Where is the moral case for abortion?

Jun 30, 2022 by

by Giles Fraser, UnHerd:

The question of when human life begins is like the question of when human life ends: it is a question of values not science. Interviewed by NBC, a woman stood before the Supreme Court building in the US with her belly protruding above a pair of red sweatpants. She was due to give birth the very next day.

“Not yet a human” was written in capital letters on her tummy. The message was clear. Human life begins at birth. Only then does what exists within her become the bearer of its own set of rights. Until then, the rights that are attendant upon being a human being are hers and hers alone. The criteria for being a human being are rooted in values like independence and rationality, often understood as consciousness.

Others reference a very different set of values. On the Tube, the woman opposite me wears the pin badge “baby on board”, an invitation to treat her carefully, perhaps to give up my seat if the carriage is busy. Like many people, I do. And by doing so, I acknowledge that “baby on board” has some sort of moral call upon us, a call to treat her in a certain way in virtue of the baby that she is carrying. Two women; two very different moral messages.

Those who locate the beginnings of human life with conception or with birth — and at all points between — are making a moral decision not a biological one. Often, they do not disagree upon the scientific facts at all. They just disagree which of these facts are morally relevant.

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