Worst pro-legalized abortion argument ever: The unborn are parasites!

Some pro-legalized abortions take the view that technically speaking the unborn are parasites and that they are fair game for destruction because they are dependent on the mother and consume some of her resources.  As weird as that argument is I actually like when they present it.  I think that middle grounders will immediately realize what a horribly wrong attempt it is to de-humanize the unborn.

A commenter on another blog wrote this as a defense:

What that means is, if you give someone permission to touch your body, that permission can be withdrawn at any time

Here’s a good question to pose to those advancing the parasite argument:

As transparently deficient as the parasite argument is (two humans don’t create a non-human parasite that later becomes a human), when do you propose that abortions be illegal, if ever?

Please answer this with a yes/no: If a baby has been delivered but the umbilical cord has not been cut — i.e., that awful, awful parasite of “unknown” origin is still greedily sucking nutrients from the defenseless mother — is it OK to kill the baby?

Do you know of any other parasites that change into humans?

Previous informaton on the parasite argument

As usual, pro-life apologist extraordinaire Theobromophile provided an excellent response (emphasis added).  This one is a keeper to use when you see this argument pop up at other sites.

By that line of reasoning, a woman would be totally justified in killing her baby a day before its due date.

That absurdity aside, their analysis fails (at least legally, if not morally). While you are never responsible for keeping someone else alive, you are responsible for doing so if you created the situation in which they are dependent upon you. The classic example is a person who is drowning in the ocean. You, as a boater with a life preserver, are under no obligation to help them out of the water. If, however, you were the one who chucked her overboard, then watched her drown, you can bet that a jury would convict your immoral butt for murder, not for ruining her clothes by getting her wet.

Likewise, you are under no obligation to give a dying person a kidney to save his life, but, if you ripped his kidneys out of his body, you would be charged with murder if he died from those injuries. If the only way to avoid his death is to give him your kidneys, you can bet that your options are to fork over an organ or be charged with murder.

Just saying.

55 thoughts on “Worst pro-legalized abortion argument ever: The unborn are parasites!

  1. Okay Neil, you got me! I think you have finally found an arguement that would make me PUSH you off the box and take it for myself.

    I also like how it is presented, but still mortifies me they would call a baby a parasite to boost their crusade.

  2. Re the term “parasite,” I think it depends on who your audience is. The term “parasite” resonates immediately for many of us who have undergone pregnancy. Doesn’t mean we don’t love our children, but we have experienced the toll it takes on us and our bodies to sustain and nourish the zygote as it grows into an embryo, a fetus and ultimately a baby. I used the term with my own mother (who is part of the mushy middle on the abortion debate) . Her eyes lit up in recognition and she immediately exclaimed, “That’s exactly what it’s like! You’re hosting a parasite!”

    As for the kidney argument — I notice that there is no requirement that you give up the kidney for your child even if he desperately needs it and even though you brought him into the world of your own volition.

    • However well a figure of speech seems to work in one sense doesn’t make it justification to kill an innocent human being. Remember, the unborn aren’t “like” human beings, they are human beings. Scientific fact.

      A woman could claim a breast feeding child was like a barnacle or a parasite and that illustration might resonate with some people. But that wouldn’t be justification to kill her.

      Regarding the kidney illustration, in your example the mother didn’t deliberately take or destroy the child’s kidney. I assume you wouldn’t justify that behavior.

    • As for the kidney argument — I notice that there is no requirement that you give up the kidney for your child even if he desperately needs it and even though you brought him into the world of your own volition.

      What’s the causal connection? Yes, there is “but for” causation (if you did not conceive the child, she would not need a kidney), but, unless YOU were the one who caused her kidney failure, YOU do not need choose between kidney donation and murder.

      I will note, however, that women are legally obligated to breast-feed their babies if there is no alternate care available. Somehow, I don’t think that a court would allow a mother to say that, sorry, she ran out of formula, so she let her kid starve to death, but, hey, there’s no obligation to give up a kidney to a stranger, so it’s all good, right?

      The big connection with pregnancy is that, in over 99% of cases, women deliberately created a situation in which another being could be dependent upon them. In every single anti-life example, the woman has had this condition foisted upon her, whether it be a violinist whose musician pals attached him to an unsuspecting sleeping person, or, as per above, a child who needs a kidney out of the blue.

      Pregnancy isn’t “out of the blue.”

    • I’ve been pregnant twice and NEVER once wanted an abortion, because it was a parasite. This is the only point I was trying to make.

      As for the kidney…think that requirement is only written in the DNA of ‘good’ mothers

  3. Gotta say, very good arguments.

    The parasite argument is, however, scientifically correct. To say something is a parasite is to say that it is currently dependent on another life – it does not mean that it is not human. All babies before they are born are parasites. But the argument that they did not put themselves in that situation is very true.

