When I sent out my semi regular Community Connections newsletter this week I included a notice about a free webinar about ending abortion. I received these two responses and wonder what people think about these ideas. I believe that something happens at the point of conception and I don’t think it is correct for humans to decide when the life of a person begins–too risky. Much evidence shows that at a certain point, baby in the womb can feel–even when it doesn’t have skin. In fact, because the nerves are not fully developed-the child feels even more pain. I could go into more proof–but for now I just want to get this out and see what kind of concrete proof you offer pro and con the idea that human consciousness starts at conception. There is also increasing evidence that abortions are very hard on the mother–resulting in increased chances of breast cancer and other adverse symptoms.
Really, I want to figure out a way to build bridges between people who are on both sides. This can be such a divisive issue.
NWA Times, 6 June 2010
Our sick obsession with abortion
America is doing poorly, and extreme religious beliefs are a big part of the problem (see my column of August 29, 2009, at http://physics.uark.edu/hobson). The abortion debate is a prime example.
It is superstitious religious dogma to argue that, from the moment of conception, a fetus is a full human being. A fertilized egg is smaller than the dot at the end of this sentence, and isn’t capable of locomotion, breathing, thought, or other human functions. It’s alive, but it’s a gross distortion of language to call it a person and an outrageous offense against women and the medical profession to describe its abortion as “murder.” Furthermore, most fertilized eggs never implant in the uterus, and half the implanted eggs miscarry. If God exists, he is the world’s most prolific abortionist.
When does a fetus become a “person?” The feature that distinguishes humans from other animals, and that has gotten us, for better or worse, where we are today, is human thought. So we must look to the developing brain to answer this key question. The neurons that form the basis of thought begin linking up during the sixth month, with organized brain waves appearing in the seventh month. These dates lend additional scientific support to Roe v. Wade, which was made on the basis of viability outside the womb rather than on brain development. That decision grants a woman’s right to choose in the first trimester and, with some restrictions, in the second trimester, but forbids abortion in the third trimester unless there’s a serious threat to the woman’s health.
Ironically, legal restrictions on abortions actually increase abortions. Internationally, the legality of abortion is negatively correlated with the frequency of the procedure. Nations such as The Netherlands with the most liberal abortion laws have the lowest abortion rates, while nations such as the U.S. with the most restrictive laws have the highest rates. For example, the teenage abortion rate is 29 per 1000 in the U.S. and between 14 and 21 per 1000 in all other large industrialized nations. The evidence also shows that sexual abstinence programs don’t work. But contraception and sex education work, and do not increase sexual activity rates. Nevertheless, Fayetteville High School remains dedicated to an abstinence-only sex education program that Dr. Michael Young, former coordinator of health science at the University of Arkansas, described in an interview as “inaccurate, irresponsible, and dangerous” and based on materials that are “nationally known for their medical inaccuracy, scare tactics, and antiabortion rhetoric.”
Surprisingly, there is no mention of abortion in the Christian Bible. In fact one passage describes a magical method by which a husband, with the aid of a priest, could induce a miscarriage in a wife whom he suspected of adultery.
The Bible expresses little or no concern about the fate of the fetus. If a man’s pregnant wife was harmed by another man and this caused a miscarriage, the penalty was a fine, but if the mother was harmed it was “life for life.” Babies under one month and fetuses were not counted as persons. Various passages describe Israelites killing women and children, and even ripping open all the pregnant women of one city, with no value given to fetal life. Some argue that “Thou shalt not kill” applies to the fetus, but this is nonsense because the commandment applies only to persons, and the Bible clearly considers the fetus a non-person.
If anti-abortion hysteria only increases abortions, and if it finds no support in the Bible, then what’s it based on? Many scholars suggest that it originates in misogyny (hatred of women). Misogyny runs deep in the western religions, especially in fundamentalist Protestantism, orthodox Judaism, Catholicism, and Islam. Priests are male, women must obey their husbands with no similar injunction for men, the education of females is suspect beginning with Adam and Eve, and so forth. Among anti-abortion fanatics, there is a deep suspicion not only of abortion but also of family planning, sex education, or anything else that might get women off the childbirth treadmill. I’m no psychologist, but it looks to me as though the anti-abortion movement is out to punish women (but not men, of course) for having sex.
|This was from another person.|
Yesterday, Care Net, one of the largest networks of anti-choice “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs) in the country, stood by their ads. They stated: “All of our advertising and communications are truthful and honest and accurately describe the services we offer.”1
Our research shows a very different story.
We need action in Congress to stop the lies for good. Tell your members of Congress to support a new bill that will protect women from CPCs’ manipulative advertisements.
Our investigation shows that anti-choice CPCs are advertising under “abortion services” and “abortion clinics” in popular online search directories. We are asking YellowPages.com and SuperPages.com to remove misleading CPC ads from their sites. But anti-choice CPCs are still blanketing buses, billboards, and even the airwaves with their falsehoods.
Many CPCs do whatever it takes to block women from choosing abortion. We’ve heard it all: lies about abortion and condoms, guilt-trips, and harassing follow-up phone calls.
But before a CPC can inflict emotional damage on women, they must get them in the door. And that’s where the false ads come in.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) are trying to change all that. They have introduced a bill, the Stop Deceptive Advertising for Women’s Services Act, that would finally hold CPCs accountable for false advertising by allowing the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to penalize CPCs that advertise abortion-care services or counseling that they do not offer.
It’s fine for groups that oppose abortion to advertise. But they shouldn’t be allowed to advertise abortion services that they clearly don’t provide. And many CPCs have crossed this line for years.
How long will we let CPCs mislead women?
We are working to end these lies from every angle – and that means getting our lawmakers involved, too. Take action today.
My heart sinks every time I hear about a woman who was forced to hear lies and lectures from a CPC when what she needed was the truth. The Stop Deceptive Advertising for Women’s Services Act can protect women seeking real health care from being tricked into going to an anti-choice CPC.
We need to give this effort everything we’ve got. Thank you for all you do to protect a woman’s right to choose.
“Maloney Bill: Just Another Effort by Abortion Industry to Shut Down Competition, Care Net Says,” Christian News Wire, July 7, 2010