The Unborn As Human Beings

Author: A.L.L.


American Life League

How awkward it is for those who want to keep abortion "safe and legal" to confront the problem of when human life begins. For if the fetus is human life not a diseased appendix nor a tumor then abortion kills that human life and we concede the Hitlerian notion that some lives are not worthy to be lived. How much better for them to obscure and obfuscate to pretend that the very question is beyond (or beneath?) answer. The humanity of the unborn is the great 13th floor of modern society. Everyone knows it's there, but, for convenience' sake, we pretend it isn't.

                                                                                   Congressman Henry J. Hyde.[1]

Anti-Life Philosophy.

Yearly, millions of women, driven in fear of the state not of man's ancient gods submit themselves to crude abortions at the hands of quacks, or attempt surgery on their own bodies to rid their agonized wombs of endoparasitic growths, which if unchecked, threaten their lives, their sanity, their existing families, their incomes and social futures.

                                                                                              Lana Clarke Phelan.[2]

During the first trimester, the fetus is not human. It has all of the characteristics of a fish, as you can plainly see when you take a close look at it. It even has gills. Since it is not human, therefore, abortion in the first trimester cannot possibly be seen as murder.


Our continuing disagreements on fetal research, abortion or the nontreatment of seriously handicapped newborns result not from a lack of facts or want of shared principles, but from diverging visions of what it means to be human and of the nature and purpose of human life.

                                                                                                  Ethicist Hans Tiefel.[3]

A rigorous analysis of the exact biological and social status of the unborn can only be performed in three steps. The first level of analysis must answer the most basic question: Are the unborn alive? If this strictly biological question is answered in the affirmative, we must further classify this living being as either human or non-human (there is no other possible classification). If this strictly biological question results in the preborn being classified as human, then we must answer the third and most complex question: Is this living human creature a person?

Chapter 69 established that the unborn are, without a doubt, living beings. Only the most irrational pro-abortionist will dispute this fact. This chapter takes the classification process one step further: Is this living being a human being, or is it not?

Is It Human Or Is It Ain't?

I prefer to look at the problem [of abortion] through the eyes of Darwin and evolution. Why not permit abortion in the first trimester, when the embryo is still a salt water creature ...?

                                                                                           George Crile, Jr., M.D.[4]


Pro-abortionists will go to absurd lengths to dehumanize the preborn baby, just as countries and racists do when they dehumanize their enemies during international or class war (i.e., Japs, krauts, eyeties, gooks, niggers, micks, etc.). It's much easier to kill if you have been brainwashed into believing that you're not killing a human being. All wartime psychologists know this.

Fish, Fowl, Or Human?

One of the most bizarre and common arguments of the pro-aborts is that it's OK to murder the unborn up until a certain point in their development because they do not look like human beings. In fact, they say, at one point the preborn have gills.

This is part of the pro-abort argument that can be summarized by the statement "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny," which means that the unborn child, in essence, passes through or summarizes all of the stages of evolution before he emerges into the light of day.

This is a restatement of Ernst Haeckel's Biogenetic Law, first proposed in 1866, which was popular before the science of microbiology was made possible by the invention of microscopes powerful enough and versatile to examine cellular structure in utero. The only human embryos available for study before 1950 were those that had already died.

Embryos are virtually transparent and appear to be structureless due to their extremely high water content. They undergo profound structural changes within seconds of expiring through autolytic decomposition (cellular destruction brought about by self-produced enzymes). Therefore, a dead preborn human ex utero bears no resemblance whatever to a living embryo.

The unborn, of course, never have actual gills during their intrauterine stay. As Jeremy Rifkin has explained in his book Algeny,

It is true that at a certain stage in embryonic development, a series of small grooves, known as pharyngeal pouches, emerge, and that they bear a faint resemblance to similar grooves that appear in the neck area of a fish which later become its gills. The pharyngeal pouches do not open up into the throat. Instead of developing into slits and gills, they form glands, and also the lower jaw and parts of the inner ear.

The Beginnings of Humanity.

Humanity, like life, does not begin any more. It began long ago, regardless of whether one subscribes to the creationist or evolutionist view. It is passed down, like life, from generation to generation, and began with Adam and Eve (or, if you please, after we evolved sufficiently from apes). Humanity, like life, does not stop and start up again.

There are many differences between a sperm and an ovum and the zygote that they combine to create. The primary differentiation is in information content. The haploid gametes in the sperm and ovum have exactly half of the information that a zygote has, and therefore cannot constitute a person.

However, after the germ cells of any mammalian species have combined to form a blastocyst, any competent microbiologist can examine the organism to determine exactly which species it is.

Some pro-aborts try to blur the picture with ridiculous statements primarily aimed at the Catholic Church; they say that all sperm, for instance, should receive a full burial ceremony.

