Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thoughts On Abortion In America, Part 2

5. It is better to endure evil/pain than to inflict it. This is the basis of my thoughts regarding the 'hard cases'. Chesterton once wrote that 'moral complexities are only difficult for those who have no principles.' I tend to agree. Rationalization, convenience, and selfishness cloud what really ought to be a fairly simple moral dilemma of abortion. Hard cases will be brought up to try to prove that the entire abortion on demand position is valid. This is emotional but it is not really true.

The first hard case to look at is the one that says, 'No woman should be forced to take care of a handicapped (physically or mentally) child.' Another related argument says, 'It's actually better if that child never lives rather than live a life of pain, suffering and non-achievement.'

Here's the problem with these kinds of arguments. Neither of these arguments prove that abortion should be 'on demand' as it currently has been in America. If anything, it proves that ONLY those cases should be eligible for access to abortion, nothing more, and CERTAINLY not for 'any reason deemed fit'.

What if the fetus is fully human? We keep coming back to this question! See, if the fetus is fully human, then these cases in which a handicapped unborn child could be deliberately killed is really no different from taking an already born handicapped child (or adult, really) and deliberately killing it. We already know that this would be utterly criminal. Adults with handicaps are still persons protected from murder. If a fetus were to be fully human, then it would be just a smaller (and differentlylocated) version of that adult. So is all human life afforded equal protection and worth or not? If it is, and the fetus is detrmined to be fully human, then abortion is a criminal violation of that right to life.

6. Isn't it a bit presumptuous to say that other human beings are better off not existing? I've heard this from more than a few people and can only shake my head at the audacity of that sentiment. Couched in that argument is that a handicapped person cannot or will not live a meaningful or happy life. Many doctors, including C. Everett Koop, who worked with severely handicapped infants and was a pediatric surgeon, have suggested that, 'it has been my constant experience that disability and unhappiness do not necessarily go together.'

Look, bad things happen to innocent people. It's the way of the world. Having a handicapped or afflicted child is usually a pretty heavy burden for parent and child alike. But if the fetus is fully human, then aleviating its pain by destroying it would be akin to the mercy killings of Jack Kevorkian. Again, it is better to endure pain than to inflict it. It's not okay to inflict pain or harm on another person to get rid of your own.

Anyone who's ever visited a pediatric AIDS unit, cancer center, or hospice knows that these children are not without worth or contribution to the world. Society is better for having known them beacuse it gets a chance to live out the virtues it claims to hold dear--compassion, love, charity, and morality. People like Mother Angelica, Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II, Padre Pio and others will be the first to tell you that they obtained virtue during their lives of suffering. Straight up--suffering is a spiritual exercise. It's like pumping iron with God himself. And lest we forget, there are more than a few documented cases of afflictions being healed, even in the womb. Had those cases been aborted, the injustice would not have been small.

What do you think handicapped people would say about this argument? Many would be offended at the idea that they are miserable or unable to contribute to society. I wonder if ANY handicapped organizations have gone on record as supporting abortion for the reason of the mother having a handicapped child. I doubt it. I do know that not a one has supported physician assisted suicide. The reason is that they don't believe that a human loses their right to life because they have a deformity or mental handicap.

But what about the REALLY extreme cases? The argument here is that some fetuses are SO genetically abnormal that they're not really human. For example, a fetus that is missing a brain, spinal cord, etc. I guess my limited brain would say that this would still be 'human'. It surely isn't an elephant, dog, or anteater. It originated as a human and ceased to develop but really cannot 'change' from human to non-human. Just because it's damaged doesn't mean it's not still essentially human.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Thoughts On Abortion In America

1. First and foremost, up until this year when the partial birth abortion ban was upheld, abortion on demand was available to every woman in America. This came as a surprise to me but here’s the story. The common assertion from abortion advocates that Roe vs. Wade only allowed abortions up to 24 weeks, and after that time period, only when the life of the mother was in jeopardy. In fact, this is false but if you read the mainstream media, you’d never know this. The current law, in truth, doesn’t restrict anything. A woman can obtain an abortion for any reason that she or her doctor determines to be adequate during the entire term of pregnancy.

Roe v Wade ruled that a state has no right to restrict abortion for the first 6 months of pregnancy. So basically a woman could abort for ANY reason she deems valid during this time—unplanned pregnancy, wrong gender, inconvenience, rape, or incest. In months 7-9, the state has a right, but not an obligation to restrict abortion to cases in which the mother’s health is jeopardized. But here’s the rub. The definition of health was determined to be ‘in light of all factors—physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age.’

