Tag Archives: Planned Parenthood

Better not to shotgun a response

1 Feb

When you flush out a covey of quail, don’t shoot into the covey. Instead, pick out and select one bird to bring down!

flock-of-birds

Good advice from a quail-hunter.  And appropriate for addressing opposing views we encounter these days.

I absorbed this advice just recently and already it is making a difference.  One afternoon not too long ago, we indulged in our favorite after church past time, sharing lunch while reading the Sunday paper.  An op-ed piece about ‘women’s health issues’ had caught my eye and raised my dander.  The authors wrote, decrying the new administration’s goal of decreasing federal funds for Planned Parenthood. The way they framed their argument seemed to have one goal:  to arouse the ire of women by describing a presumed danger of losing access to existing health care.

The team of two local professors raised several points worthy of questioning and I wanted to tackle them all.  Fortunately for my intended audience, I took a walk and listened to radio host Greg Koukl from Stand to Reason explain a principle learned from his days as a boy hunting quail with his friends.

He explained that if you shoot directly into the covey, you’d waste your shot.  But if you aim for one bird, you have a better chance of actually bagging one.

His advice applied to our current contentious climate in America and shaped how I focused my letter to the editor later that afternoon.  Listening to Greg, I also saw in a flash why previous letters I had penned most likely exercised zero effect on readers.  Past letters have probably tanked due to a jumble of points, all poorly developed.

So what did I focus on in this most current letter?  A statistic mentioned in the paper’s essay. In a strategic move to minimize the arguments of the pro-life position, the authors stated that abortions account for only 3 % of all of Planned Parenthood’s services.

I smelled a fake statistic.

Sure enough when I went to factcheck.org I read how PP counts services.  Say a woman goes into a PP facility thinking she might be pregnant and wanting to discuss options.  In one visit, she might receive:

  • an initial screening consult
  • a blood test
  • a pee test
  • a pap smear
  • a referral to another provider for a different issue the consult uncovered

And if this woman does indeed choose to schedule an abortion, that second visit might include:

  • a information/procedural consult
  • an ultrasound
  • a further consult
  • an abortion
  • a post-procedure consult
  • 1 or 2 prescriptions for pain/possible infection
  • a prescription for contraception

So this hypothetical one gal might receive 12 different services and only 1 is an abortion.

Do you see how the quantity of abortions performed could be minimized when compared with the accompanying services?

Thanks to Greg Koukl’s advice preceding my letter attempt, I selected this one issue and worked to write as clearly and persuasively as possible pointing out the misleading accounting.  I don’t know if anyone will be persuaded, but clarifying my purpose and aiming at just one ‘quail’ focused me and guided my thoughts and word choice.

 

Narrowing my efforts also helped me articulate for myself what my ‘bone of contention’ is!  Whatever our views, it’s always worth the time to know what we believe and why!

Bald-faced assertions and appeals to credentials

21 Oct

Here comes another opportunity to practice addressing an ‘argument’ encountered in everyday life, courtesy again of my local newspaper.  In a guest column last week “Mr. Very-Credentialed Local Citizen”  shared his views on a current controversy. His ‘sub-title’ or brief bio at the end read, “Mr. X is a Navy veteran, a cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School and a retired Washington lawyer.”

Were his credentials meant to impress and thus ward off any criticism of ideas?.

garlic and vampires

What it did, actually, was provide an illustration of feathering a weak argument with some fluffy down.  First lesson to take away is this:

  • Don’t let yourself be intimidated by someone’s educational achievement and experience.  Focus on the argument!!!

So what about his argument?

  •  First of all, there was no argument, just 2 separate assertions and a smokescreen

Let’s begin —

In the first assertion, the writer took on the defense of the use of fetal tissue research in the wake of revelatory videos regarding some of Planned Parenthood’s practices.  Here is what he wrote:

“…….about fetal tissue research.  It has for many years been a vital part of research dealing with a very wide range of diseases, and millions of people are alive today as a result of this research.”

Really? Millions? That is a stunning statement.  He offers no grounding at all for that statement.  And since he has publicized that he is NOT a research scientist or a medical professional, I question his assertion all the more.

So I did a 10-minute search of benefits from such tissue research and found out, for instance, that a study with Parkinson’s disease patients that looked promising did not pan out as hoped. In fact there were no significant reports of advances, just some possible areas of research.  The only and NOT insignificant benefit from the use of fetal tissue cited was the vaccines created 40-50 years ago that HAVE saved lives.  What is noteworthy, though, is that those original fetal cells are still producing new vaccines. An assumption could be advanced that no new fetal tissue is necessary to keep up with the demand to produce inoculations.

Therefore, the claim that millions are alive DUE to fetal tissue research needs to be qualified.  But it SOUNDED impressive.

The next plank in his ‘argument’ was this:

“Reducing funding for fetal tissue research is vigorously protested in, among other places, the pages of the New England Journal of Medicine, which is called by Forbes Magazine, ‘the most important medical periodical in the world’.

