Pro-life and pro-abortion advocates often have a arduous time getting anywhere in discussions with one another. Persons on either side of the debate have such deeply entrenched beliefs and are usually unwilling to critically examine the premises that their beliefs rest upon.
Anti-abortion activist sign is held aloft during a rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol on July 28, 2015 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
One way to promote progress in any discussion, I’ve discovered, is by posing the question, “What would it take for you to change your mind?”
This question is a quick and simple way to explore premises that beliefs are built upon and get to the heart of a disagreement. It can also serve as a takeoff point for further useful dialogue. With that in mind, I’d like to pose that question to persons on either side of the abortion debate.
What would it take for you to change your mind? If you are pro-life, what would it take for you to become pro-choice? If you are pro-choice, what would it take for you to become pro-life?
Stellar question, Cullen. How about you go first?
I am pro-life, all the time, in every case. Without exception. My belief that abortion is wrong rests on two logical premises. Consequently, you could convince me that abortion is okay by disproving either one of my premises. It’s logic 101. You don’t even have to disprove both of them, just one will suffice. In fact, my whole argument for why abortion is morally wrong would crumble to pieces if either of these premises were disproven.
Here are the two premises, and the conclusion, that my beliefs are built on:
1. Abortion takes the life of an innocent human being.
2. Taking the life of an innocent human being is wrong.
And, therefore, abortion is wrong.
In order to convince me that abortion is okay, you would have to demonstrate that abortion does not take the life of an innocent human being or that it is not objectively wrong to do so. To take it one step further and make it more specific, one would need to convince me that either the unborn baby is not a human being or that there is no God, and thus no objective truth and no objective right or wrong. As a side note, it’s possible that a person could not believe in God or objective truth and still believe abortion to be wrong. I believe a case can be made, but without objective truth, I would remain unconvinced.
First, if the unborn baby is not a human being, I would have no qualms with abortion. If it really were just a clump of cells in a qualitatively different way than you or I are clumps of cells, then no big deal. If it really is just a blob of non-human tissue, then who cares? But it is the fact that the unborn baby is a living, growing member of the human race, just like you and me, that makes abortion such an infringement on human rights. If it were not a human being, no such infringement would be taking place.
Second, if there were no God, there would be no objective truth. There could be no objective standard by which we measure morality. There would be no Supreme Good by which we measure good and evil. Everything would be relative, and at that point, I would have no problem with abortion. Even if I did personally oppose it, I would see no way for me to justify trying to convince others to agree with me. Of course, I would also no longer have a problem with burglary, drug trafficking, dishonest corruption, or a host of other behaviors which are only morally abhorrent when measured against an objective standard of right and wrong.
Some persons might here point to the idea of a common good. But even the idea of a common good is derived from the notion that there is such a thing as goodness in the first place, though they would here claim that it has been established by man. But as it stands, God is Supreme Goodness and without Him, there could be no standard of goodness, no virtue, and no objective truth.
If this were the case, I would have no logical choice but to be okay with abortion. It would still be an infringement on the lives of other human beings, but I would be unable to call it objectively wrong if I were living in a world where God and objective truth had been absolutely disproven to me.
Again, only one of these needs to be disproven to crumble my logic. If there is a God, but the unborn is not a human being, I’m okay with abortion. If the unborn child is a human being, but there is no God and thus no objective truth, morality is relative and I would be unable to say that abortion is absolutely wrong.
So that’s my answer for what it would take to get me to change my mind. What’s yours? If you are pro-life, what would it take for you to become pro-choice? If you are pro-choice, or pro-abortion, what would it take for you to become pro-life? Or are you beliefs so deeply entrenched that you would never, under any circumstances, change your mind?
Cullen Herout is a pro-life, pro-family writer. He has a passion for writing about life issues, Marriage, fatherhood, and creating a culture of life. Follow him on Facebook here or at his own blog, Ready To Stand.
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