More from Amplify: Motive Fallacy

By Roger Resler

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

8. The politicians “pro-lifers” so ardently support are only after one thing: self-interest.The majority of them are not “pro-life” because they agree with you; they are because they know you will continue to vote for them—and they know that making women remain pregnant not only takes away their power, but it also keeps them busy, in line, controlled, as well as a baking factory for their failing economy. The more people they have to rule over, the more they have to work and buy. Period.

This is an example of a “Motive Fallacy” which attempts to shift the debate to a question of motives rather than the actual issue. Instead of actually defending the pro-choice position, this argument shifts attention to a mischaracterization of the opposition’s motives.

This is also the point where pro-choice arguments begin to lose any semblance of credibility. It is simply insanity to claim that pro-life politicians use the abortion issue as a means of controlling women and keeping themselves in office. It is demeaning to sincere, pro-life elected officials who care about innocent unborn children. It would be like arguing that abolitionists really didn’t care about the plight of slaves. It is simply disingenuous and, in my view, illustrates the weakness of the pro-choice case when these types of reasons are given as the best reasons to be pro-choice.

Beyond that, the logic makes no sense. In the first place, no one is “making women remain pregnant.” Pregnancy is always a temporary condition. Pro-life people just want it to end naturally, with a live baby rather than a dead one. Seems like a reasonable desire to me.

In the second place, pregnancy may keep a woman “busy” (or better stated, “tied down”) for a few months, but it certainly can’t control her. Even if she decides to raise the child herself, there are still ways to pursue a career while raising children. Many women do so and to suggest that pregnancy forces women into subjection is demeaning to women.

Suggesting that pro-life politicians want abortion to be illegal so they can control women is about as ridiculous as suggesting that Mothers Against Drunk Driving want stiff DUI laws because they secretly want to control alcoholics. It’s a ridiculous allegation.In both cases, the concern is to save human lives. What a radical notion!

Bottom line? Pro-life people do not force women to get pregnant. Pregnancy is temporary. And pregnancy is not an effective means of controlling women.

This “reason” to be pro-choice is about the goofiest reason I’ve seen yet. If you’re pro-choice, do you really believe this stuff? Maybe it’s time to grow up.

Roger Resler is an author, researcher & media producer for Truth In Depth Productions.

More from Amplify: It’s not about contraceptives

by Roger Resler

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

9. If people want to stop abortion, they should turn to methods that do work. These include comprehensive sex education and safe, affordable contraceptives. Unfortunately, as illogical as it sounds, the people who are most against abortion are also often most against these preventative measures. If they truly wanted to reduce the number of abortions that occur, they would embrace these methods.

Many pro-life people are against contraceptives for religious reasons. I am not one of them but I respect the rights of those who are. Pro-choice people often preach tolerance. They should practice it when it comes to those who avoid contraceptive use for religious reasons. People who are opposed to contraceptives on religious grounds are usually not the ones having abortions. If they oppose contraceptive use, then they nearly always oppose abortion.

So why do pro-choice people make a big deal about it? It’s part of a tactic to paint pro-lifers as backward, religious hypocrites whose real goal is to control women. But this is ridiculous. Contraceptives are widely available and no one is complaining or trying to ban them. Some churches discourage their use among their membership, but that’s about it.

Margaret Sanger – Founder of Planned Parenthood

Ironically, Margaret Sanger, champion of birth-control, darling of many modern feminists and founder of Planned Parenthood, was opposed to abortion. That was not a typo. The founder of Planned Parenthood believed abortion is morally wrong! In typical fashion, she didn’t mince words:

Although abortion may be resorted to in order to save the life of the mother, the practice of it merely for limitation of offspring is dangerous and viscous I bring up the subject here only because some ill-informed persons have the notion that when we speak of birth control we include abortion as a method. We certainly do not. Abortion destroys the already fertilized ovum or the embryo; contraception, as I have carefully explained, prevents the fertilizing of the ovum by keeping the male cells away. Thus it prevents the beginning of life. – Margaret Sanger, “Birth Control Advances: A Reply to the Pope,” 1931, Margaret Sanger Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College MSM S71-243.

Today’s Planned Parenthood execs would do well to follow the logic of their founder when it comes to abortion. Sanger lived at a time when contraceptives were illegal. She advocated for the legalization of contraceptives as a means of reducing or even eliminating abortion. It’s ironic that birth control has been legal for many decades and yet we’re still talking about how it is supposedly the magic cure for abortion. Radical idea: maybe the real cure for abortion is abstaining from sex until marriage. Borrowing the stated logic of Amplify Your Voice: if pro-choice folks “truly wanted to reduce the number of abortions that occur,” perhaps they should consider the efficacy of just saying no.

Parents may also oppose sex-education in school because they want to instruct their children on such a personal matter and believe that sex-education in schools sends a message to kids that pre-marital sex is okay, which is often contrary to their religious beliefs, not to mention the related health risks. There is nothing sinister or hypocritical in the desire to educate one’s own children in the matter of sex and in adherence to one’s religious beliefs and health concerns, yet that’s the impression given by the Amplify article.

