This is one of those weeks when I spent days waffling back and forth about what to write about come Saturday. I had considered writing a response to some anti-abortion videos I saw about a month ago, but I had no idea how to go about it. I am not too well-versed within the abortion debate, so I didn’t know if it would be worth trying to put my thoughts on it together in a blog post. But as I was re-watching these videos from Christian YouTuber Becca Eller, I saw that she, too, had been nervous to talk about abortion but decided to give it a try anyway. So I’m giving my response to her videos a try too.
I still think that Becca and her beliefs come from a place of love and trying to do good in the world, even if I don’t think she is actually accomplishing that. If you watched these two videos, you can tell that she is only trying to spread positivity and do what she sees as good. However, that is why I find these videos so dangerous. These are the kinds of arguments, wrapped in pink and with big loving smiles, that are stripping women of their rights across America and across the world. What will become of the young Christian teen girls who watch Becca’s videos and are persuaded that abortion is evil in every case, only to one day become pregnant by accident, or worse, rape, and feel that she must carry this child to term even if she has no way of giving it a good life?
The first thing that Becca says that I disagreed with was her comparison of people getting abortions to the Holocaust. I thought she went a little far with this comparison, but she went out of her way to assure viewers that it was intentional; she believes that abortion is a great injustice, just as the Holocaust was. She wasn’t doing it just to get our attention: she believes that even a two-celled organism, from the point when it is just one sperm cell and one egg cell, is a child: a human being with rights. And in her view, it’s a unique human being made in the image of the Christian god. She sees no difference in these clumps of cells being aborted (over 90% of which are in the first trimester (source), when a fetus cannot yet feel pain (source)) and children and adults being tortured, starved, and gassed to death because of ethnocentrism.
My biggest problem with both of these videos is that since Becca is Christian, she assumes that her Christian viewers who are pro-life already know why abortion is wrong. I believe that when you have an audience on a topic like this, the audience will be divided even if the majority agree with you. (Hi, Christians and pro-lifers, I know there are some of you reading this, and I acknowledge that!) So I really wish that she had given her own personal reasons for some of her beliefs that she assumes her viewers would already know.
This is how I felt when she responded to the common pro-choice argument of “no uterus, no opinion,” which can be stated in various forms. Just because this statement is short doesn’t make it any less powerful and accurate. She said that if a man is being told that he can’t be against abortion because he isn’t a woman, he doesn’t have to listen to that! But she then said that this argument is “just so stupid.” She said that men can “do something about the injustice.” Why is this argument stupid? Maybe to her, it is. But to me, it’s not.
If you get an abortion, that is up to you. It is one of the hardest choices you will make in your life, and I believe that if you are choosing to terminate your own pregnancy, you aren’t just doing it for fun, or because you love “killing children.” Maybe you already have children, and you are already spread too thin, and you don’t have the resources for another. The only time when a man gets to choose whether a woman gets an abortion is if the pregnant woman decides that his opinion is important to her, and she wants his help in choosing. The same thing goes with women who aren’t pregnant. I’ve never been pregnant or been in a position where I had to choose to continue a pregnancy or not, and I assume that Becca hasn’t either. This is one reason why I couldn’t feel right trying to force my beliefs on a woman who is in this situation. Neither Becca nor I, nor anyone else, knows what she is going through.
In her first video, Becca gives only one pro-life source, and that is LiveAction.com. I perused the site, and their greatest argument is that a fetus—no, a “preborn child”—looks like a little teeny tiny person, and abortion is gross. One of Live Action’s proponents, Dr. Levantino, said on the site that even if you get an abortion early on using a pill, if you look closely you may be able to count the fetus’s fingers and toes. Whether or not this is true, I don’t think it is a good argument. It is emotionally manipulative, just as doctors are in pro-life (which is much more like pro-birth, I might add) states who force the woman to watch an ultrasound and listen to a heartbeat after she has already made one of the hardest decisions of her life, just so that they can make the decision even harder.
Yes, abortions are gross. Yes, there could be blood. But do you know what else is gross, and has a lot of blood? Periods. Vaginal births. C-sections. These are your alternatives to an abortion if you are pregnant.
