In her last monthly vlog, YouTuber and author Melanie Murphy talked about why she’s pro-choice. She lives in Ireland and wants to encourage other Irish women to vote to make abortion legal. I didn’t choose Melanie’s vlog to comment on because I want to pick on her. I’m a fan. She is a kind, generous, passionate, intelligent person. I’m subscribed to her channel because I love her personality. I love her even though I disagree with her about a lot of important things. I chose her vlog to comment on because I think it’s a good representation of the most common reasons why people are pro-choice.
In this post, I’m going to quote what she said in the video and offer my thoughts from a pro-life perspective. If you want to watch the section of the vlog in question, it goes from 6:32 to 11:15 in this video.
First, I hope we can all agree that the unborn is human. It’s a scientific fact that the unborn is a living human being, not a part of the mother’s body, from the moment of conception. For more on that subject, see my previous post on abortion.
“If you’re a woman in Ireland and in any circumstance where you fall pregnant and you don’t wish to be pregnant, even in situations like rape, abortion’s illegal, and you have to go abroad to get an abortion.”
I think the phrase “fall pregnant” is a little misleading, because it sounds like something happened to you that you had no responsibility for and could not have anticipated. In the case of rape, that’s certainly true, but in the vast majority of pregnancies that end in abortion, that’s not the case. Even if you intended sex to be 100% for pleasure and took precautions, you still engaged in an activity that had pregnancy as a possible outcome. I’m not saying that you should never have sex unless you want to have a baby. I’m just saying that you should accept that it’s a possibility. There’s a certain amount of responsibility that comes with taking any action where an undesired result is possible.
“I don’t consider myself pro-abortion. I’m not sitting over here like, ‘Woo, let’s all get drunk and pregnant and then get abortions.'”
I really appreciate that, but I’m curious… why not? I would be interested in hearing from anyone who is pro-choice, but yet has any kind of reservations about abortion. Why wouldn’t your attitude be, “Have as many abortions as you want! Don’t take precautions, you can just have an abortion!”? Other than expense and inconvenience, the only reason I can think of is that abortion kills a human being. And if you know that abortion kills a human being, how can you support it?
“Denying a woman of her right to choose whether or not to continue on with a pregnancy is an awful attempt to control her body.”
If a woman has the right to choose whether or not to end the life that is growing inside her, where did that right come from? Why is that a right? Why doesn’t the living human inside her have the right to not be killed?
You say that denying abortion is an attempt to control a woman’s body. To some, that might sound like there’s only one person involved. As if it should be obvious that the woman should be able to choose because we’re only talking about her own body. But the living human inside her is not part of her body. That’s a scientific fact. The unborn is a separate human being with its own body.
It’s true that the woman’s body is sustaining her offspring’s life. Those who are pro-life would say that her unborn son or daughter should be allowed to continue to live and grow inside her because he or she is a living, helpless human being who should be protected, not killed, by his or her mother. Whether the unborn child was an accident or not makes no difference to his or her inherent value as a human being.
Is that attitude an awful attempt to control a woman’s body? Or is it a respect for the value of life?
“A huge amount of pregnancies are unintentional and contraception fails. We know this.”
In what way do the intentions of the woman influence whether it’s ok to kill the unborn baby? The baby is just as much a living human being as he or she would have been if the woman had been trying to get pregnant.
If a woman was knitting a sweater, and someone took it and destroyed it, the only person who was wronged was the woman. The sweater wasn’t wronged because it’s not alive. But if a woman was pregnant and someone killed the unborn baby, the baby was also wronged because it is a living human being.
“We also know that nowadays sex is completely associated with pleasure. It’s no longer just a purely reproductive act, and I think it’s ridiculous to tell women just to not have sex in case they will become a part of the tiny percentage, that statistic of women who accidentally fall pregnant.”
This is actually part of a good argument for the Christian view of sex. It seems clear that God created marriage, sex, and babies to go together. When you operate outside of that design, you run into problems. But even Christianity doesn’t teach that married people should limit sex to when they’re trying to get pregnant. However, it’s still a risk. It would be irresponsible to pretend like risks don’t exist.
If someone gets pregnant, the fact that they had sex purely for pleasure does not make their unborn baby any less human, any less alive, or any less intrinsically valuable.
“How can we decide which life has more intrinsic value, the mother’s or the unborn child’s?”
Both the mother and the unborn child have intrinsic value as human beings. That’s exactly why I’m pro-life. If a situation arises in which a choice must be made to either save the mother’s life or the unborn child’s life, choosing to save the mother’s life (which most pro-lifers would support) does not require believing that the unborn child’s life lacks intrinsic value.
An unborn fetus might very well kill a woman…”
I agree with this part. Sometimes killing someone is necessary to save your own life. That’s called self-defense, not murder. In this case, both people (mother and unborn child) have an equal right to life. If keeping the baby alive would kill the mother, she has the right to act to save her own life.
