Response to "Humans must embrace culture that respects life"

The Times Leader's letter to the editor section has recently been a good source of fodder for this blog because it's quite apparent that people have no idea what they are talking about and/or have simply fallen victim to religious propaganda.

One of today's letters, “Humans must embrace culture that respects life” contains several logical fallacies including but not limited to false dichotomies, strawmanning, and inappropriate appeals to emotion.

The letter reads:

Humanity is indeed at a crossroad. It must either choose to preserve human life or face a quite uncertain, unrecognizable and bleak future.

The Bible states that God abhors the shedding of all innocent blood. Yet, since the legalization of abortion in 1973, it is reported that more than 50 million abortions have occurred in our country alone. Who can be more innocent than a helpless child within the womb? God grieves.

Progressively, we have become desensitized toward the plight of the unborn. Many in the media play a major role in this desensitization. The agenda of many is clear: a war and genocide against the helpless and innocent unborn.

While I may not be able to change laws alone, as a matter of conscience, I appeal to your heart to choose life, as your mother did. I appeal to you to teach others not that abortion is so much a right, but something quite destructive to both mother and child. I implore you to embrace a culture that nurtures a respect for life from conception to natural death. Without these things, there is no future for humanity.

Nicholas Butrie


Throughout this letter, the phrase 'preserve life' is never defined, but one could assume that this reader assumes that life begins at conception (how he has determined this, I do not know, but I suppose he gets this from his religious beliefs), therefore abortion is murder (and, of course, it is somehow the murder of a child).

The first paragraph in this letter is quite an obvious false dichotomy; the reader presents two options when there are several...and his conclusion doesn't necessarily follow from his premise. Why must it be the case that humanity either must “choose to preserve human life” or “face a quite uncertain, unrecognizable, and bleak future?” What good reasons do we have to believe that abortions will lead to a quite uncertain future? With or without abortions, it is quite possible to have an uncertain future. If no more abortions were performed, does this letter writer honestly believe that the future will suddenly be clear, certain, and recognizable?

The reader goes on to make a quite interesting claim that “The Bible states that God abhors the shedding of all innocent blood.” Never mind, of course, the fact that 'the shedding of innocent blood' [of Jesus] is the cornerstone of Christian belief. Forget, of course, all of the Old Testament sacrifices, Psalm 137:9 (Happy are those who dash their children against the stones), God commanding Amalekian genocide in 1 Samuel 15, and much more.

The reader presents a very interesting caricature of 'many in the media' who, apparently, have an “agenda” of “war and genocide against the helpless and innocent unborn.” Those who are pro-choice would never say, “I have declared war on the unborn,” but rather have quite a different stance.

Why such a focus on the 'life of the unborn' and not the life of the woman? Anti-choice persons such as this letter writer forget that we have an autonomous human being who has rights and can decide what she does or does not do with her own body. This reader, of course, defines life as beginning at conception (and thinks that a child is formed at this time), but many people see this very differently because, during the first trimester, there is little to no capacity to feel pain, no good reason to believe a 'child' is conscious, and every reason to believe that it is morally justified to abort.

Instead of 'appealing to the heart,' good arguments are needed to establish why we should believe life begins at conception, why the 'rights' of the unborn trump the rights of a woman, and why abortion (especially those that are very early, which most are) is immoral.