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Abortion is the purposeful termination of a pregnancy.

Arguments For

Personhood Argument

Don't Like Abortion, Don't Get One

See Also: don't like it, don't do it.

Violinist Argument

Arguments Against


For those people who believe a person dies when the heart stops beating, it stands to reason that a person begins with the heart starts beating. From this belief, they argue that any abortion which occurs after a heartbeat can be measured, is killing a newly developed person, and, therefore, murder. This would be a reasonable argument, however, it is based on very antiquated beliefs of human physiology.

Western culture has a fixation with the heart due to several centuries of it being thought of as the seat of consciousness, emotion, and memory. Of course, the medical community has demonstrated that the brain is the seat of consciousness, and the heart is merely a muscle which pumps blood. A person's heart can be stopped for a prolonged time, it can even be removed entirely and replaced with an artificial proxy, and that person can continue to live. Despite knowing this, we continue to use phrases like, "I love you with all my heart," "I know it by heart," "the heart wants what it wants," etc.

Doctors define "death" (at least for humans) as no longer having brain activity, so, following the logic above, a new person doesn't begin when a heartbeat is heard, but rather when the brain becomes active.

However, from my experience, the heartbeat argument is merely a canard. When I ask the people who make this claim if they would be okay with abortion before then, they almost always claim that it's still immoral because they actually believe life begins at conception, not after the formation of a heart. Which raises the question, "then why are you using the heartbeat as the cutoff point in your argument?" I think the reason people do this is because they're employing a dishonest strategy. They know if they come out and say they want to ban all forms of abortion, far more people will disagree with them, so they cater to our society's physiological ignorance regarding the heart. It's a way to get their foot in the door, and most people are caught off-guard by it. Of course, like anyone who's trying to get their foot in the door, it's merely the start of forcing something much bigger on you.

What if the child grows up to cure cancer?

The flip side of this argument is, what if the child grows up to be the next Hitler?