Thursday, March 01, 2007

The "Loving Choice": My Discussions on Abortion

We women know when it is or is not the right time to bring a child into the world...We act out of compassion when we wait to have a child until the time when we can give it the kind of life every child deserves. We act out of love when we consider what we would be taking away from the child or children we already have if we brought another child into our family now...We women know the truth: That given certain circumstances, abortion is the most morally responsible and loving choice we can make."

-Jean Stewart Berg and Anne Baker


This quote in a nutshell represents the great majority of the pro-choice arguments I have encountered. It is designed to engender sympathetic feelings for women considering abortion, and take our minds off the fact that the "loving choice" is to end a human life.

The following are excerpts from various discussions I have had recently about abortion. It represents the exact reason I blog: to exchange ideas and learn through hearing others and having to ponder and defend my opinions. Through these discussions my conviction that abortion is unjust has been strengthened.

Almost immediately after writing "A Philisophical Study of Abortion" I stumbled onto another abortion debate. Jen's Green Journal had just begun a series of posts discussing abortion, and I came in midstream:

Once again alienated, you miss the point. You are defining the beginning of life on your religious view points. Do you have any non-religious proof that shows clearly that a fully developed nervous system, fully developed brain and a "soul" are all present at the point of conception or during the early stages of clump of cells or embryo?

If you cannot without a doubt prove this without religious arguments, than how can you compare a clump of cells to my life as a fully developed human being,with a fully developed nervous system and brain with emotions, memories, relationships? You can't without religion and you know it. There fore you are using YOUR religion to deny MY rights.


Jen had been in a back-and-forth with someone calling himself "alienated wannabe" when she wrote this. Notice her use of the term "fully developed". It will be a recurring theme, and one I try to address with her later on with mixed results. Alienated hadn't responded to her "religion challenge", so I did:

This website (http://www.pregnancy.org/pregnancy/fetaldevelopment1.php#week1) might prove helpful in the "religious inquiry". Is it only religion that teaches the baby is a human? Jen has argued that most abortions occur in the first trimester, so this pregnancy tracker website shows the development that occurs during this time. It's pretty amazing.

Gender is determined at conception. Human DNA is present at conception. I particularly like this quote, "The genetic makeup (the characteristics that make this new individual different from anyone else in the world) is determined at the moment of fertilization."

During the first couple of weeks a heart and circulatory system are formed. The foundation of the nervous system is formed. By week five blood is pumping, all four chambers of the heart are functioning, and the brain and lungs appear. At week six there's a pancreas, nostrils, and intestines. At week seven teeth actually form beneath the gums. The baby continues to develop rapidly in the next couple of weeks, gaining bones, a tongue, joints, fingerprints, hair, fingernails, and will curve her fingers around an object placed in the palm of her hand.

Clearly the baby is more than just a "clump of cells." She is a human.



Also notice that no response is given when the demanded scientific evidence is actually provided. That too is a recurring theme.

On a new thread Jen posts the following quote and question, which I then answer.:

"Pro-life advocates claim they want the fetus to be treated as if it were a born person. Well, even if the fetus were a person, and even if the fetus had a right to life, the fetus has no right of access to a woman's body or liberty, because no born person has such a right.
* Once born, for example, no child has a right to even a pint of blood from a parent-- much less to more invasive donations, such as bone marrow. Thus, although parents have a duty to care for their children, this duty does not extend to the requirement that parents donate parts of their body to their children, even if the lives of their children are dependent upon those donations.
* What is more, if someone coercively took a pint of blood from a parent to give to the child, the government would protect the parent from such nonconsensual bodily intrusion, not the child. If we were to treat the fetus as if it were a born person, therefore, the government would protect the woman, not the fetus, when the fetus intrudes without consent upon a woman's body and liberty.
Consent added to choice, therefore, strengthens abortion rights. Even if a woman consents to sex, she retains her right to bodily integrity and liberty. This means she retains the right to consent to the condition of pregnancy resulting from the fetus. If a woman does not consent to pregnancy, she is similarly situated with others who are the victims of non-consensual intrusion of their bodies and liberty."

