Why Being Pro-Life Has Nothing To Do With Religion
Many of my readers know that I’m Christian, but I don’t talk about that much. I don’t believe my faith should determine law, so it doesn’t come up in my writing very often.
In fact, I’m often fighting “for” things that I personally don’t condone (like gay marriage, drug use, etc…).
But I’m not really fighting for those things. I’m just fighting for people’s freedom to do those activities (as long as they don’t harm others).
However, I am an ardent defender of Pro-Life policy.
But it has nothing to do with my faith.
My faith did not make me Pro-Life. Reason Did.
I was a Pro-Choice Christian for a while. My faith did not change my position. Reason did.
Logic and Reason Defend The Unborn
When a baby is born, they aren’t a fully developed human. They can’t walk, talk, or make decisions that are in their best interest.
If you asked an alien to look at an adult and baby, they might not even conclude that we’re the same species.
But, we grant rights to babies because we know they will develop into humans.
Let me clear on this: We already give people individual rights before they are distinct individuals.
We recognize that they not only have the capacity to develop into people, but they are designed to do so.
A baby’s growth from infancy to adulthood is unconditional and unstoppable. This isn’t a choice.
A baby cannot decide to stay a baby (or I think more of us would have opted to remain a child).
There is no volition in “growing up.” The only things that stops a person’s development are outside factors like sickness, death, and environment factors.
But barring any tragedies, a baby WILL become a human.
Therefore, that baby gains the protection of individual rights long before they are a “true” individual.
- If a child is abused, the state intervenes.
- If a child isn’t getting enough food, the state intervenes.
- If a child’s environment is detrimental to their health, the state intervenes.
So, why is it different for a fetus?
Just like a baby, barring problems, a fertilized egg will develop into a baby… which will develop into an individual.
Again, there is no volition in this choice. A fetus cannot decide to stop growing. A mother cannot will her fetus to stay that way.
The only things that stop a fetus from developing are the same things that stop a baby from developing: Sickness and external factors.
But barring any problems, it will turn into an individual.
So… why aren’t fetuses granted the same rights as babies… or people?
When you apply the exact same logic and principles to a fetus, you must conclude that an abortion is a violation of a fetus’ rights, and the state should intervene (just as if a parent tried to kill their child).
If you can find a way out of this argument, please tell. I want to hear it.
Ban All Birth Control? Don’t Be Silly…
Some people will counter by saying, “If that is true, then all birth control should be criminalized!”
They say this as if it were a rational argument in favor of Pro-Choice policies. But there are two reasons it is not.
First, this isn’t an argument for Pro-Choice policies. It is an attempt to get me to override my logic with a feeling.
There is no argument here against being Pro-Life.
I say, “A fetus should have the same rights as a baby.”
They say, “Then all birth-control should be illegal!”
Why do they say this?
They are hoping that my desire to use birth control is so great that I couldn’t imagine giving it up. Which would then cause me to override my rational argument and endorse a Pro-Choice position. They want me to act on an emotional whim and/or desire, not reason.
They are deliberately trying to avoid reason, because reason dictates one conclusion: Abortion is wrong.
Subconsciously, they realize they’ve lost the logical argument. So they are appealing to my emotions, trying to get me to abandon my logic as well.
They are deliberately trying to avoid reason, because reason dictates one conclusion: Abortion is wrong.
There is no logic in their argument. It is only ‘feeling.’
This is dangerous. All law should be built on logic and reason, not how you ‘feel’ about a subject.
Do you really want to be governed by how your neighbors ‘feel’ on certain issues?
I certainly don’t. I for one want laws based on rational arguments.
I know, I’m weird.
All I’m saying is that this statement isn’t a rational argument for Pro-Choice policies.
But there’s a second problem here.
This “argument” isn’t even logical in and off itself.
This statement equates abortion with birth control.
It implies that abortion and birth control operate on the same basic principles, do the same basic thing, and should therefore be categorized the same.
But they don’t. They are very different.
Abortions deal with fertilized eggs. While birth control deals with gametes, and thus they cannot be compared.
Abortion terminates the progress of a developing fetus. But birth control stops two gametes from turning into a fetus.
If left on its own, a gamete will NOT develop into a person. It will just exist, along with the millions upon millions of other gametes in your ovaries or testicles.
But once two gametes meet, you now have a fertilized egg, and that fetus WILL develop into a human.
So, no, you don’t have to get rid of birth control if you ban abortion.
They are two different things, and should be treated as such.
My Body, My Choice
Here’s the other argument… A fetus REQUIRES a mother to exist, and if abortions were illegal, that would violate the mother’s rights.
The fetus would exert a form of coercion over the mother.
The mother must work to support the fetus. And the mother must refrain from certain activities to support the fetus.
