Janet Mefferd Interview

by Roger Resler

January 22nd marked the 43rd Anniversary of one of the worst Supreme Court decisions of all time: Roe v. Wade. Nationally syndicated talk show host Janet Mefferd interviewed Dave Sterrett and me on that day. Listen to the podcast here.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been interviewed live and it was a challenge to boil long answers down to quick responses. (Meaning: I failed miserably). In fact, I was cut off in mid-thought twice because we were up against breaks. What made matters worse is the fact that I could not hear the music rising in the background – which is the usual cue to wrap it up – so I simply kept talking!

The point I was trying to make the first time was that a key argument by Sarah Weddington in Roe v. Wade was that the anti-abortion laws that had come on the books in the late 1800’s (one of which – the Texas law – was the one Weddington was attacking) had only come on the books out of a concern to protect women from the dangers of abortion in the 1800’s. There was a partial truth to this argument since abortion, in the days prior to antiseptics, certainly was a dangerous undertaking for the pregnant woman. But Weddington was dealing in half-truths. In reality, the primary reason anti-abortion laws, like that of Texas, came on the books was a concerted effort to protect unborn human life. Ironically, even Justice Harry Blackmun, author of the Roe decision, openly (yet somewhat covertly) acknowledges this in the majority opinion!

Although buried in the midst of dry, legal ramblings, anyone who cares to take the time to look can still find this pro-life acknowledgment under the heading: “The Position of the American Medical Association” beginning on page 141 of the Roe majority opinion.

Prior to the mid 19th century, in the United States, English common law had prevailed. In general, abortion was considered a serious misdemeanor prior to “quickening” (the point in pregnancy when the mother first feels the baby move – which is generally around 17 weeks), and a felony after. Weddington ignored the fact that abortion after quickening had, for centuries, been a serious offense (even capital in some cases), and while Blackmun acknowledges it, he nevertheless tended to downplay the significance.

In the mid 1800’s, after fertilization in mammals began to be observed due to the improvements of microscopes, medical doctors became increasingly aware of the deficiencies of abortion laws that were based on the archaic notion of quickening. As Blackmun freely admits, these pro-life doctors began lobbying legislators to update the laws. As a result the quickening based abortion laws were replaced with even stricter laws nationwide. Many of these laws, like that of Texas, allowed for no exceptions other than a life-threatening situation for the mother.

So a key premise in Weddington’s arguments in Roe v. Wade was, at best, erroneous.

The second point I was attempting to make when time again ran out, was that the Texas attorneys who were arguing the pro-life position, were not well prepared and fell into the trap of arguing for “personhood” at conception instead of focusing on the biological beginning of human life. In short, they simply suggested that a fetus is a person because the state of Texas says so. This was obviously not a satisfactory argument for the pro-choice majority of Justices in Roe, who, ironically, ended up arguing the same way – only in reverse – by holding that a fetus is not a “person in the whole sense” because the Supreme Court says so. Unfortunately for millions of unborn humans, the say-so of the Supreme Court trumped the say-so of Texas.

Gosnell Guilty!

by Roger Resler

Things don’t seem to be going well for the pro-abortion lobby in the U.S. in recent weeks. Following on the heels of Planned Parenthood of Florida’s pro-infanticide slip of the tongue in March and Live Action’s undercover exposé of late-term abortionist, Le Roy Carhart last week, the conviction today of late-term abortionist, Kermit Gosnell is the latest in what may be a lasting trend. To those of us who consider the evil of induced abortion on an almost daily basis, Gosnell’s conviction is a no-brainer. It’s nearly impossible to believe that anyone could legitimately fail to grasp that what Gosnell does on a routine basis – simply stated: killing babies – is immoral; beyond any reasonable doubt illegal and should be condemned by even the most pro-abortion of pro-abortionists.

It would have been a sorry state of affairs had this blatant killer been acquitted. That he was not at least bodes well for the future. In the past, convictions such as this one have been appealed and overturned by a judge. Other similar convictions have stood, but typically on the basis of maternal death. In 2007, the aforementioned Le Roy Carhart – of recent Live Action fame – was convicted of performing illegal “partial-birth abortions” and the conviction was eventually upheld by the Supreme Court. The difference with the Gosnell case is that the conviction is based exclusively on the value of the baby. The implication is that a “person” comes to exist at birth which makes birth the moral dividing line between legal abortion and illegal infanticide.

While the birth-line may make legal interpretations more convenient (at least to a certain extent), from a rational and scientific standpoint, human life has clearly begun long before birth – as any expectant mother beyond quickening knows.

While we can definitely celebrate the trend toward fetal-value-based legal convictions as a positive development, the next logical step will be to point out the irrationality of protecting human beings only after they manage to escape the confines of the womb intact and breathing.



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:

  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.”


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.

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!)

More from Amplify: the religious fallacy

by Roger Resler

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

7. Religious ideology is no foundation for any law. Freedom of religion is guaranteed to any citizen in the United States; so why would the beliefs and values of one religion mandate actual laws for all citizens? It would be unfair, unjust and immoral. We do not have laws against eating fish, nor do we have laws that declare it is legal to sell one’s daughter, rape someone, or keep a person as a slave—all things that are promoted in religious text.

