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Birth Control or Legal Murder?
One View on Abortion
Jon M. Shane
Topics in Political Science
Professor Alex Keosky
March 23, 2001 “The women of this Nation still retain the liberty to control their destinies. But the signs are evident and very ominous, and a chill wind blows.”
– Justice Harry A. Blackmun, dissenting opinion
Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, 1989
“The justification for abortion has always been the claim that a woman can do with her own body what she will. If you still believe that this four-fifths-delivered little baby is a part of the woman’s body, then I am afraid your ignorance is invincible.”
- Congressman Henry J. Hyde, September 19, 1996
Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote of adultery in The Scarlet Letter, but the “A” word these days is abortion. People often break off friendships, ostracize each other, and are intolerant of others’ opinions on the subject. In Roman times, abortion and the destruction of unwanted children was permissible, but as our civilization has aged, it seems that such acts were no longer acceptable by rational human beings, so much so that in 1948, Canada along with most other nations in the world signed a declaration of the United Nations promising every human being the right to life. The World Medical Association meeting in Geneva, at the same time, stated that the utmost respect for human life was to be from the moment of conception. This declaration was reaffirmed when the World Medical Association met in Oslo in 1970. Should we go backwards in our concern for the life of an individual human being?
The unborn human is still a human life and not all the wishful thinking of those advocating continuance of abortion laws, can alter this. Those who would seek to protect the human who is still too small to cry aloud for it’s own protection, have been accused of having a 19th century approach to life in the 21st century. But who in reality is using arguments of a bygone century? It is an incontrovertible fact of biological science – make no mistake – that from the moment of conception, a new human life has been created. Why is it that if an infant is destroyed a month before the birth, there is no problem, but if killed a month after birth, it is inhumane murder? It is morally and strategically foolish, because we lose the middle when we talk about reproductive rights without reference to a larger moral and spiritual dimension, and we are unwilling to use language like transgression and redemption, or right and wrong.
Only those who allow their emotional passion to override their knowledge, can deny it: only those who are irrational or ignorant of science, doubt that when a human sperm fertilizes a human ovum a new human being is created. A new human being who carries genes in its cells that make that human being uniquely different from any other human being and, undeniably, a member of the great human family. All the fetus needs to grow into a baby, a child, an old man, is time, nutrition and a suitable environment. It is determined at that very moment of conception whether the baby will be a boy or a girl; which of its parents it will look like; what blood type it will have. Its entire heritage is forever fixed. Look at a human being eight weeks after conception and you, yes every person who can tell the difference between a man and a woman, will be able to look at the fetus and discern whether it is a boy or a girl. No, a fetus is not just another part of a woman’s body like an appendix or appendage. These so-called appendages, these perfectly formed tiny hands and feet belong to a ten-week developed baby, not to his or her mother.
The fetus is distinct and different and has its own heart beat. Most do not know that a fetus’ heart begins beating just eighteen days after this new life was created, beating before the mother even knew she was pregnant. After three months of pregnancy the developing baby is just small enough to be held in the palm of a man’s hand, but look closely at this three-month-old fetus. All the organs are formed and all the systems are working. The fetus swims, moves freely, and excretes urine. If you inject a sweet solution into the water around it, they will swallow because they like the taste. Inject a bitter solution and they will not swallow because they don’t like the taste. By sixteen weeks it is obvious to all, except those who have eyes but deliberately do not see, that this is a young human being.
Who chooses life or death for this little one, since abortion is the taking of a human life? This fact is undeniable. If abortion is the taking of a human life and yet sincere misguided people feel that it should be just a personal matter between a women and the doctor, there seems to be two choices: First that they would believe that other acts of destruction of human beings such as infanticide and homicide should not be of society’s concern and therefore, eliminate them from the criminal code. I do not believe this is the preeminent thought of the majority, although the tendency for doctors to respect the selfish desire of parents and not treat the newborn defective with a necessary lifesaving measure, is becoming increasingly more common. And second, the only conclusion available to us is that those pressing for repeal of the abortion laws believe that there are different sorts of human beings and that by some arbitrary standard, they can place different values on the lives of these human beings. Of course, different human beings have different values to each of us as individuals: my mother means more to me than she does to you. But the right to life of all human beings is undeniable. I do not consider this negotiable.
It is easy to be concerned with the welfare of those whom we know and love, while regarding everybody else as less important and somehow, less real. Most people would rather hear of the death of thousands in the flooding disasters of Bangladesh than of a serious accident involving a close friend or favorite relative. That is why some are less disturbed by the slaughter of thousands of unborn children than by the personal problems of a pregnant woman across the street. To rationalize this double standard, they pretend to themselves that the unborn child is a less valuable human life because it has no active social relationships and can therefore, be disposed of by others who have an arbitrary standard of their own for the value of a human life.
I agree that the fetus has not developed its full potential as a human being: but who has? Nor will any of us have reached that point: the point of perfect “humaness,” when we die. Because some of us may be less far along the path than others, does not give others the right to kill us. But those in favor of abortion, assume that they have that right, the capriciousness notwithstanding. To say that a ten-week fetus has less value than a baby, means also that one must consider a baby of less value than a child, a young adult of less value than an old man. Surely one cannot believe this and still be civilized?
