In continuing my posts looking at the effects of post-modernism on the abortion debate (You can access part one and part two here). I would like to highlight another way that the postmodern worldview has influenced the way members of our society view the pro-life argument, and give some practical tips for engaging this view. Since I have already addressed several of the fatal flaws in relativism, I will focus more specifically on how relativism manifests itself in the most common slogan of the pro-choice movement in the West today.
Many pro-life men(myself included) have had the slogan repeated to us that since we cannot get pregnant, we should remain silent on the issue of abortion. To put it another way, since men cannot experience the troubles that come with pregnancy, it is assumed (On this view) that they have nothing of importance to add to the discussion on abortion.
It is definitely true that men canUsually, at this point, pro-lifers will correctly point out that Roe V Wade was decided by men who could not experience pregnancy. However, this misses the point that the critic of the pro-life view is making: Pro-Choice advocates in this case are not saying that any view on abortion is nullified because it is held by a man(Though some do believe this). Instead, it is the ability to experience pregnancy itself that is the deciding factor in whether or not a woman can choose to end her pregnancy.
While this may seem sound to some, I think it falls apart under closer scrutiny.
First off, why should anyone accept the claim that the ethics of any action taken is solely up to how a person may feel when faced with that dilemma? Should only parents have a say in whether or not it is wrong to abuse a born child? I personally do not have children, but it would be crazy to assert that because I don’t have kids, I cannot therefore step in to stop someone from abusing their own children.
Second, the pro-life argument does not rest on anyone’s experience. Suppose every single person who opposes elective abortion was a male. What logically follows? Not much. Sure, pro-life men may not be able to sympathize with the emotional turmoil that a woman in a crisis pregnancy may be experiencing, but that proves little. The pro-life argument is that abortion is wrong because it intentionally ends the life of an innocent human being. If it does not intentionally end the life of an innocent human being, then it is not wrong. No experience with pregnancy is needed in order to understand this.
As I stated above, there is a subtle form of relativism that does creep into the argument as well, especially when gender politics is raised. When many feminist groups(Not all) bring up the issue of men not being able to engage on the abortion issue, they are assuming a form of cultural relativism, that relegates values to distinct cultures and sub cultural categories. Since men and women would generally qualify as two sub categorical groups, they may end up viewing an issue such as abortion differently, and thus, one group does not have a view superior to another.
Now, aside from overstating one’s case drastically (It’s simply not true that all men oppose abortion while all women support it; in fact, many men support it for what they can gain, which is easy sex.) The idea also still assumes that the pro-life argument is completely subjective, and is true for some people but not others. The assumption is that since pregnancy primarily affects women, they should decide the morality of killing the child whom they are pregnant with.
However, that isn’t the way that rights(Including abortion rights, if they exist) end up working. To say that a right or a wrong only exists if someone or some people personally choose to accept it would completely undermine any claim to legitimacy for any right, including abortion. The abortion supporter is thus stuck asserting that the right to abortion only exists for her personally if she feels like it does, but if others feel like it doesn’t, then she is out of luck.
It seems odd to think of a notion like intrinsic rights being something as superfluous as a desire for spicy food or chocolate ice cream, which means that any right that human beings have for simply being human is not merely a preference for a particular individual or group. Thus, a right that exists across individuals and groups is capable of being recognized by everyone. If that right extends to the unborn as well, then both men and women are capable of recognizing that right, and the injustice of when that right is taken away. Therefore, the assertion that the abortion debate depends solely on women’s perspectives fails in this regard as well.
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