The Most Important Question About Abortion

4.6M Views
Aug 16, 2015

Is abortion right, or is it wrong? It's the big question that's lost in a societal debate that's mostly focused on legality. But, really, whether it's right or wrong is the most important question about abortion.

If you believe abortion is moral in all instances, then you believe animals have more value than a human fetus.

  • Science has established that a human fetus is alive from fertilization and shows signs of cognition and feeling at a relatively early stage of development.View Source
  • Even if one denies that a fetus is a “person,” a fetus should have at least the same rights as animals.View Source
  • WATCH: Dennis Prager on the moral implications of abortion.View Source
  • Related reading: The Unaborted Socrates - Peter KreeftView Source
  • Related reading: Defending Life - Francis J. BeckwithView Source
  • Related reading: Embryo: A Defense of Human Life - Robert GeorgeView Source
  • Related reading: The Case for Life - Scott KlusendorfView Source

Supporters of abortion must answer why it’s murder to kill a newborn baby, but okay to end the life of a baby a few days before birth.

  • Society condemns those who kill their babies after birth by charging them with murder; killing a viable baby before birth is no different.View Source
  • Society condemns those who conceal the death of a child, even if the child was stillborn; killing a viable baby before birth is no different.View Source
  • WATCH: Dennis Prager on the moral implications of abortion.View Source
  • Related reading: Embryo: A Defense of Human Life - Robert GeorgeView Source
  • Related reading: The Unaborted Socrates - Peter KreeftView Source
  • Related reading: Defending Life - Francis J. BeckwithView Source
  • Related reading: The Case for Life - Scott KlusendorfView Source

How does the government decide when a fetus becomes a human being worth protecting with the full force of the law? 

  • Once a child is born, neither the mother nor the father can decide to end the child’s life, yet it has become accepted for the mother alone to determine whether a fetus lives or dies.View Source
  • When a mother does want to have a child, society values the unborn child to the degree that causing the death of a fetus can be considered a homicide.View Source
  • The U.S. and international commissions confer full right to life on the child at viability.View Source
  • WATCH: Dennis Prager on the moral implications of abortion.View Source
  • Related reading: Embryo: A Defense of Human Life - Robert GeorgeView Source
  • Related reading: The Case for Life - Scott KlusendorfView Source
  • Related reading: The Unaborted Socrates - Peter KreeftView Source
  • Related reading: Defending Life - Francis J. BeckwithView Source

Society, not the mother or father, determines that a newborn child has infinite worth, so why is it different for an unborn child?

  • Once a child is born, neither the mother nor the father can decide to end the life of the child, yet it has become accepted for the mother alone to determine whether a fetus lives or dies.View Source
  • When a mother does want to have a child, society values the unborn child to the degree that someone can be charged for a homicide for causing the death of the fetus.View Source
  • WATCH: Dennis Prager on the moral implications of abortion.View Source
  • Related reading: Defending Life - Francis J. BeckwithView Source
  • Related reading: Embryo: A Defense of Human Life - Robert GeorgeView Source
  • Related reading: The Case for Life - Scott KlusendorfView Source
  • Related reading: The Unaborted Socrates - Peter KreeftView Source

Scientists agree that a human fetus is human life from fertilization and is distinct from the mother, not just a part of her body.

  • Science has established that a fetus is human life from fertilization.View Source
  • A fetus is distinct from the mother, having its own unique DNA code. While it is dependent on the woman’s body, it is more than just a part of the woman’s body; thus, abortion is not just a “women’s issue”—it’s also a “human issue.”View Source
  • WATCH: Dennis Prager on the moral implications of abortion.View Source
  • Related reading: The Unaborted Socrates - Peter KreeftView Source
  • Related reading: Defending Life - Francis J. BeckwithView Source
  • Related reading: Embryo: A Defense of Human Life - Robert GeorgeView Source
  • Related reading: The Case for Life - Scott KlusendorfView Source

Does a human fetus have any value? If so, then most abortions are immoral.

  • Science has established that a fetus is human life from fertilization.View Source
  • A fetus is distinct from the mother, having its own unique DNA code. While a fetus is dependent on the woman’s body, it is more than just a part of the woman’s body; thus, abortion is not just a “women’s issue”—it’s also a “human issue.”View Source
  • WATCH: Dennis Prager on the moral implications of abortion.View Source
  • Related reading: The Unaborted Socrates - Peter KreeftView Source
  • Related reading: Defending Life - Francis J. BeckwithView Source
  • Related reading: Embryo: A Defense of Human Life - Robert GeorgeView Source
  • Related reading: The Case for Life - Scott KlusendorfView Source

If an abortion done on account of a fetus’ race or gender is wrong, then why is it OK to abort an unborn baby simply because it’s unwanted?

