I’m a staunchly pro-life student at Trinity College Dublin, well-ensconced in a radically pro-choice social circle. Like most of modern Ireland, I’ve witnessed those near and dear to me advocating for abortion on demand, discussed abortion with friends who have experienced it personally, and spent hours reading pro-choice literature authored by eminent doctors and philosophers. However, nothing that I’ve read and no one with whom I’ve conversed has yet given me a convincing answer to one crucial question:
If life does not begin at conception, when does it definitively begin?
Abortion advocates cannot seem to agree on when exactly a preborn child becomes a human being with human rights, and they often dodge the question by saying that it’s up to the mother to decide. However, in no other part of society do we allow private citizens to decide for themselves when ending a human life is appropriate. After all, the law outlines exactly what it means to commit homicide and manslaughter.
Given the fact that some favour limited abortion access while others advocate for abortion on demand even up to birth, I sincerely cannot understand how pro-choice advocates can possibly justify sweeping policies to legalise abortion before they can even agree amongst themselves whether or not it is the taking of a life.
In the absence of definitive evidence to the contrary, science tells us that abortion at any stage of pregnancy is the ending of a life. Preborn children are genetically identical to the rest of us, and although they are certainly less developed, it’s deeply problematic to insinuate that physiological development or neurological capacity are what determine a human being’s right to live. A five-year-old is no less human than a forty-year-old, despite existing at an earlier or “lesser” stage of development; similarly, a second-trimester infant is no less human than a two-year-old. Though the second-trimester infant may be dependent upon the their mother for their survival, this does not make them less human. Our humanity is something intrinsic and inherent to us, and the degree to which we possess physiological independence does not make us more or less human.
I am also pro-life for a million other reasons, but in short, I am pro-life because neither science nor philosophy has given us a compelling reason to consider preborn babies as anything other than alive and human. I am pro-life because I am disgusted by the HSE’s eagerness to fund abortion on demand even as they refuse to fund critical elements of the National Maternity Strategy. I am pro-life because I am a staunch feminist who believes that society systemically undervalues female labour during pregnancy and in the domestic sphere, and that mothers should be given long-term support in every way possible instead of being offered a quick fix. I am pro-life because I believe that abortion is a symptom of longstanding social problems, and not their solution. I am pro-life because I believe in the value of human life at every stage.