Equal Rights for the Unborn

Abortion and reproductive rights are sensitive topics. Over the course of the last several decades, the issue has been among the most controversial in American politics and has demonstrated significant staying power unmatched by most other political issues. I do not write this to rile up the pro-life masses; rather I wish to reach those who may have more pro-choice sympathies. I will share some things that I wish more pro-choice people knew about the pro-life movement as well as try to explain why the issue is so important to those of us with whom the movement resonates. Most people reside somewhere in the middle of the spectrum on this issue and, while I am personally uncomfortable with pro-life and pro-choice labels and the divisions they manufacture, I will use them here for sake of ease.

Pro-life by Default

It is impossible to know, at least through secular or scientific means, when life or personhood begins. No study can pinpoint the moment at which a developing fetus becomes a person and must be afforded all the rights that we hold dear for everyone else. Given that this is the case, abortion poses an incredibly difficult dilemma: to either take away a significant choice from the mother, or potentially end the life, future choices, and experiences of the child. For myself and many other pro-life individuals, it seems clear which of these options poses the greater risk. Here, I’d like to introduce the term “pro-life by default.” This term is a simple way of articulating that because there is no way of knowing when personhood begins we as a society must assume the lowest common denominator, which is conception. In this way, it is not certainty that leads to a pro-life position but a lack of it.

A Very Understandable Question

I have often heard this question from those who identify as pro-choice: “Even if you personally believe abortion is wrong, why not leave it up to the mother rather than the government to decide?” I understand the sentiment behind this question, but it contradicts an abundance of societal precedents. The principle that we restrict the liberty of some people in order to preserve the liberty and rights of others undergirds our entire criminal justice system. If a fetus is considered a person then it, of course, should not be left up to the mother whether that person gets to live. One of the core and cherished roles of government is to protect life. As someone who leans libertarian, my greatest desire is to preserve individuals’ choice. However, even radical libertarians believe that government should exist to prevent individuals from infringing on the rights of others, if for nothing else. Anything less than this is not libertarianism; it is anarchy. In the case of protecting rights, government intervention is justified, and if a child in the womb is considered a person, that intervention is certainly justifiable in the case of abortion.

Abortion by the Numbers

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.) there are between 600,000 and 700,000 abortions carried out each year in the United States [1]. The C.D.C. estimates that since the U.S. Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in 1973, 60 million children have been aborted [2]. This massive number of abortions is attributable to legalization; in 1970, three years before Roe, abortions stood at 190,000—in 1974, one year after the decision, the number had risen to 760,000 [3].

Pro-choice advocates often attempt to fixate the debate on cases involving rape, incest, and a threat to the life of the mother, but I have yet to meet a pro-choice person who opposes legal exceptions in these cases. What’s more, these cases account for only about 5 percent of abortions, while over 90 percent are considered elective [4].

These numbers demonstrate why there is so much passion behind the pro-life movement. If you consider each of the above numbers to be a person then our laws are perpetuating one of the greatest offenses in modern history. Even if you don’t agree with pro-life people, please respect us. Recognize that we are not just a bunch of angry, patriarchal conservatives (one-quarter of Democrats are pro-life) [5] who want to tell women what to do with their bodies. We are a group, and a movement, that wholeheartedly believes we are working to obtain equal rights for the most vulnerable among us.

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[1] https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/ss/ss6713a1.htm

[2] https://checkyourfact.com/2018/07/03/fact-check-60-million-abortions/

[3] https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5713a1.htm#tab2

[4] https://www.projectultrasound.org/facts-and-statistics

[5] https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-abortion-debate-isnt-as-partisan-as-politicians-make-it-seem/

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Colton Quist

COLTON QUIST is a senior from Boise Idaho. As part of his studies in Political Science he recently completed an internship with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in Washington D.C. and intends on returning to the east coast for graduate school. He has a passion for critical writing, history, and everything political. He loves to spend his spare time reading the news or off-roading but enjoys nearly anything so long as it’s with the people he cares about. ​

Latest posts by Colton Quist (see all)

Colton Quist

COLTON QUIST is a senior from Boise Idaho. As part of his studies in Political Science he recently completed an internship with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in Washington D.C. and intends on returning to the east coast for graduate school. He has a passion for critical writing, history, and everything political. He loves to spend his spare time reading the news or off-roading but enjoys nearly anything so long as it’s with the people he cares about. ​

4 thoughts on “Equal Rights for the Unborn

  • March 14, 2019 at 10:08 pm
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    I am also an anti-abortion libertarian. Thank you for this article.
    FYI: it is not “impossible to know, at least through secular or scientific means, when life or personhood begins.”
    It is an undeniable scientific fact that life begins at the moment of conception. At the moment of conception, a new, living organism of the human species is formed. After that, the only difference between you and an unborn child is physical development. That is fact. Ignoring this fact gives room for pro-abortion advocates to spread deception.

