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.
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.”
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
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
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.
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.
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.”
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:
- Biologically, we don’t know when human life begins.
- Most or all late-term abortions are medically necessary.
- 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.
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.
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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.