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Pro Choice is trending. In our age, doing what is best for you, or putting yourself first, is the new motto. And most of the time, that works out well for everyone. But wouldn’t most of us agree that if putting yourself first included ending a life, that decision should be reconsidered? Most Pro Choice arguments rely on circumstances. “What if she was raped?” “What if the baby was ‘unwanted’?” “What if it will be disabled?” These would be valid arguments, if abortion was not actually taking the life of a human being. So I’d like to begin by explaining why a fetus is a human being.
An embryo/zygote/fetus fills the seven biological criteria for life from conception. These are: chemical uniqueness, complex cell organization, reproduction, possession of a genetic code, metabolism, development, and reaction to stimulus. (Hickman) A human individual is defined as “existing as a distinct entity” or variations thereof. Some may argue that an embryo/zygote/fetus isn’t existing as a distinct entity because they are relying on their mother for physical support. However, that does not make them a part of the mother’s body, as they have their own genetic code. If a person relies on life support (a machine), does that make them part robot? Or even, if we had the technology, you had to be hooked up to my body to continue living, does that make you a part of my body? Hardly.
Another Pro Choice argument is that an embryo/zygote/fetus is “not yet human”, or is “a potential human being”. This is not true. Why? Because you cannot define an animal as only “potentially” something else. If it isn’t human, it must be something else (“human” is a species, and every living creature belongs to a species), and two human beings do not have the ability to produce something that is not also a human being from the moment it comes into existence. From these two points, the conclusion is a fetus is a human life.
Now, before abortion, an embryo/zygote/fetus is growing and living. Afterward, they are not living, therefore abortion took that life. If the embryo/zygote/fetus was guiltless of any crime (so the killing was not justified), then abortion is the equivalent of murder. Some argue that the fetus is “using the mother’s body without consent,” which is a crime. This is arguably the closest-to-valid argument that the Pro Choice community has—the argument of bodily autonomy. However, one person’s bodily autonomy rights ends where another begins. For instance, your body is yours only. You may pierce, tattoo, take care of, abuse, and control it as you please. Yet let’s assume that what would please you would be to take advantage of my body (and I do not want you to). If you choose to take advantage of me anyway by raping me, you are using your body how you wish, however, you are infringing on my bodily autonomy in the process. In the same way, a woman may use her body how she wants. But once using her body infringes on another individual’s body (getting an abortion is her choice regarding her body, however, it affects her child’s body, by killing it), it is no longer acceptable.
This next point is directed at people who identify as “Pro Life, except in cases of…” I want to point out that either abortion is murder, or it isn’t. Allow me to clarify.
The definition of murder does not change with the circumstances (rape/incest/age of the pregnant person/etc.) Some will draw parallels to self-defense and the death penalty, and how those things are not considered murder. However, the two things that self-defense and the death penalty have in common (that make them not defined as murder) is the “victim” (“victim”, in this case, being the person being killed). In self-defense, the victim has a clear intention (intention being a very important factor) to kill another person. In self-defense, taking the perpetrator’s life is a last and only resort. For a brief second I want to relate this back to abortion: some might say that if the mother is going to die, it is basically the same situation. It is not, because the baby does not have the intention to kill the mother (hence why I stressed the “intention” factor). In the death sentence, the victim has committed heinous crime(s) with undeniable evidence (if the death sentence was assigned properly.) However, these are not “circumstances”, because circumstances do not define murder. The status of the “victim” is what defines whether the killing is murder or not (as well as whether or not due process is followed in the case of the death sentence, but that is an entirely different debate). When cases of rape/et cetera are used to justify abortion, it doesn’t actually apply because it is only the circumstances that are different and not the intentions, or status, of the person being killed. In abortion, the victim is the same: innocent, without a trace of malicious intention. Therefore, abortion is always murder, regardless of the circumstances.
Hickman, Cleveland, Roberts, Larry, & Larson, Allan. (1997). Zoology, (10th ed). Boston: McGraw-Hill.
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