A closer look at the issues surrounding abortion
Both sides of the abortion struggle have been so muddled and polluted by individuals with their own agendas that the entire issue has devolved into a fight of religions, beliefs and those just wishing to pick a fight. I hope to clearly and definitively explain both sides of the abortion issue in hopes that a truly informed individual will make the best decision possible. I will not try to hide the fact that I am a strong believer in the right to life, but I want to make it clear that I did not start out that way. It was not until I was able to see underneath the superficial arguments surrounding the issue that I realized every individual believes in both the right to life — otherwise suicide would be the norm — and in the right to choose, or our consumer driven society would not exist. With that said, there is a very real difference between choosing an abortion and not choosing an abortion, but before we truly understand both sides of the issue we must discuss what most believe to be a very fundamental idea behind the abortion argument: Is a human embryo a human life? Let's look at both the "life" and "choice" components of the struggle.
In terms of life, truly informed individuals from both sides of the table agree that a human embryo is a human life. The point at which life begins is not up for philosophical debate as some people would like it to be; rather, it is biological fact. In the scientific world there is no speculation — that is, a hypothesis — ever mentioned as fact; something is either scientifically valid as proved by others or it is not. In the case of when life begins, where else should one look to determine the answer than to the very moment of conception? There is where you will find your answer. It is scientific fact that a human embryo, which contains 46 chromosomes, has the same exact genetic makeup as its 20-year-old future self. From that moment on, it neither gains nor loses anything, just develops according to the blueprint of life it inherited from his or her parents. To say this embryo contains the genetic makeup for an adult does not mean that the embryo itself is the blueprint for life, it just means that what is in this embryo is exactly the same type of "blueprint" as what is inside you and me. I say this again: Do not confuse a blueprint of a home for the home itself. This is why the scientific community acknowledges a human embryo not as a precursor to life but rather as a human being at the very earliest phases of human development. Just like an adolescent or young adult is not just a precursor to an adult, but rather its own living creature on the path to maturity.
It is important to note that in the common day practice of abortion, many abortion rights advocates fight for a woman's right to choose an abortion well into the third trimester when, if transplanted from the womb, this same child that would have been "terminated," as abortion is called in medical circles, could have survived on its own and grown to lead a completely full life. This clearly shows that whether this embryo is an actual human life does not really matter to the abortion rights movement, so I will not waste your time regurgitating details and facts that acknowledge that human life as we know it begins at the moment of conception. If you care enough about the scientific facts behind these statements, I would advise consulting a general biology textbook or speaking to any individual educated enough to answer that question objectively without his or her own agenda fueling their answers. If you do not currently care enough to do your own research into the topic, I do want to emphasize that while both those in favor and against abortions alike acknowledge without doubt that a human embryo is a human life, no one, and I mean not one individual in their right mind, can claim without a doubt that what they call an embryo or a fetus is in fact nothing more than a sac of fluid and tissue.
Assuming that we can all agree that this thing some of us call an embryo or a fetus is in fact a human life, what then is the real abortion argument? To answer that we must consult the choice aspect of the issue. When a person says they are for an abortion, what they are really saying is that they believe a woman has the right to choose to do to her body whatever she wants. When a person says they are against abortion, they are actually saying that they believe every individual has a choice, including the developing child inside the womb, and that those choices should all be held equal. Looking at the same thing but from a different angle, an abortion rights individual believes that the woman's right to choose outweighs the child's right to choose — which would obviously be to live — while a person against abortion believes that a woman's right to choose an abortion is nullified by the fact that it impedes on the developing child's right to life.
Where is the appeal in supporting the abortion rights movement? How has it come to be such an accepted and common belief across this world? I have an answer to that question: To stand against abortion is a very difficult task. To be anti-abortion is to accept the consequences of one's own mistakes while a pro-abortion rights individual can just choose to "terminate." In this consumer driven society, we are so used to having hundreds of brands to choose from, returning what does not suit our needs and throwing away something that is defective that we believe that anyone who tells us we cannot do any of the above is oppressive and unconstitutional, and I agree…to a point. As thoughtful citizens of this great country, we must do everything within our power to preserve our right to choose and live our lives as we deem best for us, but as important as it is for us to preserve our own rights, we must also be aware of how far our rights really extend. Taking the above mentioned train of thought to a far extreme, I should have the right to choose to knock out an individual who annoys me, to choose to murder a person who has insulted me or to choose to scream "fire" in a crowded movie theater because I want a good laugh. But I cannot; my ability to choose is limited when it negatively affects the lives of others. To say it again: Since my actions would impede on the rights of others, I no longer have the right to act as I so choose.
So what about an abortion? Those in favor of it hold a woman's "right" to have an abortion above all else. Those against it argue that we cannot justify having the right to choose an abortion, because to do so would mean putting one's own wishes above the life of another human being, a human being that by natural law we are called to nurture.
Louis Awad is a Rutgers College Class of 2008 alumnus. He is a member of Rutgers for Life.
Editor's note: Yesterday's Opinions article "Abortion: At Face value" contained a few editing errors which misrepresented the author's intent with regard to the positions of people who are anti-abortion rights and pro-abortion rights. The author resubmitted a corrected version.