Pro-choicers often say that a fetus, without consciousness, feelings, people who love it, or many other abilities shared by humans should not have the trump card against a sentient, feeling woman with the challenges of life in front of her.
Why should a blob of tissue have more rights than I have?
First of all, as a matter of fetal development, the heart beats approximately three weeks after conception (five weeks after last period); at that time, major organs also begin to develop and blood circulates throughout his body. At this time, a woman may not even know that she is pregnant, only being a week past her missed period. So the “blob of tissue” argument isn’t really relevant to the abortion debate.
Even if it were, the underlying idea is that sentience is the standard by which we judge the value for life. A person who is sentient has the moral high ground over someone who is not; the latter person’s very life may be taken away for the mere convenience of the sentient person. There are two problems with this idea: the theory that the person with the ability to make a decision has the moral right to make it; and that, taken to its logical conclusion, the argument results in some gruesome possibilities.
The basis of civilised society is that decisions are not made by physical force. Feminism has, for years, fought the idea that since a husband has the ability to force sex on his wife, it is his prerogative to do so. Abortion is a lot like marital rape: one party asserts a right, based on physical pleasure and higher standing in society, to inflict the most horrific of acts against the other person. We also saw this idea with slavery and child abuse and have long outgrown the idea that physical and political strength results in moral dominance. Abortion is the last great civil rights battle – oddly, one opposed by those who fight for everyone else.
That doesn’t explain why a sentient woman should suffer for this blob of cells, though: the decision to remain pregnant is hardly without complications, health risks, and fear. Yet, taking the idea that the non-sentient may be killed for the sentient, why do we allow people in persistent vegetative states to remain alive? There are between 15,000 and 40,000 people in PVS in the United States every year and another 100,000 who are minimally conscious. There are over 96,000 people on organ waiting lists today, and one will die every ninety minutes (approximately 6,000 per year). Why allow the Terry Schiavo’s of the world to live (well, not in her case, sadly) when there are sentient humans who are dying for lack of organs? That person could save the lives of several loved, productive, and sentient humans.
As a civilised society, we don’t force innocent people to die, even if it would save several lives (see above), and even if the innocent people in question lack basic consciousness and have no hope of leading a full life. There is no reason then that we should allow the killing of a non-sentient human based on nothing more than the desire of another human, especially when that non-sentient human has every chance of growing into a fully functional, emotional, and intellectual person.
Related posts, here:
- Part I: If you can’t trust me with a choice, how can you trust me with a child? And, It’s wrong to bring unwanted children into the world.
- Part II: Why should a blob of tissue have more rights than a woman?
- Part III: If you don’t support abortion, you don’t support women.
- Part IV: Pro-lifers want to legislate morality; you can’t be pro-life and libertarian.
- Part V: Since so many babies die of spontaneous abortion, how can you be pro-life unless you want to save them first?
- Part VI: What about this violinist? If we don’t force people to donate organs, why do you want to force people to remain pregnant?
- Part VII: If abortion is murder, pro-lifers should want to imprison women
- Part VIII: Sherry Colb on abortion.