If I Were Pro-Choice

*Posted by Barry Creamer

Sometimes people hold positions without knowing why they do so. They also often argue for positions without thinking through their many implications. As a person who has taught bioethics for years in both secular university and Christian settings, I have been forced to think through the things that follow my pro-life position. That process, and my school years as a competitive debater, have taught me never deliberately to present a position which cannot be defended to the nth degree of its implications.

As a professor, I have also had the need to present the best of both sides of issues, regardless of my personal commitment to them. So I have been down the road of implications following the pro-choice position. On many occasions I have found myself helping a contra-locutor avoid an unnecessarily weak position. Admittedly, it is an arrogant thing to do, but it does make for a better discussion and lead to a firmer conclusion.

Just as often, though, I have heard or seen a pro-choice slogan or argument and only said to myself, If I were pro-choice, I still wouldnt say that. Or, just as importantly, I would make this my point. Here are a few examples, and, in each case, only the tail-end of the reason why:

If I were pro-choice, I would never say the issue is health. Being pro-choice I would want to make sure that elective abortions were justified by my argument, and abortions for the health of the mother (regardless of claims on both sides of that issue) would do nothing to make that justification.

If I were pro-choice, I would not appeal to the horror of back-alley abortions as a reason to provide clean and legal abortions for women. (I must ignore for the moment the absurdity statistics make of this claim.) I would know that if pro-lifers believe abortion is killing a baby, they would care no more whether an abortion clinic is safe than they would whether an Al-Qaeda camp is fully accredited.

If I were pro-choice, I would not use slogans like no child unwanted or if you cant trust me with a choice, why would you trust me with a child. I would realize that those slogans, and all like them, could easily be understood as confusing ways to say, respectively and for instance, eliminate all unwanted children, and since you dont think I make good enough decisions to raise a child, why wont you let me kill it?

If I were pro-choice, I would not argue about whether an embryo, blastocyst, or zygote is a child. How would I make my case to someone who believes in a soul, or that life is a gift from God, or simply that the slippery slope will not allow them to define a beginning moment?

I would do none of those things if I were pro-choice.

If I were pro-choice, I would argue only for the liberty of the mother.

I would argue that no woman should be pressured to raise her own children, and that indeed, there is no maternal obligation toward a child at allunless a woman chooses to create it (not the child, but the obligation).

I would argue that abortion is a tragedy, and that women who undergo it may suffer greatly and require much support, and that it is sad for a fetus not to have found a safe home, but that personal liberty is inviolable, and, since there is no intrinsic maternal obligation, it is still up to the woman to decide whether the tragedy takes place or not.

And I would favor infanticide, since a womans prerogative regarding her body would still apply to the child at least till weaning, and since seeing the child would allow for more informed decision-making. (What new mother would say that the childs imposition on her life actually declined after its birth?)

But I do not support infanticide. And I do believe in maternal (and paternal, by the way) obligation, including even the sacrifice of some liberty. (Thats what it means for it to be an obligation, after all.)

So I am not pro-choice. I need to have a fundamentally different set of values in order to make an argument so I could be so. I dont. So Im not.

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