First, what is that thing inside the womb that it impacted by abortion? Is it a clump of cells or a baby? I will let pro-choice advocates give their explanation of what an abortion does:
- ''In 1970, an editorial in California Medicine noted: “Since the old ethic has not yet been fully displaced it has been necessary to separate the idea of abortion from the idea of killing, which continues to be socially abhorrent. The result has been a curious avoidance of the scientific fact, which everyone really knows, that human life begins at conception and is continuous whether intra-or extra-uterine until death. The very considerable semantic gymnastics which are required to rationalize abortion as anything but taking a human life would be ludicrous if they were not often put forth under socially impeccable auspices.”
- Former Planned Parenthood President Dr. Alan Guttmacher was perplexed that anyone would question these basic scientific facts. “This all seems so simple and evident that it is difficult to picture a time when it wasn’t part of the common knowledge,” he wrote in his book Life in the Making. (A. Guttmacher, Life in the Making: The Story of Human Procreation, New York: Viking Press, 1933, p. 3.)
- A Planned Parenthood brochure in 1963 noted, “Abortion kills the life of a baby after it has begun. It is dangerous to your life and health.”
- Faye Wattleton, the longest reigning president Planned Parenthood, told Ms. Magazine: “I think we have deluded ourselves into believing that people don’t know that abortion is killing. So any pretense that abortion is not killing is a signal of our ambivalence, a signal that we cannot say yes, it kills a fetus.”
- Bernard Nathanson, co-founder of NARAL, in an article for the New England Journal of Medicine in 1974: “There is no longer serious doubt in my mind that human life exists within the womb from the very onset of pregnancy…”
"Viability... is an important mark in the abortion debate. In Roe v. Wade and the 1992 decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the U.S. Supreme Court argued that states do have an interest in protecting an unborn baby’s life once they are viable. Viability at the time was considered to be about 24-26 weeks [22-24 is more commonly cited now]..."Paul Barnes, special assistant to the attorney general of Missouri, argues that Missouri's stance is in line with the Supreme Court standard:
"The viability line is constantly moving. When viability is the issue, then the state’s interest trumps the woman’s interest. It’s always moving in favor of the state’s authority, it’s never moving the other direction. The more developed the fetus is, the state’s interest is stronger in protecting unborn life.”Since I don't think legal necessarily equals moral, I believe there is an important question worth asking: is viability the right line to draw when it comes to the protection of unborn human life? Perhaps a better phrasing: Must human beings be viable in order to be human persons and thus deserving of the moral status that would rightly be accorded to them?
First, there is good reason to think the 'viability' line is a philosophically tenuous position:
Here is the Court's entire argument in Roe v. Wade for using the viability criterion: 'With respect to the State's important and legitimate interest in potential life, the "compelling" point is at viability. This is so because the fetus then presumably has the capability of meaningful life outside the mother's womb.'
That's seriously the entire argument... It is, of course, circular reasoning. Viability is important, the Court says, because that's when a child can live outside the womb (the definition of viability). Viability is important, that is, because it is viability.
"[T]he Court's defense seems to mistake a definition for a syllogism," noted the eminent Yale law professor John Hart Ely (who personally supported legalized abortion). Indeed, "scholars from a wide variety of backgrounds have recognized," writes University of Georgia law professor Randy Beck, that "Roe literally provided no argument in favor of treating viability as the controlling line, much less an argument grounded in constitutional principles..."
If we do take this to be an "argument," it is a fallacious one, as Francis J. Beckwith writes: 'For the Court to make its argument valid, it would have to add to its factual premise [the fact of fetal non-viability] the normative premise: whenever a human being cannot live on its own because it uniquely depends on another human being for its physical existence, it is permissible for the second human being to kill the first to rid the second of the burden.'
The Court assumed that premise in both Roe and Casey. The Court has never argued for it.So the first point is that the Supreme Court is not infallible, and may, in fact, build their rulings on a discouraging lack of reason at times.
Second, there is good reason to think it is a morally problematic position given the nature of the unborn. Perhaps the following walk through the weeks of fetal development during pregnancy will make this second point more clear. I encourage you to watch the videos as you read (they are not 'gotcha' videos about abortion).