El Gringoqueño

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My Choice – A Logical Fallacy

I’ve written about it before, and I thought that was all I could say on the topic, but leave it to recent events to tweak my logic receptors off the charts.  There are several logical fallacies on either side, granted, but the ones that irritate me the most are pro-choice.  

From an article in the Washington Post (online) on why this soon-to-be doctor would be performing abortions in her practice  (go ahead and read it, I’ll wait):

I was 14 years old when that clinic was bombed, killing a police officer and spraying Emily’s body full of hot nails and shrapnel. Back then, I lived in a small Alabama town, went to church every Sunday and was adamantly opposed to abortion…

"That’s horrible," I reply,  "Such a tragedy for that poor woman who was a victim of an abortion clinic bombing.  There are certainly some wackos out there.  I hope they rot in jail for their crimes.  But I have to ask, why does this make you think performing abortions is a good thing?  So some wacko bombed an abortion clinic, and you said to yourself, "I’m convinced, let’s do some abortions."  I ask for rationality’s sake, because I’m not following your argument."

I read the entire article.  Ms. Love seems to be a thoughtful person, a decent person.  I’m not knocking her intentions, nor her conscience.  I’m kickin’ it to her logic.  Here’s another gem:

One friend begged me to help her concoct a legitimate-sounding excuse — painful or irregular periods, say — for why she needed to be on birth control. No one could know the real reason: She was sexually active and didn’t want to get pregnant.

Her point, using the ever helpful friend scenario, was that people were kept ignorant by the bible thumping masses, that they didn’t know about their own biological reproductive systems, that they couldn’t get the pill or condoms.  First, I don’t think in this day and age, that these anecdotal stories should be the basis of public policy, but again I’d like to know what this has to do with abortion? 

And finally:

It wasn’t until I spent time in ultrasound rooms during a research job in graduate school that I began to see late-trimester abortions in a very different light. In one case, the patient’s baby had just been diagnosed with a lethal congenital anomaly. The high likelihood was that it wouldn’t survive after birth for more than a few minutes. As long as the baby remained in her mother’s womb, however, she would live. I asked the physician what this woman’s options were. The answer was, not many. She could choose to continue the pregnancy, but then she might be waiting for almost 20 more weeks to give birth to a baby that would never take more than a few breaths on its own. She was past the point where she could legally terminate the pregnancy in Alabama.

Instead of evaluating these issues on a case by case basis, she’d be more willing to say that now she favors late term abortions.  I’d wager that late term abortions are rare and heart wrenching in any scenario, but here we have another logical fallacy, or at least a conclusion being made with a very small data set, and it leaves out something very important.

The child.

The little baby was forgotten, malformed or not, wanted or not, imperfect or not.  That little baby was everything it was going to be at the moment of conception.  You hear that?  Conception.  It’s not magic, breath of God, type stuff.  It’s simple biology.

When my children were born (all four of them), they were locked in at the moment of conception.  Jaimito became Jaimito at the point.  Olaia became Olaia.  Javier, loud as he is, was Javier.  And little sweet Asier was nothing more and nothing less than Asier at the moment of conception.  What else could they have been?  Somebody show me how that little embryo could have turned out to be something other than what it was unless someone intervened? 

I have the benefit of hindsight, of course.  I didn’t know what my children would be like until they were born, but that doesn’t change their history.  Just because I was not privy to their uniqueness in utero, doesn’t mean they weren’t unique and special.  I can step their biological development back to that point, start it up again, and they would still be them.  Before conception?  They didn’t exist in a fixed format.  There is no beginning point.  Statistics and probability govern their futures before conception.  No one can say what would have happened if conception had occurred an instant before or an instant after.

No, it is at the moment of conception, that their being, their essence was fixed.  I can’t and won’t debate souls, or magic pixie dust, or legalities, because I find no value in proving the existence of a soul, nor am I a lawyer.  All I can say is what I know – that at the moment the sperm fertilized the egg, each of their little lives was on a irrevocable march through life and onward to natural death.

