Tag Archives: Abortion

Criminals & Victims in Abortion

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge addresses the 2018 Arkansas March for Life at the State Capitol.

I attended my state’s March For Life at our State Capitol this past Sunday, mourning the last 45 years of legalized abortion here in America. Afterwards, I had an unusual conversation with a gentlemen who claimed to be pro-life. Throughout the rally, he had been holding up a sign that advocated putting women in jail who sought abortions. This was the first time I’d seen anyone at a pro-life rally who advocated that, so we had an odd, but civil, conversation afterward. From the last 2 posts this month, and previous posts on the subject of abortion, you can see for yourself that I consider abortion to be the intentional killing of a living, innocent, human person – and therefore murder. So if abortion is murder, why would I and most pro-life people disagree with the gentleman I spoke to regarding the prosecution of women seeking abortions? Let’s work through that today.

  • The abortionist, as the one actually committing (and profiting from) the deed, and possessing sufficient medical training to know what it is that he is doing, will always bear the larger moral responsibility for an abortion. This is partly why pro-lifers consistently argue for punishment for the abortionist performing these procedures rather than the women seeking them. For instance, in a dismemberment abortion, the abortionist tears the arms and legs from the torso, then crushes the skull of the baby so that it may be sucked out of the womb through a vacuum hose. Because of the possibility of infection if any of the baby’s body parts are left in the womb to rot, the abortionist must examine the remains and account for all of them. While the woman may be told that her baby was just an “undifferentiated clump of cells”, the abortionist is able to visually confirm that that is simply not the case. He is without excuse.
  • This brings up a 2nd point: lies women believe. Many women have fallen for the lies that the new life they carry is “just a clump of cells”, “similar to a polyp or cyst”, “not human yet”, “not alive yet”, or “a part of their body to do with as they please.” It grieves me to hear responses like those from women (and men who feel they are being supportive of “women’s rights” by parroting the abortion talking points). The case for life is robust, both philosophically and scientifically. But sadly, pro-abortion lies like “My body, my choice” can be chanted and carried on signs far easier than a discussion of the verifiable different DNA between mother and baby. But since women do believe these lies, and hence do believe that they are simply getting rid of something less than human, I don’t fault them for making a tragic decision based on the false information given them by groups like Planned Parenthood, NARAL, NOW and others who claim to have their best interests in mind. Rather, I, and so many other pro-lifers, seek to educate women (and men) everywhere on the amazingly complex development going on largely unseen in the womb. Education dispels ignorance, and science is strongly on the side of life. In fact, some of the most outspoken pro-lifers have been former abortionists who could no longer ignore the clear scientific facts staring at them from an ultrasound machine, or the clearly human remains they were disposing of (Dr. Bernard Nathanson, Dr. Joseph Randall, Dr. Anthony Levatino, among many others over the years).
  • While the baby killed is clearly a victim in an abortion, many women do not leave the abortion unscathed. While there are the pregnant women who actually die in abortions, and other who suffer from medical complications afterward, I’m actually talking about the women who have regrets for an irreversible action that can’t be undone later; the women who suffer from guilt and wonder what that child might’ve grown up to be; and the women who suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts after the abortion, as found in a 1996 study in Finland [1].
  • We have a standard in the US of “innocent until proven guilty”. While the abortionist is clearly guilty, the case of the women involved is not nearly so clear cut. The expectant mother has often been lied to and misinformed, and may be scared of the consequences of her pregnancy and unaware of life-protecting options like adoption. Therefore it is better to err on the side of giving them the benefit of the doubt.
  • Some women are pressured into abortions by abusive husbands, boyfriends unwilling to man up and take responsibility for the child they helped create, parents threatening to kick their pregnant daughter out of the house unless she aborts, pimps who know how much money they will lose out on if one of the girls they prostitute is pregnant for 9 months, or the government in the case of China.

These are some reasons why pro-lifers reach out with compassion to abortive mothers. As Robert P. George so succinctly stated, “We are interested in saving babies, not punishing mothers. And we know that we don’t need to punish mothers to save babies.”[2] So as Christians we follow Paul’s command to speak the “truth in love” [Eph 4:15], educating people who may possibly not understand the significance of what they do or advocate. And if you are considering an abortion, please call 1-800-848-LOVE to speak to a counselor or to find one of the 3,000 crisis pregnancy centers nationwide near you. They can help you make the best choice for yourself… and your baby.

