The Unbiased Definitions of “Pro-Choice” and “Pro-Life”

I took it upon myself to come up with definitions of both "pro-life" and "pro-choice,” definitions that, it can be agreed upon by both sides when they’re in a levelheaded state, are objective and accurate. Here they are, the fundamental differences between pro-life and pro-choice:

Pro-life is the view that all human life forms, be they zygote, teenager, or septuagenarian in a coma, are of equal value, and, further, that it is never a moral choice, nor should it ever be a legal choice, to terminate the life of an innocent one (although most pro-lifers give exception for cases of the mother's own survival).

Pro-choice is the view that certain human life forms are less valuable than other human life forms, and that it should be legal for a higher-value human to choose to terminate the life of a lower-value human (as long as the lower-value human is in a certain location called the womb) for whatever reason the higher-value human chooses, which reasons range from convenience to survival, but neither of which reasons is less valid than the other.

That's about as objective and fair a definition as you will ever read. I see no reason for pro-lifers or pro-choicers to disagree with how I've defined "pro-life," and no reason for pro-lifers or pro-choicers to disagree with how I've defined "pro-choice."

If my definition of the pro-choice movement sounds controversial, let me point out that those in the movement affirm my definition by almost unanimously agreeing, "Yes, of course the fetus is alive and of course it's human, but it's not a person." The issue for them, they will tell you, is granting what they call personhood to fetuses, which, they usually acknowledge freely, are living humans. Granting "personhood" to a fetus would take away their, the higher-value human's, right to do whatever they please to that lower-value human, including turning it from a living human to a no-longer-living human.

This is what the pro-choicers happily, proudly acknowledge.

What pro-choicers tend not to be proud of is their general belief that fetuses with defects are even less valuable than average fetuses. Logically, this same belief should extend to post-birth humans—that the mentally handicapped are less valuable than members of MENSA—but that's just an application of logic on my part, and no official study has been done. A study has been done on my original assertion, however. The research, reviewed by Dr. Brian Skotko, a pediatric geneticist at the Children's Hospital in Boston, found that roughly 92 percent of fetuses diagnosed prenatally with Down's syndrome are terminated. The mothers of these fetuses believe that these extra-chomosomed, pre-born, living humans are less worthy of life than a mentally mature fetus (which is, of course, less worthy of life than a post-birth baby), especially in their presence.

We see this perfectly exemplified in the recent case of the young couple who, upon learning that their fetus, or pre-born baby, was diagnosed with Down's syndrome, decided it would be best not to have a sub-par baby around, and so opted to terminate the life of their co-created small human.

For those of you reading this who are undecided on his or her stance on the issue, a good way to determine your position is to ask yourselves: Do I believe that some living humans are less valuable than others and that it is therefore acceptable to end their lives? Or do I believe that all human life is valuable, and that even the smallest, most defenseless, and truly most innocent among us need people to stand up for them?



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29 thoughts on “The Unbiased Definitions of “Pro-Choice” and “Pro-Life”

  1. In your humanistic definitions you leave out the Creator of the child, God. This is God's child not woman's.

    God comes first.

    • I see nothing in what I wrote that takes God out of the scenario. I mean, the article is about abortion, not religion. I didn't say, "God didn't create the babies." It's just that God doesn't figure into the definitions. God created animals, but the definition of a dog is not "A four-footed canine created by God." God created trees, but the definition of a tree is not "A tall plant with a hard skin, created by God."

      • Chris, I’m hesitant to even respond. When you say "The article is about abortion, not religion” I presume you are a non-believer in Christ and the cross, as such Christ nor His heavenly Father would not figure into your definition.

        Actually God created everything in the universe and on earth. Mankind was created in the likeness of God and given dominion over all that was created by God on earth. To say He does not figure into the definition of His creation is baffling.

        Abortion is premeditated murder and contrary to the sixth Commandment of God: “Thou shalt not kill.”

