What the Hell Is Viability?
By Anthony Daub
Last week the U.S. Supreme Court heard a case regarding abortion regulations in Texas. One of the terms that the justices continually discussed was “viability.” As I read articles about this case, it occurred to me that the whole notion of a person being viable is not only absurd, but it’s a terrible misuse of the word. In addition, it can be difficult to understand what people mean when they say a fetus is viable. And it is even more confusing when we try to understand how this works biologically. Hopefully I can help shed some light on this and show you just how crazy our world is.
So what does viability actually mean? Technically, if something is viable, it means it is “capable of being done or used, capable of succeeding, or capable of living or of developing into a living thing.” In business we use this term to describe how likely a plan is to succeed. For most of history, the world has understood that viability was just another way of saying successful, but in recent times this word has taken on a second meaning.
In the world of biology, the notion of viability relates to how likely an organism is to grow. In medicine, viability describes a patient’s likelihood to live. These are very modern interpretations of this word, but they set a dangerous trend. When the fight over abortion began back in the 1970s, anti-life advocates used the word viability to describe two things:
1) The point when a fetus can survive outside his mother’s womb.
2) The point in time when an embryo becomes a human being.
If you have ever heard someone say “a fetus isn’t a person,” this is the origin of that mentality. According to pro-abortionists, there is an undetermined point in time where you suddenly become human, though they have yet to decide if that is sometime prior to being born or the moment you are born.
Let that soak in a minute.
These people have decided there is a magical point where you became a human being, as if you weren’t always a human. I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a point in time when I was not a human being. I’ve never been a space alien, I’ve never been an inanimate object, and I’ve certainly never been an animal. The only possibility left is that I have always been a human. What this debate really boils down to is the single question, “When does life begin?”
A reporter asked that very question of a large crowd of pro-abortion protesters standing outside the Supreme Court last week. Their answers were a true indictment of our public school system. One lady suggested that life begins when “there are electrical impulses to the brain [of the child].” The reporter asked her if life began when there was a heartbeat, to which she responded “No.” Yet, in medicine, we consider someone to be clinically dead when his heart stops.
Another woman told the reporter that life does not begin until the child is actually born! Really?! Despite the fact that the child is moving and growing, some people don’t consider him to be alive until the moment of birth. Others in the crowd had no idea when life begins, but simply believe it doesn’t matter because women should be able to get abortions regardless of whether the child is alive or not. How messed up is that?
Anyone who has taken a biology class either in high school or college knows there are several criteria for determining if an organism is alive. In case you have forgotten what those criteria are, a living organism has:
- an organized structure, being made up of a cell or cells
- energy to survive or sustain existence
- ability to reproduce
- ability to grow
- ability to metabolize
- ability to respond to stimuli
- ability to adapt to the environment
- ability to move
- ability to respire
As you can probably guess, a preborn baby meets all of those requirements. Those helpless babies most certainly have to grow, they require food to generate energy, and they move and can even respond to certain stimuli while still in the womb!
But sadly, that’s not enough for some people. And that’s what confuses me the most because, despite all of this, those who favor abortion still say that a fetus isn’t a human being. What I want to know is what they expect that “fetus” to become. Do they believe there is a chance the fetus might be born as a rock, or a tiger, or a tree? Seriously, what else could that fetus be if not a human being? She has hands and feet just like you and me; she has a mouth, eyes, nose, hair, and everything that we associate with human features! How could she be anything but a human?
The truth is that they know a preborn baby is a human being. They know life begins at the beginning, not some arbitrary moment later on. They just don’t care. And as long as you fall for their lies, you are a simply a pawn in their twisted game.
Anthony Daub is a marketing consultant for American Life League and Life Defenders. For more information on Life Defenders, ALL’s amazing new youth program, visit lifedefender.org.