CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Abortion Myths

Aug 17, 2008

Abortion is one of the most controversial social issues of our day. Heat rather than light often characterises the abortion debate. There are a number of common arguments heard from the pro-choice side. They all seem to involve misleading and mythical claims. Indeed, almost all these arguments sidestep the most important issue: whether the unborn in fact are fully human, and therefore deserving of life, liberty and protection.

Here I present two common abortion myths, and my response to them. Future articles will discuss more such abortion myths.

Myth: Abortion is a “woman’s issue”

This is true to an extent, given that only women undergo abortions. But it is also false, since roughly half of all abortion victims are males. But more than this, abortion is a human rights issue. To say only women can debate the issue is quite beside the point. As E.J. Mishan has remarked: “Perhaps the crudest defence of abortion rights, more often thrown out in anger or in the heat of controversy, is the assertion that no man has a right to pronounce on the subject since he does not know what it is like to be a woman, an injunction that might tempt a retort no less impertinent, that a woman has no right to condemn a rapist since she has no idea of what it is like to be a man.”

Moreover, this argument assumes the position that people cannot assess a moral issue unless they have experienced it themselves. But that is like saying we cannot condemn slavery unless we have first been slaves, or we cannot condemn arson unless we have first become one of its victims. Does the fact that I am not Jewish mean I cannot speak out on the Holocaust? Whether an issue is right or wrong does not depend on our experience of it.

Sometimes this myth is put this way: “men don’t get pregnant”. But similar objections can be raised to this claim. Does this mean mothers have no right whatsoever to decide whether their male sons can be circumcised or not, since women will never experience a male circumcision?

Also, men may not get pregnant, but does that mean they can say nothing on the issue? Recall that it was nine men (US Supreme Court Justices) who gave women the right to abortion in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Will these same pro-choicers argue – to be consistent – that this decision was invalid because it was made by men?

Myth: Abortion simply removes some unwanted tissue

The pro-death camp endlessly uses the term “termination of pregnancy” and other euphemisms. Now if it is true that the “fetus” which is “terminated” is not really human, but is just a blob of protoplasm, or at best, “a potential life”, then abortion is not much different than removing a tonsil or a false eyelash. But if the fetus is indeed a living human being, then the whole story changes.

The question of when a human life begins is of the utmost importance. As F. LaGard Smith puts it, “When it comes to human life, we dare not play games with either doubts or definitions. If, in fact, we cannot decide when human life begins, then we cannot safely assume that it hasn’t begun. At a minimum, the almost universal agreement that an unborn fetus is both human and living must raise a presumption in favor of human life. Are we prepared to find out that we’ve been wrong all along in denying the obvious?”

The stakes are indeed too high. How would a hunter fare before a court of law if, while hunting, he had shot at a movement in the bush and killed, not a bird, but a fellow hunter? Surely the judge would ask, “If you were not sure, why did you shoot?” The burden of proof must lie with those who contend that human life is not being eliminated.

But biology and science are on the pro-life side on this debate. At conception a wholly unique individual is formed, complete with its own genetic makeup. It is not just one more cell of the mother, but a distinct and different life. As philosopher Peter Kreeft explains, the zygote “is completely individual, it’s completely different. It’s got its own genetic code. If you cloned any cell in the mother’s body, you’d get a replica of Mommy. But if you cloned the zygote, you’d get a totally different person.”

Francis Beckwith explains: “Given the facts of embryology and fetal development, at conception, a whole human being, with its own genome, comes into existence, needing only food, water, shelter, and oxygen, and a congenial environment in which to interact, to grow and develop itself to maturity in accordance with her own intrinsically ordered nature.”

That human life begins at conception (or fertilisation) is not opinion but scientific fact. Indeed, as an article in Nature recently put it, “Your world was shaped in the first 24 hours after conception”. Indeed, some of the more honest pro-abortionists do admit that abortion takes a human life. Feminist Naomi Wolf for example has conceded that the “pro-life slogan, ‘Abortion stops a beating heart’ is incontrovertibly true. While images of violent fetal death work magnificently for pro-lifers as political polemic, the pictures are not polemical in themselves: they are biological facts. We know this.”

