We knew it was bad, but…

by Roger Resler

I’ve been writing and producing media content on the subject of abortion for decades. I’ve debated “hard-core” pro-abortionists in online discussions who were either born without a conscience or have numbed what they were born with into irrelevancy. I think I’ve seen and heard it all. And then along comes another Live Action undercover video. It’s not easy to watch, but everyone – whether you’re pro-life, pro-choice or have no opinion on abortion – everyone needs to watch this video: click here to watch.

How does one describe what Lila’s organization repeatedly captures on video? Stomach turning comes to mind, yet seems inadequate. The only analog I can think of would be a slave-trader who treats the human beings under his charge as commodities while still recognizing their humanness. Used to be – back in the good ‘ole days – that pro-abortionists knew they couldn’t gain public approval for abortion while simultaneously acknowledging the humanity of the unborn. It was merely a “fetus” they reassured us, not a baby.

As late as 2001 pro-choice cheerleader Marian Faux  adamantly insisted that while “The fetus may be like a baby in some respects,” it is “emphatically not a baby.” (Faux, pg. 149). In 1991, during a live Phil Donahue taping in Wichita, Kansas, when asked about the fate of babies who survive abortion (see for example the story of Melissa Ohden), Faye Wattleton, then president of Planned Parenthood answered: “I do not accept that a fetus is a baby. It is a fetus.” Apparently Wattleton missed the point of the question which was concerned with babies who survive abortions. But for Wattleton and Faux, and the host of other pro-choice proponents they speak for, abortion is morally acceptable because a fetus is “emphatically not a baby.”

Yet here, in the latest Live Action undercover video, we have an abortionist (how much more pro-choice does it get?) brazenly acknowledging that he’s killing babies on a routine basis and does so as casually as roasting meat in a crock-pot. Has the world gone completely insane?

What is it going to take to get Americans upset about abortion? If the only way to change things were to mobilize an army and fight a civil war, I could see how that might present a difficult challenge. But the fact of the matter is, all we really need to do is vote pro-life en masse. The problem is it’s going to take a lot of us getting so upset that we remember these videos every time we go to the ballot box.

Another sorry testament about this – beyond, of course, the fact that Dr. Carhart and other abortionists routinely kill unborn babies – is that if this and other Live Action videos had instead exposed evil gun lobbyists casually talking about the effectiveness of semi-automatics on school children or oil barons yucking it up on their private jets en route to a New York country club you can bet they would be receiving multiple plays on every major media outlet across the country with bold headlines demanding action and guest appearances on late-night talk shows. As it is, it’s up to us, Live Action, a few good bloggers and Fox News to pique the conscience of a nation.

The video closes with the definition of “inhuman” as follows:

Adjective
  1. Lacking human qualities of compassion and mercy; cruel and barbaric.
  2. Not human in nature or character

After giving the matter some additional thought, I may have a phrase that captures the essence of what Live Action has captured on video: civilized barbarity.

A person’s a person, even if Dr. Seuss threatens to sue

by Roger Resler

The recurring maxim expressed by “Horton” the elephant in Dr. Seuss’s classic story Horton Hears a Who, goes like this: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” So certain is this truth to Horton, that he takes it as being self-evident. His actions throughout the story are admirably consistent with this assertion and the moral implications that accompany it.

While enjoying a bath in a river, Horton’s large ears pick up on a tiny voice emanating from a speck of dust as it flutters by. While Horton never sees the person producing the voice – since that person is too tiny to be seen by an elephant – he, nevertheless, realizes that there must be a person there since he can clearly hear the voice coming from the speck of dust. In fact, there is apparently an entire city – if not a planet – consisting of many “Who’s” living on that speck of dust.

Trouble enters the story when Horton’s animal friends reject the foolish notion that there could be any kind of life, much less a person, living on a speck of dust. They accordingly ridicule Horton for believing in such nonsense. Eventually, in an effort to relieve Horton of his delusions, it is decided that the dust speck should be boiled in oil. Knowing that this would mean a sudden and violent destruction of Who civilization (resisting the desire for a Roger Daltrey joke here), Horton does everything in his power to save the dust speck from such a terrible fate; because, “after all, a person’s a person, no matter how small.”

In the end, the Who’s concerted effort at noise-making generates enough decibels to register in the ears of Horton’s skeptical friends. Once they realize they had been wrong in their criticism, their mood changes dramatically and, once again, in accordance with the truth that “a person’s a person, no matter how small,” they cease their attempt to destroy the dust speck (which they now realize would be immoral) and everyone lives happily ever after – that is until pro-life advocates wanted to express the same truth to a skeptical world.

