BENDINELLI: The ‘A word’



Ryan Bendinelli

This past Tuesday marked the 34th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize abortion in the United States. Since then, abortion has remained one of the most divisive issues in American politics.

It is that topic that no one wants to discuss, but once the cat is let out of the bag, it evokes some of the strongest opinions anyone will ever hear.

The debate is centered around words like “life” and “choice.” These words are detrimental to both sides in the debate. All people value life. All people value personal choice. When people are backed into a corner and believe they are being accused of not supporting such universal values, they are far less likely to listen and even less likely to change their minds.

The real debate about abortion – at least in my own opinion – combines elements of both science and ethics. The fundamental debate is when human life begins. What makes us human? Is it our DNA? Is it the fact that we have 46 chromosomes? Is it our ability to reason?

Many of the arguments that are made by those who support abortion rights justify their opinions by saying that a fetus is dependent on its mother and therefore not a full person on its own. It also cannot think for itself. These are both true statements. However, how able is an infant to think for itself? Can it survive without being fed? There are greater possibilities for who can take care of the child, but it is still entirely dependent on someone else. People who would let an infant die are sent to prison. What is it that makes the life inside a womb different from the one outside?

This column is not meant to convince people that abortion is wrong. One column in a newspaper is not going to change peoples’ opinions. However, both sides of the debate need to change their dialogue. If the issue is ever to be resolved in a way that there is a true consensus of opinion in one direction, then it will require moving past the “life versus choice” dilemma.

As hard as it may be to do, people need to give honest thought to when and where their own lives began.

Each of us must consider when we became viable, when we suddenly became valuable. It is likely that some will still believe that a fetus’s lack of viability outside the womb is reason enough to disqualify its value as a human being. However, the debate will be far more honest and intelligent when it moves to that point.


Ryan Bendinelli is a senior political science major from Millington, N.J. He can be reached at [email protected].