The pro-life issue seems to evoke passionate responses on both sides, and it never fails to become part of the discussion during the course of political campaigns. One would think this wouldn't be the case, since Roe v. Wade made abortion legal in 1973. So why is it still such a hot topic 44 years later?

My position on the sanctity of human life is not simply grounded in my Christian faith.  I believe that the issue can be resolved based on the scientific facts, and I'm not alone.  There are millions of people who agree with me.     

Secular Pro-Life is a group of non-religious people who are against abortion. From a post about abortion on their web site:  

True, many people explain why killing is wrong from a religious perspective; for example, many point to the Biblical commandment that "thou shalt not kill."   Most Christians believe people were made in God's image and/or that people have souls, and that this gives people value. But does that imply, like some have suggested, that secular people have no reason to find value in human life? No reason to feel passionate about injustices? 

In a word: No. You do not have to be religious to value human life. You do not have to be religious to see the humanity of the fetus. And you do not have to be religious to be pro-life.  

Secular Pro-Life, on Abortion

According to Secular Pro-Life, based on figures from a Gallup poll, a conservative estimate of at least 6 million non-religious persons are pro-life.  According to Gallup, Americans' perceptions of public opinion about abortion are quite different than the poll findings of how Americans actually feel about the issue:

When asked how they think most Americans feel about the abortion issue, 51% of U.S. adults say the public is mostly "pro-choice," while 35% say "pro-life." This general perception that the pro-choice viewpoint prevails contrasts with the nearly even division of Americans' actual views. The same poll finds that 48% of Americans call themselves pro-life and 45% pro-choice.  

Bottom Line: For several years now, neither the pro-choice nor the pro-life label has been dominant among Americans. Nevertheless, 51% of Americans perceive that most Americans are pro-choice -- slightly more than the 45% personally taking the pro-choice stance. Barely a third of Americans, 35%, think most Americans are pro-life, considerably less than the 48% who are pro-life.

(from the Gallup article, "Americans Misjudge U.S. Abortion Views")

In the article "The Secular Case Against Abortion", author Kristine Kruszelnicki says that non-religious pro-lifers do exist and that "a popular atheist blogger accused us outright of having 'actually lied about being atheist...'  Society can continue to pit women against their preborn offspring, or we can begin to talk about real choices, real solutions and real compassion...  The secular pro-life philosophy means including the smaller and weaker members of our species, and not excluding the dependent and vulnerable from rights of personhood and life." 

Whether secular or religious, millions agree that legalized abortion must come to an end. Deacon Sal Bonfiglio, OFS goes right to the crux of the matter:  

"To me, it's pretty simple: Is a fertilized human egg contain human DNA?  Is it living? If yes to both, then it's human life, and society has the obligation to protect it - even if the parents disagree. Accepting every faith as valid requires us to consider their flawed beliefs when making laws. But in a society where there's freedom of religion (which is essential for free will), that's the downside." 

One of the best, well-researched, and most objective scientific papers I've read was written by Maureen Condic, Ph.D., "When Does Human Life Begin? The Scientific Evidence and Terminology Revisited".  Dr. Condic describes the process from the moment the sperm and egg are fused:

The scientific evidence clearly indicates that a one-cell human organism, the zygote, forms immediately at fusion of sperm and egg. From a scientific perspective, this single cell is inarguably a complete and living organism; i.e. a member of the human species at the earliest stage of natural development.

And from this moment the preborn has it's own DNA, as Dr. Condic describes in great detail. From the moment of conception throughout the ongoing developmental process that occurs within the first five minutes, then the first thirty minutes, as well as the process of DNA licensing which occurs in as little as four hours...

Dr. Condic presents not only the scientific evidence which if you read her paper clearly shows the conceived child's humanity from the moment of conception, she also brings up the more chilling reality... For most pro-abortion supporters, the question is not "when does human life begin?"  

Despite the clarity of the scientific evidence many people (including many scientists) find this conclusion difficult to accept; it seems absurd to call a single cell a "human being," and, consequently, many simply reject the evidence as irrelevant, and instead ask a different question: when does human life become valuable? Many who question the value of the human embryo accept that human life begins at sperm-egg fusion and that human embryos are organisms, yet insist that these scientific conclusions are irrelevant to any of the important social issues that turn on the question of when life begins. What is relevant, proponents of this view assert, is the question of when the embryo acquires "rights" or "value" or "personhood," and these more nuanced and less scientifically quantifiable traits are believed to accrue gradually over developmental time...  

Rather than linking human rights/value to status as a human organism (a status that is clearly achieved at sperm-egg fusion), many attempt to use a specific biological structure or function as the basis for human rights, with "viability" or the development of brain structures capable of supporting "consciousness" (including the conscious perception of pain) being the most commonly invoked characteristics. Yet both viability and higher neural function are fundamentally arbitrary...  

