On the morality of abortion / by Simmon Li

I was having a conversation with a friend yesterday and he said something that completely changed the way I approached this issue of abortion. I've always held a liberal view of abortion with arbitrary limits, but I never did feel comfortable with the "pro-choice" label, and nor, quite honestly, could I completely justify my position without resorting it some sort of logical gaffe. "That's just how I think it should be." But my friend posed a question to me that completely turned it around. Being a religious man, he understood the construction of the Church's sweeping ban on abortion. I still am not sure what his position is, but his construction of the Church's argument makes a lot of sense. Life is sacred and all life should be protected. Because "life" has been so hard to define concerning unborn children, it's better to assume they have life as well (because we know they eventually will become life, even if they are not when they are first conceived). It is a value judgement about the worth of life, and in essence playing it safe with the fetus.

My friend then posed a question to me: "The question of personhood is never addressed. When does personhood begin?" This for me set of a tumble of thoughts. This was exactly the arbitrary line that I stood by. Does a package of cells have personhood? At what point does this package of cells gain personhood, or self-awareness? In essence, when does a fetus stop being a package of cells and start being a "person"? To me, there are clearly stages of development, and somewhere along the process, the emergence of personhood signals a change in identity, and thus certain rights to life.

The big questions!