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A Rhetorical Ploy that Fools Only the Willfully Blind

by | Sep 9, 2011

By Dave Andrusko

Chris Selley

A couple of days back I wrote a piece titled “Painting Themselves into a Corner” which was a reflection on a piece appearing in the National Post by Barbara Kay in which she gently rebutted the outlandish observations of another columnist, Chris Selley, that ran  in the same newspaper.

A kind reader thoughtfully sent along a series of letters to the editor that ensued.

Selley is emblematic of a certain strain of pro-abortion absolutists. He tried to obfuscate/dress up his bottom-line conclusion (that the only answer to “this morass of hand-wringing uncertainty “ over when/if ever to establish limitations is to set the demarcation at ”birth”) with the vacuous declaration that even pro-choicers believe that “while a fetus is something less than human, it is also considerably more than nothing.”

But, as it always does, this acknowledgement leads absolutely nowhere. Every proposal to place even  the most minimal hedges—on abortions in the last month, or performed because the child is a girl, or to “reduce” twins to “singletons”—is a “value judgment.” And “who is to say”… yada, yada, yada.

Some letter writers lavishly praise Selley, others strongly criticize him, while still others do him one better (so to speak) by  invoking the ideas of Peter Singer, who will defend almost anything.

Singer divides us into persons and non-persons, according to whether we are self aware, have a sense of the future, and are  able to relate to others (as a letter by Prof. Margaret Somerville succinctly explains). Small wonder Singer defends infanticide—and worse!

Somerville, director, McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law, sums up the enormous stake:

“The alternative to defining only some human beings as deserving of respect is to see all human beings as having intrinsic human dignity and deserving of respect, especially respect for their lives, simply by reason of the fact that they are human. There is no more important ethical issue currently being debated than which of these two alternative approaches we should adopt.”

Categories: post-abortion