As the United States’ 2020 presidential election approaches, stakes in the abortion debate have never been higher. In such a tense environment, dialogue on college campuses becomes even more difficult, as does the process of sorting out fact from fiction. Even weathered pro-life advocates may struggle to articulate the truth through the maelstrom of misinformation circulating among young adults.
One of the oldest non-arguments thrown at the pro-life side accuses us of not believing in science; so old, in fact, that I would go almost so far as to call it “outdated,” for it says that to be pro-life one must ignore biological facts and appeal to high-flown philosophical concepts. Advances in embryology have pretty decisively struck down this notion in recent years, and the 2019 March for Life celebrated with the theme “pro-life is pro-science.” Nevertheless, this claim is now making a resurgence, perhaps in connection with abortion proponents’ attempt to paint their opponents as climate change deniers, and therefore this argument requires a renewed rebuttal.
First of all, it is a proven scientific fact that regardless of its developmental stage, an unborn child is always alive and always a human being. According to an approved textbook of the American Medical Licensing Examination, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, “Human development begins at fertilization when a sperm fuses with an oocyte to form a single cell, a zygote.” From the moment of conception, the embryo meets all the biological qualifications of a living human organism: it has a distinct genetic code with DNA of the Homo Sapiens species, which enable it to grow and develop, metabolize nutrients, and respond to stimuli.
Therefore, the question that abortion advocates really pose when they argue from a “scientific” angle is not really medical but philosophical. They are not asking “is the unborn a human being” (for modern embryology has already answered in the affirmative) but “do unborn humans have human rights?” To answer no to this question, they must deliberately avoid the implications of the aforementioned scientific evidence in one of two ways. The first requires downplaying the significance of the human zygote’s complete genomic content, calling the embryo a “clump of cells” as if it lacked the biological capacities of an organism. The second accepts the scientific fact of the embryo’s humanity, but rejects the rational connection between this precept and the simple qualification for human rights- being human.
Contrary to current mainstream rhetoric in America, the pro-life position on abortion is the only one which affirms revealed scientific truths and follows them to their logical conclusion, that if an unborn child is a living human being it possesses the right to life. The agreement between medical findings and the pro-life movement on the beginnings of human life demonstrates precisely why opposition to abortion should be a non-partisan source of unity, both in the polls and on the international stage. To conclude that abortion kills a human life does not require religious conviction or abstract moral reasoning. One has only to follow the science, and the science is on our side.
Moore, K., Persaud, T. and Torchia, M., 2013. The Developing Human:Clinically Oriented Embryology. Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders.