Introduction and Index to Articles

Introduction and Index to articles on Reproductive choice:

I have updated the web pages previously hosted on a different site, and substantially restructured them in a way that organizes the material to be more readable and which emphasizes material that readers have found to be most helpful in understanding the points and issues I am trying to communicate. Some of the material here is not on the original website, and not all of the material on the previous website has been brought forward to this site.

One of the primary reasons for moving to this WordPress.com site instead of just reworking and re-posting at the old site, is to allow easier, direct access for interaction with readers. Readers who wish to leave comments are welcome to do so, and comments will be posted for review after moderation. All viewpoints, whether in agreement with mine or not, will be accepted, and hopefully can promote a lively interactive (but mutually respectful) discussion. What will not be accepted are comments that are rude, offensive or which are disrespectful to deeply-held values and views. It is possible to disagree without being disagreeable.

While an e-mail address is required (but not made public), it is not necessary to register with WordPress.com to leave comments, although doing so does allow additional options and access to additional features.

Here is a guide to the articles that follow on this site, with quick links directly to each individual article:

Moral Issues: Life vs. Personhood

https://emerald7tfb.wordpress.com/2011/05/22/moral-issues-life-vs-personhood/

This article discusses the moral aspects of the abortion issue. When human life begins (it is before “conception”); when human life becomes a human person; the moral considerations of a woman making her own decisions about the most private part of her own body.

Legal Aspects of Reproductive Rights

https://emerald7tfb.wordpress.com/2011/05/22/legal-aspects-of-reproductive-rights/

This artcile discusses the legal aspects of the abortion issue, and why abortion should remain a valid, lawful choice for women regardless of one’s opinions as to the moral aspects. Extensive historical perspective is included, including the often surprising point that at the time this country was founded, abortion was fully legal in all thirteen colonies and states, and the intent of the founders for it to remain legal was one of the primary legal foundations for Roe v. Wade.

Abortion and Judeo-Christian Religion

https://emerald7tfb.wordpress.com/2011/05/22/abortion-and-judeo-christian-religion/

This article debunks the popular myth that the Bible prohibits, opposes or in the slightest way expresses disapproval of abortion, which was well-known and widely practiced in Bible times. Extensive historical and scriptural support is provided, including extensive citations and discussions of chapter and verse on specific passages commonly cited.

Late Term Abortion, Parental Consent, Abortion in cases of Rape and Other Issues in Reproductive Freedom

https://emerald7tfb.wordpress.com/2011/05/22/additional-issues-in-reproductive-freedom/

This article address other popular issues and additional aspects that are often brought up regarding abortion, such as discussions of late-term abortion (extremely rare and only done under conditions of extreme medical trauma), Parental Consent, Abortion in cases of Rape, comparing abortion to the Holocaust or slavery, the dishonesty of graphic posters and signs, issues regarding late term abortion, the myth of abortion-induced guit, and other issues in women’s reproductive self-determination.

Pro choice vs. Pro Abortion

Being PRO CHOICE means supporting a woman’s right to make medical and personal decisions about her own body with regard to reproduction and sexuality. In the case of pregnancy, it means the right to be able to choose whether or not to use contraception (and what kind), and when a pregnancy occurs, to decide is she wishest to continue the pregnancy or not and on what terms. If the pregnancy is unwanted, it means the woman, in consultation with whatever medical, family, counseling or other advisors SHE ALONE CHOOSES (or not), decides whether to continue the pregnancy to term and keep the resulting child, continue the pregnancy to term and adopt the child out, or not to continue the pregnancy (i.e., have an abortion).

There are some who consfuse being PRO CHOICE with being PRO ABORTION. However, since the right to choose includes the full array of choices, and not just abortion, that is an inaccurate description that reflects either a lack of understanding or an intent to misrepresent others’ views.

Now, I don’t doubt that there are some who promote abortion, such as the anti-choice forced abortions of China that are as reprehensible ad the forced pregnancies that religious tyrants wish to mandate. Such persons could accurately be said to be PRO ABORTION.

But it is my experience that when people are referred to as being “pro-abortion,” more commonly it is a reference to the RIGHT to choose an abortion (or to choose to adopt out or to choose to carry and keep – whatever CHOICE the WOMAN wants), not in support of abortion itself.

For example, some have called me “pro abortion” which is not true.

I promote the RIGHT to make that OR ANY OTHER CHOICE.

My own personal OPINION is that abortion is a remedial response to an unfortunate and unwanted situation, and is better prevented but, if needed, should be available.

Similarly, I believe that a root canal is a remedial response to an unfortunate condition of oral disease, but that even if the person has poor eating and hygeine habits or preventive care fails, patients should have the right to choose that treatment option rather than, say, full removal of the diseased tooth.

I would not call myself “pro-ROOT CANAL,” but I do support the right to that treatment option, even though it does kill millions of biologically autonomous living creatures (bacteria) occupying and infecting the neural canals of diseased dental tissue, because I happen to believe that a single sentient human PERSON, who happens to be the owner of that particular mouth, is the only one who has the right to make that decision.

Legality and Morality differentiated

In discussing the issue of abortion, there are two distinct areas: the MORAL issue and the LEGAL issue. It is possible to hold the view that abortion is not MORAL, but not subscribing to the view that it should be subject to regulation as a matter of law. For example, many believe it to be a moral transgression — a sin — for two unmarried consenting adults to engage in sexual intimacy, but almost none would think it should be criminalized as a matter of law.

In this series of articles, we will examine the MORAL issues and LEGAL issues as the separate dimensions that they are.

Abortion protests

NOTE ON COMMENTS: Comments are welcome, both those in agreement with my views and those representing differing views. Comments are subject to moderation and approval (and note that I review each comment myself, and I am not on the computer 24-hours a day, so there is usually a time lag between submission and possible approval). Brief, concise, specific comments are easiest to approve. Lengthy, rambling comments, or those that rehash points already made, clutter the thread and reduce both readability and the likelihood of approval. Inflammatory hate speech (“Abortion is murder!”) or personal insults will not be approved (unless someday I decide to post a “best of” collection of the hate speech stuff.)

Moral Issues: Life vs. Personhood

The first and most basic question in the issue of reproductive rights is the moral question. Apart from any question of whether abortion should be legal or illegal, the first issue is whether or not it is a violation of ethical or moral standards.

It is extremely possible, and often the case, that something can be judged to be unethical or immoral but does not rise to the level of requiring public policy intervention.

At one time, governments decided that adultery — the violation of marital vows — was not only immoral, but should be prohibited as a matter of law. Violators were punished, often put to death. The American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote a scathing critique of such policies in his classic masterpiece, The Scarlet Letter. And in his famous classic, the “guilty” heroine Hester Prynne was granted mercy, and received an unusual public shaming — the wearing of a scarlet letter “A” sewn to her front of her blouse — in lieu of being put to death.

Yet today, we can look at adultery, which many would still consider a violation of ethical or moral values, to be a private matter of personal relationships, not something that should be enforced as a legislated mandate enforced by criminal penalties. Few in our time would consider it appropriate to be enforced as a matter of criminal law.

In the same way, we can look at the matter of abortion and say that, even if some may consider it to be morally wrong, it could be a private matter of personal belief and opinion, and not a matter to be governed as a matter of criminal law.

But the question of whether or not abortion is ethical or moral is really the first issue that must be addressed. If the choice to abort an unwanted pregnancy is not even a moral offense in the first place, then even the stated basis for dealing with it as a legal issue — a matter of public policy — becomes moot.

That which some consider morally wrong — what some might call a “sin” — may or may not rise to the level of being legislatively mandated. But if something is not even wrong to begin with, then any talk of outlawing it becomes irrelevant.

We will deal with the legal issues in the accompanying article on that subject, and the religious issue in the article on Judeo-Christian perspectives on reproductive choice, but if we can resolve the issue at the level of the moral question — if there is nothing wrong with abortion in the first place — then that should be enough to settle the matter out of hand.
Article on legal issues: https://emerald7tfb.wordpress.com/2011/05/22/legal-aspects-of-reproductive-rights/
Article on religious issues: https://emerald7tfb.wordpress.com/2011/05/22/abortion-and-judeo-christian-religion/

In discussing the moral aspects of the issue, we will defer the religious question for now. For those who have strong religious views, their moral views are largely rooted in those religious beliefs, often with complex moral questions being reduced to “because God says so.” But because any adequate examination the religious aspect is so extensive, and is not relevant to non-believers or others who want to see moral questions addressed based on inherent issues of right and wrong, we have reserved that for a separate article all its own.

In the accompanying article on the Judeo-Christian perspectives on reproductive choice, we will demonstrate that careful, objective, context-based examination of even the religious issue takes that away from the religious conservatives.

So, is there even anything morally or ethically wrong with allowing a woman to have reproductive control over her own body?

Human Life vs. Being a Human Person

For many who oppose abortion on moral grounds, the issue seems obvious. Life begins at “conception” (the fertilization of egg by sperm) and taking an “innocent” human life is “murder.”

Their view: Human life begins at fertilization. The newly-created embryo is a human being. A person. To kill it is the moral equivalent of murder. Seems simple. Straightforward. Obvious. In the words of Dr. Raymond Dennehy, referring to the prenatal uterine content, that “This creature is produced by a human father and a human mother. If it’s not a human being, what is it?” (Los Angeles Times, 2-23-2010)
http://articles.latimes.com/2010/feb/23/nation/la-na-abortion-debate24-2010feb24

But there is far more to the issue of when a human person begins to exist. The issue consists of much more than simplistically reducing it to the equation:

HUMAN LIFE = HUMAN PERSON

The problem for those who equate human life with being a human person is that those who make this assertion do not apply it consistently to all human life. Exactly the same could be said of a human egg or a human sperm before fertilization.

Sperms and eggs are produced by human parents.
Sperms and eggs are alive.
Sperms and eggs are human life.

Yeah, yeah, I know — they have not fully achieved the combined genetic status.

But sperms and eggs are alive.
Sperms and eggs are of the human species.
Sperms and eggs are human life.

To say that being a human person depends on whether they have 23 or 46 chromosomes concedes the issue of “human life” and imposes a qualification on when LIFE becomes a PERSON.

To say that it is the number of chromosomes that determines personhood is to acknowledge the recognition that human life is not the issue — that something more than being alive and of the human species is necessary for human life to become a human person.

In any case, basing personhood on the number of chromosomes instead of being alive gets a bit dicey. If 46 chromosomes is what makes you a person, is it okay to abort a fetus with Turner’s syndrome (45 chromosomes) or Down’s syndrome (47 chromosomes)? At what number do you draw the line? And why is this purely arbitrary standard (a number of chromosomes) a valid basis for saying that some human life is a person and other human life is not?

In any case, to say that being a human person requires the human sperm (alive) and the human egg (alive) to combine in order to be a person is to say that human life is not the issue at all. It is the combination. Or the chromosomes. Or something, but not life itself.

