Life is a gift, not a choice

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The slogan "life is a gift, not a choice" appears to be an anti-abortion argument, primarily in the second half of the sentence ("not a choice") which seems clearly in opposition to the idea that a mother should be able to legally abort a pregnancy – and also, perhaps more specifically, against the "pro-choice" political movement in support of that idea.


  • "Life is a gift, not a choice." - bumper sticker seen 2007-02, Durham, NC
  • "Life - it's a gift, not a choice." - bumper sticker seen 2007-05-24, Durham, NC


  • What does it mean to say that something is a gift, and how does "life" meet this definition?
  • Is it fair or reasonable to call something a gift if it is unwanted?
  • Saying that something is a gift does not automatically deny the possibility of choosing whether or not to accept it, especially if the gift was un-asked-for and likely to be burdensome. The first half of the sentence is essentially emotional rhetoric designed to induce guilt.
  • If life is a gift, who is the recipient, and what might they have to say about having it forced upon them?
    • The mother? Certainly she should have the right of refusal, and she certainly might not want it depending on the circumstances.
    • The child? Is it fair to assume that the child wants to live, no matter the cost and regardless of the circumstances?
    • God? God has been persistently unavailable for comment on this or any subject.

The decision whether or not to abort a pregnancy is always a choice, because failure to make a decision still results in a choice being made.


If, regardless of counterarguments, one supports any of the principles potentially expressed by this slogan, then those principles should probably be more clearly expressed; as phrased, the slogan contradicts itself and can be used to support almost anything.

For example, one might similarly claim: "(Homo/Bi/Trans)sexuality is a gift, not a choice." ...or "Life is a gift, not an obligation."

Biblical Origins

At the time of the writing of the Bible, which appears to be the source of most anti-abortion (and so-called pro-life) sentiment, humans had not yet developed reliable techniques for inducing abortion without a high likelihood of killing the mother. Children were also far more important, as the mortality rate was much higher than it is now, populations were orders of magnitude lower, and the pre-industrial lifestyle made it possible for children to contribute productively to household welfare at a much earlier age than is usually possible now. In view of these realities, it made sense to not only forbid any attempt to abort a pregnancy, but also any attempt to reduce fertility – both of which are given as rules in the Bible.

The religious practice of supporting these rules has continued through the industrial age and into the information age, long past the time when it remained sensible to do so, because of the need for religious memes to propagate themselves through the easiest victims – children – by maximizing the number of children raised within easy reach of its infectious ability.