Monday, January 11, 2010

A partial prolife conversion

At Racefor2012, Alex Knepper, a self-described atheist, shares how he is becoming pro-life. He used to believe that autonomy was when rights began and the unborn didn’t have rights because they were dependent on their mothers. He still has exceptions for a mother’s health and a first-trimester rape exception. Some excerpts:
What I increasingly found myself unable to account for was why physical autonomy was the basis of rights. And if actuality and not potentiality, too, forms the basis of rights, then what’s the moral issue with simply pulling the plug on a man in a coma? I kept having to ask and re-ask: What really is the basis of rights? But the real tipping point for me was, upon arguing with someone about animal rights, finding myself unable to rationally explain why a profoundly retarded person has any more rights than a dog. And I recoiled with horror when I discovered that Peter Singer, the evil animal liberationist/utilitarian philosopher, was openly spouting the same lines as the basis of rights — self-awareness, autonomy, rationality — and following it to its logical conclusion: we can legally put dogs to death. Why? Because they are not self-aware, they are not rational, they are dependents, they cannot reason. But everything mentioned applies to the profoundly retarded, as well as much of the elderly. That’s the road to involuntary euthanasia. And that’s most definitely a culture of death. With much discomfort, I was forced to admit that these concessions threw most of my reasoning for my pro-choice position out the window.
He also has some pointers for prolifers who want to bring others to the prolife position.
I have four main lessons for all pro-lifers who actually want to convert others rather than merely secure the purity of their own ideology: first of all, ditch the religiosity. Anyone who would have accepted that argument has already done so. Second, ditch the ‘baby-killer’ rhetoric and bring it to the fundamental question of who has human rights and how they are acquired.....

And finally: be patient. My conversion, incomplete, partial, and just beginning as it is, was not a Road-to-Damascus style one. It’s been bubbling under for months, even as I’ve argued with several others from a pro-choice perspective. If you want to convert fence-sitters, you’ll need to have a patient, philosophical discourse. It is possible to convert someone. But you have to know how to do it.

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