…..this intellectually dishonest opinion piece by Kate Cohen in the Washington Post. It is titled “How would you feel if your mother had aborted you?’ Easy. I’d feel nothing,” and embodies several themes in the abortion-loving Left’s escalating freak-out over the very real possibility that Roe v. Wade will be overturned or limited by the current Supreme Court.
One theme is that that abortion advocates almost unanimously continue to avoid dealing with the other human party in the equation whose interests are at stake: the unborn human being. Another is using collateral attacks on religion and faith to minimize the belief by religious people that it’s wrong beyond question to kill an innocent individual for the benefit of a more powerful one. The third…
Well, let me address the second a bit again. Progressives are largely hostile to religion and the religious, whom they regard as unsophisticated, superstitious rubes. Since people tend to project their biases and attitudes on others, those who want open season on fetuses think they score points by linking the anti-abortion side of the debate to something they think is ridiculous. It is not a genuine argument but rather a cognitive dissonance trick. They are counting on a someone conflicted about the abortion debate being pulled to their side by the association with a different subject they regard with contempt. It is the same kind of tactic as using “The Handmaiden’s Tale” as a false map for the dystopian future abortion fans claim awaits if Roe goes down: linking abortion to something horrible, even a science fiction story, will diminish the appeal of the anti-abortion position, not with logic or reason, but with a negative association alone.
I have a difficult time not concluding that those using the anti-religion, association tactic are malign people because of their association with it. The belief that killing an innocent human being is wrong isn’t only a religious belief and bedrock moral tenet. It is basic ethics as well, a conclusion virtually all societies have accepted based on human experience. That’s where ethics comes from: one doesn’t have to be religious to strongly object to killing human beings, indeed religion isn’t necessary to reach that conclusion at all. Whether one reaches the position that legal abortion consists of one powerful human being who has had the opportunity to live ending that opportunity for a weaker human being for her own sole benefit and is therefore wrong, through religion, Kant, Rawls, basic ethical analysis, logic, common sense or some other path is irrelevant. You got there. Congratulations. It’s the ethical place to be.
End of digression. The third theme is the pro abortion lobby’s addiction to straw man arguments. Since they have no compelling justifications for legal abortion (when the mother’s life isn’t at risk) once the existence of another human being is conceded other than rationalizations (“It’s been this way for a long time”; “It’s for a good cause”; “It isn’t what it is” and many others), they resort to various logical fallacies, the straw man being the current favorite. That’s all Cohen’s op-ed is, ultimately, a straw man argument. She introduces her essay this way:
When Elizabeth Spiers, an adoptee, wrote a thoughtful essay about the limits of adoption as a simple replacement for abortion (as suggested by Justice Amy Coney Barrett), she received a cascade of responses along the lines of: “If your mother felt she had a choice and chose differently you’d be fine with it?”
I’ve got the answer! She wouldn’t be anything — fine or not fine — because she wouldn’t be.
Wow, what a clever rejoinder! The question as phased is dumb, reminding me of my grandfather’s intentionally ironic joke about “waking up dead some day.” Yes, of course if you’re already dead you don’t feel anything, and what does that prove? It proves that the question was inarticulate, but what the question means is clear to anyone with the integrity to consider genuine arguments rather than phony ones. “If your mother felt she had a choice and chose differently you’d be fine with it?” means, obviously, “Aren’t you grateful you had the chance to live your life? Why do you want to take that chance away from other unborn children when you are benefiting and enjoying the opportunity you would deny them?” It is, in essence, a Golden Rule challenge, and the Golden Rule, “reciprocity” to ethicists, isn’t an appeal to religion but to basic fairness: “Treat others as you would want to be treated.” To avoid its implications, the abortion defenders’ reflex reaction is “Others? What ‘others’?”
Cohen’s straw man argument ends up here:
Reasonable people can disagree about when a developing fetus has rights that must be considered. And people who are happily pregnant might assign complete personhood to a pea-size clump of cells from the moment the pregnancy is confirmed. But how we feel about that clump is not the same as how it feels…. [E]veryone who asks how abortion advocates would feel if they had been aborted, as if unborn people hover about ruing their nonexistence — remind us that religion is driving our abortion debate. Religion — not reason and not compassion for people who already exist in this earthly realm.”
See? “What others?” The unborn don’t “exist,” and the only ones who think they exist are those nutty Bible-beaters who believe in souls and all that sentimental, mystical, archaic nonsense. It is a deeply dishonest argument, or a truly stupid one. In either case, a major newspaper should not publish opinion pieces where the opinion is either deliberately deceptive or bone-headed on its face. (Nor should it employ columnists who submit such junk. Cohen is a regular pundit for WaPo.) However, this is what the pro-abortion activists have, and apparently all the have: dishonest arguments, or bad ones.