A Summary of the Abortion Debate, For Those Wondering What All The Fuss is About….
The “Pro Life” Positions…
-Extreme, Radical, or Fanatical Pro Life:
The position in which objectors to abortion do not make ANY exceptions. They believe that an abortion, for any reason, even in cases of pregnancy due to rape or in which continued pregnancy will kill the mother, is morally wrong. Believers surmise that it is “better” that the mother die than live as a woman who “murdered her baby.” (Choosing to terminate an ectopic pregnancy, for example, can easily be interpreted as a kind of self defense, and yet extreme pro-lifers believe that this is immoral. But, oddly enough, they do not believe that if I shoot a man trying to kill me I am guilty of murder. This is logically inconsistent and baffling, to say the least, but I can only guess that they contend fetuses are “innocent,” whereas my hypothetical attacker is not.)
-Conservative Pro Life:
The position that allows for the moral permissibility of abortion only in the rare instances in which pregnancy was a result of rape or in which continued pregnancy would kill the pregnant woman.
-Liberal Pro Life:
A pro life position that simply allows for more exceptions in which intentional pregnancy termination is morally permissible. These exceptions might include rape, health concerns, if the mother is very young or poor, or of the infant will be born deformed or mentally deficient.
The “ProChoice” Positions…..
-Extreme, Radical, or Fanatical ProChoice:
The belief that a woman has the right to terminate her pregnancy, for any reason whatsoever, as long as the fetus resides in her body. Even an abortion the day before labor is allowable. (Although, this scenario seems odd since, after fetal viability, any woman who doesn’t wish to be pregnant can simply induce labor and then give the baby up for adoption. Killing a viable infant after bodily expulsion seems excessive and cruel.)
The belief that women have the right to pregnancy termination, for any personal reason, up until fetal viability (roughly 24 weeks).
The belief that a woman has the right to pregnancy termination, for any reason, up until the end of the first trimester only.
….While the various differences between the pro life and pro choice ethical positions may seem subtle, to those who vehemently believe in their validity, they could not be more distinctive. The logical difference between them is crucial to understanding and distinguishing what it means to be pro life versus prochoice. A pro life advocate relies on the legitimacy of a woman’s reasons for wanting an abortion in order to determine whether abortion is morally acceptable or gravely immoral (murder). Prochoice representatives are unconcerned with a woman’s reasons for wanting an abortion. To the “prochoicer,” a woman’s reasons are her own, and they should remain private. Reproductive freedom is innate to a woman’s autonomy. However, the prochoicer may or may not put “time restrictions” on points in gestation in which the fetus gains the right to live (this usually coincides with fetal sentience, consciousness, or viability), and therefore abortion may become ethically problematic to the prochoice idealist. So remember…
-Pro Life = It’s the REASON why a woman wants an abortion that determines the act’s morality. For example, most “pro lifers” believe seeking to abort the fetal product of rape is NOT immoral.
-ProChoice = It’s WHEN (the particular point in gestation) a woman wants an abortion that determines the act’s morality. For example, all “prochoicers” believe that an abortion obtained at approximately 8 weeks along (one of the most common gestational points for abortions) is NOT immoral.
DEBATE TERMS ==>
……The following terms concern the various popular arguments, opinions, justifications, and moral and logical reasoning involved in the abortion debate……
From the root word “auto,” meaning “self,” and “nomy,” meaning ” “rule,” this word quite literally means “the right to “govern” the affairs of your own body and determine what is right and good for you and your corporal being or physical self.” You “rule” over yourself. You are your own king, and your body is your kingdom.
-Person or Personhood:
If you’ve ever caught a typical abortion debate on TV, then chances are you were confronted with an archetypal feminist arguing with an annoyed minister or priest, and their rhetoric proceeds back-and-forth with an argument about whether or not a fetus qualifies as a human being. These debates are stupid. They are the epitome of two people failing to speak the same language. Of course a human fetus is a human being! Duh. It’s genetically human, the product of two human parents, and it is alive, and therefore a “being.” The term “human being” is a scientific distinction. What is a far more difficult characteristic to determine is whether or not a human fetus qualifies as a “person.” The term “person” is a moral quality that means “any being, of any species, that possesses the moral right to live, and therefore the intentional termination of its life by a third party is murder and punishable under penalty of law.”
That which gives entities the right to live is difficult to define. Logically speaking, it is not our human DNA which gives us the right to live. After all, death row inmates are genetically human, and yet they possess no right to live. Likewise, human corpses are human beings as well, and they too do not possess the right to live, particularly because they are already dead and therefore have no use for it. (However, this may be as good a time as any to point out that our possession of rights do not necessarily depend on our ability to make use of them. A coma patient cannot utilize his right to vote or speak freely, but he never “lost” those rights. (Remember from previous readings, rights can never be taken away. Once you gain a right, it’s yours forever. Only privileges can be earned and then subsequently lost.) Likewise, a quadriplegic man may not have the ability to drive a car but he did not exactly lose his right to drive the moment he became paralyzed either.)
-Pregnancy “Against One’s Will”:
This predicament is not the same as ‘pregnancy due to rape.’ Pregnancy due to rape means that the pregnant woman did not consent to the sex that got her pregnant. She may also coincidentally be ‘unwillingly’ pregnant, but not necessarily. If a rape victim and her partner had been attempting to get pregnant, she may have previously consented to the resulting pregnancy, regardless of who the fetus’ father turns out to be. Pregnancy against one’s will, also known as ‘unwanted’ or ‘undesired’ pregnancy, means that, while the mother consented to the sex that ultimately got her pregnant, she did not wish to become pregnant at the time of the sex, nor does she wish to be pregnant now. Remember, consenting to sex is NOT the same as consenting to pregnancy. Having consensual sex does not mean consenting to the “possibility” of pregnancy either. (I’m not even sure if it’s logically possible to consent to a mere possibility.) To argue this, one would also have to defend the parallel and logically equivalent notion that consenting to a date means consenting to the possibility of date rape. The morellaty.com article, “So You Think You Can Dance With Me?” discusses the frequently assumed idea that consenting to Action A, which often, but not always, leads to Action B, is the same as consenting to Action B. This common but illogical belief allows some men to sleep morally unburdened after a night of groping and humping women in bars or clubs. They think, “If she didn’t want to be grabbed, she wouldn’t have walked in here.” Imagine the implications of this type of thinking! Does this mean that if I drive to work, I consent to a car crash? If I smoke, does that mean I want lung cancer? If I swim in the ocean, do I agree to be shark food?
The morellaty reading material, “(Sex)Crime & Punishment,” discusses the theoretical idea of “forced, unwanted pregnancy,” in which a woman, who does not wish to be pregnant, is forced to remain that way due to legal restraints. (Female prison inmates sometimes find themselves in this predicament.) “Forced, unwanted pregnancy” refers to this idea, and not pregnancy due to rape. It may help differentiate these seemingly related, confusing concepts if you realize that the term “pregnant rape victim” is almost always used to describe its given situation, whereas the term “pregnant against one’s will” or “undesired pregnancy” is used to describe women who consented to the sex that caused the pregnancy, but not the pregnancy itself.
-Popular Pro Life Arguments used by Fetal Advocates (Arguments on Behalf of the Fetus)…..
(NOTE: I like to call these arguments “The Three Little Pig Arguments.” This is due to the fact that the first few arguments are very easy to “knock down” (object against), as if they were made of straw. The next couple are a little harder to find fault with (hence, they are the “twig arguments”). And the last two are the “brick houses,” in that they are rather difficult to rebut… but not impossible. They simply require a lot more effort… like the employment of a mental bulldozer.)
1. The Personhood Argument….
Pro Lifers argue that since human fetuses are human beings, they therefore have the right to live. They feel that this genetic qualification is “enough” to give fetuses personhood status thereby making abortion murder.
This argument can be quickly dispatched due to the fact that not all humans have the right to live. Death row inmates are human, and yet have “lost” this right. A man attempting to kill you may be killed by you in an act of self defense as well, and yet this self-life-saving act is NOT murder even though your attacker was human. Furthermore, most pro lifers allow for the termination of pregnancies due to rape, and yet a fetus conceived through rape is no less human than one resulting from a broken condom, drunken one-night stand, or faulty vasectomy.
If the pro lifer who utilizes the personhood argument remains steadfast in her conviction of its validity, she may attempt to rest the criteria for personhood on some sort of quality other than “humanness.” She may claim that a fetus is a person as soon as its heart begins “beating,” a qualification even politicians have used to implement abortion-restricting laws. However, since almost all animals possess a beating heart, that would mean even rats and frogs are persons, but setting a rat trap is hardly murder! She may claim that the moment a fetus can feel pain or achieve consciousness is when it “becomes a person.” However, this hardly helps her cause, since sentience and consciousness occurs, at best, in the third trimester, a time in which abortion is illegal anyway.
