March 30, 2021

My letter to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario concerning MAiD

 


My letter to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario concerning MAiD

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) is presently engaged in a consultation concerning Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) and has invited Canadian physicians, organizations, and the public to send them feedback (deadline is April 12, 2021). Below is a copy of my letter which I sent to the CPSO on March 30, 2021.


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Dear College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO), 

Thanks for giving the Canadian public an opportunity to provide you with feedback about Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD). Here is my feedback. 

In my personal and professional opinion (note: I am a retired philosophy professor who has studied and taught ethics) I recommend the following: (a) medical personnel who conscientiously object to MAiD and “effective” referrals for MAiD should not be required to participate in or facilitate MAiD; and (b) they should be provided workplace protection from harassment and discrimination because of their conscientious objection. 

Here are my reasons for the above recommendations. 

MAiD is a euphemism for physician-assisted suicide. But, according to the World Medical Association, good medical practice should neither ask nor require any doctor or nurse to help patients with suicide. After all, suicide is wrong and tragic (that is why Canadians work hard at suicide prevention). 

Moreover, turning physician-assisted suicide into “health care” is seriously problematic in other ways. 

History teaches us that medically administered death is dangerous for the vulnerable as well as all of us. This can be seen in recent years in the abuses of MAiD in Belgium and The Netherlands (for evidence see, for starters, the documentaries Euthanasia Deception and Fatal Flaws). In not-as-recent history, we should note Dr. Leo Alexander’s observation at the Nuremberg Trials (1945-1946). Dr. Alexander attributed the beginnings of the horrors of the Holocaust to the attitude of physicians, i.e., that they accepted “life not worthy of life” as a justification of killing patients (for evidence, see Dr. Alexander’s essay in New England Journal of Medicine, 1949). The notion of “life not worthy of life”—German: lebensunwertes leben—was at the heart of the Holocaust and is at the heart of MAiD. 

Yes, in Canada there are patients who choose physician-assisted suicide as their best option. But this “choice” is often due to a lack of real options, especially a lack of top-notch palliative and hospice care. In fact, top-notch palliative and hospice care is not available for the vast majority of Canadians. A basic understanding of ethics requires that assistance in living should be provided for all BEFORE medical assistance in suicide is offered at all. 

Also, I am troubled that if the CPSO does not provide protections to physicians who object to performing MAiD or making effective referrals to MAiD, then, as time passes, the medical profession will be staffed primarily by doctors who are morally callous. I fear that in the future those doctors who object to MAiD will not or will not be allowed to practice medicine, and I fear that most or all doctors who do practice medicine will have no moral qualm about killing patients as a regular part of “health care.” What is worse, I suspect they also will have no moral qualm about falsely reporting any misdeeds they commit. 

The fact is that doctors in Ontario who are now practicing MAiD are falsely reporting cause of death on death certificates. Indeed, blatant lying is promoted—required—by the CPSO. 

My evidence: According to CPSO on MAiD: “When completing the death certificate physicians: a. must list the illness, disease, or disability leading to the request for MAID as the cause of death; and b. must not make any reference to MAID or the drugs administered on the death certificate.” (Bold in original. Reference: See #22of CPSO on MAiD.) 

Again: Blatant lying is promoted—required—by the CPSO. Alarmingly, when it comes to MAiD, lying has become a norm of practice for the CPSO. A reasonable question for Canadians to ask is this: What else are doctors lying about? 

If my studies (and personal experience) in ethics have taught me anything, it’s this: little ethical lapses pave the way to big ethical lapses. It seems that with regards to MAiD, the CPSO—with its institutionalized lying—is well on its way to engaging in big ethical lapses. For the sake of moral integrity (and for the sake of regaining public trust), the CPSO needs its conscientious objectors. 

Therefore, I recommend the following to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario: (a) medical personnel who conscientiously object to MAiD and “effective” referrals for MAiD should not be required to participate in or facilitate MAiD; and (b) they should be provided workplace protection from harassment and discrimination because of their conscientious objection. 

Thanks again for the opportunity to provide you with feedback. I hope my feedback is helpful. 

 

Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD

(Retired Associate Professor of Philosophy, formerly at Providence University College, Manitoba)


For additional thought:

Does Canada’s Bill C-7 ignore a dark lesson from history?

 

March 16, 2021

Does Canada’s Bill C-7 ignore a dark lesson from history?

 

Photo credit: Getty Images

APOLOGIA

By Hendrik van der Breggen

March 16, 2021

 

Does Canada’s Bill C-7 ignore a dark lesson from history?

 

Lebensunwertes leben is German for “life unworthy of life.” As a justification of killing, this idea led to the Holocaust. 

Alarmingly, there is growing acceptance in Canada of lebensunwertes leben. 

Think of Canada’s Bill C-7 and its expansion of “medical assistance in dying” (a euphemism for physician-assisted suicide, i.e. killing done by doctors). 

Instead of first helping vulnerable people by providing much needed medical and social supports—such as top-notch palliative and hospice care for all—the Canadian federal government is pushing Bill C-7, which promotes death. 

Of course, medical assistance in dying is advertised as a “choice.” But a choice isn’t much of a choice if there are few or no good alternatives. In fact, top-notch palliative and hospice care is not available for most Canadians. 

Moreover, via this “choice,” C-7 promotes ableism. Ableism is the view that able-bodied people are superior—more worthy of life. 

C-7 presumes that living with a disability or with a chronic or terminal illness amounts to a life that is less worthy, so assistance in death should be available. 

And, if Canada’s government has its way, C-7 will offer death to persons suffering solely from mental illnesses. 

In other words, Bill C-7 encourages death—a “final solution”—for people who are … inferior. 

Have Canadians become dullards? Have Canadians not learned a dark lesson from 20th century history? 

Consider the following observations from Dr. Leo Alexander, a medical advisor at the Nuremberg Trials, trials in which representative Nazis were convicted of crimes against humanity (this passage is from New England Journal of Medicine, July 4, 1949): 

 “Whatever proportions these crimes finally assumed, it became evident to all who investigated them that they had started from small beginnings.” 

“The beginnings at first were merely a subtle shift in emphasis in the basic attitude of the physicians. It started with the acceptance of the attitude, basic in the euthanasia movement, that there is such a thing as life not worthy to be lived.” 

