As I have mention in previous posts, half the battle in any argument comes in the defining of the issue. Nowhere is this more evident than in the pro-life/pro-choice debate. Essentially each side has chosen their name in hopes of defining what they feel is the heart of the issue.
For example, in the pro-choice camp, the issue of abortion is really all about choice, specifically the woman’s choice. The matter at hand is no longer abortion, but rather freedom of choice. To oppose abortion is to fundamentally oppose one’s freedom to choose. In contrast, for the pro-life camp, the issue of abortion is really all about life, specifically the life of the child. In essence promoting abortion would ultimately be antithetical to life. It is on these two defining views that each camp has chosen to plant and defend their flag.
Therefore, in order to secure their respective positions, considerable energy has gone into arguing the nuances of both life and choice. For the most part their arguments center on when life begins, and if a woman’s right to choose should take precedence over the “potential” life of another. Let’s be honest, the goal of both camps is to take the high moral ground on the issue. When you narrow the question down to freedom of choice verses right to life, the scales tend to tip in favour of life. Therefore, the pro-choice advocates have historically and stanchly opposed the idea of life beginning at conception. To do any less would be akin to conceding they believe the life of the most vulnerable is not as valuable and subservient to the choice of the woman.
Both sides recognize this fact and therefore spend a lot of time duking out this fine point. For those in favor of abortion, in conceding this point there would be the very real possibility that they would come off looking selfish, or apathetic to the life of a child, and nobody wants that. Well, at least that is what I used to think.
With one simple article Mary Elizabeth Williams has absolutely overturned the applecart of my understanding when it comes to the pro-choice point of view. In her recent piece, “So what if abortion ends life?” she outright accepts the pro-life’s position that we are indeed dealing with a baby and not simply a glob of tissue. Her candor is both surprising and refreshing. Although she agrees we are talking about a human life, her response is simply to say, “So what?” She concedes that abortion does terminate a life, but it is a “life worth sacrificing.” In essence she is saying a baby’s life is worth sacrificing on the altar of choice. Wow!
So where do we go from here? Seriously, how do you debate the ‘So What’ argument? “We know it is a baby, and we know we are killing it. So what?” Have we moved so far from home that the value and sanctity of human life has become a secondary issue? Is freedom of choice the greatest of all human rights, and to be protected at all cost? Should the cost include the lives of those whom, by their nature and situation, are unable to exercise their own right to choose? So where do we go from here? I would love to hear your thoughts. Email me or post your comments below.
Just in case you missed the links above you can find the Williams’ article here: “So what if abortion ends life?”