Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Sperm You Save...

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.  

Further Investigation

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.

Or not.

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.

The Evidence

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?

Student XxPooKxX:
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 (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.


Bibblesnæð said...

You know, it's funny.
Any of the million aborted babies also could have grown up to be the next Stalin, Hitler or Ted Bundy. Or even (shudder) the next George Bush. Mybe we'd all be safer if we never had any more babies at all. That way, nobody can ever grow up to do anything bad at all. And think about the souls of the babies who grow up to be bad sinners. Don't we owe it to the poor unborn children not to let them be born into a world where they might grow up to do something bad and end up cast into hell for all time? We'd rather risk that just so we can have our cancer cure? How selfish can you be?
You never hear the anti-choice crowd get into that.
It's such a far fetched argument to make; I mean, who can really say whether we're better off or worse off, on balance, that all those people were never born?
And the unspoken implication in all these ant-choice screeds is, I think, that it's some casual choice women make. Like some woman wakes up one morning and says, "You know, I'm in the mood to abort my baby this lovely spring day. What fun it'll be! I love being a Godless liberal! Hooray for abortion!"
Abortion is one of the hardest choices a woman can make. And while I won't thoroughly discount the remote possibility that among all the women who have had abortions there might have been a few who did it just for kicks or because they thought they'd be kicked out of their local Totalitarian Liberals' Club if they didn't, I don't think it's any too likely.
You're right, there are some good arguments against abortion. But implying that women do it on a whim or that we shouldn't abort babies because they might grow up and save the world aren't serious arguments. But then the anti choice crowd, on the whole, aren't into making serious arguments; they just want to browbeat the rest of us into doing what they want.

John of the Dead said...

And here's another lovely strawman. (It's a two-fer!)

What if George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or Thomas Edison’s mothers were pro-choice?

The clear implication that ALL pro-choice people favor aborting EVERY pregnancy. My wife and I are very pro-choice, but were my wife to become pregnant, we'd be pleased to have a child.

I don't think most people realize the difference between an opinion, a logical fallacy, a proper logical argument, and a simple fact. You see people throwing around opinions as facts or arguments, or confusing logical fallacies with proper arguments, or dismissing proper arguments as opinion. Add "Rhetoric" to the "R"s our schools are falling behind in teaching.

Which leads me to another sinister consipacy (Tin Foil Hat Alert!) - the Republican agenda to maintain control over society by destroying the public education system. If you can't tell the difference between fact and rhetoric, you're more likely to fall victim to rhetorical tomfoolery, which plays into Republican hands.

malone dies said...

While these are old arguements they are still not invalid.
One is that these pro-life people always seem to forget education. How many potential 'heroes' of society are lost simply because we're too cheap to provide universal education to the highest levels of a student's ability. Imagine how many cures, leaders and even basketball stars would be produced if all students of all social levels had the same opportunities. We could leave the rich to their legacy schools, like Harvard and Yale, if we had the resources allocated to the many state universities and colleges and the public K~12 schools that created the post war middle class in the first place.
Then there is universal health care. How many more children could be saved by affordable, equal health care. How many more mothers (and fathers) would choose to have children if the cost of medical care and education didn't overwhelm a family's ever decreasing average income. These things are attainable for a fraction of the cost of maintaining our top heavy military and the subsequent military adventures this promotes. (After all, what good is having a toy you can't play with?)
Pro-life supporters preach control over life not freedom of life.

Swift06 said...

This is ironic. I knocked up a girl very recently (I'm young and stupid) and she doesn't know if she wants to keep it or not. I'm not trying to discourage her against having doc's vacuum visit her cooter out of fear that she'll recede from me and keep it. I also don't want to encourage her to keep it and have reverse psychology fail on me.

My Dad is a bible beater to the max. I'll only tell him if she doesn't abort, (but she's leaning heavily on aborting) which will result in imminent death because the child will be born out of wedlock. However, if she does abort and I don't have to tell him, I'll probably never look at him the same since he'd still strike me down in the name of God should he ever find out.

So strawmen and scientists aside, I don't want to die. Let alone raise a kid. I'm a year into college, and she's got two years left. This kid would wreck our futures because it would be where all of our time would go to. What's worse? Terminating the future of two smart people, (I'm in for engineering, her for psych) or never giving one person a chance? More than likely, the child wouldn't do as well as we could have done because the opportunities and resources wouldn't be there to facilitate great potential.