Abortion supporter: “Fetuses aren’t people” because I said so


Over the years, we’ve debunked abortion apologists’ lies, oversimplifications, facts taken out of context, and logical fallacies, but I don’t think we’ve ever had a case of false advertising as blatant as this.

At RH Reality Check, Amy Littlefield has an article entitled, “The Day I Learned Aborted Fetuses Aren’t People”… which at no point presents any facts, arguments, or experiences from which a rational reader could plausibly conclude that fetuses are not, in fact, people.

A bold claim, I know. But read it for yourself…

But fetuses are not people. I remember the day I decided that for sure.

Good. A direct, unambiguous statement of your thesis. Surely a substantive argument is to follow…

In my former work as a counselor at abortion clinics, I often avoided seeing what we called the products of conception—the tissue that results from the union of egg and sperm. For me, the embryo—or fetus, in later stages of pregnancy—was irrelevant. I wanted to focus all of my attention on my patients.

Though hedged with dressing about the unassailable altruism of her motivations, an admission that she was uncomfortable facing the result of her work still amplifies the need for her follow-through to really deliver, for whatever “truth” she discovered to be so overwhelmingly powerful that it really does show the sight is nothing to lose sleep over after all.

Sometimes patients would ask me about their embryo or fetus. Would it feel pain? No, I would assure them. How big was it? For the vast majority of patients, who were in the first trimester of pregnancy, the answer was: tiny. More than 90 percent of abortions occur at or before 13 weeks of pregnancy, when the embryo or fetus ranges from little more than a bundle of cells to no more than a few inches long.

Here’s our first red flag that Littlefield may not have substantively resolved the question after all—an embryo or fetus’s size is irrelevant to classifying something as a living human being. In fact, assuming outward appearance can tell us all we need to know about something is among the least scientific ways of analyzing it.

But some patients I saw were much further along. Their questions were more difficult to answer. Their fetuses looked more like babies, even though they were still not viable outside the womb.

These were also the patients who often most needed my attention as a counselor. They were the teenagers who had been too scared to tell their parents about their pregnancies; the homeless people who struggled with drug addiction; the working mothers who scrambled to raise the hundreds of dollars to pay for an abortion […]

Uh-oh. Red flag Number Two: trying to distract from the question at hand by tugging at the reader’s heartstrings with the abortion seeker’s plight. If Littlefield really did know “fetuses are not people” and was convinced of it by logical, fact-based reasoning, she wouldn’t need to resort to this at all; walking us through the same reasoning would convince us all on its own.

But if we are truly to defend access to abortion, and the personhood of pregnant people, we have to be able to say, unequivocally, that the aborted fetus is not a person. It is not a baby. It is medical waste.

Still, in the clinics where I worked, I tended to avoid seeing the medical waste. I avoided it because it was irrelevant to my work. But I think part of me also avoided it because I thought seeing fetal tissue might diminish my allegiance to my patients.

Okay, we’re back to confronting the real question at hand. Maybe we’re finally getting close to finding out what she learned?

As a young teenager, I was staunchly against abortion. I believed it was murder. Later, when I considered what it meant for the state to force a rape victim to remain pregnant, and learned how many women died from unsafe, illegal abortions before Roe v. Wade, I became staunchly pro-choice, realizing access to abortion is a matter of survival for pregnant people.

Aaaaaaand we’re back to rhetorical misdirection based on revisionist history and shoddy research. You ever notice how so many pro-abortion writers claim to be former pro-lifers, yet somehow never heard any of the movement’s countless debunkings of pro-abortion myths?

Then one day, I was offered the unusual opportunity to see the fetus of a patient who had been close to 22 weeks pregnant. With some trepidation, I accepted.

Here it comes, everybody! We’re finally going to learn why pro-lifers are wrong after all! The nation’s abortion debate is finally about to be resolved!

I looked. And in that moment, my pro-choice position crystallized. While it was shaped like a baby, what I was looking at was not a person. It was a fetus. A fetus my patient had chosen not to make into a baby. I felt no attachment to it.

……. wait. That’s it?

We were promised a credible reason to believe fetuses aren’t people and that therefore that fears abortion kills children are unfounded, and instead we get a paper-thin declaration from an author—an author who admits what she’s looking at looks like a baby—that it isn’t solely because she felt like it wasn’t? No consideration whatsoever of the actual, y’know, science?

I’m sorry, Amy, but biology has very clear criteria for whether something is (a) alive, (b) an organism, and (c) human. There is no serious dispute among medical authorities that embryos and fetuses qualify as all three from fertilization onward. And the assertion that “person” and “human” are separate concepts is a radical and intellectually-dubious philosophical claim, not an indisputable or obvious truth.

And yet, you find it responsible to reject all science, evidence, and reason solely on the basis of how the subject makes you feel? Never mind that it sounds much more like you’ve merely rationalized away and desensitized yourself to what your ideological and professional predisposition to abortion gives you an incentive to disregard.

Relieved, I stepped into the recovery room to check on my patient. Years later, looking back on this moment, it’s still the patient I think about, not the fetus.

Her life was what mattered.

The real moral of the story: out of sight, out of mind.

In the end, Littlefield didn’t “learn” that fetuses aren’t people, and she certainly hasn’t persuaded anyone else they aren’t. Instead, she’s simply diagrammed how pro-aborts delude themselves into pretending the violence they advocate isn’t happening—which, while not what the article was billed as, has its own uses.

As for RHRC, though, and what they promised in the headline, the gulf between the claim and its complete lack of substantiation is staggering. The pro-abortion media has never been what you’d call “good” at supporting their position, but rarely are they this bad at it.

At what point does that begin to bother them?

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