is “it’s going to happen anyway if it’s illegal” not actually an argument for the merit of something? I don’t doubt that people understand this in a vacuum, but in practice, it doesn’t seem like it. It seems extremely counter-productive to me to try to talk about something’s morality and legality/practical application in the same conversation when both sides can disagree so strongly on extremely basic premises.
(Yes, I’m talking about abortion. Probably also marijuana and other things, but this was prompted by an abortion post I saw. And quite frankly, I’m not even sure the morality of abortion will ever be settled. Personhood is a far more philosophical discussion than it is a scientific discussion. And I’m sure many will argue with me on that too, so.)
Most pro-lifers want to “abolish abortion,” but their ultimate goal would only drive desperate people to back-alley, unlicensed “surgeons.” The point in saying, “It’ll happen no matter what,” is to also bring about the fact that legal abortion is safe and hygienic, with little to no risk for the pregnant person. If abortion was illegal again, pregnant people who sought abortion would be in a lot of danger and forced into hiding. This is a horrible thing to do for people who need open support and love.
The reason why personhood relies on “philosophy” - I think it’s more observation and critical thinking, which is how we come to scientific hypotheses, isn’t it? - is the fact sentience hasn’t been fully explored by science.
Again though, those are two different discussions. If the two sides cannot even come close to bridging the chasm between their stances on abortion to begin with, discussing practical implications is basically worthless. The discussion really has to start with coming to an agreement on the morality of abortion. (So good luck to both sides.) What I’m actually getting at is that while it is a very valid point, it kind of misses the bigger picture. It certainly addresses the merits of whether abortion should be illegal, but it does not at all touch on whether abortion itself is moral. At the very most, logically speaking, that line of reasoning only says if you want to reduce abortion, find another way.
I guess overall though, I find it to be a totally counter-productive debate anyway because pro-lifers are, for the most part, not looking at it logically, but emotionally (or even worse, religiously). It’s kind of hard to blame them because why would it not be an emotional issue for both sides? I don’t mean to trivialize the whole thing but at this point, practically speaking, both sides are kind of just forced to resort to getting people in power that support their views on abortion. Neither side is really convincing the other.
Regardless, on the topic of personhood, I agree, but I disagree. You cannot really have empirical evidence of what it means to be a person. Even granting the fact that you can scientifically determine the moment a fetus feels pain, the moment a fetus has neural activity, the moment a fetus reaches some other marker one believes meets a criterion of personhood (and I do personally grant that)… it requires philosophy to determine what those criteria actually are. And many thinkers, past and present, have tried and reached no satisfactory consensus.