Minor Thoughts from me to you

Archives for Abortion (page 1 / 1)

Reacting to the Daily Lectionary

Today's readings from the Revised Common Lectionary.
Semi-continuous: Psalm 50:1-8, 22-23; Isaiah 9:18-10:4; Acts 7:1-8
Complementary: Psalm 33:12-22; Ecclesiastes 6:1-6; Acts 7:1-8

Part One

A common argument in favor of abortion is that many children would otherwise be born into poverty; to mothers who can’t afford the children that they already have; to teen girls who will be forced to drop out of school and fall into poverty, to mothers who will be forced to give up the careers or the lifestyle that they might otherwise have enjoyed.

Pro-lifers respond that every life is valuable, that someone’s hopes and dreams shouldn’t doom an innocent child to death, and that anyway being born into poverty is better than dying or never living.

Interestingly, the Preacher didn’t agree.

A man may father a hundred children and live many years, but however many are the days of his years, if he does not enjoy life’s good things or has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. For it comes in vanity and goes in darkness, and in darkness its name is covered; moreover, it has not seen the sun or known anything, yet it finds rest rather than he.

Ecclesiastes 6:3-5

The Preacher argues that life isn’t worth living if you can’t enjoy the good things of life. The Preacher argues that it’s better to be born dead than to go through life in misery and deprivation. The still born child has more rest than the man without good things. And we know that this is true: poverty brings with it fear and stress. And stress alone can cause a host of health problems. A life in poverty can be a miserable life.

Does this mean that the Preacher would have been in favor of abortions, for children likely to be born into poverty? I don’t know. Where is the dividing line between “enjoying life’s good things” and not? Which good things? How much enjoyment? Are we talking being born into crushing poverty in a third-world country? Are we talking about being poor in America? What about being born into a war zone or during an ethnic cleansing?

The Preacher doesn’t answer these questions or provide a detailed set of criteria and guidelines. He’s not interested in telling us what to do; he wants to make us think. This passage makes me pause and consider whether the circumstances matter more than I used to think. And it makes me less certain about my own beliefs and slower to condemn others for their choices.

Part Two

It’s trendy in conservative Christian circles to slam “wokeness” and to declare that it has nothing to do with God, the Gospel, or Christianity. But “wokeness” is just being awake to the injustices of the world. And, say the prophets, you very definitely want to be awake to injustice. Tolerating injustice is bad. Very bad. God doesn’t like it when you tolerate injustice and he tends to react … poorly.

For wickedness burned like a fire,
    consuming briers and thorns;
it kindled the thickets of the forest,
    and they swirled upward in a column of smoke.
Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts
    the land was burned,
and the people became like fuel for the fire;
    no one spared another.
They gorged on the right but still were hungry,
    and they devoured on the left but were not satisfied;
they devoured the flesh of their own kindred;
Manasseh devoured Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh,
    and together they were against Judah.
For all this his anger has not turned away;
    his hand is stretched out still.

Time out! That’s all very bad. What wickedness prompted God to become this angry?

Woe to those who make iniquitous decrees,
    who write oppressive statutes,
to turn aside the needy from justice
    and to rob the poor of my people of their right,
to make widows their spoil
    and to plunder orphans!
What will you do on the day of punishment,
    in the calamity that will come from far away?
To whom will you flee for help,
    and where will you leave your wealth,
so as not to crouch among the prisoners
    or fall among the slain?
For all this his anger has not turned away;
    his hand is stretched out still.

Isaiah 9:18-10:4

This was prompted by God’s people being asleep to injustice against the poor, the needy, and orphans. Are you sure—absolutely sure—that you want to crusade against “wokeness”?

Why This Pro-Life Conservative Is Voting for Biden

The most consistent reason that I’ve heard for supporting Donald Trump is abortion. The claim is that we must overlook every fault, allow Mr. Trump to be guilty of any crime, as long as he’s pro-life. We Christians can never allow a Democratic “baby killer” to be elected. I’ve grown increasingly uncomfortable with this argument. It permits a multitude of sins—lying, cheating, bullying, objectifying, defrauding; hate, racism, vindictiveness—as long as one, very specific line isn’t crossed.

