It is often argued that women have a right to control their own reproductive capacity and that abortion is a vital tool for doing this. Proponents of this view state that nobody has the right to force a woman to undergo a nine month pregnancy, with all the accompanying discomfort and serious health risks, if she does not want to. Some say that the right to abortion is absolute and it is acceptable to use it as a method of birth control; other pro-choice advocates disagree but believe it should be available in cases where pregnancy will endanger the woman's health, the fetus has a severe congenital defect or the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.
In this four-part series I critiqued four basic types of arguments that have been put forth in defense of both liberal and moderate positions on abortion rights: (1) arguments from pity (Parts One and Two); (2) arguments from tolerance (Part Two); (3) ad hominem arguments (Part Two); and (4) arguments from decisive moments (Parts Three and Four). In the process of critiquing these arguments I gave a defense of the pro-life position that full humanness begins at conception (Parts Three and Four), which included a detailed presentation of fetal development (Part Three). Despite the number of arguments covered in this series, some readers will be disappointed that I did not deal with some theological arguments 32 or lesser known philosophical arguments. 33 But since even a four-part series has its limitations and since Justice Harry Blackmun (who wrote the majority decision in Roe v. Wade ) has argued that the morality of abortion is completely contingent on the full humanness of the unborn, 34 what has been covered in this series is more than sufficient. For this series has clearly established the following conclusions: (1) the popular arguments for abortion rights either beg the question as to the full humanness of the unborn or ignore the question altogether; and (2) both sound philosophical and scientific reasoning clearly establish the full humanness of the unborn from the moment of conception.