Pro-Life. But Why?

By Erich Wallacemarch for life

A few weeks ago, I attended the March for Life in Washington, D.C. with 76 other people from the Diocese of Superior and 650,000 people from across the nation. I have never really done anything “pro-life” per-se, except attend a “Right to Life” banquet several years ago because of a last minute invitation. Saying that, I was excited to get educated about the pro-life movement through this trip. With the new legalization of late-term abortions in New York (when the mother’s life is in jeopardy) and with all of the discussion about abortion in the media and amongst the public in general, I feel like I need to express myself about it, so here it goes. 

First off, it seems that the main question that the argument between the pro-life and pro-choice parties comes back to is: “When does an embryo/fetus actually become a human?” This very fundamental question of the highest importance has me absolutely baffled because we live in a time where there are six people leaving the Catholic Faith for every one that joins, oftentimes in the name of “scientism (an ideology that promotes science as the purportedly objective means by which society should determine normative and epistemological values).”[1] As a result, people will look to science for all of their answers and disregard faith or anything that can’t be scientifically proven. Yet, it seems, they will turn a blind eye to what science shows in the development of an unborn child. [Disclaimer: I do not believe faith and science are contradictory; I believe they complement one another. See my last blog for more info on that:]. I can’t see why someone would turn to science for all of their answers and yet say a child isn’t a human until a certain point in its development or until it is born. At the moment of fertilization, the baby’s genetic makeup is complete and the sex is determined. [2] It also has a DNA completely separate from its mother’s.  To me, if something has a fully developed genetic makeup, it is a member of the species it is being born into.  The only difference between an embryo and a person reading this blog, is time.

Saying that, though, in a pro-choice article titled, “How to Argue Pro Choice: 11 Arguments Against Abortion Access, Debunked,” author Seth Millstein admits he is probably not going to convince his audience that a fetus is not a human, but still presents common pro-life arguments and how to refute them. The first portion of his article states the following:

“Common (pro life) Argument #1: A fetus is a human being, and human beings have the right to life, so abortion is murder.

Your (pro choice) Response: I’m probably not going to convince you that a fetus isn’t a life, as that’s basically the most intractable part of this whole debate, so I’ll be brief:

  • A fetus can’t survive on its own. It is fully dependent on its mother’s body, unlike born human beings.
  • Even if a fetus was alive, the “right to life” doesn’t imply a right to use somebody else’s body. People have the right to refuse to donate their organs, for example, even if doing so would save somebody else’s life.
  • The “right to life” also doesn’t imply a right to live by threatening somebody else’s life. Bearing children is always a threat the life of the mother…
  • A “right to life” is, at the end of the day, a right to not have somebody else’s will imposed upon your body. Do women not have this right as well? [3]

So, let’s look at the first point: “A fetus can’t survive on its own. It is fully dependent on its mother’s body, unlike born human beings.” A fetus can’t survive on its own. Seriously? A two or three old toddler can’t survive on its own either. Heck, nowadays, a 15 year-old kid could hardly survive on their own. They would probably starve to death playing Fortnite if mom didn’t have the meatloaf ready at six every night, am I right? Should we able to kill toddlers and teenagers as well? This pro-choice argument can’t be considered logical unless it is also okay with the killing of children or any human who cannot survive on its own, which, in this country, is considered murder. Huh? Who would have thought?

The second point: “Even if a fetus was alive, the ‘right to life’ doesn’t imply a right to use somebody else’s body. People have the right to refuse to donate their organs, for example, even if doing so would save somebody else’s life.”  I mean honestly, this argument just makes me very uneasy and I think the wording of it would be completely changed depending on if a baby is wanted or unwanted. Would an expectant mother who is eager to become a mom ever say, “This baby is just using my body; what a little parasite!”? I don’t think so! A uterus is for growing a human, that’s its entire purpose. A child growing inside of a woman is not simply using it, it’s coming into being the way that God and science intended. To address the second part of the point: “People have the right to refuse to donate their organs, even if doing so would save another life (so why can’t a mother refuse the use of her organs to the baby inside her)?” This argument stems from author Judith Jarvis Thomson from 1971 in her moral philosophy paper titled “A Defense of Abortion.”[4] As Catholic Answers staff apologist Trent Horn states, there is a crucial difference between refusing to donate an organ (which would indirectly lead to a person’s death), and directly aborting an unborn child. [5] The crucial difference is the intent. Someone’s death as a result of another person not donating an organ to them does not mean the person who didn’t donate willed the death of that person. Abortion is most often done with the intent of killing the baby. Hypothetically speaking, and to paraphrase a further example from Trent Horn from his article “Abortion and Good Samaritan Arguments,” if I refused to donate a kidney to my cousin and my cousin survived anyway, there would be cause for celebration. If a child survived an abortion, in almost all cases, this would be seen as a failure. On top of that, just because I refused to donate my organs to a dying person doesn’t mean I have the right to directly kill them. [6] That, also, would be murder.

