What are the toughest and most common arguments for pro-choice? And how can thoughtful Christians respond? In this podcast, Sean and Scott respond to 12 pro-choice arguments. They bring clarity on the underlying issues beneath the pro-choice position and also offer some practical talking points for engaging others thoughtfully and graciously.
>> What are the toughest and most common challenges from the pro-choice position to pro-life? We're talking about the issue of abortion today, and we're gonna tackle the top 10 challenges to the pro-life position. My name is Sean McDowell, I'm your host. I'm here with Dr. Scott Rae, my co-host, who's written a lot on this issue. You're watching the Think Biblically Podcast, brought to you by Biola University. So we're gonna go through the top 10, give our thoughts on each one of these. But two questions before we jump in that I think will help our viewers and listeners frame this. Number one, what is the heart of the case for pro-life? What's the key question?
>> Really simple. Is the unborn child, whether embryo or fetus or just before birth, a full human person with legal right to life and protectability?
>> Sean: Okay?
>> 'Cause if he or she is not, then it's not hard to understand why a woman's right over her own body would trump that. But if the unborn, whether inside or outside the womb, is a full image of God-bearing rights-bearing person, a separate entity from the mother, if that's the kind of thing it is, then it's a slam dunk case in the other direction.
>> That's really helpful. So we always have to bring challenges back to the status of the unborn. Here's a simple way I'll make the case for life. Humans get human rights, the right to life is a human right. The unborn is human, therefore, the unborn has the right to life. Now, right away, people say, "Wait a minute, Scott, you use the term person. I use the term human." Is being human sufficient or do we have to argue that the unborn is not only human, but it's also a person to have the right to life?
>> Well, being human is sufficient.
>> And, but I think our listeners should be aware that in the culture and in the, especially in the realm of abortion rights discussion, it's very common to distinguish between a human being and a person.
>> Sean: Okay.
>> And that persons have to have other qualities besides the genetic connection that makes them a human being. And I think you could sort of add to your syllogism that human beings come from human parents.
>> Sean: Right.
>> And an embryo or a fetus comes from a human parent, and therefore is fully human itself. Now, I would urge our listeners to think about this. Anytime you hear someone making a distinction between a human being and a person, we would say that's a red flag. That there's something not quite right with that view that needs further questioning.
>> So I would ask them, what's the difference between a human being and a person? Chances are they will talk about, they will get to this in more detail,
>> They will talk about some of the characteristics that characterize most human beings, like rationality, capacity for relationships, self-consciousness.
>> Things like that.
>> Sean: Okay.
>> So anyway, we'll get to more of that.
>> That is one of the objections that's made on down the line.
>> So bottom line is you can be a person that's not a human. Angels are arguably persons, correct? God is one being three persons. But if you are a human, you are necessarily a person. That's the distinction that you're making. So pro-choice critics will try to separate them. What's interesting is even if we adopted that you had to be a person to have person rights, there's still no consistent criteria that is given why the unborn doesn't qualify as personhood. That doesn't end up disqualifying someone else that we know is a person. So I think if we adopt that language, we still win. But nonetheless, no reason to adopt that language.
>> But I think, just be be prepared to make the case, when that dichotomy is raised.
>> Perfect. Well, that'll come out. So let's jump in. And these are a no particular order, by the way. But the first one, it actually did make sense to start with this one. Claim number one, men should remain silent on abortion. If true, that disqualifies both of us.
>> Yeah, I got nothing. [both laughing]
>> All right. Next.
>> Next. Actually, as you're aware, Sean, this is a classic ad hominem argument, an ad hominem is Latin for against the person, as opposed to against an argument. Usually an ad hominem argument is what I would call, it's the last stage of a desperate person who's run out of ammunition. And so instead of attacking the position, you attack the person.
>> Sean: Okay.
>> As a mentor of mine, put an ad hominem argument, the person recognized that when they're on the horns of a dilemma, you shoot the bull.
>> Okay. [both laughs]
>> And usually in academic circles, in serious discussion circle, we just dismiss ad hominem arguments for what they are.
>> Sean: Okay.
>> But if you want to engage it Supreme Court in 1973, when Roe V Wade was decided, it was all men.
>> The other point that I'd wanna make is that human beings have gender, arguments don't. Arguments are independent of your gender. I mean, a woman could make these same arguments, and there are lots of pro-life women who make the same points that we do. And the fact that we are male is just, I think, a way to evade the real issue at hand.