So being a life support system for a child you created only applies before the child is born? Why doesn't it apply after? If we are to apply law consistently in the event of eliminated legal abortion, then all parents should be forced to give blood, kidney, bone marrow or what have you to the child in the event he/she needs one to survive. Right now they are not forced to, as women are not forced to have their bodies used as life-support systems for a fetus if she chooses not to.

If you don't agree with making it consistent, what changed to make the child less important after birth than before?

Is there a raging epidemic of dying children in need of bone marrow with parents unwilling to give? When that epidemic reaches upwards of 45 million children, perhaps we could discuss some legislative action.

But in a more realistic sense, yes, our laws are currently designed to force parents to care for their children. If the parents do not want the child, they may give her to someone else to raise. If the parents are neglectful of their duties, our laws authorize the state to forcibly take the child away and give her to someone else.


The point is that the government does not force any parent to act as a life support system after they are born, when they can feel pain and process the fear of death. It is therefore inconsistent to demand that any parent act as a life-support system against their will before the nervous system, fully functioning brain and (for religious folks) before "ensoulment" occurs -- in other words before they are a fully formed human.


There's that "fully functioning" again.

Jen's quote argues that consent of the mother is required for the fetus to have a right to remain in the womb. This is exactly what Judith Thomson argues in her paper. I covered the problems with that here, as well as in my discussion with Democracy Lover here.

Jen made a couple of posts revolving around unsourced statistics. Here is one:

I just found out today that 66% of abortions are sought by women that are already mothers. This is a strong indication to me that many of the women are making the best choices they can for the children they already have.

It kind of meshes with a few stories I've heard the past couple of weeks as I conversed with people over this ridiculous abortion ban bill (HB235 S1).

There were two stories I heard this week about women who were married with children but at the end of their capabilities when they found out they were pregnant unexpectedly -- I think at least one was failed birth control. They got abortions and were happy with their decision.

I heard another story this week about a woman who had raised most of her 8 kids to adulthood when she found out she was pregnant near 50 years old. She had the child because this was pre-Roe v. Wade. She apparently went a little nuts (no indication if child raising was the reason, but if I had to raise 8 kids and was just about done and found out that I had to start all over again at 50 I would go insane myself -- heck, it would take a lot fewer kids to drive me insane) and his mother's emotional state while raising him had a very negative affect on that 9th child.

Another story I heard this week: a friend told me that her mother-in-law admitted to her that if she had been a young woman these days rather than her own, she would not have had children; she said that even though she loved her children, she never enjoyed being a mom.

These stories are hard to hear -- we want to picture mothers as unconditionally loving and self-sacrificing. Many women have a difficult time coming out of the "I don't like being a mommy" closet because they do love their kids and it's a taboo in our society for a woman, much less a mother, not to be a "kid person".

Just because we are all born with the physical equipment to have children and sexual drives, doesn't mean we are all meant to be mothers.


There were a number of comments to this post previous to mine, and they all fall under the "loving choice" umbrella. I thought some additional statistics would prove helpful, but they did not convince Jen:

http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/policy/abortion/abreasons.html

4-8% of abortions are performed because the mother "has enough children already."

0.2% are done because the life of the mother is at risk.

1% are done because the physical health of the mother is at risk.

0.33% are done because the mother was forced to be pregnant. ie rape or incest.

http://www.abortionfacts.com/statistics/us_stats_abortion.asp

About 80% of abortions are performed on unmarried women.

45% of women getting an abortion have never given birth.

http://www.abortionfacts.com/statistics/age.asp

68.9% of abortions are done on women between the ages of 20 and 34."
"

About 80% of abortions are performed on unmarried women.'

