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"Abortion Kills Children": Truth or Deception?

by Robert Staddon

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    They stood erect, lined up along each side of the highway, grimly facing the oncoming traffic. Some were old enough to remember a myriad of such protests in the past twenty-eight years. Others were quite young and innocently smiled at each passing vehicle. Each held a sign which made their cause blatantly clear to all who passed by: "Abortion Kills Children." Perhaps they did not realize the full implications of what they were claiming. Were they implying a women had no right to privacy? Were they saying a fetus was a real person and not just a potential person? Were they claiming that the Supreme Court was wrong? The incensed response of some who drove by made clear that this is one of the most controversial issues of our day. Does abortion kill children?

    In 1973, the US Supreme Court ruled in Roe vs. Wade that the government had no business interfering with a womanís right to choose if she should have an abortion. They cited the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, which allegedly guaranteed her right to privacy. Consequently, it was asserted that a women should have a right to control her own body. Abortions were made legal because no one had any business interfering with what a woman chose to do with her body. This decision was personal. Intruding on peopleís private problems was not the Governmentís responsibility. While forcefully declaring a womenís rights, however, the court breezed over the important issue of whether or not a fetus is actually a person.

    There is no dispute that before conception there is no person. There is no dispute that after birth there is a person. There is no dispute that during the intervening period of nine months there is something living in the motherís womb. Is it a person or only a potential person? Scientifically, we have a problem. Although we can measure the development from a cell to a baby, we cannot prove when it becomes a person because that is beyond science. Some claim that it is a human being from the moment of conception. To others it becomes a human being at the point of viability, when it can survive outside the womb. Still others state that it is still only a potential human being until the moment of birth. Considering it logically, however, we find that location is the only real difference between a baby in the womb and a baby in the world. What distinctions are there between a baby not yet born and a baby born prematurely which would allow one to be killed and the other left alive? What makes someone a person?

    Studying our nationís history, we find that this is not the first time that the personhood of human beings has been debated. Scientists in the 1800's attempted to prove that Negroes were physiologically inferior.  In addition, the Supreme Courtís infamous Dred Scott decision concluded that although they may have been human biologically, a slave was not a legal person because he was not a citizen. Thus, he could not be protected by the Fifth Amendment: "No person shall ... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." In their ruling they stated, "... a negro, whose ancestors were imported into this country, and sold as slaves. . . were not intended to be included under the word 'citizens' in the Constitution, and can, therefore, claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United States." This brings to light a striking parallel between the logic used to defend slavery and that used to defend abortion. Clearly, they thought a black man only became a legal person when he was set free. Now, an unborn baby only becomes a person at birth. A slave owner supposedly had a right to do what he wanted with his own property and a woman now supposedly has a right to do what she wants with her own body. As in our day, people imagined that the personhood of a human being should depend on public opinion. So much for equality. It took the American Civil War and the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment to finally restore African-Americanís their unalienable rights. "If we donít learn from history, we are bound to repeat it."

    As we learn from our nationís history, the Supreme Court can be wrong. A womanís right to privacy exists only if the fetus is not a real person. If indeed an unborn child really is a human being, the government must protect his life. The Court cannot confer the so-called "right to abort" on one class of people (pregnant women) by depriving another class (children in the womb) of a more fundamental right. Our nation has declared in the Declaration of Independence that we are endowed by our Creator with an inalienable right to life, which is protected under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Legally, the right to life must supersede the right to privacy. As Abraham Lincoln so simply put it, "No one has the right to choose to do what is wrong." Thus, the abortion dispute hinges on one single issue: is the unborn a person or only a potential person? The dictionary defines a person as a human being. So the question is this, when does a human being become a human being? The answer is simple: A living thing is itself and not something else, and it remains itself as long as it exists. "A human being becomes a human being when it becomes a being. The fact is, when a thing is something it never becomes something else. The development that we see in our life from a single cell into maturity is dictated by the kind of being we happen to be. It can develop into twins or triplets. It can attach itself in a way that it ends up killing the child. But what it cannot do is to become something other than what it is, and that is the point. It is a human being. From the time this separate being comes into existence it is a human being and it is a human being  throughout." From an embryo, to a baby, to a child, to an adult, to a senior citizen the only thing that changes is what it looks like. Perhaps the pro-choice movement is right and the uproar since 1973 has all been over nothing. If, however, they are wrong, the unprecedented killing of innocent children known as abortion is the most horrible holocaust our nation has ever experienced.

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Copyright © 2002 by the author
Latest update: 2002-JAN-8
Author: Don Staddon

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