view of what it means to be human on them by killing them before they can even know what is happening.

"What kind of society do you want to live in?"

You'd better be darn sure you know the answer to that.

Professors Arguing Badly [Clinton Wilcox]

There’s a viral video going around of actor James Franco and philosophy professor Eliot Michaelson in a discussion about abortion with professor of philosophy at Princeton Elizabeth Harman. This is part of a new YouTube series by Franco, Philosophy Time.

Her argument is that if we abort the fetus before it is conscious and has experiences, then it is not morally bad to do so. How does she defend her argument for the permissibility of early abortions? She asserts that when it comes to the early fetus (and philosophers tend to use the catch-all term “fetus” to refer to the unborn organism at all stages of pregnancy, even though technically it’s not a fetus until about two months in utero), there are two different kinds of beings. Fetuses who have a future have moral status, and fetuses who don’t have a future, either because of miscarriage or because the mother kills the fetus in abortion, do not have moral status.

If you are perplexed by Harmon’s defense of her argument, you’re not alone. Franco’s expression tells it all. As Franco said, that’s something that you can only judge in hindsight. By Harmon’s criterion for personhood, that having a future as a person is what grants moral status, you can’t know whether or not any given fetus is a person because you can’t know whether or not that fetus has a future. And to argue that we know which fetuses are not persons because we know the mother is going to take her in and abort her, as Harmon does, is a clear case of ad hoc reasoning to justify her position on abortion. Her argument seems, prima facie, to be that whether or not a woman decides to abort is what determines whether or not she has moral status.

Harmon tries to save her view with a couple of caveats: 1) If you had been aborted while you were yet a fetus, then it wouldn’t have been wrong because you wouldn’t have had moral status, not being the kind of fetus that grows up into a person. So moral status is a contingent matter (i.e. contingent on whether or not your mother had aborted you). 2) It’s not looking at it correctly that each fetus has moral status which is taken away when the mother aborts him. There’s nothing about the present state of the fetus that grants it moral status. It’s not conscious and is not having any experiences. It’s derivative of its future that it gets to have moral status. Its future is what endows it with moral status. So when you abort him you’re not depriving him of something he independently has.

Neither one of these caveats save her view. It’s just as ad hoc as it was before. Caveat one, that if you had been aborted as a fetus it wouldn’t have been wrong is just another ad hoc explanation to justify her first ad hoc explanation. The only reason that fetus won’t grow up to be a person is because he is being prevented from doing so by his mother and the abortionist. If left alone, he will grow up into an infant and an adult. Even fetuses that miscarry have this same potential; it’s just being cut short by an external factor, just as an infant who dies of SIDS still has the potential to become an adult, it’s just being prevented by some unknown factor. Her second caveat, that it’s your future that grounds your moral status, abortion isn’t taking it away, again fails to take into consideration that all fetuses have that future, if not being prevented from doing so. These two caveats do not make her case any stronger.

Liz Harmon’s colleague, Robert P. George, stated on a Facebook status that Harmon’s view does have one redeeming quality: it does seem to explain the disconnect between a woman who aborts seeing her fetus as nothing but a “clump of cells” but a woman who wants the fetus seeing him as her baby, her child. But Harmon’s argument for abortion is so incoherent it’s a wonder why she doesn’t abandon it for another colleague, Peter Singer’s, better, albeit unsuccessful, argument for abortion. Ah, well. As has been well observed, there is no position so outlandish it has not been seriously defended by some philosophers.

That being said, another philosopher, Frank Beckwith, also on Facebook, pointed out that Elizabeth Harman has defended her argument in more detail in an article she's written and we should engage with the strongest version of her argument that she's put forth. So I will read Harman's article and respond to it in a future post. Stay tuned for that.

Have you seen this video? What did you think of it? Let us know below!

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Miscarriage Breakthrough [Clinton Wilcox]

A few months ago, Nathan, Aaron, and I started up a podcast called Pro-Life Thinking. If you haven't listened in yet, I'd like to encourage you to do so. You can listen to us at BlogTalkRadio, or you can find us on iTunes. We've also now got the podcast uploaded onto the website, so you can find us at the LTI homepage. Hover your mouse cursor over the "media" tag and then click "podcasts" in the drop-down menu. There's been some good news that's come out of Australia, as reported by the New Zealand Herald.


Scientists at Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in Sydney have made a breakthrough discovery that is expected to save thousands of lives by preventing miscarriages and multiple types of birth defects. Professor Sally Dunwoodie has discovered a cause not only of miscarriages but also of heart, spinal, kidney, and cleft palate problems. The researchers discovered that the lack of a vital molecule, NAD, prevents a child’s organs from developing properly while in the womb. After 12 years of research, these scientists have found that NAD deficiency can be cured by a dietary supplement of B3, also known as niacin. The next step is to develop a diagnostic test to measure NAD levels and see which women are at the greatest risk of having a baby with a birth defect to ensure they get a sufficient amount of B3. And while many women have already been treated, there is still work to do in studying the levels of niacin throughout pregnancy and when the organs are forming in the embryo. So the doctors do not recommend taking any more niacin than what is already present in a pregnancy multivitamin until further work is done.


It pretty much goes without saying that this is an exciting breakthrough. The New Zealand Article overstated its connection with vegemite, but we may be looking at a future in which miscarriages and certain types of birth defects are much less of a risk.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Katerine: Human Being or “Human Doing”? [Michael Spencer]

My daughter, Katerine, was born with Cerebral Palsy. As a result, she is unable to walk, has extremely limited use of her hands, and at 17, functions mentally at the level of a four year old.

When Barb and I take Katerine to a restaurant or anywhere in public, perfect strangers frequently open doors for her. At concerts and sporting events she is sometimes ushered to the front to take the best seat in the house. Why such preferential treatment for a child bereft of any political power or celebrity status? It is because God has placed in each of us a moral intuition that wells up when we see need, vulnerability or handicap. We naturally want to help. In fact, the greater the need, the greater our urge to offer assistance.

