Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pro-choice leader: 'A fetus is not a life'

In its coverage of the March for Life, CNN quoted NOW President Terry O'Neill saying, "A fetus is not a life, sorry."

If O'Neill means "life" in a biological sense, then she's obviously wrong, as countless pro-choice advocates concede. After all, the fetus meets all the biological criteria for life, and he or she is growing. Dead things don't grow. No scientist denies that the fetus is alive.

O'Neill's statement is defensible only if she means "life" in a moral or social sense. But then she could put her position much more clearly, the way sophisticated and intellectually honest pro-choice advocates do: "The fetus may be a living member of the species Homo sapiens, but he or she (sex has already been determined) is not a valuable person with rights, like you and me."

That's O'Neill's position, but it's not enough to just state it -- and then add "sorry!" In public deliberation over important issues, we give reasons for our views. O'Neill needs to offer reasons to think we should exclude one class of human beings (the unborn) from the realm of equal respect and protection.