Recently, I wrote a post derailing a common argument among anti-abortion folks which suggests that one reason why we shouldn’t abort is because the future-person we abort could possibly have made a positive contribution to society; and that, by aborting them, we are hurting society. Like if they cured cancer or could get us good tickets to see Radiohead. Or something like that.
And this argument was highlighted by Nathan Tabor; a dude Jerry Falwell once called “a young Jesse Helms” in an endorsement for his failed Congressional bid back in 2004. As I quoted from young Tabor:
For ACOG, the pill is a simple solution to the estimated 2.7 million unplanned pregnancies that occur each year. But the fact of the matter is, a number of us were the result of unplanned pregnancies. You don’t have to be planned—or even wanted by your natural parents—in order to make a difference in this world.
And I thought that was clear enough. He’s suggesting the very argument I mentioned above. Saying that even unplanned babies are needed in the world. But I had two dissenting opinions on that point, from two Christians who commented on that first post. And it’s so rare to see a dissenting opinion at my site, that I decided to investigate further.
Now, their basic point was that I was arguing against a “silly strawman”. And I take great umbrage from that remark. I don’t do strawman. It’s not my thing. And I was slightly worried. What if this was a strawman? What if I was full of shit? I first heard this argument as a young teen from my friend’s dad, who was giving a homily or something at my Catholic church. And even though I was a stupid punk who didn’t know jack shit about the world; I knew that was a crappy argument.
But perhaps I was wrong for believing that our sophisticated anti-aborters were still keeping such tripe in their arsenal. I mean, social conservatives have made a lot of rhetorical strides since the late 80’s; and perhaps I had mistaken this tired joke of an argument for the nuanced and delicate one they were providing for us.
I did a little research, and wasn’t disappointed. Now, before you get the wrong idea about which selections I’m quoting, let me stress that I’m quoting stuff from the first twenty websites or so that showed up in the search; exluding messageboards. The messageboards were also chock full of cancer-saving fetuses; but I don’t consider them to be a fair source to attack. I’m sticking with blogs and websites.
Thus said, I present Exhibit A: The Covenant News (wingnut alert!):
Another victim of abortion is the general public. More tax dollars would be coming in from the millions of people destroyed (murdered) by abortion. Maybe one of these innocent lives could have developed a cure for cancer or AIDS. Maybe one of these victims could have prevented the war in Iraq.
Silly? Yes. Strawman? No. This is the real deal. I typed abortion murder “cure for cancer” into Yahoo, and this was the second result of 6,290 total results. An argument which clearly advocates the position that it’s wrong to not have more children. As I argued previously, if it’s wrong to not have babies, then it’s wrong for anyone who doesn’t have a baby. And so the nun who refuses to create more taxpayers and scientists is clearly more immoral than a welfare queen with fifteen kids; at least in terms of denying us taxpayers and scientists.
But then I clicked through and saw that this was apparently written by 10th Grader Zach Bishop from Ohio. Sure, it actually got published in the Bucyrus Telegraph-Forum, so it apparently passed an editorial test and might have actually convinced somebody. But that’s clearly not the best source for top-notch arguments, so I’ll dismiss this as unfair.
Oh, and I wonder what the Tort Reform conservatives would think of the Covenant News; which has a page titled: “Problems After RU-486? Call Attorney and Sue!” Are they honestly suggesting that there are women that had problems after taking a controversial drug who might be convinced to call an attorney after visiting the Covenant News website? More likely, they’re just trying to further the perception that this is a big problem.
But then again, it doesn’t mention gender in that link; so it’s possible that they were suggesting a dude might be the suer. Young Mr. Bishop is of the opinion that “every father should have the right to save his child from abortion;” and I see no reason that shouldn’t apply to abortion drugs too. Sue! Sue!
Filling the Earth for God
So I decided to move down my Yahoo list, and found Bob Stanley’s website at number five:
From the very beginning GOD commanded, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it."Genesis 1:28, and Genesis 8:17, and Genesis 9:1GOD did not add, 'If it is YOUR will', or 'If it pleases YOU', or 'If YOU decide to do so',or 'IF IT IS YOUR CHOICE', did He? No, He said 'DO IT', It is GOD's will, not ours, that children should be brought into this world.
If you will notice, this command was repeated at least three times in Genesis alone, and there are similar verses in other books. Now, why does anyone repeat himself? To drive home a very important point, that is why.You may be pro-choice, but GOD is Pro-Life.
And in case that wasn’t clear enough for you, he repeats this old story:
A man pleaded with GOD. "Dear GOD, why don't you give us someone who can find a cure for cancer and heart disease?"GOD replied, "I did, but you aborted them."
