Pro-life and pro-choice share no points
By Eric Wilkins, Contributor
There is no abortion debate. It’s a tough pill to swallow on such a polarizing issue but there is zero common ground between the two sides. Even the best-intentioned of arguments fail to present any reasonable conclusion. They can’t. If one side thinks it’s murder and the other doesn’t even think a fetus is human, there’s simply no room for compromise; a solution that satisfies both sides is impossible if these are the parameters.
I’ll never forget my first dip into the abortion debate. I was in grade four, in Catholic school, and had just been handed one of the pro-life movement’s staples: Precious Feet, a pin of a minute set of feet intended to represent how fully-formed a child is at 10 weeks. Age plays a key role in conditioning mindsets—and I was sold. How could you debate that was life? That that was human? It was a perfectly shaped miniature being and all the details that came later merely added to my conclusion bias. It was murder.
Children get a heartbeat at six weeks. They also get brain activity at six weeks. They begin to make movements at 16 weeks. Talking and crying aside, there appeared to be very minimal difference between those capabilities of a “fetus” (a little-used word in our school) and those of a newborn. None of us would kill a screaming baby so why would it be okay to kill it before it could scream? It was murder.
A popular poster at the time depicted a baby next to a puppy with the caption “What rights do *you* have?” We all went gaga for it. Why was it that the world fought so hard for animal rights, but we couldn’t get anyone to care about a human being?
I remember listening in horror as we were educated on the barbaric abortion procedures that were somehow legal in our country. It was murder. There were a lot of cultural Catholics in that school but there were precious few who didn’t feel very strongly about abortion. We’d enter essay competitions every year. Every student came out of that school fully equipped to take on anyone and everyone on why abortion is such a vile and evil act.
Even as I got into college and started to be exposed to different lines of thinking, my pro-life stance remained. I still remember my reason for not going out with someone because “she believes in abortion.” I must have been at least three years clear of Catholicism before I started to find my feet, and it was the heaviest internal struggle I’d ever faced. Almost my entire crowd was now pro-choicers—and all of their arguments also made sense… but they seemed weaker, lesser somehow.
So many of the pro-choice reasons revolved around the pregnant woman herself. So many focused on how it was more necessary to be ready and capable to look after the child than it was to actually have the child. So many spoke to the quality of life you could offer the baby. So many noted how no one should be able to dictate to a woman what she can and can’t do with her body. So many talked about how it was reason enough not to have the baby just because you don’t want to have it.
It wasn’t that the new thinking didn’t make sense. It did. But I still thought it was wrong and for the longest time I couldn’t figure out why. Then I remembered: Abortion is murder. How was I trying to move on to a fresh take when that remained the counterargument; what could top that? How could people rationalize murdering a child just out of convenience? I had landed in limbo. I didn’t rationally agree with any pro-life teachings anymore but couldn’t emotionally agree with any of the pro-choice.
I came to realize that if I ever wanted to reconcile my struggle, I had to stop believing in one side. I had been fighting to find a common ground—something that would let me keep all of my beliefs—but there was none. If I were pro-life then the fetus was always a human and disposing of it at any point would be murder. If I were pro-choice then it was never a human and anything that happened to it before the actual birthing was fair game. I dropped the former.
I’m not here to advocate for either side but the fact is that we can’t boil it down to science. It really is about both how sacred life is, and how much proof is good enough, to you. Science can’t definitely say when a fetus becomes a human being because it’s not a scientific call. Does a heartbeat prove life? Does a brainwave prove life? What is your definition of life? Is a person in a vegetative state alive? Is a brain-dead person alive? Children seldom can remember anything before the age of three—are they even alive then?
There are a lot of issues that people can debate and have their minds changed on. Murder should not be one of them. If you truly think something is murder, I sincerely hope that you never change your mind on it—the precedent set by flipping sides on something as fundamentally evil and black-and-white as murder is insane. Likewise, if you don’t think something is murder, you shouldn’t be able to be convinced that it is. The two cannot even agree to disagree. Debate, criticism, and introspection fuel change in the world—but this is one argument that will never see the end.