(Yes, pause and notice that phrase: “life not worthy to be lived.” Reminder:  In German, it’s lebensunwertes leben—and it led to the Holocaust.) 

Alexander continues: “This attitude in its early stages concerned itself merely with the severely and chronically sick. Gradually the sphere of those to be included in the category was enlarged to encompass the socially unproductive, the ideologically unwanted, the racially unwanted, and finally all non-Germans.” 

Dr. Alexander adds: “But it is important to realize that the infinitely small wedged-in lever from which this entire trend of mind received its impetus was the attitude toward the nonrehabilitatable sick.” 

Let. That. Sink. In. 

I don't believe that there is a Nazi Party on Canada's horizon. But there might be something as dark, or darker. 

What former Pope John Paul II (1920-2005) called the “culture of death” is becoming normal in Canada. Indeed, Bill C-7 “solves” medical and psychological problems by doling out death—and a majority of Canada’s Members of Parliament (mostly Liberal and Bloc Quebecois) approve. 

Canadians should resist. 

How? 

An important first step would be to remind politicians that medical and psychological problems require medical and psychological solutions, not killing. 

 

***

 

Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is a retired philosophy professor who lives in Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada. Hendrik’s parents survived the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands. 

 

For further thought: 

 

Additional writings by Hendrik van der Breggen: 

 

 Articles by other authors 

 

 Books by other authors 

 

 Videos 


February 10, 2021

VDB-NOBIS abortion discussion (round 9): My reply to Nathan Nobis’s reply of January 23, 2021

 


VDB-NOBIS abortion discussion (round 9): My reply to Nathan Nobis’s reply of January 23, 2021

February 10, 2021

 

I. Introductory comments

I appreciate Dr. Nathan Nobis for his patient interaction with me. Even though we have some deep and ongoing disagreements in our discussion, I believe we are modelling how to engage in respectful, truth-seeking discourse. This is important—and good.

Some background to get our bearings:

  1. Dr. Nathan Nobis co-authored a book published in June 2019.
  2. Both Nobis and I had articles on abortion published in August 2019 in a pro-con forum at Political Animal Magazine (Nobis’s article was an excerpt of his earlier book).
  3. I published a book in October 2020 (in which I criticize some of what Nobis and his co-author wrote in their book).
  4. In November 2020 Nobis wrote a review of my book.
  5. In late December 2020 I provided some replies to Nobis’s review.
  6. On January 1, 2021, Nobis provided a response to my replies.
  7. On January 23, 2021, I provided a response to Nobis’s response.
  8. Later on January 23, 2021, Nobis provided a response to my response.
  9. What follows is my response to Nobis’s latest response.

Concerning Nobis’s and my last “round” (round 8), I’ll respond with some comments on (1) the notion of analogy vis-à-vis Judith Jarvis Thomson’s violinist, (2) the substance view, and (3) risk. In a postscript I’ll suggest a reading (i.e., one of my recent articles based on a chapter of my book) on a topic that I hope abortion-choice proponents and opponents can agree (in the article I argue that the claim abortion is essential health care is false).

 

II. The notion of analogy vis-à-vis Thomson’s violinist

In view of Nobis’s clarification of analogies and how they work, I think Nobis and I are not really disagreeing about the kind of reasoning that Judith Jarivs Thomson is using in her essay “A Defense of Abortion.” The second view or “approach” to analogies set out by Nobis seems very much to be what philosopher Trudy Govier calls an a priori analogy, which I described in my last reply, and which I think is the structure of Thomson’s argument. I’ll leave it to readers to compare what Nobis has written about his second approach to analogies with what Govier says about a priori analogies (as I have written). Again, I think Nobis and I are not really disagreeing here. This means, contrary to what Nobis suggests, that I do not misunderstand how to think about analogies when I say that Thomson is arguing via a priori analogies and doing so fallaciously.

(BTW: When Thomson describes the violinist scenario as an analogy, she also describes the scenario of your favorite celebrity not touching your head to save your life as an analogy. Thomson describes these as analogies; it’s not just me.)

I agree with Nobis that Thomson’s fictional scenarios are, as Nobis points out, “useful cases to develop and confirm the insight that the right to life is not the right to everything someone needs to live, even if that requires the use of someone else’s body.” But—and I think Nobis continues to miss this—the problem is that Thomson’s cases are at the get-go not analogous in crucially important and relevant senses to pregnancy and abortion, which are the primary subjects of Thomson’s argument. (Thomson’s fictional cases are the analogs, and pregnancy and abortion are the primary subjects. In analogical reasoning in general, and in a priori analogies in particular, the analogs are set out to provide insights about the primary subject.)

Because Thomson’s cases are not relevantly similar to pregnancy and abortion, the “insight” or principle that’s generated by Thomson’s cases (analogs) ends up being question-begging on a massive scale. Thomson’s cases fail to reflect the relevant and actual goings-on in pregnancy and abortion, and as a result the cases assume as settled that which is at issue.

Let me clarify. Nobis uses William Paley’s famous watch analogy, which Paley employs to infer a designer of the world, to illustrate analogical argumentation. Here I will illustrate the problem with Thomson’s analogical argumentation. The problem with Thomson’s argument from analogy is that its analogs, which generate the insights (or principles), are faulty. Consider this: A fictional atheist, let’s call him Ricardo Parmenides-Dawkins, tries to argue against the existence of a designer of the world (the world is the primary subject) by using (instead of a watch analog) the analog of a fictitious eternal unchanging stone which has no parts that work together. 

According to Parmenides-Dawkins, the stone analog generates this insight/ principle: If an object always has no parts working together for a purpose (that is, it isn’t a “teleological system”), then it’s probably not designed. Parmenides-Dawkins then applies this principle (gotten from the never-changing stone analog) to the world (his primary subject) to conclude that the world isn’t designed. Critical thinkers (whether believers or atheists or whatever) should reply as follows: “Hey, that argument by analogy is faulty because the analog (the eternal unchanging stone) used to generate the insight/ principle is relevantly and hugely dissimilar to the primary subject (the world) at the very start!” That is, the eternal unchanging stone (the analog) has no parts working together at all, but the world (the primary subject) does. In other words, what’s at issue (how to account for the working parts of the world/ primary subject) is assumed in the analog (which has no working parts) and thereby the argument ends up using its atheistic-analog-generated principle to draw an atheistic conclusion about the world, but this is to engage in question-begging. (In logic to beg a question is to assume as established that which is at issue.)