Unfortunately, not everyone responds to the voice of moral intuition. Katerine’s biological father didn’t. He abandoned her on the side of the road at 6:00am in Guatemala City (her birthplace) to fend for herself at 6 years of age. She was eventually discovered by a security guard and spent the entire day, until 10:00pm, in the police department before an orphanage was found to take her. This is where she spent the next 3 years of her life. Katerine’s father’s actions are revolting. In many wombs, however, she would be aborted for the very same reason strangers now open doors for her: she is handicapped. Cerebral Palsy has severely arrested Katerine’s level of development, rendering her disposable in the minds of many.

Today, many defend the abortion choice by drawing an artificial line between “humanness” and “personhood”, arguing that it is morally permissible to kill humans so long as they’re not actual “persons.” And when does a human become a “person”? According to many it is when he/she reaches a certain level of development. When does this happen? Good luck getting a straight answer from abortion supporters; they don’t agree on which “standard” confers personhood status. One says it occurs when measurable brain activity is detected. Another says it happens at viability – that moment when the embryo could survive outside of the mother. Still another insists the embryo must be free of any fetal abnormality before the honor of “personhood” is bestowed on her.

In short, these tiny womb-dwellers are only deemed worthy of life if they pass whatever arbitrary test the big and powerful establish for them. If they don’t, they’re crushed like vermin and disposed of like trash. Conveniently for the abortion industry, none of the above-mentioned milestones are compelling enough to build consensus among abortion supporters, which means none of these tests make any difference in the end. The only real “test” is whether or not mom wants her baby.

Although we undergo a myriad of developmental changes from the time we are conceived until the time we die, our nature never changes. We are the same person now as we were then. As Randy Alcorn says,  “Something nonhuman doesn’t become human by getting older and bigger. Whatever is human is human from the beginning.” He’s right. Katerine’s disabilities do not alter her human nature, nor do they diminish her value. She is intrinsically valuable and Barb and I are blessed to be her parents.

Clinton Wilcox, who serves on our staff at Life Training Institute recently wrote, “The question of when human life begins is not a difficult one. It only becomes difficult if you want to justify killing people.” How true. Katerine escaped the womb with her cerebral palsy undetected. Many others aren’t so lucky.

We’re not “human doings,” we are human beings. In other words, Katerine is valuable, not because of what she can do, but simply because of what she is: God’s image-bearer. This makes all the difference.

Let's apply our compassion consistently across the spectrum to all human beings.  Recognizing the worth of all humans as God's image bearers, may the same hands that would open a door for a young girl in a wheel chair hold back the door of death as it slams on her no-less-human neighbors in the womb.   

Monday, July 31, 2017

Surrender Is Not an Option




Many pro-lifers have recently begun to check out of the movement. Even worse, a small but growing handful of others have begun to buy the premises of "choice", "personal liberty", and "tolerance", in an effort to make the pro-life view much more appealing to a culture that has made personal autonomy into a religious ideology, and assigned sexual liberty as it's sacrament.

This is not an effective strategy. This amounts to a complete and utter surrender; a giving up of the fight, even when the goal of the pro-life movement for the last 44 years is now close to being recognized. Provided, much of the dismay over the current state of affairs seems to be resulting from the seeming inability of the US Congress to pass a bill to cut federal funding to Planned Parenthood(which doesn't automatically mean that women will begin getting pregnant on an minute by minute basis. There is nothing stopping scores of American Leftists from donating money to keep PP able to provide free birth control). There is also frustration over the apparent stagnation of the abortion debate in the United States, as many people have simply started to ignore the issue.

Even in the midst of ongoing political and cultural frustration, there is still much that needs to be done by the pro-life advocates engaged in various aspects of the culture, and the fight to create a cultural ideal the respects the lives of all innocent human beings is still being waged. To illustrate the urgency, one needs to look no further than the recent war movie, Dunkirk, and the story behind it.

The movie is an account of the disastrous defeat suffered by the Allied forces during World War II, and the subsequent withdrawal of British forces back across the English channel from France. The story of the Dunkirk evacuation would have ended with the UK losing it's primary fighting force to an overwhelming defeat by the Axis powers. Instead, the disaster turned into an example of what courage and perseverance looks like.

Hundreds of civilian British watercraft left their moorings in the English harbors and sailed quickly across the channel to rescue the tens of thousands of British and French troops stranded on the beaches of France before they could be annihilated by the coming onslaught of Nazi troops. Braving machine gun fire, torpedoes, and German dive bombers, the people of the UK simply stepped up to do the right thing. Risking life and limb, they knew the cost of simply sitting by and assuming that "someone else" would step up to the challenge. Thanks to their efforts, what would have been utter defeat turned into a fighting chance for the British.

Re-focusing on the current challenges that confront defenders of innocent human life across the political and religious spectrum(and the Christian church in particular as of late), the example of the heroes of the past should be considered. If someone can risk life and limb to "step-up" and simply do the right thing, how much more is it necessary for those of us who have the ability to get involved to do so?

With the very meaning of what it means to be human, what it means to have value, the meaning and intrinsic purpose of sexuality, and the very definition of justice are now up for grabs, the time is now to get involved. To reach out to those wounded and hurting, and to love them and respectfully share the truth with them about these key issues. To do otherwise would be disastrous.

Surrender is not an option.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

On Recent Viral Videos [Clinton Wilcox]

I'm going to try to write this and my next article without being too polemical. It will be difficult, but these two article are coming from a place of utter frustration. Frustration at the fact that so many people in our society can't think. This is evidenced by the number of videos by vloggers on YouTube that contain poor arguments (actually, that's too charitable; their arguments are downright pathetic), and further evidence by the number of people sharing these videos so that they go viral because the people sharing these videos can't think and don't realize how poor (read: pathetic) the arguments actually are. So I'm going to write two articles responding to two such videos. This first one will be responding to a video by vlogger jaimekid2 Ben Shapiro's arguments against abortion. Why am I responding to these videos if the thinkers are so unsophisticated? Because people are taking them seriously.

So what is jaimekid2's argument against abortion? He says, "Ben Shapiro is wrong on abortion. The reason why he is wrong is because he doesn't hold his values consistently."