>> You know, I think it's interesting that somebody who would make the pro-choice argument that men should be silent on abortion, are going to want men to speak up on other issues that affect women. The whole MeToo movement was sexual abuse almost entirely if not primarily, of women at the hands of men. So were men expected to speak up? Yes, and they should. So we're gonna find an inconsistency when they want a pro-choice argument to be made, then men should stay out of it, but when it comes to other issues that affect women, obviously men should speak in. With that said-
>> Well. I think we need to recognize too, that the abortion decision often affects men too.
>> It does. That's right.
>> When I was a doctoral student, one of our colleagues committed the unpardonable sin of falling in love with a student in a class he was TA-ing for, an undergrad student. They were engaged, she was four months pregnant, and he walked in on a Monday morning with this crestfallen look on his face.
>> And we just wondered, what truck ran over you over the weekend? And he said... I'll never forget this. He looked us right in the eye and said, "You pro-life guys are right." Because over the weekend, she had broken their engagement and ended the pregnancy.
>> Sean: Wow.
>> And he said, "That that was my child too."
>> Sean: Hmm.
>> And so I think, to think that this doesn't affect men, and men actually have a lot to do with a woman's decision to get an abortion in the first place.
>> Or to not get an abortion.
>> Or to not. Yeah, a lot of women will say, "I probably would not have done this had I not been so encouraged and pressured by my boyfriend."
>> Fair enough point. I've gone a lot of pregnancy resource centers, and some actually help men who regret this and have been hurt through it. Now, what we're not saying is men are affected equally.
>> That's correct. Obviously.
>> Obviously, it affects them in a very different intimate fashion, but it doesn't follow that men shouldn't speak in this issue for the reasons we've mentioned. Let's go to claim number two, pro-choice argument Number two, a woman should have pro-creative control to determine when she becomes apparent. Now, on surface that seems intuitive. We don't think a woman should be forced to become a parent. So what are your thoughts?
>> Well, and she's not, nobody is forced to become a parent.
>> Sean: Okay.
>> Because a woman has the right and the option to put a baby up for adoption.
>> Okay. It's not the only way to not become a parent is to end the life of your child. You can put the baby up for adoption. Now, the issue is the pro-choice person will come back and say, "Well, you have no idea how hard it is for a woman to put a baby up for adoption." And that's right. But that begs a more important question. Why is that so hard? And the reason is because women bond to children in a way that we don't bond to things. I don't have a bonding relationship with my liver or my kidney. But women have a bonding relationship with a... You bond to persons. And that, I think what that suggests is that what a woman carries is substantively different than an organ or a piece of tissue is actually some... An entity that you can actually have a bonding, connection and relationship to.
>> Now, your response assumes the premise of this, that a parent is when the child comes out of the womb, and hence she could adopt, not be a parent. And I think that's a sufficient response. But we could also ask, are you a parent when somebody is pregnant? And I think you could argue the person is already a parent.
>> Which brings the question back to, if a woman is pregnant, she is a parent.
>> She's not necessarily a permanent parent.
>> Yeah, fair enough. Fair enough.
>> And I think, we just don't take the option for women with unwanted pregnancies for adoption. I just don't think that's taken seriously enough.
>> Sean: Mm.
>> Because it is hard, It's gut wrenching. Even for a woman who has an unwanted pregnancy, giving that child up is really hard. And this is why some women and states have lost to protect this, some women actually change their mind after they give children up for adoption. Some states you can change your mind up to a year after you've given the baby up for adoption. Now, I'm not sure that's a great idea for the wellbeing of the child.
>> Sean: Sure. Sure.
>> But, I would prefer something more like a 30-day period where you could reclaim your child if you change your mind.
>> Interesting. Okay, good. Good response. All right, pro-choice argument or claim number three, denying the right to abortion has particularly detrimental consequences for the status of women and the equality of women. What's your take?
>> I think that's a harder one, I think to wrap your arms around, because I think there's a sense in which, yeah, particularly in more overtly patriarchal cultures, where it reinforces that.
>> Sean: Hmm.
>> cultures where men are in charge more, and boys are more valued as children, and women are viewed in a much more subservient role. I do think that the right not to have an abortion probably reinforces that already existing patriarchy. I think in more egalitarian cultures. I don't think that's necessarily true, 'cause I think women have worked really hard to gain equal rights in the workplace, in the home.
