The Absurd Moral Logic Behind #shoutyourabortion

The Backstory

Planned Parenthood is in the business of killing little boys and little girls. This is a fact that they would never publicly admit to. But in the seclusion of their back offices, they admit this truth amongst themselves, as they peer into petri dishes splayed with tiny bodies which their own hands have dismembered. Another boy, another girl, another dollar.

But not so long ago, those back offices were visited by a man with a camera. And that camera saw Planned Parenthood displaying their wares in petri dishes – arms and legs, brains and kidneys, girls and boys. Planned Parenthood doesn’t like cameras in their secluded back offices. And when you don’t like something in America, you threaten legal action.

Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguen is the attack dog on the case. Her railings are interesting enough, but her defense of the practice of abortion itself is worthy to be repeated:

If every woman who had an abortion in this country stood up, this debate would be over


In the wake of these videos showing Planned Parenthood’s petri dish children, the fiercely pro-abortion Writer Lindy West was struck with the thought that none of her like-minded friends talked about whether or not they had personally had an abortion. All other areas of her friends lives were an open book to her, but even her closest confidants would not swap abortion stories, under social pressure to keep them quiet. Abortion is still something to be whispered about. And to West, that’s a problem:

Telling our stories at full volume chips away at stigma, at lies, at the climate of shame that destroys the lives (sometimes literally) of women and girls and anyone anywhere on the gender spectrum who can become pregnant

As West states at the conclusion of her article, “Abortion is common.” And if women would just speak out and admit to doing such a common thing, then, as Laguen stated earlier, “…the debate would be over.”

Understanding the Moral Logic

Let’s say we did what Laguen asks. We go take a nose count of women who have had an abortion. We find out how many husbands or fathers or boyfriends drove their wives or daughters or beaus to a late afternoon appointment at an abortion clinic. We crunch the numbers to a final result and say (hypothetically), yes, Lindy West is right: Abortion is a common practice.

What have learned about the moral status of abortion in finding that it is a common practice? Absolutely nothing. What West and Laguen are implying in saying that abortion is common, is that common practices are morally permissible. The argument is formed below.

  1. Common practices are morally permissible
  2. Abortion is a common practice
  3. Therefore, abortion is morally permissible

Such is the moral logic behind #shoutyourabortion. In demonstrating that abortion is common, Lindy West is trying to bring to conscious knowledge that abortion, being common, is actually an acceptable practice.

#shoutyour… opposition to abortion?

But, consider: Opposing abortion is also a common practice, is it not?

It is such a common practice, that people have formed organizations and associations to do it more effectively. Marches and parades, Letter writing campaigns, Side walk counseling – all of it speaking of the beauty and dignity of human life, and therefore the condemnatory nature of abortion. West feels the force of it so greatly, even in her own pro-abortion circles, that she admits that she would not swap abortion stories with her friends, for the force of the social pressure.

So let’s re-form the West/Laguen argument

  1. Common practices are morally permissible
  2. Opposing abortion is common practice
  3. Therefore, opposing abortion is morally permissible

Does West or Laguen agree with the conclusion drawn above using their own moral logic? I doubt it. But they violate their own standard in condemning those who condemn abortion.

To hijack the quote by Laguen:

If everybody who had [opposed abortion] in this country stood up, this debate would be over.

Perhaps West would want to add to her moral system the exception that condemning a common practice is morally impermissible. However, this would only give West a Pyrrhic victory in regards to making condemnation of abortion morally impermissible, because it would also make ALL condemnation of ALL common practices morally impermissible, some of which would otherwise be rightly condemned. Abortion? Government corruption? Pornography? Corporate Greed? Lying? Gossip? Morally permissible. Don’t condemn them.

Can Common Practice Ever Determine Morally Permissibility?

But let’s pretend that West and Laguen manage to have it both ways – abortion is morally permissible because it is common, and condemnation of abortion is morally impermissible because it is not common. They are still very far from having a meaningful moral base.

To say that right and wrong is determined by that which society commonly participates in is to have to make some terrible concessions about other social practices, past and present. Consider: the Armenian genocide was socially acceptable. Pederasty in ancient Greece and feudal Japan was socially acceptable. Infanticide in ancient Carthage was socially acceptable. Human sacrifice in Aztec, Mayan, and medieval Celtic societies was socially acceptable. Widow immolation in pre-modern Hindu culture was socially acceptable. Race based slavery in Brazil, the Caribbean, The English Isles, and the United States was socially acceptable.

Many of the things listed above were thought to be laudable acts of piety.

If we were to genuinely believe that the right and wrong are determined by common social participation, then we would have to concede that the social practices listed above, in the context of the society in which they occurred, are examples of that which is right and good. For West and Laguen, it is also to also admit that, in societies in which abortion was not common, abortion was an evil.

They are only a cultural context away from fighting against what they are fighting for now!

What we need (but West and Laguen have failed to provide) is a universal, immutable, non-arbitrary standard of Goodness against which we can compare our thoughts and actions.

And where on earth or in Heaven can we find one of those?

This entry was posted in Current Events, General Apologetics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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