Aborting for “superficial reasons”

A reader who is attempting to be “sensible” about abortion by making excuses for lefty apologists for abortion writes:

I’m pretty sure a lib would tell you that aborting for superficial reasons is wrong.

If there’s nothing wrong with abortion, there’s nothing wrong with abortion and frequency or reasons for it are completely irrelevant. Nobody says that taking a walk for “superficial reasons” is wrong. Nobody cares. It’s a morally neutral act. But abortion is not morally neutral. It’s evil because it’s killing an innocent human being. Apologists have to make up excuses for it and gingerly talk about keeping it “safe, legal, and rare” because everybody know it’s murder that they are trying to excuse. Nobody talks about the need to make walks in the park, or picnics, or playing Stratego “rare”. Nobody says brushing your hair or whistling for superficial reasons is wrong.

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  • Chris

    There are no profound reasons to procure an abortion.

  • A Philosopher


    I stay out of abortion discussions as a general rule, but this is really sloppy reasoning on your part. Here’s a view that many on the left hold. Abortion is pro tanto morally wrong. It’s not like walking in a park or playing Stratego – it’s perhaps more like seriously injuring someone, or killing an animal. One can then think either (a) that the pro tanto wrong is in certain cases defeated by additional considerations (the same way that it can be morally acceptable to seriously injure someone, or to kill an animal, in the right circumstances, even though there is context-neutrally a wrong incurred in those actions), making the abortion morally acceptable, or (b) that the pro tanto wrong remains undefeated, but is insufficiently weighty to justify state regulation.

    I understand, of course, that you disagree with that view, in that you think that the relevant moral wrong is (a) not merely pro tanto, and hence indefeasible by further considerations, and (b) sufficiently weighty as to justify state regulation. But then you need to engage where the substantive point of disagreement is, not by erecting a straw man.

    • Teevor

      Mark is right –
      The argument of whether abortion is right or wrong revolves around essentially only two points of disagreement: whether (1) humans possess a right to life, and (2) whether the fetus is a human being.

      As to the first question, we must for now assume the answer is yes (no one yet in the mainstream of our socio-political discourse argues otherwise). There is no comparable moral dilemma which permits the direct and willful destruction of innocent human life. The value accorded to human life is at the very core of western society, as reflected in practically every western legal tradition. It doesn’t matter if your health suffers, or it’s emotionally traumatizing or you can’t meet ends meet financially, you can’t kill another person as a solution to your problems.
      Turning to the second question, if a fetus is accorded the status of human being, there is no apparent reason to deprive it of equal rights to other human beings. If we assume the answer is no, there is no conceivable wrong in killing it; even if we admit that it can suffer in its latter stages of gestation, we can prevent suffering through certain medical precautions.

      To suggest that it is valid to argue that abortion is pro tanto morally wrong but potentially excusable by certain other considerations ignores the question as to why abortion could be pro tanto morally wrong in the first place. There is no comparison between killing a human being and causing someone injury (in fact I can’t think of when it is ever permissible to cause an innocent human being injury unless the end result produces a better state of health than before) or hurting an animal (which doesn’t possess legally enforceable rights). It is this contradiction, and the failure of the “safe legal and rare” crowd to engage in consistent reasoning, that Mark was speaking to in the first place.

      • Ted Seeber

        You missed one. I keep running into a minority of pro-choicers that equate life with breathing; and therefore to them, the fetus has no right to life because it has no LIFE.

    • Here’s a view that many on the left hold. Abortion is pro tanto morally wrong.


      Leftists never answer this question. Why is abortion morally wrong?

  • Maiki

    Well, it is still surgery — so there is that aspect of it. Many people argue getting a boob job for superficial reasons is wrong but don’t say the same about someone getting one after a radical mastectomy.

    Disclaimer: just making a devil’s argument here. I’m opposed to abortion.

    • Thomas R

      I’m also against abortion, but this did enter my mind. A person could deem certain abortions “wrong” in a sense more like “incorrect” while being morally neutral on them.

