While listening to one of the more recent episodes of Trent Horn’s excellent podcast, Counsel of Trent — “#181 – DIALOGUE: Do pro-lifers oppress women?” — I heard my blog mentioned!
Trent’s guest was Steve, a fellow Patheos blogger at the nonreligious channel’s Driven to Abstraction. Steve wrote a post titled “Pro-Life Is About Oppressing Women“ and linked to my post “Why Are Abortion Rights Advocates Anti-Science?” as an example of this oppression.
Yes, apparently, I’m oppressing myself.
After listening to the podcast in its entirely, I decided a rebuttal post to Steve was in order.
First of all, Steve, I wanted to say thank you for being willing to dialogue with Trent, and for participating in a reasonable, civil discussion with him. I was very impressed at your willingness to concede some points and find common ground. So thanks for that.
You said in your post:
By focusing on details like the fetus’s brainwave activity and chromosome count, articles and debates deliberately de-emphasize the moral agency and bodily autonomy of the woman. This article about abortion at Catholic Working Mother doesn’t mention the word woman, women, or even mother once.
Trent mentioned this excerpt and then said, correctly, that the purpose of my article was to discuss the science of human development and the scientific proof that an unborn child is a human being. He said, “She’s not even talking about abortion, she’s making a scientific point.”
Your response was, “Right, but what I’m saying is that you wouldn’t the — you wouldn’t expect such omission in an article, a peer-reviewed article about embryology, let’s say, but I think you would when you’re talking about abortion rights or the subject of abortion because, as I say in the article, this is all going on inside a woman”s body but we have a habit of ignoring that fact.” [I think what you meant here is that you WOULD expect the omission of the abortion debate in a peer-reviewed journal article about embryology, but you WOULDN’T expect the omission in a blog post about abortion.]
That particular article had one thesis, stated immediately in the first sentence: “Biologically speaking, a human being is an organism of the species Homo sapiens.”
That was the entire scope of the article. The only way it related to abortion is that I mentioned that abortion rights advocates tend to flat-out deny that scientific fact, which baffles me because there is so much evidence to the contrary. It’s something I encounter on an almost daily basis. For example, here’s the same person on the “I Am Pro-Life” Facebook page twice insisting that a human fetus is not a human being:
However, science says differently and that was the point of my article.
Nobody, pro-life or pro-choice, denies that an adult human woman is a human being, nor does any pro-lifer deny that an adult human woman is a human person with human rights. It simply isn’t in dispute.
We even all agree that all human beings, men and women, have the right to bodily autonomy. Where we disagree is to what degree bodily autonomy can be exercised. You argue that the right to bodily autonomy trumps even the right to life of an unborn human being. Pro-lifers, however, disagree. We believe that the right to life of an unborn human being supersedes an adult woman’s right to bodily autonomy, given that pregnancy is temporary and preventable whereas death is permanent and irreversible.
When we make this argument, pro-choicers usually counter by saying that unborn humans don’t have rights because they aren’t human beings, hence the reason for my post.
I would love to rebut everything you said on the podcast point-for-point, but I think that would take days. However, there is one point you kept making that I wanted to counter.
Pro-Life Isn’t About Oppressing Women
You kept claiming we “erased the woman” by ignoring the reasons women seek abortion — financial circumstances, involvement in abusive relationships, not feeling capable of parenthood, and so on. We pro-lifers aren’t ignoring anything. We know there are myriad reasons women seek abortion. The thing is, we believe that those reasons are not sufficient reason to violate the human rights of another human being. We don’t solve the problem of PTSD after rape by allowing the rape survivor to kill her rapist, for example; we encourage the woman to seek therapy and support, and help her pursue justice.
The solution to crisis pregnancies are to fix the crisis, not kill the unborn human being. Are there financial concerns? We want to provide help and resources, free prenatal care, etc. Is she in an abusive relationship? We want to help her get out the of the abusive relationship, get counseling, get employment, etc. Does she not feel capable of being a parent? We want to help with classes or counseling or forming an adoption plan.
Pro-life isn’t about oppressing women. It’s about helping women AND defending the right to life for ALL human beings, born or unborn.
We love the woman and we want to HELP her improve her circumstances, not oppress her. We don’t want to perpetuate the lie that the ONLY solution to her problems is the end the life of another human being. If we thought that violence was a solution to problems, we’d be pro-choice. And if preventing one human being from killing another human being is oppression, all laws prohibiting murder are unjust.
Steve, if you’d like to discuss my article one-on-one, as you did with Trent, feel free to e-mail me! I think it’d be an interesting discussion.