We are looking at the first step in the war on children: killing children “before” they are born. The term we’re familiar with is “abortion.” Abortion was legalized in the United States in 1973 after years of legal arguments. I was a news reporter at the time and covered the arguments and the protests.
Christians were leaders in the protests before and after legalization of abortion. Is it time for Christians to give up and admit defeat in the decades-long war on children? I don’t think so because Christians and others opposed to abortion have strong reasons to continue the battle.
So far in our series, we’ve looked at how Christians can respond from both the Bible and medical science. We turn now to how Christians can respond to another pro-abortion argument. Keep in mind that we want our responses to be reasoned, informed, and thoughtful.
Are the Unborn ‘Persons’?
One of the major aspects of abortion is the issue of personhood – when the “unborn” becomes a human person. The Pro-Choice/Pro-Abortion group has long claimed that an unborn baby is a non-person. That is why they do not believe abortion is murder, because the killing of a non-person is not murder. The Pro-Life/Anti-Abortion group has long claimed that an unborn baby is a person. That is why they believe abortion is murder, because the pre-meditated killing of a person is murder.
I remember this argument in the early days of legal debate in Roe v. Wade. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun wrote this as part of the Court’s majority opinion – “If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment.” The longer quote from Blackmun’s majority opinion is:
“The appellee and certain amici argue that the fetus is a ‘person’ within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. In support of this, they outline at length and in detail the well-known facts of fetal development. If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment. The appellant conceded as much on reargument.” University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law
This statement is often referred to as “Blackmun’s Hole.” Justice Blackmun seemed to be stating that if the personhood of an unborn child could be proven, then the baby would find protection in Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Blackmun also wrote this about the medical implications of when a person becomes human.
Texas urges that, apart from the Fourteenth Amendment, life begins at conception and is present throughout pregnancy, and that, therefore, the State has a compelling interest in protecting that life from and after conception. We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.
It should be sufficient to note briefly the wide divergence of thinking on this most sensitive and difficult question…Substantial problems for precise definition of this view are posed, however, by new embryological data that purport to indicate that conception is a ‘process’ over time, rather than an event, and by new medical techniques such as menstrual extraction, the ‘morning-after’ pill, implantation of embryos, artificial insemination, and even artificial wombs. University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law
Notice Blackmun’s words – “at this point in the development of man’s knowledge.” Blackmun mentions “new embryological data” and “new medical techniques” that were part of man’s knowledge in 1973: “menstrual extraction, the ‘morning-after’ pill, implantation of embryos, artificial insemination, and even artificial wombs.”
What about the last 49 years since Roe v. Wade? At what point are we in 2022 “in the development of man’s knowledge”? Medical science has added DNA paternal testing and ultrasound to “the development of man’s knowledge” as we addressed in the last part of our series. Even as the Supreme Court majority used the available scientific knowledge in 1973, shouldn’t the Supreme Court of the United States now use the available scientific knowledge in 2022 to reconsider the earlier decision? It seems only right that if a majority of Supreme Court Justices used the available science of 1973 to determine the personhood of an unborn child, the current Supreme Court Justices should use the available science of 2022 to determine the personhood of an unborn child. Since much of Roe v. Wade was decided on available medical science, it would seem that the Court would be sensitive to the advancement of science into the issues of pregnancy and personhood.
The definition of “personhood” is fairly simple – “The state or fact of being a person.” (Dictionary.com) The definition of “person” is even simpler – “human being.” (Dictionary.com)
As we shared in our last post, unborn children can be proven to be “human” during the first trimester of a mother’s pregnancy. DNA paternal testing was not available when the Supreme Court heard arguments in Roe v. Wade in 1973, but it is available now and has been since the 1980s.
Extremely premature babies who were born during the second trimester and lived are legally viewed as human “persons” with human rights. As medical science continues to improve the viability of premature births, the possibility of babies being delivered even earlier could demonstrate an even earlier legal “personhood.” Based on DNA testing and advances in Neonatal medical care, why doesn’t the Supreme Court reconsider its initial ruling from almost 50 years ago? It would seem to be a logical next-step “if” the Court and abortion proponents were really concerned about following the science as scientific knowledge expands.
Following the science should mean following the “facts.” Here are some facts to consider when responding to people who are pro-abortion.
Fact: Medical science has advanced tremendously since the Supreme Court’s majority ruling in 1973.
Fact: DNA paternal testing proves that the unborn are human persons from the first trimester of pregnancy.
Fact: The U.S. Constitution and Amendments protect the rights of human persons.
Fact: Based on science and legal precedent, the U.S. Constitution and Amendments should then protect the right of unborn human persons.
What will the courts and pro-abortion advocates do with these facts?
As for late term abortion – how can the abortion of a child in the second or third trimester of his/her mother’s pregnancy be anything but murder since DNA testing proves the child is a human person as early as the first trimester? It can’t be anything other than murder. A human child in the first trimester of pregnancy doesn’t somehow become a non-person in the second or third trimester. That’s not logical, rational or reasonable.
Here are some other responses to the issue of the unborn’s personhood:
Personhood is properly defined by membership in the human species, not by stage of development within that species.
Personhood is not a matter of size, skill, or degree of intelligence.
The unborn’s status should be determined on an objective basis, not on subjective or self-serving definitions of personhood.
It is a scientific fact that there are thought processes at work in unborn babies.
If the unborn’s value can be compared to that of an animal, there is no reason not to also compare the value of born people to animals.
Even if someone believes people are no better than animals, why would they abhor the killing of young animals, while advocating the killing of young children?
It is dangerous when people in power are free to determine whether other, less powerful lives are meaningful.
Arguments against the personhood of the unborn are shrouded in rationalization and denial.EPM.org
Level of Development
Degree of DependencyA Way To Talk With Those Who Are Prochoice About The Personhood of the Unborn
Abortion is a complex medical and legal issue. What we’ve shared with you about abortion should help you develop a reasoned, informed and thoughtful response to people who are pro-choice. However, you may run into some arguments that we have not addressed in this brief series. You can contact us through email or leave questions in the comment section of this post.
Resources for Reasoned Responses
Here are some links to resources for developing reasoned responses about abortion (alphabetical order):
The war on children continues as soon as they are born. We’ll take a look at the many battles to destroy the nuclear family as our special series continues.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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