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Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments Expanded & Updated Paperback – November 10, 2000
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ProLife Answers is impressive: well organized and easy to use, well referenced, easy to read, and is largely based on good science and logic. First I'll tell you why I like the book, and discuss why I deducted a star.
What I liked:
* Well organized and easy to use: The book is divided into sections for each category of argument: (1) life humanity and personhood, (2) rights and fairness, (3) social issues, (4) health and safety, (5) the hard cases, (6) the character of prolifers. Each argument is numbered and has anywhere from 4 to about 11 rebuttals, which are numbered and lettered for easy reference.
* Well referenced: This book contains 789 references. Not all are primary sources, but he does cite peer-reviewed medical journals when discussing scientific matters. Other references include popular media, other books, and personal interviews. Note that in trying to debunk his arguments, some may take issue with some of the personal interviews, because these sources are difficult to verify.
* Easy to read: Alcorn writes in a conversational, first person, non-inflammatory tone, which is refreshing on such a hot button topic. He shows how women who have abortions are often pressured and mislead into doing something they don't realize is horrific. I believe readers of this book will save more babies by taking on Mr. Alcorn's tones of compassion and logic, rather than tones of angry rhetoric.
* Personal testimonials: The story of the young women who, with a group of other young women, had a saline injection abortion was heart wrenching. Combine this with the information Alcorn provides on the pain unborn children feel, and the heartbreaking photo of the perfectly developed unborn child burned and killed by saline, and we have the side of the story not told in "Our Bodies Ourselves". Hopefully, this section alone can save some lives.
* The fact he included some photos: Obviously, I did not like the photos themselves by any means. Some are of aborted or miscarried babies, and of course they're very disturbing to look at. But as Alcorn points out, "What is hideous is not the pictures themselves, but the reality they depict." These pictures demonstrate the horrors that all the words in the world cannot adequately describe.
* Alcorn provides valuable inspiration to pro-life activists by comparing their struggles to anti-slavery activists in Britain and the U.S., who were initially dismissed and ridiculed by those who believed folks should have the choice of whether or not to own slaves. After decades of hard work, the abolitionist position was seen as morally correct by the vast majority, and slavery was outlawed.
Why I deducted 1 star:
Although I agree with the vast majority of Alcorn's arguments and science, there is a handful of questionable arguments not directly related the central abortion = killing a baby issue. Note that in trying to debunk the book, pro choice folks might gravitate disproportionally to these arguments:
*Alcorn argues that abortion significantly increases the risk of breast cancer, but cites a meta analysis not from peer-reviewed medical journals, but an AOL member's website. I did a Medline search on this issue and found several large well-conducted studies in peer-reviewed journals such as the British Journal of Cancer, and respected institutions such as Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research center that convincingly refute the link between abortion and breast cancer. It's possible that in combination with Alcorn's evidence, the jury's still out on the abortion/breast cancer link, but it cannot be stated as a fact, as Alcorn insists.
*Alcorn correctly points out that "even if it were true that prolifers are undesirable and offensive people, this is not a logical argument against their position." He then goes on to defend the character of many prolifers who adopt children and assist needy families. Yet he fails to acknowledge the reason why arguments about prolifers being unsympathetic to already born children are so common in the first place. Many who support the prolife position also consistently vote and speak out against social programs that help feed, and provide economic necessities and opportunity to impoverished children and unwed mothers. Many pregnant unmarried women believe they're in a dilemma of abort or be condemned to a life of poverty.
*Alcorn argues that it is perfectly consistent to have both prolife and pro capital punishment positions. Alcorn's logic would make sense if only guilty criminals were being executed. Unfortunately, as has been shown in the state of Illinois, a significant number of innocent people were on death row for reasons including incompetent attorneys and people being tortured into making phony confessions. Given that the death penalty kills innocent people along with the guilty, it's actually not consistent to hold both these positions.
*Alcorn also argues that over population is not a problem, although he correctly points out that even if it were, abortion would not be an appropriate solution. Many environmentalists, including myself, disagree with his assessment of over population.
*Alcorn argues that we need more babies being born to financially support and take care of the folks who will be elderly when they're in the prime of their life. There are many good reasons to have babies, but taking care of the elderly is not one of them. This is inconsistent with Alcorn's view that it's wrong to have babies to be bone marrow donors for family members.
Note that my problems with the book are peripheral to the central issue of abortion = the morally wrong killing unborn babies, (saving the mother's life excepted). Overall, I highly recommend this book, and believe the diplomatic use of it will help save lives.
To supplement this book, I recommend:
*Prolife Feminism Yesterday and Today (edited by Mary Krane Derr), which presents feminist pro-life arguments from both "first wave" suffragists (Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Victoria Woodhull, etc.) and "second wave" pro-life feminists.
*Pro-Life Feminism: Different Voices (edited by Gail Grenier-Sweet) focuses on modern feminist arguments against abortion.
*Swimming Against the Tide: Feminist Dissent on the Issue of Abortion (edited by Angela Kennedy) takes the reader across the "pond" to hear the concerns of more modern pro-life feminists in Britain and Ireland.
*Real Choices: Listening to Women, Looking for Alternatives to Abortion (by Frederica Mathewes-Green)-- endorsed by both pro-lifers and pro-choicers-- first asks "Why do women have abortions?" (Pro-lifers and pro-choicers will be surprised by the answers!) and follows with "Can we use women's actual responses to work to provide them better alternatives from which to choose?" (So women won't feel like "trapped animals.") It's a briliiant book for anyone who cares about real women.
All of these books are available through Amazon.com.