Sunday, March 4, 2012

Reductio Ad Absurdum

It's been a while since an abortion post. I know we've got a rather large number of abortion posts, but something caught my eye recently.

Some ethicists are advocating post-birth abortion.


I normally use this as a bit of a reductio ad absurdum [Update: Sorry, I got the Latin wrong at first, but it's fixed] argument (unfortunately, I've learned if you get to that point in an argument, this won't generally work). The idea is fairly simple; if you choose birth as the point of personhood, it's really quite an arbitrary distinction. A newborn and nearly-born fetus are virtually indistinguishable, except for the attachment to her or his mother. Either can survive out of the womb. Neither one is "fully-developed," of course, but what is fully-developed? The age of reason? Full physical development? Legal autonomy? Full mental development? It's rather hard to empathize with pro-choice positions when you see conception to natural death as a vibrant spectrum of human development, each moment a sacred and beautiful hue of life.


 But disregarding all that, I'm actually rather surprised that this idea hasn't gained momentum yet.  It seems like a natural extension from late-term abortion. I can only guess that there's no major constituency advocating for it . There's no one to empathize with. In the case of pre-birth abortion, there's the fairly compelling case of the scared, confused pregnant girl who couldn't be expected to raise a child. The case is made even more emotionally compelling in the case of rape victims. I don't mean to imply that this concept of finding an emotional banner for the cause is a pro-abortion one; we've all seen the pictures of fetuses and newborns used to remind pro-lifers what they should be fighting for. Those pictures can often be disturbing and graphic. Both cases are certainly compelling, which is why we've noted the importance of loving both the mother and fetal child.

Some pro-abortionists might have found their empathy magnet for post-birth abortion. An Emily Rapp writes that she wishes her child had been aborted  because he suffers from a painful, chronic illness. My prayers go out to young Ronan and his mother, of course, but such examples are those that post-birth abortionists will use. It's basically mercy-killing, and it's legal in Holland. Can people get on board with that? People have been convinced that abortion isn't taking human life, that it isn't playing God. Could they be convinced of this? Can they be convinced that death is better than a life of suffering? Furthermore, can they be convinced that this justifies actually killing a newborn?

I think it would take a while to convince them.


© 2012 David Birkdale

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