By Mitchell Brost, Thomas Aquinas College
The issue of abortion is one of the most controversial topics in the world today. Heralded by its pro-choice supporters as progressive, pro-woman healthcare, it is opposed by the pro-life movement, which asserts that abortion is the murder of innocent unborn children. Unfortunately, each side is expeditious in their attempts to shoot down opposing arguments, often for the reasons of being “too political” or “too religious.” This prevents society at large from addressing the countless questions surrounding the abortion controversy. Is abortion really murder? Is it justified under certain circumstances? Is pro-life legislation unjustly restrictive? Are so-called “pro-life alternatives” such as adoption really practical in the modern world?
These questions and more will be addressed, and hopefully answered, in this article, which has been inspired in large part by Peter Kreeft’s book, The Unaborted Socrates. This book is a brilliantly simple publication which is unique in that Kreeft never argues from the stance of either side of the abortion controversy – he deals only with logic and science, looking at each issue in an objective light. He keeps religion and politics out of his discussions. Please note that most of the arguments and examples I use are entirely credited to him. In an attempt to retain the integrity of his logic, I have used his own phrasing and wording and will credit him as often as possible without disrupting the flow of the argument. I cannot take credit for the creation of these arguments, but I agree with them wholeheartedly.
Before any subsequent issues surrounding abortion can be addressed, abortion itself must be examined. I will begin with Kreeft’s investigation of abortion, which will serve as a reference point for the remainder of the article. From there, I’ll again use Kreeft’s insight to examine some justifications for abortion, as well as arguments against the pro-life movement, with some additional information supplied by myself. Lastly, I’ll address some more specific abortion controversies I’ve seen arise on social media recently, especially concerning the new pro-life legislation coming into existence in several states. I’ll finish with a description of the adoption process, as described by an adoptive father, in hopes of clearing up some misconceptions surrounding that topic.
So, all that being said, let’s begin with our first, and most important, question:
Is abortion murder?
In the very simplest of terms, the dispute between pro-lifers and pro-choicers is this: pro-lifers think abortion is murder, while pro-choicers do not believe that abortion is murder. Already that gives us two terms in need of definitions. First, abortion. Abortion is the deliberate killing of the fetus. At this point in the argument, it doesn’t matter whether you think the fetus is a human being or just a lump of cells, because either way, that’s what abortion is, right? And murder: murder is the intentional killing of an innocent human being. That one is pretty simple.
So, assuming these definitions are true, the abortion dispute can be summed up in the following syllogism:
Intentionally killing an innocent human being is murder,
and abortion is intentionally killing an innocent human being.
Therefore, abortion is murder. (Kreeft 50-51)
The three steps that must be taken in order to prove an argument are as follows: First, the terms must be clear. I have defined the terms used in these premises and will continue to explain terms as the argument progresses. Second, the premises must be true, i.e., they must correspond to reality. Kreeft’s argument goes in-depth with this second step. The third step is simply that if the first and second steps are completed satisfactorily, then the argument is valid and therefore the conclusion is true.
To return to the second step, I don’t think anyone will have any issues with the first premise, being, “Intentionally killing an innocent human being is murder.” However, that second premise, “abortion is intentionally killing an innocent human being,” is going to be very hotly contested. Well, what does abortion kill? Abortion kills the fetus. If the fetus is a human being, then abortion is murder. If the fetus is not a human being, then abortion is not murder. It really is that simple. Clearly it’s time to examine exactly what the fetus is.
Kreeft prefaces that examination with a quick note. The perception of something does not change the reality of the thing. For example, you could think a fish was a human. You could try treating a fish like a human. But that perception doesn’t make the fish a human. It isn’t going to wear pants and walk out of a lake and start talking to you about the weather simply because you have the perception that it’s a human. Another example: slavery in the 19th century. Just because certain people had the perception that black people were property, fit only to be slaves, did not change the reality that black people have always been human beings just as much as white people have always been human beings. The case is the same with the fetus. In this argument, perceptions of the fetus are irrelevant. We need to know precisely what the fetus is.