        Read Psalm 139:15-16 to ascertain the beginning of life.

        For a reality check on the number of abortions in the US since 1973 and worldwide since 1980, go to: The number is staggering.

        God bless!

        • I appreciate this, but in fact I am a Christian. I just recognize that if you want to win an argument with a secularist, you can't use the argument, "Because the Bible says so." You don't reach him that way and you've lost the argument before it could even begin.

        • I was delighted and enjoyed to read your first sentence.

          God's word is all I have and need. I cannot save anyone but I can share God's word. If they choose not to believe that is their choice to make. Another gift from God.

          I hope your last sentence is wrong. That is all any Christian has, God's inerrant word. Only through Christ do I have unconditional (agape) love for all my brethren (man or woman).

          Have a good day!

          God bless!

  2. In a world controlled by proponents of pro-choice, it is the survival of the fittest crowd who ultimately rule, i.e., they cannot deny they are evolutionists in the Darwin sense. Given those know-it-all's like to spout that they know science cannot show proof of the existent God through the faculty of reason, they tend to be atheistic in their quest to justify their pro-choice position "reasonably." Never mind that foolishly they are unaware of Plato's allegory of the cave, and, thus, will be overturned themselves by the next generation who see only the shadows of their forerunners on the wall of the cave. It may be a Freudian slip, thus, since they commit that next generation to infanticide. Where do these people think they are going? They have no God. They have no faith. How can they possibly even trust each other? I am pro-life. Abortion was never a choice. One becomes pregnant with a child. Children are gifts from God.

  3. There are two problems with your "definitions" of "pro-life" and "pro-choice".

    1. You introduce the terms "lower value" and "higher value" without any definition (or meaning).
    The issue is not about "value" at all; it is a question of the definition of human life and what qualifies as "human" life. There is little or no issue about the "value" of different forms of human life, once there is agreement on what IS human life.

    2. The definition of "human" IS the principal issue, as is the definition of the term "life". People not only differ as to when the term "human life" should be applied (e.g. to a sperm cell, an unfertilized ova, a blastula, pieces of human DNA, a cadaver, a brain-dead human, a dolphin, an embryo before "quickening", a human "soul" after the heart stops), but also differ as as to whether or not the term "life" (i.e. a "living" being) should be applied at all to various forms of organic matter (whether human or not), such as a sperm cell, mitochondrial DNA, an amoeba, a virus, a set of human chromosomes, a blastula, a fertilized chicken egg, a severed human limb).

    Both of your definitions are seriously flawed for these reasons, and obviously biased to one particular position because of your arbitrary inclusions and exclusions of different categories from the term "human life". When we agree on that definition, then there is very little argument, but when we disagree on the definitions then there can be no agreement on the consequences to which those definitions necessarily lead.

    Beyond that, there are also the conflicts that arise when the survival of one "life" impacts the survival of another "life". Of course, these "lifeboat" situations arise elsewhere (e.g. on the battlefield, the current Zimmerman trial, arguments in favor of Jihad, "collateral damage" from bombing, suicide, etc.) -- even when there is no argument about definitions.

    Furthermore, your attempt at defining the contrived (and undefinable) terms "pro-life" and "pro-choice" is also hampered by the fact that "life" itself IS "choice" and the two are, quite simply, "inalienable". Jefferson was correct when he noted that there is no way to separate "life" from "liberty" or "pursuit of happiness" -- i.e. the "choice" of one's own goals and the choice of one's methods to achieve them!

    Without CHOICE there is no meaningful LIFE, so the two terms are uselessly constructed and too fatally contrived to be useful in any logical argument. Each of the two (life and choice) is a necessary condition for the other. Life and choice are not antipodal, but codependent; therefore, they cannot meaningfully be juxtaposed.

  4. I don't know if it is still the case, but in Catholic hospitals, you used to have to sign that if it came to a question of the baby versus the mother, the baby would be saved.

