Before we enter into discussion of this issue, it is important to note that this argument will revolve around only the logical, scientific, and legal questions of abortion. In no way will religious views be taken into account, as such views are withheld from the regulation of law in this country. There is no state religion and as such, state views may not be influenced by religious doctrine.
Secondly, we will not be entertaining legal standing nor court decisions in either defense or as offense of this essay’s opinions. The fact of the matter is that the law is not infallible, nor is it without falling susceptible to cultural and social pressures and norms. More importantly, it is not without making mistakes, or at least ruling in such a way that is later found to be morally skewed. If one would argue that Roe vs. Wade has determined that a fetus is not a person as a matter of fact, one should also keep in mind that Scott vs. Sandford determined that an African American was in fact only three fifths of a person. The courts have ruled on the personhood of human beings in the past, and they have done so incorrectly. Seeing such, abortion specific legislature and court rulings in no way advance the course of logic, and may in fact impede it.
It is also important to note that the majority of arguments both for and against the prospect of abortion rely on arguments that are neither logical nor relevant. An example of one such argument against abortion is that it may cause considerable psychological trauma to the former mother at some point farther along in her life. True or not, this is irrelevant. Any number of activities may cause people trauma, and rarely is this basis for criminalizing them. If abortion is not murder, then it is within a woman’s right to receive whatever treatment she desires for her condition as long as she understands the risks posed. An example of irrelevancy on the side of those advocating choice is saying that many teenage mothers face a decreased quality of life with the birth of their child or children. Again, this is not in doubt, but similarly there are any number of activities which humans engage in that may cause a decreased quality of life, and quite often these activities are legal. Furthermore, if abortion is in fact murder, one could hardly find the prevention of a decreased quality of life to be justifiable grounds for homicide. While these arguments may offer some plausible understanding of the merits that stand for or against abortion, they generally do not answer the fundamental questions, which we will attempt to do herein.
A final notation is to point out that with a few exceptions or inclusions, we will use the term “fetus” to describe the state of the unborn child. While this is correct, it is used to speak to the general image and description of the aborted life and does not mean to preclude the earlier stage in human development, the zygote, from inclusion in the defenses we will discuss. While we question the rights and the circumstances of the fetus, keep in mind that these arguments are implicitly in defense of every stage of life beginning with conception, which is the point at which the human being first comes into existence. Keeping these points in mind, we may continue to the body of the discussion.
The first question in our journey towards a logical truth is whether or not a fetus is a life. This is the first question which, if answered in the negative, ends all possible argument on the matter. Luckily enough for the existence of this essay, it is also the easiest question to answer. The fetus is without a doubt very much alive. It represents life and, more so, it represents human life. There is no doubt as to whether the zygote or fetus lives, and there is no confusion as to whether or not it is human. The next part of this question, and the more difficult to answer, is whether or not the fetus is a human being, or if you prefer, a person.
The first accusation is that while being a human life, the fetus is not a human being but a potential human being. Until it actually becomes a human being proper, it is not allowed the benefit of our legal system’s protection. The oft used comparison is that a fetus is not a human, in the same way that an acorn is not an oak tree and an egg is not a chicken. This comparison is particularly misleading, because it ignores the differences between biological entities and stages in biological development.
An acorn is not an oak tree, this is true. But a human spermazoa is not a human either. And while an egg is not a chicken, neither is the human ova a human being. However, an acorn that has germinated and begun to sprout is now a member proper of the oak species, it simply is not at the stage that would be considered an “oak tree.” It is a seedling, and will grow to a sprout, then a sapling, then a youth, and then an adult. Much like a human goes from zygote to fetus to baby to infant and etc. simply put, the acorn is a form of misdirection. The second form is the egg.
An egg is a container. Serving the same function as the chicken egg is the human placenta, which grows within the uterus and contains the human fetus. An egg is not a chicken, and a placenta is not a person. But what is inside the chicken egg? The answer, obviously, is a chicken. What is in the human placenta? The answer, again, is obvious.