Since the true nature of abortion hinges on whether or not the fetus is a human being, it’s a good idea to go back to defining terms. What is a human being? Well, this is quite a bit trickier to define than abortion or murder. A human being is a conscious animal, a primate, part of the species homo sapiens. But what really sets human beings apart from other animals, or even computers, a worthy comparison given the strength and quickening pace of technology? Human beings alone have the power of reason. We alone have the will to know. Although nobody can speak from experience of being another animal, it can be said, simply from observation, that animals do not possess this will to know. They have their instincts, and yes, a certain kind of basic curiosity, but we have never observed an animal questioning anything. Similarly, human beings differ from computers in that computers do not question their programming, unless programmed to do so. This loop can go on and on, but ultimately there is always one unquestioned program. Therefore, what sets human beings apart from other animals and computers is reason. Human beings alone have the will to know and to ask questions.
The pro-choicer should already be thinking, “well fetuses don’t ask questions, therefore from this definition a fetus is not a human being and abortion is not murder.” Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. What about infants? As far as we can tell from observing behavior, infants don’t ask questions, either, and yet we consider infants to be human beings. What about when someone is asleep? Clearly they aren’t asking any questions or consciously wondering about anything. But we still consider sleeping persons to be human beings.
Its clear from this that there is a difference between functioning as a human being and actually being a human being. Just because an infant or sleeping person doesn’t function as a human being by definition, does not mean that they aren’t human beings. Likewise, just because a fetus does not function as a human being does not prove that a fetus is not a human being. Of course, this does not prove that a fetus is a human being, either.
Well, then, what is a fetus? Is it really just a lump of cells? Let’s turn to science. DNA – the unique genetic code that separates each individual living organism from every other living organism in existence – is present at the moment of conception. This is not some romantic sentiment of Christianity or pro-life hippies and “misogynists.” It is a biological fact. The male sperm has an incomplete genetic code, as does the female oocyte (the female cell which matures into the ovum, which is what gets fertilized by the sperm). However, the zygote (the single, first cell that is formed by the fertilization of the ovum by the sperm and later develops into the embryo) has a complete, distinct genetic code. This zygote is described by embryologists Ronan O’Rahilly and Fabiola Muller as “… a genetically distinct human organism.” In addition, leading embryology textbooks such as The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology by Keith L. Moore and Langman’s Embryology by T.W. Sadler affirm this as scientific fact: human life begins at the moment of conception. These are not outdated, obsolete medical textbooks written by a bunch of hacks. These are from well-respected textbooks that are still used today, even in the Western Oregon University nursing program. So, genetically speaking, this proves that the fetus is a human being. It contains a full, 100% complete human genetic code literally from the exact moment of conception. “No,” a pro-choicer might argue, “this only proves that it’s a potential human being. It’s not really a human being until it’s out of the womb.” Well, let’s examine that argument.
The first error is that it says that the fetus is only a “potential” human being. It is scientifically proven that a 100% complete, utterly distinct human genetic code is present in the fetus from the exact moment of its conception as a zygote. With this DNA, can the fetus potentially be a giraffe? Or can the fetus potentially be an acorn? No, because of its DNA, the fetus cannot “potentially” be anything but a human being. Saying it is a “potential human” implies that it can potentially be something other than human, but this is scientifically impossible.
What about the part that says “a fetus isn’t a human being until it’s out of the womb?” Kreeft answers that time and place do not affect personhood. If I lived in California instead of Oregon, would I be more or less of a human being than I am now? Am I more or less of a human being in my living room as opposed to my bedroom? Reason says, of course not. I have the same essence of being a human being no matter where I am. Location does not affect personhood. Similarly, were human beings 2000 years ago less human than we are now? Am I more or less human right now than I was 20 minutes ago? Again, the reasonable answer is no. Just because a fetus spends time in its mother’s womb does not make it a non-human.
“But,” the pro-choicer might argue, “the fetus is a part of the mother. It’s my body, my choice!” Well, is the fetus really a part of the mother? Transitive logic says that no, the fetus is not part of the mother. This idea might be familiar to anyone who’s taken geometry. Transitive logic says that if A is part of B, and B is part of C, then A is part of C. Let’s apply this to the situation of the fetus. Let’s say, for example, the fetus is at the stage of development where it has two distinct feet. Do we say that the mother has four feet? This is what would follow from claiming that the fetus is part of the mother, because if the feet are part of the fetus (A is part of B), and the fetus is part of the mother (B is part of C), then the fetus’ feet are also part of the mother (A is part of C) and the mother must have four feet. Another way of putting this would be saying that the mother has a penis if the fetus is male. This is, of course, absurd. Reason does not say that a car is part of a garage just because it is parked there, or that a cake is part of an oven because it is being baked there. Logically speaking, the fetus is not part of the mother. This destroys the argument of “my body, my choice,” because the fetus’ body is not the mother’s body.
