Why I’m Pro-Life
Few subjects stir up a hornets nest like that of abortion. My goal here is not to start a fight, but to provide a point-by-point analysis of the pro-life position from my own vantage point. With any luck, it will be of interest or help to someone. The subject matter is certainly important enough to warrant significant discussion.
The short version is this: I am pro-life because I believe abortion is murder. That is a significant charge, and I do not make it lightly. It is estimated that about 60 million abortions have been performed in the United States since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. That figure does not include the additional number of abortions that have taken place worldwide. Therefore, when I say that abortion is murder, I am quite literally calling millions of people murderers, or accomplices to murder. I would not, and should not, say such things without warrant. But it is absolutely essential to understand why pro-lifers are so stubborn in their rejection of abortion. It is not because they lack compassion for women who are in difficult situations that abortion could supposedly improve. Rather, it is because the practice of abortion is seen to be morally evil and therefore efforts to oppose it are valid.
So, is there actually any evidence to the charge? What makes abortion murder?
I believe abortion is murder because the evidence is convincing that what exists in the womb of a pregnant woman is a human being. That is really the crux of the matter. If the embryo is just a clump of cells void of personhood, then the woman can do whatever she wants with it. But if the embryo is a human being, then the woman must afford it human rights. This is true regardless what the government says. Morality is true apart from legislation. Even though I live in a democracy that does not see an unborn baby as necessarily human, I reject that decision as wrong. There are many reasons why.
You might expect my arguments for the personhood of unborn babies to be religious, and indeed I do have a number of arguments along those lines from the Christian Bible to which I ascribe. However, because not all people see the Scriptures as authoritative, I would start by pointing to science to show the personhood of the unborn. Believers and unbelievers alike both regard science as a useful tool for determining truth, so let’s begin there.
In his book Embryo: A Defense of Human Life, Robert P. George says the following:
“Human embryos are not, that is to say, some other type of animal organism, like a dog or cat. Neither are they a part of an organism, like a heart, a kidney, or a skin cell. Nor again are they a disorganized aggregate, a mere clump of cells awaiting some magical transformation. Rather, a human embryo is a whole living member of the species Homo sapiens in the earliest stage of his or her natural development. Unless severely damaged, or denied or deprived of a suitable environment, a human being in the embryonic stage will, by directing its own integral organic functioning, develop himself or herself to the next more mature developmental stage, i.e., the fetal stage. The embryonic, fetal, child, and adolescent stages are stages in the development of a determinate and enduring entity—a human being—who comes into existence as a single–celled organism (the zygote) and develops, if all goes well, into adulthood many years later.
But does this mean that the human embryo is a human person worthy of full moral respect? Must the early embryo never be used as a mere means for the benefit of others simply because it is a human being? The answer that this book proposes and defends with philosophical arguments through the course of the next several chapters is ‘Yes.'”
In other words, even from the point of conception, the unborn is not a different species from human beings. Also, it is not part of the mother, like an internal organ. It is, rather, a human being, albeit one at the earliest possible stage of development—but it is human nonetheless. From the very moment of conception, an embryo contains all of the DNA necessary to create human life; DNA which, by the way, is distinct from the mother’s DNA. From very early stages, the fetus begins to show the obvious signs of personhood. A heartbeat can be detected as early as 6 weeks, as can brain waves. Author Randy Alcorn notes,
“What do we call it when a person no longer has a heart beat or brain waves? Death. What should we call it when there is a heartbeat and there are brain waves? Life. It is an indisputable scientific fact that each and every legal surgical abortion…stops a beating heart and stops already measurable brain waves.”
Within the first 8 weeks of gestation, the embryo will already have every part of it’s body that will ever come into being. All it needs at that point is more time for more formation. The invention of the ultrasound and the advances of medical technology to understand fetal development has done much to demonstrate the personhood of the unborn. There is a reason that women getting abortions often don’t wish to see their baby on an ultrasound screen. Seeing the baby personalizes it, and no wonder!
Can We Know For Sure?
Some will counter these arguments by saying it is impossible to know when life truly begins. Even though many (or all) of the features of life are present, the baby still hasn’t taken it’s first breath, and the exact moment of personhood is unknown or at least uncertain. Does this objection stand to criticism?
