Monday, October 12, 2009

Why is abortion such a big deal? (Part 2)

(This post is part 2 of 3)

Isn't it unfair for one religious group to push their views on everyone?  What gives us the right to tell everyone else what to do?

While abortion is often opposed by religious groups on religious grounds, the charge that it is a "religious issue" simply doesn't stick.

While President Obama says that the question of when life begins is "above his pay grade" anyone who studies the scientific evidence with an unbiased mind would conclude that a fertilized egg is alive and is human.  It has all of the properties of a living human including the ability to multiply cells, develop vital organs, etc.  A fertilized egg has everything it needs to develop into an adult human.

Some argue that because it cannot survive outside its mother means it's not really human.  This argument is completely illogical.  I cannot survive outside of the earth; am I therefore not human?  Everyone requires a safe environment to live in.  An embryo is more fragile than an adult and needs a different environment.  That has nothing to do with whether it is human or not.

To reject the idea that an embryo is a human opens some difficult questions.  When does a human become human?  Some say at birth, but what's the difference, scientifically, between an unborn and a born baby?  Nothing more than an inch or so of its mother's abdomen.

Yet it is illegal to kill a born baby.  Isn't it consistent to also make illegal killing an unborn baby?  There is no scientific difference between the two.

Abortion supporters claim that they use science, not religion, but I argue it's the other way around.  Science suggests that there is no physical difference between a born and unborn baby.  The statement that "life" or "personhood" is assigned to a born baby but not an unborn one is much more religious than scientific.  "Life" and "personhood" are non-scientific terms.  They are labels that science cannot define (don't believe me?  Google "brain death" and check out the debate about what it means for a person to be dead.  People are trying to change the obvious scientific answer with one that happens to be more conducive to organ harvesting).

If there is no scientific difference between a born and unborn baby then what logical reason is there for them to be treated differently under the law?  There is no such logical reason.

Yes there is, an unborn baby is part of its mother so she has extra rights over it.

Why?  Why does a mother have more rights than the child inside of her?  I think any person has the right to do with their body as they choose; but that right ends when their actions intrude on the rights of someone else.

Smoking cigarettes is becoming less and less acceptable.  Why?  Why can't I smoke cigarettes if I want to; it's my body, isn't it?  Yes, but your actions affect the people around you via second-hand smoke.  Your freedom is trampling my freedom.

A mother's body is necessary for an unborn child's survival, it is true, but that doesn't make the unborn baby a "part" of the mother's body.  When it is cold, I need a heavy coat to survive outside but that doesn't make me "part" of that coat.  The coat and I are independent.  I am a living human who happens to need different things for my survival; but I am still a distinct human being.

A born baby needs his parents for many things, food, shelter, warmth, etc.  A born baby cannot survive without its parents, or without someone to take care of it.  Does this make the baby "part" of the caregiver?  Can the caregiver decide that the baby is an inconvenience and "dispose" of the baby?  No, that is universally disallowed.

An unborn baby needs its mother for survival but is not therefore "part" of its mother.  It needs warmth and nutrition but it doesn't depend on its mother for development any more than a born child does.  If we had the right technology, an embryo could be conceived and developed seamlessly into an adult outside the womb.  To say that the baby then is somehow "part" of the mother makes no sense.  The embryo is a distinct human being.

Don't get me wrong, mothers are vital and essential to their children and I don't want to mitigate that importance; but to say the unborn child is "part" of the mother and therefore under her authority is illogical.

If the unborn child could talk, I bet it would disagree with the notion that its life is less important than the life of its mother.

This is why abortion is so important to us; we are speaking for humans who can't speak for themselves.

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