Why Is Abortion Wrong?

Abortion—the taking of a preborn baby’s life—is a contentious topic. But when we examine the facts, we see many reasons why abortion is wrong.

It’s not just religion that tells us abortion is wrong, for we don’t need religion to tell us that taking a preborn baby’s life, often very violently, is a grave evil. We simply need science, logic, and the understanding that intentionally killing an innocent human being is wrong.

Seems easy, right?

We all have a friend or have read articles that talk about abortion as an “issue.” They make it seem as though someone’s opinion about killing a child is akin to having an opinion about recycling. However, though people do have varying opinions, we know the truth. Because abortion always directly results in a dead baby, it can never be right.

That’s why it’s so important to understand that a person doesn’t need to have a particular religious viewpoint or even a belief in God to understand that abortion is wrong.

Let me explain.



human zygote

A human zygote

First, let’s discuss the science. Embryology textbooks describe the beginning of a human being as the moment of fertilization, when a sperm fertilizes an egg to create a zygote. Scientists agree that this zygote is a human being. From the time a baby is created at fertilization, he already has all the DNA he will ever have.

The zygote begins to grow from the moment of fertilization. He then travels to the uterus and implants. From that point on, his development occurs at a rapid pace.

The Carnegie Stages of Human Development presentations show the different stages a preborn baby goes through as he grows. This fascinating site shows the miracle that occurs with every single preborn baby.

Even sites like WebMD—scientific sites that teach about the development of the preborn baby—call her what she is. They call her a baby.

He is not a blob of tissue. He never was a blob of tissue. The baby is a human being.

We see scientific proof of the baby’s humanity in biology textbooks, on educational websites, and in educational literature.

For instance, according to LiveScience, “The sex of the fetus is determined at the time of fertilization, or conception, and depends on whether the egg receives an X or Y chromosome from a sperm cell.”

The fact that a baby is either male or female from the very first moment of fertilization gives further proof that he is not a blob of tissue, but a human being.

In addition, the Family Research Council states: “It is also quite clear that the earliest human embryo is biologically alive. It fulfills the four criteria needed to establish biological life: metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction.”

FRC continues:

Is the human zygote merely a new kind of cell or is it a human organism; that is, a human being? Scientists define an organism as a complex structure of interdependent elements constituted to carry on the activities of life by separately functioning but mutually dependent organs. The human zygote meets this definition with ease. Once formed, it initiates a complex sequence of events to ready it for continued development and growth.

And the preborn baby grows fast! Let’s look at just a few of his milestones.


The Amazing Growth of the Preborn Baby

According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, during the first eight weeks of pregnancy, the baby’s growth makes great strides:

  • The brain and spine begin to form
  • Cardiac tissue starts to develop
  • Muscles of the eyes, nose, and mouth form
  • Webbed fingers and toes poke out from developing hands and feet
  • The lungs start to form the tubes that will carry air in and out after birth
  • The inner ear begins to develop
human embryo 8 weeks gestational age

A human embryo approximately 6 weeks from conception. (Credit: Lunar Caustic, CC BY 2.0)

During weeks 9 –12:

  • Cartilage for the limbs, hands, and feet starts to form
  • Eyelids form but remain closed
  • Liver begins development
  • Kidneys begin making urine
  • Fingernails form

During weeks 13 – 16:

  • Bones harden, especially the long bones
  • Neck is defined and lower limbs are developed
  • Hearing starts to develop

During weeks 17 – 24:

  • The part of the brain that controls motor movements is fully formed
  • Ears, nose, and lips are recognizable on an ultrasound exam
  • Kicks and turns are stronger
  • Sucking reflex is developing
  • Ridges form in the hands and feet that later will be fingerprints and footprints
Illustration of a human fetus at 20 weeks

Illustration of a human fetus at 20 weeks

Between 25 – 28 weeks:

  • Lungs are fully formed but not yet ready to function outside the uterus
  • Eyelids can open and close
  • Nervous system is developing
  • Skin begins to look smoother as more fat is added

Between 29 – 32 weeks:

  • The fetus can stretch, kick, and make grasping motions
  • Eyes can sense changes in light
  • Bone marrow is forming red blood cells

From 33 weeks until birth:

  • Bones harden, though the skull remains soft and flexible
  • Fingernails have grown to the end of the fingers
  • Limbs begin to look chubby
  • Circulatory system is done developing
  • Musculoskeletal system also is done developing
  • Lungs, brain, and nervous system are finishing their development

There’s no denying the science. A baby is a baby from the very first moment he is created. And, just as a newborn grows into a toddler, a toddler grows into a preschooler, a preschooler grows into an elementary-aged child, and so on until a person becomes elderly, this very first stage of life is simply a stage.