But it is possible to be both pro-life and to vote for a Democrat.

Why This Pro-Life Conservative Is Voting for Biden

Mona Charen for The Bulwark.

Since I announced publicly that I will be voting for Joe Biden in November, I’ve received a few communications from puzzled readers. “How can you, a supposedly pro-life woman, support someone who believes in killing babies?” Others say, “What do you not like about Trump’s record? The tax cuts? The record jobs numbers? The conservative judges?” One reader summed things up with “I used to like you.”

I understand. I feel the same way about many people myself.

I will try to respond for the sake of those who, like me, find themselves alienated from the Republican Party despite some policy agreements with the Trump administration.

Let’s start with abortion. I have been pro-life my entire adult life. I haven’t changed. I continue to find the practice abhorrent, and will persist in trying to persuade others. But I’ve noticed a tendency among pro-life conservatives to forgive absolutely everything else if a politician expresses the right views on abortion. This is a mirror image of the left, as we saw when Bill Clinton was accused of sexual misconduct. Many liberals were willing to overlook his gross behavior toward women in the name of preserving abortion rights. Call it “abortion washing.” Both sides do it.

Abortion washing shuts down moral reflection. Rather than do the work of analyzing how one good thing weighs in the balance against other considerations, abortion washing permits the brain to snap shut, the conscience to put its feet up.

[…] I’ve never believed that electing presidents who agree with me will lead to dramatic changes in abortion law, nor is the law itself the only way to discourage abortion. The number of abortions has been declining steadily since 1981. It dropped during Republican presidencies and during Democratic presidencies, and now stands below the rate in 1973, when Roe _v. Wade_ was decided and when abortion was illegal in 44 states.

The Supreme Court, despite Republican appointments, has side-stepped many opportunities to reverse Roe. As David French noted, Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy, and David Souter were harsh critics of the decision, but chose, on the bench, to vote for continuity. So if the logic is to support presidents based on the kind of Supreme Court nominees they will choose, the chances that any particular appointment will have the effect of changing the law seem remote.

It has always been my hope to change people’s hearts, so that this cruel practice—like slavery, torture, and mutilation—can be put (mostly) behind us.

Being pro-life is part of an overall approach to ethical questions. It’s wrong to take innocent life. But other things are immoral too. It’s also wrong to swindle people, to degrade and demonize, to incite violence, to bully, and while we’re at it, to steal, to bear false witness, to commit adultery, and to covet. I don’t think Trump has committed murder, and he seems to have honored his parents (though perhaps in the wrong way). But as for the other eight of the 10 commandments, Donald Trump has flagrantly, even proudly violated them all, and encouraged his followers to regard his absence of conscience as strength.

Donald Trump is a daily, even hourly, assault on the very idea of morality, even as he obliterates truth. His influence is like sulphuric acid on our civic bonds. His cruelty is contagious. Remember how he mocked a handicapped reporter in 2016? His defenders either denied the obvious facts, or insisted that, while Trump himself might be “politically incorrect,” his supporters wouldn’t be influenced by that aspect of his character.

Alas, they are. Consider the incredibly moving moment during the Democratic National Convention when young Braydon Harrington, who struggles with stuttering, introduced Joe Biden. That night, an Atlantic editor with the same affliction tweeted “This is what stutterers face every day. I’m in awe of Braydon’s courage and resolve.” But Austin Ruse, author of The Catholic Case for Trump, tweeted his doubts that Biden ever stuttered, and replied to another comment with, “W-w-w-w-w-w-what?”

This entry was tagged. Abortion Christianity Donald Trump Joe Biden President2020

What's a Women's Issue?

