Answering Abortion Arguments

Answering Abortion Arguments
Chris Graham


This document was written to express my ideas on abortion and to justify my stance as an anti-abortionist. It was also written because I became weary of conducting electronic arguments on this subject wherein I would waste time typing in the same arguments over and over again.

Part of a woman’s body?

One argument in favor of abortion has been that a woman should have the right to do what she wants with her own body. There are two errors in this argument. Firstly, that no person has complete and all encompassing authority of over his body, nor is such authority recognised in law. For example, suicide is illegal and there are good arguments as to why it’s immoral. The point of this is that the generalization that a person has the right to do what he chooses with his own body is not without exceptions. Even so, if that generalization were conceded to only for the sake of argument (which it isn’t), it would be discovered that it does not apply to abortion anyway because the unborn is not part of the woman’s body but is a separate human being.

There are some that will argue that the unborn is part of the woman’s body anyway but that is strange because other parasitic organisms are not considered part of the host’s body. For example, a tapeworm is not considered part of its host’s body and there are good scientific and philosophical reasons for this. For example, life can be defined by its properties such as irritability,  reproduction, metabolism and all the others that one learns about in a grade seven science class. I especially prefer a definition that comes from philosophy which is that “life strives towards its own self-perfection” since that seems to distill the scientific definition into the essential ingredient. In any case, the unborn is a center of the life process distinct from the host and therefore should be considered to be a separate organism; It exhibits growth, metabolism etc., and it strives towards self-perfection.

Incidentally, the unborn lives up to the strict application of the five scientific criteria as well as any of us. For example, reproduction is one of the criteria but a particular organism is not considered dead in the event that it is rendered sterile; the reproduction criteria applies to the species of an organism and the unborn is of a species that has the potential of reproduction. Another reason why the unborn should be considered separate is that its DNA is different from both the mother’s and the father’s so it is, genetically speaking, a separate organism.

But getting back to the tapeworm analogy, while the tapeworm is not part of its host’s body, the host has the right to eradicate it because it is a harmful non-human parasite. In contrast, the unborn is a human being in a parasitic stage of development.

But isn’t the unborn is just a lump of cells?

The unborn is more than a lump of cells in the way that adult human beings and other multi-cellular organisms are. The unborn is made up of cells which function cooperatively in the unity of a single organism.

How do we know that the unborn is human?

The most compelling arguments against abortion hinge on the humanity of the unborn. If the unborn is human then the abortion of the unborn is killing a human person. Therefore, it is important to decide whether the unborn is human and, if it is not, when the point is at which it becomes human. As a prelude to attacking this problem, it is useful to define two kinds of change: substantial change and accidental change.

A substantial change is a change in the species of an object, whereas an accidental change is of relatively minor significance. For example, cutting off a man’s arm does not make him other than a man. As such a change would not change the man into something else and so the man remains a member of the same species, the change is an accidental one. However killing the man makes him not a man. A dead man is of an entirely different species from a living man and so this sort of change is substantial.

Looking at the sperm and egg, these gametes share neither the capacities nor the potential of members of the human species and so they are not people. But at the moment of conception, a substantial change occurs in which the newly created zygote has the potential to develop all of the capacities of a human person without any other substantial change and is therefore a human
person. It may be difficult for some people to wrap their minds around this idea but consider that newborns are considered to be human beings even though they do not exhibit the abilities of an
adult human being and they are only crudely similar in appearance.

But someone may argue that the change from a parasitic being to a non-parasitic being, as in the time of delivery, constitutes a substantial change. But the newborn is still just as dependent on human hospitality as it was during during its time of gestation. And a man would not stop being a man if he was forced into the same state of biological dependence as the fetus. The biological disposition of the fetus with respect to its host is only accidental because it has only to do with the manner in which nourishment is acquired and nothing to do with the species of the organism that acquires it.

Abortionists like to draw the line at when the unborn becomes a person at the time of delivery. But there is no substantial change in the fetus at delivery. In fact, there is no substantial change in the unborn between the time of conception and the time of death. It is therefore illogical to make such an arbitrary distinction.

