Search This Blog

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Deflating 25 Pro-choice Arguments, Slogans, and Talking Points.

In preparation for the bi-annual "40 Days for Life" campaign, I've written a blog post concerning the issue of defending the pre-born right to life.  

Below I've listed 25 common pro-choice arguments I've heard and some responses thereof.

I hope the reader will read with an open heart and rationally consider all the evidence and arguments.

And I pray the pro-lifer will be inspired and
encouraged to defend the pre-born with increased enthusiasm and determination.  
For more information about the "40 Days" go here:

  The fall campaign starts September 26.     
                      THE ARGUMENTS:

1. Since a "fertilized egg"/embryo/zygote/fetus is not human, abortion cannot be considered murder.

  The word fetus is a Latin term that means "little one", "offspring" etc.1 and is used to refer to a specific point in human development (8 or 9 weeks up to birth)2

  As with "fetus", the terms "zygote" and "embryo" also refer to human development from the earliest stages of conception3.

  From zygote to embryo to fetus to infant and on, scientists and medical professionals observe an organism that is whole (not a part like a cell or an arm), has human parents, human DNA, and a developing human anatomy and physiology.

   Human life is a continuum of development and to suggest that two human parts (gametes) can come together to form a non-human "thing" (embryo, zygote, or fetus), which then develops into a human at some arbitrary point in time is both unscientific and untrue. 

Note: The term "fertilized egg" is largely considered unscientific and is itself an oxymoron. You either have a gamete or a new organism, but there is no such convention as a "fertilized egg"4. Furthermore, there are no grounds for using the term in an attempt to dehumanize the unborn child, as is often the case.

2. An unborn child is only a potential human being/life, not an actual one.

  Something doesn't become human as it ages and grows. 

  Either something is human or it is not and we know that from the very earliest stages of development the pre-born child is whole, displays human DNA, human parentage, and a developing human anatomy and physiology. 

  This leads us to conclude that the organism in question (ie: unborn child) is an actual human being/life not a potential one.

3. The fetus is simply a parasite and, as such, does not have a right to it's mother's body, though the mother has the right to remove the fetus (ie: parasite).

  The first problem with this argument is that parasitical relationships involve two different kinds of organisms, while in the case of the the child/mother relationship we have two of the same kind of organism. 

   Secondly, it is incorrect to call a non-foreign entity a parasite5  and since the unborn child originates from it's mother's own body and, thus, is not foreign, it cannot be considered a parasite.

  Not to mention that exciting new studies in mice suggest the relationship between mom and baby is mutually beneficial from a health standpoint6.

   For these reasons and others, we can conclude that applying the label of "parasite" to an unborn child is inaccurate and, consequently, not a valid reason for killing the child.

4. The fetus is part of the woman's body and a woman has the right to do what she wants with her own body.

  This argument betrays a profound ignorance of the human body. 

  From conception, the organism in question has its own set of DNA, its own gender, which may be opposite that of its mom; and it's own developing anatomy. 

  The umbilical cord begins developing somewhere between the fourth and eighth weeks of gestation7 and in no way makes the fetus part of its mother.

  A woman may have a right to do what she wants with her own body, but she does not have the right to do what she wants with someone else’s body, including her unborn child.

5. Since the fetus isn't yet sentient or self-aware it cannot be considered a person.

  To answer this argument I want to quote directly this rebuttal from Christian (it's a little technical, but helpful nonetheless):

 To claim that a person can be sentient, become nonsentient, and then return to sentience is to assume there is some underlying personal unity to this individual that enables us to say that the person who has returned to sentience is the same person who was sentient prior to becoming nonsentient. 

But this would mean that sentience is not a necessary condition for personhood. (Neither is it a sufficient condition, for that matter, since nonhuman animals are sentient.)

Consequently, it does not make sense to say that a person comes into existence when sentience arises, but it does make sense to say that a fully human entity is a person who has the natural inherent capacity to give rise to sentience. A presentient unborn human entity does have this capacity. Therefore, an ordinary unborn human entity is a person, and hence, fully human.

  I want to add that base self-awareness is not present in humans until 4 or 5 years old8. It is then okay to kill a toddler because he is not yet self-aware?

6. Abortion is acceptable because the fetus cannot feel pain.

  Ashlyn Blocker of Patterson Georgia has a rare disease known as CIPA or congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrohis which leaves Ashlyn and other sufferers of the disease with an inability to feel pain9,10.  

  Be that as it may, no one would argue that it is then morally acceptable to kill Ashlyn or any other person with CIPA because they, from birth, cannot feel pain. 

  Simply because one cannot feel a harmful act being perpetrated upon them, does not mean they are not being harmed or that it is okay to harm them. This concept is self-evident.

