Through further arguments with forced-birth fundamentalists – those who call themselves "pro-life" – I've come to some interesting conclusions.
They don't care about suffering! The fact that their policies lead to suffering is irrelevant to them.
They care about minimizing gray areas. What fundamentally bothers them is how, if the rights of a person are granted at any other time than conception, the stage where these rights are granted is a judgment call. It bothers them there's no one-size answer that fits all.
The ultimate purpose of forced-birth activism is not to reduce suffering, or to maximize the number of people, or to increase happiness. It's a cover-your-ass, bureaucratic type of ethics that provides deniability. If the rules are clear, we can be sure we didn't break them.
The purpose is not to try and do what's most right, but to avoid being wrong at any cost. This makes the most sense if you think you're going to Hell if you kill a person. It's not so important if this causes suffering. God is capricious, so avoidance of Hell is what matters.
Forced-birth policies are proven to result in derailing the lives of women that are forced to give birth, and causing their deaths through illegal abortions. They result in people being born in difficult situations. They result in people not being born, who could be born in better situations. Lack of access to abortion prevents the creation of those better situations.
To the forced-birth activist, these are non-problems. What matters is:
- The rules are unambiguous. When a person begins must be easily determined. It doesn't matter that there's no plausible way a fetus could support consciousness. It doesn't matter that the definition of "life" is fluid. It doesn't matter that it can be hard to decide what constitutes "human" DNA (protected) vs. "animal" DNA (not protected).
- Regardless of the outcome – the rules were followed.
This makes them human paperclip maximizers! Optimizing for something irrelevant that has poor consequences for everyone involved.