Of course, the pro-choicer may still push back on this. They might say that the fetus is not an individual human being because it is not independent of the mother. What, exactly, is the fetus dependent on the mother for? Its identity? No, because it gets that identity from its genetic code. What about survival? Well yes, but does that affect its personhood? The answer is, no, it does not. Children are dependent on their parents for “survival,” does that make them non-human? Sick and elderly people are dependent on others for survival, does that make them non-human? Of course not. If I wanted to be very general, I could even make the argument that everyone is dependent on someone else. The fetus is not dependent on the mother for identity, only for survival, and that does not prove that the fetus is not a human being.
“Just hold on,” the pro-choicer might say. “This all seems to be saying that there’s a bigger difference between a pre-zygote and a zygote, than there is between a zygote and a fully-grown human adult. Just looking at the two you should be able to see how ridiculous an assertion that is.” Well, let’s unpack that. Let’s start by identifying the differences between an infant and an adult. In general, there are four major differences: size, development, dependence, and mobility, with the adult obviously having the higher degree of all of these. Now, since our argument surrounding abortion concerns murder, the next question is this: is it worse to murder a fully-developed, full-sized, independent, highly mobile adult rather than a toddler who lacks all of these traits? Or, in other words, is it really, really bad to murder an adult rather than an infant, and only a little bit bad to murder a 13 year old rather than a 12 year old? Reason says, no, murder is murder. As I’m sure a pro-choicer would agree, black – white, rich – poor, young – old, a human life is a human life. In fact, I’m sure most people would argue the opposite, that killing a younger person is worse than killing an older one, as children are often more innocent than adults. The degree of age and functionality – observable in the differences between size, development, independence, and mobility – are irrelevant in the discussion of the morality of murder. So, what are the differences between a fetus and a toddler? Exactly. The fetus is smaller. It is less developed. Less independent. Less mobile. This can be traced all the way down to the zygote. Murder is murder, no matter the degree of age or functionality.
Let’s return to the beginning of the argument. Kreeft is testing the validity of his second premise: “abortion is the intentional killing of an innocent human being.” We’re trying to determine if the fetus is a human being. If it is, then the premise is true. If it is not, then the premise is false. Keeping in mind that perceptions and feelings do not change the reality of what something is, Kreeft first proved that although a fetus does not function as a human being by definition, that does not prove that a fetus isn’t a human being, since human beings sometimes do not function as such (like during sleep). He proceeded to turn to science, which tells us that a totally complete, distinct human genetic code is found in the zygote at the moment of its conception. Leading embryologists and embryology textbooks agree that scientifically speaking, this is the beginning of human life. This DNA code is the reason why the fetus is not a “potential human,” since the fetus cannot be anything else. Since human beings are not judged by genetics alone, Kreeft turned to logic. He showed that time and location, such as the fetus’ life in the womb, does not affect its personhood any more than time or location affects my personhood right now. Kreeft also showed that a fetus is not part of the mother’s body according to transitive logic. A car is not part of a garage just because it is parked in it. There is no choice to be made in “my body, my choice,” because the body of the fetus is not part of the body of the mother. He went on to discuss how yes, the fetus is dependent on the mother, but only for survival and nourishment, not identity. Dependence does not reduce personhood since, truthfully, everyone is dependent on someone else in some way. Lastly, Kreeft proved that the degree of age and functionality between human beings – as judged by differences in size, development, independence, and mobility – does not affect whether their murder is more acceptable or not, such as whether killing a fully-grown adult is worse than killing a still-developing child.
Remember that this discussion has not contained any mention of religious beliefs, political beliefs, opinion, or emotion. Kreeft argues strictly with reason, logic, and scientific fact. Where does that leave us? Well, unless there is some logic or science that disproves what has been said, the logical conclusion we have come to in our investigation is that objectively, a fetus is a human being.
Our next step is far easier: proving the fetus’ innocence. What has it done? Did it cause the pregnancy, or, in rarer, more tragic cases, the rape? Of course it didn’t. Any harm caused by the pregnancy is not the fault of the fetus, as it did not willfully cause the pregnancy to occur. The fetus is innocent.
