Elective abortion isn't merely a medical decision. It is an act of violence which takes the lives of ~2,500 children a day in the United States alone. Human rights violations affect us all — and abortion is one of the largest human rights violations of our lifetime.
The scientific community is at a consensus: life begins at conception.
At the moment of sperm-egg fusion — i.e. fertilization or conception — what is produced is a genetically distinct, whole, living organism. Because the product of a same-species reproduction is always a differentiated member of that same species, in human reproduction, it is a human organism. Uninterrupted, this human organism will grow from a zygote to an embryo to a fetus to an infant to a toddler to adolescent to an adult to an elder. At no point in our development do we “become human.” We are human beings from the moment we begin to exist. From Langman's Medical Embryology:
"The development of a human begins with fertilization, a process by which the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote."
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“Sure, a fetus might be a human being — but not a person.”
Science alone is not enough to determine whether or not abortion should remain legal. The question “When does life begin?” is often posed in relation to the abortion debate, but as we have gone over above, the answer to this question is clear: a human being’s life starts at fertilization. Rather, the question we should be asking is “Which human beings should have human rights?” This question gets at the philosophical concept of “personhood," which generally defines the individuals we recognize as deserving of moral consideration.
There have been a variety of philosophical definitions of personhood over the centuries. Modern pro-choice ideology seeks to exclude certain human beings from personhood based on factors such as size, dependence, and ability level. Pro-life people, on the other hand, often argue that we must expand personhood, eliminating these arbitrary distinctions, to include all human beings, born and unborn. This expansion leads to a definition of personhood that is simply: a person is a living human being.
While we support this definition, we have reservations about working entirely within this framework.
Throughout history, the concept of personhood has almost exclusively been used as an excuse to discriminate against whole classes of human beings. While expanding the definition of personhood could prevent further dehumanization and violence, we propose an alternative solution: "personhood” should not be amended — it should be abolished.
We advocate for human rights, not person rights, because the definition of who can or cannot be a person is ultimately a rhetorical debate that ignores scientific facts. If there could ever be a category of “living humans who are not persons,” then personhood at best is a useless attribute. At worst, it is discriminatory and deadly.
“My body, my choice” is the rallying cry of the pro-choice movement. What exactly does this mean? We know that a human fetus is not actually a part of pregnant person’s body. Unborn children are distinct human beings.
What we've found people usually mean when they say this is that they believe the mother's right to bodily autonomy trumps the child's right to life. Often this stems from a belief that no one should be legally obligated to provide extraordinary care to save another person's life.
While this is partially true (we can't be forced to donate life-saving blood or organs, even after we die) the major flaw in this line of thinking is that it assumes that abortion is essentially refusing care, or "letting die." If you refuse to give blood or refuse to become an organ donor, people might die, but it's not your refusal that kills them. If they die, they died because of whatever fatal illness or injury they had. Letting die ≠ intentional killing.
Given that elective abortion always involves intentionally starving, poisoning, or dismembering a living human being, it's not accurate to compare it to the mere refusal of care. It is a deliberate form of violence.
“Your right to swing your fist ends where my face begins.”
It is not a violation of bodily autonomy to prohibit the killing of human beings. There is no right to commit violence.
At minimum, the law should protect the right of every human being to live free from violence. Because it kills an innocent human being, elective abortion should never be legal.
That said, Rehumanize International advocates for an approach to justice that is restorative rather than retributive. Incarcerating post-abortive women will not build a culture of life. Instead, we promote policies that aim to protect and support both unborn human beings and their parents. After all, in order to effectively eliminate abortion, we must also eliminate the perceived need. It’s imperative that our pro-life work includes dismantling the systems of oppression that drive the demand for abortion, such as poverty, racism, and misogyny.