    • Not true. I am a retired Catholic Rn. We always worked to save both mother and baby.

      • Perhaps my mother in law only had to sign it because she was not Catholic? She saved it because she was shocked they made her do it...

        • You made the statement like ALLCatholic hospitals had that policy. I worked in 2 Catholic hospitals in two different states and they never had that policy. They would NEVER kill one to save the other.

          Your Mother in law could have misunderstood the permit. We never had the mothers sign anything like you are describing, but I could imagine that the hospital may have had a form indicating that they would not kill the baby intentionally no matter the circumstances.

        • kemonks: You are accepting the assertion that darkcyder isn't simply LYING. I don't accept that premise.

      • Working to save both mother and baby does not mean that "if it came to a question of the baby versus the mother," you wouldn't choose the baby first. What you answered to darkcyder doesn't refute what darkcyder said.

  5. Great article.

  6. A hypothetical scenario for the "every life is equal" crowd - you come across a burning building containing a five year old child and a freezer holding 100 embryos. Who do you save?

    • Everyone I can possibly save. YOUR 'hypothetical' scenario is BS and designed to be.

      If YOU come across a burning building containing your mother and your wife, will you even enter the building to find out they are there?

      • Sorry, I forgot to mention that you can only save one or the other. Care to try again?

        I'd save my wife. My mother died over a decade ago and she can't be cremated twice.

        • Your HYPOTHETICAL is DELIBERATELY rigged, as I said in my initial response. Not even you are STUPID enough not to realize that you MEANT only one could be saved., even though that CAN'T be known in advance.

          Your OBVIOUS cop-out in response to my answer is also BS. You would never ENTER the building.

        • The "only one can be saved" is part of the hypothetical, I just forgot to mention it, and for that I apologise.
          But it can't be rigged if every life is equal. You have to save the 100 embryos rather than the one child, right?
          On what basis are you claiming that I wouldn't enter a burning building if I knew my wife was inside?

        • You didn't COMPREHEND my responce. EVERYONE knew the first time that 'only one can be saved' was an INHERENT part of the hypothetical. That MAKES it deliberately rigged AND unrealistic. The fact you CREATED such a FALSE hypothetical as your excuse for an argument demonstrates you are a coward. therefore fit is unreasonable to believe you would enter a burning building. Your bothering to state there would be no choice available in my counter example reinforces that conclusion. Even if true, it is 100% irrelevant to the issue.

    • New hypothetical -- so long as we're apparently agreed that we can make these things as hopelessly rigged as possible to win a point: some years ago, your father comes to pick up his pregnant wife, who is carrying YOU as an embryo, and discovers the building she works in is on fire. An unrelated child is also in the building but doesn't know how to get out. Your father has time to save only one or the other. Which do you want him to save?

      Possible answers:

      A. "the child" -- well, first of all, "liar!", since you want to be born and like all human beings suffer from the natural human trait of preferring self-preservation. second, if you insist on choosing this anyway, then you were never born and your opinion is moot. :-)
      B. "mommy!" -- but of course. now, does that make mommy's life more precious than that of the child, OR are you simply emotionally attached to both your mommy in general and your own nascent life in particular?

      of course, neither "hypothetical scenario" is about the VALUE of life at all, but about the emotional attachment of people to each other. Why do people cry at the thought of having to put down a dog, but don't think twice about the fact that their appetite for burgers requires the slaughter of thousands of cows over their lifetime? Are dogs more "valuable" than cows? And vegetarians don't get away free here: why do they protest to save cows then step on millions of ants without a thought? Are any of these questions really measuring some kind of objective relative worth of the parties involved, or simply playing on the nuances of emotional connections humans share with every living?