Linking human rights to "viability" provides an almost purely technological definition of who is and who is not the subject of basic human rights. 

The problems inherent in using any aspect of brain function as the definition of human "personhood" can be illustrated by asking just two disturbing questions. First, if we assign rights based on brain function, how do we view the wide range of variation in brain function that exists among postnatal humans? Are we comfortable assigning human rights proportionate to brain function, with the intelligent enjoying greater freedom and privilege than the less intelligent? Most of us find this idea intuitively repugnant... 

What is the status of those individuals who are initially above the bar, but subsequently fall below it as a consequence of injury, disease or old age? What about those who are born with a genetic or  developmental defect that prevents them from ever achieving the minimum requirements? Are such individuals to be considered sub-human animals?...  

Inherent to the "social convention" view is the idea that "inalienable" rights (such as the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) do not exist at all, but rather are only a matter of social accord or contract. Those who have sufficient power to impose their views or sufficient influence over public opinion to effectively promote them are free to define human "rights" in any manner they choose.  Consequently, this view fatally undermines both the concept of human rights and the concept of personhood. If all rights are conferred merely by social convention, why should anyone have any rights at all beyond those they are able to acquire by persuasion, by purchase or by power? And if rights are exclusively acquired in this manner, it is inevitable that the clever, the rich and the strong will enjoy more rights than the inept, the poor and the weak... Arguments that human rights accrue gradually over developmental  time, based either on structural/functional maturation or on social convention, are both scientifically and logically flawed. Moreover, they defy our basic concepts of justice. Therefore, criteria such as viability and consciousness should not be used as a basis for deciding when a human embryo or fetus is the subject of human rights.  

Modern scientific evidence demonstrates that the one-cell human embryo, or zygote, is formed at the instant of sperm-egg plasma membrane fusion. The zygote has unique material composition that is distinct from either gamete. It immediately initiates a series of cellular and biochemical events that ultimately generate the cells, tissues and structures of the mature body in an orderly temporal and spatial sequence. The capacity to undergo development is a defining characteristic of a human organism at the beginning of life...  

Ethical positions that deny the personhood of human being at all stages of life are logically inconsistent and scientifically unsound, in addition to having significant, negative implications for the ethical treatment of all human persons.  

Read the full content here

"Condic really hits the mark by seeing the real issue," said Deacon Sal Bonfiglio, "the value of a life. I'm astonished how people who claim to be liberal can view one life as more important than another. That goes against the heart of civil rights and equality.  In this case, the life of a forming human being is not as valuable as the 'quality of life' of those who feel this new creation will negatively affect them. So because they're bigger and stronger they believe they have the right to eliminate this human threat to their self-determined existence.

While I don't feel an unborn person has civil rights, the article makes it clear they have human rights. And all humans are created equal.  

Of course this connects with end-of-life arguments, as well.  To say a person that's not fully formed shouldn't be considered human because they can't live independently must be compared to someone on life support; they can't live independently either. This is why the same people who advocate abortion advocate euthanasia -- they consider weaker people to be of less value and a burden to the others. People should only be allowed to live if they can contribute to society or live a full life. This was the mindset that drove the ancient world.  Are we moving forward or back? So much for Progressivism."  

In an interview with Dr. Condic on November 7, 2008, she told interviewer Karna Swanson, "While people are free to formulate their opinion on when human life begins in any manner they choose (including belief and politics), not all opinions are equally consistent with factual reality. Those who choose to ignore the facts cannot expect their opinions to garner as much respect or to be given as much credibility as those who base their opinions in sound scientific observation and analysis.  

"I think every person who is concerned about the important 'life-issues' of health care, abortion, assisted reproduction and stem-cell research should read this article, because understanding when life begins is the basis of a sound political, ethical and moral debate on these complex and difficult topics. Certainly, all those charged with the formation of public policy on these matters should read this argument and think seriously about its implications. If we cannot know what a human embryo is and when it comes into existence, we cannot make sound judgments regarding any of the issues surrounding the human embryo."

Pro-abortion advocates can no longer dismiss the pro-life position as being a "religious" viewpoint. And politicians can no longer evade this "political hot potato" issue. They need to take an objective look at the scientific facts. They need to stop listening to the special interest groups who happen to have the deepest pockets and the loudest mouths.  

So I have written a third letter to my representatives in the House and in Congress. If they don't want to listen to my arguments as a person of faith on the immorality of killing the unborn, perhaps they will listen to the 6 million-plus non-religious pro-lifers who happen to agree that babies in the womb deserve our protection.