Part 1 on Science and Part 2 on Religion. In this post we're going to cover uncertainty. This is a topic we touched on at the end of the religion post, since there is no definitive answer from religion as to whether or not an unborn child is fully human or becomes human at some point in its development.
Some people, disregarding the scientific evidence and relying solely on the ensoulment debate, may make the claim that "we don't know" when human life begins. To those people I would like to mention the story of the hunter, which I first heard of on Life Report, but I don't know the original source to attribute it to. This is the same concept as described in the Declaration on Procured Abortion but with an analogy that makes it easier for people to see the connection.
We know the fetus is alive, since it is taking in nourishment and growing, but is it human? If it is not, then abortion kills an animal. If it is, abortion kills a human. Let's assume for a minute that we don't know which is the case. Now consider the story of the hunter.
One find day a hunter was out in the woods, and saw something moving in the bushes at a distance. He couldn't tell if the movement was a person or a deer, so he took a shot and killed it. Did the hunter act morally?I think most reasonable people would conclude that the hunter is not acting morally (or responsibly), because he didn't wait to shoot until he found out whether the movement was a person before shooting. The moral (responsible) thing to do would be to hold his fire until he had more information. He might wind up missing the deer, but at least he wouldn't commit a murder by accident by acting without information.
Likewise, those who say "we don't know" when human life begins are saying that abortions might be killing human beings. It is therefore our duty not to allow abortions until we decide the question once and for all.
This is one of my biggest concerns about Roe v. Wade. The court concluded that it didn't know when human life began (despite all the evidence), yet decided to allow abortion until the issue was settled. In other words, the Supreme Court decided it was OK to kill human beings. Even pro-choice people should recognize that that is a gross dereliction of the court's duty, and be very concerned.