Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Abortion is one of the most polarizing issues facing the country. Both sides are highly motivated, and both struggle to present their view as favorably as possible. Those who support abortion refer to themselves as “pro-choice”, and while those who oppose it call themselves “pro-life”. Both groups refer to themselves almost exclusively by their chosen label, and usually attempt to suggest the other side in opposition to their favored noun (either “choice” or “life”). But is either of these labels actually fair and accurate?

“Pro-life” is applicable. Granting the premise the fetus is a life, then it is fair to suggest that those who are anti-abortion support life in all its forms. It is possible to disagree with the premise, but abortion opponents are justified in calling themselves “pro-life”.

The only way in which the “pro-life” is unfair is its implied idea that those who support abortion are “anti-life”. It is certainly easy to make an argument that those who are pro-abortion support a heinous and gruesome practice—but if one assumes their good faith, it is unfair to say that they oppose life.

That quibble aside, “pro-life” is a fair description.

However, the issue is most often framed in the media as conflict of those who are “pro-choice” against those who are “anti-choice”. This labeling is blatantly unfair, and represents an obvious attempt by pro-abortion groups to “spin” their position to make it more appealing.

The “pro-choice” label is illogical on two counts. The first is that “choice” is such an all-inclusive noun that it could apply to almost anything. Drug legalization? It’s a matter of choice. Arson? Just exercising our right to choose. Murder? Don’t tell me what to do with my gun. The term “choice”, when used in the context of abortion, means literally nothing. One suspects that any desirable thing could have been a substitute for the word “abortion”.

The term “choice” is also inapplicable because it dodges the essential question. Liberals (and those conservatives who support abortion) attempt to frame the question as one regarding the right of a woman to control her own body. Liberals, showing a somewhat unexpected streak of libertarianism, support a women’s “right to choose”, leaving conservatives the alternative of opposing this “right”.

But the real issue does not involve “choice” at all. Instead, it involves the exact moment of embryonic ensoulment, which is an issue that is a lot more complicated and has no easy answer.

Everyone is America believes the concept of the soul in one form or another. All religious people do, and even atheists acknowledge that there is something that makes humans special, and gives them rights denied to less intelligent animals. So everyone agrees that humans have the right to life—the debate should consider the moment when an embryo becomes fully human, with all the rights conferred on us by our nature.

If this moment occurs at conception, then abortion is obviously immoral. If it occurs at birth, then abortion is obviously perfectly permissible, and of no more concern than any other medical procedure.

I find it baffling that so many believe that this complex issue is simply a matter best left up to the individual woman concerned. If we assume that abortion is morally wrong because a fetus deserves human rights, but what right do we permit its mother to decide if it lives or dies?

The soul cannot be measured scientifically, so the moment at which an embryo becomes human can be judged only through religion and metaphysics. This means that one side must impose their view on the other—either the nation will permit what many consider murder, or it will ban what many consider a routine medical procedure. This is unfortunate—but inevitable.


At April 9, 2008 at 5:51 AM , Blogger Name: Soapboxgod said...

Dare ask yourself how many "Pro-Life" individuals support Capital Punishment and then I think it would be fair to have an honest discussion as to whether or not it is applicable any more so than is the label of Pro-Choice.

Moreover, I would assert that a great many that wear the label of Pro-Life, have taken a position on the issue which is not inclusive of Liberty. Certainly I think Mike Huckabee fits such a mold. It is great to be a proponent of Life. However, if one's aim is to free the fetus from the womb only to then enslave the child (A California ruling against homeschooling and freedom from State control, Global Warming regulations and mandates, Excessive Taxation, et al.), one's position of championing for "life" is without merit.

While I'll conceed that Choice can indeed apply to a myriad of things, it is disingenuous to not apply it within the context of the discussion at hand.

At April 9, 2008 at 7:11 PM , Blogger Beth said...

I do agree, it is a complex issue, and so if one side is to impose its beliefs, as you say we must do, then I ask, isn't it best to err on the side of caution, since we cannot know for sure when a soul enters a person? I am not so arrogant as to say I know when a person becomes a person, I will always therefore believe that conception is the only definitive moment to say that is when human life begins.

At April 9, 2008 at 7:13 PM , Blogger Beth said...

By the way, I do not support the death penalty, Soapie.

At April 9, 2008 at 7:31 PM , Blogger Daniel Ruwe said...

Soapie, saying that one cannot be pro-life and support the death penalty is like saying that someone cannot be "pro-liberty" and support prisons. Everyone agrees that sometimes people forfeit certain rights, and sometimes the right to life is one of these. The question is: when is this right forfeited?

I agree--politicians need to concentrate on all aspects of life, not just birth. We have a right to property too--and Mike Huckabee seems to have no problem confisticating that.

At April 10, 2008 at 6:20 AM , Blogger Name: Soapboxgod said...

"Soapie, saying that one cannot be pro-life and support the death penalty is like saying that someone cannot be "pro-liberty" and support prisons."

I'm not saying that in the least. I merely put it out there for the sake of discussion. To be honest, I wouldn't say it because quite frankly I believe that although they may appear to be the antithesis of one another, they are not.

As I see it, we put to death those who do not respect the right to one's life. Had they embraced the concept of life, we would have embraced them and they would have continued to live. Additionally, we respect Liberty and those that wish to be liberated must too respect it and embrace it. If they do not, they will be imprisoned.

So, I think the two can co-exist.

However, there are a great great many of very staunch Pro-Life sorts of individuals (Beth is one such individual) who take the side of life in all situations (including rape, incest, etc.) but yet you will find amongst that particular group, a number of them who support capital punishment.

In all fairness to Beth, she does not. She has remained true to her beliefs and value system (and we commend you for it Beth). And, as well, I think I have too.

At April 11, 2008 at 12:39 PM , Blogger Z-man said...

Awesome blog Daniel. I have a favorite saying of mine, "if pro-choice is not anti-abortion but not pro-abortion either then what is it?" since choicers never refer to themselves as being in favor of abortion. So nobody really is in favor of abortion or likes it and yet we have at least a million every year, this is my reason for hating the term "pro-choice" for the most part, it kinda makes no sense and libs for the most part are not "pro-choice" on too many other issues out there so it's really a flawed political term.

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