My Least Favorite Pro-Life Argument

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Abby Johnson is a great model of how the pro-life movement should be. Three things I love about her are her telling pro-lifers to not mislead people with bad information, her passion for helping people, especially women who are victims of the abortion industry, and her willingness to call out pro-lifers who misrepresent the pro-life movement.

Though my level of influence is not even close to comparable to that of Abby, I hope that in my pro-life efforts, I can reflect what she models. Because of this, I want to talk about a particular pro-life argument that is worrisome. I recognize that I am only one person and may not have the right perspective; therefore, I welcome conversation on this topic. However, I think this is a discussion we need to have, so I’m going to start it here.

I think one of the most unsettling forms of rhetoric is saying we shouldn’t kill a fetus because they might contribute something to society. For example, someone might argue that we shouldn’t abort a fetus because they might have been the one to cure cancer. Personally, I think this needs to stop.

One of the most unsettling forms of rhetoric is saying we shouldn’t kill a fetus because they… Click To Tweet

When people make arguments that talk about value based on career or the generations that would come from them or their financial contributions to social security (yes, unfortunately, I have seen that argument used), it rejects the innate value of human life. It promotes the idea that our value comes from what we might do rather than who we are. As pro-lifers, we shouldn’t just want to stop abortion; we should want to promote a culture of life. To do that, we need to get people to recognize the inherent value of human life.

As pro-lifers, we shouldn’t just want to stop abortion; we should want to promote a culture of… Click To Tweet

My life is no more important than a person who is disabled and cannot work. A doctor’s life is no more valuable than mine because they’re saving lives, and I’m just an engineer. Can we argue that they contribute more to society than I? Absolutely! I will gladly say that a doctor does more for the physical needs of society than I do. However, that doesn’t mean that it is “better” to kill me than it is to kill that doctor.

Our worth has nothing to do with what we contribute. Our worth comes entirely from our identity as children of God. This identity, this fundamental piece of who we are, is the only reason we should need to fight to stop abortion. Secular pro-lifers may use different language, but it comes down to the same basic principle: every human life has value.

Our worth has nothing to do with what we contribute. Our worth comes entirely from our identity… Click To Tweet

All those things being said, I also recognize that we are up against a culture that doesn’t value all human life. The language used about fetuses actively dehumanizes them. Speaking about potential contributions, especially as they impact the greater good of the world, seems to add value. I don’t like that this is what we need to do to change people’s minds, but if rhetoric like this is truthful and causes people to second-guess abortion, I suppose it has its place. I think the best example of this is Saint Teresa of Calcutta’s conversation with Hillary Clinton.

Why do you think we haven’t had a woman as president yet?” First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton asked her guest over their lunch at the White House.

The little woman sitting at table with Mrs. Clinton did not hesitate in her reply.

“Because she has probably been aborted,” said Mother Teresa.

What do you think? Should we try to move away from this rhetoric and focus on leading people to recognize the dignity of every human life aside from the contributions or should we meet the discussion where people are at and talk about potential value in regards to abilities? How should we go about doing this?

Comments 8

  • Wow. This is profound. I had never thought about it like that before (and I have definitely used that argument before) but you really made me think about this! Thank you for starting this dialogue. Human life is so important no matter its God-given purpose. That quote from Mother Teresa is one of my favorites!

  • Wow – I loved reading your thoughts. I agree – we shouldn’t stop abortion because of baby will/can become, but because of who that child is NOW, in utero, a human being with an unrepeatable soul. Great post, thanks Kate!

    • I love that phrase: “a human being with an unrepeatable soul.” That sums up our human dignity so perfectly in so few words. Thanks for sharing.

  • “We shouldn’t want to stop abortion. We should want to promote a culture of life.” Yes! Thank you, you put that so perfectly. It’s not just about stopping evil. It’s about changing our hearts. I like to think my children are pro-life. They know nothing about abortion. But they DO know that all life is sacred. They were excited about our new baby from the moment they knew of its existence. They love babies, and they know that all people are special. Culture of life goes WAY beyond stopping abortion.

    • I completely agree. I think because abortion is such a prominent evil, we forget that it is just one component of a culture of life. What you’re teaching your kids – that every human life is sacred – is so critical to changing hearts (or maintaining that beautiful childhood innocence).

  • Yes! And this is especially true because one of the big reasons why so many late-term abortions happen is because of some sort of disability. In this case, many people use this argument to argue FOR abortions, because how could these children grow up to do productive work, especially if the fetuses seem to be highly disabled? Never mind the fact that most of these people would NEVER advocate for disabled people to be killed! It is their human dignity, not their potential productivity, which should cause us to be pro-life.

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