An Open Letter to My Pro-Choice Neighbor

from Jan 31, 2013 Category: Articles

Dear Neighbor,

We have been neighbors for many years, and on several occasions you have both expressed some consternation about my position on abortion. You have told me that when you have discussed this with our other neighbors, none of them can comprehend how I can take a position that “sets women’s rights back fifty years.” As you know, a few of our neighbors have even gotten angry, especially during those months leading up to elections, arguing that I want to let politicians control private medical decisions.

You asked me if I could give you one good reason why you should change your view. I can and will. The reason why I oppose abortion, and the reason why you should oppose abortion is actually quite simple, and it is this: The fetus is a human being.

Notice that I did not say, “I believe that the fetus is a human being.” Such a statement would imply that this is a matter of opinion or faith. No, it is an objective fact that the fetus is a genetically distinct individual human being from the moment the sperm cell fertilizes the ovum. It is a human being in the earliest stages of its growth and development, but it is a human being nonetheless. Read any standard textbook on embryology used in any college or university, and you will find the same fact stated in all of them.

Once this very simple and basic fact is grasped, once we understand that conception results in a living human being, it changes everything. We can no longer look at abortion as simply a debate over a woman’s right to choose because the choice involves the life or death of another human being. We can no longer look at abortion as a private medical decision involving only a woman and her doctor because there is always a third distinct human being involved as well. We can no longer look at abortion as merely the ending of a pregnancy. That is a euphemism. Abortion is, quite simply, the killing of a living human being.

Abortion is, quite simply, the killing of a living human being.

The fetus is a genetically distinct individual human being from the earliest stages of embryonic development. It is not a “potential” human being or a “potential” human life. Arguments comparing the embryo to a sperm cell (which does contain the “potential” to initiate human life) are red herrings and irrelevant. A sperm cell and a human embryo are qualitatively different things. One is a genetically distinct human being in the early stages of development. The other is not.

There is no rational excuse for supporting abortion today. Every competent scientist knows what a human embryo is. Every competent scientist knows that conception is the time at which a new genetically distinct individual human being begins to live. They knew this in 1973, and they know this now. And if it is a living human being, no one has the right to kill it any more than they have the right to kill any other human being.

People continue to support abortion, however, because they have concluded that other “rights” are more basic and more fundamental than the right of a human being not to be killed. I am hardly exaggerating when I say that in our modern culture, the most fundamental and cherished of all “rights” is the right to engage in any kind of sexual intercourse imaginable without fear of consequences. And if the preservation of this “right” involves the killing of another human being, so be it.

You can easily find numerous quotations by prominent advocates of abortion, acknowledging that it is the killing of a human being. Most who support abortion, however, redefine the fetus and deny that it is fully human. History has not been kind to those generations who deprived certain people of their basic rights to life and who did so by defining them as less than fully human. When the history of our generation is written, will you be among those who shut their eyes to injustice on a massive scale, who looked the other way as human beings were systematically killed? Or will you be among those who spoke up for those who could not speak for themselves?

The fetus is a living individual human being. The unjust killing of a human being is murder. If these two statements are true, and both are true, then the only conclusion we can reach is that abortion is murder. You asked me why you should change your view of abortion. This is why.

Learn more about this issue in R.C. Sproul’s book, Abortion.