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The title of this blog is controversial.

The content of this blog is equally controversial.

Nothing I can say by way of introduction can change that. Nevertheless, it is important I clarify two things before giving a number of examples of how abortion makes us say silly things.

First, this blog post is not a political blog post. I am entirely disinterested in discussions of left vs. right and liberal vs. conservative; I do not find my home in either place. This is because Jesus Christ does not fit inside our political boxes any more than he fit inside those of the ancient Jews and Romans. Jesus bursts through every one of our man-defined categories and makes demands on us that are neither conservative nor liberal. They are simply holy.

Second, this blog post is not a condemnation of women who have had abortions, or men who have played a role in them. I am in meaningful, deep, personal relationships with literally hundreds of people who have been involved in abortions and all I am interested in offering them is love, compassion, truth, and my listening ear.

Instead, the purpose of this blog post is simply to show us – all of us – how the issue of abortion has led us to say silly things.

“You can’t legislate morality”

Any time someone argues for legal restrictions to be placed on access to abortions the first counter-argument is, “You can’t legislate morality.” That sounds great — except for the fact that the statement “you can’t legislate morality” is itself a legislation of morality. As is every law on every law book in the world. Ever.

The proper question is not, “can we legislate morality?” We only legislate morality. The question is, “whose morality should we legislate?” Should we legislate the morality of those who say rape is wrong? Or of those who say rape is justified? The morality of those who are morally opposed to murder? Or those who think a society should simply allow the survival of the fittest? Should we legislate the morality of those who believed themselves justified in holding slaves because they saw African-American’s as 3/5 of a person? Or the morality of those who believe African-Americans to be fully human image-bearers of God who cannot be bought and sold?

It is impossible to make a law that is not the expression of someone’s morality. So, whether abortion is to be legal or illegal, it will be that way because someone’s morality was either more popular or more powerful, not because “you can’t legislate morality.”

“I’m against abortion personally, but it shouldn’t be illegal”

One of the most popular arguments amongst politicians is, “I’m against abortion personally, but it shouldn’t be illegal.” President Barack Obama himself has acknowledged the moral weight of the abortion question but said that families, not government, “should be the ones making this decision.”  This sounds incredibly reasonable on the surface in a country that places such a high-value on independence.

Until you pause long enough to think about why someone would be against abortion personally.

Someone would be against abortion personally for the same reason Obama acknowledges the moral weight of the abortion discussion: because it ends the life of a living human being. This is the only reason to be against abortion personally. If the fetus is not a living human being, it is simply a collection of tissues inside the women’s body that one could be no more “personally against” than they could be “personally against” a woman having a wart removed.

Which means the argument they are making is actually this, “I’m against abortion personally because I believe it ends the life of a human being, but it shouldn’t be illegal.”

Do you hear how silly that is?

Imagine if a politician argued, “I’m personally against murder because I don’t think we should end the lives of other humans, but that’s not something I would make a law. After all, it’s really up to families to decide if they want to end the life of another human or not. That’s not the government’s business.”

The truth is, you don’t have to imagine it. That’s the essential argument that’s being made every election season. Meanwhile the government intervenes in countless family issues on a daily basis – as it should – because it has the responsibility to protect those who can’t protect themselves. In the same way the government gets involved in domestic violence, child abuse, and child negligence to defend the defenseless, it should get involved in abortion for the same reason.

“You’re a man and can’t have an opinion on abortion.”

Any time I have expressed my opinion on abortion, I have been told, “You’re a man, so you can’t have an opinion on abortion.” Ironically, I have been told this by men as often as women, which means they have at least one opinion on abortion: namely, that they are not allowed to have one and I am not either.

There is a fancy phrase to describe what’s wrong with this argument. Students of arguments call this type of illogic a “genetic fallacy.” There is also a less fancy phrase to describe what’s wrong with this argument. That phrase is, “that is the silliest thing I’ve ever heard.”

We are guilty of the genetic fallacy – and believing silliness – when we decide that something is true or untrue based on where it originates. This is a fallacy because a statement is true or untrue on its own merits and not based on the person makes it. For example, the statement, “the earth is round,” would be equally true whether it was spoken by the Pope, Adolf Hitler, or Albert Einstein. In the same way, the statement, “Mariah Carey’s Glitter is the greatest movie of all time” would be equally false whether said by Mariah Carey, Roger Ebert, or my wife.

The statement “abortion is murder” is either true or it is not true, based on its own merits. It matters not if the words were spoken by someone with a penis or someone with a vagina. Arguments do not have genitals. They either have validity or invalidity, truth or falsehood. Those who disagree with the claim that “abortion is murder” must respond with arguments against the truth-claim, not arguments against the person who spoke it.

“If you’re pro-life on abortion, you also have to be pro-life on the death penalty and war”

It is very fashionable these days to try to discredit those who are pro-life on the issue of abortion by calling them inconsistent. “If you’re pro-life on abortion, you have to be consistently pro-life by being against war, and the death penalty.”

This argument is powerful because it attaches itself to the moral value of life – which everyone values. Yet for all of its apparent power, it is false and silly.

First, it is false and silly because it usually condemns the person speaking just as much as it tries to condemn the person being spoken to. In most cases, the speaker is pro-choice on the issue of abortion and pro-life on the other issues. The listener could just as easily respond, “Well, if you’re pro-life on the death penalty and war, you have to be consistently pro-life by being against abortion.” Of course, the pro-choice listener would rightly disagree because they intuitively recognize that abortion, capital punishment, and war are not the same thing and do not necessitate the same approach. Unfortunately, they often fail to recognize this obvious fact when applying the argument to other people.

Second, it is false and silly because abortion, capital punishment, and war could not possibly be more different. Capital punishment is the death of a tried criminal who has been convicted of the worst of human crimes and is facing what the government deems his just punishment. War is (in principal) the potential death of willing and armed combatants fighting for a cause they believe in.

Abortion is nothing like either. Abortion is the murder of a child who has never harmed anyone (unlike in capital punishment) and who is given no voice in the matter and no possible defense (unlike in war). I am personally opposed to both capital punishment and war, but I recognize that if those things are morally wrong, they are not morally wrong in the same way or for the same reason that abortion is morally wrong. One can very easily support capital punishment and war while being morally opposed to the murder of an innocent child.

One who is pro-life on abortion need not be pro-life on other issues any more than one who is pro-choice on abortion need be pro-choice on gun control. Moreover, such arguments only serve to distract from the true question at hand: is abortion morally wrong? One’s consistency or lack thereof is irrelevant to the answer.


Look for the conclusion of this post tomorrow!

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