One of the main reasons that pro-choice advocates attempt to justify abortion is that they believe that zygote, embryo, or fetus is not developed to a point at which you could say it is actually human.
So let’s take this justification for a quick test drive and see if this really adds up.
This blog is the third in a series about the main justifications that pro-choice advocates bring up to try and justify abortion. If you have not read the introduction to this series I highly recommend you start there. I also have written one other in the series on how dependency and viability also fail to justify abortion, but you should be able to follow this blog without reading that before, though I suggest you go back and read it still.
When a child is first conceived the zygote is only the width of a human hair. In relation to any other cell it’s huge, but maybe pro-life advocates are onto something to say that it isn’t human at this point. How can you say a single cell is human when humans are made of trillions of cells? How can you say something that small should have the same rights as a fully developed human? It has no organs, no brain, no bones, no face, nothing. Isn’t it a bit extreme to say that zygote is human?
Well, let’s pretend that your right. Lets assume that this is too extreme. Where would you recommend that we draw the line? Perhaps at 20 weeks? 24 weeks? Viability? Why one of those? Why any of those? Why not right until the mother starts having contractions? Why not after the mother has contractions?
A quick look at what different states have for legal ‘time limits’ for a legal abortion shows there is much debate around this. Some states say up to 20 or 24 weeks, others up to 3rd trimester, still others up to the point of ‘viability’ which itself isn’t defined, and has it’s own problems as seen in my previous blog.
Also, won’t viability change with technology? A child born at 23 weeks was wasn’t viable a hundred years ago is pretty viable today. It seems odd to say that a child at 23 weeks is human in 2017 but not human in 1917. Or perhaps even more odd would be that we could argue that even a zygote is viable at at its earliest stages while it could by cryogenically frozen till the mother is ready to have the baby via in-vitro fertilization. By that understanding a baby would be viable for its first 6 days or so after conception, but then not be viable again till it hits 23 weeks. Does it make sense to say something can be human, then not human, then human again?
If we argue it’s just size, then what size? Would a larger baby be considered human, or more human just because it’s a larger child than another at the same stage? That would seem odd. We don’t consider Shaq more human the Hillary Clinton, why would we do the same with a fetus?
If we argue development then at what stage? A human heartbeat? That happens at eight weeks. Most women just discover their pregnant around 8 weeks. What if the baby is having heart trouble? Does that justify abortion, if everything else is fine? What about when the child is born can we kill it because something did not develop right? Or what if something like an arm didn’t develop at all? What about the mentally challenged. Can we kill them because they will never fully develop?
What if a child is born without a limb? Sex organs aren’y fully developed till puberty why can’t we draw the line there? What can you say that makes your argument for the line at 24 weeks objectively right over the person who claims we should be able to kill a ‘child’ until their brain is fully developed at 25?
Do you see the problems? If you want to argue that it’s a development or size issue you’re simply arguing for some arbitrary line and you can give no objective reason why your line is any better than any other line someone chose. Your un-objective and arbitrary line opens the door for some morally objectionable possibilities.
If you want to argue that there is an objective line but we can’t know it then doesn’t it simply make sense we argue for the most cautious route? We wouldn’t blow up a building because we are 90% sure no one is inside. We would either make sure 100% or not take the risk. I prepose we should do the same here.
The most objective line is to continue calling it a human at conception even if one may try to argue that is not intuitive. The other options are intuitive either, otherwise we would agree about it.