See the problem? Thomson’s fictitious analog—the violinist—is similarly problematic at the get-go. Note: It’s not problematic to use fictitious analogs, but it is problematic if the fictitious analogs have hugely relevant dissimilarities to the primary subject.

To achieve clarity on the (similar) problems with Thomson’s violinist and other analogies, permit me to quote again from my book (a note on page 83): 

Thomson writes: “You wake up in a hospital, ‘plugged in’ to a famous violinist, who needs to use your kidneys to stay alive. You were kidnapped for this purpose. If you unplug, he will die. But it’s only for nine months.” Thomson’s idea is that even if the unborn human being were a person, abortion is permissible morally, just as you aren’t morally obligated to remain hooked up to the violinist to sustain his life. But, as many critics have (rightly) pointed out, Thomson’s analogy is faulty—terribly faulty. Getting pregnant is (typically) not like rape. That is, getting pregnant is not like being forced to get “plugged in” to a violinist, famous or not. Also, to unplug or detach the violinist is not like hiring someone to directly kill the violinist by poisoning him, ripping off his limbs, crushing his skull, or shredding him via a suction machine, which is what abortion does. Rather, the violinist’s death is caused by the kidney ailment, not your or your doctor’s direct killing action. And keep in mind that “Euphemistically calling abortion the ‘withholding of support or treatment’ makes about as much sense as calling suffocating someone with a pillow the withdrawing of oxygen” (Beckwith, Politically Correct Death, 133). Also, the violinist is a stranger, to whom one does not have a moral obligation to provide life-sustaining care, unlike the special moral duties parents have to care for their children. In her article Thomson attempts to address these sorts of issues by setting out other analogies, but they are terribly faulty, too. According to Thomson, if you opened a window and someone blundered or fell into your house, you don’t have a moral obligation to let them use your house, so, similarly, abortion is permissible. But, as critics (rightly) point out, it’s a different story—one more analogous to pregnancy—if by opening the window you knowingly pulled (or risked pulling) an innocent person into your house. So it would be morally outrageous to kill the innocent person you pulled into your house. Also, according to Thomson, if “people seeds” floated into your living room carpet (which is required for their gestation) and they began to sprout into persons even though you tried to keep them out (via fine-meshed screens/contraceptives), you wouldn’t be morally obligated to sustain them. But, as critics (rightly) point out, if you actually planted the people seeds by engaging in a planting activity (while knowing that screens/ contraceptives are not 100% foolproof), you would be morally obligated not to kill them.

The reason you would be morally obligated not to kill them is that they are persons. And persons have the right to life, which is, at minimum, the right not to be killed—especially if they haven’t done anything wrong, and especially if you are responsible for their existence, vulnerability, and dependence.

The main argument in my book that’s relevant here, i.e., relevant to Thomson’s violinist argument where the fetus is a person, is on page 82 of my book. I’ll repeat it here, because it’s important and seems to be not understood: 

Objection: Okay, the unborn human being is a person, but just as nobody has a right to my kidney to ensure his/her survival, abortion is morally permissible because I’m not morally obligated to sustain another person with my body. 

Reply: Yes, I agree that at least this much is true: If you lost the function of your kidneys, then you wouldn’t have the moral right to force me to donate one of my kidneys to you, nor would I have the moral obligation to donate one of my kidneys to you. And if I lost the function of my kidneys, then I wouldn’t have the moral right to force you to donate one of your kidneys to me, nor would you have the moral obligation to donate one of your kidneys to me. But these truths are not analogous in any relevant way to the situation in pregnancy. It’s a faulty analogy, in other words. The situation in pregnancy is more like this: My life depends on a kidney you’ve voluntarily given me, i.e., you’ve consented to giving me the kidney by deliberately engaging in and willfully permitting the action that put the life-giving kidney in me (a kidney you can live without), but now you want to take it back—and doing so will kill me. See the difference? Yes, one is not morally obligated to sustain another human being via kidney transplants/ donations, but one is morally obligated not to cause the death of another human being by taking away what she requires to sustain her life—even if it was your kidney. It’s one thing for someone who needs a kidney to die because of a kidney ailment, but it’s quite another thing to rip out kidneys from another person and thereby kill that person. Abortion is like the latter case: it deliberately kills a person (often by poisoning, ripping off limbs, crushing the skull, etc.).

In other words, freely giving your kidney (which you can live without) to a vulnerable, dependent person (a person whose vulnerable, dependent state you’ve also created, by the way) so the other person can live is like—analogous to—pregnancy (in non-rape cases); tearing out from that person the kidney you’ve donated to him/her and which thereby kills that other person because you’ve changed your mind about your previously-freely-made decision to donate is like—analogous to—abortion.

So persons indeed do have a moral right to what was someone else's kidney, if they need that kidney to live AND if one (the donor) has already, in a fully-informed manner, engaged in freely giving/ donating one’s kidney to the person in question (and the donation isn’t a physical threat to the life of the donor). Ditto for human fetuses—which we and Thomson concede are persons—and the biological systems gifted/ donated to them also freely and in a fully-informed manner.

Again, it seems to me that repossessing a donated kidney in the important sense that the biological systems gifted/ donated freely and in a fully-informed manner and are now being ripped away is like—is analogous to— aborting a human fetus, which we and Thomson concede are persons. By ripping the fetus out of his/ her life-sustaining environment we are (from the fetus’s perspective) ripping away the biological systems that were freely gifted to the fetus by the donor/ parent in a fully-informed manner. This is not a case of merely declining to sustain a person’s life for whom you have no responsibility and who has no moral claims on you. Rather, it’s a case of killing a person — your son or daughter whom you’ve created to be in a vulnerable and dependent state — by ripping away the necessary life-lines (some of which do the work of kidneys) you gave him/her in the first place; AND it’s not just ripping away the life-lines, it’s also a case of poisoning that person (by the abortionist’s needle) or tearing off that person’s limbs (by the abortionist’s suction machine) or perhaps crushing that person’s skull (by the abortionist’s forceps). The tearing out of a donated kidney is like—is analogous to—abortion, though abortion is much worse. Thomson’s cases assume this is not the case and thus are question-begging, i.e., assuming as established what is at issue.

