Why is the pro-choice position wrong?

Frequently we hear in Mormon circles that while the overwhelming majority of abortions are an abomination in the eyes of God, civil laws against it are a violation of the divine principle of free agency. Hence, the pro-life position is the “devil’s plan” to force God’s children to do the right thing. Freedom of choice is the Lord’s plan, or in other words, pro-choice. What is wrong with this line of reasoning? Can a person oppose abortion and still be pro-choice? Elder Dallin H. Oaks explains the sophistry involved in this kind of fallacious thinking in his BYU address, Weightier Matters. Among other things he says:

“If we say we are anti-abortion in our personal life but pro-choice in public policy, we are saying that we will not use our influence to establish public policies that encourage righteous choices on matters God’s servants have defined as serious sins. I urge Latter-day Saints who have taken that position to ask themselves which other grievous sins should be decriminalized or smiled on by the law on this theory that persons should not be hampered in their choices. Should we decriminalize or lighten the legal consequences of child abuse? of cruelty to animals? of pollution? of fraud? of fathers who choose to abandon their families for greater freedom or convenience?Similarly, some reach the pro-choice position by saying we should not legislate morality. Those who take this position should realize that the law of crimes legislates nothing but morality. Should we repeal all laws with a moral basis so our government will not punish any choices some persons consider immoral? Such an action would wipe out virtually all of the laws against crimes.”

Other topics that Elder Oaks addresses in this wonderful talk include the poor thinking that frequently accompanies calls for diversity and tolerance.

It is my opinion that a saint who appeals to libertarian philosophy to justify his stand against anti-abortion laws, claiming that such laws violate the fundamental principle of separation of Church and state, is being seduced by the fundamental error of modern libertarianism which I have outlined in another post. He is failing to acknowledge that our constitutionally guaranteed rights originate with our Creator, and that an acknowledgement of Him does not violate the the First Amendment so long as it does not establish a state church or religion.

The devil has great power to deceive, and he does continually corrupt our understanding of true philosophy.

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7 Responses to Why is the pro-choice position wrong?

  1. Okay, maybe they have a gender early on, but to actually call it a person in the first trimester really is a joke.

    I can understand the parellels with murder in the last trimester. I’m not trying to defend that at all.

    What I am saying is that abortion when done very early really isn’t all that different from birth control. Some would say it isn’t the same, but for all practical purposes it pretty much is.

    This leads me to suspect that those who are strongly against abortion of any kind or carrying over antagonistic feelings toward birth control.

    Are we really going to maintain that God “makes” each person? Or would it be better to say that the parents actually made the person? What about miscarriages? Is God the aborter in that instance? I don’t think anybody would want to say that, but if we are going to put God in charge of so much of the birth process it gets really difficult to avoid such a conclusion.

    Maybe it’s best we don’t try to put too much responsibility on God during that process.

  2. From the moment of conception when a zygote is first formed by the fertilization of a female egg with a male sperm, the sex of the developing individual is determined in the chromosomes of each cell nucleus. There is never a time when the gender of a new life is in doubt. Those who claim that at some point in the life of a developing embryo the sex is undetermined or neutral need to go back and read a freshman biology textbook.

  3. Anonymous says:

    “People can claim that a spirit is there already, but if it isn’t alive in any meaningful way and doesn’t even have a gender yet, then surely our definition of spirit must be very weak indeed.”

    Someone who’s actually been pregnant might beg to differ…(meant sincerely, not snarkily!)

  4. I think you missed my point, which I certainly didn’t say very explicitly. My point is that “rights” are artificial constructions (whether in this life, or in eternity) which are intended to maximize happiness and utility. There is no such thing as an actual “right” which God created. Instead, rights are an emergent quality in a highly social species which isn’t very well designed for cooperation.

    Thus I say that our right were actually created by the constitution in that rights are created by a community collectively creating and recognizing them. If a man didn’t feel that he had rights, and nobody else thought he did either, then regardless of what God thought on the matter, this person really doesn’t have any rights at all.

