Antonia Senior’s recent opinion piece in the Times entitled “Yes, abortion is killing. But it’s the lesser evil” has been analyzed by pro-life writers Dave Andrusko and Albert Mohler, who are both disturbed by her statement “If you are willing to die for a cause, you must be prepared to kill for it, too.”
Mohler thinks Senior’s article is a signal that the “moral ground” beneath our feet may be shifting. He opines, “Antonia Senior goes public with the argument that feminists should just admit that abortion is the killing of a human life, and then they should go on to assert that the right to kill an unborn human life is just the price that must be paid if feminism is to be defended.”
Andrusko’s perspective is this:
For these women, abortion=freedom and freedom=abortion. Doesn’t matter if over half of the babies aborted are female. Doesn’t matter that the category of the powerless used to include BOTH unborn children and most women… Nothing matters except “control” over “fertility,” which is synonymous in their minds with the “right” to retroactively “control fertility” by abortion.
Both of these men make excellent points. But to me, the most egregious aspect of Senior’s commentary is what is not there, and that is an admission that the entity she is willing to kill is less than a fully human being. She refers to the preborn baby as “a life,” “a fetus” and a “little seahorse shape,” but then focuses on the will of the mother and ignores the identity of her baby. She tells readers that if the baby in question resides in a “willing womb,” everything is fine, but “in a resentful womb it is not a life, but a foetus—and thus killable.”
Therein lies the fundamental error in the stream of consciousness Senior reveals in her column. She is confused about who a human being is, and is convinced that the answer to that question resides solely with the expectant mother and her desire to either carry or not carry her baby to term. Thus, it’s not surprising that she never uses humanizing language to describe the child she is willing to kill in order to protect her so-called reproductive rights.
What Senior has done is teach a valuable lesson to those willing to learn from it. If indeed the preborn human being is less than a person and has an identity that is a matter of subjective opinion, than the moral ground has not only shifted, it has disappeared. But if Senior is simply putting into frank, cruel words the actual mindset of those who fashioned the culture of death years ago, then the only response to such cruelty is the quest for human personhood. Nothing less will suffice.
Human personhood is not based on the ethereal concept of “wantedness.” The fact that a human being exists from his biological beginning is not rooted in the philosophical opinions of such notables (mentioned by Senior) as Friedrich Engels and Christian de Duve. Human personhood is determined by scientific fact coupled with right reason.
Senior simply cannot accept this because of her absolute commitment to “reproductive rights.” Her basic error is obvious, but I doubt seriously that her view is a minority opinion among her peers. “Reproductive rights” advocates cannot admit that the preborn baby is a human being for, if they did, they would cease to be the enemy of truth.
Yes, statements such as Senior’s are audacious, but they represent a wake-up call to all of us. Someone not familiar with or who has rejected moral absolutes is someone who believes in the supposedly lesser evil of killing. But her argument is no different than the supposedly lesser evil of agreeing that preborn babies can be killed if conceived through rape or incest, or when the mother is facing a life-threatening problem.
Recognizing the human personhood of all human beings, born and preborn, removes the supposedly lesser evil from the discussion and restores respect for human rights based on simple truth.