    • All babies before they are born are parasites.

      Ryan, they are also parasites, by that definition, after they are born… or at least they were until the development of Infamil. (Even with formula, they still need another human to warm it up for them, feed it to them, aspirate their noses, change their diapers, and provide safe sleeping quarters. Likewise, the elderly could also be “parasites” once they are no longer able to care for themselves.)

      To all: oddly, the Left, which seems so eager to create an entire class of people who are dependent upon government handouts and “the wealthy” for their very survival, are rather quick to use the “parasite” term in the abortion debate. Maybe the better response is to say, “If a baby is a parasite, then what is a crack whore on welfare?”

  4. Wow.

    It is scary to me that a person could refer to a fetus as a parasite. And even scarier that there are those that defend that terminology.

    Nice society we are developing.

  5. Pingback: The worst pro-abortion argument ever! « Wintery Knight Blog

  6. Gee, I left a comment, then forgot about this thread.

    Ryan is correct that it is scientifically accurate to call an embryo or fetus in the womb a parasite. A parasite is an organism that cannot live independently without growing or feeding on another organism’s body, and contributes nothing to that other organism’s survival. I also agree with Ryan that, of course, the embryo or fetus is human. (It goes without saying that a human woman is not going to grow a cow fetus or jack-russell-terrier fetus in her womb.)

    I disagree with theobromophile’s argument that babies are parasites once they are born. To his or her credit, theobromophile acknowledges that the existence of formula militates against that argument. Babies and children may be dependent on us, but they do not need to feed off our bodies to survive. There is no justification for ending the life of a baby or a child, because a baby or child is not invading my body or using my body to its own ends.

    Like mizclark, I have also been pregnant twice, and have never wanted an abortion because I was carrying a parasite. So what? The experience of pregnancy, however, did bring home to me just how much of a toll the the fetus’s use of the woman takes on her body. In my case, it was a toll I was very happy to undergo. But I wouldn’t wish pregnancy on an unwilling human being any more than I would force you to give up your kidney for a dying child.

    • Hi Margaret,

      I’m glad you agree that we are talking about a human being. That is huge progress.

      The next issue is whether just because the human being in question appears to meet the definition of “parasite” that it makes her fair game for destruction. Metaphors can be handy but more precision is a fair request when talking about ending human life. After all, your run of the mill parasite rarely turns into a human being later.

      Saying that the human being “invaded” your body seems disingenuous to me. I think we all know how she got there, and it wasn’t a conspiracy on her part to steal your food and energy.

      Specifically, are you OK with not only partial birth abortions but those outside the womb as long as the umbilical cord hasn’t been cut? If someone wants to be hypertechnical about parasite language that would be a logical position.

      • Neil,

        I’m glad you agree that we are talking about a human being. That is huge progress.

        Well, first, I don’t think it is accurate to imply that there is some debate as to whether a fetus or embryo is human. There is no such debate. It is a scientific fact that the fetus or embryo is a genetically distinct organism, and that it is human as opposed to some other species. This isn’t “progress.”

        Does that mean I can’t tell the difference between a zygote, embryo or fetus and a baby? Does that mean I place the same value on a zygote as I do on a child? My answer is a resounding no on both counts. I do not believe that a fertilized egg merits the same protection or consideration as an adult woman with thoughts, feelings, and plans. As the zygote develops and more closely resembles an actual baby, it warrants more protection — thus, the law’s greater protection of later term fetuses, though that protection must still be balanced against the woman’s interests.

        Specifically, are you OK with not only partial birth abortions but those outside the womb as long as the umbilical cord hasn’t been cut?

        I think I see where you are going with this, and I am sad to say that it is an area in which I am not especially well-versed in the medical issues. So my ability to respond to your question is limited.

        I am not sure a baby who has been born but is still attached to the umbilical cord is a parasite — or at least, there are ways to get rid of it aside from killing it, i.e. snip the umbilical cord.

        Now I have heard the contention that late term abortions are unnecessary because the babies can simply be removed from the woman’s body through induced labor. Perhaps that is true, but induced labor seems like a more extreme procedure than snipping an umbilical cord — and hence, the woman’s choice ought to carry the day in those instances when a late term abortion is indicated.

      • It is a scientific fact that the fetus or embryo is a genetically distinct organism, and that it is human as opposed to some other species. This isn’t “progress.”

        It may not be progress for you, but I know many pro-legalized abortionists who dig in their heels and deny the scientific facts.

