Answering the Arguments for Abortion Rights
Part Two: Arguments from Pity, Tolerance, and Ad Hominem
by Francis J. Beckwith
In the first installment of this four-part series we examined a number of
arguments for abortion rights which can be classified as appeals to pity.
In this article I will present and critique more appeals to pity, along with
two additional kinds of argument: appeals to tolerance and ad hominem
(literally, "against the person"). Of course, not every defender of abortion
rights holds to all or any of the arguments presented in this article. But
the truth of the matter is that a vast majority do defend at least some of
these arguments. For this reason, the following critique should prove
helpful to those interested in providing reasoned answers, rather than
inflammatory rhetoric, to the arguments put forth by the abortion rights
ARGUMENTS FROM PITY
Argument from Rape and Incest
A woman who becomes pregnant due to an act of either rape or incest is
the victim of a horribly violent and morally reprehensible crime. Although
pregnancy as a result of either rape or incest is extremely rare, there is
no getting around the fact that pregnancy does occur in some instances.
Bioethicist Andrew Varga summarizes the argument from rape and incest
in the following way:
It is argued that in these tragic cases the great value of the mental
health of a woman who becomes pregnant as a result of rape or
incest can best be safe-guarded by abortion. It is also said that a
pregnancy caused by rape or incest is the result of a grave injustice
and that the victim should not be obliged to carry the fetus to
viability. This would keep reminding her for nine months of the
violence committed against her and would just increase her mental
anguish. It is reasoned that the value of the woman's mental health
is greater than the value of the fetus. In addition, it is maintained
that the fetus is an aggressor against the woman's integrity and
personal life; it is only just and morally defensible to repel an
aggressor even by killing him if that is the only way to defend
personal and human values. It is concluded, then, that abortion is
justified in these cases.
Despite its forceful appeal to our sympathies, there are several problems
with this argument. First, it is not relevant to the case for abortion on
demand, the position defended by the popular pro-choice movement. This
position states that a woman has a right to have an abortion for any
reason she prefers during the entire nine months of pregnancy, whether it
be for gender-selection, convenience, or rape. To argue for abortion on
demand from the hard cases of rape and incest is like trying to argue for
the elimination of traffic laws from the fact that one might have to violate
some of them in rare circumstances, such as when one's spouse or child
needs to be rushed to the hospital. Proving an exception does not
establish a general rule.
Second, since conception does not occur immediately following intercourse,
pregnancy can be eliminated in all rape cases if the rape victim receives
immediate medical treatment by having all the male semen removed from
Third, the unborn entity is not an aggressor when its presence does not
endanger its mother's life (as in the case of a tubal pregnancy). It is the
rapist who is the aggressor. The unborn entity is just as much an innocent
victim as its mother. Hence, abortion cannot be justified on the basis that
the unborn is an aggressor.
Fourth, this argument begs the question by assuming that the unborn is
not fully human. For if the unborn is fully human, then we must weigh the
relieving of the woman's mental suffering against the right-to-life of an
innocent human being. And homicide of another is never justified to
relieve one of emotional distress. Although such a judgment is indeed
anguishing, we must not forget that the same innocent unborn entity that
the career-oriented woman will abort in order to avoid interference with a
job promotion is biologically and morally indistinguishable from the unborn
entity that results from an act of rape or incest. And since abortion for
career advancement cannot be justified if the unborn entity is fully human,
abortion cannot be justified in the cases of rape and incest. In both cases
abortion results in the death of an innocent human life. As Dr. Bernard
Nathanson has written, "The unwanted pregnancy flows biologically from
the sexual act, but not morally from it." Hence, this argument, like the
ones we have already covered in this series, is successful only if the
unborn are not fully human.