Now that we’ve established the science, let’s look at the morality of intentionally killing an innocent person.


Intentional Killing

Civilized societies have laws against taking someone’s life. Unless a person poses an imminent threat to you, killing someone is both wrong and illegal. For instance, if a person breaks into your house and threatens you, you are allowed to do what it takes to protect your family. That person is not innocent. He has done something illegal, and there are consequences for his actions.

However, a preborn baby simply exists. He has done nothing wrong. He is not part of his mother. Though he resides in her body, he is his own separate person.

Some people will claim, however, that the baby’s mere existence does pose a threat to his mother. The mom may feel that the baby threatens her career, her financial stability, a relationship, or her mental health.

But, importantly, while having a baby certainly does alter the path of a mother’s life, that path need not be altered in a negative way. Different does not equal bad.

There are ways to care for both the mom’s and the baby’s needs without killing the baby. A mom who truly does not want to keep her baby can choose to give him up for adoption. There are countless families who are willing to adopt. If the mom chooses to keep her child, there are numerous organizations that will help her overcome the obstacles she fears. They can help her get the assistance she needs, such as finding a better job or more stable housing. They can help her get away from an abusive partner.

But, regardless of how the mother feels, the child does exist. As a human being, he is valuable. And in all situations, killing this human being is wrong.

Some abortion advocates try to escape this difficulty by ignoring the science and saying that a fetus is not a person. They state that a “person” is defined by a distinct personality, by the ability to think and choose, or by a certain stage of brain development. And while they certainly can say that, they would also be wrong.

Why is that? Well, think about it. If we use the kind of definition mentioned above to classify someone as a person, then what do we call newborns? They haven’t developed their personality yet. They can’t think like an adult thinks. Their brains are still developing. And what about people with severe brain damage or a degenerative brain disease like Alzheimer’s? They cannot think the way that someone without that damage thinks. But we would not say that newborns or people with brain degeneration are not human beings.

A human being is not defined as human because of his abilities. Having a disability, being young, or suffering from an illness of the brain does not make a person any less human. So while some people may want to use such criteria, they are based on feeling, not science.


Life of the Mother Exceptions

Exception clauses are common in abortion laws. But we cannot value one baby’s life over another’s. All babies are valuable, and all deserve protection.

One of the most prevalent arguments for abortion is that it should be legal in order to save the life of the mother. Many people support this position because they don’t understand the reality: a doctor never needs to intentionally kill the baby to save the mom. Indeed, doctors have repeatedly told us that abortion is not necessary for women’s health. Let’s look at some statements.

In 2013, the website Precious Life reported: “Medical leaders representing more than 30,000 American doctors said intentionally killing an unborn baby in an abortion is never necessary to save a mother’s life.”

In 2019, the Washington Examiner reported:

Over a thousand OB-GYNs and maternal healthcare experts joined together to affirm this reality in the Dublin Declaration, which states: “As experienced practitioners and researchers in obstetrics and gynecology, we affirm that direct abortion—the purposeful destruction of the unborn child—is not medically necessary to save the life of a woman.”

And in a conversation with pro-life advocate Lila Rose, Dr. Anthony Levatino—who performed over 1,200 abortions early in his OBGYN career and who now speaks about the humanity of the preborn baby—states: “I never had to kill deliberately a single child to save a woman’s life during pregnancy” (see video below).

Levatino goes on to explain that in situations where an emergency arises, he always tries to save both the mom and the baby. Unfortunately, sometimes he cannot save the baby’s life. But he never intentionally kills the baby in the process of saving the mother.

A specific case where a baby cannot be saved is in an ectopic pregnancy, when the baby implants outside the uterus—usually in the Fallopian tube. According to the March of Dimes, ectopic pregnancies account for about one in 50 pregnancies in the United States.