Simply put, potential humans only exist as raw materials in the form of sperm and ovum within human beings themselves. Now, it is fair to say that something may be potentially something else even while it is actively engaged within the process of becoming that other thing. Surely if I have ham, cheese, and two slices of bread, I have a potential ham and cheese sandwich. And if I put a slice of ham on a single piece of bread, you would say it is still a potential sandwich, and not call it a ham and cheese sandwich until all the necessary components were in place. If I stop making the sandwich halfway through, all that’s left is a potential sandwich and no one that comes across my half-finished lunch is going to refer to it as a sandwich. The difference here, however, is that my lunch meats and loose bread will not go about fulfilling their potential on their own. I can not leave them on the counter, step out of the room, and then come back to a sandwich. A fetus, of course, will continue to develop quite happily and successfully all on its own, and regardless of outside intervention. All it requires is sustenance, but we can hardly hold this against the fetus since this is the same thing all humans require, and we are not listed as “potential humans” simply due to our requirement of food and water.
A second strike against the suggestion that a fetus is only “potentially” a human is the fact that the fetus has no choice but to go on developing. You could say that one is a “potential” author, and by this you might mean that he is very well written and perhaps creative enough to weave a captivating tale. He is not, however, a published writer, and so is only potentially an author. The difference however, is that our aspiring novelist has the option of not becoming an author. He may exist in a difference state (as our slice of cheese may end up on a hamburger, or our slices of bread may be toasted and buttered for breakfast), and his potential authorship may go untapped. The fetus, on the other hand, has no such option. It is a human being, and will continue to go on developing as a human being. Before we continue, take a look at the definition for potential:
1: existing in possibility: capable of development into actuality <potential benefits>
2: expressing possibility; specifically : of, relating to, or constituting a verb phrase expressing possibility, liberty, or power by the use of an auxiliary with the infinitive of the verb (as in “it may rain”)
Note “existing in possibility.” A human fetus is not “possibly” a human being. To say such would imply that it will “possibly” become a human, but it may “possibly” also become a vampire bat or a Louisville Slugger. The only “possibility” for a fetus is to move on to the next stage in human development, which is a newborn, or a baby. When there is but one possibility, that is no longer a possibility, it is a definite and it becomes the definition of the object in question. As noted in the second definition, when there is the potential for something, you might say something along the lines of “it may rain.” Notice however, that no one says “my pregnancy may result in a human.” It is also worth noting that none of the natural traits of that fetus are items of potential either, as they are all written quite concretely into the fetus’ genetic code. We may not be able to determine whether a fetus will be male or female, but the fetus itself has already made that distinction when it came into being.
No, simply put, there are no possibilities in regard to the future of the fetus. The only outcome other than the newborn stage of development is death. And this is the same for all members of our species, in every stage. These notions however, as persuasive and logical as they may be, still reside in the realm of opinion. The definitions of words are fickle things, and by striking the technical term of potential we simply invite a substitute. Noting as we have the fallacy of the supposed “potential human,” we will now approach the issue from a more logical and arresting standpoint. We will however, continue to refer to the concept of the “potential human” as it is this specific concept we are addressing.
The kangaroo, like other marsupials, gives birth after a very short gestation period, usually little more than a month. At this point, the baby kangaroo, called a Joey, is roughly the size of a lima bean and has developed to the same point as the average human fetus at seven weeks. The Joey, upon being born, spends the next nine months developing within the mother’s pouch. It grows until it resembles a small kangaroo, and this “advanced” Joey stage is comparable to the infant or toddler stages of humans. Note that disregarding appearances, the newborn kangaroo is in no way considered to be a fetus. And this is, of course, by human standards, as marsupials in general have not contributed much to the actual nomenclature of their life-cycles. No, by human standards, this fetal-looking creature is now a “baby.” And keep in mind that at this point in its life it is no more developed than a seven week old human fetus. Now consider if you will, a human woman in her eighth week of pregnancy.
