Obtuse Observer

June 8, 2011

Abortion: It isn’t a Baby its Fetus

I am updating my list of “facts” and “arguments” offered by self-identified Pro-Choice advocates why an unborn baby is not living or human. 

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There are three additions today.  First, the clump of undifferteniated cells could become anything.  Second, the fetus feels no pain.  Lastly, the fetus at this stage is indistinguishable from a fetal dog or any number of other mammals.  Keep in mind, I am not making any arguments about the legality of abortion.  I have one goal with posts related to abortion and that is to clarify facts.  Life begins at conception, this is a biological fact.  Abortion will destroy that life, also a biological fact.  The value that one places on that life is subject to opinion but that makes it no less a life.

Undifferentiated cells:  This is a non sequitur to my point.  It matters not whether the cells have differentiated or not.  The cells are alive and they are human.  There is little chance they will develop into frogs or Buicks. 

Fetal Pain:  This is another non sequitur to my point.  Not only do any number of people with neuropathic diseases not feel pain but pain is culturally relative so feeling or not feeling pain cannot make one human or not human.  The larger problem with this argument is that it assumes that there is something that doesn’t feel pain in the mother’s womb.  There can be little argument about it being alive as they recognize that the clump of cells will eventually feel pain, that is the cells are alive.  That they are human cells is not a matter of rational debate.

Stage of Development: Because a fetus doesn’t develop voluntary brain activity until roughly the 24th week it is not human (until that point).  However, this fact didn’t change their opinion that abortion at this stage should be legal.  Nor was he moved by the fact that adults without voluntary brain activity are still human and alive.  In fact, some have even delivered healthy human babies from this state. 

In all three cases the person argues that the possession of certain qualities is required in order to be considered human.  This position ignores the first point at hand; there needs to be something to possess the qualities they argue it currently lacks.  Second, that something has to grown in order to possess them.   

What they were actually arguing is not whether the clump of cells was alive or human but what value they place on it.  People use such arguments to avoid confronting the reality at hand: Life begins at conception.  That life passes through many phases but it is no less alive nor human.

April 9, 2011

The Budget, Planned Parenthood and Abortion

I recently exchanged a few comments with friends about the issues involved with GOP efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.  (I’ll spare you the Margaret Sanger eugenics angle this time).  I just wanted to describe a couple issues and provide clarification on some facts.

A few Planned Parenthood Statistics:  Planned Parenthood claims abortions amounted to 3% of their services for 2008.  In 2008 they gave 1.1 million pregnancy tests and performed 324,008 abortions.  That’s roughly one abortion performed for every three pregnancy tests.  Planned Parenthood made 2,405 adoption referrals over that same time period.  Planned Parenthood offers a wide variety of services for both man and women but preventing and, of singular importance, terminating pregnancies represent the main focus of their business.  3% is a misleading figure in my opinion.

The Hyde Amendment is supposed to prevent federal funding of abortions.  However, it is a rider traditionally attached to funding bills not a permanent law.  Further, as the AP’s Erica Werner noted back in October of 2009:  Separate laws apply the restrictions to the federal employee health plan and military and other programs.  But the Democrats’ health overhaul bill would create a new stream of federal funding not covered by the restrictions. 

This was the issue that got Bart Stupak, a situationally pro-life Democrat Congressman from Michigan, in a tizzy where he ultimately folded with a promise from President Obama that he would issue an executive order preventing federal funds to be used to pay for abortion.  He later wrote a piece for Newsweek called Healthcare Hell describing his fight and surrender. 

At the end of the day the Hyde Amendment doesn’t prevent federal funds from being used to pay for abortions it only prevents some funds from being used to prevent abortions.  And, in a tragically relativist fashion, that restriction is not based on the “why” the abortion occurs but on who is asking for the procedure.

Fetus v Baby:  Some advocates of legal abortion rely on terminology to justify it.  The word “fetus” is the word I encounter most commonly.  I am told that an abortion kills a fetus not a baby and therefore my concern for the dead fetus is exaggerated.

My friend defended legal abortion because, as she asserted, there is a difference between aborting a fetus and killing an unborn baby.  Short version: No there isn’t.  The term fetus describes a stage of human life not the life that is developing, that is, the term fetus addresses degree not kind.  This terminology shell game can only effect one’s perception of the act not what actually happens.

Basic Facts:  Obviously this is no easy issue for many people and I have to concede it took me more than twenty years to arrive at what I now regard a fairly brain-dead observation.  I assert here no opinion here as to the propriety or morality of abortion in a general sense.  However, there are concrete facts that this debate would be better served by acknowledging. 

Life begins at conception.  This is a scientific and biological determination not a religious one.  If it were a religious question women would see priests, rabbi’s etc for pre-natal check-ups and pregnancy tests.  They don’t; mothers see doctors because the issue is scientific, biological… medical; not religious.  That more religious people acknowledge that fact is a matter for personal contemplation.  When people argue that the “zygote” or “blastocyst” is not alive they are venturing down a philosophical path and asserting that the life is not entitled to legal recognition.  These are two distinct issues.  Our courts employ a legal fiction to deny the unborn legal recognition.  The unborn life is a human life regardless of whether or not it is a person recognized in any court opinion (Justice Blackmun’s opinion in Roe v Wade said that the unborn baby was not a “person”).  We know this because no mother has ever given birth to anything other than a human.  An abortion kills an unborn, living human as its intended purpose.  Whether this is immoral or not depends on specific facts that have nothing to do with a calendar or slippery legal terms.

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