Wednesday, October 19, 2011

40 Days for Life, take 2

Same warning applies: if you continue to read this, there is a chance you might be offended. Please 1) remove emotions and discuss this rationally and 2) be respectful in any comments that you leave, whether here or on Facebook. (this means no name calling, no judgment of PERSONS, and no swear words). Let's continue to keep this "above-board." Thanks.

I posted a link to yesterday's blog post on my Facebook page yesterday morning. While not many comments were left here, there were quite a number of them on my Facebook link (I think it might be the most comments ever received on one link on my page, to be honest). I want to start this post by saying thank you to everyone who commented, and to say a BIG thank you for everyone for remaining respectful throughout the conversation. I am very, very appreciative of that - especially those who did not agree with me - and I want to make sure that you know how grateful I am for that respect.

Amongst the comments, there were a few "themes," for lack of a better word, and I've been pondering those themes for the past 24 hours. Constantly. I think. A lot. It's kind of a personal flaw - I contemplate and analyze a lot. All this thinking has made me realize that I don't quite understand some of the themes. I wanted to discuss each one, and my thought process behind them, and if you recognize yourself in one of them, please elaborate. I am curious behind your thought process, and how you came to that conclusion.

(I'm just going to list these, not in any particular order, just based on my memory. I'm not "ranking" them or anything like that, so don't read into where a theme/comment falls on my list when it comes to the importance of that theme/comment OR how strongly I felt a reaction to it. )

Here goes..

- A lot of people said something along the lines of "While I would never choose abortion myself, I cannot make that decision for someone else." I'll be blatantly honest. This argument doesn't make any sense to me. Don't we do this every day, in all aspects of our lives? I'm pretty sure I would never hear someone say "While I would never rape someone, I cannot make that decision for someone else." No - instead, I'd hear "Rape is wrong, no matter what a woman was wearing, or what they had to drink, or where they were, etc.." Could you imagine someone saying to you, "While I would never kill someone for insurance money, I can't condemn someone who does kill for insurance money, especially if they are struggling financially?" Aren't people prosecuted for these very same things, every single day? I find it very hard to believe that the people who made a comment along those lines would say, "While I would never cheat on my wife/husband, I can't expect my spouse to feel the same way." We make those kind of statements all the time, on a daily basis, do we not? Why is abortion given a special place in our heads? There is a reason that these things disgust us, and why we stand up against them every day: it is written into our very being as natural law. Almost every culture on this earth has a consequence for murder, because it is written in natural law. We are not supposed to kill one of our own. What makes abortion different?

- Along those lines, comments were made about "It's not a baby, it's an embryo, or it's a product of pregnancy." Somehow, changing our word choice changes whether or not it is "alive." The majority of abortions in the United States are performed after 8 weeks gestation. At 6 weeks old, a baby's heart can be seen on ultrasound. Brain activity can be recorded. When a person is injured in some way, how do we determine if they are alive? We check for a pulse (heartbeat) and brain activity. If they have one or the other, they are still considered alive. So....those babies killed after 8 weeks of age meet the requirement that we attach to life at all other ages. Why do we make an exception in this case? Even if we call it an embryo, it has a heartbeat and brain activity, and by all definitions of life, it has a life. Our own Constitution guarantees a right to can we claim that this baby, with a heartbeat and brain activity (a life), does not have that right? The most recent count I can find comes from 2008, when 1.21 million babies were aborted. Using the statistics from the government, we killed 23% of those children before they were even 8 weeks old. That leaves approximately 919,600 babies killed with at least heartbeats and brain activity in that one year, just in our country (USA). When a baby is aborted, the doctor or abortionist has to account for all body parts, to make sure everything has been removed from the womb. That means, even at 10 weeks old, for example, an abortionist has to account for 2 legs, 2 arms, a head, etc. How can we continue to say that an abortion does not kill a baby, when the body parts have to accounted for, and that baby had a heartbeat and brain activity?

- A bunch of people commented (or messaged me) saying that they agreed with my pro-life stance....but did not feel that they had the right to say it out loud or that they did not feel an obligation to try to challenge the abortion movement. Can I ask for an elaboration? Why do you feel that way? Let me put it into perspective: You and I are at a party. You have had too much to drink. It doesn't matter how you got drunk, what you were drinking, whether or not you made a mistake by drinking that much. The fact of the matter is that you are drunk. If you get behind the wheel of your car, there is a very large chance that you will hurt either yourself or someone else, possibly killing them. Am I not morally obligated to take your keys from you? Is it more acceptable to say, "Well, I sympathize with those who will be hurt by your decision, but I can't do anything to stop you?" By saying that we are not willing to stand up for those being hurt by abortion - and by this I mean BOTH the woman and the child - we are doing the same as if I let you get into your car and attempt to drive home. The compounding difference is that, unlike drunk driving, there is more than just a chance that someone will get hurt. By a woman choosing to obtain a abortion, she is guaranteeing the death of one person, and is drastically increasing her chances for mental, emotional, and physical complications. How can we not be morally - or ethically, if you want to remove "morals" from the discussion - obliged to speak out?

