What about the right to choose…

What about the right to choose versus the right to life? What you do is show there is no such thing as the right to choose—there is no such thing—by giving counterexamples. First of all, the right to choose is like the right to hit, it’s an incomplete right. There’s no such thing as choosing, there’s only choosing this or that. Choosing is not a complete idea, you’ve got to fill in what you’re choosing. Whether I have a right to choose something depends upon the prior question of what it is I’m choosing. So there is no right to choose in the abstract, there are only rights to choose specific things. Whether I have a right to choose something depends then on what the thing is I’m choosing.

And here’s where you give a counterexample. You’d say, “surely you don’t think you have a right to go over to your neighbor and knock his head off with a baseball bat because you want to practice your swing.” So there are limits on the right to choose. There is no such things as a right to choose that goes across the board. How do I know that? I just gave a counterexample. I don’t have a right to choose to beat people over the head with a baseball bat for the fun of it. What that counterexample establishes is that there is no such thing as the right to choose anything I want.

That pushes the question then, “what is it we’re choosing in the abortion controversy?” Do you see that that makes the real issue then, in this controversy, not the issue of choosing but the issue of what exactly is an act of abortion? That’s where the debate ought to be rooted, not on abstract concepts of rights to choose; that doesn’t help the discussion.

J. P. Moreland, from “Arguing for Right and Wrong in a Secular Culture” at 1:06:08

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