Abortion


declineEarlier this month the Guttmacher Institute released the latest abortion figures (for 2011), which revealed that the number of abortions in this country have once again began to decline despite the continued growth in population.  In 2011, there were 1.06 million abortions – a 13% decline from 2008.  The 2011 abortion rate also declined 13% from 2008, with 16.9 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44.  Compare this to the 1981 peak of 29.3 abortions per 1,000 women.

There has also been a big shift in the way women procure abortions.  In 2008, 17% of all abortions were performed via chemicals (such as RU-486).  As of 2011, that number increased to 23%.

There are also fewer abortion providers (4% fewer than 2008) and abortion clinics (1% fewer than 2008).

See Abortion Incidence and Service Availability in the United States, 2011 for details.

AZ enacted a law in April 2012 banning abortions at 20 weeks and later (measured from last menstrual period) due to evidence that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks.  This was ruled unconstitutional by the 9th Circuit Appellate Court in San Francisco because Roe protects a women’s right to abortion before a fetus is viable, and a fetus is not viable until ~24 weeks.  The SCOTUS refused to hear the case, and thus the ruling stands.

Judge Kleinfeld, from the 9th Circuit court, had said, “Were the [AZ] statute limited to protecting fetuses from unnecessary infliction of excruciating pain before their death, Arizona might regulate abortions at or after 20 weeks by requiring anesthetization of the fetuses about to be killed, much as it requires anesthetization of prisoners prior to killing them when the death penalty is carried out.”

Paying-Lip-ServiceOne of the reasons many conservative Christians tend to vote for Republican politicians is due to the party’s moral conservatism: pro-life, pro-family.  Several people have argued, however, that this is not a worthwhile reason to vote Republican because most Republican politicians only pay lip service to the pro-life position for political purposes, and/or they don’t really do anything to limit or abolish abortion (or can’t really do anything due to Roe).

I’ve always found the psychoanalysis claim to be dubious. It’s very difficult to prove that someone does not truly believe what they say they believe. Pro-life Republicans could make the same claims about pro-choice Democrats: They don’t really believe abortion should be permitted, but pay lip service to the pro-choice position for political purposes.  I think it’s best to avoid the psychoanalysis, and just take people at their word unless we have good reason to doubt their sincerity.

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I’ve heard a few prolife thinkers take the position that it is wrong to use the biological tissue of aborted fetuses for medicinal purposes on the grounds that such a practice would encourage additional abortions.  I’m not sure I agree with this line of reasoning, however.  Consider the practice of using the organs of those killed by homicide.  Should we be opposed to this on the grounds that it will encourage additional homicides?  Surely not.  The motivation for homicide is not to provide a fresh supply of organs for the born, but hatred for the individual who was murdered.  Nobody commits murder so that they can increase the number of organs available for transplantation; therefore, there is no reason to believe that using the organs of homicide victims will increase the number of homicides in the future.  By the same token, the motivation for abortion is not to provide additional biological tissue to help the born, but because people do not want the children they conceived.  While an unborn child should never be killed, if and when an unborn child has been killed, I see no ethical problem in using its tissues to aid the born.  After all, one is not doing evil (abortion) to accomplish some good (helping the sick), but trying to find some good (helping the sick) from an evil (abortion) they cannot prevent.

At least, these were my thoughts prior to reading more deeply into some of the arguments presented by those who oppose the use of aborted fetal tissues.  After having delved a bit more into the arguments, I’ve changed my thinking.  It think it is more reasonable to avoid the medical use of aborted fetal tissues.

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According to The New York Times, there are 2500 crisis pregnancy centers in the United States versus 1800 abortion clinics.  For those who think that pro-lifers aren’t doing anything to help women with their babies, think again.

In March of this year, China’s health ministry released abortion data.  Approximately 13 million abortions are performed in China every year.  That’s 25 abortions every minute!  They estimate that since 1971, ~325 million abortions have been performed.  That’s the population of the United States.  Tragic!

Russia is experiencing a population problem.  Putin has hired Boyz II Men ahead of Valentine’s Day to get the Russians in the mood for baby-making!  As Daniel Halper at The Weekly Standard quipped, he should have hired a pro-life organization instead.  In Russia, for every 10 babies born 13 more are aborted.  That is a staggeringly high abortion rate (for comparison, in the U.S. “only” 2.5 babies are aborted for every 10 babies born).  More babies are killed than born!

Russia will never fix its population problem until it fixes its culture of death that devalues unborn human life.

MaryElizabethWilliamsMary Elizabeth Williams recently wrote at Salon that

when we try to act like a pregnancy doesn’t involve human life, we wind up drawing stupid semantic lines in the sand: first trimester abortion vs. second trimester vs. late term, dancing around the issue trying to decide if there’s a single magic moment when a fetus becomes a person. Are you human only when you’re born? Only when you’re viable outside of the womb? Are you less of a human life when you look like a tadpole than when you can suck on your thumb? … It seems absurd to suggest that the only thing that makes us fully human is the short ride out of some lady’s vagina. That distinction may apply neatly legally, but philosophically, surely we can do better.

