What Pro-Life Men Should Say When Told to “Shut Up” about Abortion

What Pro-Life Men Should Say When Told to “Shut Up” about Abortion April 14, 2018


I recently met a young man from an Ivy League university that started a pro-life group on his campus. I am always excited to see men take a proactive stand for the sanctity of life, so I thanked him for his leadership. And then I asked if there was a particular obstacle he faced where I could be helpful. Without hesitation, he told me the pro-choice folks on campus often tell him that since he cannot get pregnant and face the burden of an unplanned pregnancy, what he says or thinks about abortion does not matter.

As a man who is president of Care Net — one of the nation’s largest networks of pregnancy centers that offers women compassion, hope and help, as well as realistic alternatives to abortion — I have heard this challenge to men so often that I have coined it the “no womb/no say” perspective. In short, since a man does not have a womb to carry an unborn child, he should have no say in what happens to an unborn child in the womb.

Now, without analysis, this may seem to make sense. And, as a result, too many men have let this argument be the kryptonite that keeps them from getting involved in the pro-life movement as equal partners with women. However, when you really consider the underlying principle of this line of thinking, it quickly becomes clear that it may be a good “sound bite,” but it is clearly not “sound logic.”

That said, before I deal with the logic aspect, I would be remiss if I did not address the fact that those who use this argument are being disingenuous. A few years ago, the pro-choice movement started a very aggressive initiative to get men to support abortion rights. This effort challenged men to be “Bro-Choice” and even take a pledge.

Note what Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity (URGE), a major proponent of the this campaign, says on its website: “Pro-choice men can be a powerful force in helping move our policy agenda forward, which is exactly why URGE leads the way in recruiting and elevating their voices within this movement. By building a network of outspoken, actively engaged men, we are building the power necessary to move policy and win on our issues.”

After reading URGE’s perspective, I was reminded of the old quip, “When I want your opinion, I will give it to you!” It also reminded of a bumper sticker I saw a few years ago on the car of a pro-choice woman. It said, “I don’t want my reproductive rights decided by a bunch of grey-haired white guys!” Of course, this woman missed the irony that abortion was made legal by a group of those guys: the Supreme Court in 1973. If old white guys can’t get it right now, isn’t it possible that they got it wrong then? In any case, for the “Bro Choice” advocates, it’s perfectly fine and even required for men to engage in the abortion debate — as long as they come down on the “right” side.

Now, the “no womb/no say” perspective is also very problematic when you consider it through the lens of logic. Essentially, the principle underlying the view is this: Unless one is impacted by an issue or action in the most direct way, one should have no agency in making decisions about that issue or action.  

So let’s consider a few situations.

Should a woman who is a stay-at-home mom and, therefore, makes no income outside the home, have a say on tax policy?  After all, she doesn’t directly pay taxes for an income. Or, should someone who does not own a gun or has never been injured by a gun have a say in what our nation’s gun law should be? Again, a non-gun owner is not going to be directly impacted if the access to guns is limited.

And, when you consider this perspective in light of our nation’s history, it’s especially troubling. For example, consider the Civil War. The South was primarily an agrarian society that, in large measure, was structured and directly dependent on slave labor.  Indeed, a key aspect of the South’s “states’ rights” argument was that since the North’s society and economic system would not be as directly impacted by the abolition of slavery, the North should have no say. Indeed, “no slaves/no say” was the South’s proverbial battle cry.

Also consider the issue of voting rights in the United States. From our nation’s founding, voting rights were limited to property owning or tax paying white males, who were about 6 percent of the population. So the notion was “no property/no say.” And even when voting rights were extended to other men, women were excluded. Why? Because the view held by many men was that women were not and should not be as directly involved in the economic and civil aspect of American society as men.  Consequently, these men held a “womb/no say” perspective when it came to voting rights. Well, the Women’s Suffrage movement challenged this perspective, and in 1920, with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, women were given the right to vote … by men.

You see, in all of the above examples, we have rightly rejected the principle that undergirds the “no womb/no say” perspective.  Why? Because when considering what is best for our society, we don’t just consider the views of those most directly impacted to the exclusion of all others. To do so would be an injustice, especially to those who are vulnerable.

Rather, we give an equal say and even encourage the voices of those who are affected, even if only indirectly. Indeed, a stay-at-home mom is affected by tax policy, so she has an equal right and is encouraged to vote. Our nations gun laws affect the safety of the communities where the non-gun owners live and raise their children, so they must have an equal say in the laws that are enacted. The moral stain and injustice of slavery affected those in the North, so they had agency and an obligation to fight a bloody war to eliminate it. The laws that were passed in this nation affected women’s rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, so it was an injustice to deny them the right to vote.

Accordingly, when an unborn child is killed in the womb, especially if it is his child, it deeply affects a man. So, doesn’t it make sense for him to have a say, too?

This article originally appear on “The Federalist.” 

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  • Mark Birnbaum

    Nope. You don’t get to tell a woman what she can do with her own body. Full stop. Sorry.

  • James McClymont

    //”What Pro-Life Men Should Say When Told to “Shut Up” about Abortion”\


    They should shut the fuck up and shove their misogyny up their asses.

  • Murigen

    A man may be affected emotionally by a pregnancy or an abortion, but not physically. While a man may have an opinion and is able to voice that opinion, his opinion shouldn’t be able to deny a woman’s right to choose.

  • David Cooper

    BS. Maybe a man should have a say in the fate of his own fetus, but not other peoples. What the article seriously misses is that everybody can work to make abortion less common, not by banning it but by encouraging effective sex education and easy/cheap access to contraception.

