By Olivia Hitz
Pro-Life vs Pro-Choice. You’ve heard the recent debates, seen the comment sections on social media, and maybe even engaged in a discussion yourself. It’s frustrating to see all the misinformation out there, especially when so few people are interested in the truth. With the recent Dobbs decision and subsequent overturning of Roe v. Wade, I’ve seen joy and hopefulness on one side and fear and anger on the other. In The Unaborted Socrates by Peter Kreeft, Socrates ignores all these emotions to find the heart of the pro-abortion argument and, using the Socratic method, explores its weak spots to uncover the truth.
In a discussion, Socrates encourages his opponent to consider the pro-life arguments starting with the biggest claim: abortion is murder. His opponent defines murder as “killing an innocent human being” (Kreeft 17) and agrees that if abortion fits all the categories of that definition, it must be true that abortion is murder. While he doesn’t like the word “killing,” he admits that abortion is the act of killing something. The opponent also concedes that if the fetus is a person, it did nothing wrong and should be considered innocent. Lastly, the two must decide whether the fetus is a human being. If it is, abortion must be murder.
We’ve all heard the pro-choice activists claim that the baby in the womb is just a clump of cells, or merely an “organism that is a potential person” (Kreeft 44). The argument tries to justify abortion by denying the humanity of the baby. However, the fetus is not just an extension of the mother that can be easily removed. The baby in the womb is a valuable and unique human being from the moment of fertilization and is loved by our Creator.
But Socrates is trying to keep things logical, so he wants to prove that the fetus is a human being. He asks what it is about the fetus that makes it inhuman. If any of the differences between a fetus and a newborn are morally relevant, they should apply to all humans. For instance, he asks his opponent if it is worse to kill an adult than an infant because of their size and degree of development. If so, it must also be proportionally worse to kill a ten-year-old than a nine-year-old. Of course, the argument sounds ridiculous, and through it, Socrates proves that a person’s development and size cannot be used to justify abortion. Even though a fetus is smaller and less developed than a born child, the death of this small human being is just as tragic in the womb as it would be years later. But what about viability and independence, the opposition asks? Together, they conclude that these things are impossible to define. When is a baby viable or independent enough? We are all dependent on someone or something. The same baby could be viable in a hospital with a team of doctors, but not viable in the wilderness. We cannot assign an arbitrary line to personhood.
Socrates then challenges his opponent to find any reason why the fetus is not a human being. Without a valid reason, he must draw the conclusion that abortion is the killing of an innocent human being and is therefore murder.
There are many people who push away this truth by emphasizing rare cases and compelling stories. While these cases should be treated with sensitivity, our focus needs to stay on the Truth that is Christ and His Gospel, the truth that every life is valuable because it is created and redeemed by God Himself. “But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.’” (Isaiah 43:1, ESV)