Politics & Policy

The Corner

Story Recognizes Pro-Lifers’ Pro-Science Arguments

The Left smugly claim to be the “pro-science” side of the political divide–until pro-lifers bring up the scientifically uncontestable biological humanity of fetuses and embryos, or, for example, that later term fetuses can feel pain or react in a sentient way to their environment. Then, suddenly, science doesn’t matter.

These scientific arguments made by the Pro-Life movement caught writer Emma Green’s attention, leading to a generally good and fair story in The Atlantic. From, “Science is Giving the Pro-Life Movement a Boost:

Activists like McGuire believe it makes perfect sense to be pro-science and pro-life. While she opposes abortion on moral grounds, she believes studies of fetal development, improved medical techniques, and other advances anchor the movement’s arguments in scientific fact.

“The pro-life message has been, for the last 40-something years, that the fetus … is a life, and it is a human life worthy of all the rights the rest of us have,” she said. “That’s been more of an abstract concept until the last decade or so.” But, she added, “when you’re seeing a baby sucking its thumb at 18 weeks, smiling, clapping,” it becomes “harder to square the idea that that 20-week-old, that unborn baby or fetus, is discardable.”

Yes, those who claim a fetus is just a ball of cells or more akin to a tumor are the ones who have “the science” wrong. 

It is also why the pro-choice movement is morphing into a pro-abortion movement, since it is becoming impossible to claim that abortion does not kill a human life. Hence, a new billboard campaign has started to boost the supposed morality and unexceptional nature of abortion, claiming such advocacy memes as, ”Abortion is normal,” or, “Abortion is sacred,” etc..

The story was generally fair and substantive–and worth your read whatever your position on abortion. But I was a bit puzzled by Green’s conclusion:

This, above all, represents the shift in America’s abortion debate: An issue that has long been argued in normative claims about the nature of human life and women’s autonomy has shifted toward a wobbly empirical debate.

As Tenney suggested, it is a move made with an eye toward winning—on policy, on public opinion, and, ultimately, in courtrooms. The side effect of this strategy, however, is ever deeper politicization and entrenchment.

A deliberative democracy where even basic facts aren’t shared isn’t much of a democracy at all. It’s more of an exhausting tug-of-war, where the side with the most money and the best credentials is declared the winner.

Funny, I thought that an essential aspect of a proper policy deliberation was finding the facts–and science proves that a gestating baby is a human being. Or to put it another way, he or she is a human organism, a member of the species.

That should be a “shared fact.” That some may not like the policy implications that follow–that some may choose to plug their ears and hide their eyes so as to remain ignorant of it or pretend the facts aren’t real–is their failing, not that of pro-lifers.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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