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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A disingenuous argument



Reading this article at First Thoughts ... Why Animal Lovers Should Abhor Planned Parenthood. The writer tries to draw a comparison between the plight of animals and the plight of fetuses, especially after the release of the Planned Parenthood videos, and tells animal lovers they cannot also be pro-choice. I think the argument made is misleading. Here's a bit of this article ...

[...] So powerful are the videos that some people are already talking about them as a turning point in the public perception of abortion — as the pro-life movement’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin ....

I wonder whether those videos might reconfigure our moral landscape in one other way. For many years now, the similarities between the industrialized, cavalier trashing of human life and the industrialized, cavalier trashing of animal life have been plain for anyone to see — at least for people who could bear to look. No, I am not saying with PETA president Ingrid Newkirk that a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. I’m saying that visual evidence of the mistreatment of animals has changed society, its carnivores and its non-carnivores alike; that many more people than before want to disengage their consumer and other choices from animal suffering; and that maybe, just maybe, the Planned Parenthood footage will make other people out there think twice about the moral connection between born animals and unborn human beings.

For whatever those videos reveal of the inner workings of the abortion industry, they point as well to this related truth: Defending animal welfare while remaining adamantly pro-choice with respect to the abortion of human animals is not morally and intellectually sustainable. As an argument retaining any credibility, it’s over ...


Maybe I'm an anomaly among animal lovers, but I think the conclusion reached in this article is wrong. I do defend animal welfare but I am also pro-choice. Why? Because there are differences between animals and embryos/fetuses.

What motivates most animal lovers to defend animal welfare is the conviction that animals are in some sense "persons" capable of self-consciousness, thinking, feeling, relating to others, and of suffering. And I think this is why the pro-life argument to animal lovers is disingenuous .... Christians are usually pointing out the differences between animals and humans, always to animals' detriment (animals have no souls, only humans do, so it's ok to use animals for research, entertainment, food) and I doubt the writer would accept a turn-around of their thesis - that all pro-lifers must work for animal welfare. Pro-life people don't fight contraception and abortion because they believe embryos and fetuses are "persons" capable of self-consciousness, thinking, feeling, relating, or suffering, but because embryos and fetuses are human. The impetus behind the animal welfare movement and the pro-life movement is different.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Richard said...

I think the error comes in imagining the fetus as a being somehow independent of the woman; that the space defined by the womb is part of and connected to our shared community subject to its laws etc. For me, it seems like the most fundamental thing that we individually must have jurisdiction for things that happen beneath our skin, our personal biology. Unfortunately, this may be one of those human problems that takes centuries to fully resolve.

11:17 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Yeah, maybe someday technology will be able to solve this. I do see the similarity between two groups advocating for those who can't speak for themselves, but that similarity starts to break down the more closely you look. I think all the recent news and discussions about the PP videos - the lies and misrepresentations and moralizing - it's put me in a terrible mood about the whole subject, partly because I feel somewhat guilty, I guess, about being pro-choice. Grrrr.

12:36 PM  

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