Forgetting Our Humanity

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The leak of the Supreme Court draft ruling on Roe v. Wade has ignited a cultural firestorm.

While the Supreme Court has yet to make a final decision, destructive protests — many of which are targeted at pro-life Americans — have already begun. At least one pro-life clinic was vandalized, social media feeds are choked with vicious character attacks, conservative justices’ homes are being illegally threatened and now the “protests” are ramping up even further.

What we are seeing right now is the reality that abortion is not, and never has been, a settled issue in the U.S.

Two paradigms are clashing over the impending overturn of 1973’s Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), the laws that have established abortion precedent in our country for decades.

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If early predictions and Justice Samuel Alito’s leaked ruling hold, Roe and Casey will go, but abortion will not end with them. U.S. citizens will once again have a say, and the decision-making power on abortion will be returned to the states.

But in a nationwide debate that is essentially over what it means to be human, it seems that in the fray many have forgotten altogether.

Conversations that begin about abortion quickly veer to other subjects: whether abortion is a constitutional right, how changing the law will affect the poor, impacts on the economy, forms of abortion tourism and threats to other women’s rights.

Beneath all of it remains the fact that though many complex issues intersect with abortion, abortion itself is morally very simple. Abortion either intentionally takes the lives of innocent human beings or it doesn’t.

Scientific advances have established the unquestionable humanity of the unborn from the moment of conception. Embryology textbooks fundamentally agree that from fertilization onward the entity that exists is a living, distinct and whole human being.

Indeed, informed abortion advocates have moved away from the claims of early-stage embryos merely being a clump of cells; they now openly acknowledge that abortion ends an unborn baby’s life.

But sound philosophical argumentation also demonstrates that the moment we separate valuable personhood from humanity — the most common tactic by abortion supporters today — we automatically create gross inequality. History is rife with manifestations of the dangerous idea that some human beings don’t matter as much as others.

That seed of an idea has resulted in slavery and genocide and, since ideas have far-reaching consequences, also lurks in the very vitriol we see now in our culture as people who hold opposing views recklessly dehumanize their opponents.

If the final decision is to overturn Roe v. Wade it will save lives, and because the law is a teacher, in time it will reveal that abortion may well be the greatest evil of our time.

As this topic dominates the national conversation, pro-life supporters need to embody pro-life ideas and graciously challenge dissenters while appealing to friends and family who have stood on the sidelines of this cultural debate.

Now is a crucial time to show that when a nation abandons the imperative that the strong should protect the weak and discounts the most vulnerable among us from the valuable human community for arbitrary reasons, then none of us are safe from a similar fate. When foundational moral principles are removed, only power remains. Our own membership among those who have attained the status du jour will be determined by whoever has the power.

The pro-life view is ultimately more inclusive. It states, very simply, that our worth — and our natural rights — rest in our shared humanity, not in attributes or abilities that come to us in varying degrees.

Individuals who recognize that their worth is already firmly established in the kind of thing they are, not in a value that others may or may not attribute to them, learn bit by bit to see their fellow humans as neighbors who are worthy of respect — even if they disagree, even if they’re different, even if they’re still in the womb.

Megan Almon is a Faculty Speaker at Summit.org, addressing pro-life apologetics and bioethics.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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