They can’t have it both ways. They can’t say it is about “human life” and then make it about combinations of human lives (that were already alive before they combined) or numbers of chromosomes or heartbeats or whatever.

The old cliché that “human life begins at conception” is patently false. No one seriously believes that a human sperm or human egg capable of becoming a future person is either not alive or that it is not of the human species.

The real issue is not human life but when that life becomes a person, or else you must include sperms and eggs.

As to when human life becomes a human person, there are many opinions on when this occurs:

When the egg is created or when the sperm is created (when life begins).

When the egg and sperm join.

When cell differentiation begins.

When the blastocyst becomes implanted in the uterus to begin the pregnancy. [For anyone who questions that, apart from the question of either life or personhood, that uterine implantation is the point at which the pregnancy beings, I would suggest they look at a woman holding a Petri dish with newly fertilized zygotes prior to implantation for in-vitro fertilization.  Prior to that zygote being inserted, no one would say that the woman is pregnant. But afterward, everyone would agree that she is pregnant.]

When a fetal heartbeat commences.

When there is the onset of measurable EEG brain waves (which occurs at about 24-25 weeks; middle of 2nd trimester, as differentiated from routine electrical cell activity in all cells, including sperms and eggs).

When there is actual sentient human consciousness.

When the fetus emerges from inside the most private part of a woman’s body to begin its separate, autonomous experience with the surrounding environment.

At which of these milestones does human life become a human person?

The answer is a matter of opinion and values.

Some take the Biblical standard: when the new life is BORN and takes its first breath (Gen 2:7).

So many opinions? Whose opinion counts?

As long as it is inside the most private part of a woman’s body, only that woman has the right to make that decision in each situation.

It is her opinion and her opinion only that matters.

Beginnings and ends. There should be some reasonable inverse correlation between the definition of the end of life and the definition of the beginning of life. The definition of the end of life is the cessation of measurable EEG brain waves, at which point organs can be removed for donation.

Thus, my own preference is to apply the exact inverse of the end of life to the beginning of life: since the cessation of measurable EEG brain waves confirms the fact of death at the end of life, we cannot say there is a human person before the onset of measurable EEG brain waves. There may be human life, but it cannot be considered a human person. The same standard for the end of life can be reciprocated to delineate the minimum standard for what can be considered the beginning of life. [Sources from peer-reviewed science on onset of EEG brain waves at 24-25 weeks of pregnancy:
a) According to Bergstrom, R.M. 1986, Development of EEG and Unit Electrical Activity of the Brain during Ontogeny, In L.J. Jilek and T. Stanislaw (Eds.), “Ontogenesis of the Brain,” Prague: University of Karlova Press
b) Morowitz, Harold J. and Trefil, James S. 1994, “The Facts of Life,” Oxford University Press, a study of brainwaves in fetuses younger than 25 weeks, which included fetuses from 59 days old (8.5 weeks) to 158 days old (22.5 weeks), there were no brain waves seen before 25 weeks, although electrical (neural) activity was present (electrical activity is present in ALL cells, including sperms/eggs).]

But that is my opinion for myself. I do not impose it on anyone else.

Again, to say that anything other than the fact of being alive and of the human species, whether it be the number of chromosomes, a beating heart, the onset of measurable EEG brain waves, the onset of full conscious sentience or biological autonomy at the time of birth, is to acknowledge the recognition that something more than being alive and of the human species is necessary for human life to become a human person.

In any case, if one believes that human life is the standard, then it becomes incumbent on them to offer their specific proposals for ensuring that every human sperm cell and every human ovum — each a unique and individual human life — never be allowed to die unfertilized because, according the  standard of being purely pro-life:

Menstruation is murder.
Ejaculation is genocide.

Menstruation washes away a formerly living ovum cell that was allowed to wantonly die unfertilized.

Masturbation washes away hundreds of thousands of formerly living sperm cells that were allowed to wantonly die unfertilized.

Each human egg or sperm was alive, or it would not be capable of being fertilized.

Each human egg or sperm was, by definition, of the human species.

Each was a HUMAN LIFE.

Any person who claims that all “life” is inherently sacred and must be protected by force of statutory legal mandate, must be prepared to offer their suggestions for what policies they propose to ensure that no human egg or sperm ever be allowed to die unfertilized.

Any person who does not consider each egg and sperm, before fertilization, a human person must admit that the standard for defining a human person is not mere life, but requires something else.

Since I do not know of anyone who supports the standard of taking action to ensure that no human egg or human sperm — each a unique human life — ever be allowed to die unfertilized, it is safe to say that no one, regardless of what labels they adopt, is truly “pro-life” when it comes to protecting the life of the pre-born.

And it should be pointed out that, while the cessation of measurable EEG brain waves is the standard for determining the end of life, EEG brain waves are not the same as full sentience or consciousness. EEG brain waves are the minimal standard for mental activity. A person can be asleep or unconscious or even in a vegetative state and still have quite active EEG brain wave activity.

On the end of life, the cessation of EEG brain waves is the ultimate standard. Once the minimum threshold for mental activity has ended, there is no more meaningful life, even if other cell activity has not all shut down completely yet.

At the opposite extreme, the onset of EEG brain waves is the barest minimum standard for determining the onset of human personhood. At the first moment that EEG brain waves flicker to life, there is far less actual sentience or consciousness than in a fish or a lizard or a mouse.

Sure, if we want to play it utterly safe, just as we do at the end of life, that is absolutely a very safe standard. But even at this point there is nothing remotely resembling real thought, real consciousness, real feeling, real experience, or anything close to that. In contrast, by the time an actual baby has been born, it does have all of those capabilities. It has real thoughts, real consciousness, real feelings and the beginning of real experiences. They may be at a very early beginning stage of development, but they are all there.

The book Extro•Dynamics, by Douglas Dunn, is an excellent resource that discusses at length the nature of human sentience and consciousness as the basis for human personhood and the foundation from which our moral and ethical standards are derived and the starting point from which social dynamics and human interactions occur.

Value derives from the process of sentient interaction of consciousness with the surrounding environment as it eVALUates that which it encounters and experiences. And the ultimate in value is the encounter and experience of one sentient consciousness with other sentient consciousnesses, as the inherent process of value that originates in each interacts with and builds upon the inherent value of all the other sentient consciousnesses, in a process in which the sum is greater than the parts.

The concept of Extro•Dynamics ultimately leads to a beautiful protocol of human interactions based on empathy and compassion — the empowerment of practical compassion in action — that could not exist in the absence of these human qualities. These very human qualities that exist in babies, toddlers, children, teenagers, adults and seniors but which do not exist in sperm cells, egg cells, embryos or first trimester fetuses.
http://www.wordwiz72.com/exdyn.html

This is not to say that sperm cells, egg cells, embryos or first trimester fetuses are not capable of having value. Lacking sentience or consciousness of their own, they do not have inherent, intrinsic value. But if the woman whose body they occupy wants them, they may have great value. But it is not their own inherent value; it is value derived via the consciousness of the sentient being that cherishes them. And on the contrary, if the pregnancy is unwanted, there is no inherent value, only pain that only the woman can choose to remediate.

[Click to enlarge graphic]

[Click to enlarge graphic]

Embryo / Fetus vs. Person

Some comparisons of similarities and differences in organisms of HUMAN LIFE:

Is a one-celled human life form?
Ovum: YES.
Sperm: YES.
Newly-fertilized embryo: YES.
Newborn baby: NO

Has measurable EEG brain waves?
Ovum: NO.
Sperm: NO.
Newly-fertilized embryo NO.
Newborn baby: YES

Has actual feelings and sentience?
Ovum: NO.
Sperm: NO.
Newly-fertilized embryo: NO.
Newborn baby: YES

Can be frozen, stored for years, and revived?
Ovum: YES.
Sperm: YES.
Newly-fertilized embryo: YES.
Newborn baby: NO

Is biologically autonomous (not dependent 24/7 on a SPECIFIC non-transferable caregiver)?
Ovum: NO.
Sperm: NO.
Newly-fertilized embryo: NO.
Newborn baby: YES

If “abortion is murder” (“killing” one pre-sentient, pre-conscious “life”), then menstruation — allowing an pre-fertilized human life to die — is also murder, and ejaculation — allowing hundreds of thousands of human lives to die — is genocide.

The egg and sperm are human life before fertilization. A child that has actually been born is a human person after birth.

Conservatives show no interest in protecting the human life of eggs and sperms before they are in the woman’s womb, nor are they willing to provide food or housing to children who have actually been born, but are living in poverty through no fault of their own. The only time conservatives show any interest in human life of anyone other than themselves is while it is occupying the most private part of a woman’s body. Thus, the only viable conclusion is that it is about controlling women, and has nothing to do with the “sanctity of life.”

An embryo is no more equal to a baby than an acorn is to an oak. Each has the potential to become the actuality of the other. It is no more equal to an ensouled human person than a house being built is equal to a completed home with people living in it.

If you mix a batch of blue paint and a batch of yellow paint, you get a new batch of paint: green.  But the paint existed before it became green; it was just changed or adapted into a new phase.  But before that joining they were all paint.  The origin of that batch of green paint began in the batches of yellow and blue paint that formed it.  If there were some kind of hazardous chemical wrongly found in the green paint, you can bet that it would be traced back to either the yellow or the blue paint and clearly it would have to be said that the green paint is a continuation of the blue and yellow that came together to form it, though we would all agree that a substantive and important change has occurred.  However, in all cases, the blue paint or the yellow paint or the green paint, would still be paint.  Not a painting or work of art, but just paint.  All of them would have the potential to become a painting (or perhaps just be used to paint a fence).

This is not to say that a fertilized egg is not a genetically-uniquely piece of human tissue. A human being is much more than the mere existence of life. Insects and bacteria have life and uniquely individual DNA. Each is an autonomous, living individual. Is it a sin to get immunizations that kill millions of individual lives? Or to use insecticides, or to unnecessarily kill and eat sentient, biologically autonomous birds and mammals non-vegetarians butcher to satisfy their lust for more fat in their arteries?

To be a human person is more than merely being alive. It is more than merely having human chromosomes and human DNA. It is a combination of life, human genetics, consciousness and sufficient autonomy that it can live apart from its biological mother, even if it still requires someone to be a caregiver, as long as the person is capable of doing so willingly, by choice.

Trying to equate a born human person to a one-celled organism is dehumanizing and is just one more example of how religious conservatives seek to minimize the equality, dignity and value of women.

What if your Mother had aborted?

A typical question often thrown out by anti-choice extremists is, “What if your mother had chosen to abort? You wouldn’t be here.”

While that is undoubtedly true, it does nothing to differentiate the value of a human fetus from that of a human sperm cell or a human egg cell.

How far back do you go?

