3 Reflections On the Abortion Debate

About a year ago I attended a conference where one of the speakers was Dr. Mike Adams. You might know him as the controversial college professor who started selling T-shirts saying “I Hate Mike Adams” to the people protesting his event. His lectures were primarily on abortion. In that lecture he spent some time talking about Dr. Willie Parker, a physician and abortion doctor who wrote a book called “Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice.” The reason this is significant is that Parker claims to be a Christian, and in his book makes a case in favor of legal abortion from his Christian faith. Adams took great issue with this and responded to many points in his book, and finished with a comment that he had invited Parker to a debate, but had yet to receive an answer. I think most people assumed there would never be a response.

Imagine my surprise when the announcement came that the two of them would be having a live debate.

View the full debate here.

Given that I spent much of my high school years in competitive debate, and have already written a lot on the topic of abortion, I thought I would go through the debate and give a few of the takeaways I had from it.

1. You Can Oppose Abortion Without Using the Bible

Pro-Life advocates often get mischaracterized as only opposing abortion because of their religion. Some think that there are no arguments against abortion without the Bible, and it’s just men seeking power. The interesting thing about this debate is that if you didn’t know Mike Adams going into this, you would not necessarily assume he was a Christian. Adams never appealed to the Bible, God, or any religion at all, except in response to when Parker did. This got especially strange as it seemed like both Parker and the audience did not realize this. On multiple occasions Parker, and the audience in the Q&A, acted like Adams was somehow appealing to Christianity to make the case. Adams made his case from the science of embryology, logic, and philosophy. None of his points could not be made by an atheist.

2. Opinion Vs Fact

Early in Parker’s case he described some of the mottos which he lives by. The one I found to be the most interesting was, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.” It’s sensible, and shows a clear distinction between objective and subjective truth. I find it strange because Parker then went on throughout the debate appealing to opinion and personal conscience, while ignoring the scientific data that Adams was presenting. Parker never used facts or data in any meaningful way. He presented confusion on definitions and appealed to vague assertions on person-hood. He would later say facts matter, and that Adams only presented “His Facts. Not medical facts.” And yet Adams was the only one in the room appealing to medical facts. Parker’s case can be summarized as, in his opinion, we shouldn’t keep women form getting abortions.

3. The Importance of Personhood

Adams gave the standard pro-life argument. It’s wrong to take the life of an innocent human being, abortion does that, and thus abortion is wrong. He gave a great deal of support and even graphic detail of what abortion entails. Parker accepted all of it, and admitted to participating in quite gruesome procedures. His only defense for the thousands of lives he admits to ending was to raise the issue that a human being and a person are not the same thing. He claimed that the mother is a person, and thus to take away her choice is to take away her personhood. Meanwhile the child is not yet viable and is not a person until birth. How it becomes a person by being born was never definitively learned.

I found it interesting how the issue of killing a pregnant woman is typically considered a double homicide never came up, but I’ll leave that aside for now. Adams claim was that there is no distinction. As soon as you are a living embryo, and not a part of the parent in the form of a sperm or an egg, you are a fully human being and have the same value as anyone else. His claim is that it’s binary, and you are in or out, with no gradual process to personhood. To claim otherwise is to claim that some do not “measure up,” or are “not good enough” to be considered persons. But this is the same old dehumanization tactic that has been used to oppress, enslave, and commit genocide for thousands of years. And yet the Pro-Life advocates are the ones who are called uncaring.

So Who Won?

So much more could be said on this debate. It will have to wait until next time. But I will leave it at this. I am not unbiased in this topic, if that was not obvious. But if I were to judge this debate with no prior knowledge, this was still a clearly one-sided debate. Adams used evidence and support from science, philosophy, and logic. Most of his points went uncontested, and the only responses Parker had were vague and nebulous, giving no real argument that held weight. From a debater’s perspective, the winner was clear. From a moral perspective, the right choice is still clear.

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