*This is a very rough draft of a strange rebuttal I've developed against the Violinist Argument for abortion. I'm putting it out there not because I'm certain it's solid, but for honest critiques. If you would like to a more comprehensive and solid rationale for the intrinsic valuing of all human life, you can find that here. You can also find a more mainstream rebuttal for the Violinist Argument.
The topic of abortion is fraught with emotional pitfalls on all sides, and understandably so. My goal is to broach this topic intellectually and make a case for the pro-life position without undermining reverence and respect for the humanity and value of those who have chosen abortion. My hope is that this case can help those on all sides to clearly see the crux of the issue and the tremendous implications it has for establishing and maintaining human rights.
1. The Foundational Question: What is killed in abortion?
2. How to Determine Value and Rights: What quality and types of qualities confer rights and value to an individual?
3. Justified Reasons for Taking Human Life: What justifies the taking of human life?
4. Unjustified Reasons for Taking Life: What reasons fail to justify the taking of human life?
5. Bad Christian Arguments and Witness: Common pro-life/Christian arguments and actions which can undermine the pro-life position.
6. Counterrebuttals: A response to significant objections to the pro-life arguments.
Many pro-choice proponents point to ectopic pregnancies (where the embryo doesn't implant in the uterus, but in other areas, sometimes the fallopian tube or ovary) as an example of pro-life hypocrisy. Many pro-lifers argue that it is never right to seek the death of the unborn, yet the majority of pro-lifers recognize the legitimacy of aborting a fetus involved in an ectopic pregnancy. While I have come to the conclusion that this is an inconsistency of many pro-lifers, I think this area is a bit grayer than all the other areas due to our culture being steeped in pragmatic ethics. If we believe that allowing an ectopic pregnancy to continue will result in both the mother's life and the child's life being taken, pragmatic ethics makes it seem as though we have the right to take one life to save another. It is a lesser evil. So before I present my case against abortion in ectopic pregnancies, I'll provide the Christian case for abortive ectopic pregnancies. Please be reminded that here, just as in all other sections, I am not making a case for the purpose of condemning. If there is grace for me, there is grace available for everyone else as well.
The Violinist Argument (argument from bodily autonomy) sets up an analogy for why abortion should be acceptable. Imagine that there is a world famous violinist - a skilled and important member of society. Unfortunately, the violinist falls ill and the only way to save him is for him to be hooked up to your body for nine months. You are his life support.
We all recognize that if such a thing would be imposed upon you, it would be unjust. A person, no matter how valuable or famous, does not have the right to use your body if you don't want them to. The argument extrapolates from this conclusion that abortion, then, is legitimate, as it is merely the refusal to allow another person to use one's body for their sustenance (see the full argument here).
Let me begin by acknowledging that I understand the issue of abortion disproportionately affects women. Their bodies are the ones which endure the effects of bearing a child, and all too frequently fathers leave mothers to take care of a child by themselves. I completely understand how one could look at the pro-life Christians through the filter of vocal distortions of Christianity, and decide that Christianity is anti-woman. I can see why one would think that the pro-life case is an attempt to perpetuate patriarchy and subjugate women. However, I want to throw a crazy sounding idea out there. Though the issue certainly looks different for men and women in terms of how consequences are borne, I want to argue that the pro-life case may actually harm men as much as it does women.
One valuable thought experiment levied against pro-lifers created by science fiction writer, Patrick S. Tomlinson, asks a very difficult question. If you, a pro-life advocate, were in an IVF clinic and there was a fire, if you had to choose between saving 1,000 human embryos or a toddler, who would you save? It seems the honest response of everyone (myself included) is that they would save the toddler. But if we're pro-life and believe embryos have just as much intrinsic worth, doesn't our choice to save the toddler belie or true belief that the toddler has more intrinsic value?