In our society, a society that cares about whales, stray dogs, and trees, I find it hard to reconcile the absolute rights of a woman with a basic right to live, to breathe.  If a gestating human is not a person, what is it?  At what point does it become something other than what it is?  Is it magic when it passes the birth canal?  If it is a person today, what was it yesterday? 

If a doctor’s first duty is to do no harm, how do we reconcile human rights with what a mother wants?

6 Comments

  1. I like your discussion topics! Provocative and challenging:)

    Not exactly sure what recent events you are referring to but abortion is surely an overstated topic. Overstated and terribly confusing because people do not talk about the matter at hand but their feelings and experiences _about_ it, which are bound by our instinctive nature to be very sensitive. Not that we can’t have discussions about that too, “how do you feel about xyz”, where _the feel_ is the subject and not the _xyz_. If you get past that step you can begin to discuss abortion. It’s just the correct way to do it in terms of Communication towards reaching Understanding [Habermas].

    First of all there is a logical fallacy in talking about your own children when you say that each human being is uniquely unique (double stated to underline the original meaning of the word). They are as far away from the subjects that today are in risk of being aborted (artificially or not) than you are to Dumbo the elephant. Seriously. If you play the unique-card you’d better appreciate the full consequences of it, and Einstein’s general theory of relativity:)

    Yes, I’ve had coffee to drink.

    Rights are abstract devices of controlling what’s accepted and not in social behaviour. They are not, as it were, de facto natural laws (theoretical constructs though of science) though they may seem so prima facie. They may reflect a _common trait_ culturally or biologically or try to do so, but that is not what make a law natural. A common biological trait in our species, for example, is the susceptibility of our mothers to not kill their offspring. There is even a dimple in the back of the baby’s head which sole function is to ensure that it does not happen. Not all women are affected by this and become distant to their babies or kill them. We have made a law on the basis of this trait saying that it is _illegal_ to kill them, which seems to be common across cultural gaps. Merely an example.

    My point (however) is that laws have a quality of thirdness by nature, so to speak, and require the eyes of a (sentient) social agent to exist. Not merely a speech act as such but a larger construct immediately recognized by individuals who play the game of civilization (most if not all of us). This is why textbook laws are much easier to break than social norms, the distance to retribution is further away.

    Any act is insusceptible to law without addition of thirdness. It is a completely amoral event in the course of the history of the universe. It is a matter of matter moving matter in the only existing universe, the event horizon, or the now. To wit, I don’t clearly see how you reconcile human rights with the rest of the universe as a whole at all, other than as a social construct in the abstract segment of reality (thirdness), viz.

    The problem at hand, then, is to distinguish between the different reasons for reacting or not reacting upon the acts of an Other, and to determine which one of these reasons are closer to the Understanding than the specific cultural traits in a majority or a minority and from there stake out what’s to be legal or not. The rest is mere opinion. And I am not saying that opinion is not important or invalid, I’m just saying that it isn’t automatically agreed-upon.

    I think a lot of these issues are created by people advocating that life is holy; who rigorously prohibits contraceptives and encourages early sexuality, an early and successful practice in yonder days but obsolete today. The recent advancement in hygiene and new knowledge about health is a world away from the holy books of past times’ religions. They fail to embrace other social and cultural truths, and our recent technological advance.

    Life is not holy. Holy is just a word. My life is everything to me, in the sense of it being my circular raison d’être, but it didn’t mean a shit to those bastards who nearly took it. And I can by no means persuade them otherwise until they willingly enter the debate wholeheartedly, honestly, in a communication towards reaching understanding. Is that realistic? Do you HAVE TO read Kant to realize that you have been a fool? Then why not any given Zombie Jesus religious book instead? Is the platform under foot in the theory of formal pragmatics after Habermas [Kant] the ideal of us all or simply the whim of the instant with the perceived absoluteness of facticity? Or perhaps we “are meant to” surpass it, surpass our humanity and step up the ladder, so to speak. Is Nietzsche’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra” the last chapter of the Bible?