[1] http://www.bmj.com/content/313/7070/1431.full. This result is interesting in a country that provides free abortions and isn’t noted for associating any stigma with abortion.
[2] https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2016/03/trump-is-no-pro-lifer. Regarding George’s main premise about Trump in his article, I will only say that I have been pleasantly surprised with Trump’s continued support of life and hope that Mr. Trump continues to prove us wrong who were skeptics of the genuineness of his seemingly recent pro-life views.

Normalizing Murder, Part 2

Details of bony structures in 14-week-old fetus from an ultrasound equipment manufacturer.

Last week, we looked at the first eight of sixteen statements phrased as fill-in-the-blank sentences that are showing up on billboards in Cleveland, Ohio supporting the barbaric practice of abortion. Today, I’d like to work through the remaining eight.

  1. “Abortion is  life-saving. “ The irony of this statement would be comical if it weren’t such tragic disinformation. A successful abortion necessarily kills an innocent human. That’s not life-saving; that’s life-destroying. And while there are still cases where carrying the baby to term truly endangers the mother’s life, such as ectopic (tubal) pregnancies or uterine cancer where treatment may kill the baby and non-treatment may kill the mother, these are the exception and make up a minuscule portion of abortions. Interestingly, former US Surgeon General C. Everett Koop said in 1980, “In my thirty-six years in pediatric surgery I have never known of one instance where the child had to be aborted to save the mother’s life.” Even Alan Guttmacher, former president of Planned Parenthood, stated in 1967 that “Today it is possible for almost any patient to be brought through pregnancy alive, unless she suffers from a fatal illness such as cancer or leukemia, and, if so, abortion would be unlikely to prolong, much less save, life.”[1] And genuine life-saving technology has only improved since then, thus further reducing the likelihood of actually needing an abortion.
  2. “Abortion is  a parenting decision. “  If so, then it’s a tragic and often uninformed or misinformed parenting decision. Unfortunately, too many mothers believe the lies that their baby is simply a “clump of cells” or “a parasite”, or “only a potential human”, and make bad, irreversible “parenting” decisions. But parenting is more than just biology. A parent protects, nourishes, and loves their children, and prepares them for adulthood. To have the child killed is antithetical to the common idea of what makes a “good” parent, for it is opposed to a foundational goal of parenting: desiring the good of your children.
  3. “Abortion is  liberty. “  I think this misunderstanding comes from the notion of liberty being unrestrained ability to do anything you desire. That is simply untrue. I am never free to murder my neighbor, nor am I free to steal his car for the fun of it. Liberty is the freedom to do what is right. Freedom of choice does not entail the freedom to choose wrong or to violate someone else’s rights, which is precisely what happens when the unborn baby is deprived of that most fundamental right – the right to one’s own life.
  4. “Abortion is  a second chance. “ The hidden assumption of this statement is that bringing a new life into the world is a) a mistake, and b) one that can simply be erased  like an Etch-a-Sketch via abortion. Even if a baby is “unplanned”, or “inconvenient”, or the result of a one-night-stand, affair, or even a rape – are any of these a good reason to kill an innocent baby? Where is the baby’s first chance to live and make a difference in this world?
  5. “Abortion is  hope. “ Hope achieved at the expense of another’s life is not any kind of genuine hope to offer people, but is only the vice of selfishness repackaged as a virtue. Thinking the deliberate killing of a child brings hope is to assume the child is some kind of anchor holding the mother down, and that abortion can realize the hope of release from such a weighty burden. Yet this goes completely contrary to the beautiful, nurturing nature of motherhood, that routinely sacrifices self for the child. Our next generation isn’t a burden holding us down, but rather our successors that we give a step up to so that they can achieve more than we did, just as we tried to build on what our parents did for us. Abortion actually turns the advancement of civilization on its head.
  6. “Abortion is  health care. “ Calling the ending of someone’s life without their consent “health care” is just as much Orwellian “newspeak” as calling a government propaganda department the “Ministry of Truth”.[2] When the intent of a procedure is to take a healthy living human and make them dead, that is as far from health care as can be conceived.
  7. “Abortion is  sacred. “  This is perhaps the most egregious of the slogans. I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume the intended meaning here was “entitled to reverence and respect” or “highly valued and important”, and not the religious uses of the word “sacred”. Even so, those are hardly words that should be used to describe what is at best a tragic loss of life, even in the rare cases when a mother’s life is in danger.
  8. “Abortion is  right for me. “ Dear reader, if you are considering an abortion, I hope these previous 7 responses, and the 8 from last week, have helped you see why abortion is not right for you. All of the statements examined these two weeks try to deflect your attention away from one simple question: is the object of discussion an innocent… living… human… person? If it is (and I believe there are good reasons to say it is), then there are no good reasons that can justify killing it.

