Abortion – Pro Choice advocates often hide behind the 1973 decision of Roe vs Wade, which stated that humanity did not yet know when life begins. In our previous article on the right to life in the Roe vs Wade decision, we presented hard evidence that a human embryo is a living member of the human species, and that this knowledge was well circulated before the 1973 decision. Now we’re going to look at what pro choice advocates have to say in response. You’re probably expecting some fancy semantics; some way for them to get around the fact that abortion kills a human being. But shockingly, they don’t. In fact, they openly admit it!
Pro Choice Advocates Admit that An Embryo is a Human Being
Peter Singer, an author so avidly Pro Choice that he even defends full-blown infanticide, has nonetheless written, “Whether a being is a member of a given species is something that can be determined scientifically, by an examination of the nature of the chromosomes in the cells of living organisms. In this sense there is no doubt that from the first moments of its existence an embryo conceived from human sperm and eggs is a human being.” (Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993, 2008), 85-86.)
Planned Parenthood’s former medical director Mary Calderone said, “Fertilization, then, has taken place. A baby has been conceived.” (The Zero People: Essays on Life” by Jeffrey Hensley, Servant Publications (March 1983) p 9)
And none other than Dr. Alan Guttmacher, founder of the staunchly pro choice Guttmacher Institute and former president of Planned Parenthood, told expectant parents that “a facet that makes the obstetrician’s burden unique in the whole field of medicine is his double obligation; he simultaneously cares for two patients, the mother and the infant… The essential step in the initiation of life is by fertilization, the penetration of the ovum by a spermatozoan and the fusion of the two cells into a single cell.” (Dr. Alan Guttmacher, Pregnancy and Birth: A Book for Expectant Parents New American Library; Revised Ed edition (January 1, 1962)
Did you catch Guttmatcher calling the fetus a patient?
If these leading Pro Choice authors know that a fetus is a living human being, do they deny that abortion is the killing of a human being? No, they don’t. In fact, they urge the pro choice community to admit it.
Pro Choice Advocates Admit that Abortion is Killing
In a 1992 Interview with David Frost on PBS, pro choice supporter Norman Mailer said of abortion, “Let me say something shocking. I am perfectly willing to grant that life begins at conception… let’s not pretend it is not a form of killing.”
Naomi Wolf, in her 1995 book defending a woman’s right to choose, bluntly urged fellow abortion advocates to “contextualize the fight to defend abortion rights within a moral framework that admits that the death of a fetus is a real death.” (Naomi Wolf, “Our Bodies, Our Souls,” The New Republic, October 16, 1995, 26.)
The late George Tiller would offer burial and funeral services for mothers having late term abortions at his clinic. Folks don’t do that for blood clots and blobs of tissue.
The Book “A Defense of Abortion”, released in 2003, contains this disturbing admission by author David Boonin about a photo of his unborn son: “… This picture was taken on September 7, 1993, 24 weeks before he was born. The sonogram image is murky, but it reveals clear enough a small head tilted back slightly, and an arm raised up and bent, with the hand pointing back toward the face and the thumb extended out toward the mouth…. there is no question that the position I defend in this book entails that it would have been morally permissible to end his life at this point.“ (David Boonin, A Defense of Abortion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), xiv.)
And Faye Wattleton, who was president of Planned Parenthood for 14 years (1978–1992), said in an interview in Ms. Magazine that “…we have deluded ourselves into believing that people don’t know that abortion is killing. So any pretense that abortion is not killing is a signal of our ambivalence, a signal that we cannot say yes, it kills a fetus.” (Faye Wattleton, “Speaking Frankly,” Ms. Magazine, May / June 1997, Volume VII, Number 6, 67.)
Pay attention to the language here. “Morally permissable to end his life… A form of killing… a real death… it kills a fetus.”
abortionists admitting to what they’re doing…
How Do Pro Choice Activists Justify This?
The Roe decision was built on Blackmun’s claim that no one knows when life begins. The implicit assumption in Blackmun’s rhetoric is that, if he did know, he would rule to protect it. Now we know better. Now we know that they know that it’s killing. If we do know when life begins, then abortion advocates cannot hide behind Roe vs Wade anymore. Now, they have to take a new stance: that not all human begins have rights.