What's a Women's Issue? →

Mona Charen writes, at The Weekly Standard, about a Jewish charity called In Shifra's Arms (ISA). Its goal is to support women who have an unintended pregnancy, want to have the baby, but are being pressured into having an abortion. For all that the mainstream feminists focus on supporting a ”woman's right to choose“, they mainly support a woman's right to choose an abortion and provide precious little support for women who want to choose life, but are pressured (by men!) to choose abortion.

These are some of the women that ISA has helped.

A 42-year-old married immigrant from Russia with older children had not expected to be pregnant again. Her husband, a truck driver, was tyrannical and difficult. Money was tight. He was so insistent that she abort the child that he left the family home for a week. When he returned, he actually drove her to the abortion clinic. She sat immobilized in the car. "I'd done it before," she told Nathan, "and I just couldn't do it again. Even if my husband divorces me, I cannot do it."

She turned to In Shifra's Arms, where she found sympathy and then tangible help. The first step was helping the client to decide what her own wishes were. Since money was tight, the mother elected to get certified as an X-ray technician. In Shifra's Arms helped her with funds for babysitting for two semesters.

Her husband did not divorce her, and in time, was happy about the new addition to the family. All are now doing well and are grateful to ISA.

Another client was in her 30s when she contacted ISA. An Israeli, she was living in the United States with her American boyfriend. When he learned of her pregnancy, he angrily demanded that she get an abortion. Worried that this might be her last chance to become a mother, she refused. Her parents were both dead, but she did have an uncle in America. A secular liberal and abortion advocate, he chided her for getting pregnant in the first place and urged her to abort. When she declined, he refused any assistance. "You did this to yourself," he said. "Don't come to me."

Her boyfriend seemed to agree. Her unwillingness to abort was an affront. The abuse was first emotional and then eventually physical. (Some men beat their wives or girlfriends in hopes of inducing an abortion.) It became so extreme that she moved out. The local women's shelter was full, and while she had stayed with friends for a time, she felt she couldn't impose for too long. Out of options, she turned to a Christian crisis pregnancy center. There, she was safe, but uncomfortable. The center featured Christian worship, which was awkward. Through an Internet search, she discovered In Shifra's Arms. ISA cooperated with a local Chabad rabbi to find the pregnant woman a place to live for three months, and linked her with a domestic violence group. They advised her to return to Israel before the child's birth. In Shifra's Arms paid for her plane ticket and two months rent in Israel along with psychological counseling. She delivered a healthy baby boy. Her child, she reported from Israel, was the best thing that had ever happened to her.

The American left focuses on protecting abortion rights to such a degree that they're often hostile to crisis pregnancy centers that offer choices other than abortion. But many women don't want abortions. They just want a helping hand. Surely true feminism requires you to support women when they choose life. I'm glad ISA is doing that.

Questions for Our Pro-Abortion Friends, Church Leaders, and Politicians - Desiring God

Questions for Our Pro-Abortion Friends, Church Leaders, and Politicians - Desiring God →

So when does a human being have a right to life?

Shall we say size matters? Is the unborn child too small to deserve our protection? Are big people more valuable than little people? Are men more human than woman? Do offensive linemen have more rights than jockeys? Is the life in the womb of no account because you can't hold him in our arms, or put him in your hands, or only see her on a screen?

Shall we make intellectual development and mental capacity the measure of our worth? Are three year-old children less valuable than thirteen year-olds? Is the unborn child less than fully human because he cannot speak or count or be self-aware? Does the cooing infant in the crib have to smile or shake your hand or recite the alphabet before she deserves another day? If an expression of basic mental acuity is necessary to be a full-fledged member of the human community, what shall we do with the comatose, the very old, or the fifty year-old mom with Alzheimer's? And what about all of us who sleep?

Kevin DeYoung asks a lot of good questions.

This entry was tagged. Abortion Ethics

How Obamacare Funds Abortion

Obamacare represents the biggest expansion of taxpayer-funded abortion in American history.