The 66% of women who are already mothers may not be married -- you don't have to be married to be a mother -- in fact, are you Repubs the ones that criticize women for continuing to produce children without a husband? Oh I forgot -- women should be celebate until menopause unless they can permenantly catch a man.

"68.9% of abortions are done on women between the ages of 20 and 34." -great statistic, yes it's true that the prime fertile years are 20 -34 years old. Fertility declines in the late 30s and menopause can happen as early as the early 40s. Men also decline in fertility as they age, and it's still not very common to see a lot of randy older women having unprotected sex with young guys, which is still kind of a rarity, there won't be as many unplanned pregnancies in the older category.



Then an anonymous poster wrote this, followed by Jen's response:

I think the real issue is this: when is a baby a baby? My wife is pregnant with our first child. At 12 weeks, we saw an ultrasound of our baby. It has arms, legs, a beating heart, and even fingernails (though you couldn't see the fingernails, I've read that they're there). It has brain waves, too. What else does it need to be considered life rather than just "potential life"?

And at 12 weeks, we could legally abort the baby that's in my wife's womb, and that thought disgusts me.


Nice Spin Job part 2
"It has arms, legs, a beating heart, and even fingernails (though you couldn't see the fingernails"

People who aren't alive also have fingernails, arms and legs.

Scientists can make a heart beat in a petrie dish.

I'd need to see more information on the brain waves, as without a fully function nervous system it seems unlikely to mean much.

"So if you don't want unwanted babies, don't choose to have sex."

How very archaic. Straight out of the dark ages.

You must be exausted from all the funerals
1/4 of all fertized eggs get washed out in the monthly period. And that doesn't even address the embryos that are further developed that go with the period as well and unbeknownst to the mother. All those poor babies that will never get a chance at life! That's a lot of dead fully living babies.


By this time I admit I had become frustrated and a little exasperated with her snide remarks and avoidance of factual discussion. So I tried to get right to the point:

Sarcasm and contempt don't become you. Nor does it help this discussion.

You tried to paint a picture of abortion as women simply already having too many kids to care for. The facts show that that is the case in as few as 4% of the abortions performed in this country.

You have argued that abortion is necessary for the sake of the mother's health or even life. The facts show that that is the case in as few as 1% of the abortions in the US.

You have attempted to show that abortion is for the slight chance that contraceptives don't work. The facts show that 46% of abortions are the result of not using contraceptives.

You argue that it is Talibanish to expect people to control their desires, when the truth is that our society demands that all the time, in many circumstances.

You (and others) argue that the real problem is that we need additional awareness and use of contraceptives, but the facts show that 17% of abortions are the result of failed contraceptives.

Some argue that it is our young girls that need abortions, but the fact is that 68% of abortions are for women 20-34 years old.

You have tried to argue that science proves that life does not begin before birth, but the facts show that a fetus has many of the physical characterstics you do, has unique human DNA as you do, and is responsive to its environment as you are.

It is clear that a pregnant woman has a human life inside of her. An important philosopher stated: "if you are conceived by human parents, you are human." To argue otherwise is to deny humanity from many who are obviously human beings.



At this point I was pretty much the only one left still challenging Jen. Here is how it unfolded:

Authoritarian patriarical control doesn't become you, dear anon.

I question your statistics because I've seen far different statistics -- we could probably both find statistics that contradict the others.

"fetus has many of the physical characterstics you do, has unique human DNA "

Ever single skin cell that sheds and becomes dust has DNA -- this is not sarcasm, I'm not buying the DNA prsent means there's a fully formed life -- DNA does not prove there is a soul, fully functioning nervous system, fully developed brain -- there is only the potential for these things until a certain point in the pregnancy, after which a fetus is protected under Roe v. Wade .

Oh good, more name calling. Why is it that if I disagree with you I must be "authoritarian" and "patriarical"?