What are some alternatives to abortion that would be right for you? The times that stretch us beyond what we thought we could withstand are often the times we grow the most. If you don’t feel like you could take care of a baby, consider the generations of women before that opted to push through the trials and raise a kid amidst financial uncertainty, poverty, food scarcity, war, and a host of other struggles. How many of us were “unplanned”, and caused years of sacrifice for our parents? And yet, if that was you, aren’t you glad you got the chance to live? But if your situation really does preclude raising your child, adoption is another option. Is your pregnancy burdensome? As difficult as it may seem, it is a temporary burden, while abortion is an action with permanent consequences. Seek support during this difficult time and persevere until birth so that someone else can offer your child the opportunities you can’t. In closing, everyone comes to this decision with their own story, their own questions, and fears, and concerns. If you’re trying to decide between abortion and giving birth, let me point you to a nationwide toll-free number you can call or text anytime to talk to someone about your specific situation. There is likely a pregnancy resource center near you that may even be able to offer you services like ultrasound, but this number will get you started, wherever you are in the US: 1-800-848-LOVE (5683).

[1] Koop and Guttmacher quoted at http://abort73.com/end_abortion/is_abortion_ever_justified, accessed 2018-01-14. Although I prefer to set eyes on primary sources to confirm a quote is authentic and in context, I was not able to find the sources referenced online or for sale in print. If you have a copy of Guttmacher’s book Abortion–Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: The Case for Legalized Abortion Now (Berkeley, CA: Diablo Press, 1967), or the May 1980 issue of Moody Monthly  that you would be willing to donate or sell me, please contact me.
[2] George Orwell, 1984. A good read, I might add.

Normalizing Murder, Part 1

Image of fetal face, not from a pro-life website, but from an ultrasound manufacturer. Abortion kills a living human person.

Some billboards are going up in Cleveland promoting abortion. Now, I’m used to the typical lines like “It’s my body” and so on. I can at least understand the confusion with ideas like that; the proponent assumes that just because something is inside one’s body, then it is one’s body. My response is simple – get a DNA test done on the baby (or fetus if you prefer), and if it comes up identical to your DNA, go for it. You would have my blessing to proceed with an abortion, for it would simply be part of your body. Of course, that is an impossibility, for the mother only provides half the chromosomes to the fetus. Therefore it is impossible for it to be part of the mother’s body. From within moments of conception, the baby is a genetically distinct human. But these new billboards are so brazen in their disinformation, that they require a response. The billboards simply show a short fill-in-the-blank sentence, “abortion is _____”, with the blank filled in with one of 16 different false conclusions. As the tragic anniversary of Roe v. Wade approaches this month, and we mourn the loss of nearly 60 million Americans over the last 45 years, let’s look at the first 8 of these faulty arguments this week, and the remaining 8 next week.

