By Scott Tibbs, July 14, 2009
In his letter to the editor, Kenneth Pimple attempts to refute the statement in my guest column that "anyone who has honestly viewed pictures of a developing fetus" knows that he is looking at a human being. Pimple asserts that if this is the standard of proof, I "cannot oppose early-term abortion" because "for weeks after conception, human embryos don't look like animals, let alone humans." Pimple carefully avoided addressing the pictures on the Center for BioEthical Reform's web site, even though I provided the URL where one can find the pictures in my guest column. In the web version of my guest column posted on HeraldTimesOnline.com that URL is a hyperlink.
Unfortunately, even in a 600 word guest column there is not enough room to explain everything. The point of the editorial is not to argue when life begins or at what point life should be protected, but to specifically address the false allegations that abortion opponents "incited" the murder of George Tiller through "overheated rhetoric" despite the well-documented fact that mainstream abortion opponents have consistently denounced and opposed anti-abortion violence and terrorism. Furthermore, the few murders by anti-abortion terrorists pale in comparison to the rivers of blood flowing through our cities from the 50 million unborn children we have murdered since 1973.
My position is that life begins at fertilization and should be protected from that point onward. (In the case of cloning, life begins when an embryo is created.) When sperm and egg meet, a new human being is formed with a new genetic code separate from the mother and father. From that point forward, the foundation is laid for this new baby to grow and develop through the stages of life, so long as that baby is provided with nutrition and shelter. I believe that the only logical place to begin protecting human life is the point where life is created: at fertilization.
The problem with using a specific point in the stage of a baby's development as where he or she deserves protection is that it is arbitrary. If a baby cannot be killed once we can detect a heartbeat or brain waves, then what is so different two days earlier? What is so special about these specific points in development? Prohibiting abortions at specific times (only allowing abortions in the first trimester, for example) is even more arbitrary. Protecting the unborn from fertilization onward is the most consistent way of approaching a pro-life viewpoint.
Pimple requires that I must speak of "the reproductive rights of women" in my attempt to convince him abortion should be prohibited. But the reproductive "rights" of women (or men) are not the issue. The issue lies in the answer to this question: is the fetus growing and developing in the mother's womb is a human being that deserves protection under the law? If the answer to that question is no, then all arguments against abortion are moot. If the answer is yes, then the child should be protected.
As far as the argument about whether the fetus "looks like" a human being or not, the answer to that question is clearly yes. The Center for BioEthical Reform's mission is to educate people about the reality of abortion, especially in the early stages of life. The pictures below, taken from CBR’s web site, are the results of abortions performed when the baby developing in the womb is seven, eight and nine weeks old.