The “Pro-Birth” Fallacy
|Via the Life Matters Journal, a consistent life ethic publication|
[Today’s gust post is by Adele P.]
There’s been a lot of talk in pro-choice circles and on social media recently about the “pro-birth movement.” If you’re unfamiliar with this concept, effectively the pro-birth movement is a name given to pro-lifers who are pro-life strictly from an anti-abortion standpoint, but who, in all other ways, appear to be unsupportive of unborn children, their future well-being, and their mothers. Sometimes this extends to claims that pro-lifers, in order to call themselves “pro-life,” must also subscribe to a rather prescriptive list of additional values. Not only that, they must also be actively involved in the broader life movement by addressing everything from world hunger to advancing women’s rights. More often than not, the picture of the “pro-birth” movement is attached to a whole host of other undesirable qualities, faulty assumptions, and extremist political agendas.
I have a few problems with this…
Ever heard of the strawman fallacy? That is a form of an argument based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent’s argument, while refuting an argument that was not advanced by that opponent. I would like to take the stand that this so-called “pro-birth” individual who cares nothing about the child after the child is born, who cares nothing for the mother, who cares nothing about the state of life otherwise in the world, does not actually exist. This is just a strawman manufactured in large part by the pro-choice movement as a tool to demonize and tarnish the pro-life movement. Now, I have no problem with pro-choicers wasting their time attacking an opponent that does not exist. What I do have a problem with is using the whole “pro-birth” notion to gather support for a cause based on false and extremely divisive claims. The truth of the matter is that if a woman is looking for financial, educational, occupational, social, or psychological support with regards to her pregnancy, she is FAR more likely to find this support from pro-life groups such as Feminists for Life, Feminists for Non-Violent Choices, Students for Life, and countless crisis pregnancy centres (to name a few) than she is at, say, Planned Parenthood.
Then you have the claim that to be truly pro-life (rather than pro-birth), you must also hold a cohesive set of values regarding issues of immigration, foreign aid, social programs, world hunger, health care, etc. While many pro-lifers do in fact embrace what’s known as the “consistent life ethic” (which abortion advocates, by definition, oppose), we should also recognize that no one has the time to be active in every worthy cause. Moreover, an individual’s belief system is complex, personal, and shouldn’t be subject to partisan notions or guided by what external sources deem to be cohesive. To say that one who is pro-life must also be, say, pro-immigration is as logical as claiming that to be pro-immigration you must first be pro-life. It doesn’t make sense. On this point, it should also be noted that individuals who call themselves pro-life but who are inactive in the movement for whatever reason, are still welcome to identify themselves as pro-life (even if it offends your sense of decency). There may be many reasons that person is inactive in the movement. They may be occupied with other causes, they may lack the time and resources to participate, or they must be have good intentions that simply don’t translate into action. These issues are not unique to the pro-life movement.
Here’s another thing that may surprise some. As a pro-lifer, I have no issue with being called “pro-birth.” Believe me, I have been called much worse for my stance on human rights. To illustrate my point, I’ll choose an example that everyone (pro-choice or pro-life) can relate to… Say I’m at the park with my kids and I see a person with the means and the intent to brutally and imminently end the life of a child. I, like you, would do everything in my power to stop that person from committing that act. I would not encourage any passerby in this situation to turn their back on the imminent violence and to go volunteer at the food bank or to attend a protest for equal pay. I wouldn’t think it wise to let that person execute their plan and then try to address the desperation that led them to such a grievous act. A significant part of the pro-life movement does and should continue to focus on stopping the act of abortion head-on—to act first and ask questions later, so to speak. For those of us who see abortion as the ending of a human life, getting a child to the point of birth so they may actually have a chance to enjoy other rights like freedom of speech, equal pay, healthcare, or food and water is a HUGE victory, one I will not apologize for.
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