The Twisted Logic Underlying Abortion

FATHER TADEUSZ PACHOLCZYK, PH.D.

Many influential people and institutions in our society, including Hollywood and the mass media, strongly support abortion. To justify their position, however, they must adeptly defy logic and ignore certain obvious facts.

One example of this side-stepping is the oft-repeated argument for abortion that it's all about a woman's body. As actress Amy Brenneman, who starred in the TV show Judging Amy, once put it, "Unless a woman really has sovereignty over her own body we really haven't come that far."

The obvious flaw in this argument was cleverly exposed a few years back by supermodel Kathy Ireland (who used to favor abortion) during a televised interview: "Some people say, 'Well it's a woman's body; it should be her choice. There's a 50% chance the baby she's carrying is a male child, and he would have a penis. Women don't have penises. So it's residing in her body; it is not a part of her body." While it should go without saying that babies have their own bodies, abortion advocates seem all too ready to tiptoe around the obvious to promote their agenda.

That tiptoeing is also evident whenever a breaking news story about the murder of an abortionist grabs the headlines. After someone recently gunned down Dr. George Tiller, the late-term abortionist in Kansas, almost every major media outlet extolled the genuine tragedy of his death, while tiptoeing past the tragedy of the 60,000 deaths that Tiller himself had coordinated within his clinics.

Several TV commentators, however, immediately perceived this double standard. Ann Coulter, for example, satirically mentioned, ". . . This one random nut who shot Tiller . . . I don't really like to think of it as a murder. It was terminating Tiller in the 203rd trimester." She then argued: "I am personally opposed to shooting abortionists, but I don't want to impose my moral values on others." Coulter also couldn't resist exposing the faulty moral logic behind so much pro-abortion rhetoric and sloganeering, as in: "If you don't believe in abortion, then don't have one," to which she replied: "If you don't believe in shooting abortionists, then don't shoot abortionists." Perhaps no one has so clearly summarized the deadly logic of the pro-abortion position as Mother Teresa, when she declared in her 1979 Nobel Peace Prize speech: " . . . If a mother can kill her own child -- what is left for me to kill you and you kill me -- there is nothing between."

The moral chaos of abortion often begins when advocates feign not to know when life begins. George Jonas, in his cleverly entitled essay Thoughts from an Ex-Fetus, observed how advocates must "pretend not to realize that life is an autonomous process, a continuum from zygote to old-age pension, a self-elaborating force that begins when it begins and keeps growing unless it's vacuumed out first. . . . They must pretend not to see that if a fetus were not alive, it wouldn't have to be killed."

Perhaps the most plausible explanation of why abortion advocates will so readily defy logic and ignore the obvious came from writer Dale Vree. He had been invited to a "living-room discussion" on abortion back in 1989 which included six prominent pro-lifers, six prominent pro-choicers, and one or two undecideds.

Coulter also couldn't resist exposing the faulty moral logic behind so much pro-abortion rhetoric and sloganeering, as in: "If you don't believe in abortion, then don't have one," to which she replied: "If you don't believe in shooting abortionists, then don't shoot abortionists."

Vree expected that the heart of the debate would hinge on when life began, but it didn't. It didn't even turn on the hard cases -- rape and incest. When one of the radical feminists argued that abortion is simply about the right to make choices, one of the pro-lifers replied that the choice was made back when the woman agreed to have sex. Then one of the pro-choicers finally blurted out: "We're pro-sex and you're anti-sex," meaning, according to Vree, that "they're for lots of sex in lots of forms while we pro-lifers feel it should be limited to heterosexual marriage. . . . They made it abundantly clear that they're committed to the sexual revolution, and that revolution will wither without the insurance which is abortion and this is their bottom-line concern."

This indeed appears to be the crux of the matter, the central concern that has motivated radical feminists, Hollywood, and many other advocates of abortion to sacrifice untold millions of unborn babies since the early 1970's. George Jonas zeroed in on this same bottom-line explanation: " We invent euphemisms, such as 'choice' for killing, and sophomoric dilemmas, such as pretending not to know when life begins, to ensure that nothing hinders Virginia's quest for Santa Claus. No obstacle must interfere with her goal of self-fulfillment -- least of all an issue (as it were) of her healthy sexual appetite."

In the final analysis, this stands as probably the single greatest tragedy of our time, that the unordered and inordinate sexual desires of men and women have been allowed to twist the most rudimentary moral logic to the point of death for so many of our children.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk. "The Twisted Logic Underlying Abortion." Making Sense Out of Bioethics (July, 2009).

Father Tad Pacholczyk, Ph.D. writes a monthly column, Making Sense out of Bioethics, which appears in various diocesan newspapers across the country. This article is reprinted with permission of the author, Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D.

The National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) has a long history of addressing ethical issues in the life sciences and medicine. Established in 1972, the Center is engaged in education, research, consultation, and publishing to promote and safeguard the dignity of the human person in health care and the life sciences. The Center is unique among bioethics organizations in that its message derives from the official teaching of the Catholic Church: drawing on the unique Catholic moral tradition that acknowledges the unity of faith and reason and builds on the solid foundation of natural law.

The Center publishes two journals (Ethics & Medics and The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly) and at least one book annually on issues such as physician-assisted suicide, abortion, cloning, and embryonic stem cell research. Educational programs include the National Catholic Certification Program in Health Care Ethics and a variety of seminars and other events.
 
Inspired by the harmony of faith and reason, the Quarterly unites faith in Christ to reasoned and rigorous reflection upon the findings of the empirical and experimental sciences. While the Quarterly is committed to publishing material that is consonant with the magisterium of the Catholic Church, it remains open to other faiths and to secular viewpoints in the spirit of informed dialogue.

THE AUTHOR

Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk earned a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Yale University. Father Tad did post-doctoral research at Massachusetts General Hospital/ Harvard Medical School. He subsequently studied in Rome where he did advanced studies in theology and in bioethics. He is a priest of the diocese of Fall River, MA, and serves as the Director of Education at The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia. Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk is a member of the advisory board of the Catholic Education Resource Center.

Copyright 2009 Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D.




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