The question that must be answered, next, is, “does abortion cause suffering, and, if so, to whom?” Even a new-born baby still has much of its neurological development to do. There is no evidence that new-borns are capable of thought in any meaningful sense, let alone a sense of self or a recognition of feelings, concepts, or the existence of any of the world’s, or their own brains’, phenomena. How much less must this be the case for the primitive electrical impulses and automatic sense-reactions of a zygote or early-stage foetus? In the absence of any identity or sentience, any node or thought-engine to recognise pain, the simple firing of some under-developed sensory cells cannot be considered in the same way as suffering.
The machinery of the universe is incredibly complicated. Biology blends into chemistry, which blends into physics, quantum mechanics, metaphysics, thought, conceptual meaning itself. Like any other living creature, our small brains have developed just enough to allow us to grapple with immediate obstacles to our continued existence. We simply do not have the mental capacity to see the full picture, any more than a sea-cucumber can understand marine ecosystems. The bright but narrow torch beam of our cognition swings wildly through the pitch-blackness and picks out individual cogs and pipes and pistons but the rest of the machine, its purpose, is lost in darkness.
We will never know, fully, what the hell is going on.
One such mystery is how human consciousness can be created out of nothing. It is extremely difficult to accept that such a profound and apparently transcendent, thing could pop into being from an unconscious egg cell and an unconscious sperm cell, so where has this sentient creature come from? How is it possible that human thought, the soul itself could be a product and a function of biology? Yet so it seems.
Some things simply happen. Some things simply exist. The conditions of the universe demand it. The godly often ridicule this as an admission of defeat, yet their belief that all things must have a creator regresses, inevitably, back to a God, a prime cause, that simply exists.
Being able to accept that things just are may be a much greater example of piety and commitment than the messy, sentimentality of most religious creation stories. Science is an austere and inhospitable creed. Its truths demand strength.
Gods and their myths of pre-existent souls make a much more satisfying and humane narrative. I suspect this is reinforced by a natural evolutionary drive to cuddle and protect things that resemble our own young. (You become much more sentimental when you’ve had children of your own.) This adds up to a powerful motive for anti-abortion campaigns.