Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The 'Ick Factor' And The Planned Parenthood Videos

While discussing the recent Planned Parenthood expose, I have been told that my opinions about abortion are influenced by the ‘ick factor.’ Apparently, my opposition to abortion can be minimized or dismissed because I think abortion is gross. If I recommend that people view a picture or video so they can be fully informed, the response is fairly consistent: “There are a lot of medical procedures I don’t want to watch. Just because seeing them might make me squeamish doesn’t mean they are a bad idea. After all, I don’t want to see what happens in a heart surgery, but heart surgeries are a good thing.”

That's true. Something is not wrong because it makes me squeamish any more than it is right because it doesn't make someone else feel the same. So is this a legitimate argument? Am I and other pro-life advocates simply wanting to create a moral framework to support our weak stomachs? Obviously, I don't think that's the case.

 The presence of the ‘ick factor’ has no bearing on an argument's merits.  

'Ick" is a feeling that comes when we experience, see images or read about a wide range of things: household problems like overflowing, nasty garbage; puke-covered kids; medical situations like heart surgery, and moral atrocities such as the Holocaust. Does the presence of 'ick' emotions in any of those situation automatically nullify objectivity? Surely someone can experience strong emotions and still look at a situation objectively and act rationally.The presence of an 'ick factor' is not a sign that someone cannot think with clarity about the truth of an issue or situation.

I wonder if we would apply the same standard to other popular issues. Do we think environmentalists are passionate because they think smog is nasty? Do we believe animal rights activists are just responding to their gut-level disgust at eating meat?  Do we really think atheists push to remove crèches from courthouse lawns because they think religion is gross? Maybe some people have an 'ick' response to any of these issues, and maybe not. Why does it matter? The best representatives of those causes give articulate arguments. Some of them may be passionate because of  their emotional attachment; some may be committed in spite of their lack of deep feelings. It's irrelevant. It's the argument that matters.

Let’s say I was a staunch pacifist with a meticulously presented rational argument against war – but I also had a fear of blood. If opponents would say, “You are only against war because you think so much blood is gross,” they would have evaded the merits of my argument by pointing out a fact that is interesting but entirely irrelevant to the merits of the argument.

To simply dismiss any argument by saying, “You only dislike X because you think it’s gross” is patronizing and irrational. Give the pro-life movement the respect of listening seriously to the pro-life argument. There are plenty of brilliantly detailed arguments for why the unborn are fully human and deserving of rights (such as the right to life) before they are born.  Read pro-life humanist arguments ("Yes There Are Pro-Life Atheists Out There. Here's Why I Am One Of Them"), or spend some time at the Life Training Institute's page called  The Case For Life.

I do think there is an 'ick factor' associated with abortion. When I have seen images of aborted babies, I am emotionally undone. However, that's not why I am pro-life. I am pro-life because I believe unborn babies are human beings, and they are being killed (and it's not just the pro-life community that acknowledges this). I don’t support the killing of any innocent human beings; why would I make an exception here? If I saw a one-year-old, twenty-year-old or ninety-year-old person being killed by having their head crushed before having their organs harvested, yeah, I would think it was gross. That still wouldn’t be why I oppose the taking of innocent human life. I oppose it because innocent human beings die when an abortion is successful.

The latest video from The Center For Medical Progress shows an aborted eleven-week-old baby on what is basically a pie pan. You can see small arms and legs. The doctor, however, is quite pleased with the intact (and recently working) organs tissue samples he has for sale. Is there an ‘ick factor’ when I see pictures or videos of aborted babies? You bet. It is worthy of that kind of response. According to an interview on the video, even the nurses report frequently being overwhelmed. That is the appropriate response. A baby was alive. Minutes later, it was dead, having been extracted and dissected, its limbs and organs on display in a glorified pie pan.

Yes, that is 'icky' me. That’s still not why I oppose abortion – but seeing the limbs and organs of a tiny human being certainly reminded me why I believe the pro-life cause is true, right and just.

1 comment:

  1. TOTALLY Agree Anthony! Well written (as usual) and something that truly needed to be said. I am proudly pro-life because LIFE is a good thing - all ages - all stages! Thank you for your witness and dedication. ~ Carol