I gave you the sources of my statistics. They are based on the CDC and the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which is the research branch of Planned Parenthood. Feel free to share your statistics with their sources so we can better understand any discrepancies that may exist.

A dead skin cell is far different biologically than a fertilized egg. My source for that is my old high school biology textbook.

DNA does not prove there is a fully functioning brain. It does not even prove there are fully functioning limbs. But the lack of those things doesn't deny humanity to my uncle, who was born with many impairments that prevent him from ever walking, seeing, fully communicating, or using the left side of his body.

So far your arguments in favor of abortion also advocate giving my grandparents the "choice" to terminate his life.


Cameron--

You have probably received the brunt of my frustration as you are the umpteenth person to use the same arguments against choice that I've heard ad nauseum, which I have had to argue as to why you have no right to dictate laws about by body. I'm getting very tired of the debate.

I'm getting very tired of being told that I shouldn't have sex unless I'm married and fully prepared to raise a child for 20 years in exchange for the 20 minutes or so of fun. I'm tired of being told that I'm selfish because I don't fit some outdated idealized version of womanhood circa 1950.

You picture a sweet little baby being murdered, I picture women's and children's lives destroyed, poverty and long-term suffering. Our life experiences have given us completely different ways to view the same thing.

I'm not sure why you want to continue this debate -- you are so very sure that life begins at conception; I'm very sure that I won't cede my rights over my body and life to religious/superstitious beliefs that I don't share. Neither of us will convince the other.

Your comments on The World According to me:

"But let's be clear as to what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints stance is on abortion:

Human life is a sacred gift from God. Elective abortion for personal or social convenience is contrary to the will and the commandments of God. Church members who submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for such abortions may lose their membership in the Church.

In today's society, abortion has become a common practice, defended by deceptive arguments. Latter-day prophets have denounced abortion, referring to the Lord's declaration, "Thou shalt not . . . kill, nor do anything like unto it" (D&C 59:6). Their counsel on the matter is clear: Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must not submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for an abortion. Church members who encourage an abortion in any way may be subject to Church discipline. "

Having spent the first 19 years of my life as an active Mormon, I'm well aware how difficult it is to convince them of anything different than what the "church" says. They drill into your head every week that you belong to the only true church (and several times on fast Sunday). If you belong to the only true church, then the logic follows that anything said by the leaders of the only true church is the ultimate truth of the Universe. I don't have the debating skills to compete with your certainty based on this -- which having had it once myself, I've come to realize takes a lot of different life experiences to wake you up.

Since your religion believes that gender is an eternal experience and that the ultimate destiny for women who make it to the top of the Celestial Kingdom and the production of spirit babies, it would come as no surprise that one who follows your religion would believe that women who don't want "God's plan" for them would be unnatural and "selfish". This would further be confirmed if most of the women you know really enjoyed their roles as mothers, as many -- but far from all -- women do. And how many would dare "come out of the not-wanting-to-center-life-around-children closet" if they don't with such beliefs?

When I try to view what I've said about abortion from my 19 year-old active-Mormon perspective, I'm aware that I'm wasting my time in arguing. And while you are not me at 19, you probably see it close enough to that perspective to make all this considerable time I'm spending on this one subject a waste.

So lets agree to disagree, shall we?

I have continued this debate because I enjoy rational exchange of ideas, and I find that exchange to be valuable. I can empathize with your frustration at responding to various commentors on various posts. However, I think you'll find that I have not used any of the arguments you've listed as being so frustrating to you. I have structured my arguments factually, cited my sources, and responded to each of your arguments.

Your final response to me implies that I am "just" a Mormon, and so cannot think for myself. You say that you used to be a Mormon, but that your life experience, including raising two children at a young age, is what caused you to "wake up."

