Columns / Discourse / November 13, 2013

Abortion: Government’s responsibility to protect lives

In a highly publicized, perhaps politically motivated move Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is working on a bill that would place a federal ban on all abortions after five months of pregnancy. There are some topics that liberals and conservatives seem to inherently disagree on. This difference of opinion shouldn’t be feared; disagreement leads to deliberation, which is an important component of a democracy. When discussing heated topics, abortion included, it is important to listen to both sides of the aisle and act in accordance with both the common good and our Constitution.


On that note, let us begin with one of the most controversial points in the abortion discussion: “When life begins.”


Virtually every single biologist agrees that a mammal’s life begins when the father’s sperm unites with the mother’s egg


No serious politician doubts this claim. The political and legal question at hand is when this life can be considered a person. That is, when does this life obtain the legal rights guaranteed to all persons in the United States? There is no real consensus in the medical community concerning this more important question. Thus, I see no real utility in arguing when a life should be considered a person, for different people answer this question in fundamentally different ways.


What is of use, on the other hand, is discussing the proposed legislation of Senator Graham. On this matter, it is important to note that I do not speak for all conservatives on this issue. Just as liberals hold various opinions on abortion, so do conservatives. There is no consensus among all conservatives on how to handle the abortion issue.


However, it is safe to assume that most conservatives are against abortion and would certainly be in favor of the proposed legislation. Why is this the case?


Well, there are many reasons why one would be opposed to abortion. In order to truly understand why someone would be against a medical practice that millions of people are in favor of, you must put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you believe that the life that begins at conception should be considered a human from the moment the sperm joins the egg. For some of you reading this, that is a foolish and uneducated thing to believe. But, as I have previously stated, there is no medical consensus on the issue. If you wholeheartedly believe that, then abortion is clearly wrong.


One may ask, “Why is abortion even a governmental issue to begin with?” Well, once again, imagine you believe that a fetus is a human being just like you and me.


No one doubts that the government should protect the lives of its many citizens from birth until death, one of the government’s main roles if not its most important. Thus, the government certainly has a right, even an obligation, to protect an unborn baby. How can this human being obtain liberty and be able to pursue happiness if his or her life is taken away?


My mission in this column is not especially to convince you one way or the other. However, I have found that people on both sides of the abortion spectrum view the opposing side with disgust. When groups of people disagree so inherently on a topic, it is hard to be understanding of the group that differs from you. I urge people, pro-life and pro-choice the same, to be more understanding of the other’s views. Our democracy is dependent on deliberation, which can only be fostered through respectful disagreement.

Charlie Harned

Tags:  1973 Supreme Court case fetus Lindsey Graham pregnancy pro-choice pro-life Supreme Court viability

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