The Abortion Debate Really Isn't That Complicated
Unless you live under a rock (which actually sounds kind of nice sometimes), you know that our country is debating abortion. Again. But per the usual, little progress is being made. Sure, some big laws are being passed (which will actually be challenged and fought in courts for the next few years), but are minds changing? I’m doubtful. If anything, I think people are becoming more entrenched in their current positions.
Social media only serves to make things worse by further dividing everyone on everything. There is so much information and so many opinions from so many sections of the world that I fear it’s only making a simple issue more complicated.
“Wait, did you say simple? Seriously? Are we talking about the same thing here? The abortion debate is incredibly complicated. What about rape and incest and women’s rights and bodily autonomy and viability and the health of the mother and gender and race and justice and adoption and the foster system and the other hundred things we absolutely need to yell at each other about?!”
Despite what social media wants you to believe, the abortion debate is really not that complicated. It’s actually quite simple.
Now please understand that I’m not dismissing or minimizing the importance of these other issues I listed above. They are important conversations in and of themselves. They each deserve careful thought and attention. But they really don’t have anything to do with the debate on abortion.
These other issues get dragged in and propped up for “gotcha points”, but they don’t move the conversation forward. Instead they further complicate and push us to the point where we aren’t even arguing about the same things anymore. One side is screaming about women’s oppression and the other side is screaming about murder. That’s not a helpful way to argue. So what we need is to simplify the abortion argument and get to the heart of the matter.
The abortion debate all boils down to one simple question: Is the unborn fetus/child a person? (Even the word you use to describe the unborn shows your cards. Since I’m trying to frame the debate rather than solve it, in fairness to all, I will alternate between “fetus” and “child.”)
That’s it. That’s the whole debate. How you answer that one question will determine your view on abortion.
If you say, “Yes, the unborn child is a person,” then you are pro-life. You believe the unborn life is a human being worthy of dignity and protection, as is every other person on the planet. To abort that unborn child is the taking of a human life which by definition is murder.
If you say, “No, the fetus is not a person,” then you are pro-choice. You believe the unborn child is a group of cells that is a temporary part of a pregnant woman’s body. Therefore, the woman hosting the fetus has the right to keep it or eliminate it.
It’s a simple question with simple answers but enormous implications.
Let me give you a few examples. Those who are pro-choice often use the tragic scenario of a woman who becomes pregnant through rape. If you believe the unborn child is a not a person, then the solution here is a no-brainer. The woman is justifiable in terminating the pregnancy. To force her to carry a child conceived in rape would be cruel and wrong. But if you believe the unborn child is a person, then the solution here is also a no-brainer. There is no situation, no matter how tragic, that justifies compounding the violence by adding on the murder of an innocent person.
Do you see how vastly different those two conclusions are? Both sides use morality but end up at opposite places. The gap between them is a result of how one answers the question: Is the unborn child a person?
Let’s do another one. Another major argument from the pro-choice side is that women have the right to bodily autonomy. That’s a fancy way of saying people should be able to do what they want with their own bodies. So just as a woman shouldn’t be forced to donate her kidney against her will, she shouldn’t be forced to deliver a baby against her will. Pro-life people also agree that women should have bodily autonomy. They just believe the unborn child is a separate person and not a part of the woman’s body. So for a woman to have an abortion, she’s abusing her freedom by destroying the bodily autonomy of another, separate person.
See? Simple conclusions but one hundred percent different directions.
One more. The pro-life side often compares abortion to history’s most horrible acts like slavery and genocide. They compare the number of pregnancies terminated to the number of innocent lives tortured and killed in Nazi Germany to show the extent of today’s abortion crisis. Isn’t that a little extreme? Should we really add a private and legal medical procedure to the list of humanity’s darkest stains? Well, it all depends on what you think of the unborn life. If the unborn child is a person, then yes, abortion is indeed one of history’s greatest tragedies. Murdering millions of innocent people, babies at that, for the sake of free choice is an unspeakable evil of the likes we’ve never seen before. But if the unborn child is not a person, then this argument is hyperbolic nonsense. There is no reason to lament abortion. If anything, our nation should be celebrating the freedom we have to pursue happiness in our own way and in our own timing without others forcing their views on us. Isn’t that what America has been about from the beginning?
Again, two people looking at the same issue but ending up in two opposite places because of one simple question: Is the unborn child a person?
This is the question we need to be wrestling with. This is the question that matters.
The surrounding issues matter and need to be a part of our conversations, just not this one. If we are going to talk abortion (and *newsflash* our country is talking abortion whether you’re ready or not), let’s get down to the big question.
Is the unborn child a person?*
Many people believe the answer to that question is clearer than ever, and their reasoning comes from quite the unexpected place. I’ll explain what I mean in my next post.
*Now in all fairness, some would take a middle approach here and say that the unborn child gains personhood at a certain point in the pregnancy. When the heart begins to beat, when the baby can feel pain, when certain organs are developed, when the life is viable, etc. They would argue that up until that point, abortion is acceptable. After that point, abortion is morally wrong. I think that position is becoming more and more difficult to hold and is more of an attempt to soothe the conscience and appease both sides. I want to write more on that at some point, but I don’t believe it changes the point of this post.