Whether you are pro-life, pro-choice, or not sure what to think on abortion, here is a thought experiment for pondering the issue.
Imagine it is 100 years from now. By then it will surely be possible for babies to go from conception to birth without being inside of a woman. Imagine a high-tech, well-lit tank where every day you and your spouse can go to a hospital to look at your developing baby in his or her artificial womb. You can watch your developing off-spring go through stages of development and then one day, after about 9 months, he or she is removed from the tank and your baby is declared born.
Now say that you started the process of a having a baby, via this reproduction tank, and after two months you see that all is well – your developing baby is normal and healthy. The developing human now has a heartbeat, hands, feet, a head, a brain and spinal cord, and no signs of health issues. But of course it still has a long way to go before being born.
That evening when you go home your spouse tells you that he or she really, really doesn’t want a baby after all. Bills are stacking up and job security is lousy since all of a sudden an economic downturn has occurred. Besides, after reading up on it, babies are a lot of work and very expensive to raise. Your spouse says he or she wants to pull the plug on your developing baby.
So there are two questions rasied by this thought experiment:
1) Should it be legal to pull the plug on the tank because you don’t want the baby?
2) If you say that it should be illegal to pull the plug, then why is abortion legal today?
I think that most people would answer question #1 as: It should be illegal to pull the plug. Let it live and then let someone adopt the baby when it is born. If necessary, the state can pick up the tab.
So this leaves only one answer to question #2: Abortion is legal today because the baby resides inside of the mother. By residing in the mother, this burden on the mother enables the granting of a right to her to abort the developing human in her for a long period after conception. In other words, if the mother doesn’t want the developing human inside of her for whatever personal reasons, she is granted the right to have it removed – which also happens to kill it.
The point of this thought experiment is to show the thin thread that the moral thinking regarding legalized abortion hangs. If you are pro-life, you will see this thread as supporting no weight at all. And if you are pro-choice, you must recognize your position is, well, hanging by a thread.