Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Kids Aren't Alright: Should We Set a Limit on Having Kids? [Clinton Wilcox]

Anne Green and Carter Dillard, executive director and president, respectively, of an organization that bills themselves as “pro-family,” called Having Kids, wrote an open letter to Prince William and Duchess Kate on July 25th after Kate joked about having another kid. Apparently this didn’t sit well with this organization, whose mission statement is to “promote a sustainable and child-centered family planning model.” By that they mean limiting yourself to only having a small number of kids in an effort to reduce your carbon footprint and to give them a fairer start in life. Large families, they reason, are one of the leading factors in global warming, so to combat global warming, we should limit our family sizes to two children.

I’m not going to respond to everything this organization believes. They do have a white paper on their website which I may read and analyze at some point, but for now I’m only going to respond to their statements in this open letter. They also don’t mention abortion on their website, so it’s not clear what they think about abortion or whether or not abortion fits into their “family planning” model, as it does the “family planning” model of Planned Parenthood.

First, I’ll just point out how bold it is to tell anyone how many kids you think they ought to be having, especially the Royal Family. But even just a cursory reading through this letter shows that not only are their arguments faulty, they’re not supported very well.

Second, I do want to point out that having a child-centered family planning model is admirable, as so many people don’t take kids into consideration when having sex or getting married, so as long as their model doesn’t involve abortion, then I think it’s a good thing to consider the kids you will potentially have in your marriage.

But therein lies one of the problems: how many kids should each family have? It seems like each couple is different, depending on their circumstances. So while one couple might only be able to have one or two kids, some could have eight, nine, or even more and be able to give all the kids the individual attention they need. I know people who have a lot of kids and their children are not suffering in any way.

Another pretty glaring problem is, how do you plan for these families? Christians believe that we are called to “be fruitful and multiply,” which was the first commandment given to the first humans in the book of Genesis. So having a small family is not part of the Christian model, and the fact that any time you have sex it can result in pregnancy seems to indicate that small families were never intended for us. It’s also true that pregnancy can take a long time because certain factors have to obtain before pregnancy can occur, which may also be nature’s way of making sure we don’t get too overrun with people. But if, for example, Catholic moral philosophers are right and using contraception is immoral, then limiting your family through contraceptive means would also be immoral. Again, I’m not sure if they’ve addressed these questions elsewhere such as in their white paper, but in the course of this open letter they don’t address many of the potential responses to their views which they should anticipate due to how controversial their views will be to the majority of people who read their letter.

They argue that large families are not sustainable and limiting our family sizes has the most potential for mitigating climate change and its effects. They claim that multiple studies have shown this, except that they link to an article on The Guardian which talks about one study that showed that having one fewer child will help lower your carbon emissions. Of course, this study also says that the next best things you can do are sell your car, avoid long flights, and eat a vegetarian diet. So why isn’t Having Kids advocating for people to stop driving and ride bikes, to stop flying long distances, and to go vegetarian? Why is it just reducing family sizes that they are interested in pushing to fight carbon emissions, considering that what they’re asking of people actually goes against human nature and considering the fact that many countries are actually below their replacement rate? So clearly their claim has not been adequately supported.

One objection they did anticipate is that considering this is the Royal Family they’re talking about, their children will, of course, receive love, care, and attention from their parents. But this isn’t true of all children, so William and Kate should keep their family size low as an example to the rest of us. Of course, this ignores the fact that you don’t have to be “Royal Family” rich in order to give a large family your attention, love, and resources. It seems, at the very least, that the “ideal number” of children would be relative to the financial situation of their parents. Instead, Having Kids would rather you keep your family small and give your resources to other families who need them to provide a fair start for their kids. But this, now, seems inconsistent -- they should be saying that if you can’t afford to have any kids, you shouldn’t be having any kids. They seem to believe that even if you can afford it, you shouldn’t have a large number of kids. But now they’re saying even if you can’t afford it, you should still be able to have kids. This is inconsistent reasoning.

Taking kids into consideration when planning a family is a good thing. Telling people they should limit the number of kids they have when there are other alternatives to achieve your desired result is not.

Monday, September 4, 2017

How to Be An (In)Consistent Moral Relativist

The fall 2017 semester is now in full-swing at colleges nationwide! Among the many activities students are participating in, from starting new classes, "crashing" other classes, moving into dorms, getting to know one another, and attending fall semester orientations, the ideology of moral relativism(the idea that all moral rules and standards are to be viewed subjectively, relative to individual persons and cultures) is being promoted wholesale. From class syllabi to course materials, moral relativism is the primary moral system in many colleges, even if students and faculty don't realize it.

There are several major problems with a worldview that leaves moral and ethical rules to be decided by an individual student or cultural group.

1. Relativism makes social justice an oxymoron

Many colleges and universities have changed from institutions promoting the search for truth into camps for training so-called "social justice warriors". Indeed, my own local university, CSU San Marcos, openly promotes social justice oriented events every year, promoting "social justice" within the local community. For an example, the textbook from one of my courses, A New History of Asian America, unintentionally highlights this. In the first chapter of the book, the authors lay out an overview of interactions between the United States and various Asian countries and cultures throughout history, and attempts to argue that the values of the West were "imposed" on those within these cultures, instead of allowing those cultures to promote and thrive according to their own views of the world and cultural values. Worldviews like Christianity, capitalism, and the English language are all scorned as being "forced" upon those living in Asia at the time.

There is a problem, however. If cultural values(including moral rules and standards) are all determined by the individuals and cultures in distinct times and places, by what standard then are we supposed to condemn these acts of cultural imperialism? The American missionaries and businessmen sincerely thought that they were acting in the most morally superior way, such as promoting Christianity and the economic values of the United States and Europe. If cultural values are what determines morality, then there is no standard by which to condemn even the most heinous acts of imperialism throughout history. Doing so would, in turn, simply be imposing one subjective cultural standard(ours) on another culture(theirs), with their own distinct, subjective standard. And there is no standard by which to determine that this is even wrong to begin with.

Even within our modern day culture, this view(subjective moral rules) would make any effort towards a more just and equal society meaningless. As Greg Koukl and Francis Beckwith write in their book Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air:
"What sense can be made of the judgement 'Apartheid is wrong' spoken by a relativist? What justification is there to intervene? Certainly not human rights, for there are no objective rights in relativism because there are no rights or wrongs of any kind...It would be inconsistent for the same car to sport the bumper stickers 'Pro-Choice' and 'End Apartheid'. Relativism is the ultimate pro-choice position, because it legitimizes every personal choice-even the choice to be racist."
2. There is no absolute "right" to anything if moral rules are subjective

During pro-life outreach last year on campus, a very adamant feminist student(who was loudly protesting our pro-life display, the Genocide Awareness Project) made the assertion that abortion was a right that should not be interfered with, because the Supreme Court had already recognized it as such. Very politely, I asked why it would be wrong for the same Court to turn around and take away that "right". She was unable to answer.

