Confronting ‘Pro-Choice’ Arguments With Truth

A response to hostility from the pro-elective abortion side.

By Rob Schwarzwalder Published on July 10, 2018

My heart goes out to the women who have responded with hostility to my recent piece about elective abortion. The anger shown by some of them is painful to read.

Here are two comments that capture the tone of some of what’s been said:

  • “You completely minimize the complications of pregnancy for your convenience to make is sound like pregnancy and childbirth is a walk in the park. I am not fooled …”
  • “You want women to be brood mares for wealthy white people. Be honest. The only reason any kids who aren’t white get adopted is because no other kids are available. Your side will leave the dark-skinned and disabled kids to rot in orphanages.”

As to the content of their arguments, some of it very thoughtful. Here are some responses.

A Clear Comeback

  1. At conception, a unique person comes into being. A person, not in the fulness of form or mind or organic maturity, but a person. To claim otherwise is to be at war with science.
  2. In my article, I wrote, “Pregnancies can be difficult, inconvenient and painful. No one disputes this.” Maybe some of my critics missed this. I never would suggest that pregnancy and childbirth are “walks in the park.”
  3. My critics are right that serious medical conditions can affect women during pregnancy. I did not address this adequately and regret not doing so. However, doctors can almost always save the life of the woman along with that of her baby. Yet, in rare instances, there is a genuine danger to the life of the mother. That is why I agree with a statement found on the website of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists. It said: “There is a fundamental difference between abortion, and necessary medical treatments that are carried out to save the life of the mother, even if such treatments results in the loss of life of her unborn child. We confirm that the prohibition of abortion does not affect, in any way, the availability of optimal care to a pregnant woman.”
  4. One critic said that I have not presented the complexity of “bodily autonomy” but does not explain this. I say an abortion involves two lives. Two human beings, two persons. Each has equal value. While not separate during pregnancy — one lives in the body of another — they are distinct. Genetics, biology, and observation prove this.
  5. As the adoptive father of three multi-racial children, I am offended by the comment about “dark-skinned and disabled kids” and “brood mares for white people.” Were the comments directed at persons of color, the public would send fast and furious charges of racism. And rightly so.
  6. If abortion policy is returned to the states, (a) there be will many states that retain legal access to abortion-on-demand. Additionally, (b) in the states where it is illegal, the vast majority of women who want to abort their unborn children will be able to travel to places where they legally can do so. (c) Some medical professionals will perform abortions illegally; there has yet to be a society in history where crime does not exist. But should they do so, prosecution should follow rapidly. And (d), abortion is a relatively simple if potentially dangerous procedure. Even criminal abortionists would likely be competent at their sordid practice. This is especially true given the commitment of some “heroic” medical professionals to performing abortions regardless of the law. The idea of coat hanger abortions happening in every other back alley is fearmongering.

Stand Up for Humanity, Challenge Hypocrisy

My former colleague Cathy Ruse and I authored a booklet a few years ago titled, “The Best Pro-Life Arguments for Secular Arguments.” Cathy, formerly the senior counsel on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council. I served there for more than seven years.

In our booklet, we argue that “the more abortion is understood, the more one realizes it is anti-human, anti-life, and anti-woman.” We cannot fail to stand by that deduction, if science and logic count for anything in today’s political and cultural climate.

Help us champion truth, freedom, limited government and human dignity. Support The Stream »

As you watch TV, start looking for all the ads that talk about babies in the context of pregnancy. That show photos of unborn children using ultrasounds. That encourage women to get good prenatal care. With all the “women’s right to choose” talk, it’s impossible not to deal with the fact we’re talking about a baby. A small, developing life. A person.

To those women who have made comments about my earlier piece: You have every right to disagree, even though I believe you are wrong in every way. Please know that there is a loving God Who cares for you and offers you hope, healing, and forgiveness through His Son, Jesus. As someone who has received these eternal blessings, I can tell you they are real.

To those readers frustrated by the women mentioned above, show them kindness and respect when you respond. Cover them with prayer. Remember: “You were once darkness,” writes Paul to the Christians in Ephesus (5:8), “but now you are light in the Lord.” He opens eyes, and He alone.

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  • Ameribear

    Every pro-abortion argument can be refuted on non-religious grounds. I believe the abortion industry survives largely because of public apathy,

  • gladys1071

    Robert Schwarzwalder, you have not addressed the issue of bodily autonomy. You say that their are two lives at stake, and though i agree, but only one of those is using the body of another to live.

