In the interest of pragmatism, I normally don’t write about polarizing, hot-button political issues. There is one, however, that I will post on from time to time: abortion.
I’m particularly troubled by the reasoning which justifies this practice. You probably figured that out by reading the extended title. Let me explain how I got there.
What reasons are given for supporting the legalization of abortion? (I will respond briefly to each in italics.)
- Abortion is a “private family matter” that shouldn’t involve the government.
Isn’t child abuse a “private family matter” then also? Why does CPS exist then? Is child abuse/homicide different than abortion because these children happen to be out of the womb?
- A woman should not be punished by having to raise a child conceived as a result of rape.
This objection can be difficult to respond to without delving into the debate about the purpose of human life. People usually ascribe a purpose to life based on their particular views of God’s existence. However, people in general do seem to see human life as valuable. Why else would the U.S. law enforcement work to protect the disabled, elderly, and children? Our society believes that if someone is helpless, they should not be subject to those who are more powerful, they should be protected. Why is this not the case with unborn children?
- People will do it anyway, so make it safer by making it legal.
Let’s then also legalize bank robbery because people will do it anyway. At least if we legalize that crime then maybe people won’t commit it at gun-point.
- Fetuses in the earlier stages of development can’t be considered humans yet and therefore are ineligible for the “right to life.”
Then at what point is a life considered a life? What criteria can we use to determine when a developing fetus is a human? Who has the authority to set that standard? It’s really messy to try and determine when a developing fetus is actually a full-blown human and should be treated as such. If we determine that a developing fetus is not really a human, then couldn’t I make a case that a child isn’t a human? I mean, children outside the womb aren’t fully developed.
There are many other reasons that are given to support the continuing legalization of abortion. I’m not about to address each of those reasons because most of them can be summed up by the word inconvenient. People consider abortion due to the inconvenience the child presents for its parents and for society. The baby is inconvenient because the parents are too young and ill-equipped to parent. The baby is inconvenient because he/she was conceived out of rape. The baby is inconvenient because, if born into a family in poverty, the child will end up on welfare or supported by some other part of social security.
And do you know why we idolize convenience? We’re self-absorbed. Our culture has adopted the value that if something isn’t personally satisfying, you should be able to get rid of it. This is the same mentality that keeps our divorce rate so high. Today, marriage isn’t about giving up your individual needs for the sake of another, it’s all about you finding your “one true love.” But hey, if you accidentally pick the wrong one and they aren’t doing it for you, then go ahead and try again. No harm, no foul. What’s terrifying to watch is that our cultural depravity has become so deep, that we treat developing children this way. If it’s not the right time or you didn’t mean for it to happen or you made a mistake, just kill it. No harm, no foul. How can we, collectively, devalue human life so dramatically?
Let me end by saying that the desire to protect the unborn grows out of a broader principle: human life is always valuable, regardless of its quality. That’s why, whether secular or religious, there’s a consensus that we shouldn’t kill off the severely disabled, the elderly, or the poor – those who receive social security. Why should the helpless, innocent unborn be treated any differently? Those who cannot defend themselves should not be left to the mercy of the strong. Sorry survival of the fittest, many of us don’t like you.