The abortion debate is as timeless as it is contentious. Pro-life and pro-choice advocates have argued on the subject for years, employing a short, exhaustive set of talking points that have brought the discussion to a halt.
“Unborn children deserve to live!” say the pro-life advocates.
“Underdeveloped cells are not human!” reply the pro-choice advocates. “A woman should have control over her own body.”
Having reached this point of disagreement, neither side seems capable of swaying the opposition. What is the reason for this impasse? The answer is simple: No one has managed to define the point at which life begins. To some, human life starts with conception; to others, it begins as late as birth. Forming an opinion on the matter is easy. Qualifying your opinion as true or false, however, is nearly impossible – until you consider the Unborn Victims of Violence Act.
Signed by President Bush in 2004, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act recognizes unborn children as legal victims if they are harmed or killed during an assault on a pregnant mother. 38 states have recognized the law, and 23 of them have applied legal victimhood to every stage of pre-natal development. In short, it is possible for a criminal who kills an expecting mother’s child to be charged with homicide — and to be a victim of homicide, you must be human.
There you have it: America’s great legal paradox. Our government openly facilitates abortion while acknowledging the personhood of unborn victims. Given these circumstances, the true factor separating protected from unprotected children is not their viability as much as it is their desirability. An expecting mother wishes for her child to be born; the child dies tragically, and the criminal responsible is put to justice. Place control in the mother’s own hands, however, and she may do away with the child unpunished.
At the end of the day, it is an opinion, not the cold, hard truth, that determines whether or not a child will be considered human. It is an opinion that determines whether a child can live or die, and it is an opinion that has shaped the laws of this nation. Have we really devolved so much as to let this happen? Where moral relativity reigns, righteousness is abandoned. That is not the kind of America our founders envisioned.
I am not attempting to vilify pro-choicers, nor am I trying to imply that a woman who has had an abortion is on the same moral plane as a murderer. Abortion is a deeply personal issue and, under exceptional circumstances (such as rape or medical complications), might be a reluctant alternative to childbirth. I do believe, however, that our country is in the midst of an ethical crisis. If we truly want to make America great, we must create a society that is sensitive to the needs of pregnant women and the heavy responsibility of motherhood. At the same time, however, we can no longer deny the precious sanctity of life. Desirable or not, every child deserves a chance.
Evan Vernon is a Graduate from Franklin College.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.