Moral Confusion in the Pro-life Camp

Regis Nicoll
Regis Nicoll

It seems that pro-lifers are not-so pro-life. According to a recent Gallup poll, 46 percent of Americans identify as pro-life, but only 18 percent say that abortion should be “illegal in all” circumstances. So what accounts for this moral confusion?

For one thing, the ease with which we rationalize morality down.

It goes something like this: Imagine an exceptional circumstance to a moral issue and subject it to a moral calculus until what is morally prohibitive becomes morally acceptable, if not commendable.

In the abortion rights debate, those exceptions are rape, incest, and health of the mother—circumstances with high empathy quotients, especially when imagining a wife, daughter, sister, or oneself as a victim. People who poll pro-life, yet support some form of legalized abortion, have concluded it would be too difficult, unloving, or cruel for a woman to bear a child under those conditions.

Often their reasoning follows an alluring Golden Rule logic: “loving neighbor as self” means sparing him from any consequence I would want [my wife, daughter, sister, myself] to be spared from.

Further tipping the scale is that with a million abortions per year, nearly everyone knows a friend, neighbor, coworker, or family member who has had one. Thus, a person who deems abortion in the abstract as morally wrong, can be less inclined to be so when circumstances are real and close to home.

But let’s examine the calculus. Read on here. 

 
Originally published October 13, 2017.

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