Some pro-choice advocates claim that the pro-lifer lacks compassion, since
the pro-lifer's position on rape and incest forces a woman to carry her baby
against her will. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is the rapist
who has already forced this woman to carry a child, not the pro-lifer. The
pro-life advocate merely wants to prevent another innocent human being
(the unborn entity) from being the victim of a violent and morally
reprehensible act (abortion), for two wrongs do not make a right. As
theologian and ethicist Dr. Michael Bauman has observed: "A child does
not lose its right to life simply because its father or its mother was a
sexual criminal or a deviant."
Furthermore, the anguish and psychic suffering caused by rape and incest
has been treated quite effectively. Professor Stephen Krason points out
that "psychological studies have shown that, when given the proper
support, most pregnant rape victims progressively change their attitudes
about their unborn child from something repulsive to someone who is
innocent and uniquely worthwhile." The pro-life advocate believes that
help should be given to the rape victim "to make it as easy as possible for
her to give up her baby for adoption, if she desires. Dealing with the
woman pregnant from rape, then, can be an opportunity for us -- both as
individuals and society -- to develop true understanding and charity. Is it
not better to try to develop these virtues than to countenance an ethic of
destruction as the solution?"
Argument from the Unwanted Child
It is argued by many people in the pro-choice movement that legal
abortion helps eliminate unwanted children. They believe that unwanted
children are indirectly responsible for a great number of family problems,
such as child abuse. Hence, if a family can have the "correct" amount of
children at the "proper" times, then these family problems will be greatly
reduced, if not eliminated. Once again, we find several serious
problems with the pro-choice argument.
First, the argument begs the question, because only by assuming that the
unborn are not fully human does this argument work. For if the unborn are
fully human, like the abused young children which we readily admit are
fully human, then to execute the unborn is the worst sort of child abuse
Second, it is very difficult to demonstrate that the moral and metaphysical
value of a human being is dependent on whether someone wants or cares
for that human being. For example, no one disputes that the homeless
have value even though they are for the most part unwanted. Now,
suppose the pro-choice advocate responds to this by saying, "But you are
treating the unborn as if they were as human as the homeless." This is
exactly my point. The question is not whether the unborn are wanted; the
question is whether the unborn are fully human.
Third, an unwanted child almost never turns out to be a resented baby.
This seems to be borne out statistically: (1) there is no solid evidence
that a child's being unwanted during pregnancy produces child abuse; (2)
according to one study, 90% of battered children were wanted
pregnancies; and (3) some writers have argued that there is a higher
frequency of abuse among adopted children -- who were undoubtedly
wanted by their adoptee parents -- than among those who are
unadopted. In his voluminous and scholarly study on the moral,
political, and constitutional aspects of the abortion issue, Professor Krason
summarizes his findings concerning the argument from unwantedness by
pointing out that "the factors causing child abuse cited most frequently by
the researches are not 'unwantedness,' but parents' lack of social support
from family, friends and community, hostility to them by society, based on
a disapproved sexual and social pattern of existence, and -- most
commonly -- their having been abused and neglected themselves when
they were children."
Fourth, the unwantedness of children in general tells us a great deal about
our psychological and moral make-up as a people, but very little about the
value of the child involved. For it is only a self-centered, hedonistic people
who do not consider it their self-evident obligation to care for the most
vulnerable and defenseless members of the human race. A lack of caring is
a flaw in the one who ought to care, not in the person who ought to be
cared for. Hence, whether or not abortion is morally justified depends on
whether the unborn are fully human, not on their wantedness.
ARGUMENTS FROM TOLERANCE
Many people in the abortion rights movement argue that their position is
more tolerant than the pro-life position. After all, they reason, the
abortion rights movement is not forcing pro-life women to have abortions,
but the pro-life movement is trying to deny all women the option to make
a choice. There are basically five arguments which the abortion rights
advocate uses in order to articulate this position.
Argument from Pluralism
It is sometimes argued that the question of when protectable human life
begins is a personal religious question that one must answer for oneself.
