It is long past time to question the appalling intellectual dishonesty that has led us to kill 55 million children through abortion in the past 40 years. We must, as a matter of justice, find better solutions to difficult pregnancies. Civilized societies thrive through smart, creative, generous, life-giving and just solutions to their difficulties. Civilized societies do not kill children as a solution to any problem, no matter how grave. No society can claim to be just while legally killing its own children in the name of "choice."
Abortion is the deliberate taking of the life of another human person. No religious beliefs are required in order to comprehend this, but one does need to understand basic biology. In terms of genetics, which determines what a creature is, there is no fundamental difference between a 10-day-old embryo, an 8½-month-old fetus, an utterly dependent newborn, a disobedient toddler, a defiant teenager and a wheelchair-bound grandmother. From the moment of conception, when a human egg is fertilized by human sperm, nothing is added other than nutrition and time — both are required for the growth of any organism. Is not conception the only logical place at which to conclude that the organism is a human?
Some contend that the organism in the womb does not become human until she is able to survive outside the womb. The problem with this definition is that it depends upon medical technology rather than on biological facts. As technology advances, the age at which one can survive outside the womb gets ever earlier. The organism is not made more human because a machine can now support her at an earlier age.
While establishing the human-ness of the unborn is important in considering this issue carefully, in fact few people dispute this anymore. Even most of those who favor legal abortion acknowledge that she is a human child; elementary biology forces this acknowledgment. Tragically, an unexpected pregnancy can be such a huge burden that some have concluded that even though the child's humanity is clear, the right of the mother to be free of the pregnancy supersedes the right of the child to live. We must vehemently reject that argument. It is no more reasonable than it would be to propose that it is acceptable to kill a 2-year-old or a 10-year-old or a 45-year-old who is causing severe stress in our lives. Future generations will look back in horror upon our dreadful rationalization of abortion and the disservice we have done women by failing to come up with life-affirming solutions.
Every so often, we hear a tragic story about a mother who has killed her young (already born) child. Despite our deep sympathy and sorrow for the mother (since we assume that she must have been suffering from post-partum depression, or been in a terribly abusive relationship, or experiencing other awful things that led her to murder her child), who among us would suggest that what she did ought to be legal in the name of "choice"? And if killing an already-born child should not be legal, then does it not defy logic to propose that it should be legal to kill the child just a short time earlier while she is still in the womb? Legal abortion is simply not a logically defensible position if we agree that killing babies outside the womb should be illegal.
Well-intentioned people who approach the issue with open minds and sincerely consider the facts about abortion often find that they have no alternative but to conclude that it is indeed wrong. It seems that the only way not to reach that conclusion is through faulty reasoning, or through intellectual dishonesty: finding the problem of unexpected pregnancies to be so difficult for our society to figure out that we shut our eyes to the facts so that we are not forced by truth to remove abortion from our arsenal of solutions. An awful lot of women and men have come "kicking and screaming" to the pro-life movement, recognizing that a civilized society finds better solutions to its very real and difficult issues than killing our children.
I respectfully ask that we work together to create a society in which men and women share in the responsibilities that come with pregnancy and in which women, however desperate, do not feel that their only choice is abortion.
Maria Santo, a resident of Columbia, is a longtime activist in pro-life organizations.