Farewell to the People Persons

There are any number of ways people make it easier and more palatable to kill or subjugate another human being or another class of human beings. One can ascribe to them any manner of evil and nefarious motives and undertakings, as the Nazi machine did with the Jews; one can accuse them of political and societal sabotage and subterfuge, as the Russian Communists did with  the kulaks and the “wreckers;” one can construct a fiction wherein the targeted demographic is believed to be stupider, less capable and closer to animal than human, as did the pro-slavery partisans of colonial and antebellum America regarding blacks.

Pro-abortionism, so far as I  know, is the only ideology that for the most part presumes a priori that the human beings in question are not persons. Where antisemitic Nazism and the system of American slavery and any other number of belief systems generally assumed that their targets were bad people or undesirable people or inferior people, the ideology of pro-abortionism tends to assume that the affected people are in fact not people at all.

In a sense this is unsurprising, because among all of the great crimes against humanity, abortion stands alone in its marked and unique brutality: it kills the most innocent and defenseless human beings among us, most of the time for trivial and transient reasons, and on a scale unfathomable to even the most fanatical of despots. In less than four decades worldwide there have been almost one and a half billion abortions: since 1980 we’ve exterminated what amounts to a little over a fifth of the world’s population today, all of them defenseless, with the vast, overwhelming majority of these exterminations being undertaken on the flimsiest and most unjustifiable of pretexts. Count off five people you know personally, then slit the throat of one of them: in a practical sense this is what abortion has done to the human race since 1980, a half-decimation of the global populace.

All of that killing has to be justified in some way; genocide sits easy on nobody’s conscience, no matter what they say. And so you have the kind of rationalization we see from Dr. Willie J. Parker, who speaks frankly in the pages of the New York Times:

Here’s the thing: Life is a process, not an event. If I thought I was killing a person, I wouldn’t do abortions. A fetus is not a person; it’s a human entity. In the moral scheme of things, I don’t hold fetal life and the life of a woman equally. I value them both, but in the precedence of things, when a woman comes to me, I find myself unable to demote her aspirations because of the aspirations that someone else has for the fetus that she’s carrying.

“Life is a process” is, of course, a clever turn of phrase—and it is one that could only be uttered by someone who has been born. If the unborn could speak, surely they would object to qualifying their lives in such a way. Anyone would; indeed when it comes down to it everyone who can, does. Nobody given a choice in the matter would define themselves in a way to make their lives utterly expendable. But abortion doctors don’t give the unborn such a choice: they just kill them, and then they have the gall to speak about “moral schemes.”

Two things are immediately apparent regarding Dr. Parker’s justification of his abortion practice. The first is that his incredible claim—that an unborn human is not a “person” but rather an “entity”—is both meaningless and equivocal at the same time. Meaningless because it is not at all an explicative definition: persons are “entities,” too, after all, and Dr. Parker offers no justification for why the unborn as “entities” do not qualify for personhood (maybe I’m old-fashioned, but if you’re attempting to justify killing other humans, I feel like you should have to show your work). Equivocal, too, because he assumes that the relevant moral feature of a human being is not one’s self-evident humanity but one’s qualified station in life. This qualification, of course, invariably comes from somebody who is bigger and stronger than the qualified unborn, somebody who has killing on his mind. This crude kind of functionalism is what Peter Kreeft calls “might over right rationalized,” in which one justifies one’s brutal treatment of weaker human beings by way of half-baked philosophical claptrap. It is a necessary fixture of pro-abortion politics, for otherwise nobody who supports abortion would be able to sleep at night.

Secondly, one notes that Dr. Parker’s assessment of the stakes of abortion—the “aspirations” of the mother versus the “aspirations that someone else has” for the unborn—are remarkably lopsided, morally speaking, at least if we are to take seriously the women who have abortions. What are the main reasons women have abortions? With some notable exceptions they are, variously and for the most part, financial (“can’t afford baby now”), selfishly personal (“too young/immature/not ready for responsibility”), selfishly practical (“enough children already”), or wholly irrelevant to the actual matter of bringing a child to term (“mother single or in poor relationship”). These are the vast majority of the “aspirations” of abortive women of which Dr. Parker speaks.

And what are the “aspirations” that pro-lifers have on behalf of the unborn? Simply this: that they might live; that they might not be murdered; that they might survive and be given the chance to know, to grow, to feel, to learn, to love and be loved—simply that they might be given the full range of human opportunity and possibility that the law accords every born human.

In the end, regardless of one’s perspective on abortion, everyone must ask himself this rather simple question: what sounds like a more consequential “aspiration” to you: “I have enough children already” or “I don’t want to die?”


  1. Joy

    Always trying to think like a pro-abortion person when faced with a strong defense of life, I would comment on your last question: “but the fetus cannot form the thought ‘I don’t want to die.'”Just a moment’s grace straightens things out: the fetus may not be able to form the WORDS, but surely the instinct to live is embedded in every cell of his developing body. Can you imagine if you said to a PETA person, “a baby seal cannot form the thought that it does’t want to die”(as you brought the cudgel down on its head)? You’d have an incredulous and angry PETA on your hands. Excellent article, Daniel. This really adds nothing to it, just my musings. Because, in the end, a person who supports abortion is just going to find an objection to everything a pro-life person says.

  2. Adriana Mandon

    The white elephant in the room to me is this, if you don’t want to have children in the first place( because we are not living in the past, we are living in a world that presumes to prepare and educate their children in enough biology to understand how humans procreate) why so many women still get pregnant? So maybe, the solution it wasn’t the solution that some ideologies proposed seventy years ago. Women should follow up what it works in our best interest, and sexual freedom maybe it isn’t the panacea, actually quite the opposite. More divorces, more children without one or two parents, more sexual diseases, more abortions, more abuse, less self steam, more insecurity and we suffer more pressure from the society to “behave” in certain “ways”. Why do you think there is so much confusion nowadays about gender, boys that believe they are girls, girls that feel as “boys”? We, as women, have a very important role in the psychic of a human being, as mothers and in society, we used to be the ones who set the moral bar, but the true it is that we have left an empty hole in the rising of humans, that nobody can fill. We should be talking about that, our roles as women, and contrary to modern brainwashing (war to women I call it) that women are up for better things in life that motherhood, there is nothing that a woman may work or accomplished, that is so high that you can compare it with motherhood( including adopting parents). We are bringing life, we should be worshipped (not running the rat race). More women nowadays are dying of conditions that only men suffer before. The smart solution to me, and it is the one I chose for my life and works every time and for all the people I know, is this:
    1-Be a companion of your spouse, love her/him, respect her/him, divide roles, men are good for certain things or at less they do it better, the same for women, don’t compete, don’t step in each other, don’t try to control or manipulate your partner, communicate without anger, control your pride, serve each other, and don’t be selfish, we don’t get marry to be egoists, we marry to share life, because life is much better and less hard if we are two.

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