Thankfully John Boehner, our probable next Speaker of the House, is one of the most pro-life people in Washington. Boehner would like to pass a bill "to codify the Hyde amendment ... which would prohibit all taxpayer funding of abortion across the board." I hope he's successful.

Thanks Z, for the link to this video.

Ban Spanking But Not Abortion?

Alan Kazdin recently discussed corporal punishment. He's against it.

Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have banned corporal punishment in the schools. But so far, we have shown ourselves unwilling to extend that debate beyond the schools and into the ideologically sacred circle of the family. Where the argument against corporal punishment in the schools has prevailed, in fact, it has often cited parents' individual right to punish their own children as they, and not educators acting for the state, see fit. The situation is different in other countries. You may not be surprised to hear that 91 countries have banned corporal punishment in the schools, but you may be surprised to hear that 23 countries have banned corporal punishment everywhere within their borders, including in the home.

... Practically nobody in America knows or cares that the United Nations has set a target date of 2009 for a universal prohibition of violence against children that would include a ban on corporal punishment in the home. Americans no doubt have many reasons—some of them quite good—to ignore or laugh off instructions from the United Nations on how to raise their kids. And it's naive to think that comprehensive bans are comprehensively effective. Kids still get hit in every country on earth. But especially because such bans are usually promoted with large public campaigns of education and opinion-shaping (similar to successful efforts in this country to change attitudes toward littering and smoking), they do have measurable good effects. So far, the results suggest that after the ban is passed, parents hit less and are less favorably inclined toward physical discipline, and the country is not overwhelmed by a wave of brattiness and delinquency.

... We have so far limited our national debate on corporal punishment by focusing it on the schools and conducting it at the local and state level. We have shied away from even theoretically questioning the primacy of rights that parents exercise in the home, where most of the hitting takes place. Whatever one's position on corporal punishment, we ought to be able to at least discuss it with each other like grownups.

I find this very interesting. He thinks we should ban completely ban spanking. He thinks we should punish parents who spank their children. Maybe he thinks that we should take the children away if the parents continually defy the law.

I'm sure many prominent lefties would support his argument. And, yet, how many of those same people would support an effort to criminalize abortion and punish parents who seek abortions? Isn't this a double standard? How can you be willing to outlaw spanking -- to punish parents who hit their children -- but not be willing to outlaw abortions -- punish parents who kill their children?

How is that a just standard?

This entry was tagged. Abortion

What Should We Do About Abortion?

Many people can agree that abortion is a bad thing. Many people can agree that we should have fewer abortions in the world. But how can we reduce the number of abortions?

There are two main methods: social and legal.

How can we work socially to reduce abortions? I asked: why do women have abortions? The Guttmacher Institute offers some clues:

  • Fifty percent of U.S. women obtaining abortions are younger than 25: Women aged 20-24 obtain 33% of all abortions, and teenagers obtain 17%.

  • Women who have never married obtain two-thirds of all abortions.

  • The reasons women give for having an abortion underscore their understanding of the responsibilities of parenthood and family life. Three-fourths of women cite concern for or responsibility to other individuals; three-fourths say they cannot afford a child; three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents; and half say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.

It's clear, then, that many women choose to have an abortion because they either feel unable to afford children or feel unable to give the children a good life. That offers us two main routes for improvement.

First, we need to do a better job of helping young, single women afford children. Children have a lot of start-up costs: a crib, crib sheets and pads, diapers, wet wipes, bottles, formula, warm winter clothing, cool summer clothing, etc. There are doctor visits, delivery costs, pre-natal vitamins, post-natal vitamins, vaccinations, and so on.

All of this can be tremendously overwhelming and scary for a young, single woman with no social support network. Planned Parenthood and the majority of the Democrat Party send the signal that there's nothing wrong with abortion. Is it any wonder then that many of these women choose abortion?

