MYTH: "It’s not wrong to abort 'fetuses' because they are not yet persons"
TRUTH: “personhood” is a subjective criterion, dependent on the opinion (and often the convenience) of whomever has the power to decide who is a person and who is not; it has no objective or scientific basis. Therefore:
|Prof. Peter Singer: even newborns are not "persons"with a right to life|
1) A common pro-abortion argument is that the unborn are not technically persons under the law, and that it is therefore permissible to kill them. This is a false argument because the law cannot make us human beings; that is an objective reality regardless of what the law says. If it were true, then there was nothing wrong with the mistreatment and killing of African slaves in the United States before the Civil War, because they were not full persons under the law; likewise Jewish people killed in Nazi Germany.
2) Criteria offered for philosophical definitions of personhood that exclude the unborn also apply to other people who have been born, and whom the proponents would not advocate killing. For instance:
- Consciousness – We all lack consciousness when we sleep; some people are unconscious for long periods in comas. May we kill them? Also, we don’t really know how early we acquire “consciousness”, but unborn babies do exhibit extensive mental activity well before birth.
- Dependence on the mother’s body- Newborns are not much less dependent than the unborn, and actually require much more conscious effort from their care-givers than unborn babies, a dependence that diminishes only gradually over a number of years. If dependence renders someone a non-person, we should also be free to kill very young children or anyone else who is seriously disabled.
- Viability – that is, the baby’s ability to survive outside the womb. Viability, also, is a subjective term: it is a measure of our ability to care for newborn babies, not something inherent in the babies themselves. We can keep much younger premature babies alive today than we could just a generation ago. And again, this is an argument for killing anyone who is unable to survive on their own.
- Whether or not the baby is wanted - It is a measure of how debased the arguments for abortion have become that some people seriously put forth the proposition that some other persons wanting you can determine whether or not you are a human being. Shall we “abort” homeless adults if there is no family to claim them?
3) The only objective, rational, and incontrovertible criteria for determining “personhood” are being A) alive and B) human. From the moment of conception, whether we call them blastocysts, embryos, or fetuses, unborn babies meet both of these requirements. They are indisputably alive (contrary to Roe vs. Wade, there is not, and has not been for the past two centuries, a scientific “debate about when life begins”); they are also genetically complete, and already have all the genetic material they will need, everything they will ever need, in fact, except food and protection.
4) It follows that if we can declare living human beings in the womb non-persons, then we have the power to declare other people non-persons as well. This is already happening in regard to people in the final stages of life, and in some places to the very seriously disabled, if not yet in law at least in practice. We even see apparently respectable (!) “authorities” such as Princeton Professor Peter Singer argue for the right to kill newborn babies. None of us are safe from a state that can declare entire categories of human being expendable.
(Randy Alcorn's Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments provided much of the material for this post)
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Essential Pro-Life Resources:
Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments (link)
The Elliot Institute (link)
National Right To Life Committee (link)
To See The Entire Abortion Myths Series Click HERE