Thursday, July 19, 2012

"Loaded Language" [Megan]

As I reread Christopher Kaczor's The Ethics of Abortion, I paid closer attention to Kaczor's introductory passages, particularly one on "Loaded Language."

Kaczor does a fantastic job of laying groundwork for both sides of the debate to read his book by addressing which terms he will use and why at the outset.

Communication is key if there is to be productive dialogue in any argument (used in the traditional sense of the word), and choosing the best words to convey your message effectively cannot be done without some careful thought. In this case, using terms like "pro-abortion" and "anti-choice" cause one or the other side of the debate to bristle. The result, most likely, will be that your dialogue partner will shut him/herself off from the rest of what could have been a fruitful conversation.

Kaczor uses the terms "pro-life" and "pro-choice," which, he explains, appear to be the names each view prefers for themselves. Likewise, when referring to the unborn, he chooses scientifically accurate terms such as "human fetus" and "human being in utero."

Pro-lifers, are you using your language wisely — intentionally choosing words that will advance your arguments in such a way that your pro-choice counterparts will listen? Or are you firing with loaded language that meets stone-walled silence or hostile retaliation?

As ambassadors for the truth, it's something to consider.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Does "preglimony" equal "biting the bullet" for the pro-choice crowd? [Megan]

After reading an Op-Ed piece in the NY Times — in which University of Richmond law professor Shari Motro argues that perhaps state laws for child support should extend to the child in utero, which she quips "preglimony" — NYU journalism professor Katie Roiphe asks if it's time to bite the bullet and call an unborn baby-in-progress (her words) "a life."

She claims that the pro-choice movement doesn't need to cling to ambiguous language regarding the unborn — technological advances have made it clear that those tiny hands and feet on the ultrasound no doubt point to "life."

As we teach at LTI, science has already answered the question, "What is the unborn?" — human, from the outset. It seems we still spend a lot of time pointing this out to folks. [Roiphe's piece contains a link to her fellow Slate writer who questions the trend of photoshopping sonogram images onto pregnant bellies. Roiphe's colleague is worried about "assigning attributes" to "not-yet-human embryos." Which begs the question:  "What kind of embryos are they?"]

But Motro and Roiphe make it clear that the argument is shifting more and more to the philosophical question of "What makes human beings valuable?". A conversation with Roiphe might be much more focused on the alleged differences between a "life" and a person with rights. Still, note that she carefully avoids calling what she terms "some form of 'life'" "human."

The pieces are interesting, if you have a minute to give them a read. 

HT:  Jivin J

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Will the Mississippi law targeting the state's only abortion clinic work? [Megan]

Perhaps. For a little while.

The Mississippi Legislature passed a law in April that requires any abortion clinic's physicians to be certified OB/GYNs with admitting privileges to local hospitals. The state's only abortion clinic, the Jackson Women's Health Organization, does employ certified OB/GYNs, but they travel from out-of-state to perform abortions and do not have local admitting privileges.

The law, which was supposed to be in effect July 1, was blocked by an injunction issued by U.S. District Court Judge Daniel P. Jordan III. Days ago, Judge Jordan ruled that the injunction remain while he examines more evidence. His decision on the matter is expected soon, though he did not say when.
Critics claim the law was designed to keep women from obtaining abortions and that, if passed, will cause harm to women who will not be able to have abortions without crossing state lines (which, they say, may not be feasible for some).

It would make Mississippi the only state without a functioning abortion clinic.
See the latest on the injunction issued to block the law's enactment from the NY Times and the LA Times.

If passed the law, while perhaps intending to put a stop to abortions in Mississippi or at least "send a message," may be considered a victory for the pro-life movement. Certainly, legislation that keeps even a few abortions from happening saves those lives. But it only takes aim at the tip of the iceberg.

A law that ties the hands of abortion providers without local admitting privileges does little to stop them from providing abortions elsewhere. Neither does such a law directly address why abortion is wrong to begin with.

To make that kind of difference, minds must be changed from believing the lie — that abortion is right because it is "a right" — to the truth — that it is wrong because it takes the lives of defenseless human beings without justification.

I am grateful that LTI works very hard to do just that by tackling the ideas behind the issue.
I'm afraid that before the law reflects what is right the culture must hear and see the truth, and believe it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Prenatal Testing: Just because we can, ought we? [Megan]

This Christianity Today post (from the magazine's blog for women, "Her-meneutics") sheds light on  some advances in prenatal testing. Newer testing processes are non-envasive, and provide amazingly accurate results (though the accuracy rate falls short of 100-percent certainty).

The question is whether or not prenatal testing is a good idea in a country where abortion is legal. The rate at which down-syndrome babies are aborted (because parents find out prior to birth) is stunningly high.

The post makes some good points. When it comes to bioethics issues like this one, the real question is "Just because we can, ought we?"

Gaining knowledge of scientific facts, as is the case with prenatal testing, is a good and God-honoring thing (when the method of gaining them does not endanger human life) — it is a quest for truth. What can be known about human beings in the womb now is truly awesome! But facts do not change the value of human individuals or the wrongness of taking human life without justification. Moral truths still stand.

Christians and pro-life advocates must be equipped to enter and navigate these discussions meaningfully and confidently.

Technology is advancing, and oftentimes Christians in particular are accused of being anti-technology. I don't think that's the case, though it may be true that some well-meaning individuals blame the technologies, and not the willful human beings behind them, for certain wrongs.
Careful thinking dictates that we can, and should, be for technological advances to the glory of God (unless the advance itself crosses moral boundaries, of course), and — even more-so — for human life and value.

Technology is a tool that can just as easily be wielded for good as it can for evil. It allows me to communicate effectively, keeping in touch with family and friends in ways that would have been impossible only decades ago. It allows me to carry hundreds of books on board an airplane for my reading perusal in my handheld Kindle. It may one day enable human beings to live on the moon!
It enables physicians to enter the womb itself and improve the quality of, or even save, human lives with minimally invasive procedures. And these types of operations are becoming more and more prevalent across the board.

It is these types of conversations in which the truth of the pro-life view, grounded in the Christian worldview, shines.