Ohio Republicans introduced a new bill yesterday that takes the phrase ‘abortion is murder’ to its logical conclusion. HB565 outlaws all abortions and makes performing or having one a capital offense. The bill also does away with exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother. One of the bill’s sponsors is Craig Riedel, state representative for District 82. Riedel is my representative and lives in nearby Defiance, Ohio. Riedel, a Catholic, is stridently anti-abortion, so it comes as no surprise that he is one of the sponsors of HB565. Riedel was also instrumental in the recent passage of HB214, a law that criminalizes doctors performing abortions on women whose fetuses have Down Syndrome.
HB565 doesn’t surprise me in the least. The Ohio legislature is controlled by a super-majority of staunch, right-wing, anti-abortion Republicans. These Republicans make Governor John Kasich look like a liberal. The only way to repel their attacks on abortion rights is to run them out of office and replace them with men and women who put people before religion. Make no mistake about it, the assault on abortion is religiously driven, primarily by Evangelicals, conservative Catholics, and Mormons. Only those with minds sotted with religious delusions would criminalize abortion and make it a capital crime. Only the Craig Riedels of the world put God and theological dogma before women’s health.
I hope my fellow Ohioans are paying attention to the anti-abortion spectacle currently on display in Columbus. Far too many of us wrongly think that the people who wave signs that say, God is pro-life and abortion is murder, are ignorant, harmless country bumpkins. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ohio is primarily a rural state, and people who live in small communities such as Ney, Bryan, Defiance, Hicksville, and countless other places, have been voting into office right-wing Republicans for decades. Senior Ohioans such as myself remember an Ohio that was considered a progressive state, one governed by officeholders who worked for the common good of the Buckeye state. That Ohio no longer exists. In its place is a state government where God and the Bible come first, especially when it comes to hot-button social issues.
It is unlikely that this bill will pass constitutional muster. But, maybe the real issue here is to get HB565 before the U.S. Supreme Court so the court can overturn Roe v. Wade. Isn’t that the ultimate goal of all anti-abortion laws at the state level? Outlaw abortion in the states and then make a full-bore frontal assault on Roe v. Wade. If attempts to criminalize abortion at the federal level are successful, this means the United States returns to the days when abortions were performed in backrooms and alleys. Ultimately, it means more unwanted children will be brought into the world and more women will die of complications from illegal, unsafe abortion procedures. We must not forget that the people who believe that abortion is murder often think that using birth control is a sin too. Imagine, if you dare, a country where women no longer have access to birth control and they once again must live in fear of unwanted pregnancy. Is this really what we want for Ohio and our country? If the answer is “no,” then the only answer is to elected leaders who put their duties and obligations to their constituents ahead of their fealty to God.
I am not suggesting that religious people cannot hold office, but if they are unwilling to separate church from state, then they are not fit for office. Our governmental structures are, by design, secular, and politicians who ignore or refuse to understand this must be replaced by people who do. For far too long, voters have treated the religious beliefs of politicians as being beyond criticism and critique. Since we now know that religious beliefs have political and social consequences, those of us who consider the separation of church and state essential to the future of our secular state must expose and critique the religious beliefs of politicians. The same applies to atheistic, agnostic, and humanistic politicians – we must question their beliefs as well. What we believe matters, as HB565, HB214, and other anti-abortion bills show. If we want a country where secular, humanistic ideals drive the legislative process, then we must elect candidates who value these things. It really is that simple.
Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.
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A hundred or so local anti-abortion residents held a protest at ProMedica health system’s Defiance, Ohio facility yesterday. These zygote lovers were protesting Promedica’s decision to enter into a transfer agreement with Toledo’s lone abortion facility — Capital Care. Anti-abortion zealots in the Ohio legislature have passed numerous anti-abortion laws and regulations in recent years. One recent bit of legislative wonder requires abortion clinics to have a transfer agreement with a local hospital. This requirement has put most of Ohio’s abortion clinics out of business, much to the delight of anti-abortion God worshipers.
Ohio is on the cusp of being the first state to totally ban abortion; either by enacting strict, impossible-to-meet regulations or directly assaulting Roe v. Wade with a ban on abortion. This is what happens when Republicans are given super majorities in state legislatures. The U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion almost forty-five years ago. Yet, here we are, re-litigating an issue decided decades ago. And abortion is not the only right under attack. Republicans control most state legislatures. Believing that Christianity is the one true religion and that the Bible is the moral framework by which all Americans should live, these politicians demand that secular governments bow to God’s theocratic will. Abortion is just one issue, among many. Take any of the church and state issues litigated from the Scope’s Monkey Trial forward. Many of these court cases are being challenged and, in some instances, overturned. Christian zealots will not rest until the Christian flag flies over the White House and every state capitol. They will not rest until the wall of separation between church and state is breached and secularism is banished from the realm. One need only to look to the Middle East and Europe to see what happens when theocrats gain the power of the state; people die and freedoms are lost. The only way to turn back this assault is to elect to office people who value the U.S. Constitution and its secular principles and values.
Signs at the ProMedica protest sported messages such as: Killing babies is not healthcare, Abortion is always the wrong choice, and God is pro-life. Most of the protesters were either Evangelical or Catholic — the two dominant sects in this area. While Catholics, at one time, voted for Democrats and pro-union candidates, recent decades have brought a virulent swing to the right. These days, Catholics are every bit as caustic as Evangelicals, especially on issues such as abortion, homosexuality, and same-sex marriage.
I have no doubt that these protestors sincerely believe that God is pro-life, but such a belief is rooted in fanaticism, and not fact. Anti-abortionists selectively appeal to the Bible as justification for their anti-abortion rhetoric, but a careful reading of the Bible suggests that God is not, in any way, pro-life; and that people who claim God is on their side are ignoring vast amounts of Biblical and historical evidence to the contrary. If anything, God is blood-thirsty, violent megalomaniac who has caused untold pain, suffering, and death (if he is indeed real, as Christians insist he is).
According to the Bible, the pro-life God of the Bible drowned millions of people with a flood, including children and pregnant women. How can it be said that God is pro-life if he murdered fetuses by drowning them? Down through the pages of the Bible we find story after story detailing Jehovah’s genocidal rage against anyone and everyone who refused to bow in fealty and worship him. The New Testament is no better. One need only look at the death of Jesus to see the homicidal tendencies of the Christian deity. What kind of father does what God did to his son? Worse yet, this same God created a place called Hell; a place where he tortures all non-Christians for eternity. This God is such a psychopath that he fits the dead with new bodies that will tolerate torture in the fire and brimstone of the Lake of Fire. What a monstrous being!
And then there’s the fact that if God is the giver and taker of life, then he is responsible for the ten to twenty percent of pregnancies that end with spontaneous abortion (miscarriage). If God is pro-life, why then are these pregnancies not carried to term? Surely, God can keep spontaneous abortions from happening. Why does he sit on the sidelines and do nothing? The same argument could be made for children who die due to war, murder, malnutrition, disease, and parental neglect. If God is pro-life, shouldn’t he intervene and save children from death? If God truly cares about the pre-born, surely he still cares for them after they are born. Yet, all the evidence points to the fact that God is indifferent to the plight of his created beings. One could even argue that the evidence suggests that the pro-life God is a figment of Christian imaginations.
No, God is not pro-life, and neither are his followers. Most pro-lifers have a schizophrenic approach to life. The very same people protesting at ProMedica can be found defending U.S. militarism, capital punishment, and all sorts of anti-life government policies. At best, most pro-lifers are pro-fetus, hypocrites of the first-degree. Take protesters who released balloons to honor the babies have been aborted. They showed no regard for what balloon releases do to the environment and wildlife: that released balloons eventually return to the ground, causing wildlife deaths when they are ingested. This fact is a great example of the myopia of anti-abortionists. They are one-issue crusaders who only believe in protesting in support of the pre-born. Once a child is born, all bets are off.
An anti-abortionist who lives near me told the Defiance Crescent-News, “They [ProMedica] became complicit in murder when they signed that transfer agreement.” As long as Christian zealots continue to believe that life begins at conception, and any and all forms of abortion are murder, there’s no possible way to work with them to reduce the need for abortion. Instead, people such as myself are forced to fight their irrational, anti-woman assault on women. Believing that God is on their side and the Bible is God’s inspired, infallible word, Evangelicals and conservative Catholics cannot and will not compromise. Trying to reach such people is a waste of time. All any of us can do is strip them of the power of the state. This is accomplished through electing politicians who believe it’s important to protect a woman’s right to choose; who believe that women have a Constitutional right to control their own bodies. At this juncture in American history, this means running Republicans out of office. Remember, if we don’t realize the importance of the hour, we are going to wake up one day and find ourselves living in what Evangelicals have long desired — a Christian nation. Come that day, abortion rights will be the least of our problems.
Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.
Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.
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Recently, U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Russ Walker struck down an Alabama law that “enabled judges to put minors seeking abortions through a trial-like proceeding in which the fetus could get a lawyer and prosecutors could object to the pregnant girl’s wishes.” (CBS News)
Alabama legislators in 2014 changed the state’s process for girls who can’t or won’t get their parents’ permission for an abortion to obtain permission from a court instead. The new law empowered the judge to appoint a guardian ad litem “for the interests of the unborn child” and invited the local district attorney to call witnesses and question the girl to determine whether she’s mature enough to decide.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Russ Walker sided Friday with the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, writing that the law unconstitutionally and impermissibly imposes “an undue burden on a minor in Alabama who seeks an abortion through a judicial bypass,” and violates the girl’s privacy rights by enabling a prosecutor to call witnesses against her will.
Both the judge and the ACLU said they were aware of no other state with such a law.
Every state requiring parental consent for abortions involving minors must also have a “judicial bypass” procedure so that girls can get a judge’s approval in a way that is effective, confidential, and expeditious, the ACLU said.
The state had argued that the law was intended to allow a “meaningful” inquiry into the minor’s maturity and the process was still a “confidential, and expeditious option for a teenager who seeks an abortion without parental consent.”
The civil rights organization said it had the opposite effect, by enabling lawyers for the state or the fetus to subpoena the minor’s teacher, neighbor, relative or boyfriend to testify she’s too immature to choose an abortion, or that continuing the pregnancy would be in her best interest.
It is unclear how many such proceedings have happened since the law was enacted. Walker noted that a district attorney this summer opposed the abortion request of a 12-year-old girl who had been impregnated by a relative.