2. The Potentiality Argument…..
A human fetus may not have any qualities that meet the parameters of personhood NOW, but it certainly WILL… barring any unfortunate mishaps in gestational development. In other words,
“If X will one day possess all the qualities of Y, then X should be treated like Y.”
Substitute “fetus” for X and “person” for Y, and this sounds pretty agreeable. And since what makes a person a person is the right to live, and the right to live entails an obligation for others not to kill, and this obligation is a type of treatment, then merely treating a fetus like a person in fact makes it a person, thus giving it personhood.
While this argument sounds plausible when substituting the intended terms for the variables, substituting any other terms causes it to lose its credibility. For example, all humans will one day possess the qualities of corpses, but that does not mean I ought to treat you like a corpse now by embalming you and burying you six feet under the earth. Thus the implications for employing “potentiality thinking,” are too problematic for the theory to hold any real validity. As Judith Jarvis Thomson wrote in the 70s, “An acorn may one day become an oak tree,” but we would look stupid attempting to attach a tire swing to an acorn.
3. The Argument Pertaining to Fetal Innocence…..
Okay, so fetuses may not be persons per se, but they are innocent! They are quoted to the point of cliche, “The most defenseless of human beings,” and thus worthy of our protection.
What is innocence? Is it “incapable of doing wrong?” Or is innocence “capable of doing wrong but choosing not to?” If fetuses are innocent in the first sense of the word, then carrots and trees qualify as innocent beings in the same way fetuses do. But thankfully for paper mills, vegetarians, and those whose eyesight could use a boost, we do not believe carrots and trees are worthy of our protection…. except on Arbor Day and Earth Day. Furthermore, “the most vulnerable human beings” are not fetuses. Fetuses are wonderfully protected inside an abdomen, inside a womb, inside a membrane-like sac, floating in amniotic fluid. They are the biological equivalent of Russian nesting dolls. If I had to choose, the most vulnerable of human beings would have to be poor, starving infants without healthcare. They are vulnerable to death in a variety of ways. And yet, we don’t commonly see conservative Pro life advocates fiercely advocating to protect them with increased welfare, universal healthcare, by solving world hunger, or by shipping free preventative medications or birth control over seas.
4. The Fetal Soul Argument….
Human fetuses are endowed with a soul at the moment of conception. We ought not kill beings that have souls.
In order to know whether human fetuses have souls, we must be privy to what souls are. This is crucial to recognizing which beings possess souls. And if we are morally “allowed” to kill soulless beings, then we need to be able to recognize which beings lack souls as well. In order to determine the soul’s absence or presence within a being, we have to know what a soul is… Thus, souls must be defined. This is akin to the necessity of defining “hair” in order to categorize a person as bald. Some people define souls as an “inner light,” and yet, short of seeing if they glow in the dark, we cannot determine a being’s “soul status.” Some claim the soul is one’s personality, or innate moral sense, or even consciousness. But an unconscious fetus (one that is less than 30 weeks old) possesses none of these things. But hope is not lost. When we are unable to define what a thing IS, it helps to define what the thing DOES. (Think of “quantum physics.” When a particle cannot be seen, we can determine its presence by noting whether or not an expected or predicted reaction takes place only when that particle is present.) To learn about the Soul’s possible “function,” read the articles, “Heavenly Recollections,” on morellaty.com, and possibly, “Forgetting to Remember” on morellaty.com.
5. The “Life ‘Trumps’ Autonomy” Argument
When attempting to determine whether a person’s right to autonomy (e.g. a woman’s right not to be pregnant against her will (pregnant when she doesn’t want to be)), should outweigh or override a fetus’ right to live, we must analyze whether life is a more integral (important) right than autonomy. Imagine a mad gunman kidnaps a man and a woman who have never met. He then forces the man to make a horrible choice. The gunman will either rape the woman or shoot the man in the head, depending on whichever option the man “chooses.” (FYI, a forced decision made at gunpoint is not a choice. It’s coercion under duress.) If the man “chooses” to live, and therefore the kidnapped woman must endure a horrific ordeal, no one could really blame the man for his decision. Losing the ability to determine what happens to one’s body is awful, but death is… permanent. Hence, life is a more important right than autonomy.
Besides the notable fact that the individual whose life is at stake is occupying the body of the individual whose autonomy is at stake, comparing autonomy to to life as if the two rights are mutually exclusive is a mistake. Life is merely an extension of autonomy. In fact, one must possess autonomy rights in order to have the right to live. You can learn more about this in your assigned reading, “Autonomy IS Life,” on morellaty.com. The article discusses the point that since fetuses do not possess autonomy, due to their inability to make decisions (as opposed to a person who, say, acquired autonomy rights based on their ability to decide for himself or herself, but then fell into a coma, and has no use for autonomy, but still has the right based on his or her previous acquisition), then fetuses cannot possess the right to live either.
6. The Fourteenth Amendment is Flawed….
The landmark 1973 Supreme Court case that “secured” abortion rights for women on a federal level was Roe v. Wade. It was determined that, based on the 14th Constitutional Amendment’s Right to Privacy Clause, women had a right to control their own reproduction (as an exercise or extension of their autonomy). However, the right to privacy has nothing to do with abortion. The most it should protect is the right for abortion records to remain confidential.
This argument is, for the most part, correct. However, the 14th amendment can be replaced by the 8th amendment, which protects abortion rights quite completely. For verification, read “(Sex)Crime & Punishment,” one of your assigned articles on morellaty.com.
7. The “Responsibility” Argument….
If one engages in a given action, knowing that there is a chance, no matter how small, that an unwanted result could occur, then one must “take responsibility” for that result. So if a woman has sex, knowing that she could get pregnant, then she must take responsibility for her current bodily predicament.
What does “take responsibility” mean? Some women think the responsible action is to have an abortion, especially if the woman cannot afford to remain pregnant. Does Responsibility Mean “Living with the Consequences?” If this is the case, is this synonymous with, “owning up to one’s mistakes and “paying” for them?” In other words, should one endure the “punishment” for having sex by enduring an unwanted pregnancy? Is this what responsibility means? If this is the case, what are the implications attached to the type of ideology that mandates, “If one engages in a given action, knowing that there is a chance, no matter how small, that an unwanted result could occur, then one must “take responsibility” for that result?” Current statistics indicate that the overwhelmingly vast majority of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows, usually in a “date” type of scenario. So agreeing to go out with a man would mean that if a woman is raped, she should take responsibility for what happened, since she was aware that there was a chance of it happening. Must she endure the punishing result? Does agreement to the initial action entail agreement to “suffer the consequences?”
Popular ProChoice Arguments (Advocating for Women’s Rights & Reproduction Control)……
(Refutation of the Pro-life Arguments also serve as prochoice arguments since, if there is no good reason NOT to do something, one should be permitted to do it.)
The various articles on morellaty discuss various popular, and not so popular, arguments that support the notion that women have the right to control their own reproduction due to the arduous, health-impairing, mental state altering, and sometimes lethal nature of pregnancy. If pregnancy lasted five minutes, didn’t permanently alter, scar, and disable women, and left women feeling more attractive instead of undesirable (in other words, if all women could get pregnant the way Victoria’s Secret models do), then abortion would be a thing of the past. But even prochoice arguments have their objections.
1- Right to Control One’s Own Body (The Autonomy Argument)
Self-explanatory. It’s my body. I can do what I want with it, and I only should be the one to determine if an when my body gets pregnant.
If anything, humans have limited autonomy. The right to autonomy only extends as far as we do not physically “hurt” other persons. If fetuses are persons, then abortion is not morally allowable. Murder qualifies as hurting a person, even if it’s carried out painlessly.
2- Argument Regarding Sexism:
Abortion should only be illegal when there is a drug that can simulate pregnancy, to be administered to men. It isn’t fair or right that it takes two people to have sex and two people to make an embryo, but only one of them gets pregnant and only one of them is deemed immoral for wanting to not be pregnant.
There are issues men have to deal with that women do not, such as being subject to the military draft. Can men argue that since women are not drafted, men should have the right to abstain from war until the drafting process is less sexist?
3- Practice What You Preach:
Your morellaty.com readings utilize the power of the logical discrepancy that since pro lifers refuse to physically force abortion-seeking women to remain pregnant, they do not truly believe abortion is wrong and a form of murder. After all, you would be morally justified in killing a gunman who was about to shoot a toddler, and yet pro lifers do not physically interfere with women seeking abortions to protect fetuses who they believe are about to be murdered. So what is the true agenda here? Your assigned articles contend that the agenda is to subjugate women.