  1. “Abortion is  normal. “   The word “normal” can have a technical  meaning in fields like statistics and engineering, but in everyday usage, normal means regular, common, or natural. Induced abortions ended approximately 19% of pregnancies in the US in 2014.[1] Clearly, the regular, natural result of a pregnancy, if not interrupted, is childbirth, not abortion.
  2. “Abortion is  necessary. “  Abortion is certainly not necessary, in general. If the human race is to continue to survive, childbirth is necessary, but not abortion. I’m guessing – hoping – they are referring to the specific cases where the mother’s life is in imminent danger. Is there any other case where the idea of a necessary death could even be contemplated? Even when presented with the apparent need to kill one to save the other, versus losing both, it is still a decision of last resort arrived at after exhausting other options. But those cases are the exception even in times and places of poor medical care. In light of  current medical advances, there are becoming fewer and fewer cases where a nonabortive solution can’t be found. The primary case is ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, which is an almost guaranteed death sentence for both mother and child if allowed to proceed, although even in that dire situation, there are a handful of cases where mother and baby both survived an ectopic pregnancy (with 3 in the UK between 1999 and 2005). However, these are an extremely small percentage of abortions. If this is the scenario pro-abortion activists want to appeal to, then OK; let’s ban all abortions except where it is actually necessary. Since the vast majority of abortions are elective, I suspect the argument for necessity is simply a bluff needing to be called.
  3. “Abortion is  your right. “  While abortion or a right to privacy are never mentioned in our Constitution or Declaration of Independence, the right to life is recognized and protected in both documents.[2] But since the abortion supporters bring up the subject of rights, it’s worth reminding everyone of something  R.C. Sproul used to say: nobody has the right to do what is wrong. It’s also been said in various ways since the 1800’s that the right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins. Rights come with responsibilities, and if your right to do something is reasonably restricted when it would only harm another person, how much more should that alleged “right” be restricted when it would kill an innocent person?
  4. “Abortion is  gender equality. “ This is an interesting one because sex-selective abortion kills more females than males worldwide. After years of preferentially aborting baby girls, areas like China and India are beginning to see substantial deficits in the number of women compared to men. Just from a practical standpoint, it really makes no sense for feminist women to support a procedure that actually kills more women than men worldwide. But then today’s feminists aren’t like the real pioneering feminists who were staunchly opposed to abortion.
  5. Abortion is  a  family value. “ To say that killing a family member is somehow a family value is simply bewildering. Enough said.
  6. “Abortion is  good medicine. “ Actually, abortion violates the Hippocratic Oath, from whence we get that most basic, founding medical principle of “Do no harm,” the idea that doctors should be about healing their patients, not harming them. But perhaps you might think Hippocrates was only referring to those who had been born. After all, he did live 2400 years ago and couldn’t possibly know what we know now about babies from genetics and embryology (which has only strengthened the argument against abortion, by the way). You might be tempted to think that, except that Hippocrates specifically prohibited a doctor from performing abortions in his famous Oath. Yes, it was bad medicine back then, and it’s even clearer now that things like ultrasound have opened a window into the womb.
  7. “Abortion is  safer than childbirth. “  This is based on the presupposition that the mother is the only patient involved. When we correctly understand that the unborn baby is a living human person, then we understand that every successful abortion kills at least one of the patients (and sometimes both).
  8. “Abortion is  a blessing. “ This is perhaps the most selfish of all the billboard slogans, for depriving someone of their very life, without their consent, is only a blessing if you don’t want that person alive. This slogan perverts the traditional view of children as a blessing and substitutes their death as the blessing.

Abortion is often a sensitive and emotional subject, but that is because the stakes are so high. It’s either no big deal and all these billboards trying to justify it are needless, or the human race has killed 1.4 billion of its most defenseless members without provocation – just since 1980 [3] – and it’s actually the most important issue facing humanity. There really is no in-between. If the unborn baby is a living human person, innocent of any wrongdoing, then abortion is murder, and abortionists are not doctors but serial killers. And if we continue to ignore the holocaust happening right in front of us, our generation will be just as shamed in future history books as the households of American slave owners and the Germans who lived near the Nazi death camps and looked the other way.

[1] http://abort73.com/abortion_facts/us_abortion_statistics/
[2] Preamble to the US Declaration of Independence, and the 14th amendment to the US Constitution.
[3] See www.numberofabortions.com for more tragic abortion stats.

Crime & Punishment?

Image Credit: FreeImages.com/jenni w.

We often don’t make the best decisions under stress. Salespeople of­ten count on that impulsiveness to make a sale. That’s why, when faced with a big decision like a major purchase, the old advice is to “sleep on it.” Don’t make an impulse buy, but take some time to delib­erate on it first. Sometimes, though, major life decisions are forced on you without warning. Sometimes, you’ve done everything right,
and despite your best efforts to avoid bad situations, you find your­ self in a tough spot, having to make a life-altering decision. Although you can’t prepare for every conceivable scenario, it’s still a good idea to work through how you would respond to a tough situation before you get in that situation. For instance, you’re less likely to cheat on an exam or steal something, regardless of the circumstances, if you’ve made the conscious decision that you won’t in advance, away from the pressure of the mo­ment. You’re less likely to cheat on your spouse if you’ve thought through the tragic consequences of an affair before you find yourself in a tempting situation, where hormones tend to push reason out the window. But what if you’re the victim of a crime? Not just any crime, but a rape, that most invasive of crimes? What if you’re now pregnant with the child of your rapist?

