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Tuesday, 06 August 2019 08:34

Begging the question on the abortion bill

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In the last week, a major debate has restarted in New South Wales about abortion. Most of the commentary however, begs the question and dances around the central issue. The real issue, is not doctors conscience rights, certifying consultants, or whether carrying out an abortion at 39 weeks is too late. It is not a political debate about whether the Berejiklian Government is riding roughshod over the Liberal Party's voter base. The real debate is over whether killing unborn humans as acceptable.

The argument against abortion rests on two premises:

  1. It is prima facie wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being;

  2. The unborn entity carried by a human female is an innocent human being;

  3. Abortion kills the unborn entity.

  4. Therefore, Abortion is prima facie wrong.

If premises 1 and 2 are true then the syllogism works. Those arguing against legal abortion must be able to prove that the premises are true. The third premise is obvious: The unborn entity dies in an abortion. This is not an emotional argument at all: The premises are either true or they are false.

If those who favour legal abortion can disprove any one of the premises, the argument against abortion logically fails, and abortion is not prima facie wrong. This means that those arguing in favour of legal abortion only need to prove that it is acceptable to intentionally kill an innocent human being, or that the unborn entity is not an innocent human being.

The humanity of the unborn entity is a scientifically proven fact. It is a fact that a distinct organism forms at conception. The difference between the clump of cells writing this article, and the single cell that existed at conception in March or April 1979 is growth, fuelled by nutrition. Terms such as zygote, embryo, foetus, infant, toddler, child, adolescent and adult merely describe stages in the life cycle of a human being. Simply consult any textbook on human reproduction used by school students, or check out any pregnancy book at your local bookshop, and it will describe what happens in each stage of the development of the zygote, embryo, and foetus before birth. The challenge to anyone who argues that the unborn is not human, is: If the unborn is not a human being, what kind of being is it? What species is it? Even abortion and animal rights activist advocate Peter Singer, states that it is obvious that a distinct human being is formed at conception. In the chapter on abortion, Singer demonstrates this clearly in his book Practical Ethics. The science is settled. It is strange that the Greens, Labor, and some Liberals will insist that climate change science “is settled”, yet deny the science of embryology and foetal development. Either that, or they are going to argue against the first premise.

Singer and others argue that there is no sanctity of human life. They argue against the first premise; stating that it is sometimes perfectly acceptable to intentionally kill innocent human beings. Do you want to live in a society that accepts that? Almost every argument heard in the favour of abortion, either begs the question on the humanity of the unborn child, or implicitly allows the intentional killing of innocent human beings.

The main argument we hear, is that it abortion is about the supposed bodily right of women to not to carry the child to full term. But this argument proves too much. Children do not stop limiting autonomy after they have been born. Parents have a legal duty to care for children after they have been born until they become adults. As a father of three, I can assure you, that this places burdens on my bodily autonomy. I cannot leave my children to pursue my own interests without ensuring that they are cared for first; I have to go to work to ensure that they are properly fed. These are duties I must perform with my body; and it severely impacts upon my property rights. Nonetheless, if I neglect my children, the State of New South Wales can justifiably convict me. So unless we accept the idea that adults can neglect their children entirely, either bodily autonomy argument fails, or you beg the question on the first premise.

So we’re back to the core of the argument. To support abortion you must argue either that unborn homo sapiens are not human beings, or that intentionally killing innocent human beings is acceptable. It presumably being the case that bodily autonomy trumps another's right to life; and that talk of the parental duty of care is a fiction. Arguments asking prolifers if they will care for all the children born if abortion is not available beg the question and therefore fail. (And yes, I know people who open their homes to women with crisis pregnancies).

This bill needs to be terminated before its gestation is complete within the New South Wale's Parliament. It is wrong to intentionally kill innocent human beings at any stage of life. Nothing can justify that action. Wrong is wrong even if the Parliament makes an evil law.


About the Author

Sean Reynolds is a father of three, business owner and RAMS engineer. He lives in New South Wales, Australia.