Because I am a pro-lifer who enjoys defending the pro-life position through written apologetics, I've been involved in pro-life/pro-choice debates online for a number of years. (The vast majority are with people I don't know in real life. Although, there is always the occasional exchange on Facebook with someone I met once and/or haven't seen in ten years, who has never interacted with me at all beyond a "friend request," but suddenly comes out of the woodwork to take issue with something I post relating to my pro-life beliefs. Such exchanges are always awkward because I know the person but don't have the mutual trust that I would with a closer friend. Yet I try to take these debates as seriously as I would any other.)
In these debates, I always try to establish common ground with a premise that both of us can accept. One would think we could agree, for example, that abortion kills an unborn baby. After all, "kill" and "baby" are not subjective terms. The pro-life/pro-choice debate is really about whether abortion is right or wrong, not what abortion is. Facts are facts, right?
Yet the pro-choice challenges to my position often begin with these very facts. "No! It's not a baby! It's a clump of cells!" (Never mind that being a baby and being a clump of cells are not mutually exclusive things. In fact, all people, me included, could be accurately described as "clumps of cells.") "No! It's not killing! Killing can't apply to a non-person!" (Never mind that the definition of "kill" says nothing about whether the thing killed is a person or not. And never mind that "person" is not a subjective term either.) And on and on.
I have found these debates over semantics to be overwhelmingly common among pro-choicers who debate pro-lifers. Yet when the context is the discussion of a personal experience rather than debate, pro-choicers sometimes relax their terminology such that it is actually closer to what pro-lifers use, and their fellow pro-choicers barely flinch.
Case in point: Penelope Trunk, a blogger whose posts I often enjoy reading. She gives helpful advice about issues that hit home for me at this stage in my life, such as how to balance one's career and personal life. In making her points, she is quite open about her own personal life and beliefs, including the fact that she's had two abortions. In fact, she's probably best known for a Twitter post she wrote back in September of 2009 stating she was grateful to be having a miscarriage because she'd originally wanted an abortion and it was going to be difficult to get. (This post got so much attention that Penelope ended up going on CNN to talk about it.)
What really struck me when reading Penelope's abortion accounts was that she repeatedly referred to the unborn as a baby and acknowledged the fact that abortion kills that baby.
For example, on June 17, 2009, she wrote of her prior abortions: "[A]n abortion is terrible. You never stop thinking about the baby you killed. You never stop thinking about the guy you were with when you killed the baby you made with him. You never stop wondering."
And in the same post, about her feelings while sitting on the table waiting for her abortion: "I couldn’t stop screaming. I was too scared. I felt absolutely sick that I was going to kill a baby."
Later that year, on September 24, 2009, she wrote in defense of her Twitter post about the miscarriage: "And what is up with the fact that just one, single person commented about how Wisconsin has a three-week waiting period for abortions? It is absolutely outrageous how difficult it was going to be for me to get an abortion, and it’s outrageous that no one is outraged." And two paragraphs later: "I’m linking to Planned Parenthood so everyone can make a donation. This organization is enabling women to have the right to abortion."
Given the way pro-choicers usually respond to me when I refer to abortion as killing a baby, it's interesting to see their response when a person who's unmistakably pro-choice also refers to abortion as just that. In this case, of the 615 comments to the post about Penelope's abortion experiences, many of which came from pro-choicers, not one corrected her terminology. Many aspects of abortion were discussed and debated, but her definition of abortion went unchallenged.
This is worth thinking about for a moment. Really, what's most important to pro-choicers is that abortion remain legal. So as long as Penelope agrees with that, she gets no flak, even if she essentially acknowledges the pro-life point that abortion kills a baby.
Pro-choice apologetics are clearly not uniform. They can even be contradictory. It's strange that the pro-choice side isn't more interested in getting "on message" in their defense of legalized abortion.
Maybe it's because there is no message that adequately justifies deliberately taking an innocent human life.
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