We need to make pregnancy and child-rearing less scary and less expensive. We middle-class Christians need to do a better job of helping poor women afford pregnancy and child-rearing. We need to do a better job of being their emotional support network: comforting them, accepting them, and supporting them. We need to provide enough structure that they don't feel like abortion is the only way out of an unexpected pregnancy. If we can't be bothered to help then I think we bear part of the blame for the abortions.

Secondly, we need to change the way our culture views life. It seems clear from the Guttmacher Institute's data that many women are afraid that they won't be able to give their child a good life. I understand their concern but I strongly disagree with it. A life is far better than no life at all. Don't believe me? Start asking everyone you meet if they wish that their parents had chosen to abort them. I doubt you'll find many takers.

We need to recreate a respect for life in our culture. Every single life is precious. Whether a Down's Syndrome baby, a baby born to a poor single mother, or a baby born to wealthy parents -- every single life is precious. Every single life is worthy of respect, honor, and love. Every life lost is a tragedy and every person that would take a life is a villain. If we inculcate those attitudes, I suspect that the abortion rate would drop precipitously.

That's the social angle. What about the legal angle? We could pass laws making all abortions illegal for any reason whatsoever. But that wouldn't end abortions. Women have given themselves abortions throughout all of human history. Women were buying illegal abortions for centuries before Roe v. Wade was decided.

Does that mean that we should give up on making abortion illegal? Is it true that we can't legislate morality and that it's misguided to work for political and legal change? Should we instead work for the social changes mentioned above?

No. It's not misguided and it's not useless to work for legal change. It's very silly to say that we should give up on outlawing abortion because outlawing abortions won't end all abortions. People are raped, murdered, and robbed every day of the year even though these crimes have been outlawed since the days of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and Jamestown. We call certain actions crimes not because doing so will eliminate them but because doing so allows us to punish those who engage in such evil behavior. When we criminalize behavior we want to demonstrate the high value that we place on the victim's rights.

Should we put abortionists in jail? Yes! Absolutely! If a doctor murders granny, at the request of her daughter should we put the doctor in jail? Yes! Will doing so bring granny back? No, but it demonstrates just how heinous the crime was. It also prevents that doctor from murdering any other "patients".

I also believe that we should punish women who seek out abortions just as we would punish a woman who hires a hitman to murder her husband. The Guttmacher Institute's data indicates that many women seek abortions for reasons of convenience: "three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents". Killing someone to stay in school or killing someone to keep a full time job is evil. So is seeking an abortion to stay in school or seeking an abortion to keep a full time job.

We should work very hard -- we should give very generously -- to provide alternatives to abortions. But we should also recognize that some women can afford children but don't want to go through the inconvenience of a pregnancy. We should recognize that evil for what it is and punish it accordingly. If Christians aren't willing to recognize and confront evil for what it is who will? And what good are we?

Obviously we can't change everything overnight. I'm perfectly willing to work for incremental improvements in the laws. We've already outlawed partial-birth abortions and protected infants born alive. Those are very good first steps. We should work to protect doctors, nurses, and pharmacists who don't want to perform abortions. No medical professional should ever be forced to take a life. After that, we can start working to put limits on third trimester abortions. If a baby can be delivered and live -- and most third trimesters babies could -- then it should be illegal to abort that baby. After we've achieved that goal, we can decide what comes next.

Arguing against murder, rape, or robbery laws is silly. Arguing against abortion laws is just as silly. To say otherwise is to say that you don't value the life of an infant as highly as the life of an adult, rapee, or personal property.

This entry was tagged. Abortion

A Defense of Single Issue Voting

Yesterday and today, joe chapman and I discussed Obama's votes on the Infant Born Alive Act. joe is distressed at my strong reaction to Obama's vote and has been urging me not to be a single issue voter over abortion.

I was planning to write a rebuttal to that charge. Then James and Adam stepped in and pretty much defended the position for me. I agree with James 100%, so I'll just quote his comment instead of trying to write something original that ends up looking mostly the same.