  • Jane Ravenswood

    well, if there are actual “pro-life” men, who want to have healthy babies and mothers, and support them and their families, then they should say “I am for the social safety net, I am for loving families of all kinds and I am for equal time off for mothers and fathers, and equal pay for them too.” However, most “pro-life” men are not pro-life, they are pro-control. They want to force their personal beliefs on others to feel superior. They don’t want to help women or children, voting time and time again to cut funding for these things. They support lying to pregnant women about the effects of contraception. And they vote for idiots who want this too. Remember, being pro-life means you want to support the child through its whole life; not just up to when it exits the birth canal and then just turn your back.

  • Jane Ravenswood

    indeed. they won’t die if something goes wrong.

  • Brianna LaPoint

    Ask the spirit realms when life begins their answer is birth also men should stay out of women issues

  • Brianna LaPoint


  • Brianna LaPoint

    Dead beat dads exist have a sex change then you can speak for women

  • John

    I am a pro-life man and I agree with equal pay, equal time off, a social safety net, loving families and supporting the child and the family through their whole life. I also have an adopted special needs daughter and support adoption and fostering. I’m sorry you have chosen to believe a caricature portrayed by the media and others who can only vilify those of other viewpoints. And as men are a part of the pregnancy process, they retain full rights to speak into this issue.

  • Jane Ravenswood

    if you believe you have the right to tell a woman when she can control her body, then you are not pro-life, but pro-control. The media doesn’t make a caricature of pro-life people, they do it themselves. You may be a very rare one, John, but the evidence is that pro-lifers are no more than wannabee theocrats, controlling women, and having little interest to actually help children and families outside of the womb. I can see them standing in front of my local abortion clinics (always only on nice days of course), I see them vote against healthcare for all, and good education, housing and food for all. It is a lie that the media has invented this representation of pro-lifers. They are responsible for it by their very own actions.
    And as soon as you can die from a pregnancy, then you can have equal rights. As you can’t, then you don’t have equal rights to force woman to keep a pregnancy at all.

  • John

    I think you probably run in circles of people who believe as you and thus the other side is minimized, doubted or mischaracterized. I also run in circles of people who believe as I do and the caricature in your response present does not describe them. You may not like to admit it, but there are many more people than you think who defy your presentation of them. This argument cannot be solved here and we will continue to miss each other in our opinions, but the logic presented in this post is sound. Men have the right to speak into this issue.

  • Jane Ravenswood

    Funny how we never ever see these supposedly prolifers who are so very concerned with families, children, etc. We have you and hmmm, who else? Where we have pro-lifers again consistently voting for less healthcare, less welfare, less education, less housing, etc for families and children. I don’t admit it because all evidence shows that your claim is simply false. Where are these “many more people”, John? We see thousands of my supposed “cariature” marching, but the people you claim? Nary a whisper. We don’t see them outside of clinics opposing those who want to control women. Why would that be, John? Nice to see you invent a reason why you can’t address my points, unilaterally throwing up your hands and saying “you’ll never understand me”. Men have no right to insist that they can control women’s bodies when they can’t die from pregnancy and its complications. It’s like saying that Jehovah’s Witnesses have the right to speak about your abiilty to get blood transfusions, or Christians scientists have the right to speak about you going to the doctor rather than depending on failed prayer healing.
    But John, please do tell us *why* you have the right to insist a woman keep a pregnancy, when it is not your life on the line? I’m sure that I and others would love to know.

  • John

    I think you presume that what you see on the blogs, TV and other media outlets must be all that there is and that there can’t possible be people who think and act otherwise. But there are. Not seeing them in the media doesn’t make it untrue. You won’t see me out there, so maybe I don’t exist either. No doubt you won’t believe that, so I’ll not try to convince you further. The reason men have a right to speak into this issue is because they had a part in its existence. They were part of the process and have a legal and moral stake in and responsibility towards the child and the mother. Men cannot be detached from pregnancy by definition, so they have a vested interest in the child. And please don’t accuse me of avoiding your arguments or address my issues dismissively. Your response is quite discourteous.

  • Jane Ravenswood

    sure John. There is this vast group of people who does nothing about what they think. So, they are incompetent, apathetic or simply imaginary, rather like the gods. I’m sure I won’t see you out there, which brings up the question why? Why do you and these people you claim exist do NOTHING?
    Men do have a legal and moral stake toward the child and the mother. If there is an abortion, there is no child or mother. And again, why should you have any right to tell a woman she has to risk her life when you don’t? You seem unable or unwilling to answer that rather simple question. And I don’t need to be courteous to someone who thinks he has the right to control another person’s body and who can’t support his claims. Complaints about courtesy are the last refuge of someone has failed to support himself.
    If you refuse to answer questions, yep, I had all the right in the world to point that out. Let me be clear, John has avoided answering questions. He is also made false claims that I have somehow been “dismissive” when I have pointed out the problems in his claims.

  • John

    Best wishes, Jane.

  • Jane Ravenswood

    and still no answer from a man who thinks he has some right to tell a woman to take a risk of death. Why is that, John? Why do you think you have that right?

  • J.D.

    The actual question ‘pro-life’ guys need to ask themselves is whether they believe WOMEN are people, not whether fetuses are. Because we don’t require people to provide their bodies or any parts thereof to other people in need against their will…not even if they’re the only possible match, and not even if they’re related, and not even if the person in need will die without the part(s) of the other person. This is so and respected, even for DEAD people, who wouldn’t otherwise be harmed or aware by the taking of their parts for the benefit of others. Yet somehow women are supposed to accept having fewer rights to their own bodies and organs (the uterus is the WOMAN’S organ) than all men and even corpses? Perhaps they should consider that what they’re demanding (but not willing to demand of themselves) is unreasonable and should readjust their expectations. Women’s bodies, just like men’s, are theirs 100% of the time…whether they’re virgins, whether they’re having sex, whether they’re celibate, whether someone else needs part of them, and whether they’re pregnant, and as such they’re not obliged to provide their bodies to anyone (or anything) against their will. Ever. It’s that simple.