It seems that many pro-abortionists are all too aware that human life may indeed be present in the unborn, thus the remarkable lengths to which some of them will go to hide this fact. Take but two examples. Contrast a spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) and a chosen abortion. There is grief for the baby lost in a miscarriage. But in an abortion there is “merely” the loss of an unwanted fetus. Says Smith, “Have you ever noticed that the only time those of us who are not in the medical profession refer to a fetus is when we talk about abortion? In every other case, we refer to a baby. We don’t ask, ‘What are you going to name the fetus?’ Nor do we console a woman who has just miscarried by saying, ‘I’m sorry you lost your fetus.’ In referring to a pregnancy, we invariably understand that we are dealing with a little person developing in the womb. Only when it is subject to an abortion must a baby go incognito.” It’s a baby if you want it, a clump of tissue if you don’t!

Another significant factor which seems to belie the claim that the fetus is simply a collection of cells is post-abortion trauma and guilt. If a fetus is indeed just a blob of tissue, why all the trauma, why all the guilt? When an appendix is removed, no one experiences guilt – a little pain perhaps, but no psychological and emotional upheavals. “Guilt about abortions was not invented by the pope” says Smith. Indeed, it seems to be a universal condition. As another commentator puts it, “Findings such as these do not constitute an argument against abortion. But they certainly tell us we are not in the realm of tonsillectomies.”

The ironies of the pro-choicers are indeed incredible. We can choose to have a baby, or dispose of it, but it is no longer “politically correct” to choose to wear a fur coat. In America teenagers need parental permission to get their ears pierced, but not to get an abortion. Outside the womb, child abuse is clearly not an option; inside the womb it’s “a woman’s right to choose.” As one observer puts it, “What irony that a society confronted with plastic bags filled with the remains of aborted babies should be more concerned about the problem of recycling the plastic.”

Choice is indeed the false god of this age. Hiding behind such facades as “I’m personally against abortion but I won’t impose my values on others – it’s their choice” just won’t wash. One might just as well say, “I’m personally against rape and genocide, but others must make up their own minds.” There are some areas that are just out of bounds, just beyond choice.

Conclusion

With around 100,000 babies being killed in Australia each year (Australia has the second highest abortion rate of any developed country), and 45 to 50 million killed around the world, mostly as after-the-fact contraception, it is time to challenge the abortion myths. For too long we have been fed misinformation and falsehoods on this issue. It is important that the truth about abortion be made known as widely as possible.

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25 Responses to Abortion Myths

  • Behind the abortion issue is the even greater one of Eugenics and the creation of animal/human embryos and the cloning of saviour sibling embryos. Britain is leading the world down this path. The terrible irony is that these embryos have more human rights than healthy babies that are being terminated at the rate of 200000 per year. Out of “humanitarian” or sentimental concerns these animal/human embryos are destroyed after 14 days: they are not allowed to develop. In other words the scientists have given the game away by imputing a value on the hybrids that they claim does not exist: they are merely tissue. What remains of their consciences inhibits them from having the courage to follow their materialist convictions and allowing the embryos to develop full term. No such sentimental value is accorded to real human babies however, that are allowed to develop up to 24 weeks and then dismembered in the womb.

    http://www.passionforlife.org.uk/humananimal-hybrids
    http://www.christian.org.uk/briefingpapers/humancloning.htm

    David Skinner, UK

  • Abortion is a tragic issue, and is a consequence of a selfish, misguided generation of people.

    Contraception has given way to irresponsible sexual behaviour in our society. It has degraded the beauty and meaning of sex and thus, the fruit of sex is treated in similar fashion.
    For women to claim abortion as women’s issue only, is pure evidence of their selfish ignorance and guilt.
    Unfortunately the reality is that many have to endure the pain of abortion for the rest of their lives.

    Teresa Binder

  • How do we advance these arguments in the media and in politics and push until the human rights of the innocent are protected by a so called humane society?

    Pro – choice only occurs before a male and female engage in sexual intercourse. That is, the pill or condom.

    The rights of the sexual active male and female occur at this prior point, and after that ‘responsibility’ of both cuts in and they are to nurture new life if that is the outcome.
    The couple become pro – lifers and responsible adults.

    Ray Robinson

  • Ray Robinson asks how do we advance the arguments against abortion in the media and in politics and push until the human rights of the innocent are protected by a so called humane society?