        Does that mean I can’t tell the difference between a zygote, embryo or fetus and a baby? Does that mean I place the same value on a zygote as I do on a child? My answer is a resounding no on both counts. I do not believe that a fertilized egg merits the same protection or consideration as an adult woman with thoughts, feelings, and plans. As the zygote develops and more closely resembles an actual baby, it warrants more protection — thus, the law’s greater protection of later term fetuses, though that protection must still be balanced against the woman’s interests.

        Your opinions don’t add much to the philosopical considerations. Just because you can tell the difference between stages of human development doesn’t make it OK to destroy them at certain stages. I can tell the difference between black people and white people but shame on me if I don’t recognize that the value is equal.

        The size, appearance, thoughts and feelings of human beings does not dictate their worth.

        I am not sure a baby who has been born but is still attached to the umbilical cord is a parasite — or at least, there are ways to get rid of it aside from killing it, i.e. snip the umbilical cord.

        I think the problem is that you are trapped by your glib use of the term “parasite” to describe a human being.

        There are ways to “get rid of” the humans inside the womb, too: Let them be born.

        Perhaps that is true, but induced labor seems like a more extreme procedure than snipping an umbilical cord — and hence, the woman’s choice ought to carry the day in those instances when a late term abortion is indicated.

        You seem to be changing course here. If you are going to stick with the parasite argument, what does the ease of delivery have to do with whether you can kill the unborn or not?

  7. The big connection with pregnancy is that, in over 99% of cases, women deliberately created a situation in which another being could be dependent upon them.

    This is perhaps technically correct in that sex generally carries the risk of pregnancy. But I think this is an overly simplistic analysis. The fact is that sex is part of the daily fabric of existence. I simply don’t think it is realistic to say, “Remain celibate except on those handful of occasions in your decades of sexual maturity when you definitely want to conceive.” I don’t think that many marriages would survive if women were to say, “Sorry, honey, now that we have had our two kids, we are never having sex again.” There is a reason that, in the bad old days, women like my great-grandmother literally killed themselves having 10+ kids. The reason is that abstinence over the course of a lifetime is not a realistic, easy-as-pie solution, I am pretty sure that we wouldn’t have had quite so many women dying in childbirth or suffering major health problems from being too pregnant too much, if it were truly realistic to forego sex.

    I also don’t think women are deliberately conceiving and then having abortions just willy-nilly, which is what your verbiage implies. Women are engaging in the normal, well-nigh universal human activity of sexual intercourse and then suffering the unwanted consequence of pregnancy. (And, some women are deliberately conceiving, and then aborting once they find that the pregnancy is threatening their life or health or will produce a child with unforeseen health problems. That’s not a deliberately created situation either.)

    I definitely don’t think you can slide out of my kidney example this way. You claim that the woman (by having sex) has “deliberately created” the situation, i.e. the creation of the embryo or fetus she wants to abort, even though she did not have sex with the intention of creating a pregnancy. I assume that that you would hold the woman to this “deliberately created” standard even if unforeseen complications disrupt the pregnancy. Yet, you do not hold a man to the same standard if he fathers a child who needs his kidney in order to survive. By your analysis, the man deliberately created the child. Why shouldn’t he be forced to give over his kidney to save that child?

    Or, if you are inclined to say, the man didn’t deliberately create the kidney problem, well then, let’s look at a situation of unforeseen complications in a woman’s pregnancy. Suppose I develop a condition requiring months of bed rest while pregnant. Like the father of the child with the kidney problem, I deliberately created the pregnancy. But I didn’t deliberately create the condition requiring months of bedrest, just as the father of the child didn’t create the kidney problem. So I shouldn’t have any more obligation to carry the pregnancy to term under this unforeseen circumstance than the man should have an obligation to give over a kidney due to an unforeseen circumstance.

    • Margaret, all those examples prove too much. Children outside the womb can create financial or health issues and we don’t kill them. So the only question is, “What is the unborn?” If it is not a human being, then have all the abortions you like. If it is a human being, none of the reasons you provided justify killing her.

      That doesn’t mean that sex and pregnancies aren’t complicated situations psychologically, financially or otherwise. But morally speaking they are quite simple: We shouldn’t kill innocent human beings.

      Your example about the father brings up a good point. What if he wants to kill the parasite but the mother does not? Shouldn’t she have to sign something waiving his obligations to support the parasite for 18 years? Otherwise, you are “forcing” him to be a father against his will.

      • True, having sex can lead to sometimes difficult obligations to feed, clothe and otherwise care for the resulting children (or otherwise arrange for the feeding,clothing and care of said children, perhaps by adoption). But this obligation is quite different in kind and in magnitude from having one’s body taken over by said children. That only occurs in pregnancy.

