January 21, 2014

Abortion in America: A Personal Journey

fetus1.jpg
Four and a half months

Did you ever have to make up your mind?
Pick up on one and leave the other behind.
It's not often easy and not often kind.
Did you ever have to make up your mind?

-- The Loving Spoonful

No Answers Here. Just Observations and Anecdotes

Like most serious people in America today, I've had to struggle with my views on abortion. You are required, in this deadlocked and soul-locked society to have a view on this issue. "I don't know" just wont cut it. You've got to know. It says so right here in America: The Instructions.

But what do I know about Abortion? Here's what I thought I knew then and what I think I know now. Why today? Because I read the news today (Oh boy). And the news is only too happy to tell me that January 22, 2009, is the 36th Anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that released the crushing Abortion juggernaut to roll over the soul of America.

Abortion is, as we all know, one of the 25 or 30 third rails of American politics. So what? A President must prove to the American people that, from time to time, he can reach out and touch a few of these rails with both hands. This can be, as I am sure George W. Bush discovered and Barack Obama will find, a shocking experience, but I wouldn't want a man as President who couldn't do it.

Like it or not the issue of abortion is one of those rails. Bush grasped it to his cost and benefit, but it is clear he did so out of personal conviction and not political expediency. Whether or not you like his choice depends on your choice. But grasp it he did. I'm pretty clear where he stood on abortion. Obama is on record, where record there is, of being pro-abortion, even in its most odious forms. But it seems that Obama is more a man of expediency than conviction and such men are always malleable. Decisions from Obama, always have the whiff of Prufrockian diffidence about them:
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

This Prufrockian posture in civic life clothed in the skin and expressions of some smooth operator is one of the main reasons Obama has been able to feed his legions -- so far-- on the thin political gruel of "hope." Now that he has entered the realm of his every syllable being recorded and his every move being examined like auguries, his long stroll on the beach is over. He is now expected to serve up the bitter and chafing gall of "change" and convince his legions it tastes of ambrosia. Somewhere on the list of ingredients in this dish is "abortion."

The Vexation and the Fear. The Abstract Issue and the Real Child

Abortion is one of our most vexing issues. Like a satanic Energizer Bunny it just keeps going... and going... and going. There's no good in it and no good end to it.

It is currently resolved one way, in favor of choice, but the palpable, visceral fear of those who support choice no matter what has been that one Supreme Court appointment could overturn Roe v. Wade. The fear from the other side is now that one Supreme Court appointment the other way could set Abortion in stone. I'm not so sure about that, not sure at all, but the energy source here is fear and fear is a big motivator, especially if you are on the Left in America these days. Indeed, fear and hate seem to be driving most of the concepts coming out of the Left lately which is why I distrust them so deeply.

On abortion, my view has shifted over time. It shifted most palpably after the birth of my daughter. Something about birth makes you realize the stakes involved in the abortion issue in a way that was merely abstract before.

It seems to me that if the issue remains, or is contained, as an abstract notion (What would you do if...) then "choice" -- given the agnostic temper of the times -- remains paramount. In the abstract. we'd all like to be given a choice and not a mandate -- from the state, from God, from our society, or from ourselves. We'd all like to go through life doing what we want, when we want, with no consequences. You know - "No judgments, man," "Hey, no blame, Dude," "No problem. It's all good." Alas, abortion is not an abstract procedure or some harmless gedankenexperiment, although many of the more virulent Pro-Choice people would like it to be thought of in that way.

My own experience has been that when you are confronted with the abortion issue after having nurtured a child, abortion is no longer an abstraction -- i.e. "Resolved, all women should be able to control their bodies without interference" -- but becomes more concrete -- i.e. "Resolved, all women should be able to control their bodies without interference including ending a life within them at will."

It seems to me that (absent the usual banal disclaimers involving crime, rape, incest, danger to the mother, etc.) the abortion issue splits between those who base their position on the abstract notion of choice, and those with more concrete experience -- parents. This is not to say that those with children who remain pro-choice are caught in an abstraction, quite the opposite. I place them in the latter camp. It is to say that, no matter where they stand on the issue, the opinion of people with children has more standing, to me at least, than those without children. Parents have, to use an expression not without irony, "Real skin in the game."

Beginnings: Life and Human Life

Evidence that life begins at conception is obvious and conclusive. If an egg has become a zygote that zygote is alive that life is on the path to a person. This is how babies are built. Once fertilized and viable, a zygote will become -- barring misadventure or intervention -- a blastula, a gastrula, a pharyngula and so on, but always alive. Life is a property both the egg and sperm possessed and the result of that union possesses life by definition and will grow. No life, it does not grow. With life, it grows. Life begins at conception. Full stop. Period. End of discussion.

When human life begins is harder to know.

Certain lower life forms can already be grown to term from zygotes in artificial environments by our scientists, and it is foolish to think that human life will be immune from our technologies in this regard, unless by decree -- and even that is foolish. American policy may currently be squeamish and retrograde in this regard, but other cultures are neither so religious nor so delicate. And there is every indication that an Obama administration will want to play catch up with this ghoulish science. The Left's love affair with eugenics is an ancient and fundamental perversion in a political philosophy that is no stranger to perversion, but rather seeks to embrace it in all its forms.

The crux of the abortion dispute is, as mentioned above, the question of when human life begins. At this point, we all know the opposing political and religious positions. At some point, human life begins and the fate of the fetus is either at the absolute will of the mother or it is not. Nevertheless, it is still hard to say exactly when humanness happens since:
1) We do not agree on the term "human," and
2) as a result, all evidence on this issue remains anecdotal once you strip away the slant of the "research" that supports your preferred result.

A Small Island of Agreement

Still, a modicum of progress in this politically-religious or religiously-political cleft stick has been made.

We seem to have found some small island of agreement in the fact that children who can survive premature birth are good indicators that human life began sometime previous to the time they were delivered. This is an inch of progress, but I don't look for people to set a date certain for "human life begins" anytime soon.

The two sides now seem to be that, on the one hand, all human zygotes are human life in potentia, ergo all zygotes are babies. This treads awfully close to the "every sperm is sacred" territory and I'm not sold.

On the other hand, the extreme opposite side seems to be saying that up until the moment a woman delivers a child it is but a fetus and remains her sole property to dispose of at will. I'm not ready to buy this either, nor do I think most women would endorse a proposition that seems to argue from the concept of human slaves and chattel. This is a concept women have been pretty vigorous getting rid of when it comes to women.

Either way, I'm left not knowing, but knowing that I'm not alone in my ignorance. Yes, we do know a certain amount about when higher brain functions arise, but is a higher brain function some sort of real sign of human life, or a concept that is merely attractive to the intellectually insane? It seems to me that wise people also know, first and foremost (and what the last 10 decades of our tremendous expansion of knowledge are a testament to) is that what we know most certainly is that we do not know very much at all. And I don't mean that to be a cute little circular statement, but the foundation of wisdom - the highest form of knowledge.

Abortion: The Buckminster Fuller Gambit

Some time ago, in another online venue, a thoughtful person advanced Buckminster Fuller's proposition: "'the status of an 'individual' [is] established as soon as there is 'consciousness of otherness.'" I'll allow that Buckminster Fuller was a brilliant man, if not the one I'd turn to for his track record of being right (As anyone who has lived in a dome can attest.). But for politeness sake, our discussion went on from there. My remarks were:

'Otherness' strikes me as a bit fuzzy. Almost as fuzzy as 'consciousness' but I'll say I accept it for the present. Suppose the fetus that, in its development, recapitulates the fetus forms of lesser orders and at some point comes to a 'consciousness of otherness.' We really do not know, and we really, as far as I can see, cannot know what the instant of such an awareness would be. If the ambiguity of life and a human beings general development once born is any guide it could be at any random moment within a certain time range. The fetus as embryo might have a knowing of otherness -- that which is not what it is -- but it is a purely poetic exercise to suppose this. Indeed, it nothing but a leap of faith.

Does a fetus only achieve the knowing of otherness when, as an infant, it says 'mama,' or does it know it at some point in the womb? That point would be the nub. Since after that point the abortion would amount to the ending of a human life and before that point it would be, what?, a mere medical procedure? I can realize that rationally, but I don't have to like it. Indeed, I do not like it.

