Basing Abortion Rights on the Viability of the Fetus: Dead End

The viability of the fetus leads us directly to the question of the viability of infants, the elderly, and so on.

With no fact as a referent, what is normative is purely a matter of preference.” – Ravi Zacharias

If one follows a path of moral relativism, one needs to find a way to remain logically consistent within that framework. Unfortunately, that consistency–when applied within the unstructured structure of relativism–almost universally leads to uncomfortable places.

In the video below, made by Created Equal Films, a woman is asked whether or not fetuses at certain stages are “viable.” Picture after picture of aborted infants are shown to her—ones with recognizable faces and limbs, etc—and she continues to maintain that they are simply a “collection of tissues, cells.”

In her exchange with Created Equal Director of Campus Outreach Jami Beer, the woman eventually extends her argument to its logical conclusion:

Pro-choice woman: “If a fetus or an embryo can’t survive outside the body, I’m not seeing it as a human being…”

Jami Beer: “Aren’t you and I just a collection of tissues?”

Pro-choice woman: “Yes, we are. I could have been aborted…infanticide–it happens all over the world.”

Jami Beer: “Do you think it’s ok?”

Pro-choice woman: “Well, I think there’s choices that are made. I wouldn’t say ok–I’m not putting a value judgement on it.”

Jami Beer: “Do you think that makes it more right? Because it happens all the time?”

Pro-choice woman: “…yes, I do think it’s ok.”

The woman in the video, though morally repugnant, is at least logically consistent. The viability argument, that if an infant can “survive outside the womb,” it is a human being and deserving of rights, is inherently flawed.

But why?

Because “survival” is vaguely defined. Ask ten abortion advocates what “survive outside the womb” means, and you will get ten different answers. The general consensus, however, is that an infant must be able to maintain basic function outside the mother’s body to be classified as a human being.

But this definition leads to more questions. What defines basic functions? Breathing? A beating heart? And moreover, how long must an infant be able to survive to be considered human? At some point, every infant—even months and years after birth—requires care from an adult in order to survive. If a one year-old isn’t fed, he will die. Does that mean he is not viable? Can we terminate infants and young children who require adult care because they cannot “survive?”

This leads us deeper into the woods. If viability means the ability to survive “outside the mother,” meaning without the aid of a caretaker, what about those with disabilities? There are numerous diseases which render their hosts unable to maintain basic functions—such as breathing—and people with those diseases are often in need of around-the-clock care. Are these people less than human because they cannot “survive” on their own? And if so, can we terminate them?

Pose that question to an abortion advocate, and they will likely become indignant or momentarily confused before saying “it’s apples and oranges”—a favorite trope of the left when cornered with an argument they cannot defend. But it’s not apples and oranges; both are arguments claiming that a person’s human value is not intrinsic, but based on their ability to “survive” without the aid of another.

The woman in the video understood that if one supports abortion at any stage of pre-birth development, one must also support infanticide. She took her argument to its logical conclusion. Additionally, if pressed even more, I’m sure she would have extended it farther, condoning the termination of anyone who cannot survive on their own, period.

Just in case anyone is wondering, this argument already exists; it’s called eugenics. The termination or subjugation of the weak by the strong has been advocated by dictators such as Adolf Hitler.

Now, before you throw in the towel and yell “It always comes down to Hitler,” let’s get a little closer to home. Margaret Sanger, the oft praised founder of Planned Parenthood was a proponent of eugenics.

Margaret Sanger once wrote:

“[The most penetrating thinkers] are coming to see that a qualitative factor as opposed to a quantitative one is of primary importance in dealing with the great masses of humanity.”

Sanger was unafraid to extend her argument to its logical conclusion. I just wish abortion advocates would be as honest as she.

Life either begins at conception, or it is terminable until someone is fit to take care of themselves wholly and for an indefinite amount of time without the aid of another human being.