Sunday was the annual "Sanctity of Human Life" day. Abortion, euthanasia and the definition of life are neither new debates, nor issues that will presumably be solved by general societal agreement.
I don't hold the idealistic premise that if I simply put forth a well-founded, well-evidenced and well-argued case that I would convert even a few to think Pro-Life. The issues have been well-argued (and well-worn) by many far more eloquent and authoritative on the matter than me, and obviously our entire nation is still at a moral divide over the definition and meaning of life and the ethical conclusions each definition implicates.
I think much of the problem lies in both sides' narrow argument of the issue, where they presume the disagreement originates and the proposed solution. We are far downstream with this debate, suffering the conclusions of presuppositions made at the delta of our worldview waters.
I read several opinions from authors on both sides of the life issue, and both asserted (then answered) what each believed was an honest assessment of the other's position. What they failed to recognize was the underlying worldview assertion within their opponent's viewpoint.
Pro-Choice believers assert that Pro-Life advocates a belief in life at conception, etc. because, "Evangelicals have apparently picked up by osmosis the Roman Catholic idea of the repudiation of abortion on the grounds of 'sanctity of life.' According to this theory, we deduce abortion is wrong because the church historically has opposed it and because 'abortion of the human fetus [is] murder of the innocent,' and because the church itself is divided in its assessment of other important theological doctrine and therefore cannot sustain its participants' enthusiasm (Andrew Sandlin, The Forerunner).
So according to this Pro-Choice advocate, we can dismiss any theologically related arguments because we are a progressive society that does not contradict or disagree with itself on principles. That is an inaccurate assessment and self-refuting statement.
Society obviously disagrees with itself because we're in this debate to begin with. When society is held as the final authority, permissive education becomes the discretion of socially instituted mores. Our culture is imploding because our education refutes itself in asserting moral relativism (ironically, within the bounds of laws). Finally, this argument fails to realize the underlying worldview of evangelicalism – the biblical worldview, not obtained by osmosis.
Sadly, many Pro-Life believers also weaken their argument when they emphasize conversion based solely within the issue of abortion itself. They try to win over their opponents with the evidence of life at conception. What this argument fails to take into account is that society has so successfully educated us to believe that a fetus (whether "living" or not) is permissible to abort, based on our relativistic worldview.
It follows the same logic as a society where avenging a murder by murdering is an appropriate, and even honorable, option. This societal avenger is not concerned whether their victim is living, that's obvious. The question isn't the fact of life itself, but the worldview of the person taking that life. The avenger's worldview presuppositions and societal education support the conclusion that taking of life in that context is appropriate. In this same way, for whatever differing individual reason, the law in our society believes that aborting a fetus is an appropriate option because it is the "woman's right to choose" and it is her body.
It is only law and the social contract that restrains us in other circumstances not to prematurely terminate life, and obviously some choose to violate society's "arbitrary" laws and commit socially defined "crime" anyway. Even if we prove conclusively that life begins at conception, will this stop women from choosing a socially educated option simply because the intended termination is labeled "living?" Life in fetus form is socially educated to be disposable because of the socially implemented worldview.
Many Pro-Choice and Pro-Life advocates are attempting to convert each other by making the other side accept the conclusion of the argument without accepting the framework the conclusions are built upon. And then we wonder why no one is getting through.
The bottom line is that we need to analyze the foundations (not simply argue the conclusions) of our worldview. We need to answer the big questions: Does God exist? What does that mean for me? Is there absolute truth? From those answers, we can then derive the answers to moral questions, like abortion and euthanasia.
Think critically about your worldview and what conclusions logically follow. Do you support all your worldview conclusions? Do you actually follow the conclusions of a different worldview than you think? Or are you a mosaic of worldviews, pieced together to hopefully make a coherent picture?
Worldview is essential. Think about it critically. Assess it honestly.
Clarification: In last week's column, the "bottleneck" course referred to JT211 and is faculty-used term, not an official title. Seventy-two students were admitted this semester, not 54.
Jenna Lynn Ellis is a junior technical journalism major. Her column runs every Friday in the Collegian.