Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Truth About Abortion?

Reading about the movement toward some version of a pro-life view that Alana, Jonathan and Pete discussed last week, it struck me that there’s such a squishy amorphous center, with the only clear positions on the issue at the fringes.

It seems to me that the general vagueness can be put down to the fact that even after four decades of debate, we still haven’t given ourselves really honest answers to the stark questions surrounding abortion. And I’m not talking about the constitutional issues.

Does life begin at conception? If life doesn’t begin at conception, when does it begin, and what do we mean by “life” anyway? Is it a “fetus” in there, or a baby human being?  Is it painful for the “fetus” to be chopped up and vacuumed out?

The fact is, these aren’t difficult questions to answer.

Of course life begins at conception.  That’s so obvious that claiming anything else is an absurdity. If it isn’t life that’s conceived when sperm meets egg, then what the hell is it?

What is life, and when does a baby become a baby? Well, maybe we can’t define it very well, but we know it when we see it. And, as Pete pointed out, ever-more sophisticated sonography is allowing us to see it earlier and earlier in the process.

Because, duh, a baby is a baby is a baby. It may not be a full-fledged, kicking and screaming infant until after it’s born, but, I ask again, if it’s not a human baby before that, then what on earth could it possibly be? Some kind of misplaced gallstone?

And, yes, given that this is a human being we’re talking about, one who reacts to the world in many ways, inside and outside the womb, it seems reasonable to believe it hurts, doesn’t it?

The problem is, if we really told ourselves the truth about this, everyone would be against abortion. Wouldn’t they?