Ectopic pregnancy diagram

Diagram of an ectopic pregnancy (Credit: Bonnie Gruenberg, CC BY-SA 4.0)

When a baby implants outside the uterus, he will not survive; we do not have the technology to transplant him back into the uterus. Thus, most ectopic pregnancies end in a natural miscarriage. However, there is the possibility that the Fallopian tube could rupture because of his growing presence. If this is the case, the doctor must perform surgery to save the mother. And though the baby cannot live through this surgery, the doctor does not intentionally kill him.


Non-Religious Pro-Life Groups

There are many groups who recognize the humanity of the preborn baby but don’t believe in God or have any religious affiliation. They understand that abortion is wrong simply because it kills a human being.

One such group is Feminists for Life. According to its website: “Feminists for Life of America is a nonsectarian, nonpartisan, grassroots organization that seeks real solutions to the challenges women face. Our efforts are shaped by the core feminist values of justice, nondiscrimination, and nonviolence.”

screenshot of the homepage of feminists for life, august 2021

This organization fights for women and seeks to eliminate the causes that drive women to abortion, citing the top causes as lack of resources and lack of support. Insisting that “women deserve better than abortion,” Feminists for Life members work to change legislation, educate poor women, get resources for pregnant mothers, and much more.

Another pro-life organization that has nothing to do with religion is called Secular Pro-Life. This group educates people about prenatal development and teaches that abortion is wrong because it kills a baby. In 2018, Secular Pro-Life released a video of a presentation called “Deconstructing Pro-Choice Myths” (see below). In this presentation, Monica Snyder, who has a degree in chemical biology, debunks the following three popular pro-abortion myths:

  1. Biologically, we don’t know when human life begins.
  2. Most or all late-term abortions are medically necessary.
  3. Abortion restrictions don’t stop abortions.

Snyder’s talk is based on scientific facts about the humanity of the preborn baby and teaches that 1) all human beings begin as zygotes, 2) most late-term abortions are elective, and 3) abortion restrictions decrease abortions. She backs up her statements and research with scientific facts and statistics.


Final Thoughts

We know abortion kills a baby. But we also know that it harms the mother—emotionally and even physically. It harms mothers who come to understand the truth too late to save their babies.

According to the Family Research Council, countless post-abortive women have spoken about “how abortion was not an act of empowerment but the result of abandonment, betrayal, and desperation, and how it has negatively affected their lives.”

But help is out there. Hundreds of organizations exist to help women through the pain of having an abortion. The Silent No More Awareness Campaign is one such organization; its goal is to “make the public aware of the devastation abortion brings to women and men. The campaign seeks to expose and heal the secrecy and silence surrounding the emotional and physical pain of abortion.” Just this campaign alone has recorded the testimonials of 6,627 women and 707 men who “regret their abortion or lost fatherhood.” You can read some of these heartbreaking stories on the site.

Abortion is not wrong simply for religious reasons. Abortion is wrong because it kills an innocent human being.

It should be our goal to teach the science and to educate those who do not understand. It should be our goal to help people see that, no matter how tiny and no matter which stage of development, a human being should be protected from the very first moment he is created.

If people truly believed and understood the science, they would not be shouting their abortions. They would not be screaming in the streets for liberal abortion laws. And they would not be supporting organizations like Planned Parenthood.

They would be celebrating motherhood and cherishing babies.

Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. Since 2003, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials, and website content. Fourteen of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the editor of its Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program, an educational nonprofit program for k-12 students.


  1. Roger Pass on February 17, 2023 at 12:48 PM

    A Second Opinion
    So, they talked about abortion, as the alternative, for that fetal imposition, who would change the way they live.
    He isn’t really human. He doesn’t even breathe. He was a just a misadventure which they happened to conceive.
    They sit there in the waiting room with papers they must fill, The waivers and consent forms and arrangements for the bill.
    They know it’s what they have to do, there is no other way. But once or twice they wonder what that little guy might say.
    ” I wish you wouldn’t do this, I’ve got too much to do. I have to learn to walk and talk, to dress and tie my shoes.”
    “I have to learn to whistle and I have to learn to run. I have to learn to say my Prayers for when the day is done. ”
    “I Have to watch for Daddy with mommy at the door, and I have to ride in carts when they take me too the store.”
    ” I Have to blow out candles on a lot of birthday cakes and pose for all the pictures mommy and daddy always takes.”
    ” So, if you let them do this, I’ll never learn to wave. I’ll never have a birthday, I won’t even have a Grave.
    ” I’ll never play a game, and I’ll never laugh or cry. I won’t even have a name, and Ill always wonder why..”