The problem here is that it's a textbook case of the ad hominem fallacy. Who cares if Shapiro holds his views consistently? He can be inconsistent and still be right on abortion. Whether or not he's inconsistent holds no bearing on the validity or soundness of his argument. That's all that needs to be said. But what are his other claims?

He says that one cannot consistently hold to the position that the intentional removal of an unborn human from the womb is murder and to show why he brings an analogy into it: If you believe abortion is murder and it should be outlawed accordinly, you must support all women having miscarriages being investigated for a possible negligent homicide, the same way you would want a person involved in running over someone else with their car investigated for negligent homicide.

This, of course, is really just a false analogy. What should really do away with this argument is the simple fact that before abortion was legalized in the Roe v. Wade decision, post-miscarriage women were not investigated en masse for their miscarriages. This is because there is no reason to suspect that a woman who miscarries did so out of negligence. No police investigation would be warranted unless there was probable cause to suspect that it was because of negligence or foul play. If a homicide detective is investigating a potential crime scene and discovers evidence suggesting it was a suicide, not a homicide, the investigator would not, then, investigate it as a homicide "just in case." He would write it down as a suicide and close the case. By the same token, if a woman shows no signs of foul play or negligence, she would not be investigated, especially if she was making regular appointments with her OB/GYN.

Another claim is that many women are at increased risk for miscarriages, and he trots out a laundry list of women who are at a higher risk for miscarriage (and it's worth pointing out that he doesn't source any of his claims). His point here is asking if we would be comfortable allowing a woman at increased risk for miscarriage get pregnant. The answer, of course, is yes because everybody, every single human being who is conceived, has a 100% chance of dying. Some people just die sooner rather than later. But life is considered a good thing, meaning that even if we conceive someone who has a more limited lifespan than unusual, giving that person life, even for a short time, is seen as a good done to that person. This is all to say nothing of the fact that every human being has a right, a natural right, to procreate and the government would be wrong to take this right away from anyone. If a woman conceived and later miscarries through negligence, only then could the state step in and punish her for doing so (and only if there was probable cause to suspect it).

He poses a further question: would people be comfortable with a woman trying to get pregnant who has a high risk of miscarriage since they would not be comfortable with someone drunk getting behind the wheel of the car. He says that failing to take causation into consideration is intellectually weak, but his position is the one that is intellectually weak because he fails to make a basic distinction: the difference between agent causation and natural causation. A person who gets behind the wheel drunk is obviously doing something wrong and doing something wrong by their own doing. Driving a car is potentially dangerous so anyone who gets behind the wheel drunk is impairing their ability to drive a car. Having an increased risk of miscarriage is not impairing a woman's ability to conceive a child, nor, for the most part, is it of her own doing (especially if it is due to disease, which would obviously be beyond her control). Since all human beings eventually die and life is fundmentally a good thing, there is no harm done in conceiving a child, even knowing there is an increased risk of miscarriage.

One of his claims that he failed to source, just alluding to March of Dimes, is that as many as half of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. I know why he failed to source it: because that's not what they actually claim if you read their statement in context. Here's what March of Dimes really says: "Among women who know they are pregnant, about 10 to 15 out of 100 pregnancies (10 to 15 percent) end in miscarriage. As many as half of all pregnancies may end in miscarriage -- we don't know the exact number because many may happen before a woman knows she's pregnant."

This makes it ironic that he speaks of wanting to be intellectually honest when he can't even be intellectually honest with the facts. He'll probably fall back on saying "but they do say as many as half." Yes, but they clearly say we know 10 to 15 percent do, and then they follow up their claim by saying "we don't know the actual number." So their "as many as half" statistic is pure speculation, and "jaimekid2" used the speculative number rather than the factual number in order to try and bolster his case.

Despite all of his claims to "intellectual honesty" and "intellectual weakness," it is clear that "jaimekid2"'s arguments are just not good at all. They amount to a false analogy. Drunk driving is not a comparable situation to a woman conceiving with a greater chance of miscarriage, and it is also not the case that every woman who miscarries must be investigated for negligent homicide. Only in those cases with probable cause would it need to be investigated. The pro-life position is safe and sound from "jaimekid2."

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Why Don't Feminists Fight for Bodily Rights?

I will have to admit, I have begun to reconsider what it means to respect the bodily integrity of individual women. During a  recent outreach at UCLA and Cerritos college, two students told me that I should respect the autonomy that women have over their bodies.

Now, setting aside that the unborn entity in question is not a part of her mother's physical body (if she was, then any pregnant woman would have four hands, two heads, and two genetic codes, which is absurd) but is a separate body that is growing inside her, and dependent upon her. This does not mean that they are one and the same human being, but two humans beings connected in the most intimate way possible.

Now, many I have talked to have espoused the view that because the woman is carrying the child within her body, and because the child is completely dependent on her mother's body for her immediate needs, her mother therefore has say over what happens within her body. Complete bodily autonomy for women is inalienable on this view. This is what pro-life speaker Trent Horn calls the "Sovereign Zone" view.

Now, if I were to embrace this view, and thus defend a woman's right to her bodily "sovereign zone", then that means that the following must also be fought for and legalized along with abortion:

1. Thalidomide A drug that was originally used as an anti-nausea treatment for women experiencing morning sickness, it was banned in the early 1960s for the effect that it had on developing children in utero. The drug would cause either the limbs of the child to fail to develop or the limbs would fail to grow to their full length, leaving only a hand where a full arm should be. (Langman's Medical Embryology, Thirteenth Edition, page xiii)

Keeping in mind the view that a woman has full rights to what happens within her body, even if there is another human body present inside of her, to be consistent one would have to argue that the drug should be legalized as an appropriate treatment for morning sickness. This would mean that if a woman took the drug knowing full well the effects it could have on her unborn child, and caused her child to be born without arms or legs, she would bear no fault. Some have responded that this couldn't happen because she broke the law; and yet, abortion also used to be against the law. Why aren't advocates of bodily autonomy fighting for a woman to have complete control over her body in this regard, and working to overturn this law?

