Abortion Is Unjust Discrimination

Author Alan Shlemon Published on 11/03/2021

Abortion-choice advocates consider their view morally superior. They believe they are defending a woman’s right to control her body. What they don’t realize, though, is that their position leads to an act of unjust discrimination.

Abortion is a type of discrimination. It’s the worst kind, in fact. It disqualifies a human being from being a valuable person.

Just to be clear, a woman should be able to control her own body. She should be generally free from the shackles of government regulation. Men (or women) in public office should not write laws that interfere with a woman’s personal decisions. She should be free to make her own choices about her healthcare, her career, whether she marries (and whom she marries), whether to have children, etc. We can all agree with that.

Our laws stipulate, however, that personal decisions are restricted when they hurt or unjustly discriminate against other people. The question is whether or not a woman’s decision to procure an abortion is an example of unjust discrimination.

The challenge with this question is that the circumstance of pregnancy is incredibly unique. There is nothing analogous to it. During pregnancy, another whole human being starts his or her life inside a woman. This new person literally lives inside a woman’s body for nine months. That creates a tension that doesn’t exist in any other circumstance: a woman is a sovereign person in control of her body, but inside her body exists another person. It’s easy to see the uniqueness of the situation.

Though the average person who supports abortion might deny the unborn is a human being, most people who know the biological facts can’t deny the unborn is a human being. This is because the science of embryology is decisive about the status of the unborn. From the moment of conception, the unborn is a living, distinct, human being. We know the unborn is living because it meets the biological criteria for life (it grows, responds to stimulation, and converts nutrition into energy). We know the unborn is distinct from the mother because it has its own brain, heart, sex organs, fingerprints, and DNA. We know the unborn is human because it has a human genetic signature. Furthermore, living things reproduce their own kind. That means the product of human sexual union will always produce another human being—100% of the time.

Given that two whole, distinct persons exist when a woman is pregnant (the mother and her unborn child), how is abortion unjust discrimination? First, it’s important to recognize that not all discrimination is unjust. It’s appropriate when the characteristic of the person is relevant to the type of discrimination. For example, it’s fair to discriminate (in some ways) against people with disabilities. We deny blind people a driver’s license. Being blind, however, does not warrant being denied the right to vote since blindness isn’t a relevant characteristic to voting. It’s also fair to discriminate against people of a certain age. We don’t allow children to serve in the military because age is relevant to a person’s fighting capability. These are some of the many instances where discrimination is just.

Other kinds of discrimination are unjust. History is crowded with examples where groups of human beings were disqualified from being valuable and were victims of unjust discrimination. For example, the Third Reich discriminated against the Jews. The Jews were a group of human beings who were disqualified from being valuable based on a characteristic—their ethnicity—that wasn’t relevant to the type of discrimination they faced. As a result, they were experimented on and exterminated.

African Americans were discriminated against in the United States. They were also a group of human beings who were disqualified from being valuable based on a characteristic—their skin color—that wasn’t relevant to the type of discrimination they faced. As a result, they were kidnapped and enslaved.

Today, abortion-choice advocates discriminate against the unborn. The unborn are a group of human beings who are disqualified from being valuable based on a characteristic—their location inside their mother—that’s not relevant to the type of discrimination they face. As a result, they are killed with impunity. To be sure, the unborn is inside the mother, and that grants her certain prerogatives over her child, but not the right to kill her son or daughter.

We live in an upside-down world. Abortion-choice advocates claim to champion inclusion, but they exclude a certain class of human beings. They claim to champion the oppressed, but they oppress the weak. They claim to eschew discrimination, but they unjustly discriminate. By contrast, pro-life advocates are inclusive, champion the weak, and don’t discriminate against those who are small, vulnerable, and defenseless.