Wednesday, February 22, 2017

How the “Planned Parenthood Baby Part Scandal” affects Bodily-Autonomy arguments for abortion [Nathan Apodaca]

Recently, the abortion debate in America has taken a new turn, as it has begun focusing on the methods of abortion that are used to terminate the pregnancy. The undercover videos released in 2015 by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) purported to show that employees of Planned Parenthood were engaging in the sale of body parts of human fetuses that had been dismembered through abortion procedures. The unveiling of these videos and findings drastically shaped the abortion debate, and has, in my opinion, done more to put the pro-choice movement on the defensive regarding abortion procedures and “rights”.

Given this development in the debate over abortion, I think the pro-life movement has been given a new opportunity to respond to an argument given in defense of abortion that is beginning to gain more popularity in lay-level discussions, the argument from bodily autonomy, or bodily rights.

To summarize the argument, defenders of abortion rights, such as David Boonin and Judith Thomson, argue that just as a woman would have no moral obligation to remain plugged into a human being for a period of time to whom she bears no moral responsibility, she would also not be obligated to carry an unborn human “person” to full term. The argument has been gaining popularity through many lay-level discussions in recent years.

The problem with the argument is that it proves too much about bodily autonomy in relation to pregnancy. The recent debate over the Planned Parenthood videos can help pro-lifers make this case. Even if the videos were “faked” or “deceptively edited”, they do bring up an important question: Is “my body, my choice” really applicable to the abortion of a human being?

Suppose, based on the idea that fetal body parts can generate a pretty good profit, a woman becomes pregnant for the sole purpose of having an abortion. Using the slogan “my body, my choice”, she obtains an abortion and sells the fetal remains to the highest bidder. Would that be an acceptable action? Suppose it goes a step further, and a market is created for body parts of unborn human beings. Using the “my body, my choice” euphemism, human fetuses are conceived to be dismembered, have their organs and tissues divided up and sold to the highest bidders.

Many advocates of abortion choice would say that this is unacceptable. But why? If it's justifiable to eliminate a human being who is attached to another human, why not “connect” human beings so that they can be justifiably killed, and have the aftermath used for whatever purpose the woman desires? Given that a person can willingly donate a body part, such as a kidney, to those in need of an organ, then what would be wrong with allowing women to conceive human fetuses for the sole purpose of killing them and then harvesting their organs or tissues to treat other illnesses?

This is an absurd position to hold. In fact, since the videos were revealed almost two years ago, many pro-choice defenders have shied away from defending all elective abortions. I think the videos shed further light on the problems with the bodily rights argument, as that approach would mean that the only thing wrong with the sale of fetal body parts scandal would be that the woman wasn't notified about the use of the aborted remains, and thus missed out on potential profit. Incidentally, I had a conversation recently where someone said that the most horrifying aspect of the entire scandal was the idea that abortionists made a profit of the sale of body parts, as opposed to the methods used to obtain the body parts in the first place. This is ridiculous.

Friday, February 10, 2017

On Teen Vogue's Recent Abortion Articles [Clinton Wilcox]

Teen Vogue, apparently a publication geared toward teenagers, has recently published two articles about abortion. Now, seeing as though I'm not a teenager, I don't have any kids, and I'm a man of reasonably good taste, I don't read Teen Vogue (or, really, anything with "vogue" in the name of it). But it's distressing the kinds of things publications geared toward teenagers will try to push on your kids. This just goes to show how important it is for parents to be aware of what their children read.

One such article is called "11 Thoughtful Gifts Your Friend Who Just Had an Abortion Would Appreciate." It's actually a "slideshow", so I would encourage you not to click through it as slideshows only artificially inflate the number of clicks a website garners, giving them more money from their sponsors. I only read through one or two of the supposed gifts you should give your post-abortive friend. It's written in a style that's super-casual and intended to be funny (rather than helpful). However, before you click through you are greeted with a pop-up box that talks about how abortion is "never a simple decision" and making it as a teenager is "more than a little terrifying." Never mind the fact that encouraging children to abstain from sex would be an excellent way of ensuring they don't have to make these decisions. Instead, we'll just offer gift ideas for a girl who does go through it. Of course, to Teen Vogue, the reason many women need post-abortion counseling is "not because the act itself is so terrible, but because sometimes the world can be." In other words, the "abortion stigma" is the reason so many women regret their abortions, not because they're killing their own child.

Needless to say, anything Teen Vogue writes on abortion should be avoided, but there's one article in particular I'd like to focus on. An Episcopal priest named Broderick L. Greer (I can't bring myself to use the title Reverend before his name) wrote an article for them called "I Am a Priest and This is Why I'm Pro-Choice." After reading it, there's only one possible reaction:

That's right. "Martin Luther is not impressed with your theology." Whenever I hear someone say "I'm pro-choice because I'm a Christian", or "I'm pro-choice because I'm a priest/pastor," my only real thought is "you probably have no idea what Scripture actually says about the value of children." At any rate, let's look through what Greer has to say on the issue.

Greer begins by repeating the oft-repeated and also oft-refuted claim that "upwards of five thousand women" died from having illegal abortions eleven years before Roe v. Wade. He talks about abortion eleven years before because he obviously wanted us to think that making abortion legal has made it safer. This is, of course, false. As Bernard Nathanson wrote in his book Aborting America, it's not legalizing abortion that made it safer, it was advancements in medical technology, such as the discovery of Penicillin. [1] Additionally, the "five-thousand women" died statistic is false. Nathanson wrote, "How many deaths were we talking about when abortion was illegal? In N.A.R.A.L., we generally emphasized the drama of the individual case, not the mass statistics, but when we spoke of the latter it was always '5,000 to 10,000 deaths a year.' I confess that I knew the figures were totally false, and I suppose the others did too if they stopped to think of it. But in the 'morality' of our revolution, it was a useful figure, widely accepted, so why go out of our way to correct it with honest statistics?" [2] And of course, Greer pointed to an article by NARAL to support his claim, the very institution that agreed to lie about this statistic in the first place.

