In the Matter of Abortion

The current political scene has (once again) brought the abortion issue to the forefront with the Religious Right loudly proclaiming their “Right to Life” mantra. (This time, they’re even sticking their noses into the use of contraceptives!)

Now they’re pushing for a nation-wide mandate that abortion providers perform an ultrasound on each woman seeking an abortion. This in itself is unnecessary (and costly, around $200) if the woman has made her decision, but they don’t stop there. They also want to require the provider to offer (encourage?) the woman an opportunity to view the image.*

Cal Thomas, syndicated columnist, recently asked this biased question: “Shouldn’t  abortion-seeking women see the life they are about to end?” (I get so frustrated with men sticking their noses into this issue!)

There are several reasons why a woman will choose to have an abortion. The following statistics come from the National Right to Life website:

  • Feels unready for child/responsibility – 25%
  • Feels she can’t afford baby – 23%
  • Has all the children she wants/Other family responsibilities – 19%
  • Relationship problem/Single motherhood – 8%
  • Feels she isn’t mature enough – 7%

From a woman’s point of view (the only one that counts), these are all valid reasons. After all, she’s the one who will be responsible for the major care of the child.

It’s been said that the recent anti-abortion comments made by certain Republican candidates are not “an attack on females.” Oh really? What do they call it?

I’m not going to get into the debate as to when a fetus becomes a ‘real’ human being. That’s way beyond my grade level – and, to my thinking, everyone else’s. But I will stand up for a woman’s right to do what she wants with her body. And no one – male or female – has the right to interfere.

*According to the Guttmacher Institute (a non-profit organization that works to advance abortion rights), seven states — Alabama, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and most recently, Virginia — now have this mandate in force.

ADDENDUM – February 10, 2014

I just came across an excellent blog posting on abortion and God’s will. I urge visitors to check it out at this link. The same writer also wrote the following in another posting on the same subject.

So it’s pretty hard to assert that a developing organism within a womb is a separate human being until it is born and begins to form its own individual experiences of the world. Since men have no existential understanding of what it’s like to be pregnant, a man should not have any say on the issue of whether or not a woman has an abortion unless he is married to the pregnant woman and intends to offer financial and emotional support after the birth. Likewise, a woman should have no say on whether or not a man uses Viagra, unless she is his intimate partner.

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17 thoughts on “In the Matter of Abortion

  1. Nan: The reasons you mentioned make sense. Now, I think the “pro-life” suggestion of adoption is a valid argument. Adoption is not easy to be implemented but quite possible, and it may be an attractive solution to many women. They exercise their rights, and there would be substantially less abortions.
    Sorry for this belated comment.
    I wonder if you find me naive. Have a nice weekend!

    Federico

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    • I have nothing against adoption. In fact, I was adopted. And there are certainly numerous families who would love to adopt an unwanted child.

      However, women have several and varied reasons for not wanting to carry a child to term. And, as I indicated in my post, this should ALWAYS be the woman’s choice. No one has the right to interfere with her decision. Particularly male politicians!

      Contrary to what many believe, most women do not make the decision to abort for frivolous reasons. They know what they are doing. And I would daresay if circumstances were different, they would choose to keep the child. But each woman has her own personal reasons for ending a pregnancy. And, I say again, it is her choice. In the end, she is the one who will have to live with her decision. Not the politician. Not the right-to-life person. Not the world at large.

      Once again, thank you for stopping by and leaving your comments. 🙂

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  2. The big question here is What is a human fetus? If it is a human, then no justification works, if it is not a human, then no justification is needed. But scienfically (ie, the DNA marker) of the fetus defines it as human (just as the DNA at a crime scenes marks the perpretrator as a human.
    All the best in the search for truth

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    • No, the big question is NOT whether or not the fetus is human. The big question is the RIGHT of the woman to make the decision on whether to have an abortion or not.

