Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Views on Abortion

In responding to this post on abortion by columnist, Amy Alkon, I was libeled as a "religious nut job" by one of her other readers. I left a comment in response. I'd like to repost the gist of it here, as I feel it is important to publicly state one's views on controversial issues.

I firmly believe that human life begins at conception, when the sperm fertilizes the egg. I make this based on science and logic rather than religion. For when this occurs, if it isn't human life (admittedly in its very rudimentary stage) then what kind of life is it? The makings of a kitten perhaps? Or maybe a frog?

Be honest with yourself and get real. In the same way that a newborn baby is the precursor to a 1 year old, so is a 7 month old fetus the precursor to a newborn baby. And so is the solitary cell at conception the precursor to a 7 month old fetus. If anyone can fault the logic of this, I'd love to hear it!

With all that said, I do not agree with the Sarah Palins of the world that all abortions should be prohibited. Make no mistake though, I very much respect the moral consistency of their beliefs - essentially that all pregnancies are God's will. I just don't agree with them.

I was raised as a Roman Catholic but began questioning some of the teachings in my teens. One of the biggest questions I could not get a suitable answer for was this: "If a woman is raped and gets pregnant, is that God's will?" I could simply not get past my belief that no benevolent God would ever expect a woman to carry through with such an unwanted pregnancy, forced upon her through violence.

Further to that, I've also come to realize that women and/or couples may not want to carry through with a pregnancy for many reasons. And so I've come to the conclusion that a pregnant woman should be allowed to have an abortion in the first trimester for any reason, no questions asked.

In the 2nd trimester, I believe she should have to get permission from a doctor. And I have no problem if the law states that she must first watch a government sanctioned presentation which shows the pros and cons of having an abortion ... and then she has to wait for 48 hours.

In the 3rd trimester, I believe that something more stringent than just permission from a solitary doctor is needed. Perhaps a panel of doctors and some others from different walks of life.

I believe this proposal to be well thought out, moderate, and balanced.

Contrast it with the likes of one commenter on Alkon's blog who stated that "human life is not sacred until the moment a child draws breath". If one believes this then that means that a perfectly healthy mother with a perfectly healthy fetus and no expected complications would be perfectly fine to abort her baby 5 minutes before she is due to give birth. Such a viewpoint is sickening to me and I bet to most other people in our society. It is not balanced whatsoever but more a reflection of the Radical Left's hatred toward Fundamentalist Christians. A society should never create policies based on hatred.


Hillary said...

and as a "PS" - I googled "abortion statistics rape" and found a widely cited statistic for abortions because of rape or incest to be about 1% of all abortions, and a number of statistical reviews that showed that that figure is possibly even lower.

Hillary said...

Here's the comment (more or less) that blogger ate yesterday...

I know you emailed me a while back about my views on abortion. I'm sorry that I never got back to you. In all honesty, I probably won't be able to, as there are a lot of things I still have to think through and just won't have the time before I go to Africa. But you posted your views here, and I felt compelled to comment.

I agree with you 100% that life begins at conception. And I also agreee with you that hate is NEVER the right (or most effective) way to get your point accross, especially when you say you are all about promoting life. Then why do things that bring death, whether it's physical or the death of peace, of good relationships, of those things which bring life?

But there is something here that just doesn't add up for me. Basically (and yes, there are exceptions) there are two general views on abortion:

1. Life begins at birth, and a fetus is a part of a woman's body, therefore the choice is entirely hers what she does with her own body (and hence abortions are a woman's choice), or

2. Life begins at conception, and a fetus is a human life. If it were a human being outside the womb, the choice to willingly end the life another human being without that human's consent is what we would tend to define as murder. If a fetus is a human life, then how is abortion not willfully ending another human being's life without their consent?

If a human is a human from the momet of conception, and birth is not the defining moment of humanity, then where does a woman's decision stop?

You say that in the third trimester there should be a consultation with a panel of multicultural doctors.

But what about a five year old child? Maybe their parents go bankrupt and can no longer care for her. Maybe they just find the burden of parenthood to not fit in with their desired lifestyle. Maybe they discover that the child has a rare genetic deisease that would severly limit her lifespan. What then? A consultation with a larger panel of doctors, from more diverse backgrounds? Then what? They decide to end her life???

