The landscape of abortion has been changing for a while but in the last decade was put on steroids. Along with this shifting landscape is a need for a new lexicon and annihilation of old stereotypes. Gone are the days of abortion being viewed as a matter of religion (pro-life) versus freedom (pro-choice). It is now an issue of science (pro-life) versus emotion (pro-choice).
And with that change in landscape, should come a breakdown in the nearly 50-year-old decision of Roe vs. Wade.
The first “case and point” of this shift is the Texas Heartbeat Act, which bans abortions after six-weeks with the distinction that doctors cannot perform abortions if a ‘fetal heartbeat’ can be detected. The Supreme Court will hear arguments challenging this legislation on Monday. Another case being considered this December by the Supreme Court, Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health, could also have a long-term impact on the constitutionality of Roe vs. Wade. The case being heard is based on a 2018 Mississippi state law banning abortion operations after 15 weeks, moving the date of viability up 9 weeks from the preserved “viability line” of 24 weeks. Advancements in technology have contributed to these discussions on when life is truly viable, but science has already proven that life itself begins far before any viability line.
Consider the words of a world-renowned scientist and physician widely regarded as “the father of modern genetics,” when he said, “The fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion.” Many scientists agree. In fact, a 2018 academic study by the University of Chicago found that 95% of biologists, despite their political ideologies, affirmed that life begins at conception.
A fetus is alive. It is growing, cell division is taking place, the unborn child is processing nutrition -- none of these biological processes can happen in a non-living entity. A child’s heart starts beating just after 22 days and brain waves can be detected shortly after. By the time a woman shows up at an abortion facility, it is well evident that the fetus inside of her is alive.
And while there have been many terms (pregnancy tissue, fertilized egg, clump of cells, product of conception) to describe the living baby inside his/her mother’s body, the fact is that the baby is a human being. And because fact and science show that life begins at conception, we must then acknowledge that as a human being that child is entitled to basic human rights.
In further anecdotal evidence, there are other pieces of legislation that treat unborn children as tiny humans that need protecting. 38 states treat an unborn child as a person in non-abortion homicide cases and 23states and the District of Columbia treat drug use by pregnant people as child abuse. Not to mention our basic protection of the unborn by not serving pregnant women 10 whiskeys or allowing them on a roller coaster.
While Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health does not go as far as affirming that life begins at conception, it does make critical advancements in the acknowledgment of the life and humanity of the unborn baby.
Since the monumental Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade in 1973 which established a constitutional right to abortion, limiting restrictions in many states the topic has become highly politically polarized as the Democratic party adopted a platform supporting abortion while the Republican party took a pro-life platform. With these stances, came the assumption that those against abortion held their view because of religious or moral conflicts - and did not agree with science.
However, a crucial distinction must be made. Gone is the stereotype binding religious people to being blind to science as they force their morality on others. Now, it’s pro-life Christians who appeal to science on behalf of unborn children, they are using science to prove their point rather than providing it as contradictory evidence. Another important thing to note is that religious views do not teach us that life begins at conception but rather science affirms that unborn babies’ lives begin at conception, our faith compels us to defend them.