      I’m fully aware that there are many (and this may even include the pregnant woman!) who believe that abortion is not a “justifiable” act. Nevertheless, when push comes to shove, it is the woman’s choice. She is the one who will live with her decision, not anyone else. Not the right-to-lifers, the government, or even the “father.”

      Thank you for stopping by, John, and leaving your comment on this very highly-charged topic.

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  3. If the fetus is a human, then that human’s rights trump the woman’s. That is why we have laws that protect children. If the fetus is a human, then what difference does a couple inches make with respect to that child’s protection rights? When a mom drowns her infant in a toilet , we consider it murder. Why? Because that HUMAN ought to be protected. If you agree that the fetus is a human, what principled argument do you have against protecting that human in the same way we protect a 1 month old infant?

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    • The keyword in your response is IF. And to that, I ask, who decides? There are those who believe the unborn fetus is human, there are those who don’t. As for me, I stand by what I wrote in the 7th paragraph of my original post:

      I’m not going to get into the debate as to when a fetus becomes a ‘real’ human being. That’s way beyond my grade level – and, to my thinking, everyone else’s. But I will stand up for a woman’s right to do what she wants with her body. And no one – male or female – has the right to interfere.

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  4. Well, as I stated earlier, at crime scenes, the DNA of the perpetrator dictates whether or not it is human. Why is that not adequate evidence for you? Why is not the DNA of a “real human” enough evidence to make it a “real” human. You don’t have to have advance education to understand that; it is clearly understood on current television programs like CSI, etc, as well as courtroom dramas. And if you are unsure, would not it be safer to err on the conservative side? On the side that protects the innocent? I asked for a principled argument. You seem to want to argue: I don’t know what a fetus is, so it doesn’t warrant protection. I am arguing from the position of evidence (the fetus has the DNA of a distinct human; therefore it should be protected like other humans). Help me understand the strength of your argument. If the fetus is a “real” person, as I think is evidenced by DNA, then a woman is doing “something” to someone else’s body; in which case, we (as morally sensitive beings) DO have the right to interfere, in the same way we interfere with child protection from unfit parents.
    All the best.

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    • You claim the fetus is a “real human” because of its DNA (although I find it interesting that you make this claim based on TV programs and courtroom dramas). But what does this mean, really? It simply means the fetus cannot be classified as any species other than homo sapiens.

      Moreover, according to one definition, in order to be “human,” one must be a living or extinct member of the family Hominidae characterized by superior intelligence, articulate speech, and erect carriage. I hardly think this definition fits the fetus.

      Let’s say we were to agree the fetus is a “real human.” I assume this would then mean abortion is murder and all women who have an abortion should go to trial and possibly be sent to jail for murder. Let’s take it a step further and make it personal. If your girlfriend, wife, sister, or any other female close to you chose to have an abortion, would you be willing to send them to prison for murder?

      John, I appreciate your perspective on this matter and I do understand it. However, I stand by my original premise. It is the right of the woman (the “real” human, as characterized by intelligence, speech, and erect carriage) to make this decision. And whether it is the right or wrong decision is not for (conservative members of) society to judge.

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  5. Now you are fudging the definition of human to suit your purpose. If being a human requires superior intelligence, articulate speech and erect carriage, then mentally retarded (lack intelligence), stroke victims (lack articulate speech), and paralyzed persons (lack erect carriage), would not be considered human and eliminating them would be justified.

    I am not using television as my evidence of human-ness, only that my definition (humanness is marked by DNA) is well-understood enough by the common-folk and that is demonstrated by its use in our common public media (television). In other words, we all have the common notion that humanness is marked by a particular DNA “fingerprint.” A fetus has its own DNA fingerprint and, therefore, is a human. And therefore a fetus should be protected as a human.

    You are trying to derail the discussion by creating poignant, compelling examples and potential exceptions. I think it is wrong to steal, but if a starving boy takes an apple from someone, I give the boy grace, but I don’t change my position on stealing. If your father murdered someone (a “real human”), don’t you think he should be punished, or do you think we should eliminate murder from the law books? This is not really an argument. Despite the exceptions and personal implications, the question is whether abortion is morally right or wrong. I still stand by my initial premise: if the fetus IS a human, there can be no justification for getting rid of it; if it is NOT a human, then no justification is needed.