    Also, when you say “I have yet to meet a pro-choice person who opposes legal exceptions in these cases[rape, incest, and a threat to the life of the mother]”, I assume that you meant to say that you have never met a pro-life person who opposes these restrictions. I am anti-abortion(a more accurate term than “pro-life”), and I do oppose these legal exceptions. Abortion should be illegal even when the child was conceived in rape or if the mother’s life is threatened by the pregnancy.

    Rape/Incest: Why should we kill someone because of a crime committed by their father? Punish the guilty father, not the innocent child.

    Mother’s life threatened: When a mother’s life is threatened by a pregnancy, every attempt should be made to save the life of both mother and child. If an unborn child is old enough, the pregnancy can be ended by delivering the child prematurely. If the child is not old enough to be delivered, other necessary medical procedures may be performed, and these should be done in a way that avoids killing the unborn baby. Is it possible that a baby is unintentionally killed? Yes, but this is completely different from abortion, which is the deliberate killing of an unborn child.

    Abortion should be illegal in ALL cases.
    “The exercise of natural rights has no limits but such as will ensure their enjoyment to other members of society.”
    – Marquis de Lafayette

    Reply
    • March 19, 2019 at 5:28 pm
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      Why on earth should a victim be forced to carry the child of their abuser? Why should they have to endure the pain and suffering of carrying and giving birth to a child? Why should they have to keep this constant reminder of their rape? And is it fair to have a child that would be potentially rejected by its mother & have to live with the knowledge that they are born out of rape? Not to mention that the foster system is absolutely horrendous. Most pro-lifers are only pro-life until the child is born.

      Reply
      • April 19, 2019 at 4:56 am
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        “Why on earth should a victim be forced to carry the child of their abuser? Why should they have to endure the pain and suffering of carrying and giving birth to a child? Why should they have to keep this constant reminder of their rape? ”
        Because the alternative is MURDER.

        “And is it fair to have a child that would be potentially rejected by its mother & have to live with the knowledge that they are born out of rape? ”
        Why don’t you ask the child whether it’s fair? Surely their opinion about THEIR OWN LIFE is relevant?

        “Not to mention that the foster system is absolutely horrendous.”
        Even if the foster system was as bad as you claim(it’s not), it’s still preferable to murder.

        “Most pro-lifers are only pro-life until the child is born.”
        You are wrong. All anti-abortion advocates, including myself, believe that murder should be illegal both before and after birth.

        Reply
  • November 8, 2019 at 4:08 pm
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    I am a couple therapist. Decades ago, a cohabiting couple I was working with to strengthen their relationship decided that entering marital vows was a way they wanted to celebrate the growth they had achieved and the deepening of their love and commitment.

    Tragically, shortly thereafter the wife was raped, with a pregnancy resulting. The wife’s personhood was viciously violated, yet she had very real personal qualms about abortion. The husband, too, felt victimized and he was enraged. The husband sought a path to repudiate the rape of his wife; the wife sought a path of healing, too. Some tension developed over this issue.

    To the husband, rejecting the life within his wife’s womb (abortion) seemed the most direct way to reject and repudiate the violation and rape. In counseling, I did not dispute the husband’s thinking. I validated that perhaps it could provide them a way to reject and repudiate the rape. I also offered that perhaps healing could be even more profound from taking simple evil (perpetrated by another) and themselves taking control of the experience in a different way and transforming it into a complex good. One such way might be to carry the pregnancy to term and share with a childless, infertile couple longing for a family the gift of life they could not give themselves. I honored the tremendous sacrifice such a choice would entail for both of them, and respected their autonomy to choose otherwise.

    Though I had asked them early on whether they had had sexual relations as a couple prior to the rape, and they reported that was the case, the husband’s rage seemed to blind him, but not his wife, to the possibility that the child could be their own. The life within his wife’s womb had become for the husband the symbol and daily reminder of their violation as a couple and the target of his wanting to do something (violent) to strike back at the rape and the rapists. In the end, the wife’s qualms led to just a sufficient delay for DNA tests to confirm it was their child. Even had it not been so, I still believe that there are various pathways to healing, some less and some more powerful, and some amazingly beautiful.

    Had the pregnancy itself not turned out so “simply,” I believe that the second path of healing depended entirely upon the wife’s autonomy, and to a lesser degree the couple’s autonomy, to make the choice themselves—whatever choice they ended up making. Being compelled by law to carry a pregnancy resulting from rape to term would be a second egregious violation and negation of personhood of the wife, and by extension the couple. Whatever was decided had to be their shared, united, healing decision.

    Reply

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