I can always turn the question back to them and ask, “What if your mother hadn’t been ‘in the mood’ the night you were just a gleam in your father’s eye?” Once again, the “logic” of the conservatives’ silly question can apply every bit as much to human egg cells or sperm cells before fertilization as to their status afterward. If taken seriously, it leads yet again to the conclusions that, by their standard, every time a woman produces an egg cell or a man produces a sperm cell, if that sperm or egg cell — each a unique human life — is allowed to die unfertilized, it is the moral equivalent of murder.

The absurdity immediately becomes obvious.

But beyond that, the extremists’ choices of examples of who might not be here if their mothers had chosen to abort is suspiciously suspect. They always use “you” (the person they are asking the question of) or else some highly-esteemed figure such as Jesus (“What if Mary, a young unmarried mother, had chosen to abort…” as if, according to their own beliefs, God would somehow have chosen his “son” — actually an alternative incarnation of himself — to be impregnated into someone who would make that choice) or Washington or Lincoln or Gandhi. They never seem to use as their examples those who actually were born to troubled, dysfunctional homes where they were unwanted, such as Adolf Hitler, Charles Manson or the street thug who broke into their home the week before.

Thought-questions on personhood:

a. Why are sperms and eggs not “human life” if they are alive and of the human species? If “abortion is murder” (“killing” one insentient, preconscious “life”), then “menstruation is murder” (allowing one egg to die unfertilized) and  “ejaculation is genocide” (killing hundreds of thousands of human lives).

b. In the case of identical twins, in the time after fertilization and the onset of cell division, but before the blastocyst actually divides into two entities, how many human persons exist? If only one, when did the second twin become a person if not at “conception”?

c. If cessation of brain waves is the standard for the end of life, how can you call it human life prior to the onset of EEG brain waves near the end of the 2nd trimester? Shouldn’t the standard for the clinical beginning of life be the reciprocal of the standard for the clinical end of life?

d. Which would you save in a fire, a sleeping 3-year-old in her bedroom, or a frozen embryo in the freezer?

e. Let’s say there are estranged brothers who are a good donor match. One needs the other to donate bone marrow to save his life, but the brother does not want to. They are both adults, undeniably human persons. Does one have the right to force another to use his body to keep him alive if the latter doesn’t want to? They are both males. Does the requirement to use your body to keep someone else alive only apply to females?

f. Let’s consider a purely hypothetical example to see if we are really willing to apply the same standards to men as to women. Let’s imagine that the anti-choice extremists get their way and get conservative judges to repeal Roe v. Wade and outlaw abortion.

An unmarried couple, some time in a future conservative utopia, living in a state where abortion has been outlawed, has a one-night hookup and, a few weeks later, the woman informs the man that he is going to be a father. He implores her to get an abortion but, now illegal, she can’t do that. She is forced by law to use her body to keep a pre-sentient fetus alive until birth.  A week after birth, the infant is diagnosed with Leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant.  After checking available donors it is determined that only the child’s father has a compatible match.

The father, who did not want the baby in the first place, says “NO!” … IF you believe a woman should be forced to use her body to keep an embryo/fetus alive, do you also believe the state should also be able to compel the Father of the baby (with threats of fines and prison) to submit and have some of his bone marrow extracted to save his baby’s life? Keep in mind that bone marrow, like its cousin the blood transfusion, is far less invasive or demanding of time than nine months of a pregnancy and, like a transfusion, is fully restored without permanent loss in a relatively short period of time.

At this point, we are no longer even dealing with the question of whether the offspring is a human person or not. This is no longer an embryo or a fetus that many believe a woman should be forced to use her body to sustain. It is now clearly a full-fledged, biologically autonomous sentient human baby.

Should a male parent be subject to the same demand that he be forced to use his body to keep his child — unambiguously a child, not a fetus — alive?

Even if he didn’t want the pregnancy in the first place?

Even if he is estranged from the mother (and the baby, too)?

Even if he possibly has religious objections to any kind of transfusion?

Aside from the moral issue, should the state hold the father to the same standard as the mother?

Should any exception be allowed?

Qualitative Differences Between Human Persons and Other Life Forms

What is it about the essential nature of a human person that makes it qualitatively different than a rat, fish, insect, bacterium or virus?  And by that I mean, why is a human person more special?  Why is a human person inherently more valuable?  What are the qualities of a human person that render intrinsic value that a rat or fish doesn’t have?

I have stated that they are rooted in the qualitative distinctions that are unique to our species: conscious sentience and a capacity for reflective thought and self-examination, and the actual physical, emotional, mental and spiritual capabilities, features and processes that make such a distinction possible (as distinguished from the mere genetic blueprint or potential to develop those features).

One could say that the closer primitive creatures come to such abilities, the more intrinsic value or inherent worth they have — the closer they come to the qualitative values of human personhood, even if they are not actually human.  Most people would be far more outraged by the wanton killing of a chimpanzee, gorilla, dolphin or whale than they would a rat or a fish or especially non-vertebrate life.

Why?

Clearly none of these animals is a human person.  But they have many of the qualitative equivalents to a sufficient extent that we accord them much the same value. Even so, it has never been demonstrated that any of them, including chimpanzees, have the uniquely human attributes of moral self-examination, multi-generational historical perspectives or broad capabilities of abstract scientific or mathematical reasoning.

A human has human DNA and a rat has rat DNA.  The DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is substantively different just because the arrangement of A’s, T’s, C’s and G’s of the genome sequencing (nucleotide base pairs of adenine [A] and thymine [T] or cytosine [C] and guanine [G] respectively) are different in an empirically observable and objectively quantifiable way.  No problem. They are quantitatively identifyable according to their respective species. But why are they qualitatively different?  Why does the label “human” make it intrinsically more valuable than the label “rat”?

A baby that has been born has all of the actual attributes of this kind of humanness, though they are very primitive at this early stage of development.  But all of the physical features (a brain with measurable EEG brain waves, the supportive organs and bodily tools for operating on the environment) and emotional tools (the ability to express pain, anger, emotional and physical needs) and mental tools (the beginnings of actual cognitive interaction with its surrounding environment) actually exist.  Again, they are new and young and just getting started, but they are all there.

But even if one says that a baby does not actually have all of these fully-functioning uniquely human capabilities (moral self-examination, historical perspectives, abstract reasoning), and perhaps has not attained full personhood, one does have to draw the line somewhere.  Clearly NO first trimester zygote or embryo has any of these actual features or functions.

Clearly most human persons after a few years of life have all of them to some degree.  And even damaged brains in comas or a persistent vegetative state DO maintain quite extensive repositories of actual personal experience as well as active EEG brain waves (the cessation of which allows the pronouncement of legal death), as well as the possibility of coming out of the coma.

So it appears reasonable that if many of the attributes of personhood don’t even begin to fully manifest themselves in their full humanity until some time after birth (though the features and processes out of which they derive are fully extant at birth), and birth is the point at which the most private part of a woman’s body is no longer being occupied, and care can possibly be transferred to others who are willing, then birth is a logical point at which to draw an absolute line on the beginning of personhood at which point the question of personhood can no longer be doubted.

Certainly if one really wants to play it conservatively, one could say that an absolute minimal standard would be the onset of EEG brain waves, which occurs at about 25 weeks pregnancy, near the middle of the second trimester, since even fishes and reptiles (vertebrates) have measurable EEG brain waves. So full personhood — full humanity — must commence at some point not merely at the onset of EEG brain waves, but some undefined point after that.

And as we have noted before, if the end of measurable EEG brain waves defines the end of personhood, certainly the time before that onset is a minimal standard for the onset of personhood.

Accepting responsibility / consequences

Some have argued that if one has consented to consensual sexual intimacy, one must accept the responsibility (consequences) for that decision.

Consent to SEX does not have to be consent to PREGNANCY any more than consent to riding in a car is consent to an automobile accident, even though both are possible secondary but unwanted, unintended and unlikely outcomes. And in any case, in the event of an automobile accident, accepting responsibility does not require that one be left to bleed to death at the scene of the accident. Medical remediation is sought to minimize physical and emotional trauma and to do everything possible to limit negative consequences. That is part of taking responsibility. And in the same way, consequences of sexual intimacy may include medical intervention and, if the woman decides that abortion is part of the medical remediation that is right for her, then that can very well be an important aspect of accepting responsibility.

This whole line of argument demonstrates the intent to impose one’s personal moral or religious opinions onto others who may not hold the same beliefs. .

Even a completely voluntary sex act would not necessarily mean she invited the embryo into her body, since only a small percentage of sex acts result in pregnancy. The POSSIBILITY of an outcome is very different than its INTENT. If a person rides in a car, knowing there is the POSSIBILITY of an accident, should that person be denied the right to receive medical care, auto repairs or reimbursement from a responsible party if they have an accident … since they KNEW that was a POSSIBLE outcome? A woman who has sex only invites the sharing of sexual pleasure, not the embryo that accidentally resulted. And EVEN IF she got pregnant on purpose, there is no reason to say that you can’t change your mind or correct a mistake, especially when it is the rights of an actual human person against those of non-sentient cell tissue with the potential of becoming a person … if the woman wants it.

Suppose I invite someone over for a drink. He stays and stays. He becomes obnoxious, in fact. I decide I don’t like him. I want him gone. I have as great a right to evict him as I would if he were a burglar. The fact that I previously thought I wanted him there (or I simply change my mind) does not make me lose the right to control who stays in my house. And a woman’s body is far more personal and intimate than a structure of wood and stucco.

When a man forcibly enters and occupies the most private, personal, intimate part of a woman’s reproductive anatomy against her will, we call it “rape.” Though it only lasts for a few moments (barring additional physical assault and injury), the trauma and emotional scars can last for years. Yet there are some who would require, by force of law, that women be mandated to have that most private part of their bodies occupied by an unwanted intruder for nine long months. The trauma and emotional scars of a forced, unwanted pregnancy can harm a woman just as long as a rape, and also traumatize the child that is born unwanted.

In any case this argument automatically validates abortion in the case of rape or incest where there was no such consent at all.

The questions of when human life begins, when human life becomes a human person and questions that weight the “rights” of pre-sentient cell tissue against the rights of fully conscious, fully sentient human persons — the question, in the case of each issue of who gets to choose — are at the core of the issue of a woman’s right to abort an unwanted pregnancy.

But as we have seen in this article, abortion is not the only issue affected by such questions. And in the clash of moral philosophies, and how public policies should be brought to bear — by force of law — on the full spectrum of such issues and choices, we consistently see that those who claim to equate human life with human personhood, despite their inconsistency in omitting the human life of human sperm and egg cells, remain dogmatic in their intent to impose their beliefs and values on those who feel differently.

Those who support the right of a woman to choose to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, or a terminally ill person to choose to end their suffering, or scientific advances that can cure diseases, or expanded options for new technologies to assist those who choose to be pregnant but wrestle with fertility issues, all respect the right of any person who holds different views to put those beliefs into practice in their own lives.

But we adamantly reject the notion that they have the right to impose those beliefs on others.

Who gets to choose?