I do not believe so. Simply put, if we are not certain when the moment of life truly begins…wouldn’t the most humane thing to do be to err on the side of caution? Consider this analogy. The New York Times reported in December of 2017 that a man accidentally shot and killed a woman while hunting, having mistaken her for an animal. He was charged with second-degree manslaughter. But why? Wasn’t it just an accident? Yes, but the guilt remains, because when a human life is at stake, you are morally obligated to exercise caution. If not, we send you to jail. Yet this principle, so clear in such a case like this, is somehow absent when speaking of the unborn. Even if one wanted to argue that we don’t really know when life begins, we are morally obligated to play it safe. Human life is not to be toyed with.
The incoherence of the pro-choice definition of life is further illustrated with a 2014 story out of the U.K. Scott Bollig was charged with murder when he secretly gave his pregnant girlfriend an abortifacient leading to the miscarriage of their baby. In one sense this seems odd: is the fetus a human worthy of life protection or not? The charge of murder indicated that the law recognizes a human life was taken. However, if the woman would have gone into an abortion clinic and had the baby removed via procedure, or taken the pills voluntarily, it’s apparently all good. What?
Similarly, women can be charged for murder if they attempt suicide (but fail) while pregnant leading to the baby’s death, or if they attempt to induce abortions in a way that is not legally authorized. But why? I thought women could do whatever they want with their own bodies? That’s because it is NOT the woman’s body. The unborn might be in the woman’s body, but it is not the woman’s body. The two are not the same. The law seems to recognize this in some cases, but not when it is more convenient to kill the baby. This inconsistency of identifying the unborn as a human with rights or not demonstrates the insanity of failing to recognize human life of being worthy of dignity at all stages.
There are other objections to the humanness of the unborn that pro-choicers raise. Some mention the viability of the fetus as the defining characteristic of life. If a baby is not viable outside it’s mothers womb, then should it really be afforded the rights of human life? My answer is yes. Since when does viability determine the personhood of a human being? A person on life support is still a human being with rights, even though they would not be able to survive apart from intervention—ie, they are not technically viable. If the viability of the fetus determines its humanness, then by transferring that principle I ought to be able to walk into a hospital and stab any person in a coma in the chest and not be guilty of murder. Just because that person has lived outside of the womb for a while does nothing to change the status of their right to life. Even the most helpless of human beings are still fully human.
Doesn’t the Woman’s Rights Trump the Unborn’s Rights?
There are some pro-choicers who will admit that abortion is killing a human life. This, however, does not sway them towards the pro-life position since they feel that it is a matter of the rights of the woman trumping that of the baby. John Piper recounts an experience along these lines:
“Many simply say it is the lesser of two evils. I took an abortionist out to lunch once, prepared to give him ten reasons why the unborn are human beings. He stopped me, and said, ‘I know that. We are killing children.’ I was stunned. He said, ‘It’s simply a matter of justice for women. It would be a greater evil to deny women the equal right of reproductive freedom.'”
This seems to be a more prominent argument these days, since the invention of the ultrasound has done much to undermine the “it’s not a baby” argument. So what are we to make of this claim: should women be able to have an abortion based on rights? Do their rights trump that of the unborn?
I see no reason why they should. On what grounds ought they? Is it because the woman has a voice while the unborn does not? Certainly that is not a sufficient reason for access to human rights. Is it because the fetus is growing inside the woman’s body, and therefore she has the right to do whatever she pleases? We have already seen that the fetus may be in the woman’s body, but it is NOT the woman’s body. It is not an organ that can be freely removed like an appendix. Nor is it some form of animal parasite that can be dispelled with. Check the DNA: human. The woman may be free to make choices with her body, but she should not be free to make choices about other people’s bodies, such as the one growing in her womb. As mentioned earlier, in some cases even the law agrees with this, considering it murder given the right circumstances. So it apparently is murder for a woman to try and remove a fetus using a coat hanger, but not if she goes to see a doctor who uses tools in a clinic. What this means is that abortion is simply controlled murder. It is government sanctioned, clinically performed murder.
Some might argue that since the fetus is in the woman, she does have some right over it. After all, it affects her body. But that logic doesn’t necessarily transfer to other situations. All a fetus is guilty of is dependance. It requires resources from the mother to survive. In no other scenario where a person is dependent on another person to live would we permit the caregiver to take the life of the dependent, so why do we here?