But there are numerous single issues that disqualify a person from public office. For example, any candidate who endorsed bribery as a form of government efficiency would be disqualified, no matter what his party or platform was. Or a person who endorsed corporate fraud would be disqualified no matter what else he endorsed. Or a person who said that no black people could hold office--on that single issue alone he would be unfit for office. Or a person who said that rape is only a misdemeanor -- that single issue should end his political career. These examples could go on and on. Everybody knows a single issue that for them would disqualify a candidate for office.

Adam also nails my feelings:

... it's not that I don't care who I vote for so long as he's pro-something. It's that people who are willing to do certain things should not be allowed into public office.

It is scientifically indisputable that a third-trimester fetus is a unique individual. He has a beating heart, a unique brain wave, moves and reacts to stimuli on his own, can hear, and has his own separate blood type and circulatory system. In every way that matters, a fetus is a baby capable of living outside the mother and surviving to adulthood. Obviously these premature babies need a lot of help and care to survive, but that's true of any other baby.

Given these facts, I believe that abortion -- especially in the third trimester -- is morally indistinguishable from infanticide and murder. I am quite aware that abortion is legally distinguishable from murder, but my political views are not based on the flawed decisions of legislators and judges but on the teachings of the Bible.

Given that abortion is morally indistinguishable from murder, I refuse to support any politician who condones and defends abortion. This does not make me a "single issue" voter. As discussed above, there are many issues that would disqualify a politician in my eyes. But this may be the issue that I feel most strongly about.

I will not support politicians who believe that women should have the right to murder their own children as long as the mother has wrestled with the issue sufficiently.

This entry was tagged. Abortion Elections

Why Didn't Obama Fix the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act?

Peter Kirsanow makes a really good point about Senator Abortion and the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act.

Even if one accepts any one of Obama's (four and counting) explanations for his vote against the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act, his position remains problematic, if not untenable. Consider:

  • Obama sits through testimony that babies born alive after an unsuccessful abortion are left to die alone in a utility closet. The babies are provided neither comfort, care, nor sustenance during their brief lives. When this practice was brought to public attention horrified citizens petitioned their legislators to address the matter. Proposed legislation is drafted.

  • Obama examines the draft of the Born-Alive Act and declares it deficient. Obama maintains that he would vote for the legislation if it did not curtail or derogate extant abortion rights.

  • Remedying the alleged defect in the draft legislation is not a difficult task. It requires merely the insertion of a "neutrality clause" that says, in effect, "this legislation won't affect existing abortion rights."

  • Obama, lecturer in constitutional law at the prestigious University of Chicago Law School, former Editor in Chief of the Harvard Law Review and undoubtedly the one most qualified in the entire Illinois state legislature to address the issue lifts not one finger to remedy the alleged defect in the draft.

  • Instead, when the draft is amended to include the neutrality language, Obama votes against it.

Obama is the agent of change and compassion. He can heal the planet and lower the oceans. By stating that he would've voted for the bill had it contained the neutrality clause, he conveys that he supports the principles of the Born-Alive Act. Yet he takes no action whatsoever to make it happen.

Therefore, even if we accept any one of Obama's explanations regarding his vote against Born-Alive, we're holding him to an incredibly low standard for someone who intends to lead the nation. If he supports the principle of Born-Alive, the question isn't why he voted against it -- the question should be, "Sen. Obama, given your education, skills and background why didn't you take the relatively simple step of amending the draft so that the bill would work?" Isn't that what we expect from a leader?

Obama voted "present" more than 100 times in the Illinois state legislature. Why did he rouse himself to vote "No" on this one?

Obama has found time to ponder the habeas rights of foreign terrorists but no time to ponder the rights of babies born alive? Is it that far above his pay grade?

As far as I'm concerned, this issue trumps all others when it comes to Senator Obama. I cannot find any charitable interpretation of his actions and nothing his campaign has said has changed my mind.

This entry was tagged. Abortion Barack Obama

I Will Not Vote for Senator Abortion

This is why I cannot -- will not -- vote for Senator Barack Obama in November.

