Amendment 48 would define a fertilized egg as a person in Colorado’s constitution. The presumption behind this initiative is that God infuses a fertilized egg with a soul, so it’s immoral for a woman to choose to abort it. There’s just one little problem with this view; as Pamela White writes in her outstanding overview of the implications of 48:
[A]bout 30 to 70 percent of the time, the fertilized egg fails to implant and is flushed from the woman’s body during her next menstrual period without her ever knowing about it. This is not considered a miscarriage because the egg never implanted and never initiated the physical changes of pregnancy.
Those who want to ban all abortions and the birth-control pill (which prevents implantation of a fertilized egg) believe that it’s God’s will whether a sperm enters an egg and the egg implants. In other words, according to the assumptions of the Amendment 48 crowd, God commits abortion in 30-70 percent of all cases of fertilization.
“Abortionist” is the smear term used by anti-abortion zealots against doctors who perform abortions. But God is the ultimate abortionist, having performed (I’m guessing) millions of times more abortions than all “abortionist” doctors combined. Anti-abortion zealots routinely refer to abortion as a “holocaust.” Then what is it that God is perpetrating?
This points to a deeper problem with this sort of theology. The point of ethics, so goes this line of thought, is to conform our will to God’s will. The reason not to murder is that God said so. But if God says to kill your own son, then it would be immoral to refuse. Similarly, God allegedly says that having an abortion is wrong. But if God wants to abort 30-70 percent of all fertilized eggs, then that’s perfectly fine. What matters is conformity to God’s will, in this view.
This points to the ultimate irony of the anti-abortion crusade. A big part of that movement is a criticism of moral subjectivism at the personal level. But barely beneath the surface of these religious beliefs is moral subjectivism at the supernatural level. Morality is what God says it is, end of story.
What’s needed is neither personal subjectivism nor supernatural subjectivism, but an objective morality rooted in the facts of human life.