So……?  Does Forbes Magazine’s opinion about the New England Journal of Medicine mean that we should accept as ‘gospel’ every word the Journal of Medicine writes?

What could be reasons for researchers to protest a reduction in funding?

Is it possible that the nature of all research is to perpetuate their funding?

Shouldn’t we support research for reasons OTHER than another periodical’s ranking of importance of publications?   How much weight should the opinion of a business-centered organization be given?  Are there not better reasons to support fetal tissue research?  Apparently not.

Finally, on to the smokescreen provided by our esteemed legal expert:

” …when an abortion is performed,….there is no ethical reason not to use the fetal tissue for scientific research.  In fact, it is morally wrong not to use it because of the good that comes from it.” and the writer cites ethicists and a Roman Catholic committee’s conclusions for this statement.

Why does he advance the source of this verdict?  Does he mean to head off the spiritual arguments by offering these credentialed opinions?  Again, let us not be fooled by Appeals to Authority.

And ‘morally wrong’ NOT to use the tissue from a dead baby torn from its mother’s womb?  Give me a break!

The safe and simple way to handle with grace a view contrary to yours is to bypass all the hype and focus on the argument, point by point.  Let us take our time and NOT yield to tactics meant to intimidate.

No one has to be an expert in order to ask the clarifying questions that shift the burden of proof back on the one who advances the argument!

Taking it to the absurd

23 Sep

Up for a quick logic workout for your mind?

Critical Thinking the other national deficit

I heard someone advance an argument FOR killing unborn babies in the womb.  It went like this:

  • Since many Christians espouse the doctrine that pre-born and newborn babies as well as very young children all go to heaven (before the age of accountability), why should anyone oppose what Planned Parenthood does?

At first hearing, I thought – “Huh! – I wonder what this theologian’s response will be?”

Reassuringly, the speaker proceeded directly to the question I, myself, have learned.  Before any question or comment, do this: take your opponent’s argument seriously and flow with it to its logical and uncontrived conclusion.   Then lead him to consider that conclusion by posing a question.

  • So if we follow your logic, since a child of 1 has not yet reached the age of accountability, then it’s okay to murder him, seeing that he’s headed to heaven?

It’s clear that very soon, his entire premise will crumble.

Beside the toddler, who else might not be accountable for their actions?  I can think of

  • those born with mental disorders
  • those in a coma
  • those with Alzheimer’s or dementia

Evil terrorists could easily exploit this argument of a quick dispatch to heaven as well!

So is this a slippery slope argument?   In this case, yes!

As Archbishop Justin Welby recently and forcefully argued:

“Whenever assisted suicide is discussed, supporters of a change in the law are quick to pour scorn on “slippery slope” arguments, dismissing them as scare-mongering. The truth is, however, that some slopes are slippery and it is important to identify them”   Website here

Don’t argue with someone until you’ve done this!

26 Aug

It’s been a ‘good’ summer for some advocacy groups.  There have been victories in areas ranging from local to national to international.  Therefore, lots of folks have been declaring progress in their pet area and calling GOOD what another might actually find BAD.

But before you lament privately or push back publicly and in person with a representative of the ‘winning’ side, you need to take a thought-filled first step. Here’s an example from recent headlines:

The awarding of the US Army ranger tab to the first women graduates of the 60+ day grueling course brought to mind this need to pause before speaking. Many are calling this ‘historic first’ a GOOD move.  A ranger graduate and I were talking about the event and why some label it GOOD.  I mentioned that I could understand why some would think that. At his surprised expression, I continued and

Women Rangers

pointed out that depending on one’s presupposition, this achievement could be viewed as a long-awaited positive change.

Let’s brainstorm why some people both in and out of the military consider this a promising step forward.

If you believe that:

  • All women should have the same training opportunities as men
  • Earning a Ranger tab is necessary for career development in the Army
  • All barriers based on gender are harmful

then, it follows that allowing women to try out for and complete the Army’s ranger course is GOOD.

Let’s look at another issue in the news, the recently released videos about Planned Parenthood’s complicity in marketing fetal body parts.

Planned Parenthood

Many call bringing such negotiations to the public eye a GOOD development.  How can that be? That’s not difficult to see if one’s pre-suppositions are akin to:

  • Publicizing all the dealings of Planned Parenthood might cause funding to decline, thus decreasing abortions
  • In a democracy, the public has the right to know the details about where their federal tax dollars go
  • Deliberately killing unborn babies for their fetal body parts is evil

How do you know what someone’s underlying value or assumption is?  You ask them!  BEFORE you start to argue/discuss. Questions are your best friend.  Don’t you think that it is better NOT to risk coming across as arrogant or even mean-spirited by plunging directly into the debate without taking the time to learn more about the other side?  Asking background questions with a kindly and NEUTRAL tone puts the other person at ease.  And while you’re investing in this verbal research, don’t forget to seek clarity of terms.  It might help steer your conversation if you know what the other side means by even such an innocuous concept as GOOD.