Mon | Aug 20, 2018

Even atheists condemn abortion

Published:Friday | October 31, 2014 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir: Chairman of the National Family Planning Board, Dr Sandra Knight, says the time has come to legalise abortion. In response to the argument that abortion is akin to murder, she replies, "Religion and politics cannot be taken into account when making public-health decisions."

So, Dr Knight, what about those who are not religious and yet pro-life? Yes, there are pro-life, atheistic organisations out there such as Pro-Life Humanists and Secular Pro-Life. Her statement means nothing to these people.

Better yet, it does not answer the question: Is the unborn human? If not, killing it requires no more justification than having a tooth pulled. Would anyone support a mother killing her toddler in the name of choice? Some may object, saying that killing a fetus is different than killing a toddler. But that's the issue. Are the unborn, like toddlers, members of the human family? That is the one issue that matters.

Scientifically, we know that from the earliest stages of development, the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings. Dr Keith L. Moore's The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, used in medical schools worldwide, states: "Human development begins at fertilisation, the process during which a male gamete or sperm unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialised, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual."

So there is no morally significant difference between the embryo that you once were and the adult that you are today. Differences of size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency are not relevant such that we can say that you had no rights as an embryo, but you do have rights today.

Do we really want to say that large people are more human than small ones? Do four-year-olds have less right to live than 14-year-olds because they are less developed? Are all those who depend on insulin or kidney medication not valuable?

The unborn are human, and hence abortion is akin to murder. I am vigorously pro-choice when it comes to women choosing a number of moral goods. She can choose her own husband, doctor, career and religion, to name a few. But some choices are wrong, like killing innocent human beings because they are in the way and cannot defend themselves.