Only just recently, pro-lifers have argued that abortions should be allowed up to the point when the fetus feels pain or when a heart beat can be detected. Most have also allowed exceptions in cases of rape or incest. But for the Alabama Legislature, this is neither “logical” nor “scientific.”

The argument goes like this: If the fetus is a person from conception forward (a premise I believe is false), then no exceptions may be allowed. At any point after this moment abortion is murder, and any doctor who performs this procedure should be prosecuted and imprisoned for 99 years.

The Alabama bill states that the woman seeking an abortion would not be held “criminally culpable or civilly liable,” but this does not follow logically because she has conspired to take her fetus’ life. Our own former state senator Dan Foreman was brutally “logical” on this point.

Foreman is joined by GOP Rep. Ron Wright from Texas who said that such women should be jailed because they have committed murder. Texas state legislator Tony Tinderholt (he is a Republican, of course) recently introduced a bill that would have banned abortion and subjected women and their doctors to the death penalty.

Foreman, Wright, and Tinderholt would have American women join those already in jail in Egypt, Iraq, the Philippines, El Salvador, and other “pro-life” countries. Some of these hapless souls have been imprisoned after being accused of causing their own miscarriages.

Further adhering to “logic” of their extreme position, Alabama legislators will not allow exceptions in the case of rape or incest. The fetus is a person, so women must, in every case, complete their pregnancies. Every conception, after all, is God’s will, so these traumatized women must give birth and raise their rapists’ children.

Poor Indiana Republican Richard Mourdock agonized and prayed over his decision: “I struggled with myself for a long time but I came to realize that life is a gift from God, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape. It is something that God intended to happen.”

Following Mourdock’s logic, miscarriages are also God’s will, and this means that God is the greatest abortionist. It is estimated that upwards of one third of pregnancies end in miscarriage, and some women face life-threatening hemorrhaging as a result.

In response to the charge that they base their position on religion, anti-abortionists counter that no one can deny that the fertilized ovum has a unique genetic identity.

Twinning, however, is possible within the first two weeks, so in this case there are two persons rather than one. This proves that genetic identity is not the same a personal identity. Some other moral and/or legal criterion must be used instead.

Christians who use the genetic argument need to be reminded that, for them, personal identity is not a biological determination, rather, it is a spiritual gift from God. As Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas states: “Human persons are created by God at the completion of their coming into being.”

English Common Law defined this “completion” as “quickening” (animation) in the womb — sometime during the second trimester. Our founding thinkers would have learned about this from their law books, so those Supreme Court justices who believe in “original intent” should support Roe v. Wade.

Right after the Alabama abortion ban was approved, Alabama state senator Linda Coleman-Madison proposed a bill that “would require the state to provide free prenatal and medical care for mothers who had been denied an abortion by the new law.” It went down to defeat by a vote of 23-6.

There is a saying that goes something like this: “The last time Republicans cared for you was when you were a fetus.”

Nick Gier taught religion and philosophy at the University of Idaho for 31 years. Read his article on abortion at Email him at

Recommended for you