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The Argument has Shifted: What is the Value of a Life?
For years, the pro-life community argued about the humanity (or personhood, depending on who you talked to) about unborn children. If you search it, you can find many discussions of those arguments.
Now, however, the argument has shifted. Today, pro-life advocates must wrestle with an argument that, when stated plainly, seems absurd (and is rarely stated plainly).
Here's the argument, courtesy of The Federalist:
"There is no more denying the humanity of the preborn. The only thing abortion supporters can do now is claim that a human life only has value if they say so.
"'The unborn person has no constitutional rights,' declared Hillary Clinton on CNN a few months back. Notice she readily admits the preborn is indeed a unique, individual human person.
"'So what if abortion ends a life?' writes Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon. Williams goes on to say the preborn child is 'a life worth sacrificing.'
"In April, pro-abortion students at the University of North Georgia made cookies shaped like children and bit the heads off while laughing hysterically. In June, a San Diego abortionist was filmed saying that he 'loved' dismembering babies."
The argument from pro-choice activists, at least those on the cutting edge, admits that the unborn are, in fact, unique humans. Unfortunately, the argument suggests that killing the children are justified, nonetheless.
It is a variation of this argument th at Timothy Brahm of the Equal Rights Institute argues against in this post. Brahm is a clear writer and thinker, and I commend his post to you.
Here's how Brahm characterizes the sorts of arguments we talked about above:
"The pro-life mind is generally oriented towards the unborn: the unborn is a human being, and it should be illegal to kill human beings, so abortion should be illegal. But pro-choice people are generally oriented differently. Even if they don’t believe that the unborn is a human being, sometimes they don’t think that issue matters. The important thing is that women can do what they want with their bodies, no matter what. If this is the perspective of one of your pro-choice friends, then biological or philosophical arguments that the unborn is a human being are not likely to change his mind about abortion. Some pro-choice people truly don’t care what the unborn is; the unborn is in the woman’s way, and that’s all that matters."
Brahm goes on to discuss the problems with the argument, and does so extraordinarily well. Read it here.
The Trends That Lead to the Decline of Religious Liberty
Over at The Gospel Coalition, Trevin Wax offers up four cultural trends that lead to the decline of religious liberty. Let's look at just the first one:
"Trend #1: Religion is personal and private, not public.
"More and more Americans see religion as something personal and private, a belief that you hold for therapeutic purposes. It’s about feelings that are true for you, not facts that concern the whole world.
"The idea that religion is a private affair has existed for a long time, but it has become 'the default position' on religion in recent years—to the point that religious people have to make a case for why religion should matter in the public square or in the realm of politics."
This extreme focus on private life can have dangerous consequences. The move of convictions to the private life lines up with what we've argued about autonomy in the past. After all, if you believe that religious convictions (and likely all moral convictions) belong not in public but in private, then you are likely to suggest that the only protections we should offer are ones that affect private life (read: the glorification of consent).
It is no wonder that the privatization of conviction has led to folks thinking the First Amendment goes too far. If you believe your convictions should only matter in private, in the confines of your home or chosen place of worship (though even then there is an open question), then how could you understand why your neighbor wants to live out her beliefs in public?
If we wish to fight this cultural leaning, we must choose our words carefully (opting to use "freedom of religion" instead of "freedom of worship," since the latter term privatizes religious conviction), continue to live out our own convictions in public, and encourage fellow citizens to do the same.
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