This argument will receive special attention. I apologize in advance for the length of this post. This is one of my pet peeves. It is an especially egregious falsehood because it is doubly wrong. It falsely accuses its opposition of what it is guilty of itself.

Ironically, pro-choice proponents are rarely challenged on their hypocritical use of this argument, despite resorting to it often.

Let’s start with the silly stuff first. Amplify suggests that:

“We do not have laws against eating fish, nor do we have laws that declare it is legal to sell one’s daughter, rape someone, or keep a person as a slave—all things that are promoted in religious text.”

No pro-life leader or organization promotes or propagates these things which explains why Amplify doesn’t support this allegation with citations. To blithely declare that these are all “things that are promoted in religious text” is a dishonest attempt to associate pro-life people with archaic and barbaric practices that have nothing to do with a pro-life position. This  argument is patently dishonest on its face and should be abandoned.

Such tactics will likely backfire since the real hypocrisy of painting one’s opponents in a false light is difficult to conceal.  Why the need to define one’s opposition as something they are not? I suspect it’s because the actual reasons for being pro-choice aren’t very good reasons.

On to the more important allegation.

Amplify suggests that a good reason to be pro-choice is that “Religious ideology is no foundation for any law.” In the first place, the assertion is simply false. Whether or not pro-choice proponents approve, laws in western culture have been founded on the Judeo-Christian ethic and go back to the Ten Commandments.

But the more important point is that the implication that being pro-life is unequivocally religious is also false. While many pro-life people are religious, it is a mistake to assume the pro-life position is inherently religious or necessarily bound to religious ideology, much less that of a specific religion. It is not. Ultimately the pro-life position is based on observable biological data; whereas the pro-choice position rests on controversial, metaphysical dogma. Yet the pro-choice community is fond of claiming that science is on its side in a battle with the “religious right.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

Here is a classic example of pro-choice deception from the Pro-choice Action Network of Canada:

Personhood at conception is a religious belief, not a provable biological fact.

Religious communities have differing ideas on the definition of “person” or when abortion is morally justified. In the Canadian courts, however, a fetus has consistently been found not to be a person with legal rights. – PCAN, Canada

Notice how the burden of proof regarding the ambiguity of personhood is implied to lie with the pro-life community? Personhood, whether beginning at conception or not, is indeed “a religious belief, not a provable biological fact” (!) but the pro-life position does not rest on it! The pro-choice position does! Unfortunately, this backwards reasoning has become widely accepted to the point where it is now being taken for granted by many people.

Amplify suggests that, “It would be unfair, unjust and immoral” for the law to be founded on “the beliefs and values of one religion.” In a pluralistic society that might be true if the law required something out of the ordinary for purely religious reasons, such as making it illegal not to recite a certain number of Hail-Mary’s. That would be an unacceptable form of religious imposition. But the same religion that believes in reciting Hail-Mary’s also promotes the idea that murder is wrong or that stealing is wrong. Should we eliminate laws against murder and stealing because religious people who recite Hail-Mary’s believe it is wrong to murder and steal? Of course not.

What is ultimately “unfair, unjust and immoral” is to kill innocent human life. Atheists can agree with that assertion. So then, the relevant question becomes: does abortion kill an innocent human life? Without question, the answer is yes. There is no disputing this; at least not rationally.

Instead, what most often occurs is that pro-choice proponents attempt to separate the metaphysical concept of “personhood” from the tangible reality of a living human being. Without scientific support (as admitted by the Canadian article just cited), they suggest that the concept of being a “person” is the critically absent factor in a living human fetus that justifies abortion on demand. Abortion is perfectly acceptable, they inform us, because the fetus is not yet a “person.” Well there you go! Moral conundrum solved! All we need to know is when does a fetus become a “person” and the abortion controversy is history! So when, according to brilliant pro-choice thinkers, does that magical point occur? Answer: They don’t know and can’t agree. The result is that the answer varies depending on whatever point happens to suit their purposes at the moment. For Sarah Weddington, arguing in Roe v. Wade, the magical point occurred at birth. Justice Blackmun, writing the majority opinion, was much more ambiguous, suggesting that viability – which is not really a point – had more significance.

However, by noting in Roe v. Wade, that “the unborn have never been recognized in the law as persons in the whole sense,” pro-choice Justice Blackmun inadvertently implied that the unborn are at least persons in a partial sense.

This is an amazingly tenuous line of reasoning. In the first place, it can’t be demonstrated that such a thing as a “human non-person” exists in reality, yet Roe v. Wade collapses if not. To make matters worse, Justice Blackmun implies that “personhood” might be acquired by humans in degrees. Extending the benefit of the doubt to this wild speculation begs the question of how much “personhood” is required in order to justify laws against intentional destruction of actual human fetuses? This, in turn, raises the absurdity of how to measure quantities of “personhood.”