“…or lead her to a life full of financial difficulty and depression.”
You don’t have a right to kill someone because they are causing you financial difficulty, depression, or any other hardship. The mother has the option of putting the baby up for adoption, but killing him or her should not be an option.
“This stuff can get dark, and unless you can walk a mile in someone else’s shoes who’s in that situation, I feel like it’s horrible to impose your views on them.”
If the unborn child is a human being, then aborting that child is itself an act of imposing one’s view on that child.
The idea that you shouldn’t impose your views on something you haven’t personally experienced sounds very tolerant, but it’s silly if you think about it. Just think about how impossible it would be to get anything done if we could only have an opinion on things that we’ve experienced ourselves. There are other ways to know things besides personal experience. Reading, listening, observing, thinking, and reasoning are all ways that we can come to know things.
What determines whether abortion is wrong or not? Whether it kills a living human being, and whether or not killing an innocent human is wrong. You don’t have to experience pregnancy to know whether unborn babies are human beings or to know whether it’s wrong to kill people.
“I’m pro-choice because for some, contraception isn’t always available or affordable.”
The availability of contraception has no influence on whether or not an unborn baby is a living human being who shouldn’t be killed.
“I’m pro-choice because bodily autonomy is a basic human right.”
Bodily autonomy is a basic human right, but so is the right to not be killed. When two rights are at odds, the more basic and costly right should be protected. Being killed is even more costly than having to bring an unwanted baby to term. In other words, there are two persons whose bodily autonomy is in view: the mother and the child. Some temporary sacrifice of the mother’s bodily autonomy is morally preferable to the permanent sacrifice of the child’s life.
“I’m pro-choice because I support the mental health and well-being of women–living women who are here, and whose experiences I would never pretend to understand. I just don’t feel like anyone has the right to do so.”
I also support the mental health and well being of women, but mental health is not an acceptable justification for killing another living human being. What about the well being of the unborn baby? What about the women whose mental and emotional health are severely hurt when they come to regret their choice to have an abortion?
Of course a woman should be helped and supported to improve her mental health and well being, but not by killing her child.
“I’m pro-choice because it’s time for men to stop dictating the actions of women.”
Millions of women are pro-life. If men suddenly dropped out of the conversation, would that make a difference? Of course not. Men and women can make the same arguments for and against abortion. An argument should be accepted or rejected based on its merits, not the gender of the person giving it.
“I’m pro-choice because there’s already so many orphans in this world that need loving homes. There are millions of children in this world that need parents, and all the promises in the world that you’re gonna adopt motherless and fatherless children is not changing that statistic. I feel like it’s unfair for women to have to add to that, and to live with that guilt, and to go through a pregnancy that they don’t want and carry it to term.”
Of course it’s a problem that there are so many children without parents. But killing unwanted children is not how we should deal with that problem. Killing innocent humans is still murder. The number of parentless children in the world is not relevant when considering whether or not an unborn baby is a valuable living human being.
Because the victims of abortion don’t have a voice in the discussion, it might seem safe to argue that abortion is what’s best for everyone in tough situations. But many abortions actually fail, and those survivors do have a voice. Nearly all survivors of failed abortions are glad to be alive. (Visit The Abortion Survivors Network website.)
“I’m pro-choice because our sex education is still crap.”
Sex education is very bad in many places. That needs to be fixed. But a lack of good sex education has nothing to do with whether or not an unborn baby is a living human being who shouldn’t be killed.
“I’m pro-choice because another woman’s sexual/reproductive choices are absolutely none of my business.”
It’s none of our business if a woman wants to try to have a baby or if she chooses to try to prevent pregnancy. But once a baby is conceived, it’s a living human being who should not be killed just because he or she isn’t wanted. Killing someone should not be an acceptable personal choice regardless of whether the intended victim is inside or outside the womb.
“I’m sick to death of Irish women being turned away and not being given the care that they deserve here in their home country.”
If women are being denied actual care, then that is a serious problem that should be dealt with. Doctors should do their best for the health of any person in their care. In the case of a pregnant woman, they should care for the health of both the mother and the unborn baby.
There are other arguments for and against abortion that aren’t included here. Some of them are addressed in the links below, so please consider checking them out.
[Edited to add: please read the comments below, especially the second one and my responses to it. I go into more detail that I didn’t mention in this post.]
Life Begins at Fertilization, Science Teaches
Personhood Theory: The False Dichotomy Between Humans and Persons
It May Be Human, but It’s Not a Person?
Wouldn’t I Still Be Me? (The unborn are human, but are they persons?)
Pro-Woman, not Pro-Abortion
If You Don’t Like Abortion, Don’t Have One
The Abortion Survivors Network
Planned Parenthood’s Most Misleading Statistic
Planned Parenthood vs. Little Girls – Sex-Selective Abortion in America