NEW! NOW AVAILABLE:

My new book Who Gets to Choose? (ISBN 9780944363201), from which these WordPress pages have been excerpted, and which includes the material from all the pages on this site plus additional material not in these web articles, has now been expanded, edited and published, and is now available, and can be ordered in in a paperback print edition from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com, as well as other outlets (e-book formats coming soon):

Amazon.com (in paperback print edition — Kindle e-book coming soon):
http://www.amazon.com/Who-Gets-Choose-T-Barans/dp/0944363202/

Barnes and Noble.com (in paperback print edition — Nook e-book coming soon):
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/who-gets-to-choose-t-f-barans/1122746414

More detailed information about the book can be found on the website of my publisher, Word Wizards, at:

http://www.wordwiz72.com/choice.html

And “like” us on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/Who-Gets-to-Choose-1646180752291809/

NOTE ON COMMENTS: Comments are welcome, both those in agreement with my views and those representing differing views. A calm, reasoned exchange of dissenting opinions is welcome, but trolling, flaming, hate speech or hijacking the thread to promote unrelated pet projects will result in the participant being banned. Comments are subject to moderation and approval (and note that I review each comment myself, and I am not on the computer 24-hours a day, so there is usually a time lag between submission and possible approval). Brief, concise, specific comments are easiest to approve. Lengthy, rambling comments, or those that rehash points already made, clutter the thread and reduce both readability and the likelihood of approval. Trolling with inflammatory hate speech (“Abortion is murder!”) or personal insults will not be approved (unless someday I decide to post a “best of” collection of the hate speech stuff.)

Comments may be edited for length, space and relevance, but comments accepted for display will accurately present the content submitted. Personal information such as e-mail or other identifying details are not displayed publicly. Comments are knowingly and voluntarily submitted for possible one-time public use and with permission for public display at the sole discretion of the moderator.

Legal Aspects of Reproductive Rights

Abortion and in the United States Law — now and through history

Since January 1973, the supreme judicial standard governing abortion in the United States has been the case of Roe v. Wade (410 U.S. 113 (1973).

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=CASE&court=US&vol=410&page=113

Many times, opposition to Roe v. Wade has been expressed as opposition to a “liberal” court “legislating from the bench” to overturn traditional values. Those taking this view demonstrate a lack of familiarity with this case or with the “tradition” of reproductive law and history in the United States.

The decision in Roe v. Wade was not a close decision. It was decided 7-2, with the decision written by Harry Blackmun, a Republican appointee elevated to the Supreme Court by President Richard M. Nixon. The decision was based on respect for tradition, respect for personal liberty and free choice, and interpreting the Bill of Rights according to the intent of the Founders.

Here are the historical facts about abortion in United States history: at the time this nation was founded, abortion up until the perception of fetal movement (“quickening”), which usually occurs near the beginning of the second trimester, was fully legal in all thirteen colonies.

Under governing English Common Law, there were NO LAWS AGAINST ABORTION ANYWHERE IN THE 13 ORIGINAL COLONIES/STATES, and this continues after the 13 Colonies became the 13 States. Further, Common Law also mandated that, even in the case of illegal abortions (late term), the woman herself was immune from prosecution.

This point is explicitly discussed in Roe v. Wade at great length, in Section VI.3-5 of the decision, to demonstrate that when the Founders referred to being secure in one’s home or person, their mindset would include the right of a woman to be safe from intrusive government oppression in dictating control of the most private part of her body. The Court took the standard of having imputed a “penumbra” right of privacy in the earlier case (regarding contraceptive rights) of Griswold v. Connecticut (381 U.S. 479 (1965)), and came right out and said there is a direct, absolute right of privacy expressly stated in the Constitution, whether or not the actual word “privacy” is there.

The first state to actually pass a law outlawing abortion was Connecticut, in 1821 (32 years after passage of the Bill of Rights), followed by New York (1828), with a law that was subsequently modeled by many other states. By the end of the 19th century, abortion had been outlawed in all states.

By the mid 1960’s, opinions had begun to change in the United States, and some states began to restore the legal status that had existed in the time of the Founders. Even before Roe, 16 states had already legalized abortion, including the large population centers of New York and California (signed into law by then-governor Ronald Reagan).

Roe-v-Wade

Of course, if the blastocyst / zygote / embryo / fetus is not a human person, or there is no validity to assertions of any moral concern, then there is no basis at all on which to claim that it should be unlawful for a woman to terminate a pregnancy that she does not wish to continue.

Bodily Sovereignty

Personal choices about behavior should never be legislated, unless and until they infringe the equal rights of other persons. The old saying goes, “My right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins.” Persons have the right to make any choices they want about their behavior, including moral choices, up to the point that someone else’s rights come into play. A person has the right to wear whatever they want, choose the color of their house, or even choose sexual behavior (alone or with others who have the capacity to consent to free and voluntary participation) and, however else someone else may disapprove of their taste or moral beliefs, they have the right to make those choices as long as they do not infringe the other person’s right to the moral or aesthetic choices THEY believe to be appropriate.

Rights of the Woman vs. Rights of Embryo

The problem in the case of abortion is that the disagreement about abortion is partially about differing moral beliefs, but also a disagreement about whose rights are being infringed. Those opposed to abortion claim that they are protecting the rights of the zygote/embryo/fetus from the infringement of having its life terminated.

But even if the zygote/embryo/fetus were a fully-endowed human person, with all the rights of personhood, all the way back to the moment of fertilization, the crux of the LEGAL question becomes, “Who has the right to control the body: the zygote/embryo/fetus or the woman?”

Is Abortion Murder?

Killing for lawful execution is not murder.

Killing as part of war is not murder.

Killing in self defense is not murder.

Killing that is not against the law is not murder.

Killing of something that is NOT A PERSON is not murder.

Killing an insect is not murder.

Killing a bacteria is not murder.

Killing a HUMAN LIFE that is an unfertilized egg or sperm is not murder.

The definition of “murder” (as distinguished form mere “killing”) has comprised the following three elements throughout time, including the time of the Hebrew lawgivers and other contemporary civilizations:

a) Intent — killing of a person is deliberate rather than accidental

b) Malice or wantonness (i.e., not mere for defensive reasons or reasons of domestic or international law and order). Many would argue that the choice to terminate an unwanted pregnancy is self-defense of the most private part of a woman’s body.

c) Killing of a PERSON (not virus, bacteria, insect, animal or human tissue that is not a PERSON)

A woman’s intentional choice to terminate a pregnancy in the interest of her bodily sovereignty at most incorporates only the first of those elements; and, if the tissue removed is not even a human person or no moral issue is involved (see below), then even that doesn’t apply.

Meat is Murder?

Vegetarians could absolutely make a stronger case that “meat is murder” than that “abortion is murder.” Meat requires the killing of a sentient, autonomous animal that is NOT occupying the most private part of a human’s body, and which is wholly unnecessary since humans can get all needed nutrients from plant sources such as fruits, nuts and vegetables that produce food without killing a sentient creature and, in most cases, not even killing the plant! In contrast, artery-clogging animal fat is wholly unnecessary to a balanced, healthy diet.

Parental consent

Regarding parental notification: A girl who is old enough to be pregnant is old enough to make certain decisions that affect the rest of HER life and which SHE more than anyone else will bear consequences for the rest of her life.

I have never seen a “parental notification” proposal that includes a requirement that the parents who make a decision opposite what the girl wants are forced to assume lifetime liability for responsibility and support of the child; and how do the anti-choice conservatives feel about a situation where the parents think an abortion would be the best way to handle a problem situation, but a girl wants to carry to term?

We are not talking about headaches and aspirin here, but life-changing consequences.  She may not be old enough to make all adult decisions, or to consent to legal adult choices or even adult relationships, but if she is pregnant, whether she aborts, carries or gives the child up for adoption, SHE will be the one who endures the consequences for the rest of her life.

That is true whether she was forcibly raped, the victim of incest or “thought” she was in love and was trying to act like the adult that she isn’t.

In any case, the examples of incest and child abuse are, alone, valid reasons why notification laws are not workable. Almost all girls with a problem situation will turn first to their parents for help.  If a girl can’t go to her parents with this kind of problem, then she should not have to.

And the alternative is … what? A scared teenaged girl being forced to go to a judge? Give me a break! The whole point is to set up one more roadblock to make abortion harder. Newsflash! One of the key reasons for making abortion LEGAL is so she doesn’t have to have a “do it yourself” or back-alley job. She IS going to be talking to adult professionals, even in the extremely rare instances when she can’t go to her parents.

Look at the reality.

This issue is not about parental control; if she can’t go to her parents with this kind of problem at this age, they have already lost control. This is about strangers forcibly stopping girls from having abortions at all.

NEW! NOW AVAILABLE:

My new book Who Gets to Choose? (ISBN 9780944363201), from which these WordPress pages have been excerpted, and which includes the material from all the pages on this site plus additional material not in these web articles, has now been expanded, edited and published, and is now available, and can be ordered in in a paperback print edition from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com, as well as other outlets (e-book formats coming soon):

Amazon.com (in paperback print edition — Kindle e-book coming soon):
http://www.amazon.com/Who-Gets-Choose-T-Barans/dp/0944363202/

Barnes and Noble.com (in paperback print edition — Nook e-book coming soon):
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/who-gets-to-choose-t-f-barans/1122746414

More detailed information about the book can be found on the website of my publisher, Word Wizards, at:
http://www.wordwiz72.com/choice.html

And “like” us on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/Who-Gets-to-Choose-1646180752291809/

NOTE ON COMMENTS: Comments are welcome, both those in agreement with my views and those representing differing views. Comments are subject to moderation and approval (and note that I review each comment myself, and I am not on the computer 24-hours a day, so there is usually a time lag between submission and possible approval). Brief, concise, specific comments are easiest to approve. Lengthy, rambling comments, or those that rehash points already made, clutter the thread and reduce both readability and the likelihood of approval. Inflammatory hate speech (“Abortion is murder!”) or personal insults will not be approved (unless someday I decide to post a “best of” collection of the hate speech stuff.

Comments may be edited for length, space and relevance, but comments accepted for display will accurately present the content submitted. Personal information such as e-mail or other identifying details are not displayed publicly. Comments are knowingly and voluntarily submitted for possible one-time public use and with permission for public display at the sole discretion of the moderator.

Abortion and Judeo-Christian Religion

Much of the thrust today by those who seek to dictate control over the most private parts of women’s bodies claims to originate from Biblical teachings by those who have no idea what the Bible actually does or does not say about abortion, and who are quick to misrepresent and distort the words and message of a book they claim to accept as divine and inerrant.

It should first be pointed out that the Bible is a text of personal, private religious belief, not of public policy or law.

Some people believe the Bible to be the word of God; many others do not. Some believe in other scriptural authorities many do not believe in religion of any kind. In a secular nation of many faiths and traditions, no single system of beliefs or doctrines should be used as the basis for public policies or laws that affect everyone, nor should private religion ever be the basis for public policy.

