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Thursday, May 23, 2019

Don't Call Me "Anti-Abortion"

It is no surprise to anyone who reads my blog that I am opposed to terminating the lives of the unborn. And it follows from that for most people that I am "anti-abortion." I mean, isn't that a given? You're either in favor of something or against it. If you're not in favor of abortion, you're anti-abortion, right? In most cases that would be accurate. In mine it is not.

If "abortion" is defined as "the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy" (and that's not the same as a miscarriage, sometimes called a "spontaneous abortion"), then I am not opposed to terminating a human pregnancy. "What??!!" I can hear some (on both sides) cry. Let me be clear. I do not hold a human pregnancy as sacrosanct. I don't see it as worthy of defense or possessing innate worth. If I did, then a miscarriage would be a miscarriage of justice, for instance. It is not the pregnancy I am concerned about.

Science unavoidably holds that the first stage of human life is the fertilized egg. Not the unfertilized egg or the sperm, but the point at which that egg is fertilized by that sperm. When the two entities merge, we have human life. This isn't a religious conviction or a moral opinion or a philosophical position. This is simple, unadulterated, uncontested biology. The first stage of human life is the zygote. The last stage (assuming no intervening events) is old age and death. Everything else in between is simply various stages in the human life.

So far I haven't said anything controversial. All sides agree. They may not admit it, but what I've stated is certainly the truth. They may argue about "personhood" or some other arbitrary other concern, but what I've stated thus far is without contention. Now we enter another realm. I am a Christian, a follower of Christ, who said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." Scripture is the God-breathed Word of God (2 Tim 3:16-17). Included in that, then, is the simple, straightforward claim that humans are unique on this earth by being created in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27). God said, "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in His own image" (Gen 9:6). Human life, then, has intrinsic worth assigned by God as His image-bearers. Even if we were to set aside religion, most normal human beings hold that people have intrinsic value. That may be under closer scrutiny these days, but we mostly still know that's true.

Given, then, the confidence that human life is valuable, it would seem unavoidable that ending human life would be an assault on the value of human life. As such, I am opposed to killing humans. I am opposed to killing old people, young people, men, women, children infants -- all humans. It may be, on some occasions, a necessity, primarily to save lives. We go to war, for instance, to stop the killing of innocents. I get that. I'm not a pure pacifist. But in general, terminating the life of a human being without just cause is a bad thing because humans have significant value.

I am, then, pro-life. I am not anti-abortion. If medical science produced an artificial womb system that would allow doctors to remove a human being from the womb of a mother before the pregnancy ended, it would still be an abortion, but I would have no moral objection. I am not opposed to terminating pregnancies. I am opposed to terminating humans.

Both Mitt Romney and President Trump classify themselves as "strongly pro-life" but are, in fact, anti-abortion and not pro-life. The difference? They would limit abortions but make exceptions for rape and incest. Is what is created in the case of a rape or incest life? It is, without question. They want three exceptions - rape, incest and protecting the life of the mother. Abortion foes would certainly except rape and incest because they're opposed to abortion. Pro-life advocates would wish to protect life and not punish that life because their fathers were rapists or relatives.

I should point out that I skipped, in that last thought, the "life of the mother" phrase. In the case of pro-life versus anti-abortion, the life of the mother would indeed be a concern. Any rational person knows that there might come, albeit rarely, circumstances that require that one life must be terminated in order to save another. In other cases the prognosis is that carrying a baby to term will likely kill both. In the pro-life view, the key issue is life, so saving lives is right. Terminating a pregnancy to save the life of the mother is not inconsistent with a pro-life view. Along these lines, I've seen protests about rape or incest of a child ending in pregnancy. "It could kill that child to bring that baby to term." I think I just expressed my response to that from a pro-life perspective. Saving lives is always a good idea.

I know. The media and, thus, your everyday followers of all things media will continue to call me "anti-abortion" and continue to claim that the only reason I am "opposed to abortion" is because I'm a man who wants to control women. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Don't call me "anti-abortion." I am pro-life.


Marshal Art said...