And while we are on the subject, you know what else is gross, bloody, and causes pain to a conscious being with feelings? Yep. Slaughterhouses. Just saying. Pigs and cows and chickens can feel pain. They have nerve endings, and they’ve normally been out of their mother’s womb (or the egg) for months or years when they are killed without ever having any freedom to even move. I’m not a vegan, but to this end, I don’t know how a person can make the arguments against abortion without also being vegan, because the arguments are the same. The only difference is if you are from a religion in which you believe that humans are above, and better than, other animals and made in the image of God. Well, guess what? We’re all animals. And what’s immoral to a human fetus is at the very least just as immoral to the little pig you had for breakfast this morning.
In the end of the first video, Becca preemptively defends herself from people like me who will inevitably accuse her of staying within an echo chamber and only looking at things from one side. She claims that she does use logical thinking, and she does research her views. Even though she was raised Christian, she says, she did her own research and she came to the conclusion that the Christian religion is correct. But the research she did was all one-sided: she read Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ, Tim Keller’s The Reason for God, and C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity.
I have read Mere Christianity, and I haven’t read the other two books she mentioned (although they’re on my bookshelf), but I have read books like them, such as Lee Strobel’s The Case for a Creator. I could probably guess what is in these books, though, as all apologetics books I’ve read so far all say the same tepid things. (Later update: I read The Reason for God, and here is my review.) I actually commented on her video, letting her know I have some recommendations (like God is Not Great) if she wants to do research that actually challenges her biases, but I got no response. So maybe she’s not that confident in her beliefs after all.
Becca’s second video is a list of seven resources that she recommends for people to get involved in fighting the “injustice” of abortion. For the sake of time, I won’t respond to this list, as her general arguments, and those of Live Action, have already been summed up and responded to. There were also several sources on her list which she mentioned in passing but didn’t summarize in her own video, so I didn’t take the time to watch or read them all in full. Instead, I will leave you with some of my own sources.
The Science of Pregnancy and Abortion (Part 1) (this has an amazingly long and thorough list of sources to peruse)
The Case for Abortion that Every Pro-Lifer Needs to Hear (Part 2)
Is Abortion Okay? (I recommend this the most. It’s a podcast, so listen to it in the car or something)
Information from a real healthcare provider that actually cares about women and families
My Thoughts on Alabama’s Abortion Ban.
A girl raped by her father
A person who didn’t get aborted and then had to go through this
There is a lot more I have to say on this topic, and I’m sure this isn’t the last time that I will write about it. There is just so much involved, and for my whole life I have been almost exclusively exposed to the pro-life side that Becca expresses in her videos. I’m becoming more educated about the abortion debate all the time, and many of the things that I don’t have time to say are shown in my sources above. I know that this is a very difficult and complicated topic to talk about, and this is my first time approaching it (which is also true for Becca in the videos, so don’t be mean to her!). But like Becca, I felt like something had to be said.
0 thoughts on “My First Time Responding to a “Pro-Life” Christian”
I am firmly in the pro-choice group. Who am I to say what a woman can or cannot do with her own body. And one thing that astounds me about the alleged Pro-Life camp it’s that they care so much about the developing blastocyst or fetus but once it’s born all bets are off. They’re essentially FAKE Christians. If they knew, we can rescue premature infants to about 23 weeks of gestation. Much further back and even the most heroic medical intervention can save the fetus.
Pro-choice, all the way.
I could do six pages about this, but I’ll behave. All the arguments you hear about Pro Choice, pick any one, I will probably agree with it. =)
I assume Becca is a serious Christian, so it is startling that she is taking a very unbiblical position. The bible does not say that life begins as conception, even though it does. The Bible has a great deal to say about abortion and when a baby acquires a soul. A baby becomes a person … according to the Bible … when it is born, not before, not after. It even prioritizes the life of the mother above that of the baby (as it should). So, why do Christians take positions that are so un-Christian? Apparently their dislike of abortion has to be Christian because, well, Jesus.
If Jesus was so anti-abortion, why didn’t he mention it? If Paul was so anti-abortion, why didn’t he mention it?
I recently had a very stimulating conversation with a bikini barista of my long acquaintance on this subject, and I ended up recommending to her a book that I have been recommending to everyone since 2016, namely “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion” by Jonathan Haidt. This immensely important book represents the most serious argument for social and political pluralism that I have ever read, giving sociological and anthropological credence to the saying that it takes all kinds to make a world – including those who disagree with us on important issues.
