Science could pave way for abortion restrictions

Published 9:40 pm Friday, January 26, 2018

Will science be the savior of aborted babies?

It’s reasonable to think that it might. For most pro-lifers (of which I am one), a strong belief in the sanctity of life is rooted in the belief in a creator. The argument is relatively simple: God made man, so man’s life has value and should be protected. Destroying that life, no matter how young, is wrong.

The pro-choice camp has sometimes agreed that life is valuable, but has justified support of abortion by insisting that life does not exist until the fetus is viable outside the womb.

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The Supreme Court decided that the word “person” used in the 14th Amendment does not apply to an unborn child. But it also used the viability test to determine when a fetus has those rights guaranteed to all of us. Viable, as defined by the court, is “potentially able to live outside the mother’s womb, albeit with artificial aid.”

That was estimated to be about 23-24 weeks back in the ’90s and that’s the guiding timeline for most abortion restrictions.

But that seems like an arbitrary age. Yes, most doctors agree that’s the age that a fetus has a chance at life outside the womb with much assistance. But knowing for sure when a fetus has a chance at life is not an exact thing. There are too many variables.

Health of the mother, health of the fetus, sex of the fetus — all of these things factor into viability.

It is easy to imagine a time in the near future when fetuses can be supported outside the womb much earlier than 23 weeks. Already, scientists have created an artificial womb that allowed a lamb fetus to develop and grow normally. I’m not suggesting that we should have human fetuses growing in artificial wombs, but the argument for viability at 23 weeks (or even 20) may crumble as technology advances.

Let’s pretend that it does. Let’s pretend that science reaches a point where fetuses at 15 weeks — or younger — have a chance of surviving outside the mother’s womb. Will the courts revisit the issue? Science would argue they should, if it is science that drove the original viability test.

And so where do you draw the line on the age of viability? Will science reach a point that makes that line harder and harder to see?

I think it will, and I think pro-choice supporters will be faced with an uncomfortable reality. Will they abandon science? If so, where will their arguments be based? The right to privacy — and therefore abortions — established in Roe v. Wade is balanced by the viability of the fetus, which science helped establish.

Science and advancing technology could help pave the way for more restrictions on abortions.

Science will also help change the way this country views abortion. Already, technology exists that allows us to see inside the womb in ways that would have been considered science-fiction back in the ’70s.  We now have 3-D images of the fetus and even 4-D images that allow doctors and mothers to see the fetus moving. And, surprise, those fetuses look like human babies.

The more human they look, the harder it is to support killing them. Advancements in technology will only make the images more clearer, more defined and present a picture of something that definitely should be considered a human — with a right to life.

Most pro-lifers do not need science to support their position. A basic belief in the value of human life is enough. But science could help push more of America to their side and force the courts to revisit the issue. If so, I think justices will find a compelling argument for making abortion more restrictive, if not altogether illegal.

Publisher Luke Horton can be reached at