The irony is that the creator of Horton, the Who’s and Whoville itself, the late Theodore Geisel, apparently preferred to identify with the skeptics rather than those advancing the same truth his hero expresses when it comes to the controversy surrounding the morality of abortion. My introduction to this bizarre turn of events came a few days ago from someone who commented on the trailer for my book Compelling Interest. In both the book and the trailer, we quote this phrase of Dr. Seuss (or more precisely Horton) because we agree with it.

While commenting on the trailer, smitelystacey, asks if we are aware that Dr. Seuss, “never intended his quote to be used in this manner” and that, “he threatened to sue an anti-abortion group for using his quote [on their letterhead] before he died, and his widow has also spoken out against people hijacking his work to support their own agendas.”

Seriously?

I’m sorry but this is one of those things that just takes the cake. No, in fact, I was not aware of Dr. Seuss’s antipathy toward the pro-life agenda, nor would I ever have imagined such a thing. Admittedly, I’ve seen some strange things in my near half-century on this earth, but the irony of Dr. Seuss threatening to sue a pro-life group for using the phrase “A person’s a person, no matter how small,” when they agree with the premise, is certainly unexpected. Upon further investigation I learned that Dr. Seuss was apparently quite liberal and – it would appear – was either pro-choice on abortion or at least opposed to the pro-life agenda.

Of course threatening to sue and actually being able to sue are two different things. I’m reasonably confident that Dr. Seuss had no exclusive copyright on the phrase “A person’s a person, no matter how small” nor – more importantly – on the moral truth behind the phrase. Even if that had been the case, it’s still quite legal for anyone to quote the phrase provided they properly attribute it to Dr. Seuss. Even skeptics who don’t believe that “a person’s a person no matter how small” are free to quote the phrase. But the idea that Geisel would threaten to sue a pro-life group for using the phrase, and that his widow has “spoken out against people hijacking his work to support their own agendas” is jaw dropping in light of the moral implications behind Horton’s sudden awareness of the existence of microscopic human life.

If pro-life people wanted to misuse the quote or twist it to mean something different from the truth expressed by Horton, I could understand the Geisel’s righteous indignation. As it is, pro-lifers use the quote precisely because they agree with it! It would be like the police department threatening to sue security guards for suggesting their job also exists “To protect and to serve.”

There is abundantly more objective evidence supporting the fact that human life exists long before it can be registered by adult sensory perception than there is for the existence of barely audible Who’s living on a speck of dust. If the Geisel’s don’t/didn’t believe that human fetuses or embryos are persons, they are free to disbelieve, but such skepticism is perfectly analogous to the villains in the Horton story who also don’t believe human life could exist at a microscopic level. The truth expressed in the phrase: “A person’s a person no matter how small” remains valid in both cases. The irony is beyond palpable.

smitelystacey closes her remarks (I’m assuming a female gender here, my apologies if I’m mistaken) by suggesting that we should: “Keep your personal opinions away from women’s bodies, and don’t steal a dead man’s work in order to gain support for your erroneous life views,” – as though the assertion that: “A person’s a person, no matter how small” only represents my (erroneous!) “personal opinion” and only infringes on “women’s bodies” when it’s expressed by me and other pro-life proponents rather than by Horton the elephant in a children’s book. Apparently Horton knew how to use the phrase in a non-erroneous manner.

After the dust settles (pun intended, feel free to roll eyes) pro-lifers, like Horton, will continue to operate under the self-evident truth that a person’s a person, no matter how small and will consistently recognize the moral implications of that truth to human life at any stage of development regardless of Theodore Geisel’s political views or pre-mortem threats of imminent lawsuits.

New program to launch: Pro-Life Voices

by Roger Resler

In December, 2012, Truth In Depth produced two radio specials on the significance of Roe v. Wade to air in January. January 22, 2013 marked the 40th anniversary of this landmark decision. We produced these specials not knowing whether any stations would air them or not. January ended with nearly 170 full power Christian radio stations airing at least one of the specials and/or the accompanying 1 or 2 minute vignettes. When you add in the various translators that many of these parent stations have, the specials were heard on over 600 radio outlets across the United States with a potential total audience of over 2 million. Pretty good for producing in faith!

This would not have been possible without the willingness of my publisher, eChristian, to promote the book. Westar Media handled the distribution, and, with short notice, managed to reach a lot of stations very quickly.

All in all, the campaign was a huge success! People not only heard about the book, but they also learned, and heard firsthand, that while Roe v. Wade may be a landmark, it’s definitely not a national treasure. Thank you again, to eChristian, Westar and to all the stations that aired the specials.

The success of the specials has opened an opportunity for the creation of a new weekly/daily pro-life radio and internet program that will be called “Pro-Life Voices.” While there are certainly other great pro-life programs already out there, what will be unique about this program is that it will publicize and promote the effective things that many different pro-life organizations are already doing for the cause of life and for the cause of reducing the number of abortions and ultimately eliminating the need for abortion.