2. Abortions for Frivolous Reasons If a woman "Has the right to do whatever she wants with her body", then would it be wrong to kill her unborn child for any reason she wants to? In his book Abortion Practice, abortionist Dr. Warren Hern recounts a time where a woman came to his office seeking an abortion, as she was pregnant with a boy and wanted a girl child instead. Doctor Hern, ironically, expresses his misgivings about abortion in this case but he goes along with it anyway (Abortion Practice, page 85).

Dennis Prager also brings up an important point in this regard. Suppose in the near future we are able to determine through genetic testing the sexual orientation that a child will be born with. A woman finds out her son or daughter will grow up to be gay later in life. Using the "my body; my choice" reasoning, she gets an abortion so she won't be a parent to a gay son or daughter. Horrifying as this is, would we think she did something wrong in this regard? If we do think that this is wrong, then what about abortions for children who will be born with disabilities? Wouldn't that be wrong as well?

3. Abortions For Profit Two years ago the infamous Planned Parenthood videos were released by the Center for Medical Progress, which purported to show the organization illegally selling the bodily remains of aborted humans for profit. While many media pundits, political analysts, and Planned Parenthood themselves denied the accusation, it does raise an important question: Can a woman sell the bodily remains of her abortion for profit? Suppose a woman of child-bearing age, hearing that there is a market for fetal body parts and tissues, decides to become pregnant, then carries her child to term, and gets an abortion so that she may sell the body parts on the market. This may not even be legal, but why won't the advocates of bodily rights advocate for this kind of behavior, in the name of "Her body, her choice"? Why don't they fight to have this "right", and enshrine it in law?

4. Infant Starvation Philosopher Trent Horn also gives another category for bodily rights arguments that he calls the "right to refuse", where the advocate of bodily autonomy will argue that a woman has a right to refuse to sustain the life of her child in utero. During a conversation at UCLA recently, a student I talked to likened unwanted pregnancy to being forced to donate one's kidney in order to sustain another person's life.

However, in using this scenario, one has to remember that a kidney is only designed to filter the blood of the organism it belongs to. As Trent Horn notes, the uterus is an organ that is not designed to support the life of a woman, as a woman may go through her entire life without ever becoming pregnant, but is specifically designed to support the life of her very young son or daughter.

In applying this reasoning to the issue of bodily rights, suppose a woman gives birth to an infant who needs to survive on her mother's breast milk. Suppose further that baby formula is not readily available due to a health and safety recall, and it will take too long to put the child in a shelter or up for adoption. Since the mother is now the sole provider of the welfare for her child, even though this relationship is only temporary, can she exercise her "right to refuse support" for her child on the grounds that her child has no right to her mother's breast milk, even though her child will starve to death as a result? Is it a mother's moral and legal right to be able to "disconnect" for the sole purpose of starving her child to death? I think we would all agree that doing such a thing is monstrous.

In conclusion, it seems that an unwavering support for bodily rights for women can actually prove too much and be used to justify some very horrifying behaviors. Now, some will argue for bodily rights by giving reference to scenarios that are emotionally vexing, like poverty or hardship, but at best, this would entail that the right to abortion is extremely limited to the most extreme circumstances. And then one must ask why, even in these circumstances, is it fully permissible and morally acceptable to kill an innocent human being whose existence may cause hardship?

It is high time we stop playing games with human rights in order to justify the behavior that we want to ensure is accepted by society. We've been down that road before throughout human history, and it has never ended well. Instead, if we are going to defend bodily rights, no matter what that entails, we had better be ready to accept the consequences of that decision.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Book Review: A Practical Guide to Culture by John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle [Clinton Wilcox]

Special thanks to Brett Kunkle for providing me with a free copy to review the book.

There aren't many books that I'm aware of that try to talk about the culture as a whole. There are certainly some good ones out there (such as Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death), but Stonestreet and Kunkle's book, A Practical Guide to Culture, takes it a step further in that they don't just talk about our culture and how we got here, but they actually provide practical steps on how Christians ought to live in this culture and how to raise Godly children in a culture that can't wait to corrupt them. Even if there were other books about culture, as culture has a tendency to shift rapidly, books like this one are constantly needed. After all, the concept that a person can marry someone of the same sex, as one of our Supreme Court justices rightly pointed out, is younger than the smartphone. "Trans rights" wasn't even a thing more than a few years ago.

As you're reading through this book, you might start to despair about the state of our culture, as I have a tendency to do. But one of the greatest elements of this book is that while the authors agree the picture looks bleak, there is no reason to lose hope in our culture. Even if things don't get better, culturally, none of this is new. The ancient Jews had to endure trials and exiles in the Old Testament, and whether than wait around for rescue, they were called to live as God's people throughout their ordeal. Our hope is in Christ, not in a short-term fix like elections or predicting the rapture.

The book is a lot bigger than I was expecting, but it is very well-written. You won't feel like you're slogging through the book. They use illustrations to help understand the concepts that they're talking about.

The book is written in four parts. Part one talks about why it's important for us to understand our culture. Part two talks about the elements that go to make up our culture, especially the fact that technology is such a huge part of it (e.g. the internet and video games) and what impact that has on us as people. Part three talks about the various cultural elements that will end up affect children who grow up, and how parents can help preserve their innocent as long as they can, and how parents can help their children understand these elements once they're ready to discuss them. Some of the elements they talk about are pornography, the hookup culture, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Finally, part four talks about what our Christian worldview is and how our worldview interacts with the culture at large, a culture that is "pluralistic" and increasingly hostile to Christian views.

All the while authors critique the bad ideas of the world, they are never cruel to the people who hold these views. They remind us that "[i]f we see people as culture and culture as the enemy, we'll likely see people as the enemy and confuse their bad ideas with evil intentions. But culture is not people; culture is what people *do* as people." (p. 33)

I would say that this book is probably appropriate for high school age kids and older. While there is nothing overtly graphic in the book, some of the topics the authors talk about might be a little too adult for younger kids.

