Sean Edwards

The American Resurrection

Why Being Pro-Life Has Nothing To Do With Religion

Choice-LifeHow can a libertarian be Pro-Life? Easy, they are intellectually honest.

Many of my readers know that I’m Christian, but I don’t talk about that much. I don’t believe my faith should determine law, so it doesn’t come up in my writing very often.

In fact, I’m often fighting “for” things that I personally don’t condone (like gay marriage, drug use, etc…).

But I’m not really fighting for those things. I’m just fighting for people’s freedom to do those activities (as long as they don’t harm others).

However, I am an ardent defender of Pro-Life policy.

But it has nothing to do with my faith.

My faith did not make me Pro-Life. Reason Did.

I was a Pro-Choice Christian for a while. My faith did not change my position. Reason did.

Logic and Reason Defend The Unborn

When a baby is born, they aren’t a fully developed human. They can’t walk, talk, or make decisions that are in their best interest.

If you asked an alien to look at an adult and baby, they might not even conclude that we’re the same species.

But, we grant rights to babies because we know they will develop into humans.

Let me clear on this: We already give people individual rights before they are distinct individuals.

We recognize that they not only have the capacity to develop into people, but they are designed to do so.

A baby’s growth from infancy to adulthood is unconditional and unstoppable. This isn’t a choice.

A baby cannot decide to stay a baby (or I think more of us would have opted to remain a child).

There is no volition in “growing up.” The only things that stops a person’s development are outside factors like sickness, death, and environment factors.

But barring any tragedies, a baby WILL become a human.

Therefore, that baby gains the protection of individual rights long before they are a “true” individual.

  • If a child is abused, the state intervenes.
  • If a child isn’t getting enough food, the state intervenes.
  • If a child’s environment is detrimental to their health, the state intervenes.

So, why is it different for a fetus?

Just like a baby, barring problems, a fertilized egg will develop into a baby… which will develop into an individual.

Again, there is no volition in this choice. A fetus cannot decide to stop growing. A mother cannot will her fetus to stay that way.

The only things that stop a fetus from developing are the same things that stop a baby from developing: Sickness and external factors.

But barring any problems, it will turn into an individual.

So… why aren’t fetuses granted the same rights as babies… or people?

When you apply the exact same logic and principles to a fetus, you must conclude that an abortion is a violation of a fetus’ rights, and the state should intervene (just as if a parent tried to kill their child).

If you can find a way out of this argument, please tell. I want to hear it.

Ban All Birth Control? Don’t Be Silly…

Some people will counter by saying, “If that is true, then all birth control should be criminalized!”

They say this as if it were a rational argument in favor of Pro-Choice policies. But there are two reasons it is not.

First, this isn’t an argument for Pro-Choice policies. It is an attempt to get me to override my logic with a feeling.

There is no argument here against being Pro-Life.

I say, “A fetus should have the same rights as a baby.”

They say, “Then all birth-control should be illegal!”

Why do they say this?

They are hoping that my desire to use birth control is so great that I couldn’t imagine giving it up. Which would then cause me to override my rational argument and endorse a Pro-Choice position. They want me to act on an emotional whim and/or desire, not reason.

They are deliberately trying to avoid reason, because reason dictates one conclusion: Abortion is wrong.

Subconsciously, they realize they’ve lost the logical argument. So they are appealing to my emotions, trying to get me to abandon my logic as well.

They are deliberately trying to avoid reason, because reason dictates one conclusion: Abortion is wrong.

There is no logic in their argument. It is only ‘feeling.’

This is dangerous. All law should be built on logic and reason, not how you ‘feel’ about a subject.

Do you really want to be governed by how your neighbors ‘feel’ on certain issues?

I certainly don’t. I for one want laws based on rational arguments.

I know, I’m weird.

All I’m saying is that this statement isn’t a rational argument for Pro-Choice policies.

But there’s a second problem here.

This “argument” isn’t even logical in and off itself.

This statement equates abortion with birth control.

It implies that abortion and birth control operate on the same basic principles, do the same basic thing, and should therefore be categorized the same.

But they don’t. They are very different.

Abortions deal with fertilized eggs. While birth control deals with gametes, and thus they cannot be compared.

Abortion terminates the progress of a developing fetus. But birth control stops two gametes from turning into a fetus.

If left on its own, a gamete will NOT develop into a person. It will just exist, along with the millions upon millions of other gametes in your ovaries or testicles.

