Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"If you don't know whether a body's dead, you don't bury it": Good, Secular Pro-Life Arguments

"If you don't know whether a body is alive or dead, you would never bury it."

So said Ronald Reagan in a 1983 article for The Human Life Review. The abortion debate often revolves around the question of when life begins. Conception? Implantation? Quickening? First trimester? Second? Third? Birth? Partial-birth? Is a "clump of cells" alive? An embryo? Is an embryo a clump of cells? What about a fetus? Is a fetus more alive at 7 months than at 2? Is a newborn 10 minutes after birth more alive than a fetus 10 minutes before birth?

All of these questions are essentially irrelevant.

I would argue that this is because life begins at conception, plain and simple, but I can't prove that to you. Neither, however, can you prove to me that it does not.

One of us is very wrong. If I'm wrong, my mistake would deprive women of a reproductive health service with no moral implications, having potentially damaging effects on women's rights and health. If you're wrong, your mistake would destroy an innocent life.

Would you rather imprison or execute a wrongfully-convicted "criminal"? If you might be wrong, if you can't know for sure, you opt for imprisonment, right? If you have to take a chance, either with someone's freedom or with someone's life, you err on the side of not accidentally killing the innocent.

I will not argue that carrying a pregnancy to term reduces the freedom of a woman, but if it did, that is certainly the lesser of two evils when compared to killing an innocent child.

If you were driving down the street, and saw a life-like baby doll lying in the middle of the road, would you run it over? You don't think it's a real baby, but you can't be 100% sure. Do you run it over? You do not. You swerve, you get out to make sure. You double check. You don't risk the life of what's even possibly a child.

Killing a baby is a terrible thing, and I don't think anyone disputes that. Killing a baby is such a terrible thing that it should be avoided at all costs. So terrible that even the potential, even the slightest possibility of it should be avoided at all costs. The possibility of killing a baby based on a misconception is such a terrible thing that the abortion debate simply must operate under the assumption, from all sides, that life begins at conception. The consequences are much more dire if the pro-choicers are mistaken about the beginning of life than if the pro-lifers are.


  1. This is a GREAT post. What is scary is that even the most pro-choice of pro-choicers (ahem, Nancy Pelosi for one) admit they don't know when life begins... but claim that "the point is, it shouldn't affect a woman's right to choose." (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IepLtfNSM7I&feature=related)

    Isn't that frightening?!?

  2. Very excellent... I like your logic. I found Jennifer's article at Inside Catholic about things she believed when she was pro-choice very interesting, too. Pro-life apologetics 101?

    Thanks, Janet.