James Hanley has a post regarding abortion arguments over at Positive Liberty that is worth your time to read. It’s not that his position is anything out of the ordinary, but does allow the pro-life community to observe some of the distinctions that mark rational arguments and how they might be addressed. His particular attempt looks to conduct the discussion outside of an ethical framework. I find that troubling. Still, though, he does open the door to some “meta” arguments that make for useful observation and analysis. The following are some excepts from this post that are worth noting:
… neither side has ever successfully rebutted the other side’s claim of legitimate interests, nor successfully demonstrated that their interests should always trump the other’s interests.
I make no claim that this perspective will resolve the debate, but I believe both sides would benefit–intellectually, and perhaps morally, but not necessarily politically–from looking at abortion in this way.
Pro-lifers, of course, agree, but only because they see the term as having political power.
From a biological perspective, this is an interesting question because it means the destruction of their own genetic heritage, so it seems that evolution would tend to eliminate people with a tendency to do that, and favor those who are so attached to the concept of having children that they would never, under any circumstances, eliminate one of their own.
But that seemingly logical argument is superficial. It’s not simply quantity that matters evolutionarily, but quality.
The lesson from this is that natural selection can favor having fewer children.
Mr. Hanley states that is his post is not an advocacy statement. But his analysis of the situation is one of naturalistic pragmatism, and with that established he concludes with a statement about abortion as being somehow a more humane way of killing:
Operating on the assumption that infanticide will occur–that social rules and norms can only reduce its frequency to some degree, but not eliminate it–we can see abortion (again, at least early term abortion) as a more human method of infanticide. In that respect, at least, abortion should be quietly celebrated.
I wonder how one could responsibly avoid the ethical arguments of those who oppose abortion for moral reasons, which are largely Christian in the US (with Roman Catholics and evangelicals leading the charge) and still pretend neutrality.
A significant point, for which I here thank Mr. Hanley, is that he draws a relationship between infanticide and abortion. Historically, this is difficult to avoid as the Left’s very popular eugenics movement of the early 20th century provides a foundation for today’s abortion movement. Infanticide is part of that movement even today, supported by the efforts ofphilosophers like Peter Singer and challenged by people like Jill Stanek.
As our efforts to educate the public on the evils of abortion we must not, as Mr. Hanley noted is the case, compromise on our first principles. These are that the taking of innocent life is always wrong. Opinions on the subject of abortion have changed over these decades and are generally moving the popular opinion and sentiment to the pro-life side. Slow and steady progress is always most effective. We did not see the killing end today, but we will see it end in the future. The sooner the better.