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Choosing Life Creates Possibilities

It’s the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and it doesn’t seem right to just say nothing. So consider  this pro-life ad that has been making the rounds: 

Of course, we can’t all have mothers like Obama’s. But the video closely expresses the pro-life argument I come back to most often–choosing life creates possibilities–not least because it relates so directly to my own life. I won’t tell the full story, or even part of it, at this time, but my mother (a heroine not unlike the President’s mom) had plenty of reason to end her pregnancy when she discovered that I was on the way. I was unwanted, a surprise, a burden. And of course, I’m so grateful she carried on, as hard as it made the ensuing years of her life. 
At this blog’s young age, I’ve noticed that commenters here range from right to left, so I’d love to hear that range of voices weigh in. What’s your reaction to this ad? 
Be civil, or be deleted. 
Comments read comments(11)
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posted January 22, 2009 at 9:19 pm

I think this ad sidesteps the most important part of this issue – why do many (not all) groups and people who are against choice when it comes to abortion not promoting birth control and fully informed sex education, the Catholic Church and the evangelical Christian movement included? Even when abstinence only has been shown to have about as much impact at the D.A.R.E. program does on drug use (neutral or counterproductive to the goal?) I am pro-choice and I’d like to see abortion be something that is more rare and more available than it is now.

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Patton Dodd

posted January 23, 2009 at 12:00 am

Kelly, it’s a great question. I wouldn’t say the ad sidesteps it, b/c it’s just meant to make one philosophical point. But you’re right that too many pro-lifers are blind to reductionist strategies, and to the care of women facing problem pregnancies.

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Paul in the GNW

posted January 23, 2009 at 2:22 am

Who is qualified to determine what the meaning of “living” is
That is a clear matter of science, and it can’t be denied that a newly conceived being is “alive.”
how we define and determine what constitutes a full human life as opposed to a potential human life,
Yes, but lets be clear it is not a potential human life, it is a human life. The further development to later stages of a fetus and a baby and … is potential, but ‘she’ is human and alive.
exactly what kind of life is justification to legally require a woman to carry it in her body for a period of nine months regardless of her own wishes on the matter? ….
So there is the real question. What rights does the unborn and undeveloped human have and how to balance those with the rights of the mother.
The pro-life answer is that an unborn baby has the right to life. That means the right not to be murdered in the womb. The basis for this is that it is a human being (it is a living organism that is biologically of the species Homo Sapian) just as every other human being does.
Your bio-ethicist are honest enough to agree that is the question. They simply argue that ‘personhood’ and rights are dependent on capabilities and not on species. Many of them, most notably Peter Singer, advocate that up until at least a year or so old, babies aren’t as mentally capable as baboons or apes, so they shouldn’t have more rights that at least those species. Singer will also claim that severely handicapped people are less worthy of rights. These experts argue that killing handicapped babies, or any baby is not unethical. They extend these arguments to the elderly and the sick.
Beyond abortion, the difference between the two sides is stark. Your rather absurd and extensive description of:
let’s assume for a second that we would take as a basis of public policy the notion that every single conception is the full moral and legal equivalent of a fully-born human being.
and implications actually makes my point. The Peter Singer model is that rights are something to be granted by society (The government, the ethics committee, or ____). This is essentially what you are arguing: that pro-lifers will push society to give too many rights to the unborn.
The pro-life side is that there are basic human rights that all humans have, all the time, from conception to natural death. The right to life (the right not to be Killed) is such a right. The rest of the fantasy you conjure up is up to society and government.

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Paul in the GNW

posted January 23, 2009 at 2:31 am

Sorry that post to James was supposed to be on another topic. OOPS

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Anna K.

posted January 24, 2009 at 10:46 am

It’s an interesting clip, but the argument for potential swings both ways; I remember seeing a similar bio from the abortion debates in the ’70s where the baby from difficult circumstances grew up to be Adolf Hitler. I don’t think the abortion issue can be isolated from the way we treat women, or the way we treat birth control, or the way we treat the poor, or the way we treat access to employment and education. I am appalled by abortion, but I am also appalled by the conditions of so many women worldwide who have no control over how many children they have and who lose their health, risk their children’s health, lose access to education and work with dignity . . . I don’t think any of us would want our daughters living like that, and as long as babies’ potentials are set as de facto obstacles to girls’ and womens’ potentials, we’re not going to come to a godly solution, imho.

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posted January 24, 2009 at 1:20 pm

First I agree, birth control methods should be the first line of “defense” if you will, against pregnancy. It should be available to all…in this country (USA) and in other countries. I don’t think there are many who think an abortion should be used as primary birth control metnod. However, as much as that clip shows what potential is gone by having an abortion, it also doesn’t point out what happens to unwanted children in poor countries or even in this country because their mother can’t feed them etc. There are 2 sides to that clip…no one would know the difference if Obama hadn’t been born, would they?

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posted January 26, 2009 at 1:51 pm

Life is an interesting term. It is defined by many in many different ways. Is your definition of life is when two gametes (reproductive cells) fuse to form another cell? Under that definition, I would suggest that than when a cancer cell invades a healthy cell than that is life. And destruction of cancer is not considered murder. I know this simplified, I am trying to be a little scientific and perhaps a little provocative. I also question the condition under which reproductive processes began. Under duress? I’m still not sure what life is, how it is defined, or if we should define it.
As I walked to work this past Thursday, I passed the services being held at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. prior to the March for Life. Outside, there were signs that read, “We Choose Life!” My first reaction is to really be introspective into the words of that statement. They choose. Pro-life activists choose. As a believer in humanity, I can not take away another persons right to be and act how they wish. I can not tell a women what to do with her body, her womb, her choice. I can only believe that most true-hearted humans would choose to do what is best for them.
This video

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posted January 27, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Thank you for bringing up this issue and for being honest about your own perspective. I hear your desire to be open to all life’s possibilities but I have real objections to this ad. A colleague of mine, Kate Ott has written a fantastic blog about this. I encourage others to read and comment:

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Nick Rogers

posted January 29, 2009 at 8:49 am

Jenn, for some reason the link wouldn’t work for me. I’m reposting to see if it does.

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Nick Rogers

posted January 30, 2009 at 1:46 pm
NBC has rejected running the add during the Superbowl. I think it was a good decision.

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posted January 31, 2009 at 10:14 am

Actually, I have a lot of problems with this line of argument — it seems to lead inevitably to a duty to have all the babies possible because maybe that child born to a teenage mother, or that tenth baby in an impoverished and overstressed home, will be some amazing genius.
If I had gotten pregnant at age 15 and carried the baby to term that child might have grown up to cure cancer. But I didn’t get pregnant at age 15, and so the world will never know. The possibilities of that hypothetical child are gone — just as gone as if I had gotten pregnant and terminated.
Now, I should clarify that I am about as anti-abortion as anyone can be. However I don’t think that this “possibilities” line of argument gets us anywhere.

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