    By trying to outlaw abortion you are by default stating that the woman should be FORCED to gestate against her will. You are saying that one person has to sustain the life of another.

    You say that both lives are equal, but in reality you are saying the embryo or fetus HAS MORE rights. You are saying that it has a right to stay in a uterus which belongs to another person EVEN against their will.

    More rights because you are saying it has the right to use the woman to live, and to be housed in her uterus.

    You will counter and say that it has the right to not be killed.

    I say that by stating that the woman cannot remove it from her body, you are forcing her to provide for that life, that is GESTATIONAL SLAVERY.

    Please address to me this simple question.

    Do you believe in forcing a woman to stay pregnant against her will?

    • Rob Schwarzwalder

      See above. “Gestational slavery” is a ridiculous, euphemistic construct. It means, “I want to have sex on my terms and consequences to an unborn person are immaterial to me.” Please, Gladys – consider these things.

      • gladys1071

        No it does not. By you saying that it is all about sex is really not understanding what bodily rights mean. You are basically saying that women lose their rights to their bodies due to having sex.

        You are lowering the rights of women to less than dead people. We cannot even harvest the organs or disturb a dead person’s body without their consent before death. You actually need a court order to exhume a body.

  • gladys1071

    Robert Schwarzwalder, i also want to add, that you say have no problem with me disagreeing with you. I thank you for your graciousness, the problem i have is with you trying to change the laws to take away the rights to my body.

    You trying to outlaw abortion is telling me, that i were to become pregnant i have to STAY pregnant. Tell me how is it that by having sex i no longer own my uterus?

    No matter which way you look at it, continuing or terminating a pregnancy is a “medical decision” a VERY intimate medical decsion, that you say, YOU have no business inserting yourself into

    So tell me how does that compute? or how is that a form of limited government?

    • Shawn Blinke

      Do you NOT KNOW that sex leads to.. . wait for it… PREGNANCY? Dayum, who would have thunk it? Don’t you know even basic biological and medical SCIENCE?
      Abortion is like robbing a bank. Fun while you’re doing it but, if caught,
      you FEEL that you should NOT have to do the time? In case you haven’t noticed, in reality, actions have consequences.

      • gladys1071

        it is not the issue of consequences, it is the issue of bodily rights. Bodily rights do not get suspended because of having sex.

        Even prisoners have bodily rights, you cannot harvest their organs or take their blood for the benefit of another, they get to retain their rights to not have their body used for the benefit of another.

        By saying that women that become pregnant have to remain pregnant, you are basically reducing a woman to less rights then prisoners.

        • Shawn Blinke

          Umm… Where has any conservative ever said or written that about prisoners and harvesting their organs?
          Let me get this straight. You’re comparing your uterus (designed and created by God for the purpose of bringing forth LIFE) to convicts in jail that DIED in jail (can you say life sentence?).
          It absolutely boggles my mind how you LIEberal Regressives just totally ignore the First Right declared outright in The Declaration of Independence. You… The Right to LIFE, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, as protected by the Government.
          A woman’s uterus should be the SAFEST place in the world for our most defenseless. Not one of the most DANGEROUS.

          • gladys1071

            A woman’s uterus belongs to the woman and she has the right to refuse to gestate.

            Their is no right to life that requires anyone to be gestated inside another person’s body.

            The world is a dangerous place, learn to accept that.

    • Rob Schwarzwalder

      Government has an interest in protecting persons from violence and oppression. The unborn child is, by any measurable scientific metric, a person. When one has sexual intercourse, he/she is making a tacit decision to acknowledge the possibility and sacredness of new life. Your bodily right ends where another’s right to life begins – including life that has begun in your womb.

      • gladys1071

        Sexual intercourse is NOT a tactic agreement to anything but sexual intercourse.

        You yourself are wanting it to be more then it really is.

        Is consent to sex once, consent to sex more than once?

        The unborn is not a person under the law and has no rights, so no a woman’s right is not suspended due to having sex, she still retains the rights to her body.

        A man does not lose his rights to his body due to sex, why should a woman?

        You are lowering women to rights less then dead people.

        Look up the rights of dead people, they have bodily rights.

