Abortion is among the most divisive and hotly debated topics of our time. At its core is the question “when does life begin”. Interestingly, it is upon this question where those who would normally use science as their final authority on reality instead assume a more mystical stance. Conversely, those who view abortion from a more religious standpoint may be surprised to learn that science is actually on their side.
To answer the question “when does life begin”, one must ask another question – what makes a human being a human being? Most on the pro-abortion side would argue that a fetus needs to reach a certain level of development to be considered a human being. Some would say the child must be at a point where he or she could survive outside of the womb. The most extreme would say that a human is not a human until the very moment of birth.
All of those stances carry the premise that at some as yet to be defined point, the human soul enters the being in the womb and transforms the fetus from something inhuman into a human being. This type of thinking is what I referred to earlier as a form of mysticism. It is not at all based on science. It is almost like believing in magic. One moment the fetus is a collection of cells that the mother can simply discard as if cutting her hair and then – abracadabra – the fetus is suddenly a human being.
Some would argue that there is no such thing as a soul. They are still left with the challenge of answering what makes a human being a human being. They would most likely argue that it is the mind that makes a human a human. They would perhaps say that the fetus is not a human until it exhibits signs of brain activity. But we have seen tragic cases where humans become brain dead as a result of an accident –do they then at this point lose the right to the dignity granted to human beings? Can they simply be thrown into a dumpster behind the hospital as if they are merely discarded medical waste? Conversely, we have created computers that display capabilities remarkably similar to the human brain – are those computers human beings? Is your smart phone more human than a two-month-old infant?
So what does make a human being a human being? You might be surprised to learn that the question has already been answered and it was answered by science. Each human has a unique genetic code. Your DNA is what makes you a human being and your DNA is created the moment the genetic material from your father unites with the genetic material from your mother. In short, science has already proven that human life begins at conception.
The irony of the abortion argument is that pro-life people who are perceived as being backwards in their views of science actually have science on their side and the pro-abortion people who would normally swear that science is the final authority on everything instead rely on a sort of faith that a human being really isn’t a human being until they say that it is a human being.
But what makes the pro-abortionists’ logic most disturbing in my opinion is that even if you allow them the premise that we cannot say for certain when life begins, rather than erring on the side of caution and declaring life to begin at its earliest possible point (i.e. conception), they instead chose a point that best suits the desires of the woman who is carrying the child. We have enacted countless regulations to guard against what are often minor chances that a human could be harmed as the result of a product or business practice, and yet when it comes to abortion, we have an entirely cavalier view about any potential harm that is being done. The question of whether or not a human life is being ended is suborned to the question of what is the most convenient course of action for the woman carrying the child. In no other area would reasonable people allow one human being to exercise a claim of such privilege with such a cloud of uncertainty regarding the harm that could result.
Abortion truly is a question of choice. But it is a choice larger than a decision made by a pregnant woman. It is the choice a society must make between science and faith. Do we acknowledge that a human being is defined by DNA or do we continue to blindly cling to the belief that a woman’s womb is a magical realm where science does not apply?