With the issue of abortion rights, a hot button that partisans on both sides of the political spectrum knock each other over to press, at our nation’s forefront once again, a very important question has failed to be raised. This is not about public funding, mandatory waiting periods, age limits, parental notification, or religious imperatives. No, this question is about something far more important, the entire subject’s actual root. At what point does human life begin when evaluated on an objective basis?
As life itself is defined as an organism’s capacity for self-sustainment, with the singular alternative being nonexistence, also referred to as death, it becomes very difficult to claim that an embryo or, in certain cases, fetus is truly alive. While both undeniably possess the potential for life, the equally undeniable fact is that potentials are not actualities. Opponents of abortion rights frequently state that heartbeat begins at a relatively early stage of pregnancy. They are not wrong, but what is being spoken of pertains only to muscular action. Without the woman in question’s incubatory support, all potential for life would vanish.
Viability comes about a far later stage. Estimated to occur between twenty-four and twenty-eight weeks into pregnancy, this is when one can make an, in my opinion, convincing argument that the fetus is no longer a solely developing entity. With the ability to survive outside of its host, it has legitimately attained the status attributed to a living human being. After all, if said fetus no longer requires total and complete support from an objectively living individual, has it not become an individual in its own right? Does any individual have the liberty of taking the life of another? In a nation of laws, of course not.
Some hardline anti-abortion rights activists strongly believe that life begins at the instant of conception. If one is to seriously consider this idea, then all cells operating within a person’s body are alive as well, whether they be in a strand of hair or an appendix. Severing either of these, in turn, becomes murder. It goes without mentioning that such a concept, if applied to the legal system, would cause chaos and strife of epic proportions. The law would collapse under the weight of its own ludicrousness and leave those trying to adhere to it in a worse situation than experienced beforehand.
On the opposite side of the aisle, a growing percentage of ethicists think that life begins at sentience. Essentially the ability for consciousness, which is not present in any meaningful fashion until long after birth. Under this code of morality, terminating a nearly month-old infant is completely acceptable. Needless to say, this sort of thing opens the door for unimaginable horrors. In terms of practicality, it makes about the same amount of sense that putting tumors on the same level as viable fetuses does.
Brushing aside partisan rhetoric and discounting theological substitutions for scientific data are understandably no small feats for a substantial number of Americans. Throughout the course of their lives, many become dangerously immersed in their respective political ideology, religious creed, or both. they often lose track of the reality that others hold different views. By recognizing an objective standard, however, on a topic so monumentally important as the beginning of human life, we can begin to bridge seemingly bottomless divides that have been built in our society.
My opinion is my opinion, and I am sure that the majority of those reading this disagree with it. I personally prefer things this way, and would only ask that, as far as abortion rights are concerned, one’s stance be rooted on the solid ground of reason and facts. Too few, on the left and right alike, bother to make such a provision, and this has led to our degenerated state of public discourse. With so many matters in need of discussion, what a shame that is.