All-in-all, the fetus violates a great deal of the mother’s freedom.
This is the argument for the “My Body, My Choice” position. By criminalizing abortions, we are in effect limiting women’s rights.
In any other situation, this would be wrong. It would be immoral. And protecting the woman’s right to abortion would be the only way to protect her individual rights.
In fact, some people argue that abortions should only be illegal once the fetus can survive outside the womb.
This way, even though the fetus still needs support, it no longer requires it from one specific person.
Thus, abortion only becomes illegal once keeping the fetus alive no longer violates a woman’s individual rights.
Here’s the problem with that… In most cases, the mother had a choice to engage in sexual activity.
That choice led to the creation of another individual.
Babies do not magically appear in your womb (unless your Mary, but she was quite unique).
Creating a fertilized egg is volitional. Growing into a person is not.
So, a woman’s choice to have sex led to the creation of another individual. This initial choice to have sex overrides her “right to be free from a fetus”, or whatever you want to call it.
Think of it like signing a contract.
My neighbor cannot come over, show me a contract I’ve never seen before that says they own my house, and then force me out.
That would be theft, and wrong.
But, if I signed the contract of my own freewill, then they can. My right to my house has been forfeit by my consent. I cannot go back and claim that they are violating my individual rights.
Having sex is like signing that contract. You’re saying, “I realize this may result in the creation of another individual, and therefore I forfeit any right to my body that my pregnancy may entail.”
Arguing that a woman has the right to an abortion is like saying someone can legally renege on a contract they signed.
In legal terms, that would be a violation of contract. And if the fetus could take you to court, they would win.
Logic–Not Religion–Is The Mother of
Since a fetus WILL develop into an individual without volition, and since a woman has the ability to CHOOSE to have sex, a libertarian MUST protect the rights of the unborn.
If we want to be true to our principles and belief in radical equality, then we have to be Pro-Life.
If we don’t, we are violating our own principles, and we lack intellectual integrity.
Caveats and Compassion
Abortions are hard. And I have deep compassion for people who’ve had them.
If you’ve had an abortion, or know someone who has, it is not my intent to condemn you.
Our culture has decided that it is okay, and that makes it very easy to convince ourselves that something is right.
And I don’t consider Pro-Choicers murderers.
Pro-Choice supporters believe they are doing the right thing.
They believe the fetus isn’t a person, and in their hearts they don’t think they’re committing murder. I respect that and honor it.
Objectively, though, I have to conclude that abortion is murder and needs to be outlawed.
What About Rape, Incest, and Complications?
These are hard areas, and there aren’t a lot of clear boundaries like there are in consensual sex. But here are some thoughts.
When a woman has been raped, she did not choose to have sex.
Therefore, she didn’t sign a contract forfeiting some of her rights during pregnancy. So, by the same logic, she should be allowed to get an abortion.
At the same time, there is still an innocent person developing in their womb.
Can we ethically kill one innocent person to protect another?
And as painful as rape is, should we punish a baby for something their father did?
This is a grey situation with no clear right and wrong. But I personally think we need to support rape victims as best we can, while protecting the innocent individual created in the process.
What about incest? As along as incest is consensual, no rights are being violated. This means we can’t fashion an individual rights argument to allow abortions like we did with victims of rape.
The child has to be protected. But, how often do these pregnancies result in birth defects? And should that even play into our laws? I just don’t know.
And when it comes to pregnancy complications (that cause serious birth defects or endanger the mother), I really don’t know.
If I had to write a law that covered all forms of abortion based on my political philosophy, it would have to look like this:
- If the woman consented to sex, any abortion is illegal.
- If the woman did not consent, I would have to let people choose. Where government has no clear answer, the choice should be left to the individual. (Abortion would be allowed, but not encouraged, and I would actively encourage rape victims to keep the child, and build out private sector services to support rape victims throughout their pregnancy)
- In cases of incest, I would have to defer to biologists and childhood development specialists
- And in cases involving complications, I would have to let people choose. Again, where government has no clear answer, the choice should be left to the individual.
This is a big issue, with a lot of ramifications. However, it is important, and we need to talk about it.
Since we grant individual rights to babies because we know they become adults, the same logic must force us to grant fetuses the same rights.
And since having sex is volitional (unless you’re raped), by choosing to have sex, a woman forfeits any rights she has over her own body that the fetus “violates” during pregnancy.
Where no clear answers exist, the decision must be left to the individual.
Please keep your comments civil.
If you don’t, I will mute and/or ban you. My site is a place of civil discourse, not a place for people spew vitriol on those with whom they disagree.
About Sean Edwards
Sean Edwards is an author and a communication strategist. He graduated from the Western Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in history. Sean has a passion for discussing philosophy and American politics.