You see, laws in this country are not based on religion. In fact, our Founding Fathers specifically planned to create a nation where religious freedom was protected. In order to do that, one must have a secular country based on logical principles, not a theocracy.
History has shown that government based upon religion inevitably persecutes those who disagree with the religion in power. Many, if not most, of those who came to America and founded this nation came to escape religious persecution. They knew firsthand the dangers of living in a church state. They wanted to ensure freedom for all, so they set up a secular government and laid out basic principles to limit the government’s power and prevent oppression of the people. Their principles were based on the concept of inalienable rights – rights that are innate in every human being and which government cannot grant or take away. These rights include the right to life, liberty, ownership of property, religion, a fair trial, and many others – all developed from basic logical principles. And, in this country, laws are to be made by the people, but only in accordance with these principles so that no one's rights will be violated.
Of course, these logical principles are quite consistent with a Biblical worldview – and not by accident. The concept of inalienable rights, for example, comes from the view that mankind is the product of a Creator who has endowed them with these rights. Religious freedom is also consistent with the Bible. After all, even God Himself does not force Himself upon anyone, but gives all people the free choice to choose Him or not. But one cannot enforce every doctrine from the Bible in a secular society. There are things that are wrong, according to the Bible, which cannot be made law. How would one, for example, make lust or coveting illegal? And while the Bible commands us to remember the Sabbath day, one cannot enforce this on all people within a society without violating their freedom of religion. Thus, not everything that is wrong should be illegal.
How does one decide, then, what should and should not be legal in a secular society? The answer lies in applying these basic logical principles and in protecting the human rights of all the people. Thus, murder should be illegal – not because the Bible says it is wrong, but because such a behavior violates the inalienable right to live of the victim and because allowing such behavior is bad for society. Similarly, theft should be illegal – not because the Bible says it is wrong, but because theft violates the right to own property of the victim, and because theft is bad for society.
If we hope to make abortion illegal we must use these same basic principles and develop a secular argument for the rights of the unborn. It is this secular argument we MUST be making if we are to succeed. Many of us who are pro-life are Christians and have religious reasons to believe that abortion is morally wrong according to the Bible. However, that does not mean that abortion should be illegal in a secular society. We have to make the right argument if we are going to produce change.
So here is a secular argument that abortion should be illegal.
To begin our argument we must first show that the unborn are living human beings. After all, only humans have human rights. To do that, we use science.
Science uses criteria such as growth, responsiveness to the environment, movement, and metabolism (using food for energy) in order to distinguish life from non-life. Living things, including a single-celled human zygote, show these characteristics and non-living things do not.
So, it’s quite obvious from science that the unborn are living things. What kind of living thing depends on what the parents are. Obviously, the offspring of human parents is human. This is confirmed by the presence of distinctly human DNA and a human pattern of development. Thus, it is clear from science that the product of human sperm and egg is alive and human.
Of course, even sperm and egg cells show characteristics of being alive and they have human DNA, but they are not separate organisms. A sperm or egg cell is simply a piece of an adult human’s body that is essentially broken off and on its own (just like a skin cell can be removed from the body and stay alive for a little while). So sperm and eggs are alive, but not capable by themselves of being anything more than a piece of the body they came from. But once a sperm and egg meet, a radical event takes place that forms a completely new entity. This new cell, a zygote, has a complete and unique set of human DNA that lays out the entire plan for its whole body.
Individual cells that are part of a larger body work to grow and preserve the larger body and are not important in themselves. All that matters is that the body survives, even at the expense of some of the cells. Thus, each cell works for the goal of supporting the body, not preserving itself. Once a zygote is formed, however, this new individual now works as a separate unit toward the goal of growing, preserving, and developing himself. He no longer functions as a part of another body, but forms a new body all his own. The zygote is in fact a new individual, different from both parents, that is already either male or female and which follows the distinct pattern of human development. It just takes time for him or her to grow. But all the information for building the adult body is there from the beginning. The development of the organs and organ systems is just a matter of time, but the instructions are already in place in the zygote, as is the ability to function as a separate entity. This is all well-understood science and can be found in any introductory biology textbook.
So, it is very clear from science that a zygote is a separate, living human individual. The argument that a human zygote is not alive or is not human has already been thoroughly debunked by science.
The newer argument put forth by the pro-choice bunch is that a zygote or embryo isn’t a person (which is a question of value, not science, and thus can’t be answered by science). Basically, the pro-choicers are trying to claim that not all humans are people, which is a very dangerous thing to claim.
The million-dollar question is, if not all humans are persons, then how do we know who is a person? When does personhood begin? Some say at birth. Some say at viability. Some say when the heart begins to beat. Some say when they’re self-conscious. So who gets to decide which definition of personhood is right? And what if they’re wrong? What if they’re allowing real persons to be killed? History says that’s what happens when you try to separate personhood and humanity. We’ve used other definitions of personhood in the past – definitions that excluded some members of the human race. But every time we have claimed that some human beings were not persons, we have been wrong.
At one time, our country claimed that blacks were not persons. Thus they were enslaved and mistreated as their inalienable rights were ignored and denied. The same thing has been done throughout history. Certain groups have been denied legal personhood in order to ignore their innate rights. In Nazi Germany, for example, the Jews were not legal persons, and thus the Holocaust, in which 6 million were slaughtered, was completely legal. It’s very convenient to claim that those you wish to kill or exploit are not persons. Thus, it’s a very common rationalization when one wishes to ignore the rights of others.
Every time we have claimed that some human beings were not persons, we have been wrong. Every time. And it led to horrific results. What is happening now is that we are saying that the unborn are not persons. And, not surprisingly, their rights are being ignored and they are being slaughtered.
But it’s not logical or right to claim that a human being must be born in order to be a person any more than it is to claim that a human being must be white or male or non-Jewish in order to be a person. Logically, all humans must be persons. To deny that is to use some arbitrary criteria for what constitutes a person and thus exclude some humans from that definition. Historically, that has always been wrong and has led to terrible tragedies of justice. What needs to happen is that we recognize and protect the inalienable rights of ALL human beings, born and unborn.
In claiming that the unborn are not persons, what the pro-choice side is really arguing is that we, as a society, decide who has rights. But rights don't come from society or from government. If government grants them, then government can decide, arbitrarily, to take them away from anyone they please. This country was founded on a different proposition – a radical idea that people have innate rights that are not dependent on government. That it is fundamentally wrong for anyone, even government, to violate these rights. These are known as inalienable rights – innate rights of all humans that cannot be taken away for any reason. It is on this fact – this higher law – that our case for the rights of the unborn rests. And it was this higher law on which our Constitution was built.
The truth is, the unborn do have inalienable rights. They are human beings with the same rights as all other human beings. And those rights should be protected in a secular society just as the rights of all other humans should be. This can be demonstrated with science and logic and can convince even those who do not believe the Bible. More importantly, this is WHY abortion should be illegal – not because the Bible says it is wrong, but because abortion is a violation of basic human rights. All people should be in favor of protecting the rights of all human beings, regardless of their religion.