For a quirky example, consider conjoined twins. Does one twin have the right to do whatever they want, regardless of the will of the other? After all, it is her body! The answer is no, because there is another who is dependent on her body for life. Separation of conjoined twins is only done when it will lead to the likelihood their lives—either one or both—are preserved, but abortion is the exact opposite. In any case, it is obvious that a conjoined twin does not have autonomous rights over their own body because of the way it affects another person. Why do we treat a pregnant woman differently?
What About Rape or Mortal Danger to the Mother?
It is often put forth that women should be able to have abortions if she has been raped, or if continuing with the pregnancy would put the mother’s life at risk. Admittedly, these are more complicated issues. But in reality, no one supports abortion for those reasons. Less than 5% of abortions take place for these reasons, while the other 95% are mainly based on convenience. So consider this as a hypothetical. What if the entire pro-life crowd got together and agreed that abortion can remain legal in instances of rape or life-threatening circumstances, but would be illegal in all other instances? Would that satisfy the pro-choice crowd? Of course not. The reason is that their call for abortion has nothing to do with those extreme and rare situations. It is all about power of choice. So that argument is really nothing more than a false front.
Yeah, But Pro-Lifers Don’t Care About Babies After They Are Born
It is obvious that if abortions were to end overnight, the number of babies born into challenging situations would be immense. Obviously many women get pregnant in less-than-ideal circumstances, and abortion is a convenient way out. But if the unborn really are human beings with rights, as I have demonstrated, then that should not be an option.
As a pro-lifer, I hear all the time that I’m not really “pro-life”, but that I’m actually “anti-abortion”. After the baby is born, it is suggested, pro-lifers don’t care what happens to the kid. This is suggested to be the case because many pro-lifers have a high correlation to the same people who discourage socialism, food stamps, the welfare system, etc. It is assumed that pro-life is only really an option for the upper-middle class.
I won’t pretend to say that caring for children who are born into less-than-ideal circumstances is easy, or that all pro-lifers do everything they can to help. But the statistics say that Christians are more than twice as likely to adopt as non-religious people, are virtually the sole financial supporters of local crisis pregnancy centres, and that religious people are the most charitable people group in North America. This is not meant to be a “toot-my-own-horn” moment. Christians, myself included, can always do more to show care and concern for people in hard places. But the point is that many pro-lifers (of which Christian and other religious people make up a large majority) DO put forth an effort to care for their fellow man.
Besides, just because a person may not personally adopt an unwanted baby does not mean they cannot stand against abortion. An individuals ability to affect change does not determine their moral compass. It’s like accusing a pro-choicer of hypocrisy because they say people should have access to clean water but have never hopped on a plane and flown to Uganda to dig a well. People can want things to be a certain way even if they have limited personal capacity to make it so without being a hypocrite.
The Bottom Line
Here’s the sum of the matter. It is obvious to me that pro-life is the only logical, moral, and scientifically-supported position when it comes to the matter of abortion. Even though I am a highly religious person, I have not made even one appeal to religion to make my case! One does not need to because the evidence is irrefutable. Abortion is murder, plain and simple.
The reason many people are pro-choice is not based on scientific or logical grounds. It is based on personal convenience. The pro-choice crowd does not really even bother to disguise this. It’s MY body! You can’t tell me what to do! I have rights! I never asked for this! It is a position based on self-centredness to the core.
But I do have good news for pro-choicers. Heck, I have great news! Even though you are supporting murder, and even though you may yourself have participated in murder, God loves you. He loves you and wants to redeem you from your sin and give you new life and new hope and new eyes to see things differently. He wants to change your story and create a different ending, one where you experience his love and share that love with others. He wants to remove the heart of rebellion and selfishness that exists and give you a tender heart of compassion for others. And if you have had an abortion yourself, I believe he wants to reunite you with your child on the other side of death. That can happen through faith in Jesus Christ, who offers forgiveness for all and eternal life. That isn’t just true for pro-choicers, but for pro-lifers too. We need redemption and forgiveness just as much as anyone else.
What makes Jesus so fantastic is that his life is literally the opposite of an abortion. Abortion says “you die for me”, but Jesus says “I’ll die for you”. Christ took the place of sinners on the cross and shed his blood for the forgiveness of our sins, and that is a free gift he offers to all men who will call on him for salvation.
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved (Acts 16:31)
I want that for you, for all. I want the salvation of souls more than I want to be right about this debate. I am praying that someone reading this article might come to Christ. Nothing would make me happier.