That's ridiculous, and I belive that you would agree. "There are programs and services available to help that family, to help that child," you'd say. And you'd be right. And the same programs and services are available for the child that would be born, had it not been aborted. There are so many other options to abortion.

So why not end the life of that five year old child? Well I'm sure that you'd say that the choice to end that life would end at birth. But if human life is human life from the moment of coneption, what about birth makes that limit? Why is it ok before but not after? Just because they're no longer attatched by an umbillical cord???

Admittedly, the argument about pregnancies resulting from rape or incest is a very difficult question - one I don't have an answer to. Who knows... maybe there should be exceptions for those cases? But even still I have a VERY difficult time with that, and am still not at all comfortable with ending a human life - for ANY reason. But also, as the stats I talked about earlier show, these cases are by FAR the minority. It's widely reported that only around 1% of abortions are because of rape or incest, and there are arguments that that number may be even lower.

I can see where the two major points of view are coming from (though I agree with one and not with the other): either (a) a fetus is a part of a woman's body, so the choice is the woman's what to do with it or (b) a fetus is a human life, so choosing to end it should never be our choice.

But what I hear you saying is that yes, a fetus is a human being, but still, it's ok to end that life.

What surprises me in your view, though, is that you say that yes, a fetus is a human life, but yet it's still perfectly ok to decide to end that life, at times "for any reason, no questions asked."

To me, it just doesn't add up. This is probably the most troubling stance on abortion that I've ever heard.

Pelalusa said...


Thank you for your comment. Interesting throughout. Though I must question your last comment toward me. Mine is the most troubling stance you've ever heard on abortion? Please read that Amy Alkon posting I linked to. There are people on there who adamantly feel that an abortion anytime (even 5 minutes before a perfectly health birth would occur) is fine with them.

Growing up a Roman Catholic, I once did have a firm pro-Life stance. But then the question of rape and incest came up. I go back to what I said before: I do not believe that any benevolent God would ever expect a woman (or girl) to carry through with a pregnancy under those circumstances.

So my efforts here are to effect a compromise that most people can live with. Pro-Life advocates must understand that they will NEVER get their way because too many people absolutely disagree with them.

Let me throw another abortion example at you:

Imagine a mother of 8 starving children in Africa who has a husband whose religion adamantly doesn't believe in abortion. She gets pregnant again. Can anyone condemn her if she has an abortion? Yes, a human life is being killed but perhaps the chance of others surviving is heightened.

Now let me throw some non-abortion examples at you:

1. If a ferry hits something and starts to sink and there are only enough usable lifeboats for 50% of the people, is it murder for the crew to pick & choose who gets on?

2. If a terrorist is believed to have information about a pending nuclear bomb going off, is it wrong to torture him and then threaten to kill his family (possibly doing so) in order to save millions of lives?

As I stated, these are not at all related to abortion. But hopefully they will show that difficult decisions sometimes have to be made and in the process human life is lost.

In summary, I do appreciate you responding. You make some interesting points. I simply don't concur with your assessment of my views on this subject being "the most troubling" you've ever heard.

Mark said...

Hi Rob,

I usually don’t comment on these issues because I’ve found that most of the time people’s emotions get in the way and what should be a debate degenerates into a name-calling debacle.

However the points both you and Hillary bring up appear to be reasoned and so I’ll make a few comments, mainly because this is one time when I don’t agree with everything you’ve said – usually I just find myself nodding along to your opinions because they mirror mine so closely.

The entire issue is complex, so I’ll stick to just a few points.

1) Hillary’s comment about your stance being the most troubling she’s heard is interesting to me because I’ve heard many different views that are much more troubling. Visit just about anywhere on the Internet where the abortion debate is brought up and you don’t have to look far to see very extreme views. Your view is actually quite moderate in the general scheme of things. So either Hillary is quite insulated from the debate or I don’t really understand what she meant.

2) If human life begins at conception (which I believe), then abortion is murder. I can see how those who don’t believe that life begins at conception can advocate abortion, but I’m not sure how anyone who believes the life at conception thing can do so unless he or she thinks murder of innocent life is okay in some cases.

3) Regarding the rape/incest issue, I would pose this question: If a woman is raped and confined by the rapist against her will until the child is born, then rescued right after that, should the child be killed? If not, then I have a hard time understanding why it would be okay to abort that same child if the mother was rescued before the child was born.

4) The ferry example is not murder. It’s not a willful termination of life. The crew is not picking people to die, rather they are picking people to live. Abortion is picking a person to die.

