The demise of Roe v Wade has not ended the public debate over abortion. In fact, it has motivated those who favor abortion. Millions of dollars have been invested to influence elections in several states. Some are trying to place “abortion on demand” as a guaranteed right into their state constitutions.
My concern is that the debate over the issue of abortion has been derailed. It seems that the most basic issue regarding abortion is no longer being debated in the public forum, or for that matter in the halls of justice: “When does an embryo or a fetus become a baby—another human being?” That is the question. Or should be.
The metaphor below is written by a great grandfather that has two great grandsons, Calin and Westley. Both are filled with life and curiosity. But great grandfather has used Westley in the story because his name begins with a W as does watermelon and because his mother is pregnant with Westley’s baby sister.
Imagine, my great grandson, helping me plant a watermelon seed asking, “Papa, what is that little black thing? Why are you putting it into the dirt?”
“Westley, it’s a watermelon seed.”
“But, it’s so little! It doesn’t look like a watermelon.”
“Just wait, you’ll see. Inside that little black seed is something that’s alive. It’s just waiting to grow into a watermelon.”
Several warm, sunny days pass. Westley and Papa go out to the garden.
“Papa, look. What is that little green thing?”
“Westley, remember when we put that little black seed into the ground? It was alive. Look at those little green leaves popping out of the ground. It is a watermelon plant. It will grow bigger and bigger and become a long, winding vine.”
Weeks pass. Westley comes to visit again.
“Papa, look! There’s a big yellow flower on the watermelon plant.”
“Yes, Westley. That flower will become a watermelon. Just wait, you’ll see.”
Weeks pass. Days filled with sunshine and plenty of water. “Westley, come look at our watermelon plant.”
“Papa, what is that little, round ball where the flower used to be?”
“Westley, that’s a watermelon.”
“Papa, you’re teasing me. It’s too small to be a water melon. It’s no bigger than a pea.”
“Yep. But, just wait. It’s a watermelon. It’s going to grow and grow, and one day it will be a delicious watermelon.”
The melon is now big and green. Ripe and ready to pick. Westley comes to visit again.
“Oh, Papa, look at that watermelon! It’s so big!”
“Yes, it is big, Westley. Remember that little, black seed that we put it in the ground and covered with dirt? Those first little green leaves pushing their way up out of the soil. Remember that first big, yellow flower on the vine and that tiny little pea-sized ball? Now, here it is a big, round watermelon. It was always a watermelon. Even when it was a little, black seed buried out of sight in the ground. Later, when it was a flower and then a little round ball it was always a watermelon.”
“Westley, this watermelon reminds me of what is happening in your mommy’s tummy. One day your daddy helped plant a seed inside your mommy’s tummy. In a very special way that God has planned, your little sister began to grow like that watermelon seed that we couldn’t see because it was in the ground. But it was alive and was growing until one day we saw the first leaf of the watermelon plant.
“Now your tiny baby sister is growing bigger and bigger inside your mommy. Her tummy will get bigger and bigger. One day your mommy and daddy will go to the hospital and when they return, they will bring your baby sister home with them. You’ll get to see your sister for the first time. She will finally be your little sister to hold and to love. But, Westley, remember she was always alive. She was always your little sister even inside your mommy’s tummy.”
Today, the debate over the issue of abortion has been derailed. We have changed the narrative to a woman’s right over her own body or reproductive health, but the question remains: is it ethical to ignore the plight of the innocent life within a womb? Is it right—not whether it is legal—to take the life of another human being?
That raises a greater question: If an embryo or fetus is a living person, or a potential person, can it be just or moral to premeditatively take another life? I realize that I will be accused of being crude and insensitive to use the word, murder. But isn’t that what our legal system calls the premeditative act of taking another person’s life?
So, the narrative ought to return to when is a baby really a baby? Does passing through the birth canal suddenly make it a baby? Does the first gasp for air make it a baby? The first cry?
Was it a baby at 26 weeks gestation when in some states, just three days ago it was legal to kill? Did something magical happen on the 182nd day to make it a person? A person deserving legal protection?
That’s the true narrative! Not “women’s health care” or the right of a woman over her own body while ignoring the plight of another little body—a living person.
That should be the debate.