Author Tim Barnett
Published on 05/09/2022

Watch Where This Pro-Choice Logic Leads

Tim Barnett points out two significant problems with the claim that since abortion only ends in death because the child cannot sustain its own life, it therefore doesn’t violate the child’s right to life.


Video: You are correct. I fully grant your premise that a fetus is a human, and, as a human, its right to life ends at another person’s body. A fetus absolutely has the right to live. An equal right to every other human, which means, like all the rest of us, it is free to sustain its own life. Abortion only ends in death because the fetus can’t do that. We are not dehumanizing fetuses. We are holding them to the exact same standard as every other human. What you’re trying to do is grant them special rights, rights that no one else has, at the expense of women.

Tim: There are at least two problems with this thinking. Problem number one: The right to life isn’t merely the right to sustain your own life. To see how absurd this is, let’s apply this thinking to a newborn. On this view, a mother who decides not to feed her newborn could simply say, “Well, I gave my newborn the same rights I have. The equal right to sustain her own life. Feeding my newborn every day would be a special right. It’s not my fault she doesn’t get up, walk to the grocery store like everyone else.” Now, notice parents have certain obligations or responsibilities towards their children, and since we already agreed that a fetus is a human deserving of a right to life, parents have an obligation to protect that life. So, that’s the first problem.
Problem number two: She says abortion only ends in death because a fetus can’t sustain its own life. Again, think of that newborn. It’s like refusing to feed a newborn and saying starvation only ends in death because a newborn can’t sustain its own life. But it’s actually worse than that because abortion isn’t just withholding what a child needs. It’s active killing, whether through chemical burning, dismemberment, or crushing. So, it’s more like actively holding someone’s head under water until they die and saying drowning only ends in death because a human can’t sustain its own life under water.