Abortion: Human vs. Person… Pro-Choice vs. Pro-Life

       No time for fancy jokes and cute stories here. Abortion is one of the hottest issues in American (and arguably, world) life today. Since the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe vs. Wade, the American public has been engaged in a grueling battle. Doesn’t the woman have a right to decide what is done with/to her body? But doesn’t the unborn child have the right to live?

       The most recent development in this 38 year conflict has to do with humanhood vs. personhood. Recently, pro-choice advocates realized that they have no choice but to accept that a human fetus is a member of the human species. At conception, the fetus possesses human DNA which differentiates it from any other species on the planet. So now, the argument has had to shift directions in order to support the pro-choice viewpoint. The new question is “At what point does the human fetus become a ‘person?‘” It is undeniable that the fetus is a member of the human species. But that fact does not, as they claim, make “it” a “person.”

       This question is a dangerous one. Who decides, for instance, when a member of the human species is or is not a person? You might think that personhood is established when brain activity is evident (about 6 weeks into the pregnancy). Someone else may decide that a human gains the status of personhood when “it” is conceived… or when “it” can prove beneficial to society… or when “it” exhibits desire, volition, or cognitive reasoning abilities… the possibilities are endless. I believe that pro-choice advocates are quickly seeing the subjectiveness in this argument as well.
       I say that because I recently read this article by an agnostic columnist. He is one of those guys who uses his words so eloquently that his point of view, if not meditated upon, can seem convincing. However, his argument breaks down very quickly. Feel free to read…

       Cline believes he has found a loophole. You know what a loophole is… it’s one of those magic avenues that transcends all responsibility. It is a look-over-the-real-problem-and-provide-an-easy-answer scapegoat. He says that the personhood or non-personhood of the fetus really doesn’t matter. In fact, it also does not matter whether or not this is an ethical, moral, religious, or societal problem. The answer is simple… A key line in his article is quoted below:

“A woman could assert a right to control her body such that even if the fetus 
is a person, it has no legal claim to use it.”

       Cline is saying that if we’re going to get all “legal” here, we should take into account that even if the fetus is a bona-fide person with “human rights,” as they are deemed, “it” has no right to mooch off of the physical body of another person who is unwilling to provide the nutrition it is in need of. He goes on to make a distinction between abortion and the rights of the so-called “brain-dead.” They (the brain-dead) are dependent upon human services for life. He claims this does not impose upon the physical bodies of the care providers.
       Isn’t that great?! He’s found the answer! Abortion is okay because the mother carrying the “it” has the right to decide what parts of her body can and cannot be used for the support or care of another human life.


       SIDE NOTE: He goes on to label anti-abortionists as “anti-choice.” You may not think there’s a lot of weight in semantics, but I assure you, there is. Labeling pro-life advocates as “anti-choice” superimposes a conception of suppression and bigotry over the pro-life position. It refocuses the pro-lifer’s position from support of the unborn child to subjugation of the expectant mother. 


       In case you don’t know me very well, I was being facetious. Cline has not found the answer. In fact, his position is just as flawed as all the others. Allow me to provide a parallel, hypothetical scenario:
       Mary is a school teacher. She notices that Jane, a 12 year old girl is exhibiting all the signs of physical and sexual abuse. She speaks to another teacher about it, but does not report it because she’s busy with school work and other things. Three days later, Jane is found dead – raped and beat to death by her father in her own home. LEGALLY (not to mention ethically and morally), Mary had a responsibility to report the suspected abuse to the appropriate legal authorities. Because she did not use her feet to walk to the CPS office, or her mouth and fingers to call the police, she is arrested, tried, and convicted for assisting in child abuse, a felony.

       As gruesome as this example is, it is fitting for this discussion. Mary was required ethically and morally to take action on this child’s behalf. She was also required BY LAW to take action on this child’s behalf. That meant she would have to use the various parts of her body required to report the suspected abuse. Likewise, she would probably be inconvenienced by the amount of time she may lose in court hearings, and she may have possibly been ridiculed by other teachers or friends of Jane’s parents. But it was her legal, ethical, and moral responsibility to use the parts of her body to save this innocent child. However, because she chose not to use the parts of her body to protect and care for Jane, Jane died a horrendous death.

       How about this example: An expectant mother is a drug user. She does crystal meth once a week and smokes weed about every other day while pregnant. The baby is born premature, but survives. Traces of the drugs are found in both the baby and the mother. She is arrested, tried, convicted, and imprisoned. Yes… this happens.
       Why is it legal for a woman to end the life of an unborn child, but not for her to use drugs while it is developing? If Cline’s position is that the woman has the right to do with her body as she wishes while she is pregnant, then she should not be arrested for harming the baby with her drug use.

       I don’t think you need me to flesh out the analogy in full. If the child is a human, it has legal rights as such. And not providing sufficient care for the unborn child, or opting to end its precious little life are both unethical and should both be illegal.

       Can I ask a more serious question here?… What are we doing???!!! We’re arguing about whether a human fetus is a “person” or not! We’re claiming that even when someone’s life is dependent on us, it is perfectly fine for us to choose not to provide care… and even worse than that, we’re promoting, assisting, and funding the death of unborn children who are incapable of standing up for themselves.
       We spend trillions of dollars on humanity efforts at home and overseas. We provide an intricate system of welfare for those who are disabled and in need. We distribute funds through a social security network to Seniors who have worked all their lives and are now retired. We fund government unemployment for those who can’t find a job. But we MURDER the ones who can’t speak for themselves. And we pat ourselves on the backs, gloating over our compassion for those less fortunate than us. What are we doing?

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” 
– Jeremiah 1:5

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I 
praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” 
– Psalm 139:13-16

Rape, Incest, and Danger to the Mother’s Life:

       I’ll make this short and sweet. Cline, in his article, brings up abortion in the case of rape, incest, and danger to the mother’s life. And if we are going to defend the unborn child’s life, we must defend it even in these cases. Yes, I know that deformities are possible. Yes, I know that it may mean a 12 year old girl having a child. Yes, I know that the mother may lose her life. But who is to decide when a life is relevant, worthwhile, or important? It is decided already. If the child is a human/person at conception, then he or she deserves to be protected as such, even in difficult circumstance.
       To put it bluntly… abortion is NOT okay, even in the case of rape, incest, or danger to the mother’s life. Let’s let God be the One who decides who lives and who dies. Let’s trust Him in difficult situations. Let’s protect that which He creates in His image.

Grace and Peace,

  One thought on “Abortion: Human vs. Person… Pro-Choice vs. Pro-Life

  1. January 29, 2011 at 6:35 PM

    Great post, as usual. You mentioned some perspectives and points that I'd never even considered before, and I'd consider myself and family as pretty staunch pro-life, anti-choice, whatever you want to call it, supporters. Actually, all we'd prefer to be called is a voice for the unborn! (I'm assuming our position on this issue is evidenced by our three kiddos in three years! Ha!) In fact, our ultra-conservative convictions about the sanctity of life are what prompted me to write this blog post back when we were pregnant with #3. Sometimes we feel misunderstood, even by other pro-lifers, because I guess it's a little extreme, but we're OK with that. 🙂 http://mommywilcox.blogspot.com/2010/04/soyoure-pregnant-again.html

  2. January 29, 2011 at 7:43 PM

    That was an excellent blog, Courtney… and I had no idea that birth control pills can terminate a pregnancy. Thank you for that insight. And in case you're wondering (which I'm sure you're not), I prefer the term "pro-life." 🙂

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