Recently a friend texted a meme to me that read:
If a fetus is a person at 6 weeks pregnant, is that when child support starts? Is that also when you can’t deport the mother because she’s carrying a U.S. citizen? Can I insure a 6-week fetus and collect if I miscarry? Just figuring if we’re going here we should go all in.
Shortly after he sent this to me, the meme showed up a few more times in my social media feed and people began quoting it in comment sections
It is generally a good rule of thumb not to treat memes as serious arguments. Unfortunately this type of objection also comes up beyond this meme when audience members think they are scoring rhetorical points by arguing that if we consider the unborn fully human then we must also assign embryos Social Security numbers or count them in the U.S. Census.
Arguing that accepting certain conclusions brings about absurd consequences is perfectly legitimate, but this particular objection is without merits and silly. Our culture fully understands the concept of progressively granting legal rights as people reach age milestones. We don’t struggle with the fact that eight year olds can’t drive, 16 year olds can’t purchase alcohol, and 21 year olds can’t run for President of the United States. In light of all that, one would have to be deliberately obtuse to pretend it somehow defies logic to withhold social security numbers and census representation until after a child is born.
Historically speaking, we aren’t that far removed from abortion being illegal throughout most of the United States, and there doesn’t seem to be any evidence people fifty years ago were paralyzed with confusion over such matters.
This isn’t really that hard. It is a simple confusion between legal rights, which are conferred by the government, and natural rights, which are ours by our nature. The government can manage certain privileges like driver’s licenses and the drinking age, but the fundamental goal of a just government is to protect the natural rights of its people: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The only thing that follows from recognizing the full humanity of the unborn and their natural right to life is that we will all have to refrain from killing our offspring before they are born. No further absurdities are necessary, just greater moral discipline.