To my chagrin, my side of the abortion debate (pro choice) isn’t putting its best foot forward. My side mostly argues based on “a woman’s right to choose” using slogans like “my body, my choice,” and so on without using much else.
Although a valuable sentiment, this argument about choice is insufficient to counter pro-life arguments on its own, vilifies the opposition in an unproductive way, and should be used less in favor of a more compelling argument.
Focusing our rhetoric on protecting “a woman’s right to choose” unfairly demonizes the pro-lifers by treating them as though they are primarily motivated by the suppression of women. As YouTube social critic Dr. Shaym pointed out, most pro-lifers don’t oppose abortions because they want to suppress women; they oppose abortion because they think it is tantamount to murder to abort a fetus.
The opposition to abortion is not about sexism, at least not in the minds of most of the people who oppose abortion. The opposition is about protecting what they see as the lives of innocent people. Making the debate about sexism is an attack that will just “alienate them and embolden a backlash,” Dr. Shaym says, instead of making our point convincingly.
Additionally, the argument that a woman should be able to choose what she does with her body is not strong enough on its own and can be easily knocked down by the most popular pro-life argument.
Pro-lifers believe that terminating a pregnancy is morally equivalent to killing a baby. Left with these two options, the pro-life one would easily win.
The assertion that a woman should have a right to choose can easily be defeated by the contention that you shouldn’t kill babies to make women’s lives easier. Therefore, it would be most effective to address that contention.
In my opinion, the most compelling argument for permitting abortions is that in the early stages of pregnancy, an embryo doesn’t a have nervous system, can’t feel pain, and isn’t harmed if it is aborted. Richard Dawkins convincingly explains this in a chapter of his book “The God Delusion.” Aborting an embryo before its nervous system develops causes as much harm as having a period. It is not the same as murdering a living baby. While this act would be extinguishing a potential human life, so would a nocturnal emission or abstaining from intercourse altogether.
By arguing for the harmless nature of early-term abortions, we can better dispel the idea that abortion is the same as the murder of a baby, and more effectively convince people to give women the option of abortion during the early stages of pregnancy It is the tactic the pro-choice side should use.