Pro-Life Logic

Recently I listened to a speech by Boston College philosopher Peter Kreeft called Pro-Life Logic. Dr. Kreeft has a way of distilling complicated, abstract concepts into simple terms almost anyone can understand. In this speech he argued that the pro-life position against abortion is based on three fundamental premises. I will paraphrase them here:

  • The life of each individual human begins when a unique genetic code is formed at the moment of conception.
  • All humans have a right to life simply because they are human.
  • The law must protect the most basic rights of all humans, including the right to life.
If all three of these things are true, then the logical conclusion is you must be pro-life. Conversely, in order to be pro-abortion you must deny at least one of the three premises. Otherwise you are being logically inconsistent.

These points can be very useful if you are discussing abortion with someone who is not pro-life. If you can zero in on their most basic belief, you may be able to plant some doubts that they cannot escape.

Note also that these are not religious arguments. One need not believe in God in order to understand and accept them. The first point, for instance, is simply scientific fact. Prior to Roe vs. Wade, few scientists would say that an embryo was anything other than a unique human being. A very small, very young human, obviously, but human nonetheless. Any other definition of humanity is necessarily subjective and not scientifically provable.

These days most pro-abortion advocates rely on the second and third premises. They may admit that life begins at conception, but they argue that certain categories of human have no right to life. These categories are, of course, subjectively defined and subject to the whims of whoever is in charge. This is how the Nazis justified the murder of Jews, gays, and various other groups.

The last premise is also familiar: it is the Clinton/Giuliani line that goes "I'm against support abortion but I would never force my views on others." Dr. Kreeft handily swats that argument down, along with many others. You can download this speech, and many others, from his web site here.

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