How to Show You’re Not to Be Taken Seriously

I’m going to pick on Daniel Florien for a minute because I absolutely detest the basic form of his blog post, How to Stump Anti-Abortionists With One Question. Florien is hardly the only person to offer one of these “how to stump xyz with one questions” guides. I’ve seen how to stump pro-abortionists, atheists, Christians, Darwinists, creationists, etc. etc. in one question essays.

For the most part, the argument that is allegedly a show stopper is surprisingly lame. Consider, for example, what Florien considers to be a show stopping argument against anti-abortionists,

Just ask them this:

If abortion was illegal, what should be done with the women who have illegal abortions?

Now watch their faces as the cognitive dissonance sets in. They believe abortion to be murder. Murder deserves severe punishment. Thus, women who have illegal abortions should receive severe punishment — like life in prison or the death penalty. That’s the logical conclusion.

That’s just stupid on a number of levels.

First of all, it simply does not logically follow that if abortion is wrong that it should result in “severe punishment — like life in prison or the death penalty.” That’s not a logical conclusion, that’s a straw man.

In fact, prior to Roe v. Wade, when abortion was illegal in most states, women were rarely prosecuted for having illegal abortions. Rather if there was a prosecution, the state would generally go after the doctor performing the procedure. Similarly, abortion is banned throughout Ireland, and yet prosecutions of women who have illegal abortions are extremely rare there.

On the other hand, it is also certainly possible for anti-abortion states to prosecute women. Portugal, after all, does actively prosecute women who have illegal abortions as well as the doctors who perform them. Unfortunately for Florien, the penalties are from from his Draconian straw man — for example, a couple of women acquitted of having abortions in 2005 faced up to three years in jail if they had been convicted.

Apparently Florien needs to first convince both Ireland and Portugal that they simply cannot ban abortion without sentencing women to life in prison or the death penalty.

I’m sure there are, nonetheless, anti-abortionists who may be stumped by this lame argument, just as I assume there are jurors who may be convinced by the Chewbacca defense. All Florin’s post shows is that he takes the arguments for or against abortion about as seriously as those dimwits he seeks to stump. Personally, I wouldn’t be bragging about that.

Finally, Florien felt the need to update his blog post with the usual tripe from “pro-choice” types,

First, a clarification. I’m not pro-abortion. I support the legalization of abortion. I do not like abortion nor do I usually counsel it. However, I do think it should be available for women who want it, especially if they were raped or have zero interest in caring for a child.

I would like abortion to be safe, legal, and rare. We can all work together on the rare part.

God, I hate this line of thinking. Can you imagine this nonsense being deployed in any other medical contest? I’m not pro-viagra. I would like viagra to be safe, legal and rare. Why do “pro-choicers” always feel the need to apologize for their support of legalized abortion in this way?

I am pro-abortion. I want abortion to be safe and legal and occur in whatever frequency women freely choose.

Anyone adding the “and rare” clause needs to define a) just what sort of abortion rate would qualify as rare, and b) how they would go about reducing the number of abortions from the >1 million annually in the United States to whatever rate is acceptable as “rare.”

3 thoughts on “How to Show You’re Not to Be Taken Seriously”

  1. Man, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen one of those one question pieces of nonsense. “How do you right click with a Mac” was my favorite, followed closely by “How do you do macros on a Mac”. (Dear Applescript, PC users don’t love you any more.)

  2. Thanks, Brian, for even though you are legally and morally wrong, for thinking through your position.
    In former times knowledge of what went on inside a woman’s reproductive tract was quite limited, especially during the early stages of pregnancy. Many strongly suspected that, extrapolating back from what they did know, that there was a distinct individual human being in there all the way back to conception.
    In a court of law, where a person’s liberty or even life hangs in the balance, “strongly suspected” does not make it. To convict an aborting mother or an abortionist of murder required proof that what had been done involved the death of a human being. If there was not proof beyond a reasonable doubt, no conviction.
    Without a body and with only the suspects (aborting mother and her hired executioner)(who cannot be compelled to give evidence that may convict them) having first-hand knowledge of what happened, successful prosecution was so difficult that prosecuting attorneys, even those who really wanted to punish aborters, would not waste their time and the resources of their offices.
    Today when we can see with the electron microscope even the wrapping of the DNA from the sperm with the DNA of the ovum, resulting in a distinct individual, the proof is more readily obtained. It still would be difficult to prosecute because if abortion was treated under the same laws that prohibit the murder of already-born human beings the crime would be perpetrated in secret and all the witnesses would come under the 5th amendment protection against being compelled to give testimony that can be used against them.
    Formerly, when abortion was treated as murder, the aborting mother would be granted immunity in return for her testimony against the abortionist. She had had one baby killed, while the abortionist had killed dozens or hundreds, so (usually a “he”) he was the one who was vigorously prosecuted. Later, the laws were changed to grant the aborting mother total impunity (see “title of nobility”) and to reduce the maximum penalty for criminal abortion (see “bill of attainder”), which had been the same as for the criminal homicide of a born human being.
    Finding one or a few anti-abortionists who either have not thought through the consequences of obtaining what they say they want, or who are unable to articulate it, is intellectually dishonest, as you point out concerning the straw man argument. Some won’t say they understand the consequences for they are incrementalists and won’t go for a more solid position until they get what they are currently trying to accomplish. Or they don’t want to offend their “troops” who come out to picket faithfully but, like the interviewees, haven’t thought it through.
    Many don’t want to think of the aborting mother as anything but a victim. Victim of what? Did the bad, bad abortionist come out on the street and drag them in? Mostly victim of life and of nature. The boys can play around with sex without getting pregnant but the girls can’t always get away with sex-for-fun.
    Even justice Harry Blackmun, author of Roe v. Wade, pointed out that since 1859 Texas had granted aborted mothers impunity. His comments are found, among other places, in the text at note 49 and in note 54. The “Pro-LIfe” amici curiae (“friends of the court”) advisory briefs did not get to the heart of the matter. The attorney for Texas went no further than to defend the Texas statute (that was his job).
    “… in many States, including Texas, 49 by statute or judicial interpretation, the pregnant woman herself could not be prosecuted for self-abortion or for cooperating in an abortion performed upon her by another.”
    [ Footnote 54 ] “When Texas urges that a fetus is entitled to Fourteenth Amendment protection as a person, it faces a dilemma. Neither in Texas nor in any other State are all abortions prohibited. Despite broad proscription, an exception always exists. The exception contained [410 U.S. 113, 158] in Art. 1196, for an abortion procured or attempted by medical advice for the purpose of saving the life of the mother, is typical. But if the fetus is a person who is not to be deprived of life without due process of law, and if the mother’s condition is the sole determinant, does not the Texas exception appear to be out of line with the Amendment’s command?

    “There are other inconsistencies between Fourteenth Amendment status and the typical abortion statute. It has already been pointed out, n. 49, supra, that in Texas the woman is not a principal or an accomplice with respect to an abortion upon her. If the fetus is a person, why is the woman not a principal or an accomplice? Further, the penalty for criminal abortion specified by Art. 1195 is significantly less than the maximum penalty for murder prescribed by Art. 1257 of the Texas Penal Code. If the fetus is a person, may the penalties be different?”

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