Radical pro lifers shoot abortion doctors. How’s that for interference? (Of course this would be akin to shooting gun manufacturers or gun salesmen and, depending on your opinion of the second amendment, this wouldn’t exactly be unwarranted after the New Town Elementary school children massacre.)
4- The Parasite Argument:
This argument contends that fetuses qualify as parasites and meet the technical scientific definition of the term. Parasites have no rights over their host organism and can be excised without moral reprisal.
This conception utilizes a strong appeal to emotion, just as pro life advocates do when they call fetuses “unborn babies.” Equating fetuses to parasites eliminates their human qualities, causing the argument’s recipient to picture what the arguer wants them to and not what’s actually there.
5- The 8th Amendment Argument:
The “default position” of prochoice enthusiasts who agree that the 14th amendment comes up short in securing abortion rights. It relies on the accurate interpretation of the questions, “What is Torture? Is it truly different for everybody, or is there a universal definition? Does the 8th Amd. apply only to criminals or to all citizens? Must lawmakers abide by it or just criminal-sentencing judges?”
The argument comprising “(Sex)Crime & Punishment” is well formulated and covers its bases. But if a logical objection exists, it is our duty to find it. This argument is truly the “brick house” of the prochoice movement. So let’s be good little philosophers, and try to knock it over! Even if you whole-heartedly agree with it, it is your duty as a brain-owner to find its faults if they’re there.
6-The Practical Application Argument (Also called the ‘Right versus Reasonable’ Argument or ‘Preservation of Justice’ Argument):
Sometimes in the academic study of ethics, we find ourselves in the precarious predicament of agreeing with the inherent morality of an action in principle but not in practice. An action may seem right, but not reasonable, or vice versa. For example, imagine a hostile alien race invaded Earth, and they swore to destroy our planet unless we provide them with one human infant. This request is reasonable. “Just one baby in exchange for the continued existence of our planet and every species on it? Deal!” But it isn’t right for us to abide by such a request, and it’s wrong for the invading aliens to ask this of us. Later, when you study capital punishment, you may discover that it is right and just for some evil bastards to be put to death. They are quite simply a waste of space, and their lives and actions make the world a worse place. In principle, they deserve to die. But the American capital punishment system is seriously flawed. It is ludicrously expensive, it is unfairly applied, it doesn’t deter violent crime, and we send innocent civilians to death row so often we should be embarrassed by it. In practice, capital punishment does not work.
This may be the case for abortion as well. Even if it is logically proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that fetuses are persons with the right to live, banning abortion outright would be impossibly problematic. Thus, it is possible to be pro life in principle but not in practice. Let’s put this theory to the test, shall we? Imagine legislators are tasked with implementing a federal ban on abortion. Would they choose to make ALL forms of pregnancy termination illegal, so that no abortions could ever be legally performed, even to save a mother’s life? Or would they choose to allow some abortions to take place as long as the mother met certain qualifying standards? My guess is they’d do the latter, because to implement the former would mean that they would be putting the rights of under-developed human beings, and even microscopic embryos in the cases of necessary, life-saving abortions needed due to ectopic pregnancies, over the rights of grown women who have a right to live. So how would this work? What exceptions would they make? Which women would qualify as “earning the right to not be forced to endure pregnancy against her will?” Rape victims? Women whose continued health is in jeopardy? Very young pregnant girls? Mothers of deformed fetuses? Drug addicts?
Once the exceptions are agreed upon, imagine the difficulty in enforcing them! Any woman who wants an abortion could easily claim rape. Even if we legally stipulated a need to “prove it” in a court of law, it would be too late for an abortion, since rape prosecution and trials take months, even a year. We could “force” rape victims to report rapes the moment after the rape happens if they wish have the option to later abort any resulting pregnancy, but the common use of GHB and “roofies” by rapists often make women oblivious to the rape’s occurrence…. not to mention that most rapes are committed by men the victim knows, making public reporting an intimidating and even life-threatening process.
Providing an exception for mothers who are at risk of dying is fraught with controversy as well. All pregnancy carries risk. Women are far healthier not pregnant than they are while pregnant. So how much of a risk of death is enough to warrant an abortion? The decision of how much risk one is willing to endure is different for everyone. Some people like to “walk on the wild side.” They enjoy an adrenaline rush. When I was in my teens, my friends and I would go “bridge-jumping.” Like the name implies, we would hunt down various bridges that stretched across oceans and rivers and jump off. The higher the better! (Like all teenagers, we were stupid.) I also enjoyed, for some reason, the practice of “water skiing without water skis.” We called it “Skiing Sans Skis.” If you’ve never had the pleasure, this “sport” involves driving a boat as fast as you dare and then jumping off of it while it’s in motion. Very dangerous and very stupid. But it was MY life I was risking, so there wasn’t really anything immoral about it. But if I forced one of my wussy friends to go “skiing sans skis,” by pushing her off a speeding boat, THAT would be highly immoral. In other words, there is something horribly wrong about forcing another to risk his or her life, no matter how high or low the actual risk. Only YOU can decide how much your life is worth. Forcing others to risk their lives is as immoral as forcing them to chain smoke for years or, yes, shoving them off a racing boat.
Furthermore, while most American women don’t die (anymore) as a result of pregnancy and giving birth, many of them have to give up the things they love as a result of choosing to have a baby. A woman with spectacular breasts she’s extremely proud of will have to say goodbye to those beauties once she’s birthed a child (or else fork over five grand to get them back via surgery but still, they’ll never look the same). A fashion-forward high heel enthusiast will most likely have to give her precious Jimmy Choo collection to her BFF, because her feet will grow a size bigger after baby. Some mothers will battle gestational diabetes or their weight all their lives. And the list of “sacrifices” just goes on and on.
Some sacrifices are much bigger than others. For the willing mother, their little bundle of joy is worth any sacrifice. For me, I had to give up running. As a former athlete (I played collegiate and adult league soccer and ran track and cross country in high school), this was a huge sacrifice. Thanks to massive water retention during pregnancy which lead to eclampsia, a potentially deadly affliction, my knees, ankles, hands, feet, and just about everything else (even my nose!) severely swelled, and the ligaments, cartilage, and joints in my knees were irreparably damaged. Even draining the remaining retained fluid with a syringe (Ow!) after giving birth couldn’t bring back my ability to run. But I wanted to have a child. And my daughter is more than worth what I gave up. (However, if I’m forced to carry her to safety while outrunning fiery meteors during the apocalypse, we’re both screwed.)
As you can see, it isn’t always about, “Is pregnancy worth risking my life?” Sometimes it’s about “Is pregnancy worth giving up something I love- Something that helps define me as a person?” Women have to ask themselves whether pregnancy is worth something as shallow as giving up their shoes, or as seemingly vain as giving up their breasts (maybe their husbands and boyfriends should be consulted on this one), or as paradigm-shifting as giving up their careers, athleticism, or even marriage or current relationship. (Lots of women have abortions due to their partner’s refusal to support a child.) And there seems to be something inherently, plainly wrong and off-putting when we speculate about taking these difficult decisions out of pregnant or sexually active women’s hands and putting them into the hands of politicians and law makers, most of whom are men and clueless about the demands of pregnancy. (As any sports fan can attest, watching a lot of baseball does not make one a ball player. And supporting a pregnant wife or girlfriend does not provide men with any “inside knowledge” into womanhood.)
If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen! And if you don’t want to be pregnant, don’t have sex!
This trivializes the emotional depth and enlightening effect of the above argument into one naive, simplistic solution. This is akin to attempting to solve the high incidence of teen car accidents with the mantra, “Don’t let teenagers drive,” or trying to fix heart disease, the number one killer of Americans, with making cheese illegal. Yes, abstaining from sex does prevent pregnancy. But outlawing abortion, and consequently punishing women (alone) for the “crime” of having sex by forcing them to remain pregnant, or else suffer the wrath of the legal system, is like warning people not to smoke if they don’t want to get lung cancer, but then making it illegal for those who got lung cancer from smoking to seek treatment as punishment for ignoring the warning. A punishment only makes sense if a person did something bad or wrong. Punishing people for doing a morally neutral (amoral) action is called persecution. Is sex bad? Is sex itself inherently immoral? Or are women at risk of being persecuted for not living up to the societally-expected and ever-pressured role of virginal, celibate, or chaste commodity? If you have doubts about women not being constantly and vehemently pressured to “keep their legs closed,” let me remind you about the existence and popularity in the past of the public’s infatuation with certain blond teen pop stars’ sexual status (Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears, Mandy Moore, etc.), as well as virginity pledges, purity rings, chastity promises, and purity balls.” (Purity Balls are federally-funded father-daughter dances in which daughters “pledge” their virginity to their fathers with his promise and assurance that he’ll “keep it safe for her” until she gets married. This evokes an uncomfortably humorous mental image of a newly married man receiving an awkward wedding gift from his recently acquired father-in-law, and when he asks what it is, the bride’s dear daddy says, “Why, it’s my daughter’s vagina! I’ve been keeping it nice and safe (and fresh?) for you until this special day.”)