Justice Blackmun writes in Roe v. Wade, "We need not resolve the
difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective
disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at
any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man's
knowledge, is not in a position to speculate." Hence, the state should
not take one theory of life and force those who do not agree with that
theory to subscribe to it, which is the reason why Blackmun writes in Roe,
"In view of all this, we do not agree that, by adopting one theory of life,
Texas may override the rights of the pregnant woman that are at
In his dissenting opinion in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services
(1989), Justice Stevens goes even further than Blackmun: "The Missouri
Legislature [which said that life begins at conception] may not inject its
endorsement of a particular religious tradition in this debate, for 'the
Establishment Clause does not allow public bodies to foment such
disagreement.'" Thus the pro-life proposal that pro-choice women be
prohibited from having abortions on the basis that individual human life
begins at conception is viewed, not only as a violation of their right to
privacy, but as a violation of the separation of church and state as well.
Such a separation is supposedly necessary to sustain tolerance in a
pluralistic society. As pro-choice advocate Virginia Mollenkott argues,
"Women who believe that abortion is murder may never justly be required
to have an abortion." Put in the words of a recent bumper-sticker:
"Don't like abortion, don't have one."
There are several problems with this argument. First, it is self-refuting and
question-begging. To claim, as Justices Blackmun and Stevens do, that the
Court should not propose one theory of life over another, and that the
decision should be left up to each individual pregnant woman as to when
protectable human life begins, is to propose a theory of life which hardly
has a clear consensus in this country. That is, it proposes the theory
that the personhood of the unborn child depends on the point of view of
the mother -- if she thinks it is fully human, then it is, and if she thinks it
is not fully human, then it is not. This is a theory of life held by a number
of religious denominations and groups, whose amicus briefs Stevens oddly
enough (since he's concerned about not injecting religious traditions into
the debate) cites in a footnote in his Webster dissent. Hence, in
attempting not to propose one theory of life, Blackmun and Stevens in fact
assume a particular theory of life, and by doing so clearly beg the
question and show that their opinions cannot abide by their own standard
of not proposing one theory of life.
Second, the fact that a particular theory of life is consistent with a
religious view does not mean that it is exclusively religious or that it is in
violation of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. For example,
many pro-life advocates argue for their position by emphasizing that there
is nontheological support for their position, while many pro-choice
advocates, such as Mollenkott, argue that their position is
theologically grounded in the Bible. Hence, just because a philosophically
and scientifically plausible position may also be found in religious
literature such as the Bible, that does not mean such a view is exclusively
"religious." If it did, then our society would have to dispense with laws
forbidding such crimes as murder and robbery simply because such actions
are prohibited in the Hebrew-Christian Scriptures. Furthermore, some
public policies -- such as civil rights legislation and elimination of nuclear
testing -- which are supported by many clergymen who find these policies
in agreement with and supported by their doctrinal beliefs, would have to
be abolished simply because they are believed by some to be supported by
a particular religious theory of life. Hence, the pro-life position is a
legitimate public policy option and does not violate the Establishment
Clause of the Constitution.
Third, in claiming that "women who believe that abortion is murder may
never justly be required to have an abortion" but they shouldn't force their
pro-life beliefs on pro-choice women, Mollenkott is asking the pro-life
advocate to act as if the pro-life view of human life were incorrect.
Mollenkott is also demanding that the pro-lifer accept the pro-choice view
of what constitutes a just society. I believe that this is asking much too
much of the pro-life movement. Philosopher George Mavrodes drives home
this point in the following story:
Let us imagine a person who believes that Jews are human persons,
and that the extermination of Jews is murder. Many of us will find
that exercise fairly easy, because we are people of that sort
ourselves. So we may as well take ourselves to be the people in
question. And let us now go on to imagine that we live in a society
in which the "termination" of Jews is an every-day routine procedure,
a society in which public facilities are provided in every community
for this operation, and one in which any citizen is free to identify and
denounce Jews and to arrange for their arrest and termination. In
that imaginary society, many of us will know people who have
themselves participated in these procedures, many of us will drive
past the termination centers daily on our way to work, we can often
see the smoke rising gently in the late afternoon sky, and so on. And
now imagine that someone tells us that if we happen to believe that
Jews are human beings then that's O.K., we needn't fear any
coercion, nobody requires us to participate in the termination
procedure ourselves. We need not work in the gas chamber, we don't
have to denounce a Jew, and so on. We can simply mind our own
business, walk quietly past the well-trimmed lawns, and (of course)
pay our taxes.