So, with this new-found information about the nature of the fetus, let’s return to the abortion syllogism:
Intentionally killing an innocent human being is murder,
and abortion is intentionally killing an innocent human being.
Therefore, abortion is murder.
We granted that the first premise was true. We have just proven that the fetus is a human being, and is also innocent. Since both premises are valid, it follows that the conclusion, “abortion is murder,” is also valid. The pro-life argument is the more logical and scientifically-supported stance.
One thing that is definitely worth pointing out about Kreeft’s argument is that he never argues his point from either of the opposing sides of abortion. He never says, “the pro-life argument is correct and here’s why,” or, “the pro-choice argument is correct and here’s why.” Instead of focusing on views of abortion, he focuses on abortion itself.
However, Kreeft does address these views. Specifically, he talks about the pro-choice view, including both justifications for abortion and arguments against the pro-life stance.
“The Morality of Abortion is a Religious Issue”
The main argument against the pro-life stance is that the morality of abortion is a religious – and therefore subjective – issue. In addition, this argument claims that the reason why religious institutions, especially the Catholic Church, are so vocally anti-abortion is because they want to control others and force their own morality on them. To answer the first part of this argument, let’s return to the discussion we just had about abortion. Never once did Kreeft’s argument bring religion or theology into the picture. As he describes it in his book, “science provided the facts about the fetus and philosophy provided the principles about murder.” (Kreeft 89) You don’t need to talk about God to talk about a fetus. But is the stance of the Church a power play?
Kreeft makes a very important point about the motives of the Church. He says,
The Church’s opposition, as I understand it, is not so much to suffering as to sin. Poverty and pain and illness and even death are not sins, though they may have been caused by sin. (Kreeft 90)
That begs the question: is it worse to commit evil, or to endure evil?
Kreeft elaborates on this in several examples. If, hypothetically, you absolutely had to choose one, would you rather be a sadistic torturer of martyrs, or a martyred victim of a sadistic torturer? Or suppose your son was in a war, was captured by the enemy, and was forced by his captors to either kill three of his fellow prisoners, and survive himself, or spare his fellow prisoners and be put to death himself. Which would you rather he choose?
The point of this uncomfortable questioning is not to indict mothers who have aborted their children as evil. If anything, this shows that it is not just the fetus, but also the mother who is a victim of abortion. The pro-life defense protects the mother from committing evil.
“You Can’t Just Legislate Morality”
The issue of “legislating morality” is another argument against the pro-life movement. Shouldn’t morality be a free choice, not something compelled by threat of lawful punishment? Well, there is a difference between freedom of action, and freedom of thought. Freedom of action is the permission to act without restraint to a reasonable extent, that extent being when that action endangers others or the person themselves. This is not to be confused with license, which is the “freedom” to act as if actions have no consequences. Freedom of thought is the freedom to have an opinion or sentiment about anything without threat of punishment. Obviously, in a functioning society, there must be some restrictions on freedom of action, and no restrictions on freedom of thought. We have to determine whether or not laws prohibiting abortion must be included among those restrictions on freedom of action.
In general, these restrictions protect freedom. For example, the laws of the road protect our freedom to travel in safety. Pro-choice laws protect the choice of the mother to get an abortion. But giving that choice to mothers forces the fetus to be murdered in abortion. This is not an issue for pro-choicers as they think that the fetus is not a human being. This is an issue for pro-lifers because they think that the fetus is a human being. This circles back to Kreeft’s first argument, deciding if abortion is murder.
And yet, it doesn’t seem fair that pro-choicers don’t want to force pro-lifers to have abortions, but pro-lifers want to force pro-choicers not to have abortions. However, if abortion is indeed murder (again, circling back to the initial argument), then there are people far more severely restricted by pro-choice laws than those restricted by pro-life laws. Isn’t being forcefully deprived of life the severest restriction of all?
Pro-life laws are not an imposition of personal values and morality but rather a protection of innocent human life. Let’s put the same principles in a different context. In general, if something is harmful to others, it should be illegal, regardless of what it is. Say the KKK began to strengthen and was pushing heavily to legalize lynching. Should lynching be legalized since it is a value to them, but not to you and me? No, because innocent human life must be protected.