Abortion is a sensitive subject that arouses strong responses on both sides of the debate. One of the most sensitive points in that debate is the case of a pregnancy resulting from rape. While this actually accounts for a very small number of abortions, it is nonetheless an emotionally powerful example. But let’s step back from the heat of the fight, and look at that case calmly and reasonably, and perhaps see a flaw in assuming abortion is a good solution for the rape victim. While a rape is, by definition, invol­untary, how one responds is within one’s control. In the aftermath, it may be tempting to get rid of the most obvious effect of a rape-induced pregnancy: the baby. But here’s precisely where one needs rea­son to avoid a very permanent mistake. Rape is often used as an “obvious” justification for abortion, yet who is being punished here? The guilty rapist, the perpetrator of the awful crime? Unfortunately, no. The innocent baby is getting the death sentence, not the deserving rapist. While the rape is cer­tainly a traumatic experience for the mother, aborting the baby is tragically misplaced retribution that won’t bring genuine healing to her and most likely won’t even affect the rapist. Surely, the baby should not be required to take the punishment for the rapist’s crime, and pay with her life? This only takes one wrong, and adds another to it. Yet, as they say, “two wrongs don’t make a right.” The abortion does not change the fact of the rape, and only adds to that wrong the death of one who had absolutely no say in how they were conceived. So how could one turn this wrong back to right?

The concept of redemption is a huge part of the Bible. Indeed, the Bible is the record of God’s re­demption of humankind as it has played out through history and on into the future. He brings good out of the most vile situations. Likewise, the act of choosing life for the baby can redeem even that vile act and turn it to good. In fact, I saw a speaker recently, Monica Kelsey, who is a firefighter and medic. She was also the result of her mother’s rape, and almost the victim of an abortion. But because her mother chose life for her innocent baby at the last minute, that baby has grown up and is saving lives as well. As she says, “her life was saved so she can save others”. It’s easy to talk about abortion simply as an act of compassion for the mother that was attacked before you meet people like that and realize there are 2 victims in those cases, and you don’t help the first victim by killing the second.

Lastly, I want to say, if you, dear reader, are already in this situation, and considering abortion, I ask you to hit “pause” for a moment, and reconsider. Call 1-800-848-LOVE, 24/7/365 or visit http://www.nrlc.org/help/ to learn about the life-giving options available. You and your baby don’t have to be defined by what happened to you.

Biblical Abortion?

Man w BiblePreviously, I detailed scientific reasons why abortion is, in fact, murder. In that post (here), I mentioned that these are reasons to support the Christian position on abortion. But what is the Christian position on abortion? In the past, I would’ve said it was a unanimous agreement that abortion is wrong. But in researching this, I found there are segments of Christianity that do support having the option to abort a baby under some conditions.[1] So it would seem that Christians aren’t unanimous on this question. For us, it always comes back to what the Bible says, and sure enough, Christians supporting abortion choice do try to justify their view with the Bible. Let’s dig into that today and see if there is a biblical case for abortion. Here are a few of those attempts to justify this practice.