As far as contraceptives go, I and many other pro-life proponents would say, if it’s impossible for you to abstain from sex outside of marriage (which it isn’t, by the way), then, by all means, use contraceptives. But don’t attempt to use the fact that some religious groups oppose the use of contraceptives among their own membership as an excuse for the fact that you are now pregnant and want an abortion.

Roger Resler is an author, researcher & media producer for Truth In Depth Productions.

Good reasons to be pro-choice?

by Roger Resler

For this post and several future posts I will respond to pro-choice arguments presented on a website called Amplify Your Voice. I welcome comments and feedback from anyone so long as they stay within the “good exchange of ideas” realm. Fair warning: as the unimpeachable blog dictator, I will mercilessly exercise omnipotent control over content on this site. Essentially, if I like your comment, it will see the light of day. If not, it will be forever banned to outer darkness (followed by maniacal laughter). So… with that in mind, let’s get started.

The voices wishing to be amplified at Amply Your Voice.com are no doubt backed up by sincerely held beliefs. The problem is, “sincerely held” does not necessarily equate to rational. Case in point:  “10 Arguments in Favor of Pro-Choice Policy.” Let’s begin with the first point which is actually #10:

10. Laws against abortion do not stop abortion; they simply make it less safe. The number of women who get abortions does not change when it goes from being legal to illegal, or vice versa. The only thing that changes is more women die. Every year, 78,000 women die from unsafe abortions.

With all due respect, this is propaganda. The 78,000 figure is cited with no supporting data, but it’s interesting to note that Amplify is claiming this number while abortion is legal. If legal abortion is safe (for the mother) and abortion is currently legal, then why are 78,000 women dying from abortion “every year” according to Amplify?

In 2006 I had a phone conversation with ex-abortionist turned pro-life advocate Dr. Bernard Nathanson who stated that the popular pre-Roe figure of 10,000 annual maternal deaths was simply manufactured out of thin air by the pro-choice community (of which Nathanson was then an active participant). The truth is no one knows how many illegal abortions took place (for the obvious reason that no one was reporting illegal abortions) but the pro-choice “estimate” of abortion related maternal deaths has now obviously inflated by a factor of 7.8! This is an absurd number; useful only for pro-choice propaganda.

Although we don’t know how many illegal abortions took place, we do have a reasonable estimate of how many maternal deaths were attributed to illegal abortion in the years leading up to Roe.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, there were roughly 1,350 such deaths in 1941. Due to the introduction of Penicillin in the 1950’s the figure had dropped dramatically to less than 200 by 1965 and continued to drop to under 50 by the time Roe v. Wade was argued. Did you catch the disparity? Those interested in keeping abortion legal are now casually claiming that 78,000 maternal deaths occur annually due to illegal abortions, when, in reality, the number was well under 50 by the time Roe was argued!

“Law’s against abortion do not stop abortion.”

Obviously true. Hardly surprising. Laws against speeding do not stop Mario-Andretti-wanna-be’s from flying past me on the freeway.

Laws against murder have not put serial killers out of business. If we could stop vice simply by passing laws, then we should be living in utopia.

The number of women who get abortions does not change when it goes from being legal to illegal, or vice versa. “

This is where a “my-stats-are-better-than-your-stats” tit-for-tat begins – except that Amplify provides no stats to support their claims. I deal with this topic in my book Compelling Interest (which will be released in the Fall of 2012 – the link, by the way, is for an earlier version audio book). It comes down to whose stats are we going to believe?

In his exhaustive book, Dispelling the Myths of Abortion History, (Carolina Academic Press, 2006) Villanova law professor Joseph W. Dellapenna methodically shreds this and other abortion myths that have been promoted as fact by the pro-choice movement for decades. Dellapenna’s research demonstrates that the modern origin of many of these now popular abortion myths goes back to the pro-abortion-agenda-driven research of a New York University law professor named Cyril Means Jr.

Over the course of more than 1,200 pages, Dellapenna shows that Means’ research was “seriously deficient even based on the evidence Means himself presented.” (Dellapenna, p. xi) Factual inaccuracy did not stop Sarah Weddington from relying heavily on Means’ research, however, in her pro-abortion arguments before the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade. And it also did not stop Harry Blackmun from perpetuating Means’ errors as he wrote the Roe majority opinion.

Obviously numbers are easy to inflate and the pro-choice community has been busily inflating.The important question is: does society wish to promote abortion as a public good which should be legal? Most people agree that at best abortion is a necessary evil. The debate becomes a matter of: when is it necessary?

The way Amplify frames the issue is revealing: “Laws against abortion do not stop abortion; they simply make it less safe.” While the actual number of maternal deaths is much lower than Amplify would have us believe we should keep in mind that abortion is never safe for the unborn child.

The idea that laws force women into back alleys is also flawed. Women choose to have abortions. They are almost never forced, and certainly not by anti-abortion laws.

Do we create laws against abortion in the hopes that more women will die from illegal abortion? Of course not. The hope is that women will be discouraged from participating in abortion because society is saying abortion on demand is morally unacceptable, just like murder is morally unacceptable.

Well, I’ve managed to answer only one of Amplify’s 10 points. Thanks for bearing with me. I will continue with the second point on my next blog entry.