Imagine that a bean-sized human baby crawls from her womb, grasps and pulls itself along her pubic hair and finally comes to rest in her “pouch,” a pocket of skin that, for the purpose of our thought experiment, all human woman now have along their midsections. Imagine that newborn “fetus” grabbing at its mother’s nipple (now transplanted to the interior of her stomach pouch) and suckling it, as any newborn is apt to do. Now, imagine that mother reaching into her pouch, withdrawing the baby, and promptly squishing it between her fingers. Would you consider her to be within her rights to do this? Would this be substantially different than squishing the head of her other child, a nine month old who just recently emerged from the same pouch? The answer for most would be no, this is not all right.
We view the newborn joey as a baby kangaroo, but a kangaroo nonetheless. It simply cannot be defined as a “fetus,” a term which scientifically fails to apply at the moment of birth. The “fetal” stage is simply the stage at which an organism exists within the body of its parent. To the advocate of the potential life form, the Joey ceased to be potential at the moment it was born. However, it is developmentally in the same exact stage as the so-called potential human. Logically, we can therefore determine that this notion of potential humanness cannot be based on gestation, developmental stage, viability (although we will return to this notion), appearance, or any other circumstance which the human fetus shares with the marsupial joey. The only possible distinction between the human fetus and the joey is in their location. The fetus resides within the womb and the joey resides within a pouch. The fetus can therefore only be potentially a human due to a matter of real estate.
Being left only with the fetus’ location as to its distinctive non-human status, we must examine this particular concept for logical fallacies. The first and most obvious cause of this distinction is the physical location; inside the womb. This argument would note that a human is simply not a human being until it has breached the vaginal canal, in a purely locational sense. This calls for another thought experiment:
Imagine if you will that a law was passed in which any person standing within a room of blue walls ceased to be legally considered a human being for the time he was within that space. And imagine that for however long that moment of time, it was perfectly legal to kill this person. As he ceases to be a person within that room, he is now a “potential person,” and will only become a person again upon leaving the blue room. In fact, considering such, you would not even be “killing” this person, you would simply be keeping him from reaching his human potential. However, once that same person leaves the blue room, he has fulfilled his potential, is now a human being again, and cannot be killed. It is this notion that we must now consider and accept if we are to agree that simple residence within the womb is grounds for the termination of a human life, and the abortion of a being that is not a human being, but only because he resides within the womb.
The distinction is clear: Morally, physical location can remove neither human standing nor unalienable rights. It is beyond naïve to assume that a moments before birth a fetus is no more than a lump of human tissue, with no claim to personhood, and no defensible rights and yet, the second of birth it is now a human being and its killing (infanticide) is one of the most heinous acts of the human imagination. You cannot go from a dispensable nothing to a treasured and fiercely guarded life form simply by passing through a cervix. There is no magical transformative barrier that the fetus must traverse in which it suddenly becomes a new classification of life. It is the same creature at the moment of birth as it was a few minutes prior within the womb. Location, simply put, does not equal eligibility for personhood. If so, then the darkest gulags of the Soviet Union should have conceivably considered moral centers, if only because the Soviet Union declared those areas to be without human consideration. If the womb can be considered a no-man’s land of civil rights and protections, then so can any other tangible location. We cannot as a moral society lambast the tortured existence of souls in Guantanamo Bay and at the same time suffer the existence of millions of wombs on our own soil in which the guarantee of protection from murder is literally naught. Logically, a fetus is not a “potential human” simply because it resides within the womb. If not the location, then it must be due to the circumstances.