And my visceral dislike of it signals to me that what I really feel is that, regardless of any right to freedom of choice what is happening in an abortion is still wrong.

The "wrongness" of abortion does not put it beyond that pale or make it into something that is de facto illegal. We do many wrong things for a 'better' result in life, but that doesn't eliminate the wrongness of the action. It is mere mitigation of doing evil for the sake of some future good, where the good is not foreordained as the outcome, but only theorized.

To argue that everyone must stand up and assert that there is nothing wrong with the "right to choose" seems to be asking for vindication rather than toleration. I don't think it is wrong to pursue your rights, but don't think the pursuit of this right leads you to right action. While having the right to choose may be one of those derivative rights constantly being discovered by those that mine the subtext of the Constitution, that doesn't mean you get to have a pat on the back and a big cheer from society. Unless, of course, you want to have the kinds of medals and awards that were once given out in socialist dictatorships for following the instructions of the state to limit your children to one (and throw away the girl children while you're at it.)

My own experience tells me that the child knows the other in the womb before birth. The movements of the child in the womb. The reactions of the unborn child to music or other external stimuli all tend towards this. I'd say, without really knowing, that the fetus knows "otherness" certainly at some point within the last trimester. I suppose that most reasonable people who have been through a pregnancy to term would agree with me.

Okay, it knows other in the last trimester. How do we know? We know only because the child is at that point capable doing something that *we* perceive as knowing the other. But is it capable of this knowing before it can exhibit behavior we can perceive? Is it in some sort of coma state where its knowledge is in advance of its ability to act on it? Probably. And if so, how far back into gestation does this ability to know go? Is it possible to know the other before being a viable fetus that can live outside the mother? This we do not yet know and we may never know.

The Death Camp Book

But.... but... something persists in me from a book read long, long ago concerning the Death Camps during the Holocaust. I read this history more than forty years ago as a teenager and have not read it since. I read it so long ago that I cannot remember the title but retain trace memories the photographs of Dachau in the center that shocked me out of childhood. I also remembere one particular passage. I find it strange that, given my youth at the time, and the thousands and thousands of books since, that this passage should stay with me.

I cannot quote it but its import went something like this:

The person being interviewed was a female concentration camp survivor. She survived by being 'of use' to the camp. This use was to take the unborn, the aborted, the babies, the infants and the small children (dead or alive, I'm no longer sure), and throw their bodies into the ovens. At the end of this passage she reflected (in paraphrase): "Were we throwing another Mozart or Moses into the flames? We'll never know." And that not knowing was her enduring hell.

The Lost Children I'll Never Know

Early in my first marriage, involved in my career and my first wife involved in hers, she became pregnant. Because we still thought of children in the abstract, we "agreed" to have it aborted. It seemed like the "sensible" choice at the time. We told ourselves we "weren't ready" (Who is?). We went ahead with the abortion of our first child and, after a short recuperation, life went on as before. At least it felt as if went on as before.

Two years later, my first wife became pregnant again and this time we "were ready." We moved back from Europe, got jobs, got settled, and had a little girl.

Being at the birth of your child is an amazing thing. Stunning. You feel your whole previous life close like a giant circle coming together. You feel another circle begin.

Two years after my daughter's birth that my wife told me one day that she was pregnant again. She had been raising our daughter for two years and was not, she said, 'ready' for another. This time, though, my mind and soul had changed. I was not in such an abstract frame of mind about abortion.

Money was short, my future uncertain and I was fearful of another responsibility as large as another child, but I loved the daughter I had. I hung back. I wasn't sure. But then my wife reminded me that it was her body and she had "a right to choose." My choice was not to be a hypocrite-- a churlish choice as I now realize -- but really the only one open to me, as I was only the father.

And so, with my support, she went ahead at a hospital in Massachusetts on what I remember as a particularly raw late Autumn day. Although it was her right to choose, the decision was ours and I was fully complicit. Perhaps if I had earned more money or been more confident of my future, she would not have seen it as a necessity. I don't know. I just know that that is the way in which I participated in what I have come to think of the loss of my third child. "Loss" makes what was done sound less awful even if it was not. That it was shameful and wrong is attested to by the fact that, once done, we never spoke of it again.

All this was long ago and far away, but still, today, here on a different coast and in a different life, I think at times, usually late at night, about those two "losses," those two choices, to which I agreed. And in those dark nights I can almost see the ghosts of what those two children might have been, might have become.

Were they, maybe, another Mozart or Moses? Not likely. Almost certainly not. Be that as it may, at some point they would have become two of my children, and I do not know, still, at what point that would have been. I do know that ending those lives was right and wrong, and rightly and wrongly, I was complicit in their destruction. It was my choice too.

If I knew them, would I miss them, would I mourn them? The question is absurd. With abortion, you never get to know what you are missing. That's part of the deal.

And that, leaving aside all our abstract notions and the tidy ideas about consciousness and otherness, is the private hell everyone involved in an abortion enters. Its not a hell you're in and then walk out of, but a hell that burns within you forever. There are no fire escapes.

Posted by Vanderleun at January 21, 2014 9:06 AM | TrackBack
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

It comes down to the woman. She decides she is not having a child, she will find a way to abort the pregnancy. Legal or illegal, she will find a way to end the pregnancy. She has a much better chance of surviving the experience if she can get it safely done, and that has a better chance of happening if she can it done legally.

That is why I am pro-choice. It's not something I have any real say about, so I will support whatever the woman decides to do regarding her own pregnancy.

Posted by: Alan Kellogg at January 22, 2009 9:55 AM

In the 1950s in my 'courting' days as we called the sexual advances of youth in those times I visited my girl friend (now my wife) who was a trainee nurse, minding the dormant operation theatre at night in a Central London Hospital, lest any emergencies occurred. While there, I noted a lidded jar on a shelf with contained liquid and something floating in it. On closer inspection I saw that it was a foetus, fully formed and quite beautiful in its form and fragility.
"What happened here?" I enquired queasily.
"It's the residue of a D & C - a scrape!" she replied matter-of-factly.
"Why – what happened?" I persisted.
"She was admitted complaining of abdominal pains; they diagnosed pregnancy. She's a local fallen frail sister. She was feeling off colour and fainted as she worked her patch."
"Was that grounds for aborting her?" I asked a little tetchily (all abortion was illegal in those days other than in very limited circumstances).
"They didn't abort her!" she snorted. "After the diagnosis had been delivered to her and the doctor departed she grabbed the curtain rail around he bed and jumped up and down until she went into 'spontaneous' abortion. Then they had to do a D & C. She discharged herself a couple of hours later."
"Why did they keep the 'residue'?"
“I asked the gynaecologist and he replied ‘pour encourager les autres’ - what does he mean? “.

I declined to apprise her as I thought it might thwart what I had in mind for later.

I continue to gaze at the jar while the narrative sank in. I had picked it up and placed it back on the shelf and the movement caused the tiny body to move and bob. As it did, one eye appeared to open (probably a change of angle and the light) and one tiny hand rose in apparent supplication. The wink and the wave destroyed the last scintilla of any urge to bring to fruition my prior intentions for the tryst (I'll bet you've never had sex on an operating table or cleaned your bike in a scrub room) and I made my excuses and left.

Like you, I merely report, Gerard. Was ‘the residue’ of the D & C better off in the jar, or left to enter the world fully extant and at the mercy of the circumstances into which it would have been delivered had it gone its full course?

After four of my own children and twelve of theirs I can’t answer that question, either. But as you say, the memory lingers on.


Posted by: Frank P at January 22, 2009 10:03 AM

Gerard, Thank you for your searching and heartfelt thoughts on this nettlesome subject.

May I extend and amplify your agony with my own?

Does it really matter so much that we may be aborting Mozarts and Moseses?

I tell you that I was more heartbroken than I would have thought possible after reading the last letter to his mother by a 10-year old supposedly mentally defective German boy (he expressed himself perfectly well) before being killed in the German eugenics program.

Mozart, Moses, yeah, yeah. But even the mostunremembered, forgotten, never thought of, misery-filled, anonymous existence was created in the very image of God.

May God save us all.