This book is simply a much-needed resource in today's cultural climate. If parents and educators aren't pro-active in inoculating children against bad ideas, chances are we'll lose them when they get old enough and go off to college, where Christian ideas are not taken seriously by their professors. A Practical Guide to Culture will go a long way toward helping to give them that preparation.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Conversation With a Congressman About Abortion

On a recent errand to the local office supply store to purchase a pair of bookends (just what every man in his early 20's shops for...), I happened upon a conversation with a man who happened to be running in the coming congressional election to become my district's next representative. During the course of our discussion, which had turned to the pro-life issue, he made several comments about the pro-life view that I think need to be answered clearly. While I was not able to respond to these points at the time, I'll briefly write them out here so that others may have an idea on how exactly to respond.

Before I begin, let's review the pro-life syllogism (a type of formal argument):

          P1: It is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being.
         
          P2. Abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being.

          C: Therefore, abortion is wrong.

Whether or not this argument succeeds is dependent on the truth of the premises. If both premises are true, then the conclusion logically follows.

Keeping this in mind, here are the three remarks I got from the Congressional candidate:

1. "If the unborn is a person, then we'd have to amend the laws regarding the carpool lane to allow pregnant women to drive in the lane by themselves."
Frankly, I find this statement puzzling. So? Even if that were what we needed to do, what does that entail? How do the rules that determine the number of persons needed in a car in order for that car to legally drive in the carpool lane determine the status of the unborn as valuable human beings? The statement does nothing to answer the syllogism, and in fact simply assumes that the unborn are not full human beings.

This also confuses moral reasoning with civil traffic law, which tends to vary from state to state, many times due to the environment and the amount of traffic on the highways. There would be no need to change the laws regarding the carpool lane to include human beings in-utero, as the purpose of the carpool lane is to cut down on unneeded drivers( which doesn't seem to help in Southern California...)
As Clinton Wilcox wrote in an earlier post, carpool lanes are simply a societal convention, and not enough to determine personhood, nor should they be.

2. "The US Constitution only determines human beings to be persons at birth. We would have to amend the Constitution to allow for the unborn to be considered persons."
Actually, in perusing the constitution , the 14th Amendment is discussing the rights of persons who happen to be citizens. A non-citizen of the United States is obviously not going to enjoy some of the same privileges as an American citizen, but that does not mean they aren't a person because of it. If I cross into Mexico, I am considered a foreigner there, but I still retain my status as a person because of what I am, not where I call home.

Speaking of which, why does birth even matter in determining who gets to live? While birth is a milestone in terms of development, it seems odd to think that transitioning from one environment to the next will somehow make one protectable under the law. If only eight inches is what makes one worthy of protection, then it would seem that something like "human rights" and being a person is not really of much importance in the first place.

3. "What are you going to do about all the unwanted children? There are a lot of poor families who cannot afford to take care of their children. They will suffer worse without abortion."
Frankly, this statement is both question begging and demeaning at the same time. It begs the question, by simply pretending that abortion has no effect on those same children whatsoever. It would be absurd to say that we should legalize homicide for the poor, so that they can kill their already born children as well, and thus not have to worry about how they will take care of them. If it is wrong to treat children in that regard by eliminating them when their lives become burdens, then it is just as wrong, if not even more so, to kill them when they may possibly become a burden in the future.

Also, it is very demeaning to "the poor" and those around them to think that the only thing ensuring their welfare is through a particular policy. This is a classic "either-or" fallacy, in that if someone does not support policy "A", they want poor women to die in the back alleys of America, at the hands of illegal abortionists. Or that the poor families who do keep their children will not be able to make it financially, because of the number of children they must support.. This is absurd, and is a very low view to hold of one's fellow countrymen. Just because a particular law or social practice that is intended to help ensure one's welfare is not in place, does not necessarily mean that people will not find other ways to help themselves and those around them. Think about places like Interfaith, the Salvation Army, or the Red Cross. Just because a particular social practice is not in place in society(in this case, abortion) it doesn't mean that no one will step up to help those in need.

Needless to say, the candidate I spoke to will not be getting my vote.
  

Thursday, June 15, 2017

What The "Gosnell" Case Can Teach Pro-Life Advocates

Just this morning before I headed in to work for the day I was able to finish reading the Gosnell book that I had been given by a friend who works at a local Pregnancy Resource Center. I was able to finish it within a few days, although I do read fairly quickly as it is. Overall, this was the most disturbing story I have ever read about, and I have to say, it is extremely disheartening to consider that this entire ordeal came to light in a modern American city within just the last few years.

The story of Kermit Gosnell really needs to be looked at by pro-life advocates, in terms of what the reality of abortion is, how far some are willing to go in order to defend abortion "rights", and the monstrosity of the act of abortion on a living, though immature, human being. The story, as I will explain below, also sheds light on the strategy of using graphic images of abortion to reach hearts and minds that may never otherwise consider the issue in light of what happens to an unborn human being during abortion.

The story was written by two Irish journalists who detail the way the Philadelphia Police Department stumbled upon the crimes against humanity that were going on inside the abortion clinic known as the "Women's Health Society". They discovered that numerous women had been injured during botched procedures, infected sexually through the use of contaminated medical instruments, exposed to conditions in the clinic that seemed more appropriate to a Middle Ages medicine practice than to a twenty-first century women's health center, and even killed during botched procedures.

Even more ghastly than all of this was the way in which Gosnell treated the babies of women whose abortion procedures accidentally resulted in the baby being born. Gosnell would, in many instances "snip" the spinal cords of babies who had managed to survive the procedures.

Gosnell's practice was exposed to the public through the work of the Philadelphia PD, and other law enforcement agencies, and he was charged with multiple crimes, including infanticide and homicide.

The jury was, as the authors noted, comprised mainly of men and women who considered themselves "pro-choice" on abortion, and two who had considered themselves neither pro-choice or pro-life on the issue. As the trial commenced and continued over the course of the weeks, there was a change among many, if not all, of the jurors on their stance towards abortion.

The reason this changed is that the jury was exposed to the reality of abortion. It is quite easy to refer to oneself as pro-"choice" or "Women's rights". It can be quite another to know what those choices or rights will really entail. During the expert testimony of the Gosnell case, an expert witness from a local medical center was brought in to testify as to the procedures of abortion themselves, in order to determine for the jury whether or not Gosnell had killed the babies in his clinic "legally".