  • math_geek

    I am a Christian and we are supposed to (or so my Mennonite friends tell me) forswear violence. Nevertheless, If I see a bully or a thug beating on a helpless victim I will willingly step into a fight that will “hopefully” involve me punching that man several times. And I don’t think I will have done anything wrong. Punching a man because he called me a funny name does sound to me to be morally wrong. There is a moral gravity against hitting people that can be superseded by another moral gravity. Clearly, abortion has a much higher moral gravity. I’d likely disagree with many of these liberals as to how our society should approach abortion. Nevertheless, the statement that something shouldn’t be done for “superficial” or “trivial” reasons is not internally inconsistent.

    Heck, people shouldn’t get married for “superficial” or “trivial” reasons.

    • Rachel K

      This. I’m as pro-life as the day is long, but comparing abortion to trivial matters like taking a walk isn’t going to convince anyone of anything. Most choicers, while they may or may not consider abortion morally wrong, certainly consider it a morally -serious- matter than is only justifiable under certain circumstances (generally rape, incest, health of the mother, fetal abnormality or when the mother’s situation makes them sad). I think of it as being more like war than anything else. Everyone but the most crazed hawks acknowledges that war is bad and shouldn’t be entered for trivial reasons because it leads to loss of life, but most people think it’s justifiable under certain circumstances. Those of us who oppose abortion even in the case of rape and incest are the Quakers of the abortion world. 😉

      • Most choicers, while they may or may not consider abortion morally wrong, certainly consider it a morally -serious- matter than is only justifiable under certain circumstances (generally rape, incest, health of the mother, fetal abnormality or when the mother’s situation makes them sad).

        I don’t think that’s true at all. If most choicers thought it to be that serious, surely there would be some support to restrict abortion. Any such attempt is met with the fiercest opposition. The “rape, incest, health of the mother (which can be shoehorned to fit pretty much anything),” etc. argument is usually used to make pro-lifers look like extremists.

        The reality is that (at least political brand) pro-choicers want to keep abortion completely unrestricted, and constantly use such evil euphemism as “fetus,” “clump of cells,” and “product of conception.” If such a thing were truly not human, then there would be no moral value (positive or negative) to abortion at all, and hence no reason to feel at all squeamish about it.

        It’s really binary: you either believe life begins at conception or you don’t. If you do, then life must be protected whenever possible. If you don’t, then there’s no reason to be squishy about it. Any other view simply doesn’t follow their own thoughts to their logical conclusions.

        • Rachel K

          By “most choicers,” I meant the mushy middle–the “personally opposed, but…” types. They generally do support some restrictions to abortion. The political brand “clump of cells” types are the hawks in this analogy.

      • Ted Seeber

        Knew there was something I liked about the Quakers.

      • However the law does not permit a nation to go to war under any reason or no reason at all. Abortion laws do. Pro-choice people vote for those laws.

      • Sadie

        War cannot be compared to abortion. Just war aims to kill aggressors, not innocents. If innocents are purposely killed in a war, it is not a “war” at all, but mass murder. Likewise, the entire purpose of an abortion is, by definition, to kill a child. An unborn child is innocent, therefore, there is never any justification to target and kill her.

        • Ted Seeber

          Under that definition, we’ve never had a war, just a series of mass murders.

          The whole reason war is to be avoided, is because of collateral damage.

      • Rosemarie

        Funny you bring up the Quakers re. abortion. As I was leaving Evangelicalism, I briefly considered becoming a Quaker. The main thing that turned me off from them was a plethora of pro-choice literature at the Quaker meeting house I visited. They may be pacifists, but not all Quakers are pro-life (some are, but not all).

  • Jeremy

    In every pro tanto example given, the act is regulated by the state. A morally grave action should be subject to state regulation and community norms, no?

  • victor

    “It’s evil because it’s killing an innocent human being.”

    Coincidentally, this is also the reason why Nat King Cole never sang it “I abort youuu… for superficial reasons…”

    • Take that man out and GAFIATE him!

