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Abortion: Cut Through the Noise with this Simple Argument

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Will they or won’t they overturn Roe v. Wade? All the focus on the Supreme Court life cases means lots of media spewing confusion about abortion. Who can answer all of this confusion? Well, you can, by keeping things honest and simple as Apologist Joe Heschmeyer explains in this episode.


Cy Kellett:

An extremely simple pro-life argument. Joe Heschmeyer is next.

Cy Kellett:

Hello, and welcome to Focus, the Catholic Answers podcast for living, understanding, and defending your Catholic faith. I’m Cy Kellett, your host.

Cy Kellett:

We’ve been doing a lot of programming on pro-life issues, and that has to do with the current situation in the United States where the Roe v. Wade decision might be overturned. A lot of that programming takes the form of, here or there, you will find various media folks doing what we call obfuscation, that is, making an argument, that’s a pro-choice argument, that really muddies the water rather than clarifies. So we like to address those and have experts on who can debunk some of what is being said as far as the pro-choice position goes. But that’s not always the best strategy.

Cy Kellett:

One good strategy for addressing lots and lots of confusing arguments being thrown up here and there and everywhere is just to make the simplest and clearest pro-life argument that you can. So we asked Joe Heschmeyer to come and do this. I got to say, Joe is in rare form in this episode. Here’s what Joe said when we asked him for the simplest argument for the pro-life position.

Cy Kellett:

Joe Heschmeyer, author of The Early Church Was the Catholic Church, thanks for being with us.

Joe Heschmeyer:

I’m happy to be here.

Cy Kellett:

Okay, Joe, here’s the deal. I don’t know if you’re aware of this as a lawyer and a theologian and a person breathing on the earth, but there’s a high likelihood that the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn the Roe v. Wade decision sometime in the next six, seven months. Did you know that?

Joe Heschmeyer:

I think astute listeners may be aware we’ve had conversations about this, you and me.

Cy Kellett:

One of the fun things that I find about being a pro-life person, and having been a pro-life person for a long time, not being very good at it… I’m not saying I was an effective pro-life person. I’m just saying I have been for a long time-

Joe Heschmeyer:

You’re from Boston, right?

Cy Kellett:

Well, my family’s from Boston. Yeah.

Joe Heschmeyer:

Your work shows itself. Yeah. We’ve seen how good of a job you did.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah. Right. Just my effect on the Kennedy family alone has been profound.

Cy Kellett:

Okay, so here’s one of the fun things about being a pro-life person, in addition to the walks and the T-shirts, and that is people telling you what your real motives are. I have a feeling that in the coming year, we’re going to hear a lot more about what our real motives are, everything from the real reason that you are pro-life… This was a recent New York Times article. The real reason that you’re pro-life is that you’re secretly racist. The real reason, this is from any number of articles-

Joe Heschmeyer:

Sorry, I want to make sure I’m understanding the argument. The vast disparity in outcomes is that a really large, disproportionate number of minority babies are killed through abortion. Pro-lifers want to save those children. Wanting more black and brown children means that you’re a white supremacist? This is some fascinating, fascinating legwork. If you wanted to stop the Holocaust, would that make you anti-Semitic also because you’re wanting more… I’m just trying to figure out the reasoning here.

Cy Kellett:

I don’t want to get… There is a logic to it, and the logic goes something like this. As everyone knows, there was a time when the Democratic Party was the racist party in the United States, it’s the party of the wrong side on the Civil War and all that, and that the Republicans stole those racists, and the way they did it was by being pro-life. That’s the underlying argument. I don’t understand why any Democrat would want to make the “you stole our racists” argument, but that seems to be where-

Joe Heschmeyer:

Also, as a political science theory, it’s a really bad one. There’s all sorts of data looking at the massive political shifts that happened around the ’60s, or even before that with 1948. All of that is pre-Roe v. Wade. So yeah, that’s a remarkably bad argument, but go ahead.

Cy Kellett:

But there’s also the argument that seems more obvious and intuitive, that the real reason that I am pro-life, this is what the media tells me, is that I hate women. I’m afraid of women’s sexuality. I don’t want women to have a place of equality in the workplace. All of those are there. Then there are just that I’m a control freak. I’m an anti-government freak, all of that. Another, and I’m going to play you a little bit of audio, because I always try to have a little audio for you, Joe, but I don’t always succeed in having a little audio for you. The argument that this is purely religious, but you wouldn’t think anyone prominent would make that argument, like, say, a Supreme Court justice, but check this out.

