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Understanding the pro-life position, ethics of killing humans

By Josh Divine
On October 2, 2011

Without a doubt, abortion is divisive, and many of this week's events are planned specifically to protest it, yet so many people are unaware of the exact nature of the pro-life position.

That's because of organizations like Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion chain, which performs more than 300,000 abortions annually in the U.S. They brand every pro-life person under the pejorative "anti-choice."

And yes, we are anti-choice when choice refers to the intentional killing of an innocent, genetically unique human being, but the term is meant to be demeaning, not accurate, and I believe it drops logic by begging the question.

The pro-life position rests on the scientific fact that human life begins at fertilization, the creation of a human zygote. From there, (barring death) the only independent factors that separate that human from adulthood are time and nutrition, the same things that separate a toddler from adulthood.

Abortion would never be permissible unless we had proven without a doubt that life did not begin until after birth. If I said I was going to demolish a building but I didn't know if any living human were inside, the appropriate response would be to make absolutely certain there wasn't human life inside.

A recent Gallup Poll showed 86 percent of Americans being opposed to late-term abortions, abortions performed after viability. Many recognize that a trip down the birth canal is not sufficient to allow for the legalized killing of that human beforehand.

The pro-life position states that there is no fundamental difference between positions on the continuum of human development that allow for the intentional destruction of that human simply because he or she resides in his or her mother.

Simply stated, because we know a genetically unique human comes into existence at fertilization, abortion should not be ethically permitted.

As previously stated, most pro-choice arguments beg the question. One example is the assertion that abortion should be legal because no woman should be forced to give birth. The statement neglects to actually argue a reason for abortion's permissibility. It simply assumes it is ethically permissible already and therefore should be legal. 

Of course, not all arguments follow this same structure, but most of the justifications people place on abortion would not stand when applied to an infant or toddler (i.e. physical/mental defect, offspring of rapist, choice of the mother, etc).

Legal arguments — as well as legal protection — based on Roe v. Wade also fail due to other flawed Supreme Court cases, most notably the Dred Scott Decision and Plessy v. Ferguson.

This week, I would encourage everybody to engage in conversation. You might just learn that the pro-life position isn't based on hatred; it's based on science and compassion.

 — Josh Divine is a senior mathematics major and a weekly columnist for The Mirror.

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