One pro-choice argument for abortion is that the unborn are not human, are less than human, or are merely potential humans. In this video, we’re going to first walk through the development of the unborn to demonstrate that it’s unscientific, illogical, inconsistent, and arbitrary to hold the position that abortion is acceptable, but murder is wrong.
At the end of the video, we’ll comment on the limitations of secular arguments against abortion and the role of worldviews in the abortion debate. We’ll also cover other aspects of the abortion debate in other videos.
Let’s get started.
Week two: The development of the unborn technically starts the second week of a woman’s menstrual cycle, when fertilization happens. Fertilization involves a sperm and an egg combining their genetic material, forming a zygote with a distinct set of human DNA. If the sperm contains an X chromosome, the unborn is a male, and if it contains a Y chromosome, then the unborn is a female. The zygote immediately begins continually multiplying into more and more cells, and it begins traveling to the uterus, where, at about week three, implantation occurs.
Let’s stop here and cover four things:
Argument #1 – Abortion Is Supported by Science
First, there’s an overwhelming scientific consensus that human life begins at fertilization, or conception. For example, here are 25 scientific textbooks and texts that teach this.
For those who argue that human life doesn’t begin at fertilization, but rather at another point, such as implantation, the heartbeat, viability, being born, taking the first breath, or gaining consciousness or self-awareness, here’s the question: why? Overwhelmingly, science teaches that a new human life begins at fertilization, when a distinct set of human DNA is formed, DNA that can tell us whether the unborn is male or female, and when the newly created zygote begins the continual process of multiplying and growing that leads to infancy and then adulthood.
We would argue that attempts to say that human life begins at any point other than fertilization are unscientific and arbitrary, and that because of this, they fail to justify abortion. Abortion is wrong because it involves the killing of a human life, and there is a shared assumption that killing other humans without justification is murder and is immoral.
Argument #2 – Abortion Is Legal
Second, the government and the law don’t determine what’s right and wrong. The African slave trade used to be legal, but it was still wrong. Just because abortion is legal doesn’t make it right. We fight against abortion for the same reason we would fight against the African slave trade: because they are moral atrocities that dehumanize a group of people who deserve to not be abused or murdered.
Argument #3 – It’s a Fetus/Embryo, Not a Baby/Human
Third, the terms zygote, embryo, and fetus refer to different stages of human development, just like the terms infant and toddler. Being in an earlier stage of development doesn’t make the unborn any less human than an infant or toddler.
Argument #4 – Human Life Begins at Implantation
Fourth, some argue that human life begins at implantation, not fertilization. But, this argument isn’t based on science, since nothing really changes between fertilization and implantation except the location of the zygote, and location shouldn’t determine whether the unborn is human or not.
Argument #5 – Human Life Begins with the Heartbeat
Moving on, week five: The circulatory system begins to form, and the heart begins to beat. Some argue that human life actually begins with the heartbeat. However,as mentioned before, this position is unscientific and completely arbitrary. Also, this position is inconsistent in that it leads to justification for killing certain adult humans whom we would say should not be killed. Some questions to consider:
If an adult human’s heart stops beating due to cardiac arrest, is that person no longer human? Can we kill that person? If you say that the person had a heartbeat, well, the person currently doesn’t have a heartbeat, and we don’t know if the heart will start beating again. If you say that the person’s heart might start beating again, well, we know that the heart of the unborn will start beating soon.
If it’s acceptable to abort the unborn before the heartbeat begins, then it should be acceptable to kill an adult human whose heartbeat has stopped due to cardiac arrest. But of course, we don’t consider the latter option to be acceptable.
Moving on, week six: The nose, mouth, and ears begin to take shape, and the intestines and brain begin to develop.
Week seven: The unborn has now doubled in size, and we can now see hands and feet start to form.
Week eight: Nerve cells branch out and form primitive neural pathways. Breathing tubes extend from the throat to the developing lungs.
Week nine: The basic physiology is there. You can even see tiny earlobes. The unborn now starts gaining weight quickly.
Week ten: The limbs can now bend and finer details, such as nails, start to form.
Week eleven: The unborn is almost fully formed, and is kicking, stretching, and even hiccuping as the diaphragm develops.