Speaker 3:

The undue burden standard has all of the problems that we’ve emphasized.

Justice Sotomayor:

How is your interest anything but a religious view? The issue of when life begins has been hotly debated by philosophers since the beginning of time. It’s still debated in religions. So when you say this is the only right that takes away from the state the ability to protect a life, that’s a religious view, isn’t it?

Cy Kellett:

You probably recognize that voice.

Joe Heschmeyer:

I not only recognize the voice; I’ve actually heard all those oral arguments. I had a hunch. I knew where you were going with that.

Cy Kellett:

Yeah, so it’s all just religious. In other words, the stage I’m trying to set here, before I ask you the fundamental question that I want to ask you in this episode of Catholic Answers Focus, is that there’s a lot of smoke that’s thrown up around the whole thing to try to make it seem like it’s a complicated sociological problem involving religion and race and people who want to control women and all this. It’s all just this soup that ends up with morons like you and me being pro-life people, because either we’re suckers that fell for it or we’re the perpetrators of it, one or the other.

Cy Kellett:

My contention to you, Joe, and I would like you to try to help me to make this argument… As a matter of fact, I’d like you to make the argument, and then I will steal it from you. My contention is no, actually, the pro-life argument is extremely simple, and that part of the reason we get all of this smokescreen stuff is that it is so freakishly simple to make the pro-life argument that no one wants to debate that part. What do you think of my premise?

Joe Heschmeyer:

Yeah, I think your premise is exactly right. It says something about the strength of the pro-life argument that the other side doesn’t want to actually address our argument. It wants to assign bad motives to us instead. Here’s the thing. You could take all of those things, “Oh, you’re motivated by religion or your weird views on the government or your racist views,” or your fill-in-the-blank views, and even assuming the worst-case scenario that all of those accusations are true, it doesn’t actually tell us one thing about whether the argument is true, whether the accusation is true.

Joe Heschmeyer:

I mentioned the Holocaust earlier briefly, and I’m reminded here that one of the reasons people were dismissive of the Holocaust when it was first being reported is it fed too neatly into the anti-German propaganda that was going on at the time. It was too convenient of a narrative. “Well, of course you believe that about the Nazis; you hate the Nazis and think we should be at war with them.”

Cy Kellett:

Right. You’re not a subtle thinker. You can’t do this subtle kind of thinking that would see past that crazy story.

Joe Heschmeyer:

Right. But the problem is it’s possible someone hated the Nazis and was ready to believe bad things about them, and that the bad thing they were going to believe was also true. It doesn’t tell you… The fact that you’ve impugned the motives of another person, “Well, of course you want this policy for these crazy, deviant ends of yours,” doesn’t actually address whether the philosophical and moral principles behind the argument itself are true. It’s just, like you said, a smokescreen. It’s a red herring. It’s an ad hominem attack. It doesn’t have any place in rational discourse.

Joe Heschmeyer:

Instead, the pro-life argument is just dramatically, radically simple. What I mean by that is if you think about all of the arguments, not just all of the accusations you could raise against pro-lifers, but also all of the legitimate pro-choice arguments that there are… And I say that advisedly, meaning people who are pro-choice, they’re not just crazy. They’re pointing to the fact that having a child, especially a child you weren’t planning on having, is inconvenient, may have some financial drawbacks, and all these other issues.

Joe Heschmeyer:

So we can put all of those issues on the table as pro-lifers and say, “Okay, well, if we’re going to make any sense of all of this, we need to answer exactly one question. What’s the status of the child in the womb of the mother? What’s the status of the fetus, of the embryo?” However you want to word that question, that’s the question we’ve got to get right, because if it’s just a clump of cells, if it’s not a living being, then we don’t care. We have no interest in it.

Joe Heschmeyer:

I think you’ll see pretty quickly that ordinary pro-lifers aren’t like, “We’re going to control everything you do. We’re going to make sure you can’t have a 20-ounce soda.” That’s the city of New York. That’s not pro-lifers. We’re going to make sure… There’s all sorts of… I went to Georgetown, which is where Cass Sunstein, the author of Nudge, taught. He was one of the most influential thinkers, all about how the government can better lead you, nudge you in the right direction by encouraging you to do different things than you would’ve done if you were just in a totally free system without the government’s little pinky finger on the scale.

