I believe pet rocks are alive and deserving of human rights. I have collected a lot of petition signatures from people agreeing with me. Now I demand the government must listen to me and pass laws protecting pet rocks. People who get rid of pet rocks they don’t want are criminals.
It sounds silly, but only because it’s not backed up by a relatively old and powerful religion. When you think about it, it’s exactly analogous to: I believe fetuses are alive and deserving of human rights. I have collected a lot of signatures on petitions agreeing with me. Now I demand the government must listen to me and pass laws protecting fetuses. People who get rid of fetuses they don’t want are criminals.
The reason it’s analogous is that you can’t prove a fetus is alive anymore than I can prove a pet rock is. You cannot demonstrate this in a way everyone can agree on, such as scientifically. Not even all Christians agree that the Bible supports an anti-abortion political platform:
They recognize that in our pluralistic society, politicians must not be allowed to impose laws about childbearing based on any particular belief about when life begins. The notion that life begins at the moment of conception is a belief held by some, but not all, religious groups.
Certainly non-believers have a whole range of ideas about whether a fetus is alive, and guess what? Non-believers have as much right to choose public policy as believers.
The view that a fetus is just as alive as a living woman or girl should strike us as pretty bizarre. As bizarre as, say, the idea that a chicken egg is a living bird and deserves equally humane treatment to the chicken that laid it. It’s a ludicrous assertion, and people should have to provide some kind of empirical proof of this aliveness in embryo before their point is considered.
But it gets worse, because when you argue that the woman’s right to use her body as she sees fit must bow to the fetus’ rights, you are actually arguing that a fetus is more deserving of basic, human, Constitutional rights than a woman or girl. So this position should strike us as not only bizarre, but deeply contrary to basic sense and logic, especially given the lack of empirical basis. You’re arguing that the chicken egg deserves more rights than the chicken.
Unfortunately, religion proceeded science in this country, and resistance to the very idea of science still rules the Republican party.
And that is the only reason why the anti-abortion platform even has a voice in this country. There is simply no scientific support for the idea that a fetus is alive before it’s mature enough to survive outside the womb. And that’s what the abortion laws in most states used to be based on – late term abortions of viable fetuses were only available to save the life of the mother.
When you are pitting the rights of a group of sentient beings against another group of beings, you should not only have to prove the other group is alive, but also as sentient as the first. That cannot be done in the case of fetuses, so why do we even have this national conversation?
Public policy must be decided by hard facts, not beliefs. Beliefs must be protected, of course, and that means anti-abortionists can not only refrain from getting abortions, but raise their kids to think that way and try to convince anyone and everyone who will listen that abortion is wrong.
It’s time everyone in this country – everyone who seriously respects the responsibilities and freedoms entailed in being an American, that is – acknowledge that facts are different from opinions, and only facts should be considered in determining public policy.
As Neil deGrasse Tyson tells us: “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” I know that’s something not everyone wants to hear. Those people need to get over it.