The Strange Double Standards of Abortion

Here‘s a post I recently wrote for one of Canada’s national newspapers, The National Post, prompted by the shooting of American abortionist George Tiller. It’s about how hard it seems to be for most of us to think straight about abortion (and how frightening it is for some people, extremists on both ends, to think straight about it).

I haven’t written or spoken much about this issue over the years, but it always lurks nearby: a huge issue that scares me at every level, including the intellectual. What are we supposed to think and do about it in a way that takes into account all the truly appropriate factors and arguments–used on every side?

0 Responses to “The Strange Double Standards of Abortion”

  1. Drew Tatusko

    As I tell people, I am pro-life, but that does not necessarily translate into anti-abortion. Criminalizing abortion is simply not enough if we in the US do not have the proper measures to support life elsewhere. This is why I am pro universal healthcare, pro- prison reform, making adoption cheaper and more feasible, etc. Abortion is horrid, but so is the quality of life kids have in “the system.” The rhetoric of too many in the anti-abortion camp are myopically ideological to focus only on the fetus and nothing else. Thus, rationalizing vigilantism is justified as is an “eye for an eye” philosophy of justice. I am not convinced that criminalization without a significant philosophy shift in social welfare in the US is tenable. I want to see more lives saved first before my sense of justice is satiated. That means creating better social support so that unwanted pregnancies that result in abortion are significantly reduced.

    • P. W. Dunn

      My wife and I will gladly adopt children of women who are considering abortion until we are home is filled to capacity. We even offered to adopt a child of a friend who was about to have an abortion and she said, “Make your own baby”: that was 17 years ago and we are childless to this day; our Adeodat would be ready to start University. The myopic ones are not in the anti-abortion camp; I suggest the reading of this post, which summarizes most of the crucial issues, by Dr. Craig Carter:

  2. smokey

    Dr. Stackhouse,
    I really empathize with you when you say abortion is a scary topic at every level. I appreciate you taking it on.

    I really like Stanley Hauerwas’s take on the whole abortion question. The two most relevant articles he’s published on the topic are both in the big Hauerwas Reader: “Abortion Theologically Understood” and “Must a Patient be a Person to be a Patient? or My Uncle Charlie isn’t Much of a Person, but He’s Still My Uncle Charlie.” He does a nice job of changing up the terms of the discussion and articulates a new way of defending a Christian position against abortion.
    Peter Kreeft’s little book, The Unaborted Socrates, is a good one to read on the topic too. Even if it is a little dated at this point, it sets out a strong areligious defense of the pro-life position. Do you have an opinion on either author?

    I think that Drew’s point about fixing the system is important, and he’s right in saying that Christians should call for justice in every situation, but it seems odd to me when ardent pro-lifers (those convinced that abortion is murder) make such claims. Can you imagine people living in Germany during the 1940’s saying, “I’m against the death camps and all, but people focus on them so much that they ignore the poverty that exists in some of our communities.” It seems to me that if one is completely convinced that abortion is truly murder then a “myopic” focus on it isn’t all that inappropriate.

  3. Bennett

    Frank Peretti, of all people, gave one of the best logical arguments I’ve heard against societal acceptance of unrestricted abortion. The gist of it was that we are putting the power to arbitrarily choose “what is life” or “who should live” in the hands of any woman who happens to be pregnant.

    Our President said once that this decision is above his pay-grade. That’s unfortunate since his job will often require him to decide which people are going to die. Since he doesn’t consider himself qualified to make that decision then we will leave it in the hands of people who often are in a crisis situation, without full knowledge of their choice’s implication, and have more times than not already shown poor judgment in their choices.

    Our leaders should make difficult choices. That’s their job.

  4. Canbuhay

    Abortion is a very complicated social and political issue. But it is very simple morally: If the unborn are human beings like born people, then shouldn’t they be treated with the same respect and dignity as born people?

    We don’t kill born children conceived of rape; we don’t kill born disabled people just because they are disabled; we don’t kill born unwanted people because they are unwanted. So if biology, not the Bible, tells us the unborn are human beings too, then why the complication? Why the double standard?

    And how can we call ourselves pro-life if we insist that the unborn are human beings just like us but should not deserve the same legal protections as us? Imagine if we said that about any other group of people?

    Of course there will always be people like Tiller’s killer who will give our movement a bad name and tar the pro-life reputation. These people are wrong and must be stopped.

    But these extremists only succeed if folks like you care more about your reputation and cease speaking out against abortion for fear of looking bad.

    Human being’s lives are at stake.

    BTW, Scott Klusendorf at Life Training Institute is one of the best pro-life apologist around.


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