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You’re Not Pro-choice – You Only Think You Are

I do not understand the logic of the pro-choice argument.

The basic principle of pro-choice is the freedom for a woman to make her own reproductive decisions.

I’m firmly pro-life and I believe abortion is immoral.

One of the basic tenets of humanity is the moral duty to protect life. Firstly, the life of our loved ones, then our own, followed by the life of others. This desire to save and protect human life is so strong that we have institutions full of people who are willing to sacrifice a lot for this goal. Such as rescue services, medical practitioners, police and the army. We elevate and celebrate individuals who save lives and have days in set special days to thank them for their service and actions.

Pro-lifers including myself believe a foetus is a human life and because of that belief we have a duty to protect it.

The overturning of Roe v Wade in America has made abortion a hot topic. I have read and watched several arguments from pro-choice advocates, many of whom fail to deal with the central issue of the pro-life foundation. Which is when does life begin?

If we all agree that a human life is worth protecting, then isn’t it important to know when it starts?

I’ve asked this question to many individuals, and the general impression I get is inconsistency or uncertainty. My position is, if we are not sure when human life begins, how are we so certain we aren’t going against our moral duty as humans to preserve another life.

What we do know is the fact, and that is a human life begins after the union of male and female gametes or germ cells during a process known as fertilisation (conception). This is a biological fact whether we like it or not. So, if we were to be sure about adhering to what we all agree is a moral duty for all human beings, then abortion shouldn’t be seen as a good thing, nor should it be encouraged.

I believe that most pro-choice supporters agree with this point of view because when I examine the logic of the position of people who claim they are pro-choice, it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

Most pro-choice individuals would say that there should be a limit to abortion, very few would suggest abortion unless in the case of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancies or danger to mother’s life shouldn’t have a limit. Pro-choice individuals would also say that they were pro-choice because it’s the decision of the woman what she wants to do with her body, nor she should be forced to carry a baby she doesn’t want.

Except, when you think about it, they do advocate for forced pregnancies, why? Because they believe there should be a limit on abortion. Whether it’s 15 weeks, 20 weeks or 24 weeks. The point is after that limit, we require the woman to carry the pregnancy and if she changes her mind for any reason other than danger to her health, they agree with using the law to force her to carry the pregnancy to term. Can we really call that pro-choice?

In my opinion, most pro-choice are pro-lifers, but they have their own subjective position on when life begins, perhaps the foetus looks human enough that any damage to it pokes their conscience and the basic moral duty to protect a human life can’t be ignored anymore. Many are fine with limits of 10, 15, 20 weeks because they rightly assume that very few abortions are carried out after the first trimester. Therefore, the number of women who want an abortion simply because they’ve changed their minds are extremely low. Consequently, the number of women forced to carry to full term is low enough to be conscionable.

Different countries have different laws on abortion. For example, the U.K has a limit on abortion of 24 weeks, whilst in France it’s 14 weeks. Does this mean France believes the U.K is killing babies past 14 weeks? How does the U.K and New York state feel about France forcing women to carry babies past 14 weeks?

In supposed Pro-choice states, choice isn’t and has never been central to how abortion is administered in practice. Instead, it’s more about when different individuals or groups believe the foetus is sufficiently human enough for its termination to prick their moral senses. In fact the reason the abortion limit is set to 24 weeks in the U.K is because it’s widely agreed that it’s at 24 to 27 weeks of pregnancy, the characteristic human-specific brain-wave pattern emerges in the foetus’s brain. Disappearance of this pattern is part of the legal standard for human death. It’s also at 24 weeks that the foetus typically becomes viable outside the uterus due to the help of modern medical technology. Therefore, the U.K law on abortion is based on when they believe life begins, not about a woman’s right to choose.

But of course we’ve had several cases of children born under this 24 weeks limit and go on to live a happy healthy life.

Another milestone of foetus development is the heartbeat. Humans associate a beating heart with life. It’s the first thing we check to assess signs of life and it’s usually the first thing we try to save to preserve life. The heart of an embryo starts to beat at around five to six weeks of pregnancy and the heart is usually fully developed at 10 weeks. This is why the “Heartbeat bill” came into force in Ohio after Roe v Wade was overturned. The Bill bans abortion after 6 weeks except for situations where the mother’s life is in danger.

Every individual, group and state have a differing opinion on what constitutes human life and like with anything it’s become a political issue. But the biology is a fact that can’t be ignored, despite all our feelings, life begins at conception. As Embryologists Ronan R. O’Rahilly and Fabiola Muller put it in their book, Human Embryology and Teratology:

“Life is a continuous process, fertilization is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed.”

If we want to adhere to our moral duty to do all we can to preserve human life, and if we want to be absolutely sure we are upholding that duty then we must rely on facts, not feelings or subjective perception that changes depending on the medical technology, or culture of the time.

In conclusion, the most honest or logical pro-choice argument is to call for abortion for any reason right until birth. Because even though is rare past 15 weeks, under pro-choice principle, the woman should still have the right to choose what she wants to do with her body.