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Western culture by in large follows arguably one of the most essential guidelines of human morality throughout history whether religious or not, “Thou shalt not kill,” most likely the driving force behind the arguments for pro-life advocates. The evidence that supports their beliefs often starts with the idea that a fetus is a living human, and to destroy or to kill a person is unethical. Therefore abortion, the deliberate destruction of a human being, is murder, and consequently unethical. However many deny the fact that the fetus, also referred to as an embryo up to 22 weeks, should have legislation in place that grants it the right to live. The refuting argument is invalid because of a fetus, although perhaps a part of human species, is not formally a person. Meaning the fetus is just a part of the woman’s body, whose fate lies solely in the hands of the pregnant woman alone, no different from a tumor she might have. By proving this, the abortion debate then becomes an issue of women’s rights, something that is most controversial indeed. Furthermore, it is fair to question the credibility of many people against abortion because of apparent contradictions in the logic of their belief systems. The fact that this debate is relevant in modern society is ludicrous since there is a plausible and straightforward solution to this problem that could potentially end the debate for good, leaving both sides satisfied.
For the pro-life argument to be valid, it must have both a true premise and a logical conclusion. It falls short of validity by assuming that a fetus up to 22 weeks old is a person, and has its rights independent of its host, or what people often refer to as its mother. First, society must recognize the subtle yet fundamental distinction between a human being and a person. It is evident that a fetus is a member of the human species. It has a unique set of human DNA, uses oxygen for energy, and uses the energy to divide into more cells. A person has the right to live and to be treated equally amongst the rest of the population. A fetus, although human, is not a person, and therefore does not have those rights. A single cell amoeba is similar to a zygote, it has its own set of DNA, uses oxygen for energy which allows for cells to divide, the same as a human zygote; yet it would be absurd to defend the amoeba because it has a right to live. To consider a fetus, a person that has rights is an error. A fetus is not a person in the same right as a fully formed human; it is a cluster of cells that could become a person if the mother chooses so.
By saying that a fetus has rights, is implying that a fetus has a right to be in the mother’s womb regardless of her consent. This is false, considering the mother has only let it be there by some form of her authorization. If the fetus exists in a woman’s body only by her permission, how could someone argue that it has a right to be there against her will? They cannot. It would be just as illogical to pull a hair off of the woman’s head, realize that it too has human DNA, and with new cloning technology it also has the potential of becoming a person, and say that it was immoral to kill it. It is a part of her body, and she has to right to do with it as she pleases with no consideration of its rights as a potential person.
Maybe even more straightforward is realizing that the fetus ceases to exist without its host. Up until the 22nd week of gestation, a fetus cannot live outside of the womb, even with the advanced medical technology of today. If a woman delivers before that time, the pregnancy will be considered a miscarriage. A finger that must be amputated has the same chance of survival and moreover, amount of rights as a fetus aborted before the 22nd week of gestation. The mother provides its sustenance with the food and water she consumes, as well as with the breaths she takes. If she dies, so does her fetus. If this were not true, there would not be so many physicians and activists urging women to cease drinking and smoking while they are pregnant. If the fetus were a separate entity, how could a person, namely the mother, harm another or even miscarry another because of her actions? It is impossible to define life by various parts of a body; it takes the entire package.
For clarity, maybe people should try to look at the definition of death rather than approaching the issue by defining life, considering that murder is the main accusation that is used towards the pro-choice group. When medics arrive at the scene of an accident, the first thing they typically do is try to talk to the person in need of medical attention if there is no answer they usually check for the pulse. If they cannot feel or find a pulse, they typically bend down close to the patient’s mouth so that they can determine whether he or she is breathing. If all of these tests come out negative, the person is pronounced dead. Then, couldn’t society officially define death as a lack of consciousness, breath, and heartbeat? Now, of course, the fetus does not breathe; however, it does need oxygen to survive. The trick, in this case, goes back to a point which was made earlier; the oxygen that the fetus depends on for survival comes from its mother’s breath, and if the fetus is removed from the mother before 22 weeks its lungs are not yet capable of breathing.
Both heartbeat and breath are somewhat grey areas in terms of death and fetuses, giving neither pro-life nor pro-choice activists the edge. However, perhaps the most important, not to mention declarative sign of death is lack of human consciousness, the one unique thing that sets people apart from animals. Understanding consciousness is not merely waking up from rest and being conscious, but rather the ability reason, or to think critically and communicate with one another. This is the same thing that would allow the person mentioned above in medical need to answer the medic when asked a question. A person can reflect on themselves, making them different from other animals, and even ask themselves whether abortion is moral or not. This is what sets humans apart from animals, who appear unable to think about the world in the same sense that people can, and that is what sets apart a person from an unborn fetus. From the minute a child is born, he/she takes in and perceives everything around him/her; beginning a long process of filtering some things and storing others. Although babies cannot reason in the same sense older people can, they still have more faculties than a newborn swine, and more importantly, they are now an independent person who can live, breathe, perceive, and feel pain and pleasure independent of another person. When someone cannot reason or gain consciousness due to an illness, accident, or congenital disability, there is a similar dilemma that rears its ugly head. Of course, this person was gestated with all the potentials for becoming a reasoning being, yet something along the way left them dependent on life support or extreme assisted living to continue living and breathing. When a person is left on life support for years, and there are little to no brain waves, there is a crucial decision for the family to make; whether to let them go or let them continue to live a life that is questionably not worth living. What makes that question different from a fetus that has little to no brain waves in the same sense that a brain dead person does? Neither, the brain cannot realize their existence or their surroundings, and neither have any advantages over the brain of a swine.
This leads to a great contradiction that many people who argue for fetus’s right to live, make. For ages, people have thought of themselves as superior to animals; and for a good reason. As mentioned earlier, the primary faculty that people have over animals is the ability to reason and communicate logically with one another. It is because of the superior human intellect. However, it is a fact that animals, though lesser beings, can feel pain. When a dog’s paw is stepped on it yelps, this is not a mere coincidence, but rather the same reason that when a person stubs their toe, they yell. Nerves shoot pain signals to a human’s brain in the same way as in dogs, a lower animal. Now animals are born, have wills, can live independently of others, breathe, eat, and hurt. This is much more than can be said about a human fetus, as has been covered extensively thus far. Moreover, the lack of these essential things has thus far been logically argued as the reason why abortion is right before the fetus is 22 weeks old.
Interestingly, with all of the people who argue against abortion, many fail to think about the surprising amount of meat consumed by the average American. “Americans are set to eat more meat in 2018 than ever before. According to data published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), consumers are expected to eat 222.2 pounds (100.8 kilos) of red meat and poultry this year, up from 216.9 pounds per person in 2017.” This rate of consumption is much more than any other country on the planet, and that causes a significant discrepancy in moral values. It is easy to admit that a person’s life has more value than that of a cow, but the cow’s life is remarkably similar to the life of a fetus, as demonstrated earlier. The fact that a cow can live independently actually gives it an advantage over the fetus. To kill an animal is to kill in a literal sense. A person must physically make it so that brain waves, breath, and heartbeat that were self-sufficient before, no longer exist in a free-roaming animal. If a person were to follow the 6th commandment, “thou shalt not kill,” in a literal sense it would without a doubt mean that people should not eat animals. The point is that the main reason anti-abortionists argue for the life of the child to be respected is entirely contradictory to killing and eating animals.
Much more exciting and divisive is capital punishment. How can people be taken seriously about a person’s right to life when the United States is the only western country that still utilizes the death penalty? Which makes it more frightening when considering the number of people who have been released from death row because of evidence that proves their innocence and the number of innocent people who have mistakenly died on death row. “As of March 28, 2019, there have been 165 exonerations in 28 different States”. There is a blunt contradiction between the argument for the right to life and the death sentence.