With every bit the same level of hypocrisy as those who humiliated the young Puritan heroine of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, an adulteress that Jesus would have forgiven, today’s Puritans fail to understand that there is not a single word in the Bible against abortion. The Bible is completely pro-choice. Those who claim otherwise need to take their Bibles off their pedestals, blow off the dust, actually open them up for once and actually read what is in it, and this article will assist them in their search, including specific responses to the specific Bible verses the anti-choice extremists love to toss around.

The Bible is Pro Choice

While, again, whatever the Bible does or does not say about abortion should not be relevant to public policy issues, because so many people do believe in the Bible to be the inerrant and infallible word of their god, and cite it (in error) as their basis for opposing women’s rights of reproductive self determination, this section is presented to address the concerns and questions of those whose religious tradition does include belief in the Bible and who let that influence their views on women’s reproductive freedom.

Why are some conservative Christians, who claim the Bible as their sole moral authority, so opposed to abortion?

While abortion was well known and written about in ancient Hebrew times (some in favor, some against), the Bible itself is completely silent on the subject of abortion.

None of the other writings from that era, either supporting or opposing abortion, including those cited by those opposed to abortion, made it into the Bible, and citing such sources only reiterates that abortion was known to those in Bible times, yet still unmentioned by the Bible writers.

No specific passage in the Bible either encourages or discourages abortion.

The general silence about abortion is the way it should be: don’t go to either extreme, to mandate forced pregnancy (like the religious extremists) or mandate forced abortion (like the Communists in China on the extreme left). The common denominator in tyranny from either the right (prohibiting abortion) or left (mandating it) is coercion by force of law.

In contrast, those who are pro-choice, respecting the woman’s right to choose whether or not to be pregnant, want to get Big Theology, just like Big Intrusive government, off our backs and out of our bedrooms. Abortion is a matter should be left to each individual to decide in her own situation.

And the Bible agrees with this view.

The true Biblical view of abortion is pro-choice.

There are passages in the Bible that speak of birth, conception, accidental miscarriage, pregnancy, and the formation and creation of life, which are often cited as supporting the “sanctity of life” by those who can’t find any actual reference to abortion.

Further, the Bible contains extremely detailed descriptions of what constitutes murder as well as what constitutes lawful and justifiable homicide. In fact, the Bible has many instances in which the “sanctity of life” is secondary to other considerations.

Any one of these subjects would have been a perfect opportunity for the Bible writers to include the simple statement that abortion is a sin, or is forbidden, or is murder, or whatever. But they didn’t.

Religious extremists who claim that their only authority is a literal interpretation of the Bible, but who are against a woman’s right to reproductive choice, are ignorant about religion as well as history. They have staked their message on the “Big Lie.” The Bible is completely pro-choice.

Abortion in Bible Times

Abortion was well known and widely practiced in ancient times, during Old Testament domination by the Israelites as well as under the Roman domination at the time Jesus lived, as it has been in even the most primitive societies.

The Old and New Testaments are very outspoken on even very minute aspects of daily life, especially the Law of Moses. Jesus later clarified many of these laws to remove ambiguity or to add motive and intent to the spirit of the law.

If the commandments against murder were intended to apply to fetuses, then the Law of Moses, the later prophets and judges would have said so.

The Bible is completely silent on abortion, even though abortion was known and practiced in Bible times.

The Bible is completely silent on abortion, even though abortion was known and practiced in Bible times.

Or, if there were some misunderstanding or confusion about the subject, later prophets, or Jesus himself speaking hundreds of years later, could have provided some clarification on the subject.

At the very least, an omnipotent and omniscient God should have been able to foresee the future conflict in our time and just come right out and unambiguously state that commandments against killing were also applicable to abortion. But they didn’t.

Yet, while the Law of Moses outlines penalties and conditions for various types of killing (neighbors, foreigners, intentional, etc.), along with various types of permissible and forbidden killing (self-defense, executions, wartime vs. homicides), there is not a single place in the Bible where abortion is condemned, forbidden or even frowned upon.

In fact, the Bible on several occasions discusses fetal life and existence. These would have been perfect opportunities to include a prohibition against abortion, if such had been intended (or was God guilty of a sin of omission?). But they didn’t.

Since abortion was well known at the time the Bible was written, but not forbidden in it, the Bible’s silence reveals much.

Many aspects of personal behavior are not addressed in the Bible. The Bible does not say what color our houses should be painted or how long we should wear our hair — matters of personal preference are left to individual choice, separate from issues of moral law.

In like manner, the Bible also does not encourage, support or promote abortion. It is neither pro-abortion nor anti-abortion. As with most other matters of personal prerogative, the Bible takes a neutral (silent) position, leaving the matter to individual discretion, or choice.

It may be the right choice for some individuals in some situations, and the wrong choice for others.

Since the scriptures are completely silent on the issue, they obviously intended this to be left to individual preference (i.e. choice). Those who claim Biblical authority to justify their human interpretations about a subject on which the Bible is silent are dishonest and hypocritical, or are listening to the misleading guidance of those who deliberately play on their beliefs to mislead them and exert control over their personal lives.

It is amazing that the Biblical authority is claimed  for so many subjects where the Bible is actually silent or ambiguous (or even contradictory), while they completely ignore other parts of the Bible such as archaic commands in the Law of Moses (in the Biblical books of Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy) in which the Bible is very clear, such as prohibiting tattoos or the eating of shrimp, pork or ham or demanding animal sacrifice or many aspects of religious observance and practice that seem prohibitively intrusive today. Yet today these inconvenient commandments that actually are in the Bible simply ignored by all but the most orthodox, while the same people who ignore what is actually in the Bible claim biblical authority in matters where the Bible is completely silent.

The religious conservatives deny obvious contradictions and they ignore specific commands that actually are in the Bible, and yet they claim Biblical authority on a subject not in the Bible!

So now let us take a look at some of what the Bible actually does say…

Specific Scriptures

The religious conservatives will usually admit a lack of any explicit prohibition of abortion of the Bible, but will cite various specific passages to imply an intent to oppose abortion. Following are a number of specific scriptural references that are often cited in a desperate attempt to try and claim a non-existent Biblical opposition to abortion.

While I have responded to each of these commonly-cited verses, it is important to note one key fact that they all have in common: they discuss birth, death, life, creation, pregnancy and pre-natal formation of the body, any of which would have been a perfect place to simply insert a clear an unambiguous statement opposing abortion (which was known and practiced in Bible times), but not one of these verses makes any reference whatsoever to either the existence of pre-natal ensoulment nor to even the slightest claim that abortion is the teensiest bit wrong.


Jeremiah 1:5
: “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, [and] I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” (KJV)

This scripture has traditionally been used by Protestants to show god’s foreknowledge of long future events, and by Mormons to claim a pre-mortal existence of life in heaven prior to birth.

Only recently, since the move to re-legalize abortion beginning in the mid-twentieth century, have very desperate anti-choice extremists reinterpreted this in the context of abortion.

Look at the wording of this scripture, “Before I formed you in the womb….” It is talking about before birth, before viability … before conception! Is that referring to sperms and eggs?

It has no relevance to abortion whatsoever; but if it shows reverence to potential life, it actually applies as much to sperms and eggs as to embryos, since it is prior to conception.

And even if it were a reference to embryonic life (it isn’t), and no one denies the existence of embryonic life with the potential to become a human being and, once again, it would have been a perfect opportunity to condemn abortion, but didn’t.

In context, the passage is near the very beginning of the first chapter of the book of Jeremiah.

Jeremiah is introducing his ministry, and is writing in this first chapter specifically about his own calling as a prophet — that it was known by god before he was born or even conceived.

He was appointed, chosen, selected, ordained — whatever. He is talking about the fact that God knew of his calling long before he existed as a real or potential human.

Prior to Roe v. Wade, most Bible scholars interpreted this as a reference to God’s foreknowledge of the future, and not until recently did the scripture ever enter into the abortion debates.

If anything, this reference to God’s foreknowledge of the future suggests that He should have been able to foresee the modern controversy about abortion and taken the simple step of simply coming right out and said that it was wrong or prohibited, if he had any such intent. But he didn’t.


Psalm 127:3
: “Truly children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward.” (KJV) As a parent and grandparent, I certainly agree!

But … my daughter and granddaughters were the results of wanted, intentional pregnancies. Children are a gift, but the Bible writer certainly passed up a particularly ideal verse in which to universalize that concept, didn’t he?

And we should remember the nature of a “gift” — a gift is freely given, and the recipient has the option (read: choice) to accept or reject the gift.

According to Judeo-Christian religious teaching, God gave us many “gifts.” He created everything, and when he was done, he pronounced it “good.” He also created viruses and bacteria and insects and mice. Do you ever feel “put upon” by these “gifts” and use injections or inoculations or bug spray or mousetraps to reject them? Does that mean you are throwing these “gifts” back in God’s face? Please understand the nature of a “gift.” It is not something that is crammed forcibly down the throat of the recipient.

According to the conservative version of Christian tradition embraced by “born again” evangelicals, the greatest “gift” from God was salvation offered by the grace of Jesus. Should Christian believers feel entitled to enact legislation to require by force of law that everyone be required to proclaim their acceptance of Jesus as savior?


Isaiah 49:15
: “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.” (KJV)

This scripture isn’t even talking about fetal life. It is referring to the relationship of God to the Children of Israel, using the metaphor of born children, already sucking. The reference to “womb” is where he came from, not where he is or who he is now. Use of this scripture in relevance to abortion is very far from its actual context and, in any case, it would have been a perfect opportunity to condemn abortion, but no such condemnation or prohibition is here.

This verse would actually be better applied to those who claim to be “Christian,” yet defend the lives of unborn potential children while turning away hungry or sick children of disadvantage.


Luke 1:36,41
: “[36] And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. [41] And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost.” (KJV)

This scripture contains the words of the angel to Mary, informing her of Elisabeth’s pregnancy, already in the sixth month (3rd trimester); Mary’s visit occurs sometime after that — so we know that this is well past quickening and normal fetal movement, and even well past the point where purely elective abortion is allowed or practiced anywhere in the United States.

In this situation, with God’s and others’ foreknowledge, there is an awareness that the two fetuses discussed will, in fact, go beyond “potential” to become actual human beings of unique and special greatness.

In any case, the examples of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ, as two of the most exceptional figures in the Christian message, are hardly the basis for establishing general rules that apply to the routine lives of ordinary people and their daily situations. Special cases rarely serve as good models for general rules.

That said, however, there is certainly nothing here about first trimester pregnancies (when most abortions occur) since both Mary and Elisabeth are already well beyond that point in this passage, or anything that even remotely suggests that a first trimester embryo has a soul, or equal status as a human.

And even if it did, there is still not a single denunciation of abortion in the Bible — again, this would have been a perfect opportunity for comment on the subject of abortion if there was any such intent, and the Bible writers intentionally remain silent.

