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Monday, February 2, 2015

To be Human or Not to Be: That is the Question About Abortion

by Christopher Ziegler

New Jersey Pro-Life Witness
Twitter Handle @CZWriting
reprinted from Times of Trenton with author’s permission

(Editor’s Note: Mr. Ziegler wrote this piece in response to several articles marking the 42nd anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Jan. 22, 1973, that legalized abortion.)

This is the question I believe a person should answer when deciding his or her position on abortion: Is the fetus human or something less than human?

That is, does a fetus, existing in utero, constitute a human life? If our answer to this question is “no,” we have very little cause to say abortion is wrong and should be illegal. But if our answer is “yes,” then it would be heartless not to say abortion is wrong and should be illegal.

I found it curious that most discussions about abortion avoid asking this vital question. Instead, they focus on a series of peripheral issues, such as the passage of recent state laws meant to limit access to abortion. But before we can address the rightness or wrongness of these laws, we must first determine the rightness or wrongness of abortion. And we cannot do that until we decide whether the fetus constitutes a human life.

Many pro-choice advocates dodge this question by recasting the issue as pertaining solely to women. When I was pro-choice, I would defend my position by claiming that the issue was really about women’s reproductive rights. I told myself that because it sounded a lot better than the truth, which was that I wanted to do certain things without having to face certain consequences. Saying that I supported women’s rights made me feel deep, when in reality my position was cowardly.

The Achilles’ heel to such arguments is this: What about the baby girl in the womb? Wouldn’t she have rights, too? For, surely, at least half of all the aborted would have grown to be women. To deny their rights, merely because they cannot plead their case, would be unfair. Hence, this invocation of women’s rights is simply a dodge to avoid the real question.

If the fetus is not human, there is no need to invoke women’s rights. But if it is human, then no one’s reproductive rights can trump someone else’s right to life.

Some men prefer to say, “It's a woman’s choice,” because this is an easy way to absolve themselves of responsibility. It unfairly puts the burden on the woman whether or not to abort. But there has never been an abortion where a man was not at least half responsible.

If these men were willing to consider their share of responsibility, there probably would be fewer unwanted pregnancies in the first place.

I do not mind the fact that many Americans are pro-choice. I used to be one of them, and it would be foolish to expect unanimity on all issues. But I do very much mind the fact that those who call themselves pro-choice do not more honestly state their position. They should be more open about what they honestly believe — that a fetus is not a human life. And then they should have to defend that position.

Instead, they typically raise issues that don’t help us answer the question one way or another. Planned Parenthood, for example, cites a study that claims 1.06 million abortions were performed in the U.S. in 2011, down from 1.21 million in 2008. I’m not sure what, if anything, this is supposed to prove.

18 weeks from conception
If the fetus is not human, it would not matter if there were 5 million abortions one year and five the next. Conversely, if the fetus is human, then one abortion, performed any year, is too many.

Many will say that a fetus is not a human life, but only a potential life. This argument is superficially convincing, because it is easy to fudge what we mean by “potential.”

However, what we mean by “human life” does have a precise scientific definition. According to National Geographic’s “In the Womb,” at the moment of conception, “an individual unique set of DNA is created — a human signature that never existed before and never will be repeated.”

Unfertilized eggs and unused sperm are potential life. But a fertilized egg, from the moment of conception onward, is no longer a potential life. It is an actual human life, already in progress. And what astonishing progress it makes in an unbelievably short span of time!

Some will admit that abortion ends life; yet argue that homicide is justifiable in certain circumstances, including cases of abortion. But anyone who has felt the softness of a newborn baby knows this is heartless.

Pretending the condition of a newborn is somehow radically different during the period of gestation is just wishful thinking.

Abortion is, in fact, the worst form of murder, because it involves dismembering the helpless and innocent. That is why I mark the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade  by considering the millions of men and women who have lost their chance at life.

Mr. Ziegler is celebrating The Feast of the Presentation, Feb. 2, 2015, by renewing his consecration to Jesus through Mary.

Woman of Gen: 3:15
 I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed:
she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.

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