The third point states, “The ‘right to life’ also doesn’t imply a right to live by threatening somebody else’s life. Bearing children is always a threat the life of the mother…While I do agree that childbirth can be dangerous because The United Nations Population Fund states in 2015 303,000 women died of complications related to pregnancy or childbirth, the number of maternal deaths was 216 per 100,000 live births. That’s 0.002%. Of the hundreds of thousands that die during pregnancy, over 85% of them happen in the impoverished areas of sub-saharan Africa and southern Asia where there is a lack of availability to good health care. [7] What needs to be done here is not to allow abortions but to increase access to good health care.

The last point Seth Millstein makes: “A ‘right to life’ is, at the end of the day, a right to not have somebody else’s will imposed upon your body. Do women not have this right as well?” 

I guess the conclusion I’ve come to on this is: what about the woman or man inside your e wallace m4l.pngbody? Don’t they have the right to not have someone else’s will imposed upon them? In this picture of two March-for-Lifers and myself, the sign I’m holding says, “I support a woman’s right to be born.”  In other words, I support the mother’s right to life and the baby’s. It takes me back to the Declaration of Independence line that we all have to memorize in fifth grade: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” [8] Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. First among these is life. I suppose some may argue that by having a baby it may impede their right to liberty or to the pursuit of happiness, but it seems that that shouldn’t take away a baby’s right to life. To quote Mother Teresa (St. Teresa of Calcutta):

“It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” [9]

I know many people are in the pro-choice movement thinking they are doing good, protecting human rights, protecting women’s rights, but to further quote Mother Teresa: “Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love is abortion.” [10]

It seems to me that us humans try to seek our happiness through selfishness. I do it all the time. I believe the same lies over and over: that by choosing selfishness over love, it will bring me happiness. But it doesn’t. Love is always the right choice. My prayer is that expectant mothers would choose love and trust, that by choosing love, they will find joy. My prayer is also that we as Christians would not only be pro-birth but would be pro-life and support struggling single moms, look into fostering and adoption, and be people who don’t simply try and push someone into having a baby and then forget all about them. I fear that I can be that person as I’ve started delving more into this pro-life stuff, but Lord, help me, help us, to be those that choose love.


Also, if you are an expectant mother and struggling, here is some info about pregnancy resource centers in central Wisconsin:

If you are unsure about your opinions on abortion, check out this video of an OB/GYN who performed over 2,000 abortions and explains what they are (Congressional testimony, but content of the testimony is very specific and the words may be too graphic for some people):

If you’re interested in seeing a movie about Planned Parenthood and a woman converted from abortion advocate to avid pro-lifer, check out this trailer for the movie coming out in March:

[4] Judith Jarvis Thomson, “A Defense of Abortion,” Philosophy and Public Affairs 1.1 (Autumn 1971): 48.
[5] Trent Horn, “Abortion and Good Samaritan Arguments,” The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly (Volume 18, Number 3, Autumn 2018), 435.
[6] Trent Horn, “Abortion and Good Samaritan Arguments,” The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly (Volume 18, Number 3, Autumn 2018), 437.


3 thoughts on “Pro-Life. But Why?

Add yours

  1. Good article Erich. I often have a difficult time in my own beliefs on this topic from “In my personal life I am pro-life, but do not believe I have the right to impose my beliefs on others” to “I don’t believe money I give to the federal government should be used to fund this.” In a world where pro-choice advocacy is blindly shared/reposted online under the guise of woman’s rights it is refreshing to read a well thought out conversation on this topic.


  2. Eric – while I’m sure you are well-intentioned, it’s difficult to argue in good faith that a recently fertilized fetus is the same as a toddler or teenager. Remove the fetus from the uterus, can it survive for one minute (referring here to when it’s not medically considered viable)? one hour? 6 hours? It needs air, nutrition, blood, waste removal – all of which can only be done by by the pregnant person (not the father, the babysitter, or an older sibling). So the fetus needs that person’s continued consent to remain ‘using’ their body in the same sense that any adult human needs the continued consent of another adult during intercourse.

    You tip-toe around bodily autonomy. The kidney donation example is frequently used, as you noted. But go one step further. Flip over your driver’s license, are you an organ donor? I am, but I also know that if I wasn’t, then no matter how many lives could be saved by my organs, no one would be able to take them because that would require my consent (even in death).

    So, by saying a fetus has a right to someone’s body parts until it’s born, whatever the wishes of the pregnant person might be, you’re doing two things:

    1) granting a fetus more rights to other people’s bodies than any born person.
    2) awarding a pregnant person less rights to their body than a corpse.

    In any case, I had always thought that Pro-Life’s best bet to reduce abortions would be to lobby for universal health care, state supported daycare and higher education, etc — the things that would reduce the burden of having a child in this day and age. This would do more to convince expecting parents to move forward with pregnancy than our discourse here .


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