That Alabama legislators — most of whom worship the Evangelical Christian God — enacted such a draconian, anti-woman, anti-abortion law should surprise no one. Anti-abortionists will not rest until they have banned abortion, criminalized its practice, and granted personhood to human zygotes. In fact, most anti-abortionists object to abortion for any reason — including rape and incest. Some anti-abortionists even go so far as to oppose abortion even if the life of the mother is at stake, believing that God is the giver and taker of life, and if he wants the mother to live he will make it so.
Not only do anti-abortionists oppose abortion for any reason, an increasing number of them object to the sale and distribution of birth control, believing that God alone opens and closes the womb. These zealots, knowing that access to birth control reduces the need for abortion services, choose to let their peculiar interpretations of an ancient religious text trump what is best not only for women, but for the unwanted children they will bring into the world if they don’t have access to birth control.
Previously, I wrote that I no longer use the phrase pro-life to describe those who oppose abortion. The reason is simple. Anti-abortionists are only pro-life when it comes to the unborn. They will go to the ends of the earth to protect human zygotes and unborn fetuses, but once babies are born, anti-abortionists lose all interest in their welfare outside of throwing a few diapers and cans of formula the way of new mothers. Anti-abortionists are overwhelmingly Republican, supporting policies that harm countless people, including mothers and newborns. Anti-abortionists are overwhelmingly pro-war, pro-capital punishment, anti-euthanasia, anti-single payer/universal health care, and a host of other things that should, in my mind, be consistent with people hold a pro-life viewpoint. While I am sure that more than a few anti-abortionists are not as I describe here, the loudest voices in the movement support policies that are anti-family.
This is why it is impossible for those of us who support a woman’s right to an abortion to find common ground with anti-abortionists. Theologically driven, anti-abortionists will accept no compromise. Supporting abortion rights is, in the anti-abortionist’s mind, akin to supporting murder. I find it hard to work with people who think that, because of my views on abortion, I am a murderer. Even my support of morning-after drugs is viewed as advocating murder. In the eyes of anti-abortionists, the moment sperm and egg unite in the wombs of women, the results are human beings that should have the same constitutional and legal protections as I have. Insane! you say. Yes, but make no mistake about it, if anti-abortionists have their way, aborting a fetus will be considered premeditated murder, worthy, ironically, of the death penalty. Currently, anti-abortionists, as they continue their incremental assault on Roe v. Wade, are attempting to pass state laws that require burials for aborted or miscarried fetuses. According to the Guttmacher Institute, anti-abortionists continue to make it harder and harder for women to receive abortions. Currently:
Physician and Hospital Requirements: 38 states require an abortion to be performed by a licensed physician. 19 states require an abortion to be performed in a hospital after a specified point in the pregnancy, and 19 states require the involvement of a second physician after a specified point.
Gestational Limits: 43 states prohibit abortions, generally except when necessary to protect the woman’s life or health, after a specified point in pregnancy.
“Partial-Birth” Abortion: 19 states have laws in effect that prohibit “partial-birth” abortion. 3 of these laws apply only to post-viability abortions.
Public Funding: 17 states use their own funds to pay for all or most medically necessary abortions for Medicaid enrollees in the state. 32 states and the District of Columbia prohibit the use of state funds except in those cases when federal funds are available: where the woman’s life is in danger or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. In defiance of federal requirements, South Dakota limits funding to cases of life endangerment only.
Coverage by Private Insurance: 11 states restrict coverage of abortion in private insurance plans, most often limiting coverage only to when the woman’s life would be endangered if the pregnancy were carried to term. Most states allow the purchase of additional abortion coverage at an additional cost.
Refusal: 45 states allow individual health care providers to refuse to participate in an abortion. 42 states allow institutions to refuse to perform abortions, 16 of which limit refusal to private or religious institutions.
State-Mandated Counseling: 16 states mandate that women be given counseling before an abortion that includes information on at least one of the following: the purported link between abortion and breast cancer (5 states), the ability of a fetus to feel pain (12 states) or long-term mental health consequences for the woman (6 states).
Waiting Periods: 27 states require a woman seeking an abortion to wait a specified period of time, usually 24 hours, between when she receives counseling and the procedure is performed. 14 of these states have laws that effectively require the woman make two separate trips to the clinic to obtain the procedure.
Parental Involvement: 37 states require some type of parental involvement in a minor’s decision to have an abortion. 26 states require one or both parents to consent to the procedure, while 11 require that one or both parents be notified.
Here in Ohio, most abortions are banned after twenty weeks. As of April 2017, Ohio law requires:
A woman must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion, and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided. Counseling must be provided in person and must take place before the waiting period begins, thereby necessitating two trips to the facility.
Health plans offered in the state’s health exchange under the Affordable Care Act can only cover abortion if the woman’s life is endangered, or in cases of rape or incest.
Abortion is covered in insurance policies for public employees only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
Medication abortion must be provided using the FDA protocol. The use of telemedicine to administer medication abortion is prohibited.
The parent of a minor must consent before an abortion is provided.
Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
Most women will undergo an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion; since the provider must test for a fetal heartbeat. The woman will be offered the option to view the image.
An abortion may be performed at 20 or more weeks post-fertilization (22 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period) only if the woman’s life is endangered or if her physical health is severely compromised. This law is based on the assertion, which is inconsistent with scientific evidence and has been rejected by the medical community, that a fetus can feel pain at that point in pregnancy.
Since 2011, Ohio governor John Kasich has signed into law more than a dozen anti-abortion laws, resulting in the closure of half of Ohio’s abortion clinics. Showing that they will not be satisfied until ALL abortion is outlawed, Ohio anti-abortionists are attempting to pass a fetal heartbeat bill which, if enacted, will effectively ban all abortions in Ohio. Late last year, Governor Kasich vetoed the latest heartbeat law, saying that it would not survive constitutional challenge. His veto brought the ire of anti-abortionists. Never mind that Kasich has done more to advance the anti-abortion cause that any governor, all that matters to anti-abortion zealots such as Janet Porter is that the governor refused to support their latest bill. This reveals, yet again, that it is impossible for pro-choice advocates to find common ground with anti-abortionists. Adopting a scorched earth policy where no quarter will be given, anti-abortionists despise anyone who dares to deviate from their extremist views. If Governor Kasich is now in league with Satan, those of us who support a woman’s right to choose have no hope of finding ways to meaningfully work with anti-abortionists to reduce the number of abortions. So, we go it alone, advocating for easy, free access to birth control and comprehensive sex education in the public schools. Realizing that there will always be unwanted/accidental pregnancies — for whatever reason — we believe that access to morning-after drugs is essential.
Dark is the hour for those of us who support a woman’s right to choose, but we must not give in or lose hope. We must continue to fight, pushing back at every turn, until the gains made by anti-abortionists are overturned — either through legislatures or the judicial system.
The goal of the pro-life movement is to make ALL abortion illegal. They will not stop their war against women until fertilized eggs receive the same constitutional protections afforded post-birth humans. Using the incremental approach, pro-lifers have successfully made it impossible for women in many states to get an abortion. Some zealots even go so far as to say that birth control should be outlawed. I have no doubt that once the U.S. Supreme Court is at full strength that zygote warriors will attempt to re-litigate Roe v. Wade.
I have written several articles on abortion you might find helpful:
Yesterday, The Gospel Coalition — a Fundamentalist,Calvinistic, parachurch group — published an article by Aaron Wilson titled, What Christians Should Know About Embryo Adoption. That’s right, EMBRYO ADOPTION. Tens of thousands of children need adoptive families, yet people such as Aaron Wilson are focused on rescuing frozen embryos — who are, in their minds, human beings with constitutional rights — from being criminally murdered. Here’s some of what Wilson had to say:
A hallmark of the evangelical church in America is the backing of a pro-life worldview. As such, abortion clinics and the politics that govern them are primary areas of focus in this important cause. However, there’s another front that often gets overlooked in the fight for life: the state of the thousands of children who remain cryogenically frozen as human embryos following in-vitro fertilization cycles.
A growing Christian response to this issue is the life-affirming answer of embryo adoption.
If you haven’t heard of embryo adoption, you’re not alone. Even though thousands of children in the United States could immediately benefit from this act of love, many people—Christians included—remain unaware of this adoptive need.
Because embryo adoption can be confusing, here are six answers to common questions.
1. What is embryo adoption?
Embryo adoption is a way to care for children who, for lack of a better phrase, are “left over” and kept in a cryogenic state following an in-vitro fertilization cycle. Through embryo adoption, an adopting mother gives these children a chance at birth by allowing their embryonic form to be thawed and transferred to her uterus. If one or more implant, the mother then carries and births the child (or children) though she is not genetically related to them. Embryo adoption is often referred to as pre-birth adoption.
2. Isn’t embryo adoption the same thing as in-vitro fertilizatio (IVF)?
No. In many ways, it’s the opposite. In-vitro fertilization creates life as a form of reproductive technology. Embryo adoption is a response to the fact that life has already been created and that it needs a womb to continue developing the way God intended babies to grow.
3. How many embryonic babies exist in cryopreservation?
In the United States alone, a projected 700,000 children exist as frozen embryos. Of these, an estimated 10,000 to 11,000 are available to be adopted. That number grows every week. These statistics reflect two pressing needs: A movement of families who are willing to adopt and an awareness of the life-affirming options available to parents who already have remaining embryos.
4. Is embryo adoption really adoption?
Because the U.S. government doesn’t agree with the Bible’s claim that life begins at fertilization, embryo adoption isn’t considered legal adoption in America. The government only sees human embryos as cells, and so treats embryo adoption as a mere transfer of property. As such, many fertility clinics prefer “embryo donation.”
Biblically informed Christians, however, shouldn’t shy away from using life-honoring terms. Just as Jesus was adopted by Joseph in a preborn state (not received as a donation from God), Christians should honor life by using theologically accurate language.
6. How can I care for frozen children?
Inform. Most people have never heard of embryo adoption. Those who have often confuse it with IVF. Much adoption evangelism needs to take place inside the church on behalf of these frozen lives. Share embryo adoption articles on social media. Talk with friends. Do research. Talk to your elders and your small group about ways your church can be involved in the mission field that is embryo adoption.