  • One site I found actually stated that abortion is okay because that word isn’t mentioned in the Bible. True, it’s not; but murder is, and it’s clearly prohibited. Also, while the word “abortion” may not be mentioned, neither is the word “embezzlement”, yet it is clearly unacceptable by the prohibition on stealing. For that matter, the word “Trinity” isn’t in the Bible either, but that hasn’t stopped us from recognizing the concept there and formulating a word for it.
  • That same site also tried to say that abortion was an example of stewardship, and we are called to be good stewards of what God has given us. Now, this twisted logic is based on the mother being a “good steward” of her body and aborting her baby if it would cause her any negative effects like physical or emotional distress. If this version of “stewardship” seems a little self-centered, it is. Consider Merriam-Webster’s definition of stewardship: “The activity or job of protecting and being responsible for something.”[2] The very idea of stewardship is that you are taking care of something that is not yours. Regarding the mother taking care of her body (at the expense of her baby’s), I would suggest that this is similar to the idea that “your right to swing your fists ends where my nose begins.” The baby is clearly not part of the mother’s body, as evidenced by different DNA, duplicate organs, and often different blood type and even gender. Therefore, I would say the mother’s right to be a “steward” of her body ends where such activity harms the baby. In fact, taking care of her body such that it prevents harm to the baby is generally recognized as a mother’s obligation. Hence, the warnings to not drink or smoke during pregnancy. In reality, motherhood is a beautiful example of stewardship, but abortion is actually to reject being a steward of what is consistently described as a gift from God.
  • Genesis 2:7 is cited as biblical support for abortion in that Adam, the first man, did not become a living soul until God breathed the breath of life into him. This is taken to mean that babies do not become living souls until they take their first breath. Aside from the fact that babies are going through the motions of breathing amniotic fluid in and out of their lungs for months before they are born (as early as 10 weeks [3]), it should be pretty clear that Adam and Eve were unique in all of humanity. Neither went through through the birth process, and both appear to have been formed as fully adult humans, so applying their case to babies is to go beyond any reasonable support of the text.
  • Numbers 3:39-43 is used to justify abortion because God commanded a census to be taken, counting all the Levites over a month old. This is taken as an insinuation that their lives didn’t count prior to 1 month. Not being counted for a census is not the same as not being counted as a human life. The first is a pragmatic consideration while the second is ontological. The census was concerned with counting a large number of people in a time of high infant mortality. The first month is a dangerous time for any baby, but especially in primitive Bedouin-type conditions. Babies that survived the first month were much more likely to survive to adulthood, thus warranting their being counted in a census.
  • Ecclesiastes 6:3-5 is taken as meaning that a miscarriage is better than an unhappy life. Please note first that a natural miscarriage is a far cry from an intentional dismemberment. But even if this verse were an endorsement of abortion for “quality of life” concerns, Ecclesiastes is King Solomon’s search for the true meaning of life by investigating all the dead-end roads. One could come away with a lot of strange ideas if you read parts of Ecclesiastes, even extended parts, without reading the whole thing. The first and final chapter are the bookends that give the context for that experiment in folly, as Solomon finally concludes that the rest of his search for meaning apart from God was just that – folly. Don’t take a man’s depressed ramblings about the futility of life as endorsement for killing those yet to be born. Moreover, we have no way of knowing what the future holds for any of us as far as “quality of life”, so who are we to decide for an unborn baby that their future won’t measure up? I will tell you right now, there are physically deformed and/or mentally handicapped people out there with more joy in their lives than many millionaires with the world at their fingertips. Frankly, it’s rather arrogant for us to think we can correctly guess whether a baby with serious issues would grow up to consider his or her life “worth it” or not. That depends on their perspective, not ours. Nick Vujicic w FamilyLet’s face it, a lot of people supporting abortion for “quality of life” concerns would probably have chosen to abort evangelist, motivational speaker, husband, father, and author, Nick Vujicic if they had known he would be born without arms or legs. So let’s not pretend we can “see the end from the beginning”; only God can do that.

There’s 5 attempts to justify abortion using the Bible. Hopefully, you’ve seen that these simply aren’t good reasons. Have you come across other justifications for abortion that you believe are legitimate? Share them in a comment and let’s work through them together. 🙂

[1] The United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the Episcopal Church, to varying degrees. See 2013 Pew Report at http://www.pewforum.org/2013/01/16/religious-groups-official-positions-on-abortion/.
[2] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stewardship, accessed 2016/08/24.
[3] https://www.ehd.org/prenatal-summary.php#fb34

Memes and Hidden Premises

Philosoraptor EnthymemeIt’s hard to be on the internet these days without seeing these “memes” (rhymes with dreams). Memes (also called image macros), are clip art or photos with whatever caption a person wants to use to convey an idea. Atheist Richard Dawkins is credited with coining the term back in 1976 to describe the concept of a piece of cultural information propagating and changing over time in an evolutionary fashion. He derived the name from the Greek word for mimicry, “mimema”, as he was trying to show how ideas could propagate through imitation and evolve over time. With the advent of the net and things “going viral”, the name has stuck around, if not exactly the same as he intended.[1] The common internet memes we see so often today might also be classified with another similar-sounding, but unrelated, term: enthymemes. What’s that? Glad you asked. An enthymeme is an abbreviated syllogism, and a syllogism is a set of 3 propositions: 2 premises and a conclusion. The classic example is the following:

Premise 1) All men are mortal.
Premise 2) Socrates is a man.
Conclusion) Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

An enthymeme shortens this format down to only 2 propositions. “Enthymeme” comes from the Greek word en-thymos, meaning “in mind”, because one proposition is “kept in mind” instead of stated.[2] This can take a couple of forms. The conclusion can be left out as a form of rhetorical setup where the audience makes the connection given the 2 premises that are allegedly true. An example of this could be something like, “Only lawyers are qualified to serve in Congress and write laws, and I don’t see a law degree hanging on your wall…” The intent is for the audience to fill in the conclusion in their own mind that the speaker’s opponent wouldn’t be qualified to serve in Congress by that measure. Hopefully, they would also question the truth of the first premise, but I digress.