Posted by: Punditarian at January 22, 2009 12:15 PM

My own brush with abortion came after 2 years of marriage. I went to the local Planned Parenthood office to get a pregnancy test with the husband in tow, and we got the news together. We were overjoyed....to the surprise and annoyance of the doctor, who said, "You mean you want to KEEP it?" and we said, yes of course! To which she replied, "That almost never happens. Huh." I didn't realize at the time, but thought naively, that Planned Parenthood meant just that. Planned. Which we did. Parenthood. Which we were entering.
I didn't think about it til much later that perhaps, in the New Speak, it means something quite opposite altogether. Perhaps it was a bad omen for me to have gone there for a test, because I miscarried after my third month (on our 3rd anniversary). In the hospital, after cleaning away the 'debris', the doctor snidely told me to quit moaning, because it wasn't like having a 'real' baby.
So I wonder, Gerard, does performing abortions harden and dehumanize the people who do them?

Posted by: Jewel at January 22, 2009 12:56 PM

Ah. I wondered where you were.

I worried that you'd grown indolent in the brightness.

Perhaps all that light made it possible to face the shadows that haunt us all in our later years.

I could wish that regret were not so common a companion.

I've only written one truly fine poem. It was about regret.

We must be gentle with ourselves. As you said - we know so damn little.

____________________________________________

Posted by: Cathy at January 22, 2009 4:34 PM

A very thought-provoking piece. When I was young and trying to spread my DNA far and wide, I was strongly in favor of abortion (the self-serving aspect of my progressive attitude didn't escape me even then). Now, many years later, when the subject comes up, I look at my kids and think "Which one could I kill?". I'm grateful that I never made that choice. One of my brothers was a party to two abortions. He has no living children, only that memory...

Posted by: Chuck at January 22, 2009 6:03 PM

You are essentially describing a world that is breaking into two adult cultures; one with the experience of children, and one with the experience of themselves.
The adult children are very clever. The adults with children, not so much.

Posted by: james wilson at January 22, 2009 9:43 PM

"Keep Your Filthy Laws Off Of My Body!"

That's a cute little bumper sticker...but let's look at that a bit closer.

Ok...where does "Your" body end and the "baby's" begin?

What defines "Your" body? What is unique to "Your" body? How do we tell bodies apart?

Let's turn to Almighty Science: DNA.

Many crimes were solved by identifying exactly whose DNA was found a murder scene. Everybody has their own unique DNA.

A baby in the womb has it's own DNA...completely different from the mother's

Therefore...a baby is separate from "Your" body.

Just something to think about.

My own feeling (If any one gives a rat's ass) is that abortion should not be used a political bludgeon. The decision is hard enough to make without lumping in guilt about letting down "The Struggle" or "Sinning against God".

I do not like abortion. I do not "Support" it, but I will NOT act to "Ban" it.

Individual societies will decide the issue based upon where their current values lie. Our society is right now in a state of flux, thus the friction on this issue.

Short answer...there IS no short answer. I actually dread the day when either side is able to enforce its will with an iron boot.

Posted by: Mumblix Grumph at January 22, 2009 10:05 PM

One of the compelling reasons I started blogging four years ago was a naive belief that by publishing and commenting upon wise, clearly-worded little posts my readers and I would learn by doing a lot of homework. Turns out I didn't have any readers and my homework took me down some very obscure trails.

Your audience is bigger than mine, so FWIW here are a few points I would like to spread.

1. Abortion has been recognized and argued about from antiquity. The original Hippocratic oath even has injunctions against "abortifacients." (In those days the issue had little to do with morality. It was mostly about male property rights. The role of women was perfunctory.)

2. The original Roe decision, now thirty-six years past, was the start of a national debate gone mad, partly because of ignorance, but mostly because legislative remedies at the state level have often failed to meet constitutional requirements at the federal level. This has led to a duke's mixture of state statutes running in all directions.

3. Talk about "overturning" the Roe decision is an expression of lay ignorance. As I understand it, prior to Roe the abortion issue was a state-level concern. The effect of Roe was to raise the issue to the federal level, and to that end the decision was not presented in a cut and dried manner.

4. A variety of arguments and comments, both in for and against, covered a multitude of unanswered questions. It is clear from a quick reading of those remarks that the Supreme Court never countenanced what would happen as the consequence of their decision. It was not Roe, but subsequent cases that have led to large numbers of abortions and what currently passes for "debate".

5. There is a distinction between what is legal and what is moral. The abortion issue is, as you said, one of the "third rails" because most people cannot discipline their thinking enough to keep legal and moral in different boxes. There are a number of moral behaviors that are illegal and an even larger number of immoral behaviors that are legal. (My own view is that abortions -- all abortions -- are immoral. But I am pro-choice because I don't believe that morality can be legislated. My mission as someone who believes that abortion is immoral is to persuade the pregnant mother to be to keep her baby, not compel her to do so by criminalizing abortion.)

6. "The crux of the abortion dispute is, as mentioned above, the question of when human life begins. At this point, we all know the opposing political and religious positions. At some point, human life begins and the fate of the fetus is either at the absolute will of the mother or it is not."

Well said. And that is the very issue that was pointed out in Roe. The word used then that has been lost over time is "viability." Historically, the abortion issue from a legal standpoint has hinged on "quickening" of the fetus. Modern times have concluded that when and if a developing future taxpayer is able to survive outside the womb the state has an identifiable interest in preserving and protecting that life.

I find it interesting that you can write three thousand words on the subject and none of them is the word "viability." That's not a negative criticism, by the way. That's a perfect illustration of why the debate has gone so far awry.

7. National legislation about to be introduced (once again) is not intended to promote killing babies at will. Such legislation at the national level will federalize what was urged by the Roe vs. Wade decision, making it possible for national standards to clarify once and for all what will and will not be the law regarding abortion. Central to those standards (and no doubt all the arguments that will surely ensue) will be a legal definition of "viability." It is after that moment that restrictions on abortion will have legal merit.

8. Although the vast majority of abortions occur in the first trimester the discussion is hyped by dramatic, heart-rending references to "late-term" abortions which are, in fact, a form of infanticide. When the matter of viability is clearly defined those extreme arguments will no longer seem forceful. The debate will cool but not disappear. States will have to go back to the legal drawing board if they wish to further limit abortions.

Posted by: Hootsbuddy at January 23, 2009 5:16 AM

Kudos to Mumblix. DNA is the marker of human life. Before the unique DNA exists there is no human life. After conception, the unique DNA signals the existence of a "unique, unified, self-integrating organism" (R.P. George). Thus, the Catholic Church's position is both morally and scientifically correct. But the issue remains how to deal with abortion from a legal perspective in an overwhelmingly secular society.

For good or bad, we live in a hyper-politicized world. The "pregnancy" is a biological process during which the fetus develops the capacity for biologically independent life. Before birth, the relationship between the mother and child during these nine months is the most private of privacy issues. "Viability" is a distraction. At conception, the human being is a unique and identifiable individual for which society, as represented through the mother, has moral and ethical responsibilities.

Thus, we face the must sharply defined conundrum of politics: Why is it not murder to voluntarily end the life of a human being before natural birth? At the same time, how can the State effectively enforce an edict against voluntary abortion in a way in which society would be comfortable with the manner and result of such enforcement, since it constitutes the most intimate of invasions of privacy? To find middle ground here would require an electron microscope.

What's the answer? The best I can manage is that elected officials should speak to the moral and ethical issue to discourage a decision to abort. At the same time no public funds should in any way to budgeted to promote or effect abortions. And, of course, all medical professionals, individuals and institutions, should be allowed to act on their conscience to refuse to participate. However, once the mother decides to abort, the larger "society" is ultimately powerless.

Posted by: boqueronman at January 23, 2009 7:23 AM

The women I know personally, who had abortions---have continued to suffer from the event, years down the road. Moreover, for each of them something "bad" happened subsequently that was much worse than an unplanned pregnancy and abortion. Some of them call it karma, some call it punishment from God, and some are atheist or agnostic and don't believe in that sort of thing.

But they ALL have concluded that there is a link between having an abortion and the "bad" thing that came later on.

Would the bad thing have occurred anyway? It doesn't matter. What matters is that for each of these women, the effect of the cause continues forever.

As Gerard so eloquently wrote, it is "a hell you carry with you forever. There are no fire escapes." And that's from a man's point of view.