Furthermore, the claim that we ought to have sex only when we’re ready to have babies ignores the whole point of contraception. But contraception doesn’t always work, either due to simple and accidental human error, manufacturing defects, ignorance, neglect, or plain stupidity. And when it fails, it’s rather heartless to say, “Well, you shouldn’t have had sex.” Married couples, and even those in unmarried committed relationships, need to, are expected to, and are even required or obligated to have sex. The claim that one ought not get married unless one is ready to procreate is antiquated, impractical, and silly. People get married because they are ready to make a permanent commitment to each other, and not yet necessarily to an infant and future adolescent, teen and adult. And the reasons for this are abundant. Personally, my husband and I employed several reasons for why we waited eight years before having a child. I needed to finish my education. We wanted to travel. We wanted to enjoy being a couple without too much pressing responsibility. I went through a time of failing health. We wanted to have some fun before a baby required us to limit our social lives. And finally, and perhaps most importantly, we wanted to be able to support a child with one salary, so that we could avoid being the type of parents who birthed a child, took four weeks off from work, and then handed our month-old baby over to a ridiculously expensive daycare system that required us both to work to be able to afford…. Not that there is anything “wrong” with doing this. In fact, many, many couples are either forced or choose to do this. And it’s a personal choice. Women today can choose to be stay-at-home mothers, working mothers, or mothers who work from home. (Or fathers can be stay-at-home parents, although this rarely occurs due to the inane stigma attached to it.) However, a little over half the country wishes the law would prevent women from having the choice whether or not to become mothers in the first place. Once they ARE mothers, the choices are there. But the choice to endure the mind-boggingly difficult task of pregnancy is in serious danger of being repealed.
With all of that said, teenagers should probably avoid sex. The possible consequences attached to sex requires a level of coping, maturity, and understanding that most teens simply do not possess, either due to the way American parents raise young adults or because teenage brains have under-developed pre-frontal lobes, which is the part of the brain responsible for moral reasoning and ethical decision-making. But while we’re on the subject of choices, the choice to abstain from sex for adults who are either married or in committed relationships isn’t really a viable option. It’s an over-simplified pseudo-solution that treats adults like children and treats sex like a crime.
Aren’t we forgetting about adoption? Some committed couples (and almost certainly teenagers) may not be ready to be parents, but they don’t have to be. Lots of “worthy” people can’t conceive or bear children, and they’d be more than happy to adopt “undesired” babies.
Yes, the “adoption solution” is often touted as a “fix-all.” Besides the fact that the adoption system is incredibly flawed (it’s expensive, heart-breaking, exhaustingly difficult, and, for some (probably racist) reason, there seems to only be a “market” for white babies), this “band-aid-like cure” for the “abortion problem” ignores the fact that the vast majority of women do not seek abortions because they don’t want to raise a baby. They are well-aware that adoption exists. Women who seek abortions do so because they don’t want to be pregnant. They don’t want to endure 40 weeks of, to be optimistic about the description of the experience, “discomfort.” (Yes, some women do have “easy pregnancies.” These women are rare… or lying. I hate these women…. for their luck, not their lies.) They don’t want to suffer through the tortuous experience that is labor. (That’s only if they are “lucky” enough to go through labor and endure only agonizing pain and a torn perineum for their efforts. If they undergo birth via “C-section,” the experience is arguably worse. After all, it involves the slicing open of the abdomen and uterus, removal of the baby, and then being stitched back up. Recovery takes an excruciatingly painful four weeks and leaves the mother with a six to eight inch pelvic scar. Then the real fun begins when patients get to endure the lovely experience of “organ repositioning,” as their internal organs proceed to find their way back into place to fill in the vacant cavern where the baby used to reside. Standing up from a horizontal position causes all of the patient’s organs to “fall forward” into the cavern. Ouch. And then its a joy to “poke your spleen back in,” if it happens to jut out underneath your skin.) Women also don’t want to watch as every single part of their bodies changes for the worse. And they don’t want to live with their body’s physical altercations (the stretch marks, saggy breasts, thinned hair, bigger feet, dark skin blotches, stretched birth canal, higher body fat and heavier weight, weakened joints, and plumper belly) for the rest of their lives. This is why women seek abortions. Not necessarily because they are not ready to be parents.
RETORT REBUTTAL #2:
Come on! Is pregnancy really THAT bad? I thought it just involved morning sickness, back aches, odd cravings, and swollen feet.
Here is a list of the common symptoms of pregnancy. The physical symptoms include (but are not limited to)…..
Cramping (Braxton-Hicks Contractions, also known as preterm labor pain)
Pain in the Extremities
Headaches and Migraines
Increased Skin Pigmentation
Aversion to Certain Foods & Smells
Urinary Tract Infections
Swollen Hands & Feet
Forgetfulness/Decreased Memory Function
Brittle hair and nails
Gum Disease, Gum Bleeding, & Tooth Decay
Mastitis (Extremely Painful Infection of the Breast Tissue)
….Not to mention the symptoms (bodily experience) of labor, birth, and c-section recovery.
(Please feel free, if you’re curious, or if you just need a reason to never have sex again, to research any of the above symptoms in order to understand its effects. Anal fissures are a particularly gruesome little experience.)
TERMS AND DEFINITIONS
The following terms pertain to the science and medical definitions you need to know in order to contribute intelligently to the abortion debate…..
The time spent in the womb growing and developing. Gestation is divided up into three trimesters for a total of forty weeks, or approximately nine months.
The point in gestation in which a fetus can “safely” survive outside the womb. Legal viability is 24 weeks, meaning that an abortion after this point could possibly qualify as a criminal act. According to studies conducted between 2003 and 2005, 20% to 35% of babies born at 23 weeks of gestation survive, while 50% to 70% of babies born at 24 to 25 weeks, and more than 90% born at 26 to 27 weeks, survive. The youngest U.S. child born to survive (as of 2005) was Amillia Taylor, at one day shy of 22 weeks.
A multicellular diploid eukaryote in its earliest stage of development. The immediate result of a single sperm combining with a female reproductive cell (egg). This phenomenon is also known as conception. The embryo stage begins at 14 days after conception and lasts until the embryo is 8 weeks old. Before “Day 14,” a human embryo goes through a blastocyst stage an then a zygote stage. (Yes, it is possible for two sperm to fertilize one egg. The result is known as a hydatidiform mole, a severely deformed embryo that should be removed from the uterus.)
The proper scientific term used to describe an “in utero” human being from two months (8 weeks) into gestation until birth.
Term used to signify that a human fetus has been birthed from the womb. Infancy lasts until toddlerhood.
The result of Embryo implantation outside the uterus. They occur in 1 to 2 out of every 100 pregnancies. Ectopic pregnancies are fatal in 50-75% of cases. (Also known as tubal pregnancy.) Severe cramping and perhaps fever could possibly indicate an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies are very dangerous so Any pregnant woman experiencing these symptoms should see a doctor immediately to have the embryo removed.
The intentional termination of pregnancy with the pregnant woman’s permission. (Unintentional pregnancy termination is called a “miscarriage.” Intentional pregnancy termination without the pregnant woman’s permission is a criminal act and, depending upon how “far along” the woman was, may be legally defined as murder.) Unsafe (and therefore usually illegal) abortions result in approximately 70 thousand maternal deaths and 5 million disabilities per year globally. Legal, legitimate abortions, however, are extremely safe (much, much safer than enduring pregnancy or giving birth), with a mortality rate of roughly one in one million.
-Medical (Pharmaceutical) Abortion:
Early medical abortion regimens using 200 mg of mifepristone, followed 24–48 hours later by 800 mcg of buccal or vaginal misoprostol are 98% effective if taken up to 9 weeks of pregnancy. Also known as “taking the Abortion Pill.”
(MVA or EVA abortion) Up to 15 weeks in gestation, suction-aspiration or vacuum aspiration are the most common surgical methods of induced abortion. Manual vacuum aspiration consists of removing the fetus or embryo, placenta, and membranes by suction using a manual syringe, while electric vacuum aspiration (EVA) uses an electric pump.
-D & C Abortion:
Standing for Dilation and curettage (D&C), it is the second most common method of surgical abortion. Involves the “scraping” cervical walls, but is not as brutal as it sounds.