This raises an important question: Are there "rights" that civil government should recognize as objective? Or are rights only created by the government? If the former, then relativism is false. If the latter, then a moral relativist is caught in the ironic position of having to explain what is wrong with the government taking away abortion, same sex marriage, and re-instituting slavery. If the relativist thinks abortion and same sex marriage are things that all adults have the right to, then he is abandoning his own worldview of relativism in favor of objective moral rules. If not, he has no business complaining.

3. Students abandon relativism outside the classroom

This occurred to me the other day while looking for a parking space on campus. Virtually every parking spot was taken, and cars were circling the lot looking like hungry sharks. Whenever a spot opened up, drivers would rush to fill that spot.

Keeping in mind the philosophy that is embraced by almost the entire campus community, I almost decided to see what would happen if I cut off another student and took the empty parking space in front of us. I am sure they wouldn't be happy, and would call me all sorts of names that should not be repeated on a Christian apologetics blog.

Why though? What's unfair about stealing a spot from another student and thus making them late for class when "fairness" is a cultural concept? Suppose I grew up in a culture where you take the opportunities before you by being assertive. Is the cultural relativist going to do the horrific, blasphemous, triggering sin of telling me I was wrong to take their spot from them? Are they going to impose their cultural values on me? Drive on any freeway in southern California and you will see that no one is a true moral relativist.

Even the course syllabi in the philosophy classes promoting relativism will turn around and refute moral relativism on the first day by listing class policies:


Nothing more needs to be said about that.

Conclusion

An ethical worldview that leaves it's moral standards open to cultural or individual interpretations is impossible to live by. This seems to have escaped the vast number of social justice oriented professors, however, who make their livings by bashing Western norms and views on objective morality, while at the same time forgetting that this is only possible if there are objective moral truths that we are capable of knowing, that exist independent of our immediate acknowledgement of them(the so-called "First Things" that Hadley Arkes has called them)

Until these "First things" are remembered and recognized, students and professors within society will continue to suffer under the dictatorship of being inconsistent moral relativists.




Not Exactly Good Samaritans [Clinton Wilcox]

Hurricane Harvey pummeled Houston last week and left much of the city underwater, as well as cities closer to the Gulf of Mexico, such as Rockport, Port Arthur, and Bridge City. Naturally, people are banding together to help the people affected by these hurricanes. When you think of sending in much needed supplies to help the victims of a hurricane, what do you ordinarily think of? Food? Clothes? Money? How about abortions?


Pro-abortion organization Lilith Fund posted on Twitter that they’ve been raising money to give free abortions to women affected by Hurricane Harvey and who can’t afford an abortion. Call me old-fashioned, but when I think of rebuilding after a hurricane, my thoughts turn to banding together as a community and working to overcome the hurdles in front of you. They don’t turn to killing people. This has caused some pro-life people to make the comparison to Lilith, the demon in Jewish folklore who steals babies in the darkness. This is likely not who they’re named after, but the comparison is apt. And one critic of Lilith Fund’s tweet on Twitter said that one problem Lilith Fund sees with Hurricane Harvey is that it didn’t kill enough people.

Thankfully pro-life organizations and legitimate charities are doing actual work in getting much needed supplies to victims of the hurricane. If you’re going to give money or supplies, make sure you’re giving them to an organization that is doing actual good. Don’t give your money to Lilith Fund or any organization that puts abortion advocacy over the needs of people. Or if you feel so moved, donate to a pregnancy care center which has been affected by the hurricane. Pregnancy care centers specialize in helping pregnant women in getting resources to help them keep their child. That's a cause worth supporting.

Friday, September 1, 2017

A Humanist's Response to the Sanctity of Human Life Act [Clinton Wilcox]

Ken Burrows, writing for the blog The Humanist, in an article titled "Politicians Playing God," tries unsuccessfully to give arguments for why the proposed bill, H.R. 586, should be rejected. A summary of the bill states: “This bill declares that: (1) the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human and is a person’s most fundamental right; (2) each human life begins with fertilization, cloning, or its equivalent, at which time every human has all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood; and (3) Congress, each state, the District of Columbia, and each U.S. territory have the authority to protect all human lives.” The bill has been co-sponsored by 31 Republicans.


The bill, of course, is correct. It is scientifically uncontroversial that each human life begins at fertilization. And it is also true that the unborn have a natural right to life that is protected by the Constitution. In 1973, the Supreme Court invented a “right” to abortion, but the reality is that the unborn were full human persons under the law and protected by the 14th Amendment for almost 100 years after the 14th Amendment was ratified, and then before that in American and British common law. But what arguments does Burrows provide us with? Let’s briefly examine them.


Burrows decided it was important to look at the gender of these 31 Republicans and accuses them of being men. Of course, this is irrelevant to the truth of their arguments. The bill isn’t a bad one just because it’s supported by all men.


He goes on to state that “such ‘personhood bills’ are almost always religiously driven.” So this is irrelevant statement number two. If these 31 Republicans really are motivated by their religion, that doesn’t prove the bill false. Most slavery abolitionists were also religiously motivated, but I’m sure Burrows doesn’t believe we should make slavery legal again because of that. Instead of arguing why this bill should be opposed, Burrows goes on to attack certain characteristics of these 31 co-sponsors that he doesn’t like.


Burrows next makes a fallacious appeal to consequences. The consequences he laments are: that it doesn’t accommodate any special-circumstance exceptions, not even in the case a mother’s life is threatened; it misinterprets the Fourteenth Amendment which does not guarantee a “right to life” but that a person cannot be deprived of life without due process of law; it would outlaw some popular birth control methods, such as the IUD which prevents a “fertilized egg” from implanting; and it would open an unfathomable conundrum as to the fate of excess embryos created with the goal of aiding pregnancies immediately or preserving them for later.


But appealing to consequences is not a way to prove the bill is wrong. These consequences are not illegitimate -- indeed, they are the logical conclusion of the pro-life argument, if the pro-life argument is successful. Any special circumstance that would justify killing someone outside the womb would justify killing someone inside the womb -- if the pregnancy is life-threatening, doctors would be able to perform a life-saving medical procedure, even if it’s not spelled out in the law. And other “special circumstances,” such as rape or fetal deformity, do not actually justify abortions. Saying that it misinterprets the Fourteenth Amendment is just splitting hairs -- if you cannot be deprived of life without due process of law, then you are guaranteed a right to life. What else does Burrows think a right to life is? Any birth control methods which commit an early abortion should be outlawed -- this would not be controversial to a pro-life advocate. And finally, pro-life people already accept the full humanity of excess embryos -- it is not a conundrum at all. That is why pro-life people oppose IVF, cloning, and other methods that create embryos artificially. Creating excess embryos is highly unethical.