That definition with which you began your post is not accurate, even if you got it out of a dictionary of some kind. Giving birth "terminates" a pregnancy by that definition and thus giving birth would be an abortion. We both know that's not the case. No. Abortion is "the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy" by killing the unborn. As such, it isn't a termination of the pregnancy, but the termination of the child's life. This is an incredibly important distinction.

With that in mind, I'm both pro-life and anti-abortion at the same time.

Stan said...

Usually "terminate" means "to end something" which is not regarded the same as something that naturally ends. People are concerned about "terminating life" even though we understand that all life ends, preferably naturally. So the definition (from the dictionary) emphasizes "deliberate" (as opposed to natural or accidental) and "termination" (as opposed to the normal ending of things). Medically, the definition is "the premature exit of the products of conception (the fetus, fetal membranes, and placenta) from the uterus." If that doesn't kill the child, I don't care. If it isn't intentional (miscarriage), I don't regard it as immoral. But if you're concerned both about prematurely terminating a pregnancy and killing the unborn, then I won't argue the point. No, let me put it another way. Did you not understand what I intended to say? I'm not "pro-pregnancy"; I'm "pro-life."

David said...

I've always disliked the anti-abortion moniker because of the apparent intent of it. Pro-life is about saving lives. Anti-abortion is about controlling women. And as Stan pointed out, anti-abortion would require, in the case of the imminent death of both mother and child, that both be allowed to die, because you're against abortion, not for life. The other problem is the strategy of using the word "anti". In general, being anti something is a negative thing. That's why it's not anti-pregnancy, it's pro-abortion.

Marshal Art said...

I've been going round and round with the usual suspects on the concept that abortion saves lives (of course, not the life of the unborn). Yet, I have found many cases of medical professionals, including former abortionists that roundly dispute that claim. Thus, to say I'm anti-abortion does not mitigate the fact that I'm also pro-life. I am anti-abortion because I'm pro-life. There's no conflict to being both.

I also totally get the distinction between pro-pregnancy and pro-life. My position doesn't necessarily reflect either favoring or not favoring pregnancy as that is not relevant to the debate.

My original response was to correct least, incomplete...definition of "abortion" as it was, to some degree, related to the whether calling one's self "anti-abortion" was appropriate or accurate as compared to being pro-life. They're two different things. But "abortion" is indeed the intentional killing of the unborn. The term might be used in other contexts, even related to pregnancies. But alone, it is ALWAYS the intentional killing of the unborn.

Stan said...

I'm pro-life and not in the least interested in maintaining power over women. It is unavoidable that those who are "anti-abortion" will be regarded as primarily interested in maintaining power over women. I'm trying to keep a focus on the actual point -- life. To me, "anti-abortion" obfuscates the point.

Marshal Art said...

I also prefer the term "pro-life" which I agree is the real and only important point. To be "anti-abortion" from there is no different than opposing any other means by which people lose their lives unjustly. Everything flows from the "pro-life" position.

Another thing to consider are those who claim to be pro-life while maintaining that it's up to the pregnant woman to decide. I don't see such people as being truly pro-life, but in confronting them, it's good to tie "anti-abortion" as a logical extension of the "pro-life" position.

David said...

In no way can one claim to be both pro-choice and pro-life. Those are opposites. If someone claims to be both, then they don't understand what they are believing, and using a third word, that is inaccurate, is not helpful in clearing up the positions. It is instances like this that Stan has so many posts about why definitions matter. You can't clearly debate a topic of two people mean different things by the same word. If you run into someone that claims both, you must disabuse them of their misconception, not allow them to keep their opposing beliefs by validating them with a caveat word.

As an example, I too can say that I'm pro-choice, but I must explain that my "choice" is predicated on the pre-impregnated-choice. Once you're pregnant, you lose that choice because it's no longer about you. I would never say that I'm pro-choice in mixed company or in a serious manner because I know my "definition" is nonstandard. Claiming anti-abortion as a valid definition of my position is conceding the battle. It is letting them control the emotional battle of what should be a logical/moral battle.