Though I have yet to awaken from my Mormon-induced stupor, I will share some of my own life experiences with you. My wife and I had three children before our 28th birthday, two of whom were conceived despite our use of birth control (so much for sex education). During this time I worked full time, went to University full time, and never made more than $10 an hour. At one point I was waking up at 5am so I could catch the train at 6, and didn't return home until 8 that night, only to have to do homework once I got there. It was hard. My own life experiences have taught me quite well what it means to raise a child at a young age. In fact, I raised three.

That being said, I think most of the excuses for wanting an abortion depend on one very important thing: is the fetus a human. No matter how hard to raise or how inconvenient the baby may be, abortion is still not an option if she is indeed a human. My positive argument is borrowed from John Noonan: If you are conceived by human parents, you are human. I wrote a quite extensive post on this not too long ago.

In reading through all of your posts on the subject, your argument seems to grant humanity only to those with a "fully developed brain and fully developed nervous system." My complaint with that definition of humanity is that it denies personhood to many born people lacking those things, including my uncle who was born with many handicaps, such as blindness, inability to walk or say more than a few words, and a complete lack of use of the left side of his body. His brain is far from being fully developed, and while he lives it never will be. He does not even possess the "potential" to be fully developed.

Although there are a few people out there that disagree, I don't think that terminating the lives of premies, newborns, the elderly, or people like my uncle is justified.


"premies, newborns, the elderly, or people like my uncle is justified."

This is about embryos and fetuses, 90% of which are at 12 weeks gestation or less. This is not about premies, newborns, the elderly or people like your uncle. Abortion is not allowed under Roe v. Wade after a fetus becomes viable -- which eliminates all those that you mention above from being "terminated".

The "just a Mormon" thing: I have been fortunate to get to know a lot of Mormons who are liberal on a lot of subjects in the last few years, which has been a surprise to me because I certainly didn't know any during my days as a Mormon, and some of it contradicts what I know of Mormonism from all those years of sunday school, primary, young women's plus the 4 years of seminary I had. I'm aware that not all Mormons believe alike.

From the quote that you posted on "The World According To Me" from your church leaders:

"Human life is a sacred gift from God. Elective abortion for personal or social convenience is contrary to the will and the commandments of God. Church members who submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for such abortions may lose their membership in the Church.

In today's society, abortion has become a common practice, defended by deceptive arguments. Latter-day prophets have denounced abortion, referring to the Lord's declaration, "Thou shalt not . . . kill, nor do anything like unto it" (D&C 59:6). Their counsel on the matter is clear: Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must not submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for an abortion. Church members who encourage an abortion in any way may be subject to Church discipline. "

I bolded the parts which I think apply to our arguments here which show a religious bias to the discussion. How can you have a rational debate with me when I, according to your leaders, am "using deceptive arguments?" If you believe this quote there can be no rational debate -- I will always be using "deceptive arguments". My experience as a Mormon had given me an insight into how hard it is to break through that kind of moral certainty with anything that contradicts it.

Thank you for sharing your story with me. I'm glad that you and your partner made the choice that best fit you.

I have shared some of my story of raising my first daughter as a single parent. I was one of the lucky ones -- I did get a lot of support from friends and a little from family, but even as one of the lucky ones I wouldn't wish some of the hell that I experienced on anyone. Had I been forced to into that and not chosen it for myself, it would have been far worse for both my daughter and myself.


I actually wrote a couple of replies to this, but didn't post any of them. Since she didn't really address any of my arguments, all of the replies I drafted seemed like a rerun.

The discussion I had with Jen showed me some things. When I present a detailed, sourced, factual argument it is generally met with silence. Here are a few more examples of this from various posts over at NeonPrimeTime's blog:

To come to an a priori decision about the beginning of life is to ignore the simple fact that life begins at birth. Our technology assists those born before 38-40 weeks of gestation to survive, but that simply because we have the techinical ability to assist premies in their post-natal development does not mean we can move the whole life-clock backwards. On the other hand, I think it safe to say that those premies who are born and are assisted through development are indeed as alive as achild who gestates the full term.
I agree with Democracy Lover that real, actual life is always to take precedent over the potential life of the fetus, even a fetus past30-32 weeks of of gestation, because it is still not actually alive in any meaningful sense. There is a real distinction, a substantive distinction, between something that is potential, and something actual. 20 years ago I was a potential concert pianist. Today, I am not actually a concert pianist, because that is not that path I chose. I have the potential to do all sorts of things today, but only some of them will become actual. You see, potential things do not exist, any more than the independent life of the fetus.

