An essential premise for our argument as to why abortion is wrong is that the unborn child is a human person deserving of protection. While we seek to establish this point, we are not so naive as to think that those who support abortion do not know that the unborn child is a human person.
A common phrase thrown around by abortion advocates is the term “clump of cells”, as if the fetus is no more than a haphazard conglomeration of cells, no more human than a colony of bacteria growing in a Petri dish. The dishonesty or obliviousness to reality behind the use of this term is unbelievable. The fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as 6 weeks into development. By 8 weeks many organs have begun to form or are already formed. The fetus is no more a clump of cells than an airplane is a pile of scrap metal.
We know what we are doing
Refer to this excellent article by John Piper. I wish to highlight simply 2 points from that article:
Point 1: Anecdotally, abortionists will admit they are killing children.
Abortionists, those who are closest to the act itself, and who would have the most interest in denying the personhood of the fetus, these very people would admit that they are killing children. At least the abortionist Piper spoke to. They know what they are doing. So should we, too, when we decide whether to stand for or against the protection of the child.
Point 2: States treat the killing of the unborn as homicide.
Piper cites state laws that treat the killing of unborn children as homicide. If the unborn child is not a human person, why should the killing of it be considered a homicide? The law in Singapore recognizes the personhood of the fetus as well. According to the Penal Code, causing the death of a living unborn child capable of being born alive amounts to culpable homicide. In other words, there is no question that the fetus is a living person, deserving of protection under the law. Yet, when a pregnant woman decides to get a medical professional to kill her child, Singapore’s liberal abortion laws will allow it if the pregnancy is less than 24 weeks.
It seems, then, that what determines whether the fetus is a human or not is whether the child is wanted. There is no excuse. We know what we are doing.
With what we know today, it would take a colossal amount of wilful ignorance to continue denying the personhood of the fetus. The feeble objections still raised by some today, such as the fetus being incapable of surviving outside the womb, or not having reasoning capacity, are answered in the Piper article. In any case, those who still want to argue that the fetus is not a person are already behind the times. An article titled “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” was published in the Journal of Medical Ethics in 2012. The authors, out of a recognition of the moral equivalence of the fetus and the newborn baby, argue that if abortion before birth is permissible, then killing the newborn child after birth should also be permissible. If the thought of killing a newborn child shocks you, let me emphasize that the authors are just being logically consistent.
The question of whether a living child outside the womb deserves protection of its life as a person is not simply armchair philosophy. In the United States, a bill to protect babies who are born alive after a failed abortion was blocked by Senate early this year (it is interesting to note how we refer to babies as “surviving” abortions, a further testament to the fact that we know the child in the womb is alive. If the fetus was not alive before the failed abortion, did the abortion suddenly give it life?).
We have no excuse. We know full well that an abortion is a procedure designed to kill a child in the womb. If pro-choice advocates would recoil at the suggestion of killing a newborn infant, then they should reconsider what they support. The fetus is as much a person as a newborn. Therefore, whatever is impermissible to do to a newborn is also impermissible to do to a fetus. Likewise, whatever is permissible to do to a fetus is also permissible to do to a newborn. We who stand for life affirm the former, while some abortion advocates, finally recognizing the equality of the fetus and the newborn, have come to the latter conclusion, leading to a suggestion which should disgust all of us with any humanity left.
- Giubilini A, Minerva F After-birth abortion: why should the baby live? Journal of Medical Ethics 2013;39:261-263.