Pro-life: A deeper understanding

Pro-life: A deeper understanding (Pavel Danilyuk/Pexels)

The primary reason abortion is opposed is to value the life of the unborn child. Surely, when someone’s life is in danger, the decision to save lives must take precedence over personal freedom. What follows is an explanation of why abortion should be repudiated on medical, ethical, philosophical, and spiritual grounds. 

Medical grounds

Once a child reaches a stage of viability, he/she can survive (even when medical interventions are needed) without direct physical dependence on the mother. As such, granting the child an opportunity at life is the most biologically appropriate path to follow.  

While the growing fetus in the earliest stages of development is often dismissed as nothing more than a clump of cells, the developing child is a person with great potential. 

What about dependence? In reality, we are all dependent on others for some aspect of our survival. We depend on farmers for food, and nature for our oxygen. Even though newborns are dependent upon either their mother or another adult for their survival, it’s not logical to question the personhood of a newborn child despite his or her dependency. The truth is, dependency is not a defining characteristic of a person; if it is, it applies to everyone. 

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Ethical concerns

Most abortions occur due to unwanted pregnancies. Yet, it can be argued that adoption is always a better option than termination. While some would say that foster care can be traumatic for children, many would agree that a difficult life with great potential is better than no life at all.  

To illustrate, the helping professions all embrace the priority of confidentiality. That is, both clients and patients deserve to have their privacy protected when working with a trusted professional. However, as valuable as confidentiality is, it can be breached under specific circumstances. For example, if the person poses an immediate threat to himself or to someone else, confidentiality can be broken, and the person’s intent can be revealed to relevant parties.  

Similarly, pro-lifers affirm that in general, a woman’s right to decide what to do with her body should be respected. 

For instance, if she wants to get a tattoo, piercing, or any other bodily alteration, nothing should prevent her from pursuing those interests. However, when abortion is being considered, someone’s life is in immediate danger. As such, certain interventions can be reasonably supplied in order to protect the life of the unborn child. Just as confidentiality can be violated to ensure someone’s safety, restricting abortion access can be implemented to ensure the safety of the child whose life will otherwise be lost, and, it could be argued, for the mother’s welfare as well.

Philosophical considerations

The philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) developed an ethical theory known as the categorical imperative. It states that we must never use ourselves or others as a mere means to an end. That is, treating a person with the highest possible regard is always the right thing to do. Kant’s theory is directed at living, rational beings, and as such can be extended to those who are still in the womb, as life begins at conception.

What Kant argued is that humans have a unique capacity and function in the world. Considering this, we should treat each other with the utmost care and concern. When applied to abortion, the theory suggests that the mother cannot end the life of the child if the end is simply an easier life for the mother. Abortion treats the unborn child as a means to an end (i.e. way to accomplish a goal). According to this application of Kant’s theory, this is unacceptable, unethical, and a violation of our duty to humanity.  

Tweet This: Abortion is opposed because the unborn child's life has value. When a life is in danger, saving it takes precedence over personal freedom.

Spiritual insights

In the Old Testament, God declared to the prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jer. 1:5). 

Two observations about this passage are worth noting. 

First, God informed Jeremiah that he was positively regarded while he was still in the womb. If God, as the Creator, values the life of the unborn, that indicates that people should as well. 

Second, God revealed his plan for Jeremiah that was established before he was born. Some pro-life advocates believe that this idea implies that all children conceived have a purpose for their birth; whether they are allowed to realize that purpose is up to the mother. 

Furthermore, there is a biblical law pertaining to the consequences of an injury involving a premature birth. It reads as follows: 

“If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life (Exo. 21:22-23).

Some interpreters believe that the phrase “serious injury” could be understood as a miscarriage. That is, if someone causes a woman to have a miscarriage, their life could be taken (“life for life”). If that is the proper meaning of this law, namely, justification for avenging the miscarried child, the life of the unborn is essentially equal to those among the living, and the “serious injury” maxim would apply to abortion as well. 

Taking these interpretations to their natural end, many people believe that abortions rob children of not only their lives but both their dignity and status of possessing human equality as well.

In conclusion, pro-life advocates have established four foundational reasons to oppose abortion-on-demand. Unless these reasons can be adequately refuted, upholding the sacredness of life retains its status as both a moral and Divine command.

Editor’s note: Jason L. Moore is a visiting instructor in theology at Notre Dame College in Ohio, and also works as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) at Oaks Family Care Center. This article is adapted from the book Divine Frustrations: Exploring the Most Challenging Complaints About God and is a Pregnancy Help News original.


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