  • J.D.

    What you don’t get, John, is a veto. Women get to make their own medical decisions without you. And they get to tell you to keep your prying nose out of their medical matters and chastise you for being a nosy parker if you insist on butting in where you do not belong.

  • soter phile

    It is NOT the woman’s DNA in her womb.
    From conception, it is the DNA of another human being.
    Abortion ends the life of another human being – before they can speak, while they are most vulnerable.

    So no, it’s not 100% the mother’s body.
    And there’s very little here that is just “that simple.”

  • soter phile

    “Ask the spirit realms”? Can God tell women what to do… or must the divine stay out of women issues, too?

  • soter phile

    If you saw a parent abusing a child, would you accept the “keep your nose out of our business” argument?

  • soter phile

    Because insisting on disinterested, highly individualistic men doesn’t cultivate misogyny at all.

  • Pofarmer

    YOu completely and totally missed the point. Read it again. This time for comprehension.

  • Pofarmer

    So you understand the difference between a child and a fertilized egg?

  • soter phile

    No, I did not miss the point. JD’s premise is flawed.

    even by JD’s own logic, the entire force of the argument is that “it’s my body, and only I get to decide…” if so, then the same holds true for the distinct human being whose body is growing within the mother. she does not have say over that child’s life either. yes, the woman is a person, AND so is the person growing inside her. At no point does “equal rights” mean “I get to kill you.”

    a) To argue so ardently for the self-determination of one’s own body/DNA while simultaneously denying that same right to another person is self-refuting, not to mention an outright double standard

    b) that double standard is the very sort of thing women ironically are fighting against in so many other areas (equal pay, etc.), yet this is called “women’s rights”?! please recognize that abortion kills 500,000 unborn women in the US every year. To get women to kill other women and call that “women’s rights” is a great travesty for women, not something to be celebrated.

    c) the claim of “against her will” fails to own that for the VAST majority of abortions, the mother was a willing participant in the act of conception and well aware of how reproduction works. somehow “against her will” has come to mean “I don’t want to deal with the consequences of my actions.” at no point does that justify killing an innocent human being whose life has just begun.

  • soter phile

    Labeling a child by the stage of development (fertilized egg, fetus, toddler or adolescent) does not avoid the same problem. Who has the right to end a human life?

    Note well: your appeal to stages of development is the very reason Princeton’s Peter Singer claims children up to 2 years old are not really fully human, certainly not cognitively (and as such, could be euthanized). If you find that repugnant (as most do), on what basis would you object – since he is using your same argument?

  • Pofarmer

    His premise isn’t flawed at all. Let’s say that you are in a car accident with another individual. Let’s say that you even caused the accident. Let’s say that you agree to be hooked up to the person to give blood for life sustenance. After a short while, you decide to forego giving blood and demand to be unhooked. If you are unhooked, the person will die. Can you be forced to stay hooked up to the person? can you be forced to be hooked up to the person in the first place?

  • Pofarmer

    Not that long ago, if a child died of being disciplined by parents, very little would have been said. Your argument there rings hollow. Even at that though, there are certain things necessary for personhood. Sentience and sapience and independence being among them. A fertilized egg has none of these.

  • soter phile

    Your analogy exposes some of the things you take as given which are actually part of the debate:

    “accident” is a euphemism we use to avoid assigning blame in traffic incidents. yet that’s not how the law views these incidents – especially when a life is lost. and even if one argued legally it was an ‘accident’, it would still be called manslaughter.

    you interestingly have the mother “choose” to be hooked up (why? an admission of causality?). again, not an “accident.”

    you said: “you decide to forego giving blood and demand to be unhooked…”
    are you arguing for late-term abortions here? even scarier, in any other circumstance, would you condone parental abandonment?

    you said: “can you be forced to be hooked up in the first place?”
    as i said before, in the *vast majority* of abortions, the mother wasn’t “forced” into having sex, nor was she unaware of the realities of reproductive biology. she simply wants to avoid the consequences of a freely chosen action – but in this case, avoiding the consequences requires taking a human life.

    Abortion ends a human life – most often just to protect the mother’s supposed “quality of life”.
    Those are not equal ethical concerns. One is categorical; the other is conditional.

    Note well: In most cases, it’s not an accident.
    It’s not two adults deciding to share blood.
    It’s not even medically intervening to *sustain* life (quite the contrary!).

    No, it’s the *purposeful* intervention to END life, to avoid the natural effects of *freely chosen* prior actions.
    It’s killing children as belated birth control and calling it a ‘right’… over a million times a year.
    That’s not an ‘accident’ – it’s a tragedy.

  • soter phile

    you said: “Not that long ago, if a child died of being disciplined by parents, very little would have been said.”
    what are you talking about? in what society? in what era? certainly at no point in American history.

    Again, if “sentience and sapience and independence” are the basis of your definition of personhood, would you be open to euthanizing toddlers? what about the elderly suffering from dementia? (e.g., Peter Singer). Instead of addressing this critique from my prior entry, you appear to have merely doubled down on the same logical problem.

  • Pofarmer

    No, it’s not “killing children” not by definition and not in reality. Let’s say you are in a fertility clinic and it catches fire. In one room is a table with 1000 frozen embryos and a five year old crying child. You are the last one out and you only have time and ability to save one. Which one do you choose?

    As to the accident scenaro. It doesn’t matter if it’s accdental or not. If you intetionally shoot someone you can’t even be forced to donate blood for their care. No one elses bodily autonomy can infringe on your own. To do any less is to go back to slavery.

