America’s Failing Conscience: Analyzing an Abstruse Article Against Abortion

(Link to Presentation)

Republican National Convention

Credit: Huffington Post

Mike Huckabee is an American politician and Christian minister who served as the Governor of Arkansas from 1996 until 2007.  The staunch Republican hosted the Fox News talk show “Huckabee” beginning in 2008 only ending it during 2015 in order to later run for President.  Huckabee, as his early background preaching in a Baptist church might suggest, is in strong opposition to abortion.  Not too long after leaving the talk show that bears his name, the former Governor published the article “The battle goes beyond Planned Parenthood. We must end abortion in America” in Fox News.  In this article, Huckabee outlines his position against abortion while arguing against the organization Planned Parenthood and the practice of abortion in this country.

Reminiscent of his days of delivering sermons, Huckabee preaches to the reader through an eclectic delivery of statistics and brash one-liners.  Included in these is the assertive question that starts the article.  He asks his audience, “How can we claim to be superior to nations who commit genocide when we commit infanticide?”. Therein lies the fist fault of this argument.  Huckabee’s weak analogy equates the mass killings of living, independent people clothed with basic human rights to killing a developing mass of cells that is utterly dependent on the body of its mother.  It is unreasonable to compare a crime against humanity to a routine medical procedure.

Mr. Huckabee’s very next line doesn’t do much to persuade the perceptive reader either.  He calls harvesting human organs “barbaric” and says that it is unimaginably immoral, grotesque, and evil”.  This is quite the sweeping generalization to say that the practice of removing organs is always malicious.Is he not aware of organ transplants, which save more than 30,000 American lives each year?  Removing organs from a single donor can save up to eight human lives.  The point that the Arkansas native attempts to make must surely must be conceded, unless he holds the frightening personal belief that saving lives is “immoral” and “evil”.  Due to his history of holding public office, I think that it is safe to say he does not.




As this argument against abortion continues, we encounter what may be considered a red herring.  This article makes use of some statistics in a sentence, which says, “Each year, Planned Parenthood performs more than 300,000 abortions, and 92 percent of pregnant women who walk into Planned Parenthood receive an abortion.”  Simply demonstrating that Planned Parenthood provides numerous abortions in a given year, alone, does not support the premise that it is not a quality health care provider nor that abortion is wicked.  Additionally, citing the 92 percent figure doesn’t reinforce that conclusion nor is it evidence that Planned Parenthood performs many abortions.  From what I can see, this statement serves no purpose being mentioned whatsoever.  It is blatantly obvious that women who are already pregnant that go into Planned Parenthood clinics are likely to get an abortion.  There is not much the organization can do to prevent unwanted childbirths at that point.  The use of these statistics serves to do nothing but distract from the argument, making it a red herring.

Huckabee then proceeds to address the crux of the debate on abortion; determining at what point the collection of cells developing in the womb is alive.  He makes the premises that at conception a new DNA Sequence is created and that this DNA of the future child will remain the same throughout its life.  He then makes the unsubstantiated jump to the conclusion that conception is when life begins. This is an example of begging the question.  Huckabee’s premises here are undisputed by science, but that is where the consensus between the two ends.  One of the key scientific requirements for an organic structure to be considered living is to be able to independently undergo homeostasis, which is the regulation of biological functions to keep stable internal conditions.  Two of these functions that are crucial to doing so are respiration and excretion.  Both of which are not controlled by the developing offspring until the time of birth.  That is point at which all scientists agree that life exists.


Credit: Anatomy and

The final rhetorical flaw that Huckabee makes comes, by no surprise, at the end of his article.  Huckabee uses the topos that “abortion is a sin” according to god.  While this may make for a memorable bumper sticker, this belief is just an opinion rather than something supported by tangible evidence.  Even if we, for the sake of argument, grant that the god of Abraham exists and the bible is his word, there is nothing found within that can be used to sufficiently corroborate this claim.  But despite abortion not being mentioned in the Christian text, many in the conservative community hold the statement that “abortion is a sin” to be a commonplace truth. The author can get away with using this topos because he realizes that the vast majority of people that read Fox News, let alone those that could be persuaded by his argument are part of the conservative community that agrees with this tagline.

This short article from Fox News is peppered with biased language throughout and poor logical appeals that harm the argument.  This noticeably includes such terms as “killing” and “butchers”.  But when it is run through a text analysis engine more becomes clear.  Towards the beginning half of the article, the author repeatedly uses the words “abortion” and “Planned parenthood” and discuses the organization and the services it provides.  Only towards the end of the article when he hammers home the wrongness of the practice of abortion does he use the much more skewed term of “human life” to describe potential babies.  This indicates a transition from logos to the use of Pathos or emotional appeals. While examining Mike Huckabee’s opinion piece I could not find any assertionsFox News Logo that were clearly based on his race, class, or gender or any at that were clearly influenced by where he falls within each.  Examining such things as well as use of logos, ethos, and pathos remains a crucial way in analyzing the effectiveness of a writer’s argument as well as its objective truth.


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