There are millions of pro-life people and many great pro-life organizations out there. The majority of people in the U.S. now consider themselves pro-life and in fact the shrinking pro-choice trend continues. Gallup is now reporting that: “Pro-Choice” Americans at Record-Low 41%. There is a definite trend toward the pro-life point of view and Pro-Life Voices will provide a platform for the movers and shakers behind this trend to share their stories and successes with others in an effort to keep the numbers moving in the right direction.

It is my hope and prayer that Pro-Life Voices will emerge as a unifying force that will galvanize the millions of pro-life people in the United States (and elsewhere) in order to bring about meaningful change with respect to abortion, in both the legal aspects as well as the perceived need for abortion.

Many pro-choice proponents are comfortable with the idea that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.” They already claim that abortion is far safer (for the mother) today than ever before, and as long as it remains legal, we aim to help them make abortion as rare as possible.

There is much that is already being done and much more that can be done to bring this about. Whether or not Roe v. Wade is overturned; whether or not abortion is formally outlawed in most situations; whether or not we have a pro-life President; we can make a dramatic difference. In the end, numbers are extremely important and the trend is in our favor. The “mainstream media” (which is becoming more like a trickle these days) can only present a false picture of reality for so long. If the numbers continue to trend toward pro-life philosophy a breaking point will inevitably be reached, regardless of whether Roe v. Wade is overturned or not.

I hope you will join with the vision of this program as we give a voice to those who are already effectively working to eliminate the need and desire for abortion and working to change minds toward the pro-life point of view. Think of the potential!

I’m encouraged! And I’m especially encouraged because we will be launching this new program with the support and participation of two ladies who are playing a dramatic role in the shift toward pro-life philosophy. One of them – Abby Johnson – is part of the trend toward pro-life thinking. Abby went through her own very dramatic shift from pro-choice to pro-life in 2009 and we will be interviewing her for the launching of Pro-Life Voices. Abby will discuss her own journey from pro-choice to pro-life and will also discuss the founding of her new ministry called “And Then There Were None” which is a ministry dedicated to encouraging abortion clinic workers to leave the abortion industry. Her efforts are yielding encouraging results. The abortion industry cannot sustain itself without workers willing and able to perform and assist with abortions.

The special guest for our second interview will be Melissa Ohden. Melissa is the survivor of a saline-infusion abortion. When you say that, most people don’t understand what you mean. Melissa did not have an abortion, her biological mother did in 1977. Because that abortion failed we are privileged to hear Melissa’s story of survival. She was left for dead with the “discarded medical waste” but a nurse heard her tiny cry and saved Melissa’s life. She not only survived but has thrived and is today a pro-life speaker and author with one of the most powerful testimonies you’ll ever hear.

It is amazing how God is working to not only to bring a new program into being, but to bless it with participation from today’s most effective pro-life proponents! In the weeks ahead we will be recording and producing these and other programs as well as web-site building. This is beginning from the ground up! We do not yet have a formal launch date, and, just as with the specials, we have no idea how many radio stations will agree to air the new program, but we are forging ahead in faith and will leave those details up to God.

I’m excited! Though there will no doubt be battles ahead, it’s a great time to be pro-life! Stay tuned!

No middle ground

by Roger Resler

Following Anna from Las Vegas’s not-so-complimentary review I noticed that James from Canada, had a different reaction to the book:

My reaction to this book was in stark contrast to the previous reviewer. She is absolutely right that those that have made up their minds on the abortion issue will find this book most helpful. However, pro-choice advocates react to “screeds” such as this with the same vitriol, unsubstantiated by fact. Compelling interest is an excellent tool to expose one’s true point-of-view on the subject of abortion. Contrary to the opinion of the previous reviewer, there is no middle ground on this issue. Pro-life advocates are accused of closed-mindedness. Ey tu Brute?

James is correct: There is no middle ground on this issue in spite of the fact that many people long for middle ground. People wanted middle ground in the mid-1800’s with regard to the problem of slavery; but “middle ground” included such things as looking the other way when human beings were bought and sold, separated from families, and then beaten and lynched for attempting to escape the tyranny. Being “neutral” meant that you were expected to report and return runaway slaves. How can middle ground exist in the face of such injustice?

The problem with abortion is the same problem that made slavery morally impermissible: it violates basic human rights. People disagreed over whether black humans should be protected by the Constitution and those who believed they should not attempted to justify their belief by suggesting that black humans were inferior to white humans. They were not “part of the people.” Abolitionists disagreed. The question of the moral permissibility of slavery was highly controversial, just as the question of abortion is today. Yet slaveholders wanted the law to sanction their desire to own slaves, which can only be morally permissible if their racist philosophy is correct. If the abolitionists were correct, then slavery was immoral.