But once two gametes meet, you now have a fertilized egg, and that fetus WILL develop into a human.

So, no, you don’t have to get rid of birth control if you ban abortion.

They are two different things, and should be treated as such.

My Body, My Choice

Here’s the other argument… A fetus REQUIRES a mother to exist, and if abortions were illegal, that would violate the mother’s rights.

The fetus would exert a form of coercion over the mother.

The mother must work to support the fetus. And the mother must refrain from certain activities to support the fetus.

All-in-all, the fetus violates a great deal of the mother’s freedom.

This is the argument for the “My Body, My Choice” position. By criminalizing abortions, we are in effect limiting women’s rights.

In any other situation, this would be wrong. It would be immoral. And protecting the woman’s right to abortion would be the only way to protect her individual rights.

In fact, some people argue that abortions should only be illegal once the fetus can survive outside the womb.

This way, even though the fetus still needs support, it no longer requires it from one specific person.

Thus, abortion only becomes illegal once keeping the fetus alive no longer violates a woman’s individual rights.

Here’s the problem with that… In most cases, the mother had a choice to engage in sexual activity.

That choice led to the creation of another individual.

Babies do not magically appear in your womb (unless your Mary, but she was quite unique).

Creating a fertilized egg is volitional. Growing into a person is not.

So, a woman’s choice to have sex led to the creation of another individual. This initial choice to have sex overrides her “right to be free from a fetus”, or whatever you want to call it.

Think of it like signing a contract.

My neighbor cannot come over, show me a contract I’ve never seen before that says they own my house, and then force me out.

That would be theft, and wrong.

But, if I signed the contract of my own freewill, then they can. My right to my house has been forfeit by my consent. I cannot go back and claim that they are violating my individual rights.

Having sex is like signing that contract. You’re saying, “I realize this may result in the creation of another individual, and therefore I forfeit any right to my body that my pregnancy may entail.”

Arguing that a woman has the right to an abortion is like saying someone can legally renege on a contract they signed.

In legal terms, that would be a violation of contract. And if the fetus could take you to court, they would win.

Logic–Not Religion–Is The Mother of
Pro-Life Policy

Since a fetus WILL develop into an individual without volition, and since a woman has the ability to CHOOSE to have sex, a libertarian MUST protect the rights of the unborn.

If we want to be true to our principles and belief in radical equality, then we have to be Pro-Life.

If we don’t, we are violating our own principles, and we lack intellectual integrity.

Caveats and Compassion

Abortions are hard. And I have deep compassion for people who’ve had them.

If you’ve had an abortion, or know someone who has, it is not my intent to condemn you.

Our culture has decided that it is okay, and that makes it very easy to convince ourselves that something is right.

And I don’t consider Pro-Choicers murderers.

Pro-Choice supporters believe they are doing the right thing.

They believe the fetus isn’t a person, and in their hearts they don’t think they’re committing murder. I respect that and honor it.

Objectively, though, I have to conclude that abortion is murder and needs to be outlawed.

What About Rape, Incest, and Complications?

These are hard areas, and there aren’t a lot of clear boundaries like there are in consensual sex. But here are some thoughts.

Rape

When a woman has been raped, she did not choose to have sex.

Therefore, she didn’t sign a contract forfeiting some of her rights during pregnancy. So, by the same logic, she should be allowed to get an abortion.

At the same time, there is still an innocent person developing in their womb.

Can we ethically kill one innocent person to protect another?

And as painful as rape is, should we punish a baby for something their father did?

This is a grey situation with no clear right and wrong. But I personally think we need to support rape victims as best we can, while protecting the innocent individual created in the process.

Incest

What about incest? As along as incest is consensual, no rights are being violated. This means we can’t fashion an individual rights argument to allow abortions like we did with victims of rape.

The child has to be protected. But, how often do these pregnancies result in birth defects? And should that even play into our laws? I just don’t know.

Complications

And when it comes to pregnancy complications (that cause serious birth defects or endanger the mother), I really don’t know.

If I had to write a law that covered all forms of abortion based on my political philosophy, it would have to look like this:

  • If the woman consented to sex, any abortion is illegal.
  • If the woman did not consent, I would have to let people choose. Where government has no clear answer, the choice should be left to the individual. (Abortion would be allowed, but not encouraged, and I would actively encourage rape victims to keep the child, and build out private sector services to support rape victims throughout their pregnancy)
  • In cases of incest, I would have to defer to biologists and childhood development specialists
  • And in cases involving complications, I would have to let people choose. Again, where government has no clear answer, the choice should be left to the individual.

