In a recent editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune, Tanner Davies argued that the term “pro-choice” in regards to abortion was a straw man argument because it dodged a direct rebuttal to the opposing view. A few days later Lisa Kolstad wrote a response letter that ironically did not address a single argument made by Mr. Davies and was in fact a straw man argument itself (only further proving Davies’ point). It’s disappointing that the letter was framed as a response at all, as the only relation it had to his editorial or its content was a personal attack on the legitimacy of his opinions because of his gender.
Kolstad claims that one cannot truly be “pro-life” unless they are actively working to relieve the plight of children in war-torn countries, the children of undocumented immigrants, gun violence, and the death penalty. Her tirade against conservatism in general, though impressively comprehensive, never once addressed the content of his editorial, and was thus a perfect example of Mr. Davies’ criticism of the pro-choice platform. He, like all pro-lifers, wants to have a discussion about the scientific evidence of life within the womb, and the accompanying rights associated with that life. There are certainly important discussions to be had about all the issues Ms. Kolstad mentions, but she, like so many others before her, deflects away from Mr. Davies’ very simple premise.
In addition to ignoring the main issue raised by Mr. Davies’ piece, Ms. Kolstad’s letter contained several other fallacies. The so-called “back alley” abortions the year prior to Roe v. Wade resulting in death was admittedly exaggerated by Dr. Bernard Nathanson (founder of NARAL) from the actual number 39, to 5,000-10,000 in an effort to push their agenda. Though agreeably tragic, it’s important to note that these were not performed with hangers, but by a physician. In fact, the argument in general that abortions will happen whether or not they are legal can be applied to any law. The number of times a law is broken carries no weight on whether the practice in question is right or wrong.
Finally, the claim that the pro-choice movement has a minimal effect on men ignores that in pregnancy, there is a father, as well as a mother, (though his choice to assert his claim to fatherhood is legally disregarded). We cannot close the door on half of the population in the discussion of any issue.
We are willing to discuss everything thrown our way, from how we can prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place, to supporting these women in crisis, to how we can care for the resulting children. But no matter how many times we beg the question of our opponents, this solitary question, “what about the rights of the life inside the womb,” we are continually met with an array of talking points, from other controversial political issues, to arguments that pertain to only 1% of all abortions, to unnecessarily personal assaults and name-calling. Meanwhile, we wait on the edge of our seats for a direct answer to our question that, it seems, will never come.