Adopt. The most powerful way to care for these tiniest of children is to personally open a womb and a home to them. A great place to start is to check out the website of the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) in Knoxville, Tennessee.
When God Became an Embryo
Jesus didn’t leave his throne for a manager, at least not directly. He first left his throne nine months earlier for a womb.
How much grander is the story of the incarnation when we realize the Son of God went from ruling the universe to becoming the smallest, most dependent, most microscopic form of human life. The God who authored a world that can’t be measured, humbled himself into a form that can’t be seen.
And this same God who became a human embryo to save sinners would have his church stand up for the many human embryos regularly discarded or frozen indefinitely. Consider how you can expand your pro-life passion toward the littlest lives by championing the cause of embryo adoption.
As someone who believes women should have the unrestricted right to an abortion pre-viability, Wilson’s article is a reminder of the impossibility of working with pro-lifer’s to reduce the number of abortions. Unable to differentiate between a blob of cells and a human life, pro-lifers obstinately refuse to compromise their beliefs. This is why I no longer waste my time arguing or debating with members of God’s Zygote Squad®. Their Fundamentalist religious views have blinded them to the horrific damage caused by their incessant assault on reproductive rights. They will not rest until Ozzie and Harriett, Leave it to Beaver, and the Duggars are the gold standard for American families.
I’ve always been somewhat of a pedant when it comes to terminology. Personally, I just think it’s better to know what you’re talking about when you’re pontificating on some cultural or social subject rather than, say, not knowing anything but thinking you’re the bee’s knees simply for having an opinion. I may not be a narcissist, but I certainly am a stickler for using correct terminology.
Often in the pro-life vs. pro-choice abortion debate, the pro-life side will make the hyperbolic claim that “abortion is murder!”
They also like to imply if you support abortion that you are in support of murder. They don’t seem to realize that the pro-choice side isn’t pro-baby killing. We don’t want unnecessary abortions either. But when it comes to the abortion debate, we pro-choicers have understood the fine nuances of the pro-life proposition which they clearly have failed to properly consider.
That’s what I want to examine today. All the nuances that the pro-life side has utterly, and completely, failed to properly consider let alone adequately address. So without further ado, let’s get this show on the road.
PART 1: The LEGAL TROUBLE with the Pro-life Stance
Of course, the short answer is, no, abortion is not murder. In most cases it’s a legal medical procedure. A necessary one even.
In my experience, what the pro-life side is attempting to say, rather poorly, is that they think abortion should be classified as murder.
But this is where things get tricky. Because murder is specifically a legal term with very specific meanings under very well-defined contexts. In fact, the law distinguishes between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree murder, understanding there is a scale to consider. Where premeditated murder, manslaughter, and involuntary / accidental manslaughter differentiate is no trivial matter. The law recognizes, rightly so, that there are different forms of taking a human life, and not all of them are equal in terms of culpability or even in punishment.
This is common sense to us, since we all know that a drunk driver accidentally running over some school children crossing the street is different from honestly not seeing a child jump into the street chasing a ball before it’s too late which is even more different still from raging out and mowing down a bunch of children crossing the street in your car.
These are different forms of killing. With different factors that apply. And the law must consider each and every one of the variables at play in order to be unbiased, just, and true. A law that doesn’t do this, well, wouldn’t be a very good law, I think you’ll find.
And that’s why I find is problematic when pro-life people claim “abortion is murder.”
What kind of murder would you like it to be? Just murder isn’t a thing. Not in the eyes of the law. So pro-life supporters have to be more specific.
Although they seem to suggest they want abortion to be classified as a form of murder, I’ve never seen any logical, moral, or philosophical arguments given to make that case. It seems most of the time it is used as a shock-tactic. A bit of hyperbole. It fits with the right wing narrative that demonizes all abortion as evil and equates it with the most heinous crime imaginable, taking another human beings life against their will.
But then, here we have a new problem. If you want to provide legal protections to an unborn fetus, in the same way you provide legal protection to an autonomous adult, you’d have to show their free will has been violated, and then, as you can imagine, this implies you must first prove an unborn fetus has a free will to be violated in the first place. Not an easy task, I can assure you.
You see, as with those who claim abortion is murder, they seem to be confusing legal rights of an autonomous individual with the rights of an unborn fetus, not yet a fully actualized individual, and are making the incorrect assumption that the fetus’s rights deserve broader legal protection, even at the sake of the mother’s rights being restricted.
However, this is problematic for several reasons.
First, in law there is no legal precedent for this strange usurping of an adult’s rights by an unborn fetuses rights since children’s rights are, and always have been, limited by the law until they become legal adults.
At most, a fetus could be granted the same rights as a child, but not being an individual where free will is recognizable, not even being born for that matter, seems to set strict parameters on what kind of rights that unborn fetus could have in a state of law. After all, in order to make a claim that their rights have been violated, they need to face their accuser in a court of law, and this can’t happen. Which is why in pro-life happy states the trick is always to grant the State the right to make the claim on behalf of the unborn fetus.
But this raises ethical concerns on the treatment of women, and by extension their unborn offspring.
For example, in El Salvador, women are frequently jailed for having miscarriages. Because, in their case, powers outside themselves control them through laws and regulations, deciding on behalf of the fetus, what the mother – viewed a property of the state – should be dictated.
Saying that others should make legal claims on behalf of the unborn fetus opens a whole can of worms that have proved to dangerously restrict, even endanger, the well-being of women. In a free and civilized democracy like America, arguing for such restrictions is Draconian.
Yet since 2005, there have been more than 380 cases in the U.S. alone – the so-called land of the free – where pregnant women have been jailed, arrested, and / or tried for crimes against their unborn fetuses.
Being charged for criminal conduct and jailed for a natural miscarriage is like having your house knocked down in an earthquake and being arrested and imprisoned for the destruction of private property. It’s beyond the pale, goes against all reason and common sense, yet there are policies in place which carry out these absurd and inconceivable policies gleefully and without question.
Where a fetus’s rights are has not been clearly defined, such policies always devolve into a legal mess, and the only people who suffer for it are the mothers – the women – whose rights the law conveniently forgets about the moment anti-abortion legislation enters the equation.
Even if you are pro-life, this should force you to give some serious pause and consideration.
And from a theory of law standpoint, this is a very slippery slope. A very slippery slope indeed.
Even though we can all probably agree that a lot more work needs to be done in this area, the clear fact of the matter is, you cannot expect a fetus’s legal rights to outstrip the mother’s when those rights, in point of fact, have not been clearly or concisely defined.
In fact, we probably shouldn’t expect an unborn fetus’s rights to even be comparable to a child’s, but, perhaps, that is a debate is better left up to the legal experts.
My point in all this is essentially this: this legal problem of defining the unborn fetus’s legal standing within society has NEVER been fully or adequately addressed by the pro-life side.
The best they have come up with is to make the woman into property, give the state control over her body and reproductive choices, and punish the mother – because all she is, is chattel after all – when she fails to abide by the reproductive guidelines forced upon her and which do not consider her best interests as a mother or human being.
It’s draconian in the worst sense of the word, I think you’ll find. Yet this is essentially what pro-life proponents call for when they claim “abortion is murder.”So, to make a long question short. Is abortion murder? Not in the legal sense. No. Thank goodness.
But this is only the first trouble area. There’s more to it. So please bear with me as I detail exactly why the pro-life position isn’t a valid position and why it’s so maladroit as a social and political stance with regard to abortion.
PART 2: The MORAL TROUBLE with Pro-Life Stance
The greater problem with the pro-life argument lies not on the legal side of things, but the moral and philosophical side of things.
You may have often heard it said that “abortion is evil.”
Whereas “abortion is murder” is a very specific legal claim, saying that “abortion is evil” is a very specific moral claim.
The way the pro-life side deals with this is to say that life begins at conception, with the added caveat that life is sacred — well, human life, to be specific.
Then there is the other problem of defining life.
Science says one thing. Pro-lifers say another.
Science says biological life has stages.
Science says it takes 2 weeks for fertilization.
This is where pro-lifers say conception begins – but the problem is, the fertilized egg hasn’t even attached to the uterus yet. It is also where most spontaneous abortions occur. 20 out of 100 women in America alone will have a spontaneous abortion / miscarriage before the age of 40.
That’s nearly a quarter of the female populate having to suffer a miscarriage through no fault of their own. This raises the peculiar question of whether or not defining life in this way would hold Mother Nature legally accountable for abortions where anti-abortion laws take effect. It also raises theological problems for right-wing believers who claim to use God as their moral guide, when believing in an all-loving, all-powerful, Supreme Being – since an all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God would share culpability in NOT preventing the fertilized eggs abortion when they could have. It would be like a doctor refusing to save a patient when they had all the power to do so. It’s inconceivable, and it suggests that God is either malevolent, i.e. completely evil, or else entirely impotent.
As to be expected though, the pro-life side chooses to ignore these unfavorable consequences and go straight for the throat of people’s moral consciences by claiming killing a hapless child is evil! Well, it’s not even a potential child yet, since the not-even-baby will likely self-abort anyway. And this scientific fact show that defining life as beginning at conception isn’t only problematic, but entirely nonsensical.
Why nonsensical? Because…
Science says it takes 3 weeks for implantation.
Still, not yet a human embryo even. So we have only a potential for human life. A potential is not a certainty. It is a possibility. Which is why defining it as a life is problematic. It’s like me saying that I might possibly go to the gym today, and you saying I’ve already went to the gym today. That doesn’t actually make any sense. And so it doesn’t make any sense to say this fertilized egg which has the potential to become a human fetus is already a human fetus.
The pro-life claim that life begins at conception is simply nonsensical for the above reasons.
But if that wasn’t enough to convince you…
Science says it takes at least 4 weeks for the embryo to officially form.
Now the potential is maximized, since an embryo can turn into a fetus. But the problem is, to come back to this issue, miscarriages. The majority of miscarriages occur within the first 20 weeks of embryonic development. So, even though we have an embryo, unlike Katniss from the Hunger Games, the chances are not in its favor. There is still the 20 in 100 chance that it will spontaneous self-destruct.
If new cars driven off the dealers lot self-destruct 20 out of 100 times, would you feel safe driving a new car off the lot? Probably not. You’d want better security than that. Which is why there are strict manufacturing and safety guidelines for the automotive industry. Yet Mother Nature is much more sloppy, a lot less predictable, and so trying to stronghold mother nature and force it to fit a definition is the wrong way to go about it. What we must do is be mindful that things are never so clear cut and dry. Not where Mother Mature is concerned. Which means are definitions of life have to, at the very least, take this fact into account? The pro-life definition of life does not.
