Tackling the abortion issue doesn’t require a religious debate
For nearly 40 years, the issue of abortion has been a political football framed in a religious quagmire until it became a third rail of politics.
And, although I am a Christian, and my faith certainly helps frame the debate for me, I also acknowledge there are many of you who do not share the same worldview.
Regardless of one’s worldview, however, every accepted scientific and legal definition points to personhood and a logical conclusion that abortion is murder. You don’t need a single line of scripture to get there, either.
Science says an unborn child is a human being from the moment when two reproductive cells collide.
Human reproduction is — according to the most commonly accepted scientific definition, taken directly from the Journal of Human Reproductive Sciences — “any form of sexual reproduction resulting in the conception of a child.” So, in purely scientific/medical terms, it is meant to result in the conception of a human child.
According to the JHRS, human reproduction typically involves sexual intercourse between a man and a woman, although it is possible to have conception achieved via artificial insemination. Regardless of the method, the process is always the same.
While at a childbearing age, the woman is constantly creating ova, or egg cells. Men are constantly creating their own reproductive cells, called sperm. We don’t need to go into the details of how the sperm and ovum find each other, but when it happens, something interesting happens.
The ovum is a haploid cell, meaning it only contains 23 of the 46 chromosomes that lead to a complete human genetic code. In the case of women, only the “X” chromosomes are contained in the ovum.
Likewise, the sperm is also a haploid cell. For men, the sperm can contain either the “X” chromosomes or the “Y” chromosomes, but not both. The type of chromosome the sperm cell contains will eventually determine the gender of the child (a topic for discussion on another day).
But — and this is the most important point — neither the ovum nor the sperm are capable of propagating a species. Both have a limited lifespan, and neither of them can undergo division. In essence, they are each meant to be joined with another cell.
It is that process that creates new life.
When the sperm cell penetrates the cell wall of the ovum, it releases its chromosomes. At that moment, the ovum secretes a type of mucous that hardens the cell wall, preventing other sperm cells from penetrating.
Meanwhile, the haploid chromosomal strings from the ovum and the sperm begin to conjoin, creating a diploid set of chromosomes, leading to the creation of DNA. The new DNA contains a complete genetic code that, while it is similar to both the woman and the man, is entirely different from any other cell in the universe.
This process happens in the tiniest fraction of a second, completely immeasurable with the naked eye.
In that fraction of a moment, the new cell with DNA, called a zygote, will determine every attribute of a new human being, a human child, if you will. The child’s gender, height, and eye, skin, and hair color are all locked in — they cannot be changed — from that moment forward.
This is all a matter of fact, supported by irrefutable science that cannot be impacted by whether or not you believe in creationism or Darwinism.
Now, let’s go back to the JHRS definition of human reproduction. Based on it, the moment the zygote is created, it is a human child. In other words, at the moment of fertilization — the moment of conception, if you will — a human child has been created.
That’s not a phrase you’re going to find in any religious text. In fact, you’re likely only going to find it in a scientific text.
The overwhelming majority of zygotes that do not become children are the result of human interference through processes that have been labeled “abortion.” And, if the zygote or resulting fetus is a human being, then our legal system says abortion is murder.
Black’s Law Dictionary states homicide is “the killing of one human being by another,” and further defines murder as “the unlawful killing of one human being by another with malice aforethought.” In our legal system, there are a number of accepted justifications for homicide, but for the purpose of this discussion, only one really applies.
In cases of self-defense, which is narrowly defined as protecting one’s own life from immediate deadly attack, a homicide may be justified. Furthermore, Black’s also states murder is delineated from other forms of homicide by the fact it is done with “malice aforethought.”
In legal terms, that means the homicide occurred as a result of an intended act by which there is a high degree of probability it will result in the death or serious injury of the deceased. However, if the homicide is the result of gross recklessness that demonstrates a “lack of care for human life,” this can also be considered malice aforethought in the modern American legal system.
In general, society has accepted these definitions as part of the “rule of law” that maintains order within our population. And, it is applied in the United States evenly, regardless of one’s religious leanings, or lack thereof.
So, science says it’s a person. The legal system says it’s murder. Now, let’s look at the what the U.S. Constitution says about protecting the unborn from abortion. We’ll look at both the Fifth and 14th Amendments.
The Fifth Amendment, in part reads: “No person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…”
The 14th Amendment, in part, states: “… nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws …”
The most widely accepted and common definition of “person” is: a human being, or an entity that has certain capacities and attributes strongly associated with being human.
The Fifth Amendment was meant to protect The People from the federal government.
The 14th was meant to protect them from their own state governments.
Our Declaration of Independence, the political ideals from which our republican form of government is deeply rooted, states that all people should be treated equally.
So, using scientific fact, accepted mainstream legal definitions, and the accepted interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, we have determined that a human being is created at the moment of conception, and that the intended death of that human being — through any one of many abortion processes — is homicide by murder.
And I never used the words “God,” “Jesus,” “Bible” or “Scripture” to get there.
If you’re reading this, thank a teacher. If you’re reading this in English, thank a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine.
Bob Eschliman is editor of the Daily News. He may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 423, or at firstname.lastname@example.org via email. Common Sense usually appears each Monday and Wednesday.
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