Friday, July 29, 2011

Life Report Follow Up: The "Unwantedness" Presumption

Life activists often get sucked into the abortion advocacy trap of begging the question -- that is, presenting an unproven assumption as if it were known to be true. One of their favorites is to make the presumption that if the mother requests an abortion, it is because she does not want the baby. They do this in several ways:

1. "Who will adopt all those unwanted children?" or "Are you going to adopt all those unwanted children?"
2. "It's better to abort a fetus than to doom a child to a life of being unwanted." or "Those unwanted children will grow up to be criminals/unsuccessful/depressed."
3. "Why should a woman be forced to bear an unwanted child?"

Note that at no point does the abortion advocate put forth any evidence for the assertion that an unaborted child will be unwanted. Life advocates often miss this trick and fail to challenge it, instead pointing out:

1. Every child is wanted by somebody, and could be placed for adoption.
2. Your humanity is not determined by whether or not somebody else wants you.

Granted, both of these are valid assertions, but they fail to address the underlying assumption. By simply allowing the abortion advocate to put forth, totally unchallenged, the idea that an unaborted child is unwanted is to allow them to assert lies. Our job as life advocates is to combat lies.

The first thing we need to do is to simply point out the fallacy: "Where is your evidence that if a woman doesn't get an abortion, the child will be unwanted?"

Because people -- particularly supporters of legal abortion -- are so accustomed to making the unwantedness assertion, it's likely that the life advocate will be challenged to present evidence that an unaborted fetus is, indeed, not unwanted. Fortunately, there is an abundance of evidence to bring to bear.

1. The abortion advocates' own dismissal of adoption as an option. If, as they claim, abortion merely prevents the birth of an unwanted child, why is it so difficult for a birth mother to make an adoption plan? If the child was unwanted at birth, as abortion supporters claim it would be, then the mother would be able to gratefully hand over the onerous burden without a backward glance.

2. Abortion advocates' own defense of late-term abortions. Stories such as the ones on this page repeat again and again in order to use these women as human shields. By putting forward women who aborted wanted babies because of prenatally-diagnosed conditions, they're also undermining their own argument that every baby targeted for abortion is unwanted. We also need to nail them on this and ask why they're facilitating abortions women don't want, rather than offering palliative services such as perinatal hospice.

3. Evidence from women being pressured. You can use stories from sites like Be Not Afraid to underscore how hard women are being pressured to abort wanted babies. Bring up cases like Marla Cardamone (pictured) and Allegra Roseberry who died after being bullied into unwanted abortions, and ask the abortion advocates how it can be, if being prochoice is all about letting the women make the decisions, prochoice groups aren't up in arms about how these women are being treated.

4. Evidence from women who changed their minds after an abortion failed to kill the baby. After all, if the baby really is unwanted, wouldn't the mother remain firm in her desire to get rid of it after it survived an abortion attempt?

5. Evidence from post-abortive women. There is an abundance of evidence from both sides that many aborted babies are wanted by their mothers at the time of the abortion, but the mother feels trapped or is being coerced. Stories like Shawn's Story from an abortion advocacy site, or stories like this one from prolife sites, are examples. It's best if you use the stories of women who remained committed to abortion even though they themselves felt pressured or trapped into aborting wanted babies, because it's harder for the abortion advocate to dismiss those stories. These stories serve double duty because they also let us tackle "hard cases" head on and ask how helpful these abortions really are. See Ashli McCall's story as well.

6. Evidence from research into the normal psychology of pregnancy. Even many abortion supporters, such as Planned Parenthood's Mary Calderone, noted that ambivalence and even rejection are normal in early pregnancy, and tend to resolve on her own if the mother is given support and a chance to bond.

7. Evidence from women grateful after their children were "rescued" by prolifers. Collect stories like this one and present them every chance you get:

In short, while there is nothing wrong with pointing out that being "unwanted" doesn't make you any less deserving of protection from people who want to kill you, and that every baby is wanted by somebody, those two points are not enough. We need to shoot down the unwantedness presumption at every opportunity.

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