Some pro-life sites, like Abort 73.com, although cataloging many useful abortion statistics, make suspicious claims like “Growth in the womb is a rapid process, all systems are in place by week 8.”
Although this notion that “all systems are in place by week 8” is not entirely accurate. In fact, it’s a half-truth slanted to make the pro-life position seem more scientific than it really is, and by extension more reasonable than it is too.
Thankfully, the science it quite clear on the matter.
By week 8 the human nervous system is only beginning to develop. The neural pathways haven’t even been developed yet, so there’s still no “feeling any pain” since the fetus isn’t well-developed enough to even process pain. This is about the time breathing tubes develop from the throat to the lungs, and the fetus is roughly the size of a kidney bean.
According to Guttmacher Institute, the primary source for all abortion research and policy analysis, it is reported that two-thirds of abortions occur at approximately eight weeks of pregnancy or earlier. This is long before the baby is an actual fully functioning organism. In fact, the tiny kidney bean doesn’t even feel any pain!
Which begs the question, why would anyone give a not yet developed, non-functioning, kidney bean the same legal rights as a well-developed, fully-functioning, form of the fully formed organism?
https://www.guttmacher.org/ Please, don’t mistake my question as being callous. Calling a fetus at 8 weeks a kidney bean is probably more accurate than calling it a human baby. We know human babies breath and feel pain. Human kidney beans do not, or in this case, embryo’s only 8 weeks into its fetal development.
And it’s not like we’ve stripped a kidney bean of its individual rights. First of all, it’s not yet an individual anything. It cannot feel. It cannot think. It is a collection of cells still undergoing development. It’s a potential human being, but not yet anything. This is a distinction many pro-lifers seem to deliberately choose to ignore. By ignoring this point of contention, they can state that abortion is evil because it is taking a human life. But that’s simply not the case. The science doesn’t support their view, because the pro-life view ignores the science.
No less important is the fact that we are not talking about a handicapped individual here. We aren’t stripping somethings rights away which already had rights. We are talking about a stage of development. A stage of development where if the fetus doesn’t go beyond this particular stage it doesn’t becoming anything at all.
Re-read that last sentence again and let that sink in.
And that, basically, is what pro-life supporters want to give full legal rights to. A potential something, but not yet anything, maybe lifeform. Perhaps worse than this is the fact that they want to allow this not yet anything, maybe lifeform to supersede the rights of its host mother. And mothers, as we all know, do have rights.
This kind of reasoning is so muddled, so convoluted, that the best we can do is to say, sorry, but your position is unreasonable and trespasses on the absurd.
But many pro-lifers have bought into the abortions is murder / abortion is evil propaganda hook, line, and sinker. They believe, for whatever reason, that those alarmist anti-abortion videos of doctors ripping out baby fetuses from bloody vaginas with metal tongs, then chopping them up on a silver platter and throwing them into dumpsters is, somehow, an accurate reflection of real life abortion.
It’s pure propaganda. A fiction meant to scare people into thinking abortion is a vile practice that only immoral barbarians would carry out rather than what it really is – a live saving medical procedure carried out by medical professionals in hospitals.
Besides this, in most cases, and abortion requires merely taking a pill before the end of the first trimester. No drama required.
As it turns out, those third trimester abortions you see in videos taken in Mexico, or some such place, are the rarest of the rare.
The Guttmacher Institute states that third trimester abortions are less than 1.3% of the entire populace and are reserved for extremely rare medical conditions where there will be serious complications to the mother, fetus, or both.
And if you don’t think there are valid medical reasons for late-term abortions, chances are you’ve never heard of anencephaly.
Yeah. Anencephaly. Look it up.
At the same time, the Guttmacher Institute reminds us that 91% of all abortions happen in the first trimester, before 11th week of pregnancy, more than 65% occurring before the 8th week of pregnancy. Remember, that’s the time where we have the unfeeling kidney bean not yet anything maybe embryo.
And let’s not forget that spontaneous abortions/miscarriages occur all the way through the 20th week of pregnancy regardless. And that’s the cold hard reality of it.
As for those alarmist videos, they are just that, alarmist propaganda. And that wouldn’t be so bad if such propaganda only duped fools into believing it, but as it happens it can dupe otherwise reasonable people into believing it as well. And that’s dangerous, I think you’ll agree. Dangerous for the very reason that it weaponizes our ignorance and then seeks to use it against us.
When all is said and done, the facts are the facts and are readily available for anyone who wants to educate themselves on the truth of the matter. And the fact remains, second and third trimester abortions are extremely rare. *Extremely* and *rare* being the key words here.
So setting an arbitrary definition for the definition of “life” — one which conveniently aligns precisely with their pre-selected worldview, but which seems to habitually butt heads with the science — is all the pro-life side has to offer us. And I think you’ll agree, that’s simply not good enough to convince anyone that abortion ought to be considered murder or that it’s inherently evil. This is a black and white, overly simplistic view that doesn’t understand the first thing about the complexities and nuances involved in addressing the major ethical concerns permeating this debate.
So we’ve learned two things so far.
The pro-life side’s legal claim of unborn fetuses having rights is nowhere in evidence and needs to be developed into a viable argument before being put into law.
As it is, the pro-life side has offered a non-starter. It’s a poorly thought out position based on political biases and emotional prejudices. It hasn’t considered any of the relevant material, which is why it relies on emotional pleas and alarmist tactics while vilifying the other side’s position, offering only propaganda instead of facts, to try and persuade others of the worthiness of their cause. It’s an ill-informed opinion masquerading as fact. And it’s dangerous.
The pro-life definition of “life” is deeply flawed if not completely nonsensical.
Furthermore, it conflicts with what the science shows to be fact. At the same time the definition being offered deliberately ignores competing definitions and attempts to overrule them by making moral platitudes designed to manipulate people’s emotions into giving up these other well-defined definitions for vague, an nebulous ones which only seek to sow further confusion rather than bring any clarity to the issues at hand.
These are not trivial concerns, mind you. These are serious objections to the pro-life position. Damning, you might even say.
The entire pro-life side of the debate must first overcome these major obstacles and objections in order to become a viable argument. Only once it has been formalized as a real argument can it be worthy of consideration and debate.
Right now, all they have is an opinion. And it is on this lofty opinion that so much anti-abortion legislature hangs. Which is quite frightening to anyone with half a brain. I don’t say this to be divisive. What is shows is that pro-life supporters simply haven’t thought through the issues, have no solutions for the problems, yet want their position to carry the same moral weight. It doesn’t.
On the other hand, the pro-choice side succinctly avoids these same pitfalls and therefore is the sturdier position. It does this because it is offered, not as a fully independent argument, but as a contra-argument to what the pro-choice side offers, or in this case, fails to offer. The pro-choice side, by design, sides with reasonable and just policies based on our current scientific, legal, and moral understanding of what abortion really is. A valid medical procedure. As such, it’s not pushing an agenda in the same way the pro-life side is clearly pushing an agenda. It’s a counter-offer to that agenda, which says that you cannot arbitrarily strip a woman of her civil liberties simply because you have arbitrarily selected and random definition of “life” which you wish to impose on everyone else regardless of the consequences. Hence the pro-choice stance can be viewed as a push-back against the inherent illogicality of the pro-life stance.
PART 3: The PHILOSOPHICAL TROUBLE with the Pro-Life Stance
The pro-life position is plagued with legal problems as well as moral problems. But it is also riddles with practical philosophical problems. That’s just a fancy way of saying, if you were to give it a deeper consideration, the pro-life position is philosophically unsound.
There are two distinct philosophical failings of the pro-life side of the debate.
The first is how one gives autonomy to individual with no identity.
The second problem arises when you give the right to autonomy to two individuals inhabiting the same body and place their identities in opposition thus into conflict.
First, for the sake of argument, let’s concede to the argument and agree that life begins at conception.
We can grant pro-life proponents this much, because even if this is the definition we are using, the bigger moral problems are yet to come. In fact, you might even say the pro-life side still has all their work ahead of them.
In order to explain the problem, I first have to make everyone aware of a philosophical riddle that has baffled philosophers for centuries.
It’s called The Ship of Theseus paradox.
Now, the paradox has been discussed by ancient philosophers such as Heraclitus and Plato, and more recently by heavy weight thinkers like Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. The paradox, according to the Greek historian Plutarch, is as such:
The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned from Crete had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their places, in so much that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.
Essentially, the problem asks you to imagine Theseus’s ship. It is uncovered by modern archeologists on some Grecian beach. Unearthing it, they take the ship to a museum and, low and behold, discover some of the ship’s wood planks have rotted away. Subsequently, they replace those planks.
Now, here’s where the philosophical paradox comes into play. After a few years of sitting in the old museum, a few more of the ships planks rot away. Those too get replaced. Another few years crawls by, and another couple of planks get replaced. This continues on for many years until, finally, we come to the last original plank. It too has rotted beyond repair, and therefore gets replaced.
The paradox asks us, at what instant did Theseus’s ship change from one thing to another?
Some would say that it stopped being Theseus’s ship after 50% of the planks were replaced. Others would say it was still Theseus’s ship right up till the last plank was replaced. After that, no longer. But others would argue that it was still Theseus’s original ship even after all the planks were replaced because some of those new planks had been a part of the original at one time and thus carried with them the essence of Theseus’s ship.
Now, there’s not need to wrack your brain. There’s no actual solution to the riddle.
What the paradox is designed to show us is that things have recognizable forms, but these forms change. Because of this changing forms, whether the original or a facsimile, a thing has a kind of identity unto itself whereby we recognize its form as either Theseus’s ship or not Theseus’s ship.
The reason this becomes important in the abortion debate is this. When you define life as beginning at conception, you still haven’t identified when the life is a person. The essence of being a person is quite different from simply being a living thing. Single celled amoebas are living. Nobody rights laws protecting them. A multi-celled bacteria is a living thing. But we recognize it as either a bacteria or not a bacteria. But when you have a human embryo, we know it is a human embryo because it’s not a full-grown child. And then, we know and fetus is not an embryo.