The first circumstance that we will is examine is the concept of viability. Simply put, the fetus is not a human being because he is not viable, i.e. he/she cannot survive outside of the womb and is dependent on the mother for continuation of life. This is to say that he has not reached full humanness and personhood until he can survive independent of another person. Of course it goes without saying that no newborn, infant, or toddler can survive independent of another human being. The idea here is that the fetus is dependent on a very specific human being (its own mother and only its own mother), and that it depends on this person for even the most basic of survival. The fetus can quite literally do nothing on its own, and this includes breathing, which puts it in a separate class from a newborn baby. It does, however, put it in the same class as an invalid dependent upon life support for survival. There are of course persons in such a horrible state of damage that their every vital function is maintained solely through the use of mechanical apparatus. These individuals do not, of course, become “potential humans.” They do not at that point lose their right to exist. Therefore, dependence of vital functions is clearly not the determining factor in the right to life, or in establishing personhood.
Now, the astute observer will point out that in this case, the next of kin has the right to terminate those dependent functions. In the case of the ward being a child, the mother has the legal and perhaps even moral right to remove all such life support. This is indeed true. However, this is only in such cases where the return of viability is seen as being not likely. For instance, suppose a child is undergoing a heart transplant. At the moment that the diseased heart is removed, that child is no longer viable and is now being kept alive through mechanical means until the healthy heart can be introduced. The mother may decide that this is her chance, run into the operating room, and demand that her child be taken off life support. This will of course, not happen. Likewise, while the fetus is in fact completely dependent on the mother’s life support system, a healthy fetus not only has a “likelihood” of attaining viability, but a certainty of it. Imagine another ill child, solely dependent on a respirator for survival. Her doctor approaches the child’s mother in the waiting room and declares that the child will make a full recovery within nine months. The mother responds that she’d like the child taken off life support and be allowed to die. Now imagine the doctor’s response. He will undoubtedly do no such thing, and it is more than likely that he will place a call to social services. The same applies for the fetus.
Of course, the second prong of that approach is that the mother is the sole possible support of the fetus’ viability, and it is that very unique bond that precludes the fetus from being a human being. In short, one cannot be a human being and only a “potential human” as long as they are dependent on one single, specific other human for their own survival. This separates the fetus from a baby, who can be cared for by any human aside from its mother, and who still has available to it its own basic functions. It also separates the fetus from our hypothetically ill children who, while devoid of even the most basic of functions, are sustained by a machine, and an easily replaceable machine at that. There is, however, a class of person that this distinction does not separate our fetus from.
There are two girls, and we will call them Jane and Jill. They are very real, and there are numerous others like them, so we may consider them literally and not hypothetically.
Jane and Jill are conjoined twins, and they are joined skeletally at the midsection. They have the appearance of one torso with two heads, but actually consist of two spines. Each is more dependent on the other than our fetus could ever be on its mother, simply through the virtue of the fact that the fetus will certainly overcome that dependency, and will usually do so long before its natural birth date. Jane and Jill will always be dependent. Despite this, Jane and Jill have two social security numbers, two drivers’ licenses, and can vote separately in elections. Despite their complete dependence on another, they are fully realized human beings and afforded every such protection under the law. The only question is whether or not Jane and Jill are an exception due to their co-dependency. Surely a mother is not dependent on her fetus for survival.
Consider then the seven percent of conjoined twins which exist in a parasitic relationship. In this case, one twin is fully functioning and completely viable, and houses the organs which provide life for its often smaller, perhaps even withered, twin. One twin is in the same situation as our mother, and the other takes on a completely fetal level of dependency. However, this absolute dependency in no way restricts the humanity of the parasitic twin. It is a human being in every aspect, despite sharing the fetus' circumstances. And despite even that, unlike the fetus, the parasitic twin will never develop beyond its dependence. And yet again, this singularly dependent twin is indeed a person, possesses a social security number, and is protected under our bill of rights.
We must now address a possible side-effect of our reasoning. Would these conclusions provide full classification of humanness to the separate class of parasitic twins that reside completely within the body, and often do so as a mess of disorganized tissue? Along with the fetus, should we class those few twins that are very much alive, and grow within their hosts only to be removed as a mess of bone, fingernails, and other biologically human fragments?