They don't believe this, of course. They are just trying to muddy the waters. The egg and sperm are living cells, and they are human (just as a human eye and hand are), but they must combine in order to produce a human being (person).

The Government's Position.

One would think that the United States government, with all of its prestige and accumulated scientific knowledge, would be consistent in its treatment of all preborn species.

Obviously, common sense and consistency are not priorities in our government. It is common knowledge among pro-lifers that the government classifies members of all species as those particular species from conception, with one exception: Our own!

• It is illegal to transport pregnant lobsters (this is not a joke) anywhere on the East Coast for fear of damaging them or their preborn offspring. This means that the Federal government recognizes lobsters as lobsters from conception.[5]

• Anyone destroying or tampering with eagle eggs is subject to a $5,000 fine and one year's imprisonment, because the bird enjoys threatened species status. This means that the Federal government recognizes eagles as eagles from conception.

• Cattle used as breeding stock must be capitalized, which means that all associated costs must be recorded. These costs begin at conception! This means that the Federal government recognizes cattle as cattle from conception.[5]

• An Illinois man was fined $500 in 1984 for killing a female white-tailed deer. He said that he shot at extreme range and mistook the doe for a buck. Unfortunately for him, the doe was pregnant, so he was fined. This is typical of local and state hunting laws. It also means that the government recognizes deer as deer from conception.[6]

• In May of 1990, Paul Stedman Cullen poisoned Austin's 500-year old Treaty Oak Tree. He was convicted of felony criminal mischief, and, due to a previous felony conviction, faced possible life in prison. This means that even inanimate living objects enjoy a higher status than human preborns.

• While people and corporations can be fined huge sums of money for killing preborn members of other species, certain people can make huge sums of money for killing preborn members of our species!

The conclusion is obvious. Our governments at every level value preborn lobsters, eagles, cattle, deer, and even trees much more than the preborn human being, which they consider nothing more than 'biological waste."

We will never hear anyone speaking about the "progressive chimpanzification of chimpanzees" or the "progressive eaglization of eagles," because nobody is trying to push some illogical and lethal social agenda involving chimpanzees or eagles. Yet we hear about the "progressive humanization of the fetus" all the time.

For Some, Humanity Isn't Enough ...

Those who use this [Holocaust] analogy maintain that the proponents of freedom of choice have dehumanized the unborn child, just as the Nazis dehumanized the Jew. This is not true.

'Rabbi' Charles D. Mintz of the 'Religious' Coalition for Abortion Rights.[7]

The Fallback Position.

At one time, pro-abortionists commonly argued that the preborn were not alive, "not as you and I are alive." When faced with overwhelming scientific evidence that this view was untenable, they fell back to the position that the preborn, while definitely alive, were not human.

Ironically, one area of science heavily favored by the pro-abortionists provides the evidence needed to undermine their own position that the preborn are not human. This is the science of fetal organ harvesting, where the tissue from aborted preborns is used to allegedly treat the symptoms of Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's Disease, diabetes, and other injuries.

Dr. Ralph DeGeorgio neatly sums up the point that pro-lifers must make: "We must recognize why the use of human fetal tissue is being advocated in the first place: precisely because it IS human." [emphasis in original].[8]

But will the biological or genetic humanity of the preborn, even if proven, cause the slaughter of the babies to stop? Bioethicist Robert S. Morison rather plaintively asks

As gradually improving techniques permit fetal growth to later and more mature stages, then the issue of disposal will be met head-on in form of the following presently unresolved questions: When do fetuses acquire the status of protectable humanity? ... If brought to term, will they finally be admitted into the human community or will they still be considered material appropriate for further experimentation?[9]

It is obvious that, when pro-abortionists allege that the preborn are not human, they are not referring to genetic humanity; they are equating "humanhood" with "personhood." A pro-lifer should point this fact out to an audience if he is debating the subject of the humanity of the preborn with a pro-abort.

Continuing the Dehumanization Process.

Now that basic medical science has proven beyond any reasonable doubt that the preborn are both alive and human, pro-abortionists are arguing that, even though they possess these traits, they are still fair game for the butcher's knife before and after birth.

According to the more extreme anti-lifers, even a healthy newborn might not be as human as another healthy newborn if his environment is less sanitary. And some pro-abortionists have even begun to link a person's degree of humanity with his beliefs, as described below.