    We first have to be clear about the main target of the enemy. The destruction of the unborn, the polluting of minds, the discrimination against Christians, the threat to free speech and many more battles taken up by this and that Christian organisation all finally centre on an attack on the biblical blue print for marriage and the family. It is the family that is the very atom of our society that is literally being split. And as with its physical counterpart which when split gives off enormous destructive energy so the splitting of the family unit is causing the west to go into melt down.

    The Sydney World Youth Day was apparently attended by a quarter of million people. But the London Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transsexual Pride 2008 was attended by between half and three quarters of a million.

    The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan WilliamsIn the middle of the Lambeth Conference, organised a march in London to protest against world poverty. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2455274/Archbishop-of-Canterbury-Rowan-Williams-leads-Anglican-bishops-on-march-against-world-poverty.html Apart from this being a deliberate, side show, a distraction (a day out) for the 600+ bishops attending the Lambeth Conference, this was a cheap (or expensive, according to how one views it) publicity stunt designed to give the appearance of the church doing something moral when in fact he knows full well that no one seriously expects him to achieve an end to poverty and wars; they will always be with us. The Lambeth Conference, was not cheap. £5-6 million pounds would have gone someway towards alleviating poverty in Uganda.

    If Rowan Williams had wanted sincerely to protest against specific injustice, intolerance, inequality, discrimination, exclusion and bigotry, he could have organised a march against abortion, 21st century slavery of sexual addictions, like homosexuality, the evil influence of Holywood and the media on our children. But above all he could have organised a march in defence of biblical marriage, the family, our children and the sanctity of human life.

    http://endofmen.wordpress.com/2008/04/07/families-in-meltdown-judge-says/

    David Skinner, UK

  • Is there any room for ‘grey’ on this issue? I have long taken a black and white stance on abortion, but was recently faced with a dilemma. Soon after my wife fell pregnant with our first child she started to experience some pain. The doctors raised the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy (the fertilized egg implants not in the uterus, but in the fallopian tube). If it was indeed ectopic, we were faced with a choice. Do nothing, in which case the baby would die and my wife faced a high possibility of dying also, OR take a pill to ‘remove’ the ‘issue’ (doctors words not mine). Basically the choice was, kill the child to save the mother, or do nothing and risk losing both mother and baby.

    Is there ANY room for grey in this issue?

    Billy Baldwin

  • Thanks Billy

    You raise an important issue here. The case where there is a genuine risk to the life of the mother is indeed an area where allowances can be made. Indeed, I would not call such a case an abortion, for the intention is not to kill the child. The intention is to save the life of the mother. There are a few rare cases when this occurs, such as an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, or when there is a cancerous uterus.

    In the case of an ectopic pregnancy, the baby is often dead already, or is pretty well guaranteed to die anyway. A medical procedure is undertaken to save the mother. As I say, I would not consider that to be an abortion. The intention is to preserve life, not take it, and here both mother and child may have died unless action was taken.

    So I certainly would not classify your experience as a real abortion. What my article was really dealing with were the roughly 99.7 per cent of other cases when the intention is to kill the baby. So rest assured your situation was not what I had in mind when I penned this piece.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • See also What about abortion to save the mother’s life?, which discusses the Principle of Double Effect: That is, if a contemplated action has both good and bad effects, then it is permissible only if it is not wrong in itself and if it does not require that one directly intend the bad result.
    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Billy,
    With the utmost respect to both you and your wife and the agony you face, could I raise some basic points.
    1. The mere fact that you faced an agonising decision reveals how seriously you take the issue. The vast majority of the mothers who have nearly 100,000 abortions each year have no such agony. Their conscience (what is left of it) is seared with a hot iron. Very few of that multitude of abortions have been over ‘life of the mother’ considerations at all.
    2. Your case does not raise “a shade of grey”; it is a case where two clear commands conflict. To resolve that conflict is not easy, but again, the mere fact of an agonising conflict only shows that principles, rules, commands etc. are in operation. The fallacy of Situation Ethics was to use such conflicts as a pretext for the abolition of all commands: a nonsense proposition.
    3. The raising of a ‘hard case’ should not blind us to the evil of abortion. It is for the large majority of the appalling number of abortions simply cold blooded murder of the defenceless. I well remember the ‘debate’ on abortion in the early 1970s: the stratagem was to play up hard cases and extrapolate from those hard cases to a general principle. We were told at the time that there was no plan for abortion on demand. Well, now we have that in all but name!
    Let me put it this way:
    In law a time-honoured maxim was that a law made to cover a hard case is always a bad law.
    Likewise, a moral principle made to cover a hard case is always a BAD principle!

