I was listening to NPR the other night when the BBC news came on to report about the defeat of the Mississippi “Personhood amendment”. The announcer said that the law in effect would outlaw abortion and went on to add “even in cases of rape or incest.”
First of all, I understand the point. Those are extremely hard circumstances to deal with as the victim or family of a victim. But the fact that he had to explicitly say that betrays a confused philosophy of the unborn on the side of the news agency. By virtue of even saying it, it implies the unborn is not valuable.
Just like we don’t kill infants and toddlers who were concieved through such unfortunate circumstances, if the unborn is a human being then it is equally unjust to kill them because they remind us of those circumstances. In other words, we don’t kill children for the crimes of their fathers.
I know the objection: “But a woman shouldn’t have to bear that burden since it was forced upon her against her will!” But here again, like the objections I’ve already mentioned, this finds a moral difficulty and tries to remedy it by setting the unborn’s value to zero. But that doesn’t tell us anything about the unborn. It avoids the question entirely. And if that answer is wrong, it is catastrophically wrong. The question is, is a child already in the world?
And that can only be answered by looking at the child and what he/she is, not by looking at the circumstances of their origins.