  • Pofarmer
  • J.D.

    Yes, it is 100% the woman’s body. Nobody else is entitled to use of it against her will and without her express and ongoing consent. Not before birth. Not after. Offspring are not entitled to use of their parents’ bodies or parts thereof, no matter how badly in need they may be…not blood, not bone, not marrow, not kidneys, liver lobes, or other organs, and not the uterus.

  • soter phile

    you said: “no, it’s not ‘killing children’ not by definition and not in reality.”
    you are begging the question. you can’t settle a debate by assuming the very thing under debate is already settled.

    you said: “you only have the time and ability to save one…”
    abortion doctors & mothers aren’t making their decision with a fire burning down the clinic. it’s purposeful, intentional, with plenty of time to consider the reality. you want to use an exceptional situation to legislate the norm. likewise, you have yet to respond to my point that abortion is used primarily as belated birth control.

    you said: “If you intentionally shoot someone you can’t even be forced to donate blood for their care.”
    your analogy here fails because you do not account for dependency status. nonetheless, note well:
    a) if another adult is dying for lack of blood, the hospital IS required to supply life-saving blood (in which case the hospital is the unique care provider & the patient is the dependent).
    b) in any other situation, if a mother refuses to care for her child, she is criminally charged with child neglect.

    you said: “No one else’s bodily autonomy can infringe on your own.”
    do you recognize the irony of this statement? if that’s true, why allow the doctor’s scalpel to “infringe” on the bodily autonomy of the human being growing within the womb?

    you said: “To do any less is to go back to slavery.”
    you’ve got it precisely backward: what was slavery other than treating a fellow human being as something less than human… which is exactly what abortion does. our society is passing laws to treat one class of humanity as something less than human. even if a ‘majority’ of Americans “felt” that way, it is no less reprehensible than pre-civil war slavery laws, which also had ‘majority’ support in its day.

  • soter phile

    your citation here defeats your own argument. you said “very little would have been said” – and yet laws & societal movements arose precisely because of such instances of child abuse. in short, something WAS said. and laws were enacted to prevent such abuse.

    as to the view of ‘humans as property’…
    a) how did slavery end & civil rights arise? champions like William Wilberforce & MLK – who pressed a society to see how broken their view of humanity was.
    b) again, ironically, the very thing you find reprehensible historically you now want to justify within the womb. calling a child ‘fetus’ is a semantic game to justify treating human life as something less than human (mere tissue, property, etc.).

    along those lines, you still haven’t responded to the problem Peter Singer represents within your own position. “if sapience & sentience & independence” are the basis of personhood, are infants & elderly non-persons? Should their family members be able to euthanize them?

  • soter phile

    Simply saying it’s “100% the woman’s body” doesn’t make it true.
    scientifically, that is not her DNA. do you deny that biologically proven fact?

    even if one moves the argument to psychological & metaphysical grounds, your claim only becomes MORE problematic (e.g., on the basis of *what* authority are you making this claim?).

    and note well:
    a) in any other instance, a parent who would neglect a child to the point of death certainly would be criminally charged – all the more for any parent who intentionally ended their child’s life.
    b) in the vast majority of cases, the mother was fully aware of the nature of & risks associated with sex. no, it was *not* against her will, as you claim.
    c) on the contrary, only the *consequences* of her actions are ‘against her will.’ but wanting to avoid the consequences of her freely chosen actions does not justify taking human life.

  • Pofarmer

    Note I said “Not that long ago.” Note that the first reported outcry over child abuse was in 1872. And Children could be forced into dangerous jobs by their parents where they were injured and died well into the 20th century. Children, and women, were seen as property of the husband. Note that the movement to counteract child abuse didn’t really start until the mid 1960’s.

    I haven’t responded to Singers argument because it doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not a woman has a right to her own body.

  • Pofarmer


    why not just answer the question?

  • soter phile

    a) I pointed out your question was logically flawed
    b) I pointed out several problems with your underlying premise
    c) i called out the irony that the very argument you are making is self-defeating for your position

    Repeating the desire for me to answer a trap question doesn’t suddenly make it viable or change my critique.

    And considering I’ve asked you to answer Peter Singer’s logic (someone who shares your position) several times now, yet you repeatedly have ignored that – it’s not as if I couldn’t ask you the same thing.

  • soter phile

    1) So it is your contention that no one objected to child abuse prior to 1872?
    Here’s the American Bar, including several examples of intervention in the US prior to 1875, dating back even to a Massachusetts law in 1642:

    And note: the 1642 law appeals to Proverbs, a much earlier, ancient basis for intervening against child abuse. No, 1875 was not the beginning. It was officially & nationally codifying something that was happening before.

    2) And as for your ongoing dodge of Singer’s argument: *you* raised “sapience & sentience & independence” as the grounds for personhood, not me. Singer’s argument falls DIRECTLY in line with your espoused logic.

    If – by your logic – a woman has the right to end the human life growing in her womb because you contend that life is not yet a person (by YOUR definition of personhood – one you share with Singer), then you have no basis for objecting to euthanizing toddlers & elderly dementia patients. It’s the same exact basis, and thus has everything to do with “what a woman has a right to do” by your own supposed grounds for her rights.

  • Pofarmer

    a) I pointed out your question was logically flawed

    Actually you didn’t. You merely complained that the setup was “extreme”. So, which is it? 1000 frozen embryo’s or 1 5 yr old child?

    b) I pointed out several problems with your underlying premise

    You’re trying to avoid answering the question.

    c) i called out the irony that the very argument you are making is self-defeating for your position

    There is no irony. Either a person has a right to their body, or they don’t.