    So for all the angst over your particular circumstances let us hold that abortion is an, not to say THE, evil of our time. Let us not be swayed from that by hard cases.
    Murray Adamthwaite

  • In Britain there are moves to introduce compulsory sex education for four years olds. Basically this a philosophy that takes it as read that all children will become sexually active as soon as the hormones kick in.. One of the main peddlers of this philosophy (and which has received over the last decade, under the present Labour government, millions of pounds of tax payers money) is an outfit whose name only Satan could have thought up, namely the Family Planning Association.
    http://www.christian.org.uk/news/20080815/explicit-sex-education-for-pupils-with-special-needs/
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/health/article4175899.ece (move towards compulsory sex education)
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2247910/Four-year-olds-'should-be-given-compulsory-sex-education‘.html (compulsory sex education to be given to four year olds)
    http://www.christian.org.uk/pressreleases/2006/october_10_2006.htm (Plans to make sex ‘legal’ at 13 in Northern Ireland)
    http://www.christian.org.uk/issues/2008/family/aocscot_12mar08.htm (Scots Government ponders legalising sex between 13 year olds).

    The main application to its materialistic hermeneutics is “Safe Sex” and the condom. However, children will also be taught that if that fails, abortion is available on demand without parental knowledge or permission.
    http://www.christian.org.uk/news/20080616/open-sex-clinics-in-schools-report-says/ (sex clinics at schools without parental knowledge)
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=499305&in_page_id=1770&ct=5 (girls as young as 12 to be given morning after pill)
    http://education.guardian.co.uk/schools/story/0,5500,1215653,00.html (Girls having abortions without parental knowledge)
    http://www.christian.org.uk/issues/2008/medicalethics/abortion_29apr08.htm (More twelve-year-olds are having abortions)
    http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-wellbeing/health-news/under14-abortions-rise-by-21-850337.html (Under 14-abortions rise by 21%)
    http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23427447-details/More+than+half+of+all+British+babies+%27are+born+out+of+marriage%27/article.do (More than half of all British babies ‘are born out of marriage’)
    http://www.christian.org.uk/issues/2007/family/pregnancies_03jan08.htm (Twenty school girls becoming pregnant EACH DAY).

    Far from this all being myth or hallucinating on our part, the reality is that not only are babies going consigned to the ash heap at an ever increasing rate but child hood itself is going to be destroyed. The is fact not fiction.
    David Skinner, UK

  • In East Melbourne an abortion factory set up by Bertram Wiener in 1975 has killed a quarter of a million babies. I have stood outside the gate praying talking pleading to women not to go inside (5 per hour). Truly goes beyond upsetting. I even observed a beautiful Japanese couple arrive in a massive 4WD with the woman driving and the man on the verge of tears as she marched him inside. Another time a younger couple in the back seat crying with one of their mothers driving I shared with her how wonderful it is to be a grandparent. Thank God she drove off and did not return.

    My nephew Richard and a close friends’ daughter Robyn, both now doctors have told me they were encouraged, indeed pressured to attend and observe abortions while students. I suppose it is a plot by lecturers to desensitise and attack their ethical standpoint.The Hippocratic Oath has become the Hypocritical Oath.

    Robert Doolan has written: “Norma McCorvey, who under the pseudonym of ‘Jane Roe’ in 1973 prompted the landmark United States Supreme Court case Roe vs Wade (which decided in favour of abortion) announced in August that she now believes abortion is wrong. She has become a born-again Christian. Like Wolf, 47-year-old McCorvey is still working through some of the issues, but she has left her job at a Dallas abortion clinic to work for the pro-life group Operation Rescue, revealing that she had been haunted by the sight of empty swings in a playground. In a further heart-wrenching disclosure, distinguished Australian novelist Peter Carey, 47, revealed in October that he deeply grieves over his dead children. His first child was aborted in 1961, then three more children died at birth. At his twins’ cremation, Carey refused to give them any names, saying ‘I don’t believe in God’. He now says he regrets that decision. Although his children did not get to experience life outside their mother’s womb, atheist Peter Carey knows they were human lives—his own children, not lifeless fetal tissue or a cosmetically inconvenient biological condition.”

