What shall we call the unborn in the womb?
If the entity is a living thing, is it not a life? If your person began as a single cell, how can that fertilized egg be something other than a human being? Isn’t it more accurate to say you were an embryo than that you simply came from one?
So when does a human being have a right to life?
Shall we say size matters? Is the unborn child too small to deserve our protection? Are big people more valuable than little people? Are men more human than women? Do offensive linemen have more rights than jockeys? Is the life in the womb of no account because you can’t hold him in our arms, or put him in your hands, or because you can only see her on a screen?
Shall we make intellectual development and mental capacity the measure of our worth? Are 3-year-old children less valuable than 13-year-olds? Is the unborn child less than fully human because he cannot speak or count or be self-aware? Does the cooing infant in the crib have to smile or shake your hand or recite the alphabet before she deserves another day? If an expression of basic mental acuity is necessary to be a full-fledged member of the human community, what shall we do with the comatose, the very old, the severally mentally impaired, or the 50-year-old mom with Alzheimer’s? And what about all of us who sleep?
Shall we deny the unborn child’s right to life because of where he lives? Does environment give us value or take it away? Are we worth less inside than outside? Can we be justly killed when we swim under water? Does where we are determine who we are? Does the eight-inch journey down the birth canal make us human? Does this change of scenery turn “its” into persons? Is love a condition of location?
Shall we reserve human dignity only for those humans who are not dependent on others? Do we deserve to live only when we can live on our own? Is the four-month-old fetus less than human because she needs her mom for life? Is the four-month-old infant less than human when she still needs that same mom for life? What if you depend on dialysis or insulin or a breathing apparatus? Is value a product of fully functioning vitality? Is independence a prerequisite for human identity? Are we worth only what we can think, accomplish and do on our own?