Greer also indicates that he believes pro-life people would have us return to those days, which of course, is still a specious argument because, as Nathanson has also told us, if abortion is ever driven underground again, it will not become dangerous, to say nothing of the fact that even before abortion was made legal, it was still largely done by physicians in good standing in their communities (see my article here for more on these two points and my sources related to them).

Greer fits in perfectly with leftist ideology. Not only has he bought their lies, but he also uses their language when he takes time out of his article to tell us that he doesn't have a uterus, and that "many of the decisions made about the bodies of people with a uterus are by cisgender men." Of course, those of us interested in objective reality and scientific truth call "people with uteruses" women. [3] He also says that the last thing anyone interested in "transformative public discourse" is another "cisgender man" telling people what they should or shouldn't do regarding their "reproductive health" (a buzzword for abortion). Here's the part where we can take a page from the leftist playbook and call him "cisphobic" for his views.

Greer then apparently struggled within himself about whether or not "cisgender" men should be able to make the determination about abortion for "people with uteruses". Greer, himself, may never be faced with the decision about whether or not to abort, but the reality is that many men are faced with that decision. It takes two people to conceive a child; the father has as much stake in the fate of the child as the mother does (and unfortunately many men coerce their girlfriends/wives into making the wrong decision and aborting the child). To say that men have no stake in this issue is to completely ignore the emotions, thoughts, needs, etc., of men. If we truly care about equality, then they should be considered, as well.

Of course, we can agree that pastors and priests are "companion[s] with people through life's most challenging and complex seasons." But if you encourage a woman to have an abortion, you are trying to help them escape their problems rather than face them head on. To any Christian who understands the value of human life, and who understands how God wants us to love our neighbors, we can't take someone in for an abortion. We need to help them through this difficult time, not by having their child killed but by walking with them through this difficult time, by petitioning the congregation to help walk alongside them, to help them with resources, etc. It's shameful that Greer would use his position as a priest to tell anyone that abortion is an acceptable way out of a pregnancy.

Of course, then Greer tells us that we need to "rediscover" the art of storytelling. Storytelling is important, but the problem is that Greer apparently thinks that stories trump reason and even Scripture. God tells us "you shall not murder," and that he "hates the shedding of innocent blood." No amount of storytelling about difficult decisions will negate these commandments from God, or will negate the basic biological fact that abortions kill an innocent human being.

Additionally, Greer uses the tired old talking point that "anti-choice" people only oppose abortion because of their religious views. This shows that Greer is clueless about the topic and has no right to be writing about it. Maybe he should stop talking about abortion not because he's "cisgender," but because he refuses to take an honest look at what abortion actually is.

Greer then executes some stunningly bad reasoning. He reasons that because abortion rates fell sharply in the Obama years, this "debunks" the "myth" that outlawing abortion will somehow decrease abortions. The language he uses shows that he doesn't understand how outlawing something will reduce its instances of it. This is just embarrassingly bad reasoning. Additionally, it doesn't follow that because abortion rates fell during Obama's administration that outlawing abortion won't reduce its instances. In fact, one of the major reasons abortion rates fell is because of the numerous pro-life laws that were passed and the fact that so many Planned Parenthoods closed up shop. Of course, this won't stop abortion-choice ideologues from claiming they're the ones responsible. (See Seth's and my article here for more on why voting for abortion-choice presidential candidates does not actually reduce abortion rates, and an examination of the argument that abortion rates dropped under Obama's administration.)

Greer repeats even more talking points. Yes, abortions will happen whether they are legal or not, just like rapes, murders, and thefts happen despite being legal. Abortion needs to be illegal because killing an innocent human being must be punished. Plus, the law is a moral teacher; not only will law-abiding citizens not seek abortions, but many abortion-choice people will become pro-life because the law is telling them that abortion is wrong.

Additionally, we are not merely "pro-birth" just because we oppose leftist policies. This may come as a shock to Greer, but pro-life people follow their moral convictions. This means that we support policies that are ethical, and leftist policies that steal money from taxpayers to pay for children conceived by a man and woman who chose to have sex is unethical. I wish Greer would have a better moral compass if he intends to shepherd a church.

Greer is simply not a good priest, and not a good thinker. Notice how he didn't make one compelling argument for abortion. He just relies on abortion-choice talking points and "stories" to make his case. Nothing you read in this article is any different from anything else you read on sites like Salon or Mother Jones. Articles like this should reinforce in all of our minds why the pro-life position is true.

[1] Bernard N. Nathanson, M.D., with Richard Ostling, Aborting America, (New York, Doubleday, 1979), p. 194.
[2] ibid., p. 193, emphasis theirs.
[3] This is not to say that any biological female without a uterus is not a woman. Obviously some women need to have their uteruses removed for various reasons, or some unborn women have their capacity to develop a womb impaired in some manner. But it is undeniable that one defining feature of womanhood, even if not every woman is able to fulfill their ultimate capacity for it, is the natural capacity to become pregnant.

Edit: It has just come to light that in the first article I linked to, the author actually manufactures many of the items she promotes in her article and neglected to disclose that information.