A pro-life agnostic?

February 14th, 2008

Someone asked me once to explain why I leaned pro-life.

The preconception is that to be pro-life you must be a bible-thumper, viagra sales treatment a woman-hater, physician or both.

To the confusion of many folks on either side of the abortion debate, I am neither.

I have many reasons for believing abortion is wrong, but one of the main ones is simply the fact that I prefer sharply drawn lines.

I like objective criteria and when it comes to when a person becomes a person, there are only two sharply drawn lines: birth and conception.

While there may be a few fanatical pro-choicers who might argue that it’s not a baby until the last toe leaves the vagina, most folks recognize that a baby is as much a person a minute before it’s born as it is a minute afterwards.

That leaves conception as the only bright line.

Before conception, there’s nothing but a couple of 1/2 complete cells. Afterwards, there’s a genetically distinct life that any unbiased outside observer would have to qualify as belonging to the human species.

Is it the person that it will become?


But it has passed the one true boundary between potential human life and inevitable human life.

You can argue as much as you want about viability, but with the continuing advance of medical technology that line keeps moving further and further back. Many babies that are “viable” now, would not have been at the time of Roe vs. Wade. But conception is the line that doesn’t move. And it’s the only logical place to say, “before this there was nothing…after this there is everything.”

Entry Filed under: Philosophy

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Casper  |  February 14th, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Though I may be criticized for paying such a compliment, this post is both brilliant and genius.

    Shall we say brillius?

  • 2. elliot  |  February 14th, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Damn, I was hoping for geniant.

  • 3. Chris  |  February 14th, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Can I get that on a laminated card to carry around and just hand to people who question me on being pro life

    I find it funny when people assume that if you are an atheist you cannot still respect human life. I just don’t believe god created the life.

    I think when we started excepting abortion as a from of birth control the battle was lost.

    Great Post man. :)

  • 4. folkbum  |  February 14th, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    It isn’t so much that I don’t think conception is a bright liine–and it isn’t as bright as you think; there’s a lot of fuzziness and uncertainty and even days, sometimes, after sperm enters egg before there is one unique DNA–it’s that I recognize that there is something in the picture.

    A woman is not a box, not an incubator, not pliant fertile earth, not any kind of inanimate object at all. She is, in fact, a real, live, long-established human being with rights of her own. I firmly believe that one of the most fundamental rights we have as humans is the right to control what happens to our own bodies. As often as you libertarian types (not all of you, not all in unison) bitch about smoking bans, trans-fat bans, the War on Drugs™, the right to pick your own doctor and the best course of treatment for yourself, you also freak out about the notion that a pregnant woman may also want to exercise the same control over her own body, her own health, her own life.

    And I know that you (or someone) might make the argument that the time to be responsible was before the sex, but that is a poor line of reasoning in two ways. One, the new Guttmacher study finds that over half of women who get abortions were using brith control; a third are married; six in ten already have children. It seems that a significant number of women who get abortions seem to understand and exercise responsibility.

    Two, it suggests that women who have sex surrender the right to control their own bodies–this gets at the heart of the Feldstein Button Paradox*–that pro-lifers won’t press the button to end unwanted pregnancies because, the only logical answer goes, that button would cede control of women’s bodies to, of all people, women, and they just can’t have that. To me, even if unintentional, that kind of “Too bad for you, slut” attitude is deeply offensive and incredibly misogynistic.

    * http://www.scottfeldstein.net/blog/?p=1892 … I couldn’t get the link to take in the paragraph for some reason.

  • 5. David Casper  |  February 15th, 2008 at 7:38 am

    Jay, Feldstein’s Button Paradox is fun to say, but I think he bases it on extremist pro-lifers who are fun to cite when criticizing the pro-life movement. I HATE abortion, but I’d certainly press that button.

    And what your response to this post is most missing is the acknowledgement that the unborn baby is a living human being. But you’re a smart guy and I know you didn’t completely forget about it. In fact, when you refer to the mother as “long-established,” I couldn’t help but feel you were ready to imply that her “time served” somehow gave her tenure!

    That would just be silly!

  • 6. Chris  |  February 15th, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    my beliefs on abortion have nothing to do with power or control of females.

    It is simply standing up for human beings who cannot speak for themselves While you might have an argument on first trimester babies, there is no way you cannot say babies in the second and last trimester are not “alive”

    My question to Pro Choice people is this,

    hypothetical lets say they can prove that being gay is something you are born with not a choice ie having gene x means there is a pretty good chance you will be a homosexual.
    Would you be as comfortable with people aborting their baby because they do not want to bring a homosexual in to the world. And you know there are people out there who would look at it that way.

    I mean if we are comfortable as a nation/people killing viable life forms for birth control where do we draw the line? If we can kill for convince why not for even more selfish reasons ie dont want a girl or 5% chance of the baby being born retarded and the parents do not want to take that 5% chance. Where do we stop?

    Having sex even when using contraceptives brings with it the chance you might create a child. Just because the conception was not intended does make it less of a life form.

    We need to rethink how we approach this problem there are Tens of thousands of couples out there who would happily adopt children from unwanted pregnancies.

    I can accept limited abortions in the case of rape or to save the life of the mother.

    If you willing enter into a sexual relationship you have to accept the possible results and responsibilities they may bring.

    It always amazes me that a lot of the people who are pro abortion are the same people who would lose their minds if we treated unwanted puppies the way we treat unwanted babies.

  • 7. John in the world  |  February 25th, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    natural law is usually the way why non-Christians and non-nihilists believe in human life at conception
    and also the environmental and economical impact it(abortion) has

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