    Your initial principled argument was that a woman should be able to do what she wants with her body; I have reasonably demonstrated that a fetus is not part of her body (he/she is a human by virtue of: unique DNA=unique human). If you do, in fact, agree that a fetus is a “real human,” then what principled reason do you have to NOT protect him/her in the same way we protect children from bad parents?

    Again, I would ask, if there is some doubt, would it not be safer to err on the side of protecting the innocent? In other words, if you are wrong, you are condoning murder of innocent persons. If I am wrong, it only allows for additional persons coming into the world that would not be here otherwise.

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    • I swear! I’m going to stop responding to comments via the “reply” feature on WordPress. I had a comprehensive response all written out and accidentally hit a “wrong” key and poof! It was gone.

      Couple of points I do remember making …

      You are incorrect. The fetus IS part of the woman’s body and entirely dependent on her for survival. A fertilized egg represents a potential. It is not yet a “human” anymore than an acorn is an oak tree or the egg you had for breakfast is a chicken. Thus, there can be no “DNA fingerprint” until it enters this world.

      Proof that the fetus is a “real human” has not been validated by biology, medicine, law, philosophy, or theology.

      It is not a derailment of the discussion to point out that, from your point of view, a woman who has an abortion is a murderer and, based on the rules we live by, she should be judged accordingly. It has nothing to do with moral justification. If it did, then we would, for example, allow a severely abused woman who murders her abusive husband to avoid punishment.

      Until there is a general consensus on this matter, I must stand by my “initial principled argument” that it the right of the woman, based on her personal beliefs, morality, and circumstances, to decide whether or not to have an abortion. Society in general should not be allowed to make this decision for her.

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  6. I think some research here is in order. As soon as a fertilized egg starts replicating, the “thing” has it own DNA; it is the DNA that is fueling cell division, the development of the organs, brain, everything. It has the DNA of a human.; a new, distinct human.

    Yes, I think a woman who has an abortion is ending the life of another human (that is defined as murder, or at least involuntary manslaughter). Biology tells us that the life she is ending is a distinct, new human. I know of no evidence that the unique DNA of a fetus “appears” later. How about this: we define human as the moment that the DNA of a fetus is unique? You seem to want to agree that DNA is a good mark of human-ness. Will you agree to at least rethink your position if there is evidence that early in the womb, a unique person (as marked by unique DNA) is developing that deserves protection?

    “the right of the woman, based on her personal beliefs, morality, and circumstances, to decide whether or not to have an abortion. Society in general should not be allowed to make this decision for her.” This is why the definition of the fetus is so important. If the fetus is a person, then society SHOULD offer the same protection it offers other innocents.

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  7. This discussion could go on forever! But I hope to wind it down with the following.

    Based on your name (“John”), I am assuming you are a male. As such, you will never be able to understand the female’s point of view on this matter. You will never experience what it is like to face the reasons (as listed in my original posting) why a woman would choose to have an abortion. It is easy to sit back and argue the “morality” of abortion, but until you have “been there, done that,” you simply cannot understand the complexity of the matter.

    And finally, even though a woman might totally agree with your perspective, ultimately she is the only one who can decide the course of action she wants to pursue. And whatever decision she makes, she is the one who must live with it.

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  8. Appealing to my gender is not an argument. I could appeal to the women who agree with me. I could appeal to the women that almost had an abortion, but did not and are happy. I could appeal to the women who had an abortion and have been psychologically scarred for life. My wife happens to be one of those latter women, so please don’t think I am not here in the trenches working through these issues. I must assume, then, that you HAVE had an abortion; because otherwise, by dismissing me, you cannot argue one way or another either.

