The main arguments used by those in favor of abortion –on-demand seem to revolve around three main premises:
- Women’s Rights – her body, her decision.
- A fetus is not a person, and therefore has no rights (or not fully a person, and therefore doesn’t have rights equal to the woman).
- An unwanted child is bad for society, and society has more rights than does the child.
All of these arguments clearly center on human rights, so any real discussion and understanding of the issue must first define not what human rights are valid, but first on who has them and why.
The promoters of abortion-on-demand contend that others have no say in a woman’s decision in what she does with her body as long as it does not interfere with another person’s rights. In this country we have made prostitution illegal because it can interfere with someone’s rights by causing moral degradation and breakup of the family and because of spread of disease in society. She can’t use her body to injure another person except in self defense. She has individual rights that only stop at the sphere of someone else’s identical rights. We find this idea not only in the Constitution in the Bill of Rights, but also in the document that inspired it – the Bible, which preaches the doctrine of individual responsibility. The people that she must respect the rights of include those who are defenseless or helpless – even her own children. In fact she has a moral and legal responsibility to protect her children even if it interferes with her own rights. All of this is due to the fact that she is a person societally and legally.
The only reason the fetus is not afforded the same rights is the fact that the fetus is not recognized legally as a person. We have even ascribed certain ‘rights’ that are held by animals, but human rights are (by most) considered to be greater and transcend animal rights. Therefore any realistic discussion of abortion must finally revolve around the issue of personhood: What is it? How can it be defined?
Let us look at these rights we ascribe to persons. The most important are those we find in the Declaration of Independence and include Life,
So if a person has these rights, what defines a person? It is obvious from the framers writings that they believed that all men (no goats here) were persons. This was later clarified to include all human beings. For a long time people recognized that if it were alive and human, it was a person and had rights. For this reason we outlawed slavery and made sure women could vote and made child abuse a crime. Now, however, many have taken the stance that it takes more than human DNA and life to constitute personhood. Certainly common sense would tell you that a mass of human flesh that is being kept alive through the use of medical technology is not necessarily a person. But what if it has enough characteristics to recognize it as human? Certainly someone with no kidneys has personhood, even if they are dependent on a dialysis machine. But does personhood begin at some particular moment of growth or development? Where is the dividing line? (Many people have drawn the personhood line at sentience, which is generally considered as the ability to think in the abstract, such as thinking about and understanding future events. With the discovery that some animals have limited abilities in this area and the fact that some humans have very limited abilities in this area -mentally handicapped, some autistic people, and those with brain damage- even that line is indistinct.) Premature babies delivered at 24 weeks development have survived and thrived, so we cannot draw the line at birth as we have since Roe vs. Wade. How far back do we go? Who decides? If the baby at birth is a person, why not 5 minutes before that? Half a month before? Do we draw the line at viability? Certainly a premature infant cannot survive on its own without food, water, and protection from the environment (heat, cold, predators, other dangers). The unborn receives food, water, and protection from the environment from its mother while in the womb. Without food, water, and protection from the environment a two-year-old will also not survive. We must ask, therefore: Is the two-year-old viable? Let’s make it more interesting: Is a 24 year old Army Ranger viable if left to himself with no food, water, or protection from the environment out in a desert or Antarctic wilderness? Even with his training in survival and his strength he will soon die if he cannot find what he needs. The two year old applies what he or she has learned to find the “necessary three”, so does the infant. But what of the unborn? Apparently the answer is ”yes”, as it has been shown that they will pull away from painful stimulus. Even if this is not considered, we can still at least give them equal status with those in our society who, due to mental problems, deformations, amputations, or age seem to be unable to protect themselves.
Today many parrot Hitler’s ideas that these ‘undesirables’ are bad for humanity and society and should be removed (the word “removed” here is spelled k-i-l-l-e-d). Again we get into some human agency setting the boundaries. What IQ is acceptable? How much deformation is acceptable? How much cognitive ability is acceptable? Should we base it on productivity? How long does a man have to be unemployed or disabled before we should kill him for being an unproductive citizen?
All this may seem silly and irrelevant to those who are pro-abortion-on-demand, but it is quite relevant when looked at in the light of those basic questions: What is a person? Who decides? Abortion-on-demand opens that Pandora’s box that will allow someone, some agency, or some government to declare YOU a non-person for whatever reason and either make you a slave or take away your life (or your mother’s, or your son’s, or your friend’s…).
People murder other people because they want something the other person has or because that other person has offended them (i.e. – taken something, prevented them from having something, inconvenienced them, etc.). This is exactly what abortion-on-demand is: murder born out of selfish desire and the disregard of the personhood of another.