The reason that vegans stand against the killing of animals, from an ethical standpoint, is because of two things about animals: they are conscious and can feel pain. The word for consciously aware beings who are able to experience pain is sentience. We, along with nearly all other species, are sentient beings based on our abilities to consciously perceive our surroundings and experience physical pain (as well as a range of other senses).
The issue with abortion is that people don’t always agree on when a human becomes sentient. Until recently there wasn’t much interest in research on this matter, but now technological advances are giving birth to an in-depth understanding of how our biological structure is constructed, and we are for the first time answering our own questions.
This piece will review research discussing fetal development and when sentience begins to come about, based on incontestable biological studies from professional fields.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “The science shows that the fetus is not capable of feeling pain until the third trimester”. Also, Journal of Maternal-Fetal Medicine states that “The basic neuronal substrate required to transmit somatosensory information develops by mid-gestation (18 to 25 weeks), however, the functional capacity of the neural circuitry is limited by the immaturity of the system. Thus, 18 to 25 weeks is considered the earliest stage at which the lower boundary of sentience could be placed.”
Consciousness, according to Scientific American Mind, begins to be in place between the 24th and 28th week of gestation. This means the fetus is essentially in a form of sleep for most of the pregnancy, incapable of awareness or pain until late term, at which time abortion has been illegal for months.
Also, per the US CDC, 92% of abortions occur within the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, which as we’ve established causes no pain to the unconscious fetus.
There you have it, pro-choice in the US is vegan and ethical because legal abortion does not kill sentient beings. In the US, a fetus is only approved to be aborted during the time that it is still just a cluster of cells. An early term fetus is equally a potential life as an egg or sperm inside our bodies.
It is important to add that, despite our natural instincts, there is no inherent responsibility for people in any society to breed and continue growing the population. People in developed nations are giving birth at a much higher rate than people are dying off, meaning that overpopulation is steadily growing as an issue.
The solution to a future with a manageable and sustainable population is education. Informing as many people as possible ways to be responsible with their bodies and making everyone aware at a young age what resources are available (including but of course never limited to abstinence; sorry not sorry Catholics, this is a progressive time).
So many people are part of the generations stuck in the loop of having children without being able to support them or give them any kind of positive life, this is unacceptable. Forcing more lives into existence when so many children are already suffering in poverty is irresponsible, without reason, and inhumane.
Without the stigma and shame associated with abortion, and with more widespread public access to accurate information on safe, responsible sexual practices (as well as the unnecessarily taboo topic of vasectomies and hysterectomies), the overwhelming amount of lives coming into existence would begin to be diffused, without a doubt. (Rates for abortions, hysterectomies, and vasectomies can absolutely be made affordable in the US if the government provided annual monetary incentives to hospitals and private medical practices who solely hired specialized doctors who perform them affordably.)
Abortion, as we’ve discussed, has been oppressed as a human right because limited research has existed to support it’s ethicality; The body of evidence that is currently being built, however, makes it overwhelmingly apparent that no conscious being is physically pained by legal US abortion.
Yes, some find it offensive, dark, or against their religious practices to support Pro-Choice; but none of this discredits the fact that Pro-Choice ideology is based on the proven fact that fetuses can not feel pain or experience consciousness until far after the term of pregnancy that abortion becomes illegal.
(Whether or not late or full-term pregnancy is ethical, however, is another topic entirely which I had no intentions of alluding to in this piece.)