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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  • Drew Hymer

    We know that human beings begin their lives at conception. Virtually everyone (there are a few exceptions) believes that human rights should be protected for born human beings. So, we only need to look at the differences between born human beings and unborn human beings and evaluate if those differences disqualify the unborn. If you reason through it, you’ll see that those differences don’t provide any good reason for disqualifying unborn babies from protection.

  • Leslie

    Notice how men are saying a woman doesn’t have rights to her own body. And actually, most scientists disagree when life and consciousness begin. Few believe it is when the sperm and egg unite while most believe it is sometime during gestation. Others believe that life does not begin until birth and some scientists think that consciousness, and therefore “humanness,” doesn’t begin until between the ages of 4-6. Honestly, a fetus is a parasite to the mother. Stating that an unborn parasite has more rights than an alive human being is immoral. I would like to see how abortion topics would be discussed if men had to have the burden of carrying a baby for nine months and suffer the body pain and damage during gestation and birth, not to mention that humans have the most dangerous and painful births of any animal on earth due to large head size. Most anti-choice advocates also do not continue their “compassion” past child birth. Isn’t it wrong to force a life into the world that cannot have access to food, healthcare, or basic education? The world is vastly overpopulated and many are undernourished, adding more lives to the suffering planet is in no way moral.

  • Leslie
  • Leslie

    *another fun fact* animals can willingly abort their fetuses if the timing isn’t right due to weather, water, and food. It is also common for them to eat their babies after they are born

  • Tupper

    14th amendment: “All persons BORN or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the
    jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the
    state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” (Emphasis added).

    Even if we presume the fetus to be a human being, it’s right to life would be equal to, not greater than, the mother’s right to her own body. People cannot be required to donate blood, even if such donations would have saved 3 lives. That is bodily autonomy (liberty), a right equal to life. If you start giving CPR to someone, you must continue until

    1: Help arrives.
    2: The person gets better.
    3: You become exhausted.

    Notice the trend of your continued action being equal to the person’s right to life. Number three should be enough to spare women from being forced to carry fetuses they do not wish to have. Also, since the fetus is not born, it does not enjoy equal protection under the laws. The mother’s right to her own body trumps that of the fetus.

  • joshua

    I think it’s pretty hypocritical to call for respectful debate while writing so condescendingly, especially when your factual sources do not support your argument. The link you used to cite “virtually all biologists” knowing when life begins claimed nothing of the sort. It presented two reasonable points of view, and your entire article would have been more credible if you had just republished that. This editorial is simply opinion hiding behind misattributions, false facts, and passive-aggressive hypocrisy.

    • alexandra jonas

      You are totally right, I hate when people wants to appear like they are in neither side but at the same time they go for statements like “Well, once again, imagine you believe that a fetus is a human being just like you and me.” and “How can this human being obtain liberty and be able to pursue happiness if his or her life is taken away?” SO much for not being in either side.

  • joshua

    wait. seriously, don’t we have an honor code here at Knox? how did this get published with such a misleading citation?

  • alexandra jonas

    “How can this human being obtain liberty and be able to pursue happiness if his or her life is taken away?” So much for being unbiased and not wanted to convince anyone one way or the other.



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