The Fetus Stands Alone

by digby

Here's an interesting op-ed from Hugh Hewitt's blog partner explaining why he is "pro-life" even though he is not religious. It's very simple:

The big moral question regarding abortion is, "When does life begin?" ...

You might expect that since I'm pro-life, I would argue that life begins at conception. Actually, that's not quite right. In answering the question of when life begins, the best I can do is say "I don't know." Life may begin at conception. It may begin during pregnancy. Or it may begin at childbirth. While I have a feeling that life begins at conception, I certainly can't prove it.

The only people who can say with absolute certainty and total conviction when life begins do so as a matter of faith or belief, not as the inevitable result of a logical process. This is every bit as true for the pro-choice absolutists who feel that life begins only at birth as it is for people who believe that life begins at conception. Indeed, I would argue that the pro-choice absolutists rely much more on something unknown and unprovable than their pro-life sparring partners.

Even though my "I don't know" answer may be frustratingly inconclusive, it does have clear moral and policy implications. In our society, Roe v. Wade drove us to a court-ordered "consensus" that life doesn't begin until close to birth. But what if that "consensus" is wrong? What if life begins earlier? What if it begins at conception? If that's the case, then the implications are beyond horrifying. It means that our country has taken 45 million innocent lives through abortion since Roe v. Wade, all with the explicit sanction of the law and therefore the implicit sanction of the rest of society.

Because we don't know where life begins, the only logical thing to do is to err on the side of caution -- the side of life. In other words, because an abortion might take an innocent life, it should be avoided. It should also be illegal in most cases.

This is not the first time I've heard this argument and it's always quite compelling to hear a man make such a stark and simple logical argument about something which others seem to find so complicated. I suspect that is because there is one person involved in this great moral question who is rarely mentioned in such pieces. In fact, if you read the whole thing you will find that this man has managed to write an entire article about fetuses, pregnancy and abortion without even noting in passing the fully formed sentient human being involved so intimately in this that the whole argument takes place inside her body.

The "great moral issue" of when life begins is fascinating I'm sure. Much more fascinating than whether the state can compel people to bear children against their will. But I guess that's an argument for another day. Today, we are talking about the meaning of "life" and that has no bearing on the vessel that contributes its DNA and lifeblood, incubates it for nine months inside itself and potentially bears its siblings. Certainly that vessel's personhood and agency is irrelevant to the much greater issue of blastocyst rights. Why even bring it up?

H/T to BB