>> And I think, again, if would we say the same thing, if women were considering infanticide,
>> Sean: Hmm.
>> Or killing a one-year-old, or abandoning a two-year-old, to not allow that, I don't think... Whether that has anything to do with women rights and equality, we would say that's not the point. Say the point is that you have a human being that you've either neglected or killed. On our view, if we're assuming, that you have a person from conception forward, I think that we would say that's the point.
>> Okay. Now that brings it back to the question, what is the unborn that we framed this with? If the unborn is not human, then a woman should never be limited from having an abortion because the consequence of the follow. But if the unborn is a human being, does such consequences in certain societies justify ending the life of an innocent human being? That's where I would say no.
>> Yeah, and well, this is where, this is really the heart of the debate, because you have two competing moral values. A woman, I mean, all of us have rights over our own body. Now those are not absolute, you can't, it's against, the prostitution's against the law in lots of states.
>> Sean: Sure.
>> You can't pump illegal drugs into your body, you can't do things with your own body that harm someone else, which is sort of where we're headed with this.
>> Sean: Sure.
>> But it competes with the right to life of the unborn. And if the unborn is not human, then there's no reason not to wait a woman's right over her own body more heavily and conversely.
>> Although the thing I wanna point out is that increasingly, ultrasound technology, I think has made it a lot more challenging to hold the view that the unborn child is equivalent to an organ or a piece of tissue. It just made that intuitively a lot harder. And so some pro-choice supporters have actually conceded the personhood of the unborn and still made the argument that a woman's right over her body trump's the life of the unborn.
>> That's amazing, 'cause it haven't only conceded that it's human, but also that it's a person and then the mother's right trump's a human person's rights.
>> Scott: That's true. That's correct.
>> That's arguably pretty extreme. Now, I'd make one more point. When we talk about the economic effects of women, a similar argument was made for slavery, that having not allowing slavery is going to economically affect certain people. And the argument that one is we don't use human beings and mistreat them for any kind of economic gain. There's some differences here between slavery and abortion, but on that point, I think the point stands, is the unborn human being with the right to life.
>> Yeah. Still the central issue.
>> Still the core issue. Objection number four. And you kind of hinted at this before. But a woman has a right to bodily autonomy. This is perhaps the most common argument I come across in conversations and online. It's assumed in our day today that I have the right and authorship over my own life, and you have to affirm it. What would you say?
>> Well, first of all, biblically speaking, that's just categorically false, because the Bibles very clear that you are not your own.
>> Sean: Been bought with a price.
>> You've been bought with a price, and therefore glorify God with your body. But there's a premise that's embedded in this argument, and that is that the unborn child is a part of the woman's body which is also categorically false. And that there's a distinction we need to make to be careful. There's a difference between the unborn child being a part of the woman's body and being dependent on the woman. Those are two different things. But from once conception is complete, you have a genetically distinct, and in roughly 50% of case different sex as well.
>> Sean: Sure.
>> Entity that is now taking up real estate in the woman's body that is a separate entity that it... It's just not accurate to say that the unborn child is a part of the woman's body in the same way that a kidney or a liver or soft tissue would be.
>> Got it. That makes sense. We're back to the question, what is the unborn? You think about the word autonomy and it means self rule, like automobile, self drive. But when it comes to abortion, you're not ruling just over yourself, you are ruling over another human being. So you could almost say it's over other rule, not autonomy and rule.
>> Scott: Correct.
>> So that's where the argument fails.
>> Scott: Right.
>> If it's a human being.
>> That's right. How you weight those, if it's not a human person, then having an abortion is no different than donating a kidney.
>> Exactly. So here's a question for you then. Just a question to raise. Is if there's the body, and the mom, and the unborn, in a sense are competing or relying upon that body. Why does the mother get to choose and the baby doesn't? Well, the answer is because the mother is more powerful than the unborn. So somebody who makes this argument is saying we should side with those who are more powerful and not those who are less powerful. I don't think that's a side that many pro-choicers want to be on.
>> All right. Let's shift to question number five. Having an abortion early in pregnancy is safer than childbirth.
>> Well, medically speaking, that might be correct.
>> Sean: Hmm.
>> After the first trimester, not so much.
>> Sean: Okay.
