I was reading a pro-choice blog in which the author had an experience with a pro-life woman. The author asked this woman if a child who dies in a car accident is just like a child who is aborted. Incredulous that the woman would believe this, the author says, “I them [sic] pointed to my boyfriend’s aunt who lost her child in a car accident last her [sic] and told her to tell that woman that people that make the decision to have an abortion is [sic] on the same level of her losing the child she raised and loved for sixteen years.”
The pro-life woman and the pro-choice author talked right past each other. Several things went wrong here.
The woman the author was talking to possibly could have benefited from training from an organization like Equal Rights Institute about holding productive conversations. At the very least, she might have suggested continuing the discussion at a later time instead of just walking away.
The pro-choice author is making some unwarranted assumptions as well. When a pro-life person says that the unborn are just like born children, although this may be a sloppy way of putting it (again: preparation helps!), what we really mean is that fundamentally, there is no difference between unborn and born children. They have the same human nature, they are full-fledged members of our species. Of course there are differences. Older children have many abilities that unborn children do not; they can talk, form relationships, think about themselves and their place in the world, and so on. But in the morally relevant sense, an unborn child is fundamentally and numerically the same entity as his/her older self.
Further confusion appears when the author points out that the child who died in the car accident had been raised and loved for sixteen years, and an unborn child who is killed by abortion hasn’t. That’s a factually correct statement, but somewhat beside the point in this conversation. Being raised and loved does not make you a member of our species.
No, it’s not exactly the same thing to kill a child in abortion and to lose a child you have invested in for 16 years. It’s also not exactly the same thing to lose a newborn to SIDS and to lose a spouse of 50 years, or to lose a child to miscarriage or to lose your own parents. Everyone grieves differently in different situations and that’s completely valid.
In all of these cases the same kind of entity has died: a human being. But it would be wildly insensitive to walk up to a grieving person and compare their tragedy to someone else’s in order to score points in a random political debate. The pro-life woman was obviously right not to do so.