    Willful abortion is the willful taking of life. Abortion kills real babies. There is simply no convincing argument against this. A human fetus does not suddenly become human the moment it emerges from the mother’s womb. It is a growing, God-given, human life from the moment of conception (Psalm 139:13-16), clearly identifiable as a human at all stages of growth.” http://creationontheweb.com/content/view/634

    Naiomi Wolf only changed her mind when she decided to have a baby. The biggest abortion provider in the UK, the Marie Stopes Organisation’s CEO had an interesting dilemma when his own daughter made a film entitled, “My Fetus” She stupidly and desperately kept referring to her baby as a fetus right up until the birth! She had previous abortions, a well indoctrinated daughter perhaps like Obama’s two girls will be?

    This is an incredible video footage of Obama lying about his extreme pro-abortion stance after the Saddleback megachurch interview with Rick Warren. He first accuses Right to Life of lying! “These folks are lying” http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2008/08/obamas_infanticide_problem.html “This lie isn’t going to go away quietly. The undecided voters have one more reason to distrust the fine-sounding smooth rhetoric dished out by Obama.” Obama shows his true colours and total lack of Christian ethics in his abominable and extreme positions on abortion including denying medical help to babies that survive botched abortions, late term abortion, partial birth abortion, abortions on minors without parental notification. “I don’t want them [my daughters] punished with a baby. … Evolution is more grounded in my experience than angels “—Barack Obama

    “It is hard to justify such extremism as support for ‘women’s rights’, especially when, in many places in the world, abortion targets unborn girls over boys. Obama said regarding his own daughters that he didn’t want them ‘punished with a baby’ if they had an unwanted pregnancy. But the Bible regards children as blessings to be thankful for, not as nuisances (Psalm 127:4–5). Many stories in Scripture revolve around women who are heartbroken over their inability to have children and are blessed finally with sons of their own (Sarah, Rebekah, Hannah, Elizabeth), and the Bible speaks clearly about the humanity of the unborn (Genesis 25:21–22, Psalm 139:13–16, Jeremiah 1:5, Luke 1:41–44).” by Lita Cosner.

    http://creationontheweb.com/content/view/5828/

    Abortion and feminism: ‘lies destroying the family’ by Robert Doolan: http://creationontheweb.com/content/view/1192

    Jennifer Parfenovics

  • An old teaching associate of mine who during World War, after having escaped from an Italian prisoner of war camp to the relative safety of some nearby hills, watched with horror as German troops, down in the valley below, lined up some villagers and shot them, probably as an inducement to others to offer information that would have led to his recapture. For better or worse this experience bequeathed him with an uncompromising solution to rebellious children and others whom he considered perverse: ”line them up.”

    Although I would not go so far as to “line up” all psychiatrists, my view that many of them are in needing of the cure themselves was confirmed in a report I read in the Times today: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article4553533.ece

    According to the American Psychological Association (APA), one of the world’s most influential mental health bodies, they found no evidence that the majority of abortions cause psychiatric problems….”The report, which was published last week at the APA’s annual conference in Boston, found evidence that women who had late abortions because of foetal abnormalities often suffered adverse psychological reactions, similar to those experienced by women who had miscarried or had a stillbirth. These effects, however, were seen among women who had lost a wanted pregnancy, and should not be extrapolated to those who chose to terminate for other reasons.”

    In other words women who never wanted a pregnancy in the first place should not experience depression but presumably, if they do, they should be re- categorised as needing treatment for neurosis rather than depression. The American Psychiatric Association along time ago deemed homosexuality no longer a disorder and that presumably anyone who continued to experience guilt or depression from practising sodomy and related sexual practices also needed to be treated for neurosis.

    Russia was perhaps one of the pioneers in submitting dissidents to the “cure” in lunatic asylums. Not only are we not allowed to feel hate but now also depression. The whole palette of emotions- love, hate, anger, peace, fear, joy, desolation – that are displayed in human nature are all necessary for our survival, like the notes on a piano, all are equally essential. For a government to eliminate feelings of antipathy or hatred in order to produce a dehumanised society that runs like a well-oiled piece of machinery, sounds ominously like the film “Clockwork Orange.”

