I am pro-life, and I recently had an online discussion with a pro-choice advocate about abortion.

In the course of our dialogue he asked me this question, straight from the pro-choice talking points, which he may have thought was a discussion-ender: “If it’s killing a child, should women who have abortions be charged with murder?”

That question raises profound moral and legal issues involving who and what we are; they are at the center of the raging debate we have been having since the 1973 Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade. I attempted to answer the question by explaining the process of reasoning that has led me to believe, consistent with my religious faith, that abortion is murder. This is how that process — deductive reasoning — works.

It’s called a syllogism, and it has three parts: a major premise, a minor premise and a conclusion. If the major and minor premises are valid, the conclusion leads to logical certainty. Regarding abortion, it goes like this:

• Major premise: The killing of another human being is murder — feticide. (Exceptions: War, court of law decision, self-defense, accident.)

• Minor premise: Abortion is the killing of another human being.

• Conclusion: Abortion is murder.

I can imagine some women reacting with horror: “Who, me, a murderer?”

Just to be sure we’re on the same page, let me quote Faye Wattleton, the youngest and the first African-American president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America: “I think we delude ourselves into believing that people don’t know abortion is killing. So any pretense that abortion is not killing is a signal of our ambivalence, a signal that we cannot say yes, it kills a fetus.”

Other prominent defenders of abortion rights also publicly admit that abortion kills human beings. Yes, babies in the womb are human beings, but so what?

Getting back to my online interlocutor’s question: “… should women who commit abortions be charged with murder?”

The Unborn Victims of Violence Act is a federal law that considers the unborn child as a legal victim in certain circumstances, but contains a provision excepting abortion by a pregnant mother or someone acting on her behalf. However, 38 states recognize the fetus as a crime victim in cases of fetal homicide.

What charge might a state prosecutor bring against a woman who kills her unborn child? Manslaughter immediately comes to mind. Too harsh? If so, isn’t that getting away with murder? Is guilt alone sufficient recompense for the taking of a human life?

In dispensing justice, the court should err on the side of compassion, for a woman who makes the agonizing decision to abort her child needs our prayers and that mercy which “droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven.”

Mother Teresa once asked: “If we accept that a mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill each other?

We have largely become a nation of bystanders, indifferent to the muffled cries of the slaughtered innocents, pretending that we have no moral responsibility.

When Barack Obama was an Illinois state senator, he voted to deny basic constitutional protections to infants who survive abortions, not once, but four times, according to The Washington Post Fact Checker. Infanticide, plain and simple.

With the recent airing of videotapes from so-called “family planning” clinics, we discover a new cottage industry devoted to the distributing of the customized remains of tiny humans — a source of revenue for Planned Parenthood and an incentive to encourage abortions. The operators of the crematoria at Auschwitz had not yet attained that level of sophistication.

I am well aware that my views on this grisly subject will arouse the ire of the powerful abortion industry and its apologists, and I have no illusions that we can return to “simpler days,” or that our prevailing culture of death will renounce abortion in my anticipated lifespan.

But no amount of dancing around this life-or-death issue can ignore two indisputable facts: Abortion is morally wrong, and it is an act of willful murder. Individual circumstances or “greater good” intentions cannot transform an act that is intrinsically evil into a right, nor sanction it as a matter of choice to eradicate unborn humans, who have an equal right to live.

Walter J. Eno is a resident of Scarborough.