October 29, 2021 | OPINION | By Andrew Hoffman | Photo by Eric Ingram
Every Wednesday on the sidewalks outside of the Hybl Community Center, a group of Colorado Springs locals have a small protest in support of EndAbortionNow, a Baptist pro-life organization. While everything they are doing is perfectly legal, I still take issue with the practice. I will examine both the practical and theoretical flaws with these demonstrations.
My issues with the Hybl protestors are two-fold. Firstly, I disagree with the actual pro-life argument. Yet more importantly, I disagree with how they go about protesting. This second argument is what I would encourage readers who disagree with my political opinions to point their eyes towards.
I disagree with the Pro-Life stance for a variety of reasons, both philosophical and practical. Philosophically, I find granting moral consideration to a fetus highly problematic as it is likely based on or even is a fallacy. What I mean by this is that if you are to say a fetus deserves to live because it is a member of the homo sapiens species, you are deriving an “ought claim” (a fetus has a right to life) from the “is statement” (a fetus is a member of the homo sapiens species). This is faulty because there is no justification for why a fetus’s life is valuable.
This is ultimately relevant because if we were to take a hypothetical scenario, where we find a creature who has all the capabilities and functions of a human but is biologically different from a human being (to use pop culture references, Yoda, Superman, your favorite X-man) you would be unable to justify why they have a right to live. If those characters were real, though, we would hopefully agree that it would be wrong to simply murder those beings on the spot. All of this reveals an underlying flaw in the logic behind the idea that humans have a right to life simply because they’re homo sapiens.
A better justification for moral consideration for humans is based on subjective experience or consciousness. In other words, humans have a right to life based on their consciousness and/or subjective experiences in life. To quickly refute the Ben Shapiro-esque arguments of anesthesia and comas, research from both Volume 129, Issue 1 of Anesthesiology (a college textbook for prospective anesthesiologists) and the academic journal The National Library of Medicine, find that in both of those cases humans have a level of sentience.
Additionally, people already have existing social contracts, developed social connections and previous desires to live that fetuses lack (since fetuses lack consciousness until very late term pregnancy). There is also the entire bodily integrity argument, and the fact that consenting to sex cannot be equated with consenting to pregnancy (we don’t consent to every potential outcome of a situation no matter the risks by virtue of undertaking action, unless explicitly agreeing to the particular risk).
That previous argument is entirely philosophical, however there is a much simpler practical argument to be made. Multiple studies, including a particular study from the Guttmacher Institute found that in Pre-Roe America, abortion was the leading cause of maternal mortality and remains the leading cause in many developing nations where safe abortion is not easily accessible. Simply put, legal abortions save lives. How’s that for pro-life?
The sad truth, though, is that while the arguments I made are certainly compelling from a logical standpoint, they are unlikely to change people’s minds. According to a study from Yale, unless individuals are highly motivated and committed to an analytical evaluation of the argument, emotional arguments and appeals to individuals’ personal identity are much more convincing. This is where my second issue with the Hybl protestors comes into play.
The protestors are not seriously committed to their beliefs. I can make this assertion because from simple observation, it becomes clear that these protests are not committed towards any form of systemic change. If these protestors truly believed infants were getting murdered, why on earth would they be in the middle of a residential area that is 3 miles away from the nearest abortion clinic?
If you wanted to change somebody’s mind, why would you camp outside where they live every day for three hours with signs accusing those very same people of being supportive of murder? Doesn’t seem like the most persuasive strategy. The answer is, they don’t actually care. It is not about saving lives or changing minds, it is about feeling heard. Taking your anger out at a system that has either moved on or neglected you.
To the sexists and the racists who have become largely delegitimized in our media, I have only one thing to say: cope. As for those who are unheard and are lashing out, that is an anger that we as students at Colorado College must address and work towards. The best way of doing that is economic policy and social change that relieves the anger of those protestors.
All in all, those protests are frustrating. They are based on illegitimate reasons, and it would be disrespectful to refer to them as a form of civil disobedience (as their actions have clearly shown that they are not committed towards tangible change). Yet underneath all of that, those people are our neighbors, and we must figure out a way to address the growing discontent that these people feel.