-D & E Abortion:
From the 15th week of gestation until approximately the 26th, other techniques must be used. Dilation and evacuation (D&E) consists of opening the cervix of the uterus and emptying it using surgical instruments and suction. Premature labor and delivery can be induced with prostaglandin, and this can be coupled with injecting the amniotic fluid with hypertonic solutions containing saline or urea. After the 16th week of gestation, abortions can also be induced by intact dilation and extraction (IDX, also called intrauterine cranial decompression), which requires surgical decompression of the fetus’s head before evacuation. IDX is sometimes called “partial-birth abortion,” a practice that has been federally banned in the United States.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS IN REGARDS TO THE ETHICS OF ABORTION…….
1. When can a human fetus survive outside the womb?
“Viability” is the word used to describe “the point in gestation in which a fetus can “safely” survive outside the womb.” Legal viability is 24 weeks, meaning that an abortion after this point could possibly qualify as a criminal act. According to studies conducted between 2003 and 2005, 20 to 35 percent of babies born at 23 weeks of gestation survive, while 50 to 70 percent of babies born at 24 to 25 weeks, and more than 90 percent born at 26 to 27 weeks, survive.
The youngest US child born to survive was Amillia Taylor, at one day shy of 22 weeks.
2. When does the fetus’ heart begin to beat?
This question is difficult to answer since the human heart doesn’t “finish” developing until after adolescence. However, the fetus’ “makeshift” heart begins pumping blood to its bodily extremities at as early as four weeks. The fifth week of pregnancy, or the third week after conception, marks the beginning of the embryonic period. (The first two weeks after conception the fertilized egg spends time as a blastocyst and then a zygote.) This is when the fetus’ premature brain, spinal cord, heart and other organs begin to form. The fetus’ heart and a primitive circulatory system will form in the middle layer of cells — the mesoderm. The inner layer of cells — the endoderm — will become a simple tube lined with mucous membranes. The fetus’ lungs, intestines and bladder will develop here. By the end of this week, a fetus is likely about the size of the tip of a pen. Just four to six weeks after conception, the neural tube along the fetus’ back is closing and the “heart” (or the under-developed organ that will eventually become the heart) is pumping blood. (Information obtained through the Mayo Clinic.)
3. When can a human fetus feel pain?
Again, this is a very complicated question! If you’ve ever endured surgery under general anesthesia, then you know that consciousness is necessary to “feel” and, more importantly, “process” pain. If you are unconscious, then the pain, quite simply, never “registers,” and you therefore do not feel it, or you are not aware of it. (Please take note- fetuses can exhibit “stress responses” as well as react to external stimuli. This is not the same as feeling pain. Anesthetized patients do the same.) Fetuses are both sedate and anesthetized in the womb. Many physicians, researchers and scientists believe that the chemicals that keep fetuses in their sedated state are oxidized out of the blood during the birthed fetus’ (infant’s) first few breaths of air. Others contend that fetuses slowly achieve a state of semi-consciousness while still in the womb, somewhere in mid to late third trimester. While some pro life advocates attempt to maintain that fetuses are capable of feeling pain as early as the late first or early second trimester, this is quite simply unfounded, without basis, merit, or even the backing of the accredited scientific community as a whole. Think of it this way. The womb is like a sensory deprivation chamber. If fetuses truly possessed the level of alertness and consciousness pro life advocates claim they possess for as long as six or seven months in the womb, in a state of total darkness, seclusion, and solitude, they’d “go mad.” Anyone who has had experience with an infant is well aware of the importance of bonding, mental stimulation, “entertainment,” and “cuddling.” The act of being deprived of this for months on end would be psychologically devastating to a conscious infant brain. But since fetuses are unconscious in the womb, they are not aware of this deprivation… And thank goodness. In case you are still unconvinced, here is some scientific validation…..
The following excerpt is from Clinical Review, August 24/31, 2005, in the article titled, “A Systematic Multidisciplinary Review of the Evidence,” by Susan J. Lee, JD; Henry J. Peter Ralston, MD; Eleanor A. Drey, MD, EdM; John Colin Partridge, MD, MPH; and Mark A. Rosen, MD,
“Pain perception requires conscious recognition or awareness of a noxious stimulus. Neither withdrawal reflexes nor hormonal stress responses to invasive procedures prove the existence of fetal pain, because they can be elicited by nonpainful stimuli and occur without conscious cortical processing. Fetal awareness of noxious stimuli requires functional thalamocortical connections. Thalamocortical fibers begin appearing between 23 to 30 weeks’ gestational age, while electroencephalography suggests the capacity for functional pain perception in preterm neonates probably does not exist before 29 or 30 weeks. For fetal surgery, women may receive general anesthesia and/or analgesics intended for placental transfer, and parenteral opioids may be administered to the fetus under direct or sonographic visualization. In these circumstances, administration of anesthesia and analgesia serves purposes unrelated to reduction of fetal pain, including inhibition of fetal movement, prevention of fetal hormonal stress responses, and induction of uterine atony.
Evidence regarding the capacity for fetal pain is limited but indicates that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester. Little or no evidence addresses the effectiveness of direct fetal anesthetic or analgesic techniques. Similarly, limited or no data exist on the safety of such techniques for pregnant women in the context of abortion. Anesthetic techniques currently used during fetal surgery are not directly applicable to abortion procedures.”
4. What are the statistics in regards to abortion?
Approximate Abortion Statistics in the UNITED STATES……
>Number of abortions per year: 1.37 Million (1996)
>Number of abortions per day: Approximately 3,700
>Who’s having abortions (age)?
52% of women obtaining abortions in the U.S. are younger than 25: Women aged 20-24 obtain 32% of all abortions; Teenagers obtain 20% and girls under 15 account for 1.2%.
>Who’s having abortions (race)?
While white women obtain 60% of all abortions, their abortion rate is well below that of minority women. Black women are more than 3 times as likely as white women to have an abortion, and Hispanic women are roughly 2 times as likely.
>Who’s having abortions (marital status)?
64.4% of all abortions are performed on never-married women; Married women account for 18.4% of all abortions and divorced women obtain 9.4%.
>Who’s having abortions (religion)?
Women identifying themselves as Protestants obtain 37.4% of all abortions in the U.S.; Catholic women account for 31.3%, Jewish women account for 1.3%, and women with no religious affiliation obtain 23.7% of all abortions. 18% of all abortions are performed on women who identify themselves as “Born-again/Evangelical”.
>Who’s having abortions (income)?
Women with family incomes less than $15,000 obtain 28.7% of all abortions; Women with family incomes between $15,000 and $29,999 obtain 19.5%; Women with family incomes between $30,000 and $59,999 obtain 38.0%; Women with family incomes over $60,000 obtain 13.8%.
>Why women have abortions
1% of all abortions occur because of rape or incest; 6% of abortions occur because of potential health problems regarding either the mother or child, and 93% of all abortions occur for social reasons (i.e. the child is unwanted or inconvenient).
>At what gestational ages are abortions performed:
52% of all abortions occur before the 9th week of pregnancy, 25% happen between the 9th & 10th week, 12% happen between the 11th and 12th week, 6% happen between the 13th & 15th week, 4% happen between the 16th & 20th week, and 1% of all abortions (16,450/yr.) happen after the 20th week of pregnancy.
>Likelihood of abortion:
An estimated 43% of all women will have at least 1 abortion by the time they are 45 years old. 47% of all abortions are performed on women who have had at least one previous abortion.
5. “I’ve heard of a psychological disorder called ‘Post Abortion Syndrome,’ in which women who have had an abortion fall into a sort of depression, psychosis, or are traumatized for life. Does it exist?”
No. There is no such thing as PAS. It is a fabricated ailment concocted by those who have a vested interest in intimidating women out of having an abortion…. As if women are having abortions for fun on the weekends with their girlfriends. “Hey! I have an idea! Let’s go get our nails done, hit a few clubs, get wasted, and go have abortions! Yay!” Don’t get me wrong, pregnancy termination is a difficult, and even somewhat painful decision and procedure but it DOES NOT cause a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-like mental state. If it did, PAS would be recognized by the APA and it would be in the DSM4, and it’s not.
According to the article, “Clinical Research on Abortion Patients’ Emotional Responses,” in a Report of the APA task Force on Mental Health and Abortion (8/13/08), “Most women who terminate pregnancies do not experience adverse psychological sequelae after the event. However, women do experience a range of emotions following abortion. How these emotional responses vary according to demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of women and gestation of pregnancy is not known. We have conducted in-depth interviews with women who had an abortion, including women who expressed emotional difficulty following their abortion. We find three primary sources for this difficulty: social disapproval, relationship loss, and a head v. heart conflict about having the abortion. Overall, respondents articulated a need to feel that the decision to have an abortion was their own and a need for non-judgmental social support following the procedure. Data also yield insights into how the clinic experience itself can make the overall experience more or less difficult.” In other words, being fed lies, fabricated research, enduring scare-tactics, and braving through picket lines, while protesters shout, “Whore!” and “Murderer!” is not good for a woman’s mental well-being.