  For this reason, one in not justified in killing an unborn child at the stages where it cannot feel pain, simply because it cannot feel pain.

  7. Life begins at.....birth/x weeks/ when it takes a breath.

    To contend that human life begins at any time other than conception is contrary to scientific study and is fundamentally absurd.

Here are direct quotes from pertinent science textbooks: 

“Although life is a continuous process, fertilization ... is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte.” (Ronan O'Rahilly and Fabiola Muller, Human Embryology & Teratology, 3rd ed., New York: Wiley-Liss, 2001, p. 8)

 “Zygote. This cell results from the union of an oocyte and a sperm during fertilization. A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo).” ... “[The zygote] marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.” (Keith L. Moore and T.V.N. Persaud, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 7th ed., Philadelphia: Saunders, 2003, pp. 2,16)

“The zygote thus formed represents the beginning of a new life.” (J.P. Greenhill and E.A. Friedman, Biological Principles and Modern Practice of Obstetrics, Philadelphia: W.B. Sanders, 1974, p. 17)

“It is the penetration of the ovum by a spermatozoan and resultant mingling of the nuclear material ... that constitutes the culmination of the process of fertilization and marks the initiation of the life of a new individual.” (Bradley M. Patten, Human Embryology, 3rd ed., New York: McGraw Hill, 1968, p. 43)

“When fertilization is complete, a unique genetic human entity exists.” (C. Christopher Hook, MD, Mayo Clinic, as quoted by Richard Ostling in an AP news story, 9/24/99)

and medical professionals:

“It is incorrect to say that biological data cannot be decisive...It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception.” (Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth, Harvard University Medical School)
“I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception.” (Dr. Alfred M. Bongioanni, Professor of Pediatrics and Obstetrics, University of Pennsylvania)

After fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being. [It] is no longer a matter of taste or is plain experimental evidence. Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception.” (Dr. Jerome LeJeune, Professor of Genetics, University of Descartes)

“By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception.” (Professor Hymie Gordon, Mayo Clinic)

“The beginning of a single human life is from a biological point of view a simple and straightforward matter—the beginning is conception.” (Dr. Watson A. Bowes, University of Colorado Medical School)

and pro-choice advocates:

“Perhaps the most straightforward relation between you and me on the one hand and every human fetus from conception onward on the other is this: All are living members of the same species, homo sapiens. A human fetus, after all, is simply a human being at a very early stage in his or her development.” (David Boonin, A Defense of Abortion, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002, p. 20)

“Whether a being is a member of a given species is something that can be determined scientifically, by an examination of the nature of the chromosomes in the cells of living organisms. In this sense there is no doubt that from the first moments of its existence an embryo conceived from human sperm and eggs is a human being.” (Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, 2nd Edition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993, pp. 85-86)

“A human fetus is not a nonhuman animal; it is a stage of human being.” (Wayne Sumner, Abortion and Moral Theory, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981, p. 10)

Life begins with fertilization and abortion is legalized destruction of life.” (Dr. Arthur Morris, Jr., Abortionist, as reported in the Asheville Citizen-Times, April 4, 1976)

“We tell her exactly like it is … when they abort, they’ll be aborting a small baby.” (Dr. Arthur Morris, Jr., Abortionist, as reported in the Asheville Citizen-Times, April 4, 1976)

The consensus is clear and the evidence clearer: life begins at conception. 
8. We don't know when life begins.

See above. 

Also understand that from the earliest stages of development the pre-born child exhibits all the properties of life, including: 

1. Cellular Organization
2. Growth and Development
3. Reproduction
4. Response to Environment
5. Heredity11

9. A fetus doesn't even have a brain or a heart beat!
 We have shown that the fetus is human. We have shown that the fetus is living. Under the law, what is the killing of an innocent (for the fetus has committed no crime), living, human? The answer, of course, is murder. 

That is all I, the pro-lifer, needs to show. 

Because the fetus has not yet developed all of its parts and functions (brain waves present at 6 weeks12 and heart beat at 18 days13) is a nevermind.

10. Abortion simply terminates a pregnancy.

  This isn't really an argument for abortion, but a linguistical sleight of hand that makes abortion sound more respectable.

   When a pregnant woman has an abortion the baby is  terminated (ie: killed), thus violating the baby's right to life and perpetrating murder, both of which are unlawful and immoral.

  11. So what if the zygote is alive? My other cells are alive too! Do I murder when I exfoliate?

  This contention confuses the part with the whole

  Things like arms, legs, skin cells, and eyelashes are body parts. However, from zygote to adult, the human is a distinct and whole being, not a part. The zygote contains parts, but is itself an independent entity (see pertinent quotes from question 7).

13. Abortion is a private issue between a woman and her doctor.

  Abortion is anything but private. 

