by Roger Resler
Picking up where I left off in my responses to Amplify Your Voice brings us to this:
4. Women who are raped or victims of incest should not be forced to carry out a pregnancy. Odds are that 1 in 3 women will be victims of sexual violence in her lifetime. Does this mean that 33% of all women should be forced to carry out a pregnancy from this violation? Considering how many people are killed during childbirth (see #2), should we allow this further risk to endured on top of what has already been done?
Many would argue that these women could endure the pregnancy, spending nearly a year of her life simply re-living the rape and its effects over and over again, to give up a baby at the end of it for adoption. However, we all are aware of the fact that there are millions of unwanted children awaiting adoption as we speak who remain unclaimed; in fact, UNICEF estimates that there are 210 million orphans in the world right now. If they have no one willing to be their parent or guardian, why would another baby have a better chance?
My theory is that people who spend so much time, energy, and money on anti-abortion campaigns should instead spend it on the precious children they say need saving so much—the ones who are alive and parentless. Imagine if all the funds spent on all those billboards and flyers and campaigns were instead either spent adopting or donating to places that are overrun with orphaned children… perhaps some actual credibility would be given to these people who claim to love children so much.
Also, there is the fact of the matter of the more than one million homeless youth in America alone. The number one factor for a child being homeless is physical or sexual abuse at home. Perhaps these “child-lovers” should step in and care for these already-born children as well.
By this point the pro-abortion proponent has moved to the time-tested, sure-fire argument. As I point out in my book, Compelling Interest, the question of rape and incest have gotten more mileage for the pro-choice cause than any other argument. Thus “the rape card” will be played in just about any abortion discussion that lasts very long or is going badly for the pro-choice proponent. (The former often leads to the latter).
Given the productivity of this argument, it will require a fairly lengthy response.
The reason the argument is so productive for the pro-choice cause is simple. In both cases a crime has been committed against a woman who did not willingly participate in the act that caused the unborn child to exist. This is indeed a very important moral consideration. This is what prompts this particular pro-abortion proponent to suggest that: “Women who are raped or victims of incest should not be forced to carry out a pregnancy.”
This certainly sounds reasonable to many Americans. And there are even some pro-life proponents who are willing to give in to pro-choice logic when it comes to rape and incest precisely because an injustice has occurred and the pregnant woman is a victim. It seems almost heartless to then ask her to carry for nine months an unborn child she had no intention of creating; go through the often difficult act of child-birth, and then either raise the child or give her up for adoption.
While the question of rape and incest is, in my opinion, the best argument pro-choice proponents have been able to exploit in order to promote their larger agenda, the logic is still flawed. In the case above, there are several clear fallacies.
Pheo152 (who wrote the Amplify article I am responding to) suggests that: “Odds are that 1 in 3 women will be victims of sexual violence in her lifetime. Does this mean that 33% of all women should be forced to carry out a pregnancy from this violation? Considering how many people are killed during childbirth (see #2), should we allow this further risk to endured [sic] on top of what has already been done?”
Pheo does not cite where she (I’m assuming Pheo is a “she”) got the figure that “1 in 3 women will be victims of sexual violence in her lifetime,” but on the face of it, the figure seems amazingly high. Either that, or “sexual violence” is defined extremely broadly. I question the number, but whether the number is accurate or not, certainly there are some women who will be victims of sexual violence in their lifetimes, and, whether it’s 1 in 3 or 1 in 300,000, each case is certainly a tragedy.
Pheo’s next statistic, however, simply does not logically follow. She asks whether: “33% of all women should be forced to carry out a pregnancy from this violation?” This is clearly a not-so-veiled attempt to grossly manipulate numbers, when there really is no need for such egregious manipulation. Even if Pheo’s first statistic were accurate (and I seriously question its accuracy) it does not follow that “1 in 3 women” or “33% of all women” (!) will get pregnant as a result of “sexual violence.” In fact even in true cases of rape and incest pregnancy more often does not result. In other words, rape and incest are, thankfully, fairly rare to begin with, but even in those rare cases, pregnancy is much rarer still. Even the very pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute acknowledges that abortions due to rape and incest are extremely rare, less than 2%. Low as they are, Guttmacher’s numbers, however, appear to be misleading, as another source has taken an average of all abortions performed in the U.S. from 1980 to 2007 and found that rape and incest cases combined accounted for only .09% of the actual abortions performed during that nearly 3-decades-long time frame. I’m not a math genius, but that’s a minuscule number compared to total abortions; far lower than even Guttmacher’s numbers suggest.
So it is abundantly clear that pro-abortion proponents very often want the rape and incest numbers to be much higher than they actually are. This is why we see the outrageous figure of “1 in 3” and “33%” being cited above followed by the remarkable implication that 33% of unwanted pregnancies occur due to rape or incest. The figures are obviously grossly inaccurate. Think about that for a moment. As I mentioned, there should be no need to so seriously exaggerate on what would appear to be a “winning” argument for the pro-choice cause. So then why are the numbers often seriously exaggerated? Perhaps the argument is not as solid as it might seem.
Regardless of the actual numbers, women do occasionally get pregnant as a result of rape and/or incest. On that we can agree and we can also agree that such cases are tragic indeed. No woman should be raped. Period.
But it does not follow from that that she is then morally entitled to kill the unborn child she carries because the child’s father committed a crime. While the mother certainly is not responsible for the pregnancy, neither is the child. The pregnancy was indeed forced on the woman, but it was not forced by the child. It was forced by a criminal who disregarded laws against rape and incest. So why must the child be killed because of the sins of her father? This is not an acceptable reason to kill children once they are born. We would never allow a mother to kill her born children because they were conceived in rape. Why then are so many willing to make an exception to that basic intuition before the birth of the child? The answer is that the pro-choice community assumes the point they are trying to prove in order to justify abortion in cases of rape. This fallacy is called begging the question.
