Without referring to anything “religious” or sourced to some faith, I prefer to apply what I learned in school about the human being to form a foundational basis for looking at the abortion issue. Back when I took a class in college called “Critical Thinking” I was taught about forms of arguing and structuring an argument. Fallacies and other subjects were also covered. One thing I recall was the statement “an argument is only as strong as the presuppositions it is built upon”. Presuppositions are those things we bring to forming the argument and if they themselves are faulty, then the strength of the argument is weakened. Lots more can be said but for the sake of what I will say here, that is sufficient.
Most arguments for abortion start far away from any foundational basis and promote “rights”. Not all arguments but most of the conversations I have ever had or heard have people jump directly to the word “rights” and will not go back to any foundational understanding of the issues.
My first premise is that the abortion issue is talking (100% of the time) about HUMAN abortion. It is not about dog abortion or cats or elephants or polar bears or bald eagles, etc. As such I can confine my points solely to that fact.
My next premise is that this topic falls under our ability to reproduce. Abortion being the termination of a pregnancy of a human means an act of reproduction has taken place. Seems a bit obvious but when building a foundational argument the assumptions I am making need to be clearly stated.
My next premise is that since it is not about any other creature on this earth, I can look at what we know about HUMANS via science. This takes me into first categorizing humans as science has shown me to do, namely, the examining of humans as a species. I will build my foundation on that point in particular.
What does science tell us about species? The term species is use to categorize life on earth by their attributes and even their relationship with one another. Plants, fish, birds and animals all have their own “tree” because their attributes seem to be similar in key ways and different from the other trees in other ways. Within this concept of species we can also point out genetic factors that make the creatures/plants in a given species “branch” similar and thus justify that they are part of the same ‘branch’ within a given species.
Humans belong to the Class called Mammals. Wikipedia defines them as: “Mammals are members of class Mammalia ( /məˈmeɪli.ə/), air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young. Most mammals also possess sweat glands and specialised teeth, and the largest group of mammals, the placentals, have a placenta which feeds the offspring during gestation. The mammalian brain, with its characteristic neocortex, regulates endothermic and circulatory systems, the latter featuring red blood cells lacking nuclei and a large, four-chambered heart maintaining the very high metabolism rate they have. Mammals range in size from the 30–40 millimeter (1- to 1.5-inch) bumblebee bat to the 33-meter (108-foot) blue whale.”
Within that class you will find separate orders, which include the primates, to which the human species belongs. Another factor that separates out the different mammals is the fact that the members of one species tends not to be able to cross-breed with another. Cats cannot naturally breed with dogs. Rabbits cannot cross-breed with foxes. And humans cannot cross-breed with any other member of the Mammal tree. What this essentially tells us is that Humans (aka, Homo-Sapiens) cannot cross-breed with anything other than another Human (Homo-Sapiens). By extension, the resulting offspring will never be anything other than another Human (Homo-Sapiens). Humans do not breed with Horses and make centaurs. Humans do not breed with goats and make Satyrs. Humans do not breed with fish and make Mermaids. These latter ideas are what we call “mythical creatures” and science shows them to be impossibilities within the differing species.
According to Wikipedia, “Humans (known taxonomically as Homo sapiens, Latin for “wise man” or “knowing man”) are the only living species in the Homo genus. Anatomically modern humans originated in Africa about 200,000 years ago, reaching full behavioral modernity around 50,000 years ago”.
Wiki again, on Human Pregnancy – “Although pregnancy begins with implantation, the process leading to pregnancy occurs earlier as the result of the female gamete, or oocyte, merging with the male gamete, spermatozoon. In medicine, this process is referred to as fertilization; in lay terms, it is more commonly known as “conception.” After the point of fertilization, the fused product of the female and male gamete is referred to as a zygote or fertilized egg. The fusion of male and female gametes usually occurs following the act of sexual intercourse, resulting in spontaneous pregnancy”.
** Based on the above I can make one solidly supported assertion based on science fact. A pregnancy within a Human woman will only produce another Human being. **
This presupposition is the one thing that can separate out many arguments about Abortion.
Think of this. Every single person alive on the face of this planet HAD to have gone through a pregnancy, not necessarily for exactly 38 weeks, but there is no artificial womb in existence which can replace a woman’s womb for the needed development time to bring a fetus or embryo to full viability and childbirth. Thus everyone currently on the face of this earth HAD to have gone through a pregnancy period of some weeks and was brought forth from the womb. Everyone HAD to have been conceived, either naturally (sexual intercourse) or by artificial insemination but they all had to spend weeks within a woman’s womb to reach childbirth.
Given that, then it is the nature of Human existence to have to go through those events in order to exist. It is an inescapable reality of life for a Human Being.
So foundationally, it remains inescapable that each abortion is the termination of a Human life. We who are outside the womb and those still within the womb are still Human Beings and we each have in common the simplified terms of conception, pregnancy and birth. We do not have to debate when we become Human Beings. Our existence within the terms of being a member of the Genus of Homo Sapiens requires conception, implantation, gestation within a woman’s womb, birth, growth and development up until the day that death ends our life, whenever that takes place.
So my foundational approach to all examination of this issue is simply, an abortion is the termination of a human life. No reference to a religious quote or passage. No attempting to obfuscate the issues. No attempting to avoid other issues. I just simply hold to the factual basis that Human life requires a pregnancy, that we all have that in common as Humans, and no other attempts to trying to define when Human life begins is needed.
Summary – Human life begins at conception and an abortion is the early termination of a Human life.