All this to say that Thomson’s insight that the right to life is not the right to everything someone needs to live, even if that requires the use of someone else’s body is appropriate in the violinist scenario, but it does not justify poisoning, dismembering, and crushing another person, which is what abortion does (remember that Thomson assumes, for argument’s sake, that the human fetus is a person, and remember that Thomson is attempting to use the violinist scenario as a defense of abortion). The analog used to generate Thomson’s insight as a defense of abortion is faulty—terribly faulty. 

 

III. Substance



In my book I appeal to a view that’s often called (as Nobis points out) “The Substance View.”  On this view there is new substance that results from sperm-egg fusion: it’s a new, living, genetically distinct, self-governing whole individual entity that belongs to the human species—it’s a human being—and has great moral worth.

Nobis wishes to cast doubt onto that view, so he encourages readers to take a look at Don Marquis’s review of Christopher Kaczor’s book The Ethics of Abortion, a review in which Marquis criticizes Kaczor’s substance view. I think Nobis’s suggestion is a good idea. It’s good to look at the criticisms of a view. But I would also encourage readers to read the second edition of Kaczor’s book. Why? Because Marquis’s review is of the first edition of Kaczor’s book, but in the second edition Kaczor responds to critics of the first edition—critics such as Don Marquis. Critical thinkers should be aware of this.

(Christopher Kaczor’s recent book Disputes in Bioethics, especially his chapters on speciesism and on human dignity, may also be helpful.)

Nobis also sets out links to various academic journal articles on the substance view, articles that are critical of the view and articles that defend the view. I appreciate the links. Though I do side with the substance view (because I think it is more accurate and makes better sense than competing views), it’s good to be aware of the scholarly disagreement.

Critical thinkers should also be aware of the defense of the substance view set out in the 2018 book by Samuel B. Condic (a philosopher) and Maureen L. Condic (a neurobiologist): Human Embryos, Human Beings: A Scientific and Philosophical Approach.

Again, I agree with Nobis that it’s good to look at the criticisms of a view. It’s good to look at pros and cons. Doing so helps us get a better understanding of the issues at hand and, hopefully, closer to truth.

Also, having a look at criticisms and counter-criticisms helps us be aware of the fact that there is disagreement. This disagreement is significant for the abortion issue, as will become clear in the next section on risk. 

 

IV. Risk

I’ll just re-iterate what I’ve called (in our earlier discussion) my Hugely Important Point, so it doesn’t get lost in Nobis’s and my ongoing discussion. If we’re going to kill a human being (and we know it’s a human being) and there’s reasonable disagreement about that human being’s status as a person (and there is reasonable disagreement in the discussion about abortion; see previous section, see previous “rounds” in the VDB-Nobis discussion, plus see pro-life and pro-choice books by other philosophers), I think it’s wise that we err on the side of not killing. As I point out repeatedly in my book, “If we aren’t sure whether a body is dead, we shouldn’t bury it. And if we aren't sure whether what is moving in the bushes is a hunter or a deer, then we shouldn't shoot it.” 

 

V. Concluding comments

 


I hope my comments are helpful in promoting careful thinking about abortion. Again, I appreciate Dr. Nobis for our thoughtful and respectful discussion! I hope that one day (after COVID) Dr. Nobis’s and my paths will cross so he and I could continue our discussion over a coffee or beer—or over several beers and then some coffee.

 

VI. Postscript

 

 Image credit: feministcampus.org

In recent months I have noticed that the claim “abortion is essential health care” has been popular in mainstream media and has even been stated by U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris. I think that when it comes to abortion in general, the claim—that abortion is essential health care—is false. And I think that abortion-choice opponents and proponents can agree on this. For further thought on this topic, I suggest the following article (it’s one of my recent articles based on a chapter of my book):  “Is abortion really ‘essential health care’?”

 

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Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is a retired philosopher who lives in Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada. His areas of interest include philosophy of religion, philosophy of science, metaphysics, ethics, and logic/ critical thinking. Hendrik is author of the book Untangling Popular Pro-Choice Arguments: Critical Thinking about Abortion available at Amazon. 

 

January 23, 2021

VDB-NOBIS abortion discussion, continued: My reply to Nathan Nobis’s latest critique

 


VDB-NOBIS abortion discussion, continued:

My reply to Nathan Nobis’s latest critique

January 23, 2021


I. Background and introductory comments

I appreciate Dr. Nathan Nobis (an abortion-choice proponent) for taking time to respond thoughtfully and respectfully to my replies concerning his review of my book (a critique of popular abortion-choice arguments). No doubt some readers may think Nobis’s and my discussion is getting tedious and difficult to follow (as Nobis observes in his last response), and no doubt there may be some truth in thinking that! Nevertheless, I hope that my additional comments will be helpful to readers interested in Nobis’s and my discussion. I hope, too, that truth concerning abortion will become clearer as a result.

Some background to get our bearings:

  • Dr. Nathan Nobis co-authored a book published in June 2019.
  • Both Nobis and I had articles on abortion published in August 2019 in a pro-con forum at Political Animal Magazine (Nobis’s article was an excerpt of his earlier book).
  • I published a book in October 2020 (in which I criticize some of what Nobis and his co-author wrote in their book).
  • In November 2020 Nobis wrote a review of my book.
  • In late December 2020 I provided some replies to Nobis’s review.
  • On January 1, 2021, Nobis provided a response to my replies.
  • What follows is my response to Nobis’s latest response.

I will respond only to a few of Nobis’s comments. It seems to me that Nobis’s criticisms of my work continue to be deeply problematic from the point of view of critical thinking.

 

II. Judith Jarvis Thomson’s violinist

For background, recall that Judith Jarvis Thomson writes the following in her famous 1971 essay “A Defense of Abortion”:

You wake up in a hospital, ‘plugged in’ to a famous violinist, who needs to use your kidneys to stay alive. You were kidnapped for this purpose. If you unplug, he will die. But it’s only for nine months.

Thomson’s idea is that even if the unborn human being were a person, abortion is permissible morally, just as you aren’t morally obligated to remain hooked up to the violinist to sustain his life.

In response to my argument that Thomson commits a faulty analogy in her argument based on her violinist thought experiment, Nobis claims that Thomson isn’t arguing via analogy and thereby suggests that my critique of Thomson’s argument is mistaken. Nobis writes: 

The "point" of Judith Thomson's violinist example is not to serve as an "analogy" to fetuses: the proposal isn't that fetuses are "like" violinists (although they are in some ways, and are not in other ways: for a discussion of the nature and function of analogies in reasoning, see Richard Feldman's Reason and Argument). 