The answer to this question is possibly yes, that these twins are humans and are afforded the same rights. However, the difference between these twins and our fetus is that the parasitic sibling has no viable future. They are our patients on life support to whom there is no possible recovery. In this case it is then again the right of the next of kin to remove that life support if they see fit. Again, the fetus is awarded with the right of life because it will continue to develop out of its stage of dependency. The parasitic twin has no such future. We may consider it a human being, but we must acknowledge its completely terminal disposition.
On the other hand, the answer is quite possibly no, if you are of the mindset that something can stop being a human being altogether. Parasitic twins are generally living tissue (as is the fetus, and as are we all), however they are living tissue that has strayed from the developmental path of a human being. It has strayed substantially, and it will never correct that path, nor will it continue to develop in a human way. Could you view this entity as no longer human? Is it possible to cease to be human? Could, for instance, a human being be mutated through whatever means to the point where it is no longer human at all? In the end, these questions are rather irrelevant to our logic. What is relevant is that we have established that dependence for viability is not a determining factor for whether or not someone is a human being or a person. Furthermore, neither is dependence on one specific human as in the case of a mother through the course of pregnancy. Our society allows individuals to suffer both sets of circumstances and yet considers them people and allows them the full rights and protections of our society. Having discarded the notion of the plausibility of a “potential” human, and having covered not only the location of the fetus but also its specific circumstances, we may now move on under the assured understanding that a fetus is in fact a human being. It is a human being, and it is a human being which exists in circumstances that do not detract from its right to the protection of its life. We will now take a moment to consider what exactly a fetus is.
Understanding what a fetus is will allow us to view him in context. Specifically, a fetus is as follows:
: An unborn or unhatched vertebrate especially after attaining the basic structural plan of its kind; specifically: a developing human from usually two months after conception to birth
In the case of humans, the fetus must be unborn to be a fetus. This is simple enough to understand. Being born is the process of exiting the womb. It is not the process of existing, nor is it the process of becoming alive. It is the process by which a human releases its dependency on its mother’s placenta and enters the next stage of development. Significantly, this next stage replaces dependence on the placenta with dependence on the breast. Of course, scientifically, the newborn is no longer dependent on a breast and many mothers will never breastfeed. This is, however, irrelevant, as modern science is also making the fetus less and less dependent on the placenta as well.
The fetus is simply a fetus in the same manner as a baby is a baby, a teenager is a teenager, and an adult is and adult. It is one of the many stages of human development. Specifically it is the second stage of human development, the first being that of a zygote, as mentioned earlier. Granted, the process of developing from a fetus to a baby is an extreme one, and the beginnings and ends of this stage are worlds apart as far as functionality and appearance are concerned. However, it is not the last major stage of development. All humans will continue to develop through puberty, and while these changes are much less severe, they are also very significant, both biologically and visually. Later on, women will further develop through menopause and undergo even more changes. While a teenager will “mature” through puberty, a fetus will “gestate” from its own stage of development. The specifics are of course different (nature would not serve us well to provide redundancies in our life cycle), but the concept is the same. As the definition states and as this essay will continue to purport, a fetus is a developing human. Now what is puberty?
Definition of PUBERTY
: the condition of being or the period of becoming first capable of reproducing sexually marked by maturing of the genital organs, development of secondary sex characteristics, and in the human and in higher primates by the first occurrence of menstruation in the female
It is the “development of secondary sex characteristics.” One would logically assume that if you are “developing” some human trait in particular, then you are also a developing human. Development stages do not preclude members of society from existing as proper people. If so, we may therefore consider children and adults as human beings and persons, but group together the zygote, fetus, and teenager as developing or “potential” humans, and abort our teenagers as we see fit. We could perhaps even group the menopausal woman in as well, and abort her as it’s convenient. To be clear, a fetus is not an alien life form, it is a stage of the human life cycle. What we are exploring is why this particular stage (and the one before it) is an expendable stage, while all that come after are sacred.