It is exactly the same situation today with regard to abortion. Those who desire legal abortion want the law to continue to sanction their desire to kill fetuses, which can only be morally permissible if their pro-choice philosophy is correct. If the pro-lifers are correct, then abortion is immoral. Both sides cannot be right.

Pro-choice philosophy can’t establish itself as correct (and most pro-choice advocates don’t even attempt to). It can only assert its alleged correctness in the face of both hard evidence and basic intuitions that run counter to the assertion much like slaveholders asserted their racism was the correct way to think about skin shades when basic intuitions said there is something wrong with that. After Dred Scott we had slavery based on skin shade discrimination. After Roe v. Wade we have legalized abortion based on age discrimination. Both forms of discrimination are equally irrational and equally appalling in their violation of human rights.

Neither of these forms of discrimination offer room for middle ground. And in both cases, it was not possible for both of the opposing sides to be correct. It could not be morally permissible for southerners to own slaves but not northerners. It was either morally permissible for all or for none. Today, contrary to popular opinion, it is not morally permissible for pro-choice people to choose abortion (in the absence of life-threatening pregnancies) but not for pro-life people. If pro-lifers are correct when they assert that abortion is the killing of an innocent human being, then abortion (in the absence of life-threatening pregnancies) is immoral for all, not just for those who recognize the immorality.

The good, the bad and the scathing.

Since the subject of my book is abortion and since that subject tends to be highly controversial, I fully anticipated receiving – on one end – thoughtful and possibly even glowing reviews from people who agree with me about abortion, and – on the other end – scathing reviews from those who don’t. Reviewers, after all, are human.

The first reviews to appear on Amazon fit the former description while the first review to appear on audible.com fell solidly in the latter category. While contemptuous reviews are anticipated, it still injects some extra adrenaline in the blood flow to read something akin to hate-mail in the form of a public review. I am, after all, human. Enter: Anna from Las Vegas. I get the distinct feeling Anna just doesn’t like me.

After giving the book 1 star out of 5 (I suspect since negative stars are not an option), here’s what Anna writes about my book:

“HORRIBLE!!!!”

Would you try another book from Roger Resler and/or Roger Resler?

Never.

What do you think your next listen will be?

something actually entertaining

What didn’t you like about Roger Resler’s performance?

He is incredibly sanctimonious. Also, the addition of numerous adolescent voices is both annoying and attempting to illicit an emotional response from the audience. It is yet more one more way in which this book shows its bias and downright mean-ness.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Intense remorse for wasting a credit.

Any additional comments?

This book is sold as an unbiased account of abortion litigation. IT IS NOT. It is a pro-life screed. Essentially, do not listen to this unless you have already made up your mind about this issue.

The internet allows people to speak their mind freely and to say things they probably wouldn’t say if they were standing in front of you. In spite of the harsh words I think there are some things to be gleaned from this review. First, from her comment: “something actually entertaining” it would seem that Anna may have been hoping that my book would entertain her. If so, I can see why she might be disappointed – and especially so, if she is sympathetic to the pro-abortion cause.

Although I think it could reasonably be suggested that the book has its creative moments, it was certainly not intended to be an entertaining book. It was intended to be an educational book that accurately examines key elements of the Roe v. Wade oral arguments, majority and minority opinions; and evaluates them openly, fairly and honestly, from a pro-life point of view. I suspect Anna has already concluded that that is simply not possible. Were it not for thoughtful, pro-abortion writers like David Boonin, with whom I passionately disagree but, nevertheless, highly respect, I might have arrived at a similar conclusion about pro-choice/pro-abortion philosophy.

Anna describes my performance as “incredibly sanctimonious.” This is obviously subjective, and yet, I want to be open to criticism and try to honestly evaluate whether there is some truth lingering in the background. Anna is reviewing the audio book, so I think it is likely that my tone could come across as “incredibly sanctimonious” to someone who is pro-abortion. I suspect Anna would have a different take on the matter if I agreed with her opinions on abortion. Regardless, I definitely believe in what I have written in the book. Passionately so. I have no doubt that abortion kills innocent human beings. Consequently, I think a passionate, heartfelt delivery is appropriate. If that is what constitutes being “incredibly sanctimonious” then I accept the label unapologetically.

Anna’s next criticism is more intriguing. She suggests that, “the addition of numerous adolescent voices is both annoying and attempting to illicit an emotional response from the audience.” There are indeed a lot of voices other than my own in the audiobook. As to the suggestion that a “numerous” amount of them are “adolescent” voices, Anna is simply incorrect. My then-16-year-old daughter recorded one brief quote for the original audio production in 2006 when she was in high-school, which I retained for the new, expanded version. Her’s is the only voice that could be considered “adolescent.” There were four college age adults and many of the rest were, if not over the hill (like me), at least close enough to see the summit.

