Catholics and the pro-life position: a series on answering objections


The pro-life position is a pretty intuitive position, at least I think so. It seems to me that any person that has put enough thought into the issue of abortion, isn’t brainwashed, and has some moral decency should conclude that abortion is very wrong and the innocent unborn children of this country deserve legal protection. But unfortunately, the pro-abortion stance is still the legal norm and about half of the country adheres to it. In this post, I want to run through some common objections that the pro-abortion side gives against the pro-life side and give some short answers. These are not meant to be exhaustive, only a brief survey. In doing this, it is helpful to remember the three key points of the pro-life position:

(1)    Abortion is directly killing the life in the womb

(2)    The life in the womb constitutes the life of an (innocent) human being

(3)    It is always wrong to directly kill an (innocent) human being

Defending one is pretty straight forward. Most abortions clearly involve as a direct goal the destruction of the fetus either as a means of removal or as a goal prior to removal. Even when this is not the case, almost any abortion procedure does involve ending the life of the fetus by removing it from the necessities of life, thus bringing certain death upon it as a direct result of the procedure.

Defending the second premise involves demonstrating that biologically, the zygote-embryo-fetus (which is often just referred to in the literature as “the fetus”) is (A) human and (B) a complete organism in its own right. Clearly, given the genetic composition and course of development, it is absurd to say it is anything other than human. Given the fact that even at the zygote state the new single cell human cell acts as its own integrated whole and not as part of another, it seems to be a complete organism in its own right rather than an organ of say the mother. Further, since given the ordinary course of nature the growing embryo will develop into a typical-adult human, its activity is consistent with what we would expect of a complete human organism albeit in early stages of development.

The third premise is simple common-sense morality. This is the case because every human being, on account of being a human being, has a right to life. This right is not because of some quality we possess but rather because of our nature as humans. Anything which biologically is a human organism possesses a human nature and thus has human rights. The right to life is a clear right as if we do not have this right, how can we be expected to have any rights at all? The first rule to living together in society is that we respect each other’s right to live and pursue the good.

Keeping these three points in mind, the following objections are easy to respond to in the next few posts:

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