So the problem with defining life at conception is that you’re trying to define one thing as another thing. You’re trying to define the single-celled amoeba as a multi-cellular bacterium, and as we all know – this isn’t possible. It’s nonsense. A thing is a thing is a thing. And that thing cannot be some other thing… until… well, it is. And that’s the Theseus Ship paradox in a nutshell. Or should I say bottle?
Simply put, to say life begins at conception and then giving that embryo legal rights would mean ONLY that embryo has legal rights. Not the fetus. You would have to write a separate law to say that the fetus has legal rights, apart from the embryo, if that’s what you want to say. And, to compound matters, you’d have to write yet one more set of laws to distinguish the rights of a fully living child apart from both a fetus and an embryo.
And this is a basic philosophical consideration which one would need to take into account before writing laws, since something as complex as biology involves changing forms.
Yet the pro-life side would rather not think about it in this detail. Again, probably because they aren’t offering a formal argument for their position. They aren’t offering reasons. They are offering mere opinions and then telling you, often times quite passionately, how they feel about their own opinions.
Well, I hate to be the barer of bad news, but an opinion doesn’t make a valid argument.
Of course, you will recall I mentioned there were two parts to the identity problem.
The second part is more subtle, but also that much more damaging to the pro-life stance.
Even if we grant the pro-life definition of life, and even if we grant them that an unborn fetus is entitled to certain legal protections, what they seems to be forgetting in all of this is… the MOTHER.
As an already fully actualized, autonomous, individual she has legal rights. Thus had legal standing in cases brought against her by her unborn fetus. Which is technically impossible, which, inevitably, explains why pro-lifers always argue for legal involvement in such cases when erecting anti-abortion policies. They NEED to control the mother’s rights, because what they are doing, in this case, is putting the mother’s rights in opposition to the unborn fetus’s rights.
This creates a big moral problem. Because the only way to resolve this issue, in a court of law, is to demote a woman to the status of property.
In the case of abortion, what the pro-life side is seeking to do is say that the unborn fetus resides inside the host mothers, as a tenant resides inside an apartment building, and that the mother cannot unlawfully evict the fetus because the fetus has every right to live there – and has nowhere else to go.
The problem isn’t that a fetus cannot pay its rent, but that the mother has been made into property in order to imbue the unborn fetus with the same legal rights and standing as the woman mother.
I’m sure you can see how making a person into property is not only ill advised but, all things considered, completely amoral. Yet, this is what has to happen when you place an unborn fetus’s legal standing on par with its autonomous mother’s. A conflict of identity which pits individuals against each other in both legal and moral terms – which is a huge philosophical problem.
And, no, saying “life begins at conception” does not solve this problem. It only exasperates it. It presupposes all life is sacred, but for mysterious reasons that aren’t justifiable and only muck up the discussion with unnecessary metaphysical considerations that have no place in the discussion.
Saying abortion equates to the same thing as murder simply isn’t true. It’s not even a logical consequence of “life beginning at conception” because the law does not automatically imbue all forms of life with equal rights, let alone state that preventing a thing from gaining a life is the same thing as taking it. Another reason saying that “abortion is murder” is simply incorrect.
And, finally, stating rather matter-of-fact like that “abortion is evil” is simply a failure of moral reasoning of the highest order. Quite frankly, it is the embarrassing admission that you’re not yet ready to have a sophisticated discussion on the finer, highly complex, aspects of human rights and ethics. It is the happy display of one’s failure to reason through the issues well – and it’s not deserving of any special kind of consideration – at least not until a better argument is made.
The bottom line is this. Right out of the gate the pro-life stance is indefensible. Consequently, it fails to meet the challenge of justifying itself and making a valid case on numerous fronts, including the legal, moral, and the philosophical.
Worse than this stupendous failure, however, is that the pro-life position seeks to jeopardize a mother’s rights, a woman’s civil rights, and places her at the mercy of policy makers who haven’t the first clue as how to address the complicated bio-ethical concerns something like human biology and abortion raise. Meanwhile, the pro-life side continues to defer all responsibility of a rigorous examination of the relevant concerns and continues to deride the pro-choice side and offer only the wailing lamentation that “abortion is murder” and, in their mind, “abortion is evil” even though these claims are nowhere in evidence and are often found to be in opposition of the truth.
Needless to say, a lot of work needs to be done first developing their argument before the pro-life side can carry any relevant weight in civil rights discussion. As it is, it’s not even close to being a valid, let alone viable, argument. At most it’s an opinion which deliberately seeks to fortify itself behind the walls of ignorance. Then asks us to use this ignorance to lash ourselves senselessly with it – because feelings. I think you’ll agree with me that this simply isn’t good enough. Especially when it comes to import hot topic issues like women’s rights and human rights.
Meanwhile, the pro-choice stance doesn’t suffer these same flaws and isn’t in conflict with science or legal theory in the appalling way the pro-life stance clearly is. The pro-choice side honors the woman’s autonomy and doesn’t fall into the same trap of pitting her identity and rights as an individual against those of her unborn fetus’s. And it certainly doesn’t seek to make her into chattel or the property of the state by placing her at the mercy of the courts and ignorant politicians and policy makers who ask her to lash herself with the biting tendrils of their ignorance as well – because feelings.
As a rationalist, I can only see the pro-life position as a non-starter. Indeed, it appears that at this time, the pro-choice position is the only valid position in the whole abortion debate. And that says a lot about why this debate never seems to be able to be resolved. The side that needs to argue their case, the pro-life side, continually fails to do so. Yet relying on the strength of their propaganda alone they have convinced thousands to take their side – because feelings – and despite the fact that it defies all reason to do so. And that’s the sorry state of affairs as they are today, in 2016, I’m sorry to report.
I don’t expect what I will say will change very many minds. But it’s worth noting, that whenever an advocate for pro-life says that “abortion is murder” or that “abortion is evil” they clearly haven’t thought things through. People who understand the finer details and all the nuances of the problem would simply not resort to emotional appeals. They’d approach the problem more thoughtfully and with deep consideration.
At the end of the day, if it were up to me to decide, I would strongly urge pro-life supporters everywhere to stop making moral platitudes and proclamations based on their emotional knee-jerk reactions to some alarmist anti-abortion propaganda videos on the Internet and get to work making their case as solid as they can in order to win the uphill battle of tackling the scientific, legal, and moral problems of their unrefined, ill thought through, largely illogical, and frequently damaging position.
Tristan Vick is a published author who writes both fiction and non-fiction. In 2014 he sold the rights to his zombie novel series BITTEN to Permuted Press and Winlock Press. In addition to this, he also has published the cult hit paranormal detective novel The Scarecrow & Lady Kingston: Rough Justice, also by Winlock Press. His next major novel will be the cyberpunk techno-thriller Robotica, published by Regolith Publications. In addition to his fiction work, Tristan Vick has published numerous books in the area of religious history and philosophy. He co-edited the critically acclaimed book Beyond an Absence of Faith with the philosopher Jonathan M.S. Pearce, which collected the de-conversion stories of religious apostates from a variety of religious faiths including Islam, Christianity, Hindu, and two cult survivors. More recently, Tristan Vick published a critical examination of the work of Christian apologist Randal Rauser and Christian apologetics in general in his book The Swedish Fish, edited by the religious scholar and historian Robert M. Price.
You can learn more about Tristan Vick and his other works by going to his official author blog: www.tristanvick.com
Imagine for a moment a banker, automobile dealer, racecar driver, and a career criminal get together to plan a bank robbery. The banker will provide blueprints for the bank and the combination for the safe. The automobile dealer will provide a fast getaway car. The racecar driver, putting his NASCAR skills to work, will drive the getaway car. The career criminal will be responsible for actually robbing the bank. Is only the career criminal culpable for the bank robbery? Or does material participation in this criminal enterprise make each participant guilty of the crime? I think all of us would agree that every person who played a part in the crime is criminally liable.
Evangelicals believe that abortion is murder. From the moment of conception, according to pro-lifers, that which grows in the womb of the mother is a human being who deserves complete protection under the law. Imagine my surprise then, to hear Evangelicals distance themselves from Donald Trump’s recent statement that women who have abortions should be punished. Granted, Trump later walked this comment back, but his first comment accurately reflects taking pro-life dogma to its logical conclusion.
If abortion is murder, then every person who materially participates in the killing of the zygote/fetus is equally culpable. Pro-lifers are quite willing to use the force of law to prosecute doctors who perform abortions. Some Evangelicals even go so far as to say that performing an abortion is a capital crime worthy of the death penalty. In past years pro-life zealots have murdered abortion doctors. Many within the pro-life movement think that such murders are justifiable homicide. In 2005, Polly and I attended a church where one of the church members wanted to have a moment of silence on the February 6th birthday of pro-life hero Paul Hill. You may remember that Hill murdered abortion doctor John Britton and his bodyguard James Barrett. He was executed by the state of Florida on September 3, 2003. According to pro-lifers, abortion doctors are no different from the Nazi or Japanese doctors who experimented on prisoners of war during World War II. Abortion doctors are no better than serial killers, men and women who — according to pro-lifers — place no value on human life.
But what about abortion clinic staff? Are the nurses who materially participate in abortion procedures criminally liable? How are they in any way different from the banker, automobile dealer, and racecar driver in the story above? And surely the woman having the abortion is the bank robber in the story above. She is the one who decides to abort her fetus. She is the one who makes the appointment, goes to the clinic, takes off her clothes, puts on a hospital gown, lies on a table, and allows the abortion doctor — with his nurse assisting — to terminate the pregnancy. Surely the woman is criminally responsible for the murder of her unborn child.
Why all the Evangelical angst and dancing around the issue when asked if women should be punished for having abortions? This issue seems quite clear to me. If life begins at conception and abortion is murder, then the women making choices to kill their babies — regardless of whether they take abortion-inducing drugs or have surgical procedures — are guilty of premeditated homicide. Some Evangelicals try to avoid the logical conclusions of their abortion equals murder beliefs by suggesting that women having abortions are in some way or the other mentally or emotionally incapable of understanding what they are doing. I think most women who have abortions would be quite offended by such false assertions. While certainly deciding to have an abortion can be and often is a difficult decision for women to make, to suggest that women are somehow unable to rationally make this decision is ludicrous. For whatever reason, women choose to have abortions. It is their legal right to do so. Our law recognizes that women have a fundamental right to control what happens to their bodies — even though that right is currently under vicious attack by pro-life zealots.
