The Secular Case Against Abortion

/ Commentary

Abortion has become one of the most vigorously contested political, philosophical, and moral debates not only in the United States, but around the world.

As pro-life legislation sweeps across America, young conservatives are hoping to leave a legacy as the generation that protects those who cannot protect themselves. However, conservatives too often make a glaring error in their pro-life advocacy by arguing under religious authority.

There are plenty of secular arguments to be made as to why abortion is an abhorrent, unthinkable injustice. It is fundamentally wrong for conservatives to argue for a pro-life position while citing the Bible and other religious texts for the same reason it is foundationally erroneous for those on the left to argue for a pro-choice stance while pointing to the Supreme Court: it is fallacious argumentation.

None of this is to say the Bible is incorrect in its indications murder is wrong and there is sanctity to all human life. The Bible has importance when debating the issue of abortion among fellow Christians, but when arguing with nonbelievers, religious texts do little, if anything, to establish meaningful debate.

Citing the Bible or the Roe v. Wade decision is an ad verecundiam fallacy — an appeal to authority. It is philosophically invalid to cite these sources for the same reason: there is absolutely no way to ensure the reliability and validity of the supposed authority is accepted by both sides represented.

Those on the left may not believe in the Bible just as those on the right do not trust the absolutism of the Supreme Court to be the great moral arbiter. Because there is no cogent, dependable source to which both sides can legitimately appeal, we must abandon contentious dependency on authority, and rather enter the realm of secular argumentation.

For example, while claiming to support the objective nature of science, the Democratic Party perpetually ignores the fact all available scientific evidence points to the idea life begins at conception. Anything else is ignorance masquerading as intelligence and fails to stand up to basic scrutiny. To those who claim otherwise, I urge you to explain why the child develops its own heartbeat by three weeks, the foundations of its central nervous system by five weeks, the nociceptors that detect pain by seven weeks, and its own set of fingerprints as well as its unique genetic code at fertilization — all independent of the mother. To suggest life begins at any point other than conception is to arbitrarily pronounce every human life invalid up until that subjective, whimsical point for the sake of political convenience.

Not only is abortion antithetical to basic biological and developmental fact, the issue goes beyond the realm of science. The philosophical and political idea of bodily autonomy derives from the “harm principle” articulated by John Stuart Mill. According to the “harm principle,” individuals have the freedom to act in any manner they choose and engage in any number of behaviors available to them on one condition: those actions or behaviors do not harm others.

Ironically, the same philosophy which gives pro-choicers the argument for bodily autonomy also renders abortion unjustifiable. According to the “harm principle,” abortion is unjustified because, by definition, it is the termination of another human life by a physician. As the “harm principle” states, no individual or group of people — including doctors — is endowed the right to harm others. Even if the action is voted on, approved of, and supported by all others, the harm done to the receiving party remains unjustified and unjustifiable.

Let's be sure we are arguing the evils of abortion correctly based on our audience. It is our responsibility to ensure we as a generation are a voice for the voiceless children who are helpless victims of the barbarism committed as a result of the toxic pro-abortion agenda.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Human Defense Initiative.

The Secular Case Against Abortion
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