    Yes, I guess this will end the discussion because you really don’t have a principled argument here and, most significantly, and surprisingly, don’t seem willing to entertain one. You are saying that even if it can be shown that the fetus is a human, you don’t think it deserves the same protection as any other human. Based on that “principle,” you have no reason to protect the mentally retarded, the senile, or the severely handicapped. And you have no reason to support child protection laws (those women can have the same reasons for getting rid of their child too; too expensive, not ready, no help, too difficult, etc). Do you see where your principle takes you? That is why I emphasized a “principled” argument. Laws and beliefs should be based on principle, not exception or special cases.

    All the best in your search for truth, justice, and meaning.

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  9. I am not “appealing to gender” as an argument. I simply stated that as a male, you have no idea what a woman experiences when she faces an abortion decision. I’m sorry your wife has suffered from the choice she made. I would venture to say she probably suffered even more when making the decision.

    This is my point. As a general rule, women do not make this decision lightly. In fact, for many, it is a gut-wrenching experience. But when push comes to shove, in the end, it is HER decision. This was the point of my original posting. It is the woman’s body, thus it is her right to choose.

    You are the one who started the discussion on whether the fetus is human or not. If you will reread my original post, you will see that I did not want to debate this issue. I did not want to get into the morality or ethics of abortion. I simply wanted to point out (as the graphic shows) that abortion is a personal decision, not a legal debate.

    One last comment — I am offended by the assumption you made about me … “if it can be shown that the fetus is a human, you don’t think it deserves the same protection as any other human.” I have never said that, nor have I intimated it. The discussion, as I see it, has been centered around the viability of the fetus as human. Since no consensus has been reached, I can’t help but wonder how you can make such an assumption.

    BTW, you are wrong in another assumption. I have never had an abortion. However, I do know women who have gone through this experience and am very familiar with the anguish they go through before they make their decision.

    Best wishes to you … and healing for your wife as well.

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  10. We ARE debating the issue and I still stand by the premise that the MAIN, PRIMARY, AND MOST IMPORTANT issue is defining the fetus. If a fetus is human, then it is NOT the woman’s body, and your entire argument collapses. If the fetus IS a human, it is our OBLIGATION to protect it; therefore abortion is wrong. Where is the fuzziness here?

    I am sorry if I offended you, but I am merely taking your argument to its logical conclusion. If it can be shown that the fetus is a human, and you STILL think it is ok to terminate it’s life, then, to be consistent, you should also agree that there are situations in which it is acceptable to terminate other humans lives. This is just clear thinking. Is that not what discourse is about? Probing ideas to reach the truth? Using clear, rational thinking to validate our beliefs. If I hold an irrational idea, I would hope someone would point out the faulty logic or unclear thinking, to that I might better my thinking.

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  11. The keyword in your posting is “IF” …

    If a fetus is human, then it is NOT the woman’s body, and your entire argument collapses. If the fetus IS a human, it is our OBLIGATION to protect it; therefore abortion is wrong.

    “If” introduces a conditional clause. It is not used when stating facts. There have been no facts presented as to the humanness of the fetus. It has all been hypothetical reasoning on either side. Therefore, we are at a standstill since no proof has been presented.

    What I don’t understand is why you continue to belabor this issue. As I have repeatedly pointed out, my original posting is NOT about the humanity of the fetus. It is about the woman’s right to choose.

    Whether the woman who chooses abortion is committing an immoral act, an act against God, or an act against humanity is not and never has been the crux of my original posting. Therefore, from my perspective, this discussion has reached its end.

    Thank you again for stopping by.

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  12. “there have been no facts”? ….did you forget about the DNA thing? A fetus has the DNA of a unique human. Your original posting may not be about the humanity of the fetus, but the entire abortion issue IS about the humanity of the fetus. I will say it again…a woman’s choice is irrelevant if her fetus is a human (which is what biologists and CSI guys on TV tell us), just as the woman’s choice is irrelevant in the protection of her infant.

    I am sorry if you feel I have hijacked your forum. I think this is an important issue that merits clear thinking.

    Thank you for engaging.

    All the best in your search for truth, justice, and meaning.

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