Dear pro-choice friend,
We can all agree racism is a moral evil. I would even argue it is something we instinctively know is wrong. What would your explanation be if asked why it is wrong though? I would just say we do not devalue another’s life (therefore thinking my life is superior) based on their race because of our value as human beings, our personhood, is not subject to our skin color. To this, I’m sure we agree.
As someone who is wholeheartedly against abortion, I just logically continue that train of thought. I would further say that it is morally wrong to not only determine personhood by race, but by size, level of development, environment, the degree of dependency, or any other condition. That we cannot place any subjective value on life and that we are all equal as human beings from the moment we become a human being (at conception, which is what embryology tells us) until the moment we die. Personhood is not something another person grants to us. That is the only real inclusive and equal way to view others. But, that must not be the case for abortion to be morally acceptable because another person (for example, the mother) decides if the unborn life is a person or not. And by what standard does she do such a thing? Is it, in the end, just an opinion? Of course, it is. So then, how is that any different, when just looking at the issue of what makes us equal and what makes up a person, then a racist having the opinion that because of skin color, another human being is of lesser value? Both are stating a subjective claim on personhood. Why is one claim “better” than the other? What if we developed a gene test for the unborn which predicted their IQ? Could we say anyone with an IQ below 70 should not be born? If the value of life is subjective, then what is off limits? Margret Sanger thought precisely this when she founded Planned Parenthood. African Americans were not of equal worth and therefore killing them in the womb was a very efficient way to carry our her eugenics philosophy.
Like racism, I do believe that abortion is a moral wrong that we know instinctively but we choose to blind ourselves to it. We prefer to think of it in terms of choice or health-care and we sanitize it so that we do not have to sit down and wrestle with it. Take a minute and read this article about the abortion of Down syndrome babies in Iceland. If you are pro-choice, do you believe, to “eliminate Down syndrome” it is justifiable to eliminate people with Down syndrome? You may say “well, they are not born yet.” Exactly. My question to you is what makes a person a person? If you do not believe a person is a person until they are born, then you are placing a subjective value on human life in which all humans are not equal. And the unborn are humans. They are not another species. Or, do you look at the article below and something tells you this is not right? You look at the face of a child with Down syndrome, and you know that life is every bit as precious and valuable as your own. Because it is. As is the person of a different race. As is a person with a low IQ. As is a person who may be dependent upon a caregiver for the rest of their life. They are equal because they are human beings. What is happening in Iceland is the nearing of the bottom of a slippery slope warned about many years ago.
And while we stand together to denounce the evil of racism in our country, if you are pro-choice, I would ask you take this time to go a bit deeper in your thinking. Ask yourself what makes us humans? Amongst the cries for equality and unity, why are we equal? We are all very different people. We look different, act different, have various interests, separate minds and hearts. So then, what makes us equal? If your gut reaction is to say “we are all humans” then again, I stand with you. But then, what makes us equally human? The only objective standard, to which all arguments of inequality can be built upon, is at conception. As soon as you pick that apart and say, “no, it is when brain activity is detected,” or “no, it is when there is a heartbeat,” or any other standard, it is your opinion now which is deciding the value of a person. And that is the very thing which we claim a racist person does.
This is not to put you on moral grounding with a racist. Far from it. A racist has a hatred and evil intent behind them. I think most who are pro-choice, or who have had abortions, do not hold their beliefs with hate and evil. I believe most simply have not critically thought about it. You do not have to peel back many layers to see the logical inconsistency in being for abortion while being against racism. You are arguing your subjective view of personhood is better than someone else’s subjective view of personhood. The dark side of abortion, besides its popular roots in Margret Sanger, is that it opens the door in our culture for other subjective views of personhood. It creates something like what is happening in Iceland and other European countries where they are eliminating entire classes of people. And I would bet my retirement savings that once they have zero births of Down syndrome babies, another trait will be targeted. And it will continue. Why wouldn’t it? If you believe abortion is morally acceptable, why should it stop at Down syndrome?
You may say, “Fine, I agree that killing the unborn diagnosed with Down syndrome is wrong, but it is not up to me to tell a mother what to do.” I think that is a fair sentiment. But, if a racist thinks it is ok to declare another race as being less than human and cause them harm, do you believe it is ok for you to tell them it is wrong? Of course, you do. That is why we have laws preventing such acts! We impose our morality on others every day. If you have ever had compassion for another person because of injustice, you do so by declaring that injustice immoral and there is a right and wrong. Whenever we look at anything in the world and say “this is not right” it is a moral declaration and you impose your morality on others. It is ok to say “murder is wrong” or “slavery is wrong.” Where would we be if this morally relativistic view applied to abortion were applied to other moral issues? Right and wrongs regarding behavior toward others is never relativistic; I argue there are no actual moral relativist because they all lock their doors at night and would call the police if they suffered an assault. I’ve been thankful after discussing this issue with several friends to see them go from the abortion-is- wrong-for-me-only position to abortion is always wrong at all times because it is the taking of an innocent life. The former holds little logical consistency.
We cannot have equality without truth; it is more than just mere sentiment. Slavery in the New World was defeated with the reality that all people are equal in the image of God, not just by declaring slavery was wrong. A foundation needed to be laid as to why. It does not mean thinking through all this is easy, it can be emotionally taxing too. As I am sure you are thinking, what about the poor single woman who cannot possibly support a child, or the teenager who was raped and now pregnant? Those are unthinkable situations for me and saying they are difficult is not enough. But consider this: The value of a human being does not rest on the circumstances they are born into or were conceived from.
If you believe it does, then you are again introducing a personal claim of personhood. We do not intentionally kill or bring suffering to the innocent so that another can be relieved of either physical or mental pain. Yes, it will be difficult, and I’ve had the humbling experience of meeting several courageous women recently who, knowing the circumstance in which their baby would be born into, including homelessness, kept their child. Our daughter who we are adopting out of foster care as a teen was born into a world of abuse, neglect, drugs, and homelessness. Those that are pro-choice would not have argued against her birth mother had she choose to have an abortion. But, being born isn’t the end of a person’s story, it is only the beginning. Abortion tells a mother and the world there is no hope. Our daughter isn’t of any less value than a baby born to a wealthy stable couple. She wasn’t when she was born and isn’t now. Her value as a person has remained; she is equal to every other person, black or white, genetically perfect or with Down syndrome because she is made in the image of God. No one else, at some random point, has assigned worth to her.
Last, here is what the abortion issue comes down to my friend. What is the unborn? If they are an innocent human being, then abortion is murder. There is no moral wiggle room in that. If there is, then that moral wiggle room expands to more than just abortion.
Thank you for reading this, and I pray you and more, will come to see that abortion is the taking of an innocent life and begin to speak up for the defenseless unborn in a cultural struggling to value all life.