In the time before the Copernican model of the solar system was popular, scholars used a system wherein planets orbited about regions of empty space instead of around centers of matter. One of the reasons the older model was discarded is that there was no discernible reason why bodies should orbit nothing and so the model was inferior because of this lack of intellectual coherence. Likewise, the idea that fetuses become human at the time of delivery should be discarded. It is at the time of conception that people come into being.

But suppose it is contended that these arguments do not prove the humanity of the unborn. The burden of proof really falls on the abortionists anyway. In any decision involving uncertainty, and where the outcome can have a direct bearing on the fortunes of the innocent, the most prudent and conservative choice is the most responsible. This is why it is illegal to discharge firearms within city limits. If a firearm were discharged in this manner, and someone was accidentally injured as a result, any fact of the injury being an accident would not be an adequate defense.

So what if the unborn is human? Surely, the host should have more rights than the unborn because potential does not count as much as actuality.

A way to expose the falsehood in a principle is to apply it to a real-life situation and show that its application yields unacceptable results. Extrapolating the principle that actuality should determine human gives rise to the conclusion that those who do not actualize their intelligence as much as others should not have the same strength of rights as others. Likewise, applying the above principle, the rights of whole-bodied individuals should have more consideration than those of disabled individuals (who have not or cannot actualize their physical being according to specifications). This amounts to a “might makes right” philosophy in which the rights of weaker must defer to those of the stronger or those who better fit certain specifications are considered more worthy than those who do not.

But the entire principle of justice is the protection of the innocent from the machinations of those who would take advantage of any relative weakness. And so, once it is established that the unborn is human, the principle that it has less rights than the host is unjust. It is the stuff that Nazi holocausts are made of.

What about rape and incest?

Most anti-abortion propaganda says that it is relatively unlikely for conception to occur as a result of rape. This isn’t a very good objection since it does not address the few cases where such may happen. However, once the humanity of the unborn is recognised, the problem is clearly one of justice. When a crime is committed, the offender is punished but not his children or anyone else (at least not intentionally) to which guilt cannot be justly apportioned. This is because it is unjust to punish the innocent. In fact, it is quite proper that manslaughter be considered a separate crime from murder and for murder to be categorized according to degrees. In the case of manslaughter, there is guilt by circumstance but not by intent and so the criminal is innocent of the crime of murder but guilty of whatever irresponsibility precipitated the tragedy.

And so, while it is an extreme hardship to bear and raise the progeny of a rapist or sexual abuser, the unborn is simply not guilty of the crime. Besides, the penalty for rape and incest is not death and so abortion is an unjustified response even if such guilt could be imputed.

Another objection to the “what about rape? ” argument is that, if it were valid, it would apply only to cases of rape and sexual abuse but abortionists argue it in favor of abortion in general.

What if the pregnant person can’t look after a child?

If it is impossible for the pregnant person to look after the child, the child can be carried to term and then adopted. Abortionists sometimes exploit the emotional issue of teen pregnancy but it seems that few of these teens need face the burden alone because they have families. Indeed, most pregnant teens’ families have the power to completely raise the child. But even this is not a necessity since it can be carried to term and given up for adoption.

Adoption is just as effective a mechanism for preventing a teen from being a single parent as abortion. It is because families do not tolerate the embarrassment that teens are forced to have abortions. It is hard to believe that families of such an affluent culture as ours can weigh their embarrassment or their social prestige against a human life in that way. However it is that a human being comes into existence, he deserves our hospitality during his time of need.

Women might seek back alley abortions otherwise.

Suppose it is necessary for someone to incur personal risk in order to perform a wrong act; then it is improper to aid that person to commit the wrong act on that basis. For example, suppose, in order shoplift, the criminal must incur some risk to his health; then it would be wrong to help the criminal to shoplift because of his risk. People should not be protected from the risks implicit in a wrong act.


In this document, prevalent abortionist arguments were examined and shown to be false. It is hoped that this shows that the anti-abortionist stance is the most humane and logical one to take. If you have objections to my arguments which I have not treated, or anything to add, I would like to hear from you.

This document was written by:

Chris Graham <chris@graham.uucp>
P.O. Box 452
Don Mills, Ontario