That being said, this has not been a build-up to some contrarian stance on abortion. I am a pro-choice liberal. There are, however, a few points which trouble me, and while I’m not looking for an argument here, I would just like to point them out;
Your comment “Well, we’re all animals” is presented without evidence and represents as much an act of preaching to the choir as Becca’s videos. Obviously, on this page, it goes without saying that humans do not actually have metaphysical souls. Yet there are still persuasive arguments to be made that human rights are more important than animal rights (not necessarily sound arguments in the end, but as I think I mentioned on this page once before, even the most bleeding heart animal rights activists ultimately seem to live by that assumption regardless).
The notion that men have no right to an opinion (or, as you put it, unless the woman in question happens to desire his input) seems to imply to me that men are somehow less human than women. Now, this might just be my old Catholic Republican pro-life self speaking, but if one acknowledges that abortion is at least partly a question of what constitutes a human life, what constitutes the human right to life, and that the right to life is the most important right of all (which you might not, but I’m summing up here), then the arguments which deny men a place at the table seem to be relying in fact on the quasi-mystical conception of women as literally subsuming men courtesy of their role as mothers and the inherent femininity of nature, which bothers me because those are precisely the myths on which conservative gender roles rest. Every question of human rights concerns men as much as women, and one could as easily argue that, in the case of abortion, women cannot help being biased, therefore men could be reckoned as more objectively qualified to make the call. Let me reiterate I am a pro-choice liberal, and I am certainly not actually making that argument. I’m just saying that the “no uterus, no opinion” argument strikes me as primarily an emotional one, like all the arguments we theoretically despise as inquisitive atheists, which would explain why people almost always leave it unexamined, and why its proponents always seem to tie themselves into knots the moment it is challenged, rather like religious apologists with their assertions.
In a similar vein, it seems like the question of rape victims and pregnancies involving incest always gets raised in these comprehensive pro-choice arguments. I know I’m walking on particularly dangerous ground here, so if I put a foot wrong, please forgive me. Now, I realize that in your mind, you are not arguing that every victim of rape/incest should be required to abort. However, a lot of such victims do carry their child to term (possibly most of them) with no possibility, as you put it, of giving them away to a good life. Are you saying then that this is the wrong thing to do? When I was discussing this with my barista friend, the determining factor, she insisted, was choice. But if it is the wrong thing to carry a child to term when it is unlikely to have a good life (which, I’m sorry, really is what you are implying with that phrasing), how is it redeemed by the factor of choice? Are you perhaps saying that such women are making the wrong choice, but they are entitled to their choice nevertheless, and that makes you openminded? In other words, this dimension of the argument also strikes me as emotional rather than logical. Which, again, is not to say that I disagree with the bigger pro-choice point.
Wrapping up, my own belief is that a first trimester fetus does not qualify as a person, and that at that stage, it should be up to the woman to decide whether to keep the pregnancy. I sincerely hope that I have not induced too much unpleasantness, but I feel these questions deserve contemplation. Note that I still live with a pro-life Catholic mother, so it bothers me when people present what I consider faulty arguments on the subject and then maintain that the only reason anyone could disagree with them is because of misogyny, religious indoctrination, etc., which is not only unfair but also serves only to entrench decent people like my mother deeper in their views. I reiterate that I consider myself a pro-choice atheist liberal feminist (admittedly more of an equity feminist) and that I believe every woman has the right to make her own decisions about her life and her body.
No one should be forced to give birth to a child that has been identified as horribly disfigured, lacking vital organs, or able to survive only by superhuman effort. I believe ultrasound is far more sophisticated than it was years ago, and such things can be detected much earlier.
And whatever the outcome, it’s still her choice.
I agree wholeheartedly. I find it quite ironic that a lot of pro-life people are willing to criticize the medical profession for keeping such “non-productive” people alive after birth, yet assert that, prior to birth, it’s not for anyone else to call.
When talking about the “no uterus, no opinion” argument Rebekah was also talking about how women who were never pregnant shouldn’t have an opinion, either. While all people can have an opinion about abortion most people who make decisions about abortion rights never got an abortion and were never in a position where it made sense to get an abortion. This argument isn’t about how men are less human than women, it’s about the important political choices being made by people who have experience with abortion. This is a problem with a lot of political issues – the people in power (mostly rich White cis men) decide things that don’t affect them and make decisions based on their religion (Christianity). The place in the table that is being denied isn’t related to your sex or gender, it’s related to your experience. A lot of women are never in a position where they need to decide whether to get an abortion or not and these women shouldn’t have a seat at the table.