>> But there's more to this than just what's medically speaking, there is psychologically speaking, there's emotionally speaking, and for a follower of Jesus, there's spiritually speaking. And I think the... Despite the best pro-choice efforts to downplay it, things like the post-abortion syndrome are real. Women do suffer the same magnified effects of grief and loss magnified even more so than what happened during a miscarriage, right? And it's just not right to say that women don't grieve a miscarriage, or women don't grieve an early stage abortion like they do a stillbirth, right? That's not necessarily true, right? Now, the reason they might grieve a stillbirth more has nothing to do with metaphysics or ontology. It has everything to do with the bonding and relationship that's been built. So I think there's... I mean, there's a good way to explain that. But to say that the abortion decision is something that is this morally neutral thing, I think is just clearly false. And we'll see that, we're gonna see this more, and now that the abortion decisions become much more privatized, that this argument's really gonna come to the floor.
>> Even more so.
>> Even more so. But our viewers should be aware that even the chemical, what's called the chemical abortion, RU-486.
>> Sean: Yep.
>> In probably 30, 40% of cases requires some sort of surgical follow up. And the wisdom of doing a RU-486 abortion later in pregnancy changes pretty dramatically. So in fact, the actually the drug cocktail changes the farther along you are in the pregnancy. And if you're not under a physician's care, which increasingly, women can purchase these drugs over the counter without seeing a physician first to find out how far along she is, without any kind of prescription or any kind of medical supervision, I think is actually a pretty dangerous thing.
>> I agree. I think it's arguably medically malpractice too. Now for clarity, when we say have an abortion early in pregnancy is safer than childbirth, you are talking specifically about the mom. It's never safer for the child. If the child is a human being, this argument is irrelevant, it's irrelevant.
>> Scott: Yeah.
>> So we have to keep that in mind. Argument is not that abortion is wrong because it harms women. If they could come up with some procedure to have abortion done, hypothetically, and women had no psychological or physical after effects, you and I would still say, this is taking the life of an innocent human being. So that's the heart of our argument. But with that said, there are significant harms that are often doctored over and covered up that women need to know about on top of that.
>> This is a classic question begging argument, that it assumes the conclusion and reasons in a circle and gets to the point is trying to prove.
>> Exactly. Good. All right. Claim number six, halfway there. This one's a little bit more sophisticated. We can spend an entire show on this, and maybe we will someday, but it's kind of what's called the Embryo Rescue Case. And let me frame it this way for our viewers and listeners. You are on the ward of a hospital that is quickly burning down. In the ward, with you, are five frozen human embryos stored for implantation in fertility treatment, and one fully formed human baby. You have time to grab and rescue either the five embryos or the one baby, but not both. What should you do? And this argument is meant to show that we all intuitively know you should grab the baby, not the embryo. Which tells us when it gets down to it, we really think babies have more value than embryos, and undermines the pro-life case. Your thoughts.
>> Not so fast.
>> Okay. [chuckles]
>> Let's change the characters a bit, and let's say that in that my choice is between rescuing five embryos or a convicted serial rapist.
>> Sean: Hmm.
>> I'm going for the embryos.
>> chuckles: Okay.
>> Because the rapist deserves a very long prison sentence.
>> Now what that illustrates is that there's more to... An entities, the more to saving, who you would choose to save than the presumed moral status of fetuses or embryos, okay?
>> Here's the way I'd put it as a counter example. I would get much more grieved if my dog will run over in the street than a child halfway around the world whose face I've never seen who gets killed in a terrorist attack, for example. Now, does it follow from that that my dog has more ontological value than a child halfway around? Of course not. What that means is that I have an emotional attachment to my dog that I don't have to a child halfway around the world. Which is why I would, if I had my choice between saving the embryos or saving my dog, I would save my dog. But it has nothing to do with ontology. I would never suggest that my dog has higher moral status than human embryos or a human child, okay? The reason I would say my dog is because of my emotional connection to a dog. And emotions don't determine ontology, emotions don't determine what kind of a thing these embryos actually are.
>> So in many ways, this experiment shows our emotional commitments and attachments more than value itself is the heart of it.
>> I can't verify he said this-
>> That was a good summary of what I took two or three minutes to say.
>> You unpacked it in a way we need it unpacked. I can't verify he said this, but it's attributed to him. And the point still stands to Stalin saying, "The death of somebody you know is a tragedy. The death of a million people is a statistic." That kind of makes the same point, regardless of who said it. All right. Good. Objection number seven. If a human has the right to life from conception, that it would seem to follow that spontaneous miscarriage is the greatest natural threat to the human race, the top killer beyond cancer, car crashes and national disasters, so it should be all hands on deck to stop miscarriages. But we don't, so maybe we don't really think at that stage of development, an embryo has full value.