The tiny newborn baby made very little noise as he struggled to breathe. He lacked the strength to cry. He had been born four months premature.

"At that age," says nurse Jill Stanek, "their lungs haven’t matured."

Stanek is the nurse who found herself cradling this baby in her hands for all of his 45-minute lifetime. He was close to ten inches long and weighed perhaps half a pound. It's just a guess -- no one had weighed or measured him at birth. No happy family had been there to welcome him into the world. No one was trying to save his life now, putting him into an incubator, giving him oxygen or nourishment. He had just been left to die.

Stanek had seen it all happen. That family had wanted a baby, but when they learned that theirs would be born with Down syndrome, they wanted an abortion. For that, they went to Christ Hospital in the southwestern suburbs of Chicago, which is affiliated with the United Church of Christ.

In "induced labor" or "prostaglandin" abortion -- a common procedure at the hospital -- the doctor administers drugs that dilate the mother's cervix and induce contractions, forcing a small baby out of the mother's uterus. Most of the time, the baby dies in utero, killed by the force of the violent contractions. But it does not always work. Such abortions sometimes result in a premature baby being born alive. Sometimes the survivors live for just a few minutes, but sometimes for several hours. No one tried to save or treat them -- it is hard to save someone you just mauled trying to kill. But something had to be done with them for the minutes and hours during which they struggled for air.

Stanek says her friend had been told to take this baby and leave him in a soiled utility closet. She offered to take him instead. "I couldn't let him die alone," she says.

Stanek was horrified by this experience. This was not an abortion -- it was something worse. Could it be legal to take a living and breathing person of any size, already born and outside his mother’s womb, and just leave him to die, without any thought of treatment?

Hospital officials dismissed Stanek's concerns. She then approached the Republican attorney general of Illinois, Jim Ryan, who issued a finding several months later that Christ Hospital was doing nothing illegal under the laws of Illinois. Doctors had no ethical or legal obligation to treat these premature babies. They had passed the bright line of birth that had effectively limited the right to life since the Roe v. Wade decision, but under the law they were non-persons.

Stanek's effort to right this wrong would lead her to testify before various committees. It would lead her to a state senator, Patrick O'Malley, who would propose a bill to stop what was going on at the hospital.

Her attempt to change a corrupt medical practice and bring hope to defenseless infants would put her on a collision course with a state senator named Barack Obama.

On March 30, 2001, Obama was the only senator to speak in opposition to a bill that would have banned the practice of leaving premature abortion survivors to die.

Senator McCain and the other presidential candidates are wrong on a lot of issues. But right now I can't imagine any issue with more moral significance than this one. As far as I'm concerned, anyone who refuses to defend these weak, helpless infants is too morally bankrupt to be President.

This entry was tagged. Abortion Barack Obama

A Discussion of Abortion "” Part Five: When Does a Fetus Resemble a Baby?

When Does a Fetus Resemble a Baby?:

We left off last night asking: when does a fetus begin to command moral respect, such that we should view it as something other than a mere clump of cells appended to a woman's body?

I have repeatedly noted AMac's comment:

Sometime in the 2 to 4 month time frame, an embryo becomes recognizable as a pre-human, sharing many of the features that a human exhibits as a born baby.

I have argued why many Americans may reasonably decide that the moment of conception is too early to treat an embryo as a full human, and why the moment of viability is too late to treat a fetus as a mere clump of cells. I think most people can understand these arguments.

Patterico then goes on to discuss how most people, viewing pictures of fetuses, can generally determine a specific point at which a fetus begins to resemble a baby. I'd advise you to click through and read the whole entry. He then concludes with:

So let's do it. Let's look at actual pictures of babies in different phases of fetal development. They are in the extended entry. Then answer these questions:

  1. When do you think a fetus begins to resemble a baby?
  2. Do you think the answer to Question #1 is morally important?

