Fundamental Issues

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- Mark K. Sprengel

I feel it will be helpful to start with my basic premises as I deal with some of the fundamental issues regarding the abortion controversy.

When two rights conflict with each other the most fundamental and important right should prevail.

The right to life is the most basic and important right that we have.

It is a scientific fact that this is a unique individual human life. It is not just cells or a parasite. This means that we are not simply talking about some "thing" we can treat as property. This is an issue concerning a human life. Based on this undeniable fact the right to life applies and must be weighed in against all other considerations.

Abortion is the most extreme, permanent and devastatingly violent solution, for the unborn child, to a clearly temporary situation - i.e. the location and dependence of that unborn child. Dependence also continues into early childhood and this "being dependent" argument would easily justify infanticide.

When we are faced with a choice we must always choose the lesser of two evils. Does it really need to be mentioned that carrying a beautiful, new life to term regardless of the circumstances or difficulties is clearly less evil than the selfish act of abortion?

For myself the issue can be decided at this point. The pro-life view is the most reasonable and moral position one can take. I realize, however, there are a number of objections and I will examine a few of these now.

The main argument for legalized abortion has to do with a woman's control over her body. Certainly this right is very important but is it enough to override the fundamental right to life? When one thinks about it, this right to control ones body is not absolute. No one would agree that a woman has the right to beat someone to death simply because she uses her fists which are a part of her body. In this case a persons right to life outweighs a woman's right in regard to her own body. The example illustrates that this right is not absolute and is completely dependent on what it is that one is doing with their body. The important question really is - should a woman's control over her body extend to "this"? In this case we are talking about abortion. As science has shown this is a unique human individual's life. This situation is the same as our example and the right to life is still the more fundamental and important right and must therefore prevail.

Some might say it is better to allow abortion then to have so many unwanted children in the world. But how does not living such a life benefit the child? Whatever answer is given it will never be experienced by this unique child who now no longer exists and never will. There is also no value whatsoever to not existing - it is just nothing - life has value in and of itself no matter the supposed lack of quality and besides that, always has the chance for redemption. This thinking is selfish because we are the only ones who would experience any so-called "benefit" i.e. we don't have to see someone "suffer". If taken to its logical conclusions this justification could lead to any other defenseless group of people lacking "quality" in their lives being "removed" so we don't have to see them.

As for the argument that unwanted children are more prone to become criminals - better to abort them before that happens - are we not innocent until it is proven we have committed the crime? I guess not, as long as you are in the womb according to this argument. Additionally, an aborted child will never be a doctor, a loving father or mother a great humanitarian etc. Those unwanted children who have become criminals - while sad - certainly are not sentenced to death that easily and they still have the possibility of changing their lives. Allowing abortion because of the mere possibility of becoming a criminal would seem to mean its permissible to use the death penalty for a lot more than just murder if taken to its logical and frightening conclusions. Abortion for this reason just takes us off the hook for showing love and concern to these unwanted children - but that would be more time consuming and difficult and not always successful and, quite frankly, just not as convenient for us.

What about the argument that this is a private act? But that really is not true, no person is an oasis unto themselves. The unborn child will in fact affect society if the pregnancy is not terminated. The absence of that person is therefore also a loss to society. Furthermore, we as a society must accept an arbitrary definition of what is human and allowed to have moral value to allow this so called "private" act. This affects all of us in ways that will some day be frighteningly apparent should we become part of some helpless group that society decides it is convenient to dismiss as lacking humanity and moral value. But then it will be to late.

Finally, while I have addressed some of the arguments against being pro-life on their own terms and they clearly do not stand, I once again return to my original premise and scientific fact. This is a unique human life and the right to life is clearly more fundamental and important than any of the rights or arguments that have just been examined. But maybe I have unfairly stacked the cards in my favor. I admit the definition of life in my premise is the strength of my argument. What if we could define life in such a way that abortion is permissible? There are people who are attempting to do just that. But this means they have already determined that abortion is permissible. Their attempts at redefining human life do not prove that abortion should be permissible but rather only provide evidence of the lengths they will go to in removing such obstacles. We want the power of abortion, so lets just ignore the irritating facts and redefine being human. Didn't we have enough of such actions with the Nazi's or slave owners? Shouldn't we be more concerned with the truth of the matter rather than with artificial definitions that makes things more convenient for us? The strength of the pro-life position is not because of some clever definition of life. Rather the facts force us to acknowledge that this is a unique individual human life, whose helplessness in the womb can either motivate us to compassion, nurturing and protection or be used as an excuse and opportunity to exercise our deadly power.

This article copyright © 1999 by Mark K. Sprengel and may not be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of its author. All rights reserved.