5) The terrorist example is also not murder. If someone is going to cause harm to others, it is in society’s best interest to stop him – even if it means his death. However killing a terrorist’s family (assuming they are not helping him) is murder. Perhaps that is something people are willing to do because it will save millions of innocent lives and perhaps its not. However aborting a baby has never, to my knowledge, resulted in saving millions of people – and even if it did, it would still be murder, the question would then turn to whether it was justified or not.

6) Regarding the mother of the starving children, would it be okay to kill some of the 8 who are alive so that the remainder have a better chance of survival? Perhaps. But that would be murder because those children aren’t willfully out to hurt anyone, unlike the terrorist.

When I think of this subject, I try to look at it logically and distill the facts down to their essentials.

If we all agree on certain axioms (such as life begins at conception), then a life is a life is a life. Fetus life should be viewed no differently than newborn baby life or any other life (btw, my use of the term "murder" is not used in a legal sense, but rather in a common sense).


Pelalusa said...


Interesting comments all. Thank you.

Perhaps I would have made a stronger case if I had said, "Society is made up of a diverse group of people with a variety of viewpoints. It is clear today that there is absolutely no consensus on when life actually begins. So in the interest of a common public policy that many people can agree on, I suggest that ..."

Let me also add the moral cohesiveness of your arguments, those of Hillary, and those of Sarah Palin I can not dispute in any way. In other words, all 3 of you believe that life begins at conception and that human life is paramount above all other concerns.

I differ for the situation of rape/incest and the starving family in a 3rd World nation. Sorry, but I do. And I've felt that way for about a quarter of a century.

Furthermore, I find it very questionable how the Roman Catholic Church encourages poor families in poverty to keep on having more & more kids. I saw this first hand when I lived in Mexico and it was not a pleasant sight. The life that those poor children had to live would break your heart. Thinking another and another and yet another added to the family simply makes no sense to me.

Let's focus back on the current reality in our own country. There are people, many people, who simply don't share your Pro-Life point of view. Is the best way to move forward to follow the status quo, where anything goes - an abortion anytime, anywhere? I think not. Yet, if the folks on the opposite ends of the spectrum stay locked in their particular views then nothing will ever change.

My proposal was a moderate attempt to change that.

nachtwache said...

I've said many of the things that both you and Hillary pointed out. It's a human being from the start. I've never been faced with such a decision and am thankful for it because no matter what, it would be hard. I believe abortion is wrong. I think Hillary found it disturbing that you see the humanness of the child/fetus/cells but still would see abortion as an option. But I might have it wrong, so she'll have to explain it.
I've read a true story of a rape victim who, with her husband, decided to keep the child, so getting a daughter they both had wished for; they already had 2 boys and trouble conceiving. They're white, the rapist wasn't. They still are glad they kept the child. Now that is an extreme situation.
Another option would be to give the child up for adoption.
I see it as two wrongs don't make a right. A woman that's raped is violated and brutalized, abortion does that too. Having a child is wonderful and healing; the child is also part of the mother.
I've thought a lot about this, since I was 14 and that's the conclusion I've come to. Of course, in the end, each person makes their own choices.
It's never God's will that something wrong happens. Rape is not God's will and a resulting pregnancy is one of the natural consequences of someones wrongful act. But, God can make good things happen out of a bad situation, if we let him. Who knows if the discoverer for a cure to cancer has been aborted? Another 'Einstein', 'Mozart', 'Mother Theresa'....
Doing the right thing, no matter how hard, will always be and feel right.

Pelalusa said...

Thinking ahead a few decades, I have to believe that science will eventually find a way for a fetus to grow entirely outside of a woman's womb.

While some might find this disturbing, I wonder if it might not solve the whole abortion issue - ie. instead of "abortions", a surgical procedure is done to remove the fetus and have it grow and be born outside of the womb.

What many people still haven't got their heads around is that in the 1st World, there is a huge problem with populations dropping. So having these babies born, that would otherwise be aborted, would be one step to correcting the problem. Though I still think even with that, it won't be quite enough to keep the population sustained.

nachtwache said...

There is definitely a price to pay with all the murders of these unborn children. In Asia, young men can't find wives, because they were all rejected and killed and as you say, we won't have enough people to sustain societies. Getting old will be a horror, or as I foresee it, society will just dispatch old and "useless" folks with an injection.