Its point is to motivative [sic] and justify the insight that the right to life is not a right to everything you need for your life to continue if that requires using someone else's body: your right to life is not a right to someone else's body, even if you need that body to live.  

I have two replies (which I develop below): (1) Thomson does argue via analogy; (2) the insight to which Nobis points arises from a faulty analogy.

 

Reply 1

There are at least four reasons (that work together as a cumulative case argument) for thinking Thomson’s violinist argument is an argument via analogy. These reasons have to do with (a) Thomson’s intention, (b) her argument’s logical structure, (c) her article’s context, and (d) background evidence.

(a) Author’s intention

It seems very much that in her essay “A Defense of Abortion” the author herself—Judith Jarvis Thomson—intends the violinist thought experiment to be understood as an analogy. Later in her essay Thomson writes, “And it might be argued that all my analogies are therefore irrelevant—for you do not have that special kind of responsibility for that violinist….” Significantly, Thomson responds to the possible objection she is here considering not by saying she wasn’t arguing by analogy but by saying something else, i.e., that there isn’t such a special kind of responsibility (which is false, by the way). So it’s reasonable to think that Thomson’s intent is that by employing the violinist example she is using an argument by analogy.

(b) Logical structure

Throughout her essay, Thomson explicitly and implicitly compares abortion to the case of unplugging the violinist. It will take too much space to demonstrate this point here, but a careful reading of Thomson’s essay does show this, it seems to me.

In fact, the structure of Thomson’s argument very much seems to be what philosopher Trudy Govier calls an a priori analogy (see chapter 11 “Analogies: Reasoning from Case to Case” in Govier’s widely-used and highly-respected critical thinking textbook A Practical Study of Argument, 7th edition; I’ve used Govier’s text for a dozen or so years in my Critical Thinking courses). According to Govier, the analogue in an a priori analogy may be “entirely hypothetical or fictitious,” i.e., “a case that is invented by the arguer.” This is certainly true of Thomson’s famous violinist who needs our kidney to live. Also, in an a priori analogy the key is to achieve, with respect to our primary subject, i.e., what we’re trying to get illumination or clarification about (e.g., abortion), consistency with judgements rendered in cases that we are morally clear about or upon which a judgement has already been rendered (e.g., being hooked up to someone else so that person can use one’s kidney). This is the structure of Thomson’s argument.

(Govier distinguishes a priori analogies from analogies based on empirical experience of the world’s goings-on and inferences therefrom. The notion of a priori has to do with “concepts and beliefs that are independent of sense experience.”)

(c) Context

According to Govier, arguments by a priori analogy are typically found in ethical and legal discourse. So the location of Thomson’s argument, i.e., the fact that it’s in the academic journal Philosophy and Public Affairs, seems to be a natural philosophical “habitat” or context for a priori analogical arguments. This by itself is not a whole lot of evidence for thinking Thomson’s violinist argument is an analogical argument, but it counts, at least a bit, and adds to the larger cumulative case.

(d) Background evidence

There are others—i.e., not just me, and not just pro-life thinkers—who interpret Thomson’s violinist argument in terms of argument by analogy. Here is a brief list of others who think (along with Thomson) that she is using the violinist as an analogy:

  • Francis Beckwith, Abortion and the Sanctity of Human Life (College Press 2000), p. 88. 
  • David Boonin-Vail, “A Defense of ‘A Defense of Abortion’: On the Responsibility Objection to Thomson’s Argument,” in Louis Pojman and Francis Beckwith, editors, The Abortion Controversy: 25 Years After Roe v. Wade: A Reader, 2nd edition (Thomson/Wadsworth 1998), p. 152.
  • Charles C. Camosy, Beyond the Abortion Wars: A Way Forward for a New Generation (Eerdmans 2015), p. 75.
  • Christopher Kaczor, The Ethics of Abortion: Women’s Rights, Human Life, and the Question of Justice, 2nd edition (Routledge 2015), pp. 152, 157.
  • Scott Klusendorf, The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture (Crossway 2009), p. 187.
  • Justina Van Manen, Stuck: A Complete Guide to Answering Tough Questions about Abortion (Life Cycle Books 2019), p. 104.
  • Eric Wiland, “Unconscious violinists and the use of analogies in moral argument,” Journal of Medical Ethics 26:6 (2000).

So we have four reasons—Thomson’s apparent intention, her argument’s logical structure, her article’s context, and background evidence concerning Thomson’s article—which work together as a cumulative case for thinking, reasonably, that Thomson’s violinist argument is an argument by analogy, contrary to what Nobis claims.


Reply 2

I grant that Thomson’s violinist scenario may indeed motivate the principle/ insight that Nobis claims it motivates: i.e., that the right to life is not a right to everything you need for your life to continue if that requires using someone else's body: your right to life is not a right to someone else's body, even if you need that body to live. But the problem is that the violinist scenario is in hugely important ways—hugely morally significant ways—not analogous to the situation in pregnancy (in which the unborn human being is assumed, for the sake of argument, to be a person). This means that the principle to which Nobis points isn’t helpful for furthering our understanding. The principle, to which Nobis points, is a principle that arises from a faulty a priori analogy, i.e., an analogy that doesn’t capture the morally significant goings-on in pregnancy and abortion.

