Saturday, January 25, 2014

A libertarian turns pro-life

An interesting turn of events here. Andrew Klavan, a conservative political commentator, but better known for his novels and screen plays, wrote a column on Wednesday of this week.

His subject - the March for Life. His comments are interesting and the final statements particularly so.

Until quite recently, I was pro-abortion. I opposed Roe V. Wade — I thought it a dishonest decision that robbed the people of their right to settle the matter for themselves. But given the chance to vote on the issue, I would have voted for the greatest possible abortion access. While I myself live according to my conservative lights, I've never felt I have the right to impose those values on others.
I changed my mind about abortion, however, because after debating the issue with pro-lifers over many years, I found I consistently lost the argument.
I’ve changed many of my opinions as I’ve grown wiser with time, but this change was one of the hardest. Not only does it go against my libertarian nature, it also means opposing the passionately held beliefs of some of the people I love most. Several of the women in my circle feel that access to abortion is an essential right.
 Whenever I hear abortion spokespeople defend their position — and I mean, whenever I hear them — they seem to me determined to obscure the real issue. They talk about being “pro-choice,” but who among their opponents is anti-choice? They talk about “women’s health,” but what sinister constituency demands that women be unhealthy? They talk about “protecting a woman’s body,” but it’s not the woman’s body under threat, it’s the body of the baby inside her.
 Okay, aborting a baby might be liberating, empowering and convenient. It might even dramatically improve the future course of your life. But the same could be said about murdering your wife if she’s a big enough pain in the neck. That doesn’t give you the right to do it, and it doesn’t make it the right thing to do.
The only relevant question about abortion is whether an unborn child is or is not a human being. If she is, I do not see how you have the moral right to kill her except in extreme circumstances.
And even if a fetus’s humanity is not yet complete, it’s wise to consider this piece of wisdom from the Clint Eastwood western Unforgiven. When you kill a man, Clint’s character says, you “take away all he’s got and all he’s ever gonna have.” That’s right. We are creatures who exist in time. We are as much what we will be as who we are. A man who’s fast asleep can’t think or choose fully either, but he’ll be well able when morning comes. So it is with an unborn child.
My natural sympathies are with the libertarians on this issue. But logic and moral truth are with the people who marched in Washington Wednesday. And so now I’m with them too.
I was listening to Scott Klusendorf recently; he is the best person for pro-life apologetics, in fact he trains people to do this. Stephanie Gray of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform got her training with Scott.

Scott says all arguments for abortion can be countered with apologetic logic that he calls by the acronym SLED. All arguments can be countered by meeting these head on.  Size, level of development, environment, and dependency.

Size is pretty self-explanatory. When someone makes the argument that abortion only removes something that is incredibly small (and they make this argument all the time), the response should be what does size have to do with being human? If it does, then it follows that larger people have more value than smaller people. The fetus, while smaller, has everything within it to grow into a recognizable human baby.

Level of development - if we judge the value of human life according to this, then we can move the parameters of our definition whenever we please. An infant is not as developed as a toddler, a toddler not as developed as a teenager, and so on. So it is that a fetus is not as developed as an infant, but it is simply on a different section of its growth vector.

Environment - when does where you are have anything to do with what you are? An 8-inch journey down the birth canal does not have the miraculous effect of turning something living into a human person. It is a person before it begins that journey. The life in the womb is the same as the life outside the womb.

Dependency - we are all dependent upon others for our survival. Diabetics are dependent upon insulin, some people are dependent upon pace-makers for survival, some are dependent upon dialysis to continue living. A baby in the womb is dependent upon its mother for certain things, but so is a new-born. And at the end of our lives, we are mightily dependent upon others for many things. Judging the value of life by the measure of independence leaves us extremely vulnerable to our own definition should our circumstances change.

Andrew Klavan changed his position on abortion when he faced the second, third and fourth parts of Klusendorf's apologetic argument. A resounding Yes to his bravery for following the logic of the argument, despite where it has brought him.

I am convinced that all pro-life strategies have to focus on what is inside the womb in order to change people's hearts and minds. It is when we really understand that this little being is a fellow human that we recognize it is our duty to protect it.


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