I caught a surprising amount of flack for the fact that I named abortion as my number one issue in this election. To leftists and even some conservatives, that marks me as duplicitous, as if I’m trying to use abortion as an issue to force people with a moral conscience to support certain candidates.
Of course, most of those people haven’t considered the sheer volume of deaths that have resulted from legalized abortion in the United States. The Holocaust accounts for the systematic destruction of 12 million people; Stalin’s murderous regime in the Soviet Union has an even greater death toll, somewhere around 20 to 30 million. Sadly, millions more have been killed by legalized abortions in America since Roe v. Wade than in these two genocides combined — 50 million children were killed between 1973 and 2008, and that number is only rising.
This isn’t some O’Reilly talking point; this is a matter of life and death on a mass scale. Any serious candidate for the presidency absolutely must be dead-set against the continued legality of abortion.
I know that there are many people who are “pro-choice,” because they don’t believe that abortion is murder, want to protect a woman’s rights, don’t want to strike down abortion for every situation or for some other reason. For those people, I’d like to take some time and lay out the logic of the pro-life position.
Let’s begin at the end of the argument because it involves basic premises that are true regardless of whether you embrace the other parts of the pro-life stance. It is murder to end the life of a living human being in any situation, except that of war. Why? Because every person has a right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Thus, if a fetus is a living human being, the act of aborting that fetus is an act of murder. The fetus has a right to life, which trumps any right to choose that the woman can claim, because the right to live is of a far greater magnitude than any other. It would be wrong to kill the child in cases of rape or incest, because neither of those scenarios, no matter how sickening they are, provides grounds to deprive the child of life. Similarly, it is improper to abort a baby on the grounds that he wouldn’t have a happy life; the child has a right to pursue that happiness, even if he doesn’t attain it — but who’s to guarantee that the child wouldn’t have a great life, anyway? Steve Jobs was nearly aborted, but he turned out okay.
As you can see, it’s pretty straightforward to establish the fact that murder is wrong. It’s far trickier to prove that the fetus is, in fact, a living human being. Of course, the fact that it’s hard to prove doesn’t make it wrong or invalid. I believe that life begins at conception; individual egg cells belong to the woman and have no more rights than skin cells or hair cells, and the same holds for the man’s sperm cells, but, once they unite, they form a distinct individual with its own life and rights.
By holding that conception is the genesis of life, the pro-life argument is in possession of the most logical place to draw the line between life and non-life. Any pro-abortion stance must choose a different point at which to decide, categorically, that any fetus who is younger is non-living or non-human and that any older fetus is a living human.
It’s popular to say that a fetus isn’t a living human because it can’t support itself or live independently from its parents. That argument backs into ridiculousness, though, because such a definition would also include infants, who need constant care and feeding to survive — and such an argument could apply even to college students, most of whom aren’t self-supporting or independent in any meaningful sense of the word (as in, we’re a drain on our parents and society; but it’s okay, we’ll live through it). Very few people are so committed to that point as to concede that post-delivery infants are non-living, and I don’t know any person who, having held a baby, would be so cruel as to make that argument.
Let me take a quick break from the argument about the beginning point of life to make a quick point to save myself from repeatedly needing to type out the phrase “non-living, non-human.” The child is incontestably human from conception, regardless of what anyone can argue about whether or not he’s alive. The fusion of a human egg cell and a human sperm cell will always produce a human; no woman will become impregnated with a grapefruit, and you’ll never see a giraffe coming out of the delivery room. Proponents of abortion may wish to deprive the fetus of his humanity in order to make him easier to kill, in the same way that soldiers dehumanize their enemy, but it goes past silliness to argue that the fetus is, at any point, non-human.
That said, the next point at which one could contend that the fetus is non-living is immediately before delivery, which is the position held especially by supporters of partial-birth abortion. This position is highly problematic, though, because there is no fundamental difference between the baby in the moment before and after delivery. So he breathes air after delivery, but not beforehand — so what? I’m not breathing while I type this sentence — oh wait, now I am: I must be human now.
But in all seriousness, what’s the difference between a full-term baby before and after delivery? To say that a fully-developed, 40-week old baby inside the womb is less alive than, say, a one-month premature child should cause some serious problems for such a position. And it gets more and more difficult to draw a line from there: is a two-month premature baby more human than a full-term baby in the womb, or a baby that has been in the womb for eight months? What about a preemie who exited the womb after six months, compared to a baby who is still inhabiting it happily after seven? It’s clear that all of these hypothetical children are living.
Then where can the line be drawn? Five months? Four months? Three? The presence of a heartbeat, which occurs within the first month? None of these positions mark any fundamental shift in the fetus which marks it as living, in distinction to its former existence. Any line between life and non-life drawn between conception and delivery is nigh unsupportable, and it is a supreme act of arrogance for any person to decide that the fetus isn’t alive without incontrovertible evidence.
Even the federal government acknowledges the fact that life begins before a being has ended the embryonic stage, as it prohibits the destruction of a bald eagle egg with a fine of $250,000 and up to 10 years in prison. If it’s not alive, what’s the crime? Similarly, if it’s not a bald eagle while it’s still in the egg, there’s no offense against the endangered species that serves as our national bird. The same logic applies to a human fetus.
The fetus is living, at every stage of development (sure, I’m making a logical leap, but one that is impossible to disprove), and thus it is murder to abort a baby at any point in the pregnancy. Sure, the doctor doesn’t believe the fetus is a living human, so it’s only manslaughter, but that’s still a pretty hefty felony, last I checked. The only instance in which it is not an act of murder to take the life of a fetus is in the rare case of an ectopic pregnancy, in which the fertilized egg cell becomes implanted outside the uterus; here, abortion is not an act of murder, but of mercy, as it saves the life of the mother when otherwise both people would certainly die.
Abortion is never acceptable, but there are alternatives. It is becoming increasingly possible for young mothers to raise children as a result of increased awareness and community support; my high school is the teen pregnancy capital of the state, but many of those mothers still graduate, in part thanks to the provision of a day care center. Adoption is also a wonderful, if hard, choice to make; not only is the mother protecting the gift of life for the child, but she is giving the gift of parenthood to people who have the time, love and resources to care for and raise a baby.
I’m conscious of the fact that abortions will take place whether or not they’re legal, but that alone is not sufficient reason to legalize them. For the state to declare abortion legal is tantamount to it giving moral legitimacy to murder. The state is responsible for making moral judgments to protect the natural rights of human beings, and it has no grounds on which to do the opposite. Thus, the very act of providing funding to groups that provide abortion services, such as Planned Parenthood (which killed 300,000 babies in 2009), even if the funds don’t directly support abortion, serve to legitimize the group. The federal government and other groups that fund agencies that provide services to women must divert their funds to groups that don’t condone murder, lest they be accomplices to the crime (I’m looking at you, Susan G. Komen Foundation).
This has been a long and weighty article, but it was about the weightiest of topics; I believe with all my soul that abortion is one of the greatest evils in America today, and that it, like slavery, stands to cast a dark blot over our nation’s history. Thank you for making it through this article — I hope it gives you a reason to stand up and defend life.