        I am not necessarily opposed to people being forced to be parents against their will. If I decided that I didn’t want my children any more, I would be properly still be forced to be their parent against my will. But the obligations I have towards them now are not as onerous, invasive, or disruptive or physically painful as their use of my body when I was pregnant, or the process of their removal from my body.

      • I appreciate your candor, but once again you misrepresent how the unborn human beings arrive in a woman’s body.

    • The fact is that sex is part of the daily fabric of existence. I simply don’t think it is realistic to say, “Remain celibate except on those handful of occasions in your decades of sexual maturity when you definitely want to conceive.”

      I’m 28 and I manage to remain celibate.

      Also… don’t take this the wrong way… but your logic is kind of stupid. It’s absolutely reasonable to expect that couples won’t have sex if they will feel the need to suction the brains out of their child afterward.

      In the age of birth control (which YOUR SIDE says is incredibly reliable), the “chastity-conception” false dichotomy is just that – a false dichotomy. For those couples who do not want a baby (but, of course, wouldn’t be cruel enough to kill it if they were to conceive), there are things like the Pill, condoms, spermicide, the sponge, diaphrams, Natural Family Planning (98% reliable and couples who practise it have an 8% divorce rate!), etc.

      What I fail to see is why “killing your unborn child” needs to also be on that list.

      • I truly admire singles (Christian or not) who are chaste in this culture. It is amazing how the culture has degraded the last few decades. A large local Catholic church dismantled its singles ministry because so many people were sleeping together.

      • A large local Catholic church dismantled its singles ministry because so many people were sleeping together.

        Was that in real life or on the Simpsons? It kind of sounds like the latter. :)

        Seriously, though, Wintery Knight and LCB would make a great couple… if LCB isn’t already married.

        /deadpan

        As for chastity: I know this might sound strange, but the only thing that makes it bearable is the knowledge that the alternative is worse. (It’s kind of like capitalism that way.) It’s definitely easier if you feel as if you are waiting for something (like a nice husband who will absolutely deserve all that waiting), as opposed to just living an entirely different life than the people around you.

      • Ha! It does sound like something from The Simpsons. I wish I was making it up. Our church avoids a specific singles ministry like that for the same reasons.

    • Or, if you are inclined to say, the man didn’t deliberately create the kidney problem, well then, let’s look at a situation of unforeseen complications in a woman’s pregnancy. Suppose I develop a condition requiring months of bed rest while pregnant. Like the father of the child with the kidney problem, I deliberately created the pregnancy. But I didn’t deliberately create the condition requiring months of bedrest, just as the father of the child didn’t create the kidney problem. So I shouldn’t have any more obligation to carry the pregnancy to term under this unforeseen circumstance than the man should have an obligation to give over a kidney due to an unforeseen circumstance.

      Margaret: if you had four wanted, lovely, happy children who relied on you as their sole source of economic support, and you were to fall seriously ill and require bed rest, would you be justified in killing one of them if that action, and that action alone, made you life easier?

      You can talk all day about what women should and should not be required to do, but you are omitting her methods of achieving those goals: killing her own child.

      . Women are engaging in the normal, well-nigh universal human activity of sexual intercourse and then suffering the unwanted consequence of pregnancy.

      I’ll ignore your witchy attack on my lifestyle and just address the lack of merits.

      People who drive drunk do not intend to kill pedestrians, but, if you down 8 margaritas and some Jager, then get behind the wheel and mow someone down, you’re responsible.

      Legally and morally, “deliberate” encompasses the underlying action, not the logical consequences of it. Sorry.

      I assume that that you would hold the woman to this “deliberately created” standard even if unforeseen complications disrupt the pregnancy. Yet, you do not hold a man to the same standard if he fathers a child who needs his kidney in order to survive. By your analysis, the man deliberately created the child. Why shouldn’t he be forced to give over his kidney to save that child?

      You’re being deliberately obtuse.

      Let’s take your argument at face value. Only 7% of women who abort do so because they were raped, or because their health or life is on the line. Let’s concede that those are all valid reasons to abort. Congratulations – you just conceded that 93% of abortions are unjust murders of innocent beings!

      • This question is kind of vague in a vacuum. I am not sure what you are getting at, and I am guessing you know the facts of life.

        Yes, sex can lead to pregnancy, but not always.

      • What about the question is vague, so I can help clarify it?

        Every action has a consequence of some sort.

        Is pregnancy the natural consequence of sex?

        Or, in nature, does sex have some other consequence? For example, does sex have other natural applications like boosting the immune system, or warding off hunger, or something else?

        I have great difficulty finding any natural consequence for sex OTHER than pregnancy.

