When is a Human Being Actually Human?

What would it look like if all the babies lost to abortion had been born? That would mean over 60 million more people living today, and that’s just in the United States. 

Where would they live? Who would take care of them? How would our society and infrastructure support that many more people? These are the questions that abortion advocates bring to the discussion, and they are right to do so because they are exactly the questions that pro-life advocates should care about too.

While working out the logistics of that hypothetical conversation could certainly benefit from both sides of the discussion being invested in those answers, the true crux of the issue boils down to something much more fundamental – and it’s a matter of perspective. 

If you believe that the value of life is defined by the ability and desire to sustain it, then ending a life could be a reasonable option to consider if and when we do not have the ability or desire to support it. However, suppose we believe life is defined by its intrinsic worth because of the value imbued by a creator who made it. In that case, the conversation is very different. 

So before we can evaluate that paradigm, the first logical question we must agree upon is, how do we define life?

In other words, what is in the womb of a pregnant woman? Is the product of conception human? Most people will agree the cells are human, even if it’s not fully developed. We can all agree that it certainly has the potential to become a human. So then, at what point do we believe this is a living human? At the moment of conception as it begins to develop? When there’s a detectible heartbeat? When it grows fingernails? At the point of viability outside the womb? At the moment of birth? 

When is a human being actually human? 

Most can agree that once a baby is born, it’s safe to consider it fully human. We all recognize that the hearty cry of a baby with fully functioning parts is unquestionably a human. But what about if it doesn’t cry or function well after being born? Is it still a human? Is it not still alive?

Another way to phrase that question is, at what point in the timeline of humanness is an unborn person not fully alive? The answer is that we are human as soon as we begin to grow because growth is the sign of life for all living things. 

If we agree that the cells in the womb are human and that the growth timeline begins at conception, where does that leave us concerning our responsibility? Is it okay to take innocent human life, ever? Is there a point when innocent human life should NOT be protected, nurtured, and cared for? 

The answer to these questions is no; it is never okay to take an innocent life, regardless of how we estimate its intrinsic value or someone’s capacity to care for it.

So where do we go from here?

First, we trust our loving Creator, who has created that life and has a plan for it.

Second, we do our part. 

At Mercy House, we have tried to be a part of the solution to the question. Our vision is that no woman feels compelled to have an abortion due to a lack of support. If we truly believe that human life should be protected, nurtured, and cared for, then we all have a deep obligation to help. Housing, Hope, and Help can come in many forms. Mercy House is just one of them. All of us can do something, and together we can love both mother and baby as humans created and sustained by their Creator. 

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