The modern phenomenon of sexual freedom has meant that more women become pregnant more often than in the past. Given the reality that many of those pregnancies are unplanned and unwelcome, what are our society’s choices?

At first blush, legalizing abortions seems to be the only viable option. Those who support free choice point out that even if abortions became illegal, that would not stop abortions. Abortions would continue to be performed, but by non-professionals and criminals, potentially with coat hangers, endangering women’s lives.

This brings us to the second argument for legalizing abortion: that a woman should have the right to choose what happens to her body.

A third argument is that a fetus in the womb is not really “alive”––that it does not feel pain or have a spirit or consciousness. (According to this argument, a fetus is a lot like a vegetable.)

But does legalizing abortion address the problem, or does it merely address its manifestation?

And is the easy solution necessarily the right solution?

The “dark-alley,” “coat-hanger” argument does not convince me. Dark alleys and hangers are not the problem. They are the manifestation of the problem.

Here is the problem: Our promiscuous culture, supported and promoted by the media, causes promiscuous sex, which causes unwanted pregnancies. Sex sells, and the people who promote sex make billions, while some of those infatuated with it end up in dark alleys. Let us attack the roots of the problem––the commercialization of sex; not just the “leaves”––the unwanted pregnancies.

Nor am I convinced by the argument that women should have control over their bodies. If women have control over their bodies, shouldn’t they also control their decision to have sex? Shouldn’t they control the choice to use some means of birth control?

The last argument––that it is all right to destroy a fetus because it is not quite human yet––has a nasty resonance. Did not the Nazis make the same claim about Jews, gays, and Gypsies?

And, based on what I know about the predictable and universal process in which organizations are born, grow, age, and die, I believe that a fetus is certainly a human being––because all systems and sub-systems contain, at conception, all the ingredients they will ever possess.

For example, a healthy organizational start-up contains all the ingredients of a grown-up company from its inception. If it didn’t, by definition it would not be a healthy start-up.

Think of a rosebud: At its “birth,” it has all the ingredients of a mature, full-blown rose.

In my experience, this is true of all organic systems. And it includes ingredients of the totality beyond the physical sub-system––which of course a fetus has, there are the emotional, the intellectual, and the spiritual sub-systems. They are all there in the start-up stage––maybe dormant, but indisputably there. And here is why I believe it to be so:

A child does not start her intellectual development, from zero, when she begins to go to school, right? If that were true, she could not have learned how to speak and understand language. Anyone who spends time with an infant realizes that at birth, she is already actively processing the information her senses give her. In other words, she is learning.

But how do we know for sure when exactly she began learning? It could have been long before her birth, while she was still in the womb.

The New York Times Magazine, in its cover story on May 9, 2010, reported that research has shown that babies can and do distinguish between right and wrong. “You can see glimmers of moral thought … even in the first year of life. Some sense of good and evil seems to be bred in the bone,” wrote Paul Bloom, the author of the article and a professor of psychology at Yale.

How do we know that this moral sensitivity appears only after birth? We have very little definite knowledge about the moral and spiritual development of children.

But, if moral and spiritual development were the criterion for deciding who is fully human, most of the earth’s population would probably not make the cut. We pick up on the unborn because there is no one to defend it.

I recognize the need for legal abortion if the mother’s or the baby’s life is in danger. Or if the pregnancy is the result of a rape. But I would not legalize abortions otherwise. There are other choices available to women besides abortion.

I believe that pregnant women who do not want their babies should receive full medical and emotional support through the birth of the child and perhaps for a period of time afterward. The baby should be given up for adoption.

Discontinuing a human life is not our right. We did not give it. We have no right to take it.

God gives life, and only God can take it back.

I am against capital punishment for the same reason.

The fact that an option is viable and easy does not make it right.


Dr. Ichak Kalderon Adizes