Intellectual bankruptcy of the “pro-life” movement

In Insanity by consensus, I talked about the abuses and death threats hurled at The Rule of Reason’s Nicholas Provenzo by pro-fetus-anti-liberty religious wackos for his view that a mother (expectant mother if you will – idiots with axes to grind are known to latch on to a single point and bludgeon it to death) has the absolute right to decide on whether or not she wants to abort her fetus. He was talking in context of the substantial praise Sarah Palin received for having brought a Down’s Syndrome affected baby into this world. In “Palin’s Down syndrome child and the right to abortion” and “The Fundamental Right to Abortion”, he essentially made the following points (listing my interpretation using choice phrases of my own)-

  • It is moral to abort a Down’s Syndrome affected fetus (or any fetus for that matter – even a perfectly healthy one) and immoral to deny a mother the right to do so, as the pro-fetus-anti-liberty movement seeks to do.
  • Once parents give birth to a child, they have the moral obligation to take care of it till the child grows up and is able to provide for itself. That is, once they have brought a new life into this world, they cannot run away from the responsibility of providing for it. The choice of having a baby is a purely selfish one, not a selfless one as religious wackos assume it is (those who cannot understand what Objectivists mean when they refer to “selfishness” and “selflessness”, even after reading about it, needn’t proceed any further). Raising a child is not child’s play (no pun intended), as every mother knows. It takes a superhuman effort to do that, particularly when managing a career side-by-side. And the fact that people still choose to have children is proof that the choice is a selfish one, in Provenzo’s words – “an expression of the parent’s personal desire to create new life.”
  • People with disabilities or afflicted with conditions such as Down’s Syndrome are not able to take care of themselves (living an independent life) in most cases. So if the parents are not wealthy enough to provide for the additional care necessary in such cases, and they decide to bring in a damaged baby into the world fully aware of the fact that the fetus is damaged, they are essentially passing off the responsibility and costs of sustaining such a life on to others. If parents have weighed their options rationally and decided to go ahead with the baby, it is not something that deserves praise and definitely not a model that every mother in a similar situation should adopt.
  • Aborting a fetus is not eugenics, forced euthanasia or murder.

A controversy soon erupted in the blogosphere over Provenzo’s post, and he was invited to appear on conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham’s show (Partial podcast of the debate (mp3 file – 2.5 MB)) where she misrepresented nearly everything he said. She latched on (as have many other “pro-lifers”) to a single point in Provenzo’s post-

A parent has a moral obligation to provide for his or her children until these children are equipped to provide for themselves. Because a person afflicted with Down syndrome is only capable of being marginally productive (if at all) and requires constant care and supervision, unless a parent enjoys the wealth to provide for the lifetime of assistance that their child will require, they are essentially stranding the cost of their child’s life upon others.

and demanded to know what other diseases are candidates for abortion. Further, she goes on to ask if terminally ill patients or disabled people should be eliminated because they are only “marginally productive”. According to Provenzo, her staff even turned off his mike in between while she went on speaking giving the impression that “I sat in silent awe while she pontificated”. I say talking to conservatives of all kinds, and particularly the religious one, is always a big mistake. They are shrill, obnoxious, blind to reason and take liberties with their opponent’s positions.

The attempts at drawing comparisons between abortion and Nazi eugenics and murder shows that the “pro-lifers” have no sense of shame or morality, and lack the intellect to differentiate between abortion, and impregnating and forcing all the women in the country to give birth to a “superior” form of man; between aborting a fetus that is inside the mother’s womb, attached to her through the umbilical cord, completely dependent on her, and killing a human being against his will. Note that the same group, or sections of it, are also against euthanasia – the right of terminally ill people to choose to die rather than live in pain. Their concept of life is based on one premise – people have no right to decide what to do with their lives and bodies – only God can do that. And God is so indifferent that he cannot bother to come down and tell people in person – “listen folks these are the rules”. Maybe he euthanized himself after seeing that he made a mistake by creating humans and introducing them to religion.