We have now removed the foreign nature of the term “fetus,” explained the true concept of birth, and examined the status of a fetus as a “human being” within the womb. The logical truth is that a fetus is indeed a human being, and it is a person. Understanding that, we must still face the notion that due to a combination of circumstances, the fetus is a person without recognizable rights. Objections are often raised to the fact that a fetus does not have a social security number, it not a citizen until it is “born,” is not counted on a census, and numerous other technical aspects, all of which are geared toward removing from the fetus its constitutional rights.
This line of reasoning quickly falls apart upon even rudimentary analysis. Illegal Immigrants, for instance, are not citizens, do not have social security numbers, and yet are still protected by our constitution. We cannot walk around killing them simply due to a lack of paperwork and a lack of legal recognition. Citizenship does not grant a person protection, humanity does. Likewise, protecting a person’s life does not correlate to counting them on a census. A census serves a specific function, and that function is not better filled by counting a zygote or fetus. It would be irrational to provide census statistics for a class of people that are not issued death certificates, and whose absence from a following census may be never be explained. Issuing death certificates for a portion of the population in which the mortality rate is fairly high would likewise serve no beneficial government process. It is additionally worth noting that a mother may choose to continue her pregnancy through to birth without there being any official record whatsoever of her child. A home birth would allow a baby with no more official recognition that a fetus, and yet that child is quite clearly a person and is quite clearly protected from murder.
And, as gruesome a notion as this may be, that same unaccounted-for child may die and be discarded of without any record of its existence in the notations of our society. This unknown child was still of course a person. The truth is that no babies are issued social security numbers upon birth. These must be requested at some point afterward and will be issued days if not weeks after the child is born. Until that number is issued, even this hospital-born baby has as much recognition as it did in the womb. True, the baby is still a citizen and the fetus is not, however neither are our throngs of constitutionally protected illegal immigrants.
History has taught us the error of declassifying a specific portion of our population toward the effect of removing rights or excluding entrance into a protected class. A fetus may be considered a “sub-person” by measure of its developmental stage, as likewise the Jews in the time of the Third Reich were considered “sub-human” due to their ethnicity and were without the benefit of the right to life. There are few among us that would look back and grant the National Socialists their right to determine the level of humanness that may be awarded civil treatment. Just as few would look back at our own nation and agree with the treatment of African Americans due to the fact that we had legally decided they held value as people to a degree that was less than an American citizen. No, history has only taught us that we should not, must not, and can not differentiate the quality of a life because of race, religion, or even developmental stage.
As a final point before moving on, it is worth noting that some attempt is made to identify the fetus as a person or not dependent upon how far along he is in his development. Specifically, the omission of one body part or another, or of the reception of some particular stimuli, is used to classify “people” and omit a human of a certain age or less. All that needs to be said is that a human being can conceivably be born without any number of senses or body parts, from the ability to feel pain to the absence of a brain. And we may be born alive without these faculties and considered people, regardless of the certain death we may face as a result. It goes without saying that the mother of a baby newly born with Harlequin type ichthyosisis would not told that her child was only “potentially” a person simply because he failed to properly develop skin within the womb. Simply, attempting to define persons by their body parts or the development of their senses and functions is not a logical course of action.
Qualifying the rights and liberties of the fetus as it stands alone, we have covered ground which would not have been questioned if not for the adversarial relationship in which those rights exist. To the contrary, our own legal system allows for the slayers of unborn children to be charged with the crime of murder. In general, it is not a foreign concept to protect the life of the fetus from harm or termination. Where the rights and recognition of the fetus are stripped away is at the point in time when they come into conflict with the rights of the mother. It is at that point that the fetus ceases to be a person and instead becomes a “potential person” devoid of rights, and it is that confrontation we will logically examine now
A woman certainly has a right to her body, as does any other member of society. This is not, however, a completely unalienable right. Circumstances do exist in which the freedom of our bodies may be restricted, and one such example of that is in the case of self-inflicted harm. You generally may not walk down the street through the masses and cut at your flesh with impunity. You most likely will be apprehended by the police, delivered to a hospital, and restrained until it can be assured that your behavior has been adjusted. Simply put, circumstances do exist where you have very little to no right to your body. In almost all cases, this has to do with ceasing the infliction of harm to one’s self. In certain cases, you may even lose the right to freedom of your own mind, as a court can order mentally inhibiting medications in exchange for freedom to those of society who find themselves inclined (for a variety of psychological reasons) to inflict not only harm upon themselves, but to others as well.
