Abortion: At face value
Both sides of the abortion struggle have been so muddled and polluted by individuals with their own agendas that the entire issue has evolved and 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. Before we truly understand both sides of the issue, we must first come to agreement to what most believe to be a very fundamental idea of the abortion issue: Is a human embryo a human life? Let's look at both the "life" and "choice" components of the struggle:
In terms of the "life" aspect of the argument, 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 — i.e. 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. 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 I. 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 anti-abortion rights supporters fight for a woman's right to have an abortion well into the third trimester when — if transplanted from the womb — this same child that would have been aborted 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 anti-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 book 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 many pro-abortion rights and anti-abortion rights individuals 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.
So, 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 anti-abortion vs. pro-abortion rights argument? To answer that, we must consult the choice aspect of the argument. When a person says they are pro-abortion rights, what they are really saying is that they believe a woman has the right to choose whether or not she wants to have an abortion. When a person says they are anti-abortion rights, they are actually saying that they believe that 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, pro-abortion rights supporters believe that the woman's right to choose outweighs the child's right to choose — which would obviously be to live — while anti-abortion rights supporters believe 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.
So what is the appeal of being pro-abortion rights? How has it come to be such an accepted and common belief across this world? There is one answer to that question: being anti-abortion rights is hard. To be anti-abortion rights is to accept the consequences of one's own mistakes while a pro-abortion rights individual can just choose to get an abortion. 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 knockout 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 theatre 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: it is fair to say that in these situations, 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? The anti-abortion rights argument holds the right to choose above all else. The pro-abortion rights argument is that we cannot justify having the right to choose an abortion, because to choose an abortion would mean putting your own wishes over the life of another human being, a human being that by natural law we are called to nurture.
Louis Awad is a part time lecturer in the Department of Exercise Science. He is a member of Rutgers for Life and is also the assistant fitness coordinator at the College Avenue Gym.