The Alabama abortion law is a win for life


Nathan Polk, Staff Columnist

The Alabama Human Life Protection Act, otherwise known as HB 314, was passed in May to much national criticism. The bill bans abortions outside of ectopic pregnancies and those where the fetus displays lethal anomalies. The only exceptions are where there is an extreme health risk to the mother.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, over 60 million babies have been aborted in America since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. That’s over 60 million human lives. No credible science would point to the contrary. The only scientific result of a human pregnancy is a human child.

This reality leaves those who choose not to support HB 314 with the task of somehow separating personhood from biological humanity. This is the only way to leave those who participate in the act of abortion without moral culpability. An inability to do so renders abortions as categorically murderous, for the destruction of an innocent human person is murder by any standard.

This task is impossible to accomplish when analyzing some of the most common arguments against fetal personhood: viability, degree of dependence and capacity for sentient experience. Thus, I contend the Alabama legislature was right in its passage of HB 314.

Regarding viability, the ability of a fetus to live outside of the womb, we must understand human existence in terms of progressive development. Humans are not capable as fetuses of what they are at other stages of life. Yet, barring some extreme circumstance, they will reach each milestone of development given ample time. To hold the position that viability alone constitutes personhood is illogical because there are changing degrees of physical ability across stages of life. Physical parameters for personhood are problematic because there is no end to the creation of arbitrary benchmarks. Developmental potential imparts personhood because physical humanity is a spectrum resulting from diverse environments. Physical parameters alone ignore the developmental potential and rest on alterable criteria. Therefore, this objection is not strong enough to refute fetal personhood.

As a child, did you pay the mortgage and buy groceries? Of course not! You were reliant on your parents for survival. This is not parasitism. This is the consequence of human existence. Children are reared, become independent, care for others, and in old age become dependent again. At no post-birth stage does our society dispute that a human’s degree of dependence revokes their personhood. Why then would an unborn child’s reliance on their mother makes them disposable and without personhood? In light of the logical imbalance between pro-choice understandings of pre-birth and post-birth dependency, this objection lacks the potency to refute fetal personhood.

Sentience, the ability to experience reality subjectively, is different from intelligence and creativity. It is the most basic level of human experience and a characteristic of personhood. However, immediate capacity for complete sentience, which a fetus lacks, is problematic as a baseline for personhood. How should we categorize those who sleep or are comatose? Both have the potential for revived sentience, similar to fetuses. Under the pro-choice fallacy, one group’s condition retains personhood and the other’s does not. This is inconsistent, and the position is incapable of refuting fetal personhood.

I do not wish to discredit the difficulty many women and families have endured as it relates to pregnancy. However, murder cannot be the solution. On both ends of birth, we are duty-bound to preserve, protect and promote life. Abortion is indefensible because the reality of fetal personhood overrides any other extenuating argument.

Life is precious. Abortion is morally reprehensible on the grounds of fetal personhood. HB 314 is a good bill to protect those most vulnerable among us. To the Alabama legislature and Governor Ivey, I say well done!