Abortion advocates claim that an unborn child is not valuable because of one or more of the following factors: her/his size, level of development, environment, degree of dependency or personhood of the child. This article is part two in a five part serious examining each of these claims.
Human rights are denied either by a concept of personhood which declares some humans are not persons, or by an assumption that all humans look like adults the argument that the state of a human’s development in some way affects his or her value. This article will focus on how human rights are denied by assuming that humans should look like human adults (the next will focus on the personhood concept). This way of thinking is easy to do, but it is nonsense when we consider that human life begins at fertilization.
If someone had only ever seen butterflies would they conclude that caterpillars were of the same species? In a similar manner if someone had only ever seen human beings after birth would they conclude that a one-celled zygote is the same species as a born human being? In both cases it is unlikely that they would do so however that does not change the fact that both caterpillar and butterfly are of the same species and so are human zygotes, embryos, fetuses, children, and adults.
Therefore the life of a one-celled human immediately after fertilization is just as human as an adult. The question we are faced with is this: Is being human enough to deserve protection under the law?
Humans are either intrinsically valuable by virtue of our humanity or we are not. If we are valuable because we are human then killing human beings should always be forbidden no matter what stage of development these human beings are in. Furthermore if any conception of human rights is to exist then all human beings must possess an equal right to life, because one cannot possess rights if he or she is dead, and if all humans do not possess human rights by virtue of their humanity then these so called rights are not really rights but merely privileges bestowed upon (and taken away from) humans who meet certain conditions.
An unborn baby is just as human as an adult. So when dehumanizing language is used to describe a nascent human life it is simply an excuse to discriminate; a misuse of language designed to hide the truth, that a new human life exists.
Stay tuned for part 3 which will look into personhood arguments.