We are fortunate enough to live in a society where equality is a sought-after ideal. Every single human being is intrinsically just as valuable as you and I. This ideal of equality necessarily presupposes this intrinsic value, Otherwise it is undermined. The mother that has to choose to save one of two children, One of which is her own child, Understandably chooses her own child. But as we can all agree, That doesn't mean that the other child is objectively less valuable or deserving of the same rights any other human being has. If value was extrinsically determined, Equality is lost. If our value is determined by something which has degrees, Equality is lost. Is a child who is loved by their parents more valuable then a child who is hated by their parents? Obviously not. Is a child who is loved more by their parents then another child, Whom is still loved but not to the same degree, Less valuable than the former child? Obviously not. What determines our value must be common to all if this ideal of equality is to be pursued, And it cannot come in different volumes or quantities. It must be a zero sum game, You can't partially have it, Or be in the process of having it, You either have it or you don't.
The only common factor between all human beings, Is in fact, Being a human being. From the moment of conception onward, Science has established that a unique human being, A member of our species, Is created.
(https://www. Princeton. Edu/~prolife/articles/embryoquotes2. Html)
(https://papers. Ssrn. Com/sol3/papers. Cfm? Abstract_id=3211703)
This common factor is in and of itself, Both a necessary and sufficient condition for any understanding of personhood (personhood being the point at which a human being gains the inalienable right to life amongst other rights).
I submit that a human being and a human person are not distinct. One's humanity is the determining factor of their worth. This factor is intrinsic, And this factor is not variable. Two of the necessary conditions for an ideal of equality. Furthermore, Any concept of personhood distinct from one's humanity still presupposes one's humanity. For example if one determines personhood by heartbeat, Consciousness, Viability, Or awareness of pain perhaps, That presupposes that the conscious person is a human, Or that the heartbeat is a human heartbeat. Otherwise the same penalties for killing animals (who have heartbeats) should apply, But they don't. Thus we can describe these additional factors as (for the person proposing them) necessary but not sufficient conditions. They are really conditions that are comprised of humanity plus X, Y, Or Z. However, The common factor of humanity shared by all, Is both necessary and sufficient. There is no unfortunate implications as there might be in that prior example with animals, That have to be dealt with, Thus it's necessity and sufficiency.
My opponent from my perspective has two options here.
The first is to deny that humanity is the determining factor and provide the additional necessary condition that determines personhood and thus refute the "conception" position I hold. In anticipation of a few possible responses to this I will merely state that in every case at least one of three conditions is not met for it to be a satisfactory and agreeable necessary condition for personhood.
1. There are scenarios that force us to conclusions our current moral principles would not accept. For example if ability to feel pain is the determining factor, Then that would justify killing people with congenital analgesia, Which is a rare condition in which a person cannot feel (and has never felt) physical pain. Or the earlier example given about animals.
2. That the proposed necessary condition undermines the ideal of equality and the idea that every human person is fundamentally equal and worth the same as anyone else. For example, If one determines personhood by consciousness, That condition is one which can come in degrees. There are people that can be more or less conscious then others, Indeed, We all experience times of lesser levels of consciousness, E. G sleep or coma's. However we would not say that those that are more conscious are more valuable then anyone else.
3. That there is simply no good reason to think that the necessary condition proposed has any real relevance or applicability to the discussion of personhood and according to Hitchen's Razor; that which is asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence. "
The second option for my opponent I believe, Is to accept that from the moment of conception, A human person is present, However that there are acceptable circumstances when that human person's inalienable right to life is in fact, Alienable. In other words, Is not absolute. Common positions might be that it can be overridden in cases of rape, Severe poverty, Incest, Disability or perhaps more common then that, That the mother's bodily autonomy trumps the right to life of the baby.
