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.