When I was 21, someone stole my coat. At that moment, I became an ardent supporter of the pro-life movement. You might say that I have committed the logical fallacy of the non sequitur. I would say that you have committed the intellectual failure of lacking curiosity, for you have failed to ask why losing a coat would make me oppose abortion.
If you had been at least a little curious, and asked me what it was about the coat, I would have replied that there was nothing about the coat’s absence as such that swayed me, but rather that my coat contained my wallet, and my wallet contained two things: a fair amount of money, and an old, many-kissed photo of a gaulish lass I was once very fond of.
Money Equals Potential
Curiously, I felt I had lost something of value in both the money and the picture. The value of the picture was obvious, for it was the image of someone I loved. The value of the money, however, was less obvious, for cash is merely pieces of paper, and pieces of paper I generally regard as relatively mundane, as they are so often flushed down toilets or put through shredders.
But the thing with money is this: although it be but pieces of paper now, those pieces of paper can, through capitalist magic, be transmogrified into various things that do have value, such as a copy of Aurelius’ “Meditations,” or Ethiopian coffee for a friend. Thus, money has the value not of what it is, but of what it will become; or perhaps it is better to say that what the money will become is already present in the money before it is spent.
Thus, to have 22 dollars in a wallet and the intent to buy a book is to have the book in your wallet. So it was that when my coat was stolen, and my wallet with it, I did not lose a fair amount of money, but a pearl necklace for the above-mentioned gaulish lass.
So I learned that what a thing will become is contained within what a thing is, and in losing what a thing is, one loses what that thing will become. If this is true of money, it is only so much more true with people.
A Potential Person Is Still a Person
Much of the argumentation about abortion lies in the question of whether the fetus is a person. It would seem that if it is not a person, then it is not murder to destroy it. But if it is a person, then it is murder to destroy it. Based on my musings on the theft of my coat, I contend that whether the fetus is a person at any given moment of pregnancy is a non-issue, since, whatever it is now, it will, in fact, become a person. Therefore, to abort the fetus now is to annihilate the person that fetus would have naturally become.
Abortion has the same quality as all forms of killing. If I were to kill someone, I would have fundamentally transformed the nature of the universe from one with this person to one without it. The evil of murder does not derive from the fact that a death has occurred, for death comes to all. All murder does is expedite an inevitable event. The evil of murder, rather, is in the fact that the world has changed for everyone else who keeps on living. A hole has been made in the tapestry of life; Christmas dinner now has an empty chair. So it is with an abortion.
We often mourn untimely deaths by saying things like, “Tom never even got to make captain” or “Aline never even played her first recital.” If the death is particularly untimely, we cry out against heaven and say “Milo never even learned to ride a bike” or “Ike never got to learn to read.” We assume that the Tom who would have made captain already existed in the Tom who was just a lieutenant, or that the Aline who would play a professional recital already existed within the Aline who was practicing a toccata in conservatory.
What is it to be pro-life? It is to take this truth to its logical conclusion, and realize that the Tom who would have made captain was within the small bundle of cells inside the body of Tom’s now grieving mother. What is it to be pro-life? It is to look at the unborn dead, and say “He never even got to breathe.”