The annual March For Life took place in Washington yesterday, bringing hundreds of thousands of people to the nation’s capital to gather in protest against the legality of abortion in the United States.
While the event has been going on for 46 years now, this year’s march was given increased mainstream coverage due to the appearance of popular conservative commentator Ben Shapiro.
Shapiro kicked off the day’s events by doing a live, pro-life themed version of his immensely popular daily podcast (15 million downloads per month) in which he examined what he believes to be the top ten most common pro-choice arguments.
For those who missed it or prefer to consume their news in a written format, allow me to briefly summarize the arguments Shapiro made against each of these pro-choice positions.
Number 1: It’s not a human being
Shapiro launched his argument against this position by referring to a tweet from Romper editor Danielle Campoamor claiming that pre-born children are simply “fetal tissue.”
Shapiro countered this point by saying that it was “anti-scientific” and that by using that standard, “human flesh is not a person.”
He proceeded to go through the science of the pro-life position showing images of the human fetus at the various stages of the pregnancy and pointing out that if we found a a fertilized egg “on another planet, it would be considered a life.”
He continued on saying “The question as to whether this is a baby is an irrelevant one because the bottom line is that this will become a full grown human being if left unimpeded in the natural course of things.”
Summary argument: Whether or not you call it a baby at the early stages of development does not matter. Science shows us that this is a unique, human life that, already in the first trimester, has begun to develop its own heart, brain, and circulatory system.
Number 2: It’s not a viable life
Shapiro countered this point by showing that the viability argument can be extended well past the point of birth, as babies and toddlers, left to their own devices, would not be able to survive for very long.
He also pointed out that this line of reasoning would see elderly folks in need of assisted living care as not viable, thus making their lives dispensable as well.
He went on to quote Princeton ethics professor Peter Singer who, though pro-choice himself, acknowledged the inevitable conclusion of this argument is that infanticide should be legal because infants do not meet the viability standards of self consciousness, autonomy or rationality.
Summary argument: Saying the fetus is not a life because it is not viable outside of the womb is a immoral argument that leads to the infanticide and forced euthanasia.
Number 3: Abortion is the responsible choice
Shapiro slammed this argument as saying “There is nothing moral about the idea that you think you’re going to be a bad parent so you get to kill the child. It’s an insane argument.”
He also pointed out that this argument also holds true after birth. Using the example of a four year old child, Shapiro said said this same logic of not being a capable parent would allow you to go drown you child in a river.
Summary argument: “Your failures as a parent do not allow you to kill another human being.”
Number 4: Abortion makes life better for women
Shapiro kicked off this segment by reading parts of a Guardian article entitled “An abortion at the age of 23 gave me freedom.” Shapiro strongly criticized this piece saying it was a “dismissive view” that devalued motherhood.
While proclaiming his support for working women, citing the examples of his mother and wife (she’s a doctor), Shapiro criticized society’s devaluing of motherhood saying that “We have suggested that freedom itself is tied into work and not into mothering. That is just not true, that is just a lie.”
Summary argument: “If your freedom comes at the expense of another human being than it’s not your freedom that is the top priority.”
Number 5: Abortion is necessary in all cases because of rape and incest
Shapiro called this a “red herring” used by the pro-choice movement “on a regular basis” to justify abortion in all circumstances. Shapiro accused pro-abortion advocates of “using an exception to destroy the rule.”
Shapiro then went on to quotes statistics from PolitiFact showing that an average of 7,000 pregnancies result from rape and incest in the U.S. every year. Comparing this to the roughly one million abortions that take place every year, Shapiro said this argument was not “in good faith.”
Addressing the specific morality of rape and incest, Shapiro condemned those who commit such heinous acts saying they “should be castrated or killed.”
As far as the baby is concerned, he said “one evil crime against one human being doesn’t not necessitate the morality of committing a crime against another human being.”
Summary argument: “We can all be sympathetic and still realize that it is an illogical argument that the baby should pay the price for the crime of the father.”
Number 6A: My body, my choice
Shapiro’s problem with this argument is the simple fact that it is not just the women’s body being talked about here.
He isn’t interested in the woman’s esophagus, kidneys or circulatory system but rather in protecting “the living human being” that is inside the woman.
Summary argument: This is a nonsensical slogan because it does not take into consideration the “living human being” inside the woman’s body.