    Thus we can talk about fetuses and the like. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not pro-abortion, nor do I think that any but the most villianous people are. But does a parasite, which cannot surive by itself, has no consciousness, in fact has no sex whatsoever but will eventually have these things really have “rights”? Its a little bit of a stretch. People can claim that a spirit is there already, but if it isn’t alive in any meaningful way and doesn’t even have a gender yet, then surely our definition of spirit must be very weak indeed.

  5. Jeffrey D. Giliam wrote:

    I thought they [constitutional rights] originated with the authors of the constitution. Maybe they are but puppets on God’s strings as well (which I guess is a good thing since agency is actually bad apparently)

    A reading of the Declaration of Independence, which preceded the Constitution, and the other writings of our Founding Fathers will reveal that our rights did not originate with the Constitution, but are merely guaranteed or protected by it. The Virginia Declaration of Rights preceded the Declaration of Independence and enumerates many of the rights that were later incorporated into our Bill of Rights. And John Locke’s Second Treatise of Civil Government preceded the Constitution by a hundred years. As our Declaration of Independence affirms, our rights are God-given and “unalienable.” They did not originate with the Constitution. They preceded it and are superior to it.

    Without God we have no rights, and freedom is a meaningless concept. Whoever has power may rule as he pleases.

  6. gerald smith says:

    I think some laws are needed to protect society’s idiots from themselves.
    Is abortion a victimless crime? Or is it a new form of slavery, where the victim has no choice in what happens to his/her life?
    When Roe-v-Wade was established, medical science was in its infancy, compared to today. They are able to save children that are born in ounces, and earlier than the third trimester. Suddenly the issue of whether it is a fetus or a life should cause the discussion to change somewhat.
    Is a potential life of equal, lesser, or greater value than the mother’s?
    Society’s rules are conflicting in this. We allow abortion on demand with no penalty for mother/doctor, yet can charge a different person with murder for killing the fetus within a pregnant woman? (The feds say “yes”).
    Obviously, this is telling me that it is okay for me to destroy my own bicycle, but if someone else does it, they should be tried for murder and not some lesser agravated assault or trespassing charge. After all, the idea is that the fetus is not a life form, but just property. Hmmmmmm.
    The authors of the Constitution recognized God in the Constitution, and also established in our other founding document, The Declaration of Independence, that we are all “endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights” which include, but are not limited to: “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
    Interesting the order those are placed in. Above the pursuit of happiness is life and liberty; and above liberty is life. Life trumps all. Without those prioritized in this order, we get things out of kilter on what is truly needed to maintain a society.
    Anarchists do this. So do big government types, who sell their votes to the highest bidder among the special interest groups. Governments role is to ensure people’s life, liberty and pursuit of happiness – in that order.
    Or, as the Constitution establishes: just a few things for the feds, and everything else to the lower government bodies – thus ensuring life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. The feds to only seek the “general welfare” of the nation, such as during the Depression or a war, leaving all else not specifically enumerated in the Constitution to the states.

    There is reason to consider the fetus of equal value to the mother – allowing abortion for life/health/rape/incest reasons to protect the mother, but to deny most other reasons in order to provide the fetus its rights given to it by its Creator.

  7. First of all I object to the term “anti-abortion.” I once saw a political ad accuse the competitor of being “anti-choice.” What was he then? Anti-life? C’mon.

    “I urge Latter-day Saints who have taken that position to ask themselves which other grievous sins should be decriminalized or smiled on by the law on this theory that persons should not be hampered in their choices.”

    I answer this question: Any grievous sins which does not harm anybody else or society at large. Isn’t that the position stated in sec. 134?

    “Our constitutionally guaranteed rights originate with our Creator”

    I thought they originated with the authors of the constitution. Maybe they are but puppets on God’s strings as well (which I guess is a good thing since agency is actually bad apparently).

    I don’t know if these posts were in response to mine, but I have recently argued strongly against your views here:

    http://mormondoctrine.blogspot.com/2005/07/natural-law-politics-mormonism.html

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