The Counsel of Trent

writing is thinking

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Congressional Candidate Parades Fallacies ( A True Story)

Dissociated Press - Columbia, MO This was to be a meeting of the minds. The topic: abortion. On the one side, a Gen-X philosophy grad student who values hard logic over soft hearts. On the other, a Baby Boomer with a Master's Degree in Divinity. Think you know who was arguing what? Think again. His long goatee waving as he talked, the X-man said, "It all depends on the status of fetus, if it is human, then killing it is wrong regardless of the consequences and if it is not, there's no reason to keep it 'rare' as you say." Her French-manicured hands shifted in her lap. "But 30% of conceptions abort naturally." He looks confused, "Um, I'm not exactly sure how that fits in." She straightens herself up and says "well, it just shows that not all conceptions are intended by God to come to term." He looks confused, "Um, well, I've got three things I'd like to say in response. First, I don't think that follows logically. Lots of post-natal children die every day, that doesn't mean that God did not want them to grow to old age. There are theological issues here. Secondly, even if that were true, we'd have no way of finding out *which* ones and so it would be wrong to kill in ignorance. Finally, I thought you said that you were opposed to abortion personally, but didn't want to bring religion into the public square. If so, then you can't use the theological argument you just used to make policy in the public sector." Staring expressionless for some seconds, she plied, "Well I was around in the early seventies when." He interrupts, "So was I, born in 1971, *before* Roe thank God." "Anyway," she continued, "I was around in the early seventies and old enough to remember why we need to keep abortion legal. You can't keep women from having abortions. A woman that has been raped or the victim of incest, if she feels that her life is in danger, she'll find a way to have a back-alley abortion. I prefer to keep abortion safe and legal." She had played two trump cards in one hand: "I'm older" and "the back-alley". How would he respond. "OK," he looked excited, "Let's work with that. According to the Planned Parenthood's own statistics, the categories you mentioned amount to 7% of all abortions." She steals a sideways glance at her watch. "So would you support legislation limiting abortion on demand to those categories?" She says, "Well.I mean.what I want to say is.are you sure about those statistics?" "I've got them right here on my laptop. I've got wireless internet and I'm on the Planned Parenthood website now, would you like to look?" "No," she says, "that's fine. I still think that in that other 93% are women who might be from families where having a child out of wedlock would be really frowned upon or are in financial situations where having another child would be a real burden." She sits back, looking relieved. He replies, "there may well be, but one person's convenience shouldn't be weighed against another's life. The question is what is the status of that life. If it is a human life, then other people's convenience come second." She sits up straight again, "Well I've worked in the healthcare industry for some time, so maybe I take a more scientific attitude toward the blastocyst than you do." Uh-oh, she said "blastocyst". His lips became a line, then he said, "I'm not sure why you think that, but an embryo in the blastula stage-a blastodermic vesicle, if you will, is still genetically complete. All it needs is nourishment to grow into an adult." Downcast, but not defeated, she retreated to another strategy: "But is it a *person*, does it have a *soul*?" He doesn't fall for it, "That's a good theological question, but I thought you didn't want your civic position to be based on theological considerations." She looks at her watch again, "Um, I really need to get going soon, I've got to pick someone up." "Ok, but real quick I want to comment on your last question. You ask if a blastocyst has a soul, whether it is really a 'person'. I'll admit in some sense, those are real metaphysical conundra-the sort of things people in my department argue about at length. Note this about such questions: they rarely have answers that everyone can agree on, in fact, they don't often admit of any kind of satisfactory resolution. But if that is the case, then what should we do? It might be that the metaphysicians who say it has a soul or is a person are right. It might be that the ones who say it's just tissue are right. Who knows? Right? So what should we do in the mean time? Should we destroy it, or not? *Given* that we have no way to know for sure, doesn't prudence suggest erring on the side of life? If I'm wrong, a bunch of woman miss a swimsuit season-though I think pregnant women are sexy-if you're wrong: the state-and you-are sanctioning murder. Is it worth the risk?" Her face set firmly in a smile, "Well it's really been nice talking with you, I really appreciate your time." Folks, this is a pretty darn accurate account of the conversation I had not half an hour ago when a congressional candidate came over to my house to discuss her position on abortion. I omitted several references to being "pro-woman" and all the "progress made for women in the Seventies" because I didn't feel like gagging again. How about equal rights for unborn women. That would be progress.

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