I realize that not everybody agrees with my stance on abortion but let me explain why I have arrived at that position. Since I have expressed opinions on the subject, people have a right to know how I arrived at my position and have opportunities to attack it.
- The pro-abort forces claim that a fetus isn’t a person – but everyone living is an example that a fetus is a person, just at a different stage. Biologically, we don’t classify the early stages of any animal as something different than what they ultimately turn out to be as a completely different entity – tadpoles are frogs, caterpillars are butterflies and fetal elephants are elephants – just in different stages.
- The pro-abort forces claim that because a fetus needs life support from its host/parent/carrier that it isn’t a person, yet society does not make the same claims about someone on life support at a hospital. I actually had a person once tell me that is because “we expect those people to live” – when I asked them how that is different for a fetus in the womb, they couldn’t answer. If the standard is a fetus is never a person, you might as well get ready to terminate anyone who cant’ care for themselves.
- The pro-abort people claim a fetus is not a separate entity from its host/parent/carrier and yet it carries its own DNA at the moment of conception and within 12 hours of conception, the packets of DNA from male and female (the pronuclei) approach, merge, and the intermingling chromosomes pair and part, as the first mitotic division looms. A new human genome forms.
- The pro-abort forces claim the fetus is not “alive: yet it has its own heartbeat and brain activity at around 5 -6 weeks after conception.
- The pro-abort forces make claims that a fetus doesn’t have the necessary level of cognition or control of physical processes to be deemed “alive” – but the same case can be made for many mentally challenged children or adults and society doesn’t treat these people as if they are not “alive”. What are the limits – because if there are none, this leads down a path to legalized murder for convenience.
- The pro-abort forces claim that access to abortion is necessary for women’s health – but data proves that 98% of abortions are for reasons other than health concerns. The majority of abortions are elective and used as a form of contraception.
- Then comes the “what about rape, incest or health of the mother?” Well, rape is in no way a consensual act and neither is there a medical question whether it happened. In the case of rape – steps to terminate a potential pregnancy could be taken immediatley – before a fetal heartbeat or brain activity starts. As to incest, a much more difficult situation because this is typically hidden – that is actually why I can support abortion exclusions in the cases of rape, incest or health of the mother – which, according to statistics, represent less than 3% of all abortions.
- Pro-abort people make the argument that the mother has rights to her own body – which she certainly does – but to deny that a fetus is and becomes a person is illogical. You and I are prima facie evidence that is true, so the question isn’t if, but when a fetus can be considered a “person”.
Hopefully not to be too repetitive but I have stated before that the entire abortion question boils down to the answers to two basic but very difficult questions:
1 – What is life?
2 – When does it begin?
As time passes, medical science allows the definitions to get more specific.
- 100 years ago, it was when the baby was born and its body began to function.
- 40 years ago, we learned how to perform fetal surgeries – in the womb.
- Today, we have the technology to allow a 21 week old fetus to survive outside the womb – but we also know that the heartbeat (5 weeks), activity in the brain (6 weeks) and the ability to feel pain starts much earlier than 21 weeks (around 8 weeks).
I do think the “heartbeat” and “electrical activity in the brain” concepts have merit as we try to settle on a definition. If we have a standard of the stoppage of those things as the legal definition of death (even if the person is on mechanical life support), does it not make sense that the opposite should indicate the legal definition of life (even on biological life support, i.e. in the womb)?
I know that there are some people who lean on empiricism and science to deny the biblical Jeremiah 1:5 definition of life: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” – the fact is due to our limitations, I do not know – but I can intellectually lean on what an empiricist philosopher proposed.
Immanuel Kant stated that due to the limitations of argumentation in the absence of irrefutable evidence, no one could really know whether there is a God and an afterlife or not – but for the sake of morality and as a grounding for reason, people are justified in believing in God, even though they could never know God’s presence empirically. He wrote:
“If one cannot prove that a thing is, he may try to prove that it is not. And if he succeeds in doing neither (as often occurs), he may still ask whether it is in his interest to accept one or the other of the alternatives hypothetically, from the theoretical or the practical point of view. Hence the question no longer is as to whether perpetual peace is a real thing or not a real thing, or as to whether we may not be deceiving ourselves when we adopt the former alternative, but we must act on the supposition of its being real.”
When I ask myself is it better or worse to believe a fetus is a live person, my own answer – when faced with the prospect of terminating a life – is that it is better, as a basis for a moral and just society, to believe it is a person and alive (especially for the person the fetus will undeniably become).
I can never agree to abortion on demand at any point in gestation as a means of elective contraception. I think it puts society all too close to infanticide and genocide.
Anyway – that’s not something with which everyone will agree but in my attempt to cut through the hysteria, this is what I have reasoned myself into and why I think the “heartbeat/brain activity” definition of life makes sense to me as a benchmark.