Joe Heschmeyer:

What I mean by that is there actually are people who are trying to control your body. There actually are people trying to control all sorts of choices that you make, but it’s not usually pro-lifers. Even if it were, again, it doesn’t answer whether the pro-life argument is true or not. That argument is going to be answered by one question alone. What’s the status, morally, legally, and every other way, of the fetus, of the embryo, of the unborn child?

Cy Kellett:

I’d like to give a little historical evidence that what you’re saying is actually true and supported by the history of the pro-life movement, that you say if this is just a clump of cells, we wouldn’t care about it and we wouldn’t have the argument, because that actually happened in a debate about embryonic stem cell research, where pro-life people said, “No, you can’t do this. That is a human being.” The pro-choice side was saying, or what called themselves the pro-science side was saying, “You’re anti-science. The only motive you have for this is you don’t want this science. You’re scared of science.” Then they figured out a way to make these cells that they needed to do this research with without the use of a human embryo, and every single pro-life person went, “Fine. Go ahead. We don’t care. We literally don’t care. Go ahead.” Then-

Joe Heschmeyer:

It turned out it wasn’t actually an objection to science at all. It turned out we’d just been totally smeared. I’ve not seen one of the anti-science people say, “You know what, I totally misjudged your motives. I apologize.” Not one. It was just like, “No, this was a very convenient label to throw on people.” Didn’t matter it wasn’t true. Didn’t matter that it was just a very gross slur.

Cy Kellett:

That’s what I’m saying, is there is actual historical proof that if you can prove to a pro-life person this is just a clump of cells that does not amount to a human being, we don’t care. Clip your fingernails. Cut your hair. Take your gallbladder out if it’s got a problem. We don’t care, and we’ve proven that. But still, that argument is… People say back to blowing smoke. So go ahead with the simplicity of the argument.

Joe Heschmeyer:

Well, yeah, I think just building on that point, if you find yourself, as a pro-lifer, being accused in that way, you should stop and say, “Hey, if you thought this was an unborn child in the womb, would you care about that? Can you imagine, even for the sake of this discussion, caring about unborn children if you think they’re actually alive? Can you imagine caring about babies and not wanting them to die, or do you have to imagine that it must be motivated by something crazy?”

Joe Heschmeyer:

The principle of sufficient reason should apply here. “Hey, I don’t want you to kill this child.” I don’t need to then say, “Oh, I bet you have some crazy reason why, because of your views on government or race or class,” or fill in the blank. No, it’s just like, “Okay. Yeah, that kind of makes sense.” Maybe I don’t think it’s a baby, but I should at least have enough intellectual capacity and empathy to say, if I did believe that, I would think the same way. A pro-choicer should be capable of that. The person who is consistently not capable of that is just showing themselves unable or unwilling to have the debate. They’re unwilling or unable to seriously have the discussion.

Cy Kellett:

Right. You’ve moved from ideas to ideology then. This is not a conversation about ideas. This is just a competition of ideologies at that point.

Joe Heschmeyer:

I think the point, as a pro-lifer, you should be doing is trying to inject some kind of idea, asking them questions to encourage empathy, to encourage critical thinking. If you can’t do that, at a certain point, you just have to move on.

Joe Heschmeyer:

Before you get into, “Here are all the sophisticated reasons why the pro-life reason is right,” if the person can’t even, for the sake of argument, imagine a world in which they would care about killing unborn children, there’s something either morally wrong with them or imaginatively wrong with them, meaning they’re just not actually visualizing the world you’re describing, or something much worse, where they’re just like, “No, I’m totally apathetic to the suffering of others.”

Cy Kellett:

That’s why I always feel more comfortable in a certain way with the pro-choice person, even though it’s horrifying to hear it said, but the pro-choice person who says, “Yeah, it’s probably a human in some sense, but that doesn’t mean that it has rights.” Okay, well, you’ve moved into a different… But at least you’re willing to admit basic scientific facts. You’re not just living in a fantasy world.

