Let me start by saying if you support abortion, have had one, or have pressured someone to get one, I do not hate you. I do not think of you as lesser or inferior. That being said, I—a college student who thinks his views are infallible and incorruptible—will attempt to show why abortion is wrong. You may be quick to shout “straw man fallacy!” in response to many of my comparisons and analogies but I will try to show that both the acceptance of abortion and the object of comparison rationally develop from the same belief system. In each point, I will state what I see as a common logical defense of abortion and then refute it.
Abortion protects women. Many young women would suffer extreme psychological and even physical trauma from their family or peers if they had to carry their pregnancy to term.
Let me first point out that abortion not only protects women from trauma, it terminates women. Hundreds of thousands of women per year in the U.S. alone are terminated. Also there is the question of weight. Which problem should hold more weight, the death of a baby in the womb or the trauma the mother could endure for carrying that baby. I will obviously posit that the life of a human must be valued over the pain that the life unintentionally inflicts on another human. The logic behind the pro-abortion statement above is that the life of the fetus is not worth the suffering of the mother. I in no way make light of the suffering of pregnant women who are often stigmatized and have less opportunity for social mobility; however, I would like to reason this logic through to its end. Where do we draw the line for a human life being worth less than the suffering that they cause? A special needs child could financially cripple a low-income family or bring tension and stress into any family. Should special needs children be murdered? By no means! The argument I put forward is that in all scenarios, innocent human life should be valued more highly than the utilitarian benefits the society would gain by eliminating them. I believe this value system is inherent to the human moral framework and its violation is only tolerated in the context of abortion because there is no way for the victim to protest or the pain of the victim to be easily seen. It is also rationalized by faulty definitions of “life” which I will address below.
Scientists define life as beginning at [some point after conception]. The fetus is just a collection of tissue that is part of the mother’s body. It could not survive outside of the mother’s body and is not an independent life. Women should have control over their own bodies.
My first point is “no.” No, scientists do not define human life as beginning when the baby is born or in the third trimester or after eight weeks. Allow me to quote my molecular biology text book: “All living things (or organisms) are built from cells: small, membrane enclosed units filled with a concentrated aqueous solution of chemicals and endowed with the extraordinary ability to create copies of themselves by growing and then dividing in two. The simplest forms of life are solitary cells. Higher organisms, including ourselves, are communities of cells derived by growth and division from a single founder cell.” So there you have it. You may find a scientific source that says otherwise but they are simply motivated to say so by politics or personal convictions. This is why the potential of finding even a solitary cell on Mars is so exciting: life on another planet! The fetus has its own unique DNA and, if allowed to naturally develop, would grow and mature and eventually be born. By definition, the fetus is a new life and therefore not just a part of the mother like any other organ. Even if this point is argued, more than 66 percent of abortions in America happen after at least seven weeks from the last menstrual period. At this point in gestation the fetus usually already has their own measurable heartbeat. Now, the argument of dependence needs only to be carried to its logical end to be proven immoral. Can a one-year old survive without supervision and care? How about a one-month old? A one-day old? Can these children be justifiably murdered based on their dependence on others for survival? Absolutely not! In fact, the fact that the child depends more on its parents should demand all the more tender care and protection since they are helpless to resist abuse and neglect. And those in the womb are the most helpless of all.
Human life is given value by connections. Since a fetus has no human connection, it does not have value in comparison with the convenience and wellbeing of the mother.
First of all, I would like to offer an anecdote. When I was eleven, I found out my mother was pregnant with my youngest sibling. I was unbelievably excited and already felt a connection with that little child. I can only imagine the connection my mother—or any mother for that matter—must have felt with her unborn baby. To deny a connection between a family and an unborn child would be experientially false for many people if not empirically. And what if we followed this belief on to other examples of people without connections? What of people with severe autism who may never form deep relationships (from our perspective) with others? It could certainly be convenient for a family to avoid the hardship of raising an autistic child, but murder should be out of the question. What of a homeless individual with no living relatives? Should they be murdered for the wellbeing of the economy? Absolutely not! I believe that the primary reason these murders are not tolerated while abortion is lies in willful ignorance. The convenience of an abortion is massive and the victim cannot put up a fight. This is—I believe at least in a general sense—the same reason why some people are not opposed to buying blood diamonds or why slavery persisted through centuries of American history; certainly the truth leads to a clear conclusion, but it is much more advantageous to ignore the facts for the sake of convenience.
Oftentimes women who are looking to abort do not have the means to raise a child. That child would not have a healthy start to life and would be more likely to end up in illegal activity or in prison.
Adoption. And this point is not just aimed at those who are pro-choice. I as a Christian believe that God’s heart is for the helpless and so I ask my fellow believers to adamantly promote a culture of adoption. And as another counterpoint I would like to explore the belief underlying this statement, namely that statistical potential for success dictates a human being’s worth. Then I ask, why not allow a mother to kill her two-year old? If she then realizes that she is not in a good place to continue to raise the baby and that he will most likely have a bad future, is she justified in killing him? Of course not! This logic would, in an extreme scenario, give a government a justified reason to kill the children of entire groups of people who they could demonstrate were statistically more likely to contribute negatively to the society.
Miscarriages and still-births happen all the time. How do we know the baby will grow to maturity anyway? An abortion does not hold more consequence than these natural events.
I have one brief example which demonstrates the ill-founded thinking behind this logic. Old people die frequently. They die much more often than young people. Does that mean it is morally tolerable to kill an old person? Of course not. You cannot justify ending a life against their will because the life might naturally end anyway.
I personally do not agree with abortion but I do not think it is my place to force that opinion on other people.
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It is not your place, it is your obligation. What would you say to a citizen in 1930s Germany who said “I do not agree with systematically persecuting the Jews but I do not want to force that belief on my country”? I would tell them that they have been complicit in persecution. When a voiceless group is persecuted, their only hope is when people with voices cry out in their defense. To recognize that abortion is wrong and fail to speak out is a greater offense than naively believing that it is okay.
I am sure there are many points that I have failed to address or that I did address incorrectly or incompletely but I would love to hear this from you. I understand that if the government implemented a no- or rare-abortion policy and our culture’s tolerance of noncommittal sex continued on, then more dangerous abortions might occur and the economy might suffer because of the strain of people having unplanned children. I understand that some women have had more convenient lives because of their easy access to abortion. But I do not and will never rank these benefits of abortion over the loss of human lives.
Austin Forrest Anthis III is a Pratt senior.