June 9th, 2012

A Tumblr page called “Checkmate, Pro-Choicers!” run by someone calling herself “Rebecca,” asserts that it is “Taking down Baby Murderers with Logic!” It is, actually, a fairly representative look at the level of “logic” used by many, if not a majority, in the fundie pro-life community. This person seems to have, at the very least, a very shaky understanding of what exactly is involved in “logic” (not to mention an equally shaky understanding of color schemes in web design); her points are mostly emotional in nature, and when not, are, well, laughable. Here are some examples, from the most recent:

Pro-lifers care about ALL WOMEN, not just the born ones.
Checkmate, Pro-Choicers

A simple statement to a certain effect is not a fact, and the details of “caring” can include harsh treatment “for their own good.” In such cases, “caring” treatment may be something you would definitely want to avoid. Case in point: mandatory vaginal ultrasounds using a manually-operated wand. While an objective observer might call it a form of state-mandated rape, a pro-lifer may rationalize that it saves a woman from making a choice that could scar her emotionally, and since it saves the life of the fetus, it prevents her from becoming a murderer and going to hell. See how much we care? You’re welcome!

It’s funny that “women’s rights” suddenly end when sex-selective abortion comes into play.
Checkmate, Pro-Choicers

An assertion which only makes sense if one assumes that a fetus is a “woman,” which essentially means that for a pro-lifer, the debate on whether abortion is murder begins with the assumption that human life begins at conception.

Beyond that, this asserts that pro-choicers don’t care about whether abortion is used as a form of sex selection, which is also untrue. It is seen as a terrible abuse of the procedure, and is very worrisome to those concerned with women’s rights. While it is not seen as a women’s rights abuse against the fetus, it is seen as a greater abuse against the gender itself. It is possibly one of the only criteria under which pro-choicers would agree to restrict abortion–save for the fact that it would rely on people getting abortions to truthfully state their intended purpose, which they would not do if it prevented them from doing as they wished.

One may suppose that pro-lifers would then say that this is a reason to outlaw abortion in general, to prevent the minority abuse, but that is incorrect. Many parents value and treat daughters far worse than sons without resorting to physical abuse, also an affront to women’s rights–but we cannot legislate and end to that, and it would not make sense to make parenting in general illegal in order to stop it.

If your mothers had aborted you, there would be no abortion movement at all.
Checkmate, Pro-Choicers

This ignores the name of the movement: Pro-Choice, not Pro-Abortion. Ergo, change the assertion to “If your mothers had been given a choice whether or not to abort you, …” and it falls apart, as they obviously did choose not to abort. If the argument is saying that abortion would be 100% amongst people who believed in pro-choice, it would not keep children of pro-lifers from being pro-choice. If the argument is against every mother having an abortion (which is the assertion made in an earlier post), then there would be no pro-life movement, either–the race would end after a generation. This demonstrates another incorrect assumption by pro-lifers: that people who are pro-choice want every woman to have an abortion every time they get pregnant.

If you cared so much about women, where were your Pre-Roe Crisis Pregnancy Centers?
Checkmate, Pro-Choicers

Since the term “Crisis Pregnancy Center” refers to a pro-life organization trying to persuade, trick, cajole, or frighten women into not having an abortion (usually presenting false information as a means to do so), this question bizarrely seems to be an attack against pro-lifers, not pro-choicers. Indeed, if you cared so much about women, pro-lifers, where were your Crisis Pregnancy Centers before Roe v. Wade?

Casey Anthony was just making a choice about her family and her life. She just wasn’t ready to be a mother, and she made a mistake. Oh wait, she’s in jail for that.
Checkmate, Pro-Choicers

Again, it assumes an equivalency between abortion and child murder, in effect that a pre-requisite for any debate is to first accept the pro-life assertions as inarguable fact.

If you have time to have sex, then you have time to get a job and support your new baby.
Checkmate, Pro-Choicers

Really? Fifteen minutes a day (assuming daily sex of moderate length) is enough time to work and support a child? These people must be organizational geniuses. Either that, or they think that pro-choicers spend ten to twelve hours a day having sex.

I don’t hear you complaining about Christian principles making the murder of teenagers illegal.
Checkmate, Pro-Choicers

First of all, exactly which Christian principles would specifically refer to teenagers? At the very least, this is oddly worded. But, once again, it starts from the assumption that abortion and the murder of born human beings is equivalent. From here, I’ll ignore all “arguments” based on this fallacy (which is a good number of the total posts).