"Life begins at birth"

Why? The difference between my children the day before they were born and the day after is basically nil, except for location. Even the most famous and influential abortion advocate, Judith Jarvis Thomson, stated in her "A Defense of Abortion" that life probably starts while the baby is still in the womb.

When my wife was pregant with our oldest daughter our doctor was going out of the country just before my wife's due date. So the doctor advised us to induce labor. So we scheduled the birth. We went in Saturday morning, they gave my wife the medication to induce, monitored everything, gave her some pain medication, and a few hours later we had a baby girl. But it wasn't a "natural" birth. My wife's body didn't decide on its own that the baby was ready to come out. But surely it was still alive and human.

Geoffrey, I read your argument to mean that location is the biggest indicator of human life. You argue that life begins at birth, and that just because we have the technology to assist prematurely born babies to survive and thrive doesn't necessarily mean that life begins at that "premature" date in the womb. But then you argue that these very same premies are indeed alive.

The only difference I can see between a prematurely born baby and one that just hasn't been born yet is location.


This was met with silence.

I'm not sure who Cameron knows that has no self-awareness and cannot cherish or even be aware of life, perhaps he can provide examples.

How about any number of sick and afflicted people in the world. Does a person afflicted with Alzheimers have an awareness of others? Does a person born into this world without the ability to feel pain not get personhood rights in DL's view? Are they not completely human?

What of a man I know who was born with severe complications. His brain is irreversibly damaged and does not function properly. The left side of his body is malformed and stunted. He cannot walk. He cannot see. He can say only a few words. What of him? Though I see him often, he does not know who I am. Is he not human? Does he not deserve protection?

Or perhaps less extreme is the case of a newborn baby. She is not self aware. For some time she thinks her mother is herself. Her body is not fully formed, though is progressing rapidly. She is completely dependent upon others for survival. She does not "cherish" life. Geoffrey has already eloquently stated how children "cannot distinguish between the outside world and their own desires." Do they not deserve protection because of that?



More silence.

cnn link

Miami - A premature baby that doctors say spent less time in the womb than any other surviving infant is scheduled for release from a South Florida hospital Tuesday.

Amillia Sonja Taylor was just 9 1/2 inches long and weighed less than 10 ounces when she was born Oct. 24. She was delivered after just under 22 weeks of pregnancy; full-term births come after 37 to 40 weeks.

The baby has experienced respiratory problems, a very mild brain hemorrhage and some digestive problems, but none of the health concerns are expected to pose long-term problems, her doctors said.

Is it not true that because of science, the dynamics of the Abortion debate continue to change? We now have a live and well baby after just 22 weeks?

Democracy Lover said...
I don't see that this changes the debate at all. It all depends on what you are arguing. If you are arguing that abortion is evil because the fetus is a potential human life, then this will perhaps bolster your case, but since that view is not shared by the pro-choice side anyway, it won't be much help.

Cameron said...
It changes things because Roe v Wade is based on viability, which at the time was about 24 weeks.

And this isn't something new either. Sandra Day O'Connor has said that Roe was on a "collision course with itself" because of its reliance on viability. This baby is proof of that.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...
Actually, it changes nothing. The artificial sustenance of life, either before viability or after viability, is not an argument, but an assertion that technology has altered certain natural facts. In truth, most babies "born" at 22 weeks are called miscarriages. Luck and a whole lot of machinery are involved here. A single instance does not discount any kind of theory.

neonprimetime said...
Can you truly have it both ways though? Can you continue preaching science and allowing us to probably someday have a child born at 22 weeks or even 20 weeks and be perfectly healthy? If you continue preaching that science, then to me you're being hypocritcal by then turning around and saying that a fetus is not alive yet, when the very science you love is saying that yes the baby is alive.

