Abortion is one of the most polarizing issues facing the country. Both sides are highly motivated, and both struggle to present their view as favorably as possible. Those who support abortion refer to themselves as “pro-choice”, and while those who oppose it call themselves “pro-life”. Both groups refer to themselves almost exclusively by their chosen label, and usually attempt to suggest the other side in opposition to their favored noun (either “choice” or “life”). But is either of these labels actually fair and accurate?
“Pro-life” is applicable. Granting the premise the fetus is a life, then it is fair to suggest that those who are anti-abortion support life in all its forms. It is possible to disagree with the premise, but abortion opponents are justified in calling themselves “pro-life”.
The only way in which the “pro-life” is unfair is its implied idea that those who support abortion are “anti-life”. It is certainly easy to make an argument that those who are pro-abortion support a heinous and gruesome practice—but if one assumes their good faith, it is unfair to say that they oppose life.
That quibble aside, “pro-life” is a fair description.
However, the issue is most often framed in the media as conflict of those who are “pro-choice” against those who are “anti-choice”. This labeling is blatantly unfair, and represents an obvious attempt by pro-abortion groups to “spin” their position to make it more appealing.
The “pro-choice” label is illogical on two counts. The first is that “choice” is such an all-inclusive noun that it could apply to almost anything. Drug legalization? It’s a matter of choice. Arson? Just exercising our right to choose. Murder? Don’t tell me what to do with my gun. The term “choice”, when used in the context of abortion, means literally nothing. One suspects that any desirable thing could have been a substitute for the word “abortion”.
The term “choice” is also inapplicable because it dodges the essential question. Liberals (and those conservatives who support abortion) attempt to frame the question as one regarding the right of a woman to control her own body. Liberals, showing a somewhat unexpected streak of libertarianism, support a women’s “right to choose”, leaving conservatives the alternative of opposing this “right”.
But the real issue does not involve “choice” at all. Instead, it involves the exact moment of embryonic ensoulment, which is an issue that is a lot more complicated and has no easy answer.
Everyone is America believes the concept of the soul in one form or another. All religious people do, and even atheists acknowledge that there is something that makes humans special, and gives them rights denied to less intelligent animals. So everyone agrees that humans have the right to life—the debate should consider the moment when an embryo becomes fully human, with all the rights conferred on us by our nature.
If this moment occurs at conception, then abortion is obviously immoral. If it occurs at birth, then abortion is obviously perfectly permissible, and of no more concern than any other medical procedure.
I find it baffling that so many believe that this complex issue is simply a matter best left up to the individual woman concerned. If we assume that abortion is morally wrong because a fetus deserves human rights, but what right do we permit its mother to decide if it lives or dies?
The soul cannot be measured scientifically, so the moment at which an embryo becomes human can be judged only through religion and metaphysics. This means that one side must impose their view on the other—either the nation will permit what many consider murder, or it will ban what many consider a routine medical procedure. This is unfortunate—but inevitable.