Do You Believe the Embryo/Fetus Is Not a Human Being?

by Mark Ritter and Dan Mannion

The 19th century saw the United States embroiled in a fierce Civil War. Brother was pitted against brother; family against family. Hundreds of thousands of Americans were killed during this dark period in our history; not by foreign troops but by our own people. Of all the factors involved in the cause of this war, one stands out: Were black people human beings with "certain inalienable rights" guaranteed in the Constitution, or were they, according to a Supreme Court ruling of the day, mere property, entirely at the mercy of their owners?

Over a century later we see another Civil War waging in this country. Again, brother fights brother, friends war against friends. Again, hundreds of thousands are being killed on the battlefield. And again the question is: Are certain individuals really human beings with constitutionally guaranteed rights or are they, according to a Supreme Court ruling of our day, mere property, at the mercy of their "owners"?

Our Civil War today is Abortion.

Those who today call themselves "Pro-Life" claim that the embryo and fetus are human beings, that they do deserve a "right to life." But isn't the Pro-Life cause really "much ado about nothing"? Aren't they wasting valuable time and energy over a non-issue? Isn't the embryo/fetus only a mass of tissue, only potential human life? And aren't the Pro-Life people giving this "thing" a higher priority than it deserves; a higher priority than a woman's right to both privacy and to do to her own body as she wants? What do you think?

Do you believe the embryo/fetus is not a human being?

Do you believe the embryo-fetus is not a human being because . . .

it is only potential human life?
But a potential human being must be an actual something else. An actual what? It clearly belongs to no other species than the human species. And what criteria are used for defining this magic time at which this undefined potentiality becomes reality? (See many of the alleged criteria below.) When does the change occur, and again, what is it before it reaches that point?

it's only now a mass of tissue and blood?
The heart starts to beat two to four weeks after conception. The tiny brain is already generating brain waves after 7 weeks. By the second month (when most abortions take place) the arms, legs, fingers, toes, ears, nose, mouth, muscles, organs, and bones are either formed or close to finish. It is clear to anyone who has ever seen one of the multitude of embryonic or fetal pictures available that this tiny entity is more than some nondescript "mass."

it isn't fully developed?
Neither is a three-year-old. A human is not fully developed until the late teens to early twenties, and even afterwards matures in different ways. Can the stage of development really define what the being is? Is an adult more human than a child or merely more developed?

it isn't conscious?
Can consciousness be a universal human trait? If so, would a sleeping or anesthetized or comatose person be considered "non-human" because of his or her lack of consciousness?

it isn't big enough?
Size defines humanness? A teenager is more human than an infant because of size? A basketball player is more human than a dwarf?

it's inside the womb?
The location of an individual determines whether or not it is a human being? A baby the moment before birth is not human, but immediately after birth becomes human? How? Why? What is the child when it's half-way out? Half-human?

it might be imperfect?
Like you and me?

it doesn't look human?
One's appearance determines humanness? Is an ape more human than an embryo because it looks more human? Isn't the important question here, "What is it?", rather than, "What does it look like?"

it's dependent on the mother?
A three-week-old baby is totally dependent on another human, too. It is not able to survive alone outside the womb, either. It needs comfort and care and protection and food, etc., or it will die. The total independence of anyone is a myth; we are all dependent on someone other than ourselves. How can the one physical condition called "dependence" (by which we are all stricken) determine humanness, let alone whether that human being has a right to Life or not?

it's not viable outside the womb?
The ability to survive outside the womb, viability, illogically calls upon time and place as the determining factors of humanness. A 6-month pre-born fortunate enough to be near a medical center is viable, thus human; but a 6-month pre-born in a rural town is not viable--it wouldn't survive outside the womb--thus it is not human? Does the pre-born become more human as its mother drives near a hospital but then recede back into a nebulous non-human state the farther they drive from the emergency room?

it's part of the woman's body?
The hands are the mother's? The heart? The brain? Taking that argument to its logical conclusion, (via the transitive relationship where if A is a part of B, and B is a part of C, then A is a part of C) a pregnant woman then has four hands, four feet, two brains, and, if the fetus is a boy, the woman has both male and female genitals. Perhaps you can see how illogical this argument is. Moreover, the fetus has its own unique genetic code in each of its cells; not the mothers code, not the father's code--its own human genetic code. The fetus is in the mother, attached to the mother, but not part of the mother.

it's only a bunch of cells?
So are we. We have trillions of cells, the unborn have from one to millions of cells. And their cells, like ours, all have purpose and function. The number of cells no more defines humanness than does size.

it isn't wanted?
There are people who believe that an embryo or fetus is not to be considered a human life until the mother wants it. The obvious implication here is that ones feelings magically determine the identity of the object of those feelings. Therefore, if a father no longer wants his teenage son, the son suddenly becomes non-human. A dog, no longer wanted or loved by its owner, becomes non-dog. This argument is actually held by some "educated" abortionists.

it isn't alive?
It's growing. It's developing. It's responding. It's functioning. It's burning food and oxygen. It's giving off waste products. Its cells are reproducing. These are properties of a living being. It is a Life.

There are these three choices:

1) The embryo-fetus is a human being.
2) The embryo-fetus is not a human being.
3) We do not know ...

IF IT IS HUMAN and we intentionally take the Life of this innocent human being, then we commit murder. Those are strong words but, nevertheless, they are true. We can water it down and ignore the issue by calling it "the termination of a pregnancy," but it is still the taking of an innocent human life. This does not imply that a woman allowing an abortion has the heart of a murderer. But the action is murder.

IF IT IS NOT HUMAN, if it is not Homo sapiens, then to what species does it belong? If it is only potential human life, then what is it now? When does it suddenly become worth saving and why then?

IF WE DO NOT KNOW IF IT IS HUMAN, is it worth the risk? Is the possible taking of an innocent human Life ever worth the risk?

Please take time to reanalyze your opinion concerning abortion; it truly is a matter of Life and Death. There are over 4000 abortions a day in the U.S., over a million a year, and over 50 million a year world-wide. If it is true that the fetus is a human, perhaps you see why Pro-Life people see this as a modern day holocaust. Hitler had nothing on us. He convinced a blinded nation that there were individuals who were less than human, who were interfering and dispensable, and who did not have the right to live. He allowed them no defense and then slaughtered them by the millions. Could the same be said of organizations like the National Abortion Rights Action League, Planned Parenthood and dozens of others? Might they have blinded our nation by convincing us that there are people who are less than human, dispensable, and do not have the same rights to Life as you and I? Have they put the "rights" and privileges of a Master Race -- those born -- over the lives of a defenseless, "unwanted" race -- the unborn?

Our concern is also for the woman -- the other victim of abortion. Our fear is that in closing her eyes to her child's true nature and in bowing to the pressures put upon her by a society which cares little for Life, she may be snuffing out the Light in her own soul. Abortion, which many Pro-Abortion advocates see as a simple clinical operation, is to us both the losing of a Life and the hardening of a Heart; a hardening which may lead ultimately to the death of the soul. To us, this is of great concern.

Thank you for taking a moment to read this. Please won't you speak up for those who cannot speak, and take part in defending the defenseless?

Somebody needs to -- now.

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