Cameron said...
Geoffrey misses the point that abortion was legalized in this country based on viability, even if the 24 week old needed medical attention in order to survive.

That is what our Supreme Court ruled was the basis for "life", which is why Sandra Day O'Connor said what she did, and why this newborn baby is a big deal. According to Roe's 24 week standard, she's not even a person yet.


Yep, nothing.

I think the biggest problem with the abortion debate in the US is apathy. The majority of Americans don't have a strong opinion either way and so the ones left to fight over it are the folks with the "baby killer" signs outside of Planned Parenthood and the folks with the "I had an abortion and there's nothing you can do about it you backwards hillbilly" t-shirts. These people only succeed in yelling and ticking each other off. This just drives the rest of america away from the discussion.

Frankly, that's the problem with politics in general.

Democracy Lover said...
If you guys really want to reduce abortions, then we should start by understanding why they happen in the first place. There's a study on this of course. Here are the top 3 reasons in order:

1. Having a baby would dramatically change my life (interfere with education, job, or care of other children). 74%
2. Can't afford a baby. 73%
3. Don't want to be a mother or in a bad relationship (abusive, about to break up, etc.) 48%

The best way to reduce 1 and 3 is to insure that all women (and men) have access to high quality contraceptives.

Reason #2 has to do with our lack of services for young mothers. If a young woman knew that she would not pay anything for the health care related to her delivery or for the herself or the baby later, and if there were high quality day care available at low cost, many of these women might make a different choice.

We could also make the 'morning after' pill widely available over the counter, and provide good sex education in our schools - all of these would reduce abortion without interfering with anyone's rights, or involving big government in private medical decisions.

Think about it.

Cameron said...
DL,

17% of abortions are performed because of failed contraceptives.

Canada, with its "free" healthcare, has the same abortion rate as the US.

US abortion rates have fallen since 1981, despite our lack of "free" healthcare.

This is an interesting analysis of the falling abortion rates since 2000, despite President Bush's hateful policies towards the poor. (just a tinge of sarcasm there)

This analysis also tackles some of DL's reasons for women getting an abortion. It shows how DL's numbers in the 70% range are a little misleading because, "these percentages include women each giving multiple reasons, it would be erroneous to select a single reason as decisive in these decisions to obtain abortions. In the 1988 AGI survey, only 21% cited economics as the most important reason, and only 13% cited issues with the mate as the most important reason."

This page has many interesting analyses. Scroll down a little and you'll find some graphs examining the role of unemployment, marriage prospects, minimum wage, and income in abortion numbers. The data shows that there is little to no correlation. In fact, there is more correlation to abortion in areas with higher per capita income and higher education spending than there is to poverty and unemployment rates.

Another tidbit in regards to DL's argument for socialized medicine is that many countries that already have this healthcare method have similar abortion rates to the US. Two countries though have markedly lower rates. The difference between Belgium and the Netherlands abortion rate and other countries' with socialized healthcare is that those two countries also have mandatory waiting periods for abortion.


Again, more silence. Now I will grant that not everyone will always go back to check for comments after they've said their peice. But I do see a recurring theme.

Nevertheless, these discussions have given me much food for thought, and an opportunity to really explore my own beliefs. I spent alot of time and effort researching, pondering, and writing my "study of abortion", and it seemed that as soon as I had it posted, the abortion topic sprung up all around me. In addition to the preceding posts, I also had an interesting conversation on the online version of the Times-News, and there is a spirited discussion going on over at the Agora as well.

5 comments:

Bob said...

I enjoyed our back-and-fourth on Abortion.

-Bob

Cameron said...