Calling the pro-life movement “pro-life” is a contradiction. They are pro-fetus – that is all there is to them. In fact, it is the pro-choice movement which is pro-life because it fights for a living, thinking woman’s right to choose what is best for her own body. The “pro-lifers” on the other hand, are an opinionated lot who believe in a non-existent God and every “moral” teaching that emerges from such an entity’s non-existent behind. And based on such God-given morality, their stand essentially is that a fetus’ rights are superior to those of the woman carrying it, and if the woman has to be tied down – forced – terrorized by letting the law loose on her and her “enablers” – emotionally blackmailed – so that she gives birth to the fetus that she is carrying – against her will and regardless of the dangers it poses to her life – that is a small price to pay for bringing a life into this world. If this is not malice – pure evil – I don’t know what is.

If someone deserves to be called anti-life, it is the present pro-life movement and all those who enable it or don’t have the courage to take a stand against it.

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  • Dara  On September 23, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    Hmm…interesting, though I don’t agree with you in the slightest :)

    I suppose I’m one of those ““pro-lifers” that have no sense of shame or morality…that in itself is a contradiction in my opinion. How can deciding not to kill an unborn baby (or fetus–whatever–it still is life in my opinion) be morally wrong?? And why would bringing a Down Syndrome baby in the world be wrong? Isn’t it the mother’s choice, as you would say?

    Anyway, it doesn’t really matter in the long run–I wouldn’t be able to convince you just like you can’t convince me. I’m pretty proud to be a pro-lifer :) I can understand abortion when it’s needed for saving the life of the mother.

    I am not the kind of pro-lifer that wants to make the woman feel guilty for her choice. I don’t agree with those who name call or insult those who do choose to have an abortion, even though I’m strongly against it. But I also don’t see anything wrong in protesting outside a clinic–as long as the protests are peaceful and insults are not hurled. If the woman feels guilty as she is going into the clinic, doesn’t that say something about the whole practice of it?

    Anyway, it was a thought provoking post. :)

  • Dara  On September 23, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    “I say talking to conservatives of all kinds, and particularly the religious one, is always a big mistake. They are shrill, obnoxious, blind to reason and take liberties with their opponent’s positions.”

    That’s a bit narrow minded, don’t you think? ;) True there are some that are like that, but I wouldn’t lump all into one category–that would be like me saying all liberals are a bunch of tree hugging hippies :P And I know that’s not always the case :)

  • Aristotle The Geek  On September 23, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    I said – “the attempts at drawing comparisons between abortion and Nazi eugenics and murder shows that the ‘pro-lifers’ have no sense of shame or morality.” Meaning, that the movement can stoop so low as to compare the two in order to make their point is shameful and immoral.

    Unlike the “pro-life” movement which makes every attempt to get the law involved in cases of abortion and supports “forced birth”, neither Provenzo nor I support “forced abortion”. His position is that Palin is not a role model for women because she chose to give birth to a Down’s Syndrome affectd baby. Women still have the choice. But any rational woman who subsists on a reasonable salary and who cannot afford the costs of raising a disabled child would chose to abort the fetus – if she knew about the disability in advance – rather than giving birth to the child and make it suffer and also suffer both mentally and physically as a result.

    Everyone knows that most women don’t take decisions on abortion just like that – a lot of thought goes into the process. And the pro-lifer I refer to wants to shame and deny the right to choose even to those women who have made a decision after giving a lot of thought to the matter.

    About conservatives, no, I am not being narrow minded when I am saying that because my definition of a conservative is anyone who will not change his position on the matter even if sound evidence to the contrary is offered. Unfortunately, when it comes to religion, evidence for the existence or non-existence of God cannot be offered. Lifelong believers sometimes give up their beliefs overnight, and agnostics become religious sometimes. Hence religious conservatives – particularly the talk show variety – are the worst because under the guise of being objective the only thing they do is shout their opponents down. So liberals should deny them the opportunity of scoring brownie points.

  • Joshua  On September 24, 2008 at 5:01 am

    I can understand abortion when it’s needed for saving the life of the mother.

    You see, that never made sense to me (at least, in situations were the woman would die, but the fetus could be saved.).

    If a woman was going to die in just a few months and the only possible way to save her was to kill her daughter (for organs to transplant, say), would you understand that?

    I am not the kind of pro-lifer that wants to make the woman feel guilty for her choice.

    But those pro-lifers are at least consistent. They think abortion is murder, so they treat women who have had abortions as being guilty of murder.

    Help me understand this inconsistency in the pro-life position.

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