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A Quick Response to a Common Argument Made by "Pro-Lifers"

Updated on August 17, 2012

"Aren't you glad you weren't aborted?"

The question above comes up frequently in abortion debates. Whether or not you're pro-choice, I think we can all agree that this hypothetical is not valid as an argument of any kind. The question means, "Well, if you were aborted, you wouldn't be here!" Which is understandable, but why stop there? If some Catholic Coalition was dead set to rally to illegalize condoms, they would ask any opponents, "Aren't you glad your parents didn't use a condom?!" Because, if they did, you wouldn't be here.

Seems fallacious to me. Want to go one further? "Aren't you glad your parents weren't celibate?" Because if they were..... you get the point. It seems that the original question above fails to argue anything, other than that whatever policy makes the population grow more is the best. Let me bring up a hypothetical:

Women lose all right in the U.S. and are now forced to have as many kids as possible. Every woman who is able to bear children is obligated to. Outrageous scenario? Yep. Will it ever happen? I'd say no, but it serves as a good hypothetical. Now, say a couple of generations pass and some of the more liberal men ask themselves, "Is it moral to force women to have as many babies as they can?" Well, if they try and get some good ole' legislation passed, opposing lawmakers will undeniably ask them this: "Aren't you gad YOUR mother was forced to have you?!?!" Most of the men campaigning against this law will exist because of the law in the first place, but it doesn't make it right.

No matter your opinion on the matter of abortion, I hope it can be agreed by all that the question in the header holds absolutely no logical or argumentative worth whatsoever.


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    • Steve Orion profile image

      Steve Orion 5 years ago from Tampa, Florida


      Thanks for reading and commenting! I agree with the sentience question, and would think that, while there is no definitive line between consciousness and non-consciousness, most can agree that a fertilized egg would not constitute a human being. Like you also say, some would disagree. Like many social issues, ignorance is the major impediment to progress concerning this.

    • profile image

      Sooner28 5 years ago

      Interesting take on the whole abortion controversy.

      I think the big question is sentience, and also the definition of a human being. Is a fertilized egg with no consciousness still human? I think there is an obvious answer, but some disagree!

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 6 years ago from San Francisco

      I agree with you - it's kind of an empty argument. There are a lot of things to "thank" for being born. I certainly am grateful. I can certainly thank my mother for having chosen to have me, and since she was the one who carried me for 9 months and raise me for 18 years, the choice went far, far beyond the choice not to abort me.

      Abortion is a tough and contentious issue, but, for me, as long as a fetus can not live outside its mother (i.e. is completely dependent on the mother) then it's the mother's choice. I think it's telling that men are more likely to be pro-life than women; that position comes at absolutely no cost to them.

    • Max Havlick profile image

      Max Havlick 6 years ago from Villa Park, Illinois

      P.S. No one else can give you enlightenment, Steve. Like everyone one else, you must earn it personally from your own diligent study and exposure to raw experience. No short-cuts, no exceptions, at least not for bright young men like you.

      People who claim their enlightenment was merely given to them by someone else, by even the best teachers, much less by "Power on High" (as in Christian "grace"), choose to ignore that most basically human of facts about human life (for one of many basic reasons). But as a critic of traditional religion, you are already on the road, at least, to understanding that.

      My approach as a teacher is not to answer questions and do students' work for them, but to raise unanswered questions and urge them to "keep on searching into the middle of things."

      Continued best wishes.

    • Steve Orion profile image

      Steve Orion 6 years ago from Tampa, Florida

      Thanks, Cathleen! It's very strange you should say that as I plan to get this tattoo, as well! Thanks for the comment and, yes, those are very good questions that many people on that side of the argument fail to ask themselves.

      Indeed, Max, seems to me both sides of any argument are susceptible to missteps in logic, so we do the best we can. Thanks for the comment.

    • Max Havlick profile image

      Max Havlick 6 years ago from Villa Park, Illinois

      Steve, this is an unsolvable issue in any short time frame, esp. if deep commitment to one side makes it hard to understand the other side.

      On any controversial issue of public policy, if you will look deeply enough into the premises of both opponents, and how they differ from each other, and if you learn how to avoid the many kinds of logical fallacies that we humans are prone to, you cannot avoid finding deeper insight and understanding of that issue.

      This is hard work, obviously, which helps explain why it is the "narrow road" so infrequently taken.

      Good luck to you as you continue your studies.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Had to look up the Hubber with the Metalica logo! My college aged son defied me while I was paying his tuition and got this logo tatooed on his shoulder. I would have stayed mad, but I had to admit, it was cool. At his wedding in October it was on his groom's cake.

      Welcome to HubPages. Looking forward to more of your work.

      A good question to Right to Lifers is: How many children aren't here today because of the form of birth control that you use? Are they any less "not here"?

    • Steve Orion profile image

      Steve Orion 6 years ago from Tampa, Florida

      Hello Max, thanks for reading and commenting! I do agree that I did not, by far, conclusively solve such a pressing issue that has caused many an argument. However, I set out to defeat this one particular idea that abortion is bad because you wouldn't be able to argue about it if you were aborted!

      I tried to show the fallacious reasoning in the notion that you should be anti-abortion because you should be glad you weren't aborted. Indeed, that is one side of many to the complex issue. Personally, in a perfect world, I believe abortion would be unnecessary, as only babies that were wanted would be created. Contraception would be completely available to all who needed it, and everything would be peaches. Unfortunately, this is not our world.

      You say I failed to prove that the argument illustrated is false. Would you say that it is provable to any extent, if so where exactly did I fall short? Thanks for your feedback and compliments!

    • Max Havlick profile image

      Max Havlick 6 years ago from Villa Park, Illinois

      Now, Steve, I see you are a very bright fellow. A HS student taking advanced placement?! Your parents (or other significant elders) must be intellectuals of some sort, given to lots of talk around the dining table.

      I personally agree with your obvious point of view on the subject of birth control ("right to choice"), but I must suggest you are wrong in thinking you proved your key conclusion, that you have proven for everyone the unreasonableness of the disputed argument. You proved it to your satisfaction, yes, and that of anyone with a similar point of view, but not to the satisfaction of most people who use it, the "right to life" people.

      World peace could be achieved in one generation if every major public policy issue could be solved by getting everyone on both sides to agree with the definitions preferred by just one of the two sides.

      Aristotle: In case of contradiction, check the premises. You slid over the basic disagreement in key premises betw. "right to choice" and "right to life" (so-called). But I'm not going to spell all that out. You are smart enough to do that yourself.

      There's good literature on this, Steve, prob. in your local library, that it takes a person like you to absorb and benefit from. For example, two oldies I have used for years.

      Fearnside and Holther, "Fallacy: The Counterfeit of Argument" (Prentice-Hall Spectrum Book, 1959).

      Engel, "With Good Reason: An Intro. to Informal Fallacies" (St. Martin's Press, 2nd ed. 1982).

      You're a good student, Steve, the kind I look for but find all too seldom; I take it a privilege to have you as a student. Good luck.

      Max Havlick

    • Steve Orion profile image

      Steve Orion 6 years ago from Tampa, Florida

      Let me know what you think, whether on the topic discussed, or on abortion in general.