Cy Kellett:

I feel all of this… I’m delaying in getting to letting you make the simple pro-life argument. I’m going to ask you to try not to offend Justice Sotomayor by bringing religion into this. If you tell me it’s because the Bible is against it, I’m not going to listen to that argument. I need a simple pro-life argument.

Joe Heschmeyer:

Yeah, you’ll notice the embryology text in between 1 and 2 Chronicles. No, it’s just not that at all. It’s not.

Joe Heschmeyer:

Steve Wagner, I think is the guy who came up with this, what he calls the 10-second pro-life argument. It just is three really simple propositions. I would just really encourage everyone listening to commit what I’m about to say to memory. Number one, if the unborn is growing, it must be alive. Number two, if it has human parents, it must be human. Number three, living humans, or human beings like you and me, are valuable, aren’t they?

Joe Heschmeyer:

Those three propositions, I’m going to say them again. Number one, if the unborn is growing, it must be alive. Now, you’re going to find people who conflate types of growing, “Oh, a star grows,” those sorts of things. But it’s not growing by its own power. We’re using growth analogously there. When we’re talking about growth in the biological sense, that’s one of the signs that they look for to determine if something is a living organism or not. This is not some crazy pro-life argument. This is just basic biology. This is one of the principles of life.

Joe Heschmeyer:

Two, if it has human beings, it must be-

Cy Kellett:

Human parents.

Joe Heschmeyer:

Excuse me. If it has human parents, it must be human. Okay, the first just establishes it’s a living organism. The second looks at the fact that, okay, well, it’s a human organism. Then the third is, well, living humans or human beings like you and me are valuable, aren’t they?

Joe Heschmeyer:

The person who rejects a pro-life position should be able to tell you which of those three they reject, or if they somehow reject the logical relationship of one to the next. That, at least, homes the debate in. I think it also reveals the pro-life side is remarkably logically consistent and coherent, that even the person who thinks pro-lifers are wrong about one of those three should be able to say they’re not obviously wrong. Maybe there’s some nuanced case where a cat had human parents. Not real, but you can say, “Oh, well, maybe it doesn’t have human dignity, even though it’s a living organism with human parents,” but you are arguing for some weird special status. The ordinary case for one, two, and three, if it’s living, it’s alive; if it has human parents, it’s human; and if it’s a human like you and me, it has dignity; none of those are crazy, radical, off-the-wall sort of suggestions.

Joe Heschmeyer:

And notice, none of those require being a Roman Catholic or any kind of Christian, or any kind of believer of anything. They’re much more basic. They’re just things accessible by reason alone. Now, to be sure, if you’re a believer, if you’re a Christian, then when you read about things like the Visitation and the unborn John the Baptist sleeps in the womb before the unborn Jesus, that will certainly support everything I just said there. But that three-point argument is not some sort of smokescreen that really we’re just basing it all off of Luke 1. It’s like, no, just on the basis of reason alone. There’s a reason that there are a number of secular pro-lifers, because they can understand those basic points. This is something really rudimentary. This is something really accessible to any open-minded, intellectually honest adult.

Cy Kellett:

Right. That’s exactly right. Now, of course, with any argument of three simple propositions, then what people will do is attack the propositions. Some won’t attack the propositions. There is this thing, I think Trent calls it lily-padding, but there is a very bad habit in the modern mind to go, Joe Heschmeyer, Catholic apologist, pro-life man, makes this argument with these three premises, and then the person doesn’t respond with, “Here’s the problem with that, Joe,” but they go, “Thomas Aquinas didn’t believe it was.” And you go, “I didn’t say anything about Thomas Aquinas.” Then I feel like we have to just keep coming back to the argument, that it is true that Thomas Aquinas did not believe that human life began until quickening. It’s true that everyone else thought that too, until the modern science of embryology. I do feel like we have to say more things because there’s a kind of-

Joe Heschmeyer:

Yeah. I think it’s worth… For people listening to this, don’t go down that road. Just don’t. When people are trying to-

Cy Kellett:

Okay, well said.

Joe Heschmeyer:

Because there’s what I call the abortion double blind. The abortion double blind goes something like this. “Hey, you can’t preach about abortion in church. That’s way too political for church.” Then it’s like, “Hey, you can’t legislate against abortion in the public square. That’s too religious for the public square.” It’s just like there’s no place… Literally, Planned Parenthood sued the Catholic Church for being against abortion because they viewed it as a violation of separation of church and state. It’s nonsense. It’s madness.