Exodus 20:13: “Thou shalt not kill.” (KJV)

This scripture in Exodus 20:13 from the Ten Commandments is often translated in more modern versions as “Thou shalt not commit murder.”

One could easily look at the Ten Commandments and view them as something of an “index” to the Law of Moses which follows in the remainder of Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

Each of the Ten Commandments, from the rituals by which we show love of God and eschew idols or “other gods,” defining taking the Name of the Lord in vain, or how we honor our parents, etc., is defined in more detail elsewhere in the Law.

Considering that the Bible, including other sections of the Law of Moses, also present numerous situations in where killing is not only permitted but commanded, to imply that this summary point prohibits all taking of life is to claim that every other part of the Bible that allows or even requires it creates an internal contradiction.

In the same way, “murder” is carefully defined elsewhere in Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy as to details regarding relationships and situations (but not methods) and including the specific penalty for each class of murder. And none of those who claim a Biblical basis for claiming that abortion is murder are ever able to cite which of the penalties applies to abortion.

Those details specifically omit any reference to abortion, while covering other subjects at an equivalent level of specificity, so it is very dishonest to try and apply it to abortion any more than to self-defense — a woman defending her body against an unwanted “invader” in cases where that new life is not desired.

It is interesting to note that the Bible defines in detail many types of both justifiable (self-defense, executions, wartime) and criminal killing (various types of homicides and relationships to those killed — strangers, neighbors, Israelites, family members, etc.) are discussed, along with any applicable penalties.

Even when the subject of the fetus’ existence or death comes up, it still does not prohibit the well-known practice of abortion. So, obviously it was not an oversight, either in the original pronouncements or the failure of the later prophets, Jesus or the apostles to clarify.

The Bible neither promotes nor discourages abortion. Period. The intentional omission of prohibitions against abortion obviously mean they intended that to be left to personal choice, unless one believes God made a mistake.

Such a simplistic and simple-minded definition of this blanket statement, the commandment “thou shalt not kill,” with no other qualification, could also be cited to prohibit vaccinations that kill millions of viruses or bacteria to save one human (the statement does not specifically mention that it applies only to killing humans); it could prohibit killing shrimp, lobster, fish, birds and mammals to satisfy the lust for artery-clogging animal fat. If one claims that it only means human life, then this blanket statement would prohibit still killing sperms, eggs, or even adult humans in situations of self-defense, in wartime or for executions. However, no one who understands the ten commandments, not even vegetarians, would claim such blanket authority from Exodus 20:13.

Unlike these other subsets to non-excepted principles, killing is defined at a level to which classes are identified — and some are prohibited while others are permitted (killing of animals, killing humans in self defense) and some are mandated (killing of humans in wartime, lawful execution for crimes including many acts such as adultery, accusations of “witchcraft,” worshipping other deities, working on the Sabbath or even talking back to parents).

In other words, at the level of detail definition that would have included abortion, there are both prohibitions and exceptions to the rule, so at this level of specificity the principle is not applicable to non-excepted subsets, unless you include abortion as a subset woman’s self defense of her body, in which case it becomes specifically permitted by the umbrella principle.

The Bible offers various statements about fetal movement after quickening, as well as references to the physical formation of fetal development. It is interesting to note that, if the Bible’s silence on abortion in the Law of Moses had been an oversight (does God make oversights?) these many subsequent references by the prophets, or later clarification of the Law by Jesus or the apostles in their epistles, gave many excellent opportunities to clarify their intent against the well-known practice of abortion, if they had intended scripture to condemn it. Discussions of fetal formation, life and movement would have been a perfect opportunity to condemn abortion — if the Bible or any of the Bible writers ever had any such intent. But they didn’t.


Exodus 21:22
: “If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart [from her], and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges [determine].” (KJV)

Note to those who try to construe this passage into somehow opposing the right of a woman (or her husband, in the days before women had many rights) to voluntarily choose to have an abortion.

This scripture has nothing to do with the voluntary, intentional choice of a woman (or her husband). It is about two men struggling together who accidentally cause a woman to have a miscarriage, and the resulting penalties. The point is that this verse is about third-party causation rather than voluntary choice.

Without trying to equate human tissue with property, it is more analogous to someone voluntarily disposing of unwanted property (no problem) as opposed to a third party taking it against the owner’s will (theft).

Even so, notice that the value here is on the woman, not the fetus. The penalties vary, depending on whether or not there is “harm.”

Harm? To whom?

The fetus?

In the passage, there has already been a miscarriage — by definition the fetus is already dead. The variability of “harm” obviously means injury to the woman. But even if there is no harm (injury) they must still have a penalty because, like modern fundamentalists wish to do, they deprived her (or her husband) of choice (in this case, to complete a pregnancy).

This example of a third-party violent attack (or carelessness) on another person has no relevance whatsoever to the situation in which a woman makes a voluntary choice to abort the contents of her own body under medically-supervised conditions.

The fact that this example is even raised regarding something it has no relation to shows the abject desperation of those who want to find something, anything, in the Bible, but who cannot find anything that actually says what they want it to. They need to just accept the Bible as it is, or just write their own the way they want it to be.


Psalm 139:13-16
: “[13] For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. [14] I will praise thee; for I am fearfully [and] wonderfully made: marvelous [are] thy works; and [that] my soul knoweth right well. [15] My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, [and] curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. [16] Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all [my members] were written, [which] in continuance were fashioned, when [as yet there was] none of them.” (KJV)

This scripture describes the purely physical process of bodily formation, a process that everyone knows is occurring in utero. Here is a perfect opportunity for a later prophet to also confirm that a soul is also attached to these purely physical body parts (cell tissues) of “unformed substance,” and clarify any ambiguity in the supposedly “perfect” Law of Moses, yet no such clarification is forthcoming.

The context here is that Psalms 139 is David’s praise to the Lord, written as the lyrics to music. Here David is praising God, not commenting on embryology and, in any case, says nothing about the soul or humanity of the embryo.


Genesis 9:6-7
: “[6] Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. [7] And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.” (KJV) [Compare Genesis 1:28]

In this scripture, verse six clearly refers to human life. If the fetus or embryo is not yet a human person, this clearly does not apply. If one wants to be literal, it refers to killing a man. Not even women or children! Certainly it is not referring to mere human genetic tissue — hair, fingernails, other organs, pre-human potentially-developing tissue. The passage does not mention abortion here or anywhere else. Later, in giving the law (Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy) forms of killing that are acceptable and unacceptable are spelled out in detail, with varying punishments and consequences for various forms of forbidden killing. Abortion is never mentioned once. It is neither promoted nor prohibited. The Bible is completely neutral; it is left to individual human choice.

Verse seven is a command to “Be fertile, then, and multiply.”  The commandment to “multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it” is a very specific command to a specific group of people, given only twice in the Bible: once to Adam and Eve at the start of the human race (Gen 1:28), and again to Noah and his family when they are the only human survivors after the Great Flood (Gen 9:7) and are tasked with repopulating the Earth.

In both of these specific situations, there is a severe population shortage. Clearly the context is to build up the human species. The command has been obeyed. The earth is filled with people. Many today would argue that we have been not only fruitful, but way beyond that. The earth has been subdued.

Adam and Eve, and later Noah and his family of flood survivors, were told to have “dominion” over the earth. To have “dominion” does not mean to destroy. The same word, “dominion,” is used throughout the Bible to describe a husband’s relationship to his wife and children, but while the Bible is certainly chauvinistic and patriarchal in favoring male authority, it does not equate this dominion with destroying them; rather to conserve and protect that which is precious.

This command was given specifically to Adam and Eve and to Noah and his family when they were the only people on earth. It was very specific and narrowly focused, like other individual commandments telling a specific person to go to this place or perform a specific action.

The command to multiply was never repeated again to any other people (as other commandments that are repeated over and over), nor was it ever included in any generalized codification of commandments, nor was it needed by any other people. And since abortion has been known and practiced by all peoples in all times (whether legal or not), we can look at the great population of the human family and see that abortion has hardly stood in the way of our species being “fruitful.”


Genesis 2:7
: “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (KJV)

This passage describe the creation and ensoulment of Adam, the first human. Here ensoulment clearly is defined in the Bible as occurring after the taking of “first breath.” And please note that the reference equating “ensoulment” and “breath of life” can be found not only in this reference to the special creation of Adam, but throughout both Old and New Testaments, applying to all the rest of us. Clearly the concept of ensoulment beginning with the first breath taken is a general doctrine, not merely specific to the unique case of Adam.

Numbers 5:12-28: And last, but certainly not least, we absolutely need to cite the one passage in the Bible that the anti-choice extremists will never tell you about.

While the Bible never forbids (nor encourages) abortion, there is one passage from the Law of Moses that can be interpreted as authorizing abortion in the case of a married woman who is suspected of committing adultery and therefore might become impregnated by a man other than her husband.

This passage says that if a man suspects his wife to have been unfaithful (and thus subject to becoming pregnant by someone else), he can take her to the priest who will prescribe the “bitter water,” that the Hebrews believed to be an abortifacient produced by combining pennyroyal with black cohosh, for a potion that will magically indicate whether she is innocent or guilty of the offense. Oh, and by the way, this potion was also believed to be something that could terminate any unwanted pregnancy that might also have existed.

Note that this is part of the Law of Moses. This is not a specific instance to a particular individual or couple. This was a general prescription of practice for God’s “Chosen People” — the Jews — from whom the promised Messiah was supposed to appear.

The reference is this passage is to the Hebrew ritual of Sotah, using an ancient abortifacient of “bitter water” described in the King James Version as “ephah of barley meal.”

The ritual is required in cases where a man suspects that his wife may have been impregnated by another man. According to the Hebrews’ superstitions about the ritual of Sotah, if the woman were guilty, any possible bastard fetus would be expelled (aborted), but would remain safe if she were innocent.

While abortion per se is not mentioned here or anywhere else in the Bible, the references to Sotah causing “thy high to rot, and thy belly to swell,” as well as the “curse” to a woman (the loss of a pregnancy or the barrenness of total infertility), may not be clearly understood by many readers in our time, but would be clearly understood in the era in which it was written. There are many non-scriptural accounts showing how herbal abortifacients were employed, using herbal methods such as combining pennyroyal with black cohosh or blue cohosh [more detailed accounts and precise methods can be found by going to any search engine, such as Google and typing in as required key words: “cohosh blue black pennyroyal abortion”].

Historical religious views

Early Hebrew Views

The Talmud, a core foundational interpretive text of Rabbinical Judaism whose earliest passages date back to Old Testament times, has generally been seen as being pro-choice.

The following are exact quotes from p. 238 of the Steinsaltz Edition of the Talmud, translated by Rabbi Israel V. Berman, 1989 edition (published by Random House):

“A fetus is [considered as] the thigh of its mother, i.e., it is like a limb of the mother, and is not a separate entity.”