It is time for pro-lifers to own their beliefs. The last 10 years have seen an unprecedented assault on women’s rights. Realizing that it is unlikely that they will ever overturn Roe V Wade, pro-lifers have turned to the states to advance their draconian anti-abortion laws. These new laws have been so successful that in some states it is almost impossible for women to find an abortion provider. Pro-lifers will not rest until fertilized eggs are granted the same constitutional rights as 30-year-old women. I do not think for a moment — once they successfully outlawed abortion — that they will continue to view women who have back alley abortions as victims. As has been clear over the past 25 years — at least to me — many Evangelicals will not rest until they have turned the United States into a Christian theocracy. Once they have gained this power, they will use it just as ruthlessly as ISIS and other violent theocratic groups. Quite frankly, Evangelicals cannot be trusted with our civil liberties. Bound by the Bible and its teachings, they have no recourse but to push God’s laws into every aspect of American life. It is for this reason that people who value secularism, humanism, and freedom must oppose theocratic Evangelicals at every turn.
Students from The Master’s College Preparing to Harass Women at Family Planning Associates in Mission Hills, California. Dear Lord, Please help us to harass many women in your name! Amen! (Picture from Cross Encounters website)
Tony Miano is a bombastic, arrogant street evangelist associated with John MacArthur and Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. Miano’s direct oversight pastors are Mike Riccardi and a former friend of mine, Phil Johnson. Miano, a retired police officer and best buds with Ray Comfort, believes God has called him to be an open- air evangelist and itinerant preacher. A hardcore Calvinist, Miano makes no bones about the fact he considers the Arminianism preached in many Evangelical churches to be a false gospel. Miano, like his pastors John MacArthur and Ray Comfort, thinks he has the corner on the truth market. Those who believe differently are ignorant, poorly taught, or wicked, vile, unregenerate, reprobate atheists such as myself.
Last week, Miano took a group of 20 students from MacArthur’s The Master’s College to “minister” to women at Family Planning Associates in Mission Hills, California, a women’s health facility that performs abortions. Miano calls his abortuary work a ‘ministry of presence’. That’s right, a ministry of presence. In truth, it is a ministry of harassment, a ministry of forcing one’s religious beliefs on another. Miano, hoping to corrupt the minds of another generation of young Evangelicals, spent the day training The Master’s College students in the fine art of harassing women who came to the Family Planning Associates (FPA) for service and care. Here’s what Miano had to say:
The Lord has allowed a wonderful team of Christian men and women to form and to engage in loving people in action and truth, outside the Family Planning Associates abortuary, in Mission Hills, CA. Today the team and I were blessed beyond words to be joined by more than 20 students from The Master’s College.
This group of young adults was exceptional. Mature; submissive; teachable; respectful; servant-minded–and the list goes on. The students held signs and prayed. They effectively engaged in a ministry of presence.
A number of students, as well as regular members of the team, testified at the end of the morning of seeing people in cars, fitting the profile of those seeking to abort a child, making repeated passes by the abortuary, but never entering the parking lot. While tragically babies were murdered at the abortuary this morning, we left confident that the Lord used us to turn several abortive parents away–allowing unborn children to live for at least another day.
Note carefully what Miano said: the students were submissive, respectful, and teachable, Evangelical lingo for easily persuadable. Force-fed the pro-life lie and anti-Planned Parenthood talking points, these students were perfect candidates for Miano’s abortuary ministry. The students were taught by Miano the fine art of profiling a woman seeking an abortion and, applying their learning, succeeded in turning women away from getting needed health care. While Miano calls this a ministry of presence, it really is a legal means of harassing women under the guise of doing the Lord’s work. While Miano can report to his supporters that several babies got to live another day, numerous women turned away from FPA out of fear, not wanting to be accosted by the religious crazies in front of the facility.
Only in America do we allow fundamentalist religious zealots to stand between patients and their doctors when receiving medical care. Pro-life groups have carved out special legal exceptions that allow them to harass women and doctors, the same legal exceptions used by Westboro Baptist Church to harass the families of fallen soldiers. Whatever a person might believe about abortion, a woman should have the right to seek medical care without being harassed by God’s appointed agents of righteousness. If a person thinks abortion is murder, fine don’t have an abortion, but don’t impede those who think differently. Unfortunately, while abortion through the second trimester is still legal in every state, Republicans and Christian fundamentalists have worked to enact state laws that have made it increasingly hard to get an abortion, while at the same time refusing to support methods and practices that would drastically reduce the need for abortion. They will not rest until Roe v. Wade is overturned and women are once again forced to seek out illegal abortions. For those of us who think every woman has a right to control her own body and have an abortion if she desires one, we must continue to push back at laws and regulations that we know will only result in increased suffering and death.
12 week fetus
People like Miano aren’t really as interested in saving life as much they are interested in being right. For pro-life Evangelicals, the most important issue is what the Bible supposedly says about life, death, and abortion and making sure that everyone, Evangelical or not, is forced to play by their interpretation of an ancient religious text written by unknown authors thousands of years ago. In what other medical realm do we allow such a text to hold weight? Its antiquity alone invalidates its message and medical worth. Since 88% of all abortions occur within the first trimester and 98.8% of abortions occur before viability, the issue is not really about the life of fetus as much as it is the continued attempt to control women and their reproduction. I wish more Americans would understand that the difference between zealots like Tony Miano and the Muslim fundamentalist in the Middle East is quite small. While in many places the Muslim has the force of the law and is able to regulate everything from what a woman wears to when she can and can’t have sex, the Mianos of the Christian world lack the force of law to compel women to live according to their puritanical laws and regulations. They continue to chip at the edges of the establishment clause and the separation of church and state, but make no mistake about it they’ll not rest until the Christian flag flies over the White House. This is why we must continue to expose, fight, and push back. We must not rest until people understand that freedom of religion also means the freedom FROM religion, and a woman seeking an abortion has every right not to be harassed by a fundamentalist Christian abortuary ministry team and students from a fundamentalist Christian college. Perhaps, it is time to recognize that the first amendment needs some tweaking; that just like a person can’t shout FIRE in a crowded theater, neither should religious zealots be permitted to harass women seeking out medical care.
I’ve been asked to give my take on the Planned Parenthood videos.
When it comes to Planned Parenthood’s mission, to provide healthcare to women, I am 100% in their corner. Providing abortions is a small part of Planned Parenthood’s services, and defunding Planned Parenthood would have a deleterious effect on the health of poor women. Attempts to defund Planned Parenthood are driven by religious belief and bad science. We live in a secular state, one that supposedly separates church and state and one that values science; yet, when it comes to abortion, the debate is framed by religious claims that result in skewed interpretations of science.
Strident pro-lifers, based on their religious beliefs, say that abortion is murder. I have written about this before in a post titled 25 Questions for Those Who Say Abortion is Murder. The abortion-is-murder view is irrational and is a denial of what science tells about fetal development and life. Just last week, Mike Huckabee, a Baptist preacher and a candidate for President, said he supports personhood for zygotes (see Personhood USA). That’s right, Huckabee wants constitutional protection conveyed the moment a man’s sperm unites with a woman’s egg. This means that Mike Huckabee, along with those who support personhood for fetuses and believe abortion is murder, think that the following should be considered a person protected by the constitution and those aborting them are murderers:
Three Day Old Human Embryo.
Fetus at 28 days
Fetus at 56 days, 1/2 inch long
Fact: 63% of abortion take place within eight weeks of pregnancy.
This is what a fetus looks like at 12 weeks:
Fetus at 12 week
Fact: 89% of abortions take place within 12 weeks (first trimester) of pregnancy.
When I look at the science along with the aforementioned photographs, I see potential life. I don’t see a person, one deserving constitutional protection. (Please see Abortion Facts, Lies, and Contractions.) All the religious posturing and moralizing in the world won’t change my view on this matter. Why? Because it is rooted in scientific fact and reason.
As the fetus continues to grow it moves from being potential life to actual life. Usually this is around weeks 20-24. Fetuses can and do survive when born prematurely, and it is for this reason I support greater protection for them under the law. The state has a vested interest in protecting human life, not potential life. I do not agree that abortion after viability should be a decision made between a woman and her doctor without any regard to the fetus. Once viability is reached there is a third party — the baby — who should have rights. Not absolute rights, mind you. There are times, due to health concerns or fetal abnormality, that is it medically prudent to terminate a pregnancy after viability. Since the overwhelming majority of abortions occur before viability (98.8%) or post viability as a result of health concerns or fetal abnormality, I see no reason to oppose abortion.
Why is it that pro-life groups rarely use the aforementioned photographs to make their case? Why do they always graphically display fetuses aborted late in a pregnancy? Shock value. I wonder if some who say abortion is murder would think differently if they were presented with a picture of a zygote and not a picture of a full term fetus?
The recent videos concerning Planned Parenthood are disturbing. The group behind the videos are using highly edited footage, releasing them over a long period of time in hopes of maximizing the damage, inflaming passion, and bolstering the campaigns of pro-life candidates for President. (Please see People of the American Way post The Activists and the Ideology Behind the Latest Attack on Planned Parenthood.)
Despite my opposition to the group behind the videos, I do find the videos troubling. Is Planned Parenthood selling fetus parts? Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that they are selling at cost various fetus parts to researchers, but no in the sense that it isn’t a huge revenue stream for Planned Parenthood. What Planned Parenthood is doing is legal, no different from harvesting organs for transplant.
I am sure someone is going to say, but Bruce, look at how nonchalant the Planned Parenthood people were on the videos. I agree, this is troubling, but is their crassness any reason for the government to defund Planned Parenthood or for abortion to be outlawed or criminalized? Of course not. Again, I go back to the science. Like it or not, in most cases, the aborted fetus is a blob of developing cells. Since these developing cells are potential life, not human life, why shouldn’t researchers be permitted to use these cells and developing organs to find cures or treatments for diseases that are afflicting and killing humans?
I think the crassness displayed on the videos is troubling, but explainable. Take doctors. Doctors are around sickness and death every day. Imagine a group of doctors sitting around a table talking shop. How do you think the discussion would go? A bit of morbidity, humor, and deflection? This is their way of coping with the work they have been called to do (and yes, I think many of the people who work in abortion clinics have a sense of calling, a deep desire to help women in a time of great need). The same could be said for coroners, morticians, homicide detectives, crime scene investigators, CDC investigators, and crime scene cleaners. As someone who lives with the ugly specter of death lurking in the shadows, I have a gallows sense of humor about death. Some family members and friends are appalled by my humor, yet it is how I cope with the reality that death is stalking me and will ultimately seize me as its prey. People who are around death often use humor to cope and often seem detached from their work, and I think that is exactly what is shown on the Planned Parenthood videos.