It’s surprising to learn that my motivation for using these alleged “adolescent voices” was – unbeknownst to me – an attempt to “illicit an emotional response from the audience.” It’s especially surprising since, in the first place, with regard to the exploitation of my daughter’s voice, I simply remember needing a female voice and she happened to be available (given that she lived in the same house as I did at the time and had no homework to do – or at least she preferred recording to doing said homework). In the second place, illiciting an emotional response from the audience has never been a goal for the book, so I’m confident it wasn’t a consideration when looking for voices. The simple truth is: I did not write the book to appeal to emotions. It is intended to appeal to the force of reason and logic. I think even critics should be generous enough to concede at least that much.

It’s interesting that several other reviewers have found the “numerous voices” to be a nice touch that keeps the listener from tuning out. That is certainly more in line with what I had in mind by using additional voices for quoted material. Anna, however, suggests that the use of “numerous adolescent voices” is “yet one more way in which this book shows its bias and downright mean-ness.”

This one truly has me baffled. Why would the use of (what she incorrectly perceives to be) “numerous adolescent voices” show “bias” and “downright mean-ness”? Perhaps Anna believes I was exploiting children by forcing them to participate in the production of pro-life propaganda. If so, I can assure Anna that my daughter voluntarily recorded the quote. In all fairness, however, bribery may have been involved. It is entirely possible there may have been an enticement in the form of a cookie. Pro-lifers will stoop to anything.

Finally, Anna suggests that the book “is sold as an unbiased account of abortion litigation.” This is another area where Anna’s review is simply factually inaccurate. She will not find that description anywhere in the promotional materials for the book. The truth is, we all have a bias; myself included. Anna does as well. And so do all pro-choice and pro-life proponents. It comes with being human and having opinions. No one is unbiased. I would not have allowed a description that claims the book is “unbiased” to have been used to promote the book. What eChristian (the publisher) does state is this:

“This carefully researched book speaks with a thought-provoking, balanced voice that will challenge your thinking on abortion no matter where you currently stand on the issue.”

I think that’s an accurate description. In fact, I suspect its accuracy may be playing out in terms of challenging Anna’s thinking, which, in turn, has sparked a passionate response. The description makes no claim of my being “unbiased” but does suggest careful research and a “balanced voice.” That term was not my opinion, but the opinion of my editors. It is certainly subjective, and, as such, Anna is free to disagree with it. Given what I might have written about the type of reasoning Sarah Weddington and the Roe majority employed, however, I think “balanced” is a reasonable description for what made it to publication. If not balanced, then certainly restrained. In any case, the book is unapologetically written from a pro-life point of view.

Anna prefers to characterize it as a “pro-life screed;” suggesting that you should not listen “unless you have already made up your mind about this issue.” That is an interesting comment that, once again, is slightly baffling. Anna seems to be suggesting that if you’ve already made up your mind about the abortion issue, then it’s okay to read my book. But if not – if you’re undecided – then, apparently, you shouldn’t. I suppose the logical implication might be that, if you’re undecided on abortion, the “bias and downright mean-ness” of the book when coupled with the sinister use of “numerous adolescent voices” might illicit an unexpected emotional response which, in turn, might have the potential to illegitimately sway you toward the pro-life point of view. If that is at least close to what Anna is suggesting, then I could see how she might want to insulate unwary folks from falling into unwarranted sympathy for the pro-life cause due only to the underhanded tactics of a sanctimonious pro-life author.

More important to me, however, is the fact that Anna makes no claims whatsoever regarding the accuracy or inaccuracy of the arguments that are made and the conclusions that are drawn in the book. While she finds fault with (what she perceives to be) the youth of the voices, she says nothing about what the voices are actually stating. The real irony is that the majority of the quotes in the book come from solidly pro-abortion proponents like Sarah Weddington, Marian Faux, Beverly Harrison, Jack Balkin, Jed Rubenfeld, Connie Paige, Gloria Feldt, Naomi Wolf, Francesca Minerva, Alberto Guibilini, Roy Lucas, Cyril Means Jr. and Harry Blackmun. Unlike Anna, I respond directly to the arguments presented by these pro-abortion advocates with what I believe are sound, rational arguments that refute their logic. Anna has no comment about this. She challenges none of the facts presented; none of the premises; none of the logic and none of the conclusions.

As it stands, her review is a classic example of the ad hominem fallacy which is the fallacy of attacking the messenger rather than the message.

If you ever read this review of your review, Anna, I would encourage you to post any substantive objection to the facts, arguments and logic that I present in the book. If you do so, I will consider reducing the level of sanctimoniousness when recording my next pro-life screed.

All the best!  

