Saturday, April 16, 2011

Abortion: What's up with that?

Abortion isn't really a main issue of mine, but I have an opinion on it just like most everyone else. My opinion on it is that it's horrible, and we should prevent it. Really, the whole concept of it is right out of a horror movie.

However, what should we do in regards of whether or not to keep it legal and how to prevent it? The currently necessary path is quite clear.

Firstly, let's cover why there's even an argument. The reason is that murder is bad. Even most serial killers will tell you that killing someone who has done nothing to wrong you is evil. Of course to them, that's probably part of the charm.

A whole lot of people think abortion is murder, even that those who perform or request abortions should be charged with murder. What is murder? It's killing a person. It's not taking a life; otherwise, me just swatting that fly would make me a murderer.

Most people on both sides agree that murder (killing a person) is wrong so the argument is about what
constitutes a person. Is it the life? Technically, all of the human life cycle is life. If we say that the life cycle qualifies, then even sperm and eggs must be protected by law.  Well, some women may say menstruation is murder, but they don't mean it literally. Is it the start of the life cycle? Scientists say the life cycle starts at conception. However, some step had to be Step One for the text book. It could just as easily have been ejaculation.

Pro-lifers cite this example from 1981 but only because they think it supports their argument. Do we really think they'd be pro-choice if the scientists had said life begins at birth? How many trust the scientific consensus on this but not on evolution or global warming? They're citing a source they don't trust.

However, taking a life isn't murder. Taking the life of a person is murder. I still don't hear any sirens over that fly. So, the whole argument over life is a distraction from the real issue.

What makes anyone of us a person? Unique DNA? Embryos can have unique DNA but so can tumors. Is it the soul? Well, the Bible doesn't state at what point in the life cycle a soul is granted. Also, we're not a theocracy so the religious answer has no place in this debate. The mind is what makes us unique. Would an adult body kept alive without a brain be considered a person? Or, is it just a shell? How about a brain dead adult? By definition, brain death is the irreversible cessation of brain functions. At various points in the human life cycle after conception, there is no functioning brain. And although it is irrelevant, I would have to say the answer to the religious question of the soul would be that the soul arrives when the brain has at least some degree of awareness. Without our consciousness, the body is just a shell

The question we need to ask is at what point in the life cycle do we acquire a brain? Scientists know that the possible capacity for the lower boundary of sentience is not developed until 18-25 weeks into a pregnancy.  However, the most likely correct answer is 30 weeks. At some point during the life cycle, personhood must be bestowed, but the point must not be an arbitrary one. Because there is some degree of uncertainty here, I would recommend erring on the side of caution and going with an answer of 18 or 22 weeks. It is an answer that should change as we learn more.

Some people say that comparing a brain dead patient to a fetus is unfair. They say it's different because the fetus is a potential person. An abortion would prevent a potential person. However, there are several stages of the life cycle where potential humans are prevented. One can't defend the “potential person argument” without saying that not knocking up a woman and not getting pregnant are crimes. While I'm typing this, I'm not impregnating anyone. It is a missed opportunity. I could currently be denying life to the person who cures cancer or to a person who will someday flip burgers. So, should not having unprotected sex at fertile times be a crime? Should we become a society where we all devolve into some kind of orgy whenever a fertile woman is present? Although it's the case on MTV reality shows, I hope that doesn't become everyday law.

So, should we make abortions illegal? If abortions are outlawed, only outlaws will have abortions. It will certainly be a boon to the industries run by Dr. Coathanger, Dr. StomachPunch, and Dr. SwallowBottleofRandomPills. Women will still have abortions, and they will be far less safe. Approximately, one million women had underground abortions in the two decades preceding legalization. Besides the back alley abortion business, outlawing abortions will also certainly please some rapists who will be glad that women must bear their children.

No, the answer is to prevent abortions and make them readily available until the fetus reaches the developmental point where it can be agreed it is a person., perhaps at 22 weeks. However, there needs to be an exception to this with regards to the safety of the mother's life. This prevents it being murder and gives sufficient time for most women to decide whether or not to remain pregnant. Most women know they're pregnant by 8 weeks. However, a far better answer would be only getting pregnant when it is desired. I will admit that even the concept of legal abortions that aren't murder are still pretty horrifying. Nobody would look forward to those, despite some on the Pro-life side claiming that others are Pro-Abortion.

So, how do we prevent abortions? Here's how:
  1. Make contraceptives and so-called morning after pills readily available.
  2. Provide comprehensive sex education. Abstinence is a valid choice; however, abstinence-only education relies on kids having an unbreakable iron will and actually agreeing with abstinence. The education they're provided pretty much guarantees unwanted pregnancies. Proper sex education must involve pregnancy and both the male and female responsibility in pregnancy.
A nasty roadblock to the accessibility of medication to prevent pregnancies are conscience laws. A pharmacist shouldn't be able to refuse to sell medication that a pharmacy sells based on that pharmacist's own religious or personal code. It is an employee's duty to fulfill a job function. If it is someone's job to sell drugs, but they only sell some drugs when they feel like it, they should be fired. If a personal code gets in the way of doing a job, they should pick a different job. However, I do think a pharmacist should be able to deny medication(s) to someone when there is a valid medical or legal concern (such as that person possibly being a drug abuser).

Some people are happy to sit back and say that abortions have risen in countries where there are more contraceptives and sex education. There are several problems with that statement. In developed countries, proper education has a better chance of success. The truth is that legal abortion increases the number of abortions that we know about. Unfortunately, not all illegal abortions are reported. Also, raw numbers usually rise in less developed, poorer countries as the population rises. Success has to be measured in terms of percentages of the current population. So if you see a graph showing that the number of abortions is staying constant, that means the abortions per person are decreasing because our population is increasing. Given population counts in the USA, the number of abortions are decreasing.

In the current times, that abortion has become such a big issue makes me think it is a distraction from solving our current issues, such as high unemployment, poor economy due to high unemployment, and poor economy due to a few having most of the wealth in this country, preventing the masses from spending.

If we could tackle the abortion issue logically as I laid out above, we could move onto the larger issues that affect us more greatly. This isn't to say abortion isn't an important issue, but the larger issues are also a matter of life and death. Poor economy creates crime. It means more people can't afford health care or sufficient food. It is not a good sign when the state of a country is a shambles and what goes on inside a uterus is the main focus of discussion.

Further Reading:
Carl Sagan on Abortion.
A pretty poor argument against the one presented by Sagan and myself. It is well-refuted by my above article.
Tumors Can Have Distinct DNA
According to Psalm 139, an embryo/fetus may be an unformed substance and is not said to have a soul (despite this writer's interpretation that it says it does). This article also says that a doctor says there isn't enough genetic material to define a unique person until at least after 8 days, possibly later.
Woman denied abortion, forced to endure her uterus crushing fetus to death:
GOP wants to censure legislature for saying the word “uterus” during discussion of abortion.
Over 97% of climate scientists and 82% of Earth scientists agree that humans are a significant contributing factor to the current global warming.
(I shouldn't admit it, but global warming is something I don't really care much about either. However, we should all agree that poisoning our air, water, soil, and food is bad. Friends deny global warming all the time, but it can't be denied that the city where I live constantly declares smog days. My lungs don't like it one bit. Let's agree that pollution is killing us, and we need to stop it.)

Bonus Video: Betty Bowers Describes All The Abortions in The Bible


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