Only by assuming what they are trying to prove (that an unborn fetus is not the moral equivalent of a born child) can it make rational sense to allow abortion in cases of rape or incest.
To illustrate this fallacy, let’s adapt Pheo’s own argument and apply it to born children. In that case, it would go something like this: Many would argue that mothers of born children should endure the rest of their lives simply re-living the rape and its effects over and over again, and they also argue that giving them up for adoption is better than killing them. However, we all are aware of the fact that there are millions of unwanted children awaiting adoption as we speak who remain unclaimed; in fact, UNICEF estimates that there are 210 million orphans in the world right now. If they have no one willing to be their parent or guardian, why shouldn’t mothers of unwanted children born from rape cases be allowed to kill them?
By constructing the argument in such terms – which no one would rationally accept – we see that either there must be a radically significant moral difference between a born child and an unborn child, or this pro-abortion argument is simply barbaric. In other words, Pheo is assuming what she’s trying to prove – that there is, supposedly, a radical moral difference between killing a born child and killing an unborn child. But she offers nothing in support of this very critical assumption throughout her entire article.
Beyond this fatal fallacy, Pheo commits several others. She cites no specific references so one can legitimately question the “210 million” figure UNICEF is allegedly “estimating.” But even giving Pheo the benefit of the doubt here, it does not follow that because there are a good number of orphans in the world that killing unborn children in the United States is therefore morally acceptable. There are unquestionably a lot of problems in the world. But just because there are problems in the world, it does not follow that Americans should have the freedom to kill their unborn children. Once again, Pheo is assuming the moral difference she wants to be true without offering any support for its truthfulness. Nevertheless, her
“theory is that people who spend so much time, energy, and money on anti-abortion campaigns should instead spend it on the precious children they say need saving so much—the ones who are alive and parentless. Imagine if all the funds spent on all those billboards and flyers and campaigns were instead either spent adopting or donating to places that are overrun with orphaned children… perhaps some actual credibility would be given to these people who claim to love children so much.”
Here we see another fallacy: the ad hominem fallacy, which is an (at best) irrelevant attack on the character of the one making an argument you disagree with. The above is a clear example of such fallacious reasoning. Pheo is attempting to make the case that pro-life proponents are hypocrites because they “claim to love children so much” but, according to Pheo, spend too much “time, energy, and money on anti-abortion campaigns” and “should instead spend it on the precious children they say need saving so much—the ones who are alive and parentless.” Pheo also thinks that pro-lifers would have more credibility if they stopped running advertisements and “instead either spent [that money] adopting or donating to places that are overrun with orphaned children.”
It seems that Pheo may not be aware that many pro-life organizations and people do indeed operate and support crisis pregnancy centers across the United States. Even Planned Parenthood acknowledges that, while simultaneously committing another ad hominem fallacy by claiming these are “fake clinics run by people who are anti-abortion.” That is just silly. Crisis pregnancy centers are quite real “centers” that are designed to help women who find themselves in crisis pregnancies. Planned Parenthood simply doesn’t like it when groups attempt to discourage abortion because it robs them of potential revenue.
Pheo is also apparently unaware of people like Connie Youngkin who founded an orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico. The list could go on and on, but the point is irrelevant because even if Pheo were correct in her baseless implication that all pro-life people are selfish and inconsistent, such a truth would do nothing to demonstrate that the arguments they make are wrong. This is why “attacking the man” instead of the argument is fallacious. In this case, it’s doubly so, because pro-life people are indeed quite often the ones who care for both the born and unborn in need.
Another very important consideration that is nearly always overlooked is the fact that while abortion proponents claim that an abortion is the perfect “cure” for the predicament of unwanted pregnancies resulting from rape and incest, the reality is that there is no guarantee that abortion can “solve” the problem. In fact, chances are good that it will simply compound the problem. Abortion can’t reverse the hands of time and erase the violation. All it can do is kill the child. The woman will have the memory of the rape in either case, but when she adds an abortion, she now has two painful memories. In the first, she was the victim. In the second, she is responsible.
Pheo concludes with this:
“Also, there is the fact of the matter of the more than one million homeless youth in America alone. The number one factor for a child being homeless is physical or sexual abuse at home. Perhaps these “child-lovers” should step in and care for these already-born children as well.”
This argument is so patently fallacious it should be self-evident. How would Pheo suggest that pro-life people go about stepping in and caring for these already born children? By showing up on abuser’s doorsteps and demanding custody of the children? Beyond that, is Pheo suggesting that pro-lifers are somehow responsible for child abuse? Her point is unclear, but the implication is that abortion should solve the problem of child abuse since with the abortion option, there should be no reason for parents to bring unwanted children into the world, hence no more child abuse.
While Pheo doesn’t make this case explicitly, other pro-choice proponents have. But this is obviously refuted by the simple fact that Roe v. Wade did not stop child abuse.
The fact is that pro-lifers are not responsible for the problem of child abuse. Why, then, does Pheo imply that they need to “step in and care for these already-born children as well” even if she were to offer a viable way for them to do so? Why are pro-life proponents any more responsible for caring for already-born children than are pro-choice people? Does Pheo “step in and care for these already-born children as well”? And if so, does she do so legally? And even if she does, how is any of that morally relevant to her central thesis that unborn children are so morally inferior to born children that their mothers ought to have the legal right to kill them?