Roger Resler is an author, researcher & media producer for Truth In Depth Productions.

Pro-choice: Avoiding Inconvenient Truths

by Roger Resler

In sincere compassion, pro-choice proponents declare that the decision to “terminate a pregnancy” is an intensely personal one that should be made by the pregnant woman in consultation with her medical professional. Like all pro-choice logic, it sounds reasonable – so long as one doesn’t make the mistake of thinking too much.

In his book Surprised By JoyC.S. Lewis writes:  “A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading.” The same principle applies to sincere pro-choice proponents who wish to remain so. They should stay engaged passively; frequently voicing the tried-and-true slogans and buzzwords championed by the movement but, at all costs, restrain from actually giving the notion of “abortion” much thought on a deeper, pragmatic level. Giving heed to the popular wisdom of Hollywood starlets is always productive for sincere pro-choice proponents; mainly because actors are adept at memorizing and passionately delivering feel-good lines. These days, however, remaining sincerely pro-choice in the face of increasingly visible and annoying biological facts is becoming pitiably difficult.

The conflict between jargon and inconvenient truth is dramatically and eloquently illustrated in Naomi Wolf’s now classic article, originally appearing in an October, 1996 edition of the New Republic Magazine  entitled: “Our Bodies, Our Souls” wherein Wolf attempts to sincerely champion the cause of “the fight to defend abortion rights” yet ends up running headlong into the stark human reality her peers prefer to think of as “tissue.” To her credit, Wolf is too sincerely feminist to blindly follow useful pro-choice mantras without considering the practical implications. The result is the most morbidly candid pro-choice assessment of abortion reality I’ve ever seen in print.

“Of course it’s a baby!” Wolf admits, impatiently replying to an overly inquisitive pro-life conservative in reference to her own four-month-old fetus. Freely admitting to her readers that such blatant glasnost is well outside the typical, evasive PC response (as no doubt set forth in the standard pro-choice playbook®), Wolf consequently experiences “the great relief that is the grace of long-delayed honesty.” Expressing such honesty, however, while certainly a noble undertaking, leaves Wolf vulnerable to the paradox of how to remain loyal to the pro-choice cause in light of this new, liberating admission. Evasive answers would no longer work.

Wolf could simply have chosen not to write the article at all, however. While internal evasion was no longer possible, external evasion would have been. Pro-choice life as Wolf understood it, could have continued. Given her prolificity, Wolf could simply have chosen to write about a different facet of the abortion debate such as how bad things were before Roe v. Wade or how abortion is an intensely personal decision, etc. etc. When in doubt, stay on safe ground. Instead, Wolf chose to face the brutal truth head-on and expose the result to the world. Her candor, while attempting to remain sincerely devoted to the pro-choice cause, is therefore quite extraordinary.

The conclusion she draws is equally jaw-dropping:

War is legal: it is sometimes even necessary. Letting the dying die in peace is often legal and sometimes even necessary. Abortion should be legal; it is sometimes even necessary. Sometimes the mother must be able to decide that the fetus, in its full humanity, must die. But it is never right or necessary to minimize the value of the lives involved or the sacrifice incurred in letting them go.

Proving that brutality can be masked in eloquence, Wolf equates abortion with war and suggests that both are sometimes legal necessities. Had Wolf been referring to abortions performed to save the life of the mother, her logic would have had the force of rational but nonetheless tragic justification supporting it. As it is, she refers to abortion on demand. The resulting cognitive dissonance is difficult to reconcile with anything resembling rationality. With a few keyboard strokes, Wolf transforms the mindless mantras of pro-choice rhetoric into either full-scale schizophrenia or barely masked barbarity. The irrationality of such logic is adequately demonstrated by a postnatal application. Should mothers be endowed with state-sanctioned legal authority to determine whether their toddlers, in all their “full humanity, must die”? Even in a sincere attempt at brutal honesty, Wolf cannot help but appeal to euphemism to soften the blow. Intentional destruction of living humans – not unlike the “baby” she recognized in her own womb – is deemed: “letting them go.”

Wolf is to be commended for her unusually straightforward assessment of human life in the womb. But her very candor when relating that truth to abortion leads to a problematic end. Not surprisingly, open proclamation of unorthodox truths from a prominent, pro-choice feminist tends to earn scathing criticism from less candid pro-abortion peers. The harmonious coexistence of biological fact with “abortions rights” advocacy is not achieved when pro-choice proponents openly consider the brutal impact of the procedure they advocate on “the fetus, in its full humanity.”

If hard biological reality does not sit well with what is being advocated then perhaps its time for advocates like Wolf to switch sides. The point of her article was that continually denying the value of human lives ended by abortion would eventually rob the pro-choice movement of its very soul. Yet continuing to cling to irrational pro-choice ideology despite the resulting moral quagmire is as ignoble as intentionally evading difficult questions altogether – if not more so. Better to remain in mindless lock-step than to openly wander too close to the truth and refuse to be affected by it. As Mormon elder, Boyd Packer once infamously declared: “Some things that are true are not very useful.”

Roger Resler is an author, researcher & media producer for Truth In Depth Productions.