I watched our national leaders debate for the upcoming election in Canada, and our socialist New Democratic Party leader – Jagmeet Singh – made the point that men don’t have the right to speak on abortion.
The sentiment is gaining traction in my electoral district as our local abortion clinic was shut down yesterday. Pro-life ideas are gaining momentum in this part of the world. Now my newsfeed is littered with condemnations of men speaking on the topic of abortion, even though the majority of the pro-life movement members are women.
It struck me as odd because literally nothing else in ethics works in this manner. If I were to articulate my bioethical concerns about abortion, and a woman was to then articulate the same proposition, line by line, word for word, the truth value wouldn’t change. The proposition wouldn’t have a value of false or unknown for my articulation, and then become true in her articulation, simply because the speaker has changed.
Logic and ethics don’t function in this manner. Truth doesn’t depend on the speaker. This all too common pro-choice argument is the very definition of the ad hominem fallacy. It’s something philosophers have rejected millennia ago.
We can see this on issues we all agree on as unethical. When we see women in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia being punished by the state for themselves having been sexually assaulted, it may not impact us in the slightest but we have every right to speak out against it. The same can be said for the atrocities in Libya, Myanmar, or Yemen.
We have the right to condemn and intervene even in cases where we aren’t impacted. Ethics functions in the manner. Truth works in this way. If something is wrong, then it’s wrong; and if something is right, then it’s right. The speaker of this proposition is irrelevant. The logic behind their conclusion is what matters.
I’ve seen the phrase shared over social media countless times, “Don’t like abortions? Don’t have one”, with the obvious implicit implication that those who are okay with abortion should continue having them if they so desire.
I wish to add an amendment. If a man thinks that men shouldn’t speak on the topic of abortion, he’s welcome to keep quiet about it whenever the conversation arises. Meanwhile, those of us that do have bioethical concerns will continue to opine about just what it is that’s being terminated.
The implicit premise behind the argument is that men aren’t impacted by abortion. This is not so. Men who believe that life begins at conception are routinely placed in a situation where (in their minds) their child is about to be killed and are told, en masse, by society that their role is to shut up about it. This level of callousness has led to their suffering from PTSD; mostly arising from societal silencing.
This in and of itself doesn’t qualify as an argument or a rationale to oppose abortion, but the notion that men aren’t impacted by this is extremely heartless, and it is beyond unethical to dismiss the mental health and emotional strife that impact millions of men.
Yes, anyone can speak to the ethics of abortion as long as their facts are scientifically accurate and their logic is unassailable. This is the nature of ethics and truth. And we will march on continuing to err, to gain knowledge, to improve, to progress, and to morally reform, and to morally fail, by virtue of our being human not by virtue of our being a specific gender.
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