More commonly, one of the premises will be given, along with a conclusion that is supposed to obviously follow from that. Here’s where we have to not rush to agree with the catchy sound bite until we’ve examined it a little closer (even if the conclusion expresses something we support). In this case, the conclusion is stated, so we know the author’s intent. The stated premise may be true, but there is typically a hidden premise (“kept in mind”) that may or may not be true, and that will typically determine whether or not the conclusion necessarily follows. Once we discover the hidden premise, then we can actually analyze the view being put forward. Why is this important? If the 3 requirements of clearly defined terms, true premises, and valid argument are met, then we have a sound argument and the conclusion has to be true (whether we like it or not). Therefore, it’s important to be able to see whether someone’s view is actually supported by the reasons they give.

While validity is a measure of correct form, the argument  can still be valid even with false premises as long as the conclusion necessarily results from the premises (like the rhetorical example above). Take, for example, the following argument: “How could it be right to restrict abortion? Any restriction on a woman’s right to control her own body is wrong.”[3] This is a passionate plea on a controversial issue, but is it justified? Rewording the initial question into a declarative sentence, we have “It is wrong to restrict abortion” as the conclusion, and “Restricting a woman’s right to control her own body is wrong”  as the only stated supporting premise. But there has to be something connecting these 2 propositions together. The hidden premise in this case is “Restricting abortion is restricting a woman’s right to control her own body.” Put in syllogistic form, we would then have the following:

Hidden Premise 1) [Restricting abortion] is [restricting a woman’s right to control her own body].
Stated Premise 2) [Restricting a woman’s right to control her own body] is [wrong].
Stated Conclusion) Therefore, [restricting abortion] is [wrong].

Note: brackets are used to help keep track of the terms of each proposition to more clearly see the relationships between terms. Now we can see that this is indeed a valid structure because the conclusion does necessarily follow if the premises are true. But the argument still has to pass 2 other tests for the conclusion to be true: clear terms and true premises. In this case, the fetus is a separate human body with its own DNA, fingerprints, blood type, and gender, residing in the mother’s body. Therefore, it is not  part of her body, so the hidden premise is false. Also, most people wouldn’t think twice about restricting a woman’s right to control her own body if she were trying to commit suicide, so it would seem that even the stated premise is not true (at least not without being more specific). Now, the stated conclusion could still be true, but not for the reasons given by the author. This, then, is not a sound argument.

So before you share that next clever meme that supports your view, or get frustrated by one that doesn’t, take a few minutes to look for hidden assumptions. Then examine their logic. You might just be surprised how many popular sentiments don’t have a leg to stand on.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme, accessed 2015-10-06.
[2] Peter Kreeft, Socratic Logic, Ed. 3.1 (St. Augustine’s Press, 2010), pp. 264-275, “Enthymemes”. This chapter includes this bit of wisdom – “[T]here is no more practical skill you can learn from a logic course than this: how to smoke out an arguer’s hidden assumptions.” Indeed!
[3] ibid., p272, Exercise #20.

How to Get Away with Murder

7 half-week_embryo
Baby at 7 1/2 weeks after conception

There is a curious inconsistency in American law right now. Many states have laws stating that if a pregnant woman is murdered, the assailant will be charged with not one, but two, murders. Even if she is only injured but the fetus is killed, murder (or manslaughter) charges may be brought against the assailant for the death of the fetus. 23 of those 38 states count the killing of the fetus as murder/manslaughter at any stage of pregnancy from fertilization to birth.[1] For instance, Scott Petersen in California was charged in 2004 with 2 counts of murder after he murdered his wife who was 8 months pregnant.[2] But most of these state laws also have a very specific exception for when the intentional killing of an unborn child is not considered murder: when the person doing the killing is an abortionist. But what’s changed for this exception? What, precisely, is the difference between the criminal and the abortionist?