  • Pofarmer

    1) So it is your contention that no one objected to child abuse prior to 1872?

    No. My contention is that not that long ago both women and children were treated as property of the husband. Your 1642 law refers to failing to “Train up a child” which could just as easily be a LACK of harsh punishment as too much of it. Our ideas of punishment and rights change continually. What we see today hasn’t been the norm. This should be clear. Even your link, which mirrors the link I provided, shows as much.

    See, the thing about Singer’s argument, is that what he’s well, not really proposing, but recognizing, is that graduated personhood already exists and is in use every day. I have an elderly grandmother with dementia who is no longer able to make her own decisions and sleeps for days at a time and is up for days at a time. She is 97 and her quality of life sucks. Do I think that Eurthanization in these cases should be legal? I’m honestly not sure, but I know the situation is gut wrenching. Likewise with Children, we make life and death decisions for them all the time. My youngest son has a severe genetic condition early on. We submitted him to a bone marrow transplant on his 1st birthday. It didn’t take, and so on his second birthday he was back in Childrens hospital for another. Either procedure could have killed him, all without his consent. Society already recognizes the basics of what Singer is proposing. And we are talking children here. Beings who are at least somewhat selr aware, can receive and give love. What the “Pro life” crowd is trying to do, is extend these rights to things that have none of the qualities of a “person” but might some day become a person. This is problematic on several fronts. Least of all because it essentially strips the woman of her own personhood at the moment of conception.

  • soter phile

    a) No, I said you were begging the question. That is a logical fallacy.

    b) first, I pointed out that drs & women aren’t in a burning building (w/ 90 seconds to get out), but rather that abortion is purposeful & premeditated. secondly, i pointed out that your analogy was an attempt to use an exceptional situation to justify the norm. thirdly I pointed out two ways your analogy failed because it did not account for dependency status.

    c) and here yet again you continue to reiterate a claim that I’ve directly challenged (if not repeatedly debunked). or do you deny the scientifically proven fact that it is not the woman’s DNA in her womb?

    So, no – I did not avoid answering your question. I told you it was a trap question (if not a false dilemma). And if anyone is dodging a question, it’s your refusal to deal with Peter Singer’s arguments about personhood (as you share his definition).

  • Pofarmer

    A. By refusing to answer the question honestly, you clearly show I’m not begging the question at all.

    B. Doesn’t matter. You shifted the goalposts. Actually the whole field.

    C. Again doesn’t matter.

    You use Singers definition too, you are just loathe to admit it. Pure philosophy always goes to extremes. It’s just that you can’t see the very real consequences to yours.

  • soter phile

    I responded yesterday, but it was put on hold… probably due to length (part 1/2)

    a) your claim about Proverbs here fails to account for the law being used to *remove* children from abusive situations – hence its citation in that document.

    b) pointing to the historical reality (not to be celebrated, but a fact), that women & children were in the past regarded as property makes me think…
    i) you fail to understand the societal forces that brought about the later changes [since your pro-choice position asserts something very similar, but within a thoroughly *modern* grid – which makes it all the more condemnable by its own supposed standards] &…
    ii) you have anachronistic expectations of the past.
    – would you only consider historical examples legitimate if they used modern language?
    – especially of note: if *even* under such widespread views in the ancient world, child abuse was *still* called out – one is left to wonder how “not that long ago… very little would have been said.” Something WAS said, even among ancients – especially as one moves into American history. As the link I shared stated, the 1875 law codified a pre-existing sentiment, with several examples.

  • soter phile

    (part 2/2)
    Finally, you’re engaging Singer. Thank you for that.

    1) Yes, he’s “recognizing” the reality of graduated personhood… in other words, he shares YOUR position.

    2) No, euthanasia is not what we already do. there’s a reason its legal status is *new* in Europe – and very controversial, especially the recent approval for adolescents to take their own lives.

    3) and EMPHATICALLY: your actions for your child were attempts to be LIFE-SUSTAINING, not life-ending. There is NO part of abortion that is life-sustaining for the child. And with virtual unanimity, once a child is born every society on the planet calls virtually all life-taking actions on the part of parents what it is: murder. The parent does not have the right to take a child’s life.

    4) you said: “Beings who are somewhat self aware can receive & give love.”
    how do you know at what level one is self-aware? There is scientific evidence that children in the womb respond to pain well before 20 weeks. That’s not to mention children born with significant birth defects, including limited mental capacities – whose parents may give them love even if the child appears unable to reciprocate. Even with a completely healthy child, it’s normally three months before their eyesight enables them to lock in on your face & respond to facial gestures. Again, would you allow parents therefore to kill their infants at will?

    5) you said: “What the “Pro life” crowd is trying to do, is extend these rights to things that have none of the qualities of a “person” but might some day become a person.”
    Again, this begs the question. You are trying to settle the debate by assuming the thing under debate is already settled. Not only have you failed to demonstrate that personhood is defined solely by sentience, sapience & independence – but your reticence to embrace Singer’s proposal make it clear that if that really were your position, you do not fully adhere to it. Or are you saying you think euthanizing perfectly healthy 2 year old children is acceptable (i.e., the same premise you are using to justify abortions), simply because that 2yo child does not yet demonstrate full independence or self-awareness?

    6) you said: “Least of all because it essentially strips the woman of her own personhood at the moment of conception.”
    Not at all. If – as some abortion-on-demand advocates want to claim – ‘pregnancy is a prison’, it is a prison of one’s own making. again, the vast majority of pregnant women freely engaged in sex, knowing full well how reproduction works. We expect adults to live with the consequences of their actions, especially when removing those consequences would do injustice to another human being. And that’s not to mention the psychological fallout on women who actually get abortions! No, abortion does not humanize a woman; quite the opposite. it de-humanizes both the mother AND the child (which, half the time, IS a woman, too – something so-called “women’s rights” advocates conveniently overlook).

