Debating abortion with pro-choicers unfortunately often devolves into an emotionally charged and generally incoherent argument. When I was younger, I was pro-choice for no other reason than everyone said I should be and it wasn’t something that I had really given much thought to. And, to be honest, it also provided what we all considered in our sexual heyday as a safety net of sorts that could take care of any “problems.”

As I grew older and more thoughtful, other considerations besides that of convenience began to influence my judgment and, rather than simply view the issue from the perspective of the unwilling parents-to-be, I saw a larger, moral issue. Of course, that was the question of whether abortion was the taking of a human life and, if so, was it at all justifiable.

The reason this came to mind today was because of a recent Texas appeals court decision that upheld as constitutional a law saying criminals who attack a pregnant woman and kill or injure the unborn child can be charged with two separate crimes.

Despite all the rhetoric that is thrown around in the abortion rights debate, the framework for the competing arguments is actually fairly straightforward. The primary and threshold question is whether abortion is the taking of a human life. If at no time prior to live birth is an abortion tantamount to the taking of a human life, then there is no abortion debate. If it is not a live “human being” that is being surgically removed from the pregnant woman, and consequently killed, then there is nothing to debate. At least certainly not from a moral perspective. If it is not a living human being that is being extracted from the womb, then we might as well debate the morality of removing an appendix.

However, the reality is that, at some point during that nine months, there is no way to avoid the conclusion that we are dealing with a living, sentient human being. And here is the genesis of the debate.

The significance of the Texas case (which, by the way, is not the only one of its kind in America) to both sides is that it creates an incongruity in the law that will become increasingly difficult to reconcile if you are on the pro-choice side. An unborn child, fetus, or whatever you’d like to call it, is either a human being with equivalent rights, or it is not. If the law holds a criminal who kills a pregnant woman and her unborn child guilty of two murders, rather than one, it is very difficult for the same body of jurisprudence to ultimately turn a blind eye to the act of a woman choosing to abort her unborn child. This is the unstated or vaguely stated basis for the constitutional attacks on such laws.

Although it is clear to anyone thinking rationally and without an agenda that an eight-month old unborn child is a living human being, admitting that fact can only cause the pro-abortion position to fall apart, like a house of cards scattered in the breeze. For this reason the debate never revolves around this question, the correct question, but instead around maxims like “right to choose” and “bodily integrity.”

Nevertheless, as medical advances push “viability” further back towards the date of conception, and more and more jurisdictions adopt the position articulated by the Texas appeals court, the debate over abortion may finally move to the proper forum.

[This article can also be found at Release The Hounds!]

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