Answering pro-abortion arguments
Very often it is not enough as a Catholic to simply proclaim and explain the Catholic Church's teaching regarding abortion. Abortion is such a scourge in the modern world that it is not merely a case of persuade people of the moral wrongness of abortion, but of addressing pro-abortion arguments.. The pro-abortion lobby is well-funded, well-organized and many people are – sadly – persuaded by their propaganda. All Catholics – not merely apologists – should be ready and willing to show that the pro-abortion arguments are weak and not valid reasons for having an abortion.
(It is recommended that the Catholic apologist wishing to use these arguments first familiarize himself with the Church's teaching on abortion and reasons for it.)
The right to choice
This is the most common argument – that “it is my body and I have a right to choose”. This is wrong on two levels – it is not the mother's body that is being destroyed and she does not have a right to kill her child. Abortion does not kill the mother – it kills her child. That child is – from the moment of conception – a genetically distinct human being who is not “part” of her. The child is utterly dependent upon her and is living inside her body, but that does not give her the right to actively kill the child. This is a very important point – an abortion is an active choice to destroy a life, not simply a medical procedure with consequences for the mother and no-one else. No human being has a right to choose to murder another innocent human being, especially one which depends on her for literally everything. This is a shocking betrayal of trust.
A fetus isn't a person
There are many forms of this argument – all of them spurious. Some people say that the fetus is “just a lump of cells” and is therefore not a person, or that because the child is unable to take care of itself, reason, or interact with people it is not a person. All of these arguments are flawed.
The phrase “just a clump of cells” is meaningless – at what point does a human being cease to be a “clump of cells”? We are all “clumps of cells” - just larger than we were when we were in our mothers' wombs! The fetus is a genetically distinct human person – even as a single cell, that fetus is alive and is a person with the complete genetic information of the adult. The only thing that is required to allow that fetus to grow into an adult human is time and nutrition.
If a fetus is not a person, when does it become a person? And what is added to the fetus to make it into a person? What else could the offspring off two humans be but a human person?
The argument that because a child is incapable of certain things – living without its mother, or reason – is also ludicrous. There are many people who are rightly and correctly called “persons” who can't do these things; infants, the handicapped, the very old, the injured. Is a person who is mentally retarded not a person because he cannot reason and interact? Newly born infants cannot survive without their parents – in fact, much older infants cannot survive without their parents. Does this mean they are not people too?
All of these arguments attempt to establish a definition of “person” which is at odds with the traditional view (namely, a person is made in the image and likeness of God) and which does not make consistent logical sense. All of these arguments simply seek to justify the selfish murder of children for no reason other than convenience by attempting to deny personhood to those who have it.
Another form of this argument is the view that late term abortions are not permissible but early ones are. This is a flawed argument simply because where is the line drawn? On what basis is the distinction made? What is the difference between (for example) a twelve-week and a twenty-week fetus which means one can be destroyed and murdered and the other cannot? There is no distinction except age – an entirely arbitrary choice. Is it right to murder someone who is 59 but not 60, for example?
The legality of abortion
Some people argue that – because abortion is legal – it is morally acceptable. This is a ludicrous argument – morality is not determined by a majority vote. There are plenty of things which are legal and which most people consider to be wrong – this is why there are so many complaints about the law! Additionally, the law can change – until Roe vs Wade it was illegal to have an abortion. Did the moral law change at that point? Was it unacceptable to kill a child before then but after that date did it became perfectly moral?
Most people who use this argument do not believe in morality – they believe that there is no such thing as right or wrong, merely what is legal and illegal (i.e. what you will be punished for). When arguing with these people it will be necessary to show the foundational principles of the moral law and to show that mere legality does not determine moral correctness.
Abortion will go on in “back alleys”
Some proponents of abortion claim that making abortion illegal will not wipe it out – it will continue in underground clinics and without regulation and so forth. They argue, therefore, that the best way to deal with abortion is to keep it legal so that the women who have abortions can be assured of medical attention and regulation.
It is true that there are abortions when abortion is illegal – but that does not mean that we should keep it legal. People will always commit rape – does this mean that we should legalize it and provide clean rooms for people to rape their victims in? Should we give free guns and knives to those who want to murder and rob?
By making abortion illegal many abortions will be discouraged. If abortion is kept legal there will be many more abortions. Abortion was illegal for the vast majority of human history – it has never before been seen as a human right. It is only seen as vital at this time because of the increased use of contraception and rise in sexual promiscuity; abortion is being used as a form of birth control by the majority of those having abortions.
The solution to the number of women having unwanted pregnancies is not to give them access to abortions but rather to prevent them becoming pregnant in the first place. The only reliable way of doing this is through chastity – the increase in contraceptive use and abortions directly parallels the rise in unwanted pregnancies.
Morality should not be legislated – I don't want to impose my morality on others
This is an idiotic argument – of course morality can be legislated. It is not possible to make someone believe a moral position, but it is possible to make someone act in accord with it. Laws are passed to legislate against rape, murder, theft – even against letting your lawn grow too long in some cities! The government has a right to legislate to protect the common good – this is why there are laws against child abuse and drug use, for example.
No-one has a problem with imposing his morality on others when it comes to certain things – for example, theft. No-one would suggest that it would be wrong to impose his morality (of thinking theft is wrong) on someone who is stealing his car (and therefore thinks stealing is okay). Humans all recognize that imposing morality is what laws do – that is the nature of laws.
Rape, incest and the handicapped
Many proponents of abortion want to make exceptions for cases of rape and incest. Care must be taken when debating with people who make this argument – is this actually their view, or is it a smokescreen? Are they really arguing for no abortion except for rape and incest, or are they using this as a smokescreen to mask their true view that abortion is permissible in many more situations?
In any case, rape and incest are not good arguments for abortion. Rape and incest are horrible crimes with horrible consequences – but a baby is not one of them! A baby is a living human being – we should not seek to add yet-another horrible consequence to rape or incest by murdering a human person. It is not the baby's fault that it is the product of a sexual crime – the baby should not be punished by being denied life.
In a similar vein, the argument that the handicapped can be aborted is spurious. Firstly, there is often no clear way of telling if a baby will be handicapped – the abortion could kill a perfectly healthy child. Secondly, what right do humans have to determine who will live and who will die? Do we kill those children and adults who are handicapped? Those who are for the abortion of the handicapped often talk about “quality of life” - yet fail to realize that if a child is aborted he or she cannot have any life, of any quality! This form of justification for abortion is very similar to the arguments used in favor of euthanasia.
Unwanted babies and adoption
Some people argue that it is better to abort a baby than have a baby whom the parents do not love (because the pregnancy was unplanned). This is a foolish, selfish argument which treats the child as nothing more than an object. The parents made the choice to have sex – this means that they risked having a baby. To punish the child with murder is wrong – and it is also wrong to punish the child with a lack of love in the family. Even if a child cannot be raised by his or her natural parents he or she can be offered for adoption – there are literally millions of couples who desperately want children but can never have them.
Some people are of the opinion that it is somehow better to abort a child rather than give him or her away to someone else to raise – this is a ludicrous argument. How can it possibly be better (and more loving) to murder your own child than to give him or her to a loving family? How can murder be better than allowing a child to live? This argument is the height of selfishness – it say “If I cannot have my child, no-one can!” The fact of the matter is is that no-one is taking the child away – the mother has decided she doesn't want the child! If the parent doesn't want the child, why should she prevent another person from raising the baby to health and happiness?