I have often observed that, when it comes to defending legalized abortion, the pro-choice mob has more tricks than a monkey on a hundred yards of grapevine. Of course, this is probably a natural response given that the task they have chosen is to defend the indefensible.
In any event, among their catalogue of rhetorical gymnastics, one of the most amazing is their contention that the unborn child is simply a part of the mother’s body. They make this argument hoping that the public will conclude that, since society would never interfere with a woman’s decision to have her appendix out, it likewise has no place interfering with her decision to have an abortion.
The problem is, the underlying assumption supporting this argument is asinine even by the abortion lobby’s standards. To assert that the unborn is part of the woman’s body is the same as saying that when a woman is pregnant she has 4 arms, 4 legs, 2 heads, 2 hearts, 2 brains, etc. It also suggests that, if her child is a boy, for nine months of her life she has a penis.
Having said all that, for those of you who truly believe in this “baby as part of the woman” philosophy, I want to raise a serious issue. I ask you to imagine a photo of conjoined (Siamese) twins and answer this simple question: Is that a picture of one person or two?
Before you answer, understand that, from a biological standpoint, conjoined twins are far closer to being one person than is a mother and her unborn child. Conjoined twins are always the same sex, always have the same DNA, are always the same blood type, always share at least one external body structure and often share several internal organs. And as long as they are joined, if one dies they both die.
But none of that is true about a mom and her unborn baby. They are the same sex only about half the time, often don’t have the same blood type, never have the same DNA and do not share any external body parts or internal organs. Moreover, it is not only possible for one to survive when the other one dies, it is common.
The point is, while it would be biologically incorrect to claim that conjoined twins are not two distinct individuals, even that argument would be more grounded in scientific reality than the claim that a mother and her unborn child are not two distinct individuals.
The subject of conjoined twins also creates another analogy to the pro-life issue. It is now common for doctors to perform surgery to separate conjoined twins. In many of these cases, it is understood that the chances for both surviving is low. However, no ethical surgeon would agree to intentionally kill one of the twins to increase the chances that the other one would survive. In every case, the intent is to save both lives and every effort will be made to achieve that result. It may be true that, prior to the surgery, it is accepted – even anticipated – that only one will survive. But under no conditions would separation surgery be performed with that as its intended outcome.
This is the principle that must be applied when the issue is whether abortion is acceptable in those extraordinarily rare instances in which pregnancy poses an immediate threat to the physical life of the mother. From an ethical standpoint, we cannot say that it is ever acceptable to intentionally kill the baby to save the mother. Instead, her physician should be required to do everything possible to save both mother and child. If, as an unintended consequence of that effort, one or both fail to survive, that would be considered an unavoidable – thus permissible – outcome. However, it is as morally indefensible to say that we will intentionally kill the baby to save the mother as it would be to say that we will intentionally kill the mother to save the baby.
In the final analysis, the pure “no-exceptions” pro-life position is exactly the same as saying that operating on conjoined twins is never acceptable if the intent is to kill one of them. In both cases, there are two distinct individuals involved and we must never cross the moral line where we argue that one innocent human being’s life can be snuffed-out for the benefit of another.
Oops, I forgot. We already did that. It’s called Roe vs. Wade.