It is Not Easy to be Pro-Life…But Necessary
Polling and recent elections clearly establish that the majority of the American people favor legalized abortion to some degree. Axiomatically, that makes it unpopular to be pro-life.
It is not fun to have one cast as some sort of anti-democratic, woman-hating misogynist. But that does not mean the pro-life minority is wrong, however. Pro-life is founded on a fundamental moral, legal, scientific, and constitutional foundation – currently contested as it may be.
It is first imperative to understand that pro-lifers are not a monolithic community. Some believe that there should be no exceptions. Others believe in only one exception – the life of the mother. Most believe in exceptions for the life of the mother, rape, and incest. Some would allow abortions for very young girls.
Likewise, the pro-abortion community is not monolithic. Some believe in abortion at the will of the mother at any time short of birth – and in the extreme, they believe in “abortion” at partial birth or even any time before the umbilical cord is severed. Support for abortion drops as pregnancy advances. Most Americans believe it should be illegal in the third trimester.
Pew Research shows an interesting merging of pro-life and pro-abortion opinions. Thirty-Seven percent of pro-abortion folks believe that abortion should have limits, and 27 percent of pro-lifers believe in abortion only in “most cases.” That puts the “no limits” and the “no exceptions” people in a clear minority.
Majority opinion does not make it right
History is filled with examples of a majority opinion being wrong on the matter of humanness or personhood. In ancient Egypt, among Mayans and others, human sacrifice was widely accepted among the public. Humans who would otherwise enjoy the benefits of citizenship were reduced to sacrificial property. They were de-humanized.
Slavery was an institutional de-humanization – claiming the enslaved as property. They were denied personhood by the majority opinion at the time. Negroes were dehumanized as ape-ish creatures during the era of segregation in the South by regimes supported by a majority of the populace. Arguably, the majority of the German people accepted the inferiority of Jews – often depicting them as deformed imbecilic creatures.
For pro-lifers, the idea of de-humanizing – or denying the personhood – of the fetus is yet another widely embraced immorality. And there can be no mistake that the pro-abortion position is to de-humanize the developing human while in the womb.
The question of personhood
The question of personhood is the only valid issue between the pro-life and the pro-abortion communities. All other arguments are either irrelevant or a distraction – or both.
There can be no debate that from the time of conception, we have a developing human being. That is beyond question if you believe in science and biology. The issue that separates is civic personhood.
We know by culture and law that at some point in the gestation process, the developing human being is considered a person by all sides – entitled to the rights of an American citizen. But when in the ongoing process of gestation does that happen?
We grant citizenship – personhood — status even to babies birthed on American soil by foreigners. We legally protect the life and well-being of the child in the womb at some point before birth. The fact that one child in the womb can be aborted as a non-person while another at the same point of development can be legally protected from harm or death is a major conundrum of the pro-abortion community – although that dialogue is ignored for obvious reasons.
Personhood is a subject the pro-abortion community refuses to debate with any specificity – and any opinions expressed are widely diverse. There is no consensus among abortion advocates on a question that demands a coherent answer.
The bogus political arguments
One of the reasons that there is very little intelligent dialogue between the pro-life and pro-abortion communities is because the pro-abortion arguments are not the central points. Rather, they are capricious political arguments that focus only on the woman’s desire at the expense of the father, the unborn, and natural law.
According to the abortion advocates, it is a “woman’s health issue.” In terms of relevancy to the pro-life position, that is nonsense. Being pregnant is NOT a disease or an automatic threat to the physical well-being of the mother. The vast majority of abortions are performed on healthy women who are at no particular health risk at the time — or throughout the pregnancy. The issue is largely one of convenience, NOT health.
Pro-abortion advocates call it a “reproductive rights” issue. They assume that their position – and only their position — is the exclusive “reproductive right.” In fact, fathers have a right to reproduce – and above all, the unborn has a right to live under any fair and rational concept of reproductive rights. What abortion advocates are asserting is a faux “right” to terminate the life of a developing human being in the womb at will – a right NOT to reproduce at the mortal expense of the unborn and the nullification of the rights of the father.
The second most common claim is that the fetus is part of a woman’s body – over which she has an exclusive right to have the fetus – the developing human being – terminated. Of course, it is NOT an intrinsic part of a woman’s body. It is NOT standard equipment. It is a unique human creation of a woman AND a man – a FACT that is ignored by abortion advocates. Though the father bears half the responsibility for the creation of the developing human being – and financial obligations if the unborn is birthed — he is given no rights over the survival of his offspring in the pro-abortion world.
The pro-abortion world views the unborn human as a discardable piece of flesh despite the FACT that it IS a developing human being – just as the newborn baby is a yet developing human being in need of nurturing to survive. The significant difference is that the two parents of a newborn are morally and legally responsible for the nurturing of well-being of the infant. Birth is only a stage of human maturation – just as is the fertilized egg … the embryo … the zygote … the fetus. It is not biologically, legally or morally the transition point into personhood.
Though pro-life is often cast as a sexist or racist issue, it is not a gender or a race issue at all. The lives terminated or saved represent the full diversity of mankind. The purpose of pro-life is to save all lives regardless of gender or race. Pro-life is also blind to the future – making no arrogant assumptions or claims as to the future quality of life of the new human beings – nor of the contributions they will make to society, good or bad.
No consideration for the developing human … the unborn
The pro-abortion side of the debate gives no … zero … consideration to the developing human being. They declare it a non-person in defiance of logic and biology – giving it the equivalency of a cyst, wart, or mole. Rather than determine personhood based on science and civic morality, they express a confused, irrational, and inconsistent political judgment as to when that developing human transforms from an extraneous piece of flesh to a person with all the rights of personhood and citizenship – most fundamentally, the right to life.
De-humanizing the developing human being is essential to pro-abortion thinking because they well understand that acceptance of the obvious completely crushes their position on the issue. To admit that the developing human IS a developing human eradicates any semblance of moral justification for abortion. It is the termination of a human life … full stop.
This commentary started by pointing out how cultures have had horrific beliefs regarding classes of human beings, but I have always rejected the moral claim that those who believe in abortion-on-demand are necessarily immoral or evil people. Rather they are influenced by the zeitgeist of the times.
In my judgment, the response of the pro-life community is not the harsh accusatory finger, but serious civil dialogue. Abortion advocates may be egregiously wrong, in my opinion, but they are not evil – any more than pro-life individuals are women haters.
The entire abortion debate comes down to personhood – and when and how that occurs. Unfortunately, it is a subject abortion activists fear and oppose above all others. When does that developing human being attain all the moral, legal, and constitutional rights of a person? Until there is consensus on that central issue, the abortion debate will continue to stagnate over irrelevant endless-loop political arguments.
I do believe that there will come a day when mankind looks back on the culture of abortion the same way we now look back on human sacrifice and slavery. Unfortunately, I will not live to see that day.
So, there ‘tis.