  • soter phile

    a) I don’t think you know what begging the question means.
    b) attacking your premise is not shifting the goalposts. it’s undermining your foundation. it’s going to the heart of the matter, not dodging it.
    c) admitting your position is self-defeating & saying “it doesn’t matter” is logically untenable.

    I do not use Singer’s definition. You are projecting your metaphysical convictions onto me, when honestly that is the central difference between us. that’s not “pure philosophy”, that’s admitting the ‘why’ underneath all we do. if we can’t do that, we’re not having an honest conversation.

    you said: “It’s just that you can’t see the very real consequences to yours.”
    oh no, I’m fully prepared to talk about consequences of my metaphysical convictions (which are quite different than yours or Singer’s) – but the more I press you with the logical implications of yours, the more you refuse to talk about it. You don’t have to agree with my underlying beliefs to be honest about the logical consequences of yours.

  • Pofarmer

    a) so if I’m begging the question, why not answer it? 1000 frozen embryo’s or a 5 yr old child, which is it? Extra points for why.

    The rest you’re just straw manning. You know very well what the answer is.

  • soter phile

    Here, maybe this will help:

    I’m not saying that you are ‘begging for me to answer the question.’ No, “begging the question” is a logical fallacy because it tries to settle the current debate by assuming it is already settled – which is precisely what you did with your claim “it’s not killing children by definition or in reality” – and by extension in your follow up question. It is a logical fallacy. Answering a logical fallacy on its own terms would require accepting the fallacy – which I do not.

    Case in point: the recent fiasco with the Ohio frozen embryos meltdown. if frozen embryos are ‘just tissue’, as you infer, why are so many families grieving their loss like a parent rather than a property owner or a patient who had a gall bladder removed?

    you said: “the rest you’re just straw-manning.”
    A straw man is a purposeful misrepresentation of the other person’s position. But I merely pointed at your own definition of personhood (sapience, sentience, independence). do you claim that is not what you said? otherwise, that is not a straw man. that is merely engaging your espoused position… which I did rather extensively below in our other thread – where you finally engaged Singer.

  • Pofarmer

    Good Lord. I know what “Begging the Question” is. This may be the dumbest conversation I’ve ever been involved in.

    What I did was appeal to definitions. A fertilized egg, by definition, is not a child, unless your definition of a child is simply, contains human DNA. It is a definition that hasn’t been typically used throughout history.

    if frozen embryos are ‘just tissue’, as you infer, why are so many families grieving their loss

    Because, to them, those frozen embryo’s were a potential child. People also grieve the loss of pets. I’ve seen people grieve the loss of a house, etc, etc.

    So then, should the clinic in Ohio be charged with Negligent homicide?

    And you actually just straw manned me again, in your comment. I suppose you can’t help it. It would help if you would actually stick to what someone says, other than trying to “infer” things they don’t say.

  • soter phile

    you said: “this may be the dumbest conversation I’ve ever been involved in.”
    you claim to know what begging the question is… but then you immediate repeat the fallacy you claim you know to avoid.

    we are currently debating the definitions. you can’t “appeal to definitions” to settle the debate when we disagree about the definition. that is begging the question (i.e., “a fertilized egg, by definition, is not a child” IS the very thing that we are debating & cannot be taken as a given to settle the argument).

    a) you want to define a personhood merely by life stage, something i deny – hence my consistent appeal to Singer (which you ignored until yesterday)

    b) you are conflating *my* DNA argument (i.e., against your claim “it’s 100% her body”, the life within the mother’s womb is NOT her own DNA) with your own stages of life argument (“simply, contains human DNA”)

    c) you said: “Because, to them, those frozen embryo’s were a potential child.”
    you are assuming all of those parents agree with you. statistically, that’s not the case. note well: many who have miscarriages have funerals precisely because they do not believe it was just a ‘potential child.’

    d) negligent homicide?
    manslaughter at least, yes. unlike your reticence to own Singer’s position as your own (that requiring ‘sentience/sapience/independence’ means 2yo are not persons), I will own mine: yes. the clinic’s negligence took human life, and should be treated as such. it was accidental manslaughter at the very least.

    e) wait, wait, wait: you can’t have your cake & eat it, too. if you are really claiming i made a straw man of your position by stating your inference… tell me where I’m wrong. Are you not claiming that a fetus is something less than a person? And if you object to “just tissue” as an accurate representation of your position, doesn’t that present a significant problem to your personhood argument?

  • Pofarmer

    a) you want to define a personhood merely by life stage, something i
    deny – hence my consistent appeal to Singer (which you ignored until

    Not really. What I’m saying is that sentience, sapience, and independence are necessary but not sufficient for “personhood” to be granted. Otherwise, for instance, animals could be persons. Under the DNA definition cancerous growths could be persons. If you can show why we should consider something a person, based on the possession of human DNA, then great. But, philosophically, this really hasn’t been done, or there wouldn’t be a debate, would there?

    b) once again, I really don’t care. No one has the right to impose on the body of another. It’s really that simple. You don’t have rights to my body. I don’t have rights to yours.

    c) I don’t really know what you’re talking about. Are you saying that the grieving parents didn’t see the frozen embryo’s as their chance to have a child of their own DNA?

    d). Neat, now we are in the realm of investigating misscariages for foul play and punishing women who don’t take sufficient care of their fertilized eggs. There are a reason “The Handmaids Tale” resonates right now.

    e)Are you not claiming that a fetus is something less than a person?

    I’m claiming that a fertilized egg is not a person. If you think it is, you need to explain why.

