However, the question itself is fallacious. It's irrelevant. It's not the issue. It's not a matter of when life begins, but a question of if life is to be given a chance to exist.
It's like planting a seed in the ground. As it begins to germinate beneath the surface of the ground, we argue over whether it's already a plant or whether it's still a seed. The fact is, that unless we deliberately stop it's growth, it will become a plant. Arguing about whether a fetus is already a living person or is just a mass of tissue from a woman's body misses the entire point. The fact is that unless the growing fetus is deliberately prevented from emerging from the womb, there is no argument that it will become a human life.
There are times when a fetus is prevented from reaching it's full potential because of reasons beyond our control, such as a miscarriage, or other such natural causes. Even so, doctors strive to do everything in their power to prevent such natural events from happening so that the growing process of the fetus can continue uninterrupted.
But that is not the same as making a conscious choice to willfully and deliberately take steps to prevent the natural order of growth from reaching the point where it has the ability to live on its own outside the mother's womb. As humans we have no control over nature or God. We are incapable of altering their behavior or dictating their decisions. Their power and reasoning are far beyond our ability to control, and, as such, when God or nature prevents a fetus from becoming a breathing human being, we are left with no other choice than to accept it.
However, that is not the case when it comes to human behavior. As a society - a group of people governed by laws which they themselves have agreed upon - we can, do and should have a say in what is right and proper behavior. If we, as a society, say that it is not right to take the life of a human being, then there is no difference between killing a living human or preventing a fetus from reaching a point where it can live as a human. In either case, a life has been prevented from existing.
In our society, we have decided that the taking of an innocent life is illegal, it isn't right, it's not acceptable. In our society we have also decided that those who perform illegal acts must pay certain, defined punishments. One such punishment that society has deemed acceptable when certain types of illegal, reprehensible acts are committed, is that the person performing such an offense must forfeit their life as proper and just punishment for their crime.
However, the taking of a criminal's life as part of their punishment to satisfy the demands of justice under a carefully controlled system of law that allows for a fair hearing and numerous appeals, is not the same as taking the life of an innocent person. An innocent person who is murdered has no fair hearing, has no appeal, has no system of law that will protect their rights. Their life is taken without thought to compassion, sympathy or morality. The basic, underlying reason why someone murders innocent people is selfishness. It's rooted in the need to provide a way to satisfy the murderer's needs and desires, not the needs of the murdered or of society.
Is this what happens when someone performs an abortion? Before we can answer that question we have to first understand why people have abortions? There are several reasons.
One is because of rape. Rape is an illegal, violent act that violates the laws of society. If a woman becomes pregnant because of that illegal act, the child being developed within her has been created illegally. The child she is carrying was not created by any decision on her part to willingly participate in the formation of life. As such, she is under no legal obligation to allow that which is unlawfully growing within her to continue its growth. This is consistent with the laws which society has placed on individuals. For example, if someone robs a bank or acquires money illegally, and then buys something with that unlawful money, the items which they've purchased are not legally theirs and can be taken from them. Likewise, a life that has been created by an unlawful act should also have the right to be taken away because it doesn't have the right to exist in the first place.
Another reason people have an abortion is because of the health of the mother. In this case a decision must be made between the life of two people. If one is going to die anyway, then the decision isn't whether to terminate a life or not, but rather, which life is to be terminated - the child's through abortion, or the mother's through giving birth. Either decision is horrible to make, but, in most instances, the mother's life is deemed more important, for a variety of reasons.
Just about all other reasons for aborting the development of a growing fetus is based on selfish motives. It's done primarily to satisfy the needs and desires of the mother, or other individuals involved. It's done for the convenience of the living and not for the benefit of the growing child. It's the very existence of the fetus itself that provides the excuse for preventing it from becoming a living human being. The growing fetus has not committed any illegal act, has not had an opportunity to a fair legal hearing and has no appeal rights. The decision to terminate the growing process is based solely on the whims of the woman who carries it. By it's very definition, this is exactly what a murderer does when they take the life of a living human being. There is no difference.
