Throughout history attempts to justify killing members of outgroups has been carried out by invoking labels for members of the outgroups. David Livingstone Smith chronicles this lamentable aspect of human history in his book Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2012). And so, for example, the Nazis called Jews and Gypsies “vermin” and “rats” and the Hutus called the Tutsis “cockroaches”.
And some prochoice advocates label the fetus a “parasite”.
For a recent example of the latter case, see the discussion thread for my article “On the Prolife rationale behind showing aborted fetuses.” In that discussion thread Felixcox writes:
“In the case of abortion, the mother doesn’t want the fetus. It is definitionally both a human fetus and a parasite.”
“And yes, the infant is definitionally a parasite if the mother doesn’t want it.”
When Billy Squibs protested, Felixcox doubled-down:
“Hey, that’s fine if you want to make up your own definition of “parasite” in order to rationalize your inconsistency. Everybody else, however, will continue to use the word as it’s commonly defined.”
And Felixcox later added for good measure:
” I never said unborns are parasites. I said unwanted fetuses are parasites.
But wait, is this true? Is this merely a matter of definition? Here are two definitions of “parasite” from Merriam Webster’s:
an animal or plant that lives in or on another animal or plant and gets food or protection from it
a person or thing that takes something from someone or something else and does not do anything to earn it or deserve it
At first blush, you might think these definitions vindicate Felixcox’s claim that fetuses are parasites. But in fact it doesn’t because Felixcox was emphatic that only unwanted fetuses are parasites. Needless to say, the standard dictionary definitions do not make the parasitic designation contingent upon the will of the host.
Consequently, if Felixcox wants to be consistent, he/she should concede that every fetus is a parasite.
Of course, by this logic it also follows that every infant, toddler, and severely mentally handicapped person is a parasite since they all take something from someone else without having done anything to earn it.
And so this is the dilemma faced by Felixcox and other pro-choice advocates who attempt to bolster their position by attempting to depersonalize and dehumanize the fetus through the use of terms like “parasite”. Either their use of the term is inconsistent and self-serving, or they end of depersonalizing and dehumanizing a far larger segment of the population than was originally intended.
Either way, we see the disturbing terminus of attempts to label an outgroup of our species as less than human.