Why Sidewalk Counselors Should Not Recommend Adoption

Download Audio MP3 | 00:43:20

Rachel Crawford interviews Jacob Nels from ERI’s Sidewalk Counseling Masterclass. Topics include: – Should sidewalk counselors talk about adoption with abortion-minded women? – How to accurately keep track of lives saved vs. “hopefuls”; – How there are no silver bullets or “perfect words” that work for everybody.

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How College Students Responded to Questions About 3rd-Trimester Abortions

When I talk with people about abortion it is usually on a college campus at a free speech table that asks the broad question “Should abortion remain legal?” At my most recent visit to campus, I wanted to try something new. I asked people their thoughts specifically about the availability of third-trimester abortion.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes.

I asked this question for two reasons. First, abortion-choice political candidates have completely abandoned the “mushy middle” pro-choice view to become abortion extremists. They want states to pass laws as New York did in 2019 to legalize abortion throughout all pregnancy until birth, for any reason. For the majority of Americans, this means that they don’t have representatives running for office that share their views on abortion. According to a 2019 Gallup poll, 53% of U.S. adults believe abortion should be legal “only under certain circumstances.” I wanted to ask people who are in the middle on this issue how they felt about the direction politicians are taking things and if that affected the way they voted. After all, that same Gallup poll showed a record high of 29% of Americans will only consider like-minded candidates on abortion.

Second, I wanted to engage with students about a significant incongruence our team has witnessed in thousands of past conversations. One of the most common pro-choice arguments is that abortion should be the woman’s legal choice because she is the only one who should have a say over what happens to her body. At the same time, most of the people we talk with who bring up this line of thinking also tell us that they think there should be restrictions put on abortion like gestational limits or circumstances like rape or if the mother’s life or health is at risk. Here is the problem: if it is true that abortion is justified because of a woman’s right to her own bodily autonomy then that must be true throughout all of the pregnancy regardless of her reasons for exercising that bodily autonomy.

You cannot make that argument for abortion during the first 8 weeks of pregnancy, but not at 24 weeks of pregnancy because later abortions give you ethical qualms. Either you must consistently apply that thinking to all of pregnancy, or use a different argument altogether to justify early abortion. You can read our full article, Bodily Rights Arguments Necessitate Extremism, for more on this point.

Arguing From Equality: The Personhood of Human Embryos

When I teach pro-life apologetics, I usually explain that there are two primary disagreements between the pro-life side and the pro-choice side and then a bunch of distracting arguments that are about other issues that do not address abortion ethics. Most pro-life people are familiar with the first primary disagreement. These are pro-choice arguments that deny the personhood of the unborn child. In other words, they say that the human embryo doesn’t have the same equal rights as people. These arguments about personhood definitions largely dominate the philosophical literature on abortion. People argue about what constitutes a person and then explain how the human embryo does or does not qualify. Notice that this is a philosophical question, not a scientific one. Science tells us what is killed during abortion: an embryo or fetus that is living, whole, and human. Philosophy tells us whether or not that human embryo’s life is valuable.

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes.

Lady Justice Statue

To watch a video version of this article, click here.

The second disagreement in the abortion debate is centered around bodily rights; in other words, the slogan that we have all heard before: “My body, my choice.” This argument is different from the first disagreement about personhood because rather than denying that abortion kills a person, it addresses whether or not the killing can be justified by the woman’s right to her own bodily autonomy. In this article, I am going to make an argument which only addresses the first philosophical disagreement about whether or not the life of a human embryo is valuable and deserves the same protection from violence as you and I. For more information about understanding and responding to the second disagreement see this archive of all our videos and articles on the subject.

Do You Believe in Equal Rights?

Before I make a claim about the moral status of a human embryo, I want to first talk about rights more generally. I think that rights should be given to all people equally. This is going to be really important to my argument so if you don’t believe in equality or you don’t think equality is fundamentally important, then that’s one reason we will disagree, but I have found most people I talk with about this subject agree that equal rights are super important. I think when whenever a group of people’s rights are not being protected then serious injustice is taking place. For this topic, I will be focusing on people’s right to life.

Let’s call anyone who has a right to life a member of the “Equal Right to Life Community.” Let’s imagine that all those people are in a big room together. If you’re not someone or something with an equal right to life, then you can’t get into the room because you don’t belong in that community. Another way to talk about this community is to say that everyone in the room is a person who has serious moral status. Those terms are often used interchangeably when we talk about this kind of question.

Who Do You Think Deserves Equal Rights?

Who is in the room and who is left outside? I am going to look at some obvious examples to give you a better idea of how I think about the community and I want you to consider if you agree with my sorting process or not and why. I think it is obvious that you who are reading this right now and I are both in the community. Humans of every race, ethnicity, and gender are in the community. People in wheelchairs are in the community. Gay people, straight people, poor people, rich people, religious people, and atheists all have the same right to life. Olympic athletes are in the community and so are those who can’t run a mile in under 15 minutes. Both educated and illiterate people are in the community. I think the most intelligent among us and those with developmental delays should have an equal right to life. I think those celebrating their 100th birthday, teenagers, toddlers, and newborn babies are all in the community. I even think Canadians are in the community. All of these people have an equal right to life and should be protected from violence equally, despite the many differences they have, whether in intellect, physical abilities, or an aspect of their identity.

The Minimise Project on the Pro-Life Movement in Ireland

Download Audio MP3 | 00:35:30

During Josh’s speaking trip in Ireland, he sat down with Ben Conroy and Muireann Lynch from The Minimise Project, an awesome young pro-life organization. They talk about how abortion recently became legal in Ireland, dealing with different factions of the pro-life movement, and an awesome story about using the Equal Rights Argument to stump a bunch of students. Excuse the lower than usual audio quality. We did our best with borrowed equipment in a borrowed room. :)

Related Links:

Read The Minimize Project’s blog.

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