As the authors note, one of the instances in which the defense attorney for Kermit Gosnell, Jack McMahon, attempted to argue that Gosnell had killed the babies legally involved McMahon asking an abortionist, who was an expert witness in the case, to walk him through the steps of a legal abortion procedure. This, in turn, sickened the members of the jury, who were beginning to question their pro-choice views.

The prosecution also proceeded to display the images that were taken by investigators during the raid on Gosnell's clinic. The images showed the bodily remains of human fetuses scattered around in various containers, kitty litter boxes, milk jugs, and even toilets.

The images shown and the details of what happened to babies during both illegal and legal abortions brings up a point worth considering: Abortion is a horrifying, dehumanizing act of violence against an innocent human being. This case wasn't made to the jury by pro-life advocates. This was made by a judge and prosecution who were working to convict Kermit Gosnell while still defending abortion rights in public. The main point should not be missed: Abortion protests itself when it is shown honestly. Pro-life advocates, and those who consider themselves pro-life on the issue of abortion would do well to learn from the Gosnell case, in that being honest about what abortion is does a lot to persuade a public that has never considered the implications of being "pro-choice".

Provided, honesty about abortion should always be coupled with compassion towards those who are deeply wounded by the issue. When truth and compassion go hand in hand, hearts can be reached, and lives can be saved. The culture at large needs to be informed of just what abortion does to an unborn human being, and as the Gosnell case shows, images can be the most effective way of doing this.

The Gosnell book is one that everyone should pick up and read in order to understand just what consequences can result from bad ideas, and in order to understand the role that advocates for the life of innocent human beings must take so as to reach a culture that has attempted to move on from abortion without asking first, "Who stands to lose if we don't do anything about abortion?" The answer is obvious to anyone willing to ask.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Abortion is What Planned Parenthood Does [Eric Metaxas, G. Shane Morris]

Eric Metaxas did the BreakPoint commentary on June 7 regarding Planned Parenthood and its ties to abortion. BreakPoint has generously allowed me to share it here on our blog. Click here for the original article (where you can also find further reading and more information), and be sure to subscribe to BreakPoint on iTunes.
What does Planned Parenthood do? Everyone seems to know the answer except Planned Parenthood.
When I say “Colgate,” what comes to mind? Well, toothpaste, of course. Too bad no one in the 1980s explained that to Colgate when they launched a line of frozen dinners named “Colgate Kitchen Entrees.” Understandably, customers found the idea of eating food from a toothpaste company less than appetizing, and the whole experiment bit the dust.
But there’s another brand today trying very hard to convince the public that it sells more than one product. Planned Parenthood has spent the last few years insisting that its clinics offer all kinds of services besides abortions. As the latest stunt in this ongoing campaign, they’ve partnered with “Avengers” director Joss Whedon to produce a high-budget ad titled “Unlocked.”
In this three-minute propaganda piece, Whedon depicts a world without Planned Parenthood. It’s a dark and scary place where a mother dies of cancer because she can’t get screenings, where a couple breaks up because of a sexually transmitted disease, and where a young woman’s dreams of college are crushed by a positive pregnancy test.
Speaking with TIME magazine, Whedon said that if Planned Parenthood shuts down, “millions of people lose access to basic health services” like contraception, cancer screenings, and sex ed. In other words, he’s parroting the talking points we’ve heard non-stop from Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards and others who insist that the organization “does so much more than abortion.”
But as our friends at Save the Storks point out, Planned Parenthood’s 2014-15 annual report shows that they perform a meager 1 percent of the nation’s pap smears, and less than 2 percent of all clinical breast exams. The pro-choice Guttmacher Institute reports that over 80 percent of teens receive sex ed instruction from somewhere besides an abortion clinic, and contrary to repeated claims by Planned Parenthood’s leadership and advocates, they perform a grand total of zero mammograms.
In other words, all 650 Planned Parenthood-affiliated clinics in the U.S. barely participate in real healthcare. In fact, Americans so rarely choose this abortion giant for other services, we hardly notice when the few clinics not offering abortions close.
LiveAction News reports that Planned Parenthood quietly shuttered three of its six New Mexico facilities, all of which were dedicated to those “other services.” Apparently, they weren’t covering expenses. Waving off the closures as no big deal, a Planned Parenthood regional official said—get this—that community health centers could pick up the slack. She might as well have admitted her organization’s services were not needed.
Colgate sells toothpaste, and Planned Parenthood sells abortions—more than anyone else in the business. In fact, it’s where over a third of all abortions in America happen. We know how Planned Parenthood’s bread is buttered, and Planned Parenthood employees know it, too.
Recent footage from undercover investigator David Daleiden captured affiliates at the National Abortion Federation conference who spoke openly of Planned Parenthood “selling” fetal body parts to “increase revenue.” Some also joked about pulling unborn babies apart and how “gross” it is when tiny eyeballs fall into their laps.
YouTube quickly removed the video, and now U.S. District Judge William Orrick is considering contempt sanctions against Daleiden, who’s already facing fifteen felony charges for taking this undercover footage in the first place.
Planned Parenthood wants to be known for nicer, less horrifying, less controversial services. But ladies and gentlemen, at the end of the day, their name means one thing: abortion. And lives depend on putting this big-name brand out of business
Written by: Eric Metaxas and G. Shane Morris
Reprinted by permission

Thursday, June 8, 2017

"If Men Could Get Pregnant, Abortion Would No Longer Be an Issue"

Among all the bad pro-choice sound bites that are thrown around in a culture that seems to thrive on tweets and memes, this has to be by far the worst one I have come across. During a discussion on the abortion issue in a sociology class a few months back, a student in the class made this comment in response to the professor talking about the possibility of Roe v. Wade being overturned in the near future.

Now, aside from being an extremely prejudiced statement (as if simply being male or female can determine the validity of an argument or idea) this assertion offers little in the way of an actual argument against the pro-life case.