    I am not saying that morale does not exist or that it does not matter. On the contrary, I do recognize and observe morality in myself and others on a daily basis, but I am nowhere near confusing a naturally occurring phenomena with dictated laws passed down for generations. The waters are murky. But in the long run, we will come to recognize that the closed monopoly game of religion is immoral and an obstacle for the advancement of our species. In its hay days it played an important part of survival, but it has played its part in our social evolution and the revolution of information technology will see to its demise as more and more people get together and everybody wants the same thing; a godless paradise.

    My 2 cents and more:)

  2. I wrote this a while ago in response to the unfortunate killing of an abortion doctor. I was irritated that his murder was being used to demonize those that genuinely see value in a gestating child.

    But to cut the chase on your comment:

    What?

    It’s kind of funny and revealing, that I never mention legality nor religion. Did you perhaps, project something upon me?

    No, it is at the moment of conception, that their being, their essence was fixed. I can’t and won’t debate­ souls, or magic pixie dust, or legalities, because I find no value in proving the existence of a soul, nor am I a lawyer. All I can say is what I know – that at the moment the sperm fertilized the egg, each of their little lives was on a irrevocable march through life and onward to natural death.

    I’m not debating morality, religion, legality whatever. I’m only offering an opinion as to the "realness" of a human fetus. I base this realness upon the fact that every human began thusly, and by stepping forward in time came to reveal that uniqueness to their fellows. Because we are not privy to it in utero, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. And I’d wager that given the several billion examples of uniqueness and individual consciousness, logic would be on my side, but I’ve been wrong before.

    Here we sit in this universe contemplating existence? Are we special? May we consider the hole into which we have fallen only because we have fallen into it?

    Why does the hole exist? How did I fall into it?

    I find these questions less compelling than the conclusion that I am indeed in a hole. Of that I can be sure. We can debate how far I’ve fallen, what I’m doing while I’m falling, but regardless, I am in the hole, and have been since conception (unless you can come up with an alternate time line).

    I have fallen into the universe.

    Nice try though. 😉

  3. Alas, the religion & legality stances were followups to debates we’ve had quite a lot of in Norway, often spurred by someone pointing to the US going: “But hey, look at them!”
    I wasn’t addressing you specifically, but the universe in general 😀

    The USA is an unfathomably backwards country. We (the US and Norway) share the same proportional amount of religious nuts who actually don’t feel any sort of loss when they just throw away the scientific knowledge passed on and brought forward, and in its place put some pseudo-science because a man of God tells them to do so. Intelligent design being one example, and another the sort of Absolute Banishment of clinical abortion.

    The point is that abortions have been performed since the dawn of time. But today we can do so at relatively low risk, while it used to be a deadly procedure. I’m not saying that abortions are the answer to anything, but they are socially accepted (and in some degree expected) actions that will be done whether it is illegal or not. Just outside the coast of Portugal there are boats with physicians doing these operations because they are illegal in the mainland. I don’t understand or accept that the opinion of an extreme minority becomes the law in a democratic society.

    What’s funny is that the people harassing abortion clinics and scorning evolutionists are benefiting hugely from the other areas of the same sciences that they attack, even embracing its terminology, methodology and scientific results. It’s only when the god-concept or an old book gets a mention that the Cray Button’s turned on. Narrow minded.

    I agree my post was irregular, but I was working on the phone while writing it:)

  4. If you’re in a hole you better dig yourself out of it. Sink or swim.

  5. Jim O'Malley

    July 14, 2009 at 11:22 PM

    > I agree my post was irregular, but I was working on the phone while writing it:)

    “I will not accept excuses, I’ll just have to find myself a new giant that’s all.”
    — Vincini – Princess Bride

  6. Midgets be giants too is all I’m saying. Don’t excuse, just accept.

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