The Corner

Politics & Policy

Willie Parker’s Argument for Abortion

In response to What Idiotic Laws We Need to Consider These Days

I keep reading about how Parker has presented a “moral argument” for abortion. Kristof’s column contains the closest thing I’ve seen to one from Parker. “Parker accepts that a fetus is alive — but says that life doesn’t begin at conception, because an egg is alive as well, and so is a sperm. ‘Life is a process,’ he writes. ‘It is not a switch that turns on in an instant, like an electric light.’”

This argument is, not to put too fine a point on it, terrible. Of course it is true that sperm cells and egg cells are alive (and human), but they are not living human organisms. They are functional parts of other organisms. A human embryo or human fetus, on the other hand, is a living human organism, and as such belongs to a class of being that pro-lifers believe deserve protection. It is no answer to our argument–it is not even pertinent to our argument–to note that nobody wants to protect biological entities that aren’t living human organisms.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.