Posted by: Deborah at January 23, 2009 7:34 AM

It's the old question, isn't it? At what point does the foetus, though unquestionably alive, become a human being? IMHO; at some point, possibly about a third of the way along, between a single-celled zygote (not human) and a foetus a few days from term (human).

Note that some foetuses, even near-time ones, are not human either - those with massive, lethal defects such as anencephaly. Also note that genuine risk to the life of the mother-to-be changes the issue somewhat. So does the issue of how the foetus was conceived. The result of a rape should IMHO have lesser rights - if only because rape should not be rewarded by continuation of the rapist's genes.

The real problem, of course, is in the middle. On what side of the line does one put an 18-week foetus, or one with severe deformations such as severe spina bifida?

Posted by: Fletcher Christian at January 23, 2009 8:03 AM

Gerard, you had bring this topic up?

If fetuses were a voting block, I doubt it would be legal. And shouldn't the "greenies" be encouraging people not to let the little "mass of cells" go to waste. Soy-lent Green and all that. Lots of protein! The French love to eat weird shit. We could export them there and make it a "delicacy". After all, it's not like it's a human being or anything.

I do wish Nancy Pelosi had been aborted.

On another note. We in the West can't abort ourselves fast enough, however the Islamists aren't. How long can the West survive?

Ladies, I don't judge you. But I do have my opinion, like it or not. I'm sure I must be violating some international, federal, state, or local law for either having such an opinion, communicating it here, or both.

I hope you all have a long healthy life.

Posted by: JD at January 23, 2009 10:49 AM

We all know where Mr. Obama stands on this issue, and to reaffirm this position today he signed an Executive Order reinstating federal funding to organizations that perform abortions overseas. Regardless on where one lies on this spectrum, I believe it is fundamentally wrong to use tax payer money to fund this activity. When half the country opposes the practice, how can Mr. O. justify this order?

Posted by: Sirius at January 23, 2009 2:03 PM

fwiw: yes: a new and unique life begins at conseption.

or tell ne: what has been "conceived" if it is not a baby?!

Posted by: reliapundit at January 23, 2009 3:12 PM

An aside:

The injunction against abortive remedies in the Hippocratic Oath had nothing to do with male property rights in antiquity, even if that was an issue raised elsewhere. If that were the case, it would have been followed by all physicians. The Hippocratics promulgated their oath in part to distinguish themselves from other schools of medicine whose members practiced many of the things the Hippocratics foreswore. The Hippocratics appear to have been a distinct and small medical group controlling themselves in accord with Pythagorean doctrine. The Hippocratic Oath was far from generally recognized until long after the coincidence of many aspects of Christian morality, notably the proscription of abortion, and the morality of the Pythagoreans, gave it greater resonance in late antiquity. The interested reader is referred to Ludwig Edelstein's magisterial work on the subject. For the Pythagoreans, the issue was certainly bound up with their understanding of the human soul and its transmigration.

Posted by: Punditarian at January 23, 2009 3:44 PM

According to Dr. Maureen L. Condic (When does Human Life Begin- Westchester Institute for Ethics & the Human Person) the question of when Human Life begins has been scientifically answered. The question should be rephrased: What is the VALUE of a human life in its various stages.

Posted by: Gerard J. Tummers at January 23, 2009 4:07 PM

According to Dr. Maureen L. Condic (When does Human Life Begin- Westchester Institute for Ethics & the Human Person) the question of when Human Life begins has been scientifically answered. The question should be rephrased: What is the VALUE of a human life in its various stages.

Posted by: Gerard J. Tummers at January 23, 2009 4:08 PM

According to Dr. Maureen L. Condic (When does Human Life Begin- Westchester Institute for Ethics & the Human Person) the question of when Human Life begins has been scientifically answered. The question should be rephrased: What is the VALUE of a human life in its various stages.

Posted by: Gerard J. Tummers at January 23, 2009 4:08 PM

Gerard, as with so many of your pieces, this one really struck a chord. Thank you.
In the mid-80's my significant one twice became pregnant and twice declared that we "were'nt ready". She felt that not only were we not in the right place financially, she wasn't even sure we would stay together. Being the good male-feminist I was, I supported her decision and was there during both of the procedures. At the time I rationalized that "life had not begun yet".
Fast-forward 10 years and I had two beautiful daughters. On a metaphysical level I've heard it said that we do not choose our children but rather, they choose us. A thought that comforted me was that perhaps the "souls" of the first two had not "died" but had simply been denied entry, and that perhaps these "souls" had now returned to us.
Maybe, just maybe, in terms of the soul...?

Posted by: adagny at January 23, 2009 8:04 PM

On another note...Obama's position on embryonic stem cells seems to me will only open a pandoras box. When the black-market discovers the gold rush that is the fetus biz, and when teenage mothers discover that people will pay big......?

Posted by: adagny at January 23, 2009 8:18 PM

On another note...Obama's position on embryonic stem cells seems to me will only open a pandoras box. When the black-market discovers the gold rush that is the fetus biz, and when teenage mothers discover that people will pay big......?

Posted by: adagny at January 23, 2009 8:18 PM

The subculture that allows abortion is self limiting. They will simply not breed enough to self perpetuate.

The subculture that abhors abortion and chooses life will self perpetuate.

The tragedy is the millions of lives lost until they are no longer 'there'.

Had there been "modern" abortion on demand 47 or 48 years ago, would we be talking of a President BH Obama? I bet not.

Posted by: Robohobo at January 23, 2009 10:28 PM

My two cents worth (Hope I am not straying too far OT): 1) Life begins at concepcion. 2) I believe in God. 3) I believe if I am good I will go to heaven, if I am bad, I will go to Hell. 4)In view of those beliefs, aborting a baby because we 'weren't ready', 'couldn't afford it', or 'inconvenient' are not defenses I would care to make before the Almighty on Judgement Day. BUT... having said all that, is the door open a crack so that abortion is ok? What about the fertilized egg that fails to implant? What about the natural miscarriages? Has anybody ever been to a funeral for a month old naturally aborted foetus? I haven't. If life begins at concepcion and the foetus has a soul, should there not be funerals for the terminated unborn?? By not having funerals for underdeveloped babies, is religion tacitly acknowledging they are not yet human? One wonders if Scripture has anything to say about it?

Posted by: feeblemind at January 24, 2009 7:23 AM

feeblemind - Quite. Grey area after grey area. Another one; some forms of contraception involve not the prevention of conception but the prevention of implantation; notably IUDs and the "morning-after pill". Is this more or less morally reprehensible than birth-control pills, designed to prevent the maturation of the egg in the first place?

Of course, some of the more extreme religionists would argue that any form of birth control, no matter at which part of the cycle it works, is immoral. How common is that view amongst people who are not devout Catholics?

On the subject of miscarriages; I believe that they are widely thought to be Nature's way of getting rid of a mistake - in other ways preventing the drain on a mother's resources involved in taking any further a pregnancy with a grossly defective (genetically) foetus involved. Some genetic errors are lethal well before birth. Should one mourn such a miscarriage (if that's known to be the reason) or breathe a sigh of relief?

Posted by: Fletcher Christian at January 24, 2009 7:55 AM

I'm willing to consider arguments against, but I'd like abortion to be illegal. I think all the mental masturbation over "viability" and "ensoulment" misses the larger point. Abortion is soul-killing to individuals and the nations that practice it. Legal abortion is also encouraging self-inflicted racial genocide of blacks in this country. I'm not talking theology here. I mean soul-killing in the most rational, practical sense. Witness the pain in Gerard's piece, the stories of tragic childlessness in the comments and the fact that nearly half of black babies conceived are aborted. Life is full of mishaps, inconveniences and tragedies. How we meet them is what determines our development as human beings. Abortion truncates that process.

Having said that, I'm aware that there would be times when abortion is the moral choice. When the mother's life is truly, imminently in danger (although I know of no reason why a viable baby can't be delivered rather than killed) or perhaps in the case of an impregnated child, I would hope a doctor would perform the abortion on principle, regardless of his legal risk. And I would hope a grand jury would have the wisdom to decide against prosecution in such cases. With all the foolishness on display in this country over the last weeks and months, I realize this is all highly unlikely.