I think we’d all agree that pregnancy definitely has an effect on every woman’s emotional situation, family situation, and psychological situation as well as her physical condition. So if a woman can convince her doctor (or the doctor convince his/her patient) that she needs an abortion to protect her ‘emotional health’ or ‘psychological health’, the law allows this up until the time of birth. The restrictions that are supposedly in place are not really restrictions at all. Francis Beckwith put it this way: In the first six months of pregnancy a woman can have an abortion for no reason, but in the last three months she can have it for ANY reason. That, my friends, is abortion on demand and that is the situation in which we find ourselves in America.

2. NOW, Planned Parenthood, and NARAL consistently argue that only 1% of all abortions occur in the 3rd trimester (months 7-9). So what? The fact that the unborn child is left unprotected is still a flaw in the law, regardless of how many are killed at that stage. Considering that 1.5 million abortions are performed per year in America, 1% would be 15,000 children who were done away with, or about 41 per day. Sorry, but that is no insignificant number.

3. Coathangers anyone? Anyone that can remember the 80’s abortion debate in America will remember the signs that pro-abortion backers walked around with—a picture of a coat hanger. The point of the sign was to represent the large numbers of women that were killed or maimed by illegal abortions or by self-administered abortions in which they presumably used a coat hanger for the job when abortion was illegal. So the arguments was that if abortion was made illegal, that women will resort to this practice again. A very strong rhetorical and emotional argument, but is it really a valid point?

The first problem with this argument is that it flatly assumes that the fetus inside the woman’s body is not a human person. If it IS fully human, then this argument basically says that because people die or are harmed (the mom) in the process of killing other people (the fetus), that the state should make it safe for them to do this. Reasonable people would say something like ‘restricting abortion probably does sometimes have horrible side effects but that doesn’t make the restrictions OK since murder is wrong regardless in every case.’ If the fetus is fully human, then the bottom line is that the effects of not having access is less grave than deliberately killing an innocent human. Period.

So is the argument true or false? Will women flock to back alleys and lounge bathrooms in order to obtain an abortion in the case that it is restricted or banned altogether? Before Roe v Wade, pro choice advocates were on record as claiming that over a million women every year obtained illegal abortions with coat hangers in back alleys, resulting in thousands of deaths. Here’s the problem. One of those advocates, the architect of the pro-choice movement and an abortion provider himself, now admits that his movement DELIBERATELY made up those numbers! Nathanson says, ‘I confess that the figures (up to 10,000 deaths from illegal abortions)were totally false. The overriding concern was to get the laws eliminated, anything which had to be done was permissible.’ (Aborting America by Bernard Nathanson, 1979)

Furthermore, the claims of about 1 million illegal abortions being performed during years of restriction/ban are false as well! The average/mean over an 11 year period between 1950 and 1961 was about 98,000. (New Perspectives on Human Abortion, 1981, Thomas Hilgers)

And what about those ‘back alley butchers’? Were they, in fact, the medieval blood merchants that we hear they were? Funny, but the President of Planned Parenthood, in 1960, cited Dr. Kinsey’s findings that in 1958 87% of all illegal abortions were performed by licensed physicians in good standing. She herself suggested that ‘90% of all illegal abortions are presently done by physicians.’ (American Journal of Health, July 1960, Mary Calderone) So if you think about it, the ones that were providing the illegal abortions before Roe (the so-called back alley butchers) probably became the present day abortion providers. I’m guessing they were just as safe and careful before Roe as they are now.

4. The pro-abortion argument which claims that the woman or family will be unduly harmed if they cannot access an abortion is confused. Of course, if the fetus is fully human, then this will guide the assessment of whether abortion, in these or any other cases, is a real solution to the problem or not. There’s a difference between ‘solving a problem’ and ‘eliminating a problem’. An example that I’ve seen is that one can eliminate the problem of poverty by executing all poor people but this is not really a solution to the problem of poverty for obvious reasons—exterminating people isn’t moral. It’d be like solving the problem of a cut on someone’s arm by amputating the arm. That’s just not a real solution. If the fetus is fully human, then an abortion would be akin to eliminating my pulled calf muscle by cutting off my leg. Hardship doesn’t justify homicide.

But what about the hard cases? Say a woman has had a test that reveals a Downs Syndrome baby or handicapped baby? Well, do the hard cases really support the pro abortion position? Let’s grant for a moment that the hard cases were legitimately moral reasons. The law of the land would STILL be flawed because it currently asserts abortion as a fundamental right that can be exercised for ANY reason and at just about ANY time. So abortion would be justified ONLY in those hard cases and not as it applies today. Still, those hard cases do not justify abortion…