The Words of the Gow Family

Abortion: A Violation of Human Rights

Haven Bradford Gow
February 2002

Since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in January 1973, more than 30 million innocent, unborn babies have been butchered to death in their mothersí wombs.

In a recent study by Dr. David Reardon of the Elliot Institute for Social Sciences Research, we learn that of 260 post-abortion women: 36% became self-destructive; 20% had a nervous breakdown; 10% were hospitalized for psychiatric care; 61% said abortion made their lives worse; and 28% had attempted suicide, over half more than once.

Mother Teresa once observed: "The greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself; and if we can accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell others not to kill one another.

As University of Rhode Island philosophy teacher Dr. Stephen Schwarz points out in his book The Moral Question of Abortion (Loyola Univesity Press), abortion is an issue involving a matter of life and death and civil and human rights. "Abortion is a civil rights issue," he observes, "just like racial justice for blacks, or equal treatment for the handicapped and all minorities. On allowing abortion, the state...is denying the basic human right of a large segment of the population. The fundamental duty of the state is to protect the rights of its people."

Dr. Schwarz adds: "Legalized abortion...means abandoning this most basic human right, the right to live, of a whole class of human beings, to the brutal power of those who would kill them...." Indeed, "making abortion illegal is necessary to guarantee preborn persons equal rights.... Saying it is wrong to kill born persons but acceptable to kill unborn persons is an outrageous violation of the latterís right to equal protection under the law."

Perhaps it would be instructive to apply the thinking to the eminent moral philosopher Immanuel Kant to the explosive issue of abortion. According to Kant, in weighing the morality or immorality of actions, we should ask ourselves if we would like others to emulate our conduct in similar or exactly the same situations.

For Kant, we must treat persons as ends in themselves rather than as mere means to selfish gratification. In other words, Kant basically was restating the Golden Rule so well enunciated by Confucius and Christ, namely: "Do unto others what you would have them do unto you; do not do or say unto others what you would not want done or said unto you."

In discussing the morality or immorality of abortion, then, we ought to put ourselves in the place of the unborn child. For example, would we, as unborn babies, want our mothers and fathers to opt to kill us rather than give us an opportunity to live and accomplish something worthwhile with our lives? As unborn babies, would we want our mothers to abort us for personal, social and economic convenience? Would we, as unborn babies, want our parents and physicians to kill us because they believed our mental or physical handicaps would mean that we would be born less than "perfect"?

Kantís significant moral teaching should be applied in the abortion debate because it focuses much needed attention on our moral obligations and on the need to treat people with respect for their God-given, intrinsic moral worth and dignity.

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