Permit me to quote again from my book (a note on page 83), so readers will have a better sense of how faulty Thomson’s violinist and other analogies are: 

Thomson writes: “You wake up in a hospital, ‘plugged in’ to a famous violinist, who needs to use your kidneys to stay alive. You were kidnapped for this purpose. If you unplug, he will die. But it’s only for nine months.” Thomson’s idea is that even if the unborn human being were a person, abortion is permissible morally, just as you aren’t morally obligated to remain hooked up to the violinist to sustain his life. But, as many critics have (rightly) pointed out, Thomson’s analogy is faulty—terribly faulty. Getting pregnant is (typically) not like rape. That is, getting pregnant is not like being forced to get “plugged in” to a violinist, famous or not. Also, to unplug or detach the violinist is not like hiring someone to directly kill the violinist by poisoning him, ripping off his limbs, crushing his skull, or shredding him via a suction machine, which is what abortion does. Rather, the violinist’s death is caused by the kidney ailment, not your or your doctor’s direct killing action. And keep in mind that “Euphemistically calling abortion the ‘withholding of support or treatment’ makes about as much sense as calling suffocating someone with a pillow the withdrawing of oxygen” (Beckwith, Politically Correct Death, 133). Also, the violinist is a stranger, to whom one does not have a moral obligation to provide life-sustaining care, unlike the special moral duties parents have to care for their children. In her article Thomson attempts to address these sorts of issues by setting out other analogies, but they are terribly faulty, too. According to Thomson, if you opened a window and someone blundered or fell into your house, you don’t have a moral obligation to let them use your house, so, similarly, abortion is permissible. But, as critics (rightly) point out, it’s a different story—one more analogous to pregnancy—if by opening the window you knowingly pulled (or risked pulling) an innocent person into your house. So it would be morally outrageous to kill the innocent person you pulled into your house. Also, according to Thomson, if “people seeds” floated into your living room carpet (which is required for their gestation) and they began to sprout into persons even though you tried to keep them out (via fine-meshed screens/contraceptives), you wouldn’t be morally obligated to sustain them. But, as critics (rightly) point out, if you actually planted the people seeds by engaging in a planting activity (while knowing that screens/ contraceptives are not 100% foolproof), you would be morally obligated not to kill them.

The reason you would be morally obligated not to kill them is that they are persons. And persons have the right to life, which is, at minimum, the right not to be killed—especially if they haven’t done anything wrong, and especially if you are responsible for their existence, vulnerability, and dependence.

The main argument in my book that’s relevant here, i.e., relevant to Thomson’s violinist argument where the fetus is a person, is on page 82 of my book: 

Objection: Okay, the unborn human being is a person, but just as nobody has a right to my kidney to ensure his/her survival, abortion is morally permissible because I’m not morally obligated to sustain another person with my body. 

Reply: Yes, I agree that at least this much is true: If you lost the function of your kidneys, then you wouldn’t have the moral right to force me to donate one of my kidneys to you, nor would I have the moral obligation to donate one of my kidneys to you. And if I lost the function of my kidneys, then I wouldn’t have the moral right to force you to donate one of your kidneys to me, nor would you have the moral obligation to donate one of your kidneys to me. But these truths are not analogous in any relevant way to the situation in pregnancy. It’s a faulty analogy, in other words. The situation in pregnancy is more like this: My life depends on a kidney you’ve voluntarily given me, i.e., you’ve consented to giving me the kidney by deliberately engaging in and willfully permitting the action that put the life-giving kidney in me (a kidney you can live without), but now you want to take it back—and doing so will kill me. See the difference? Yes, one is not morally obligated to sustain another human being via kidney transplants/ donations, but one is morally obligated not to cause the death of another human being by taking away what she requires to sustain her life—even if it was your kidney. It’s one thing for someone who needs a kidney to die because of a kidney ailment, but it’s quite another thing to rip out kidneys from another person and thereby kill that person. Abortion is like the latter case: it deliberately kills a person (often by poisoning, ripping off limbs, crushing the skull, etc.).

In other words, pregnancy (in non-rape cases) is like freely giving your kidney (which you can live without) to another person (a vulnerable, dependent person whom you’ve created) so the other person can live, whereas abortion is like tearing out from that person the kidney you’ve donated to him/her—and thereby kills that other person—because you’ve changed your mind about your previously-freely-made decision to donate it.

So persons indeed do have a moral right to what was someone else's kidney, if they need that kidney to live AND if one (the donor) has already, in a fully-informed manner, engaged in freely giving/ donating one’s kidney to the person in question (and the donation isn’t a physical threat to the life of the donor). Ditto for human fetuses—which we and Thomson concede are persons—and the biological systems gifted/donated to them also freely and in a fully-informed manner. 

 

III. Nobis’s objection to my case of the donated kidney

Nobis objects as follows: 

I'm just going to say that, in important ways, pregnancy and abortion don't seem to be much "like" either of the kidney cases he mentions. "Repossessing" a donated kidney from someone who then dies because of that repossession is very different from abortion. I will leave it to any readers to make lists of similarities and differences here to further evaluate whether van der Breggen indeed makes a strong case that if women voluntarily engage in sex when there is a chance of pregnancy that indeed results in the fetus having the right to their bodies or woman are otherwise prima facie obligated to provide for the fetus. 

My reply: I will leave it to readers to think about this, too. But, for the sake of clarity, I will add (emphasize) that my argument that pregnancy and abortion are like the kidney case I mention comes at the heels of arguing for the personhood of the unborn and is an attempt to set out a better analogy than Thomson’s violinist analogy. It seems to me that aborting a human fetus, which we and Thomson concede are persons, is like repossessing a donated kidney in the important sense that the biological systems gifted/ donated to the fetus (i.e., gifted/ donated freely and in a fully-informed manner) are now being ripped away from the fetus. By ripping the fetus out of his/her life-sustaining environment we are (from the fetus’s perspective) ripping away the biological systems that were freely gifted to the fetus in a fully-informed manner. This is not a case of merely declining to sustain a person’s life for whom you have no responsibility and who has no moral claims on you. Rather, it’s a case of killing a person — your son or daughter whom you’ve created to be in a vulnerable and dependent state — by ripping away the necessary life-lines (some of which do the work of kidneys) you gave him/her in the first place; AND it’s not just ripping away the life-lines—it’s also a case of poisoning that person (by the abortionist’s needle) or tearing off that person’s limbs (by the abortionist’s suction machine) or perhaps crushing that person’s skull (by the abortionist’s forceps). Abortion is like a fatal tearing out of a donated kidney, and much worse.

 

IV. Consciousness

About consciousness and its significance for the abortion discussion, Nobis writes the following: 

We [Nobis and Grob] argue that the fact that (early) fetuses are not conscious and have never been conscious is highly relevant to the ethics of abortion.  

In response, van der Breggen writes: 

the state of being of the fetus is more like a non-permanent coma or non-permanent vegetative state: the fetus will awaken/ gain consciousness—if we don’t kill him/ her.  

But a non-permanent coma involves someone who was conscious: that's not present with most abortions. So I invite readers to investigate here more thoroughly. 

In reply, I agree that readers should investigate further. I invite them to look at the relevant portions of Nobis and Grob’s book AND look at the relevant portions of my book (chapter 11).

