Pro-Choice for the Wrong Reasons

I don't believe life begins at conception. I think an embryo is far too unlike anything that has right's worth respecting, or dignity worth preserving. The more you know about the characteristics of an embryo (or lack thereof) the more claims about it deserving protection violates normal human intuitions.

Some people might call my position pro-choice. Regardless of whether that label truly applies to me, I notice the people who call themselves pro-choice generally justify their position on very different grounds.


Pro-choicers bypass the entire life-at-conception angle and instead embrace a pro-women angle. This seems completely wrong to me. I don't believe life begins at conception, but if I did I would definitely be pro-life, and no amount of appeal to women's rights would change my mind. A competent pro-choice argument needs to show that abortion is not baby murder, not that there are good reasons for baby murder.

I've engaged with more than one pro-choicer on this issue. I ask them to pretend life begins at conception to see how a pro-life position follows. Many of them are unable to. They can't see how X doesn't have to be true to comprehend that if X, Y and Z follow. Though I think there are certain kinds of people who truly are unable to do basic abstraction, I also think a lot more people don't when they don't want to. It's more preferable to believe your enemies want to deny women's rights than believe something different about an embryo.

Similar to Dawkins, I get frustrated with people who give bad reasons for the right conclusions. Even though I'm more-or-less libertarian, I get frustrated with libertarians who deny economic textbook explanation for market failure. Even though I'm sympathetic to gun control, I get frustrated with people who act like mass shootings are frequent. Even though I dislike Trump, I get frustrated with people who gullibly believe the swarms of hit-pieces written about him.

I once wrote that we should put our heads first and our hearts second. Most people don't do that, so isn't the women's rights angle to abortion at least more rhetorically effective?

I confess it's possible. But I would need more evidence that the pro-women angle is actually influential despite how logically dubious it is. It at least doesn't seem to influence pro-life people who hear, "women have the right to kill a baby." Certainly, a lot of people use this angle to justify their position, but that doesn't mean it was influential. It seems likely that these people would still be pro-choice even if the pro-women angle disappeared from the face of the earth.


This is a post about abortion. Here are other posts on the same subject:

1 comment:

  1. Good post; I wonder what other "good" views you and I hold for the "wrong" reasons.

    In the future, I expect that carrying / delivering a baby inside of a woman's body will become increasingly rare, as In Vitro fertilization becomes easier and more socially acceptable. I've heard it floated that this could (should? will?) lead to a phasing-out of the "My Body, My Choice!" argument. Let's see if anyone's view changes as a result.

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