A society that does not protect its individual members is on the lowest scale of civilized society. One of the measures of a more highly civilized society is that society’s attitude toward its weaker members. If the poor, the sick, the disabled, the mentally ill, the helpless are not protected, that society is not as advanced as a society where they are protected. “All humans have the same right to live compared to other humans; whether rich, poor, majority or minority, this being deserves the same chance we were all given.” The more mature the society, the more respect for the dignity and rights of all human beings. The function of the laws of any society is to protect and provide for all members so that no individual or group of individuals can be victimized by another individual group.
In 1969, the abortion laws were changed in Canada, so that it became legal for a doctor to perform an abortion if a committee of three other doctors in an accredited hospital deemed that continuation of the pregnancy constituted a severe threat to the life and health, mental or physical of the women. A threat to health was not defined and so it is variously interpreted to mean very real medical disease to anything that interferes with even social or economic well being, so that any unwanted or unplanned pregnancy thus qualifies. What really is the truth about the lasting effect of an unwanted pregnancy on the psyche of a woman? According to John L. Grady, former Medical Examiner for Florida State Attorney General’s Office, “I believe it can be stated with certainty that abortion causes more deep-seated guilt, depression and mental illness than it ever cures.”
Are there any medical indications for abortion? Is it valid for a doctor to cooperate in the choice for abortion? The late Dr. Allen Guttmacher, one of the world leaders of the pro-abortion movement, stated: “Almost any women can be brought through pregnancy alive unless she suffers from cancer or leukemia, in which case abortion is unlikely to prolong her life much less save it.” And on rape? As an opponent of abortion, I readily agree, as will those who are pro-choice, that pregnancy resulting from rape or incest is a tragedy. Rape is a detestable crime, but no sane reasoning can place the slightest blame on the unborn child it might produce. Incest is, if it is possible, even worse, but for centuries, traditional Jewish law clearly stated, that if a father sins against his daughter (incest) that does not justify a second crime – the abortion of the product of that sin. The act of rape or incest is a major emotional and physical trauma to the young girl or women. Should we compound the psychic scar already inflicted on the mother by having the guilt of destroying a living being which was at least half her own? Throughout history, pregnant women who for one crime or another were sentenced to death, were given a stay of execution until after the delivery of the child: it being the contention of the courts that one could not punish the innocent child for the crime of the mother. Can we punish it for a crime against the mother?
By some peculiar trick of adult logic, proponents of abortion talk about fetal indications. Whatever abortion may do for the mother, it obviously cannot be therapeutic for the fetus. Death is hardly a constructive therapy. There is no evidence to indicate that an infant with congenital or birth defects would rather not be born since he or she cannot be consulted. This evidence might exist if suicides were common among people with congenital disabilities. However, to the contrary, these people seem to value life, since the incidence of suicide is less than that of the general population. Can we choose death for another while life is all we ourselves know?
Methods are being developed to diagnose certain defects in the infants of mothers at risk before the infant is born. The fluid around the fetus can be sampled and tested in a very complex fashion. If we kill infants with confidential defects before they are born, why not after birth, why not any human being we declare defective? It is no surprise of course for many to learn that in hospitals across the North American continent such decisions affecting the newborn and the very elderly or those with incurable disease, are being made. Incidentally, what is a defect? What is a congenital defect? Hitler considered being one-quarter Jewish a congenital defect incompatible with the right to life? Perhaps you have heard this timeless anecdote:
One doctor saying to another doctor, “About the termination of a pregnancy, I want your opinion: the father was syphilitic (venereal disease). The mother, tuberculous (small lumps on skin). Of the four children born, the first was blind, the second died, the third was deaf and dumb, the fourth also tuberculous. What would you have done?” “I would have ended the pregnancy.” “Then you would have murdered Beethoven.”
Tragically, approximately 1.6 million murders are committed legally each year; there have been more than 38 million abortions in the twenty-eight years since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized unrestricted abortion on January 22, 1973. Other sources cite more than 40 million. This is almost a third of the number of live babies born during the same time. With the exception of laws in few states, the mutilated bodies of the victims are thrown into dumpsters like rotten garbage. While these victims lay waiting in these maggot-infested trash bins to be hauled off to a landfill, the murderers are in their offices waiting for their next patient–the accomplice to the murder. This is the murder of an innocent child by a procedure known as abortion. People must no longer ignore the scientific evidence that life begins at the moment of conception. People can no longer ignore the medical and emotional problems an abortion causes women. People must stop denying the facts about the procedure, and start hearing the silent screams of unborn children.