I think I mentioned that that was part of what she was saying, and I agree. On the other hand, while most people in power are indeed rich white men, there is no major statistical difference in abortion-related opinions between men and women, and therefore it is misleading to say that the abortion problem would be solved if there were more women in power. Again, I am still personally pro-choice. But I have a major problem with pro-choice arguments that deliberately distort the complexities of the issue.
I have always been anti-unwanted pregnancy. My research indicates that only pregnant females seek to terminate with abortion. I am pro-life and pro-choice simply because life is the biggest deal to me. When religion is poured into the discussion, it becomes tainted with nonsense and manipulation. A challenging topic. When the thumpers want to teach healthy sex ed., teach how to not become pregnant (aka birth control), teach use a rubber even if it is a sin, and at least face reality, then I may read their propaganda. But that’s just me.
Always and ever will be … PRO-CHOICE! And nothing … I repeat, nothing … will change my stance. I could say more, but won’t as I’ve expressed myself on my blog — and intend to do so again in the near future since the issue has AGAIN risen its ugly head.
I listened to Becca’s videos and played them at 1.5 speed. I got what she was saying. Of course she was pleading the emotional religious argument. That’s fine. I wish I had a strong opinion on abortion, but i don’t.
My first wife had an abortion when we were 20. It was 1970. I had no idea she went to NYC for an abortion, nor did I even know she was pregnant. I learned after the fact. With 20/20 hindsight, that abortion changed both our lives, hers for the worse, mine for the better. She wound up cheating on me and divorcing me for an alcoholic abusive man that she could never escape from for the next 34 years.
I wound up remarrying some years later and have two kids, 4 grandchildren and have a pretty good life.
So, she aborted a child and started a chain reaction resulting in change of life paths. Good? Bad? I have no idea. I think Government should stay out of such decisions.
A woman should have the chance to make those choices that she feels, rightly or wrongly, will make her life better in some way. Sometimes we choose the wrong route, but it’s still our choice. You see that, and that says a lot about you, as well.
For good or bad, it was still her choice, wasn’t it. I wish it could have been better for her, and for you,
But. The government has no business deciding what she or you or anyone should do about their private lives.
She was and is a funny lady. She left me out of her abortion decision and also her divorce decision even though both those circumstances intimately involved me. Oh well…life goes on.
I have always felt a bit like something important can be missed when the debate is framed as “pro-life vs pro-choice”. The reason is I think it implicity gives too much to the pro-life side, which is that, at least in the early stages, we are dealing with the life of a human being. And there are compelling philosophical arguments to show it is not. A great line from Johnathon Glover when he was debating a pro-lifer was “If I had promised you a chicken dinner, but then served you an omelette made of fertilized eggs you’d have a complaint!”
The problem I have, is that if this argument is assumed to be ‘the mother’s choice overrides the life of the human being inside her, invites a situation more problematic than it really is. For instance, if we are to treat the fetus as the life is indeed a life of a human being, then it is not at all obvious what the moral obligations are regarding the doctor. Even when the mother’s life is danger. A thought experiment by Rosalind Hursthouse (who holds a qualified pro-choice position, sometimes called ‘the mixed strategy’) is that you find a toddler about to crawl over a trip wire about to set off a bomb where a woman will be blown up. The baby will be fine, but the woman will die. You can’t stop the baby or guide it away, but you do have a rifle. The thought experiment asks ‘would you use the rifle to kill the baby to save the woman?’ I would think most of us would say no. So, is this analogous to a doctor performing an abortion? (if of course we are to treat the fetus equally to human beings)
These problems I think can be justly avoided by framing the debate on the correct premise that the fetus in the early stages is not a human being.
My wife had to have an abortion for health reasons. It was not pleasant but necessary. I felt nothing but relief for her and gratitude toward her gynecologist who helped her through it and later was there to help bring into the world our two kids.
A few years later a dear friend began to have terrible pains one Friday evening over dinner and would have lost her life ( according to medical staff) because of an ectopic pregnancy had she not aborted.
As it was, she had to have an hysterectomy.
When I hear/read these frothing at the mouth ”pro-lifers”,(sic) who seem to be, in the main, ignorant religious nut-jobs I silently fume and thank the gods I have nothing to do with that crap and sympathize with those women who are trapped in such cults.
This woman is exactly the reason I lean more and more on the side of publicly worshiping Satan just for the reactions it would cause.
What happens when I take a pregnancy test that is positive? I say, “I’m pregnant! I’ve having a baby!”. duh. ‘nough said.