- A few people asked "What if the woman's life or health is in danger?" I responded with the principle of double effect. There is a difference between direct and indirect abortion, and it boils down to the intention behind the act. For example, if a woman has a terminal cancer, and the tumour is in her uterus, her uterus needs to be removed. If she is pregnant, removing her uterus has the unintended effect of killing her child. Not once was the intention to kill her child, but to save the mother. If a child was actively killed (not as an unintended consequence), that is a direct abortion. JPII (again, that's Pope John Paul II for non-Catholics) does a MUCH better job explaining it than I do, as he was an incredibly gifted writer and theologian. I highly recommend reading his work on this for a full understanding of direct vs. indirect abortion. Even before Roe vs. Wade even was enacted, this form of abortion was considered legal. It had to be medically necessary, and had to be performed by a physician in a hospital. Statistics of how many abortions were performed, for this reason, are hard to come by on a national level, but anecdotal evidence at individual hospitals leads me to believe that it was very, very small. Truly medically necessary abortions - not even applying the indirect abortion qualifications - are not as common as we are led to believe, especially with the advance of modern medicine and the age of viability drastically dropping.

- a few people mentioned that they would prefer abortions be legal, even if they would not obtain one themselves, in order to keep it "safe" for the mother. This comment also gives me pause to think. Here in Arizona, 7 out of the state's 9 abortion clinics had to close this past year. Why? Because a law was passed requiring them to meet the same safety standards as a surgical facility. They did not meet those standards, and had to close. They were performing a surgical procedure - with very real risks and complications - but were not required to maintain the same level of safety as a hospital or freestanding surgical center. This is happening all around the United States. One could argue that an abortion in one of these clinics is "safer"....but is it really safe? Let's add a little perspective.....I have a two year old. I could decide to give him a knife to play with. It doesn't matter if it is a butcher knife or a paring is still not safe, is it not? An abortion clinic might be safer than a back-alley somewhere.....but is an abortion really safe? Someone is still losing their life. Someone is facing some pretty serious complications. Is abortion truly safe, no matter where it is performed?

- One commenter told me that she considered her aborted baby similar to a parasite, relying on her for everything. Having been pregnant four times myself, I can understand this feeling, and sympathize with this struggle. However, I'm not sure there is really a difference between an unborn baby and say, the 6 week old that I'm caring for once the baby is born. He still depended on me for everything: food, shelter, health, cleanliness, comfort, etc. Everything he needed...I had to provide. He was still completely and totally dependent on me for everything. A 6 week old, without someone to provide basic needs, will die, will it not? Now imagine if I decided to kill that 6 week old......people would be horrified and I would most likely be prosecuted, no matter what the circumstances (my health, my emotional state, my financial resources, etc). Where is the difference? A baby is still completely dependent on me, and I chose to kill it, yet in one instance it is considered legally and morally acceptable...and in the other, it is not.

- The response that I found most intriguing - and possibly the one with the scariest implications to me - was an argument in favour of legalized abortion............out of concern for the unborn child. To be honest, this one shocked me. With the exception of genetic abnormalities, I have never had someone make an argument for the death of a child out of concern for a healthy child. After I got over my initial shock, I sat back to think about the comment. The quality of life that the child would be living, if born, should be a reason to allow an abortion, I was told. As I pondered it, I realized that this statement stems from the Pandora's Box that was opened with genetic testing. We are led to believe that we are performing an act of compassion, a mercy killing, if you will, by aborting a child with a genetic abnormality or disease. The child's quality of life will be poor, we are told. They will be in misery...and we can compassionately prevent that misery from occurring if we just have the abortion. There are obvious flaws to this argument. There is a HUGE scale of uncertainty with these abnormalities and diseases. The first one that comes to mind is Downs Syndrome (I have 3 friends with DS children, to explain why it came to my mind immediately). DS can be a debilitating struggle, yes. But people with DS can be people who benefit our society. People with DS can - and often do - live independent lives and contribute to our society. Is there any way to tell - with 100% reliability -which end of the spectrum a baby with DS will fall on? No, there isn't. If there isn' can we judge their quality of life before their birth? Allowing these exceptions in our view of abortion has led to a general acceptance of other factors/struggles as a valid reason for abortion, all based on the "quality of life" that the child will live. Social, economic, is all over the place now. Can we really, with 100% certainty, determine that a child born into poverty has a poor quality of life? Can we really, with 100% certainty, determine that a child born into an imperfect social situation (say, to a single or teen mom) will have a poorer quality of life than if he/she had no life at all? If the answer to that was "yes," then my own oldest two children would be considered to have a poor quality of life, as they were born to a mother who lived below the poverty level at the time of their birth. At what point does the "quality of life" argument end? This argument has extremely scary implications to me. I challenge do we determine an acceptable "quality of life?" The choice really boils down to being between having life and having no life at all.....and when you look at it like that, which of the two is the better quality of life? Even if we apply a numerical rating to quality of life, choosing death is choosing a "0," and choosing any other option is choosing the positive.

