As a follow-up to last
week’s post on the article
arguing that the unborn are human lives “worth sacrificing,” it’s important to
note that the latest tactic being used by pro-choicers is to equivocate on the
word “life”—using it to refer to both the mother’s lifesituation and the unborn
child’s life—in order to make it
appear as if the moral claim of the unborn (to live) is equal to the moral
claim of the mother (to have the life she wants).
I’ve noticed people making this move
lately—for example, this man from MSNBC:
“In some ways that choice [to abort my child] saved my life.” Well, no, it didn’t save his
life, he merely thinks it gave him a better life situation. But the same word “life” is used so that we’re left with the
impression that it was his life vs. his child’s life—that the moral claims of
both human beings were equally strong.
Of all the
diabolically clever moves the anti-choice lobby has ever pulled, surely one of
the greatest has been its consistent co-opting of the word “life”….
lives not just in the most medically literal way, but in the roads that women
who have choice then get to go down, in the possibilities for them and for
their families. And I would put the life of a mother over the life of a fetus
every single time — even if I still need to acknowledge my conviction that the
fetus is indeed a life. A life worth sacrificing.
She says she puts “the life of a mother
over the life of a fetus,” but she doesn’t mean that both the mother's and the child's literal lives are at stake, she simply uses the same word “life” to compare actual life
to “quality of life” in an attempt to equalize their moral claims in the mind of the
reader. What she’s actually saying is that she puts the mother’s option to save
money, or prevent difficulties, or simply to live the life she prefers, over
the literal life of another human being.
At first I thought it was just a coincidence that a few people happened to be using language that obscures the moral claims of the two parties (mother and
child), but then I came across another article
about how Planned Parenthood is leaving
behind the term “pro-choice” and trying to come up with something new:
It may be that a
change in language frees those who believe in an absolute right to abortion to
a more honest wrestling with the issue. Let’s
imagine a scenario in which we admit that abortions may involve an obliteration
of something that could legitimately be called lifebut that they are done to protect something that could also be called
life. Planned Parenthood is, after all, in the business of protecting
women’s lives, their futures, their ability to pursue education, to establish
security, to have homes filled with future children, and their freedom to
decide how best to use their short time on earth [emphasis mine].
So it’s deliberate.
What this shows is that we’ve made good
progress convincing people that unborn children are live human beings, and that
pro-choicers realize that our moral intuition, once we understand that the
unborn are live human beings, goes in favor of the unborn child. We know the moral
claims to “life” and “the life situation I want” aren’t equal, but if pro-choicers
consistently use the same word enough for both, maybe they can reshape our
Expect to see this rhetorical trick
more often, and challenge it when you hear it. Ask the person to define explicitly
what he or she means by “life” in the case of the mother and in the case of the
child, then examine whether or not those two rights claims are truly morally
Jay Wesley Richards explains why theistic evolution is an attempt to join incompatible ideas. The view requires redefining one of the terms, which fundamentally changes the terms.
Either God designs the details, or nature shuffles the deck and natural selection chooses the winning hand. The mechanism is either conscious and intentional (design), or unconscious and unintentional (natural selection). Creation is teleological; it has a purpose, a goal, an end. Evolution is accidental, like a straight flush dealt to a poker rookie.
Theistic evolution means design by chance. That’s like a square circle--there is no such thing. Blending Darwinian evolution with creation is like putting a square peg in a round hole. It just doesn’t fit
Here's a past issue of Solid Ground that goes into detail on the subject.
I’m currently in discussion with an atheist who is nice, but extremely prideful and condescending. Is it worth trying to engage someone in conversation who is civil but sees himself as infallible and makes assumptions about my intellect simply because I’m Christian?