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:
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?
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, based on figures from a
poll, a conservative estimate of at least 6 million non-religious
persons are pro-life. According to Gallup, Americans'
perceptions of public opinion
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%
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
article, "Americans Misjudge U.S. Abortion Views")
In the article
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...'
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."
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,
Does Human Life Begin? The Scientific Evidence and Terminology Revisited".
Dr. Condic describes the
process from the moment the sperm and egg are fused:
evidence clearly indicates that a one-cell human
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.
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
Condic presents not
only the scientific evidence which if you read her paper clearly shows the conceived
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?"
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
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...
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
human rights to "viability" provides an almost purely technological
definition of who is and who is not the subject of basic human rights.
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?...
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
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...
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
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
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
"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."
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
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