Time and again I hear pro-abortion advocates make the claim that what we are dealing with is not a “baby” but a “fetus” with no consciousness, no sense of pain, no brain stem activity, etc. It is, after all, only a “mass of cells” that is being aborted, right? I feel compelled to address this rationalization.
A person that has been declared “brain dead” by doctors apparently has no consciousness. There is no sense of pain. There is no brain activity that will allow the person to sustain life or recover from the condition. Yet, we do not reduce that person to a lump of cells. If there is no recovery, the person is typically given a funeral and laid to rest as appropriate. Any lack of brain activity or sense of pain does not negate the “personhood” of the individual.
We can take the principle one step further and declare that cemeteries everywhere are full of dead persons. Although they once had brain activity, the fact that they have lost it has not negated their personhood. They even still have names etched into their grave markers and many of them are still visited by friends and relatives.
What we are dealing with at any phase of life is a “person,” no matter how inconvenient that may be. We are all persons “in process.” The person in the womb is no exception to this principle. We would not “pull the plug” on a brain dead person if we knew that in a few months there would be a recovery from the condition. How can it be generally acceptable to “pull the plug” on a person that is in an improving condition simply because the location of that person is another person’s womb?
While a person buried in a cemetery once had brain activity but lost it, the person in the womb is waiting for brain activity to develop. Whether a person is in a developing condition, a declining condition or even a corpse, it is still a person we are dealing with. It does not matter if one is losing a brain through Alzheimer’s disease or gaining a brain through gestation. It is still a “person” we are dealing with, not a mere “lump of cells.” This is the heart of the matter, because how we treat each other as persons is everything.