    David Skinner, UK

  • Hi Bill,

    This really is a tough one and highly emotive. I do not have a problem of termination when there is really no chance for a successful pregnancy and a risk to the mothers life. This goes without saying. I also think there is a very strong argument for termination of pregnancies which are involuntary , incestual and involve young teen to preteen girls. For the rest, I guess it is a case by case basis. There are some single women that for one reason or another really do not want to continue with a pregnancy that was not planned nor wanted. Should we force these women to have the baby. Maybe the father is not even on the scene anymore. I think there is a much harder argument for married women though there are probably situations where it is applicable. Domestic violence ?? I cannot for any reason other than medical agree to late term terminations. Some of these go as far as 20+ weeks. They really do make my feel sick since babies born at 22+ weeks have a reasonable chance for survival. In a past job I did some work with docs in a level 3 nursery and to see those really little babies would bring anyone to tears. I take my hat off to the people who work in those wards. Generally I do not think highly of people that use abortion as a form of contraception when there are many other options available to them. Problem is what do you do when that contraceptive method fails?? I guess at the end of the day we cannot nor should we force people to have children they do not want. As I said it is a very difficult area. The reasons why women seek abortions are quit varied.

    Ben Green

  • Thanks Ben

    It is good that you are not a blanket pro-choicer, and see some need for restraint here. But might I suggest that in some ways, this is really not such a difficult or tough issue at all. It all boils down to one very simple question: does abortion end the life of a young member of the human race or does it not? If it doesn’t then there is no debate, no anguish, no soul-searching, and no need for concern.

    But if it does, then the discussion should be pretty straight forward. Killing an innocent human being is morally wrong. We are not taking here about a potential human being, but a human being with great potential. It is morally wrong to take the life of an unborn baby for any reason, except where the mother would otherwise die.

    As I have already said, when there is a case such as a tubal pregnancy, the procedure used to save the mother’s life is not really to be considered an abortion. As to the other so-called hard cases, I have just penned an article on that topic, and I direct your attention there: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2008/08/19/abortion-and-hard-cases/

    And examine the logic of your claim: “I guess at the end of the day we cannot nor should we force people to have children they do not want.” By that reasoning, an annoying and unhelpful teenage son could be bumped off by a frustrated parent, because he or she should not be forced to have a child which is not wanted.

    Indeed, this mindset is the same as that of the slave owners. They argued that blacks were not real human beings, so slave owners could do with them as they pleased. In the same way, the pro-death crowd is arguing that an unborn baby is not really a human being, and can therefore be treated in any way that the adult wants, including being killed.

    If we recognise the simple truth that we are in fact killing a small human being in abortion, then all the so-called complexities really become much less worrying and relevant.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • We are fearfully and wonderfully made. So unique, so special, a person of value.
    Why destroy what GOD created?
    Judith Bond

  • As Bill has alluded to above in his answer to Ben, all that is needed to demonstrate the bankruptcy of many of the so-called ‘pro-choice’ arguments is if we simply substitute a born child for the pre-born child. All the most common ‘pro-choice’ arguments are shown to be unthinkable when applied to for example a 12 month old baby instead of the baby in utero.

    Ewan McDonald.

  • Hi Bill,

    Sorry Bill, the comment I made “I guess at the end of the day we cannot nor should we force people to have children they do not want.” could have been worded better. I was of course referring to pregnancy. I in no way wanted to infer that killing your own teenage child because you do not like them is acceptable.

    You do bring up an interesting point though. When does life start. Of course if you ask many people you will invariably get many different answers. I did find it very disturbing when I heard on the news tonight that abortions are ok up until 23 weeks and can be even longer if approved by 2 doctors. That is just sad and any two doctors that signed such a request should be ashamed unless of course it is based on some extenuating medical problem. Thing is, many babies at 22+ weeks of gestation are quite capable of survival with some help.