        I look forward to your response.

      • LCB: bonding between a man and a woman… which, for evolutionary purposes, also serves to ensure that a child will have two loving, happy, committed-to-each other parents.

        So the other consequences of sex are tied in with the primary purpose of bringing children into this world.

        We operate under a k-selected reproductive system (i.e. we have relatively few children and invest tremendous resources in them). Other species, like ants and fruit flies, have hundreds or thousands of offspring, all of which are basically self-sufficient at birth. That’s why they can have reproductive systems that don’t bond the parents together.

        On a side note: as a Single woman, I’m nauseated at the idea of finding a man who thinks like Margaret. I’ve dated them before and the heartlessness made for a miserable experience. If our actions bring a child into the world, wanted or not, I want a man who will stand by me and the child we created together, rather than looking at the physical manifestation of our love as the enemy that should be destroyed.

        (Then again, that’s probably why I’m still single….)

      • Great explanations, as always. And don’t give up hope: Many guys don’t believe as the pro-legalized abortionists do.

      • “I’m 28 and I manage to remain celibate… 8 margaritas and some Jager… If our actions bring a child into the world, wanted or not, I want a man who will stand by me and the child we created together, rather than looking at the physical manifestation of our love as the enemy that should be destroyed… I’m still single…” AND a pro life apologist!

        I’m in love over the internet!

      • Sheesh, no! Neil, you must put a stop to this now, before it goes any further. Imagine trying to argue against the offspring of Theo and LCB!

      • Ha! Oh, man, can’t you picture the pro-choicers running away in tears?!

      • Aww… thank you. :)

        Sadly, if I had kids, they would probably be just as rebellious as I am, and they would come out of the womb wearing a “pro-choice and proud” sticker.

    • Saying that your obligations to them aren’t as onerous or invasive as their use of your body, and saying how they take over your body (as if it was some hostile, premeditated assault on their part).

      • Nope, I didn’t imply any hostility or premeditation by the zygote. Indeed, I don’t believe that zygotes or embryos or fetuses are capable of forming intent or feeling hostility.

        I ought to have a right to defend myself regardless of the intent or lack of intent of the entity that is colonizing my body. I don’t see how the lack of any thought process on the part of such entity gives it a greater moral claim on my body.

      • You are just repeating the fallacy by using words like “colonizing.” You are also ignoring that by destroying her that you are making quite the moral claim on her body.

      • Except that you and your lover would have put that child into your body.

        Can’t complain about the situation you created.

        Options: don’t have sex, or use better birth control. (Definition of “better:” that which prevents you from getting pregnant.)

        I say that because, if abortion were to be outlawed tomorrow, it would only take a few years for men and women to figure out that they need to get serious about birth control. By Planned Parenthood’s own statistics (from the Guttmacher Institute, its research arm), over half of women who abort – i.e. 1/2 of 1.3 million annually – were not using any birth control or were using it inconsistently. So we kill about 600,000 babies a year because, well, their parents couldn’t be bothered to put on a condom during sex.

        If abortion were illegal, people would stop this nonsense about unprotected sex. Middle-aged men whose wives are too old for the Pill would get vasectomies. This b.s. about one-night stands – which has to be every man’s dream – would end.

  8. I’ve kept up with this thread this week as I’ve gone through the process of saying good bye to my father. A wonderful man who I would not have traded for anyone else in the world. I have been struck by the selfishness of the pro-abortion side. For me, the bottom line is this. I was one of these parasites they so blithely dismiss. But thank God I wasn’t Margret’s parasite. Had I been hers I would have missed the opportunity of 45 (and counting) years, on earth, with the best parents anyone could have asked for, as well as a few more with God.

    So, to Margret, the parasite you would abort could have been me. To Neil, Theo, LCB etc, I say keep up the good work. To my birth mother I say, I am eternally grateful that you made the choice you made. To my mom and dad, I am eternally grateful for everything you did for me and still do. To my dad, I say, I hope I can impact half as many people as you did. I can’t wait to see you again.

  9. That is argument seems very valid for most cases of pregnancies from unprotected sex. However, what about the case of pregnancies from rape?

    you can argue that a rape victim who got pregnant is clearly not responsible for her own pregnancy. In that case should abortion be legal? your argument doesn’t cover such cases

  10. Man alive I wish I had seen this last year. I had this argument with a guy and I took the wrong tact in saying that there is no parasite which casuses it’s host to deliberately change it’s body to acommodate it. As it turns out some stupid spider or something can do this. I should have said what parasite turns into the creature it is in like you did above.
    Excellent writing and I am impressed by the civility of the discussion below the article.

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