“A human fetus [is] less than a fully undependent human being.”

“A fetus cannot inherit property until it is born.”

The twelfth century Jewish rabbi Maimonides, one of the premier influences in the development of modern Jewish understanding, taught that these Talmudic passages in conjunction with the Biblical passages in Exodus 21:22, along with the “first breath” concept (as in Adam) [Genesis 2:7] permitted abortion until the baby’s head had emerged. (His work, “The Guide of the Perplexed,” completed in 1190, blended Jewish thought with the teachings of Aristotle. The work was so highly regarded that it was also embraced by other non-Jewish theologians, and was even cited by St. Thomas Aquinas as a seminal source.)

Christian-era Non-Biblical  opposition to abortion

In fairness, while there were early works that accepted the right of women (or at least their husbands) to abort unwanted pregnancies, there are also early Christian writings that spoke out in opposition to elective abortion.

Here are some of the early non-biblical references often cited by conservative Christians opposing abortion dating back to the early Christian era:

Sibylline Oracles 2, pg. 339

Didache, Chapter 2 verse 3

Letter to Barnabus from the Codex Sinaiticus from unknown author

Letter to Diognetus [Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus dates to around 130 A.D. — citation Chapter 5:6]

While it is absolutely necessary to acknowledge that some early Christians did oppose abortion, several key points also become equally clear and have to be acknowledged:

1. Those in Biblical times did know about abortion, so the Bible’s silence on abortion cannot be excused on the basis that they didn’t know about it. However, since God supposedly breathed the inspiration for the Bible and he supposedly did know everything, even that should have been no excuse. Since God could see the future, including the future controversy about this issue, the decision not to provide a simple, clear, unambiguous statement proactively preventing that controversy must have been intentional.

2. The passages that opposed abortion were not included in the Bible. While several of these texts were considered for inclusion in the Canon, not one of these opportunities to include a clear statement of Biblical opposition to abortion was accepted. Any effort to have the Bible unambiguously oppose abortion was rejected!

3. Nothing that actually made it into the Bible opposes abortion.

The simple fact is that the Bible is completely silent about abortion. The Bible does not encourage or promote abortion nor does it discourage or oppose abortion in any way. It is completely neutral, therefore leaving that up to each individual person to make their own personal choice.

But believe it or not, I have had people respond by asking, “Well, then, where in the Bible does it say that abortion is permitted?”

Such a comment somehow suggests that everything is forbidden unless God specifically OK’s it. Where in the Bible does it say that it is permitted to use a computer, drive a motorized vehicle, fly in the air, inoculate against disease (and thus kill billions of God’s creations — the viruses and bacteria)? [I am not comparing zygotes to viruses, merely showing how silly it is to make such a ridiculous assertion.]

Oh, these things weren’t invented yet?

You don’t think that God (who knew Jeremiah before the foundation of the world) could foresee the future day?

Whatever the reason, those things are still not specifically authorized. What about things that were known? Where in the Bible does it say it’s OK to climb a tree? Kill a shrimp or pig for dinner (I can show you where it is forbidden)?

The only rational presumption is to conclude that what is not prohibited (either directly or by inclusion in a subset of what is prohibited) is permitted.

Abortion was known and practiced in Bible times. And there are lots of other things that were within the scope of technology for Bible times, but not authorized by the Bible: is surfing allowed by the Bible?

Are competitive team sports authorized in scripture?

Picnics? Climbing trees? Going to the zoo?

The Bible is completely silent about abortion. Neutral. The Bible neither supports, encourages, condemns nor discourages the practice. It is left to individual discretion … or choice. As to whether abortion should be legal, as discussed at length in the accompanying article on legal aspects of reproductive choice, my view takes the balance of the middle ground: the far left (Chinese Communists) want forced abortion mandated by law; the far right (Christian Conservatives) want forced pregnancy mandated by law; the middle ground (Moderate Middle) leaves it up to each individual … just like the Bible.
Article on legal issues: https://emerald7tfb.wordpress.com/2011/05/22/legal-aspects-of-reproductive-rights/

Ensoulment

Can more than one soul inhabit the same body? If one believes that only one soul can inhabit a body, then what happens in the case of identical multiple births?

Each twin or triplet has its own soul at birth and is its own person.

Yet at the time of fertilization / conception, there was only one cell, one entity and one unique genetic individual. One must conclude either that multiple souls can inhabit a body, or that the soul has not yet come to exist at the time (after conception / fertilization) of the division into multiples.

Let’s compare the development of a home to the development of an ensouled human person.

The owner is like the ovum. The architect is like the sperm. The owner (egg) has the complete resources to build a home, including the ideas of how it should take place, but lacks the precise finishing of the plans for doing so.

The architect (sperm) replaces those vague, general ideas with a more technically viable representation, infusing his own new additional thoughts and ideas. The resources/ideas of the owner come together with the technical specifications of the architect, and the result of this union is a complete blueprint, or set of building plans (a fertilized zygote).

These plans now have to be implanted to an actual construction site, provided by the owner. Even after actual construction has begun, there is nothing yet resembling a HOME.

The framing rapidly takes shape and soon begins to resemble the form of a home, though there are no actual walls, insulation, pipes or wiring yet. Even as construction progresses and the wiring and plumbing are added, there still is not a home. Even in the final stages of construction, it looks like a home, but no one lives there. It does not actual become a home until a family moves into it (ensoulment) and gives it the spiritual warmth that distinguishes a home from a house.

While there are many references in the Bible to ensoulment of those who have been born, and many references to conception, birth and pregnancy, there is not one single Bible verse that indicates that ensoulment occurs prior to the taking of first breath.

Believe it or not, some have responded by asking me to show evidence that ensoulment did not occur at conception or during pregnancy. One of the most basic principles in Logic 101 is that it is impossible to prove a negative (i.e., that there is not a soul). The person asserting an affirmative claim (i.e., that there is a soul) is the one with the burden of proving that assertion. I am not making the positive assertion of when ensoulment occurs, or even if such a thing exists. Those who claim that it occurs at or before a certain point are the ones required to prove the claim they assert.

Recommended reading:

Additional recommended resources regarding the history of abortion during Bible times:

J. Ricci, The Genealogy of Gynaecology 52, 84, 113, 149 (2d ed. 1950).

L. Lader, Abortion 75-77 (1966)

K. Niswander, Medical Abortion Practices in the United States, in Abortion and the Law 37, 38-40 (D. Smith ed. 1967)

G. Williams, The Sanctity of Life and the Criminal Law 148 (1957)

J. Noonan, An Almost Absolute Value in History, in The Morality of Abortion 1, 3-7 (J. Noonan ed. 1970)

Quay, Justifiable Abortion – Medical and Legal Foundations (pt. 2), 49 Geo. L. J. 395, 406-422 (1961) (hereinafter Quay).

Tribe, Laurence (Constitutional Law professor at Harvard) Abortion: The Clash of Absolutes (section on history) 1990:Norton.

NEW! NOW AVAILABLE:
My new book Who Gets to Choose? (ISBN 9780944363201), from which these WordPress pages have been excerpted, and which includes the material from all the pages on this site plus additional material not in these web articles, has now been expanded, edited and published, and is now available, and can be ordered in in a paperback print edition from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com, as well as other outlets (e-book formats coming soon):

Amazon.com (in paperback print edition — Kindle e-book coming soon):
http://www.amazon.com/Who-Gets-Choose-T-Barans/dp/0944363202/

Barnes and Noble.com (in paperback print edition — Nook e-book coming soon):
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/who-gets-to-choose-t-f-barans/1122746414

More detailed information about the book can be found on the website of my publisher, Word Wizards, at:
http://www.wordwiz72.com/choice.html

And “like” us on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/Who-Gets-to-Choose-1646180752291809/

Special note: I would like to express appreciation to Davis D. Danizier (“3D”) for assistance in compiling the religious perspective and, in particular, the scriptural documentation.

Dave is the author of the excellent book Betrayal of Jesus which, along with his web pages, present his own important contribution to the demystification of Christian mythology. The website can be found at:
http://danizier.wordpress.com/

NOTE ON COMMENTS: Comments are welcome, both those in agreement with my views and those representing differing views. A calm, reasoned exchange of dissenting opinions is welcome, but trolling, flaming, hate speech or hijacking the thread to promote unrelated pet projects will result in the participant being banned. Comments are subject to moderation and approval (and note that I review each comment myself, and I am not on the computer 24-hours a day, so there is usually a time lag between submission and possible approval). Brief, concise, specific comments are easiest to approve. Lengthy, rambling comments, or those that rehash points already made, clutter the thread and reduce both readability and the likelihood of approval. Trolling with inflammatory hate speech (“Abortion is murder!”) or personal insults will not be approved (unless someday I decide to post a “best of” collection of the hate speech stuff.)

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Late Term Abortion, Parental Consent, Abortion in cases of Rape and Other Issues in Reproductive Freedom

This article addresses other popular issues and additional aspects that are often brought up regarding abortion, such as discussions of late-term abortion (extremely rare and only done under conditions of extreme medical trauma), Parental Consent, Abortion in cases of Rape, comparing abortion to the Holocaust or slavery, the dishonesty of graphic posters and signs, issues regarding late term abortion, the myth of abortion-induced guit, and other issues in women’s reproductive self-determination.

Late Term Abortion

The reality of late-term abortion, however, is that:

a) It is extremely, extremely rare — less than 4 out of 10,000 abortions.

b) It is used almost exclusively to terminate pregnancies that were wanted, but in which something has gone wrong. Many of those who have late term abortions are traumatized twice: once in the loss of a WANTED pregnancy, and again in being demonized by cruel individuals trying to promote a religious agenda no matter how many lives they destroy or how many people they hurt. Some of the worst cruelty and bullying has occurred by those protesting and obstructing against women obtaining late-term abortions of pregnancies they wanted, already traumatized by but which went terribly wrong,

c) It is being exploited by those opposed to women’s reproductive self-determination as a means of demonizing all abortions, including first-term abortions (when almost 90% of all abortions actually occur) which have little if any resemblance to abortions in late term.

Abortion and Rape

No person who denies the right of women to terminate an unwanted pregnancy that results from rape  can ever raise the issue that a woman should make her “choice” prior to consenting to pregnancy (and no, it is not “rare” — it happens tens of thousands of times ever year, and no, it is not a “gift from god” and no, there is no such thing as a “legitimate rape” and, no, the female body does NOT “shut that whole thing down” and yes, any rape can result in a pregnancy).

Of course, that whole “consent” argument is absurd to begin with, as discussed at length in my article at:

https://emerald7tfb.wordpress.com/2011/05/22/moral-issues-life-vs-personhood/

But even for those who labor under that delusion, they cannot discuss consent as an argument against abortion if they refuse to recognize the right to abort in situations where it is not relevant.

Oh, and by the way, men need to remember that even men can be raped, and not just in prisons.