Any answer is, of course, arbitrary and subjective. Not surprisingly, Justice Blackmun didn’t attempt an answer. As a consequence, pro-choice proponents rest their logic on the unproven and unprovable, metaphysical dogma of “personhood” in order to justify the position they take on abortion – ironically the very thing they falsely accuse pro-life proponents of doing. The concept of “personhood” becomes critical to the morality of their position – but not the pro-life position!

The pro-choice crowd, aided by the power of the media, Hollywood and academia has legitimately hoodwinked the public on this point for forty years! We’ve bought into the ridiculous notion that the pro-life position depends on the twisted logic that was developed by pro-choice proponents in an effort to bring their own desired position closer to some semblance of coherence. It doesn’t. “Personhood” is the mess created by Sarah Weddington, Justice Harry Blackmun and their pro-choice disciples. It’s their bed. They have to sleep in it. Not pro-lifers.

The problem for pro-choice proponents is that personhood is an inherently metaphysical and subjective idea developed with fluctuating and arbitrary criteria that can’t even be universally agreed upon among pro-choice proponents. For example, radical philosopher Michael Tooley thinks that born babies aren’t persons until they acquire the ability to have “interests.” One-upping Tooley in the race of philosophers-gone-wild are Alberto Guibilini and Francesca Minerva who argue for what they casually refer to as “After-birth abortion.” The abstract from their 2011 Journal of Medical Ethics article says it all:

Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.

After the initial jolt, incredulous observers suspected a devious pro-life attempt at parody in this unusually sterile defense of premeditated, postnatal murder. Yet these philosophers were chillingly serious. In a classic case of pathological lack of empathy, the pair weren’t terribly concerned with whether or not the tangible, living newborn has any actual “interests” (like continuing to live) but whether he or she is capable of cognitive awareness of any interests he or she might possess:

We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her.

Having moved sufficiently beyond the suddenly dangerous neonatal stage themselves, Guibilini and Minerva retroactively define and then arbitrarily deny their younger peers “moral status as actual persons” while also candidly admitting “it is hard to exactly determine when a subject starts or ceases to be a ‘person.'” Undaunted by the difficulty of pinpointing the presence of personhood (as they define it) and the annoying moral implications accompanying the resulting ambiguity, they, nonetheless, reason that since neither newborns nor fetuses possess this elusive but critical quality (or at least, one presumes, a sufficient amount of it) then “killing a newborn” is perfectly acceptable.

Shocking as this rightfully should be, this is exactly where pro-choice logic leads. Guibilini and Minerva may advocate barbarity, but at least it’s logically consistent barbarity.

One can sympathize with the unexpected dichotomy this forces onto unsuspecting pro-choice laymen who’ve mindlessly parroted the religious fallacy for decades as though it somehow supports their decision to be pro-choice. Perhaps inadvertently, or perhaps not, Guibilini and Minerva substantiate the pro-life assertion that there is no significant moral difference between a human fetus and a human baby:

In spite of the oxymoron in the expression, we propose to call this practice ‘after-birth abortion’, rather than ‘infanticide’, to emphasise that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus (on which ‘abortions’ in the traditional sense are performed) rather than to that of a child. Therefore, we claim that killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be.

Overlooking the nonsensical notion that a “newborn” could be “the individual killed” while simultaneously not a “child,” Guibilini and Minerva at least candidly acknowledge what other pro-choice proponents have emphatically denied since Roe first rolled off the presses: that a human fetus and a human baby are essentially the same thing from a moral standpoint.

The unintended upshot is that there is no longer any logical way to remain pro-choice without either resorting to arbitrary, metaphysical ideas that are contradicted by common sense or venturing into full-scale barbarism. Either abortion on demand is acceptable because there is something radically, morally different about the human in the womb as contrasted with a newborn (metaphysical concept), or there is no demonstrable moral difference but pro-choice proponents want the freedom to kill it anyway (barbarism) whether inside the womb or not.

Of course Guibilini and Minerva merely suggest that the magical point at which a sufficient amount of personhood is obtained occurs sometime after birth. Such theorizing illustrates the inherent problem with the “personhood” standard in the first place.

There is no question that humans in the womb are human. Humans can only reproduce other humans. There is no question that humans in the womb are alive. If abortion does not kill the occupant of the womb then pregnancy continues – which makes the debate over when human life begins an irrelevant side show. It doesn’t matter when human life begins since it obviously already began at some point before an induced abortion is required to kill it.

Pro-choice proponents tell us it’s okay to kill the living human in the womb because it either does not kill a “person” or it does not kill a “person in the whole sense” (they can’t agree on which). It’s time we challenge the purveyors of this metaphysical nonsense to conclusively prove it using the scientific method. No philosophical drivel. No semantic word games. No legal loopholes. Just documented, peer-reviewed, repeatable observation. Good luck with that.

It is the obligation of those who wish to retain the right to intentionally destroy human fetuses, under the moral assumption that they are not “persons,” to conclusively demonstrate the correctness of that critical premise of their argument.

Until then, pro-life people and independents who haven’t fallen for pro-choice propaganda will work to pass laws under the reasonable assumption that the pro-choice dogma of “personhood” is an unacceptable religious imposition designed to benefit one group of humans at the expense of another more vulnerable group of humans.

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