6. Some people have seen “photos” and documentation that portray fetuses “chopped into pieces,” torn limb from limb, or screaming in agony during and after an abortion. Does this really occur?
Absolutely not. My students often ask why fetuses get “All chopped up” during abortions. I have to admit, it took me a moment to figure out that they were referring to anti-choice propaganda that portrays images of dismembered fetuses in order to illicit a visceral response from the public. These grotesque, often photoshopped, special-effect-driven, fictional representations attempt to frighten sexually active women by portraying abortion like a horror movie and insinuating that even the tiniest fetus must feel intense pain while being ripped limb from limb in the womb. But once again, logic and rational introspection are capable of shielding you from those who believe fiction is greater than fact. (Not to mention that if a claim seems fantastic or brutally gruesome, and makes you wonder, “Why isn’t the public abhorrently outraged over this?”, it most likely isn’t true.) Even later abortions via mifepristone involve uterine contractions that expel the embryo or very early term fetus from the womb. The embryo will “come out” whole, not chopped up. D&E (surgical) abortions, which are the safest “invasive” procedures one can undergo, with a mortality rate of one in one million, involve the suction of the uterine contents through a small tube. So a fetus must fit through the circumference of the tube in order to be evacuated. The invented abortions imagined by the depraved minds of those who see fit to publicize chopped fetuses aren’t logically possible if one simply takes a few seconds to consider the implications of such a procedure. First, no surgeon is skilled or deft enough to squeeze a scalpel through the birth canal and fillet a fetus while it’s still inside the womb without seriously damaging the uterus, cervix, vaginal opening, or all three in the process. (Remember the uterus is about the size of a kiwi (about three inches long), and at twelve weeks of gestation, maybe the size of a tennis ball or baseball.) So forget about the possibility of dismemberment while in the womb! And any doctor who is slicing and dicing fetuses like a Japanese habachi chef OUTSIDE the womb has much deeper psychological concerns to address than whether or not he’s upsetting pro-lifers. Seriously, what would be the point of chopping up excised fetuses?!
The 1984 film, “The Silent Scream,” depicts an 11-week-old fetus during the abortion process, in agony as it’s ripped from the womb with tongs, apparently “making outcries of pain and discomfort.” Narrated by Bernard Nathanson, an obstetrician, NARAL Pro-Choice America founder, and abortion provider turned pro-life activist, and produced in partnership with the National Right to Life Committee, The Silent Scream is shown at pro-life fundraisers, on Facebook pages, at CPCs, and on websites. After its release, the AMA and prominent medical community members including Richard Berkowitz, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Mount Sinai Medical Center and John Hobbins, of the Yale School of Medicine described the film as “factually misleading and unfair” and warned the public that the film’s use of special effects were deceptive, and a form of “technical flimflam.” Hobbins claimed that the ultrasound in the film is initially run at slow speed and then sped up when surgical instruments are introduced to give the impression that “the fetus is thrashing about in alarm.”
After the film was shown to be wrought with errors and misleading manipulation, the film’s narrator, Bernard Nathanson seeming did a 180, claiming that it was not his intent to portray fetuses as feeling pain during abortions. Nathanson called pro-choice activists’ response to the film “clever,” because they focused on whether the fetus feels pain during an abortion. Nathanson said that the film had made no claims about fetal pain, therefore “the transmogrification of the brutality depicted in the video into a rather jejeune argument about the ability of the fetus to feel pain was a remarkably astute pro-choice strategy.” Despite the fact that the film is titled The Silent Scream, Nathenson’s own narration should serve as proof enough of his, and the National Right to Life Committee’s intended agenda to attempt to make the public believe even very young fetuses feel pain and react strongly to it.
Do we, as adults with the ability to think, really need proof that this film was a manipulated, special-effects driven form of propaganda? Can’t we use logic rather than empirical proof to rebuff and rebuke the validity of this movie? Think about it. What’s a necessary component of screaming? Air!! In order to scream in the womb, the fetus would have to take a breath first. Fetuses do not “breathe”. Later in gestation, they may practice sucking in fluid, but until birth, they don’t breathe or scream…. or even necessarily feel pain! All this film proved, if it wasn’t entirely fabricated, is that fetuses sometimes open their mouths.
7. Can a woman “spontaneously” abort unwanted fetuses?
In the last election, Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin claimed that women’s bodies can spontaneously miscarry unwanted pregnancies caused by “legitimate rape.” He claimed several doctors supported this. As you can see, even high powered politicians can fall prey to false data and “research.” If women were capable of selectively miscarrying unwanted pregnancies, or those conceived under duress, abortion wouldn’t exist. This comment not only made Akin infamous and synonymous with ignorance, but it cost him the election as well. Not only will utilizing research obtained from incredulous sources earn you a lower grade on your essay submissions, but apparently it can potentially ruin employment opportunities, and one’s reputation, as well.
8. Do abortions cause infertility? Cancer? Future Miscarriages? Deformed children born later?
The short and sweet answer to the first three questions is “no.” Abortions performed by licensed, accredited, skilled physicians are very safe. It is far, far more dangerous to one’s health and life-span to be pregnant for forty weeks and then give birth. To answer the question on whether abortions can cause one’s future children to be born with defects, lets take a look at who started that rumor. In 2010, Virginia Republican Delegate Bob Marshall (the Virginia Representative’s Representative) claimed women whose first pregnancies resulted in abortions were later punished by their subsequent pregnancies resulting in mentally disabled children. This was because, according to Marshall (and perhaps the Bible’s portrayal of Passover) first born children belong to God, and God punishes women who shun this “blessing” by burdening them with a later-born disabled child… But doesn’t punish the child himself or herself by “making them disabled.” Marshall and his wife claim his comments were quoted by the Washington post “out of context,” but when Marshall and his wife explained his comments in 2010, they reiterated and stood by their previous claim, clarifying their position however by stating they “meant no offense” and did not mean to claim that the children themselves were being punished. They fully support ARC, disabled persons, and all disabled services. The Delegate claims his position is backed by research that “proves” women who receive abortions are more likely to give birth to premature, disabled children later.
The logical implications of Marshall’s view are staggering. Point of fact, women who suffer from miscarriages are more likely to have problematic and premature pregnancies because their bodies are ill-equipped to sustain pregnancies due to conditions such as incompetent cervix (nice name- implies the cervix has a brain and is dumb) and detached placenta. So if Marshall is correct, and first born children do belong to God, then in miscarriage scenarios God takes the first born away from its mother then further punishes her by causing the next pregnancy that goes to term to result in a premature or disabled child. Of course Marshall’s view is further debunked by the hundreds of thousands of women who abort their first pregnancies only to go on to have beautiful, healthy, brilliant children later. Furthermore, Marshall is implying that Tea Party beloved politician & reality show star Sarah Palin must have aborted her first pregnancy, since her youngest child has Down Syndrome.
9. What are Crisis Pregnancy Centers, and why are they controversial?
The following Information was Obtained From the National Institute of Reproductive Health and the US Senate Committee………….
“In small and large towns throughout the United States (and all over the Internet), anti-abortion groups have set up “crisis pregnancy centers” or “pregnancy counseling centers” or “pregnancy help centers.” They are often located near high schools. These centers follow a format promoted by the Pearson Foundation to deliberately misinform and mislead young women.
Going by the names, Crisis Pregnancy Center, Pregnancy Aid, Birth Right, Open Door, CareNet, Life Choices, or Pregnancy Counseling Center, these groups want to be the first contact a woman makes when she thinks she might be pregnant, so they can talk her out of considering abortion.
Anti-abortion ‘pregnancy centers’ are listed in the yellow pages under “abortion alternatives.” They do NOT provide abortions. Many offer free pregnancy tests or pregnancy counseling as a means to lure you in. On the Internet they also use deceptive names like prochoice.com, and pregnancycenters.org. They do NOT provide referrals for abortion.
Nearly all of these centers are operated by churches or religious organizations. They refer to themselves as a “ministry” to save women’s souls.
Most anti-abortion centers will not give out information by phone, they insist you come into their office. Women have reported waiting up to an hour for the results of a pregnancy test that should only take a few minutes. While waiting, they are forced to watch anti-abortion videos or be surrounded by anti-abortion propaganda. Some women have then been denied the results of their pregnancy test when they say they want an abortion or indicate they want the test result to be able to apply for medical assistance.
Women describe being harassed, intimidated, and given blatantly false information, or being forced to pray with the crisis pregnancy center’s staff. They complain that their confidential information was used against them. In some cases, they were followed home, and mail and phone calls intruded into their homes.”
