Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Just In Case It Wasn't Clear, "Pro-Life" Means...

I saw this link posted to Facebook in a couple of places, so I followed it to see what the authors meant by 'pro-life' and hear what they had to say.  I clicked the link expecting to find an article on the old moral category confusion of abortion and capital punishment.  What I found was far less thoughtful.

Apparently the pro-life movement is a lie.  Their reasoning is curious in that they list absolutely no pro-life organizations and deliberately confuse what it means to be pro-life.  I would like to respond in three ways: first, I will accept their implicit premise and show them to be wrong, and second, I will deny their transparent attempt to redefine 'pro-life'.  And finally I want to deny a shocking association they make.

In the short post, the two Rabbis complain that if a person is to be truly pro-life, they will engage with the poor, hungry, and the needy.  They list a handful of organizations that appear to work with inner city youth, trying to better their circumstances.  The not-so-subtle jab is that people who traditionally call themselves pro-life don't do this, and they would only be genuinely pro-life if they did.

In short, they have no idea what they are talking about.  The inner cities of our nation and the world are filled with conservative 'pro-lifers' who do a lot of difficult and thankless work with the hardest cases imaginable.  To list them would be an embarrassment to the post's authors.  So, why didn't they know about these pro-lifers (who are conservative in their politics, and in many cases, Christian)?  It has been my observation that the deeper into Progressive/Liberal circles people are, the less informed they are about the non-Progressive world.  It is a strong tendency in the political and social left to act as if they are the only ones worth reading, listening to, and paying attention to.  As a result, they unwittingly but inevitably become low-information commentators on culture.  (This dynamic can be true of every social tribe, but in our current milieu it is especially true of them.)

Secondly, their implicit premise is that ‘pro-life’ is defined as something like, “those who help the needy and poor, especially the young.”  I do not see anything in their post that even hints at helping the weakest and most vulnerable among us - the unborn.  But this is a time-worn trick - overcome your interlocutor by misrepresenting and redefining her position in such a way that you can easily knock it down.  It is called the Straw Man Fallacy and is one of the most juvenile tricks in the book. The pro-life position begins with defending life in the womb, and anyone even remotely aware of the philosophical, cultural, and scientific debates over abortion would understand this to be the rightful and commonsensical understanding of the term.  To utterly ignore it is just silly.

And finally, they assert that pro-lifers ought to support Planned Parenthood.  If their assertion includes the belief that pro-lifers ought to support an organization that performs 300,000 abortions a year, then they have committed one of the most transparent contradictions possible.  If they are unaware that Planned Parenthood performs that many abortions a year, then they might need to either do their homework or simply observe the facts and change their minds.

In any event, the pro-life movement is alive and well, no matter what her detractors say.


Steve said...

Thanks Phil! Great thoughts!

Phil Steiger said...