Parallels of Veganism and Pro-Lifeism
by Kristin Monahan
I compare abortion and animal farming/exploitation.
Similarities between Veganism and Pro-lifeism
- Both are centered around the idea of respecting life, especially that of the particularly innocent, vulnerable, voiceless, helpless, and defenseless.
- Concern for the right to life is present in both. With pro-lifeism, the unborn child is being killed, so the focus is on the child’s right not to be killed and to continue her or his life. With veganism, animals are being killed, so the focus is on the animals’ right not to be killed and to continue their lives.
- Concern for the rights not to be harmed and to bodily autonomy, as well as the right not to be seen as property to be disposed of as someone else sees fit, is present in both. In abortions, children are dismembered with medical tools or sucked apart or poisoned. This harms them and takes away their bodily autonomy as their bodies are being destroyed. They are considered their parents’ property, and disposed of at the will of their parents. With animal farming/consuming/exploiting, there are many different ways the bodies of animals are harmed and their bodily autonomy is taken away as they are treated as objects. Animal abuse includes being beaten over the head in some factory farms, the stress of being artificially inseminated and having to give birth, being constantly milked, or going through training in circuses. Animals are literally considered the property of farmers and are at the will of those who farm them, train them, or are otherwise considered their owners.
- Both point out that if people can’t stand to look at gruesome pictures (abortion pictures/slaughterhouse pictures) of the end result of supporting the killing on unborn children and animals, then they shouldn’t be supporting the killing in the first place. If one finds the pictures offensive then you are saying that something you support is offensive — so why are you supporting it?
- Both see the mass killing happening right before our eyes and understand it as prejudice and oppression. Both have trouble understanding why after learning our lesson about past oppression, we continue with these present ones. Some on each side make comparisons to the Holocaust, slavery and racism.
- Both mention that abortion or animal consuming/using aren’t necessary and talk about other options. Why should we go out of our way to cause death and destruction when we don’t have to?For abortion, there’s adoption (open, closed, or semi-open); safe-haven/safe-surrender/baby-Moses laws which let you leave the child at any police station, hospital, or fire department, no questions asked; kinship care or guardianship care giving the child to a family member or close friend to be raised, long-term or short-term; or a ton of options for help if the woman thinks she can be a parent, such as financial help, daycare, baby drives, housing, rights for pregnant women in school or workplace and things to make having babies easier such as desks that fit the stomachs of pregnant women or set-ups for her to work or learn from home. There’s also talk of artificial wombs.With veganism, there’s a vegan version of everything. There are tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of edible plants that we have discovered so far. If it’s possible to make it vegan, someone has probably created it. There are tons of vegan options at every store and you can veganize fast food meals as well. Those who are poor, as many of us are, can be vegan. There are vegan leathers and soaps and so on.
- Concern for the right to continue living so as to continue to use other rights and choices is present in both. Pro-lifers often talk about how the most important right is the right to life, as all other rights would be meaningless without being alive to use them. Vegans often point out that animals are here for their own reasons, just like us, to have their own lives and do their own things. They aren’t here to be objects for the use of humans.
Similarities between Non-veganism and Pro-choiceism
- Both use a “choice” argument, forget the victim and their choices, and act like the perpetrator needs to have a choice to harm the victim. With animal using and consuming, they think the ones partaking in the use or consumption need to have a choice. Often you’ll hear something like, “It’s my choice to eat meat. You can’t infringe on other people’s choices. If you don’t eat meat, that’s your choice, but you can’t tell me what to do.” With abortion it’s the same, the mother getting to choose to take her unborn child to a facility to be dismembered and killed. “It’s my choice. You can’t infringe on other people’s choices. If you wouldn’t get an abortion, that’s your choice, but you can’t tell me what to do.”
- Similarly, both focus on the bodies of those committing the killing or harming instead of the bodies of the victims and act as if disregarding the victim’s bodily autonomy is the bodily right of another. For abortion, “It’s my body, my choice,” and sometimes “If it’s in my body, I can kill it.” For animal consuming/wearing, “It’s my body, my choice. I get to choose what goes in/on my body.” Both actions require harming and killing someone else’s body, but only the bodies of the ones doing said harming will ever be paid attention. Forgetting the victim and acting as if the other side is in the wrong because they’re infringing on the rights of those taking away the rights of others is an old way to pass off discrimination.
- Both use overpopulation as an excuse to kill the victims. With abortion, they say humans are overpopulated and thus we shouldn’t have anymore—and also that we should spare children life in the overpopulated world. With animal consuming/using, they say animals are overpopulated so we need to kill them so that their overpopulation doesn’t get in our way.
- Both use qualities such as sentience, consciousness, intelligence, and size to belittle victims and excuse killing and harming. They say those yet to be born can’t feel pain, aren’t conscious, aren’t intelligent, or are so small. This therefore makes them lesser than us, so we can kill them. They say those of other species can’t feel pain (the classic “fish don’t feel pain” myth for example), aren’t conscious, aren’t intelligent, animals like insects are so small. This therefore makes them lesser than us,. so we can kill them.Both arguments not only are incorrect for—at the very least—some of humans yet to be born and some animals but also forget that many born humans, such as infants, other children, and those along the wide spectrum of disabilities and diseases, who also fall in those categories yet who still have a right to life. How can you argue that if one isn’t intelligent, they can be killed, if you understand that a born human who is mentally challenged needs even more protection than the average person? Their argument is a “might makes right” attitude. “I’m bigger than you/smarter than you, and I can kill you because you have fewer abilities than I do, so I should be allowed to have that choice.”
Discriminating against a group based on their abilities—ableism—is another classic way to discriminate and is closely tied to eugenics. You have to look at someone’s differences and pretend that makes you better to get people to successfully oppress a group. For the unborn this process is dehumanization. For other animals it’s speciesism.
- Both argue that these practices have been happening for so long, are natural, and that people will still do them even if they’re outlawed. Abortion is ancient, so women will find a way, they say. Animal eating is ancient and is what we need to do, they say. God aborts babies all the time, they say. God put animals on earth for us to use, they say.
- Both try to brush off criticism saying the practice is legal, as if being legal makes something OK, or that a legal practice can never be made illegal.
- Both defend at least some abortion or animal killing/harming because of special circumstances. With abortion, they say “It’s ok if it’s before a certain number of weeks/if the pregnant woman was raped/if the child has a disability,” etc. With animal killing they usually justify eating animals if accompanied by the labels “humane,” “organic,” “grass fed,” “cage free,” or “free range” without realizing the problems with these. Or they justify killing specific animals: “I wouldn’t eat a dog but a pig is different.”
- Ultimately, both look at our differences from the victims rather than our similarities and use that to exert power and control, and to “other” them to the point of death, dismemberment, and exploitation.
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