Joe Heschmeyer:

It is Sotomayor’s view… Now, let’s get to that, because we kind of laughed at it, but I didn’t explain what was wrong with it. Justice Sotomayor points out that philosophers have debated these fundamental human questions like the beginning of life from the dawn of time. Now, that’s not really true of the history of philosophy. If you look at the history of philosophy, there are much more metaphysical questions that are coming before these more biological ones, but yeah, fine. When you say, “What is a human life?” those are questions that philosophers are going to debate.

Joe Heschmeyer:

The fact that a philosopher debates something doesn’t make it religious. It’s a categorical error. When you say anything that’s done in philosophy is therefore religion, you’ve just eliminated the entire field of philosophy. But second, any kind of rights discourse, like the U.S. Constitution is based on a somewhat Lockean understanding, that’s all born out of philosophy. Law is all happening downstream of philosophy in an American context in the first place, so if you attack philosophy, it’s just incoherent, because every justice is employing a legal philosophy as they interpret the Constitution. If philosophy is now too religious for the law, the snake eats its own tail. It’s a big mess. So that’s what I’d say there.

Joe Heschmeyer:

Also, the fact that philosophers are debating it points to the fact you don’t have to have a particular religious creed to be in on the conversation. People don’t have to agree on the credal stuff, on the stuff known only by divine revelation, in order to agree on the fact that human life is worth protecting from the first moment that we find human organisms living. That’s a much more fundamental proposition that you don’t need the gift of faith to know.

Joe Heschmeyer:

So I would just say constantly avoid the trap of pulling you into these specifically religious debates, because in doing that, what they’re really doing, sometimes unintentionally, usually intentionally, is trying to prove that your pro-life views aren’t a matter of publicly accessible reason, but are just your private personal belief in some sort of special revelation from God, that but for God revealing it from the heavens, you would never have known that an embryo moves in the womb or was alive. That’s just not actually true. Christianity doesn’t have special revelation about when life begins, which is how even someone as great as Aquinas can get this one wrong. Instead, all of that is a scientific question.

Joe Heschmeyer:

In the same way, imagine this hypothetical. You’re driving down the road. You see a bag. The bag seems like it kind of moves. You don’t know if it’s the wind or if there’s a person in the bag. There’s a scientific, if you want to call it, question of whether there’s a person in that bag or whether it’s just a bag of garbage.

Joe Heschmeyer:

That question isn’t going to be specially knowable to Christians, but once we find out what’s in the bag, our moral obligations change. If it’s just a bag of trash, if you want to drive over it, worst-case scenario, you’re littering, Laudato Si, don’t do that, but it’s not a big deal. You don’t have to have a special duty to swerve to avoid it, but if you know there’s a person in the bag, you should probably get out and help them. And you certainly shouldn’t just casually run them over.

Joe Heschmeyer:

So all of that, the moral obligations are all downstream from this particular factual question, is it alive or is it human? The same is true with the abortion question. There’s this factual question, is it alive, is it human? Then everything else in terms of how we respond to it is downstream from that. None of it requires special Christian revelation. None of it requires only if you’re Christian do you understand this.

Joe Heschmeyer:

Look, one of the reasons I really want to stress this point… Well, one reason, as I already alluded, is because when they get you into the esoteric religious debate, they then just write you off. The other reason is it’s actually really discouraging to our non-Christian pro-life friends when we’re like, “Yeah, it’s good that you’re pro-life, but why? Because you’re not a Christian.” Christians will make that same terrible argument. It’s like, “Guys, because they understand human rights.”

Cy Kellett:

Yes, that’s a very good point.

Joe Heschmeyer:

“You want to stop genocide? Why? You don’t even believe in Jesus.” Stop saying dumb things.

Cy Kellett:

Yes, that’s right. Although, I must say, Joe, or I would like to say and just run this by you, it’s not as if to say that our religious formation has no role in the moral suppositions by which we operate, that if I say it’s wrong to kill the weak and the vulnerable, I think a Christian is more likely to accept that moral intuition, which is shared by most of humanity. Most people believe that, so I’m not saying it’s just a Christian thing. But if you’re Christian, you’re more likely to believe that then if you are a Nazi. The Nazis did not give any weight to that basic moral intuition. As a matter of fact, they thought that they were strong because they were overcoming that moral intuition in themselves, and realizing that true morality was something higher than preserving the lives of the innocent and the weak.

