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There were two major criteria or legal arguments that crafted the major contours of the Roe v. Wade ruling: (1) the woman’s right to privacy, and (2) the criteria of viability, which, roughly put, is the baby’s ability to survive outside of the womb on his/her own. This piece is designed to be largely scientifically heuristic, letting the science point us where to go; however, in conclusion, I will discuss the role of the sacred or sanctity as it relates to human life and as it bears on the topic of abortion.

  • The right to privacy for a woman who willingly involves herself in sex and carries in her body the cells of another, thus not properly private to her, is uncompelling based on the scientific nature of pregnancy — emphasis on the word “willingly” above so that we exclude from this present discussion rape, incest, and otherwise unwilling, compelled pregnancy. A woman’s body is privately hers and hers alone prior to involving herself in the communal act of sex. Sex, with exceptions like artificial insemination, is definitionally a public affair in the sense that it is always communal involving at least two. Most important in the following days after sex (and conception) is the scientific fact that the man’s seed, his body not the woman’s body, is compositionally entailed in the new conceived life. Therefore, any concealment by the woman from the man about the conception is to withhold vital — literally a living part of the man’s body — information about the man’s body. The man has a right to his body although the woman has privileged epistemic access because she carries that new life in herself. Ergo, in this specific instance, a woman’s right to privacy violates the man’s right to his body, literally the seed that has now become a new conceived human life. We could go further here and note the fact that in many ways the woman’s body treats this new conceived life as a foreign agent. The right to privacy is (in consensual sex) disbanded by the woman’s involvement in sex and conception; she has willingly given up that privacy for the sake of sex and sharing herself with this man. An argument could be made that there is a couple’s right to privacy over the new conceived life; this would require remarkably mature couples that are simply not a de facto possibility in society at large. Notice here we do not have to make the argument about “when the conception becomes human.” We just use the scientific data that the conception is the man’s body too. This is scientifically demonstrable and dispels the half truth that the conception is the woman’s body; it is, but it is also the man’s body. If we wanted to, we could build on this with arguments about how the woman’s body treats the conception as an autonomous entity, but this is beyond the scope here.
  • The criteria of viability functions on the notion of when a baby can survive outside the womb on its own. This criterion is potently ambiguous, and I shall argue we should toss it because of this. The first set of business though is to demonstrate the ambiguity. What does “survive outside the womb mean?” Does this entail the usage of cutting-edge medical technology or is it only common medical technology? Is it the medical technology capacities of the 1980s or of the 2020s? Could someone argue that “survive outside the woman’s body” entails the ability for the baby to feed him/herself? In other words, could a ‘bad actor-lawyer’ argue that “survive” fundamentally means the full spectrum of activities to maintain human living? The 1973 court case, after all, specified viable to mean “capable of prolonged life outside the mother’s womb.” From what I can gather, the intent was to put the life of the woman ahead of the life of the fetus. Echoing back to point (1) above, it likewise put the life of the woman ahead of the life of the man and the fetus. Why should the woman get to decide unilaterally that the man’s body (his seed, now inherently part of the fetus) should die? Who decides what “prolonged life” means? One-year olds certainly cannot prolong their life outside of the womb for long without having virtually everything done for them all the time.  What is the takeaway of this series of questions? Precisely that (a) the ambiguity in the phraseology itself is disastrous for clear meaning and (b) that the vicissitudes involved in changing medical technology from the passage of time, geographic location, and even supply line matters, makes the ‘criterion of viability,’ frankly unviable. The scientifically simple way to determine viability would be at conception. The union of the egg and the seed, the known multiplication of cells and growth, the man’s body and the woman’s body generating someone new, all these are scientifically known at conception. Who determines why viability is conception? Call it nature if you like, maybe science if you want; if you are religiously minded, call it God. The point is that this fundamental union called conception is codified in the fabric of nature in the process of procreation.

We humans observe this natural occurring phenomenon called conception, letting that determine viability. This is resoundingly more scientific than letting court room debate, and a very small group of people determine when human life begins by arbitrarily defining “viable.”

Lastly, and in close, the sanctity of human life is something part and parcel to every citizen of the United States that loves the Declaration of Independence. It proposes that humans’ dignity is endowed by a human’s shear existing, coming from the Creator. This is what makes them unalienable.  The benefit this constitutional link to the Creator provides is incalculable, laying an unassailable connection between creature and Creator that no government can get in the middle of — so long as the people hold fast to that constitutional truth.  The Declaration of Independence also claims that “all men are created equal,” which is repeating and upholding that Scriptural claim that God’s Spirit knits people together in the womb, and man and woman are participants of that creational process. Scripture further notes that God knew people before one of their days were. In short, the foundational document, the Declaration of Independence, maximizes the sanctity of human life; the arbitrarily, court-roomed defined “viable” marginalizes the importance of human life by making it determined by a kind of lawyer elitist debate. I don’t know about you, but I have very little interest in letting elites of any type determine things for me. I prefer the scientific, natural moment of conception to define viable, and with that position, move in the same direction as the Declaration of Independence in maximizing the sanctity of human life.

Prime Theologian

Against All Odds