Still more from Amplify: Strawman fallacy

By Roger Resler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.