The Human Rights Case Against Abortion
The case against abortion comes down to the issue of human rights: If human rights are for human beings, then our society should protect the most fundamental human right - the right to life - for all, particularly the most vulnerable and innocent.
All of us are rightly concerned about the difficult circumstances that a pregnant woman might find herself in. Situations of poverty, problems within the relationship, complications with school, the mother’s age or health complications are all very real, very difficult life circumstances and women deserve our help and support in these situations. If you or someone you know is facing an untimely pregnancy, know that you are not alone and that there are people and resources in your community who are there to support you.
The question still remains, though:
is abortion the way to help a pregnant woman facing these difficult life circumstances?
Consider the following scenario: if we knew a young mom with a two year old and she suddenly lost her job and was facing poverty, would we support her choice to kill her two year old? I’m sure that we wouldn’t. We recognize immediately the principle that we need to help people out of these difficult situations; the solution is never to kill another human being.
In other words, we should work to alleviate the suffering that they are experiencing, not eliminate the human beings who are suffering.
If we wouldn’t kill a human being after birth for these reasons, we should provide the same protection before birth.
What about the situation of rape?
Rape is an abhorrent and despicable crime and violation of human rights. Society needs to hold rapists to account for their actions and to be there to support women who have experienced this horrific violence, regardless of whether or not she becomes pregnant as a result.
When a woman is pregnant, we have two human lives to now consider. A woman deserves our utmost compassion and support so that she can receive the healing she truly needs. An abortion will not un-rape the woman, but an abortion will result in violating the right to life of another human being - her child. The circumstances surrounding the conception of this child were horrific, but the circumstances surrounding our conception do not define whether or not we are human and should not, as such, define whether or not we have human rights.
Would we ever give the death penalty to an innocent child as punishment for the crimes that her father committed? In the same way, the innocent child who was conceived should not be killed for the crimes of the rapist.
All of these assertions depend, however, on whether or not we are talking about human beings.
Do women have the ‘right to choose’?
Women should have equal rights to men. In our society, we recognize that our rights to do whatever we choose are not absolute- even when it comes to controlling our own bodies. Consider someone who drives drunk. They are making a choice to get drunk - a choice involving their own bodies - but as soon as they get behind the wheel of a car, they are endangering the lives of other human beings. As a society, we have laws against drunk driving because we recognize that when our choices harm or kill others, we should not be making those choices.
Because abortion kills another human being, abortion should not be a choice freely allowed.
The ‘right to choose’ can sound like an attractive concept, but we need to ask, “Choose what?” And if that choice kills a human being, as abortion does, then no, that should not be a right.
Does abortion, in fact, end the life of a human being?
A new human being comes into existence at fertilization.
“Human development is a continuous process that begins when an oocyte (ovum) from a female is fertilized by a sperm (spermatozoon) from a male.” -Moore, Persaud, Torchia, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 9th edition, p.1
From this moment:
she begins a lifelong process of self-directed growth and development, continuing to develop a more and more mature body;
she has her own unique DNA, distinct from either her mother or her father.
For more information on fetal development, click here.
In other words, from fertilization, she has everything necessary to continue to proceed through the full series of human developmental stages, changing only in her appearance, but not in her humanity. Like all other human beings, she simply needs nutrients, a supportive environment and time to mature.
“The zygote acts immediately and decisively to initiate a program of development that will, if uninterrupted by accident, disease, or external intervention, proceed seamlessly through formation of the definitive body, birth, childhood, adolescence, maturity, and aging, ending with death.” -Dr. Maureen Condic.“When Does Human Life Begin: A Scientific Perspective”, Westchester Institute White Paper, 7.
To intentionally end her life at any stage of development is to deny her fundamental right to life.
But are they really the same as other human beings?
In other words, should they receive the same fundamental rights as born human beings?
It is true that human beings before birth have significant differences from human beings after birth. Their bodies are less mature and, accordingly, they are much smaller, less developed, in a different environment, and highly dependent on their mothers.
But consider a toddler and a university student: a toddler is much smaller, less developed, more constrained in her environment and extremely dependent on her parents compared to the university student. Is the toddler less of a human being? Does the older, more mature university student have the right to kill the toddler? No. These qualities that change as we age do not affect who we are; they do not affect our humanity.
The differences between the toddler and the student are the same differences between a child before birth (preborn) and older children or adults (born). We recognize the principle of human equality between born humans and, logically, should extend that to preborn humans who differ from us in no substantive way.
To distinguish between groups of human beings and give some human rights and give no rights to others is clear discrimination. Throughout history, every time such a distinction has been made nothing but the most tragic crimes against humanity have resulted…against African Americans, Natives, women, and Jews to name just a few. Have we not learned our lesson?