What Planned Parenthood has is an optic problem. They allowed themselves to be snookered by ideologically driven religious nut jobs who want to make abortion, along with birth control, illegal. Planned Parenthood needs to do a better job of vetting whom they are talking to. They also need to put some of their workers and executives through sensitivity training. We say that getting an abortion is a monumental decision for a women. If this is true, then our behavior and demeanor should reflect this, not unlike our response to someone who is dying and has decided to stop medical treatment.
I am sure those on either side of this issue will disagree with me and that’s why I have been hesitant to write about it. My position on abortion is informed and quite developed, so I don’t waste my time arguing about it. I recently had several dust-ups on Facebook with people who think anyone who is pro-choice or supports Planned Parenthood is a sick, vile, evil, murderer. Rather than continue to read such drivel, I unfriended 30 or so people, including family members (and yes, I tried to educate them before I unfriended them).
I find it interesting that the same people who are so ardently pro-life are very same people who are pro-war, pro capital punishment, anti-homosexual, anti-same sex marriage, anti-immigration, and anti virtually anything that has to do with care and compassion post-birth. It seems the only life they care about is the one in the womb. These same people say they are anti-abortion, yet they oppose free birth control and standardized sex education, two things that we know reduce the need for an abortion. There’s one word for people who think like this: hypocrite.
When Women Have Abortions, 2010 Guttmacher Institute
Here are the FACTS about abortion:
Very few abortions occur at late or full term. 89% of all abortions occur in the first trimester, with 63% occurring in the first nine weeks. 98.8% of abortions take place before viability. Late term abortions after twenty week are 1.2% of all abortion procedures performed in the United States. Out of 1.2 million annual abortions, 14,400 are after 20 weeks. Most of these abortion are medically necessary due to the health of the mother, the fetus, or both.
I realize that almost half of Americans are pro-life, or at least when polled they say they are pro-life. I am not at all convinced that as many people are pro-life as the polls suggest.
I wonder how pro-lifers would respond to polling questions like these:
Your eleven year old daughter is raped by a serial rapist and she became pregnant. Would you support your daughter having an abortion?
Your wife is raped by an AID’s infected man. Her rape was a Todd Akin “legitimate” rape and she became pregnant. Would you support your wife having an abortion?
Your wife is pregnant with a fetus that tests show will be born without a brain. Would you support your wife having an abortion?
Your wife is in danger of dying if her fetus is carried to term. The doctor says unless she has an abortion she will die. Would you support your wife having an abortion?
Your wife is carrying a dead fetus. Should she have an abortion to remove the fetus? Why? Perhaps almighty God will work a miracle and breathe the breath of life back into the fetus. Shouldn’t you wife wait to see if God works a miracle?
When faced with reality and not political talking points I wonder how many people would actually stand by their no-exceptions anti-abortion stance?
Some pro-lifers say they support exemptions for rape, incest, and if the life of the mother is at stake. However, these exceptions are antithetical to the pro-life view. If life begins the moment the egg and sperm unite, then any abortion is the killing of a human life. It is inconsistent and hypocritical to call yourself pro-life and then turn right around and say, in some circumstances, it is permissible to kill the fetus. Shouldn’t this life and death choice be left in the hands of God?
According to anti-abortionists, life begins at conception. At the very moment the sperm and egg unite a new life is created. Anti-abortionists are intractable when it comes to their position. Life begins at conception…end of debate.
Let me tell you a story……
This story takes place at the We Make Life Possible Fertility Clinic.
Sue gave birth to a beautiful baby girl through in vitro fertilization. Her baby girl is 1 month old . Sue stopped by the Fertility Clinic to show off her newborn to the Clinic staff.
While Sue was at the clinic, a huge explosion rocked the place and the clinic was engulfed in flames. Later speculation on World Net Daily, suggested a supporter of Barack Obama was behind the attack.
John, named after John THE Baptist, a pro-life activist, happened to be passing by the clinic when the explosion took place. John went running into the clinic hoping to perhaps save someone from the fire.
John had been to the We Make Possible Life Fertility Clinic before. His wife Patience had problems conceiving, and not wanting to wait on God to open her womb, John and Patience went to Clinic. While the treatment was successful, Patience miscarried a few months into the pregnancy.
John knew the Clinic stored hundreds of fertilized eggs (embryos) in a freezer. As he rushed into the Clinic, John saw Sue huddled in a corner with her newborn daughter trying to get away from the fire. John thought “Surely I should save these two.”
John thought for a moment, asking himself What Would Jesus Do? Suddenly, he realized the fire was going to destroy all the frozen embryos. John told Sue and her baby Sorry, maybe Jesus will come rescue you, and he rushed to the freezer where the frozen embryos were stored. Through John’s heroic effort, hundreds of frozen embryos were saved. Sadly, Sue and her newborn daughter were burnt to death.
Who among us would fault John? After all, he acted according to the greater good. Who wouldn’t save 200 lives at the expense of 2 lives?
The above story follows the logic of the life begins at conception viewpoint to its illogical conclusion. There is no difference between 200 embryos and Sue and her baby. Life is life. It makes perfect sense for John to save the frozen embryos and not Sue and her little one. Surely John would be praised for saving the 200 embryos, right? If the clinic is unable to reopen, perhaps the frozen embryos can be put up for adoption. After all EVERY embryo is a life.
If life begins at conception and terminating a pregnancy is the murder of a baby as pro-life zealots claim, then the following conclusions can be made:
The woman who has the abortion is a murderer
The doctor who performs the abortion is a murderer
The nurse who helps with the abortion is a murderer
The receptionist who books the abortion appointment is a murderer
The person who took the woman to the clinic is a murderer
If these conclusions are true, then it means that none of these people will go to heaven when they die. Why? The BIble says:
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. Revelation 21:8
It is also fair to conclude that people who kill innocent men, women, and children in war are murderers too. Where are the same pro-life zealots proclaiming the evil of war? It seems that killing a zygote is murder, but killing an Afghan child or mother is not. It seems that the only life pro-lifers protect is that which has not yet been born. Why is this?
I have come to the conclusion that pro-lifers who do not condemn war are guilty of facilitating murder.(use their logic and exegesis) Pro-lifers charge those who believe abortion should be rare, safe, and legal with facilitating murder. Pro-lifers make it quite clear that those who promote and facilitate abortion cannot be a Christian. How can they be since they are facilitating murder? I ask then, what about pro-lifers who promote and facilitate war. How can they be Christian and support the murder of innocent men, women,children, and the unborn? It seems to me that heaven is going to be quite empty if murderers are barred from entering. If you still doubt that no murderers will enter heaven:
Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. Revelation 22:14,15
And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Matthew 19:17-19
In about 17 months there will be a Presidential election. Republicans know they have a fight on their hands. They need to make sure that the faithful turn out in record numbers and vote for the Republican candidate. They need to appeal to the value voters, those who hold to right-wing political and social beliefs.
One of the key issues that will make it to the ballot in 2012 is whether or not a fertilized egg is a person. Personhood USA is circulating petitions in all 50 states hoping to get politicians to enact personhood laws. According to Rachel Maddow, there are already eight states debating personhood legislation and with 2012 being a Presidential election year it is quite likely that there will be a concerted effort to get personhood initiatives on the ballot.
One of the implications of Personhood laws is that they could make the use of birth control pills illegal. (since birth control pills are an abortifacient and can, and do cause spontaneous abortion) 46 years ago in Griswold v. Connecticut the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the right of privacy extended to the use of contraceptives and states could not ban the sale of contraceptives. (it is hard to believe there was a time when selling birth control was illegal)
Personhood laws could upend not only Roe v. Wade but Griswold v. Connecticut. If a fertilized egg is a person, then any deliberate effort to kill the fertilized egg would be considered murder. A quick perusal of The Pill Kills website will make it clear that the personhood crowd is dead serious about banning abortion and birth control.
What is the implications of a personhood law?
All abortion would be illegal, including abortion in the case of rape and incest
Abortion to save the life of the mother would be outlawed since it is illegal to murder one person to save another
Using any form of birth control that is an abortifacient would be illegal
Our entire legal code would need rewriting to reflect that a fertilized egg is a person
A person causing a woman to miscarry could be charged with murder.
Parents would be able to claim the fertilized egg as a dependent on their income tax return
Fertilized eggs would be eligible for adoption
Stem cell research would be curtailed and possibly banned
I can imagine a new Evangelical evangelism outreach to fertilized eggs. “Winning People to Jesus, One Fertilized Egg at a Time.”
We must not sit on the sidelines while right-wing Christians attempt to push their social agenda down the throat of the American people. We must consistently and continually point out that personhood laws are fraught with legal implications that will turn the legal code into a mine field.
Right-wing Christians are not going away. Obama being elected President was a wake up call and they have no intentions of sitting idly by and letting liberal, fertilized egg killing Democrats win in 2012. I expect a vicious fight, not only on the federal level, but the state and local level too.
Look at the graphic below. Is what you see a baby? Is aborting this the same as murdering your mother, father, or grandmother?
Three Day Old Human Embryo.
Only those blinded by their religious ideology can conclude that this is a picture of a baby. At best, it is potential life, but not life itself.
Now let me get personal for a moment.
If you believe people who support a woman’s right to an abortion are murderers or evil people, then why do you have anything to do with me? If this is your view, why would you want to associate with a neighbor, friend, husband, father, father-in-law, or grandfather who advocates m-u-r-d-e-r? IF I am a murderer because I support the slaughter (your word) of over a million babies a year, then aren’t I just as evil as Jeffrey Dahmer or John Wayne Gacy?
And herein lies the problem with your shrill rhetoric. I am a kind, decent, loving neighbor, friend, husband, father, father-in-law and grandfather. Yes, I am an atheist but I am more “Christian” than many of the Christians you know.
How about asking me WHY I support a woman’s right to an abortion? If asked, you would find out that:
I don’t think human life begins at conception. Potential life, yes, but human life? No. Science tells me that this is true, not a pre-science, antiquated religious text.