The assertion that if I was able to become pregnant, I'd be pro-choice(I'd be female, if that was the case, and my mom and doctor would have quite a bit of explaining to do...), is so laughably bad, it needs an appropriate response:




Now that we've taken care of that, let's review the pro-life argument:

1. It is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being.

2. Abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being.

Conclusion: Therefore, abortion is wrong.

If both premises are true, and the conclusion logically follows from the premises, then the argument is sound. The statement that "If men could get pregnant, abortion would be legal and widely available" does nothing to answer the argument put forward by pro-lifers (including pro-life women). The statement "Abortion is wrong" is either true or false, regardless of the gender of the persons saying it.

However, let's just assume, for the sake of discussion, that men could become pregnant. (Again, setting aside the fact that this would mean that there would no longer be biological males, but just assume it to be the case).

What does this end up meaning? If men could get pregnant, would this mean it is suddenly, magically acceptable to intentionally kill an innocent human being? In turn, would this also mean that abortion does not intentionally kill an innocent human being? How does something as arbitrary as gender, or even skin color, determine the answers to those questions? The science of embryology relies upon empirical research to determine the answer to the question "What is an embryo?", which is completely independent of the gender of the persons doing the research. The embryo either has an intrinsic human nature or it does not. Because of this, abortion is still a moral wrong even if men could become pregnant. Pro-lifers are not arguing that abortion is a moral wrong as long as it is done by women. Instead,  we argue that abortion is wrong because it unjustly ends the life of an innocent human being.

The statement does nothing to answer the arguments pro-lifers make against elective abortion, and instead relies on the very controversial assumption that all efforts to restrict abortion are based in a sort of "patriarchal" society that "oppresses" women. Even if that was the case, intentionally taking the life of an innocent human being would still be wrong. Even if a society is inherently unjust towards women and girls, the answer to such an injustice is to try and right the wrongs being done, not promote a further injustice against more innocent human beings who cannot defend themselves. Such a response is foolish and callous, and ends up resulting in the conclusion that the only way women and girls can respond to being mistreated is to turn around and mistreat other innocent humans who happen to be in their immediate care.

That, in itself, is the anti-woman and patriarchal view.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Pro-Life Students: Make The Most of Your Summer

Now that school has ended for the semester, you may be wondering what you should do next with the time you have off. You  may be wondering how to make the break between semesters meaningful and how to continue to spread the pro-life message while not in school or while taking summer courses.

Here are three things that I have found helpful:

1. Start reading

Start growing your knowledge on the abortion issue; in particular, you not only should, but you must become an apologist. We all have had questions asked of us such as, "Why are you pro-life?" Having a ready answer is crucial for being an effective pro-life ambassador within your sphere of influence. With that in mind, it is of the utmost importance to understand the logic of the pro-life argument, and have at least a basic knowledge of what questions may be asked of you.

Here are several books that every pro-life student, whether in high school or college, should have on their shelves:

1. The Case For Life by Scott Klusendorf
2. Tactics by Greg Koukl
3. Persuasive Pro-Life by Trent Horn
4. Letters to a Young Progressive by Mike Adams
5. The Unaborted Socrates by Peter Kreeft.

2. Get Trained

While you are in the process of reading (and re-reading, then three-reading) some of the titles above, consider attending and even hosting a pro-life training seminar. Have a member of the LTI team come and speak to your church youth group, college ministry, Bible study, or at a local pregnancy resource center. Learning from those who have been working in the field of pro-life apologetics and activism, especially those who have years' worth of experience, will help encourage students and non-students alike to get involved and engaged on this important topic.

Consider also watching and discussing a debate on abortion, especially with friends and family who may not agree with the pro-life view but are interested in talking about it. For starters, here is a recent debate between Scott Klusendorf and Dr. Nadine Strossen at Wayne State University.

3. Build a relationship with your local pro-life ministry

In many cities across the United States, pro-lifers have started pregnancy centers to help those in the midst of a crisis pregnancy find the care they really need as opposed to abortion. Many of these ministries or pregnancy resource centers are staffed by volunteers and rely mostly on donations to engage in the lifesaving work that they do. Building a relationship with the men and women working in these ministries can help students become aware of the resources available to their peers and colleagues at the local high school or college. Having a relationship with the local pro-life ministry can also put students in touch with potential mentors who have matured while working in the pro-life movement and learn to show love and compassion to those hurting from abortion.

Even doing something as simple as having a stack of brochures and resources on abortion alternatives within driving range of a school can be of importance.

Putting these three objectives into practice can help any student become an effective pro-life ambassador within the sphere of influence that they have been placed in and to be equipped to make a difference to those around them.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

So Joss Whedon Made a Planned Parenthood Propaganda Film... [Clinton Wilcox]

There's no doubt Joss Whedon is a great director. I have the entire Firefly series on DVD and I'm a huge fan of the Avengers movies (and I have friends who sing the praises of his other shows, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dollhouse). However, in a bizarre turnaround, Whedon has set his sights on promoting Planned Parenthood by filming a three-minute short film called Unlocked. The film, of course, is well-made, but it doesn't make any sense.

The film essentially opens displaying three situations, a woman suffering with cancer, a couple who contracted an STD, and a girl who finds herself pregnant but was recently accepted to college. These three people were unable to go into Planned Parenthood because it was closed. The film essentially plays in reverse, so you see the outcomes of these three situations before you see them start. It's a creative way to film the project, but again, the project, itself, is divorced from reality. Then the video starts playing forward and these people can suddenly enter Planned Parenthood because it opens, where smiling clinic workers give information, cancer screenings, and birth control pills to anyone who wants it. Of course what the film doesn't show is that even if Planned Parenthood is closed, there are other health centers that serve low-income women who can pick up the slack. As of 2015, there are 20 community health clinics for every Planned Parenthood in the United States.

Of course, the film doesn't focus on the abortions, the film just focuses on the other services that they provide. No one likes to focus on the abortions, despite the fact that abortions are more important to Planned Parenthood than providing health to women. When Trump offered Planned Parenthood an ultimatum, they opted to continue providing abortions, even if it meant losing federal funding. Not to mention that whenever the government has threatened to stop funds going to Planned Parenthood in their bills, they redirect that funding to other health centers. No woman would need to stop being seen if Planned Parenthood were to close up its doors.