“But a black person is a human being and a fetus is not,” the pro-choicer might argue. Well, that just circles back to Kreeft’s first argument. You can see why Kreeft calls the fetus the “crux” of the argument.
“But everyone agrees that lynching black people, or exterminating Jews like the Nazis did, is wrong.” Well, not everyone. Clearly the Klansmen and the Nazis thought their actions were morally acceptable. “But the majority of people agree that those things are wrong. The majority of people also think abortion is permissible.” In certain areas, the Klansmen once had majority support. In Nazi Germany, the Nazi party once had majority support. Just because a majority of people agree that something is right does not make it right. Another example of this was slavery in America. However, these majorities nevertheless continued on with their actions and committed a lot of evil. So, how do we protect minorities against ignorant or unaware majorities? By restricting freedom of action when it endangers innocent human life.
This is all a roundabout way of showing that the fact of the matter is, if the fetus is a human being, then pro-life laws are not unjustly restrictive. If the fetus is a human being, then the restrictions imposed by pro-life legislation are far less severe than those imposed by pro-choice legislation. Kreeft’s first argument must be answered before any other issue surrounding abortion can be considered.
But isn’t this still trying to force morality, when morality should be a free choice? Well, laws can be disobeyed, right? Stealing is against the law but people still commit theft. Rape is against the law but people still sexually assault others. Although a law may compel you to act a certain way, freedom of action – and freedom of thought – is still entirely up to you.
“Anti-Abortion Laws Are Unenforceable”
“But abortion laws are unenforceable! Women will get dangerous, back-alley, coat-hanger abortions unless we make it safe and legal!” Well, first off, who is the abortion safe for? Definitely not the fetus, who is either poisoned, burned, cut up, or suctioned apart. Should we make lynching safe and legal for Klansmen who are in danger in their practices? Of course, women who get abortions are not comparable to Klansmen, but if abortion is indeed murder, the principle itself is the same.
Furthermore, so-called “unenforceable” laws are still useful. Laws against suicide are an example of this. Once someone has killed themselves, how can they be punished? The law can’t do anything. But isn’t it true that a society is conditioned by its laws? For example, society for the longest time has been anti-homosexual, but with new “gay rights” legislation, the LGBTQ community has been more and more accepted by society in general. Is it possible that laws against suicide prevent at least a handful of suicides?
I think we can also agree that suicide is wrong, or at least very tragic. If, in a whole century, laws against suicide prevented just one suicide out of millions of people, wouldn’t the law have been worth it? As Kreeft says, “Little is lost in making a law, but much is lost in a single suicide.” (Kreeft 114) The same can be said for abortion.
“Every Child A Wanted Child”
Another justification for abortion is that every child should be a wanted child. But I’m curious as to how abortion makes every child a wanted child? “Do we attain the goal of wanting our children by murdering the ones we don’t want, or by learning to want the ones we already have?” (Kreeft 115) When you put it that way, this justification for abortion sounds very, very twisted.
Additionally, this justification allows one person to decide the worth of another’s life. Nobody has the right to do such a thing. Every human life is equally worthy and that worth is not determined by another’s desire or convenience.
“Abortion Should Be Legal For Victims of Rape”
But, of course, there’s still the biggest justification of all: abortion should be legal and available to those who are victims of rape. It goes without saying that the rape of a woman, especially an underage woman, is one of the most horrible things in the world. But why should the fetus be punished for being in the wrong place at the wrong time? It did not cause the rape. Furthermore, anti-abortion laws do not force the mother to carry the child, the rapist does. The anti-abortion laws simply compel the mother not to murder her unborn child. This situation again raises the question of whether it is worse to commit evil, or to endure evil.