>> Not so fast. [chuckles]
>> Okay. [chuckles]
>> The reason, you have to ask yourself, why do we not put all hands on deck to stop spontaneous miscarriages? And the reason is that we can't.
>> Sean: Hmm.
>> And the reason for that is because most miscarriages occur because of some sort of genetic abnormality that is transmitted via conception. Miscarriages happen because generally, now sometimes they happen because the embryo implants in the fallopian tube, you have an ectopic pregnancy.
>> Sure. Sure.
>> Or the mother just can't carry a pregnancy to term.
>> Sean: Okay.
>> But most spontaneous miscarriages takes place because of some sort of genetic anomaly that's incompatible with life. And there's no way, there's just no way to fix those, okay? The only way we could fix those is by having every pregnancy be done in vitro, in the lab, testing every embryo, doing a biopsy on every embryo to ensure that it has no genetic abnormality. And then implanting the remaining embryos that are free from disease into the womb. Now, we discard the ones that don't, which is-
>> Another ethical concern.
>> Another ethical issue. But that's an entirely unreasonable, way too expensive way to fix something that is essentially unfixable. We just can't, we can't do that. Now, we can test people, we can test their genetics to know if they're at risk for passing along certain diseases and encourage some couples to adopt. Some couples, I mean, would be encouraged to use IVF and do some selection.
>> I think that create, like we said, that creates ethical issues too.
>> I'm not thrilled about that.
>> Sean: Right.
>> But it's just, the all hands on deck approach would be way more costly than it would be beneficial.
>> Be costly financially, it'd be costly ethically as well.
>> Yeah, embryonically, it'd be costly.
>> That's a fair point. So it's a matter of pragmatics and just how early, and the nature of what causes a miscarriage, not a lack of saying at that stage, the unborn has value or less value.
>> Yeah. Yeah.
>> So pragmatic concerns don't dictate what kind of a thing, embryos and fetuses are ontologically.
>> Good. Okay, good. Helpful response. All right. We got three more. Claim number eight, again, pro-choice argument number eight, is that pro-life first criticize pro-choicers for not offering a logically sound moment when the unborn has a right to life. So you've heard this, Scott, we've often said pro-choicers differ on whether life begins at the heartbeat, whether viability or birth. Now, this spun back on pro-lifers, and I've heard pro choicers say, and yet there's no definitive moment of conception in which a person comes into being. Even conception itself is a process. So are we being inconsistent by criticizing pro-choicers for not having a definitive moment when conception itself is not a definitive moment?
>> Are we being inconsistent? No.
>> Sean: Okay.
>> And it's true that conception is not a moment in time. That's true. It involves a roughly eight to 12-hour process where a chromosomes settle, and it takes time for a new entity to be formed. But once it's formed, it's definitive that it's been formed.
>> Sean: Okay.
>> And virtually, every embryologist under the sun agrees with this that when you have reached what's called a diploid condition. When an embryo has a full complement of 46 chromosomes, you've reached a diploid condition, you have a separate human living being. And there's no, I mean, that science is really clear about that, that is a definitive moment when you have a new human being.
>> Sean: Okay. Okay.
>> Now what the person doing, the way the question is framed, is smuggling in a distinction between a human being and a person, okay? And I think it's true, that if you don't equate human beings in persons, that there is no definitive moment when you have a person. And the reason for that is that there's no definitive moment that makes any difference about what kind of thing it is.
>> Right? 'Cause the fact that a baby has a heartbeat, all that tells you is that they have a properly functioning heart, doesn't tell you that it's a person, that it tells you it's got a human heart. That's true. Viability, all that tells you is the ability of a baby to survive outside the womb. In reality, that's even, that's misleading. Because when a baby at 23, 24, 25 weeks simply exchanges an artificial or a natural life support system for an artificial one, and it's a full court press for weeks and weeks before that baby gets to a place where they can be weaned off of that. So even viability, that measures medical technology, it varies from place to place, it varies from child to child. Birth is nothing more than a change of location, even though there are some important things that happen at birth that don't happen prior to that. It's fundamentally a change of location. And only, I'd say, every woman who's had a baby can testify, there's only a very slight change in the degree of dependence on the mother. The only difference is it's not symbiotic.
