This week was the anniversary of the Roe v Wade ruling, so abortion was a popular topic. The Women's March was for it and opposed to women who were not. The claim was made that a president that favors murdering children in the womb is not morally fit for leadership. Lots on both sides has been out there over the last few weeks.
The question of Roe v Wade was not a question of rights of the unborn. The question that was ultimately put to the court was whether or not the unborn child was a person. It was a question of personhood. The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was a product of the Civil War and was intended to protect the rights of freed slaves by first recognizing their personhood and then declaring that persons had rights. The point was to provide "equal protection under the law" for all persons. In order to legalize murdering babies in the womb, then, it would be necessary to first remove them from the category of "persons". If they are not persons, they have no equal protection under the law. Since the 14th Amendment does not define "personhood", but mentions "persons born or naturalized in the United States", it was a simple step to demonstrate that ... they weren't born and, therefore, were not persons granted equal protection under the law. At this point, then, they argued simply for the right to privacy (which isn't actually spelled out in the Constitution or its amendments) and the court caved.
"Houston, we have a problem."
At this point we run into real difficulties. It is pure, simple, scientific fact that the life of a new human being begins at conception. Yes, scientific fact. Science demonstrates that life is a continual process that begins at fertilization and ends at death. Conception, then, is the first phase of human life. A zygote is not potentially a human being; it is a human being with potential. It cannot be anything but a human being. It is equally a logical fact. If we agree that a senior citizen is a human being, we must also agree that a middle-aged person is a human being. If that, then a young adult is an earlier stage of human being. A teenager (while some might disgree) is just as human as an adult. A toddler is no less human for his or her toddling. An infant is surely human. So why would anyone logically conclude that this logical sequence begins at the birth canal? Clearly "fetushood" is simply a prior stage of that same human life.
Thus far we have argued without religion. It isn't a "matter of faith". It is a matter of science and clear logic. The next step may be less clear. I would assume that, speaking morally, all humans would agree that a basic moral premise is that the stronger human beings ought to protect the weaker human beings. You may see that as a matter of "faith". Given that we've moved away from that idea in our society today -- as demonstrated in everything from the everyday, highly prevalent drivers who seem to think that they own the highway all the way to the legal murder of a million unborn babies a year -- it might be a matter of faith. What was once plain morality for all to see is no longer so. Everyone used to know that it is wrong to torture and kill babies. No more. But I don't think it's a stretch to say that morality generally favors the strong protecting the weak. As such, there is none weaker as the unborn human being. Morality, then, would demand that the stronger -- those humans who have been born -- protect the unborn.
A Crisis of Morality
Is it, then, this final component that has resulted in more than 60 million murders of the most vulnerable Americans due simply to moral failure? Science isn't unclear. Logic is unavoidable. Religion isn't wishy-washy. The only thing I can see that has legalized and encouraged this kind of bloodbath is the new moral standard that demands, above all else, "I should be able to do what I want." It doesn't matter if "what I want" makes sense scientifically, logically, or in any other moral sense. This one moral standard supercedes all others. It isn't solid, however. It's certainly clear that most believe "I should be able to do what I want," but the next step is "You should not be allowed to think negatively about what I want to do." So France outlawed a video intended to tell mothers that Down's Syndrome children could live happy, fulfilling lives simply because it might hurt the consciences of women who had aborted their babies for that reason. So medical professionals with personal faith that won't let them assist in the killing of babies are coerced by law to do so or give up their careers. Those are just a couple of abortion-related examples. I'm sure you can see the parallels in other areas like bakers and florists and anyone in America who dares to say that a particular, popularized behavior is sin and those who do it need Jesus is classified and castigated as a "hater". Because the singular moral code these days is "I should be able to do what I want, and you are free to do what you want ... as long as it's not to disagree with me."
Where do we go from here?
Well, surely the logical outcome of this kind of morality is obvious. It is an descending loop that, if carried to its obvious conclusion, will result in anarchy. It will result in "every man doing what is right in his own eyes" which can only end in disaster. And it wouldn't stop at murdering babies in the womb. Some have already argued that "post partum abortion" (my term) makes sense. Bioethcist Peter Singer considers it "speciesist" to protect human life, even after birth, while killing other species. And, look, if there is no God, if humans are not in the image of God, if we're all just a product of Evolution as in the popular view today, then it becomes impossible to defend any moral position beyond "It's right or wrong for me" and any argument that defends human life at all. I'm not at all sure that's a world in which you and I want to live. I note, however, that, considering, as examples, murder rates in Chicago and bombings in the Middle East and elsewhere, there are many who already do.