I actually do know of a first trimester miscarriage where the family held a private service. He was a surprise after an (obviously) incomplete vasectomy. They named him Christian and still talk about him with their older children many years later. Gerard, I believe you and I (3 miscarriages), when we are forgiven and perfected will meet these children. That will truly be heaven! God bless and save us.

Posted by: Western Chauvinist at January 24, 2009 8:29 AM

Fletcher,

My miscarriages were the result of insufficient hormone to stop uterine contractions during pregnancy. It was easily remedied and I was blessed with two daughters. Not all "spontaneous" abortions are the result of a grossly defective fetus. Perhaps not even most. Without genetic testing of "the products of miscarriage" (God, I hate the callousness), we'll never know. I do know one of mine was a son.

Posted by: Western Chauvinist at January 24, 2009 1:25 PM

Thank you, profoundly. I linked, but the TrackBack link isn't working.

This is my testimony from my private hell.

Posted by: amba at January 24, 2009 3:29 PM

The first time I came across the idea that abortion was anything other than an abomination was in the Playboy Philosophy. Remember that? Perhaps because my mother was unmarried I didn't care for the extension of that philosophy to abortion. The nub of the Playboy philosophy was that activity between consenting adults should not be subject to to legal constraints. As applying to sexual activity between consenting adults it seems fairly logical but that logic breaks down when applied to abortion for the simple reason that one party (the incipient child) is not consulted. This is why abortionists have been at such pains to trivialize something that is nothing short of miraculous-the regeneration of life- by comparing it to fingernail clippings, appendicitis, or even something monstrous as in the movie Alien, which was a feminist allegory. My uncle had a mixed farm and I remember he had to be watchful when a sow farrowed because sometimes she would eat her offspring. That's pathological in a pig, and it's even more pathological in humans when women actually want to kill their own babies. Has anyone else noticed that people today are more outraged at the killing of baby seals than they are about the killing of human babies in the womb?


Posted by: Raymond Barry at January 25, 2009 10:35 AM

The first time I came across the idea that abortion was anything other than an abomination was in the Playboy Philosophy. Remember that? Perhaps because my mother was unmarried I didn't care for the extension of that philosophy to abortion. The nub of the Playboy philosophy was that activity between consenting adults should not be subject to to legal constraints. As applying to sexual activity between consenting adults it seems fairly logical but that logic breaks down when applied to abortion for the simple reason that one party (the incipient child) is not consulted. This is why abortionists have been at such pains to trivialize something that is nothing short of miraculous-the regeneration of life- by comparing it to fingernail clippings, appendicitis, or even something monstrous as in the movie Alien, which was a feminist allegory. My uncle had a mixed farm and I remember he had to be watchful when a sow farrowed because sometimes she would eat her offspring. That's pathological in a pig, and it's even more pathological in humans when women actually want to kill their own babies. Has anyone else noticed that people today are more outraged at the killing of baby seals than they are about the killing of human babies in the womb?


Posted by: Raymond Barry at January 25, 2009 10:36 AM

So, is there no answer? Or is the answer precluded by psychological defense mechanisms to difficult to overcome?

Posted by: ELC at January 25, 2009 11:38 AM

Attempting to draw the lines in this debate on biological or technical considerations seems bound to failure. Someday, somewhere, someone will cause a human being to appear who has developed from anonymous sperm and egg cells entirely in-vitro.

Posted by: latentennui at January 25, 2009 3:46 PM

Western Chauvinist - if I offended you I apologise, but spontaneous abortion is known to be the result of genetic defect at least some of the time.

A point that I perhaps ought to have made is that anti-abortionists are often in favour of the death penalty - and see no contradiction between those two beliefs. Hmmm...

The point remains that far too many people, on both sides, see the issue in far too binary a fashion. There is definitely a grey area in the middle.

To return to one point I made earlier; is a woman who has a coil fitted procuring an abortion every time it does its job? And if not, why not? I could ask the same question about women who use the "morning-after pill".

Posted by: Fletcher Christian at January 26, 2009 1:53 AM

"A point that I perhaps ought to have made is that anti-abortionists are often in favour of the death penalty - and see no contradiction between those two beliefs. Hmmm..."

There is no contradiction.

The death penalty is meted to convicted murderers, traitors, and the like, after a fair & public trial, based on the decisions of 12 jurors according to the prevailing standards of the community as expressed in a court of law.

Abortions are carried out by individuals, for their own reasons, on the innocent.

Posted by: Punditarian at January 26, 2009 7:32 AM

Fletcher,

My point was not about my being personally offended (I wasn't). It was, that while some miscarriages are the result of terrible deformity of the fetus (Nature's remedy in your take), we really don't know what percent of miscarriages fall into this category as few miscarried babies undergo genetic testing. It was one in three in my case and he was normal. [As a side note, I am saddened that we live in a time when dialogue is so hampered by the need to be "sensitive" to everyone's feeling - especially women's feelings. One thing we can all do to improve the world is fight the inclination to take offense!]

And, yes, I agree with Punditarian on the oft-used argument against conservatives who are anti-abortion and pro-capital punishment that the views are contradictory (inconsistent). The rationale for our position is innocence versus guilt.

I suspect this may not impress you Fletcher, but the only law repeated in all five books of the Torah is capital punishment for murder: "If anyone sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; For in the image of God has man been made" Genesis 9:6. It is in this Age of Obama when we have such moral confusion about playing God (abortion) versus obeying God (capital punishment). And as a Catholic studying the Ten Commandments (actually neglecting my studies to write this), I can verify that some of this confusion exists in Catholicism as well.

I dub this the "Age of Moral Idiocy". I claim no immunity either, but I encourage us all to fight the trend.

Posted by: Western Chauvinist at January 26, 2009 8:47 AM

Hell, I am not anti-capital punishment by any stretch of the imagination. Apologies, everyone, for the brief derail; but can anyone tell me what the position of the various churches is on the subject of homicide in self-defense? The only one I know for sure is the position of the Quakers. Also, does said position also apply to defending another? (This may have some implications in the case of abortion to save the life of the mother.)

And of course that leads directly to the question of what exactly "self-defense" entails. Is one entitled to pre-empt, for example, assuming that flight is not an option?

Posted by: Fletcher Christian at January 26, 2009 12:34 PM

Mr Christian, According to many competent authorities, the commandment in the Decalogue is not "Don't kill" but rather "Don't murder." I think it is a perfectly respectable to opinion to hold that the sanctity of the life with which you were endowed by your Creator requires you to defend it. And that homicide in self-defense is not murder at all, not a crime at all, but obedience to God's natural law. And at least to traditional Jewish authority, that does include killing a "pursuer" -- someone who is actively on the way to killing you -- before he kills you. To get back to the subject of abortion, that is why it is permissible to destroy a fetus who threatens its mother's life -- it can be seen as a "pursuer" -- until it becomes an autonomous human being (with the delivery of the head or in the case of a breech, of one-half of the body) -- because at that point it is not permitted to choose one person over another. At least as far as I understand the matter. Your mileage may vary.

Mr Chauvinist, Thank you for reminding us that the execution of murderers is required of all the descendants of Noah. The failure to execute the wanton shedder of human blood and life, should be seen not as a recognition of the sanctity of life, but as a surrender to the murderer's dis-valuation of human life. The abandonment of capital punishment in Western societies has not brought about any noticeable improvements, has it? As in Great Britain, it seems to go along with the abandonment of any sense that self-defense is rational and proper, and hence with a surrender to criminality and barbarism.

Posted by: Punditarian at January 26, 2009 4:53 PM

Since you asked Fletcher,

The Church's position on killing in self-defense or in defense of innocents is that it is proper and moral. Let's be careful with words though. I equate homicide with murder, which is the killing of an innocent. This is not the same as killing a killer either in self-defense or as capital punishment.

I also believe this leads into the Church's definition of a just war (your pre-emption question):
1) Is the aggressor's damage going to be lasting, grave and certain?
2) Are all other means impractical or ineffective?
3) Are there serious prospects of success?
4) Will the means produce no evils graver than the evil being fought?

I did my homework after our earlier discussion and just so happened to be studying the 5th commandment!