On the page where you can view the video (and sign a petition to stand with Planned Parenthood), their words are apt: "...it's our responsibility to use our superpowers to slay." Of course, Planned Parenthood's "superpower" is for stronger people to exercise power over weaker people and slay them because those weaker people are in the way of something they want, namely unrestricted sex, financial freedom, etc.

In Whedon's own words, "UNLOCKED is about what a world without Planned Parenthood would look like, which is truly dire." All it does is show how duped he is by Planned Parenthood's talking points. It doesn't make any sort of argument, it just assumes that without them no one is going to be able to find the healthcare that they need, never mind the fact that our government has now given us socialized healthcare, so what excuse is there now for not having healthcare? It also assumes that people will never be able to get sex education, despite the fact that all public schools have a sex education program.

This is an abortion-choice propaganda piece, nothing more. Unfortunately neither Joss Whedon, nor Planned Parenthood, believe women are capable of succeeding without killing their children. How degrading to women to be told that you can't succeed if you are doing exactly what sets women apart from men, getting pregnant and bearing a child. It's disguised misogyny. The question posed at the end is "what world do you want?" My answer is I want the world where Planned Parenthood isn't killing hundreds of thousands of unborn babies every year.

Friday, May 12, 2017

A Quick Thought On the "Inconsistency" Objections

During some pro-life outreach in Los Angeles this past week with the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, one of the common objections that kept being made again and again was that pro-lifers were "inconsistent" for opposing abortion while not giving support to some particular option on a social issue.

Take the issue of aid for foreign refugees for example. One angry protestor at our outreach was shouting "I'll bet you aren't helping any refugee kids! And you call yourselves 'pro-life'!"

The problem with highlighting these "inconsistencies" is that in many (if not all) cases abortion is not entirely parallel with the other issue being mentioned. For example, here is the pro-life argument, in a syllogism (a formal argument):
Premise 1: It is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being.
Premise 2: Abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being.
Conclusion: Therefore, abortion is wrong.
Since the question "Does abortion kill a human being?" can be answered through the science of embryology by determining whether or not there is a human being present in the womb during abortion, then anyone who objects to this argument must use the science of embryology and fetology to answer that question. Similarly, they must also use philosophy and moral reasoning to demonstrate (conclusively) why any difference between two separate human beings can be used to justify killing one but not the other, and why that particular difference is the one we should acknowledge, both in our laws and our moral decision making.

The problem with comparing other social issues to abortion and thus calling those who oppose abortion "inconsistent" is that many of the issues that are typically mentioned tend not to be an issue over who or what we are going to purposely kill. In fact, many are just the opposite. For example, the debate over giving aid and shelter to foreign refugees is not about whether or not it is morally permissible to kill refugees seeking asylum in the U.S. (If it was, those opposed to abortion would most assuredly speak out against the act). Rather, it concerns what the best way the U.S. government should provide aid to foreign refugees while also maintaining the security and safety of American citizens.

Likewise, attacking pro-life conservatives for calling themselves "pro-life" while taking a non-Leftwing stance on the healthcare issue is just as absurd. Republicans who oppose abortion are not opposing socialized healthcare because they are trying to kill those who "need" socialized healthcare; rather, they do so because they think there are better alternatives. The debate over healthcare is how to fix a damaged system in the most effective and moral way possible.

Instead of arguing for why abortion is permissible, the abortion-choicer just engages in a lazy Ad Hominem slander of those they disagree with. Even if the slander happens to be true, if the argument against abortion succeeds, then anyone committed to truth and moral goodness should oppose abortion.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Response to Preston Yancey [Serge - Dr. Richard Poupard]

I read with interest this article in the Washington Post by Preston Yancey. It is the latest in a seemingly never-ending stream of articles claiming that those who are dedicated to oppose the intentional killing of defenseless human beings aren't really "pro-life" unless they also support (enter government program here). In his case it is opposing recent changes to the Medicaid program.

I am an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and have seen patients with rare but devastating diagnosis of craniofacial microsomia. I am very well aware of the needs that those with a very severe case of CM. My heart goes out to this family and I am very happy that they have found the care they need for precious Jack. My pro-life convictions state that every human being is valuable, regardless of any physical or mental disability. I hope that care continues and will fight to ensure that it does.

Yancey then tries to argue against the changes that have been made in medicaid. First - a point of agreement. It is not true that medicaid is for "lazy, uneducated, or selfish people". In fact, when my daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of one, we were eligible to enter into a state run program run by medicaid for her diabetic supplies (we ultimately did not - which is another story about govt for another time.) We should strive to end this ugly stereotype. I also am against the death penalty and believe that animals should be raised and slaughtered ethically. Agreement!

Then he makes his central point:

I want to believe better of the pro-life community. I want to believe they care about Jack’s long-term health and not just the fact that he was born. I want to call them pro-life, not antiabortion. But the conversations (or the silence) around health care makes us wonder.

He seems to imply that there is not waste in the system, or that some do not take unfair advantage to this and other entitlement programs. Mr. Yancey - if this is your point, you are simply wrong. We can agree that patients like Jack should be covered, but also there is a way to decrease the amount of inefficiency in the system. That way more resources go to those in need - which seems consistent with the Christian (and, of course, pro-life) ethic.

Is the current state of medicaid the best most efficient way to deliver care to those in need? You did not mention that Jack's medicaid benefits will not change (unless you get off and then back on medicaid) under the recently passed house plan. Right now 75% of the beneficiaries of medicaid are children or young adults, while they receive only 33% of medicaid funding. Is this really the best we can do?

So, you can be pro-life and not necessarily support every increase in government participation in health care. To argue otherwise is simplistic and frankly lazy. I am very glad that Jack is in this world and receiving the care he needs. Since human value does not stem from our abilities, but our image of our Creator, we should care for all in need. I also believe that we have a responsibility to do so in as efficient and effective manner as possible. It is theoretically possible that the present medicare system is the best one we can create - but that would necessitate an actual argument. We certainly did not get one here.