Hastings Center 'bioethicist' Mary Anne Warren, while arguing that late-term aborted preborns should be turned into organ farms, wrote that "If we are to make a reasoned judgment about the moral status of fetuses, and of nonhuman animals, alien life forms, intelligent machines and other problematic entities, we must develop a criterion of moral rights that is species-neutral. That is, it will not do to make 'genetic humanity,' or mere genetic affiliation to the human species, either a necessary or a sufficient condition for the possession of full moral rights. [The criteria for personhood is] an entity that has the actual, not merely potential capacity for consciousness, complex, sophisticated perception, rationality, self-awareness and self-motivated behavior."[10]

Warren concedes that the unborn "look disconcertingly like people," but states as a fact that "they do not desire life, or anything else, any more than trees or amoebas do."[10]

Warren repeats her assertion that even newborns are not necessarily deserving of membership in the human species in an article in the journal Ethical Issues in Modern Medicine,

A fetus, even a fully developed one [i.e., newborn], is considerably less like a person than is the average mature mammal, indeed the average fish. And I think that a rational person must conclude that if the right to life of a fetus is to be based upon its resemblance to a person, then it cannot be said to have any more right to life than, let us say, a newborn puppy (which also seems to be capable of feeling pain). It follows from my argument that when an unwanted or defective infant is born into a society which cannot afford and/or is not willing to care for it, then its destruction is permissible.

Dr. Peter Bond is another of the 'new utilitarians' who will go so far as to tie a person's humanity to the quality of his environment; "A woman can produce a baby in the most squalid circumstances of being homeless, poor, mentally defective and physically ill. The products of conception when they are born at term are then only potentially human."[11]

According to Bond's frightening criteria, entire sections of crowded or poor cities and even countries could be declared free of human habitation. It would also mean that, if the children of one race are generally born into conditions more "squalid" than a second race, then the second race enjoys greater human status than the first.

Plantation songs, anyone?

The final step in this long process of dehumanization has already been taken by Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa, which apparently believes that a person's beliefs indicate the degree of their humanity. Naturally, according to PP, the more pro-life a person is, the less human they are.

PP of Greater Iowa instructs its escorts to sing the song "Itsy Bitsy Spider" to themselves, so that they are not distressed by seeing pictures of dead preborn babies. It also tells the escorts to name a pro-lifer and then tell themselves that that person has failed to meet the minimum qualifications for classification as a human being. Finally, It tells the escorts to tape the name of a pro-lifer to the bottom of their shoes and then sing to themselves "Every step you take, every move you make, I'll be squishing you." Susan Gellinger of Planned Parenthood says that "This is a very empowering yet non-confrontational thing to do. You know you'll be symbolically stepping on that person all day. By continuing to work from a love base, maybe there can be bridges for respect and communication."[12]

Perhaps someone should ask Gellinger how a "love base" and "respect and communication" are facilitated by stepping on people and summarily revoking their humanity.

Humanity is Really Irrelevant.

This and other quotes reveal that pro-abortionists will never grant the preborn full equal rights. Their selfish interest in continuing the slaughter is too strong. After all, to the pro-abort, the status of the preborn is not some theoretical question; their status is irrelevant. The "status of the unborn" argument is a convenient distraction that allows the abortionists to continue to wipe out the preborn by the millions in peace and quiet, while their supporters debate the issues.

To the pro-abortionist, it does not matter what preborn babies are. It does not matter that they feel horrible pain when they are aborted; it does not matter that they can be operated on; it does not matter that they can survive at as little as 19 weeks' gestation in some cases. All that matters to pro-aborts is that the preborn can continue to be disposed of in the most convenient possible manner.

Alfred Moran, former Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood of New York demonstrated this point at a speech at a National Abortion Federation conference when he asserted that

... it seems to me that there are clearly increasing concerns out there that we need to address ourselves to if we ultimately want to come down with the reality that in spite of all those concerns, in spite of all those changes in viability, in spite of those capacities to intercede in fetal developments, that the ultimate choice about carrying a pregnancy to term can only be made by the woman who is pregnant, we will lose it.[13]

Inevitably, now that pro-abortionists have revoked the humanity of the unborn, they have found it much simpler to eliminate the imperfect or undesirable newborn as well.

'Ethicist' Joseph Fletcher stressed this point in a Hastings Center publication almost twenty years ago when he said that "It is ridiculous to give ethical approval to the positive ending of sub-human life in utero, as we do in therapeutic abortions, but refuse to approve of positively ending a sub-human life in extremis [after birth]."[14]

For further information on infanticide, refer to Chapter 110 in Volume III.

References: Humanity of the Unborn.

[1] Congressman Henry J. Hyde, in a May 27, 1981 letter to the Washington Post. Printed in Appendix A to the Summer 1981 Human Life Review, pages 80 to 83.

[2] Lana Clarke Phelan. "Abortion Laws: The Cruel Fraud." Speech presented at the First California Conference on Abortion at Santa Barbara, California in March of 1968 by the Society for Humane Abortion, Inc., San Francisco, California.

[3] Ethicist Hans Tiefel. "Fetal Experimentation in Conflicting Perspectives." Bioethics Reporter, January 1984.

