Babies are Human Beings With a Right to Life, Before and After Birth

Because you, me, small children, teenagers, etc., have fundamental rights, and because there is no morally relevant difference (that is, relative to whether one has fundamental rights) between us and of humans in earlier, prenatal stages of development, it follows. that unborn persons also have fundamental rights. It prevents killing them for the reasons people have elective abortions (“unwanted,” convenience, economics, disability, etc.), just as our rights status precludes for killing us for the same reasons.

The contested premise is that there is no significant moral difference between unborn and born human beings. But consider the differences. Size doesn’t matter, because big people don’t matter more than small people. Development is not important, because a five-year-old girl is no less worthy of moral respect than her more developed older brother. The location (in the womb or outside) does not matter, because one does not become something or a different person by driving from Minneapolis to St. Paul. Dependency doesn’t matter, because we can’t kill breastfeeding newborns, parasitic uncles or people dependent on kidney machines or pacemakers. Intelligence doesn’t matter, because smart people have no more rights than dumb people. Appearance doesn’t matter, because the “male elephant” is, after all, a person. The feelings of others do not matter, because a shunned and reclusive leper must be treated with dignity.

Philosophers who defend abortion offer more sophisticated criteria for excluding unborn persons from the community of persons with rights. But these differences are not morally important either.

The ability to suffer is not important, because people with congenital insensitivity to pain are still people.

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Having desires is not important, because a Buddhist who succeeds in eliminating every desire retains his right to life.

The capacity for self-awareness is not essential, because babies and temporarily comatose people should be respected and protected, not killed when we think it’s in our best interest.

The strenuous intellectual effort of recent decades to find some reasonable exclusion criteria has simply failed, as the recent work of philosophers such as Francis Beckwith, Patrick Lee, Christopher Kaczor, Christopher Tollefsen and Robert George makes clear. Unless one can find reason to think that there is some actual relevant difference between unborn persons and older, undoubtedly entitled persons, this “argument from nothing relevant difference” holds, and elective abortion is wrong.

LifeNews.com Note: Paul Stark is a staff member of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, a statewide pro-life group.

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