Can we get some feel for what it would be like to live in that
context?...And maybe we can then have some understanding of why they
[the right-to-lifers] are unlikely to be satisfied by being told that they
don't have to get abortions themselves.
Since Mollenkott is asking pro-life advocates to act as if their fundamental
view of human life is false, pro-life advocates may legitimately view
Mollenkott's position as a subtle and patronizing form of intolerance.
Argument from Imposing Morality
There is a more popular variation of the above argument. Some abortion-rights advocates argue that it is simply wrong for anyone to "force" his or
her own view of what is morally right on someone else. Consequently, they
argue that pro-lifers, by attempting to forbid women from having
abortions, are trying to force their morality on others. There are at least
three problems with this argument.
First, it does not seem obvious that it is always wrong to impose one's
morality on others. For instance, laws against drunk driving, murder,
smoking crack, robbery, and child molestation are all intended to impose a
particular moral perspective on the free moral agency of others. Such laws
are instituted because the acts they are intended to prevent often obstruct
the free agency of other persons; for example, a person killed by a drunk
driver is prevented from exercising his free agency. These laws seek to
maintain a just and orderly society by limiting some free moral agency
(e.g., choices that result in drunk driving, murder, etc.) so that in the long
run free moral agency is increased for a greater number (e.g., less people
will be killed by drunk drivers and murderers, and hence there will be a
greater number who will be able to act as free moral agents). Therefore, a
law forbidding abortion would unjustly impose one's morality upon another
only if the act of abortion does not limit the free agency of another. That
is to say, if the unborn entity is fully human, forbidding abortions would be
perfectly just, since abortion, by killing the unborn human, limits the free
agency of another. Once again, unless the pro-choice advocate assumes
that the unborn are not fully human, his or her argument is not successful.
Although it does not seriously damage their entire position, it is
interesting to note that many abortion-rights advocates do not hesitate to
impose their moral perspective on others when they call for the use of
other people's tax dollars (many of whom do not approve of this use of
funds) to help pay for the abortions of poor women.
Argument Against a Public Policy Forbidding Abortion
There is another variation on the first argument from pluralism. Some
people argue that it is not wise to make a public policy decision in one
direction when there is wide diversity of opinion within society. This
argument can be outlined in the following way:
(1) There can never be a just law requiring uniformity of behavior on
any issue on which there is widespread disagreement.
(2) There is widespread disagreement on the issue of forbidding
abortion on demand.
(3) Therefore, any law that forbids people to have abortions is
One way to show that this argument is wrong is to show that premise (1)
is false. There are several reasons to believe that it is. First, if premise
(1) were true, then the pro-choice advocate would have to admit that the
United States Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, was an unjust
decision, since the court ruled that the states which make up the United
States, whose statutes prior to the ruling disagreed on the abortion issue,
must behave uniformly in accordance with the Court's decision. But since
the pro-choicer denies that Roe was an unjust decision, he or she must
also concede that it is false to hold that "there can never be a just law
requiring uniformity of behavior on any issue on which there is widespread
Second, if premise (1) were true, then the abolition of slavery would have
to be regarded as unjust, because there was widespread disagreement of
opinion among Americans in the nineteenth century. Yet no pro-choicer
would say that slavery should have remained as an institution. Third, if
premise (1) were true, then much of civil rights legislation, about which
there was much disagreement, would be unjust. Fourth, if premise (1)
were true, then a favorite pro-choice public policy proposal would also be
unjust. Many pro-choicers believe that the federal government should use
the tax dollars of the American people to fund the abortions of poor
women. There are large numbers of Americans, however (some of whom
are pro-choice), who do not want their tax dollars used in this way. And
fifth, if premise (1) were true, then laws forbidding pro-life advocates
(e.g., Operation Rescue) from preventing abortions would be unjust. One
cannot deny that there is widespread disagreement concerning this issue.