If abortion is as normal and acceptable as you claim, why are there so few movies and TV shows that show it?
Checkmate, Pro-Choicers

Same reason why there are so few TV shows which display live birth in detail. Unless the contention is why more TV shows and movies don’t deal with the general idea of abortion, in which case it is because mainstream entertainment tends to shy away from issues that would normally receive vehement protest from any significant segment of society, whether it is a minority or not. Which is one reason why not many TV shows depict the Prophet Muhammed. This question may as well ask, “If abortion is as normal and acceptable as you claim, why are there so few pro-lifers which accept it?”

Mary was a 12-year-old single mother who didn’t decide to have sex. She chose life.
Checkmate, Pro-Choicers

First of all, I am beginning to wonder if this person actually understands what the word “checkmate” means.

Presumably, this refers to the biblical Mary, mother of Jesus. I’m sure that in this person’s mind, this somehow argues for the pro-life side. Ironically, however, it makes the case for choice. Mary, after all, chose to give birth, right? That’s what this person is saying. Possibly, this person does not even understand the meaning of the word “choose.”

They go on and on like this. “We used to think it was okay to burn people at the stake. We learned our lesson. Checkmate, Pro-Choicers!” Hunh?

One of my favorites: “Steve Jobs’ mom didn’t want him, but he invented computers. Checkmate, Pro-Choicers!” Yeah, Steve Jobs invented computers.

As every single assertion this person makes has at least one glaring logical flaw and/or false assertion, and most of them betray a breathtaking misunderstanding of what “winning an argument” means, this could end up being a very long post. Suffice it to say that they’re pretty much all like this.

I’ll just end with this one, because it speaks to the heart of the whole debate:

If a “zygote” is not a person at conception, but a baby is at birth, when does the magic Personhood Fairy come along?
Checkmate, Pro-Choicers

Indeed. That is the very question at the heart of the debate, and one which cannot be objectively answered. Conception is just as “magic” a delineation as any other.

And this is what, ironically, makes abortion, at its core, a First Amendment issue–not one of privacy (though that also applies), but of religious choice. Deciding when human life begins before the fetus is fully developed is, in a very real way, a matter of faith. One has the personal freedom to choose what one believes; since whether abortion is murder or not is a matter of personal belief, it must be a choice made by the individual, as a matter of religious freedom.

People like this want to impose their own religious beliefs on everyone, a direct violation of religious freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment. But for people like this, “religious freedom” means “the freedom to believe what we tell you to believe.”

  1. Troy
    June 9th, 2012 at 11:04 | #1

    While it is not seen as a women’s rights abuse against the fetus, it is seen as a greater abuse against the gender itself

    do genders have rights?

    can genders be abused?

    it assumes an equivalency between abortion and child murder

    This is their most solid logical ground, but it’s pretty shaky if not scientifically nonexistent until cellular differentiation at least, about two-weeks after implantation IIRC.

    I think the woman should have complete privacy in the matter of what happens with her body, until she decides to bring the child into the world.

    This is more a practical matter for me than the absolutist moral BS the pro-life side prefers to argue on.

    exactly which Christian principles would specifically refer to teenagers?

    “The woman must be taken to the door of her father’s home, and there the men of the town must stone her to death, for she has committed a disgraceful crime in Israel by being promiscuous while living in her parents’ home. In this way, you will purge this evil from among you.”

    is one. But arguing with desert goatherd morality is a loser’s game anyway. They don’t have any rational grounds for thinking what some misanthropic mofos 2500+ years ago were doing has any moral relevancy today.

  2. kensensei
    June 9th, 2012 at 11:14 | #2

    Great debate, Luis.
    I have long believed that abortion, like gun laws, is an issue that doesn’t go away–ever. There are no easy answers when two so-called “inalienable” rights overlap.
    How about we stop trampling on your gun laws and the Right stop trampling on our abortion laws? Instead of calling it “checkmate,” let’s call it a “draw.”
    It seems to me a fair compromise.

  3. matthew
    June 9th, 2012 at 12:07 | #3


    The law in japan is abortion on demand until the 20something week. I forget the exact number. After that, only if the mothers life is in danger. The former is not covered under national healthcare. The latter is.