For unbiased help deciding what to do, see:
-Am I Pregnant? A list of pregnancy symptoms and assistance in evaluating your options
-Pregnancy Options Workbook and website – an honest resource to help you make your own decision.
-Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588 to find out about free health care for low income pregnant women and infants.
-Any Planned Parenthood Center (but these clinics may not be around for long since they are having trouble securing federal funding.)
How to Recognize Anti-abortion Counseling Centers……
“The Pearson Foundation manual, “How to Start and Operate Your Own ProLife Outreach Crisis Pregnancy Center,” urges anti-abortion counselors to give deceptive answers. For example, it cautions, “Do not tell the client that she is or is not pregnant.” Instead, counselors are advised to only say whether test results are positive or negative.
They show shocking and misleading films and pictures of mutilated fetuses and stillborn babies. They won’t let women leave until the end of the video or until they have looked at all the anti-abortion information, even when the woman realizes she has made a mistake going there.
They attempt to make women feel guilty.
They refuse or fail to provide useful comprehensive contraceptive information. The Pearson Foundation manual explicitly instructs counselors “never to counsel or refer for artificial contraceptives or sterilization.” They advise unmarried women to abstain from sex, presenting abstinence as the only way to avoid pregnancy.
Their offices are filled with information that is one-sided, biased and misleading.
Some of these centers offer ultrasound (also known as sonograms). But that does not mean the personnel operating the equipment are have received quality medical training.
If you discover you are seeking help from an anti-abortion facility, protect yourself from further harassment. Leave immediately and do not return. When you do locate a professional clinic that offers information about all options, be sure to tell them about your experience at the fake clinic and let them help you sort out the facts from the religious views or outright lies you have been told.
“One person told me about their horrifying experience going to a fake clinic. The name was Open Door, so they expected it to be supportive of women’s decisions regardless. What a nightmare. When the staff person/volunteer came out with the pregnancy test results, she literally ran over to us, “Congratulations – here’s a gift for your new baby.”
“Then they asked us what we wanted to do and my daughter and I said we decided the best thing for her to do was have an abortion and how much would that cost? The two ladies said ‘please wait a minute’ and left us … They came back with a doll and … scissors … and said: ‘this is what your baby looks like now and we want you to start cutting her up because that’s what will happen if you get an abortion – so start cutting!’ I grabbed her and threw the doll at those ladies and got out of there fast! I later found out it wasn’t a real clinic…” (excerpt from “Legal but Out of Reach” published by the National Network of Abortion Funds)
Did you know that there are as many as 4,000 CPCs in the United States, compared to the less than 2,000 facilities that actually provide abortion care for women.
How to Locate a Reliable Honest clinic…….
Select clinics that provide the full range of contraceptive alternatives.
Ask on the phone if they provide or refer for abortion services. Avoid centers that refuse to give a straightforward answer.
-Do not use the ones listed in yellow pages under Abortion Alternatives.
-Be cautious when surfing the web. Often you will find anti-abortion religious-based websites disguised as pro-choice information.
-Keep searching for reliable information.
-Select clinics that have clearly established reputations.
-Avoid centers with ambiguous descriptions.
-Avoid clinics whose staff do not provide full, clear answers regarding their services.
-Ask friends or relatives you trust!
10. What is Roe v. Wade, and what does it have to do with abortion?
The landmark 1973 Supreme Court case that “secured” abortion rights for women on a federal level. It was determined that based on the 14th Constitutional Amendment’s Right to Privacy Clause, that women had a right to control their own reproduction (as an exercise or extension of autonomy). However, Roe v. Wade has been “chipped away” at a record-breaking, ever-increasing rate as of late, with various states such as Arizona, implementing abortion restricting laws.
Pasted below is a random sampling of articles illustrating this….
The Limitation of Abortion Rights Since Roe v. Wade- In the News……
“States Seeking To Limit Abortion Rights To Unprecedented Degree In 2011″ :By Laura Bassett | Apr 14, 2011
In the wake of the election of a new wave of conservative state legislators, lawmakers across the country have advanced abortion-limiting legislation to an unprecedented degree, according to a new report.
Of the 916 measures related to reproductive health that have been introduced since January, a record 56 percent restrict abortion rights in one way or another, the Guttmacher Institute report found. In 2010, 38 percent of bills relating to reproductive health restricted abortion rights, according to the report.
“This is a big jump, and it says that anti-abortion legislators want to be very active on this issue and they have some momentum,” Elizabeth Nash, a public policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute, told HuffPost. “They used to chip away at Roe v. Wade, and now they’re hacking away at it with a cleaver.”
More than 120 bills limiting abortion rights have been approved by at least one chamber of the legislature so far, and the 15 bills that enacted into law include a bill in Utah that limits abortion coverage in all private health plans and laws in Utah and Virginia that require their health departments to develop new regulations governing abortion clinics.
Some states are making it exponentially more difficult, both financially and psychologically, for a woman to have an abortion. In South Dakota, a woman now has to wait at least 72 hours after seeking an abortion to have the actual procedure and is legally required to obtain counseling from a “crisis pregnancy center” — which are unregulated by the state and have the explicit goal of talking women out of abortions — before having the procedure.
South Dakota has also mandated that the physician performing the abortion counsel the patient in person about the health risk factors relating to abortion prior to her 72-hour waiting period. This limitation, in a rural state like South Dakota with very few abortion providers, can put an unnecessary burden on low-income women trying to balance work and childcare.
“In South Dakota, there’s one provider and he flies in once a week, so in practice what would happen is that a woman would go on a Saturday or a Friday, get the counseling, and then have to wait at least a week for the provider to come back,” said Nash.
“They’re saying the three day waiting period is no big deal, but it is, particularly for women who aren’t well off and can’t take off work and have to deal with childcare. A lot of burdens are placed on a woman when she has to make these two trips.”
In addition to imposing pre-abortion waiting periods, legislators in 13 states have introduced laws forcing women to obtain an ultrasound procedure before having an abortion. Bills in seven of those states — Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, Montana, Ohio, Rhode Island and Texas — would require the woman view the fetus and hear a detailed verbal description of it before undergoing the mandatory waiting period.
“This bill just allows them to see the child inside of them, so it’s not just out of sight, out of mind,” said Alabama State Sen. Clay Scofield (R-Albertville). “It’s critical in their decision-making process.”
Conservatives are also trying to impose gestational limits on abortions at an unprecedented rate, according to the Guttmacher report. Legislators in 17 states have introduced 35 measures patterned on a 2010 Nebraska law that bans abortion at 20 weeks, based on the presumption that a fetus feels pain at that point. Two of those measures would ban abortions beginning at 18 weeks.
Nash, an expert on state abortion policy, said she sees the wave of new legislation seeking to roll back abortion rights as a result of several factors: the recent influx of conservative state legislators (Republicans picked up 20 state legislative chambers in the 2010 elections); the health care law, which spotlighted abortion as an insurance issue; and a few recent anti-abortion legislation successes at the state level that are serving as model legislations.
“Over the past several years, states have been successful in adopting some abortion restrictions, so they’re building on that success and pushing the envelope on what new kinds of restrictions they can adopt,” she said. “They want to make these restrictions even more onerous.”
A spokesperson for NARAL Pro-Choice America told HuffPost they are currently focusing on 374 anti-choice bills introduced so far in the 2011 legislative session, compared to a total of 174 in 2010.
“Anti-choice politicians in the states are mimicking the extreme, far-reaching agenda that Speaker Boehner and his allies are advancing in Congress,” said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL. “Much like their counterparts in Washington, state lawmakers have abandoned their promise to focus on jobs and the economy, and instead have opened the floodgates on a wave of bills that interfere in women’s personal, private decisions.”
——”Limiting Abortion Under the Guise of Anti-Racism”——
Reuters reports that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill yesterday that makes it illegal for doctors to provide abortions for parents seeking to terminate pregnancies on the basis of race or gender. As Planned Parenthood officials, quoted in the article, noted, there’s not really any evidence that this is a widespread problem in Arizona or in the United States. More important, women often don’t publicly cite their reasons for seeking an abortion. This law might have the perverse effect of changing that.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America also said the measure may erode a woman’s rights, fearing that doctors for the first time would feel compelled to ask their patients the reasons for seeking an abortion.
It’s really clear that the law just limits abortion rights. Sex-selection in abortions would be a real problem — if it actually were a problem. I’ve tried, and failed, to imagine a scenario in which a mother, pregnant with her child and the child of her chosen partner, would suddenly discriminate against the fetus based on race, so that seems an invented problem as well.