The Statistics of Abortion
Another thing worth mentioning is that abortions in cases of rape make up a tiny percentage of the total number of abortions performed. According to a 2004 national survey1 conducted by the Guttmacher Institute (a.k.a. AGI, Planned Parenthood’s own research branch) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), less than 0.5% of all abortions are for victims of rape. Conversely, this survey showed that 79% of all abortions were for convenience-related issues. These reasons included:
- 4% would interfere with education or career
- 8% don’t want to be a single mother
- 19% done having children
- 23% can’t afford a baby
- 25% not ready for a child
Here’s another staggering survey.1 The state of Florida records a reason for every legal abortion that takes place in its state every year. In 2018, out of a whopping 70,083 total abortions, only 4.57% accounted for the combined reasons of: danger to mother’s physical/psychological health, rape, incest, life was endangered, or severe fetal abnormality. Meanwhile, 20% accounted for social or economic reasons and 75.4% declined to give a specific reason. As Mother Theresa said, “it is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”
At this point, it’s worth talking more about pregnancies where the mother’s life is in danger. Not only are these situations extremely rare, but in the situations where it’s the pregnancy itself, not a pre-existing medical condition, that is causing the danger – called ectopic pregnancies – the procedure isn’t even an abortion.2 An ectopic pregnancy is where the fetus becomes impacted outside the uterus, often in the fallopian tube. If not treated quickly, both the fetus and the mother will die, as the fetus will continue to grow, eventually bursting through the fallopian tube and causing fatal internal bleeding. The fetus, meanwhile, will die eventually because it is not being nourished by the placenta. Since the situation cannot resolve itself, the only option is to remove the section of the tube at the site of impact, killing the fetus, or, if found early enough, to administer drugs that will kill the fetus.
There are several differences between treatment for an ectopic pregnancy and an abortion. First off, abortion clinics such as Planned Parenthood do not treat ectopic pregnancies. In fact, their website says that they can’t even diagnose an ectopic pregnancy, only a qualified physician can.2 Second, the result of an untreated ectopic pregnancy is always the same: if gone untreated, both the fetus and the mother will die. Abortion is a choice, while the treatment for an ectopic pregnancy is not.
“Pro-Life Legislation Legitimizes Rape”
Another thing I’ve heard is that pro-life legislation, specifically the new laws in Alabama, legitimizes rape. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’ll focus on Alabama’s bill since that was the one that seemed to cause the greatest outrage in the pro-choice world. First, the bill only prohibits “convenience” abortions. Section 3 of the bill outlines medical situations in which abortions are permissible, specifically where the life of the mother is in danger.3 I’ve seen a few Tweets that say that the Alabama bill makes it so that the punishment for rape is far greater than the punishment for obtaining an abortion. This is also false. In the state of Alabama, first-degree rape is a Class A felony, resulting in a minimum prison sentence of 10 years,4 whereas Section 5 of their new abortion bill says that “No woman upon whom an abortion is performed or attempted to be performed shall be criminally or civilly liable.”3 However, Section 6 does say that a successful abortion “in violation of this act” – meaning a convenience abortion – is a Class A felony.3 Given that murder is a Class A felony in the state of Alabama, and this bill considers abortion to be murder, this is only fitting.
“Pro-Life Legislation Is A Sexist Play For Personal Wealth and Power”
Another claim against pro-life legislation is that it is signed into existence by “old white Christian men who just want to line their pockets by controlling women’s bodies.” According to Planned Parenthood’s yearly report from 2018,5 their total assets amount to approximately 2.1 billion dollars. Their total revenue was a little over 1.6 billion dollars. While their 332,757 total abortions performed only account for 3.4% of their “total services” offered, this is misleading. Each individual counseling session, pregnancy test, and medication prescribed is counted as a distinct “service.”6 Most of these services are offered free of charge thanks to government funding. However, this funding only accounted for 563.8 million dollars. Private contributions accounted for 630 million dollars. Where did the approximate remaining 470 million dollars come from? From the abortions. For a government-funded non-profit, that is a huge amount of leftover revenue. Considering that the pro-life alternatives to Planned Parenthood clinics – pregnancy centers and Church-run charities – are not national mega-corporations and receive no government funding, how is pro-life legislation going to line the pockets of those who sign it into existence? Besides, the seven supreme court justices who signed Roe v. Wade into existence were old white men.7 The governor of Alabama who just signed their pro-life bill into existence is a woman. Gender is not a factor in matters of abortion legislation. The abortion industry is far and away wealthier than the pro-life “industry,” so if the motivation for a politician is money, he or she will not choose life.
The fact of the matter is that the pro-life Alabama bill is not as horribly oppressive as the pro-choice world is making it out to be. There’s even an argument to be made that abortion itself legitimizes rape.
In 1973, the year Roe v. Wade was signed into existence, the total number of documented rape cases across the country was 51,400.8 Meanwhile, in 2017, that number was 135,755.8 While part of that inflation is likely due to just a larger population, think about what abortion does for the rapist. Abortion absolves the rapist of much of his responsibility. A rape victim can sue for the rapist to pay child support.9 With abortion, the rapist is not held responsible for the child he forced his victim to bear – a child who did not ask or choose to be conceived. Abortion wipes out the single physical reminder and consequence of the rapist’s crime.
