Thursday, October 25, 2012

We All Have Tough Questions [Jay Watts]

At every campus or group I have ever spoken to I offer the opportunity to ask questions after – or sometimes even during – my presentation. Without fail among the first questions asked is the question of how can pro-lifers defend restricting abortion in the case of rape. (Some people include incest, but incest is almost always understood as rape by a relative) This particular post is not about defending that pro-life position. Here are links to some posts that address that issue in various ways:

The point of this post is that I think we ought to be asked the tough questions, and LTI speakers welcome the opportunity to engage audiences on these issues. I admit I prefer face to face conversation to wrestling with anonymous trolls on-line who often argue dishonestly, but that is because however emotionally charged the issue is there is a cordiality and respect that can be cultivated in a genuine dialogue that is too easily lost on-line. That is not a condemnation of others as much as a recognition that we all seem to be testier and more defensive on-line and there is less productive discussion.

As such, I would love for abortion advocates to regularly face their own tough questions as has been recently pointed out by Trevin Wax here and at Patheos by mollie here.

If you support the current abortion on demand laws in the United States which recognize no limitations on the freedom of women to procure abortions that are grounded in the value of the unborn life (as opposed to PBA ban that outlaws a specific procedure but not the practice of late term abortions) do you also support the rights of women to abort their unborn children because the child happens to be female?

Stipulating that sexual orientation is genetic, if we developed a screening that could demonstrate with some degree of accuracy the sexual orientation of an unborn child would you support the rights of women to abort a child based on that sexual orientation either way? Should straight parents be allowed to abort their homosexual children if we can determine that it is genetic and verify that presence of that marker prior to birth?

Do you think that it should continue to be legal to abort unborn children with Down syndrome? Even at the estimated 80 – 90% rate currently seen? Even though we have the capability to minimize many of the physical problems that used to be associated with DS through various therapeutic measures and people living with DS can enjoy happy productive lives? Should a condition that does not diminish their quality of life make them legitimate targets for eugenic abortions because it is presumed they frustrate the plans of others?

If yes to all, are there any restrictions that you would place on abortions based on the preferences of the parents as to what type of child they would like to have? Should parents be allowed to abort children that have merely a genetic possibility but not certainty of illness? If so, should they be allowed to choose to abort based on the lack of desired traits?

A woman once came into the pregnancy center where I worked that wanted an abortion to end her morning sickness. Is this a justifiable reason to abort your child? Under our current law it is. Do you support laws that are so liberal as to allow abortion to relieve morning sickness?

Considering that most people are unaware of the permissive nature of our abortion laws in the United States, it would be instructive to all if all of us had to answer tough questions about our positions. I understand why women that have suffered the evil and devastating trauma of rape would want to hear an explanation from pro-life advocates as to why we think the law should compel them to carry their children conceived in rape to term. They deserve an answer. Similarly, the rest of us deserve an answer as to whether there are any reasonable limits to abortion rights. Does the abortion rights advocate protect the sexist destruction of unborn girls, the eugenic elimination of those with Down syndrome, and the ever growing practice of parents looking to dictate to the next generation whether they are allowed to live based on their ability to satisfy the ends and desires of the parents? Does championing a right to bodily autonomy of women mean that the abortion rights advocate believes we have no right as a society to protect innocent life from even the most superficial or callous justifications for abortion?

We all have our tough questions to answer. It is about time people started asking both sides.


  1. "...the law should compel them to carry their children conceived in rape to term."

    Isn't that way of stating it just spin? Isn't it the rapist who has compelled the woman to carry a child, not a law that prohibits the killing of that child?

    Why validate our enemies' spin?

  2. Hey Drew,

    Is there any doubt that a woman who wants to abort her child conceived in rape will perceive it the way I wrote it?

    It is up to us to argue our case and change the perception, but when I am asked that question it comes in that form. I understand your concern about how we phrase things, but if I characterized women as wanting me to explain why the rapist compelled them to have a baby and the law would not allow them to terminate the pregnancy then I would not be honestly framing the questions I am asked.


  3. It seems to me that the correct way to say it is that abortion is an act of force -- lethal force -- against the innocent. By standing against abortion, we are not forcing anything on anyone but standing against force.

    Instead of indulging the smear (you're forcing women to carry children) against pro-lifers, this response keeps the focus where it belongs on abortion itself.



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