Several years ago I was involved in helping provide support services in a case where a young teenage boy, who was not gay, was raped by a same-sex rapist (which is far more commonly done by those who are straight, not by gays — rape is not a crime of sex, but a crime of domination.).

I would never wish this on anyone, including those who demonstrate a lack of empathy for the victims of rape, whose numbers are overwhelmingly female.

To anyone who bears no compassion for the victims of rape, really want you to actually, seriously think about this and how YOU would feel if you were penetrated by an unwanted assailant. against your will.

Parental Notification

A girl who is old enough to be pregnant is old enough to make certain decisions that affect the rest of HER life and which SHE more than anyone else will bear consequences for the rest of her life.

I have never seen a “parental notification” proposal that includes a requirement that the parents who make a decision opposite what the girl wants are forced to assume lifetime liability for responsibility and support of the child; and how do the anti-choice conservatives feel about a situation where the parents think an abortion would be the best way to handle a problem situation, but a girl wants to carry to term?

Some point out that a girl can get an abortion to terminate an unwanted pregnancy without telling her parents, but can’t get an aspirin without parental permission. We are not talking about headaches and aspirin here, but life-changing consequences, regarding an issue that is loaded with emotional and moral implications that don’t apply to aspirin.

She may not be old enough to make all adult decisions, or to consent to legal adult choices or even adult relationships, but if she is pregnant, whether she aborts, carries or gives the child up for adoption,

SHE will be the one who endures the consequences for the rest of her life. That is true whether she was forcibly raped, the victim of incest or “thought” she was in love and was trying to act like the adult that she isn’t. In any case, the examples of incest and child abuse are, alone, valid reasons why notification laws are not workable.

Almost all girls with a problem situation will turn first to their parents for help. If a girl can’t go to her parents with this kind of problem, then she should not have to, especially since the inability to do so already raises red flags about the family dynamics.

And the alternative is what? A scared teen girl being forced to go to a judge?

The whole point is to set up one more roadblock to make abortion harder. Newsflash! The whole point of having LEGAL abortion rights is so she doesn’t have to have a “do it yourself” or back-alley job. She IS going to be talking to adult professionals, even in the extremely rare instances when she can’t go to her parents. Look at the reality. This issue is not about parental control; if she can’t go to her parents with this kind of problem at this age, they have already lost control. This is about stopping girls from having abortions at all.

And this issue cuts both ways: to those who think the parents should make the decision, I would ask them to consider: will they support the right of the parents to decide a girl should get an abortion if she gets pregnant, wants to keep the baby, and the parents don’t think she is mature enough to handle that responsibility and don’t want to see her “ruin her life”?

Will they let the parents decide to require an abortion against the teenager’s wishes?

The Myth of Abortion-induced Guilt

One of the enduring myths about abortion is that women who have one will be emotionally scarred. The reality is that millions of women have had abortions, many more than one. The vast majority have no regrets and almost all report that it was the right choice for them in that situation. The reality is that a routine first trimester abortion, such as 90% of abortions, is quick, painless and medically safe — in fact, less medical risk than nine months of full term pregnancy and childbirth.

Very few women express regrets, and numerous studies spanning decades have consistently confirmed that nine out of ten feel no subsequent guilt or regret.

The few instances where regret occurs can be traced to situations in which either other people pressured a woman to make a choice that was NOT her free choice, freely made, or women who later converted to religious sects or cults that imposed external guilt that they would not have experienced absent the imposition of that outside self-fulfilling prophecy.

L.A. Times: 1-27-2011 p. A8

“Abortion does not prompt mental problems, study finds” by Shari Roan

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jan/26/health/la-he-abortion-20110127

San Diego Union-Tribune 1-27-2011 p. A15:

No higher mental health risk after abortion, study finds” by Alicia Chang, Associated Press

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/jan/26/study-no-higher-mental-health-risk-after-abortion/

Base source: New England Journal of Medicine 1-27-2011

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa0905882

Consistent with 2008 study by Linda Beckman

Study conducted by: American Psychological Association

“Mental Health and Abortion” by Brenda Major, PhD, Chair, Mark Appelbaum, PhD, Linda Beckman, PhD, Mary Ann Dutton, PhD, Nancy Felipe Russo, PhD, Carolyn West, PhD, August 2008

http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/abortion/index.aspx

Abortion and the Holocaust

Jewish people had measurable EEG brain waves and actual thoughts, feelings, emotions and sentience.

Jewish people had measurable EEG brain waves and actual thoughts, feelings, emotions and sentience.

Fetuses do not.

Jews were NOT occupying the most private part of someone else’s body.

Comparing the value of a living, breathing, sentient Jew to that of a speck of embryonic tissue is a tremendously anti-Semitic insult to a people who have been persecuted enough.

There are several big differences: In the Holocaust they killed real, live, conscious and feeling human beings, with individual experience and personal histories. A 1st trimester abortion removes cell tissue that has no sensation or awareness or thoughts or feelings or experience of any kind. Zero. Not even any measurable EEG brain waves.

By the end of the first trimester, neural pathways have barely been formed, but are not yet sending transmissions. There is zero consciousness. Early embryos (fertilized) can actually be frozen, stored for years, AND REVIVED (recently a BABY was born from an embryo frozen and stored MORE THAN 7 YEARS after fertilization).

No brain wave endowed human has even been brought NEAR the freezing point (even briefly) and then been revived. With apologies to the cryogenic societies, that can’t be done to a human life – once a full (not potential) human is frozen, it is DEAD. Whether it is the existence of a soul added later, or the development of adequate biological complexity, or whatever, there is a big difference between a fetus (potential human) and an actual human.

But even if a fetus WERE human, it would not have the right to dominate the body of someone else and demand 24-hour care for 9 months from a woman against her will; after birth the baby is pretty helpless, but constant, ongoing care from a SPECIFIC caregiver is not required.

Anyone who can equate JEWS with insentient fetal tissue with no brain waves is ANTI SEMITIC.

Abortion and Slavery

Comparing the horrible human rights abuses of fully human slaves with the “rights” of undeveloped cell tissue is a terrible cultural offense against the victims of slavery and their descendants. Maybe white males just don’t feel enough compassion for the victims of slavery, mostly from other racial backgrounds, or the victims of anti-choice policies, who are mostly women.

The fetus is not a full human being, but a POTENTIAL one any more than an acorn is the same as an oak. Thus a fetus itself, until born, does not have HUMAN rights.

And EVEN IF IT WERE HUMAN, it would not have the right to demand control of another person’s body against her will. Imagine a hypothetical court case involving two estranged brothers. One had two healthy kidneys, the other’s kidneys had failed and he needed a transplant in order to survive. They were genetically compatible, but the healthy brother refused to give up one of his kidneys. The sick brother — a fully-human being — sued in court to force the organ donation, saying he had an inalienable right to life. The court rightly agreed that, while voluntary organ donation is a beautiful choice, people cannot be FORCED to keep someone else alive by using their bodies AGAINST THEIR WILL.

The closest similarity to slavery applicable to the issue of abortion is the attempt to deny a woman’s right to prevent a fetus from controlling her body against her will and making HER a … SLAVE.

As I have said, the only relevant comparison between the issues of slavery and abortion is that of sentient being (Black slave) to sentient being (woman) who are both forced to have their bodies used for the interests of others against their will.

Please remember, that the modern women’s rights movement began at the 1848 (pre-Civil War) World Anti-Slavery Convention in London, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott — women — were refused participation and quickly realized that women were no better off than slaves and they better get that straightened out and it was just as much of a priority.

Graphic Posters and Signs

Who are the deceptive ones carrying gross signs with graphic pictures of aborted fetuses around schools and clinics to FORCE people to see such pictures? The pictures themselves are deceptive … either using late-term fetuses in a general campaign against all abortions (a vast majority of which occur in the 1st trimester) or against “discretionary” late-term abortion, which are virtually ALL done for serious medical reasons, at great trauma to the women who have them [since they wanted their pregnancies — otherwise would have had the abortions much earlier], whose pain — the pain of REAL, not potential human persons — is trivialized by the cold, heartless people who then have the nerve to call themselves “conceived-again” Christians.

Since they can’t convince people on the merits of serious argument, the pro-life extremists who use such tactics have just one hope: to try and gross people out with pictures with as much blood and gore as they can fit on a poster, and then parade where small children will be present. In MY community, such tactics have backfired, and even pro-life believers have expressed their outrage and revulsion. Many medical procedures are gruesome. Should we show posters of open-heart surgeries to small children? People whose faces are being reconstructed after grotesque auto accidents? The more extreme elements of the pro-life movement don’t care about women who are human persons; they only care about fetal tissue. Should I, as a vegetarian, parade in front of YOUR favorite restaurant where YOU are eating MEAT, with pictures of what goes on in the slaughterhouse where your meal came from? If you find such a thought revolting, is it because you know in your heart the vileness of your wanton, unnecessary killing of animals just to feed your lustful addiction to fat? Would there be a difference? [For the record, as I have stated many times, I do not equate animals with persons and am respectfully pro-CHOICE on the subject of vegetarianism — I do not go around carrying signs or yelling “Meat is Murder,” but I could make a lot stronger case for their position than the pro-life one, since birds and mammals clearly ARE sentient, conscious and autonomous – not requiring that you use your body to keep them alive.]

Abortion protests

NEW! NOW AVAILABLE:

My new book Who Gets to Choose? (ISBN 9780944363201), from which these WordPress pages have been excerpted, and which includes the material from all the pages on this site plus additional material not in these web articles, has now been expanded, edited and published, and is now available, and can be ordered in in a paperback print edition from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com, as well as other outlets (e-book formats coming soon):

Amazon.com (in paperback print edition — Kindle e-book coming soon):
http://www.amazon.com/Who-Gets-Choose-T-Barans/dp/0944363202/

Barnes and Noble.com (in paperback print edition — Nook e-book coming soon):
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/who-gets-to-choose-t-f-barans/1122746414

More detailed information about the book can be found on the website of my publisher, Word Wizards, at:
http://www.wordwiz72.com/choice.html

And “like” us on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/Who-Gets-to-Choose-1646180752291809/

NOTE ON COMMENTS: Comments are welcome, both those in agreement with my views and those representing differing views. Comments are subject to moderation and approval (and note that I review each comment myself, and I am not on the computer 24-hours a day, so there is usually a time lag between submission and possible approval). Brief, concise, specific comments are easiest to approve. Lengthy, rambling comments, or those that rehash points already made, clutter the thread and reduce both readability and the likelihood of approval. Inflammatory hate speech (“Abortion is murder!”) or personal insults will not be approved (unless someday I decide to post a “best of” collection of the hate speech stuff.

Comments may be edited for length, space and relevance, but comments accepted for display will accurately present the content submitted. Personal information such as e-mail or other identifying details are not displayed publicly. Comments are knowingly and voluntarily submitted for possible one-time public use and with permission for public display at the sole discretion of the moderator.

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