Reflections on abortion law

Todd Vanderwerff

Todd Vanderwerff

I am adopted.

Lest you think otherwise, my childhood was not a constant mystery of “guess the birth parents.” I did meet my birth mother, but that is another column.

There was always that question in the center of me. Who am I? Why was I given up? Why wasn’t I … the other thing?

Indeed, had things fallen just a bit differently, I, too, may have been aborted.

In my own heart, I am staunchly pro-life. I can’t accept abortion on any level. It has lowered our respect for human life and sent us down a slippery slope we may never climb up again.

And, of course, I’m all wrapped up in it emotionally. I want every unborn and unwanted child to have the same opportunities I did.

So, naturally, I believe abortion should be legal.

The problem with fighting against abortion is that pro-lifers always say that abortion ends a human life. But how do we determine when life begins? To say life begins at conception is to put life in religious or ethical terms.

What if my religion or code of ethics says a fetus isn’t alive until its heart starts beating? Where do we draw the line?

You see, our founding fathers carefully constructed a government that would ensure everyone the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It’s arguable that the government actually does this, but it’s what they’re aiming for.

However, you cannot define these three terms by religion or ethics. The second we start doing that, we’re in Taliban country, which is not a pleasant place to be.

The second I say abortion should be outlawed because I’m Christian and life begins at conception for me, I’m forcing my beliefs on someone else through law. And why should I get to do that?

We need to define life scientifically, instead of religiously. Fetuses aren’t viable outside of their mothers until around their seventh month. Once they reach that point, I believe we can define them as alive, because they could, conceivably survive outside of the womb.

However, before that point, I believe they can legally be aborted. I don’t like it but scientifically, we are not depriving those fetuses of their right to life. Indeed, we may be instead depriving the pregnant women of the right to the pursuit of happiness, much as it pains me to say so.

But isn’t murder legal then?, you ask. Of course not. By murdering someone, you are robbing them of their right to life. Once we leave the womb, we have some degree of self-reliance. After all, even newborns don’t get their food intravenously.

The theory, admittedly, isn’t perfect but it’s the closest thing we have to a scientific definition of life. And it is as good as we’re going to get. To try to change this law is the first step down the road to theocracy.

I believe that those of us who have moral qualms with abortion should reach out to those who have unwanted pregnancies and talk with those who have had abortions. They are all in need of help, encouragement and love.

The aim should not be to make abortion illegal. It should be to make abortion unnecessary through education about alternatives and true loving kindness.

Write to Todd VanDerWerff at [email protected]