Am I living on Mars?

by Roger Resler

The callousness of the “tolerant” pro-choice left never ceases to mystify me – at least until the shock wears off and I force myself to see things from their shallow, “politically correct” point of view. Case in point: actor Mehcad Brooks’ tawdry video “celebrating” his and Jane Roe’s 40th Anniversary. (It must have been an arranged marriage given that he wasn’t even alive in 1973). Produced through the auspices of the Center For Reproductive Rights, the video is so revolting – when one considers the subject matter – that I refuse to dignify it with a link. You can readily find it online. By now you’ve probably seen at least snippets on TV anyway.

The silky, smirking Brooks chortles: “Oh, hey baby. Did you think I forgot?” as he sniffs a rose and puts his cognac down while sexy jazz plays and a fireplace burns in the background. “All these years,” he smugly expounds, “so many people said we’d never make it. They’ve been trying to tear us apart. Take you away. Put limits on you. On me. On us.”

As is common for typically question-begging pro-choice logic, Brooks and Roe’s allegorical relationship only manages to keep itself out of the realms of sheer barbarity when viewed from the narrow perspective of “reproductive rights.” But there is a more subtle truth hidden behind the apparent irony of a man starring in a video that is intended to celebrate “women’s rights.” Townhall’s Katie Pavlich observes with respect to pro-choice proponents, “it’s not that they don’t want men involved, they simply want men to regurgitate talking points and celebrate abortion when it’s convenient.” Pavlich also notes that: “It’s no wonder men in our culture today don’t respect women as they should, because they aren’t required to.”

While Pavlich’s points are certainly valid, the truth is that the adoption of abortion as a natural staple of “women’s reproductive rights” is actually driven by male interests and has been from the beginning.

The seeming paradox of the male “reproductive freedom” advocate makes sense when understood within the misogynistic context of escaping the moral consequences of one’s actions at the expense of female biology. Readily available abortion relieves men of moral obligation and child-support responsibilities. It is precisely the avoidance of this moral obligation that MSNBC’s “The Cycle” co-host, Toure, extolled on Friday, suggesting that the availability of abortion saved his life because he wasn’t ready to be a dad. Think about that for a moment. Toure explains that he was “in a committed relationship with a woman” that he paradoxically “knew was just not the one.” According to Toure, “She also knew it probably wasn’t going to work out. And then she got pregnant” as though Toure himself was a sideline observer in the phenomenon. “I knew that pregnant woman and I were not going to be able to form a lasting family.” Years later, Toure explains, he met another woman, married her and “after we decided to get pregnant, I went to her doctor’s appointments – our doctor’s appointments, with joy.”

Surprisingly, though, Toure’s “lifelong commitment to abortion rights was… jostled” by witnessing their “boy grow inside her”  and noticing “how human they are” during the second trimester as “we watched him move around on 3-D sonograms.” Despite this challenge to his pro-choice commitment, Toure remained pro-choice because he “cannot imagine arguing against a woman’s right to control her body and thus her life.”

Ironic, isn’t it, that Toure identifies his “lifelong commitment to abortion rights” with “a woman’s right to control her body and thus her life” and yet he’s specifically grateful that abortion was available to save his life. Consider the male-centricity in Toure’s assertion that: “I thank God and country that when I fell into a bad situation, abortion was there to save me and keep me on a path toward building a strong family I have now. And I pray that safety net stays in place.”

Aside from the fact that abortion was there to save him, one wonders how exactly Toure “fell into a bad situation” in the first place. Even when hammered, a typical male needs a minimum level of functioning cognition in order to “fall into” the act that leads to pregnancy.

Given the male interest in avoiding long-term obligations that stem from one’s inability to keep from stumbling into “bad situations” coupled with the fact that men don’t have to undergo abortion procedures, it’s no great surprise that men have been strong supporters of “women’s reproductive rights” since before, during and after Roe v. Wade. As I point out in Compelling Interest (Chapter 5) several of the key arguments Sarah Weddington used while arguing Roe originated with men. In particular: Roy Lucas and Cyril Means, Jr. That these arguments turned out to be largely fallacious illustrates that the establishment of a moral basis for abortion on demand, secured by rational logic, was not as important as the benefit men would receive from the creation of “women’s reproductive rights.” Given that backdrop, Brooks and Toure have a lot to celebrate.

40 Years and Roe’s not looking any better

by Roger Resler

I discovered the writings of Francis Beckwith while doing research on the update and revision of my audio-book turned print edition, Compelling Interest. His name kept popping up in the reference section and footnotes of the materials I was reading.  Unfortunately, I did not actually get a copy of his book, or see any of his writings (other than what was quoted in other materials) until after my updated manuscript was finished. Once I began reading his materials on abortion, I was amazed at how similar our conclusions are regarding the abortion debate. Certainly some similarities are to be expected, given that we are both pro-life and both writing on the topic of abortion, but I was amazed at just how similar our thinking is. For example, on page 114 of his book Defending Life, he quotes Harry Blackmun’s fallacious argument from pity in his dissenting opinion in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (1989) wherein Justice Blackmun attempts to illicit sympathy for the “millions of women” who have “ordered their lives around the right to reproductive choice…” but (it was believed at the time) apparently stood on the precipice of losing that right.  By this point in the book, Beckwith has already shown how such a line of reasoning is fallacious because it says nothing about whether the “right to reproductive choice” should be a right in the first place, but instead, attempts to suggest that the right should be retained since millions of women have come to structure their lives around it.

