Equality. Equal rights.

In the last few years, these terms have become inescapable in America. Everything from workplace pay for women to LGBT rights has been framed in these terms. “Equality” has become a powerful idea in the American imagination. I’m not entirely sure exactly when the term became so omnipresent, but it’s not hard to see where its origins lie—the preamble of our Declaration of Independence declares these immortal words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”

While we continue to grapple as a society with what “equality” really means in every human context, there is one entire class of people that currently does not have the most basic right among rights. I am speaking of the unborn child, who does not even have the right to live, under our laws. The mother of an unborn child, if she so chooses, can supersede the most basic right of her own offspring. Anyone who honestly assesses this state of affairs would have to admit that abortion is far and away the most egregious example of “inequality” that currently afflicts our society. (For more on this, be sure to tune in to our lecture, “The Equal Rights Argument for Fetal Personhood” on April 27 at noon.)

Recent events continue to put this issue in stark relief. In a study published in Nature Communications, it was revealed that researchers had for the first time suspended premature baby lambs in artificial wombs (equivalent to 23-week-old human fetuses) and successfully nurtured them for four weeks, in which they “opened their eyes, fattened up, and grew coats of white wool.” After another two years of study, and if the method is approved, “the wombs can be tested on human preemies within three to five years.” This new technology could potentially save the lives of thousands of premature babies who are born every year—currently, only about half of the 30,000 babies born before 24 weeks survive.

All of this raises the question: if we are using cutting-edge technology to save the lives of some 24-week-old babies, how can other 24-week-old babies be legally killed? Don’t the 24-week-old babies who are scheduled for abortion deserve the same “equal rights” as the 24-week-old babies who are being cared for in neonatal intensive care units?