- the last comment I received (multiple times, mind you) was "How could I be so holier-than-thou or judgmental? How dare I judge a woman who obtained an abortion!" This comment kind of makes me giggle, I will be totally honest. The concept of "judgment" has been warped in our society. We can judge the action, without judging the actor, can we not? I can judge my child to have lied to me, without judging his moral character to be one of a "liar," can I not? I can judge an action to be right or wrong: it is wrong to steal, is it not? Does that mean I automatically judge the person who stole to be characteristically untrustworthy? Not at all. If my teenager breaks curfew, sneaks out, and then lies to cover it up, he has now committed 3 actions that I can judge to be wrong, can I not? Does that make me love my teen any less? Does that make me consider him to be characteristically untrustworthy and a liar? Not at all. It is completely possible to judge someone's action as wrong without judging a person's character to be wrong. If my husband is cooking dinner, and reaches down and picks up a hot pan without an oven mitt, I can judge his action to be stupid. Does that mean that I think he is completely and characteristically stupid? Of course not. We judge actions all the time in our lives......judging the action does not require judgment of the actor.

The majority of the comments I received on yesterday's post fall into one of the "themes" listed above. I ask you, do you see your own point of view in one of the above themes? If you do, I ask that you elaborate. Our discussion yesterday led to a lot of contemplation of my own viewpoints and beliefs, which challenged me to find out just why I believed what I did. I hope to do the same here for others - the more we dialogue about this (respectfully), the more we can learn from each other, and ultimately, the more we can help the women and children who are directly affected by abortion.


  1. This was extremely well written! You are awesome Heidi.

    I've heard all these arguments myself, and at different points in time have been on both sides of them.

    The one that really gets me is that an abortion is saving a child from a horrible life. That is eugenics. Margret Sanger's argument to help rid the world of poverty: eugenics. Livestock breeding: eugenics. The Holocaust: eugenics. Racism: eugenics. If people had indeed followed this line of thinking and rid the world of people they thought would have to live a horrible life, well a large amount of the world's greatest leaders and thinkers would have never been born. Little thing to think about: right now in the US, abortion is the #1 killer of African Americans. And we think eugenics died out with the Nazis...

  2. I am 100% pro-choice. Though, I do find your arguments thought provoking. I fall into the, I could never have one, but it's not my place to tell someone else what to do category.

    I, personally, could never get an abortion because I am in a place in my life where I am capable of caring for a child. And, I want children. And, I understand the risks involved and they aren't worth it to me. Not because I think it is inherently wrong.

    But, I think reproductive rights are important. I don't want anyone dictating what I can and can't do with my body - and that's where it gets a little messy compared to the other things you compare it to (murder, drunk driving, etc). Anyhow, I do not condone late term abortions. But, I think it is especially important for people to have the option should they have been raped, etc. For what it's worth, I also believe in assisted suicide and pulling the plug with long term comas / substantial loss of brain function. It's not my job to determine what someone else deems to be quality of life. At the end of the day, early term abortion, to me, is about the same as calling the doctor who pulls the ventilator on a brain dead guy who got thrown off his motorcycle a murderer. I absolutely don't expect you to agree with me on this, and I am okay with that.

    I also don't think that the laws of this country interfere with or in any way inhibit me from living a moral life. (And I think this is one of the issues that gives people pause about that)

    I can't get on board with your last 2 sentences though. If it was indeed trying to improve the population, that would be implying that someone other than the mothers (or I suppose fathers) themselves are the ones getting the abortions -- no one is making anyone as a form of population control/improvement. Perhaps it would be interesting to look at the stratification of abortions based on a number of different factors.

  3. oops, sorry. my last comment was to jacq's post.

  4. Which two sentences are you referring to? Do you mean the last two "themes", or the last two sentences in the overall blog? I'm just trying to clarify.

    I would argue that in some areas, abortions are being forced, often due to population control arguments. I'll have to define what I mean by "forced" though, to make this point. Let's think of China, for example, and their one-child policy. Because of this policy (created out of concern for population control), families are killing or deserting their female children. Some women are physically forced by the government to abort their child, but "forced" does not have to mean physically contained and marched into an abortion clinic and strapped down to the table, just as abuse doesn't have to be physical to be abuse. It can be verbal. Women, every day, feel that they have no other way out of their crisis than to kill their child, even if it goes against their own morality. Is that not forcing the abortion?

    The founder of Planned Parenthood saw abortion and birth control as a means to remove "negative" traits and characteristics from our society. It was a form of ethnic cleansing - removing those from our society that we did not deem worthy. She openly encouraged and supported sterilizations and abortions for those that she viewed as unworthy (different ethnic groups, the poor, the mentally ill, etc). I worry that her views might become the popular opinion if the quality of life argument is continued...

  5. Oh, that makes more sense. :-) Sorry for the confusion.

  6. China did cross my mind in my argument. As in, it's not like we're in China where we are limited in the number of children we can have. But, any of my views of choice vs. life are in context of the US, as opposed to right vs. wrong which is a matter or morality

  7. I can understand that. I guess I see culture and cultural "morality" (not in a religious sense, but more in a right vs wrong sense) as fluid. It changes all of the time...can we guarantee that the cultural perception of right vs wrong won't end up along the same lines as China?