An Unborn Child Has Rights, Whether You Like It Or Not

It is often hard to have an insightful discussion on abortion for a variety of reasons. When it comes to this issue, too many people stick to their dogma and just drown out any opposing view. Liberals will often denounce any other opinion because they believe that a woman’s right to choose is supreme, and religious conservatives argue that life begins at conception, thus all abortions should be illegal. Unfortunately, the two sides do not find middle ground or compromise on their views, and to make matters worse, abortion is a widely controversial issue that too many fear talking about.

This is an unfortunate situation because it is an important debate that we should all be having. After all, this is an argument over the beginning of rights. Needless to say, the rights of any human being begin well before a human has left its mother, thus, it is important that we finally recognize the rights of the unborn.

But in order for a human being to have rights, it must be alive. The life of the unborn therefore needs to be defined by universal, scientific truths, and not our emotions. Obviously, life cannot be endowed simply by a woman’s needs. It is simply incomprehensible that liberals honestly believe that a mother’s financial situation legitimizes any kind of abortion. On the other hand, life does not start at conception. This belief mainly stems from the fact that expecting parents will automatically think of themselves as such as soon as the mother confirms her pregnancy. Since this is just a moral belief with no basis in science or common law, this idea cannot be made federal law.

Generally, life needs to be defined, and that is the crux of the abortion debate. But at the same time, liberals and other leftists continue to believe the false, strawman argument that conservatives and other pro-lifers just want to control women. Therefore, a compromise on the definition of life must be reached in order to get past this ideological gridlock. In order for this to get done, life should be defined at a certain point in time where a woman may still be able to attain an abortion. With this in mind, human life should be determined not just by a heartbeat, but with a functioning brain as well. I will concede right away that “functioning” is too broad a term, but I use it to mean a brain that can emit electrical signals. By this very definition, life begins, and so do the rights of the unborn, which is earlier than one might think.

According to neuroscience researcher Micheal Gazzaniga, a brain begins to emit electrical signals at about twelve weeks. Although Gazzaniga reveals that the brain activity at this point is comparable to that of a sea slug, it should be noted that an unconscious brain literally goes through “oscillations between states of activation and deactivation.” If an unconscious person is considered a living being despite having a deactivated brain, then surely, life can be assigned to the unborn child with primitive brain activity. Additionally, people seem to have no moral qualms about considering a person in a coma a living human being.

According to the Mayo Clinic, a baby’s heart already begins to form at about four weeks. In about the next two weeks, heartbeats can be detected and usually beats fairly quickly at about 90-110 BPM. Overall, a heart is already functioning well before the brain does.

If liberals and conservatives can come to the consensus that a baby capable of a functioning brain and heartbeat is a living being, then limits on abortion can come next. To accommodate for the time until a baby can be protected by law and a mother who wishes for an abortion can get it done, the limit should be placed at about three months. Should this plan be put in place, approximately 30,000 unborn children aborted after three months can be saved each year. Although most abortions would still occur before this time frame, America would be a step closer to protecting the rights of all Americans, including the unborn.


  1. I get the intent of the article but simply a cop out compromise to appease both sides and end the debate, not offer any actual principle by which to evaluate the morality of abortion. By every scientific definition, not merely moral belief, human beings begin at conception and thus that is where personhood begins as well. If we believe in human rights, they are not conditional on any other factor than being human. Since a zygote is the beginning, the earliest recognizable state of the individual human organism, no other definition of human life is possible. Any human rights would necessarily begin at that point, and not some arbitrary later date, whether that is the first sign of electrical activity in the brain or a heartbeat. These points in time are particularly strange places to claim that human rights should begin, since the author makes a point that it is NOT consciousness which defines human life quite clearly. Yet, that is typically the argument used to justify abortion because it is recognized that to kill a conscious human person would be wrong. The author thus both denies that this is the reason for this point to be chosen and affirms (something?) that it is the reasonable place to draw the distinction between a non-human person and a human person. This is completely baffling in its lack of reason.

    The truth is that a compromise cannot be reached because no arbitrary line-drawing can erase biological facts, nor can it satisfy the philosophical criteria necessary to satisfy both sides. At least those who support abortion as justifiable because they believe it is necessary have a tenable argument. Even some abortionists recognize that they are killing human beings, but they argue that it is acceptable because the rights of the unborn person are outweighed by the desires of the mother. Of course, this is rubbish as it would place some humans’ rights above others’ purely because of want. However, at least it admits the scientific facts in the case and does not pretend to offer a reasonable position regarding the medical status of the unborn.

    Human rights necessarily apply to all humans, born or unborn, at every stage of their lives, no matter their medical condition or level of development. If we believe in these human rights, it forces us into some uncomfortable realities, but that, unfortunately, is life. To say that some innocent humans do not have those rights at all at some point is to say that we don’t really believe in universal human rights. That would be a startling and terrible admission for our country to make.

    • Indeed, in absolutely scientific terms, it’s not a matter of when life starts, instead it’s a case of the continuity of life from the parents to the (unborn) child. What Lopez proposes is that life be redefined in association with scientific evidence of higher physiological functions tied to brain activity, possibly unconscious identity in its earliest phases. However, is it really possible to distinguish in the case of a human being between different phases of ‘having life’, ‘having less life’ or ‘being more alive’? Seems a grave affront to the value & sanctity of life, as well as its complexity & unity. Significantly, if you don’t believe in the soul or psyche or anything similar, suggestive of coherence, it becomes far easier to d-i-s-m-e-m-b-e-r a life. Carl Kieck

  2. So, if I can reduce someone to have less brain activity below this threshold, I can kill them and it wouldn’t be murder although they would have a 100% chance of full recovery in a few weeks or months?
    While I would like the abortion holocaust cut in half, this is like insisting the Nazis only gas those at least 1/2 Jew instead of 1/4 Jew.

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