Last Friday was the 43rd annual March for Life in Washington D.C., and after some hesitation by the March's organizers, conservative talk show host, writer, and speaker Ben Shapiro was allowed to give a speech. Regardless of how one feels about his political, social, or religious views, Shapiro is a well-educated, sharp-witted, fast-taking, and master debating pro-life warrior. This was evident not only in the short speech he gave at the rally but also on his podcast which he broadcasted live from the March where he devoted its first hour to debunking the top ten most common arguments for abortion.
As an orthodox Jew and a firm believer in the inalienable rights written into America's founding documents, he was quite clear that without a moral order that is built into the fabric of creation by a God in whose image we were made, there is no objective or inherent right to life.
Nonetheless, he spent the majority of his time using non-religious arguments to debunk the pro-abortion claims. Given our current post-Christian and religiously apathetic culture, such tactics are important and effective since they take the abortion issue out of the realm of personal or religious beliefs and into the arena of common sense based in logic, science, and everyday experience. Shapiro, like a lot of other pro-life speakers such as Lila Rose or Trent Horn, is able to take those logic-based arguments and use them to weave a narrative which makes it increasingly harder to uncritically adhere to the standard pro-abortion arguments—at least not with a straight face.
However, as effective as these tactics are, they are, as Shapiro noted, not enough. For just as there has been an increasing momentum to logically counter the pro-abortion narrative, there has been equally momentous push back against that movement in ways that have already begun to make such pro-life arguments a moot point in three key ways.
1. Logic and reason are becoming an increasingly rare commodity.
Let's face it, we live in a society that is awash in emotions and irrationality whose amorphous and mercurial nature is given shape and form through the various ideologies running amok today. Ideologies, which as professor and author Anthony Esolen has said are, “an ersatz religion. It rushes into the emptiness when one no longer is open to the divine.”
Thus, instead of divinely revealed laws which are meant to bind the consciences of all peoples for all times, we are left to wrestle with man-made paraphrases of those laws in the form of principles that are long on sentiment and short on coherence. To say nothing of holding anyone accountable to them.
This is how we can arrive at a state of affairs where people can speak of “choice” and “bodily autonomy” but not for the unborn. Or where a man's condemnation of abortion is seen as unimportant, but when the exact same words are uttered by a woman they can be seen as valid, but of course still not correct. From this point of view all notions of right or wrong, valid or invalid, logical or illogical have no place in the discussion.
2. The Self is now the center of world
Thus, when you combine an abandonment of the divine with a lack of critical thinking skills, the only thing you are left with is yourself. A self that operates on the level of emotions and the most inchoate of desires; consequently, far too many people are simply incapable of viewing the moral complexities of the world through anything other than their own mundane thoughts and experiences.
This is why, even if you manage to break through to someone and get them to see the glaring holes in the reasoning behind the standard pro-abortion tropes, they will still not budge in their opinion. They will likely respond with something like, “Yeah I can see your point, and while I would never get an abortion, I just don't feel it's right to tell someone else what to do.” Such a statement is of course disingenuous to its core, since more often than not it is the “personally opposed” crowd who mysteriously lose their compunction to shout their hatred of a whole host of other social ills such as racism or sexism when it suits their purposes.
Whether this sort of inconsistency is out of stubbornness, indifference, moral cowardice, or even just plain laziness, varies with each individual, but what remains the same is the utter rejection of reason in favor a self-centered and self-serving take on the world.
3. Mob mentality is the last bastion of the weak.
The final reason logic-based arguments will ultimately fail is because even if you can convince someone that tough moral issues, such as abortion, cannot be left to personal preferences, they can always find strength in numbers. There is no position so weak that an unruly mob cannot prop up; and unfortunately, when it comes to the issue of abortion, they are not on shaky ground.
In the more than four decades since Roe vs. Wade was passed, three generations of children have been born into a world influenced by progressive elites, Hollywood, and a lackluster educational system, which have all conspired to present abortion as a legal and moral fact of life. It is essentially presented as a default position that has been so unquestioningly accepted, that our culture has gone from the notion of abortion being “safe, legal, and rare” to the era of #shoutyourabortion. An era where, to once again quote Esolen, the abortion supporter “dwells in the stark blank light of ideology, and in that blankness every face, human and divine, is obliterated.”
The face that is “obliterated” is the divine image in which we are all created. That divine image is lost with the eclipse of reason, one's humanity is lost when following one's emotions turns into the chasing after one's desires, and one's worth is lost when those desires turn into an all-consuming appetite. And in the case of abortion, it is an appetite for death. There is no other way of phrasing it. The “right to choose” is an agreement to feed that appetite for destruction, even if it means other things are destroyed along the way.
This is why it is important for Christians to see logical or scientifically based arguments against abortion as good things, but only as tools with which to move towards a fuller defense of the right to life. And as Christians, we are ideally suited to make that defense, since it is through the Incarnation, in the form of a baby, that our human nature was sanctified. We were given a way in which God's grace could perfect our fallen nature, from being “good” to being holy.
Thinking along those lines, it is so strange that any Christian would be supportive of abortion, since it is condoning the intrusion into the space where the divine (in the form of an immortal soul) enters into our world, in order to commit an act of murder. Still less does it make sense for priests and bishops to refuse to speak about the issue, on the grounds that it is political.
Regardless of the antipathy that some in government have for Christians (and let's be honest here, it is a contempt that is rarely doled out to other faiths), we are still governed in the U.S. by a unique set of documents that acknowledge that we have certain inalienable rights that come from God, and which the government is supposed to protect. The first among those rights is the right to life, which means that it is the pro-abortion crowd that have turned their backs on God and our nation's core principles. Not the other way around. So perhaps it is high time we stop acting like it.
Photo: Getty Images/Win McNamee