But these are the very laws which the pro-choicer supports. Hence, his or
her argument is self-refuting.
Another way to show that this argument is not successful is to challenge
the second premise and show that there is not widespread disagreement
on the question of whether abortion on demand should be forbidden.
Recent polls have shown that a great majority of Americans, although
supporting a woman's right to an abortion in the rare "hard cases" (such as
rape, incest, and severe fetal deformity), do not support the pro-choice
position of abortion on demand. In other words, they do not agree that
abortion should remain legal during the entire nine months of pregnancy
for any reason the woman deems fit.
Argument from the Impossibility of Legally Stopping Abortion
Maybe the defender of the above argument is making the more subtle
point that because there is widespread disagreement on the abortion
issue, enforcement of any laws prohibiting abortion would be difficult. In
other words, abortions are going to happen anyway, so we ought to make
them safe and legal. This argument also is subject to several criticisms.
First, it totally begs the question, because it assumes that the unborn are
not fully human. If the unborn are fully human, this argument is
tantamount to saying that, since people will murder other people anyway,
we ought to make it safe and legal for them to do so. But murder is never
justified, even if there are social difficulties in forbidding it.
Second, since the vast majority of Americans are law-abiding citizens, they
will probably obey the law as they did prior to Roe v. Wade. "A
reasonable estimate for the actual number of criminal abortions per year in
the prelegalization era [prior to 1967] would be from a low of 39,000
(1950) to a high of 210,000 (1961) and a mean of 98,000 per year."
Contrasting this with the fact that there have been an average of 1.5
million abortions per year since 1973, one can only conclude that the pre-Roe anti-abortion laws were quite effective in limiting the number of
abortions. Now if the pro-choice advocate claims that a law cannot stop all
abortions, he or she makes a trivial claim, for this is true of all laws which
forbid illegal acts. For example, even though both hiring paid assassins
and purchasing child pornography are illegal, some people remain
undaunted and pursue them illegally. But there is no doubt that their
illegality does hinder a vast number of citizens from obtaining them.
Should we then legalize child pornography and the hit-man profession
because we can't stop all people from obtaining such "goods" and
"services"? Such reasoning is absurd.
Argument from a Woman's Right to Control Her Own Body
An extremely popular argument asserts that because a woman has a right
to control her own body, she therefore has a right to undergo an abortion
for any reason she deems fit. Although it is not obvious that either the law
or sound ethical reasoning supports such a strong view of personal
autonomy (e.g., laws against prostitution and suicide), this pro-choice
argument still logically fails even if we hypothetically grant that its strong
view of personal autonomy is correct.
The unborn entity within the pregnant woman's body is not part of her
body. The conceptus is a genetically distinct entity with its own unique
and individual gender, blood type, bone-structure, and genetic code.
Although the unborn entity is attached to its mother, it is not part of her.
To say that the unborn entity is part of its mother is to claim that the
mother possesses four legs, two heads, two noses, and -- with the case of
a male conceptus -- a penis and two testicles. Furthermore, since
scientists have been able to achieve conception in a petri dish in the case
of the "test-tube" baby, and this conceptus if it has white parents can be
transferred to the body of a black woman and be born white, we know
conclusively that the unborn is not part of the pregnant woman's body.
Certainly a woman has a right to control her own body, but the unborn
entity, though for a time living inside her body, is not part of her body.
Hence, abortion is not justified, since no one's right to personal autonomy
is so strong that it permits the arbitrary execution of others. In this
respect this argument also begs the question, because it assumes that
the unborn are not fully human.