  • Have to agree with the other commenters here: abortion is not comparable to taking a walk or playing a game; it is more comparable to undergoing other kinds of surgery (the intention determines whether it’s medicine or mutilation) or other matters of moral seriousness. Just because there is nothing wrong with surgery (or self defense or marriage or any of the other examples offered) does not mean that these acts are “morally neutral”. In the Thomistic tradition, at least, there is no such thing as a “morally neutral” act. Taking a walk or playing a game may not be hugely significant, but it remains a moral act insofar as it is a human act.

    It actually weakens (rhetorically, not logically) the argument that abortion is intrinsically evil to admit that it could fit somewhere on the spectrum of morally significant acts. That an act is instrinsically evil means that it does not belong anywhere on the spectrum; it is essentially an immoral and inhumane act, always and everywhere to be avoided.

  • Spastic Hedgehog

    I disagree with your commenter because most of my pro-choice friends would say that while *they* think it’s wrong to abort for superficial reasons what is superficial for them may not be superficial for others. Even after the news that women were finding out the sex of their baby and terminating it for the purpose of gender selection, which in the western world I think most reasonable people would agree is incredibly superficial, there was nary a peep of protest out of the pro-choice movement.

  • It reminds me of the time there was a particularly lurid sex scandal among clergy in the Diocese of Long Island (which you did NOT read about in the MSM because they were not Catholic), and the [expletive deleted] at Episcopal Life, struggling for a way to admit that something was wrong without jeopardizing their PC credentials by actually criticizing homosexuals, wrote that the allegations were of “indiscriminate sex”.
    Now, it is generally possible to know whether someone is committing fornication or not (except, perhaps, if you are Bill Clinton.) But how the Belgium do I know whether I am being “discriminate” enough, except by asking the editorial board of Episcopal Life?

  • Lauran

    The unreleting high moral standards of the perpetually reality-deficient, aka “libs.” Yawn.

    • Lauran

      Pardon me, “unrelenting.” Not that it’s true even when spelled correctly.

  • Your commenter needs to read this article, if s/he wants to see a lib who loves abortion and is not afraid to profess it.

    • Ted Seeber

      That was a wonderful article. And yes- I’d give up a kidney permanently to save another person’s life, so why can’t a woman give up a womb for 9 months?

  • Scotty

    There’s a popular video produced by a free market group making that’s making its way around the Internet. It’s called “If I wanted America to fail” and it’s decent video. But what’s so obviously lacking in their message is that America is failing *not* just because our government is stiffling free enterprise and mounting unsustainable generational debt. Our government is literally destroying our children’s futures through tax-payer subsidies of Planned Parenthood. When freedom in America today encompasses the “right” to kill unborn children in their mothers’ wombs, I highly doubt America’s success lies squarely in the hands of the free market.

    • victor

      I saw that video and I thought it should have been called “If I Wanted to Give America Migraines I’d Put Lens Flares All Over Stock Footage For 5 Minutes”.

  • Peggy R

    The statement begs the question as to what is NOT a “superfical reason” for abortion.

  • Lisa

    Would all my dear colleagues please stop using the term “abortion”? The correct term for such a medical option is “reproductive health.” If you do not believe me, just ask the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States of America. You radical Papists are anti-reproductive health bent on taking us women back to the dark-alley days of the 20th century. There. Ish.

    • Fortunately for me “the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States of America” has absolutely no authority over whether I use the term abortion or not, since I live in a different country. Oh, and the vast majority of the rest of the worlds population both now and throughout time are in the same position as I am. Besides, abortion would be more precisely anti-reproductive health since it acts against reproduction. Just saying.

  • Lisa

    I remember a conversation with I had with a Pro-ReproductiveHealth coworker who maintained that there was absolutely no moral component to the issue, to which I responded, “Well then would it be OK for highschool biology students to disect terminated fetuses?” He grimmaced, squirmed, paused, and forced himself to say that there be nothing wrong with that. Yeah, right.

    I suggest you try this technique. It’s quite satisfying to watch them either suffer or resort to philisophical pretzeling.

  • I agree that your analogy is weak because there are things that have conditional morality, such as plastic surgery.
    The reason abortion doesn’t have conditional morality is because it is the harming of an innocent. If I were to be raped, I’m not allowed, under the law, to turn around and kill my neighbor because he reminds me of the rapist. The same ought to be true for the offspring of the rape!