    Doctors I know (OB-GYN docs) tell me both cases are rare. Condom use, and a willingness to have the baby if an accident occurs are the norm.

    Check out the latest line of japanese condoms. 0.02mm sagami originals started it all. Now there are many similar. They make lovin fun! LOL!

    5–10 years from now, most abortions will be by oral medication. IMO.

  4. Troy
    June 9th, 2012 at 13:08 | #4

    wrt abortion in Japan there was an interesting Japan Times blog on it:

  5. Tim Kane
    June 10th, 2012 at 00:41 | #5

    What’s the point of anti-abortion laws?

    Is it to lower the abortion rate?

    The country with the lowest abortion rate, Netherlands.

    But, in Netherlands, abortion is largely legal and largely free.

    On the other hand, in Latin America, where abortion is illegal, the abortion rates are twice that of the United States.

    So, what’s the point? What’s their goal? To reduce abortion, or to punish those that would have them?

    Checkmate? Whatever.

    Republicans always approach issues from a supply perspective. Eliminate the supply of abortions and you eliminate the problem right? But then there is Latin America. As the Netherlands demonstrate, its not the supply that’s the problem its the demand for abortions. They attack the issue of demand through sex education and the like.

    Abortion would not be a problem if it were legal,but no one ever had an abortion.

    The nice thing about the demand side approach is that one does not have to inflict a restriction upon the right to women’s privacy.

    On the other hand, the issue is being used by Catholic bishops as a pretense for outlawing the very premise for liberty, liberalism and most especially democracy which stole the Bishops legitimacy and sanctioning power. (Telling a Catholic Bishop to go to hell is redundant).

  6. Jon
    June 10th, 2012 at 07:03 | #6

    I think your stance that abortion is at heart a question of religious freedom is dead on.

    And of course the ‘magic personhood’ question lacks a good answer.

    But what exactly is the moral justification for banning sex selection abortions? A woman has a right to choose whether or not to carry a fetus to term, but not if that choice was based on a specific criteria?

    I would guess that the only way to argue against this is to say that a gender itself has specific rights, but can that be supported? A large portion of the members of that gender would disagree what those rights are.

    It could be argued on practical grounds. To much sex selection would have consequences. But there are also practical issues with enforcement. Enforcement would require in essence mind reading.

    I understand why the anti-abortion groups would support it. Any ban is a good start for them. But I do not see a justification for it on the side of legalized abortion. Are they just staying inside the Overton window?

  7. Luis
    June 10th, 2012 at 13:46 | #7

    Do genders have rights? Can genders be abused?
    Well, there’s women’s rights, so I suppose so. If there’s child abuse; can an age group be abused? Not really, but that’s not what the term really refers to. Not to mention that I wrote that it was an abuse against the gender, not an abuse of the gender.

    But what exactly is the moral justification for banning sex selection abortions? A woman has a right to choose whether or not to carry a fetus to term, but not if that choice was based on a specific criteria?

    Let’s say that you want to raise the population of your country, and so you give financial incentives to do so. This actually happened in Japan, for instance. Let’s say Japan decides to give a healthy cash payout and many benefits such as medical service and child care to people who have babies–unless they have any Korean ancestry. Whether they are citizens or not, they get left out even if one grandparent was Korean.

    There will be objections about Koreans simply not getting the benefits (direct discrimination against individuals based upon race), but the greater objection will be toward the overall chilling effects of societal-level discrimination and eugenics. Those greater objections are what also apply to the use of abortion for sex selection; you’re just substituting a gender for a race.

    Both queries have similar answers: there can be hostility for, aggression to, discrimination against, and even violence done to entire groups, including sexual orientations, races, and genders. At this level, it is more abstract, but nonetheless very real.

    In the case of gender selection, it is also important to note that it is not just a case of a couple thinking, “Okay, we had a boy last time, now we want a girl,” but instead it is a matter where there is a rather significant cultural bias towards one gender over another. The fact that the practice is linked to infanticide, child abuse, and even possibly slavery in some contexts simply adds further negative connotation to the issue, and thus compounds the concern for moral issues regarding the reasons behind the choice.

    Note also that I did not state it as an absolute, but rather as something greatly disdained and possibly a reason for restriction–but not as a certainty. For many, it is troubling, but even beyond difficulties in enforcement, it is still a significantly grey area in terms of rights.

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