        • Rob Schwarzwalder

          Gladys: Of course intercourse recognizes the possibility of pregnancy. Precautions against such indicate an acknowledgement of its possibility. That they fail is no pretext for destroying the unborn life. Legality and morality are quite different, as many evil laws throughout history demonstrate. My best to you. RS

          • gladys1071

            i agree legality and morality are not always the same. Just because you find abortion to be morally unacceptable, does not mean it should be illegal, since others do not share your view.

            The best is the status quo, those that are against abortion, DO NOT have to procur one.

            Everyone is free to carry to term all of their pregnancies, and those that don’t , don’t have to.

            What is so wrong with leaving it the way it is?

            I don’t infringe on your rights and you don’t infringe on mine?

          • gladys1071

            What about the question of STD’s should a person be barred from treating them because they are a CONSEQUENCE OF sex?

      • gladys1071

        No i am not, when i consent to sex, i consent to sex nothing more. You don’t get to decide that for me.

        Any consequences of such will be mitigated or dealt with.

        Do you agree with treating an STD, or should the person just live with it?

  • SAA5of5

    Women are never better off with dead babies. Never. Babies are never better off dead. Never. Poor prenatal diagnoses are often either entirely wrong or not as serious as anticipated. Miracles still happen. Perinatal hospice is a beautiful thing. Delivering your baby naturally rather than paying for a violent, painful end, is sold to women as selfish. It is NOT selfish. The womb of one’s mother has become the most dangerous place in the world. It’s time to put an end to the selling of despair and handing lethal power to every-day citizens. Late-term abortionist Carhart defends his belief that a chimpanzee could perform an abortion. You’d better check his office. He may have tried bringing in a few to join his staff. He also has been known to teach women how to perform abortions on themselves. He calls it “menstrual extraction”.

    • gladys1071

      handing out lethal power. Everytime a gun is sold lethal power is handed out ( i am very pro-2nd amendment) to an individual.

      Women own their uterus which means, she has the final say on whether to continue gestating or not.

      Yes the woman has the power, but that is what comes with ownership of one’s uterus.

      Does the uterus now belong to the embryo or fetus?

      Does a gun belong to its owner? everytime a person shoots a gun, he/she is holding lethal power.

      So you are for one type of lethal power, but not a woman, she cannot have a say on what happens to her body?

      • Shawn Blinke

        So you are now comparing abortions and guns now? How many people that legally own guns go out and intentionally murder people? Compare that to the number of people that own illegal guns and intentionally murder people.
        Yet when a woman gets an abortion, she is INTENDING to take an innocent life. That, in the real world, is MURDER!
        Almost 1 million babies are aborted each year. Compare THAT to ALL gun deaths for a year (you pick the year, any year) in the USA.

        • gladys1071

          My analogy fits, guns are a lethal power, and yet i hear no outcry about removing that power from individuals ( i own guns too, and i support the 2nd amendment)

          So tell me what is the difference between owning a lethal piece of hardware and a woman using her basic right to remove an unwanted gestation?

          This is not a number comparison, guns kill people and is a lethal power in the hands or ordinary citizens.

          Whether someone owns a gun legally or not, still has the power to kill with it.

        • gladys1071

          A woman that has an abortion is intending to not be pregnant anymore, that is the INTENTION.

          A pregnancy cannot be transferred to anyone else to continue. The only way for a woman to stop the gestation process is to abort and remove it.

    • gladys1071

      So are you saying a woman cannot cause herself an abortion or a heavy period?

      Does a woman owner her uterus or not? that is the question.

      Stating that it is lethal power for a woman to procur an abortion, and yet not condemning the lethal power of a gun or a car (both are deadly weapons) is disengenious.

      Women do not lose their rights because of having sex, a woman is not just an incubator.

      You want to take a woman’s right to her OWN uterus.

      • Rob Schwarzwalder

        Gladys, when a woman has sexual intercourse with a man, unless rape is involved, she is choosing to accept the fact that pregnancy could result. More than her uterus is involved in abortion. Another person is, a person with value separate from the woman carrying her. Abortion is the ultimate form of oppression.

        • gladys1071

          Sexual intercourse is consent to sexual intercourse, any consequences of it can be mitigated, that is pregnancy or STD’s.

          You cannot read minds, so you cannot say if a woman is agreeing to the consequences of sex or not, she may or may not.

          It is like saying a smoker is accepting to get cancer.

