Not all arguments against abortion are created equal. Some arguments leave you in awe of their remarkable forcefulness, cogency, and self-evident truth. Others just make you cringe when you come across them. Below, in no particular order, I’ve cataloged a few that I could do with never seeing again.
You had a choice… when you had sex.
This is my all-time least favorite. It fails on quite a number of levels. Off the top of my head…
- It implies that abortion is permissible if the pregnancy resulted from rape.
- Often, the “choice” made to have sex involves the usage one or more methods of contraception. Here, the woman has already made a choice not to have a baby. She only resorts to abortion because her original “choice” was frustrated by contraceptive failure.
- Under the logic of the slogan, it would not be wrong to make treatment for venereal diseases illegal, because the woman already had a “choice.”
- It’s a needless distraction from the central issue of life. Even if all pregnancies occurred spontaneously, without any maternal choice, abortion would still be wrong.
- It has the effect of making pregnancy seem like a ‘punishment,’ for women who do not make the “choice” to have sex wisely.
- It ignores that abortion is often chosen for reasons that could not have possibly have been anticipated at the time of conception (e.g. a diagnosis of Down syndrome).
Look at this “hypothetical” scenario, and decide if the mother should have an abortion… you would have killed Beethoven/Obama/[whoever]!
This rhetorical trick does make a good point – that there are undoubtedly great men and women that the world has never known due to abortion – but ultimately raises too many questions to be useful. What if Hitler/Bin Laden/[whoever] had been aborted? What about the vast number of aborted fetuses who would have spent their lives trapped in the poverty they were born into? What about the great men and women who never existed because their would-be parents decided not to have sex on the night when they would have been conceived?
Margaret Sanger was a huge racist, and eugenics fanatic.
Yeah, she was. So were a lot of people who lived during the same era. Eugenics and virulent racism were pretty trendy back then. But that doesn’t really have much to do with Planned Parenthood as it exists today. This is like pointing out that George Washington owned slaves, and using that to discredit present day United States of America.
Abortion stops a beating heart/the fetus can feel pain/does this picture look like a ‘blob of tissue’ to you?
If the specific context of these arguments is the morality of late-term abortion, they’re excellent arguments. More often though, they’re used outside of that specific context, and directed toward abortion in general. The vast majority of abortions are done early in the pregnancy, many prior to heartbeat, prior to pain capacity, and prior to a human-like appearance. Someone from the other side can easily say to any of these arguments “yes, and that’s why we need to make it quicker and easier to get abortions very early on in the pregnancy.”
Abortion increases the risk of breast cancer/abortion has awful psychological effects on the mother
These arguments usually lead down rabbit trails about the accuracy and reliability of the abortion-cancer and abortion-depression claims. And even if the claims are accepted at face value, one can still easily be pro-choice. After all, tobacco and alcohol have terrible medical effects, but even conservatives generally agree that use of those substances is ultimately a personal choice.
Any other bad arguments?