Burrows then argues that perhaps the most contemptible aspect is that politicians are playing God, “arrogantly insistent on defining a debatable concept like personhood by their perspective only.” Burrows echoes the argument of the Supreme Court that religious, philosophical, and legal authorities have had difficulty with defining personhood. Of course this is an extremely specious argument: Burrows, for some reason, thinks that preserving fetal life is playing God but taking fetal life is not. We currently have a situation in which doctors are allowed to play God and take the lives of innocent, defenseless human beings all because they can feign ignorance about personhood. So no matter which side wins out, they will be “playing God” as Burrows understands it.


Burrows then repeats the oft-made argument that early church thinkers, like Augustine and Aquinas, did not pronounce on when ensoulment occurred. Of course, the people who make this argument always leave out two critical details: 1) these Christian thinkers still opposed abortion because they recognized that if you don’t know whether or not they have a soul, you ought to err on the side of caution and not take their life, and 2) the science of embryology determined human life begins at fertilization in the 1800s, several centuries after both of these gentlemen lived. If they had known the scientific information that we know now, they would certainly have opposed abortion in no uncertain terms from fertilization. After all, one of the earliest Christian documents, the Didache, unequivocally condemned both abortion and infanticide.


Burrows goes on to make a similar argument from English and American common law regarding quickening -- but of course, the same response holds here. Quickening was seen as the point at which an abortion could be prosecuted as a crime because the science of embryology had not yet proven the unborn are human from fertilization. It was a crime after quickening because that was the point that we could know the unborn were alive, because dead things don’t move under their own power.


Burrows then goes on to argue that there is no religious unanimity regarding personhood today. This, of course, is a terrible argument. For one thing, if personhood really does begin at fertilization, then the fact that you disagree does not justify you taking their life, just like no one was justified in enslaving black people, even when it was legal in the United States. Additionally, personhood is not a religious matter -- it is a philosophical one. Constantly repeating that pro-life people are just basing their views on religion doesn’t make it so, even if Burrows thinks it does.


Burrows’ next argument is from the Constitution: He argues that the Supreme Court reasoned that the Constitution doesn’t define the term person literally and that "in nearly all instances, the use of the word is such that it has application only postnatally. None indicates, with any assurance, that is has any possible prenatal application.” But this is just incredibly poor reasoning on the part of the Supreme Court and on the part of any who take its decision seriously. No, the Constitution doesn’t actually define the term person, but the unborn were considered persons for almost 100 years after the 14th Amendment was ratified. The only reason they are not considered persons now is because Justice Blackmun, et al, redefined the concept of personhood specifically to exclude the unborn. But Blackmun’s argument could justify killing just about anyone. You could argue, for example, that in nearly all instances, the use of the word person is such that it only has application to adults. Therefore, anyone under the age of 18 does not have constitutional rights.


Burrows continues that the court concluded viability is when they have a “compelling” interest in protecting fetal life because that’s when it has the capability to live outside the womb (though Burrows is wrong -- it’s not at the end of the first trimester when the fetus is currently viable, but at almost the end of the second trimester -- around 22 to 24 weeks). But again, this is a specious argument. First, to the medical community, viability is not the ability to survive outside the womb but the ability to live, grow, and develop.[1] So any embryo that implants in the womb is viable. Second, viability, as the Supreme Court intended it, has nothing to do with the fetus and everything to do with the current state of medical technology. So personhood cannot be dependent on viability. Third, everyone lacks viability somewhere. This argument would justify allowing NASA to murder an astronaut they don’t like by intentionally giving him a faulty spacesuit and then telling him to take a spacewalk. Or it would allow you to kill someone by taking him out to sea and then drowning him.

Finally, Burrows states that this kind of bill overreaches by violating the First Amendment of all those who disagree with pro-life people. This kind of argument always baffles me. The pro-life position is based on science (that human life begins biologically at fertilization) and human rights, neither of which I would think humanists would want to claim are religious. At any rate, Burrows clearly is not very interested in logical reasoning, as all of his arguments are nothing but clear cases of logical fallacies. He doesn’t even attempt to address the pro-life position that abortion is immoral because it intentionally kills an innocent human being. Unless an abortion-choice person addresses that argument, their responses will always be unpersuasive.

[1] Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary 1992 (1989), as quoted in Joseph W. Dellapenna, Dispelling the Myths of Abortion History, Carolina Academic Press, Durham, North Carolina, 2006.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ann Furedi's Consistent Views [Clinton Wilcox]

Ann Furedi is a British abortion-choice advocate who is the chief executive of British Pregnancy Advisory Service. I only recently became aware of Furedi’s existence when I helped Gregg Cunningham prepare for a debate with her a few years ago. As far as the abortion debate is concerned, I don’t think she’s really contributed anything to the ongoing discussion by academics. And her arguments seem to be mainly those I encounter from abortion-choice advocates on the street level.


A website called Metro reported on Furedi’s appearance on a talk show colorfully titled Loose Women, which after a quick Google search seems to be the British equivalent of The View. However, if you have spent much time engaging with abortion-choice people, then Furedi’s comments wouldn’t seem newsworthy at all.


The title of the article says that Furedi believes abortion should be treated as contraception, but that’s not technically accurate. Furedi did not say that a couple should forgo using things like condoms and the pill and just get abortions. What she did say is that abortion should be there as a backup in case the contraception fails. A subtle, but important, difference. And when asked her thoughts on sex-selective abortions, Furedi said that while she may disagree with the woman’s reason, it should be up to the woman to decide.

Furedi’s comments aren’t anything new or novel, but perhaps the women on this talk show aren’t used to having this discussion. I don’t know where the ladies who host this show fall on the question of abortion, but many abortion-choice advocates draw the line at using abortion as birth control. So Furedi’s position that abortion should be available as a backup if their birth control fails is understandably distressing to them. Many abortion-choice advocates also draw the line at sex-selection abortion, so Furedi’s unwillingness to condemn even those abortions would understandably seem extreme. The reality is, however, that if Furedi’s support of abortion is grounded in a woman’s right to control her own body, then Furedi is being consistent in her views. If a woman has a right to an abortion on the grounds that she should not be forced to remain plugged in as “life support” for the unborn child, then no matter what her reason is for having an abortion, while we might consider it downright indecent, it’s her right and we have no right to condemn her for that. That’s where bodily rights lead, and if you’re troubled by that, perhaps you should think twice about whether or not bodily rights actually do justify abortion.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Making the Case for Life on Campus

A few months ago I published a piece explaining how to get the training necessary to become an effective pro-life ambassador over the course of the summer(if you missed it, click here).

