I feel at the heart of the abortion issue is the inability to see the developing child as someone worth protecting.
Human life begins at conception. When the sperm and oocyte meet, a zygote forms. A zygote is a unique entity with its own unique DNA that is dependent on the mother’s body to develop.
Whenever I hear the term “my body, my choice,” it basically sounds as if women wish to distance themselves from the very process of pregnancy itself. The impression that I get is that they do not want to have their body be used as an incubator for someone else’s body, even though that other body is still their own child, with half of their DNA.
The process of pregnancy is a unique biological, physiological process in which a unique human being develops inside another human being’s body. The mother and the developing child are intimately related to each other in this biological context. It is difficult for me to fathom mothers wanting to reject this process, because it’s a rejection of such a fundamental process of life and nature.
Now I can see why motherhood would be difficult for a woman, because this involves accepting the potential risks of pregnancy such as pre-eclampsia, uterine rupture, placental problems, and ectopic pregnancies, and considering if the woman is in the best financial and social situation to raise a family. These are legitimate concerns.
But I disagree with the view that the active termination of an unborn child is a legitimate option. For most potential risks of pregnancy, the treatment is typically a C-section and supportive measures. The one risk of interest would be ectopic pregnancies where the child is developing in a location outside of the normal uterus location. Usually the location would in the fallopian tubes, where if the child continues growing, the mother would be at risk of tubal hemorrhages.
In the cases of ectopic pregnancies, the treatment is usually surgical removal of the child from his or her attachment site to save the life of the mother, which will usually lead to the child’s unfortunate demise. Given the constraints of reality where we do not have the medical technology to save the detached child by reimplanting them to a normal uterine location, surgical removal is the best current option. But it is still important to keep in mind, surgical removal is not abortion since physicians are not actively seeking to kill the developing child but to save the life of the mother from the deadly results of a misplaced implantation.
Now in the cases of inadequate financial and social supports for a mother, there are options available that does not involve the termination of the developing child. There are local community pregnancy centers that can help a young mother out. There are adoption centers that are willing to take care of the child.
Some may say that we should focus on creating more affordable and accessible daycare centers for young teenage mothers, and for young working college-age mothers. Some also say that we should reform the foster care system so the kids inside have a better quality of life. I agree, these are sound ideas, but we do not have to wait until these options are available before we decide not to actively kill a developing child.
The impression I get from such an argument, where we have to improve quality of life before we stop having abortions, is that there is this belief that no life is better than a poor quality life. In other words, it is better to kill a developing child in the womb than to bring it into a poor-quality life. But a poor-quality life is still a life worth having and protecting. Homeless people frequently do not enjoy the luxuries of modern life such as a home, Internet, electricity, and water, but they are still alive and living. They generally are not seeking to kill themselves, and no one, I hope, is suggesting that they should be killed to put them out of their misery.
Also this argument that killing a developing baby in the womb to spare it from a hard life is not much different morally than a single working mother of 5 killing one of her own children to better make ends meet for herself and the surviving children. The child that would die would no longer suffer from poverty and starvation, but the child was killed.
Killing a baby in the womb to spare it from potential harm is just as horrible as killing a child in a low-income home to spare it from poverty and starvation. Instead of killing babies, we should seek to increase abundance and resources for these families. Yet even as we seek to increase available resources for single mothers, we do not have to wait until these resources are available to stop killing developing children in the womb. They may not initially enjoy life well, but at least they would be alive, as they have been from conception.