Poverty, rape, disability or “unwantedness” do not morally justify abortion.
When it comes to abortion, there is no shortage of “What if…’s”. Just when it seems the injustice of abortion has been firmly established, you’ll hear things like: What if the woman was raped?, What if she can’t afford a child?, or What if the baby is deformed?These questions don’t address the fundamental ethics of abortion, but they do introduce a host of difficult variables. Some people appeal to them earnestly. Many do not. These “hard cases” are often used as a last defence by those who actually believe abortion should be legal no matter what the circumstances. They appeal to these more emotionally-charged circumstances in an attempt to move the focus away from the heart of the issue – which is the humanity of unborn children and the violence of abortion. The best way to expose the fallacy of such claims is to simply broaden the context and apply them to children outside the womb. No matter how you frame it, the difficulty that these circumstances present do not justify the death of an innocent human being.
WHAT IF THE CHILD IS UNWANTED?
One of the favourite mantras of abortion advocates around the country is “Children by Choice Not Chance”. It sounds noble enough, until you realize what their solution to unwantedness is. If a child isn’t wanted, they argue, then it shouldn’t be born. The problem, of course, is that the child is already conceived, and the only way to keep said child from being born is to kill it. How do they justify such violence? Often by arguing that it is better for the child to be dead than for the child to be unwanted.
This is a bogus argument. It doesn’t work for the simple fact that no one makes such an argument about children after birth. Is certain death really the answer to potential neglect or abuse? If someone’s right to life truly were established or removed based simply on their “wantedness”, what would that mean for the homeless, the aged or the infirm? In the broadest sense, the whole discussion of “wantedness” ignores a substantial reality. Even if the biological parents want nothing to do with their offspring, there are families all over the nation waiting desperately to adopt a baby , families who are willing to adopt diseased babies of any race or ethnicity.
Something as subjective as “wantedness” can never be the basis for granting someone the right to life, and abortion advocates know this. They don’t argue that mothers should be free to kill their “unwanted” children after birth because they know these children are living, human beings with full rights of person-hood. The only reason they argue that mothers should be free to kill their unwanted children before birth is because they’re ignoring the scientific reality that these children, too, are living, human beings. The question is humanity, not wantedness.
WHAT IF THE MOTHER CAN’T AFFORD A CHILD?
Abortion advocates often argue that it is acceptable for a woman to abort her pregnancy if she cannot afford to raise a child. While they are careful to use noble and compassionate language, they are essentially arguing that if a baby is going to be too expensive, the mother has a right to kill it. Such rationale falls apart on many levels, but we’ll start with the most fundamental. Like so many abortion arguments, this one assumes something about the unborn embryo or foetus that it hasn’t proved. It assumes, in fact, the very thing that it must prove before the argument can hold any water.
Isn’t it true, that there are born-children, today, who are growing up in poverty? In South Africa, this is a harsh reality. Yet has anyone ever been heard arguing that the mothers of these born-children should have the right to kill them, since they can’t afford to raise them? No one makes such an absurd and heartless argument because we all know that no amount of financial hardship is sufficient rationale for killing another human being, particularly an innocent child. On a practical level, there are over 50 crisis pregnancy care centres in South Africa . They all function to help bring women through their pregnancies by providing them the emotional and financial assistance they need to carry to term and, if need be, place for adoption (which would relieve all future financial obligation). When help is needed, help can be found.
The only reason anyone uses the financial hardship argument to try and justify abortion is because they are assuming that human beings in the womb are qualitatively different from human beings out of the womb. But until abortion advocates can prove this to be so, financial distress can never justify abortion. Poverty is not the issue. The humanity of the unborn child is.
WHAT IF THE BABY IS DEFORMED?
As shocking a reality as this is, abortion advocates would have you believe that putting a child to death is an acceptable solution to that child’s physical or mental disability. In much the same way that they argue for aborting children who might grow up in poverty, abortion advocates also argue for the right to abort children who might grow up with a disability, as if disease or handicap somehow strips a person of their right to live and relegates them to a life of misery. Such a suggestion is barbaric and inhumane and has no place in a just society. There are children of all ages, and adults too, who are alive today and are living through all manner of disease and disability. Do these physical limitations make them less than human? Is killing everyone who is sick really an acceptable way to treat sickness?