      The economist might suggest that 1 born human is roughly equivalent to some number, N, embryos because each embryo must be "risk adjusted" to account for the fact that many factors may intercede to keep it from ever being born. The electricity to the fridge may already have been knocked out by the fire rendering them all non-viable in one fell swoop. Even those that could survive being carried out of the building are likely to fail to survive their rescue for lack of power. The lone child is a nice tidy package that is already alive and a would-be hero entering the building is likely to believe they could retrieve that child successfully and not kill them in the attempt. Any number of logical processes might lead one to choose the child over the fridge of embryos. But the real idiocy of the original hypothetical doesn't require this much complication...

      Simply change the scenario to this: you come across a burning building containing TWO five year old children, identical twins (and can only save one). Who do you save? Now, are you really about to tell me that your choice demotes the one you don't save to the position of being less valuable a life than the other? Of course, not -- removing the emotional component from the equation renders the true nature of the question as not truly being about value at all.

      • No problem.
        Scenario 1 - he saves his pregnant wife. It doesn't matter what I'd want him to do, it's just what he'd do. His own family takes priority. I'd do the same.
        Scenario 2 - if neither put my own life at a greater risk, I'd choose whoever was closer. Neither child is less valuable than the other.
        If I had to choose between one child and ten children, I'd save the ten. You, for the very same reason, would save the freezer full of embryos over the one child, right?

        • Actually, big "problem", Shermer, because you unwittingly validated the fact that all of these hypothetical scenarios were "loaded" by refusing to answer the question as put to you. I didn't ask what your father would want to do, but what you would want him to do, which is also not the same thing as what you would do if you were him. The fact that you resorted to a dodge to answer the question demonstrates it was contrived to force you to make a choice that required the "value" calculation to be hopelessly encumbered by emotion. To do so and believe you'd managed the answer smartly also required you to either intentionally overlook all of the other examples of emotion trumping objective value in humans' handling of death or to have not grasped their connection, either of which effectively disqualifies you as a partner in any meaningful dialog on this issue. Even your own dodge implicitly demonstrates the lack of objectivity in these decisions. You think its only natural that your father would place his own wife before the child. Of course, I agree. But the difference between us seems to be that I recognize that this choice says nothing about the intrinsic value of the child relative to the wife, while you think that any choice between the embryos and the young child somehow simply must PROVE that embryonic life really isn't valuable as a human being. Of course, you set up your original premise based on a "straw man" to begin with, suggesting that "every life is equal" means what you decide it means. Frankly, I've never heard anyone -- pro-life or otherwise -- actually posit that all life has a perfectly equal weight in every equation. For example, I'd wager most pro-life people would defend themselves if attacked by someone trying to kill them. In fact, our own legal system holds that we were all created "equal", but it will let them (and you) shoot such a would-be killer point-blank without seeking punishment against you. By your logic, that must imply they were "less equal" than you or somehow less than a human being. In fact, the "equal value" of their life has very little to do with the equations involved in either the intended victim's actions or that of the legal system. In essence, life is not a "word game", despite you attempt to reduce it to such. I assume you simply refuse to recognize that for purposes of you own vapid argument, because the alternative is to assume you were unable to recognize this fairly straight-forward fact, and I prefer to think better of you (that is, of strangers in general). Without this going for you, I'd have to assume your grasp of issues of humanity are roughly on par with those of a child, because that original "craftily" constructed scenario guaranteed to expose the hypocrisy of pro-life advocates was merely childish. You might as well have said you know embryonic life isn't worth saving because pro-lifers are poopy-heads. In the end, of course, the question separating pro-choice from pro-life is rarely about choosing one life over another anyway. This is merely a fabrication of many on the pro-choice side. For proof, one need only consult the survey data gathered periodically by the Alan Guttmacher Institute -- by the way, a pro-choice organization dedicated to ensuring the widest availability of all "reproductive choices" to all women across the globe, so they can't be charged with any pro-life bias, although they have far more courage in their convictions than most pro-choicers because they willingly admit the facts of what's really happening in abortion clinics -- they simply think that abortion is a universal right and so don't mind at all that so many women make the choice so cavalierly. They survey abortion providers, who ask each woman/girl coming in for an abortion why they want one. The vast majority of answers fall into the "boyfriend left"/"have enough children"/"will interfere with school"/"will interfere with job"/etc. Less than 20% routinely have anything whatever to do with "health" -- it varies only a few percent over the last 15 years or so -- and only a tiny sliver of those involve any threat to their actual life. (They are allowed to list multiple reasons as well, so there is no under-counting because any patient chose to focus on a secondary reason.) Thus, the very foundation of your hypothetical has very little to do with the actual issue at hand. And, since justifiable homicide is accepted by the legal system and virtually the entire pro-life community, there is really no philosophical controversy regarding an abortion performed to save a mother who would die otherwise. Pro-choice advocates who don't recognize that are either willfully ignorant or just naturally so. Pro-life advocates who propose abortion limits with exceptions to protect the life of the mother engage in not one iota of hypocrisy, but pro-choice advocates continually seek to portray them as doing so because it's a cheap way to attempt to de-legitimize their position. Instead, it merely makes the pro-choicer making the argument look like a dope.

