For Washington Post columnist Kate Cohen, having an abortion is no big deal because unborn babies “feel nothing,” they don’t have souls.
Writing Wednesday, Cohen said she would have supported her own mother’s decision to abort her because, as an unborn baby, she was just a “potential” person who did not exist yet.
“If I had to choose between my potential existence and my actual mother’s freedom? That’s easy. I’d choose my mother’s freedom every time,” she wrote. “Our abortion debate is skewed by the idea that people are people before they’re people. Long before.”
An atheist, Cohen described the pro-life beliefs that unborn babies are people with souls as “fantastical” and “scary.”
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“Human lives, when seen this way, inhabit a strange kind of solidity even in the abstract: Before they live — even if they never live — these people were meant to be,” she continued. “And, if they do become (actual) people, their existence is retroactively deemed inevitable and necessary, ‘God’s will’ and not just one of a zillion possible combinations of sperm and egg and time and chance.”
Cohen also mentioned Rep. Kat Cammack’s, R-Fla., testimony in a House hearing on abortion laws about how her mother decided not to have an abortion, despite the pregnancy being a threat to her own life. She seemingly mocked Cammack’s comments that unborn little girls “never had a shot” or “a choice.”
“She doesn’t mean 13-year-olds pregnant through ignorance or rape who lived in a state with abortion laws so restrictive they couldn’t end their pregnancies and get on with their lives. She doesn’t mean living, breathing, actual girls who needed help. She means little unborn girls,” Cohen wrote.
But unborn babies are actual living girls and boys, too, and people do not have to be religious to recognize that. At the moment of fertilization, a unique, living human being comes into existence. Science and logic support the pro-life position that unborn babies deserve the same right to life as every other human being, and there are many non-religious pro-lifers.
Cohen, however, persisted in dividing born people, “actual people,” from unborn babies to make her argument that one group has value and the other does not.
“Actual people are so desperate not to have children that they will endure shame and threats of violence, jump through bureaucratic hoops and travel long distances to get abortions. Actual people wish to control the course of their lives,” she continued.
Oddly, Cohen brought up how unborn babies “feel” to make her case that they are not real people.
“Reasonable people can disagree about when a developing fetus has rights that must be considered. And people who are happily pregnant might assign complete personhood to a pea-size clump of cells from the moment the pregnancy is confirmed. But how we feel about that clump is not the same as how it feels,” she wrote.
Feelings have nothing to do with a person’s value. A human being has value no matter how their parents feel about them or how they feel about themselves.
But the notion that unborn babies do not have feelings or souls at all does not make sense. Her argument implies that birth somehow magically makes a human being valuable, somehow makes them an “actual person.” The age and development of the unborn baby must not matter, because babies are born at various gestations every day, anywhere from 22 weeks to 40-plus weeks. Then there are the babies who are removed from the women for fetal surgery and then returned. Do they have a soul for a few moments while outside the womb and then lose it again when they are put back inside?
Or perhaps the need to no longer be dependent on the mother is what Cohen believes confers value to a person. But this does not make sense either. Newborns are fully dependent on their mothers, too.
Whether from a religious or secular perspective, for those who believe people are valuable, the only logical position is that all human beings are valuable from the moment they become human beings, and that moment is conception.