The only reason anyone can suggest for children before birth what they would never suggest after birth is that they are again assuming what they have not proven. Anyone who argues that abortion is a necessary safeguard against a life of suffering and disability is assuming that the unborn child is not yet a living human being. But this is exactly the point that they must prove before they can even begin to make such claims. Disability isn’t the issue, it’s humanity .We do not kill people for their disabilities, period. Therefore, unless we’re not human beings before we’re born, our disabilities should no more disqualify us from life before birth than they do after birth.
Furthermore, this pressure to abort handicapped babies is built largely on conjecture, on the mere “likelihood” that a child has some kind of disability. Often, the tests prove wrong, and more often still, these children, if allowed to live, end up with lives of joy and happiness that far exceeds those of their “more healthy” peers. Suffering and hardship are not bad things. They are means to a greater end, a crucial part of the human journey. Anyone who tries to eliminate suffering by killing the “sufferers” is establishing a horrific trend! It is not for us to decide who has a life worth living and who doesn’t, and we certainly wouldn’t want someone else making that decision for us!
In the end, this whole question of disability is a mere disguise to divert attention from abortion’s true agenda. The fact is, abortion advocates support killing babies whether they have disabilities or not. They’re not arguing that abortion should be limited to foetuses with severe handicaps. They’re arguing that the mother, alone, should have the right to kill her baby for any reason under the sun, and that is the most shocking reality of all.
WHAT IF THE MOTHER IS ADDICTED TO DRUGS?
It is not uncommon to hear an abortion advocate incredulously ask something like this, “Do you really think a coke-addict, woman should be forced to have a baby that will grow up being addicted to crack and living on the street?” This, of course, is a loaded question, with poverty and disability concerns mixed in as well. It is essentially implying that a baby is better off dead than being born with a drug addiction. As with so many of the arguments that have come before it, it is assuming what it should be proving. There are children alive today who were born with drug addictions, and who are living with mothers who continue to use cocaine, and yet these children have every bit as much of a right to life as all of their more fortunate contemporaries. Drug addiction isn’t the issue, humanity is the issue .
Do we deal with drug addiction by killing everyone who is addicted to drugs? No we don’t. And we certainly wouldn’t suggest such treatment for those whose addiction is no fault of their own. The only reason abortion is offered as a legitimate solution for a child who may grow up addicted to narcotics is because those making the suggestion are ignorant (or worse) concerning the status of unborn children.
WHAT IF THE WOMAN WAS RAPED?
You can’t get very far in any discussion about abortion without considering the question of rape. Whereas the vast majority of pregnancies are the result of consensual sex, rape-based pregnancies present a unique dilemma. If a woman didn’t choose to engage in sex in the first place, should she have to carry to term a child that was the result of her forced union? The question should become much clearer if we add in some hypothetical details. Let’s say the woman does carry her child to term and decides to raise her son herself. After five years, however, she decides that the little boy’s presence in her life is too much of a burden. He looks too much like his biological father. Should that mother have the right to kill her five year-old son who was born to her as a result of sexual assault? Obviously not. No matter what the circumstances are regarding the little boy’s conception, he is a human being with a right to life that cannot be taken away from him. But what about before the child is born, does this change anything? No, it doesn’t. Abortion is an act of violence that kills a living human being. The circumstances surrounding the conception do not change this simple reality. Rape and abortion share this in common. They are both acts of violent assault against an innocent victim. Aborting a child conceived through rape simply extends this pattern of violence and victimhood. It does not “unrape” the woman, but it will almost certainly increase her regret and misery. Whereas rape is an act of violence for which she bears no responsibility, abortion is an act of violence for which she would be morally culpable. Consider the following email, which was sent, unsolicited, to Abort73.com:
I just wanted to say that I am so pleased to read your stance on abortion in the case of rape. My mother was a 14-year-old girl who was raped, and she tried to have an abortion. The only reason I am alive today is because the doctor miscalculated her due date and thought she was too far in the pregnancy to have the abortion, when in reality he was a month off (this actually happened twice). It pains me every time I hear even die hard pro-lifers say “except in the case of rape”. I know it is traumatizing for a girl or woman that is raped to have to carry a child, but it is no more traumatizing than someone who gets shot during a violent attack and has to deal with those wounds. Counselling and therapy can help heal the trauma, but the trauma will be there whether she has the abortion or not, and the abortion could even make it worse. It has caused me so much anxiety over the years to think that many pro-lifers would have approved of my mother’s abortion. By the way, she gave me up for adoption, and my adoptive parents were never able to have children. Thank you so much for this wonderful view against abortion even in the case of rape.
