Pro-choice and pro animal rights?

As indicated, I suppose, in my previous post, I try to be kind when I get in political arguments, don’t resort to TELLING YOU YOU’RE AN IDIOT IN ALL CAPS or any of those other commenter behaviors most of us loathe. But sometimes, I think, insane ideas – defending two incompatible beliefs, say – just need to be called out. And I hear more bad reasoning in discussions about abortion than in discussions about any other topic.

This time, I refer you to this article, which is about the humane treatment of chickens, among other things. I left a comment that basically said “are you also pro-life? Because I really don’t get people who care very-much about the living conditions of animals, not-at-all about the living conditions of newly conceived human beings.”

Go read the three replies I got if you’d like, but the one from Rachel Muntz in particular boggled my mind,

You are mplying that animals are less important than humans — that humans are worth more. Which is an ideology not everyone abides by. They are not mutually exclusive. I am for the humane treatment of animals because I believe how a person treats a less powerful living thing speaks volumes about their character. Animals are at our mercy. It is our job to not be cruel to them. I am pro-choice because I believe it is the right of no one to tell a woman she must give birth. That is patently ludicrous. Pregnancy is a traumatic experience for the body and mind. To force a woman to go through it because she’s growing a human inside of her is archaic and morally reprehensible. I don’t value the life of a human over an animal’s. I just value life.

Here we go.

You are mplying that animals are less important than humans — that humans are worth more. Which is an ideology not everyone abides by.

Actually, all my comment really requires is a belief that humans are at least as important as animals, something I’d hope we can all agree on. But that’s a tiny matter.

I am for the humane treatment of animals because I believe how a person treats a less powerful living thing speaks volumes about their character.

OK. How we treat the less powerful probably is a testament to our character. But now,

Animals are at our mercy. It is our job to not be cruel to them.

And unborn human beings?! Are they not even more at our mercy?

Pregnancy is a traumatic experience for the body and mind. To force a woman to go through it because she’s growing a human inside of her is archaic and morally reprehensible.

This statement just sounds crazy to me. It is “morally reprehensible” to forbid a woman from killing the “human inside of her”??? How do you even get to that place in your mind? But keeping chickens in tiny cages is awful?

Please, dear reader, correct me if I have made any error here.

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9 thoughts on “Pro-choice and pro animal rights?

  1. She obviously hasn’t given birth. It’s not traumatic for the mind OR the body. Pain is not the same as trauma, and our bodies were actually (surprise!) made to give birth. And from all the accounts of abortions I’ve read, there is far greater and lasting trauma to the body and mind.

    It’s surprising that she admits the fetus (“their” term) is a human and then in the same breath says it’s ok to kill. Really?! Talk about morally reprehensible…

    1. Thanks for the reply Sarah. For all the philosophical disagreements I have with “animal rights” folks and others who are greatly concerned with the humane treatment of animals, one might at least think that they would also be quite naturally pro-life, that we would be allies on that issue. And one would, apparently, be mistaken.

      It’s not completely true, but it does seem to be largely true, that there are two political “packages” available in America, and you buy and defend one of those packages. Even if all the pieces of the package don’t fit together very well.

  2. I suppose the complimentary inconsistency is people who are against abortions but for the death penalty. One can make reasonable arguments for both sets of beliefs, but there does seem to be a fundamental contradiction in holding to any one of the three while being against any other one of the three.

    1. Someone else made a similar comment to me, but I don’t see any inconsistency in opposing abortion and being in favor of the death penalty. In fact, that’s probably my position. I am rather ambivalent toward the death penalty in practice, but that’s mainly because I’m worried that we will execute an innocent person – executions have a way of putting an end to any further appeals. But if we really were 100% certain that someone committed a terrible crime – say they admitted to it, perhaps, like the Aurora theater shooter – then I’m OK with the death penalty. The difference is that abortion takes an innocent life, whereas the death penalty is a punishment applied to someone who is anything but innocent. The former is the height of injustice, the latter is just (not merciful, but just).

      I feel like the reason our society has moved away from the death penalty is because instead of thinking “you committed a terrible crime, that was evil, and you should be punished for it”, we now tend to think “you committed a terrible crime, you are a sick person, you need to be rehabilitated”. There is nothing rehabilitating about an execution. It is simply a punishment, and a warning to those who would do the same.

    2. I wonder too, if you’re against the death penalty in all cases (are you? I don’t know), then must you also be a complete pacifist, against ALL wars in all cases (no such thing as a “just war”)? Because war is even worse – even if your cause is just you might find yourself fighting and killing men who were drafted and tossed on the front lines who have done nothing particularly deserving of death as individuals.

    3. Upon further thought, I suppose the two ideas aren’t necessarily in conflict. You could believe war is just if that war is forced upon you, or if not fighting would result in even more bloodshed, and still be against the death penalty without inconsistency.

      OK, I’m done now.

        1. Right, but I *don’t* see anything inconsistent with being pro-life and in favor of the death penalty. I feel like you can not only make an argument for both beliefs independently, but actually *at the same time*, without being inconsistent. (Is that what you meant, or were you referring to the war comment? Sorry. This is what I get for making three comments.)

          I also think you could be pro-life and not particularly care about animals, if you thought humans were a higher form of life deserving of greater regard, as most people do. But it is *much* more difficult to reconcile caring about the living conditions of animals and *not* being pro-life (unless you think humans are a lower form of life, of course! Then there would be no contradiction. But nearly nobody thinks that.).

          1. The answer to reconciling animal rights and abortion is, of course, there is disagreement about if, and when, a human fetus becomes life. *If* you are starting from the premise that a fetus is not an actualized life until some late time in development, say when the fetus reaches the point of viability (i.e. has a non-zero chance of survival if born at that moment) or, in the more extreme case, not until birth, then it is consistent to say that you value an actual life (that of an animal) over a hypothetical life which may or may not become an actual life at some later time (the fetus), *even if* you generally think that an actual human life is more important than an actual animal life. I don’t agree with this argument, because I disagree with the premise, but I can see that it’s reasonable. It reframes the straw man of “they must value non-human life more than human life” (which most/nearly all people don’t) to “they value something that is alive right now more than they value something that may become alive at some later time, even if the currently alive thing is a lower form” (which I think most people would at least see the reasoning of, even if they didn’t agree). Then the debate goes back to if and when a fetus becomes an actual life (i.e. a human).

            I think the inconsistency with the death penalty and the other views is best summed up thus: the two sides on all three issues can be written as: Side 1 = “It is never okay to kill” and Side 2 = “It is okay to kill if”. Obviously one swaps in different qualifiers for the “okay if” side depending on the debate (what you’re killing is non-human/a fetus/a criminal). Obviously very, very few of us are on the “never okay” side. But the fact that we’re arguing about which qualifier is more justified has the feel of an argument about degree, rather than kind, which is usually a sign that one needs to be careful about inconsistencies.

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