I’ve always considered myself right-of-center. I’ve long been an adamant proponent of limited government, free markets, personal liberty, and the Second Amendment. But I have not always been pro-life.
A Finance major who, in 2009, graduated into the worst job market in thirty years, I was (and still am) passionate about economic issues and for several years preferred to focus on them exclusively. While trying to win people over to my side, I would often throw my liberal-leaning friends a bone: “I vote Republican because of the economy, but I’m still pro-choice.” I’m not an extremist, I assured them.
Indeed, that’s what I thought: People who are pro-life are extreme, religious zealots who want to repeal Roe v. Wade and send us back to the dark ages of back-alley, hanger-wielding abortionists. I wanted to be taken seriously and seen as reasonable. So, of course I was for abortion. That is the reasonable position. Right?
In reality, I just didn’t want to actually think about abortion—what it is, what it entails. To me it seemed a messy, emotional issue. I preferred to focus on GDP growth, unemployment statistics, and our national debt. Numbers. Data. Cold, hard facts. Why get lost in the weeds on this “social” issue? The answer, I came to find, is because abortion is not a “social” issue the way gay marriage or marijuana legalization are. It is the defining moral issue of our time.
Let’s look at what abortion is really all about. Setting aside instances of rape or incest, a woman voluntarily chooses to have sex, knowing full well that—even if she and her sexual partner are cautious and use contraception—getting pregnant is a potential outcome.
Then, upon finding herself pregnant, she decides this just isn’t going to work for her. Maybe she is young and still in school. Maybe she has a demanding, high-powered job. Maybe she is struggling to support herself. Certainly none of these are ideal situations in which to bring a child into this world. Regardless, this woman made the decision to have sex and is going to make the baby pay for her decision by ending his or her life.
People make poor decisions everyday. Sometimes, these decisions set their lives on difficult, unfortunate paths. Sometimes, their lives are never the same as a result. But when this happens, we don’t punish innocent people for one individual’s bad decision; we expect that individual to accept the consequences of his or her actions. Where would we be, as a society, if we foisted responsibility for one person’s actions onto innocent bystanders?
Lauren chooses to shop online too much and amasses an overwhelming amount of debt. But we’re going to make her neighbor, Mike, pay her bills so her credit score improves and she can buy a car. She needs this car to get to work, to visit her sick mother, and to drive to the grocery store for food; her life will be very difficult if she doesn’t have this car. So, Mike will have to pay the price so Lauren can have a reasonable quality of life.
This scenario, of course, makes no sense. Why should Mike be punished for Lauren’s decisions? And yet, hundreds of thousands of little Mikes pay the ultimate price every year as a result of their mothers’ choices. We don’t think it’s acceptable to make people pay off others’ debts so they can get their lives on track, but we do think it’s acceptable to end the lives of children in order to make things easier on their mothers? Really?!?
Progressives will counter this argument by saying an unborn baby isn’t yet a person. Life doesn’t start at conception, they’ll say. This, of course, raises the question: If life doesn’t start at conception, then when does it start? At what point does the transformative moment occur when a fetus changes from “clump of cells” to “human baby?”
I think we can all agree it does not simply happen as the baby passes through the birth canal during labor. The vagina is not a magical tunnel, the journey through which bestows personhood upon a little traveler. And yet, in some states, a woman can abort her baby up until he or she is born. What is the difference between a baby ten minutes before birth and ten minutes after? Apparently, only whether the baby can or cannot be killed.
In certain states, people can and have been tried and convicted of double homicide after murdering a pregnant woman. Thirty-eight states have some sort of fetal homicide laws, and twenty-three of these states have laws that apply beginning at the earliest stages of pregnancy. Though other people can go to jail or even be executed for killing an unborn baby, the mother can legally do so without fear of repercussion. This seems illogical at best and, at worst, downright insidious.
The only point at which it makes sense to acknowledge personhood is, in fact, at conception. It is at this point that a brand new DNA profile is established—a new person is created. Trying to pinpoint some other moment seems arbitrary and inconsistent—two words that should never describe the criteria used to determine the point at which it is acceptable to kill an innocent being.
If we accept this premise—that life begins at conception—then we must accept that abortion is murder. Therefore, the conversation surrounding abortion needs to stop being euphemized; it is not about “women’s rights,” “women’s health,” or “a woman’s right to choose.” It is about the taking of an innocent life.
Abortion is legal in this country. It might always be legal. So, the conversation we should be having as a nation needs to be: What kind of a country and a society do we want to build? What sort of example do we want to set for our children—that in certain circumstances it is acceptable to foist the consequences of our actions, regardless of how dire they may be, onto an innocent being and kill him or her? Or that human life and the right to it is the one element that binds all of us in spite of our differences; that protecting it and valuing it is paramount to our survival as a people?
We ultimately need to decide: Are we a society that fights for the voiceless and the powerless against those who have power? And under what circumstances is it justifiable to end an innocent life? I am hard-pressed to think of any.