Michael Frances on abortion

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Guest Post on Abortion

May 29, 2012 By  847 Comments

So check it! I got a wonderful guest post, and I thought it pretty well sums up the abortion debate:

It goes without saying that the paramount responsibility of rational government is the protection of human life.  That’s why laws
prohibiting murder carry the harshest penalties in society.  In the English Common Law system, there are even shades of criminal liability, from murder through manslaughter, designed to discourage the killing of human life.  Human life is the sine quo non of all other rights (i.e., that, without which, there is no other), including the rights to liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness.

This is not a remarkable concept.  The pro-life vs. pro-choice divide is not over whether government should prevent the killing of
innocent human life.  The divide exists over how to define human life; or more specifically, how government should define that human life which deserves the protection of the law against its intentional destruction.

Most pro-choice advocates believe that theirs is the rational position, rooted in science, while the pro-life side is rooted in
opinion based on un-provable religious beliefs or ideology.  But the evidence indicates the opposite is the case.  The pro-life side is rooted in objective science while the pro-choice position elevates personal opinion and ideology over science.

The traditional pro-life position holds that human life begins at conception.  That’s because conception is the moment of decisive change in human existence.  It’s the Big Bang of human life.  Science tells us that, from conception, there exists a genetically complete and distinct human life.  After conception, gender and all manner of physiological characteristics are immediately in place.  Before my conception, I did not exist.  Since my conception, I have existed.  If another person had interfered with my natural development at some point since conception, it’s elementary that I would not be here.

All change following conception is incremental.  This does not mean that after conception there are no new objective events in human life.  No matter how infinitesimal, there is an instant before the fetal heart starts beating and an instant afterward; a moment before a middle-aged man has a single gray hair and a moment afterward.  But these changes are a natural matter of growth and maturity.  Like the formation of galaxies and stars took place after the Big Bang, in a universe already in existence, the heart beats for the first time, and the lungs take air for the first time, after conception, in a human life that already exists.

Conception is, therefore, the most objective and scientifically verifiable point to know that human life exists, and therefore, the most intellectually defensible point at which to assign protection to human life from its intentional destruction.  Choosing any moment after conception involves a subjective determination about other factors besides whether that human life exists.  Put another way, to permit abortion (the intentional destruction and removal of a human fetus from a pregnant woman), government must leave the realm of objectivity and science.  Choosing any moment after conception to protect human life from intentional destruction crosses a line into personal opinion. Whether government relies on the subjective opinion of scientists, judges, legislators, bureaucrats, or pregnant women, personal opinion is elevated above science.  When personal opinion, ideology, or
outcome-based conclusions form the foundation of a government’s exercise of its paramount responsibility, rational government is endangered.

Pro-choice advocates who believe decisions about abortion ought to be based on “science” rather than personal or religious ideology, should think more carefully about where they sit on the science-ideology continuum.  Theoretically, they should agree that defining human life on any but the most scientifically objective factors is inherently wrong. And it’s also extremely dangerous.  It crosses a bright line, from basing critical governmental decisions about human life on objective factors, to basing such decisions on something more subjective.  This principle endangers all the human life subject to that government’s
authority.

I recognize that this analysis leads to the, perhaps, counterintuitive conclusion that a zygote deserves the same type of
legal protection (if not to the same degree) against intentional killing as does a living, breathing 20 year-old.  But the alternative principle is too dangerous to contemplate.  As a rational human being, I prefer to put my trust in authentic science.

Michael Frances

Thanks for reading! I’m always down for guest posts, just shoot me an email.

 

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