Now, with the school season just around the corner, it may be a little bit late to pick up a book-length treatment on the subject of abortion. How can you become trained and equipped to persuasively communicate your views this fall, whether on a college campus, or even in high school? Here are some suggestions:

1. Study resources that are immediately available to you: When I first started attending college back in 2013, I was constantly studying Christian apologetics during my free time, so as to help equip myself to understand the issues I would be encountering on campus, and to be able to respond appropriately to the intellectual challenges on the campus. This proved to be invaluable, both to my education and in helping me craft my worldview while I was pursuing my academic career.

The are multiple resources available that can help you accomplish this. Websites are a great tool, and there are many pro-life and apologetic websites available. Below are a couple of my favorites:

www.prolifetraining.com(duh)
www.str.org
www.abort73.org
www.abortionno.org(WARNING: There is a graphic abortion video that plays on the homescreen automatically)
www.jfa.org

While websites are good, having a book length treatment on the abortion issue handy is an even more important strategy. While reading non-class materials during the semester can be hard to accomplish, there are short, concise titles available to choose from:
Stand for Life by Scott Klusendorf
Love Unleashes Life by Stephanie Grey
Politically Correct Death by Francis Beckwith(a longer title, but a really good handbook of arguments)
Pro-life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments by Randy Alcorn.

If you just don't have the time for reading, try out podcasts. They are inexpensive(ie "Free") and can be listened to while driving, working out, doing chores, or simply relaxing. They are a great way to learn the pro-life issue, current events, and the pro-life apologetics. The Life Training Institute has started our own pro-life apologetics podcast, where we discuss ongoing events and do regular episodes on issues related to pro-life apologetics in particular.

2. Take advantage of your school library

Many universities and community colleges give free access to their online databases for students and faculty members. This is key. The online databases can help you search for academic works by pro-life scholars, such as Don Marquis, Francis Beckwith, Robert George, and others.

Conversely, many of these pieces are not normally available unless one has a subscription to an academic philosophy or legal journal, so be sure to use the database.

Many of these articles are responses to or critiques of academic pro-choice arguments; most notably, arguments from "bodily autonomy" and personhood arguments. If you are looking for a good critique, this is the place to go.

3. Present Your Case Winsomely and Effectively

Now that you have the knowledge of the pro-life view, it is time to put it to use. Join a pro-life, politically conservative, or Christian club on campus, and connect with other like minded students. Many students may be pro-life on the issue of abortion, but are not doing anything to present that view clearly, carefully, and persuasively.

That ends now. Challenge like minded students to study up on the topic(using resources listed) and then "take it to the streets" by engaging in conversations. It doesn't have to be anything big; one-on-one conversations can accomplish wonders.

However, it is important to make sure that a student group that takes the issue seriously makes an effort to present their view to the larger campus community. Consider hosting a public outreach on campus for a day during the semester. Justice For All, Students for Life, Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, and other organizations do a fantastic job of helping make the case for life on campus, and teaching students to do so as well.

Afterwards, follow the display up with an event promoting solid arguments for the pro-life view. Organizing a formal debate is a great way of accomplishing that. This will give the pro-choice advocates on campus a chance to present their case, and a chance to show how the pro-life view handles common criticisms and objections.

Doing these three things can help you become an equipped and confident pro-life case maker on your college campus and in your community at large.



Gizmodo's "War on Technology" [Clinton Wilcox]

Gizmodo is a site I rarely read. However, as I do work in the pro-life field, their articles occasionally find their way onto my radar. An article written by Kristen V. Brown asserts that new technology could threaten a woman’s right to abortion.

Brown reports that in April, scientists had a major breakthrough with artificial womb technology that may help save fetuses born extremely prematurely. Eight premature baby lambs spent the last month of their prenatal development in an artificial womb and developed normally. This technology could save the 30,000 or so prematurely born babies each year while simultaneously threatening the right to abortion in a country that secures that right upon the viability of the fetus.

Of course, fastening the right to abortion on viability was just a poorly reasoned decision on the Supreme Court’s part. First, “viability” to the medical community has nothing to do with whether or not the fetus can currently survive outside the womb and everything to do on whether or not it is capable of growing and thriving. Every embryo that implants in the womb is considered viable to the medical field. Second, Brown’s article highlights why placing the fetus’ rights on viability (as abortion-choice advocates mean it) is irrational: because viability has nothing to do with the fetus and everything to do with the current state of medical technology. As medical technology progresses, including the development of artificial wombs, viability becomes earlier and earlier. It may one day be the case that any conceived embryo is considered viable, if they are able to be transplanted to an artificial womb right away.

But of course, as the term “botched abortion” indicates and as this article in Gizmodo implies, the desired outcome of every abortion is not to make a woman unpregnant but to produce a dead baby. Brown quotes I. Glenn Cohen, a bioethicist from Harvard Law School, as saying that it’s terrifying to think a woman has a right to an abortion only up until you can transfer that fetus into an artificial womb. It’s strange that a bioethicist would say it’s terrifying to tell a mother that she can’t kill her own child, and she should take responsibility for the child she had a hand in conceiving (or at least, that she should adopt the child out to a family who will take care of her). We wouldn’t say it’s wrong to force a person into parenthood instead of allowing her to kill her toddler. Yet when it comes to a fetus, it’s suddenly okay. When it’s the same child only two years younger, it’s okay to kill her instead of taking responsibility for her. You can be sure that if artificial womb technology becomes a reality, abortion-choice advocates, including Planned Parenthood, which receives millions of dollars in taxpayer money, will be lobbying to get the law’s understanding of why women have a right to an abortion changed.

In fact, Cohen’s own words are what’s terrifying. He says, “The way the law has thus far defined it...is that a woman has a right to stop carrying a child. It doesn’t consider whether she also has a right to control what happens to the child if she is no longer responsible for carrying it.” Cohen calls the fetus a child, and yet he still thinks it’s okay to control whether or not the child dies just because she doesn’t want to raise her. This counts as an ethical position in today’s world.

It seems that everything has to be polarized around politics today. Instead of marveling at this new technology and appreciating the lives it can save, the achievement is brought down because of this author’s obsession with abortion.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Modern Human Experimentation [Clinton Wilcox]

Business Insider reports that scientists in Oregon have successfully edited the DNA of viable human embryos efficiently and apparently with few mistakes. The embryos in question were embryos with severe genetic defects that had no chance of developing into older human beings. And because these edits affect embryos at the genetic level, it will affect the genes that are produced in their sperm and ova, meaning that whatever changes are done to the embryo will also be done to any children that embryo eventually produces. This has led to fears that it may affect the course of human evolution. And of course, it has also spurred on fears that this will lead to “designer babies,” parents picking and choosing traits that they find desirable and eliminating traits that they don’t. Stanford University law professor and bioethicist Hank Greely, however, has tweeted that there’s a difference between embryos you implant and embryos that you edit which are “not to be transferred for possible transplantation.” Editing embryos you don’t intend to implant is not a big deal.

