The debate over abortion has existed for years, decades even. Some value the decision for a mother to do what she feels she must with her uterus. Others value the prospect of a full life outside the womb for the child within her. When these goals are in conflict, what should we do?
Often times when people talk about abortion, they go off talking about different subjects, such as a woman’s right to privacy, teen pregnancy, rape, and the potential abuse of unwanted children. But this is not the real issue at hand. We need to determine whether abortion is or is not murder. If it isn’t, then there is no justification for abortion necessary. However, if it is, there is no justification that is sufficient. Murder is killing another human being; you can’t “murder” a toad, rock, or your fingernail. So this boils down to what is the unborn? For abortion to be murder, the unborn would have to be a distinct, living, human being. Is it?
Some people might try to distract from this question with other tangents. One of the most popular to be brought up is the assumption that women have the right to privacy with their doctors. This is true--to an extent. Patient-doctor privacy would not extend to cover murder. If a doctor tells a woman that living with her husband is causing her too much stress, that woman does not get to murder her husband. She has to find a different solution. The issue here should not be whether or not a woman has privacy with her doctor. This issue should be assessing whether or not abortion is murder. If it’s not, then give the woman her privacy, for goodness sakes. But if it is, privacy is not a sufficient excuse.
Another popular tangent is that women shouldn’t have to carry a child conceived through rape. The mother here did not choose to be impregnated, and emotional issues can arise from the pregnancy. If the unborn is merely a lifeless parasite, then by all means get rid of it. But what if it is a human being? Should an innocent child pay for the crime of his father? Rape victims are not allowed to shoot their rapists, so why would they be allowed to kill the innocent unborn, if it is indeed a human? Once again this all comes down to that key question: what is the unborn?
A more obscure, but still decently common, argument is the fear that making abortion illegal will force women into dangerous “back alley” abortions. Again, this is not the core issue. Bank robbery is illegal, and can also be quite dangerous. Is the solution to make bank robbery legal? Or to make accommodations for bank robbery to be less dangerous? Of course not! The solution would be to maintain its illegality. When applying this metaphor to abortion, it becomes necessary to judge whether abortion should be illegal. If not, then don’t make it illegal. If so, then we shouldn’t be making it easier for the crime to be committed. The way to tell if it should be illegal? By figuring out what exactly is being “terminated” here. Is it the life of a human being? Or is it merely an inconvenient blob of flesh?
One particularly heartbreaking subject that has been brought up is about poor mothers who can’t afford another child. I hope you’re noticing a pattern: if the unborn is not a human, than financial distress is a fine reason to get rid of it. But if it is a human, financial distress would not be a good enough reason to kill it. If a mother had a human infant and suddenly came to extreme poverty, would it be okay for her to kill her child so she no longer had to provide for it? By no means, because we value human life. So the important debate remains: what is the unborn; is it a distinct, living, human being?
I would like to interject a small disclaimer here. If the mother’s life is in danger from a pregnancy, then and only then would abortion be permissible. I am not against abortion for medical purposes, but rather I am against elective abortion. Even if the unborn is a distinct, living, human being, so is the mother. If it is between the death of one or the other, that decision lies on the mother.
That being said, I hope it’s clear what this whole deliberation hinges on: is the unborn a distinct, living, human being? I think it is, and this is why.
I’m going to work inside out. Is the unborn human? One such way to know is by the DNA. IF you were to line up a zygote from a human, a zygote from a monkey, a zygote from a dog, and a zygote from a cat, how might you tell which one was from the human? By checking the DNA. We know that zygotes from humans have human DNA. The assumption that follows is that the zygote from humans is itself, human. It will also start looking more recognizably human as time passes. Note that it is not changing from non-human to human. Rather it is growing and becoming more recognizable as a human.
Next section of that criteria: is the unborn alive? Living things reproduce and make living things. A living sperm from a living male and a living egg from a living female must create a living zygote. There is no period of not-life between conception to birth. Life doesn’t begin at some point in the process; the unborn is always alive. The unborn has a metabolism, it grows, and it reacts to stimuli, all of which are signs of life. Furthermore, you can’t kill something that isn’t alive. The fact that you have to attempt to kill it raises a bright red flag!
Now to address if it is distinct from its mother’s body. One argument against that assumption is that because it is dependant on its mother, it is not distinct. Yet a preteen is still dependant on its mother, yet surely a preteen is a distinct being. Dependency does not determine distinctness. However, DNA is a pretty useful tool for just that. We can see that the DNA of a zygote is different from the DNA of its mother. Also a female can give birth to a child of the entirely opposite gender. The unborn must be a separate living being for this to occur.
I hope I’ve been clear in why I strongly believe that the unborn is a distinct, living, human being. If this is true, there can be no justification to kill it. One may argue that the unborn is too tiny to be a person. However, it is not one’s size that determines one’s value. A short person is no less of a human with a right to live than a tall person. Some might argue that the unborn is too underdeveloped to be considered a person. Yet level of development does not determine personhood. An autistic or deformed person is just as much a human with a right to live as a normal person. Moving onto a different argument, the fact that the child is still in the womb should not make a difference in its right to live. Mere location does not determine whether a child has that right. A person’s right to live remains, whether in this country or a different one, whether in this building or that, or whether in the womb or not.
Please note: I am not judging those who have had an abortion. I don’t want to yell in all their faces and make them feel guilty. I don’t want anything to be done to those who have abortions in the past. Rather I am looking to the future. I want no more unborn children to be killed; I want them to have the opportunity of life!
There is but one thing left to consider. In America, we err on the side of life. Even if we are not sure if the unborn is alive, it is better that we let a nonliving thing live than to kill a living human. In construction, when a building is being demolished, it is first cleared of all people. If the construction crew were only “pretty sure” that there was no life in the building, it would not be torn down. Unless the crew was 100% sure that all live was evacuated, they would not wreck the building, in case they accidentally killed someone. In the same way, even if you think we can’t know whether the unborn is alive, we should err on the side of life and advocate for abortion to be illegal.