Why Do People Think That Unborn Babies Aren’t Human?

I sometimes get requests to do interviews for local students. You can read one of them here at LifeNews.com. I just did another one, and this is my response to one of his questions:

11 weeks from fertilization; 13 weeks LMP.

Student: Why do you think that people don’t think that unborn babies are human?

Some are ignorant of the biological reality that the embryo, from fertilization, is a living, whole, human organism.

Most pro-choice people don’t question whether the embryo is biologically alive anymore. Instead, there are two common confusions about whether they qualify as organisms:

1: They Wrongly Compare Embryos to Other Bodily Cells

Embryos are not like skin cells or sperm cells. As Scott Klusendorf explains, “that argument confuses parts with wholes.” Skin cells are a part of my body working for the good of my organism. During the fertilization process the sperm and oocyte die and what remains is a new human organism with separate DNA from the mother, who’s parts are working for the good of it’s whole.

2: They Confuse Construction with Development

Richard Stith has a wonderful article where he explains that some pro-choice think that humans are constructed like a car on an assembly line. That would explain why they don’t think embryos are valuable, because nobody thinks there is a “car” as soon as the first two pieces of steel are welded together at a car factory. But as Stith explains, humans aren’t constructed like cars, they develop from within, like a Polaroid photo.

Most people don’t argue as much about the biology anymore but instead argue that the unborn is not a valuable human being, or “person.” That’s usually because they think the unborn don’t have the necessary things that people have, like self-awareness, desires, or the ability to feel pain. The problem with those views is that it leads to arguments that permit infanticide, (newborns aren’t self-aware and they don’t have desires yet,) or they lead to arguments that allow most animals into the personhood family. (Most animals can feel pain.)

I think it makes much more sense to believe that all humans are valuable because of they share a human nature, and that’s what grounds their value.


Josh Brahm is the President of Equal Rights Institute, an organization that trains pro-life advocates to think clearly, reason honestly and argue persuasively.

Josh uses speaking, writing and campus outreach to emphasize practical dialogue tips, pro-life philosophy, and relational apologetics.

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