And showing us why calling someone a “bioethicist” does not mean they really are a reliable authority on ethics, legal scholar and “bioethicist” R. Alta Charo does not consider this to be unethical.

If you are a regular listener to our podcast, you heard my interview with Elijah Thompson of the Fetal Position podcast. We had a discussion about the ethics of genetic enhancement. You can listen to that if you’re interested on some of the discussion around genetic enhancement, itself. But this is tantamount to human experimentation. We rightly condemn the likes of Dr. Josef Mengele, who performed dangerous and painful experiments on Jews during the Holocaust, and we rightly condemn the United States Public Health Service for the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments on black people. This is no different. We are dealing here with human experimentation, except that doctors are allowed to get away with it, just as Mengele and the Public Health Service were, because embryos and fetuses today are not considered legal persons. R. Alta Charo is wrong when he says that this is not unethical. In fact, this might even be worse than Mengele or the Public Health Service because at least they didn’t create Jews or black people for the express purpose of experimenting on them.

If we’re talking about genetic therapy, in which we’re only trying to treat diseases, then genetic enhancement is not ethically problematic. If you’re talking about enhancing someone beyond the natural qualities of humanity, then there may be ethical concerns. But experimenting on human beings, even one you’ve dehumanized to make it easier to sleep at night, is always seriously wrong.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Down's Syndrome and What It Means To Be Human: A Response to CBS

There has been a recent headline from CBS regarding the "disappearance" of Down's Syndrome within Iceland has been making the rounds on social media as of late, and has provoked much justifiable outrage among those within the pro-life community. I will weigh in with some thoughts here.

Ironically, the title of the article happens to be "What kind of society do you want to live in?" The authors seem to imply that the virtual disappearance of Down's Syndrome within the country of Iceland is a good thing, and give a positive tone throughout the article.

The first line reads:
"With the rise of prenatal screening tests across Europe and the United States, the number of babies born with Down syndrome has significantly decreased, but few countries have come as close to eradicating Down syndrome births as Iceland.
It is here that we get a glimpse of what the authors are trying to hide within the piece while trying to shed this statistical outcome in a very positive light: The reason we are close to eradicating Down's Syndrome in Iceland is because we are "terminating" the individuals with the condition prior to birth.

Indeed, the article is one massive exercise in "begging the question"; that is, it assumes the unborn are not human, and can therefore be "terminated" prior to the full realization of the condition. To illustrate this concept, imagine what would happen if a story was run on the virtual disappearance of child abuse directed at disabled children within Iceland. Child abuse rates were at virtually zero. Then suppose we take a look at the reasons why the numbers were so low: Parents were being allowed to kill their children all the way up to age 8, as long as it was done quickly and quietly, with the advice of the family doctor. Would there be outrage? There'd better be. And yet, when it comes to these children prior to their births, CBS writes a piece discussing this idea as if it were good news.

In fact, one of the hospital staff members who helps counsel the women regarding the genetic test, Helga Sol Olafsdottir, makes this very point in the piece:

"We don't look at abortion as a murder. We look at it as a thing that we ended. We ended a possible life that may have had a huge complication... preventing suffering for the child and for the family. And I think that is more right than seeing it as a murder -- that's so black and white. Life isn't black and white. Life is grey."
The "life is grey" assertion is absurd. Would anyone apply that to the idea of parents eliminating their toddlers in order to prevent "suffering" for the child or the family members? I think we would view such a person as a moral monster. And yet, we do it with the unborn human, simply because we assume that being unborn justifies killing them somehow.

There is no difference in kind between these children before birth and after birth. The only differences are the child's size, level of development(which can determine your currently exercisable abilities before birth, as well as far after), the environment that they currently reside in, and the degree to which they depend on those around them for their immediate needs. As Stephen Schwartz has highlighted, none of these differences really matter in the long run, as they all come in degrees, and can come or go through the course of our lifetimes. If these differences really do in fact matter, then human equality is a dangerous, repressive myth that needs to be abolished. That is absurd, and terrifying to think about.

How then should a civil society respond to something like Down's Syndrome? Probably by responding the same way we should for anyone else: With love, care, and respect for their shared humanity. Killing them before they are even aware of concepts like love and respect is never going to be the right answer.

In fact, a recent video titled "NOT SPECIAL NEEDS" illustrates this plainly. Advocates for those with Down's Syndrome pose a very important question to the audience: What "special needs" do these individuals really need? How about the same opportunities as the rest of us? And doesn't that include the right to live, just like everyone else? Anything less is not "pro-choice", but is instead the very bigotry that the West has worked tirelessly to eradicate, and has failed many times in doing so. Indeed, it asserts that we can know better what life with Down's Syndrome will be like than the individuals who have the condition do, and will impose our view of what it means to be human on them by killing them before they can even know what is happening.

"What kind of society do you want to live in?"

You'd better be darn sure you know the answer to that.

Professors Arguing Badly [Clinton Wilcox]

There’s a viral video going around of actor James Franco and philosophy professor Eliot Michaelson in a discussion about abortion with professor of philosophy at Princeton Elizabeth Harman. This is part of a new YouTube series by Franco, Philosophy Time.

Her argument is that if we abort the fetus before it is conscious and has experiences, then it is not morally bad to do so. How does she defend her argument for the permissibility of early abortions? She asserts that when it comes to the early fetus (and philosophers tend to use the catch-all term “fetus” to refer to the unborn organism at all stages of pregnancy, even though technically it’s not a fetus until about two months in utero), there are two different kinds of beings. Fetuses who have a future have moral status, and fetuses who don’t have a future, either because of miscarriage or because the mother kills the fetus in abortion, do not have moral status.

If you are perplexed by Harmon’s defense of her argument, you’re not alone. Franco’s expression tells it all. As Franco said, that’s something that you can only judge in hindsight. By Harmon’s criterion for personhood, that having a future as a person is what grants moral status, you can’t know whether or not any given fetus is a person because you can’t know whether or not that fetus has a future. And to argue that we know which fetuses are not persons because we know the mother is going to take her in and abort her, as Harmon does, is a clear case of ad hoc reasoning to justify her position on abortion. Her argument seems, prima facie, to be that whether or not a woman decides to abort is what determines whether or not she has moral status.

