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The Worth of a Human Life

By Rob Gasper

It is difficult to wrap our heads around abortion and what it means on a societal level. The numbers are simply too staggering. We are already beginning to feel the economic effects from the demographic shift caused by the elimination of 55 million citizens over and above the already lowered birth rate caused by the general acceptance of a contraceptive mindset.

Some pro-life thinkers have pointed to the probable loss of brilliant leaders, artists, and scientists among the millions dead from abortion, and ponder the societal cost this entails. Abortion supporters and their allies instead point to the supposed benefits that abortion brings to society. Of the millions aborted, a large number would be in need of state and federal support. Families would have the extra economic burdens inherent in raising a child, and those born with handicaps would place an even larger burden on families and society.

Perhaps it would be better to look at abortion in a different context. Large numbers and economic considerations, while at times valid and enlightening, can also serve to obscure and complicate something best examined in finer detail. We would not want to miss the trees for the forest.

At its heart, abortion is deeply personal, though not in the sense that Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion activists intimate. An abortion advocate’s understanding of the personal nature of abortion primarily deals with the decisions involved and who has the power to make them. A true understanding of abortion should primarily deal with the persons involved, their inherent dignity, and the rights that dignity entails.

Each completed act of procured abortion involves the death of an innocent human individual. This individual, from his or her beginning, at every stage of development, is a unique and unrepeatable human person, whether regarded as such by the state or by society.

This human person may or may not become a brilliant leader, artist, or scientist. This human person may or may not become an economic liability to the government and society. What we do know is that this human person has been placed into the adventure of life to first and foremost love and be loved by God, and secondarily and ideally to love and be loved as the completion of the life-giving conjugal act of his parents in the context of family. Each human person has worth and dignity. This dignity flows not from what he does, but from who he is.

That the preborn child is an individual human person has been well attested to by sound science, theology, and philosophy. Numerous articles and commentaries have been written by gifted authors from each of these fields. However, in the end, personhood is written on each of our hearts as part of the natural law. It is an ordinary experience of everyday life.

When I have seen each of my children on ultrasound and then at the moment of birth, I was not confronted with a statistic, but with a human child—a child striving to grow and yearning for love. When I get home from work each day, and am met at the door by my youngest son who cannot speak intelligibly due to a motor articulation disorder, and he communicates through sign, sound, gestures, and hugs how he’s missed me and how his day has gone, I am confronted not by a speech disabled child, but by a child with a speech disability.

Human dignity and worth is not a statistic, nor is it based on ability or accomplishments; it is intrinsic to who we are and why we were created.

Rob Gasper is a senior research analyst for American Life League and is the editor of ALL News.