One of the problems with the pro-life debacle this week in Britain is that the pro-life cause relied too much on political, sentimental and utilitarian arguments.
The political argument is, “This is a matter of women’s rights.” or “This is a matter of the unborn human person’s right to life.” When you argue something in terms of human rights, nobody really cares about human rights. They care about who is stronger or richer or more powerful. In this case, the woman is stronger than her infant. So her rights prevail. The feminist is stronger than the fetus, so her rights prevail. Political human rights arguments (which used to be about defending the rights of the weak and vulnerable) are now arguments about the defense of my own ‘rights’ which is code for my own wealth, my own power, my own autonomy. Any argument based on political rights will be won by the strong.
A sentimental argument is one that appeals primarily to the emotions. The main sentimental argument in this case is the appeal on fetal pain. “The fetus feels pain so we must not allow abortions.” The difficulty with this is that the baby killers will simply say, “Oh, does it feel pain? I guess we should anesthetize the fetus first, then kill it.” or they say, “All the more reason to make later term abortions a rarity. Let’s abolish all restraints on early abortions and make them available to everyone everywhere.”
The Utilitarian anti abortion argument uses recent medical advances to argue for a lower limit. “We can keep premature babies alive now who are born at twenty three weeks. So we need a lower abortion limit.” They don’t get it. The baby killers don’t think that way at all. They think the pregnancy should be ended whenever the mother wants it to be ended. Whether the ‘baby’ an survive or not is immaterial. As long as it is still in the womb it is the mother’s decision.’
Sentimental and utilitarian arguments are fine as part of the arsenal, but the only way abortion will really stop is when people decide that it is gravely immoral. They will only decide that it is gravely immoral when they decide that killing an innocent person is gravely immoral, and they will only decide that when they really understand what a human person is, and they will only understand that when they come to believe that each person is an immortal soul created in God’s image, and they will only come to believe that when they start believing in God.
Every argument is a theological argument.