Saturday, September 15, 2007

Only One Question To Ask: What Is The Unborn?

Presumably you’ve arrived at this page because you wonder whether there’s really any need to “Scream Bloody Murder” about the deaths through abortion of over 100,000 “unborns” in Canada yearly.

Remember, this discussion started when we asked the question: “Why aren’t we screaming bloody murder about the killing of unborn children in Canada?”

However, some have objected to calling them unborn “children” and asked whether they were really “human beings.”

So that brings us to this posting, where we zero in on the question "What is the Unborn?"


Mention the word “abortion” to most people and chances are they’ll think of anything except what abortion actually is. The word has lost almost all its meaning because of the many half truths, slogans and emotional appeals which have moved the focus away from the central question raised by abortion.

Consider the following illustration which identifies the crucial question. [This illustration has been drawn from the folks at Stand To Reason, an apologetics group based in California.]

If your child comes up behind you while you’re working and asks,

“Mommy/Daddy, can I kill this?”

what one question must you ask before you can answer his question? Think carefully for a moment. Before you answer the question

“Can I kill this?”

you must first ask the question

“What is it?”

If it’s a spider or a cockroach, you might say it’s ok to smash it. If it’s the funny looking boy down the street, you’ll need to sit down for a long talk with your child.

This illustration plainly cautions that before we can determine whether or not it is moral to kill something, we must know what it is that we are killing. Abortion kills something that was alive. Is it right or is it wrong?

Again, we must answer the question, “What is being killed?” i.e. what is the unborn? If the unborn is not a human being, if it’s simply an extraneous blob of tissue, an optional part of a woman’s body like the appendix, or even a “potential” human, then we needn’t be concerned with justifying the killing. Go ahead and have the abortion. In fact have as many as you like provided medical care ensures your continued good health.

However, this is precisely where arguments in favour of abortion become incoherent. Abortion is defended on the basis of choice, privacy, economics, “It’s my body,” unwanted children, physical defect, rape, incest, etc. Such rationalizations last year resulted in the violent deaths of over 100,000 unborns in Canada alone. Nonetheless these justifications are irrelevant because they avoid the real issue—abortion itself—and the question “What is the unborn?”

Let’s continue to put things in perspective through the following imaginary dialogue.

Abortion Advocate (AA): Abortion is a private choice between a woman and her doctor.

Pro-Lifer (PL): Do we allow parents to abuse their little children if it is done in private?

AA: That’s not fair. The children you’re talking about are human beings. I’m talking about a fetus.

PL: Then the issue isn’t really privacy, but rather whether the fetus is a human being.

AA: But lots of poor women can’t afford another child.

PL: Let me ask you a question. When human beings get expensive, can we kill them?

AA: Well, no, but aborting a fetus is not the same as killing a human being.

PL: So, once again, the real question is “What is the unborn?” Is the fetus a human being?

AA: Why do you insist on being so simplistic? This is a very complex issue involving women who are forced to make agonizing decisions.

PL: The decision may be agonizing for the mother, I admit that. But it’s not a complex moral issue. It’s wrong to kill innocent human beings simply because they’re in the way and can’t defend themselves.

AA: Killing defenseless human beings is one thing. Aborting a fetus is another.

PL: So we’re agreed: If abortion actually killed a defenseless human being, then the issue wouldn’t be complex, right? The question we still need to answer is, “What is the unborn?”

AA: Enough with your abstract philosophy. Let’s talk about real life. Do you really think a woman should be forced to bring an unwanted child into the world?

PL: The homeless are unwanted. Can we kill them?

AA: But it’s not the same.

PL: That’s the issue, isn’t it? Are they the same? If the unborn are truly human beings, like the homeless, then we can’t just kill them to get them out of the way. We’re back to my first question, “What is the unborn?”

AA: But you still shouldn’t force your morality on women.

PL: You’d feel very comfortable “forcing your morality” on a mother who was physically abusing her two-year-old, wouldn’t you?

AA: But that’s not the same.

PL Why not?

AA: Because you’re assuming the unborn are human, like a two-year-old.

PL: And you’re assuming they’re not. You see, this is not really about privacy or economic hardship or complexity or unwanted children or forced morality. It’s about whether the unborn are human beings. Answer the question “What is the unborn?” and you’ve answered the others.

And if the unborn is a real human being, then abortion kills an innocent child simply because that child is in the way and can’t defend him/herself. And if the unborn child is as fully human in his or her essential nature as you and I, then he or she deserves the same legal protections as you and I.

The question “What is the Unborn?” is therefore absolutely crucial to any discussion about abortion because it must be made plain whether the unborn are indeed human beings.

And therefore our original question: “Why aren’t we screaming bloody murder about the killing of unborn children in Canada?” must be put on hold for a while longer until we settle the bigger question of ‘What is the Unborn?”

One way to tackle this bigger question might be to say:

Part 3
Speaking as a Former Fetus, I was Always a Human Being


See previous postings:

Part 1 Scream Bloody Murder

Part 2 Only One Question To Ask: What Is The Unborn?

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