  The abortion procedure involves an innocent human being who's right to life is being completely disregarded in favor of its mother's wishes and  is in danger of being killed. 

  Putting a doctor in the mix changes nothing. The abortion procedure is still immoral, if we are all to  agree that is wrong to kill an innocent human being.

14. A woman should have the right to choose.

  Without the right to life all other rights are meaningless.

  No person, man or woman, has the right to decide which innocent children get live and which ones can be killed. 

  Such is not our choice.

   Also, what about the rights of females who are killed through the abortion procedure? Where is their choice?

  Invoking an assumed "right to choose" in no way changes the immorality of the abortion procedure.

15. A woman has the right to her reproductive health and freedom.

   The unborn child, as a human, also has a right to its to reproductive health and freedom, which implies its right to life.

16. Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.

  This is one of many opinions in the abortion debate, but when faced with the fact that the unborn child is a distinct an living member of the human race, it is no longer enough to resort to the "safe, legal, and rare" talking point.

  Imagine saying that murder should be "safe, legal, and rare", because that is exactly what the pro-choice person is saying with respect to abortion. 

 I think we can all agree that civilized society should move away from any kind of state-sponsored  infanticide, not attempt to regulate it.

17. Abortion is a safe medical procedure and is safer than childbirth.

  This is nothing short of a red herring. 

  Whether abortion is safer that childbirth or safe at all is not the primary issue at hand, insightful topic though it may be. 

  The main issue is the immoral destruction of life that comes as a result of abortion.

  However, when we understand that a person dies every time an abortion is properly executed, there is no reason to think that abortion is "safe".

18. Doctors not politicians should be making decisions on abortion.

  It is the job of the government to keep the peace and protect its citizens. 

  Abortion is a threat to many unborn babies in America, thus the government and, naturally, politicians have an obligation to get involved for the good of the citizenry.

19. Men cannot give birth, and therefore should have no say on the issue of abortion.

  This is an extension of the false idea that abortion is a women's rights issue.

  The right to life debate is a human rights issue, meaning that all humans, male and female, have a right and an obligation to speak on it.

20. Abortion is a painless medical procedure.

 This is non issue and deceitful at that.

It is a non-issue because the immorality of abortion is wrapped up in its destruction of an innocent human life, not that is causes physical pain.

It is deceitful because it ignore the fact that the fetus can feel pain at no later than 20 weeks of age:

. Myers, 2004, p.241, para.2, “The first essential requirement for nociception is the presence of sensory receptors, which first develop in the perioral area at approximately 7 weeks gestation and are diffusely located throughout the body by 14 weeks.95
Myers LB, Bulich LA, Hess, P, Miller, NM. Fetal endoscopic surgery: indications and anaesthetic management. Best Practice & Research Clinical Anaesthesiology. 18:2 (2004) 231-258.
95Smith S.  Commission of Inquiry into Fetal Sentience.  London: CARE, 1996.

 Derbyshire, 2010, p.7, para.2, “For the foetus, an existence of ‘pain’ rests upon the existence of a stimulus that poses a threat to tissue, being detected by a nervous system capable of preferentially responding to stimuli that pose a threat to tissue. The entire experience is completely bounded by the limits of the sensory system and the relationship between that system and the stimulus.  

If pain is conceived of in this manner then it becomes possible to talk of foetal pain anytime between 10 and 17 weeks GA [gestational age] when nociceptors develop and mature, and there is evidence of behavioural responses to touch.”

Derbyshire SW, Foetal pain? Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics and Gynaecology  24:5 (2010) 647-655.

 (For more on this see doctors on fetal

Also, abortion can have grave side effects that hurt women physically and emotionally14 15.

21. It is wrong to give a fetus more rights than that of a woman. 

No one is trying to give the fetus more rights than its mother.

We, pro-lifers, are trying to fight for one right to be recognized for the fetus: the right to life.

 22. Pro-life people should focus more on comprehensive sex education and alleviating poverty, than abolishing abortion.

  To borrow a concept from the Bible, "one man plants and another man waters".

  No one can do everything, but each person can do something and you will find that the respective faiths  from which the majority of pro-lifers come from have programs in place that can meet the needs of the economically impoverished without the pro-lifers "on the ground" being actively involved in said programs.   
  Also, while there are no studies that show the more you know about sex the less likely you are to have an unplanned pregnancy, most pro-lifers support some type of sex education.
 23. Abortion is a necessary evil and criminalizing it will only succeed in hurting women not stopping abortion.

 One can imagine there was a similar sentiment in pre-Civil War America concerning slavery. (Slavery as a "necessary evil" and the economy being damaged as a result of its abolishment.)

  Abortion is no more a "necessary evil" than is mass genocide to prevent overpopulation or slavery to increase crop production. 

