Friday, January 7, 2011

Why fetal pain matters, whether abortion is wrong or not

"Even if the unborn is not fully human [i.e., a valuable person with a right to life, like you and me], it does not logically follow that the unborn's pain is morally irrelevant. Consider the following. On the same grounds that we claim that it is not morally appropriate to torture puppies and other animals even though they are not fully human, it seems morally appropriate to assert that it is wrong to burn, smother, dismember, and/or crush an unborn human (and thus cause it excruciating pain), even if we assume that it is not fully human. Hence, if we are going to make sure that young canines, which are not potential persons, are not tortured, then we should at least grant the same courtesy to preborn humans, who are surely at least potential persons.

"But suppose the pro-lifer is correct that the unborn is fully human. Then the factor of fetal pain makes a horrible evil (i.e., the unjustified killing of an innocent human person) even more horrible and morally repugnant: the unjustified killing of an innocent person by means of torture manifested in the burning, smothering, dismembering, and/or crushing of the victim. Hence, it seems to follow from this that if there is a small probability that the unborn is fully human (as most abortion-rights advocates concede when they argue that 'no one knows when life begins' -- that is, the unborn may be fully human), and that abortion causes the unborn excruciating pain, at least [at later stages], then it is possible that ... many abortions make the womb into nothing more than a torture chamber in which innocent human persons are burned, smothered, dismembered, and/or crushed to death. In light of this possibility, isn't it better to err on the side of life and against violence and not keep open the possibility of this horror being repeated every day throughout America?"

-- Francis J. Beckwith (Politically Correct Death, p. 49)