Logically Answering Two of the Most Popular Pro-Choice Arguments
For those of you who don't know, I recently started teaching a high school Apologetics class at a Christian school. We recently wrapped up our module on Philosophy and jumped into Ethics this past week. Philosophy is my weak area as a scholar and so I have been reading, studying, and researching like a fiend the past month to brush up on what I learned 2-5 years ago as a college student myself, so that I could articulate the ideas thoroughly and correctly when teaching. In my studies, I came across a video of a lecture by J.P. Moreland in which he gave a case for Mind/Body Dualism. While watching it I was blown away at how simply he gave for the case for the existence of an immaterial soul by appealing to the Law of Identity. The Law of Identity is simply this: A is A. (I know, what a brain buster!) Basically, whatever is true of one is true of the other because they are exactly the same thing. At the time I was teaching on the difference between Mind/Body Monism and Dualism, and I thought, "Okay that’s cool", dropped it into my apologetics toolbox, did my lesson, and moved on.
It’s My Body
This week, however, when I was working on my Ethics lessons, the current ethical issues of our day came up, and the one that is nearest and dearest to my heart is abortion (You can read my personal story here). So, I started researching different arguments on both sides of the issue and I came across the number one reason that Pro-Choicer’s use to defend Abortion: “If it’s my body, I have the right to choose.” I was like, “Wait, no, it’s not your body!” Of course, before this, I had felt that the unborn had "being" separate from the mother, but how do you prove that logically to a person who won’t accept the Bible’s word for it (Psalm 139:13-16)? But then it hit me all of a sudden- the Law of Identity! A is only A if they share the EXACT same attributes. Every single thing about them has to be exactly the same, or they are not identical. And guess what? Mom doesn’t have the exact same DNA as their kid. Yes, they have half the same DNA (sharing 23 chromosomes), but the baby also has the DNA of the father as well (the other 23 chromosomes), so the baby and the mom are not identical. The unborn child is a completely SEPARATE entity from Mom. The unborn child is NOT the same as the mother’s body so she DOES NOT have the right to choose based on that reasoning.
It’s Not a Person
The second reason I hear from Pro-Choicers is that the child is not a person until it is born. How does the Law of Identity affect this argument? Well, those who appeal to abortion most often do not hold to Mind/Body Dualism. To them, mankind is just physical or material (Mind/Body Monism), therefore, no immaterial soul. The problem for materialists or physicalists is that the mind/soul and brain/body are not the same. As Moreland points out, there are things that are true of the mind that are not true of the brain. In his paper on the same subject, he writes, “For example, thoughts cannot be a physical state of the brain. Why? Because there are things true of my thoughts that are not true of a physical state of my brain. It does not make any sense to ask how many inches long is my thought that lunch is in an hour and a half. How much does it weigh? Is that thought closer to my left ear or closer to my right ear? What geometrical shape does that thought have? Is it sort of weird shaped or is it a square or a rectangle? That is all nonsense. However, while I am thinking, the state that is going on in my brain at that time does have a shape. It is located in, say, my left or my right hemisphere, so it will be closer to my left or right ear. It will have a certain mass and chemical composition. And there is something true of a thought that cannot be true of a brain state. Thoughts can be true or false. Brain states are neither true nor false, they just exist. So there are things true of my thoughts that cannot be true of my brain state, so thoughts cannot be the same thing as my brain state.”
If the mind and the brain are not the same thing, then it follows that the mind is of another substance, that of the immaterial. Man is not just a physical being, he is spirit as well. He has soul. And if this is the case, he has unique personhood capable of free conscious choice, deserving of the right to life. As Scott Klusendorf points out, personhood is not determined by size, location, environment, or degree of dependency. If the unborn has personhood, and has a soul, then abortion truly is murdering a person, not just getting rid of some physical tissue or cells. It also means that Pro-Choicers are guilty of thievery when it comes to the personhood of the unborn – they are committing “identity theft” against the unborn en masse.
The Law of Identity has many implications for the issue of abortion but to conclude, it means specifically that a mother does not, regardless of what society says, have the right to choose death for her unborn child because it is not identical to her and therefore not her body. Second, the fact that the Law of Identity supports the existence of a soul in every human being means that the second most popular argument for abortion collapses under the weight of logic and critical reasoning and that the unborn is indeed a person and has a God-given, intrinsic right to life.