Before we continue, let’s just ask: Is there a particular point during this process so far that the unborn suddenly becomes human and suddenly deserves to not be murdered? It seems obvious that the unborn is the same human being, and should have the exact same value, throughout this entire process.
Argument #6 – Human Life Begins at Viability
Now, let’s jump ahead to Week 24, which is when the unborn are first considered viable, or capable of surviving outside the uterus. Some argue that abortion is acceptable until the point of viability.
Similar to the response to the heartbeat argument, here are some questions to consider:
Is it okay to kill adult humans who are incapable of surviving without life support? If not, how are these humans different from the unborn before they reach the point of viability? If you argue that they used to not be on life support, well, they’re on life support right now, and we don’t know if they will ever be off life support. If you argue that they might eventually be off of life support, well, we know that the unborn will be viable relatively soon.
Argument #7 – Human Life Begins at Birth
Some argue that human life begins after the unborn exits the womb and is born. The response here is that similar to whether human life begins at implantation, it makes no scientific or logical sense that mere location should determine when the unborn become human.
Argument #8 – Human Life Begins with the First Breath
Some argue that human life begins when the first breath is taken. Again, here are some questions: Is it okay to kill adult humans who need a ventilator to breathe? If not, how are these humans different from the unborn who have not taken a breath yet? If you argue that they used to breathe on their own, well, they’re not breathing on their own right now, and we don’t know if they will ever breathe on their own. If you argue that they might eventually breathe on their own, well, we know that the unborn will start breathing relatively soon.
Argument #9 – Human Life Begins with Consciousness, or Self-awareness
Some argue that human life begins with consciousness or self-awareness. Again, here are some questions: Is it okay to kill infants, who aren’t really conscious or self-aware either? If not, then what exactly is the difference between an infant and the unborn? Is it okay to kill adult humans who aren’t conscious or self-aware because they’re in comas? If you argue that they used to be conscious and self-aware, well, they’re currently not conscious or self-aware, and we don’t know if they’ll ever be conscious or self-aware again. If you argue that they might be conscious and self-aware again soon, well, we know that the unborn will gain consciousness and self-awareness relatively soon.
Argument #10 – Only Secular Arguments Should be Used in the Abortion Debate
The purpose of what we’ve argued so far is to use secular arguments to demonstrate that if you don’t think we should kill infants, people on life support, people in comas, or people who need a ventilator to breathe, then it’s unscientific, illogical, inconsistent, and arbitrary to say that we should be able to kill the unborn, who are also humans, just in a different stage of development.
However, secular arguments are limited because if we use only naturalistic, scientific arguments, then we can’t truly establish that humans deserve to be treated with dignity or that killing humans is wrong.
We don’t consider it wrong for a meerkat to kill another meerkat. There’s no punishment for that. If humans are just evolved animals, why is it wrong for a human to kill another human? Simply because we’ve developed the intelligence to be able to say it’s wrong? Because believing this is pragmatic in that it helps us thrive and survive? Within a secular moral framework, there’s really no reason to believe that any human is worth anything more than a meerkat, or that murder of any kind is truly wrong.
This is why the abortion debate is ultimately about worldviews. Whether abortion is right or wrong ultimately depends upon which view of the world is the correct view. We would argue that abortion is ultimately wrong because there is a God who has revealed Himself and what is true through the Bible, and from the Bible, we learn that humans are created in the image of God and therefore have dignity and value. The Bible teaches in Psalm 139 that God actively knows and recognizes all human beings even when they are still an “unformed substance” and that all humans are themselves “knitted together” by God in the womb.
And the Bible teaches that murdering other humans, and supporting the murder of other humans, is rebellion against God’s moral law and deserving of punishment.
Check out our other videos for arguments about why the biblical worldview is the true and rational view of the world.
Final Point – Repent and Believe
To conclude, although a person can oppose abortion and still be under God’s wrath by not believing in and submitting to Jesus Christ, a person simply can’t support abortion, support murder, and be right with God at the same time.
The most important thing you need to do right now is not to be on the right side of the abortion debate. That will just be a natural result of what is actually the most important thing you need to do right now, the most important thing everyone needs to do right now, which is repent of your sin and turn to faith in Jesus Christ for your salvation.