  2. J on November 15, 2022 at 8:38 PM

    Just a quick note here – in regards to an ectopic pregnancy you state “if this is the case, the doctor must perform surgery to save the mother. And though the baby cannot live through this surgery, the doctor does not intentionally kill him.” I would argue that 1. this is an abortion. Like, by definition, this is what an abortion is. 2. by your own logic, abortion providers do not intentionally kill the fetus. If a fetus is removed from a uterus in any case, and cannot survive outside the womb, it is not intentionally killed, it is removed.

    I also wanted to note that literally all of your citations regarding whether a fetus is a baby indicate “human development” – ie, that the fetus will develop into a human, not that it is currently a human. It is certainly a human fetus! But saying scientists agree that a fetus is equivalent to a fully developed human child is facetious at best.

    • HLI Staff on November 18, 2022 at 1:55 PM

      Dear Friend,

      Thank you for your comments!

      The doctor performing a surgery on an ectopic pregnancy has the intention of saving the life of the mother. He does not intend to kill the child. Conversely, a doctor who performs an abortion has one intention: to remove the baby (not to save anyone or anything). Most of the time this removal” is violent. There is never any means of “removal” wherein the baby is intended to survive. Nor are abortions done to “save” the life of the mother. On the contrary, women who have had an abortion are always mentally and very oftentimes physically scarred from the horror. The critical factor here is intention.

      Of course, a fetus will develop! Just as an infant develops into a full-grown adult. But the lack of development does not mean “not human.” A fetus is 100% human from the moment of conception. That is the point upon which scientists agree, because it is true. That is the point of the article.

  3. FEMINIST on October 23, 2022 at 10:50 PM

    You wanna unite America? You wanna be seen as right? You wanna let your women be happy? Judaism says the fetus is not considered to have a human soul until it is safely outside of the woman, is viable, and has taken its first breath. Listen.
    Before I say anything else, let me say that abortion is not murder. If abortion’s murder, than why isn’t not hitting puberty murder? Why isn’t eating sunflower seeds murder? Why isn’t not giving birth every nine months murder? Legal abortions are one of the saftest producers in medicine. In fact, in Judaism, the fetus is not considered to have a soul until it’s out of the woman. The World Health Organization even states that “access to legal, safe and comprehensive abortion care, including post-abortion care, is essential for the attainment of the highest possible level of sexual and reproductive health”. Women raise the child in their own wombs. They’ve got to have a valid say in whether they want to have a baby or not. Whether they’re financially prepared or not. Whether they’re ready for breastfeeding and body changes. Whether they’re not mature enough or too mature. If their partner is willing to support them or not. Women have many valid reasons and concerns for getting an abortion. In fact, sometimes getting pregnant isn’t even their choice. And abortion’s even beneficial for the child. If she’s not ready, how would she be able to raise the child properly? If she’s unhealthy and needs an abortion, when she gets it, she’d prevent the birth of an unhealthy child. Abortions affect the lives of many women in a good way. Abortion should be a right for our women. It’s their body. It’s their choice. And if you want to ban abortions, you’ll only make things worse– women would get illegal abortions and go back to the unsafe methods. So we need legal abortion. We say we’re equal. Then let’s be equal. Let’s not be male chauvinists, please and thank you.

  4. Drew on April 13, 2022 at 12:09 AM

    Well, Prolife people may have different opinions on the very difficult issue re pregnancy via rape, but certainly you are not saying that this rare situation proves that society should be free abort any baby in the womb.

    • HLI Staff on April 13, 2022 at 8:31 AM

      You make a very good point, Drew. Nearly 99% of all abortions are for reasons other than rape or incest.

      • e on August 2, 2022 at 6:51 PM

        And where did you learn that information? Fewer than 1% of all abortions take place because there has been rape or incest involved to create the pregnancy and up to 85% of the women who become pregnant through rape or incest choose to have their children.


        • HLI Staff on August 3, 2022 at 4:40 PM

          E, I think you might have misread our reply. We agree that fewer than 1% of all abortions are due to rape or incest, which means the vast majority (about 99%) of abortions are due to other reasons.

          • E on August 8, 2022 at 10:30 AM

            Yes, sorry about that. I did misread it but mostly intended to reply to the others like A. All in all, I highly doubt that those who wrote this article would be in favor of abortion. I apologize for my confusion.

