The morality of abortion

In my opinion, as I have stated before, the biggest issue facing this country today is abortion. Over 18,000 babies are killed every year by abortion. If we had 18,000 people killed on the roads every year there would be an outrage, but when this occurs behind closed doors we somehow manage to ignore it.

I believe abortion is murder. I don’t believe this for religious reasons, the Bible doesn’t go into detail on when life starts. Rather I believe it for scientific reasons, and my Christian faith then tells me that murder is wrong.

The key issue here is when life starts. There is only one scientific point when a new human being is formed, and that is conception. At this point the new baby has a unique genetic makeup to its mother – her immune system actually has to be repressed to ensure it doesn’t kill the baby, as it is recognised as not being part of her body. There is no other point that can be defined scientifically as when life starts.

Sometimes people say life starts at implantation (which would justify the morning-after pill, which prevents implantation, but would not allow abortion). But nothing really changes at implantation for the child, rather it just goes from floating freely to being attached to the uterus – implantation is really just a change of location. Sometimes people say life starts when the child is conscious. But life has nothing to do with consciousness – when you are asleep it isn’t ok to kill you, when you are in a coma you aren’t dead, when you wake from a coma you haven’t come back to life – you are still alive, and still a human, regardless of whether you are conscious of it or not. There are all sorts of definitions, but none stands up to scientific scrutiny. Generally these definitions are used specifically to try and accommodate abortion, rather than to genuinely work out whether or not abortion is wrong.

If a child truly is a living human from conception, and killing a human is murder, then abortion is by definition murder.

This is a terrible thought to have to deal with for most people in our society today, as many people have had abortions, and pretty well everyone knows someone who has had one. As a result many people are not willing to address the issue and even entertain the thought that a child in the womb may have rights. Most teenagers these days have been raised to think the foetus is just part of the mother’s body and she has the right to destroy it if she wishes, and many are not willing to consider the implications of if this is not true.

But we must consider the implications, because if true, this is a massive moral outrage.

Furthermore, abortion is not just a simple procedure. Generally the baby is torn to pieces with no anaesthetic, it is a terrible way to die. Abortion can also have health implications for mothers, which people aren’t generally told about in NZ.

One emerging problem with abortion is eugenics. Eugenics is the belief that some people are “inferior” (such as disabled people, black people, homosexuals, Jews or pretty well whoever you want to define as “inferior”), and it is ok to sterilise or kill them to ensure the human race as a whole is healthy. This is an idea that was popular in the early 20th century, started in America, and formed the basis for Hitler’s slaughter of the mentally ill, homosexuals, Jews and gypsies. Before the Second World War many people favoured eugenics. After the War, seeing the horrible reality of what it actually meant when put into practice, eugenics was suddenly unpopular.

But it is back. Increasingly, genetic tests are available that will allow you to determine all sorts of things about a child in the womb. At present you can detect genetic disorders such as Downs syndrome, but the tests are becoming more accurate, and can conceivably be used to determine everything from whether you have a risk of developing cancer when you are 50 to your eye colour. As a result, parents can choose to abort children that are defective.

This is eugenics all over again – find the “defective” humans and cull them. But there is little outrage, as the moral standards of Western society have declined since the War and fewer people actually recognise that this is wrong. Effectively you are saying that disabled people don’t have a right to live, and it is ok to kill them. This is exactly what Hitler was doing, the only difference is that you kill them before you can hear them scream.

For more information, check out:

MandM’s excellent series on abortion from the perspective of liberal philosophy:

Is Abortion Liberal? Part 1, Part 2, Sentience Part 1, Part 2

Klan Parenthood – abortion and eugenics in America

Pictures of what abortion is really like from CBR and Priests For Life

Risks to the mother from afterabortion.org and abortionfacts.com

What are your views on the issue? Remember abortion is already illegal in NZ, the abortions that are carried out are done through a legal loophole, and although we effectively have abortion on demand this was never the intent of NZ’s abortion law.