Posted by: Western Chauvinist at January 26, 2009 6:08 PM

Okay so you put a ban on Abortion. Will women who want to abort won;t go to doctors anymore. They will just take pills herbs and anything else to expile to fetus. Then you haev th ewomen who , will just dump the baby in the trash can. Or you have the women who gaves birth to a gentically messed up babay, then what happens you tax money will pay for the really fucked up babies and you can't prove she did anything wrong because it her word, and inless there are trtaces in the babies blood there is no proff really dangues to try to froce a women to carry a babay.

Posted by: Maria at January 26, 2009 6:21 PM

Okay so you put a ban on Abortion. Will women who want to abort won;t go to doctors anymore. They will just take pills herbs and anything else to expile to fetus. Then you haev th ewomen who , will just dump the baby in the trash can. Or you have the women who gaves birth to a gentically messed up babay, then what happens you tax money will pay for the really fucked up babies and you can't prove she did anything wrong because it her word, and inless there are trtaces in the babies blood there is no proff really dangues to try to froce a women to carry a babay.

Posted by: Maria at January 26, 2009 6:21 PM

Okay so you put a ban on Abortion. Will women who want to abort won;t go to doctors anymore. They will just take pills herbs and anything else to expile to fetus. Then you haev th ewomen who , will just dump the baby in the trash can. Or you have the women who gaves birth to a gentically messed up babay, then what happens you tax money will pay for the really fucked up babies and you can't prove she did anything wrong because it her word, and inless there are trtaces in the babies blood there is no proff really dangues to try to froce a women to carry a babay.

Posted by: Maria at January 26, 2009 6:21 PM

Maria: There have always been women who sought abortions when it was illegal. However, there have also been many women who get an abortion because they were pressured to or thought it was okay.

I know of a case in my family history where one woman didn't get an abortion during WWII (in Mexico) because her sister-in-law shamed her into keeping the baby. That particular child now has seventeen descendants— that's eighteen people who would not exist if abortion had been allowed at the time. One of them is a rocket scientist. One of them is me.

I don't know about you, but looking around and wondering "who's missing?" is a pretty chilling thought. Especially when it's so close to being you.

Posted by: B. Durbin at January 27, 2009 8:17 AM

Mumblix Grumph at January 22, 2009 10:05 PM

"morality cannont be legislated" then why do women go to jail if they are caught taking the life of a newborn?

Posted by: David A at January 27, 2009 4:15 PM

If the life of an unborn child is no longer sacred, then neither are the lives of any of us. Accepting the main premise of abortion--inconvenience--is accepting the de-sanctification of our own existence. Few realize this. If human life is no longer sacred, if God is not the ultimate and dispassionate arbiter of human existence, to whom can we address our legal and moral appeals in time of trouble--another fallible human being whose morality may be substantially at odds with what we recognize as decent and loving?

It's merely a matter of time until we discover the circumstances under which society is willing to dispose of our own unnecessary lives as well. I'm afraid that time is rapidly approaching.

Posted by: ahem at January 27, 2009 5:13 PM

What did they say back in the day?

The soul, as our teacher Gregory clearly states, originates not from underlying matter, like bodies, but, ineffably and unknowably, from a divinely willed vital inbreathing comprehended only by the soul's Creator himself. The soul arises at conception simultaneously with the body to form one complete human being.

-St Maximus the Confessor, Ambiguum 42 (7th century, I believe)

This very same man was put on trial unjustly for standing against heresy, and at about 70 was punished for not reversing his position by having his tongue and arm cut off. Thus his title 'Confessor' (but not Martyr.) He died in prison a few years later.

The ultimate inconvenience of the non-abortion position is that one will be persecuted for the worldview it entails, if one accepts and lives that philosophy to its fullness.

(There is a record of Maximus' trial called 'The Trial of Maximus')

Posted by: RiverC at January 29, 2009 7:42 AM

To help prove my point:

This from TIMESONLINE (1/30/09)

The Muslim population in Britain has grown by more than 500,000 to 2.4 million in just four years, according to official research collated for The Times.

The population multiplied 10 times faster than the rest of society, the research by the Office for National Statistics reveals. In the same period the number of Christians in the country fell by more than 2 million."

Posted by: JD at January 31, 2009 5:51 PM

As a volunteer Korean War vet (entered at age 17) I would no longer go to war for this nation. When it offically murders nearly 50 million innocent pre-borns and eagerly elects a man who aggressively advocates infanticide, while suddenly some lab techies are now going to add to the pillage by messing around with human embryos in a petrie dish before discarding the "wastage," we have become the evildoers of the world. Obama's exporting abortion includs the forced murder of Chinese babies when their mothers don't chose to kill them and with our taxpayer's money. Don't anyone talk to me about separation of church and state. We are at war with God in America -a war we are going to lose.

Posted by: Don L at February 4, 2009 4:04 PM

If life truly begins at conception, or after cell division commences and unique DNA is formed, then by logical progression life must end at the time that the physical body ceases to live. If however, one accepts that life continues in some form and some place after the physical body is no longer alive, then the beginning of life must be before that point of conception, again in some form and some place. God says it thusly, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you". Indeed, the pro-abortion side has set the choices as "at birth" or "at conception" and the argument has been refined by scientific insights as to when between those two points life can be viable. God's point of view is that He creates life before the physical body is created and that He sustains it while the body is alive and that there is a destination beyond the physical body at which time life is culminated...but as in most earthly points of view that are in opposition, God's view is left out of the argument (too much is required in the way of faith to consider it acceptable to all sides).

Posted by: average_guy at February 20, 2009 12:54 AM

i am against abortion i hate the fact that woman are gonnakill poor little kids that have done nothing to them!!1

Posted by: michelle at May 15, 2009 9:05 AM

This might be the book you read about the concentration camps. I read it as a teenager in the 1950s.
http://www.amazon.com/Scourge-Swastika-Short-History-Crimes/dp/1853674982

Posted by: Ray at April 26, 2012 2:41 PM

Thanks for re-posting this. Apparently I missed it the first time around, although I can't imagine why. Fine stuff.

You (and some of the respondents here) have glanced off what I consider a major issue here, but I've never seen anybody take it on directly, to wit:

The "It's my body," "I have the right to choose," etc, argument has always struck me as the quintessence of selfishness, and no man to date has had the balls to stand up and scream about it. It's your body, but it's our baby. Her body or not, no woman has the unalloyed right to kill my child - and as you have noted, in most cases a man's perspective is viewed as selfish and almost laughable.

That's a sin, and can only be characterized as brutality.

The extension of this argument is that no one has even begun to assess the damage done to generations of men and boys by this casual throwing away of a new life. It can only be described as yet another in the long list of "feminist" conundrums: Women want men to be sensitive and caring (because we're all such brutes, you know,) and yet if a man has any feelings for his unborn child there's something wrong with him. That right there is pathogenic, and the pathology engendered is on view throughout the modern "culture."

You and many other generous essayists have often expounded on the sorry state of modern young men. What, I wonder, did anybody expect after 40 years of unending assault on all that is the best in manhood?

Posted by: Rob De Witt at April 26, 2012 6:09 PM

Whenever I get into debates about abortion with pro-choicers, I always remind them that regardless of what the law is, they may choose what they will do, not because they have the right to choose, but by virtue of being human, they have the ability to choose between good or evil.

Posted by: Jewel at April 26, 2012 8:40 PM

Years ago I read a column by William Raspberry in which he reported his own conflict over abortion. As a liberal he felt like he had to support abortion but as a father he was uncomfortable with it. He finally came to the crux of the matter with this," Abortion is either the murder of a child, or it's not."
I'm always confused as to how and why the Federal government can be the least bit confused over the issue. Federal law says that a just laid sea turtle egg is a turtle and you'll go to prison for taking one. I await the day when a human embryo is extended the same legal protection.

Posted by: Rick at April 27, 2012 3:51 AM

Life and then death. Much to be said. The one thing that really stands out to me is the pain and misery that results from abortion regardless of the point of view. UW

Posted by: Uncle Wayne at April 27, 2012 8:30 AM

Thank you, Gerald, for sharing your story, and for those who have shared in the comments. I had not read this post before, but coincidentally, a couple of days ago I wrote on my blog about helping, when I was 16, a young friend convince her parents that adoption was the answer. God helped me to do that, and I am so sorry there was no one there to help you.

We can only help as far as we know how. My husband says he feels angry and betrayed that he was brainwashed from a young age to believe that as a man he had no right to an opinion on abortion. He now knows better. This was an evil done to boys and men, and stories like yours help redeem others.

