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It’s not an uncommon objection from the pro-abortion crowd: “You pro-lifers are so worried about killing a human being, but the fetus isn’t a human being!” If you’re dealing with the typical, well-meaning abortion apologist, they’re not willfully lying to you. They genuinely believe that the fetus is something less than human. The problem with this is that they are wrong: The fetus is a genuine human being with all the rights of any other member of the human community.
Before we get to far, I want to point out that there are some more refined abortion advocates who would object to this as a straw-man. They would say something like “Well I agree that the fetus is a human being, but it’s not a human person, and only person’s have rights and membership in the human community.” To you, I must pose the question: At what point does a fetus become a human person and why? The burden of proof rests entirely with you to demonstrate this far less than obvious distinction. Rather than further straw-man your position, I’ll wait to hear from you. In this post, however, I will defend the proposition that the fetus is a human being and a full member of the human community. Here’s why:
#1) A fetus comes from human parents.
This might be a painfully obvious question, but if a fetus is not a human, then what is it? And how does something non-human come from human parents? Basic biology informs us that a species reproduces after its own kind (to borrow the Biblical phrase). Some may appeal to Ernst Haeckel and his idea that “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” — that the unborn fetus goes through it’s previous evolutionary stages as a fish, a salamander, a chicken, etc. — however they would ill-informed: Haeckel was a fraud, faking the data that drove his theory. It’s been completely debunked.
#2) There are no significant differences between other human beings and the fetus.
If you think about it, you can essentially reduce all the difference between the Johnny typing this sentence and pre-birth fetal Johnny to four different categories: Size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency. Now, do any of these categories disqualify the fetus as a human being? Is Yao Ming more human than I am? Will I become more human when my brain finally finishes developing? If I move, does my humanness vary in some degree? Is a dialysis patient less human than I am as a healthy young man? You see that none of these categories affect the nature of the fetus; the fetus is fully human from conception.
#3) Because science tells me so.
The following quotes are from embryology textbooks about the beginning of human life; all italicized emphasis in original, bold is my own:
Fertilization is a sequence of events that begins with the contact of a sperm (spermatozoon) with a secondary oocyte (ovum) and ends with the fusion of their pronuclei (the haploid nuclei of the sperm and ovum) and the mingling of their chromosomes to form a new cell. This fertilized ovum, known as a zygote, is a large diploid cell that is the beginning, or primordium, of a human being.
(Moore, Keith L. Essentials of Human Embryology. Toronto: B.C. Decker Inc, 1988, p.2)
The development of a human being begins with fertilization, a process by which two highly specialized cells, the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female, unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote.
[Langman, Jan. Medical Embryology. 3rd edition. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1975, p. 3]
Zygote. This cell, formed by the union of an ovum and a sperm (Gr. zyg tos, yoked together), represents the beginning of a human being. The common expression ‘fertilized ovum’ refers to the zygote.
[Moore, Keith L. and Persaud, T.V.N. Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology and Birth Defects. 4th edition. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, 1993, p. 1]
These are but a few of the facts supporting the pro-life position. I hope that this encourages you to dig deeper into what you believe about abortion. Whether or not you agree with me, I hope you will at least agree that this is an important discussion to have.
- 4 false facts about abortion (jonathangrahamblog.wordpress.com)
- A is For…Abortion (thechristianwatershed.com)
- Debunking the “Pro-Choice” Euphemism (catholicdefense.blogspot.com)