Joe Heschmeyer:

Well, yeah, if you really want to drill down with the Nazi example, they are very much indebted to Friedrich Nietzsche and the whole genealogy of morals argument, in which he argues that this whole concern for the weak is born out of this Jewish weakness in Judaism and then Christianity, and that this was an attempt of the weak to control the strong. He argues Judeo-Christianity is weak people trampling over strong people by saying, “It’s wrong for you to hurt us.” It’s a fascinating view.

Joe Heschmeyer:

One of the things I think it does reveal is that a lot of what we take as just basic moral parameters that everybody operates by, and which I think in the West are basic moral parameters by which everybody operates, weren’t in the ancient world. The respect for the weak is a great example of this. You go back to the Greco-Roman world, and you have the death by exposure of infants. If you had a baby, and the baby was a girl or the baby was sickly, you just leave it on the hill and let them die. There was no question about, well, is there a life there? It was just, “Yeah, but they’re an inconvenience. They’re weak, and we just want the strong.”

Joe Heschmeyer:

Christianity is revolutionary in its respect for the weak, but it’s been so revolutionary that even non-Christians in the West overwhelmingly agree to the fact that the Romans shouldn’t have done that. Now, you’ll find some people who really are totally hardened to this. You’ll find some people who say we should let handicapped infants die, as Peter Singer and others have said, and that’s intellectually consistent. They’re reverting to this really barbaric pre-Christian morality. The Nazis are another great example of that. But those people are an exception, even in the West. Most people who think of themselves as just using common sense are actually ingesting a vision of the world and the dignity of every human life that is deeply imbued with a Christian ethos. And thanks be to God, the legal documents of this country share those premises because they’re coming from that same kind of worldview.

Joe Heschmeyer:

Now, we would have a different conversation outside of an American and outside of a Western context if you had a place where people were just openly like, “Yeah, they’re weaker than us, so they should die.” That’s a different and scarier conversation in a lot of ways, because some of that you can’t reason through if people won’t accept the basic dignity. Treating your neighbor with the same respect you treat yourself is more controversial than it should be in some contexts.

Cy Kellett:

In many places. Yeah. Right, and more and more so in the modern world. The modern world is giving up on a lot of Christian things, and you want to say, “You know what, if you’re going to give up on Christian things, maybe this isn’t the one to give up on, the one where we care for the weak and the vulnerable. Pick something else that Christians do like don’t like candles anymore or something, but keep this one.”

Joe Heschmeyer:

Yeah. There’s a lot going on there, but I would just say in these conversations, try to touch on those points of commonality, depending, again, on who you’re talking to. A lot of the people you’re speaking to are going to have an ethos that is formed by taking care of the weak, by those who can’t take care of themselves. Rather than just viewing them as this person is my enemy, I disagree with them across the board because they’re wrong an abortion, you can often find points of common ground. So just in terms of advice, when you’re having these conversations, I would really say, as much as you can, let the pro-choicer do the arguing. What I mean by that is-

Cy Kellett:

Oh, yes. Yeah.

Joe Heschmeyer:

You know what I mean?

Cy Kellett:

Yeah.

Joe Heschmeyer:

A lot of pro-choicers will say things like, “Well, I’m fine with abortion under these cases, but not under these ones” or “I think abortion should be legal, but I’d never have one myself.” The first impulse that most of us have is to say, “Hey, here’s why you’re wrong in thinking it should be legal to kill children under these particular conditions.” Understandable impulse. I would say hold that thought. Instead, start the opposite direction. They’re expecting that conversation. Do the opposite thing. It’s like jujitsu. You use their weight against them.

Joe Heschmeyer:

I was speaking to this young woman on a college campus. I was doing a little bit of evangelization. She said she’d grown up Catholic, but had fallen away from the faith. She was now pro-choice in certain circumstances. She said, “Obviously, I don’t think abortion is okay all the time, but I think it should be okay in cases of rape and incest.” I said, “Oh, why aren’t you okay with abortion all the time?”