We are Christians. As such, we know God is so good, and babies bounce on His knee with delight.
And they have already forgiven you, just as our Father has.

Posted by: Tina at April 27, 2012 10:19 AM

I had an abortion in 1969. I was enjoying the sexual freedom of the day, and he paid half. Now, 40 plus years later, I am a Roman Catholic, for whom abortion is an awful sin. I regret my "choice" immeasurably. I have confessed it, but I still am damaged by it. I am sometimes in doubt of my salvation because of it. On Ash Wednesdays, I cry all day long thinking of my sins. I can't take it back, now. I never told my parents, but they are both with God, now, and know my baby and all my sins. I am SO sorry.

Susan Lee

Posted by: Susan Lee at April 27, 2012 3:42 PM

Susan, "a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench" Jesus himself has forgiven and redeemed you. Know you are forgiven, and so very worth it.

May God bless you with peace of mind, and knowledge of His abundant love for you - you, not some imaginary "perfect" you, but the real you who has come out of the darkness into His light. Jesus rescued all of us, and we're all in His sweet hands with you now.

Posted by: Tina at April 27, 2012 5:42 PM

Second time I've read this great piece. My views on abortion have never found any hard set opinion. While I've never thought it ideal (I vote for preventative birth control), I also don't think first trimester abortion is murder or should be ruled illegal.

Neither God or Jesus had much to say on the matter, so I take the Catholic and Evangelical hardline, bordering on obsessive, point of view with a grain of salt. Those two branches of Christendom should take a break from chunking stones until they clean up their own dirty houses.

Women have been disposing of unwanted pregnancies since time began, this is not some modern, debased cultural phenomena.

Abortion was perfectly legal and widely practiced in America prior to 1820, especially amongst Protestant women.

The founding fathers didn't have a constitutional issue with the private decisions of women or family on this issue and I think governmental involvement today, particularly at state levels, is an egregious violation of our most personal autonomy.

So, no, I don't think abortion is nothing. It should be avoided at all costs with preventative birth control.

I also don't think the state should be crawling into our most sensitive, personal matters to the extent of criminalizing abortion, much less making early stage procedures or the morning after pill more difficult and expensive to procure.

Our current politicized religious zealots fail to take the basic human condition, in all its blind folly, into thoughtful consideration on this issue

The angry, righteous people screaming for more restrictive laws on women blindly ignore their own scriptural and historical Protestant tenants of teology, which consistently sanctioned abortion before first quickening until the late seventies, early eighties. I'm talking about the last decade, not

I don't understand why intelligent people would adopt and shove a mindless, Catholic driven middle finger down our nation's constitutional crux.

You can thank nuthatch Francis Schaeffer for dumbing down the Protestant faith and our current political difficulties with irrational evangelicals in all walks of life.

The man turned a rational, guiding private faith of quiet American influence into an international joke.

While I'm quite sure abortion is not the best choice for any woman, I'm equally sure that the state should tread gently on this delicate matter.

Posted by: Daphne at April 27, 2012 6:14 PM

Editorial apologies, I left a few words hanging between here and the interuptive crust of my real life.

I'm talking about the last decade, not...pre-enlightenment or biblical times.

Posted by: Daphne at April 27, 2012 6:22 PM

"'the status of an 'individual' [is] established as soon as there is ''consciousness of otherness."
I submit that the 'consciousness of otherness' test occurs when the mother becomes conscious of the 'otherness' living within her. Let us not deceive ourselves. We all do really know the answer.

Posted by: Richard at April 28, 2012 12:26 PM

Beautiful post. Linked here: http://bobagard.blogspot.com/2012/04/no-fire-escapes.html

Posted by: Bob Agard at April 29, 2012 7:29 PM

Abortion and its afterbirth

My dear readers!

This is a personal testimony about one of our sons. We had five sons, all wonderful people. As I approach my twilight years, I become increasingly grateful for them and their contributions to life. They have been more than a joy to us, they have become our inspiration, as well. Unfortunately our oldest opted to check out of life at the tender age of 19, but even from this tragedy lilies grew on the rod of sorrow.

This is about our youngest son. When I became pregnant with this child my doctor, who was a personal friend as well, was very concerned. He was so sure I would not make it through the pregnancy because of complications when our fourth son was born (the surgeon told me a few days after our fourth son’s birth, “We almost lost mother and baby”). My doctor told me (this was before Roe v. Wade) that I could have what he called a therapeutic abortion, it was legal, and it was a “choice” that I could make without permanent damage to my conscience.

Well, I made my “choice” and chose to have the baby. This baby is now 44 years old, an awesome presence and delight. He is a son, husband and father, and I can’t imagine him not being a part of our lives. His wife, who we love just as much as we love our son, is a wonderful lady, and they have given us four grandchildren who have given our sunset years more happiness than we could have imagined. I suppose my point is this: faith that God can see us through the tough times definitely pays. This young man and his family are so fine! Had I chosen to delete this blob from my life (which is what the prevailing notion is about that “thing” in mommy’s tummy), just think what we would have missed! How grateful I am that God gave me the faith to carry this baby, and to grant me the PRIVILEGE of being his mother! Perhaps that is what we have forgotten: that to be a mother is to be a part of God’s creative act. And it is indeed a privilege!
Mike's Mom

Posted by: Patricia at April 30, 2012 12:10 AM

I am 50 years old. I have no children. I was never pregnant and never had an abortion. When I was young, I support the "pro-choice" people, because I could only think of the inconvenience to me if I should carelessly wind up pregnant. I now thank God I never had an abortion because I do wish now I had children. Had I had an abortion in my youth, I would now be mourning the loss of that child I had so callously aborted, killed.

I am still somewhat in favor of legal abortions. I have read, and seen pictures of the results of illegal abortions. I read about doctors trying to save patients who had had illegal abortions. And I would hate to see back alley ones come back. Having said that, I also think that the idea of "abortion on demand" is problematic. I find it terrible that a troubled women would have to have a painful decision rest with strangers.

What we really need is a while societal resurrection of morality. A return to a time when there was shame about being "easy," when girls (and boys) saved themselves until marriage. And when people valued the miracle of pregnancy and birth. And where people valued life more. What we need is to make the idea of abortion seem abhorrent to the vast majority of people, so that an abortion is not what some one does to deal with an "inconvenience."

Sigh.

Posted by: at May 3, 2012 4:30 PM

Young lady, you have just facebooked (the verb) both PRUFROCKIAN
(the second most famous Armenian since Vardan) and Gedanken-experiment!
I do not think your mother wants to find about your use of words like this.

Posted by: Jerry Whittemore at May 5, 2012 9:24 PM

Gerard,

I commend your willingness to, first, face your own ghosts and, second, to share them with the world. Very brave.

I would like to offer some advice. I deeply believe -- and my own experience and that of others I have known backs this up -- that you will only find peace when you acknowledge the full reality of what you did, i.e., complicity in killing, and then seek and accept God's forgiveness, which He freely, abundantly, extravagantly, unconditionally offers to anyone who sincerely seeks it.

The Silent No More network is not just for post-abortive women, it is also for men who regret lost fatherhood. I heartily recommend you check them out:

http://silentnomoreawareness.org/

Posted by: Kathy at May 12, 2012 10:50 AM

Chesterton's solution; Let all the babies be born, then kill the ones we don't like.

Posted by: james wilson at January 21, 2014 10:28 AM

As a male my personal view is it is none of my business. I neither have to carry nor labor to deliver the child. I do not have too deal with abandonment issues. It is up to the woman. I never had children because I was not mature enough until I was old enough to know better. Thus no progeny.
Somebody has to NOT have kids. Really. A whole bunch of somebodies should never have from what I see daily. Life for it's own sake is no favor.

Posted by: Odins Acolyte at January 21, 2014 12:42 PM

I believe there are cases -- true medical conditions -- when abortion is the lesser of two evils and necessary to save the life of the mother. I think it can also be justified in cases of rape and incest.

On the other hand, I also truly believe that a century from now, society will look back at our practice of abortion-on-demand and be as appalled as we are at the practice of slavery 150 years ago. They will also be as unconvinced by our arguments and justifications are we are by those put forth by slavery proponents.