Is one killing and the other not? No. Clearly, the baby is alive in both cases prior to the act, and dead afterward. In the case of late-term murders and late-term abortions, the presence of detectable heartbeat, brainwaves, metabolism, and response to stimuli makes it clear that the baby is alive in both cases. The absence of these signs of life (and the dismemberment common in abortion)  makes it clear the baby is very much dead after both acts. But even in the first trimester, there are certainly enough signs of life to say the object being killed is not inanimate (fetal heartbeats, for instance, have been detected at 22-30 days after conception, brainwaves as early as 6 weeks, 2 days).[3] Even assuming the baby were just a “clump of cells” as some like to say, there is no question that they are living cells at the very least.

So both involve killing something, but is abortion killing a human? That’s really the only question that matters, isn’t it? If the baby isn’t a human, then why are are people like Scott Petersen sitting on Death Row with two counts of murder against them instead of just the mother’s murder? I’ve heard abortion compared to having a tumor removed, that they’re both just unwanted, parasitic blobs of tissue. The claim that a fetus is just a clump of cells or a “blob of tissue” is a bit of an oversimplification as the the baby is already made up of roughly 1 billion cells and has most of its adult organs formed by the time its embryonic stage is complete at 8 weeks (from conception). At best, that “blob” comparison is only valid for the first few days after conception.  Of course, the tumor alluded to would also be considered living cells, and animals also exhibit the same signs of life like heartbeat, brainwaves, breathing, and response to stimuli. So what makes this rapidly developing “clump of cells” human? First, it has human DNA, and it gets this individual-specific DNA within the first  day after conception, as 23 chromosomes from the father and 23 chromosomes from the mother are combined to form a new 46-chromosome human with all the genetic information needed to form a fully-functioning human. The degree of development doesn’t change this basic genetic criteria. It has the same DNA at 80 years old that it did 1 day after conception. Second, an adult human is the natural consequence of the development of this “blob of tissue”. While a tumor may share a person’s DNA (with certain mutations), tumor growth never results in the formation of a new person.

So it’s human. But why think this baby is a separate human? Isn’t it just a part of its mother’s body? The baby’s connection to the mother (the umbilical cord) is one of life support. If you were connected to another person for an emergency blood transfusion, would you then become part of that person? Of course not. Your dependence on the other person does not change your status as a person. One could also point to things like its unique set of fingerprints (present by 10 weeks). After all, we’ll often use these to uniquely identify a person throughout their life post-birth. Of course, the baby often having a different blood type from it’s mother and a different gender half the time clearly confirms it is not part of it’s mother’s body even though it resides inside her body. But even with the same blood type and gender, and before unique fingerprints have formed,  DNA testing will show the baby is a distinct, separate human from it’s mother as half of it’s 46 chromosomes came from the father to form a genetically unique human.

So the baby seems to be unequivocally a distinct living human. But is killing it murder? After all, murder is more than just killing. In cases of self-defense or protecting innocent life, killing an assailant is not considered murder, but justifiable homicide. Does abortion fall into this category? That is how it’s viewed in these legal exemptions for abortionists. But generally, the other exceptions have to be justified by saying that an innocent person might’ve been killed or some other serious crime would’ve been committed if the assailant hadn’t been killed first.[4] Yet, the unborn baby seems to be the very picture of innocence, having had no chance to do anything malicious to anyone that should warrant death.

In the end, we need to recognize that the abortionist is committing murder by intentionally killing a unique, living, innocent human without provocation. And what’s worse, through decades of scientifically, philosophically, and legally false propaganda, generations of women have been tricked into supporting institutionalized murder on an epic scale. I haven’t used any religious rationale in this post, just basic reasoning and science. But notice how the science supports the historic Christian position that abortion is wrong. This is to be expected if Christianity really is the true revelation of our Creator, for science is simply the observation of the physical world He has made.

[1] http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/fetal-homicide-state-laws.aspx, accessed 9/20/2015.
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Peterson, accessed 9/19/2015.
[3] http://www.ehd.org/science_main.php?level=i, accessed9/19/2015.
[4] Other noncivilian justifications include the carrying out of legal duties by agents of the state such as judges, police, etc, or soldiers following lawful orders in wartime.