>> Sean: Gotcha.
>> But still, it's incredibly dependent.
>> So it seems like this argument is confusing how long it takes for process to happen with an objective change in the nature of something itself. So if you got a little heartbeat, biologically, it's a human before it has a heartbeat, it's a human before it has a brain stem, it's a human before and after viability and birth, nothing objective changes. In fact, humans are not meant to have heartbeats on day two, they're not meant to be viable on week three. But the difference between a sperm and an egg and after fertilization, even though it's not an instant moment that takes like a second or less is an ontological change.
>> But it does have a completing point, it does have a finish line attached.
>> Got it. So whether it takes one second or three or whatever is irrelevant to a new being ontologically coming into existence.
>> Scott: That's correct.
>> And a similar thing doesn't happen when the same being gets a heartbeat, the same being has a brain, the same being is viable.
>> That's really helpful way to put it. And again, what's being smuggled in is not just the distinction between a human being and a person, but the criteria necessary for the pro-choice person to decide when you have a person is being smuggled in. And increasingly, the pro-choice folks are recognizing that those criteria, self-consciousness, self-awareness, rationality, ability for relationships actually don't happen until well after birth. Which the proponents of infanticide, I think rightly recognized that birth is simply a change of location.
>> Sean: Exactly.
>> Peter Singer was onto this 30 years ago.
>> Sean: Years ago, yeah.
>> He's not extreme anymore. There's a lot, the academic justification of infanticide has really taken hold today.
>> Legally, he-
>> And understandably so. When does somebody pass, the look in the mirror test, what I call, that I look in the mirror, I say, "Hey, it's me." You know, what? Six months, a year? I don't know. Probably by two. When do you have rationality set in, some might suggest it's well after adolescence, but at least you're, I don't know, two or three. And the thing is, most pro-choice people don't have the stomach to take their view all the way to the end.
>> Sean: To its extreme. So that's where the inconsistency is.
>> In my view, yeah.
>> Not where this objection has been raised.
>> Right. Right.
>> Fair enough. All right. Two more for you. And by the way, I wanna just point out to our viewers that, again, it comes back to two things. Assuming you can separate personhood from humanity, and assuming the unborn is not human. That underlies the vast majority of pro-choice arguments. Claim number nine would be this, that if abortion rights are rescinded, women will have to get back alley abortions which is dangerous to them. Now, this is not more of an academic argument, it's more of a popular level one that we'll see maybe somebody tweet or saying conversation.
>> Well, this is a question-begging argument as well, because it assumes that abortion is something that should be safe and legal.
>> Which if the right to end the life of your offspring is really the issue. And the fact that it's argued here that it's unsafe presumes already that it's the right thing to do, okay? So I think that's where a lot of this is headed. Now, what we have to decide, we have to determine is prior to 1973, what was the status of illegal abortion in the US? I can't speak to other countries,
>> Sure, that fair.
>> Europe, may have been different. But in the US before 1973, roughly 90% of all abortion that took place, took place in licensed facilities with licensed physicians, not in back alley. Sometimes they did, that's true, and sometimes they were harmful to women, and sometimes women did this themselves in ways that were very harmful to them. To say that that never happened is not true.
>> Sean: Fair enough.
>> It did. Whether it was the normal experience of women prior to Roe V Wade, that I think is the debatable this guy, and I just don't think that's the case. Reality is after Dobbs, abortion rights have not been rescinded nationwide, abortion will is still available in roughly half of our states, others where it's not, and some states have put up pretty significant restrictions. So will women have to travel to get abortions? Yes. Will that impact poor women? Yes. We have to be honest about that. Does that trump what's being done to the unborn child in the womb? And I say, no. So if a woman is inconvenienced to have to end the life of her unborn child, I'm not unhappy about that. If a woman has obstacles in the way that might encourage her to keep a pregnancy and then put a baby up for adoption, I think that's the best solution. So I dunno, this is gonna sound really callous and uncaring, but I think, we have to weight values in conflict. And to say that we'll return to the days of the back alley, I think is false on both counts, because I don't think we were ever there predominantly, and I don't think we will be there again in the future.