This is not to compare a woman seeking an abortion to someone with suicidal tendencies or to a mental patient, it is simply to recognize that it is a fallacy to think that under all circumstances any person has a right to complete control over their body. They quite simply do not. And that is just in cases of the infliction of harm, let alone in a matter of life and death.
Moving on from that point, one may claim an exemption because the mother exists in the specific state of sharing her own physical processes with the fetus, and it is her body that is being used, and without her permission. First, in regards to the ownership of one’s body, the fact is that the extent of one’s ownership can change in conjunction with one’s choices. A person certainly owns their kidneys. However, if they choose to donate one of those kidneys, and it is placed in another person, they no longer have claim to that organ. Strictly speaking, it is still the owner’s kidney, insofar as it has not changed into a different piece of tissue than it was in the first place. However, the agreement that was made as well as the procedure that has taken place has changed said ownership. The donor cannot decide at a later point in time that they shouldn’t have given up their organ and then proceed to cut it out of the recipient. The agreement to donate it in conjunction with the operation has removed their piece of tissue from their sphere of influence.
Similarly, the female has made the choice (for the most part, but we will address the exceptions later on) to proceed in actions that she knows full well may result in pregnancy. She has made an agreement to take that chance, and open herself up to the possibility or even probability of conception. She is risking her womb at the moment of intercourse. Likewise, the conception itself represents the procedure that seals the deal. There are two differences between the new mother and the organ donor; one is that the organ donor’s kidney is now inside the recipient, while our new zygote is inside the mother’s uterus. This is a matter of placement. The same as we may well tell the regretful donor “I’m sorry but now Mr. Recipient has the right to your kidney and we can’t change that, perhaps you should not have agreed to donate,” we may also tell our surprised mother “I’m sorry but now your unborn child has the right to your uterus and we can’t change that, perhaps you should not have agreed to have sex.” Both our mother and our donor have become suddenly aware that they have lost control over key parts of their bodies due to the decisions they chose to make.
The next logical objection at this point is that the donor has changed his mind and, furthermore, his organ is removed completely and he is a whole person without it. The mother on the other hand, did not intend to become pregnant and is now saddled with the loss of control of a part of her body that is still a part of her body proper. To address the latter issue, we will note that the benefit of the mother’s situation is that she will again regain full control of her body in its entirety in time. This is in contrast to the donor, who will never again regain that kidney, even at the possible failure of his one remaining kidney. While this comparison may not be completely equitable, the inequality can swing both ways.
To the point of the mother lacking intent, that is a particular item of interest. An argument made in the case for legalized abortion is that no contraceptive is completely effective, and so “accidents” may happen, and the mother should not be penalized if she was in fact being “responsible.” Functionally, this would be asking any potential mother to extend her responsibility beyond the use of contraceptives, and to the actual act of sex itself. Comparatively, this would be expecting the same level of responsibility from females as our system currently does from males. Imagine a man impregnates a woman, who delivers the child nine months later. Now in family court, our naïve friend explains to the judge that he did in fact use a condom but an accident happened, and he did not mean to impregnate the child’s mother. Therefore, he should reasonably not be expected to support the child. One can also imagine the judge’s response. While we ask the males of our society to be prepared for eighteen years of financial support in exchange for each act of sex, it is not unimaginable to ask of our women to be prepared for nine months of pregnancy in exchange for the same. This is at the same time granting our mother the option of releasing her child for adoption, thereby removing from her any financial responsibility.
