If it isn’t already, Prager University is well worth your time as a regular stop on the internet. The brainchild of conservative commentator Dennis Prager, Prager U. is a series of short videos in which an array of thinkers and experts explain politics, history, religion, philosophy and more, in simple, accessible terms.
Monday’s entry, hosted by Prager himself, tackles “The Most Important Question About Abortion.” He opens by stating upfront that the video will set aside the legal dimension in the hopes of rationally exploring the question, “Is ending the life of a human fetus moral?” While in other contexts that might raise alarm bells for pro-lifers, in this case it is simply part of the Prager method, if you will, to compartmentalize the various aspects of major issues for the sake of clarity.
“Moral Argument Number One: A living being doesn’t have to be a person in order to have intrinsic moral value and rights.”
Prager first notes that it is a scientific fact – not a personal belief – that a fetus is human life. To the argument that it’s still not a person, he simply notes that even if one adopts the concept of human non-persons, it still hasn’t settled the issue in pro-choicers’ favor: “There are many living beings that are not persons that have both value and rights: Dogs and other animals, for example.”
Personally, I would have preferred a greater emphasis on just how unambiguous science’s definition of a living human being really is (personhood as a philosophical construct is intricate enough that it probably couldn’t have been done justice given the video’s time constraints). But as one point in a five-minute examination of abortion’s moral assumptions, I appreciate the reminder that a society accustomed to sanctifying animals has no grounds to dismiss killing humans so casually.
“Moral Argument Number Two: On what moral grounds does the mother alone decide a fetus’s worth?”
Second, Prager questions the assumption that the mother’s rights are the only ones that matter, noting that whenever abortion’s not part of the conversation, “nearly everyone believes that the human fetus has essentially infinite worth and an almost absolute right to live.”
When? When a pregnant woman wants to give birth. Then, society — and its laws — regard the fetus as so valuable that if someone were to kill that fetus, that person could be prosecuted for homicide. Only if a pregnant woman doesn’t want to give birth, do many people regard the fetus as worthless. Now, does that make sense?
It doesn’t seem to. Either a human fetus has worth or it doesn’t.
Exactly. I have nothing to add here.
“Moral Argument Number Three. No one ever asks a pregnant woman, ‘How’s your body?’ when asking about the fetus. People ask, ‘How’s the baby?’”
Next, he asks:
Why does one person, a mother, get to determine whether that being has any right to live? People respond by saying that a woman has the right to “control her body.” Now, that is entirely correct. The problem here, however, is that the fetus is not “her body;” it is in her body. It is a separate body.
Absolutely devastating for the factually challenged types among the protest and comment troll crowds, but I would caution that “the fetus is part of the mother’s body” isn’t quite the version of the argument we most need to account for. Among the professional apologists and Tumblr philosophers, the real point of “my body, my choice!” is that the fetus’s effect on the mother by being in her body is what gives her grounds to kill it. Hopefully, refuting advanced arguments like bodily-autonomy absolutism will be part of a follow-up video.
“Moral Argument Number Four: Virtually everyone agrees that the moment the baby comes out of the womb, killing the baby is murder. But deliberately killing it a few months before birth is considered no more morally problematic than extracting a tooth. How does that make sense?”
There is, of course, much more to say about abortion’s legitimacy earlier in pregnancy, before fetuses develop the consciousness and pain-sensitivity which pro-choicers claim make a moral difference. But particularly with an emerging pro-abortion consensus that protecting babies in the second half of pregnancy is just as “extreme” as protecting babies in the first half, it’s absolutely appropriate to call them out on this nonsense.
“Moral Argument Number Five: Aren’t there instances in which just about everyone — even among those who are pro-choice — would acknowledge that an abortion might not be moral?”
[W]ould it be moral to abort a female fetus solely because the mother prefers boys to girls — as has happened millions of times in China and elsewhere? And one more example: Let’s say science develops a method of determining whether a child in the womb is gay or straight. Would it be moral to kill a gay fetus because the mother didn’t want a gay child?
Bingo. It’s always good to remind people that abortion and diversity don’t always get along, and by extension make them think harder about the fact that so many of the basic human characteristics that make us unique manifest in the very womb abortionists think nothing of violently invading.
Prager concludes with a somber warning:
Good societies can survive people doing immoral things. But a good society cannot survive if it calls immoral things moral.
As mentioned above, there were a couple of aspects I would have tackled differently, and more than enough ground to cover—especially abortion’s legality, which was understandably tabled for now but cannot be indefinitely—that I hope Prager University is planning a second installment in the near future. But overall, this video is a strong and concise shot across the bow of abortion-on-demand, and should prove a valuable resource for inspiring friends and family to begin reconsidering its most fallacious assumptions.