I have a habit of making notes in the margins of books I’m reading in case I want to quote something in the future. When I read Dr. Beckwith’s quotation of Harry Blackmun, I noted that “This could be parodied to Dred Scott.” I continued reading and on the next page Dr. Beckwith presents a parody of Blackmun’s logic by substituting his defense of Roe with a similar defense of Dred Scott. After several additional instances like this I reached the conclusion that Francis Beckwith and I must be twins who were separated at birth.

Given all this, it is no great surprise that I would heartily agree with his latest blog posts at The Catholic Thing website. I responded to part two of his posts. The following is a re-post of that response.

Francis Beckwith wrote:

 “What is key to understanding the third is that Blackmun concedes a symmetrical relationship between the right to abortion and the degree to which the fetus is not a person.”

“Degree” being the operative word. In theory, being a “person” or not being a person emerged as the pivotal moral factor in the abortion question during Roe v. Wade oral arguments, with even Sarah Weddington conceding that if the state could establish that a fetus is a “person” under the protection of the 14th Amendment, then she “would have a very difficult case.” (Pro-choice) Justice Stewart suggested that such a finding would render Weddington’s case “almost impossible” and Justice Blackmun wrote that Weddington’s case “collapses” with the establishment of fetal personhood. Thus, the metaphysical concept of “personhood” became the critical element that living humans are supposed to fully possess before their lives can be protected by the Constitution. This is a clear case of stacking the deck in favor of the pro-choice agenda.

It is precisely the ambiguous nature of the concept of “personhood” that was exploited by pro-choice proponents in order to facilitate the larger pro-choice notion that the decision (as to whether or not abortion is morally permissible) should be left up to each individual woman.

Ironically, with specific regard to the law, Justice Blackmun never conclusively suggested that the unborn are not persons, but rather that, according to the law, they had allegedly never been regarded as “persons in the whole sense.” The implication being that even if they were in some sense “partial persons” they were still not “whole” persons. This, of course, logically raises the question of how much “personhood” is required before one’s pre-existing life can be protected by the law; a question that can only be answered subjectively since personhood cannot be measured.

The debate over fetal personhood was therefore an ad hoc response specifically designed to facilitate the desire for abortion on request; a desire that had grown out of a larger desire to avoid moral responsibility to one’s own offspring. We would not be debating fetal “personhood” 40 years after Roe v. Wade, had there not previously existed a desire for legalized abortion on request

Roger is obviously a genius.

by Roger Resler

This is the first post under the new category: “Reviewing the Reviews” and, no, that’s not the title I wish the reviewers of my book Compelling Interest, would use – although for any potential reviewers who may be reading this, it does have a great ring to it, don’t you think? : )

Actually, the “Roger” is not even referring to me. It instead refers to a reviewer of my book who happens to share my first name – and is obviously a man of extraordinarily keen insight and good judgment. I can say this with confidence since Roger’s closing comment is that he gives the book 6 out of 5 stars. My kind of reviewer! Thanks Roger.

The purpose of this blog category, however, is not to give myself pats on the back (although that does make for a nice fringe benefit – at least when the reviews are positive) but to hopefully glean something of value from the insight of others and their responses to the book.

In that regard, Roger offers an analogy in his review that I think is excellent. In fact, I offer my own analogy in the book to a military general who is commissioned by his superiors to test a new bomb on what he believes to be an uninhabited island, but, instead blows up Tom Hanks and his volleyball friend, Wilson. (See chapter 11).

I think Roger’s analogy fits the abortion debate, and in particular, illustrates the fallacy of pro-choice reasoning even better. Here is how he puts it:

When does a person become a “person”. At birth? At conception? Somewhere in between? The pro-abortionist says we don’t know, so we can terminate the pregnancy at any time before birth.

This logic is atrocious. Lets take that same logic into another situation. Lets say I have an old building I need to demolish. I am not sure if there is any one in the building at the time. I send someone in to see if it is clear. They come back and tell me they were not sure. They saw a pot of stew cooking over a small fire and it looked like a homeless person had been there. I then go ahead and demolish the building, because the potential homeless person is not the same as a homeless person.

If I was not sure if there was someone in the building, why in the world would I destroy it anyway. If the abortionist is not sure if the fetus is human, why kill it?

