What has viability got to do with it?

Scene: Late at night a man and a woman are standing at the rail of a cruise ship looking down at the dark water rushing by below.

She: I went to the onboard pharmacy today and got a test kit ... I’m pregnant.

He: Oh ... Are you quite sure?

She: Yes, I even did the test twice and both times it came up positive.

He: So, what happens now?

She: As soon as we get ashore I’ll organise to get an abortion. I think I’m only about ten weeks into the pregnancy so this child is not viable yet. It’s no big deal really.

At that, without a word, he quickly scooped her up into his arms, lifted her over the rail and held her out over the water. She screamed loudly and grabbed him round the neck.

She: What are you doing! If you drop me I’ll drown – put me down on the deck at once!

He stood her back on her trembling legs.

She: Are you completely stupid? What was that all about? You could have killed me!

He: But if I had dropped you and you drowned it would have been no big deal really.

She: No big deal? You are crazy – it would have been murder!

He: No, it would not have been murder because you are not viable.

She: What nonsense, of course I am viable.

He: Not according to your own logic you are not.

She: What are you talking about?

He: A moment ago you just said that it would be no big deal to have an abortion at ten weeks of pregnancy because the baby is not ‘viable’ at that age, right?

She: Yes that’s right; a baby must be about 23 weeks or more before they have a chance of surviving outside the womb.

He: See! There you have it – you do agree with me!

She: What?

He: You just said that if a baby is taken from the womb before 23 weeks gestation it will not be able to survive – it is not ‘viable’ according to your thinking, right? And because it would not be ‘viable’ under those circumstances you believe it would therefore be no big deal to intentionally end its life by abortion. Right?

She: Yes ... But what has that got to do with you threatening to drop me into the ocean?

He: Don’t you see? Standing here on the deck you are alive and well. But if you had been dropped into the ocean just now you would have soon drowned. So long as you are in an environment suitable for life you are fine. But if you should be put in the middle of the ocean without a boat or in outer space without a space-suit, you would die. That is correct, isn’t it?

She: Yes, but ...

He: Now, a healthy 10 week-old child in the womb is alive and well in that environment. Take them out of that environment though and they, like you in the ocean, will quickly succumb.

So if it is no big deal to kill an unborn child by abortion simply because that child is not ‘viable’ outside its natural environment, then logically it would have to be no big deal to kill you either because outside your natural environment you are equally as non-viable.

Your position opens the door to allowing the killing of any human being because effectively none of us, on your terms, are ‘viable’!

She: Hmm ... So are you saying that the word ‘viable’ is a meaningless word?

He: No, the term ‘viable’ does remain meaningful in relation to situations where a miscarriage occurs naturally or following an accident. When nothing has been done to try and deliberately expel the baby from the womb we can rightly say that the child is in either a viable or non-viable state.

But there is all the difference in the world between a baby being either deliberately or accidentally expelled from the womb, just like there is all the difference in the world between you being either deliberately dropped overboard or accidentally falling into the ocean.

In the end, if you want to claim that you are ‘viable’, which of course you are, then your 10 week-old child in the womb must be regarded as being ‘viable’ also.

Equally, if you want to argue that your baby is not viable now, then neither are you. If your baby can be rightfully killed now, then so can you.

Take your pick.