>> So it's false, practically. And even if it were true in principle, it wouldn't justify that taking of an innocent human life. We're back to the question, what is the unborn? And of course we're talking arguments here, but you and I would both agree just to quick and notice any woman who feels that she has to do this. We have nothing but compassion and love and care for her. I've come to see many women in this circumstance as victims. And that's an important way to approach this, that you and I have talked about before. But with that said, what is the unborn? Is it a human being that the law should protect? That's the heart of the question. Last pro-choice argument for you. In some ways, this is one of the best pro-choice arguments. I think it's very creative, it's sophisticated, it still comes up a lot now, years after when it was stated. And if I was a pro-choicer, I would probably use or consider using this argument. And it's what's called Judith Jarvis Thomson's Violinist Analogy. And here's what it is, just in case someone's not familiar with this. Suppose you wake up tomorrow hooked to a world famous violinist. Against your awareness or will, your body was selected to serve as her human dialysis machine. If you unhook her over the next nine months, as she recovers, she will in fact die. So if you unhook from her, she will in fact die. Thompson argues that you would have the right to unhook yourself in this instance, because you shouldn't be forcefully attached to an outside entity, which would also apply to pregnant women. So the idea is, if you find this appalling that your body is taken over and for nine months you have to support this world famous violinist. And the part behind it is we're thinking nobody wants, especially, a world famous violinist to die. That's a part of the emotional pull of this. Then you should be in favor of a woman also being able to unhook herself from the unborn. Go.
>> Not so fast. [Sean laughs] I think, I will say just to start, the analogy is closer to what Thompson is trying to show in cases where sex is not consensual. In cases of sexual assault, things like that, the argument is closer. I don't think it's entirely accurate. And there are two main discontinuities with this. For one, the child you are carrying is not analogous to a stranger that you've just been dealing with anonymously. But second, pregnancy is not analogous to imprisonment. In fact, you will find, I don't know, well, I just take my own wife in her experience. She felt pretty lousy for the first three months, months four, five, and six, in her words, she's never felt better. And then months seven, eight, and nine, we were kind of ready to get this over with and be done, and deliver and be done. But to say that she was imprisoned by the pregnancy, just simply is not accurate. She had a job, she did all the stuff she normally does around the house, she carried on her life virtually normally, except the first couple months were challenging. So I think to frame it like this, I think sort of sets it up with an intrinsic bias. Now, tell what Thompson's done here, I think is an interesting move. She has conceded that the unborn child's a person.
>> Sean: That's right.
>> And which I don't actually think she believed, this was first formulated in 1975. And I think she was conceding this for the sake of argument, okay? Increasingly today, it's being conceded because they really mean it.
>> They actually believe it.
>> And because they don't believe that they can support the case that the unborn child is nothing more than a massive tissue, or an embryo is nothing more than a bag of marbles. So the question then becomes, at what point do you have an obligation to care? So if you are kidnapped against your will by a stranger, the fact that the stranger is a person and going to die is not relevant to your obligation. Obviously, you don't have that good Samaritan obligation. But your offspring is completely different than a stranger, your offspring is someone that you created through sex that you knew had the possibility of doing this, honestly, unless you should not had human biology 101. [Sean laughs] And you are not imprisoned forever because you do have the right to give the baby up for adoption, so you are not imprisoned for the next 18 to 20 years by being a parent. Ironically, dads, however, can be, they have no say in that decision. But once they father a child, they're on the hook for the next 18 years, which I think is an inconsistency in how the law treats this.
>> That is inconsistent.
>> Now, of course, the answer to that is that moms and dads should both be on the hook for the children they create.
>> There you go.
>> Nobody, should get a pass. Like that, dad, I'm not... this is not in praise of dead be deads.
>> Sean: Right. Right.
>> But I think those are two really significant discontinuities that in my view, the analogy fails. You've thought about this too and answered this before. How do you respond to that?
>> Well, I think back to your first point, to consider pregnancy like imprisonment, in many ways is really an insult to women who are made for childbirth, their bodies are. Now, obviously your wife was sick some, my wife, we had three kids, I'm not saying it necessarily feels good, I'm sure there's sometimes a woman feels like they're imprisoned. I'm not downplaying that.
>> This is one where maybe two guys shouldn't be describing this.