This is a big issue, with a lot of ramifications. However, it is important, and we need to talk about it.

To recap:

Since we grant individual rights to babies because we know they become adults, the same logic must force us to grant fetuses the same rights.

And since having sex is volitional (unless you’re raped), by choosing to have sex, a woman forfeits any rights she has over her own body that the fetus “violates” during pregnancy.

Where no clear answers exist, the decision must be left to the individual.

Please keep your comments civil.

If you don’t, I will mute and/or ban you. My site is a place of civil discourse, not a place for people spew vitriol on those with whom they disagree.

About Sean Edwards

Sean Edwards is an author and a communication strategist. He graduated from the Western Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in history. Sean has a passion for discussing philosophy and American politics.

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  • Dan Morris

    Well done, sir. Well done. Now who will read it?

  • Dan Isadore

    Really well said. Logical, honest, and true. Good stuff.

  • Michelle

    Only two comments on this? What a shame. Well written. I like your logical approach, rather than trying to win people over with appealing to their emotions.

    • Sean Edwards

      Michelle, thank you!!! I really appreciate that.

      Also there are lot more than 2 comments. I’m not sure why you’re only seeing 2, but there are over 200 at the time of this writing. Some really good stuff too! Hopefully you can find them.

  • Tom

    Here’s where I believe your argument breaks down. As a libertarian, you would agree that we should not make moral decisions for others about things that do not affect others. Ah, you say, but abortion affects another person–the baby growing in the womb! But that’s the key. That is a philosophical position, that could be rationally argued either way forever. Whether an abortion is affecting another person is an individual philosophical position. YOU have answered this for yourself. Bravo. But you cannot make this decision for the woman carrying the baby. This fetus is in her body. We must leave this philosophical decision to her otherwise we are violating her own right to her own body. It’s not your philosophical quandary. It’s hers and hers alone.

  • Dallin Mueller

    I agree with you mostly on principle, though I might lean a little more lenient myself, especially in cases of complications- there’s too much grey area there.

    I, do however, find that the second half or second argument doesn’t come across as strongly as the first half. The whole bit on contracts feels a bit strawmanned, and I find it hard to describe… just overblown by a bit.

    When I read something like this, I alternately place myself in the shoes of both viewpoints, and while looking at it as a liberal, you would have been winning some points on me early on, the whole contracts portion was too unrelated and feels underdeveloped.

    Also, writer to writer, you’ve a few glaring grammar issues that should have been ironed out in a 2nd read-through, I’m sure if I went looking I’d find more, but just in a casual read I found 2-3.

    Cheers

    • Patricia Markley

      A little snarky with comments to writer. Suggestions should have been addressed privately.
      Sean, I think your argument was quite logical. Thank you for presenting a non-emotional pro life view point. I am also pro-life but normally don’t offer my viewpoint because I tend to get emotional and I know that it turns people off when they are equally as emotional regarding their viewpoint. Your logical viewpoint has given me talking points to share that make sense.

      • Sean Edwards

        Thank you!

    • Lisa DeGroff

      Here’s the thing with your ‘contract’ issue. Both partners have decided at one point or another that they are willing to have sex. For a woman, that means that she has the opportunity to choose to use birth control… if she doesn’t use it (get on the pill, etc.) then she has made a choice not to prevent pregnancy. Then the situation comes up…. people are dating and the time is ‘right’ or they decide to just have sex as a ‘one night stand’ situation. They both have the opportunity to choose to use condoms (male and/or female), vaginal foam, etc.; again not doing so is still a choice. Failing choosing birth control at either of these points, they could choose not to have sex – thus they have already made three choices opening themselves up to the possibility of pregnancy before it occurs. THAT is the contract. If I choose to jump out of a second floor window, then I have accepted the fact that I may break bones or suffer a worse mishap. If I choose to have sex without birth control then I have accepted the fact that I could end up pregnant.

      • Sean Edwards

        Thank you Lisa, love your comments

    • Sean Edwards

      Thanks for commenting Dallin. I actually gave this thing 3 read overs. And I usually get a few emails/comments per post by people point out more errors. I just need a line editor, lol.