Say perhaps that you invite a friend into your house, with the intention of having a pleasant evening of conversation. At some point the night turns sour, and you and your friend engage in a hostile exchange of words. He offends you, and you call the police with the intent of pressing charges for trespassing, under the notion that he is no longer welcome as the conversation has strayed from your original intent. Such charges would of course fail to materialize. A person knows the consequences of sex, and is beholden to those consequences regardless of the outcome. Because a sexual encounter did not turn out the way one plans does not imply that the person is suddenly a victim or being forced into any number of unconstitutional circumstances.
The truth is that one must always be aware of and accept one’s actions before acting. If you have chosen to speed, you are still responsible for the accident you cause regardless of the fact that you did not mean to cause it and never expected it to happen. It is perverse to the American moral system to believe that someone can become a victim of the results of their own actions; of actions that they willfully committed, and did so with complete understanding of the possible outcome. To say that a woman’s rights are being violated by forcing her to commit to a pregnancy that she did not “expect” to have is tantamount to saying that it’s a violation of someone’s rights to force them to lie in the bed that they themselves made. Granted, we often make allowances to those that make poor choices, and there are a number of systems in place to protect those that erred themselves out of a desirable station in life. However, these motions are charitable in nature and are a luxury, but in no way are they a defensible right. In short, the constitutional “right” does not exist, for men or for women, to have society pull them out of a sticky situation of their own creation. And such a right certainly does not exist to such a degree that it would override the right of an unborn human being to be kept alive.
At this point we have already established that a fetus is a person, and that there is no logical circumstance of its existence that works to rob it of its fundamental right to life. What we have just examined is if there are rights to which a woman is guaranteed that may be so egregiously offended as to override the rights of the child and justify its death. We have shown that the right to her body is one which is regularly supplanted under circumstances that are more trivial than the issue of life and death contained within the concept of abortion. We have also shown that the inherent sanctity of one’s body can in fact be momentarily suspended given it is done so through conscious choice. Furthermore we have logically concluded that knowing full well the possible ramifications of our actions does not preclude us from responsibility for those outcomes just because it was not the outcome we wanted. This is much less a matter of opinion than it is the observance of the responsibility we expect to be taken by the male half of our society.
We may now logically say that abortion is murder. It is the murder of a human, and it is the murder of a human for no redeemable reason. The only possible argument for the choice of abortion that remains is to say that while a fetus is in fact a person, is in fact a human being, it exists in a developmental stage in which it is subject to termination, to murder. If such is your stance, then it is important to keep in mind that this logically would imply any other stage of human development be open for summary execution as well. The only reason why one would not support the murder of babies would be perhaps because they are cute. Then what of ugly babies? Or perhaps it’s because babies have social security numbers, in which case there is no sanctity in the life of an illegal immigrant. Or perhaps it is only humans which or dependent for the continuation of their bodily functions, in which case there should be no punishment for the murder of the invalids. Whichever way you choose to justify the legalization of abortion, keep in mind the ramifications of drawing lines in the sand between groups of human beings. It can be a cumbersome task indeed to include the group you find it convenient to dispose of while still excluding groups of which you may not particularly desire to see removed. But make no mistake about it, the unborn child is a child nonetheless, and a human being, and a person, and whatever else it may be that you yourself are which grants you the sanctity of your own life.
The rights of men and women in our society are numerous, and are summed up in several documents that span the history of our nation. However, nowhere in those documents is the right to the correction of our mistakes. Sex poses risks, and it can safely be assumed that abortions are not limited to those among us who not aware of this simple fact. And as with most things in life, the greater the reward the greater the risk. Sex also carries with it the risk of a sexually transmitted disease, and this can sometimes carry permanent results. In some instances, this can even carry fatal results. Yet, knowing such, the majority of us still engage in sex, usually taking precautions that we know full well are not foolproof. We risk our lives with each act of intercourse, but it seems repulsive to ask that we risk the birth of a child. As arduous as pregnancy is, as emotionally damaging as it may be, and as easily as it can alter our lives, it is nowhere near as damning as death. Yet while it is apparently understandable to risk death, it is in certain circles unfathomable to ask one to risk protecting and ensuring life.