Number 6B: The violinist problem
Shapiro addressed the libertarian position here by tackling the famous Judith Jarvis Thomson violinist in a coma argument.
Essentially, you wake from a coma and find that a famous violinist’s circulatory system is plugged into yours, keeping him alive. If you unplug and walk away, he will die but, if you stay in bed for nine months, he will wake up and you will both live.
Thomson argues that the violinist doesn’t have a right to your body so therefore you are morally right in unplugging.
Shapiro’s first point against this argument is that if the violinist, like a pre-born child, will turn into a “fully-fledged human being” after nine months, that’s “a dicey proposition.”
Secondly, he points out that, unless you were a victim of rape or incest, you had a choice to engage in consensual sex and create that baby. In the violinist example, no such choice was granted.
Shapiro’s third point against this argument is the equation of the violent act of abortion and the pulling of a plug is a false one.
Even if you did not consent to becoming pregnant, the act of aborting a child would be equivalent to having to chop the violinist “in the face with an axe” in order to disconnect yourself.
Finally, Shapiro concluded with the point that regardless of your consent in the matter, that child is still your child, whereas the violinist bears no relationship to you.
Summary argument: Abortion is a “violent act” done to a child who belongs to the mother and is not comparable to simply pulling the plug on a unrelated violinist.
Number 7: The safety of the mother
Shapiro called this argument that abortion is needed to protect the health of the mother “simply untrue” saying there is “no science to back this whatsoever.” Addressing the point that abortion is safer that pregnancy, Shapiro said this is true of many things in life.
Using the example of never leaving one’s home, Shapiro pointed out that we would never let women commit the crime of identity theft in order that they could steal someone’s credit card and never have to leave their home.
However, Shapiro still admitted that “virtually everyone in the pro-life movement” supports the option of abortion if the mother’s life is truly in danger. The key distinction for Shapiro was the “health of the mother” versus the “life of the mother.”
Summary argument: “Once we’re in the business of letting some people’s right to health overcome other people’s right to life, we’re in seriously dangerous territory.”
Number 8: The slippery slope of control
This crux of this argument is that if women are not allowed to abort their children, men will start to use them as surrogates by force, a la The Handmaids Tale.
Shapiro pointed out that if proponents of this line of argumentation were seriously concerned about this as a real possibility, they should be busy locking up anyone who disagrees with them politically because they are all “incipient threats” to their honour.
Additionally, Shapiro pointed out that while surrogacy can be of benefit for “rich Hollywood Leftists”, it is not a practice widely used across the country.
Summary argument: “The idea that this is a widespread problem is just not true.” This is an irrational and baseless fear.
Number 9: The overpopulation problem
Shapiro called the problem of overpopulation “simply not true” saying that with “additional people comes additional creativity and resources.”
Citing the example of the overpopulation wager between economist Julian Simon and environmentalist Paul Ehrlich back in the 1980’s, Shapiro pointed out that despite the increase in population (and subsequently demand), commodity prices have actually decreased thanks to increased creativity and production drawn from a larger population base.
Shapiro also pointed out that even if the need for a population decrease were real, it would make more sense to kill of those who currently contribute less rather than the unproven next generation.
Summary argument: Overpopulation is not a problem and even if it was, why kill off the youngest instead of those who have already shown to be a drain on resources.
Number 10: Abortion lowers the crime rate
Shapiro directly confronted the logic of this position saying “I’m not sure who’s comfortable with the pre-crime version of humanity where we get to decide before you are born whether you’re going to be a criminal and abort you based upon criminal activity in which you have not participated.”
Using the example of “baby Hitler”, Shapiro made the case that “no pro-life person on earth would kill baby Hitler.” Rather, the pro life solution would be to remove the baby from the home and place him in a home where he would not grow up to become “baby Hitler.”
Summary argument: Killing babies for crimes which they have not committed is immoral and wrong. This goes directly against the principle of innocent until proven guilty.
After outlining his counter arguments to ten of the most common pro-choice arguments, Shapiro concluded that underlying all of these of course, was the assumption that every human being is “made in the image of God.”
This “fundamental” belief serves as the cornerstone of Western civilization and thought and under-girds the decision making in every area of policy.
“Once you accept that every human being has value you can no longer be ‘pro-choice’, you must be pro life. If every human being has value, that means every human being deserves to be protected no matter how small, no matter how early.”
“All of them deserve to be protected because they are innately valuable.”