The Forgotten Unborn

The entire edifice of the movement to re-criminalize abortion is based on a single premise that goes like this: “The unborn human organism in all stages of its development is a person with rights from the moment of conception. Such an entity is a human being and therefore deserves to be accorded the most fundamental of rights: the right to life. Such a right is as inalienable as the right of other human beings, despite the unborn’s reliance on its mother’s body for its life, and despite any cost to her of such dependence.”

Fair enough. I don’t agree with that position, but I will respect it while fighting it, if indeed it is an honest position. What I will not respect is a belief in the “sanctity of life” if it is in fact a cover for a far more malicious agenda: power, specifically the power to control the functioning of a fertile woman’s body and therefore the course of her existence.

How can a pro-choicer such as myself determine the sincerity of those with whom I most fervently disagree?

There are many ways to test the sincerity of convictions. One is to examine if they display an internal logic. For example, apparently somewhere between one half to two thirds of all fertilized ova fail to implant in the womb and therefore die. After that, an additional one fifth or so implanted embryos will spontaneously abort. This means that if millions of people are born every year, far more “people” have died before birth.

Now if one cares about the unborn and their fate, then it seems to me that one would care about all the unborn and not just those that are destroyed in a surgical abortion or by a drug or device acting as an abortifacient such as an IUD or emergency contraception. After all, there is no inherent difference biologically or, I assume, theologically, between the spontaneously aborted unborn and the deliberately aborted unborn. If the latter is a tragedy, then so is the former.

Yes, but the pro-lifers will say one is a natural tragedy over which we have no control while the other is a man-made tragedy that we can prevent. But that’s a strange kind of logic. We can do a great deal to prevent “natural” tragedies and do so all the time. The history of this species is in many ways a history of increasing encroachments on the designs of nature. We constantly seek ways to combat disease, lessen the ravages of old age, and limit the damage of earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, droughts, hurricanes, etc. All of human civilization is devoted to fighting natural tragedies.

So why is there so little focus on preventing miscarriages? Why are such “little ones” forgotten?

One would think that if the unborn are people then their drastically premature deaths would be recognized and mourned. After all, a born child who is accidentally killed is mourned and buried just as often as one who is murdered. Parents seek to find the cause of death, and a concerted campaign is often undertaken to, for instance, get drunk drivers off the road.

Is such a campaign to prevent miscarriages underway?

Not only is the “plight” of the spontaneously aborted seemingly ignored by the pro-lifers, but their deaths aren’t even given minimal respect. There is no movement among those who claim that human personhood begins at conception to outlaw flushing miscarried “people” down the toilet or throwing them out with the trash. The remains of such individuals do not deserve any dignified treatment whatsoever.

I can still recall reading about a right-to-life minister who made a big display of burying an aborted fetus. This same man didn’t care to start a movement requiring miscarried fetuses to be buried and there’s lots of very well-developed fetuses that are miscarried. If God deems a fetus expendable, the entity is apparently a piece of trash that can be thrown in the garbage. If a woman does the same, her “trash” all of a sudden is a human being that needs to be buried. The reason? I suspect it is because in one situation a woman has no control over events, in the other she does.

If embryos are souls, then the right-to-lifers should argue for the forcible implantation of every single embryo created outside the womb. They should claim that since fertilized eggs outside the womb are inherently the same as fertilized eggs inside the womb such eggs have a right to live, which means to grow and develop, but that would involve the blatant endorsement of something far worse than ordinary rape, and they don’t have anywhere near the intestinal fortitude for that (thankfully).

Again, if those who oppose abortion are concerned about the unborn, then they should show concern for all the unborn, and not just the small percentage that are terminated deliberately. I suggest they start to act on behalf of the hundreds of millions they have forgotten.

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© 2005 Laura J. Rift. All rights reserved.