Here are my answers. I looked at the pictures Patterico provided. I think a fetus resembles a baby at the 6-week mark. However, I don't think that answer is morally important. A fetus is a baby, no matter what it resembles. At the time my little sister was born, she looked quite different from my grandmother. Both, however, were human females. Appearance is not important in determining identity. A 1-week fetus contains the same DNA as a 10-year old child or 100-year old adult.

From a moral point of view, it is not permissible to abort a fetus simply because it does not look like a baby. Frankly, that argument is one of the more morally reprehensible I have ever heard. Genetically, a fetus is a baby. The fetus requires only the passage of time to look like a baby. Killing the fetus before it can begin to look like a baby is a cheap way of assuaging one's conscience.

A Discussion of Abortion, Part 2

Patterico has posted A Discussion of Abortion "” Part Two: Follow-Up Questions. I'll follow suit by posting more answers. While the question was asked as one paragraph, I think it makes sense to break it down into three questions:

  1. How do you define "conception"? As the union of sperm and egg? As implantation of the zygote in the uterine wall? I define conception as the union of the sperm and the egg. Here is my reasoning. The instant that sperm meets egg, the egg undergoes a biochemical change so that no other sperm can penetrate it. The chromosomes of the sperm and egg combine to form completely unique DNA for that new organism. The cells immediately begin to grow and divide. This "collection of cells" is a new organism that reacts to outside stimuli. While the new cells need to attach to the uterine wall in order to finish their development, this is a matter of nutrition not of fundamental nature.
  2. Do you oppose the birth control pill? Which one? Plan B causes the uterine wall to be shed, thus depriving the new cells of nutrition. I would consider this to be equivalent to an abortion, albeit one at a very early stage of pregnancy. Oral contraceptives, on the other hand, prevent the hormonal spikes that lead to eggs being released in the first place. Because egg and sperm never meet, no new life is created and no abortion takes place. (It is possible that an egg could be released while using oral contraceptives. These contraceptives also serve to thin the lining of the uterus. Thus, it is possible that an egg could be fertilized and subsequently fail to implant itself in the uterus. On the other hand, this can also occur naturally, without the involvement of oral contraceptives. Thus, I wouldn't consider it to be a true abortifacient.)
  3. How do you feel about abortion after a rape? I don't like it. I think it's a deceptively easy choice. Victims of major trauma are often not in the best position to make important decisions. I think there is a great danger that the mother will, in the end, feel great guilt over ending a life -- especially one conceived in violence. Indeed, according to an older study, Dr. Sandra Mahkorn found that 75-85% of rape victims chose not to have an abortion. For this reason, I think it would be wise to counsel against abortions in these situations, especially if the decision comes quickly on the heels of the rape itself. While I do not have citations close at hand, I have also heard many stories indicating that the children conceived in rape later became a great comfort and source of healing to the women involved.

Setting the Stage for a Discussion of Abortion

Patterico published A Discussion of Abortion "” Part One: Setting the Stage yesterday evening. He invited his readers to answer two questions, as part of a multiple day discussion of abortion. I chose to answer his questions here rather than just answering in a comment on his blog. Here goes.

  1. For you, is abortion in any sense a moral question, or is it purely a question of individual rights? I believe abortion is a moral question. The decision to abort leads directly to the loss of a human life. In that context, property rights (over a woman's own body) must take a back seat to life itself.
  2. What, for you, defines when a fetus is entitled to moral respect? A fetus is entitled to moral respect at the moment that the sperm unites with the egg. I have heard the argument that all living cells (regardless of type or function) should be treated with respect because cloning will one day allow us to create life from any cells. I don't think that argument is germane here, however. Even at the earliest moments, a fetus is a collection of cells that is on a direct collision course to becoming a recognizable homo sapien. That is the natural result of the development of those cells, unless the process is interfered with in some way. I don't think it's possible to look at the development of those cells and mark one specific point when it ceases to be a collection of cells and begins to be a human being. In my opinion those cells are always a human being -- just one at various stages of development.