Being a life long Catholic, I have never had a problem agreeing with, supporting or defending the right of the unborn person to become a “born” person. This, naturally, stems from my religious upbringing, which has played no small part in shaping my sense of “what makes sense”. When debating the “right and wrong” of abortion with someone who shares a basic belief in Christian principles, even though they may support abortion, it’s not too difficult to get them to see that a change in direction might be worth looking into.
However, there have been times when I have been engaged in discussion with someone who does not share my Christian faith. At times like these, I have found that most spiritually based points don’t make much of a dent in my opponent’s point of view at all.
Perhaps I am the only pro-life guy out here who has noticed this, but I think not.
So what do you say to someone who has no basis for understanding your religious point of view?
How about something scientific? Or maybe just logical?
What am I talking about? Well…
Like many pro-life Christians, I was under the misconception that the reason for the pro-life argument was the Ten Commandments or the soul of the person in the womb. While these are certainly important elements in the reasoning, I was not quite correct in that assumption…
The really important points are:
- Is the embryo alive?
- Is the embryo human?
Allow me to illustrate by presenting a few thoughts that might be helpful..
Nothing organic stays the same – it’s either moving forward or moving backward.
What are some characteristics of a living organism?
- Positive cellular activity – Growth – Building up of the organism
- Cell division and multiplication
- Ability to fight infection
- Regeneration of damaged tissue – Self maintenance
What are some characteristics of a dead organism?
- Negative cellular activity – Decay – Tearing down of the organism
- Cellular breakdown
- Nothing to fight infection
- No regeneration of damaged tissue -No way to maintain itself
With these facts in mind, we can conclude that
- Life = Growth
- Death = Decay
What takes place at the instant of conception? The sperm joins with the egg and immediately the process of building an organism begins… Cells divide and multiply… Positive cellular activity… Life…
Now that we have established that life exists, let’s move on to the other major point of contention – the humanity of the organism..
Have you ever been an embryo? Do you know anybody else who has ever been an embryo? Of course! We were all embryos early on in our development…
So what kind of embryo were you? At any point were you a zebra embryo? Were you ever a dog embryo? A chicken embryo?
Do you know anybody who was ever an ostrich and then became a human being?
Probably not. That’s because organisms never become another type of organism, at least in nature. A dog was never a frog. A cat was never a bat. A cow was never a snake.
And a human being was never anything other than a human being.
So if you were never a dead embryo, and you were never anything other than a human embryo, you must have been a living human embryo from the moment of conception.
Wait a minute, you might say – how do you know when a human being becomes a human being?
Good question! There are lots of theories about that!
Some people say that a person becomes a person at three months in the womb. Some say six months. Some say at the point where the baby can live outside the uterus. Some say at birth.
Some even say that a person does not become a person, and is, therefore, elegible to be jettisoned all the way up to 30 days after birth!
And some say that you are not fully human until you have been socialized – and that can take a few years…
How do they know? What makes them so sure? Where’s the science to support that?
The answer, of course, is that there isn’t any science to prove any of those theories. There cannot be. They are all arbitrary milestones in the life of a human being. Somebody’s best guess… Without the observation to back it up.
Or worse yet, somebody’s WISHFUL THINKING…
But science isn’t supposed to be based on best guesses without observation, and it’s certainly NOT based on wishful thinking…
So what’s left? What is empirically knowable?
Well, let’s review a little here:
- Life = Growth (cell division)
- Growth begins at conception
- Species begins at conception
Therefore, based on observation and an educated best guess, a human person begins at conception… And all but the most radical anti-life person will concede that you cannot morally or ethically kill a defenseless human being…
Now you just have to decide whether or not you believe human life is important.
And that’s the crux of the matter, isn’t it?