ARGUMENTS AD HOMINEM
"Ad hominem" literally means to "attack the man" (or person). Therefore,
"to attack ad hominem is to attack the man who presents an argument
rather than the argument itself." Instead of dealing with what a
person is actually saying, one attacks the person. This is a bad form of
reasoning because it ultimately does not refute the person's argument.
Hence, when the abortion rights advocate judges, ridicules, insults, or
slanders the pro-lifer as a person, he or she does not attack the
arguments for the pro-life position.
Why Don't Pro-lifers Adopt the Babies They Don't Want Aborted?
One common ad hominem argument can be distilled into the following
assertion: Unless the pro-life advocate is willing to help bring up the
children he or she does not want aborted, he or she has no right to
prevent a woman from having an abortion. As a principle of moral action,
this seems to be a rather bizarre assertion. For one reason, it begs the
question by assuming that the unborn are not fully human. Wouldn't these
same pro-choicers consider the murder of a couple's children unjustified
even if they were approached by the parents with the following
proposition: "Unless you adopt my three children by noon tomorrow, I will
put them to death."? Clearly, if these pro-choicers refused to adopt these
children it would not justify their parents in killing them. Hence, it all
depends on whether the unborn are fully human.
Second, think of all the unusual precepts that could be fairly derived from
such a moral principle: unless I am willing to marry my neighbor's wife, I
cannot prevent her husband from beating her; unless I am willing to adopt
my neighbor's daughter, I cannot prevent her mother from abusing her;
unless I am willing to hire ex-slaves for my business, I cannot say that
the slave-owner should not own slaves. Now, I believe that the pro-life
movement as a whole does have a moral obligation to help those in need,
especially unwed mothers (and there are enough organizations dedicated
to this task to show that the pro-lifers do practice what they preach).
But it does not logically follow from this moral obligation that abortion
automatically becomes a moral good simply because individual pro-life
advocates are not currently involved in such a cause.
Aren't Pro-lifers Inconsistent if They Support Capital Punishment?
Some pro-choice (and even pro-life) advocates have pointed out that some
people who believe in capital punishment are also pro-life on the abortion
issue. And since capital punishment entails the killing of another human
being, these pro-lifers are inconsistent. Some people assume that this
inconsistency makes the pro-life position on abortion incorrect. There are
several reasons why this belief cannot be justified.
First, how does this help the pro-choice position or hurt the pro-life
position on abortion? Wouldn't this argument make people who are
against capital punishment and for pro-choice equally inconsistent?
Second, inconsistent people can draw good conclusions. For example, an
Irish terrorist may inconsistently believe that it is all right to murder
Catholics and not Protestants. But this inconsistency in his thinking would
not make his correct conclusion about the wrongness of murdering
Protestants automatically incorrect. Hence, this argument is a red-herring
and does not deal with the ethical legitimacy of the pro-life position.
Third, there are a number of pro-life advocates who do not believe that
capital punishment is morally justified. The pro-choice advocate can't
say that these pro-lifers are inconsistent. Why does he (or she) not then
give up the pro-choice position and embrace this pro-life position, since it
should seem to him even more consistent than the anti-capital
punishment pro-choice position?
Fourth, I believe that one can plausibly argue that the pro-life position on
abortion is consistent with capital punishment. Pro-life advocates, for the
most part, do not argue that killing is never justified, for many believe
that there are legitimate instances in which killing is justified, such as in
the cases of self-defense and capital punishment, both of which do not
entail the killing of an innocent human life. Abortion does entail such
killing. Hence, the pro-life advocate who believes in capital punishment is
saying, "It is wrong to take the life of an innocent human being, but the
capital offender is not innocent. Therefore, capital punishment is morally
justified." Although I have not made up my own mind on the issue of
capital punishment, I do not believe it is logically inconsistent with the
In summary, like the previous argument, this one is a blatant example of
the ad hominem fallacy, since it is a direct attack upon the character of
the pro-life advocate. Instead of dealing with the pro-lifer's arguments
against abortion, the pro-choice advocate attacks the pro-lifer.