When I look at the embryo above I don’t see a “baby.” It is a group of cells, not a baby.
I support a woman’s right to use birth control to keep from getting pregnant. I know that some forms of birth control might cause a spontaneous abortion, but I have no problem with this since I don’t think life begins at conception.
Since 89% of abortions occur in the first trimester, long before viability, I fully support a woman’s unfettered right to an abortion. This right includes over the counter access to morning after drugs.
I do not support abortion on demand after viability. However, only 14,400 a year occur after viability, and, in most cases, these abortions are medically necessary due to the health of the mother, the fetus, or both.
I am an atheist. I don’t believe in God and I don’t believe the teachings of the Bible. My beliefs are not governed by the Bible or the teachings of a sect. When I came to the view I now hold on abortion it was because of the science behind the abortion debate.
I am also a husband, father, father-in-law, and a grandfather. If ANY of the women in my family were raped or were carrying a fetus that could cost them their life, I would want them to have access to every medical and psychological means necessary to help them. I am most concerned for the LIVING.
I didn’t come to this position easily. I have a daughter with Down Syndrome. I know many women have an abortion when they find out they are carrying a fetus with Down’s. I can’t imagine our life without Bethany. My brother was born three months premature, not too many weeks past the viability line. I can’t imagine life without my little brother. My point is this: everything doesn’t fit neatly in a pro-life or pro-choice box. Life is messy and we are often forced to make hard decisions.
This post is an attempt to get people to see that it is simplistic and offensive when people label someone like me a murderer or evil. But, I don’t do that, you might say. Are you sure you don’t? Every time you post to your blog, Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest that people who support abortion are murderers or evil, you ARE saying I am a murderer or evil. This is the inescapable conclusion of your rhetoric and moralizing.
Just substitute abortion for climate change. This is how I often feel when trying to talk with someone who confuses their beliefs for facts.
I have come to the conclusion that there is no common ground to be had with people who are pro-life. They start with religion and not science, and I see no way of finding common ground. All I can do is present the facts about abortion and work to keep them from causing any further harm to women.
I understand the pro-life view, I really do. I was pro-life for most of my adult life. I fully understand the why’s of being pro-life. I know all the proof-texts and I think the Bible supports the pro-life view, along with the pro-slavery, pro-polygamy, pro-incest, pro-genocide, pro-war, pro-peace view.
I understand where you are coming from. Now it is time for you to give me the same courtesy.
Ohio legislators continue to push bills that will make it hard or impossible for a woman to have and abortion. Currently, the right win Republican driven legislature are discussion no less than four bills that, if passed, will severely limit a woman’s right to abortion or outlaw it altogether.
Using a throw it and see if it sticks approach, Ohio Republicans are doing everything they can to make abortion illegal. One bill makes abortion illegal after 20 weeks. Another bill bans aborting a fetus with Down Syndrome, and yet another adds “a trigger clause to block abortions in Ohio should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe vs. Wade.”
Yesterday, Ohio legislators began debating HB 69, also known as the Heartbeat Bill. Marc Kovac, Capitol reporter for Dix Communications, had this to say about their deliberations (link no longer active):
State lawmakers began deliberations Tuesday on legislation that would ban abortions within weeks of conception.
This is the third session the Heartbeat Bill has been offered. Sponsors told the House’s Community and Family Advancement Community that the proposed law change is needed to address “the human rights issue of our generation.”
“Biology is crystal clear that at the moment of conception, a unique organism comes into existence,” said Rep. Christina Hagan (R-Alliance), who carried the Heartbeat Bill last session and who is a primary co-sponsor again this session. “Since this new life possesses human DNA and is the offspring of human parents, it can only be described as a human life.” She added, “As far as observable science is concerned,human life begins at conception.”
Hagan and Rep. Ron Hood (R-Ashville) offered testimony and answered questions for a hour and a half Tuesday afternoon during the initial hearing on HB 69, which would “generally prohibit an abortion of an unborn human individual with a detectable heartbeat” and “create the Joint Legislative Committee on Adoption Promotion and Support.” Proponents believe the legislation could serve as the vehicle to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.
“… It’s been 42 years of abortion on demand which has destroyed the lives of 56 million human beings,” Hood said. “At some point we actually have to do more than regulate how and where we kill children. We actually have to protect them. “The Heartbeat Bill will finally recognize the universal indicator of life —the heartbeat, the human heartbeat of a human life.”
Opponents, however, think the Heartbeat Bill goes too far. Some abortion opponents say the resulting legal challenges could end up undoing other abortion-related restrictions in state law. Others call it an attempt by Statehouse Republicans to further restrict women’s access to health care…
Fetus at 28 days, HB 69 would make aborting this illegal
HB 69 is fifty pages long, filled with legalese meant to obfuscate and confuse, with the desired result being no Ohio doctor will be willing to perform ANY abortion procedure. The bill not only makes abortion illegal after a heartbeat is detected, it also adds layers of reporting and counseling requirements. The goal is simple…NO ABORTIONS.
Fetus at 56 days, 1/2 inch long
Ohio Republicans are hypocrites. The issue isn’t science. No matter how many big words they use in the bill in an attempt to give HB 69 respectability, the real reason for this bill is that its sponsors are Christians who believe God is the giver and taker of life. Their agenda is a religious one, and they will not stop until all abortion procedures are illegal. In their mind, abortion is murder, yet the HB 69 makes no provision for criminalizing the actions of those who are culpable in the death of the fetus. Shouldn’t everyone who played a part in the abortion be charged with murder? (Please read 25 Questions for Those Who Say Abortion is Murder)
These days, I wonder if I went to sleep one night in Ohio and woke up the next day in North Carolina. What happened to the progressive Ohio of my youth? Ohio has become a joke, a state-owned and operated by Jesus H Christ. The Heartbeat bill has failed twice, but I fear it might have a good chance of passing this time.
I have some questions for those who believe that abortion is murder.
Does life begin at conception? How do you know it does? Is your view based on science or is it based on a religious belief?
If life begins at conception, why are you supporting an Ohio bill that makes it illegal to have an abortion once a heartbeat is detected? Does life begin at conception or at first heartbeat?
Do you support the use of emergency contraception (morning after) drugs? Why not?
Should a pro-life pharmacist have the right to not dispense emergency contraception drugs? Should I be allowed to opt out of anything that goes against my moral or ethical beliefs?
Is abortion murder?
Do you believe murderers should be prosecuted?
Do you believe that driving the get-away car makes a person just as guilty as the person who robbed the bank?
Do you believe a woman who has an abortion should be prosecuted for murder? How about the doctor who performs the procedure? How about the nurse that assisted in the procedure? How about the person who drove the woman to the clinic? If you believe in the death penalty, do you support the execution of murderers?
Do you use birth control pills?
Should you be prosecuted for murder since birth control pills can, and do, cause spontaneous abortion?
Should abortion be allowed for reasons of rape, incest, or saving the life of the mother?
If you answered yes to question eleven, do you support murdering the fetus if it is the product of rape or incest?
Should a fetus be aborted if the mother’s life is at risk?
Do you support murdering the unborn if it saves the life of the mother?
Is your viewpoint on abortion a religious belief?
What passage in the Bible prohibits abortion? Does this passage define life beginning at conception?
Has God ever killed the unborn?
In Genesis, God destroyed every human save eight by drowning them in a flood. Were any of the women who drowned pregnant? Did God kill the fetuses they were carrying? (Kill the mother, kill the fetus.)
Do you support the death penalty? Do you support war?
If you answered yes to question nineteen, why do you oppose the killing of the unborn but support the killing of those already born?
Why do you believe that killing the unborn is murder but consider an American bomb killing a baby 3 hours old a tragic result of war, collateral damage, but not murder?
Do you support birth control being readily available in every school? Isn’t your objective is to reduce or eliminate the need for an abortion. Wouldn’t easily available, free access to birth control reduce the abortion rate?
Do you believe it is better for a severely deformed child to live for a day and die than for the fetus to be aborted? If so, explain why it is better for the child to suffer needlessly?
Do you believe that God is in control of everything? Does everything include children being born deformed or with serious defects that will result in a life of extreme suffering and pain?
Is someone a Christian if he or she supports abortion?
My view on abortion
I do not think that life begins at conception nor do I think it begins at first heartbeat. That said, I do not support abortion on demand. Approximately 63% of abortions occur in the first eight weeks, and 89% of abortions occur in the first trimester. I do not support any law that restricts access to an abortion in the first trimester. Once fetus viability (the ability to live outside the womb) is established, I do not support the right to an abortion except when the life of the mother is at stake.
At What Time in the Pregnancy Abortions Occur
I support women having full access to reproductive services (including access to birth control), as well as school-aged girls and young women. For women who have an at-risk pregnancy, I support government-sponsored access to genetic testing and amniocentesis that will reveal severe birth defects. Better to have an abortion earlier in a pregnancy than to have a child born without a brain who will die a few moments or days after birth.
I support sex education for junior high and high school students and health education for fourth, fifth, and sixth graders. Since girls often reach menses at ages as young as ten, waiting until they are sixteen to educate them about reproduction is irresponsible and leads to unintended pregnancies. I do not support “Just say No” programs that take the “aspirin between the knees” approach and ignore the reality that most teenagers will, at some point, be sexually active. Yes, teens should wait, but they don’t, and everyone should agree that teenagers having babies is not a good idea. If we agree that this is not a good idea, then making sure they can’t get pregnant should be a top priority.
I support the radical change of adoption laws in this country. The government should make it easy and affordable for people to adopt a child (after being thoroughly vetted). By changing the law, this will make it more likely for a woman with an unplanned pregnancy to carry the fetus to term. This would also put out of business adoption agencies, many of them Christian, that charge extortion level fees for an adoption.
Three Day Old Human Embryo.
God, the Bible, papal decrees, or religious rhetoric have no sway over me. Showing me bloody pictures of dismembered late-term aborted fetuses also have no effect on me. I know that only 1.2% of abortions occur after the 21st week. In 2011, 1.06 million abortions were performed in the United States. Roughly 12,000 abortions were performed from the 21st week to term. Why don’t pro-lifers wave around pictures of zygotes or other pictures from the chronological time period when most abortions take place? Simple: such pictures wouldn’t excite, inflame, and manipulate the passions of the faithful like a bloody, gory picture of a dismembered fetus does.