That’s the perspective of someone conceived through rape, but what about a mother who was the victim of rape? Here is a portion of another email we received:
I am the single mother of a beautiful, fun-loving, bright young woman of 16 years of age. This Easter we celebrated the 17th anniversary of her conception. Raped by an acquaintance, my first consideration was abortion even though I had spoken out against it all my life… I considered abortion until I [determined it wasn’t] the right thing. I perused adoption and chose parents to give my baby to. I changed my mind and chose motherhood. I have provided, educated, clothed, fed, nursed, counselled, encouraged, and loved with all my heart the daughter of a man who violated the last virtue I was cherishing, my virginity… When interviewed about my experience several years ago, I was asked what I would a tell a young woman contemplating an abortion. After some careful consideration and a determination never to water down the truth I replied, “It is the hardest thing in the world to choose what you know is right. Being a single parent is no more easy than living with the haunting memory of aborting your child. No matter how hard you wish, either way your life will never be the same. Both have their pains and their struggles, however, only one choice afforded me a profound peace… Never have we been in want. Never have I regretted my choice. The scars of my experience have been healed… we show no signs of lack nor neglect…
She is not alone in her experience:
When I was raped back in spring of 2006, I was devastated. I didn’t know where to turn so I hid the memory in the back of my mind, until I found out I was pregnant, then I couldn’t hide it any more. When I went to some friends, some told me to have an abortion, seeing as how the child is from rape it would be better that way. But one true friend told me to check out Abort73.com. I am so thankful that I did, because when my son Ezekiel was born, and I held him in my arms I couldn’t imagine loving him more, even through the struggle, he brings me so much joy. I am overwhelmed knowing that he is alive today. Thanks.” – Winnie Sherwood
Whenever abortion advocates bring up this question of rape, they do so disingenuously. The fact is, they think mothers should have the right to kill their unborn children no matter what the circumstances surrounding the pregnancy might be. They only ask about the “12 year-old girl forced to carry her father’s baby” because they know they can’t win the abortion debate on the merits. They appeal to the emotion of these extremely hard and rare cases because it helps mask their true agenda, which is abortion on demand. If it is not legitimate to kill a person conceived in rape after they’re born, then it is no more legitimate to kill that same person before they’re born. The question is humanity, not rape.
WHERE ARE WE GOING TO PUT ALL THESE PEOPLE?
From time to time, abortion advocates will argue that abortion is a necessary mechanism for ensuring that the world’s population does not surge out of control. “Without abortion,” they ask, “where would we put all of these extra kids?”
Assuming that the world is facing a population crisis, the most basic question we must answer is this. Is killing innocent human beings a legitimate way to drive population numbers down? Those who suggest that abortion is a good way to control the population will quickly assert that embryos and foetuses aren’t really human beings yet. This, of course, is the very point that they must prove before they can even begin to make such an argument. Since this is a point they can’t prove, they simply assume it to be true and move on.
Beyond the fact that overpopulation is not a sufficient moral rationale for killing off a portion of the population, the fact remains that the birth rate in South Africa is only one of the factors influencing population growth.
In South Africa today, fewer babies are being born, people are living longer than ever and more and more immigrants are coming in. As such, the population at large is growing much older. From a sociological standpoint, an increasingly older population may pose a far greater threat to society than a supposed population explosion. Whenever a society fails to replace itself with sufficient numbers of young people, it becomes a society that cannot survive. Fewer children today will equal fewer parents tomorrow which will equal fewer children still in the generations to come. Abortion has already eliminated hundreds of thousands (if not over a million) of people from the South African tax base. So long as abortion wipes out the young people, we will be left with a society that is older and older, a society where grandparents far outnumber children and where almost no one is left to pay for it all.
Abortion is ethically unjust because it kills an innocent human being, and none of the scenarios listed on this page can change this simple fact.
Adapted from Abort73.com. Used with permission.