          Finally, only about 1% list rape (this percentage includes incest as well, which is virtually always also a rape and tragically accounts for almost one-half of the patients listing rape as the reason). The reason for the low incidence of "rape" as a reason isn't because of some magic force that protects rape victims from pregnancy (as was infamously suggested by one moron in Congress) but because women who are raped go to the police quite a bit more often than popular mythology suggests and get sent to the hospital -- or go there or to their doctor themselves -- where pregnancy can be easily avoided before there is an embryo or a zygote or even a fertilized egg for that matter. Thus, the second major rallying cry raised by NOW, NARAL, and many pro-choice organizations is another farce. The fact is that according to women/girls seeking abortions from abortion providers in America, if we outlawed abortions that were not medically necessary to protect the life of the mother, it would eliminate about 85% of all abortions. Frankly, I can't imagine any pro-life advocate not taking that deal if it were possible. Under the rubric of the "perfect being the enemy of the good", they might even allow themselves a jot of hypocrisy by agreeing to an exception for that 1% rape/incest (if there was a way to ensure that it wouldn't become the default reason checked off) even though being a victim of a crime in no other circumstances provides the victim with the power to kill what amounts to an innocent bystander to the crime. But, hey, if it can grease the skids toward eliminating about 85% of abortions, I think they'd agree to postpone that fight to another day.

        • Wow. I hope you didn't type all that just for me. Who would you save - the embryos or the kid? I'm sure it's the kid, but you can't bring yourself to say it.

        • Actually, I type incredibly fast. I could have blasted another tome at you within a few minutes of your post if I hadn't been answering email in the interim, but given that the length of my last post didn't appear to help your understanding at all, I'll take the opposite tack this time in any case. Short and sweet: You missed the whole point of the entire argument everyone has tried to make with you. It's emphatically NOT that all of us "can't bring ourselves" to answer, but that the answer to this poorly contrived dilemma is entirely moot. That is, it says nothing about the point you THINK you were making at all. The fact that you either can't or won't recognize this makes further discussion on the topic useless. But I do sincerely wish you well.

  7. Abortion is MURDER!
    Infanticide is MURDER!

    Choice is EASY:
    1. Abstinence
    2. Contraception
    3. Tubal ligation and vasectomy.

    "Abortions...are a disgrace to civilization. Contraception is the cure for abortions." (ironic quote from Margaret Sanger)

  8. definitions that, it can be agreed upon by both sides when they’re in a levelheaded state, are objective and accurate.

    In other words, definitions that can NEVER be agreed on. If the conditions in the above statement ever existed, there would be no need for your definitions.

    • After actually looking at the 'definitions', I have OBJECTIVELY determined that NEITHER side will consider EITHER definition objective OR accurate.

  9. @The author of this article...

    You don't know the definition of unbiased, do you?