          • Craig M

            A smoker *is* accepting the possibility of getting cancer. Unless they’ve been living under a rock. They may choose not to think about it, because they don’t like the thought. That’s denial. How much easier life would be if that let us off the hook for the consequences of our actions. ☺

          • gladys1071

            ok, but would you deny the smoker treatment of his/her cancer?

          • Craig M

            Well, your analogy of smoking to pregnancy is just that – an analogy. An analogy is intended to bring out certain parallels with the subject you’re discussing in order to better understand it. But it’s not an absolute equivalency, and I think it’s a mistake to take it as such. Every analogy breaks down and goes its separate way at some point.

            In this case, the answer depends on taking the analogy further than you originally meant it, and hinges on whether you consider a fetus to be a human being, or just a collection of cells, like an organ or a tumor. This whole debate hinges on that question. If you believe the former, the cancer analogy no longer applies, and if you believe the latter it does.

          • gladys1071

            i do believe a fetus is a human being, biologically it is. I just don’t believe it has the same rights as the pregnant woman. I believe her rights supersede, whether it is a human being or not is irrelevent to me.

          • Craig M

            Can one human being have different, that is lesser, rights from another? I find that to be a curious proposition. What would be the justification for that? Do we hold that to be true in any other areas or situations? This is the idea in slavery, of course – The Supreme Court once ruled ( sort of) that slaves were 3/5ths of a human being – but I can’t think of any other realm where we are comfortable with that idea these days.

            You say you don’t believe it has the *same* rights – do you mean it has some rights, or none?

            You say a fetus is a human being biologically – can you be human in the biological sense but not in any other sense? This idea puzzles me too. It’s classified biologically as homo sapiens, but that’s as far as it goes and confers no special status or rights? Is that what you mean? It seems to me that that would essentially be saying, “It’s not a human being; it just happens to look like one.”

            “whether it is a human being or not is irrelevent to me.” This one I’m going to really have to think about for awhile until it sinks in.

          • gladys1071

            I know that might sound heartless to you, but in my mind if i have to choose between the women or the embryo or fetus, i choose her.

            What i mean is that if a woman does not want to continue a pregnancy, she should be able to terminate it .

            Now i am willing to give the fetus some consideration say after 12 weeks, but i do believe in a woman’s right to terminate in the 1st trimester for whatever reason.

            A woman should not be obligated to continue a pregnancy and give birth if she does not want to.

            Now please do not argue about sex or whether or not she used protection.

            I am strickly speaking after she is pregnant, she should have that right to remove it for whatever reason up to 12 weeks

            If laws were to be passed to give it more consideration after 12 weeks, i am willing to live with that as long as it is not an outright ban.

          • gladys1071

            i just want to add, i consider the embryo NOT to have any rights at all since it has to be gestated by the woman and requires a host body to live.

            I would consider a fetus/ after 12 weeks or so, to have more consideration, and i am open to restrictions as long as their are exceptions.

            Basically a fetus after 12 weeks i believe should have some rights to not be terminated, but i still believe the woman should come first if their were to be some complication.

            I hope that makes more sense to you.

          • Ann Morgan

            Gladys, for an interesting take on an alternative (but fairly valid) moral code, sometime read the ‘Infinity Hold’ trilogy by Gary Longyear. The system of law in the book held that a victim of a crime had an absolute right to justice. Justice being defined as everyone getting exactly what they deserve, as fast as possible. There were no (or actually just one) loopholes to get a criminal out of being punished. Meaning – if your ‘very life’ depended on a criminal not getting punished (as fast as possible, not at a sad feely later time), whether it be because you were a fetus inside a pregnant murderer, or a Siamese twin who thought he could get his ‘brother’ out of punishment by refusing surgery to be separated – you were toast.

        • And when you drive a car, you are choosing to accept the fact that you could get into a car wreck. When they take you to the ER after a wreck, they put you back in the condition you were in before.

          Women who need abortions are asking for the same thing.

          • Rob Schwarzwalder

            Who puts the dead baby back together?

          • What dead baby? When the embryo has fewer cells than the brain of a fly, I don’t call that a “baby.”

          • Rob Schwarzwalder

            And all the same genetic composition as you and me. Further, the “embryo” has a beating heart at 22 days. Analogizing a nascent person with a fly is painful even to read.

          • Uh, it’s not a person. That’s the point. And you admit that by calling it a “nascent person.”

