To mount a reasonable defense of dismembering young human beings is a formidable challenge. Many who nevertheless accept the test do so only to find themselves undercut by their own moral intuition—or even, at times, the clothing they wear.
Yesterday, students from across the nation converged on Columbus, Ohio for Created Equal’s Summer 2016 Justice Ride. Friends reunited. New Riders were integrated. And all were prepped for another week of defending babies in a culture increasingly allergic to proclamations of objective morality.
Today, the team surrounded the Ohio Statehouse with signs showing abortion victims—Mark Harrington’s challenge to have courage in the face of adversity ringing in our ears from the night before. As with any Ride, we encountered many who oppose abortion, as well as those who defend the status quo.
“I’m pro-abortion,” one man responded when I asked for his opinion. To his credit, he was man of intellectual honesty. He fleshed out a defense of abortion hinged upon the financial strain unwanted people bring upon society. I asked why he would support killing young humans as the solution. Why not put the elderly on the execution block? Feeling the tug of his internal moral compass, he admitted his prejudice and agreed civil rights should trump financial concerns.
He then countered with an appeal to consciousness—a characteristic preborn humans lack—to argue they are not persons. I asked why consciousness mattered. Cats, for example, seem to have some level of self-awareness. This doesn’t make the cat a person. What matters, I argued, is the type of thing you are, not what you can or cannot do.
He laughed and said, “Man, I hate cats. You would’ve had me if you’d only used dogs as your illustration!”
Another defender of killing babies was not so quick to admit flawed thinking. While observing his dialogue with Created Equal intern Rachel—in which he defended killing babies in cultures ripe with sex trafficking because those children could become victims of trafficking in the future—I was struck by a slogan emblazoned on his back: “People Before Profit.”
The heart of the abortion debate is whether humans matter by definition or whether natural rights are something to be gained by accomplishment. Those who oppose abortion argue that all humans are inherently valuable, while the worldview of abortion advocacy rejects this notion.
And yet they wear slogans praising the value of people. They praise films or books which depict “triumphs of the human spirit.” Why the inconsistency?
Because they know what we know—that all humans are indeed created equal. They bury it beneath coy catchphrases, failed philosophy, and Women’s Study syllabi. But still it’s there—waiting until they’re willing to acknowledge the truths they’ve tried to forget.