Still more from Amplify: Strawman fallacy

By Roger Resler

Continuing with my responses to “10 Arguments in Favor of Pro-Choice Policy” from Amplify Your

6. Reproductive restrictions do not end with abortion. Many people also argue that contraception itself is wrong—another mainly-religious philosophy—and will deny women the protection they need based on this belief. There are legislative acts that allow actual pharmacists to deny women their birth control because of their beliefs; does this not violate the Hippocratic Oath, especially if thousands of women are on birth control because their very lives depend on it (see #2)? Also, since it is my belief that men should not rape women, if I were a pharmacist, would I have a right to deny a man his Viagra just in case he uses it to rape? You never know.

The pro-choice arguments presented thus far are getting progressively weaker. Among other problems, the above “logic” suffers from a straw man fallacy. According to the Skeptic’s guide website, a straw man argument “attempts to counter a position by attacking a different position – usually one that is easier to counter. The arguer invents a caricature of his opponent’s position – a ‘straw man’ – that is easily refuted, but not the position that his opponent actually holds.”

While some (but certainly not all) pro-life people and religious organizations frown on or even prohibit contraceptive use among their followers, the contraceptive argument is a pro-choice diversionary tactic. Most people today, religious or not, do not oppose contraceptive use. By definition, a contraceptive inhibits conception or fertilization. Hence, very few people have any moral issue with contraceptive use and no group that I am aware of advocates for laws against contraceptive use. Those groups or religions that oppose contraception do so as a policy or church doctrine among their congregants, not in an effort to make them illegal in society. The recent hullabaloo featuring self-made pro-choice media darling Sandra Fluke centered around whether a private religious institution should be forced to purchase contraceptives for its students through the health insurance it offers them. Of course the media hype centered on the illusion that organized religion was somehow attempting to deny Fluke her birth control. This is simply utter nonsense. Fluke was free at any time to buy her own birth control.

Similarly, I am not aware of any “legislative acts that allow actual pharmacists to deny women their birth control because of their beliefs.” Not surprisingly, the Amplify Your Voice author of this article does not cite any actual examples that support  her (or his) case. I suspect that is because there are no such laws. Some pharmacies might allow individual employees to refuse to participate in the sale of contraceptives if it violates their religious beliefs, but, quite frankly, I’ve never heard of this happening and even if, in some bizarre twist, it did, another employee would simply make the sale. While it is possible that something like this might happen in some obscure location (I mean McDonalds got sued because a woman spilled coffee on herself, for Pete’s sake, so, nearly anything is theoretically possible) if it did, it would obviously be an out-of-the-ordinary occurrence and the sale would still be made by another employee – if not, a lawsuit would surely follow.

By the way, its worth noting that despite this author’s reference to the Hippocratic Oath, there is nothing in the oath pledging allegiance to women’s free access to birth control. There is, however, an explicit condemnation of abortion – at least in the unedited, original version.

This argument is a clear example of desperation. Amplify is simply trying to fill space since “10 arguments” sounds better than 9. But filling space with baseless arguments does nothing to help the pro-choice cause or demonstrate why someone should be pro-choice instead of pro-life.

What pro-life people rightfully oppose is the intentional killing of unborn humans through induced abortion. The battle is over abortion, not contraception. Suggesting, as Amplify does, that a good reason to be pro-choice is that “Reproductive restrictions do not end with abortion” is diversionary at best; deceptive at worst.