Ashley is 35, married to a man who loves her, operates a computer consulting business which makes a high profit with a minimal time commitment from her. Her husband David is Vice President of a large corporation and his income alone puts them in a very wealthy bracket. They are both very healthy, with a very active lifestyle. They take a lot of trips, many of them adventure travel type trips that require a high level of effort. Ashley’s lifes looks like it’s perfect. There’s only one problem, and it’s serious to her. Ashley is pregnant, and she and David do not want children. One day Ashley pours our heart to her best friend, Brenda, who listens sympathetically, but gives her encouraging reasons why she should consider having the child anyway. What Ashley doesn’t know is that Brenda and her husband Charlie have been desperately trying to get pregnant and she cannot conceive. They are finally decided that it’s time to adopt a child but they’re a little bit nervous about not knowing a child’s parentage. As Ashley pours out her woes about all the lifestyle adjustments she would have to make if she had a child, Brenda’s lower lip starts to quiver a little bit. After awhile, unable to hold back her feelings any longer, Brenda begins crying, which increases in intensity as Ashley looks on in shock.
“Brenda,” she says, “what’s wrong?” Brenda looks at her and says, “we’ve been trying to get pregnant and I found out that I can’t conceive, but we are desperate for a child. We are finally ready to adopt, and would love to adopt a child of yours.” “Brenda,” Ashley says, “I would have to carry that child for 9 months. That would really cramp my lifestyle. I would rather abort. After all, it’s my body and lifestyle. Don’t I have more rights than a fetus?”
Does her lifestyle trump the right of her child to live? “It’s a fetus, not a child you say?” What exactly is a fetus? If left to develop, what will a human fetus become? Certainly not an aardvark nor zebra nor anything in between. After all, it’s a human fetus. So now you say, “look at how you set up the situation; this woman is uniquely selfish and unsympathetic. This situation is hardly typical. What about products of rape, incest? What about poor people who can’t afford to care for a child? What about the health of the mother?” According to the Guttmacher Institute, only 7% of all abortions are done for reasons of rape/incest or health considerations. 93% of all abortions are elective, meaning the woman has personal or lifestyle reasons for not wanting the baby. So let’s talk about setting up artificial situations. Do you mean someone like “Jane Roe”?
The following is her January 21, 1998, testimony given to the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, Federalism and Property Rights.
“Good morning. My name is Norma McCorvey. I’m sorry to admit that I’m the Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade. The affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court didn’t happen the way I said it did, pure and simple. I lied! Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffey needed an extreme case to make their client look pitiable. Rape seemed to be the ticket. What made rape even worse? A gang rape! It all started out as a little lie, but my little lie grew and became more horrible with each telling.
“Not only did I lie, but I was lied to. I did not come to the Supreme Court on behalf of a class of women. I wasn’t pursuing any legal remedy for my unwanted pregnancy. I did not go to the federal courts for relief. I met with Sarah Weddington to find out how I could obtain an abortion. She and Linda Coffey said they didn’t know where to get one. Sarah already had an abortion but she lied to me just like I lied to her! She knew where to get one, obviously, but I was of no use to her unless I was pregnant. Sarah and Linda were looking for somebody, anybody, to use to further their own agenda. I was their most willing dupe. Since all these lies succeeded in dismantling every state’s protection of the unborn, I think it’s fair to say that the entire abortion industry is based on a lie.”
You mean artificial situations like that?
Back to Ashley and her dilemma. Since Ashley’s decision to abort her fetus is completely elective, and I’m calling the baby a fetus to get a lot of guilt out of the situation, don’t you think we should explore the nature of the fetus and determine if a aborting him or her is actually murder? Because we Americans like to give people and situations the benefit of the doubt, shouldn’t we also give to fetus the benefit of the doubt? The doubt being, is he or she human or not, is killing him or her before birth murder or not?
From day 12 through week six, this being is termed an embryo. According to the American Pregnancy Association, “everything that is present in an adult human is now present in the small embryo.” From week seven until birth, it is named a fetus; however, scientific facts and terminology regarding prenatal development cannot on their own answer the question of the prenatal being’s ethical and political status.
If the fetus is not human until birth, what’s your criteria for humanity? Is it cutting the umbilical cord, is it being independent of the mother, is it feeding through the mouth rather than the umbilical? Is it the first cry into or the first breath from the air? How do you know that she didn’t cry in the womb? When does the soul enter the body? If it were medically feasible to cut the umbilical cord before birth, would the baby not be human in those moments before coming out? At what point during pregnancy can the fetus be considered human? All these questions highlight the arbitrariness of trying to define human life apart from conception. If you would give the fetus’ life priority over the mother’s lifestyle, could it be that you are conceding a high probability that this fetus is really a person? Is so, does a change in the mother’s circumstances change the human status of her fetus/baby?