[4] George Crile, Jr., M.D., retired head of surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. "When Does Human Life Begin?" Guest editorial in the Medical Tribune, March 6, 1985.

[5] ALL News, May 25, 1990, page 4.

[6] "Government Says Calves Become Calves at Conception." American Family Association Journal, February 1989, page 9.

[7] 'Rabbi' Charles D. Mintz. Quoted in "Abortion and the Holocaust: Twisting the Language." 'Religious' Coalition for Abortion Rights, 100 Maryland Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20002, telephone: (202) 543-7032. 1987, 24 pages. This booklet is stylishly written and laid out on only the best paper. It features five short essays by apostate 'Jews' and phony 'Christians' that are masterpieces of Doublethink and propaganda. This booklet is mandatory reading for any pro-lifer who wants insight into just how clever pro-abort propaganda can be.

[8] Tissue and Organ Donation By Aborted Preborn and Anencephalic Infants: Medical Aspects of Human Fetal Transplantation. University of Southern California School of Medicine, 1990, page 226.

[9] Robert S. Morison. "The Human Fetus as Useful Research Material." Hastings Center Report, April 1973, pages 8 to 11. Available as Reprint #609 from the Institute of Society, Ethics, and Life Sciences, Hastings-on-Hudson, New York 10706.

[10] 'Bioethicist' Mary Anne Warren. "Can the Fetus be an Organ Farm?" Hastings Center Report, October 1978.

[11] Letter from Dr. Peter Bond. Journal of Medical Ethics, 1976, Volume II, Number 45. Described in Nancy B. Spannaus, Molly Hammett Kronberg, and Linda Everett (Editors). How to Stop the Resurgence of Nazi Euthanasia Today. Transcripts of the International Club of Life Conference, Munich, West Germany, June 11-12, 1988. Executive Intelligence Review Special Report, September 1988. EIR, Post Office Box 17390, Washington, D.C. 20041-0390.

[12] Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa's The Source, Fall 1992. Quoted in the Prayer & Action Newsletter, September 12, 1992.

[13] Alfred Moran, executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood of New York, at the 1983 National Abortion Federation annual meeting in Minneapolis. Quoted in National Right to Life News. "Technical Advances to Make Pro-Abortion Position Tougher." May 26, 1983, page 12.

[14] Joseph Fletcher. "Four Indicators of Humanhood the Enquiry Matures." Hastings Center Report, December 1974.

Further Reading: Humanity of the Unborn.

Peter Kreeft. The Unaborted Socrates: A Dramatic Debate on the Issues Surrounding Abortion
Order from: Life Issues Bookshelf, Sun Life, Thaxton, Virginia 24174. Telephone: (703) 586-4898. This book shows that all arguments for and against abortion are reduced to one primary position: that the unborn are or are not persons. It is also a valuable debating tool in that it shows pro-lifers how to master the Socratic method of clarifying issues and their underlying themes through logic and questioning.

Bernard Nathanson, M.D. The Silent Scream
Order from: Life Issues Bookshelf, Sun Life, Thaxton, Virginia 24174. Telephone: (703) 586-4898. This is the book form of the film that provoked an international pro-abort scream of protest and a futile effort to discredit it. The book, like the film, describes a suction abortion from the baby's point of view. The book also includes pro-abortion rebuttals to the film The Silent Scream and the answers to those rebuttals.

J. Robert Nelson. Human Life: A Biblical Perspective for Bioethics
Philadelphia: Fortress Press. 1984, 194 pages. Reviewed by James Manney on pages 9 and 15 of the October 24, 1985 National Right to Life News. The primary purpose of this book is to compare the various existing attitudes towards the creation and nature of life: The materialist, the philosophist, and the religious believers. It also features a detailed contrast between philosophies and resulting actions of bioethicists who believe and those who do not.

United States Government. Neonatal Intensive Care for Low Birthweight Infants: Costs and Effectiveness
Reviews the evidence on the effectiveness of treating low birthweight babies in special hospital units, and examines recent changes in related technology and medical practice and long-term consequences of treatment. Serial Number 052-003-01089-5, 1987, 83 pages. Order by mail from Superintendent of Documents, United States Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, or by telephone from (202) 783-3238.

United States Government. National Institute on Drug Abuse Monograph Series. Current Research on the Consequences of Maternal Drug Abuse
Serial Number 017-024-01249-1, 1985, 118 pages. Also Prenatal Drug Exposure: Kinetics and Dynamics. Serial Number 017-024-01257-2, 1985, 159 pages. Order by mail from Superintendent of Documents, United States Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, or by telephone from (202) 783-3238.

© American Life League BBS — 1-703-659-7111

This is a chapter of the Pro-Life Activist’s Encyclopedia published by American Life League.