Thanks Bob, I did to. Did I change your mind? :-)

Cameron said...

I thought the following statement from Jen pretty much summed up her thought processes regarding abortion:

I'm not sure why you want to continue this debate -- you are so very sure that life begins at conception; I'm very sure that I won't cede my rights over my body and life to religious/superstitious beliefs that I don't share. Neither of us will convince the other.

Two things here. She obviously has a disdain for religion; or at least my (and her former) religion. This disdain has made her close minded. But more importantly, her statement illustrates quite well the ideology and motivation behind the two sides of the debate. I pressed her to discuss the humanity of the fetus, but she refused. She is beholden to her ideology of bodily rights, even if that means the death of another human. In fact, she clings so tightly to her beliefs that she won't even discuss fetal humanity beyond her very flawed "fully formed" argument.

Democracy Lover said...

Cameron,

First of all, I am tempted to suggest that this post should have been aborted in a fetal stage when it would have been easier to digest, but since you brought it to full term, we can only applaud your thoroughness.

The fallacy of most of the arguments here (including some of my earlier ones) is that they are based on the pre-supposition that all human life is worthy of protection and therefore when a woman's egg is fertilized, the resulting cell is human and therefore deserving of protection.

Unfortunately that position is not defensible even by the actions of most of those holding it. We clearly do not value human life. No nation that sanctions capital punishment, allows its needy to live in misery, rations health care based on ability to pay, or engages in military action for reasons other than clear self-defense can be said to value human life. We then need to shift the conversation to the question "Which human lives do we value, and what is it about them that causes us to value them and not others?"

I don't see this question addressed in your long review. It is easy to argue, for example, that murderers have relinquished their right to life based on their actions, but then we have to admit that we do not know whether the fetus will be a murderer or a saint, and that the fetus has not murdered because it does not have the physical capacity to do so nor the mental capacity to conceive of such an act. What are the implications of that?

I could go on, but I will abort my comments here in the hope you we can bring these ideas to term over time.

Anonymous said...

I would just like to question where the idea of abortion came from? Who decided one day that they didn't want the baby conceived inside her? I would also like to ask, what is it about this issue that leads us to such heated debates? Part of me believes that we talk to hear our heads rattle. Another part of me thinks that we just have to voice our opinions because we can. There comes a point when the phrase "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" comes into play.
Both sides of this argument make (arguably) rational points, so why do we continue to harp on this issue?? It seems logical to me that, the Supreme Court decided the issue; a reasonable decision has been made that is split down the middle of both views. Those who believe in abortion get the freedom to make that decision, but those who are against it have the restrictions placed on how far along the mother can be to obtain an abortion. Are there really even people out there, who have had or desire an abortion, that desire a change in the laws? Or are the people that are getting so angry over the issue just those radical crazies who are never satisfied with anything the government does?
To skip around and make my opinion thoroughly confusing to those reading it, I would like to address the quote that begins the initial blog post.
We women know when it is or is not the right time to bring a child into the world...We act out of compassion when we wait to have a child until the time when we can give it the kind of life every child deserves. We act out of love when we consider what we would be taking away from the child or children we already have if we brought another child into our family now...We women know the truth: That given certain circumstances, abortion is the most morally responsible and loving choice we can make."
I believe this is a complete load of crap! I happen to come from the side that is completely against the idea of abortions. While I understand that thought processes that went into this comment, I must say that those same thought processes are wrong. Yes, a woman’s intuition is a marvelous thing. Yes, anyone, not just a mother, can see that there may be inopportune times to give birth. But, why should abortion be the only option to solve that problem. Put the child up for adoption. I know the comment that is to come next by my opponents; orphanages are overcrowded… blah blah blah. But wouldn’t giving the child the chance to have a life at all better than a life that may not be as ideal as could be imagined?? I could continue this rant for hours, but I think you get my point; abortion is wrong, women should not be given the choice to take potential life away from their child.