  To say that abortion is a "necessary evil" is to say that we will never be able to adequately address the issues that precipitate a women's desire to abort, thus making pregnancy a "sometimes" curse that can only be counteracted by abortion.

Also, we know that abortion can and has hurt many women emotionally and physically.

You can visit the Blacknum Wall to see a list of some 300 women killed by having an abortion.

24. The world is already overpopulated and will only be more so if we make abortion illegal.

To see a concise yet scientific and mathematically sound refutation of this idea, I'll point the reader to this video by the Population Research Institute:

25. If abortion is made illegal, women will have to result to back-alley abortions and coat-hangers.

This, I think, is a scare tactic.

Thirteen years before Roe v Wade was legalized the then Medical director of Planned Parenthood said this:

 “Abortion is no longer a dangerous procedure….whether therapeutic or illegal, is in the main no longer dangerous, because it is being performed by physicians.” -- Dr Mary Calderone

We also have this data from the non-partisan, of the Annenberg Foundation:

“…From the 1940s through the 1960s…the best available evidence shows a dramatic decline in abortion-related deaths occurring even before the first states liberalized abortion laws in 1967.”
In summation, there is no data to suggest that women will die from illicit unsafe abortions after Roe V Wade is abolished or that women died in any considerable numbers from "back-alley", "coat-hanger" abortions before this legislation.

Even if women were to rush to have illicit abortion procedures if Roe were overturned, this would only mean that we would have to work harder to alleviate that adverse conditions that might precipitate a woman's desire to abort, not keep an immoral and barbaric practice legal.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but a sampling of the most popular pro-choice arguments that I have heard and some possible responses. 
I have found that once one has gotten a hold of the scientific evidence concerning the nature of the unborn child, one can easily navigate a debate with a pro-choice person because their arguments are usually just reincarnations of the same argument.
(For pro-choicers) If you don't see your argument represented above, leave me a comment below and I'll try to address it.
I hope the reader will consider getting involved in a local 40 Days for Life endeavor in some way, shape of form. 

1. "fetus". Oxford Dictionaries. April 2010. Oxford Dictionaries. April 2010. Oxford University Press. 25 August 2012 .

2. "9.1 Developmental Stages."
Developmental Stages. Université De Fribourg, Université De Lausanne, Universität Bern, 15 Oct. 2007. Web. 25 Aug. 2012. .

3. "4.6 The Fertilization Is Complete. The Formation of the Zygote."
The Fertilization Is Complete. The Formation of the Zygote. Université De Fribourg, Université De Lausanne, Universität Bern, 26 June 2007. Web. 25 Aug. 2012. .

4. Carnegie Institute. "00000018 Stage 1."
00000018. Carnegie Institute, National Museum of Health and Medicine, n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2012. .

5. "parasite."
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Company. 25 Aug. 2012. [>.]

6. Pritchard, Stephanie, Heather C. Wick, Donna K. Slonim, Kirby L. Johnson, and Diani W. Bianchi. "Fetal Cells Traffic to Injured Maternal Myocardium and Undergo Cardiac Differentiation."
Fetal Cells Traffic to Injured Maternal Myocardium and Undergo Cardiac Differentiation. Society for the Study of Reproduction, n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2012. .

7. "10.6 The Umbilical Cord."
Development of the Umbilical Cord. Université De Fribourg, Université De Lausanne, Universität Bern, 15 Oct. 2007. Web. 25 Aug. 2012. .

8. Rochat, Philippe. "Five Levels of Self-awareness as They Unfold Early in Life." N.p., 27 Feb. 2003. Web. 25 Aug. 2012.

9. "Amazing Gene Disorder: Tween Feels NO Pain."
New York Daily News. New York Daily News, 6 July 2012. Web. 25 Aug. 2012. <>.

10. "Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with Anhidrosis."
CIPA. Genetics Home Reference, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 22 Aug. 2012. Web. 25 Aug. 2012. <>.

11. "N100 Ch 1, Introduction, Characteristics of Life."
N100 Ch 1. IUPUI Department of Biology., n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2012. <>.

12. Prenatal Form and Function -€“ The Making of an Earth Suit."
6 to 7 Weeks. The Endowment for Human Development, n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2012. <>.

13. "Prenatal Form and Function – The Making of an Earth Suit."
2 to 3 Weeks. The Endowment for Human Development, n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2012. <>.

14."Abortion: Some Medical Facts."
Abortion: Some Medical Facts. National Right to Life Coalition, n.d. Web. 27 Aug. 2012. <>

15."Abortion Health Risks and Side-Effects."
Abortion Side-Effects and Health Concerns. Contracept, n.d. Web. 27 Aug. 2012. <>.