#126: How Do You Respond to “Impossible” Pro-Choicers?
Josh puts for consideration how to respond to a prochoice person putting out the following list of conditions under which he/she would convert to prolife:
1. All women would have to be able to prevent unwanted pregnancies. (She specifies this as perfect contraception.)
2. No woman becomes pregnant through a non-consensual sexual act.
3. No women would die as a result of being denied an abortion. (Can't die from self-terminating)
4. The fetus could feel pain from conception.
5. There is an alternative to pregnancy, i.e. a way to get the target embryo/fetus moved to a safe location.
Becca Haschke took an excellent approach. Her starting point would be to ask the person if she would be willing to see some, rather than all, abortions banned because in those circumstances are met.
I'll move on from there. Would this person be okay with banning those abortions that met these criteria:
1. The pregnancy had not resulted from a birth control failure.
2. The sexual act had been consensual.
3. The woman was pointed to resources that would cause her to change her mind about wanting an abortion.
4. The fetus had developed to a gestational age at which a fetus would respond to a painful stimulus in a way that we would interpret as evidence of pain in a newborn.
5. The fetus could be delivered prematurely and still survive.
Would she be okay with banning abortion in those pregnancies in which those criteria were met, or would all pregnancies have to meet those criteria before she'd be willing to see any limits on abortion?
We could point out that this would allow a ban on those abortions after 24 weeks performed on women who had not been using any form of birth control during a consensual sex act, instead offering the woman the choice of simply continuing to birth or delivering the baby alive and allowing it to be taken to the NICU. If the prochoicer was agreeing to that, we could start discussing nuances, things like, "How would you determine that the pregnancy was not as a result of birth control failure?"
That discussion would, I think, be very fruitful.
Somebody (I think it was Becca but I don't remember) also put forth an approach that asked the prochoicer, "What if I could show you another reason that was so important that it trumped all of those?"
Josh, I think, also leaned toward, "What if I could show you that any of these reasons was not actually relevant to deciding whether or not to permit abortion?"
Both of these offer opportunities to go into interesting areas of discussion. You could start with each of the points and ask, "How is this relevant? Could there be other factors that would trump this?"
Another approach would be to discuss each point and ask what the underlying concern is. For example, starting with fetal pain, one could ask, "Is it pain that's really the issue for you? Because if it is, wouldn't it be okay to kill a born person as long as you do it in a way that doesn't cause pain? You could slip the person a powerful drug that would make her painlessly lapse into a coma and then stop breathing. Would it be okay to kill a born person that way?" The discussion could then lead into whether or not abortions must be done in a way that causes the fetus no pain, and so on.
My experience has been that usually if one pillar of "Why I'm Pro Choice" falls, the rest are weakened and eventually crumble. The person comes to see that your age, or how much distress your presence might cause somebody, simply aren't relevant to whether or not you're a valuable member of the community whose life should be protected.