There are those who wish to make a distinction between abortion and murder. But in order for them to do this, they must have a double standard. A person outside the womb lives under one standard, while a fetus inside the womb is held to a different standard when the same act is committed against it.
But what are the differences between these two classifications of people? The first difference is size. The fetus is smaller than a baby. But a baby is smaller than a child, who is smaller than an adolescent. Another difference is that the fetus lives inside the womb where it receives its nourishment from its mother. A baby lives outside the womb where it too must depend on its mother for nourishment. Still another difference is that a fetus doesn't breath air, but a baby does.
A fetus has arms, legs, ears, nose, mouth, a beating heart and every other necessary part of a human body that a living baby has. It has the ability to move, to react to stimulus and all of its organs function the same way a baby's does. A fetus grows and develops identical to that of a baby. But this one difference of not breathing air, above all other differences, is what believers in abortion point to as the distinction between a "living" baby and a "non-living" fetus.
However, a fetus also cannot walk, talk, or control its bodily functions, and neither can a baby. But, given the chance to continue growing, a child will be able to do all these things. Given a chance to continue growing, so will a fetus. At what point - from the fertilized egg to the onset of death at an elderly age - do we say that it is acceptable to deliberately stop the growing process? What consistent standard can we apply for determining when a growing child may or may no longer grow? If we say that unless they develop for at least twenty six weeks (six months) it is allowable to abort their growing process, then how do we apply a fair and consistent standard to a child who has been growing and developing for only twenty five weeks, or twenty weeks, or fifteen weeks? There is no logical reason. Placing any kind of a growth date to define when it is legal and illegal to abort the growing process is arbitrary, capricious, and without justification.
If we abort the developing fetus on the grounds of convenience to the mother or other involved individuals (and that's what it all boils down to), then why can't we abort the developing child who has been growing for 12 months, 18 months, 24 months or 48 months on the same grounds? If we say it's acceptable to terminate the growing process in the first three to six months of pregnancy, then the same identical argument can be effectively used for any time thereafter if we are to be fair and consistent with applying our logic.
And therein lies the danger of advocating abortion. Once we accept the idea of terminating the growing process in one area of living, then it opens the door to ending it in other areas. Once we accept the concept that an innocent life can be terminated for the convenience of others, then it becomes only a matter of time before someone argues that the old need to die because they are taking away too much money, resources, or space for the younger members of society. Then it becomes possible to say that those who are deformed or unproductive are a burden on society and should have their growing process aborted.
Although that may sound far fetched today, once we buy into the argument that a fetus can be aborted on the grounds that it isn't a living human being simply because it can't do something that someone else can, then there is no way to protest when the argument is made that certain people should be eliminated on the grounds that they do not fit the prevailing definition of what constitutes a living human being. All that has to be done is demonstrate how some people don't have the same capacities as others (i.e., people who can't breathe on their own without the aid of an respirator to sustain life - which is similar to the condition of a fetus) and all counter-arguments fail.
The only way to protect life is to honor, respect and defend all stages of life's growing process. Once we determine that one part of that process should be treated to a different standard than another, then we have opened up a Pandora's box that will unleash death upon society in ways we can not even imagine now.
Q. Does a fetus grow and develop?
Q. Does a baby grow and develop?
Q. Is there any biological difference in the way a fetus and a baby grow?
A. None whatsoever.
Q. Does a fetus need nourishment in order to continue growing?
Q. Does a baby need nourishment in order to continue growing?
Q. Is there any difference in the nutritional needs of a fetus and a baby?
Q. If a fetus is deprived of the nourishment it needs, will it continue to grow and exhibit movement?
Q. If a baby is deprived of the nourishment it needs, will it continue to grow and exhibit movement?
Q. What other mass of tissue in a woman's body, other than a fetus, if left to develop naturally, will become a human being capable of having life on its own?
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