    And if you object to “just tissue” as an accurate representation of your
    position, doesn’t that present a significant problem to your personhood

    A fertilized egg is a fertilized egg. It doesn’t possess any of the charachteristics normally granted to persons. I don’t see where that’s a problem. I also don’t see where it’s a problem recognizing that there is a significant change of state with birth, which negates Singer’s argument. Regardless of your objections, graduated personhood is a thing. My youngest, who has Hurlers and is significantly mentally handicapped will have to have one of his older brothers as a guardian, most likely. This is already well recognized in law and society. In the same way, many older adults have trustee’s and powers of attorneys granted specifically because their cognitive functions diminish and it is recognized that they are no longer able to be responsible for their own care. This is also well recognized.

  • soter phile

    you said: “My youngest, who has Hurlers and is significantly mentally handicapped…”

    now we’re down to it. i’m amazed that you have a child who has diminished cognitive ability and STILL want to argue that makes him less of a person. it’s your own child! do you not see him as equally a person?! is he less of a person than his brother – even with his challenges? again, if i’m hearing you correctly (by your own logic) you are claiming that one of your children is less of a person than the other because of his mental handicap.

    note well: the rates of abortion are MUCH higher for downs syndrome babies precisely because of such views. i find that morally reprehensible – as do many others.

    also, the “significant change of state with birth” has been increasingly exposed as a false delineation by medical advances. just last year, a child was removed from the womb to have surgery, and then placed back within the womb. by Hilary Clinton’s definition (and evidently yours), that child gained full human rights for surgery, then lost them again once back in the womb. it’s preposterous.

    no, the more scientifically aware we become of the complexity of life within the womb, the more laughable the “birth is where life starts” argument becomes.

    a) your appeal to animals here only worsens your dilemma
    i) not only most would disagree that animals have full self-awareness… (something you mention as a prerequisite for personhood)
    ii) but this yet again only further advances Singer’s problem for your position. It’s not just 2yo toddlers & elderly dementia patients now… since sapience/sentience/independence isn’t even the definition, it’s just “necessary but not sufficient for ‘personhood’…” so who else do we have the right to willy-nilly kill off as less than human?

    cancerous growths are not new human life. no one is claiming new human life exists in cancer. see how far your logic has taken you: comparing human life to tumors which end human life? it’s utterly dehumanizing – just so one can justify taking human life.

    b) you said: “No one has the right to impose on the body of another.”
    and yet that is precisely what abortion does, with the scalpel of the doctor piercing the body of the human being growing within the womb.

    c) i’m saying that some of those parents regarded those frozen embryos as more than “potential” human life – but rather believe actual human life was lost.

    d) and yet you have to invoke the extreme to dodge the primary issue: namely, that MOST abortions (well over 90%) are not due rape, incest or mother’s probable loss of life. instead they are belated birth control. life is being taken simply because one deems the child inconvenient, even though the parents fully understood the nature of biology when they had sex.

    murder is no less murder when it is enacted in a clinic or especially when it is taken out on those most vulnerable and unable to defend themselves: namely, our children.

    e) no. a fetus is a human being/person. so is a fertilized egg. human life begins at conception. again, scientifically, that is when new human DNA is made. it’s rather clear. only the desire to keep abortions on-demand denies the clear implications of that. and the more we learn about life in the womb, the more the position becomes untenable.

    abortion intervenes solely with the purpose of ending human life (forget “do no harm”). it doesn’t just stop a beating heart; these children respond to pain stimuli. they react! but you would have doctors slice them open and call it tissue removal – as if labeling a child a “fetus” makes it less morally reprehensible. again, this is why Peter Singer says killing toddlers & elderly would be equally viable within this logic.

    I still can’t get over the notion that your regard your own mentally challenged child as less than a person. I’m hoping you misrepresented yourself. That’s simply heart-breaking for your child. In the name of “women’s rights” you would regard your own son as less than a person.

  • soter phile

    “Regarding sexual equality, many supporters of legal abortion would reduce the solutions to contraception, abortion and “consent.” Yet these leave all the burdens to women — women alone with the abortion decision, women in ambiguous, casual encounters, usually alone with the decision of how far to go sexually, and women dealing with the fallout from harassment and misconduct.

    Pro-life feminists understand that pro-woman answers rather involve building trust between men and women and remembering that sex has weight because it is organically linked to matters like love, kin, children and future.”


  • soter phile

    I responded to this. Why was my response deleted?

  • soter phile

    And I had a second part here… which was also deleted without explanation

  • Roland

    Jane–Since your primary issue is “control.” Here’s a question for you. Should a man be forced by the state to pay child support for a child that he did not want prior to birth? If so, why?

  • Roland

    Jane–I would encourage you to get the facts and read the book by Arthur Brooks called, “Who Really Cares?” Here’s a quick excerpt: “We all know we should give to charity, but who really does? Approximately three-quarters of Americans give their time and money to various charities, churches, and causes; the other quarter of the population does not. Why has America split into two nations: givers and non-givers? Arthur Brooks, a top scholar of economics and public policy, has spent years researching this trend, and even he was surprised by what he found. In Who Really Cares, he demonstrates conclusively that conservatives really are compassionate-far more compassionate than their liberal foes. Strong families, church attendance, earned income (as opposed to state-subsidized income), and the belief that individuals, not government, offer the best solution to social ills-all of these factors determine how likely one is to give. Charity matters–not just to the givers and to the recipients, but to the nation as a whole. It is crucial to our prosperity, happiness, health, and our ability to govern ourselves as a free people. In Who Really Cares, Brooks outlines strategies for expanding the ranks of givers, for the good of all Americans.”