Harmon tries to save her view with a couple of caveats: 1) If you had been aborted while you were yet a fetus, then it wouldn’t have been wrong because you wouldn’t have had moral status, not being the kind of fetus that grows up into a person. So moral status is a contingent matter (i.e. contingent on whether or not your mother had aborted you). 2) It’s not looking at it correctly that each fetus has moral status which is taken away when the mother aborts him. There’s nothing about the present state of the fetus that grants it moral status. It’s not conscious and is not having any experiences. It’s derivative of its future that it gets to have moral status. Its future is what endows it with moral status. So when you abort him you’re not depriving him of something he independently has.

Neither one of these caveats save her view. It’s just as ad hoc as it was before. Caveat one, that if you had been aborted as a fetus it wouldn’t have been wrong is just another ad hoc explanation to justify her first ad hoc explanation. The only reason that fetus won’t grow up to be a person is because he is being prevented from doing so by his mother and the abortionist. If left alone, he will grow up into an infant and an adult. Even fetuses that miscarry have this same potential; it’s just being cut short by an external factor, just as an infant who dies of SIDS still has the potential to become an adult, it’s just being prevented by some unknown factor. Her second caveat, that it’s your future that grounds your moral status, abortion isn’t taking it away, again fails to take into consideration that all fetuses have that future, if not being prevented from doing so. These two caveats do not make her case any stronger.

Liz Harmon’s colleague, Robert P. George, stated on a Facebook status that Harmon’s view does have one redeeming quality: it does seem to explain the disconnect between a woman who aborts seeing her fetus as nothing but a “clump of cells” but a woman who wants the fetus seeing him as her baby, her child. But Harmon’s argument for abortion is so incoherent it’s a wonder why she doesn’t abandon it for another colleague, Peter Singer’s, better, albeit unsuccessful, argument for abortion. Ah, well. As has been well observed, there is no position so outlandish it has not been seriously defended by some philosophers.

That being said, another philosopher, Frank Beckwith, also on Facebook, pointed out that Elizabeth Harman has defended her argument in more detail in an article she's written and we should engage with the strongest version of her argument that she's put forth. So I will read Harman's article and respond to it in a future post. Stay tuned for that.

Have you seen this video? What did you think of it? Let us know below!

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Miscarriage Breakthrough [Clinton Wilcox]

A few months ago, Nathan, Aaron, and I started up a podcast called Pro-Life Thinking. If you haven't listened in yet, I'd like to encourage you to do so. You can listen to us at BlogTalkRadio, or you can find us on iTunes. We've also now got the podcast uploaded onto the website, so you can find us at the LTI homepage. Hover your mouse cursor over the "media" tag and then click "podcasts" in the drop-down menu. There's been some good news that's come out of Australia, as reported by the New Zealand Herald.


Scientists at Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in Sydney have made a breakthrough discovery that is expected to save thousands of lives by preventing miscarriages and multiple types of birth defects. Professor Sally Dunwoodie has discovered a cause not only of miscarriages but also of heart, spinal, kidney, and cleft palate problems. The researchers discovered that the lack of a vital molecule, NAD, prevents a child’s organs from developing properly while in the womb. After 12 years of research, these scientists have found that NAD deficiency can be cured by a dietary supplement of B3, also known as niacin. The next step is to develop a diagnostic test to measure NAD levels and see which women are at the greatest risk of having a baby with a birth defect to ensure they get a sufficient amount of B3. And while many women have already been treated, there is still work to do in studying the levels of niacin throughout pregnancy and when the organs are forming in the embryo. So the doctors do not recommend taking any more niacin than what is already present in a pregnancy multivitamin until further work is done.


It pretty much goes without saying that this is an exciting breakthrough. The New Zealand Article overstated its connection with vegemite, but we may be looking at a future in which miscarriages and certain types of birth defects are much less of a risk.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Katerine: Human Being or “Human Doing”? [Michael Spencer]

My daughter, Katerine, was born with Cerebral Palsy. As a result, she is unable to walk, has extremely limited use of her hands, and at 17, functions mentally at the level of a four year old.

When Barb and I take Katerine to a restaurant or anywhere in public, perfect strangers frequently open doors for her. At concerts and sporting events she is sometimes ushered to the front to take the best seat in the house. Why such preferential treatment for a child bereft of any political power or celebrity status? It is because God has placed in each of us a moral intuition that wells up when we see need, vulnerability or handicap. We naturally want to help. In fact, the greater the need, the greater our urge to offer assistance.

Unfortunately, not everyone responds to the voice of moral intuition. Katerine’s biological father didn’t. He abandoned her on the side of the road at 6:00am in Guatemala City (her birthplace) to fend for herself at 6 years of age. She was eventually discovered by a security guard and spent the entire day, until 10:00pm, in the police department before an orphanage was found to take her. This is where she spent the next 3 years of her life. Katerine’s father’s actions are revolting. In many wombs, however, she would be aborted for the very same reason strangers now open doors for her: she is handicapped. Cerebral Palsy has severely arrested Katerine’s level of development, rendering her disposable in the minds of many.

Today, many defend the abortion choice by drawing an artificial line between “humanness” and “personhood”, arguing that it is morally permissible to kill humans so long as they’re not actual “persons.” And when does a human become a “person”? According to many it is when he/she reaches a certain level of development. When does this happen? Good luck getting a straight answer from abortion supporters; they don’t agree on which “standard” confers personhood status. One says it occurs when measurable brain activity is detected. Another says it happens at viability – that moment when the embryo could survive outside of the mother. Still another insists the embryo must be free of any fetal abnormality before the honor of “personhood” is bestowed on her.

In short, these tiny womb-dwellers are only deemed worthy of life if they pass whatever arbitrary test the big and powerful establish for them. If they don’t, they’re crushed like vermin and disposed of like trash. Conveniently for the abortion industry, none of the above-mentioned milestones are compelling enough to build consensus among abortion supporters, which means none of these tests make any difference in the end. The only real “test” is whether or not mom wants her baby.

Although we undergo a myriad of developmental changes from the time we are conceived until the time we die, our nature never changes. We are the same person now as we were then. As Randy Alcorn says,  “Something nonhuman doesn’t become human by getting older and bigger. Whatever is human is human from the beginning.” He’s right. Katerine’s disabilities do not alter her human nature, nor do they diminish her value. She is intrinsically valuable and Barb and I are blessed to be her parents.

Clinton Wilcox, who serves on our staff at Life Training Institute recently wrote, “The question of when human life begins is not a difficult one. It only becomes difficult if you want to justify killing people.” How true. Katerine escaped the womb with her cerebral palsy undetected. Many others aren’t so lucky.

We’re not “human doings,” we are human beings. In other words, Katerine is valuable, not because of what she can do, but simply because of what she is: God’s image-bearer. This makes all the difference.