This raises the issue of personal responsibility. A rapist should be held accountable for his crimes, both by serving time in prison and by paying for the child support of the child he forced upon his victim. By the same token, people who obtain convenience-related abortions need to be held responsible too. The fact is, contraceptives are not 100% reliable. According to a 2008 study done by AGI,1 51% of women who obtained an abortion were on a contraceptive the month they got pregnant. The morality of contraception is a discussion for a different time, but it’s reasonable to say that, even if someone is on a contraceptive, they should be prepared for the possibility that the contraceptive might fail, resulting in an unintended pregnancy. A child should not be murdered because of a failed gamble with contraception.
Addressing the Misconceptions Surrounding the Adoption Process
As my last point, I’d like to talk about the process of adoption. A lot of people seem to think that putting a kid up for adoption is resigning them to an “Oliver Twist” orphanage experience, full of abusive superiors, forced child labor, and squalid living conditions. This is far from the truth.
There are two ways in which a mother can offer her child up for adoption: she can go through the state, and use the state’s foster system, or she can go through a private organization, such as Catholic Charities. In both instances, the state or the organization will pay for all of her medical bills related to her pregnancy. She would not have to worry about the extra costs of carrying her child to term. With the private organizations, it is actually the adoptive family who covers these costs. However, such a payment is entirely tax-deductible.
If the mother goes through a private organization, she can interview adoptive families and choose the exact one she would like for her child to go to. The state, meanwhile, has a system in place where a committee reviews select families and chooses the best fit for the child. While the state system is not as personal as the private organizations, it is still well-vetted and each choice is made with care.
In the state system, the average wait time for a child to be fully adopted is 2-3 years. If the child is put up for adoption at birth, this allows the child to experience a perfectly normal childhood. It is often the case that foster families end up being the adoptive families as well, allowing for even less disruption in the child’s life.
However, this 2-3 year time period is just an average. Adoption is incredibly situational. The wait time could be shorter or it could be longer. Children put up for adoption are often raised by relatives, as family members are prioritized as adoptive parents before foster families. Surprisingly, the ratio between children in need of a permanent home and families interested in adoption is fairly equal. The tricky part is the fit. The state does its best to keep siblings together, and many drug addictions cause higher pregnancy rates. This means that as many as 5-7 siblings are eligible for adoption all at once, and that is a huge undertaking for any family. In addition, children with disabilities often have very specific needs, making the perfect fit for their permanent family even harder to find.
Thankfully, the state does not leave the families to fend entirely for themselves. Adoptive families receive a monthly stipend from the state to help pay for the upbringing of the adopted child. While this stipend is small, it is nevertheless incredibly useful. In addition, adopted children receive full, state-funded healthcare from birth until they turn 18. This allows the family to be free from worrying about that sort of thing.
Lastly, the state still fights for the rights of the biological parents. In cases where the child is put up for adoption due to parents who are unfit to raise a child, the state will allow a certain amount of time for the parents to get their lives back on track, with the motivation being the custody of their child, who is under the care of a foster family. The idea is to do the best thing for both the child as well as the parents.
Adoption still offers positive opportunities to those who are simply not in a place where they can raise a child. The adoptive father with whom I met to learn the details of the adoption process told me a story about someone he knows who got a girl pregnant in high school. They could not raise the child themselves so they put her up for adoption. However, the father developed a strong relationship with the adoptive parents and was able to remain present in his daughter’s life, acting almost as a sort of “cool uncle,” without having to worry about the responsibility of raising her himself. This is not to say that adoption should be used as a way to experience the nicer parts of parenting while letting someone else handle the tougher responsibilities. Rather, it is a story that proves the kind of goodness that can come out of an unintended, seemingly dead-end situation.
Adoption is incredibly viable in today’s modern world. It is not a dark, oppressive place for children. Adopting a child is a huge responsibility and the process of finding a perfect fit and tying up all loose ends takes time. Adoption is a great option for mothers who maybe cannot afford their pregnancy or the upbringing of a child, but, depending on the situation, may still want some sort of role in the child’s life. Again, adoption is entirely, entirely situational.