Your mileage may vary.

Posted by: bfwebster at January 21, 2014 1:05 PM

I believe there are cases -- true medical conditions -- when abortion is the lesser of two evils and necessary to save the life of the mother. I think it can also be justified in cases of rape and incest.

On the other hand, I also truly believe that a century from now, society will look back at our practice of abortion-on-demand and be as appalled as we are at the practice of slavery 150 years ago. They will also be as unconvinced by our arguments and justifications are we are by those put forth by slavery proponents.

Your mileage may vary.

Posted by: bfwebster at January 21, 2014 1:06 PM

Maybe it all comes down to whether you value someone else's life as much as you value your own and whether or not you would stand up for the value of someone else's life as though it was your own.

The titanic struggle of human life to assert itself at all is a real miracle (with or without God). It shouldn't matter that that life might or might not be a Mozart or a Moses because then we are placing ourselves in the Sanger camp of devising some sort of arbitrary and artificial method of deciding what is good and beautiful.

A right to life is exactly what it means. If you were born as a result of incest or rape would you kill yourself because you were the product of something bad? I'm big on human sovereignty; once you start messing with that it's easy enough to start making up all sorts of shifting rules that serve a political or socially progressive game strategy.

Posted by: AbigailAdams at January 21, 2014 1:28 PM

I too have struggled with this one and believe it ultimately is a human rights issue: when do you become a human being and thus granted equal protection under the law?

I believe the best we can do right now is treat it as a medical issue. We already have general guidelines regarding brain death and removal of life support at the end of life, shouldn't that also apply to the beginning? Isn't that essentially what you are doing, removing the fetus from its life support system?

So if there is enough brain activity that life support couldn't be legally removed at the end of life, or if it is viable to exist outside the womb, how can it be legal to kill?

How can it not be granted equal protection as a living human being?

Posted by: B Moe at January 21, 2014 1:58 PM

I too have struggled with this one and believe it ultimately is a human rights issue: when do you become a human being and thus granted equal protection under the law?

I believe the best we can do right now is treat it as a medical issue. We already have general guidelines regarding brain death and removal of life support at the end of life, shouldn't that also apply to the beginning? Isn't that essentially what you are doing, removing the fetus from its life support system?

So if there is enough brain activity that life support couldn't be legally removed at the end of life, or if it is viable to exist outside the womb, how can it be legal to kill?

How can it not be granted equal protection as a living human being?

Posted by: B Moe at January 21, 2014 1:59 PM

It has been 36 years since that decision. And we are supposed to believe there have been no advances in contraception. And that there are no advances in allowing premature babies to survive at a younger age. I see no reason now, for loose restrictions on abortions. If you don't want to get pregnant, use contraception or the morning after pill. If you waited too long, then you can have the child and give it up to someone that wants it. I used to be very pro abortion but I can't pretend any more, post Gosnell. The pictures of children that would have lived on their own, if not so cruelly murdered was enough for me.

Posted by: Teri Pittman at January 21, 2014 3:10 PM

This is painful for me. I have been blessed with three beautiful children, but I still have regrets for my part in aborting my child long ago.
At the time, I wanted her to have my child, I wanted to raise him, and yet I buckled under the weight of everyone else's advice. We've all heard the reasons, "not ready", "her choice", blah blah.
Now, later in my life, this is still very much with me. I still wonder what would have been, and struggle with what I am going to say to him when I get to the other side. I'm sorry just doesn't cut it. I pray the Lord will forgive me and that my child is happy in heaven. It's all I can do.

Posted by: Dave E at January 21, 2014 5:10 PM

Bottom line. Abortion is retroactive birth control for lazy incompetent people who can't be bothered to behave responsibly. And what is worse the people who heed to abort their future welfaristas before they become welfaristas won't do it. Sad but true.

Posted by: Glenn at January 21, 2014 6:58 PM

Bottom line. Abortion is retroactive birth control for lazy incompetent people who can't be bothered to behave responsibly. And what is worse the people who heed to abort their future welfaristas before they become welfaristas won't do it. Sad but true.

Posted by: Glenn at January 21, 2014 6:59 PM

Bottom line. Abortion is retroactive birth control for lazy incompetent people who can't be bothered to behave responsibly. And what is worse the people who heed to abort their future welfaristas before they become welfaristas won't do it. Sad but true.

Posted by: Glenn at January 21, 2014 6:59 PM

I am a converted Catholic; meaning I converted from Protestant to Catholic as an adult. I believe abortion is wrong, but I also believe it is and will be forever impossible to determine "viability", "otherness". An infant is not viable outside the womb until the age of 26, if O-liar-care is correct, and some people never develop a sense of otherness, even after the ripe age of 26. Picture Julia and Pajama-boy coming together in Hippa-space.

The "my own body" argument is also specious; what part of the DNA is yours and what part is owned by the father and what part is owned by the baby?

The "brain activity" argument also breaks down in the face of the elderly and a child who cannot bear to part with the now senile parent who once cared for them.

All the arguments for and against abortion at some point break down, except for the argument, when is this child a child? When and where do we protect the innocent?

I was a CPS Social Worker before I retired. How many mothers avoid the legal consequences of taking meth up to the fourth day before delivery of their child, because they know the drug is gone from their system by the fourth day? Fetal alcohol effects also come to mind, but those effects don't go away. I once interviewed a young mother who aborted her child even after his/her left arm had reached out from her womb, which by the way was the third time she decided to abort. No, she did not want and did not hold a funeral. I have also heard the primal screams of infants born addicted to heroin, then mitigated by IV morphine drips.

Life is precious and the soul is God-breathed, I have come to believe. Who am I to decide when and where life or soul or humanity begins? Grace and Forgiveness is Divine. Pray, meditate, chant, or do whatever floats your boat, but let "Abba" hear from you, then try to be quiet and listen, turn off the text messages too.

Our wonderful post-modern government will now protect a turtle egg with a potential prison sentence. Goodness gracious great balls of fire, what hath Gaia wrought?

Posted by: Dan at January 22, 2014 8:53 AM

Life begins at conception - an occasionally inconvenient fact. "Pro-choice" simply means exercising the ability to kill ones child.

Having known several womyn who chose the "pro-choice" route, it is clear they fall into one of two camps; either sorrowful & guilt ridden, or hateful & vindictive. Not a ringing endorsement for pro-abortionists.

Some, who would not otherwise support abortion, ask - what about pregnancies caused by rape or incest, or a possible "mothers medical condition"? Here they have injected emotion into a otherwise logical argument, somehow believing that two victims, one of whom is now dead, is better than one victim and two lives.

Posted by: iggy at January 22, 2014 12:54 PM

Gerald,
Thank you for posting these personal stories of abortions. I'd like to add one more.
In college my girlfriend who I expected to marry and was deeply in love with got pregnant, due to me using a defective condom. She had just received a scholarship to law school and was the first in her family to graduate college. I was working as a cab driver while going to college and had 2 more years to go. I asked her to marry me but she wanted to get the abortion instead of ruining her future. I sat with her in the clinic and paid for the abortion and did all the right things a good boyfriend is supposed to do in that situation. We broke up a few months later while she was in Law school. I climbed into a bottle and didn't emerge until many years of self hate. I married at 40 to a great woman and we had a little girl with Down Syndrome. That little girl is the light of my life and I see in her my redemption and proof of God's forgiveness. I hope this story helps someone who reads it.

Posted by: John at January 22, 2014 5:41 PM

it is so very easy to accept the counsel of our fears, taking matters into our own hands, rather than restin in faith that the situation is not so dark as it appears.

As Twain said, most of the problems I've know in my life never really happened.

Posted by: itor at January 22, 2014 7:10 PM

Only in America do people ignore a war machine that drops missiles on funeral processions and schoolhouses while protesting about abortion.

Here's a hint for the slow ones. You either believe that the state or the federation has the power to green-light murder or you don't.

The death sentence? Wars for oil and influence? You might start to wonder why the rest of the world considers the USA as mecca for hypocrites.

So while you're begging your leaders to adopt your own personal preferences for tyranny and terror, try to ignore that thumping sound coming up from the floorboards. It's only the founding fathers rolling in their fucking graves.

Posted by: Wombat at January 25, 2014 10:19 PM
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