But how do they do it? How do they distinguish between one human being and another? Here’s where the rhetorical games come in.
Tactic #1: Biologically Human but Not a Human Being
Virginia Mollenkott compares a fetus to a severed hand. She says, “The fetus is biologically human only in the sense that any part of a human body is human: every cell carries the full genetic code. A severed hand is genetically human as well but we don’t call it a person.” (Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, “Respecting the Moral Agency of Women,” published by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.)
However, an embryo is a self-propelling organism, it is not just another batch of cells. While all cells contain the passive genetic code, cells do not carry out the full and unique genetic program that drives development, and an embryo does.
Dr. Maurin Condic points out this key difference when she says, “The critical difference between a collection of cells and a living organism is the ability of an organism to act in a coordinated manner for the continued health and maintenance of the body as a whole. It is precisely this ability that breaks down at the moment of death, however death might occur. Dead bodies may have plenty of live cells, but their cells no longer function together in a coordinated manner.” (Maureen L. Condic, “Life: Defining the Beginning by the End,” First Things, May 2003)
Tactic #2: A Human Being But Not A Person
The other way they do it is by appealing to a difference between a “human” and a “person.”
While we’re playing semantic games, what does Webster have to say about being a person? A quick glance gives us four basic definitions:
- A human, an individual
- The body of a human being, being in one’s bodily presence
- One (a human being, a partnership, or a corporation) that is recognized by law as the subject of rights and duties
- The personality of a human being : self
Definition 1? Nothing gained there. We’ve already proven that a fetus is a living member of the human species. Definition 2? This one should make Pro Choice people uncomfortable, since it specifically references the body as the active agent. Definition 3? Still nothing, since the only categories of recognition include humans or groups of humans. Definition 4? Yep, you guessed it. Here’s where they try to play the game: personality and self-awareness.
Many pro choice advocates utilize definitions from 400 year old philosophy to define a person as someone who is self-conscious and rational. By employing this definition, Peter Singer even implies that since certain high level primates are more rational and self conscious than a human baby at a month old, perhaps newborn babies should be used for experimentation before these animals. (Singer, P. “Taking Life- Abortion” in Practical Ethics, London-Cambridge, UP 1981, p.118).
Are Infants Self Aware?
The problem with this definition is that it is too rigid; it cuts out far too many people that ARE, in fact, people. Folks do not cease to be people when drugs, hormones, sleep deprivation, or trauma place them in an irrational state. People do not cease to be people when they temporarily lose self-awareness, in sleep and other altered states.
Moreover, there’s not a shred of evidence to prove that infants are somehow less than self-aware. They respond to internal cues, they reach out for what they need, and they attempt to retreat from noxious stimuli, even in the womb. 4D sonograms reveal that they are soothed by certain kinds of music, that they recognize the voice of the mother, that they kick, jump, and swim, and even play with their hands and their face.
All of this behavior argues for a certain level of self-awareness. But like everything else that lives, human self-awareness begins as something simple, and grows more mature and complex over time. So it is far more accurate to say that infants have a simple sense of self-awareness, and it grows into mature, complex self-awareness through the years. The self-awareness of an 8 year old will still be much simpler than the self-awareness of a 28 year old. Inversely, the self awareness of a severely mentally handicapped adult will be simpler than the self-awareness present in a mentally gifted teenager. It is a gradient, not an “on/off” switch.
Developmental psychology shows that the brain does not stop physically developing until at least age 15 (Epstein HT. Stages in human brain development. Brain Res. 1986 Nov;395(1):114-9.) and that abstract thought continues to develop for another 10 years. Then, just about the time certain things finish developing, other things start deteriorating! The point is, the body is constantly adapting, constantly running its genetic program as life unfolds from birth to death. There simply is no clean place in the middle where all the “persons” are huddled.
So the jury is in: abortion advocates know that abortion kills a human being, and no arguments trying to distinguish between one class of human versus another are able to stand. It’s time we recognized it for what it is: abject discrimination.
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