The moral imperative to march for life, the need to inform others



Dartanyan Edmonds

On Jan. 22, 1973, the Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision that would divide the country in a 44-year-old debate over abortion rights.  Since its decision, Roe vs Wade has been heralded as a sign of progress by pro-choice advocates.  For pro-choicers, Roe is a sign that women have full autonomy over their bodies against a patriarchal society that expects women to bear children and become mothers.  On this reading, pre-Roe America was backwards and patriarchal by demanding women to bear the gratuitous burden of childbirth that no egalitarian society should ask of reluctant or unexpected mothers.  Roe was a marker that this patriarchal order was beginning to unravel as genuine progress was made for women’s reproductive rights.     

This has been the pro-choice version of events for almost half a century now.  But there are always at least two sides to every story.  This Friday, pro-lifers from all walks of life will gather in Washington to protest legal abortion and tell the unborn children’s sides of the story.  Their efforts this Friday are necessary to correct a distorted narrative that has informed our law for too long.  While pro-choicers are by no means generally ill-intentioned, their philosophy of life is deeply misguided, and leads them to the taking of innocent lives.         

In order for the pro-choice narrative about abortion—that it’s a woman’s right to choose whether to have one, that it’s merely a reproductive health issue and surgical procedure, etc.—to be correct, it would have to be true that a fetus is not actually an unborn child whose life is worth protecting.  After all, virtually everyone would say that you have the right to do as you wish with your body.  Yet there is a limit to this right when it conduces to another’s harm. So if a fetus is a human, then it has a certain unalienable right to life—rendering abortion rights virtually nonexistent.  

To demonstrate what I mean, let’s consider an analogy.  If I were to get any ordinary surgical procedure done, let’s say, the removal of my wisdom teeth, a doctor would simply be removing a part of my body for my benefit.  My wisdom teeth could be growing improperly and pose a problem for my well being.  So, it would only make sense that my wisdom teeth be removed.  But of course, my wisdom teeth are mine.  And it’s for that reason that abortion is very different than removing your wisdom teeth. 

Abortion entails the dismemberment and subsequent removal of a fetus from its mother’s body.  Yet a fetus isn’t a part of its mother.  If it were a piece of tissue or an organ  from its mother’s body, then clearly there would be nothing wrong with abortion. But a fetus has a life of its own.  Unlike any organ or tissue that exists in a mother’s body, a fetus will most likely grow into an adult human.  Ordinary tissue and organs can’t do that. 

And unlike its mother’s wisdom teeth or lung tissue, a fetus actually has its own distinct genetic coding.  Its DNA comes from both its mother and its father, making it biologically distinct from its mother.  And by virtue of its having human DNA, it can’t reasonably be said that a fetus is anything other than an unborn human being.  Assertions to the contrary run the risk of becoming absurd because they would have to point to an arbitrary point of personhood development.

For example, let’s say that a pro-choicer were to argue that personhood begins at viability, as some do.  In order for that argument to be true, there would have to be some meaningful distinction between a fetus at viability and one that isn’t.  But what about being able to live outside the womb makes a fetus human?  And if a non-viable one isn’t a human, what is it then?  Clearly even a non-viable one is a biologically distinct human organism, so arguing that it’s not a human being would be incoherent.

Fetal personhood, then, renders the pro-choice assumptions about abortion rights morally problematic.  Assuming that all of these things are true, abortion rights advocates’ arguments that abortion is an ordinary procedure or anything other than the killing of an unborn child, lose moral credibility.       

For that reason, pro-choicers are often morally ambivalent about their position.  Also for that reason, we shouldn’t demonize pro-choicers.  Many of them don’t fully realize the implications of their views.  But until enough hearts and minds have been convinced of the unborn’s personhood and dignity, we have an obligation to march, to fight, but also to teach, to inform.  For the most precious and innocent lives among us, on we march.