[Author's Note: I posted this at the Creed Bulletin Board on 06/25/2001 at 2:20 AM.]
It has come to my attention that several of my contemporaries were interested in seeing my opinion on abortion. I have usually avoided the issue altogether since there always seemed to be much debate concerning it anyhow and the views I am most prominently known for are minority views, they need to be as rigorously defended by my own self as possible. The country appears to be generally split on the issue and therefore there are many arguments on both sides.
Concerning abortion, allow me to say that - just like any other moral inquiry - I have only one question: is it sentient? Sentience, the ability to think and feel, is the only thing that I place value on in the realm of morality. It matters not if someone is white or black, male or female, human or non-human, and if should not matter either if someone born or unborn. Although one could righteously assume that the previous statement declares that I am Pro-Life, I am not. That statement stands alone. I believe a sentient fetus should be granted the right to life, whereas a non-sentient fetus should be granted the status of property. There are certainly stages when a fetus is sentient and there are stages when a fetus is not sentient. At which stages a fetus is sentient is not a philosophical, moral, or religious argument - it is a scientific argument. The book "Practical Ethics" (by Peter Singer) states that a fetus becomes conscious roughly between the end of the second trimester and the beginning of the third trimester. Abortion is certainly not a debate of religious inquiry. Abortion is a question of an unborn's right to life and my opinion is known.
There are a few defenses to the strictly Pro-Life stance (that an abortion should never be committed ever save for the possibility that the mother's life may be at risk). These arguments generally focus on the concept that something deserves rights despite the fact that it may not have any interests. One may argue that a non-sentient fetus is on its way to becoming sentient and therefore that deserves right to life. This argument is flawed. Sperm and egg may be on their way to becoming sentient, however they do not deserve any guarantee to the right to life, otherwise we may be rendered rapists if we are to guarantee their production to the right to life. The argument of sleep is brought up, as we humans generally become tired and sleep, thus we lose sentience asleep. However, before you went to sleep you were sentient and you had interests. One interest was that of awaking after sleep. The non-sentient deserve no rights unless they are property to another. It is possible that by throwing a ball of organic material that it will land in the way that it land into the formation of a sentient being. Possible, although highly unlikely. Should a mother be forced to carry her non-sentient child to birth any more than humans should be forced to throw balls of organic material? Of course not. The non-sentient deserve no rights. Humans, cows, dogs, cats, geese, sheep, and the unborn of each species - taking into consideration that they are sentient unborns - deserve the right to life and liberty. Only when one wishes to defend a non-sentient fetus' right to life is it a question of religious inquiry.
As a Vegetarian, I am not led by some dogmatic principle that all life ought to be valued. As a Rationalist, Absolute Rights Ethical Theorist, an Atheist, and a Materialist, I am led by logic and reason. In such, I believe that animals should not be eaten and sentient fetuses ought not be aborted.