Men Don't Get Pregnant
This argument is so silly that I fear by acknowledging it I may be giving it
undeserved credibility. But since I hear it so frequently in the media, I
think it ought to be answered. I was confronted with this argument in a
debate at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (December 4, 1989). One of
the debate participants, Social Work professor Dr. Esther Langston of
UNLV, told the audience that she thought that it was rather strange that
two men (myself and my debate partner, Mr. David Day) were arguing
against abortion. After all, men don't get pregnant; abortion is a women's
I responded to Professor Langston by pointing out that arguments don't
have genders, people do. Since many pro-life women use the same
arguments as we did in the debate, it was incumbent upon her to answer
our arguments, which stand or fall apart from our genitalia. I pointed out
that since she could not argue the same way if a woman were putting
forth our arguments, therefore, our gender is totally irrelevant to whether
the pro-life position is correct. In a subtle and clever way she dodged our
arguments and attacked us -- a clear case of the ad hominem fallacy.
Second, on the same rationale, Professor Langston would have to reject
the Roe v. Wade decision, since it was arrived at by nine men (7-2).
Third, abortion is a human issue, not just a women's issue, for it has
consequences for everybody in society. It is in part from men's salaries
that tax dollars are taken to fund abortions; it is men who must help in
child-rearing or pay child support if the mother chooses not to abort; and
it is the man's seed which is one of the material causes (along with the
female's ovum) of the unborn's being (there has been only one known
Fourth, the appeal to the pregnant woman's personal involvement can be
used as a two-edged sword. Could not someone argue that since men
don't get pregnant, and hence are less tainted by personal involvement,
their opinion concerning the morality of abortion is more objective?
1 Concerning this, Dr. Stephen Krason writes: "A number of studies have
shown that pregnancy resulting from rape is very uncommon. One, looking
at 2190 victims, reported pregnancy in only 0.6 percent." (Abortion:
Politics, Morality, and the Constitution [Lanham, MD: University Press of
America, 1984], 283.)
2 See Andrew Varga, The Main Issues in Bioethics, rev. ed. (New York:
Paulist Press, 1984), 67-68. Varga himself, however, does not believe that
abortion is morally justified in the cases of rape and incest.
3 On the fact that abortion on demand is legal in America, see Part One of
this series in the previous (Fall 1990) CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL.
4 See the results of studies of 4,800 victims of rape in the St. Paul-Minneapolis area, as cited in John F. Hillabrand, "Dealing With a Rape
Case," Heartbeat 8 (March 1975):250.
5 Bernard Nathanson, M.D., Aborting America (New York: Doubleday,
6 Michael Bauman, "Verbal Plunder: Combatting the Feminist
Encroachment on the Language of Religion and Morality," paper presented
at the 42d annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, New
Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, New Orleans, Louisiana, Nov. 15-17,
7 Krason, 284. For an overview of the research, see Sandra Kathleen
Mahkorn, "Pregnancy and Sexual Assault," in David Mall and Walter F.
Watts, M.D., The Psychological Aspects of Abortion (Washington, D.C.:
University Publications of America, 1979), 67-68.
8 Krason, 284.
9 See the arguments in the Planned Parenthood Federation of America
brief (for Roe v. Wade), as cited in Krason, Abortion, 315-19.
10 E. F. Lenoski, M.D., "Translating Injury Data into Preventative Health
Care Services," University of Southern California Medical School,
unpublished, 1976, as cited in Krason, Abortion, 320.
11 See B. D. Schmitt and C. H. Kempe, Child Abuse: Management and
Prevention of the Battered Child Syndrome (Basle: Ciba-Geigy, 1975).
12 Krason, 320. See Rosemary S. Hunter, M.D., et. al., "Antecedents of
Child Abuse and Neglect in Premature Infants: A Prospective Study in a
Newborn Intensive Care Unit," in Pediatrics 61 (1978):629, 634; Vincent J.