For clarity’s sake, please note that it’s important to take the dialectical context of my response into account. My above comment is my response to Nobis’s appeal to what he thinks is “support” for his principle that “If a being is and has always been completely unconscious, that being is definitely not a person,” which in turn, according to Nobis, provides support for the permissibility of killing a fetus, since “they never ‘were’ in a conscious way.”  Nobis says this is supported by considerations such as “permanent, irreversible coma cases.” But, as I point out, as support it’s problematic. Why? Because, as I also point out, the state of being of the fetus is more like a non-permanent coma or non-permanent vegetative state: the fetus will awaken/ gain consciousness — if we don’t kill him/ her. Critical thinkers should be aware of this.

With that clarification behind us, let’s say that we do have a human being who is and always has been completely unconscious, but will not remain so and we know this—that is, we know that if we don’t kill this human being, then he/she will awaken, will gain consciousness. As I write in my book, “the fact is that being a human being who will have consciousness etc.—if we don’t kill it—is a morally significant moral kind of thing! That’s why we don’t kill people who have non-permanent comas, and that’s why we would not kill people who (hypothetically) have been in a coma all their previous lives but we know will waken and will become conscious.” The human fetus is such a morally significant moral kind of thing. 

 

V. Consent

Concerning consent, I believe my point remains: If one consents to sex then one is consenting to the possibility of pregnancy. In spite of Nobis’s disagreements, my argument still stands.

For the sake of clarity (and to ensure my original argument is not inadvertently misrepresented or lost in the discussion), here is the argument from chapter 24 my book (keep in mind that the context of my argument below is that it comes on the heels of dealing with Judith Jarvis Thomson’s argument, in which it is conceded, for argument’s sake, and for which I argued previously in my book, that the pre-natal human being is a person):

Objection: An impregnated female has the right to consent to having sex without consenting to becoming pregnant, so if she gets pregnant it’s morally permissible to abort the fetus.

Reply: This argument doesn’t seem to make sense. This argument requires believing that it’s meaningful to give consent to the beginning of a causal chain of events and do so without consenting to the causal effects—the risks of which one admits and knows are real and yet goes on to risk. It’s like saying I have a right to consent to lighting a match in a room full of gasoline without consenting to the room catching on fire. Or I have a right to consent to smoking without consenting to getting cancer. That’s odd, surely. And this oddness counts against this argument.

The point is this: If you consent to action X and X has known consequences (or a known high risk of consequences) then basically you are consenting to accepting responsibility for those (risked) consequences. As in gambling at Las Vegas, when you decide to gamble you risk your money and are responsible for your possible losses, so too in initiating a causal chain of events you risk the outcome of the causal consequences—and are responsible for them even if you hoped they wouldn’t occur. Again: Claiming one isn’t consenting to the consequences is odd—and this oddness counts against the above argument.

One may not want to get pregnant and one may take precautions against getting pregnant, but because no precaution is foolproof—and we know this—by engaging in sexual intercourse one takes the risk of pregnancy for which one is responsible. If the outcome is a person with the right to life, then killing that person via abortion is not morally permissible. (Untangling, p. 85.)

 

VI. Rape

Nobis writes: “It’s curious that van der Breggen doesn't outright argue that abortions of pregnancies that result from rape are wrong.”

In reply, let me re-iterate my previous response.

Recall that Nobis writes (in his review of my book): “It is notable that van der Breggen seems to think that abortions of (comparatively rare) pregnancies that result from rape are also wrong. This, at least, makes sense, since if embryos and early fetuses are persons with the right to life, their origins wouldn't change that fact.”

Right, it makes sense if embryos and early fetuses are persons with the right to life. Nevertheless, the point of my discussion of the situation of rape is to encourage critical thinking: to look at the pros and cons. Rape is terrible, for sure, definitely. And perhaps it’s a justification of abortion. But, as I point out, perhaps not. To avoid causing further harm, careful thinkers should also examine the other considerations that I discuss.  Again, I am trying to encourage careful thinking. It seems to me that when some (many?) people mention rape in abortion discussions, even merely countenancing the possibility of reasons against abortion is a bridge too far for them.

And, again, here is what I write in my book (chapter 21): 

Objection: Rape justifies abortion. 

Reply: Rape is wrong and terrible, definitely. But perspective is needed. 

Of the total abortion practice, abortions for rape account for a small percentage only. According to ethicist Charles C. Camosy, “about 1 percent of all abortions take place in situations where the mother was raped.”[1] Thus, to justify the general abortion situation because of these few terrible cases is to commit the fallacy of hasty generalization. 

Also, abortion does not undo the trauma of rape. The mother has been victimized—she needs care. Moreover, abortion can be traumatic, too. And abortion may be related to subsequent health problems. Abortion risks include breast cancer, premature birth (of subsequent children), and psychological problems.[2] By seeing abortion as a solution to rape, we might victimize a woman (a second time). 

Furthermore, to kill by abortion the human being conceived by the crime of rape is like killing an innocent bystander at the scene of a crime, a crime perpetrated by the bystander’s father. The father deserves (severe) punishment, not the child. 

Moreover, the child's voice should be heard. Significantly, there are people who have been conceived by rape and are now speaking out on behalf of those who cannot. Enter anti-abortion activist and attorney Rebecca Kiessling and company—people conceived via rape. Kiessling asks: “Have you ever considered how really insulting it is to say to someone, 'I think your mother should have been able to abort you.'? It’s like saying, 'If I had my way, you’d be dead right now.'” The child's voice should be considered—so we should listen to those persons who were conceived via rape.[3] 

Rape justifies abortion? Perhaps. But perhaps not. Yes, rape is wrong, definitely, for sure, 100%. Yet there are also very good reasons for thinking rape shouldn't justify abortion. What is certain is that rape doesn't justify the general practice of abortion—not by a long shot. What is also certain is that the rapist deserves punishment and we shouldn’t victimize a woman twice by inflicting another trauma (or traumas) onto her. What is certain, too, is that we should speak for those who can’t, which includes the child conceived by rape. In thinking about whether rape justifies abortion, let's be sure we don't attempt to right a wrong by adding more wrongs.[4] 

NOTES 

1. Charles C. Camosy, Beyond the Abortion Wars: A Way Forward for a New Generation (Grand Rapids, Michigan/ Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2015), 20. Camosy's source is Lawrence B. Finer et al., “Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives,” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 37:3 (2005), 113, https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/journals/3711005.pdf . The journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health is a publication of the Guttmacher Institute, which is a pro-choice organization. 

