So I’ve been made aware of an article on a website called Mommyish, 10 Reasons to Have an Abortion — Illustrated by Adorable Cats, and written by Eve Vawter. Let’s be honest here. Most of her reasons are without substance, so the cat pictures are there to make her argument more emotionally compelling so that you don’t notice the flawed reasoning (after all, why would you post cat pictures in an article talking about the death of human beings in an attempt to be “cute,” especially if you recognize that most women don’t make the abortion decision lightly and since most of the cat pictures don’t even illustrate the reason they are included with?). While I think a parenting website is hypocritical to celebrate parenting and support abortion, I agree with Ms. Vawter that one can be pro-choice and be a good parent. As she indicates, the two are not mutually exclusive.
Ms. Vawter’s article begins with many of the same pro-choice talking points, which I have responded to ad nauseum on this blog. So I will just respond to her ten arguments directly. In fact, all of her reasons except for the first one beg the question by assuming that the unborn child is not a valuable human being, deserving of the same rights we all are. So without further ado, let’s examine her reasons.
1. Having a baby would endanger your life.
This is the only legitimate reason on her list. I have responded to this argument in detail elsewhere, There are other reasons that are at least understandable, like rape, even though they are not permissible. She adds the caveat “or cause you medical hardship,” but she doesn’t go into detail as to what medical hardship means. If a woman can safely continue a pregnancy, even though she must endure hardship, I don’t see this as a legitimate reason to kill her unborn child.
2. Your birth control failed.
This happens quite a bit. But if the unborn child is a valuable human being, then you can’t justify killing them on the grounds that your contraception failed. Sex leads to pregnancy. Even by protecting yourself from pregnancy, you are still responsible for the creation of new life because you willingly engaged in that act.
In his book The Ethics of Abortion (New York, NY: Routledge, 2011, p. 162), Christopher Kaczor, responds to an analogy by Judith Jarvis Thomson in which she argues that if it is stuffy and you open a window, and a burglar takes the opportunity to enter your house through the window, you are not obligated to allow him to stay, even if you had taken “precautions” like having bars installed to keep burglars out, and he only got in due to a defect in the bars. To this, Kaczor responds,
“The critic of the burglar analogy could critique the analogy by pointing out that the woman’s action of leaving the door unlocked does not cause the burglar to be in the house — opening the door only removes an obstacle. On the other hand, the man and the woman cause the baby to be where it is, even if they tried to prevent it (just as a drunk driver causes deaths though she may have tried to prevent it, say by drinking coffee to help stay alert).”
Patrick Lee responds to this argument, as well, in his book Abortion and Unborn Human Life (Washington, D.C., The Catholic University of America Press, 1996, p. 118, emphasis in original, as quoted in Kaczor, pp. 162-163),
“Parents have a special duty or responsibility to their children even if they have taken careful precautions to avoid having children, by contraception or natural family planning. For most people realize that contraceptives and other methods of avoiding conception have a certain rate of failure. Similary, drunk drivers are responsible for the damage they cause even if they make great efforts to avoid it. If the baseball I bat breaks my neighbor’s window, I still have a responsibility to compensate my neighbor (fix the window) even though I tried very hard to bat the baseball in the other direction. Thus, contrary to Thomson’s argument, we are responsible for the natural and foreseen results of our actions even if we try to avoid them.”
Contraception failure is not a legitimate reason to have an abortion. One must assume that the unborn are not valuable human beings in order to justify abortion for this reason.
3. You don’t want to have a child because of your career.
This is the first picture that remotely has anything to do with the reason, as the cat is wearing a tie (and not even a very professional-looking one). Having a child is not always easy. Pro-life people freely concede this. But this still does not justify taking a child’s life. Imagine that a single mother decides to give birth, and after the child is born her boss tells her that if she doesn’t come back to work next week, she’ll be fired. Would she be justified in killing her child so that she doesn’t have to worry anymore and go back to work? Of course not. So if the unborn is a valuable human being, we can’t justify abortion for that reason, either.
Also, saying “you don’t want to have a child” is misleading, since once a woman conceives she already has a child. If a woman doesn’t want to have a child, she should abstain from having sex, which is an act intrinsically ordered toward procreation. Same goes for the guy, too.
4. You feel you are too young.
So apparently you could be any age, and if you feel you are too young, go get an abortion. Needless to say, this argument begs the question because again, if the unborn are valuable human beings, we can’t justify killing them because the mother feels she is too young, unless in extreme cases where her youth would pose a significant threat to her life if the pregnancy continues.
5. You feel you are too old.
Apparently the author believes that a woman should be able to have an abortion just based on her whims. She does begin by saying she is “very pro-choice,” so I’m guessing that probably means she doesn’t really think any reasons are off-limits for having an abortion. At any rate, this begs the question for the same reason the others have.
6. You feel strongly about overpopulation.
What does it matter how you feel about overpopulation? What matters is whether or not you’re right. There’s little evidence to suggest the world really is overpopulated (in fact, from what I understand, the entire world’s population can fit inside the area of the state of Texas), but even if we were, that does not justify abortion. Think about it. My friend Josh Brahm would say, why stop at abortion? Why not just round up all two year old children one time and kill them all, to lower the population? Can’t do that because you can’t kill human beings? Then if the unborn are also human beings, you can’t justify abortion to help solve overpopulation. Try to look for actual solutions that doesn’t involve killing an innocent human being.
Besides which, does anyone ever really have an abortion because they feel strongly about overpopulation? Highly doubtful.
7. You are worried about the health of the baby.
Now we reach the ultimate pro-choice smokescreen. Killing someone is rarely in their best interests. I mean very rarely. Even if you’re worried about the baby’s health (and the irony of her calling the unborn child a baby and yet advocating killing the baby for incredibly frivolous reasons is not lost on me), the answer is to let doctors heal the baby, not to kill the baby. Doctors need to work on finding cures for illnesses, not just killing every child that comes up with an incurable ailment. Besides which, we are not morally justified in taking someone’s life prematurely.
8. You want no relationship with the person who got you pregnant.
Ms. Vawter says that if you get pregnant from a one-night stand, that’s enough justification to get an abortion. She indicates rape and incest, which are difficult cases to be sure, but if someone’s father is a criminal, that doesn’t make the child any less valuable because of it. A difficult situation simply does not justify murder. And to the case of a one-night stand, I can only say, give me a break. Apparently Ms. Vawter believes that women should not be held responsible for their actions, which leads me to wonder which side is really the one that doesn’t trust women?
9. You don’t want to have a child.
Another easily dismantled reason. Not only does it beg the question, but once a woman conceives she already has a child.
There are only nine reasons, but no bother. Ms. Vawter claims she could have come up with a hundred more, but it would have been nice if she could have come up with a second good one. Abortion cannot be justified by situations because not only does it beg the question, but situations must be looked at on a situation by situation basis. And ironically, as J. Warner Wallace points out, these reasons wouldn’t justify killing the cats in these pictures, so why should we justify abortion for these reasons? Have pets become more important to us than unborn children? Vawter did say she hopes a counter-list will be compiled soon, so I will take her up on that offer. On Friday, I will present a list of ten reasons not to have an abortion. You can check on my blog Friday at 8:00 AM PST if you’re interested in seeing that list.