The way the law is marketed, too, seems to be designed to get middle-of-the-road types on its side. Should you tell someone that we can’t allow people to abort fetuses on the basis of race or gender, it sounds like a sexist, racist thing is happening and maybe it’s something we should think about stopping. Americans have always had a low tolerance for the icky factor related to anything that seems to involve parents engineering their families. Even if it were happening, which there’s no evidence for, this bill would be wrong. We don’t need to get into the business of wondering why women have abortions, and policing it. Would I be personally horrified to find out a woman and her husband routinely sought abortions of female fetuses? Yes, I would. Would I seek to stop them? No, not beyond any personal council or public criticism it’s in my rights to provide. That’s just the way it is. Sometimes, freedom means we have to live with the possibility of icky things.
From Public Radio International…..
“Several states pass new laws limiting abortions”
Published 05 July, 2011 10:30:00
Several states’ newly elected conservative lawmakers are pushing legislation that restrict funding to, and regulate clinics that provide abortions.
Kansas, Ohio and Indiana are each passing new laws that restrict funding to, and regulate clinics that provide abortions. The new laws, which came with Republican gains in the 2010 elections, are being challenged in the courts, but have not yet reached the Supreme Court. Observers say some of the cases could actually challenge Roe vs. Wade.
Kansas is imposing new, stricter licensing guidelines on its three abortion clinics. Only one Planned Parenthood clinic has confirmed that they have received their license. The two other have confirmed that they have failed and will be forced close.
Since May 10, Indiana has denied any Medicaid funding to entities other than hospitals, that provide abortions. Planned Parenthood, the most effected medical provider in Indiana, says it will have to turn away over 9,000 Medicaid patients. An Indiana Federal Judge has placed an injunction on the law, saying federal law allows Medicaid patients to choose their own provider.
Ohio’s house of representatives passed a law that would ban abortions after the sixth week, which challenges the US Supreme Court ruling of 24 weeks.
Indianapolis Star reporter Heather Gillers, who has been covering the new legislation in Indiana, and The New York Times national correspondent Erik Ekholm, who recently examined new abortion regulations nationally, explain the new laws on Here and Now.
From The East Valley Tribune…..
“Arizona law limiting abortions after 20 weeks upheld by federal judge”
By Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services | Posted: Monday, July 30, 2012 12:51 pm
A federal judge on Monday upheld the validity of an Arizona law designed to sharply limit abortions beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Judge James Teilborg acknowledged that prior U.S. Supreme Court rulings have said states may not ban abortion outright before a fetus is considered viable. That is generally considered to be in the 22-24 week range and reflect current Arizona statutes.
But Teilborg said HB 2036 approved earlier this year and signed by Gov. Jan Brewer “does not impose a substantial obstacle to pre-viability abortions.” Instead, the judge wrote, the law only limits abortion between 20 weeks and the point of viability, citing the exceptions for maternal life and health.
He specifically ruled the new limit is justified to protect maternal health and prevent a fetus from feeling pain while being aborted.
Monday’s ruling comes on a request by the Center for Reproductive Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union, representing three Arizona doctors who perform abortions, asking Teilborg to block the law from taking effect as scheduled on Thursday while its validity was litigated.
But Teilborg did more than that. He took it upon himself to conclude that last week’s hearing on that request for an injunction was a trial on the merits of the law. And then he threw out the challenge entirely.
Within hours of Monday’s ruling, challengers asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for a last-minute injunction prior to Thursday’s effective date.
But no matter what the appellate judges do, that is unlikely to be the last word: Given the conflict with earlier U.S. Supreme Court decisions and the fact that several other states have similar laws, Teilborg’s ruling — the first ever on this kind of law — is likely to end up before the nation’s high court.
In challenging the law, foes said that a 20-week cutoff — beyond which abortions would be allowed only in case of the mother’s death or serious injury — will deny women the right to abort a deformed fetus.
But Teilborg said evidence submitted by one of the three doctors who is challenging the law “stops short of claiming that there are any conditions that could only by diagnosed after 20 weeks that could not have been found before that time.” Instead, he cited a statement of a witness for defenders of the law, concluding “it would be extremely rare to find a condition that could be diagnosed after 20 weeks that could not have been diagnosed earlier.”
The judge did acknowledge that “in certain unique circumstances” a diagnosis of fetal abnormalities will not occur until after 20 weeks. But he said it would be up to a woman in that situation to challenge the law — and only for herself.
But attorney Julie Rikelman of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said that’s not an answer. “If you’re a woman facing a complicated pregnancy and you’re suddenly needing to make a decision very quickly for what to do for yourself and your family, the last thing you have time for is to be rushed into getting a lawyer and rushing off to court to get an emergency order from the court that allows you to do what’s best for your health,” she said. “That is just a crazy way to expect people to take care of their health.”
But Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, who defended the law at last week’s hearing, said that’s not a woman’s only option. He pointed out that the law has an exception which allows a doctor to perform an abortion after 20 weeks if a pregnancy complicates a woman’s medical condition “as to necessitate the immediate abortion of her pregnancy to avert her death or for which a delay will create serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.” He said that provides doctors with permission to terminate a pregnancy without going to court — and without running afoul of the law which carries a potential six-month jail term and loss of medical license.
While brushing aside potential complications to women from the law, Teilborg said the state has a legitimate interest in prohibiting abortions beyond 20 weeks.
“There is no question that the government may use its voice and its regulatory authority to show its profound respect for the life within the woman,” he wrote, quoting from a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling which outlawed partial birth abortions.
In this case, Teilborg wrote, Arizona lawmakers stated one purpose of the legislation was to prevent abortions where the fetus would feel the pain involved. He then proceeded in graphic terms to describe the procedure most likely used at that point in a pregnancy, saying lawmakers cited “substantial and well-documented evidence that an unborn child has the capacity to feel pain during an abortion by at least 20 weeks gestational age.”
He said that a fetus, when provoked by a painful stimulus such as a needle, does react. That, said Teilborg, is measured by increases in the child’s stress hormones, heart rate and blood pressure.
“When the child is given anesthesia, these responses decrease, which is why doctors often give both the mother and the fetus anesthesia separately in cases of fetal surgery,” the judge said. “Nowhere in the record is it suggested that a fetus is given anesthesia before being subjected to (either type of) abortion.”
Rikelman said the judge was wrong to blindly accept the legislative conclusion. “American and British experts that have looked at this question have said that there is no evidence to support this claim and that fetuses cannot feel pain until many weeks after,” she said. Anyway, Rikelman said, that’s just an excuse.
“It’s really just a thinly veiled attempt to justify the law,” she said. “The law is about restricting abortion.”
Beyond the issue of fetal pain, Teilborg said the law was justified because lawmakers said they wanted “to protect the health of the pregnant woman, which resulted in part from a finding that the major complications of abortion are highest after 20 weeks of pregnancy.”
But Rikelman said that flies in the face of prior rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court — going back to the original 1973 Roe v. Wade case which said women have a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy — which say that states cannot ban abortions before a fetus is viable.
“What the Supreme Court has said repeatedly is that whatever interest the state may have, none of them are strong enough to ban abortion before viability,” she said.
But Teilborg said the procedures used at this stage of pregnancy to perform an abortion are similar to the partial birth abortions that the high court said in 2007 can be outlawed.
In a prepared statement, Brewer praised Teilborg’s ruling, saying it poses “common sense restrictions to prohibit most abortions after 20 weeks of gestation” based on issues of increased maternal risk and fetal pain.
Brewer also noted the law has other provisions which were not challenged, including requiring the state
Department of Health Services to set up a website that describes the unborn child, including pictures or drawings representing the developing fetus at two-week intervals.
That website also must contain a statement that the father of a child is liable for support payments, even if offered to pay for an abortion as well as agencies that offer alternatives to abortion.
Meanwhile, the NARAL report shows that the 69 anti-abortion laws fell broadly into five separate categories.
…….1. Mandatory ultrasound laws. These laws, now passed by eight states, require a physician to perform an ultrasound on a pregnant women before performing an abortion, even if it is not medically indicated and the woman does not request it.
……..2. Abortion insurance coverage bans. These laws, now passed by 16 states, ban abortion coverage by private health insurers. Some apply to all health insurers in a state, some to the new health “exchanges” that will be created by the Affordable Care Act.
……..3. Nebraska copycat bans. In 2010, Nebraska banned most abortions after 20 weeks gestation, on the contested theory that it marks the point in pregnancy when a fetus can feel pain. So far at least five more states — Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Alabama — have joined Nebraska in enacting similar laws.
……..4. Race and sex selection laws. These are laws that make it a crime for physicians to fail to ensure that abortions are not being done purely for race or gender selection reasons. Arizona passed such a law in March 2011, joining three other states that had older laws already on the books.
……..5. Affiliation bans. These laws seek to bar abortion providers (often, but not exclusively Planned Parenthood) from receiving state funds for family planning or other services. Three states passed new laws in 2011, bringing to 11 the number of states with such laws in place, although four are currently being blocked by court order.