2. See the documentary Hush: A Liberating Conversation about Abortion and Women's Health, directed by Punam Kumar Gill (Mighty Motion Pictures, 2016). For trailer, see here:  http://hushfilm.com/ . See too Angela Lanfranchi, Ian Gentles, and Elizabeth Ring-Cassidy's book Complications: Abortion's Impact on Women (Toronto: DeVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research, 2013).

3. See the video Conceived in Rape in which Rebecca Kiessling and other people conceived via rape speak out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Dal0opeSnQ . See too Kiessling’s website: https://rebeccakiessling.com/  

Again, the point of my discussion of the situation of rape is to encourage critical thinking: to look at the pros and cons. I make this point because, in my experience, very few people (whether pro-choice or pro-life) have taken the time to look at the reasons for why rape might not justify abortion. It’s not just a question of mere logical consistency for the anti-abortion view, though that’s part of it. There are also reasons like the ones I set out. I want not to outright 100% dismiss whatever reasons an abortion-choice proponent might have (though I think, as the rest of my book shows, those reasons are weak); I want readers to consider the reasons for thinking why abortion may not be the solution. I want readers to think carefully. 

 

VII. Caution 

Nobis writes: 

I will note that I agree with the sentiment to err on the side of caution, which is why I argue that abortions at or near when fetuses become conscious or sentient could be wrong. Some pro-choice people want to argue or insist that no abortion could ever be wrong, but that's not my view: some could be wrong, and so we should be cautious. 

In reply, I appreciate and respect Nobis’s willingness to err on the side of caution to avoid the possibility of killing a person. He is against abortions of human beings that perhaps are conscious or sentient. For this, I am glad. Yet he goes on to permit the destruction of human fetuses earlier, when they are not conscious or sentient. In my view, those earlier fetuses have the inherent capacity to give rise to consciousness and sentience, though it’s not immediately exercisable but will be immediately exercisable if we don’t kill them. That makes them significant morally, it seems to me. And, it seems to me, it would be wise to err on not killing them. 

Nobis also writes: 

About the theory that everything that's a rational substance is a person or everything with a rational human nature is a person (which is an alternative to the view that personhood is determined by having psychological characteristics), van der Breggen appeals to Francis Beckwith and Robert George, and he could also appeal to Christopher Tollefsen. I have reviews of their work on these issues which can help assess their broad proposal for what persons are; for another accessible brief critique of their general argument see here 

So I agree with van der Breggen that "To dismiss them and their views as unreasonable would be false as well as foolish." However, to confidentially [sic] appeal to their authority without rigorously investigating critiques of these sorts of views would display the same vices. Nobody should do that do [sic] 

In reply, I would still urge that we err on the side of caution. Nobis may be correct in his critiques of the works of Beckwith, George, etc., but he may be mistaken (as I and others think he is). As I point out in my previous replies to Nobis, because we’re talking about killing human beings who may be persons, we have to be sure that arguments which purport to show they aren’t persons are strong—really strong—and beyond reasonable dispute. 

Enter my Hugely Important Point (that’s in my book but missed by Nobis, and which I presented in my previous replies to Nobis, and which I will post again here): 

If my appeals to the insights from Beckwith, George, Kaczor, and others cast at least some significant doubt onto to the abortion-choice view (which I think they do, and more), then, it seems to me, we should err on the side of not killing what may or may very well be a person, especially since evidence points to it as being an actual human being (albeit a pre-natal human being) and since arguments against its personhood have problems. As I point out in my book’s introduction, in my book’s discussion of personhood, and in my book’s conclusion, it’s crucial, especially if one favours abortion-choice—which may kill a human person—to be sure that one’s arguments are solid. Indeed, as I point out repeatedly in my book, “If we aren’t sure whether a body is dead, we shouldn’t bury it. And if we aren't sure whether what is moving in the bushes is a hunter or a deer, then we shouldn't shoot it.”(Norman Geisler, cited in van der Breggen, on pages 3, 41, and 126.) In other words, we can rightly demand of abortion-choice advocates that they must have very strong arguments. The abortion-choice view, which permits the destruction of human beings, has the burden of proof to show—demonstrate—that arguments which purport to show that those human beings aren’t persons are beyond-a-reasonable-doubt strong. This is a matter of life and death, after all, and the arguments that permit choices for killing must be so convincing that no reasonable person would ever question them—just as in a conviction for a criminal case the evidence must be so convincing that no reasonable person would ever question the defendant's guilt. I don’t think abortion-choice advocates have succeeded in showing this. As Beckwith, George, Kaczor, others, and I have argued, there are very reasonable doubts. (By the way, Beckwith and George and Kaczor are first-class philosophers. To dismiss them and their views as unreasonable would be false as well as foolish.) 

I agree with Nobis that to accept anyone’s views without rigorously investigating critiques is important. I encourage readers to investigate the views of Beckwith, George, Kaczor, and company (and how I have employed them in my book), and I encourage readers to investigate Nobis’s critiques. Nevertheless, it seems to me, we must tread with great care and intellectual humility. Nobis might not agree with Beckwith, George, Kaczor, and company (and me), but the fact is that there is reasonable disagreement going on, which suggests a reasonable possibility of error. And, if there’s a reasonable possibility of error, it’s wise to err on not killing human beings, i.e., not kill human beings who may very well be persons. As history shows (and as I argue in my book), whenever some human beings have been excluded from the human family as non-persons, we have erred—and disastrously so. My book argues for caution and for an ethics of inclusion. 

 

VIII. Conclusion

More could be said in reply to Nobis’s last response, but I’ll end here. It seems to me that, as I’ve argued above, Nobis’s criticisms of my work continue to be problematic. 

Along with Dr. Nobis, I hope our discussion(s) will encourage careful thought about the abortion issue. I thank Dr. Nobis for the interaction and wish him—and all our readers—all and only the best!

 

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Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is a retired philosopher who lives in Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada. His areas of interest include philosophy of religion, philosophy of science, metaphysics, ethics, and logic/ critical thinking. Hendrik is author of the book Untangling Popular Pro-Choice Arguments: Critical Thinking about Abortion available at Amazon.