Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Response to Richard Rowe's "Why Pro-Choice is Right" Article, Part III [Clinton Wilcox]

I've spent the last two articles responding to an article by blogger Richard Rowe, in which he asserts (without any good arguments but with a whole lot of unjustified arrogance) that pro-choice is the right position. I'm more than willing to consider somebody's arguments. I have read some of the best defenses of the abortion-choice position that is out there. Rowe's defense doesn't even come close to supporting his position. He would do well to study the issue before trying to write on it again. Here's part one in this series, and here's part two.

In this part of the series, I'll be responding to Rowe's last three arguments.

Argument 10: "Constitution, Not Opinion"

This is a common contention among abortion-choice people, that abortion is a "right" grounded in the Fourteenth Amendment. Of course, this is complete hogwash. Abortion was legalized in 1973, with a few states liberalizing their abortion restrictions for a few years prior to that. The Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868. This means that the unborn were full persons under the law, protected by the Constitution until Justice Blackmun and the majority on the supreme court decided to redefine what a person is under the law so that they could specifically exclude the unborn. This amendment protects the rights of the unborn, but an unjust panel of Supreme Court activist judges changed that.

In fact, read the language of the 14th Amendment:

 All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. (emphasis mine)
The Amendment reads "all persons born or naturalized in the United States." The text of the Amendment assumes that birth is an event that persons will undergo. It does not establish birth as the point when one becomes a person, but that one is already a person under the law. In fact, using Rowe's logic, a foreigner is not legally a person until they become naturalized in the United States. But this is obviously absurd. The 14th Amendment protects the unborn. Besides which, even if they weren't persons under the 14th Amendment, it wouldn't follow that we could then kill them, because we are not allowed to kill non-citizens in the United States just because they are not citizens. They still have natural rights, even if they don't have rights as U.S. citizens.

Argument 11: "Adoption isn't a Bottomless Option"

I have no idea where Rowe gets his statistics from, and he doesn't even attempt to adequately support them. For one thing, according to this site, the average number of people in a family is 3.14. If the couple is married, this would leave one extra person, meaning one kid. If a single parent, that would mean two kids. Yet Rowe asserts (without evidence) that the average family has three kids. He may be relying on outdated statistics for his argument, since it appears that around the time of World War II in the 1950's, the average woman had 3.8 kids. But now, the average woman is expected to have only two children in her lifetime (not the three that Rowe asserts). This even seems absurd on the face of it, since thanks to factors like legalized abortion, the United States is barely at the replacement rate, or slightly below it. Each family must have two children in order to keep the replacement level steady.

So Rowe's argument is based on false and misleading information. Plus, according to real statistics, there are currently 36 couples waiting for every one child to adopt. Additionally, Rowe here assumes that adoption is the only argument pro-life advocates make against abortion (it's not), and he also assumes that every woman who chooses not to abort will automatically choose to adopt (they won't). While adoption is certainly a good option for a woman who is considering abortion, it is not the only decision a woman can make if she decides to go through with her pregnancy. Many abortion-minded women choose to keep and raise their child if they decide not to go through with the abortion.

Argument 12: "Abortion Bans Kill"

Now Rowe is arguing that if we ban abortion, that will lead to dangerous abortions being performed. However, Rowe apparently thinks there haven't been any medical advances made since the time of ancient China. A woman who has an illegal abortion need not resort to "dangerous back alley" abortions. In fact, before abortion was legalized in 1973, abortions were mostly done by doctors in good standing in their communities, doctors who had access to better medical technology than a coat hanger, crowbar, or alcohol. See my article here on why making abortions illegal won't result in dangerous abortions.

Even now, though, legalized abortion doesn't guarantee sterile clinics. A Michigan abortion clinic was closed in 2014 due to unsterile and otherwise unsafe conditions, as well as a host of other problems. Abortion-choice advocates and politicians don't keep watch on these organizations, it takes undercover work and complaints by pro-life organizations to get these clinics shut down. Abortion-choice advocates aren't always as "pro-woman" as they would like us to believe.

The bottom line is making abortion legal hasn't made it safer, advances in medical technology, such as Penicillin, is what has made abortion a safer procedure.

Let's recap all of Rowe's arguments:

1) "Divine abortion" -- a non sequitur, mixed with a misunderstanding of the passage in question
2) "I knew you in the womb" -- not an argument to support his position
3) "A baby's worth" -- an assertion with no evidence, mixed with a red herring
4) "Pro-choice doesn't mean pro-abortion" -- a red herring
5) "Responsibility and the last decision" -- Rowe doesn't understand the cause and effect relationship between sex which is a critical failure for this argument
6) "It's the economy, stupid" -- Economic reasons are not the sole reason that women abort, so solving economic problems will not reduce the abortion rate significantly, if at all
7) "The sanction of life" -- Rowe conflates "murder" with "killing", so this amounts to a fallacious equivocation
8) "Bans are the least effective solution" -- the information relied on here is simply inaccurate, so this argument fails
9) "The Second Amendment argument" -- this is a self-proclaimed non-argument

10) "Constitution, not opinion" -- this argument is based on a faulty understanding of the Fourteenth Amendment
11 ) "Adoption isn't a bottomless option" -- this argument is based on false, misleading, and outdated information -- plus, it assumes it is the only argument for the pro-life position
12) "Abortion bans kill" -- this argument is just false, as banning abortions don't necessarily make it more dangerous, and legalizing it hasn't guaranteed its safety

Richard Rowe is just another abortion-choice advocate who has no good argument for his position. This is unfortunately all too common among abortion-choice bloggers. If you want to read someone who makes a good case for their position, you need to read those who have written books, and even then, you have to be selective. For every good defense of abortion (by good, of course, I don't mean successful), such as David Boonin's A Defense of Abortion and Michael Tooley's Abortion and Infanticide, there's a bad defense of abortion, such as Katha Pollitt's Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights and Eileen McDonagh's From Choice to Consent: Breaking the Abortion Deadlock.

Of course, making a good defense of abortion is a tall order because not only do you have to defend the indefensible, that it is permissible to kill an innocent human child for the sake of convenience, but you also have to defend highly counterintuitive ideas, such as that biological connectedness does not matter in the parent/child relationship, and that parents don't have natural obligations to their offspring. Richard Rowe's article severely misses the mark in his attempt to argue the abortion-choice position.

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