Search This Blog

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Using "The Two Year Old Toddler" Argument* for the Prolife Position

“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul,     
and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37

*"Argument"--used in the philosophical sense of "presenting reasoned premises to set up a logical conclusion".  It does not mean to quarrel or to fight.

On this 41st anniversary of the legalization of abortion, I thought it was important to address some ways we Catholics can present our apologia (defense) for being prolife.  

One such apologia is "The Two Year Old Toddler" argument, which basically says, "Any argument that an abortion-rights advocate presents can be applied to a 2 yr old toddler."

That is, say a prochoice friend says, "How can you force motherhood upon a single mom who just lost her job and is in danger of being evicted, and finds out that she's pregnant with her 6th child?  Wouldn't it be the compassionate thing for her to have a legal abortion?"

We can respond, "What if this single mom had a 2 yr old toddler, plus 5 other children?  Would you say that it's the compassionate thing to terminate this 2 yr old since the mom just lost her job and is in danger of being evicted?"

Would we kill a 2 yr old whose father abruptly abandons the family, in order to relieve the mom's economic hardship and prevent the other children from growing up in poverty?

Would we advocate killing a 2 yr old in order to prevent her from growing up in an abusive drug-ridden household?

Would we kill a 2 yr old who has spina bifida so she won't suffer from life in a wheelchair?

The prochoice response will naturally be, "Well, that's different!"

We can then say, "How is it different?   Is not the situation the same for both the 2 yr old and the unborn baby--an adverse life event (job loss, abandoned mother, poverty, illness/disability, etc etc) that suggests to someone that a compassionate solution is the elimination of the child?"

The response may then be, "Well, the toddler already exists!" 

And then the Catholic response is, "So does the unborn baby"

Really, what is the essential difference between a 2 yr old and an unborn baby?

It always comes down to this question:  is the unborn baby a human worthy of the right to life, or is it not?  And if it's not a human, when does it become a human?

There's really only 3 possibilities:  

1) it is human at conception
2) it is human at birth
3) it is human at viability (when it can live outside of the mother).

Regarding #2:  how can something be inhuman 3 inches inside a birth canal, and then receive humanity 3 inches later?  What changes so acutely that one considers it tissue in one location and a valuable human being in another location?

Regarding #3:  how can humanity be based upon technology?  For a 32 week unborn baby 40 years ago would not have been viable (and therefore not human), but today she is viable and therefore human?  Humanity ought not be dependent upon technology.  That is too arbitrary!

And please note that religious beliefs need never be appealed to in the prolife apologia.  We as Catholics need never argue only from a religious point of view that abortion is wrong. 

For it is not from a religious paradigm that we are against abortion, but rather from a human perspective.  

All humans ought to have the same rights as everyone else.  That's a human paradigm, not only a religious one.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect--1 Peter 3:15 


  1. When I first became aware of the Pro Life issue this argument blew me away. A while ago I was in a discussion that reminded me of it and it had good effect. I was talking with a pro choice individual whose only argument was that we should accept whatever the woman decides and not condemn her. And he finished off this statement with an emphatic 'we need to live and let live.' I just looked at him and he realized what that inferred (that we should let the baby in the womb live too) when he said that but that he didn't mean it like that. I just said that I think he did mean that. We ended the discussion with him saying he might have to think more about it. :)