Let's apply our compassion consistently across the spectrum to all human beings.  Recognizing the worth of all humans as God's image bearers, may the same hands that would open a door for a young girl in a wheel chair hold back the door of death as it slams on her no-less-human neighbors in the womb.   

Monday, July 31, 2017

Surrender Is Not an Option




Many pro-lifers have recently begun to check out of the movement. Even worse, a small but growing handful of others have begun to buy the premises of "choice", "personal liberty", and "tolerance", in an effort to make the pro-life view much more appealing to a culture that has made personal autonomy into a religious ideology, and assigned sexual liberty as it's sacrament.

This is not an effective strategy. This amounts to a complete and utter surrender; a giving up of the fight, even when the goal of the pro-life movement for the last 44 years is now close to being recognized. Provided, much of the dismay over the current state of affairs seems to be resulting from the seeming inability of the US Congress to pass a bill to cut federal funding to Planned Parenthood(which doesn't automatically mean that women will begin getting pregnant on an minute by minute basis. There is nothing stopping scores of American Leftists from donating money to keep PP able to provide free birth control). There is also frustration over the apparent stagnation of the abortion debate in the United States, as many people have simply started to ignore the issue.

Even in the midst of ongoing political and cultural frustration, there is still much that needs to be done by the pro-life advocates engaged in various aspects of the culture, and the fight to create a cultural ideal the respects the lives of all innocent human beings is still being waged. To illustrate the urgency, one needs to look no further than the recent war movie, Dunkirk, and the story behind it.

The movie is an account of the disastrous defeat suffered by the Allied forces during World War II, and the subsequent withdrawal of British forces back across the English channel from France. The story of the Dunkirk evacuation would have ended with the UK losing it's primary fighting force to an overwhelming defeat by the Axis powers. Instead, the disaster turned into an example of what courage and perseverance looks like.

Hundreds of civilian British watercraft left their moorings in the English harbors and sailed quickly across the channel to rescue the tens of thousands of British and French troops stranded on the beaches of France before they could be annihilated by the coming onslaught of Nazi troops. Braving machine gun fire, torpedoes, and German dive bombers, the people of the UK simply stepped up to do the right thing. Risking life and limb, they knew the cost of simply sitting by and assuming that "someone else" would step up to the challenge. Thanks to their efforts, what would have been utter defeat turned into a fighting chance for the British.

Re-focusing on the current challenges that confront defenders of innocent human life across the political and religious spectrum(and the Christian church in particular as of late), the example of the heroes of the past should be considered. If someone can risk life and limb to "step-up" and simply do the right thing, how much more is it necessary for those of us who have the ability to get involved to do so?

With the very meaning of what it means to be human, what it means to have value, the meaning and intrinsic purpose of sexuality, and the very definition of justice are now up for grabs, the time is now to get involved. To reach out to those wounded and hurting, and to love them and respectfully share the truth with them about these key issues. To do otherwise would be disastrous.

Surrender is not an option.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

On Recent Viral Videos [Clinton Wilcox]

I'm going to try to write this and my next article without being too polemical. It will be difficult, but these two article are coming from a place of utter frustration. Frustration at the fact that so many people in our society can't think. This is evidenced by the number of videos by vloggers on YouTube that contain poor arguments (actually, that's too charitable; their arguments are downright pathetic), and further evidence by the number of people sharing these videos so that they go viral because the people sharing these videos can't think and don't realize how poor (read: pathetic) the arguments actually are. So I'm going to write two articles responding to two such videos. This first one will be responding to a video by vlogger jaimekid2 Ben Shapiro's arguments against abortion. Why am I responding to these videos if the thinkers are so unsophisticated? Because people are taking them seriously.

So what is jaimekid2's argument against abortion? He says, "Ben Shapiro is wrong on abortion. The reason why he is wrong is because he doesn't hold his values consistently."

The problem here is that it's a textbook case of the ad hominem fallacy. Who cares if Shapiro holds his views consistently? He can be inconsistent and still be right on abortion. Whether or not he's inconsistent holds no bearing on the validity or soundness of his argument. That's all that needs to be said. But what are his other claims?

He says that one cannot consistently hold to the position that the intentional removal of an unborn human from the womb is murder and to show why he brings an analogy into it: If you believe abortion is murder and it should be outlawed accordinly, you must support all women having miscarriages being investigated for a possible negligent homicide, the same way you would want a person involved in running over someone else with their car investigated for negligent homicide.

This, of course, is really just a false analogy. What should really do away with this argument is the simple fact that before abortion was legalized in the Roe v. Wade decision, post-miscarriage women were not investigated en masse for their miscarriages. This is because there is no reason to suspect that a woman who miscarries did so out of negligence. No police investigation would be warranted unless there was probable cause to suspect that it was because of negligence or foul play. If a homicide detective is investigating a potential crime scene and discovers evidence suggesting it was a suicide, not a homicide, the investigator would not, then, investigate it as a homicide "just in case." He would write it down as a suicide and close the case. By the same token, if a woman shows no signs of foul play or negligence, she would not be investigated, especially if she was making regular appointments with her OB/GYN.

Another claim is that many women are at increased risk for miscarriages, and he trots out a laundry list of women who are at a higher risk for miscarriage (and it's worth pointing out that he doesn't source any of his claims). His point here is asking if we would be comfortable allowing a woman at increased risk for miscarriage get pregnant. The answer, of course, is yes because everybody, every single human being who is conceived, has a 100% chance of dying. Some people just die sooner rather than later. But life is considered a good thing, meaning that even if we conceive someone who has a more limited lifespan than unusual, giving that person life, even for a short time, is seen as a good done to that person. This is all to say nothing of the fact that every human being has a right, a natural right, to procreate and the government would be wrong to take this right away from anyone. If a woman conceived and later miscarries through negligence, only then could the state step in and punish her for doing so (and only if there was probable cause to suspect it).

He poses a further question: would people be comfortable with a woman trying to get pregnant who has a high risk of miscarriage since they would not be comfortable with someone drunk getting behind the wheel of the car. He says that failing to take causation into consideration is intellectually weak, but his position is the one that is intellectually weak because he fails to make a basic distinction: the difference between agent causation and natural causation. A person who gets behind the wheel drunk is obviously doing something wrong and doing something wrong by their own doing. Driving a car is potentially dangerous so anyone who gets behind the wheel drunk is impairing their ability to drive a car. Having an increased risk of miscarriage is not impairing a woman's ability to conceive a child, nor, for the most part, is it of her own doing (especially if it is due to disease, which would obviously be beyond her control). Since all human beings eventually die and life is fundmentally a good thing, there is no harm done in conceiving a child, even knowing there is an increased risk of miscarriage.

