Today, parents can see the development of their children with their own eyes.
The obstetric ultra-sound done typically at 20 weeks gestation provides not only pictures but a real-time video of the active life of the child in the womb: clasping his hands, sucking his thumb, yawning, stretching, getting the hiccups, covering his ears to a loud sound nearby -- even smiling. Medicine, too, confirms the existence of the child before birth as a distinct human person.
This coordinated behavior is the very hallmark of an organism. By contrast, while a mere collection of human cells may carry on the activities of cellular life, it will not exhibit coordinated interactions directed towards a higher level of organization. Thus, the scientific evidence is quite plain: at the moment of fusion of human sperm and egg, a new entity comes into existence which is distinctly human, alive, and an individual organism - a living, and fully human, being. Some defenders of abortion will concede the scientific proofs but will argue that the entity in the womb is still not, or not yet, a "person." "Not a person" is a decidedly unscientific argument: it has nothing to do with science and everything to do with someone's own moral or political philosophy, though that someone may not readily admit it. If the science on when life begins is clear, why do some organizations claim that "pregnancy" doesn't begin until a week later, at implantation? Acceptance of an implantation-based definition of "pregnancy" would allow abortion providers to mischaracterize pills and technologies that work after conception but before implantation as "contraception," making them potentially less subject to regulation and certainly more accept-able and attractive to consumers.
Here is a good time to recite the scientific proofs, and maybe make a philosophical point of your own: We're either persons or property; and even the staunchest abortion defender will be reluctant to call a human child a piece of property. Others may suggest "humanness" depends on something spiritual, like infusion of a soul, but to argue there is no soul until birth or some other time is, by definition, to argue something incapable of proof. A brief word about the politicization of the definition of "pregnancy." While the science on when life begins is clear, some still claim that "pregnancy" doesn't begin until the embryo implants itself in the lining of the uterine wall, which occurs about a week later. Indeed, two institutes who support legalized abortion have pushed for this type of pregnancy re-definition for decades: the Guttmacher Institute (the abortion research institute originally established by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
If the medicine and science don't persuade your audience, consider citing authorities from the "pro-choice" community itself.
Mention "Pro-choice" feminist Naomi Wolf, who in a ground-breaking article in 1996, argued that the abortion-rights community should acknowledge the "fetus, in its full humanity" and that abortion causes "a real death." More recently, Kate Michelman, long-time president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, acknowledged that "technology has clearly helped to define how people think about a fetus as a full, breathing human being." Those who justify abortion by claiming that "no one knows when life begins" are not arguing science but rather their own brand of politics, philosophy, or even religion.Scientists define an organism as a complex structure of interdependent elements constituted to carry on the activities of life by separately-functioning but mutually dependant organs. The human zygote meets this definition with ease.Once formed, it initiates a complex sequence of events to ready it for continued development and growth: The zygote acts immediately and decisively to initiate a program of development that will, if uninterrupted by accident, disease, or external intervention, proceed seamlessly through formation of the definitive body, birth, childhood, adolescence, maturity, and aging, ending with death.("Privacy" is not in the text of the Constitution either.) They also ruled that the word "person" in the Constitution did not include a fetus. For a debate on abortion policy, the most important part of the ruling to understand is the new "law" it established, and here is a description of it that you should commit to memory: The Court ruled that abortion must be permitted for any reason a woman chooses until the child becomes viable; after viability, an abortion must still be permitted if an abortion doctor deems the abortion necessary to protect a woman's "health," defined by the Court in another ruling issued the same day as "all factors--physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age--relevant to the well-being of the patient." In this way the Court created a right to abort a child at any time, even past the point of viability, for "emotional" reasons.Stated another way, the Supreme Court gave abortion doctors the power to override any abortion restriction merely by claiming that there are "emotional" reasons for the abortion.They are not alone: "Most Americans favor legal restrictions on abortion that go way beyond current law," according to Lydia Saad, a senior editor for the Gallup polling company which has lo ng tracked abortion opinion. The way Americans self-identify has changed dramatically over the years.In the mid-1990s, "pro-life" was a distinct minority view.If your interlocutor raises this issue, point out that: (1) the word "contraception" literally means "against conception," therefore something cannot be said to be a "contraceptive" if it allows conception, and (2) the fertilization-based definition of pregnancy is still the predominant definition in medical dictionaries today. Cite More Facts on Human Development Human beings develop at an astonishingly rapid pace.Giving a quick recitation of the child's development will weaken the "not a person yet" mentality.Introduction Abortion is unlike any other issue debated today.Millions of American women have aborted a child, and the pain, loss, and emotional need to justify what was done, both on the part of the mother and on the part of her loved ones, is strong and deep. This means that, in any debate, you may face an invisible thumb on the scale so that even the best logic will fail to persuade.