If you step foot on UF’s campus today, there’s probably a 110-percent chance you’ll run into Created Equal, the pro-life organization that comes to Turlington Plaza and Plaza of the Americas every Spring with posters and grand screenings of graphic imagery. Thankfully, they couldn’t afford the giant screen this semester. We at the Alligator boiled down their message to one sentence: Human life begins at conception; therefore, abortion should be considered the illegal murder of innocent human beings.
First of all, who’s to say human life begins at conception? Every peer-reviewed study or medical journal we came across defines conception as the joining of a sperm and egg cell into a zygote. Nowhere can we find a definitive scientific claim that human life begins specifically at the zygote. In fact, you may realize that, before discussing where human life begins, we must first establish what distinguishes human life from all other. Is it consciousness, emotion or free will?
Whatever the case, zygotes are not any more capable of these human qualities than, say, their sperm or egg cell predecessors. Yet, millions of such sperm cells die in the process of producing a zygote in the first place, which completely undermines the whole life-begins-at-conception argument. In the words of comedian George Carlin, “People say life begins at conception, I say life began about a billion years ago and it’s a continuous process. Continuous, just keeps rolling along.”
Another aspect of Created Equal’s argument is its goal to protect life at all costs. This then brings the discussion to a very subjective place, because at what point do we ascribe more value to life than the quality of that life? If a mother feels she is unable — financially, physically or psychologically — to carry a child and raise him or her properly, then perhaps it’s best to not deliver the baby into such a situation. And unfortunately, putting kids through the orphanage and adoption system doesn’t always work out as nicely as it does in the movie “Juno.” As crass as it may sound, it’s far easier to make another baby than for a woman to be legally bound to endure nine months of pregnancy and subsequently re-establish her life.
In fact, if the pro-life goal is truly to fight for the life of the child, then we should see these same pro-life protests against childhood poverty, child homelessness and civilian-child casualties in any military venture. But we rarely see this, do we?
It’s not to say being pro-life is wrong. In fact, many of us at the Alligator are unsure of whether we would abort our own children. But the true issue at hand is whether we as Americans should outlaw abortion across the board, or even allow for states like Mississippi and Texas to make it nearly impossible for women to get an abortion. Ultimately, this issue is not about our personal lifestyle choices: It’s about expressing empathy across the board, however difficult that may be.
Just as any willing and able family should be able to bring a beautiful new child into the world, no woman should be legally bound to bring forth a child she doesn’t want or can’t practically care for.