Friday, April 6, 2007

Debate Recap Part 1 [SK]

I enjoyed my exchange with Nadine Strossen, President of the ACLU. I agree with Jivin: Though passionate about her views, her debate manners were pleasant and engaging, a nice change from what I saw with Kathryn Kolbert.

I framed the debate as follows (paraphrase):

Actually, the issue that divides Nadine and I is not that she is pro-choice and I am anti-choice. Truth is, I am vigorously "pro-choice" when it comes to women choosing a number of moral goods. I support a woman’s right to choose her own health care provider, to choose her own school, to choose her own husband, to choose her own job, to choose her own religion, and to choose her own career, to name a few. These are among the many choices that I fully support for the women of our country. But some choices are wrong, like killing innocent human beings simply because they are in the way and cannot defend themselves. No, we shouldn’t be allowed to choose that. So, again, the issue that separates Nadine and I is not that she is pro-choice and I am anti-choice. The issue the divides us is just one question, What is the unborn?

Let me be clear: If the unborn is a human being, killing him or her to benefit others is a serious moral wrong. It treats the distinct human being, with his or her own inherent moral worth, as nothing more than a disposable instrument. Conversely, if the unborn are not human, killing them through elective abortion requires no more justification than having your tooth pulled.
I finished my opening case by laying out a scientific and philosophic defense of the pro-life view. I argued scientifically that from the earliest stages of development, the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings. Philosophically, I argued the unborn differs from an adult in ways that are morally insignificant.

I then reiterated my challenge: If Nadine can demonstrate that the unborn are not human, I see no reason whatsoever to oppose even partial-birth abortions.

Nadine tried to redefine the terms of the debate with an appeal to reproductive freedom. To summarize her case, reproductive freedom means the ability to choose whether or not to have children. That freedom is necessary if all persons are to lead lives of self-determination, opportunity, and human dignity.

Notice the question-begging nature of her claim. She simply assumes, without argument, that the unborn are not human beings. Would she make this same claim for human freedom and self-determination if her neighbor suggested killing toddlers as well as fetuses?

In short, I was willing to buy her argument for freedom and self-determination--but only after she demonstrated that the unborn were not human beings. I agree with Frank Beckwith: It won't work to say we should be a society that supports choice when the very question who is part of that society, that is, whether or not it includes th unborn, is itself under dispute. Nadine needed to make a case against the humanity of the unborn.

For the most part, she didn't take my challenge.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments are moderated. We reject all comments containing obscenity. We reserve the right to reject any and all comments that are considered inappropriate or off-topic without explanation.