Fontana, M.D., and Douglas J. Besharov, The Maltreated Child, 4th ed.
(Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas, 1979), 12-13, 27; Richard Gelles, "A
Profile of Violence Toward Children in the United States," in Child Abuse:
An Agenda for Action, eds. George Gebner, Catherine J. Ross, and Edward
Ziegler (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), 102-3.
13 Justice Harry Blackmun, "The 1973 Supreme Court Decisions on State
Abortion Laws: Excerpts from Opinion in Roe v. Wade," in The Problem of
Abortion, 2d ed., ed. Joel Feinberg (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1984), 195.
14 Ibid., 196.
15 "Webster v. Reproductive Health Services," United States Law Review
57 (22 July 1989): 5044-45.
16 Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, "Reproductive Choice: Basic to Justice for
Women," Christian Scholar's Review 17 (March 1988):291.
17 See the results of The Boston Globe/WBZ-TV nationwide poll recently
published in the Globe, which concluded that "most Americans would ban
the vast majority of abortions performed in this country....While 78
percent of the nation would keep abortion legal in limited circumstances,
according to the poll, these circumstances account for a tiny percentage of
the reasons cited by women having abortions." (Ethan Bronner, "Most in
US Favor Ban on Majority of Abortions, Poll Finds," The Boston Globe, 31
March 1989, 1, 12.)
18 Webster, 5044, footnote 16.
19 See especially the nontheological defense of the pro-life position by
former abortion-rights activist Bernard Nathanson, M.D. (Aborting
20 See Mollenkott.
21 George Mavrodes, "Abortion and Imagination: Reflections on
Mollenkott's 'Reproductive Choice,'" Christian Scholar's Review 18 (Dec.
22 Bronner, 1, 12.
23 Barbara J. Syska, Thomas W. Hilgers, M.D., and Dennis O'Hare, "An
Objective Model for Estimating Criminal Abortions and Its Implications for
Public Policy," in New Perspectives on Human Abortion, eds. Thomas
Hilgers, M.D., Dennis J. Horan, and David Mall (Frederick, MD: University
Publications of America, 1981), 178. For a summary of the scholarly
dispute over the prelegalization statistics, see Daniel Callahan, Abortion:
Law, Choice and Morality (New York: Macmillan, 1970), 132-36; and
Krason, Abortion, 301-10.
24 For more on prenatal development and the scientific evidence of the
unborn's humanness, see Part Three in this series in the (forthcoming)
Spring 1991 issue of the CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL.
25 Nicholas Capaldi, The Art of Deception: An Introduction to Critical
Thinking, rev. ed. (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1987), 92.
26 Among the many organizations which help unwed mothers and women
in crisis pregnancies are Crisis Pregnancy Centers (branches are found in
many cities across North America), Pregnancy Crisis Center (Virginia), and
Bethany Lifeline (1-800-234-4269). See also the interview of the
administrator of an Assembly of God adoption agency in "Alternative to
Abortion," Pentecostal Evangel (11 Feb. 1990), 14-15.
27 For example, see Ron Sider, Completely Pro-Life: Building a
Consistent Stance (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1987).
Note from Faith & Reason Forum: Frank Beckwith is a visiting professor at
Princeton. In 2004 he will be at Baylor University as Associate Professor of
Church-State Studies, and Associate Director of the J.M. Dawson Institute for
Taken from the Christian Research Journal, Winter 1991, page 27. Copyright © 1994 by the
Christian Research Institute, P.O. Box 7000, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688-7000. The Editor-in-Chief of the Christian Research Journal is Elliot Miller. Faith and Reason Forum would like to
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End of document, CRJ0181A.TXT (original CRI file name), "Answering the Arguments for Abortion
Rights. Part Two: Arguments from Pity, Tolerance, and Ad Hominem" release A, September 30,
1994. R. Poll, CRI Part of a series, this article was later revised, expanded and incorporated into
the book Politically Correct Death: Answering The Arguments For Abortion Rights (Baker Book
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