In chapter 8, Dawkins talks about abortion. He makes a couple of startling claims. First, he argues that religion is bad because a select few fundamentalists kill abortion doctors, and then he goes on to argue support for abortion because fetuses aren’t really human anyways.
Dawkins’ logic is seriously flawed in this chapter. There are two problems here.
First, he uses the red herring of religious fundamentalists that have killed abortion doctors as a protest against abortion. I touched on this in the last chapter when I talked about fundamentalism. Even though a select few choose to kill in the name of their cause, that doesn’t necessarily make the cause a bad one. Thus, Dawkins yet again shows a flawed sense of logic in his arguments. That is another strike against Dawkins and his writing in this book. I talked quite a bit on this topic of religious fundamentalism in the last chapter and I’ll be talking about it again in the next chapter. So, I’m going to put this aside for now.
The second problem is this: Dawkins tries to dehumanize abortion in an attempt to justify it in some way.
My views on this topic have gone from extremely liberal to extremely conservative. I think of myself as fairly liberal in a lot of respects. I lean towards rehabilitation for criminals, I’m against capital punishment and I think that social assistance is an important safety net for all of us, especially the least among us. Those aren’t typical conservative views. To stick with the stereotype, many liberals support free choice, while most conservatives are pro life. Yes, this is a generalization, but I think it’s a fairly accurate and it does seem to represent the “typical liberal or conservative” agenda.
But I digress…
Like I said, I used to be extremely pro choice. I always thought that abortion should be the individual’s choice. My views on this were strongest in my teens and early twenties, which is the age at which most of us may feel the need to deal with this issue on a personal level. And, I remember at the time feeling that this would be “the best choice for me as I wasn’t ready to have a kid yet.” Fear, uncertainty and lack of readiness are the thoughts that came to my mind when I considered the options available to people in my age group when it came to having children. If I wasn’t ready, well… the medical system had the easy out, the so-called “get out of jail free” card.
It wasn’t until I had matured more that I revisited my thoughts on abortion. And, I didn’t revisit these views until I started to think I was stable enough to have a family of my own. At that point, my views started to take a turn in a different direction. All of a sudden, abortion represented the death of a child. As any expectant parent understands, that week 12 visit to the doctor is extremely symbolic. At week 12, most parents hear the heartbeat of their new little baby for the first time. I remember the first time I heard Noah’s heartbeat. I was instantly connected to my first son. And the connection was more vivid for Julie as she started to experience Noah kicking and punching inside of her as he grew in her belly.
It’s interesting how perspectives change depending on the circumstances, eh?
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