Besides, many adoptive families are unable to conceive children themselves. If abortion is indeed murder, then choosing to murder a child rather than allow such a family the opportunity to raise that child is such a tragic loss. To say that abortion is a better option than adoption is to tell all adoptive children that their lives are worthless mistakes.
I cannot stress enough that all issues surrounding abortion lead back to one single question: is abortion murder? This question must be answered before any justification for – or argument against – abortion is made. If abortion is murder, then all pro-choice justifications fall apart at the seams. If abortion is not murder, then all pro-choice justifications are fair.
I’ve presented strong, non-religious, non-political arguments using Peter Kreeft’s streamlined discussions from his book The Unaborted Socrates. His most important argument was his “investigation” of abortion itself. Using only reason and science as his support, he showed that abortion was murder by proving the following syllogism:
Intentionally killing an innocent human being is murder,
and abortion is intentionally killing an innocent human being.
Therefore, abortion is murder.
Again, this argument must be proven to be true or false before any other issue surrounding abortion can be considered.
Kreeft then examines several arguments against the pro-life movement. He proves that pro-life legislation is not a power play by religion at large, or an attempt to force morality and personal values on others, because innocent human lives are at stake. He dissects the justifications that anti-abortion laws are unenforceable, and that abortions should be made safe and legal. He wonders how killing children we don’t want will make every child a wanted child, and asks, in cases of rape, whether it is worse to endure evil, or to commit evil?
He shows that if abortion is indeed murder, then anti-abortion laws are not unjustly restrictive. He shows that majority agreement as to the morality or even legality of a certain act does not by itself make the act acceptable. He shows that so-called “unenforceable” laws, such as those forbidding suicide, are still useful.
Finally, I addressed several issues surrounding abortion that have come up quite recently, especially across social media. Using Planned Parenthood’s own data, I showed that abortion in cases of rape make up only 0.5% of abortions obtained, and that the vast majority of abortions – around 79% – are obtained purely for convenience-related issues. The justification for legalized abortion as an option for rape victims is a red herring for those who want to abdicate their personal responsibility. I showed that pro-life legislation does not legitimize rape, but in fact the opposite, as abortion absolves the rapist of child support and other responsibilities stemming from his crime. A rapist must make up for his crime in more ways than just time in prison. I showed that Planned Parenthood is exceedingly wealthy and powerful, so pro-life legislation, which favors charities and small pregnancy centers, is not an attempt to “line politicians’ pockets.” I also showed that gender is not a relevant factor in the creation and passing of pro-life legislation. Lastly, I addressed some misconceptions surrounding the adoption process, proving that it is not as horrible for adoptive children as many are led to believe. Adoption offers many financial and quality-of-life opportunities to mothers and biological parents.
Now I must stress that none of what has been said here is an indictment of mothers who have aborted their children. Those mothers are not murderers, but rather victims of abortion themselves. They have been betrayed by a movement that calls itself “pro-choice” when in reality they were told they had but one choice: abort their baby or ruin both their lives forever. These mothers are just as much victims of abortion as their fetuses.
None of this is an indictment against supporters of the pro-choice cause, either. From my experience with the pro-choice supporters I know, they’re good people. They’re trying to support women’s rights and healthcare, both of which are important things. But somewhere along the way, social justice has blinded the supporters of abortion, enabling them to rationalize the murder of unborn children in the name of “progressiveness.”
This is precisely why arguments like the kind Peter Kreeft outlines in The Unaborted Socrates are so vitally important. Instead of looking at issues through the cracked and dirty lenses of liberalism and conservatism, we must look at issues objectively as they are. Real progression is only made when the truth is found. The truth is only found when we take off those lenses and finally see things with objective clarity. I hope this article, summarizing the arguments found in Peter Kreeft’s book The Unaborted Socrates, has helped remove the lenses looking at the issues surrounding abortion.
Peter Kreeft, The Unaborted Socrates, published by IVP Books, copyright 1983
Two great resources for the pro-life cause:
And Then There Were None (a non-profit organization founded by ex-Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson which helps abortion workers leave the industry): https://abortionworker.com/
Rachel’s Vineyard (a charity which helps women/couples who have obtained an abortion and regretted it): https://www.rachelsvineyard.org/
This Article was Edited and Approved by “Noein” and Maddie Sanders