  5. A. on December 31, 2021 at 6:22 PM

    Did you even take in the fact that a woman can get pregnant by a rapist? What if she was a MINOR? What if she was too poor to take care of the baby so then it would leave it with a horrible life? What if she was in an abusive household/relationship, and that led to abuse with the newborn? What if she wasn’t responsible in the first place and would neglect the child? What if they gave the child away anyways and no one wanted it? I say THAT would be the worst thing that could possibly happen to a child. Science doesn’t mean anything when there is no reason behind it.

    • J on June 7, 2022 at 12:35 PM

      Then she should have a morning after pill, not wait several months and kill and unborn baby.

      • HLI Staff on June 7, 2022 at 4:36 PM

        J, Just to be clear, the morning after pill can work in several ways: it can prevent ovulation, block fertilization, keep a fertilized egg (a human being in the embryo stage of life) from implanting in the uterus, and if the embryo has already implanted, destroy the embryo. So, in these last two methods of operation, the morning after pill is an abortifacient, a form of chemical abortion. For a fuller explanation, I humbly share with you the statement on the so-called morning after pill from the Vatican Pontifical Academy for Life: https://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_academies/acdlife/documents/rc_pa_acdlife_doc_20001031_pillola-giorno-dopo_en.html

  6. No Name on December 4, 2021 at 11:28 AM

    So is a seed a flower? No, that’s why it is called a seed. If it was a flower, we wouldn’t have to call it is a seed, we would call it a flower. That is how I, personally, see the difference between a fetus and a baby. I think that if America wants to keep up this whole “freedom” thing, then it should let its people do whatever they want, including having the right to abortions, even when others don’t agree. No one is required to agree about anything, but if someone wants an abortion, that is their business and no on else’s.

    • H on February 5, 2022 at 7:53 PM

      No, a seed and a flower are different. But they are genetically the same. Just because we call a fetus and a baby different things do not make them any genetically different. Are a toddler and a teenager the same? Developmentally, no. Genetically, yes. Obviously, they are both human beings who shouldn’t be killed. That same grace should be extended to every member in any stage of human development (no matter what we call them), including fetuses.

      • For rights on July 31, 2022 at 1:12 PM

        Grace…that sounds a lot like your god, and he even believes in choice.

    • Not existent on February 14, 2022 at 3:04 PM

      Okay so maybe think about it this way…if every seed we found decided it wasn’t going to grow, then we wouldn’t have many flowers now would we. If abortion was a good thing, then most people would want one, leading the population to die out.

      • Hi on May 26, 2022 at 12:48 PM

        That’s not true at all. The only thing that will be accomplished by making abortion illegal is ruining the lives of a whole lot of mothers and bringing children into a world where for one reason or another they are not wanted. Abortion is necessary because the adoption system is flawed and sexual assault is not effectively prosecuted. Nobody is excited about the idea of terminating the life of the fetus, but the health and well-being of the mother (who already has a life and a body and autonomy and should not be forced to give those up to an unborn child) have to come first.

    • J on June 7, 2022 at 12:33 PM

      A seed and pollen are like sperm and an egg. A growing fertilized seed is like a fetus, or a growing living baby. It is pretty obvious.

    • Typhoon on June 27, 2022 at 12:06 AM

      Hmm, letting people do whatever they want. You really need to rethink about that. A person go shooting people at a school; he/she can do what ever they want. But in a civilized world, there are consequences. The shooter will face justice. There are thousands of abortions occurring every day, the numbers do not match the report of thousands of women Bering raked everyday and hence need to abort. Most abortion occur because these women did not take precautions. Believe the science? Then why don’t these women believe they might get pregnant or even STD. No, these women (the men are just as guilty) want unprotected sex and having the easy way out via abortion. These women should also face ‘justice’.

  7. Ally on September 12, 2021 at 11:04 PM

    Bo… What? It doesn’t sound like that at all. The writer said that laws come from morality. And that it doesn’t take an understanding of morality or a belief in God to understand that killing someone is w rong. Killing someone, and that includes an unborn baby is wrong because we can not just go around killing people.

  8. Bo on September 9, 2021 at 10:22 AM

    Wait? I thought science and logic couldn’t make judgement calls through morality? Are you admitting that morality doesn’t come from the Bible? Are you saying that morality is subjective and doesn’t need an omniscient being to dictate what is “right” and “wrong”?

    Because it sounds like you are saying it doesn’t lol.

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