The positions that attempt to justify abortion in the cases of rape for example, Can easily be identified as red herrings. In other words, Not ultimately relevant to the discussion. The question that need be asked is simple, "Can I kill a 20-year old woman who was conceived in rape? " To which the answer is of course "Absolutely not", And thus the idea of justifying rape is actually a red herring because the real question and assumption that the questioner holds is that the conceived-in-rape baby is less valuable then the 20 year old woman because it is not as much of/not a person. This same logic applies to any other scenario, Can we kill poor homeless people? Can we kill people conceived in incest? Can we kill people who are disabled?
Thus very quickly this avenue devolves back ultimately the first option the pro-choicer has from my perspective, And that is about personhood which as been discussed.
Now the bigger fish to fry is the bodily autonomy discussion. A lot of this can be done through rebuttal but I will provide the following commentary.
Now quite simply a principle that is applied in every country is that, One's right to life trumps one's right to bodily autonomy.
- Mandatory Vaccines
- Lock downs (topical I know)
- Prescription Drugs
- Drug laws
- Murder laws
- Court-Ordered Blood Transfusions
- Suicide Watch/Psychiatric Wards
- Conscription Laws (The Draft)
- Infant Care (Parental Negligence Laws)
These are just a few examples illustrating this principle.
Now here is a really good analogy for the pro-choice position that wants to argue for abortion by way of bodily autonomy.
A 32 year old father is out at his local pub having a pint of Guinness, When a young woman comes over and starts flirting with him to gain the opportunity to spike his drink. She successfully spikes his drink and he wakes up to find that his kidney is removed. The woman had taken out his kidney and had gone and placed it into a 4 year-old child whom will die if the kidney is removed. Does the 32 year old father have the right to go and kill the 4 year-old child to get back his kidney? To which the answer is obviously no.
How is this analogous? Well first of all we have a case of rape (the father did not consent to having his drink spiked nor to having his kidney removed). So we have a steelman-like construction of the pro-choice side, (rape accounting for less then 1% of all abortions, thus taking one of the worst case scenarios).
Second of all, We have the kidney representing bodily autonomy. Thus when the "kidney is removed" the man's "bodily autonomy is removed. " Third of all, We have a purely innocent party in the 4-year old baby that has done absolutely nothing wrong which of course is analagous of the innocent baby in the womb that is using the mother's uterus, Or in this case using the man's bodily autonomy to survive. The man furthermore is constantly being violated because he is constantly down one kidney. Thus the question, Can the man go and kill the baby to get his kidney back is synonymous with, Can the mother go and kill her own child in the name of getting her bodily autonomy back? To which the answer is accordingly still no.
As a final thought, many people will attempt to justify abortion based off of "medically necessary" circumstances, however there are no such ends that justify the means. I am arguing that abortion is intrinsically disordered, and thus no end can justify it as a means. This distinction of intrinsically disordered is key as there can be times where doing immoral things can be justified by the end, when those immoral things are not intrinsically disordered. For example, war is not intrinsically disordered, sometimes war is necessary as per Just-War Theory and so the circumstances under which a war is carried out can justify the war, however there are also many circumstances where war is not justified. Thus my position is simple, when it comes to intrinsically disordered moral actions, it is impossible for the end to justify it as a means, and so when I refer to that principle, keep in mind I am referring to that, not moral actions that are not intrinsically disordered.
In summary my position can be detailed as follows.
- It is intrinsically disordered to intentionally kill innocent human beings
- An innocent human being is created from the moment of conception
- Therefore abortion is intrinsically disordered
(Innocent here can be taken as the following; that no action has been taken to forfeit the right to life, having said that I don't believe in the death penalty and that any action can do such a thing, but that is for another time and place)
The most common objections to this occur in premises 1 and 2 and are as follows.
1 being either bodily autonomy or extreme scenarios, which has been addressed in this post to a degree in anticipation of such a response.
2 being personhood or indeed, the accusation of lack thereof.
Hopefully I've given some food for thought and look forward to my interlocutors response!
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