My youngest son, Stephen, drives a tractor-trailer and a little more than one year ago, in the early hours of the morning, he became a hero and nearly lost his life. He was driving in rainy conditions on I285 east when he came upon an accident that had just happened. Two cars were involved blocking three lanes of the interstate. He did not know if there were any people in those cars, but he knew that if there were and he hit them with his rig, they were going to die. With only that thought in mind, he reacted immediately and, risking his own life, drove his 18-wheeler into the ditch. His truck was totaled but miraculously he sustained only minor injuries. It turned out that there were no people in the cars, but even so I consider Stephen a hero because he risked his own life to safeguard the lives of others.
The anniversary of that same day was also the National March for Life, and the conjunction of those two events struck me. Leaving aside for a moment all of the logical and emotional arguments for and against the supposed right of a woman to choose to abort her unborn child, I reflect on the fact that the real and all-important question about this issue is never discussed by the pro-abortion lobby: when does human life begin? I would argue that by definition, human life begins at conception, since that single fertilized cell is unquestionably alive and unquestionably human, but I do recognize that there are arguments against this position that could be valid. But we do need to ask and try to answer this question: when does that life become a human life, worthy of all the protections that a civilized society can and should provide to the most innocent among us? Is it when the fetus can feel pain? Is it at viability? Thirty seconds after the child clears the birth canal? An hour later, when the woman and the doctor decide to let the infant live? When the child begins to walk?
Science has vastly increased our knowledge about the development of a human within the mother’s womb, and this, in turn, has increased the difficulty of the questions we must answer. But has it really? The most important question, when does human life begin, simply cannot be answered by science. This is a moral and philosophical question that has monumental consequences for us and our society.
But in a contest between one person’s right to choose and another person’s right to live, shouldn’t we err on the side of human life? If there is just a chance that the embryo or fetus inside a woman’s body is another living human being, shouldn’t that be given due consideration before sweeping it away?
By some estimates, about fifty million abortions have taken place in America since Roe v. Wade. It is long past time that we asked these questions.