Joe Heschmeyer:

It took her a second to realize what the question was, because she was so ready for me to say, “Why are you okay with abortion in these particular cases?” But when I, instead, asked her why she wasn’t okay with abortion in the other cases, it kind of stopped her in her tracks and she had to do the actual work. I didn’t do it for her. I let her do it.

Joe Heschmeyer:

There’s a reason for that. Ben Franklin says, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” If I just give you a bunch of reasons why I’m right, you’re going to be like, “Okay, I didn’t ask for that,” and then you’re going to ignore those reasons and you’re going to continue to believe what you believed before. But if I ask you, “Well, why do you believe this?” and you give me the answers, there’s no chance you’re going to be like, “I disagree with that,” because you just gave me the answer. That’s you doing that. I’m just saying, “Oh, that’s a good point.”

Joe Heschmeyer:

So let the pro-choicer say, “Here’s why I’m against some abortions. Here’s why I wouldn’t personally have an abortion. Here’s why I’m against most abortions.” Whatever that common ground is, let them do that work, then you highlight it and say, “Yeah, you’re right. I think it’s good that you think this is a serious issue that might involve the death of a human child,” if they’re that honest with it.

Joe Heschmeyer:

If abortion really is nothing more than the removal of some cells, who cares? Why does it matter that you wouldn’t personally do it? Why does it matter? Just do it all the time. Do it everywhere. Have them at Walmart.

Joe Heschmeyer:

But if abortion is something more grave than that, and even most pro-choicers, when pressed, kind of admit that it is, well, why is it more grave? If you can get them to give even a glimmer of the fact that maybe there’s a human being involved here besides the mother, that’s really good. Otherwise, if they won’t go there… That’s the first case. If you can find common ground, go for it. Great.

Joe Heschmeyer:

If they take the total opposite view and just say, “No, there’s not a person there until birth,” maybe just drill down on the science like, “So you’re telling me part of your body becomes a different human being at birth? Up to that part, you just have eight limbs and double the number of organs as everybody else, maybe you’ve got female genes on the outside, male genes on the inside, and then the male genes just split off and become a different person, like a tree and an acorn kind of situation? What’s that?” If that’s the case, in what sense does fatherhood exist? If one part of you just drops off and becomes another person in birth, then do fathers exist? This is a weirdly asexual reproduction understanding of how humans come to be. I’d call that out because it’s just scientifically a joke. Point out that it doesn’t make any sense, it doesn’t work, and really deal with that.

Joe Heschmeyer:

It’s worth noting that when there was a debate about this in the Middle Ages, it’s because they had no idea how sexual reproduction worked. Now that we know, then the idea that it’s starting at any point other than conception doesn’t make any sense, because once you understand how reproduction works, it’s clear when there’s a genetically distinct human organism, and that point is conception.

Cy Kellett:

Joe, so now the person says, “Well, why then are you pro-life?” You’re like, “Well, time to give my 10-second argument again.” Will you give me the argument one more time? Then we’ll leave it there, because I would like people to hear it one more time, the 10-second pro-life argument.

Joe Heschmeyer:

Again, I’m stealing this from Steve Wagner. I think it’s a fantastic argument. You can feel free to adapt it, but I would memorize this. Number one, if the unborn is growing, it must be alive. Number two, if it has human parents, it must be human. Number three, living humans, or human beings like you and me, are valuable, aren’t they?

Cy Kellett:

Thank you, Joe.

Joe Heschmeyer:

My pleasure.

Cy Kellett:

The truth is that the pro-life argument should be easier to make than the pro-choice argument. We’re obligated to make a simpler and clearer argument than the pro-choice person is because it should be easier to argue that you shouldn’t kill babies in the womb than it is to argue you should be allowed to kill babies in the womb. It just should. One of them seems just intuitively obvious. The other one requires a great deal of mental and spiritual gymnastics in order to get you there. So I’m very grateful to Joe Heschmeyer coming in and making that simple argument.

Cy Kellett:

If you’d like to engage with that argument or engage with us about this episode, or maybe you have a suggestion for a future episode, you can always contact us at [email protected] Shoot us an email. We’ll get back to you. [email protected]

Cy Kellett:

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Cy Kellett:

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Cy Kellett:

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Cy Kellett:

I’m Cy Kellett, your host. Thanks for being with us. We’ll see you next time, God willing, right here on Catholic Answers Focus.

 

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