If you are cheering on Ms. Williams as an articulate pro-life apologist, you would be mistaken.  She is a card-carrying member in the pro-abortion cause.  What makes her rather unique among her peers is that she admits “life begins at conception,” and yet also fully supports a woman’s right to kill that human being because “all life is not equal.”

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Daniel Williams has written a nice piece on how Roe v. Wade affected the pro-life movement.  While many think that Roe gave rise to a substantive pro-life movement, this is not true to history.  Williams notes the following facts:

  • The pro-life movement witnessed a string of legislative victories to curtail or outlaw abortion in 1971 and 1972.  They defeated abortion bills in all 25 states who considered them in 1971.  In 1972, voters defeated abortion initiatives in MI and ND by large margins.
  • Abortion became legal in CA and CO in 1967.
  • In 1970, four states legalized abortion for virtually any reason up to the 20th or 24th week of pregnancy
  • There were 586,760 abortions in 1972, the year before Roe was decided. In 1973, the number of legal abortions rose 28% to 750,000.  By 1980 the number reached 1.5 million.
  • When Roe was decided, 19 states permitted abortion, and 4 of those 19 allowed abortion-on-demand.
  • White women used to constitute the majority of those obtaining abortion (75% in 1973), but now poor, minority women constitute the majority (55% in 2008).
  • Several courts had recognized the unborn to be persons prior to Roe declaring this to be a wrong reading of the Constitution.

What would you say if I told you that a politician supported a man’s legal right to physically abuse his wife under any circumstance, but is “a pro-woman hero” because his policies will help undermine the root causes of spousal abuse?  You’d say I was nuts, right?  Well, this same sort of argument is made all the time when it comes to pro-abortion politicians.

Eric C. Miller seems to have drunk this same Kool-Aid.  The title of my post is the title of his article in Religion Dispatches Magazine.  The title is as oxymoronic as “Adolph Hitler, Zionism Hero” or “Chick-fil-A, PETA hero.”  How does one come to the conclusion that the most pro-abortion president this nation has ever seen is actually a pro-life hero?  Birth control.

President Obama’s “Obamacare” will require all health insurance companies to cover contraceptives free of charge.  And according to a recent study by researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine, access to free birth control can reduce unintended pregnancies by up to 75%.  Miller reasons that since virtually all abortions are due to unintended pregnancies, access to free contraception will lower the number of unintended pregnancies, and thus severely lower the abortion rate.

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Elections tell you a lot about the worldview of Americans.  Last night’s election is no exception.  It reveals a lot about our moral views.  This election reveals that our nation has become very accepting of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, as well as smoking pot.

Homosexuality and Same-Sex Marriage

Wisconsin elected the first openly gay U.S. Senator.  Maine (53% vs. 47%) and Maryland (52% vs. 48%) voted to support the legalization of same-sex marriage.  Maryland voters merely confirmed their support of a law allowing same-sex marriage that was recently signed into law by the governor.  Maine chimed in on this same issue in 2009 after their legislature passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, and they rejected same-sex marriage with 53% of the vote.  Look how quickly public opinion is shifting!

The significance of what happened in Maine and Maryland cannot be underestimated.  This is the first time in history that same-sex marriage has been approved by the people of a state as opposed to the courts or legislature.

Washington also had an initiative to legalize same-sex marriage (same-sex marriage was already legal in all but name).  Only half of the votes have been counted thus far, but at present 52% have voted in favor of same-sex marriage, and thus it is likely to become legal there as well.  If so, nine states will have laws allowing same-sex marriage.

Minnesota tried to change their constitution to limit marriage to a man and a woman, but the initiative was defeated 51% to 48%.  The measure’s defeat, however, does not mean that same-sex marriage is legal.  It’s just not on the books as being illegal.

On the international front, France is now in the process of trying to legalize same-sex marriage there.  If it passes, they will become the 12th country in the world where same-sex couples can marry.  And yesterday, Spain’s high court upheld a 2005 law that legalized same-sex marriage.

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This is crazy.  A mentally handicapped women is pregnant.  While both she and her parents want to give birth the baby and give it up for adoption (6 couples are already waiting to adopt the baby), a judge is considering forcing her to have an abortion and undergo sterilization.  Outrageous!

In my opinion, abortion is the greatest moral issue of our day.  Nothing is more unjust than depriving innocent human beings of their God-given, inalienable right to life simply because we are inconvenienced by them.  For that reason, the issue of abortion figures prominently in my political affiliations and the way I vote.  While I am not a one-issue voter, and while I do not think it is always wrong to vote for a pro-choice political candidate (there are some political offices for which one’s personal views on abortion are irrelevant on a practical level), I will almost always vote for the pro-life candidate even if I have fundamental disagreements with him on other matters.  It’s not that I think economic issues do not matter, or that foreign policy does not matter, but that I think the moral injustice of abortion is much more important than these others. 

