Editor’s note. This was the final in a series of “Top 10 Abortion Myths” written by Right to Life of Michigan.
#1: An unborn child isn’t a human person
The bottom line: Abortion supporters must believe this (or pretend to believe it) despite overwhelming evidence and logic, or else admit to supporting killing innocent human life.
This myth is the genesis of every other myth circulated by the abortion industry. If everyone was willing to admit unborn babies are human persons, it wouldn’t matter how rare abortions were in later weeks, how many or few side effects abortions have on women, if they are only a small part of Planned Parenthood’s services, or whether or not they are only legal for elective reasons. If the world’s eyes were open to facing the truth that a person’s humanity begins before the process of birth brings them directly before our eyes, we wouldn’t need to have these discussions. The abortion issue would simply come down to whether you believed it is acceptable to take an innocent human life or not.
This myth was easier to spread before modern technology allowed us to see unborn babies through ultrasound with such clarity and learn how much growth and development happens even in the earliest days. A new, unique person is created at fertilization with unique DNA, separate from her mother and father. Her heart begins beating at around 21 days after fertilization, and her brain begins to form around 4 weeks. At 12 weeks, all major body parts and organs are present. With modern medical advances, babies can survive outside the womb as early as 19 weeks after fertilization (21 weeks based on the common method of dating pregnancy to when the mother’s last menstrual period ends).
If you deny that human life begins at fertilization, there must be another point at which it begins. How do you choose that point?
The most extreme abortion supporters would say it isn’t until the mother takes the child home from the hospital that her humanity can be acknowledged, or that life begins at birth. However, no physical changes happen to the baby from the few minutes before birth to the minutes after it has passed through the birth canal. It is illogical to claim the physical location of the baby determines whether it is a human person or not.
Some believe the unborn baby is a human person once it has the ability to survive outside the womb. But does this mean that the humanity of the unborn changes with every medical advancement? It certainly wasn’t always possible for babies at 22 weeks of pregnancy to survive outside the womb—were they formerly sub-human?
We cannot know where medical technology will take us. In the future, babies may someday survive before 20 weeks, or before 15 weeks. The potential invention of the artificial womb means a child at any point of development could survive outside the womb, though abortion supporters have already invented a new backup right for justifying aborting children outside of a woman’s body.
It is impossible to rationally choose a certain point of development where the unborn suddenly becomes a human being. Their development is a continual process, with the clear starting point when a new life begins at fertilization.
Unfortunately, even with the technology that allows us to see the unborn in the womb it is all too easy for abortion supporters to convince people to ignore the humanity of the unseen child. The truth of abortion gets covered in euphemisms and inessential arguments to distract from the taking of a human life.
The issue has become so polarized and biased that in one survey, after 5,577 biologists were asked detailed questions about when human life begins, 96% stated that it begins at fertilization. However, when they were afterwards asked how this view related to the controversial public debate surrounding abortion, many reacted angrily, backed down from their stance, or tried to explain the basic scientific fact of when life beings is irrelevant—to the issue of when life begins.
There is rarely a rational discussion of this myth in the conversations surrounding abortion, because for many, even admitting that the conversation needs to be had is too controversial. Some abortion supporters will honestly acknowledge that abortion takes a human life and claim it’s justified, usually through bodily autonomy of the woman. However, the abortion industry still requires a tremendous effort to make our nation look away from the unborn child’s humanity, because the right to life is and always will be a self-evident truth.
Prolife people will always advocate for the dignity of every unborn child as a person to be fully realized.