In a recent press conference, Nancy Pelosi was asked whether she believed an unborn baby at 15 weeks is a human being. Fox News Journalist Morgan Phillips explains,
“The question was in reference to the Supreme Court’s plan to take up a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks. The law was struck down by a federal judge in 2018, and again by the conservative Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in December 2019. Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision, legalized abortion prior to viability, or about 24 weeks into a pregnancy.”
“Let me just say that I am a big supporter of Roe v. Wade. I am a mother of five children in six years. I think I have some standing on this issue as to respecting a woman’s right to choose.”
It’s easy to understand why Pelosi might be feeling defensive about her stance at this point, especially now that officials in the Catholic Church, the church she belongs to, are trying to keep pro-choicers like her from taking part in communion. However, this would have been a great opportunity for her to express her views and maybe even defend them. Instead, she completely sidestepped the question.
This answer tells us a lot about her political views. It tells us about her family history. It even tells her what she sees as her qualifications on the subject. But it doesn’t tell us a thing about whether an unborn baby is a human or not.
Of course, giving a direct answer would probably raise more tricky questions. Let’s say that she replied, “No, the unborn are not humans.” I would then fall back on her experience as a mother and ask if she’s ever had a child turn out to be non-human. This is a bit tongue-in-cheek but honestly it’s simply science. All you need to do to determine what species an offspring is going to be is to look at the parents.
As Stephanie Gray asks,
“Are her parents human? In other words, is the pregnant woman human? Is her partner human? If yes, wouldn’t it follow that their offspring must be human?”1
If she responds “Yes, it is a human,” that leads to different kinds of problematic questions. We could ask, “Do you generally stand by a woman’s right to kill another human being? If not, why is it okay in the case of the unborn?” Americans could also ask how killing unborn human beings compares to the American Declaration of Independence which states that all men are created equal and have an unalienable right to life2
What the unborn are is a question that politicians like Pelosi need to be able to answer. The fact is, no one has an unlimited right to choose, particularly when their choice harms someone else. If the unborn are human, then that unalienable right to life should be extended to them. And since abortion would then be the intentional taking of a human life, it should be outlawed at any stage.
To not protect them because of their size, level of development, or degree of dependency would be another example of discrimination in a long sad history of human rights violations. It leads me to a final question: When will we learn from the past?
- Stephanie Gray, Love Unleashes Life: Abortion and the Art of Communicating Truth (Toronto, ON: Life Cycle Books, 2015), 35.
- Gray, Love Unleashes Life, 39.