The argument by the pro-choice side is that the unborn child is not truly a child. Many people who are pro-choice justify their beliefs through the concept that a fetus is only a blob of tissue until it is born, or through the statement: life begins at birth. Abortion is not as simple as removing a “blob of tissue” (as the pro-choice activists put it) from a woman’s body. Abortion is the destruction, dismembering and killing of a human life–an unborn baby. “But it is scientific and medical fact based on experimental evidence, that a fetus is a living, growing, thriving human being, directing his or her own development.” A fetus is snot just a blob of tissue. Rather fetus is Latin for “offspring or young one.” Human life begins at fertilization. Therefore, it is wrong to murder the innocent child in the womb. Many internationally-known geneticists and biologists have testified that human life begins at conception. In 1981 (April 23-24) a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee held hearings on the very question: When does human life begin? Dr. Hymie Gordon of the Mayo clinic testified “‘ . . . by all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception;” Dr. McCarthy de Mere testified “. . .the exact moment of the beginning of personhood and of the human body is at the moment of conception.”
Not only has science proven that a fetus is truly a human, the simple facts also confer that abortion kills the life of a human being. Life begins at conception because of the fact that life in the womb does not change at birth. There are no special procedures or changes that occur during birth to magically change the fetus to a baby. It is already a baby–a human life.”If a fertilized egg is not by itself a full human being it could not become one, because nothing is added to it,” said Dr. Jerome Lejeune; Dr. Lejeune is regarded as the “Father of Modern Genetics.” He testified before the Louisiana Legislature’s House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice on June 7, 1990, that human life begins at conception. Most all of the development takes place before one is born. Of the forty-five generations of cell divisions before adulthood, forty-one have taken place before a person is born.
Fertilization is just the beginning of a long process of growing and maturing. “Life in a continuum. From the moment the egg is fertilized a new life has begun. All of the genetic information is present to construct a unique individual. Gender, physical features, eye color have already been determined. The baby’s heart begins beating regularly at twenty-four days. Babies in the womb hiccup, cry, play, and learn.” Life continues from the day of fertilization until death. Nothing is added to a person during a lifetime. “Conception confers life and makes that life one of a kind,” said Dr. Landrum Shettles father of in vitro fertilization. The day of conception marks the beginning of a new human life.
Scientific and medical facts have proven that the fetus is living. Scientists have proven that the fetus is a person, and functions separate from the mother. According to (almost universal) law murder is wrong, therefore it should be unlawful to kill an unborn child. The child in the womb deserves the right to life. The fetus is a real human being and deserves all the rights and freedom given to people under the Constitution. This right is evident as conferred by the Fourteenth Amendment, which states:
“. . .nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Abortion denies babies equal protection under the law. Thomas Jefferson stated human rights best when he wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” All unborn babies have the same right to life guaranteed to those born humans under the constitution. No other person has the right to take away the unborn child’s life, no matter what the situation.
Many argue that most of the babies that are aborted are unwanted babies anyway. They believe that, if born, they would be abused and neglected. This is why, to them, abortion is okay. They believe abortion is saving the child from a life of abuse, neglect and delinquency. Abortion, however, is the most severe form of child abuse. The procedures are painful to the child and intentionally end in death (except in cases where the procedure results in a living child). “About once a day, somewhere in the US, something goes wrong and an abortion results in a live baby.” The fetus is alive and does have the capacity to feel the painful abortion procedure. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that after nine weeks unborn babies can feel pain, yet forty-eight per cent of all abortions are done after this point. The ultra sound shows the baby struggling to survive. Abortion doctors such as Joseph Randall admit that seeing the abortion “. . . of the baby on the ultra sound bothered me more than anything else. The staff couldn’t take it. Women were never allowed to see the ultra sound.” Women should be allowed to see this. They should see the struggling of the life they are killing.
Then, of course, there is the most controversial form of abortion, the partial-birth abortion. Using an ultra sound the abortionist grabs the baby’s legs with forceps and pulls them out into the birth canal. The abortionist then delivers the entire baby except for the head and continues by jamming scissors into the baby’s skull. The scissors are then opened to enlarge the hole. The scissors are removed and a suction is inserted. The baby’s brains are sucked out causing the skull to collapse. The dead baby is then removed (i.e., Partial). The fetus can certainly feel pain because it is alive and growing like a human. Something inanimate cannot feel pain. If one crushes a soda can as the abortionist crushes a baby’s skull, the soda can feels no pain because it is not living. Not so in the case of baby.
Abortion is one of the primary social issues facing American society today. This issue, like many, forces people to take sides against each other, impacts peoples’ voting decisions, and more tragically compels some people to kill. Abortion should no longer be legal. It is rapidly becoming a form of birth control. No longer must women worry about protection, for if they conceive a child, they can choose to take its life.
Abortion does concern all of us, not just mother and doctor. People need to start caring for the women who are hurting as a result of an abortion, and women who are struggling over the decision. Professionals must present the facts, and work at making the conditions better for women, because eighty-four per cent would keep their babies under better circumstances. America needs to open their ears to the screams of the 1.6 million babies murdered each year. “[Eventually] the pro- life movement will win, because when you hold up a picture of a six-month-old fetus being stabbed in the neck and all you say is ‘choice, choice, choice’ you are going to lose.”
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