Defeating Pro-Life Arguments


I recently attended the March for Life in my City and was able to capture a lot of the footage which depicted pro-choice counter-protesters and so I was exposed to a lot of their rhetorical techniques and while you’d think that insulting people for their race or gender, blowing noisemakers while the other side is articulating their case, or shouting obscenities at children would win any debate, those things didn’t seem to have the desired effect because I didn’t see many pro-lifers switching sides or getting discouraged.

And while I know that I’m taking a pot shot there, I genuinely want to help pro-choice people have a more accurate understanding of what motivates someone to adopt the pro-life position even if that means you’ll be better equipped to argue against it.

There seems to be a misconception out there that the only reason people would take a pro-life stance is because of religious indoctrination or patriarchal misogyny and if that’s the case, then there’s no arguing with them.

And while that may be true in some cases, in most other cases I’m familiar with, pro-life people to hold this position because of a logical formula, and this also happens to be what inspires my own beliefs on this issue.

So, that provides an opportunity for people of a pro-choice persuasion because it means you can engage that logic with your own arguments and if you can disrupt it, then you might win people to your side or at least reduce their own motivations to be out pushing for their own beliefs.

And it gets better, because the logic is actually really easy to follow, which makes it easier to engage with, assuming that there are openings or flaws in the logic. So let’s start by just outlining what that logic is.

Now, there are some variable versions of this, but I think I’ve got this down to its essential premises that lead to a conclusion. For a pro-choice counter-argument to be effective, all you should have to do is invalidate any of these premises or demonstrate that the conclusion doesn’t follow from them.

So, premise one is that homicide is wrong. That’s fairly straight forward and probably something we can all agree on right?! So great, we’ve already got some common ground to work from. That’s promising.

Premise two is the definition of homicide: which is the deliberate killing of an innocent human life. This is, also, fairly easy to agree on most legal jurisdictions would go along with it as well. Deliberate and innocent are keywords there that should be kept front of mind because accidentally killing someone, while still bad, isn’t the same as homicide and innocent because killing someone who is a threat to you or others isn’t homicide either because it could be described as self-defense.

That’s also why it isn’t necessarily hypocritical for a person to be anti-abortion but also in favor of capital punishment. A person convicted of a serious crime is not innocent.

Ok, now the next sequence is where all the contention is so I’m just going to put it out there and then add some thoughts to it.

Premise three is: abortion always involves the deliberate killing of an innocent human life. Therefore: conclusion – abortion is wrong because it constitutes homicide.

So again, just to summarize because I know I was editorializing a bit there:

1. Homicide is wrong.
2. Homicide is defined as the deliberate killing of an innocent human life.
3. Abortion Always involves the deliberate killing of an innocent human life.
4. Therefore, abortion is wrong.

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