Perhaps more engaging is the disastrous reality of the poverty that not only sweeps the nation but also severely troubles the world. “The official poverty rate in 2017 was 12.3 percent,” and “almost half the world, over three billion people lives on less than $2.50 a day. At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.” Aside from the point that population growth should not be encouraged for the sake of future generations that will most likely suffer from a disease, poverty, hunger and the effects of global warming, there is an important matter that anti-abortionists should consider above the unborn; the absurd amount of living that need help. All of this energy should be shifted toward these people and the legislation that could be put into action to protect them.
On that note, think about the disadvantaged and unfit people that the majority of unplanned pregnancies affect. Poverty and pregnancy are part of a vicious circle in which young, unmarried or drug-addicted women get pregnant, and their chance of becoming successful is radically reduced. When a teen becomes pregnant, her chance of completing high school becomes diminished, and she is much more likely to live as a single mother.
The number of U.S. teen pregnancies is staggering, “More than 60% of young, unmarried mothers live in households that qualify as being in poverty. 1 in 4 young mothers will go on a welfare benefit program within three years of their child being born,” making the United States have the highest instance of teen pregnancy in the industrialized world, and unplanned pregnancies lead to a higher rate of poverty, which is an extremely prevalent problem that cannot go ignored much longer. If these young women were denied the opportunity to terminate their pregnancy, one could only imagine how much worse it would be. Safe sex and abstinence among these populations should not only be encouraged but also realize that for many the poverty was already a part of their lives, and they cannot afford necessary measures to prevent unwanted pregnancies including abortion, which is much better than a child being born into an abusive, drug addicting, impoverished family, or often cases all of the above. That seems more moral for not only the unborn child but the rest of the population as well.
What about the horrible circumstances of other unlucky women. Is it not enough that a woman could be raped by a family member, but that she would have to keep that child as a grim reminder every day of her life? What about rape victims in general? Is it fair to say that they are responsible for bearing and taking care of that child on their own? The answer is no. There are also many cases in which women, often teenage women, are very likely to be immensely hurt or even die if they go through with a pregnancy. It simply is not fair to deny those women the opportunity to choose to go through with the pregnancy or not, mainly when the chance of the baby’s survival is in question as well. Then there are the cases of babies that, thanks to new technology are accurately predicted to be born without a brain, brain dead, or otherwise equally debilitated. It is not fair to the mother or the baby, who may or may not live, to go through that. These are all circumstances that are as unavoidable as they are unfortunate, and it would be ridiculous to deny them the right to abortion.
The fact that Roe vs. Wade is being threatened in society today is a grim reminder of how this debate is still a large part of women’s life. It is not something that is just going to go away. If or when it gets overturned there are still going to be underground doctors, some competent, some not. There are tons of horror stories of women bleeding to death and suffering major complications in times when abortion was illegal. Is that something anyone would want to relive? With all of the right reasons there are for people to believe that abortion is right, how can people revert to that? It would be irresponsible, to say the least with all of the technology that is available today. The morning after pill was deemed safe for sale over the counter years ago, however, due to protests from the pro-life group it continues to be available only in clinics; places that are frequently unavailable to most poverty-level and under-age women. It seems undeniable that a zygote that is under three days old does not have rights. If these pills were made readily available to the public, could dramatically reduce the number of women who must consider abortion, and curb the debate.
Abortion is not only right but a precious asset to modern society. It can help poverty, troubled families, single teen pregnancies, as well as the world overpopulation. It is not immoral because a fetus under 22 weeks old is not a person; therefore it does not have rights and is simply a part of its host’s body for her to do as she feels necessary with it. The fact that the fetus must be referred to as it is proof that it cannot be classified as a person. Deeming abortion wrong, and threatening its legality is a direct attack on women’s rights. There are numerous extenuating circumstances where it seems there is no other option but abortion, and women need this alternative not only for their well-being but also for the well-being of their unborn child. This is not something that needs to go on any longer, and there are ways in which to make both sides happy. The rights of women to choose should remain in their hands, and the debate of the morality of abortion needs to end, so the energy and focus can move on to more significant and prevalent social problems that plague the world.
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