            Yours is the argument from potential: it’s not a person now, but it will be. And I agree. Get back to me when it’s a person, because as a single cell, it ain’t.

            And all the same genetic composition as you and me.

            Wow. You got me with that one. The same DNA as you and me. If there’s one thing that melts my heart, it’s Homo sapiens DNA. Gosh–how many love poems have been written to DNA? If I had a nickel …

    • A single cell isn’t a “baby.” When it’s born 9 months later with a trillion cells, then it’s a baby.

      Our common goal should be to encourage women who are going to have an abortion to have it ASAP.

  • Jim H

    “At conception, a unique person comes into being. A person, not in the fulness of form or mind or organic maturity, but a person. To claim otherwise is to be at war with science.”
    The question of personhood is not a scientific question. It is a theological, philosophical and legal one.
    When you get the very first argument wrong, it’s not really much of a “clear comeback”.

    • Rob Schwarzwalder

      Jim, yes, personhood has theological implications. However, the uniqueness of the individual as indicated by DNA and biology is not in debate. Birth changes nothing except the locus of the individual’s body. From conception onward, a distinct individual – a person – has come into being. One with value independent of the life and volition of her mother.

      • Jim H

        Thanks for the reply.

        I disagree with your that statement that DNA and biology indicates the uniqueness of an individual. Monozygotic twins have exactly the same DNA, but I think we would agree that each is a unique individual person. Whereas, a tetra zygotic chimera has two sets of DNA, but I think we would agree that doesn’t mean there are two individual persons in one body.

        Regardless, I think you would have a hard time finding a developmental biologist or embryologist who would attest that science supports the
        idea that personhood begins at fertilization. Renowned developmental biologists/embryologists like Scott Gilbert (Swarthmore University) and Lewis Wolpert would certainly refute such a claim.

        The fact is, biologists are not going to answer this question for us and appealing to biology is only a good argument when the person you’re debating doesn’t know enough biology to realize it’s irrelevant.

        • Rob Schwarzwalder

          You are using the extraordinary to find a rule. This is like saying that because someone might have been born with two pinkies, we cannot assert that man is a ten-fingered being. Two persons exist during pregnancy: The mother and she whom the mother carries.

          • Jim H

            You keep say that you are making your claim regarding personhood and DNA based on science. The process of the scientific method involves making conjectures (hypotheses), deriving predictions from them as logical consequences, and then carrying out experiments or empirical observations based on those predictions.

            You have made a conjecture/proposed a hypothesis; DNA is what determines an individual person. The logical consequence of that are that one set of DNA equates to one individual person in one individual body. I have presented two experiments, monozygotic twins and tetragametic chimeras, both of which disapproves your hypothesis.

            In 2015, Time reported on a case where two paternity tests showed a father only shared 10% of his child’s DNA, the parents feared the fertility clinic had inseminated the mother with another man’s sperm. It turned out that the DNA in the man’s sperm, which contained both his DNA and that of a twin that died and was “absorbed” by him. So, based on DNA, his unborn twin was the father of his child and he was the child’s uncle

            This actually occurs in anywhere from 20% to 30% of pregnancies with multiple babies.

            Also, Time reported a recent Danish study found that women who gave birth to boys retained cells with Y chromosomes. These can migrate throughout the body and have been found in the lungs, thyroid, muscle, blood, heart and even the brain of the mother.

            The bottom line is if you are going to claim science backs up your claim, it really doesn’t matter whether its extraordinary or not. Either DNA is what determines an individual person or it isn’t. I have given you a number of examples that show it isn’t.

  • Nanita Staley

    Let me straighten out one of the misconceived notions you initiated this article with, not your notions but the notions of the ill-informed. I am a grounded, civil, law-abiding white woman of 70. 35 years ago I adopted a beautiful baby girl from Korea. Two years later I adopted a boy, also from Korea. I never had any desire for ‘white’ children. My heart was always drawn to Asian children. I love my children as much as if they had been born from my body. And do not make any mistake, they are MY children! I would fight to the death for them.. So, just in case there are any fools like you described reading this, there is a nation full of people who will love a child because God has given that person a heart for the children of this world. Because there are children in need out there and God gave us the hearts to fulfill those needs as we are able to do.

  • Please know that there is a loving God Who cares for you

    You’re welcome to believe this, but this is no argument in the secular public square. That is, “We should outlaw abortion because God says so” is no argument.

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