That is why I was disheartened to read the results of two polls which sought to determine what voters think the most important issues are when choosing the candidates they will give their vote to.  

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While dialoguing with a friend on the topic of abortion, I was asked how I define abortion.  After communicating my own definition of abortion, I thought it would be interesting to see how various dictionaries define it.  Needless to say, I was amazed at how inaccurate and politically correct the definitions were.  Here are a few: 

Dictionary.com
Abortion:

  1. The removal of an embryo or fetus from the uterus in order to end a pregnancy.
  2. Any of various surgical methods for terminating a pregnancy, especially during the first six months.

Interestingly, there is no mention of the fate of the unborn baby.  Instead, the focus is on the “pregnancy” and terminating that pregnancy.  

The first six months?  How is that relevant to the definition?  If a child is killed in utero at seven months, that is also called an abortion.  

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Gallupreleased the results of their annual abortion questionnaire yesterday.  Since 1995 they have been asking Americans whether they identify as “pro-life” or “pro-choice.”  When they asked the question in 1995, 56% of Americans considered themselves pro-choice and 33% pro-life.  In 2012 the situation is nearly reversed with 50% identifying as pro-life and 41% as pro-choice. 

Often in questionnaires about abortion people’s true positions get blurred by the legal vs. moral distinction.  For example, someone may be opposed to abortion morally, but think people should have a legal right to an abortion.  Such a person could rightly identify as either pro-choice or pro-life.  To truly gauge people’s views on abortion we need to separate the legal question from the moral question. Gallupdid just that, asking people what they thought of the morality of abortion, apart from whether or not they think it should be legal.  The result was 51% saying they thought abortion was morally wrong, while only 38% thought it was morally acceptable. 

 

It’s 1856.  The American presidential race is on.  What would you say to me if I told you that I am opposed to slavery, but was prepared to vote for a political candidate who personally supported it, or who was part of a political party whose platform included support for it?

While there would be no reason to question the sincerity of my personal belief/position, one would be thoroughly justified in questioning the level of my concern and the propriety of my political priorities.  If candidates’ economic and foreign policy was more influential in determining my vote, then slavery ranks low on my totem poll of priorities.  While I say I am morally outraged that society would permit the use of human beings as property, my political choices indicate that my concerns lie elsewhere.  After all, how could one be genuinely concerned for the welfare of African Americans while at the same time supporting political parties and political candidates whose platform includes the enslavement of African Americans?

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Bioethics is a strange field.  Not only are there no objective qualifications for being a bioethicist, but one need not even hold views that are deemed ethical by most morally sane people.  Indeed, it seems that the field of bioethics consists primarily of liberals who hold to a utilitarian philosophy of ethics in which almost everything is permissible.  That is why you can have bioethicists advocating infanticide in respectable bioethics journals like the Journal of Medical Ethics.  Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva wrote an article for the journal titled “After-birth Abortion: Why Should the Baby Live?”[1] that appeared online February 23, 2012.

The abstract reads:

Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.

While I disagree vehemently with their reasoning and conclusion, this is where the arguments for abortion logically lead one to.  The authors recognize that birth is a trivial and subjective dividing line for determining who is valuable and who is not; who can be killed and who cannot.

HT: Wesley Smith


[1]J Med Ethics doi:10.1136/medethics-2011-100411.

Scott Klusendorf is the best pro-life apologist out there.  No one can say as much as Scott can say in as little space and as eloquently as he can.  He wrote an essay for the Christian Research Journal addressing five questions often asked of pro-life advocates and the pro-life movement:

  1. Are pro-life advocates focused too narrowly on abortion? After all, informed voters consider many issues, not just one.
  2. Why don’t pro-life advocates care about social justice both here and in developing countries?
  3. Why don’t pro-lifers oppose war like they do abortion?
  4. Instead of passing laws against abortion, shouldn’t pro-life Christians focus on reducing its underlying causes?
  5. Should pastors challenge church members who support a political party sworn to protect elective abortion?

It’s worth checking out his answers.  It is not a long piece, and he provides some great answers to ponder.

In California, minors are no longer able to use tanning beds even if they have their parent’s consent, but of course they can still obtain abortions even without their parent’s consent.

This is where a culture of death leads to: believing that people with disabilities are better off dead, and suing doctors for “wrongful life.” This is what happens when you stop believing humans have intrinsic value, and when selfishness becomes a virtue.

This is reminiscent of the Nazi idea of a “life unworthy of life.” When we think we are being more merciful by killing people with handicaps, we have become a very sick society. Can you imagine if this boy ever finds out about this: that his mother would have rather aborted him and sued the doctor for allowing him to be born?

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