What is obfuscated in the constant rhetoric and argumentative back and forth in the abortion debates is the question of whether or not we are taking another's life "against their will". Before you ignore that central question let me challenge you to honestly answer the question, "What is the moral, ethical and legal justification for extinguishing a human beings life without its consent?"
This is the first question that we have to answer. If the answer is there is never a point where it is justifiable to take another's life, then we have to move on to question two. Hopefully you are still tracking at this point.....The second question is, "what is life?"
Neither of these questions are adequately addressed in the context of this debate. The tired refrain is couched in language about "choice" and "rights" that never delves into the more essential question of what is life, and is murder ever acceptable.
Let me respond to the inevitable response to my appearing to be flippant about "choice" and "rights". As already stated, civilized society recognizes murder as an unacceptable immoral act. Second to murder, an intrinsic reality of a healthy society is to protect those who are weaker from having their rights trampled on by those who are more powerful. Regardless of the reasoning and the arguments that could be made for the stronger abusing the smaller, justice demands the protection of the oppressed.
I would hope that no one reading this would want to live in a society where a majority vote could decide what you are and aren't allowed to do and have. We appropriately look back with shame on the era of slavery and Jim Crow laws. The self-evident truths that all men are created equal demanded that regardless of one groups opinion, they couldn't willfully take away the rights of others.
When we breeze right past the questions of life and murder and jump right into a debate about rights and choices we are doing a great disservice to the weighty importance of the answers to these questions.
So, what is "life" anyways? When Roe vs Wade passed, part of the ruling was based on the fact that they did not have an answer of when life began. Sadly, instead of exploring that question more thoroughly, they lifted the ban and never revisited that essential question.
In the ensuing decades what we now know about fetal development is light years ahead of where they were at that point. A heartbeat is measurable by the 6th week. By the 9th week from gestation all the brain functions necessary to sense and respond to pain are active. Premature, and viable, births are happening at earlier and earlier stages. Children born around the 20th week from gestation are surviving. Albeit, it is a low rate of survivability, it is still happening.
The inspiration for this post came from an article that my wife posted today about a woman who was about 20 weeks pregnant with twins and was offered money and adoption to not go through with an abortion. She did it anyways.
This is heart breaking. From a strictly scientific point of view, that is right at the point of viability. Regardless of how you feel about abortion in general, two babies, who given just a few more days could have been delivered and given to a loving family who would have raised and cared for those children for the rest of their lives.
Here is what I am convinced pro-choice is choosing. It is choosing to define the value of an individuals life on the feelings of another about that life.
This is a frightening path that we have started on.
If you want to argue about age of viability and super early abortions, that is one thing. But the pro-choice movement does not only argue for those things. It is defending the "right" to "choose" to devalue another viable human life simply based on the current location of that life.
When we accept the premise that a medically viable life does not have a right to life based on someone else's "choice" than we have entered into frightening moral and philosophical territory. As a society trumps individual values for the opinion of the majority, or the strong(mother) over the weak(unborn child) we have willingly accepted a mindset that creates the framework through which it becomes possible to justify even more immoral decisions.
Once we have accepted that some lives are expendable regardless of what medical science says about the viability of that life, we no longer have the moral "brakes" to stop with at the next stop on the path.
While my religious convictions convince me of the intrinsic value of all life regardless of developmental stage, I am not arguing for that here. From a strictly scientific point of view, either life has the right to live unmolested by others, or it does not. There is no middle ground.
So how do you define life? Is all life worthy of defending and protecting, or, just some of it?
21 week old live birth