    For me, life technically starts when the baby is born. While the baby is in utero there is only a potential for a baby. Of course as the trimesters tick over this potential grows but as we know so many things can go wrong. Even during birth. Life outside the uterus is really not viable given current technologies with babies under 21 weeks or so. This of course is in no way an excuse for terminating pregnancies. I am just trying to put a mark on when a viable life can really continue ie we have a baby. So yes potential for life does start at at the zygote stage but it is not yet a baby. There is a difference for me.

    Ben Green

  • Thanks Ben

    But the issue is not whether it is a baby or not, but whether is it a living, human being with the right to life. Viability keeps moving back with improvements in technology. In Victoria they are talking about open slather on abortion up to 24 weeks, when, as you rightly say, viability is now well before this period. Thus we will have in one hospital wing doctors doing all they can to save a 21 week premie, but in another wing doing all they can to kill a 24 week baby.

    Assuming medical technology continues, and babies can be viable at ever younger ages, will the pro-aborts move along with these shifts? But viability is just one of many arbitrary marking lines. Why make viability the dividing line between a life that can live and a life that should die?

    As I mention in the above article, from the moment of conception we have a new, genetically unique and distinct individual, which only depends on mum for food and shelter. A two- year-old toddler also depends on mum and dad for food and shelter. But no one (except for some infanticide supporters like Peter Singer) would argue that because the toddler is dependent on an adult, it does not have a right to life.

    Any standard embryology textbook will tell you quite clearly that human life begins at the moment of conception. There is no scientific or biological debate about this fact. But the pro-aborts will continue to insist that it is just a blob of cells or a clump of tissue. They are so determined to allow adults to have the right to kill their own offspring, that they will disregard science (and often, their own consciences) to push their pro-death agenda.

    Of course slave owners 150 years ago were no different. Today we look upon the enslavement of another human being as abhorrent and repulsive. When will we wake up from our moral blindness and hardness of heart and realise that abortion is equally barbaric and inhumane. We have more concern for whales than we do our own unborn babies.

    And a zygote is not potential life. It is life. It is human, It is from conception onwards part of a continuum, developing from earlier stages to later stages, but always a living, human being. Again, this is basic biology, but we have allowed the pro-death camp to complete hoodwink us on these basic facts of life.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I want to comment on David Skinner’s report above about the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams who, in the middle of the Lambeth Conference, organised a march in London to protest against world poverty. As David says, the event was a side show designed to give the appearance of the church doing something moral. Although the issue of poverty is certainly one that should concern the church, the problem these days is that most churchian anti-poverty plans, where they involve the state, are little more than socialism and are therefore unbiblical and destined to fail. That’s bad enough, but what is inexcusable is that those same churches generally ignore the most important issues.

    In terms of justice, abortion is clearly the most important and urgent issue facing this generation, and in terms of the sheer weight of causalities is certainly one of the most pressing of all time. Those churches that ignore the crucial issue of abortion in favour of the trendy non-issues like climate-change, are effectively straining gnats whilst swallowing camels. It is my conviction that in this shameful hour when legislation to legalise abortion has this very day been introduced into the Victorian parliament, those churches (and especially the leadership) that remain silent will be held to account by God and found wanting. I would not like to be in their shoes when that day comes.

    Ewan McDonald.

  • In response to Ben’s comments, I am of the position that a life starts at the point of conception, complete with soul and spirit. It’s simply the baby’s body that is taking up three quarters of a calendar to be made ready. ‘For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.’ (Psalm 139:13)

    However, if you believe that life starts at birth, then listen to this: I was sitting in on a testimony of a man named Bernard Blessing, a man born in a poor slum in Africa. His mother felt her situation was too dire to care for a baby so she threw him in a rubbish bin still alive. It just so happened that he was found by an orphanage worker who plucked Bernard back onto the pathway of life. Today, Bernard Blessing is a world renound prophet of God, who consults Presidents, Prime Ministers and various other world leaders. His mother had no idea of the potential that baby had, she was just living for her own “here and now”. She did not have an abortion but her motive was just the same. Her method of killing actually gave Bernard a slim chance to live, abortion does not. Who knows what a baby will grow up to achieve? All I know is that the opportunity for the gift of life that we so take for granted, should not be waged upon a set of circumstances.