One of his claims that he failed to source, just alluding to March of Dimes, is that as many as half of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. I know why he failed to source it: because that's not what they actually claim if you read their statement in context. Here's what March of Dimes really says: "Among women who know they are pregnant, about 10 to 15 out of 100 pregnancies (10 to 15 percent) end in miscarriage. As many as half of all pregnancies may end in miscarriage -- we don't know the exact number because many may happen before a woman knows she's pregnant."

This makes it ironic that he speaks of wanting to be intellectually honest when he can't even be intellectually honest with the facts. He'll probably fall back on saying "but they do say as many as half." Yes, but they clearly say we know 10 to 15 percent do, and then they follow up their claim by saying "we don't know the actual number." So their "as many as half" statistic is pure speculation, and "jaimekid2" used the speculative number rather than the factual number in order to try and bolster his case.

Despite all of his claims to "intellectual honesty" and "intellectual weakness," it is clear that "jaimekid2"'s arguments are just not good at all. They amount to a false analogy. Drunk driving is not a comparable situation to a woman conceiving with a greater chance of miscarriage, and it is also not the case that every woman who miscarries must be investigated for negligent homicide. Only in those cases with probable cause would it need to be investigated. The pro-life position is safe and sound from "jaimekid2."

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Why Don't Feminists Fight for Bodily Rights?

I will have to admit, I have begun to reconsider what it means to respect the bodily integrity of individual women. During a  recent outreach at UCLA and Cerritos college, two students told me that I should respect the autonomy that women have over their bodies.

Now, setting aside that the unborn entity in question is not a part of her mother's physical body (if she was, then any pregnant woman would have four hands, two heads, and two genetic codes, which is absurd) but is a separate body that is growing inside her, and dependent upon her. This does not mean that they are one and the same human being, but two humans beings connected in the most intimate way possible.

Now, many I have talked to have espoused the view that because the woman is carrying the child within her body, and because the child is completely dependent on her mother's body for her immediate needs, her mother therefore has say over what happens within her body. Complete bodily autonomy for women is inalienable on this view. This is what pro-life speaker Trent Horn calls the "Sovereign Zone" view.

Now, if I were to embrace this view, and thus defend a woman's right to her bodily "sovereign zone", then that means that the following must also be fought for and legalized along with abortion:

1. Thalidomide A drug that was originally used as an anti-nausea treatment for women experiencing morning sickness, it was banned in the early 1960s for the effect that it had on developing children in utero. The drug would cause either the limbs of the child to fail to develop or the limbs would fail to grow to their full length, leaving only a hand where a full arm should be. (Langman's Medical Embryology, Thirteenth Edition, page xiii)

Keeping in mind the view that a woman has full rights to what happens within her body, even if there is another human body present inside of her, to be consistent one would have to argue that the drug should be legalized as an appropriate treatment for morning sickness. This would mean that if a woman took the drug knowing full well the effects it could have on her unborn child, and caused her child to be born without arms or legs, she would bear no fault. Some have responded that this couldn't happen because she broke the law; and yet, abortion also used to be against the law. Why aren't advocates of bodily autonomy fighting for a woman to have complete control over her body in this regard, and working to overturn this law?

2. Abortions for Frivolous Reasons If a woman "Has the right to do whatever she wants with her body", then would it be wrong to kill her unborn child for any reason she wants to? In his book Abortion Practice, abortionist Dr. Warren Hern recounts a time where a woman came to his office seeking an abortion, as she was pregnant with a boy and wanted a girl child instead. Doctor Hern, ironically, expresses his misgivings about abortion in this case but he goes along with it anyway (Abortion Practice, page 85).

Dennis Prager also brings up an important point in this regard. Suppose in the near future we are able to determine through genetic testing the sexual orientation that a child will be born with. A woman finds out her son or daughter will grow up to be gay later in life. Using the "my body; my choice" reasoning, she gets an abortion so she won't be a parent to a gay son or daughter. Horrifying as this is, would we think she did something wrong in this regard? If we do think that this is wrong, then what about abortions for children who will be born with disabilities? Wouldn't that be wrong as well?

3. Abortions For Profit Two years ago the infamous Planned Parenthood videos were released by the Center for Medical Progress, which purported to show the organization illegally selling the bodily remains of aborted humans for profit. While many media pundits, political analysts, and Planned Parenthood themselves denied the accusation, it does raise an important question: Can a woman sell the bodily remains of her abortion for profit? Suppose a woman of child-bearing age, hearing that there is a market for fetal body parts and tissues, decides to become pregnant, then carries her child to term, and gets an abortion so that she may sell the body parts on the market. This may not even be legal, but why won't the advocates of bodily rights advocate for this kind of behavior, in the name of "Her body, her choice"? Why don't they fight to have this "right", and enshrine it in law?

4. Infant Starvation Philosopher Trent Horn also gives another category for bodily rights arguments that he calls the "right to refuse", where the advocate of bodily autonomy will argue that a woman has a right to refuse to sustain the life of her child in utero. During a conversation at UCLA recently, a student I talked to likened unwanted pregnancy to being forced to donate one's kidney in order to sustain another person's life.

However, in using this scenario, one has to remember that a kidney is only designed to filter the blood of the organism it belongs to. As Trent Horn notes, the uterus is an organ that is not designed to support the life of a woman, as a woman may go through her entire life without ever becoming pregnant, but is specifically designed to support the life of her very young son or daughter.

In applying this reasoning to the issue of bodily rights, suppose a woman gives birth to an infant who needs to survive on her mother's breast milk. Suppose further that baby formula is not readily available due to a health and safety recall, and it will take too long to put the child in a shelter or up for adoption. Since the mother is now the sole provider of the welfare for her child, even though this relationship is only temporary, can she exercise her "right to refuse support" for her child on the grounds that her child has no right to her mother's breast milk, even though her child will starve to death as a result? Is it a mother's moral and legal right to be able to "disconnect" for the sole purpose of starving her child to death? I think we would all agree that doing such a thing is monstrous.

In conclusion, it seems that an unwavering support for bodily rights for women can actually prove too much and be used to justify some very horrifying behaviors. Now, some will argue for bodily rights by giving reference to scenarios that are emotionally vexing, like poverty or hardship, but at best, this would entail that the right to abortion is extremely limited to the most extreme circumstances. And then one must ask why, even in these circumstances, is it fully permissible and morally acceptable to kill an innocent human being whose existence may cause hardship?

It is high time we stop playing games with human rights in order to justify the behavior that we want to ensure is accepted by society. We've been down that road before throughout human history, and it has never ended well. Instead, if we are going to defend bodily rights, no matter what that entails, we had better be ready to accept the consequences of that decision.