Of course, he forget to include the rest of the story; where the next man asks why God didn’t send someone to cure Alzheimer’s, and God replies, “I did, but you jerked him out during Baywatch.” And then there was the nun who was just perfect for procreating basketball players. If only…
Number seven on our list came from another student; this time, Meredith Joy Hibbard (cheesy music alert!), a 12th Grader at Mt. Sophia Academy, a home school diploma mill. In arguing against abortion, she writes:
Not only is our country irreversibly defamed, but those children you wanted slain might have grown up to lead our country, find a cure for cancer, or even improve the plumbing system in your house.
Looks like the strawman scores another point.
Finally, number ten rolls around and we get our first link that doesn’t have this supposed strawman that I had been attacking. Instead, I found the Ekklesia Communicator (cheesy music alert!), which insists that Clinton and Bush are both part of the same dangerous conspiracy, and that any bible which isn’t King James is a dangerous perversion. And the only reason his site came up was because he likes to show gross films of abortions and says he’s can cure cancer. I should have known to stay away from the scientists!
And so out of the top ten sites I found, three contain the strawman, six are messageboards which contain the strawman, and the last was a fruitcake who could have proven the strawman correct; had he been aborted and not such a fruitcake.
Just the Quotes
This is getting long, so I’ll just provide the quotes (in the order they were found in):
Twelve Year Old Megan Polak:
Did you ever wonder why we don't have a cure for AIDS or a cure for cancer? With all the babies that have been killed maybe one would have grown up and found a cure. Think about how many famous athletes, musicians, scientists, and teachers must have been killed. How many Michael Jordans, Beethovens, or Albert Einsteins have been killed?
What if George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or Thomas Edison’s mothers were pro-choice and decided to make the horrible decision to abort. We would still be ruled by England, have slaves, and be walking around in the dark with candlesticks. When somebody aborts a child, they kill a chance to finding a cure for cancer or AIDS. There may be a child being aborted right now that would grow up to become president or find such cures. Only God knows a child’s purpose and potential greatness, and only God can give and take away that life.
SammonSays columnist, John Sammon:
Another con, is that the child who never lived, may have invented a cure for cancer (had he lived). Think about that, if you’re for abortion, the next time you walk into a hospital to have a mysterious growth on your breast checked out.
Tim Haile, railing against RU486:
What about today? Has some mother already aborted the person with the potential to discover the cure for cancer or aids? Would we have "missed" such a person? Are you for a practice that creates missing persons? R-U-4-86?
Diane S. Dew in The Standard seems to take the argument further:
When we presume to play God, we interfere with the plan of the Creator. "In the fulness of time, God sent His Son," just as He raised up Moses, Isaiah, Deborah, etc. -- "for such a time as this." Who knows, whether we might have had a cure for cancer, or AIDS, had our nation followed God's laws?
7th Grader Alessandra Christiani won the St. John School essay contest with:
Abortion is a serious sin. If you aren’t convinced, think about it
from a different point of view. That boy could have been a future President; that girl could have found a cure for cancer. Just think this: my
mother could have chosen abortion- what would the world be like without me? My friend’s mother could have chosen abortion- what would my life
be like without her?
An anonymous author at AfterAbortion.com (an abortion “neutral” website):
Because the babies of today become the adults of tomorrow who will run the world that you live in. The child of that "Welfare Mother" may just grow up to be the scientist who finds the cure for cancer, which may save your life. When you are older, they will be the doctors who take care of you, the clerks who sell you food in the grocery store, the farmer who grows the food, the mechanic who fixes your car.
Straw No More
I can easily go on and on. And remember, I skipped lots and lots of messageboards and comments that also had quotes just as bad as these; and I only performed one search, which was far from exhaustive. And yet it was easy to find quotes which clearly reflect the argument that I was told was a “silly strawman”. And sure, I quoted a bunch of students and wackos, but I really didn’t expect to find much else. And the point remains clear: Lots of folks like this argument.
And there can be no doubt that this argument didn’t originate with any of these people. They’re just repeating what they heard. And they thought it sounded so clever at the time, that they decided to repeat it. Ironically, each one of them sounds like they’re presenting the most original of arguments, the proof of which is entirely evident. Something that they’ve given deep thought to, and have approved. And yet it’s obvious that they haven’t given the least bit of thought to it. It sounded clever and supported their side, so they accepted it fully.
And it’s a ridiculous argument that they don’t even need. There are lots of good arguments against abortion, and this isn’t one of them. Because each and every one of these quotes would support the idea that we need to be pumping out babies 24-7-365; as we don’t want to be missing any Einsteins, Jordans, or Bushes.