The following quotation really stuck out to me: ‘Though [panelists Amy] Sullivan and [Michael Sean] Winters said abortion will not have as much of an impact on most voters’ choice for president, the issue still has a strong influence on Catholic voters. ‘There are election cycles where identity and cultural issues are important’ Sullivan said,’ (‘Catholic vote debated at BC,’ Oct. 10, p.3).
I agree that abortion is an identity issue, but it’s not about the voter’s identity as Catholic or otherwise. It’s about the identity of the unborn being in question. Is it alive? Is it human? If yes, then abortion is not a periodically important cultural consideration for Catholics, but a vital, life-or-death issue for everyone who values the most basic human right.
Our Declaration of Independence asserts ‘certain inalienable rights,’ the very first being the right to life. Most of us are in agreement with this. When we hear about the loss of innocent life in a murder case or a school shooting, we all recognize the injustice of the situation.
If we share a common respect for our right to life as human beings, the issue of abortion isn’t a religious question but a biological one: Are the unborn living human beings?
As a biology major, I remember learning these basic characteristics of life: organization into cells, growth, metabolism, responsiveness and reproduction. From the moment of conception, the first criterion is met, and from that point on growth occurs as the cell expands and divides. Metabolism describes the chemical reactions that are occurring within the cells to convert energy for this growth. We know that the cells are responsive to stimuli in their environment since in-utero growth factors are able to direct cellular differentiation. Reproductive capabilities are still developing ‘-‘- the same is true for children ‘-‘- but if that throws you off, as an identical twin, I’m proof that they can reproduce asexually in the meantime.
But are they human? They have uniquely human DNA that will never code for any other creature. You could have zygotes for every animal, and though they’d look the same, only one would ever yield a human, and every human was once a human zygote. If you think about it, the lifespan is one continuous progression: from zygote to blastocyst to embryo to fetus to infant to child to adolescent to adult to elderly person. We keep gradually maturing until we die. We are constantly changing, and yet remain the same person at every stage of our existence. We don’t suddenly acquire our humanity at the end of a trimester.
No matter what your personal beliefs, don’t consider abortion a religious issue that has no place in government. If the unborn are human beings rather than lifeless pregnancy tissue, then 3,700 U.S. children are losing their lives each day, and that’s an issue that should have a strong influence on us all.