  • Aborting a fetus for issues of preference—the baby isn’t quite the way the parents want it to be—is an action most people consider wrong. However, some societies, such as in India, use abortion to select for gender preferences.View Source
  • Would pro-choice advocates defend using screening techniques to allow mothers to abort their gay offspring?View Source
  • WATCH: Dennis Prager on the moral implications of abortion.View Source
  • Related reading: Defending Life - Francis J. BeckwithView Source
  • Related reading: Embryo: A Defense of Human Life - Robert GeorgeView Source
  • Related reading: The Unaborted Socrates - Peter KreeftView Source
  • Related reading: The Case for Life - Scott KlusendorfView Source

A fetus is not a woman’s body; it is something separate that’s inside a woman’s body.

  • A fetus has its own unique DNA code from the mother and often has a different blood type and gender. While it is dependent on the woman’s body, it is more than just a part of the woman’s body; thus, abortion is not just a “women’s issue”—it’s also a “human issue.”View Source
  • WATCH: Dennis Prager on the moral implications of abortion.View Source
  • Related reading: The Unaborted Socrates - Peter KreeftView Source
  • Related reading: The Case for Life - Scott KlusendorfView Source
  • Related reading: Defending Life - Francis J. BeckwithView Source
  • Related reading: Embryo: A Defense of Human Life - Robert GeorgeView Source

Let's talk about one of the most emotionally charged subjects there is -- abortion -- but in an unemotional way. Also, let's not touch on the question that most preoccupies discussion of the subject -- whether abortion should be legal or illegal. The only question here is the moral one: Is ending the life of a human fetus -- moral?

Let's begin with this question: Does the human fetus have any value and any rights? Now, it's a scientific fact that a human fetus is human life.  Those who argue that the human fetus has no rights say that a fetus is not a person. But even if you believe that, it doesn't mean the fetus has no intrinsic value or no rights. There are many living beings that are not persons that have both value and rights: Dogs and other animals, for example. And that's Moral Argument Number One: A living being doesn't have to be a person in order to have intrinsic moral value and rights. 

When challenged with this argument, people usually change the subject to the rights of the mother -- meaning the right of a mother to end her fetus's life under any circumstance, for any reason, and at any time in her pregnancy. Is that moral? It is only if we believe that the human fetus has no intrinsic worth. But in most cases, nearly everyone believes that the human fetus has essentially infinite worth and an almost absolute right to live. When? When a pregnant woman wants to give birth. Then, society -- and its laws -- regard the fetus as so valuable that if someone were to kill that fetus, that person could be prosecuted for homicide.  Only if a pregnant woman doesn't want to give birth, do many people regard the fetus as worthless. Now, does that make sense? 

It doesn't seem to. Either a human fetus has worth or it doesn't. And this is Moral Argument Number Two: On what moral grounds does the mother alone decide a fetus's worth? We certainly don't do that with regard to a newborn child. It is society, not the mother -- or the father -- that determines whether a newborn child has worth and a right to live. 

So, the question is: Why should that be different before the human being is born? Why does one person, a mother, get to determine whether that being has any right to live? People respond by saying that a woman has the right to "control her body." Now, that is entirely correct. The problem here, however, is that the fetus is not "her body;" it is in her body. It is a separate body. And that's Moral Argument Number Three. No one ever asks a pregnant woman, "How's your body?" when asking about the fetus. People ask, "How's the baby?"

Moral Argument Number Four: Virtually everyone agrees that the moment the baby comes out of the womb, killing the baby is murder. But deliberately killing it a few months before birth is considered no more morally problematic than extracting a tooth. How does that make sense? 

And finally, Moral Argument Number Five: Aren't there instances in which just about everyone -- even among those who are pro-choice -- would acknowledge that an abortion might not be moral? For example, would it be moral to abort a female fetus solely because the mother prefers boys to girls -- as has happened millions of times in China and elsewhere?  And one more example: Let's say science develops a method of determining whether a child in the womb is gay or straight. Would it be moral to kill a gay fetus because the mother didn't want a gay child?

People may offer practical reasons not to criminalize all abortions. People may differ about when personhood begins; and about the morality of abortion after rape or incest. But with regard to the vast majority of abortions -- those of healthy women aborting a healthy fetus -- let's be clear. Most of these abortions just aren't moral. 

Good societies can survive people doing immoral things. But a good society cannot survive if it calls immoral things moral.

I'm Dennis Prager.

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