I take my courage in both hands by discussing this issue as a male, but before I begin I hasten to state that I agree fully with the ruling in Roe v. Wade. In my opinion, each and every woman has the unrestricted right to determine the status of her own reproductive condition. No person, male or female, has the right to question whether a woman's choice is or is not correct. Only the woman can make that decision. Having said that I now move into much deeper, muddier and more-dangerous waters.
First, my opinion, and that is what it is, on the viability status of ovum and sperm. The unfertilized ovum has no potential as a complete living being. Over a woman's lifetime, thousands of her eggs ripen, burst out of her ovaries and travel down the fallopian tube. Nearly all those eggs will not be fertilized and will effectively cease to exist. Only on the rare occasion when an egg meets one particular sperm cell and admits it through it's outer shell does the potential for life exist. The sperm, likewise, has no potential for individual existence. Its only hope for life lies in being accepted by an egg and triggering the miraculous process of birth.
What bothers me, and causes me to write this post, are the many specious rationales offered to attempt to justify one aspect of the abortion or another. For instance, some state that life does not exist in the instant after fertilization because what exists is only a small cluster of cells which are too primitive to be considered alive. In reality, that instant of fertilization is the beginning of a long and complex process that, if all goes well, will in fact result in the production of a complete human being. It's like saying, after stepping off a 30-story building, that one is not going to die. In reality, the inexorable process of death has already begun and will continue to its logical conclusion. (No fair bringing in parachutes or Superman.)
Several other criteria have been proposed, ranging from 'the fetus feels no pain'. (Calling it a fetus, by the way rather than a baby, is the first step in dehumanizing it, much as the Nazis called the Jews subhuman and therefore lacking the right to life.) Another rationale is that the fetus (sic) cannot live external to the mother and only when that is possible can it be considered alive. This is like saying that a newborn child cannot live if we throw it into a snowbank and therefore it is not prepared for life. The reality is, and this is an interesting concept, is that once the egg bursts its bonds in the surface of the ovary it is no long actually within the body of the mother, any more than the baby kangaroo in the pouch is within its mother's body. I don't think anyone would claim that a roo in it's mother's pouch is, in fact, inside its mother's body.
Now this may seem bizarre but it is true and real. The inside of the woman's uterus is composed of and is a direct extension of the outer skin of the mother's body. This is also true of the entire human alimentary canal. The mouth, stomach and gut of a human (or other animal) is actually a modified version of the outer skin of the body. The digestive processes that occur are made possible by the ability of this tissue to pass liquids and gasses through its walls by the process of osmosis. This means that from the time food enters one end of your body and exits at the other it has never really been inside your body at all. Strange huh? But true!
By now you can see where I'm going. In my opinion, there is no possible way to justify an abortion by claiming that what you are killing is not a human being. It is nothing else. No matter how soon after conception it is flushed from it's dark, warm, welcoming home, it is being killed just as surely as if one had held a pistol to the head of an infant.
So now you say, "Well what is your point? At first you said that women have the unrestricted right to determine their own reproductive status and now you say that abortion is the killing of a human life." Both statements are correct. The woman has that right but, in my opinion, cannot evade the ultimate responsibility of her or our action. I am certainly no moral paragon, make no mistake about that. I certainly have my feet of clay as do we all. What I cannot bear, however, is the duplicity inherent in creating this logical ballet of rationales to avoid responsibility for our actions. The honest course, in my humble opinion, is to make our decision, do what we feel we must do, and then admit, at least to ourselves, exactly what we have done. Our common law has given the woman the right to make this choice and I believe she needs to make it honestly and bravely and accept what she (we) has done.
We will never be truly evolved human beings until we accept the responsibilities of our actions. Living such lies throughout our lives is like drinking acid. Even if it is diluted it will eventually eat through us and destroy our souls and our humanity.
I want my readers to know (if there in fact are any readers) that I do not write this with any amount of arrogance about my own purity or perfection. Far from that, I am just another poor schmuck trying to make my way through life without screwing up too many more times.
Thank you for your patience and forbearance.