Sunday, January 21, 2007

Frank Beckwith Quoted in NY Times [SK]

From Sunday's issue regarding post-abortion syndrome:

Francis Beckwith, a professor of church-state studies at Baylor University who is anti-abortion, has criticized abortion-recovery activists for their “questionable interpretation of social-science data” and for potentially undermining the absolutist moral argument against abortion. “For every woman who has suffered trauma as a result of an abortion, I bet you could find half a dozen who would say it was the best decision they ever made,” he told me. “And in any case, suffering isn’t the same as immorality.” Beckwith speaks at churches and colleges, and he says that most anti-abortion leaders don’t want the woman-protective argument to supersede the traditional fetus-centered focus, “because that’s where the real moral force is.”
Me: Exactly. The real moral issue is not so much "Does abortion harm women?" The issue that counts most is "What is the unborn?"

My own experience tells me Frank is also right to say that for every woman who has suffered trauma from abortion, many others would say it was the best decision they ever made. To cite just one example, my first ever debate (at Cal State Northridge, 1991) involved a panel discussion with three pro-lifers and three abortion-choicers. Our first pro-life speaker, a young woman, got us off to a very bad start. Instead of making a case for the humanity of the unborn and the inhumanity of abortion, she spent 10 minutes rattling off all the alleged symptoms of post-abortion disorder. She was met with boos and hisses. When the abortion-choicers had their turn to speak, two of them simply said (one after the other--paraphrase,) "Well, I've had multiple abortions and each was a great decision. I don't regret a single one of them!"

Response from the audience: sustained standing ovation for the women.

That's what happens when you frame the debate around the subjective experiences of individuals instead of the nature of the unborn.

Lessons learned: 1) Never participate in panel-style debates (you'll spend your time bailing out your partners who make unfortunate remarks), and 2) Get the moral question straight before talking personal experiences.

Frank says more about the dangers of subjective experience here.

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