      As for the contract part… how did you find it weak? I think its pretty strong… Then again I’m the author, so I’m a little biased. But, if you can clarify, I’d be happy to listen.

      Lisa posted a response, and I think she makes some great points.

  • Joy Metcalf

    Over 200 comments? Interesting, because it lists only 5 as of today.

    As a libertarian (little “l”), I appreciate your logic. One thing I disagree with, though, is that incest is consensual. It may be occasionally, but rarely. The child is bullied by its parent, sibling, or other family member, shamed, persuaded, and many other things, but the truth is that it could not happen if the perpetrator did not have power over the victim. Sometimes that power is from covert threats, sometimes overt threats, but it is always there, and most of the time the incest starts when the victim is a child. How do they “consent” to what they don’t understand?

  • Theodore Seeber

    On the last- I’d say that the doctor has two patients in pregnancy complications. And that triage is a sad, but necessary duty of any medical professional. You can’t always save all the patients.

    But to kill a child just because it will be deformed or have a disability is just as bigoted as to kill a person in a wheelchair because you don’t want to have the cost of building a ramp.

    • Sean Edwards

      Pointed, but interesting comparison. Thanks for sharing.

    • Lisa DeGroff

      Also, as has been pointed out to me by a doctor friend of mine, the original Hippocratic Oath specifically forbade performing abortions.

  • Debra

    Logical argument, I would love to be pro-life, but no where do I see where the male impregnator is responsible for the life HE created. From the time I was 16 to 40 years old it was a constant daily/nightly barrage of men trying to force me to have sex with them. At some point your resistance is worn down. You may not be on birth control pills because of the blood clot/health risks. I was rarely ever able to find a man willing to use a condom. Been raped by acquaintances plenty of times. Who would care for the baby? I would have to have 2 full time jobs to support it. I have no money, my family does not have enough money to help with a child. Most Boys/Men don’t/won’t step up and be a father or provide support, why should only the woman suffer with the burden the rest of their lifes, and NOT the man???? Don’t tell me you can legally force a boy or a man to be a father. Millions WON’T do it!

    • Sean Edwards

      Debra, I am sorry for your struggles. There are no excuses, and those are really hard situations.

      If you accept the logical argument for being Pro-Life, then these situations don’t change anything. You can’t make a bad situation better by committing a wrong. Or, easier put, 2 wrongs don’t make a right.

      I say this with temperance. I am a man and have never had to worry about the situations you describe. I am also a man of logic, meaning a hard situation doesn’t change reality. It just makes it hard.

      4 + 4 cannot equal 10, no matter how unfairly the world treats us.

      Legally, there should be something that forces a father to help support the child. But isn’t that child support? I’m obviously very unfamiliar with this world.

      I know the problems you described are real. And they are hard. And they aren’t fair. But can we make it fair by aborting the child? Does that override the logic of being Pro-Life? If it does, then we should be allowed to kill any young child when life becomes really hard (for legitimate reasons). Can a mother kill her child if her husband leaves and she gets fired? The same rational argument applies to both scenarios.

      Thank you for sharing. This is a hard issue. There are no easy answers. And I appreciate your perspective.

    • Joy Metcalf

      At the risk of sounding unsympathetic, I must point out that you have described situations you put yourself into. Where did the constant “barrage of men” come from? How were they in a situation where they could put pressure on you? They rarely show up on your doorstep without invitation. IOW, women often set themselves up to be victimized.

      That does NOT relieve men of the responsibility of their actions. I quite agree with you that women should not be soley responsible for the consequences of sex. Knowing that it is so, though, is yet another reason for– dare I say it?–morality and even celibacy.

      • Sean Edwards

        Joy, I hesitated posting your comment because I didn’t want Debra to feel judged for anything that may have happened to her. Even though women can put themselves into dangerous situations, it is always the men who do the raping. It is never the woman’s fault. I don’t think you were saying that, Joy, but sometimes things can be misinterpreted.

        However, I still thought you had some good things to say. Thank you for sharing!

      • Joy Metcalf

        Sean, thank you for posting my comment. I have been where Debra is and I have suffered the consequences. Women must not buy into the “need a man” or “need to be loved” mentality, or we attract the kind of man that will pressure and even rape. It’s not an easy thing to recognize how we set ourselves up for abuse, but if we do it, our lives change for the better, the men we meet (not by looking for them!) turn out to be wonderful, kind, caring, and honest. It’s a long road, but worth every bit of effort.