  • Jane Ravenswood

    good point, and no, I don’t think a man should have to pay for a child he didn’t want, *if* he used birth control and supports using birth control for women, including abortion. If he doesn’t support birth control and a women’s right to choose the medical care she wants, he is supporting a system that makes him responsible.

  • Jane Ravenswood

    wow, that’s quite the bit of nonsense, Roland. The only reason conservatives look like that they are “more compassionate” is that charity to themselves, e.g. to their churchs to pay for social halls, state of the art sound systems, etc, is counted the same as charity that actually helps people when they need food, medical care, shelter etc. For example, in the church I used to be a member of, a wealthy family “gave” the church $1 million for a social hall. Not to the local food bank, not to any charity that helps people, they gave it to themselves, building their stairway to heaven a bit higher by benefiting themselves. These Christians are nothing unusual, just joining more who want to claim how wonderfully charitable they are but who aren’t helping anyone but themselves.

    Unsurprisingly, Brooks is with the American Enterprise Institute, a far right group that is notorious for supporting policies that would harm the poor, ill, etc. Churches want to claim that they do so much for the poor that they should not be taxed, but they don’t. If they did, my local mission and shelters wouldn’t have to beg for money from everyone, when there is ten pages of tiny type in my local yellow pages listing hundreds of churches. Now, compare churches and their need to be charitable to only themselves, when someone like me, who is an atheist, donates to many organizations, from Oxfam to animal welfare organizations, to Foundation beyond Belief. I don’t benefit from this giving, and I’m certainly not giving to myself like Christians repeatedly do. Brooks is a liar, and that is no surprise. He’s been caught out: https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/4288 https://yashwata.info/2010/07/15/charity1/ It’s a shame that Christians so often find that they need to lie to try to excuse their actions.

  • Roland

    Jane–I really encourage you to read the book…not about the book. Fact is that Christians give more to ALL charities than anybody else. Most charities, hospitals, children services/orphans, homeless shelters, international relief organizations were started by Christians. This is very easy to research if you are willing to do an objective historical analysis. That’s why both conservatives Presidents–like Bush and liberals like Obama had an Office of Faith based and Community Initiatives. They realize that churches and Christian specifically are caring for and feeding more poor and vunerable people in the US and beyond than anyone else. Again, just an objective analysis would prove this. Further, it’s also clear that a key reason why the US (and the West in general) are more charitable is based on its Judeo-Christian roots, which have caring for the poor and the down trodden as a key objective.

  • Roland

    Jane–At least you are consistent…to a point. I am following your logic and, therefore, the issue here is control and–in this context, “forced parenting”–which you are against for women and is why you support abortion. However, you make the stipulation that the man must have used birth control–in other words, taken steps to avoid the pregnancy or else you are OK with him being forced to be a parent, at least financially, and would deny him the right of a “financial” abortion. Therefore, should not your logic apply to women too? So, if a woman does not use birth control, and then she gets pregnancy–to be consistent with men–because I know that you are for equality–shouldn’t she be denied the right to an abortion too? Again, you are saying that if a man does not take the available steps to avoid a pregnancy, he should bear the full responsibility for the pregnancy. Therefore, women should do the same…right? Before you respond, I really want you to consider the implications of what you believe. (No snarky responses, please ;-)) Here’s why? Practically all abortions that women have are in situations where they could have avoided pregnancy by taking birth control or by insisting that their sexual partner do so. Therefore, using your logic, you would not support nearly all abortions that are happening…right? Moreover, you also should actively be working to reform that child support system because if a man didn’t want the baby–at the point of conception–and was lead to believe by the woman that she taking birth control, was not ovulating, or would have an abortion if she got pregnant or the birth control fail, then there is an injustice happening by forcing him to be a parent. Indeed, if you believe that not allowing women to have an abortion is an injustice–because of forced parenting, then so would forcing a man in this situation to be a parent and pay child support, etc….right?

  • Jane Ravenswood

    I don’t waste my time with lies, Ronald. From my personal experience, I know that Christians aren’t what they claim, and that charity isn’t giving to yourself. And no, all of those charities were started by generous people, including the ones started by Muslims, Buddhists, etc. There is no correlation of generosity to Christians, only to generous people. As the analysis of Brook’s lies showed, he makes false claims of correlation, and that makes him a liar, who lied because he wants to make conservaties look better. Again, if your claims were true, then the local mission wouldn’t have to beg for funds constantly from everyone. Christians would take care of it.
    They don’t. And nice ot see you still lie about other theists and cultures. That’s so pathetic, knowing how the bible says that believers shouldn’t lie.

  • Jane Ravenswood

    I just have to laugh. “to a point”. Poor Roland, he didn’t get the answer he wanted so now he has to find more excuses. Yep, I certainly do require a man use birth control and support it. If you are a man, and don’t want children, it’s up to you to be responsible. And you still have no right to tell another person that they have to court death if they don’t want to, nor can you control their healthcare. Again, Roland, you don’t have to risk death like a woman does. Any pregnancy can turn deadly. So, no, a woman shouldn’t be forced to have a child that could kill her. You, like so many people, do your best to ignore that point, and it shows every single time.

    Roland, you think I haven’t “really considered the implications of what I believe”. I have and that appears to be what you don’t like, that I have done so and don’t agree with your nonsense. You make unsupported claims like this “Practically all abortions that women have are in situations where they could have avoided pregnancy by taking birth control or by insisting that their sexual partner do so.” Hmmm, so are you for universally available birth control, Roland? If so, good. If not, then your argument fails quite well. Again, if someone, male or female, doesn’t want children, it is up to them to make sure. They have their own birth control; they can’t whine that they “thought” someone else was providing it. Whining “but but I was tricked” is no excuse. Be a responsible human being.