Over the summer, the Whatever Podcast hosted two debates on YouTube with streamer and political commentator Destiny defending the abortion-choice position. His first debate featured Live Action’s Lila Rose and Students for Life’s Kristan Hawkins defending the pro-life position, and his second debate was with pro-life apologist Trent Horn. In both debates, Destiny’s position seemed to be the following:
What we value in human beings is their capability for human consciousness. This is what determines whether or not a biological human is a human person—someone with moral value who has rights and to whom we have obligations. Without some capacity for human consciousness, there is no “someone” who has rights, and therefore, they cannot be harmed in any morally relevant way.
Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
Now, according to this view, we declare someone dead when they no longer have a capacity for human consciousness in the future. So Destiny makes a symmetry argument, saying that if someone stops being a person when they no longer have the capacity for human consciousness and future human conscious experiences, then something starts being a human being once it has an actual capacity for human consciousness and human conscious experience. In other words, something is a person beginning with the moment human conscious experience is possible up until the moment it no longer has the capacity for human conscious experience. A fetus that does not have the actual capacity for human consciousness and has not had a human conscious experience is not a person. The fetus only has its first human conscious experience and gains an actual capacity for human consciousness, and subsequently a right to life, at around 20–24 weeks when the proper “parts” are developed from which human consciousness (by argument) emerges.
The Case of McFall v Shimp
If you have engaged in the abortion debate at all, you have definitely come across certain arguments for abortion known as bodily-rights arguments. These arguments attempt to demonstrate that abortion is permissible even if an unborn child is a human person with a right to life.
Estimated reading time: 14 minutes
Pro-choice is pro-violence.
If you’re pro-life, this probably feels obvious to you. You might be surprised I even bothered to type it out.
If you’re pro-choice, though, this is likely an explosive, even offensive, statement to you. But this statement happens to be accurate, and it doesn’t depend on a single pro-life premise in order to be true. Said another way, I don’t need to convince you of the pro-life position in order to demonstrate that you’re committed to the public support of violence against other humans.
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
It’s a dark and stormy night when your plane touches down in Analogyland. You, a pro-life apologist, have been invited to give a speech about bodily autonomy and abortion at a local convention center. You get into your rental car and begin to drive to your hotel. The storm worsens. A local violinist named Hector clutches his bright yellow raincoat tightly around him while he takes his dog out for a bathroom break. Out of nowhere, a drunk driver speeds towards you, out of control. He first careens into Hector and then veers into you, sending your car flying into a telephone pole.
You wake up in a hospital bed with minor damage. The doctor informs you that the drunk driver died on impact, and both of Hector’s kidneys were destroyed in the car accident. Fortunately, you and Hector just happen to have the same rare blood type such that you can save Hector’s life. So, the doctor plans to remove one of your kidneys and give it to Hector, restoring him to health.
You begin to protest: Hector has no right to one of your kidneys! You weren’t even the one who hit him! The doctor informs you that, here in Analogyland, the law guarantees the right to life. But, they can keep Hector alive on dialysis temporarily to let you appeal your case to the high court. You think about your anti-abortion speech and arguments about bodily autonomy, aware that your conviction that a right to bodily autonomy cannot ground a right to an abortion and your assertion that Hector has no right to your kidney seem inconsistent. When your day in court comes, what will you say to convince the judge that you should not have to give Hector one of your kidneys but also doesn’t even seem to imply that abortion is permissible because you have a right to refuse to use your body to help another person?
Estimated reading time: 14 minutes
Recently, some pro-choice people and organizations have moved away from focusing on bodily autonomy as grounding a right to an abortion and instead frame the issue as one of “reproductive freedom.” This might sound like a rhetorically powerful move—who could be against freedom? However, it is a self-defeating strategy that comes at the cost of the pro-choice movement’s best slogan: “my body, my choice.”
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes