Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Anti-Choice Logic 101 - Abortion is Gross! Make it Illegal!

One of the things you often hear from anti-choicers when questioned about their use of grotesque photographs in attempting to shock people into believing as they do (rather than, say, using reason), is that abortion really is grotesque. That's what these people have to say in response to this challenge (note also the incoherence of what the latter commenter has to say. Why did they even publish that?) If you see what an abortion is, you’ll know it’s wrong. This is an argument, of sorts, and the argument is “This shocks your sensibilities, therefore it is wrong and should be illegal.”

Well, let’s get this straight. First, many of the pictures that are commonly used are misleading on their own. But even if they were pictures of what they purported to be, you’re arguing that we ought to ban all abortions because some of them are gross. And there are two things wrong with this argument. First, not all abortions are as grotesque or as shocking to our sensibilities as the pictures that anti-choicers favor. According to Guttmacher, 89% of abortions occur in the first trimester, and nearly 2/3 are performed before 9 weeks. Those abortion photos (when accurate) wouldn’t look anything like the anti-choice poster boy, Baby Malachi.

But the photos may still be disturbing. And this leads us to the other fault in using such photos as evidence that abortion should be illegal. There are lots of things that would really gross us out if we saw pictures of them. Don’t believe me? Try this one on for size (warning: you will likely be grossed out). Don’t you think that what happened to that poor sweet baby should be illegal? Isn't that just disgusting? Or how about this (again, warning). Looks an awful lot like some of the abortion photos, doesn’t it? In a way, it is an abortion photo. Note the little hand, almost gripping onto the forceps, and the hair just starting to grow on its little contorted head. Its life was ended prematurely, as it was ripped from that which sustained it. Shouldn’t that disgusting procedure be illegal too?

Well, the first image is a harlequin baby. Nature did that, terrible as it is. The second is actually an embryo that, through one of nature’s weird flukes, became a tumor. It’s a teratoma. It’s a twin, if you will, that failed to develop in utero, was absorbed by its sibling, and then spontaneously began to grow later. Its removal was not necessarily required to save the life of the host, but would you really want that thing growing inside you?

So what’s upshot of all this? The fact that something is disgusting, or really makes your stomach turn, or whatever, isn’t reason to make it illegal. This is the most common “argument” made by anti-choicers. And it’s completely fallacious.

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