    Adrian Marriott

  • I am tired pof all the arguments put forward in favour of abortion.
    It is interesting that no one is prepared to call it murder, which it is. If the baby is killed after it is born it is murder, but not if it is killed before birth. It is about time we got honest and called abortion for what it is – murder. Those who supporrt abortion should come into the open and support the killing of all who are considered undesirable in our society. There should at the very least be a referendum to see where we are going.
    And remember, history shows that there is always a day of reckoning.
    Tom Wise

  • Ewan McDonald:

    All the most common ‘pro-choice’ arguments are shown to be unthinkable when applied to for example a 12 month old baby instead of the baby in utero.

    Indeed so. Or for that matter a two-year-old toddler. Suppose that a 2yo is so disruptive and causing such heartache for his solo mother that she wants him killed, and people support her “right to choose” to kill her own child in the following ways (paralleling many “pro-choice” arguments):

    How dare you pass judgment on the woman, when you have no idea what she’s going through?

    You’re a male, so you have no right to comment.

    It’s the right of every 2yo to be wanted.

    No one’s forcing you to kill your own 2yo.

    Keep your church out of my home!

    We’re not pro–killing-2yos, we’re pro-choice.

    We want to make 2yo-killing safe, legal and rare.

    If we make laws against this, then those who are rich enough will be able to hire a hit man to kill the toddler, while the poor could not afford this, so such laws would discriminate against the poor.

    Unless you are prepared to adopt this child, you have no right to tell the mother that she should not kill her.

    If we don’t make it possible for the mother to kill her 2yo safely, then she’ll do it unsafely and possibly put her own health in danger.

    Laws against 2yo-killing would violate the woman’s right to privacy, which judges tell us is in the US Constitution.

    It’s speciesist to give a Homo sapiens 2yo so much more protection than a chimpanzee 2yo.

    You’re opposed to killing 2yos only because you’re a religious fanatic.

    The child was conceived by incestuous rape, and her existence is a continual reminder to her mother of what happened, so she should die because of her father’s crime.

    Stem cells could be harvested from this 2yo that could help cure many horrible diseases and disabilities—you religious fanatics want to stop this scientific research and cut off all hope of a cure for Alzheimer’s, heart disease, Parkinson’s, quadriplegia and diabetes.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Bill, after reading Jonathan Safari’s, “end times” list of arguments for killing children, I was reminded of your article “Queer by Choice”: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2008/07/15/homosexual-honesty/. I thought that the way that homosexuals and lesbians are now saying that they no longer have to justify their orientation (they have the right to be whatever they choose to be) will soon be taken up by the Pro-Choice group – if they haven’t already. I can imagine their statements would go something like this:

    “I think the idea that we have to manufacture all kinds of justifications for abortion are absolutely rubbish. There is absolutely no evidence that allowing an unwanted pregnancy, resulting in a child being born, will jeopardise the health or sanity of a mother…I think it is unhealthy that people want to embrace this idea. It does reflect a desire to say, ‘it’s not our fault’, as a way of deflecting our critics. No. We have achieved what we have achieved by defiance, not by concessions. I think we should be recruiting people to abortion There is a lot of money to be made out of it. I believe that this a perfectly valid career for some girls, especially those who have no other prospects in view.”

    http://www.skepticfiles.org/mys2/deadbaby.htm

    David Skinner, UK

  • I have read some of the comments on this blog and have seen a lot of argument for and against abortion. I’ve seen abortion and miscarrage ( natural abortion) from different perspectives over the years. As a woman I have been professionally involved in abortion counselling and have had my own personal experiences in my life and those lives around me. it is accepted generally that life starts at conception. Some years ago a neighbor girl, 16 and pregnant, came to me to talk about her upcoming abortion. Talking to her I realised she had no idea she was about to destroy a human life. I gave her a bread roll to show her the weight of her unborn child and she began to cry. She didnt abort the baby and came to me many times over the years to thank me for my advice as she watched her young man grow up. I think the moral to this story is that every life is valuable and all should be given their fair chance at life.
    Del Tatnell

  • People like to bring up the ‘straw man’ argument of ‘hard cases’
    Well…some of the ‘hard cases’ are known by their names:
    Gianna Jessen (Survived a saline abortion)
    Rebecca Keissling (Born from incest)
    Juda Myers (Born as a result of rape)

    Tell THEM you still allow ‘exceptions in the case of…’

    ALL babies deserve life. How they were CONCEIVED makes no difference.

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