Roger’s analogy captures the glaring fallacy of pro-choice “logic” extremely well. In fact, it might even work better than he realizes. Let me elaborate.

A very popular modern defense of abortion – and one that is claimed by very intelligent and articulate philosophers like David Boonin – suggests that even if a fetus is a person (or in Boonin’s case, a possessor of a “right to life”), the pregnant woman should still have the option to choose abortion since she has obviously not granted her unborn child permission to use her body for nine months. (In this case I can use the term “unborn child” uncontroversially because Boonin is conceding fetal personhood, or at least the fetus’s “right to life” for the sake of argument). Boonin argues that this consent by the woman to her unborn child is critical to the morality of abortion. Even if the unborn child has a right to life, Boonin argues that he or she does not have the right to use his or her mother’s body for nine months, unless the mother grants consent.

Roger’s analogy of a building owner who wants to demolish a building – let’s say because she wants to build a modern high-rise in its place – captures the essence of the “it’s my body, so it’s my right to choose” argument and it illustrates that even if we grant that the womb is the woman’s private domain, it does not follow that she should then have the moral freedom to kill her unborn child who is residing there without her formal consent. (Note: More can be said about whether or not the woman grants “consent” by engaging in intercourse. For this discussion, I am granting Boonin’s notion that she has not granted consent). Destroying a building is not acceptable when there is a human being inside it – even if you are the owner of the building and have not granted consent to the homeless person to occupy the space. Similarly, having an abortion, which will destroy the person in your womb, is also not morally acceptable.

In fact, actively destroying the building is immoral even if you’re not sure whether a homeless person is living inside. In Roger’s analogy, there are good reasons to conclude that a homeless person may indeed be located inside the building. Therefore it is immoral to proceed with the demolition until one is sure beyond any reasonable doubt that there is no homeless person inside the building.

In the case of abortion, we know for a fact that a living human is destroyed. The only question is whether or not a person is destroyed, and, just as in Roger’s analogy, there are good reasons to believe that abortion kills human persons. Of course there is disagreement over how to define the metaphysical concept of “person” but, as I point out in the book, this disagreement was innovated as an ad-hoc response to the desire for abortion. In other words, women wanted – and in many cases men wanted for women – the freedom to choose abortion. The debate over fetal personhood grew out of that desire.

But the very fact that people can rationally disagree on that, places the burden of proof on those who wish to destroy fetuses to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that they are definitely not killing human beings. Because that can’t be done, they say the decision should be left up to the pregnant woman, because, after all, it’s her body.

Roger’s analogy shows that notion to be fallacious. It is, as he puts it, atrocious logic because it begs the question. It moves from an assumption it is trying to prove. It is only morally acceptable to demolish the building if you already know there are no living humans inside it. But that is what you are attempting to prove in the first place. You don’t know that, and, to make matters worse, indications are good that there may indeed be a person inside. Destroying the building, is therefore morally unacceptable until you can prove you are not also going to be killing a person.

Similarly, moving ahead with abortion on request is morally unacceptable until the people who want the freedom to kill fetuses can show conclusively that they are not killing living human beings. Good luck with that.

Boonin’s logic is even more unacceptable because he’s conceding that we do know that a living human with a right to life is living inside the womb but he’s still attempting to argue for the moral acceptability of abortion. We can adapt the analogy a bit to accommodate Boonin’s reasoning. He suggests that nine months of pregnancy is a great burden to ask of a woman who has not granted consent to the fetus to occupy her womb in the first place.

So let’s say you are the building owner in Roger’s analogy and you want to demolish the building but the report comes back that there definitely is a homeless person inside – this is analogous to what Boonin grants. Furthermore, the homeless person has managed to get himself trapped in such a way that it will require nine months of careful operations in order to free the homeless person without killing or severely injuring him. Must you wait for nine months and go through the hassle of bringing in experts to perform the necessary operations in order to free the homeless person from the building you want to destroy? Must you go through this in spite of the fact that you never granted consent to the homeless person to occupy your building in the first place? Or can you simply destroy the building – and the homeless person as a consequence of his being in the wrong place at the wrong time – because of your right to make private decisions about your building?

Roger, if you ever read this review of your review, thank you for sharing this powerful analogy! It reveals key fallacies of pro-choice logic particularly well. (And thanks for the kind words!)

Reviewing the Reviews

It may be that I am the only author in the world who is developing space on his/her blog to respond to and/or interact with reviewers. I don’t know for sure. I haven’t checked. But for whatever reason, I want to devote some space to that endeavor – at least until I decide differently. In the long run, I may decide to discontinue on the grounds that it’s taking too much time or it’s just not productive, but that’s the beauty of having a blog in the first place – I get to make the final decisions. Hence, a new blog category: Reviewing the Reviews.

Continuing with my response to Amplify

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?