>> There you go. But what our wives have told us, and we have seen, obviously it can be a very painful, exhausting process. But a woman's body is made for this, and it's beautiful and it's good. And what a mystery that a human being can be inside another human being for nine months, we've lost the mystery and the beauty of this. And I think illustrations like this dehumanize such a good beautiful process. Now, the one way, I'm gonna add a bonus on here because I think everyone's thinking, "Wait a minute, you just went through 10 objections, and you missed the obvious one that always comes up." In the violinist argument, if anything is at least closer to the idea that somebody is raped and made pregnant against their will. So how do we respond to that? Now, I'll give you my two cents on this. First off, the woman is now pregnant with an unborn that's not a detached violinist, but a human being that is 50% the mother. So there's already a disanalogy between that, that's important. But the other thing I would say is the first Christian response to somebody who's been raped, and I say this as a dad with a 15-year-old daughter, and you better believe I've thought about this, is Romans 12 when it says, "Cry with those who cry, and have joy with those who have joy." The Christian response, it's to show compassion, to show care, to love this person who has experienced such devastation, that you and I, when we interviewed Rachael Denhollander, who broke the USA gymnastics sex abuse scandal, said that PTSD from sex abuse is second only to war. So compassion. But a question I have is this, interestingly, my adopted sister, 10 years younger than I am, also went to Biola after I did. When she was a student here, she asked my dad to track down her birth mom, so we hired a private investigator and found her. And interestingly, she's a pastor in the Midwest, and they'd began that relationship. What my sister discovered is that her mom at 14, at 14 years old was date raped and became pregnant with my sister. Now, I realize this is an emotion filled story, I get that, but it's also personal. And it raised the question, did my sister, and does my sister have any less right to life because of how she was conceived? I don't know how you answer that when the science itself is clear. That's how I look at this. The unborn is still a valuable human being who is present. The question is, given devastating circumstances, and a human being who is now in the world, what is the morally right thing to do and is to protect that life.
>> Yeah, one act of violence doesn't justify another one.
>> Hmm. Well said. And that goes back to the question, what is the unborn? What is abortion that we started with?
>> Yeah. I appreciate you sharing that. And I hope our listeners appreciate how hard that is. I've heard you talk about that before, and that's just a brutal subject to address. And I hope our viewers and listeners appreciate your vulnerability in that, 'cause I certainly do.
>> She's given me the permission to share that story. And it's just the most beautiful, amazing human being. And you think about this, she now has three kids and future grandkids. Each of these choices have massive consequences.
>> Scott: Yeah.
>> We often don't think about. Well, clearly there's a lot more objections than this. And we could probably take each one of these, maybe we'll do a series someday where we go into some depth.
>> I'll give you a bonus one too.
>> Okay. Alright.
>> Before we stop.
>> And that is, what about when the mother's life is in jeopardy?
>> That's a really common one.
>> Sean: Love it. Go.
>> And usually, in almost every case, I think if it's absolutely necessary to end the pregnancy in order to save the mother's life, like in an ectopic pregnancy, for example.
>> Sean: Okay.
>> That's where the embryo implants in the fallopian tube, and not in the uterus, it's fatal to the mother. And in most cases, the reason for choosing the mother is because if you lose the mother, you're gonna lose the baby also.
>> Sean: Hmm.
>> And keeping the mother is the best opportunity to save the baby. Now, in some cases, you simply can't do both. Those are very rare.
>> Sean: Yep.
>> And we are getting much better at dealing with these high-risk pregnancies. I've heard some OBs say that there's never a time,
>> Where you have to do that.
>> Sean: Okay.
>> Ectopic pregnancies, I think are an exception to that, because it's imminently fatal to the mother.
>> Sean: Right.
>> And the embryo will certainly miscarry one way or another.
>> Fair enough. So you taught me back in ethics class when I was a master student in philosophy, that at the heart of ethics is the motivation behind an act. So the motivation in the case when the mother's life is genuinely in jeopardy, is not to kill the unborn, it's to protect the mother. That intent changes everything. To treat the mother.
>> To treat the mother. And we hope for the best, pray hard, but we let the chips fall where they will with the baby, in those very rare cases.
>> We started off saying we're gonna do 10, but we landed 12, which last I checked is a good biblical number.
>> There you go.
>> So we will end there. There's a lot more that could be said, and we will revisit this topic. And hopefully this gives you some responses to common pro-choice arguments. And as always, we hope give them with kindness and respect, but also speak truth, especially on topics like this that are so sensitive and personal. This has been brought to you by the Think Biblically Podcast to make sure you go subscribe. But also, as you can tell, we're doing some by videos, so if you watch this on Biola University's YouTube channel, make sure you hit subscribe, or on my YouTube channel, make sure you hit subscribe. Thanks for watching. [uplifting music]