“Morality is of the highest importance. But for us, not for God.” ~Albert Einstein
“The foundation of morality is to give up pretending to believe that for which there is no evidence,
and repeating unintelligible propositions about things beyond the possibilities of knowledge.” ~T. H. Huxley
“One of the great tragedies of mankind is that morality has been hijacked by religion.” ~Arthur C. Clarke
Morality is subjective. It’s a human construct: by humans and for humans. There is NO morally objective standard. So let’s take a look at morality as actually practiced by humans and sanctioned by society’s laws.
First of all, human life is NOT sacred or sanctified. Despite being religious words, not even religions, in actual practice, treat human life as sacred or sanctified. Witness religious wars, witch-hunts, inquisitions, trials by fire/water, prohibitions on condoms and birth control despite AIDS, etc. The same goes for governments that sanction wars, assassinations, capital punishment, abortions, etc.
So, if you think human life is sacred or sanctified . . . think again. Perhaps it should be but it’s not. The is/ought fallacy treats individual beliefs as fundamental truths when, in fact, they are not. Nonetheless, I personally believe that if we can’t value human life absolutely, we ought to value it as much as we can. Surely, we can’t discount it altogether!
At conception, all the ingredients necessary for a new life is present. But that doesn’t mean a zygote or embryo is a person. As a fetus develops, it passes through a variety of physiological thresholds that people claim to constitute personhood. Faced with all these vehemently asserted claims, courts around the world have settled upon fetal viability as the legal beginning of personhood.
I agree with these courts. In balancing the needs and rights of the mother and fetus, most of us can agree that if the fetus is externally viable it is no different than a premature baby. I don’t agree with the typical 20-week threshold for viability: I think it should be 25 weeks (when fetal viability is more assured). Regardless, by allowing abortions until fetal viability, women and couples have plenty of time to consider their options and abort or not.
Of the 152 countries that allow abortions, only a handful allow late term abortions. It’s interesting to note that, where late term abortions are allowed, they’re less frequent than in most other countries. Overall, late term abortions constitute about 1% of all abortions where abortions are legal. In the U.S., 1.2% of abortions are late term ones and most of them are performed to protect the mother’s health. So it’s not a huge issue. In most countries, pro-choicers have resoundingly defeated pro-lifers and won the right to have abortions.
Is this legal victory also a moral victory? That depends on your subjective opinion. Personally, I think that, given all the concerns and realities involved, we are valuing human life as much as we can. I mean, nobody’s pro-abortion . . . right?