1. Size. Some say that the unborn are not persons simply because they are smaller than those who have been born. This is a dangerous argument. If we accept it, we destroy both racial and gender equality. Asians are smaller than blacks. Women are smaller than men. Are we really prepared to say that Asian women are not fully persons? What fraction of a person are they in relation to black men? Are they three-fifths of a person?
2. Level of development. Some will say that personhood is attained at a certain level of development or that it varies with development. This is also a dangerous argument that destroys human equality. A twenty-two year old woman has a fully functioning reproductive system and, in many cases, a college degree. A two year old girl has neither. Is she therefore a non-person? Or is she just a partial person? Could she be killed legally? Or would her killing be considered a lesser form of homicide?
3. Environment. A woman in Los Angeles had her baby two months before it was due. Her sister in New York had an abortion one month before it was due. Could the woman in Los Angeles have killed her baby one month after it was born? Why not? There is no difference in size or development between these two East and West Coast cousins. Are we prepared to say that moving eight inches down a birth canal makes one a person? Since when does where you are determine what you are? Be careful before you answer. And be careful before you take your next step.
4. Degree of dependency. The older I get, the worse this argument seems to become. If we are prepared to say that we become persons when we become independent then we must also be saying that we can lose our personhood. This can happen due to a car accident, a serious illness, or simply due to old age. Regardless, this just doesn’t work. Besides, I know some 16 year olds that could be killed according to this logic.
It should be evident from the foregoing that it is high time that we stop playing games with human equality. We all know the unborn are persons. And we’ve been killing them in the womb for years. In fact, we’ve been enshrining the practice in the constitution since 1973. If we say that the reason we have been doing so is that the unborn are only “potential” persons then we must be prepared for some pretty broad implications.
I propose instead that we carve out a narrow defense to homicide that allows us to kill products of rape because they remind us of a painful violent event. That is the best way to deal with things from my perspective. It will make the world appear to be a better place. Of course, there will be more murder. But it will seem like there is less rape. And that will make all the killing worth our while.
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