Abortion is biblical?!?!
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|Tue, 08-07-2007 - 10:30pm|
I was curious so I googled Christian / abortion to see what kind of articles would pop up. I wasn't expecting this result. I thought it was very interesting.
Article #1 -- Why Abortion is Biblical
By Brian Elroy McKinley
One sided. That's the abortion stance of most Christians -- one sided. We hear the Christian Coalition speak against abortion. We hear Focus on the Family tell Republican candidates it will not support them unless they state their opposition to abortion. We hear Operation Rescue's Christian members praying God will turn back the clock and make abortion illegal again. Over and over we are bombarded with the "Christian" perspective that abortion is outright wrong, no exceptions.
With all these groups chanting the same mantra, there must be some pretty overwhelming biblical evidence of abortion's evil, right?
Wrong. In reality there is merely overwhelming evidence that most people don't take time to read their own Bibles. People will listen to their pastors and to Christian radio broadcasters. They will skim through easy-to-read pamphlets and perhaps look up the one or two verses printed therein, but they don't actually read their Bibles and make up their own minds on issues such as abortion. They merely listen to others who quote a verse to support a view they heard from someone else. By definition, most Christians, rather than reading for themselves, follow the beliefs of a Culture of Christianity -- and many of the Culture's beliefs are based on one or two verses of the Bible, often taken out of context.
This is most definitely the case when it comes to abortion. Ask most anti-abortion Christians to support their view, and they'll give you a couple of verses. One, quite obviously, is the Commandment against murder. But that begs the question of whether or not abortion is murder, which begs the question of whether or not a fetus is the same as a full-term human person. To support their beliefs, these Christians point to one of three bible verses that refer to God working in the womb. The first is found in Psalms:
"For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for Thou art fearfully wonderful (later texts were changed to read "for I am fearfully and wonderfully made"); wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from Thee, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth. Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Thy book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them."
Although this passage does make the point that God was involved in the creation of this particular human being, it does not state that during the creation the fetus is indeed a person. According to Genesis, God was involved in the creation of every living thing, and yet that doesn't make every living thing a full human person. In other words, just because God was involved in its creation, it does not mean terminating it is the same as murder. It's only murder if a full human person is destroyed.
But even if we agreed to interpret these verses the same way that anti-abortion Christians do, we still have a hard time arguing that the Bible supports an anti-abortion point of view. If anything, as we will soon see, abortion is biblical.
Anytime we take one or two verses out of their context and quote them as doctrine, we place ourselves in jeopardy of being contradicted by other verses. Similarly, some verses that make perfect sense while standing alone take on a different feel when seen in the greater context in which they were written. And we can do some rather bizarre things to the Scriptures when we take disparate verses from the same context and use them as stand-alone doctrinal statements. Some prime examples of this come from the same book of the Bible as our last quote. Consider these verses that claim that God has abandoned us:
"Why dost Thou stand afar off, O Lord? Why dost Thou hide Thyself in times of trouble?"
"How long, O Lord? Wilt Thou forget me forever? How long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me?"
"O God, Thou hast rejected us. Thou hast broken us; Thou hast been angry; O, restore us.
Not only can we use out-of-context verses to support that God doesn't care for us anymore, we can even use them to show how we can ask God to do horrible and vile things to people we consider our enemies. In this example, King David even wanted God to cause harm to the innocent children of his enemy:
"Let his days be few; let another take his office. Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow. Let his children wander about and beg; and let them seek sustenance far from their ruined homes. Let the creditor seize all that he has; and let strangers plunder the product of his labor. Let there be none to extend lovingkindness to him, nor any to be gracious to his fatherless children."
Are we indeed to interpret that God, speaking through David in these Psalms, is saying we have been abandoned by God and that when wronged we can ask God to cause our enemies to die and cause our enemies' children to wander hungry and homeless? Indeed, it would seem the case.
But rather than interpret that God is with us as a fetus, but forgets us as adults, and yet will allow us to plead for the death of our enemies, we need to look at the greater context in which all these verses are found: songs.
Called Psalms, these are the songs of King David, a man of great faith who was also greatly tormented. He was a man of passions. He loved God, lusted for another man's wife, and murdered him to get her. He marveled at nature and at his own existence. All his great swings in emotion are recorded in the songs he wrote, and we can read them today in the Book of Psalms. What we cannot do is take one song, or one stanza of a song, and proclaim that it is indeed to be taken literally while taking other stanzas from David's songs and claim they should not be taken literally.
Yet that is exactly what anti-abortion Christians are asking us to do. They use those few verses from the Psalms to support their dogma that abortion is wrong. They proclaim those verses as holy writ and the other verses as poetry that we should not be following. Clearly, this is a perfect example of taking verses out of context. And it leads us to only one conclusion: if we cannot trust that God wants to kill our enemies and abandon us, we must also conclude that we cannot trust that God has defined the fetus as being a person.
For indeed, if we allow that kind of thinking we could also make an argument that God is willing to maul children to death if they make fun of a bald guy who just happens to be in God's favor. You think I'm joking, but I'm not. In the book of Second Kings, our hero, the Prophet Elisha, who was quite bald, so it seems, was taunted by a group of young boys. Elisha's response was bitter and cruel:
"...as he was going up by the way, young lads came out from the city and mocked him and said to him, 'Go up, you baldhead; go up you baldhead!' When he looked behind him and saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then two female bears came out of the woods and tore up forty-two lads of their number."
2 Kings 2:22-24
Did God kill those forty-two kids for making fun of a bald prophet? We can certainly make an argument for that if we use the anti-abortionists' kind of thinking.
Likewise we can also use the anti-abortionists' methods to establish that God approves of pornography, as seen in these following verses by Solomon as he pondered the female body:
"How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O prince's daughter! The curves of your hips are like jewels, the work of the hands of an artist. Your navel is like a round goblet which never lacks for mixed wine; your belly is like a heap of wheat fenced about with lilies. Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle."
"Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. I said 'I will climb the palm tree, I will take hold of its fruit stalks.' Oh, may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the fragrance of your breath like apples, and your mouth like the best wine."
Song of Solomon 7:1-3,7-9
Pretty steamy stuff. Taken by itself, it would appear God is indeed promoting a written form of pornography. But just like Psalm 139:13-16, we cannot take it by itself. Instead we must take it within the context it was written.
The same is true with the other two verses used by anti-abortion Christians to defend their cause. From the book of Jeremiah, these Crusaders are fond of quoting the phrase, "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee," from the first chapter. But they never quote the entire passage, which changes the meaning considerably:
"Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord. Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant."
This is a special event -- the birth of a prophet. God brought the prophet Jeremiah into the world for a divine purpose, and because of that, God was planning Jeremiah's life "before" he was even conceived. God was preparing him to do miraculous things, such as speak on behalf of God while still a child and setting him up as an overseer of nations and kingdoms. But the anti-abortionists simply overlook this on their way to claiming that the one phrase they quote proves God sees us as individual people while still in the womb. God saw Jeremiah in that way, but to claim it applies to all of us is akin to saying that we were all prepared as children to speak for God, and that God has placed all of us "over the nations and over the kingdoms" of the world. In essence, to claim this verse applies to anyone other than Jeremiah is to claim that we are all God's divine prophets. We are not; therefore, we cannot apply these verses to our own lives.
Another problem in this passage is the phrase, "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee." In Psalm 139:13-16 the anti-abortionists claim that because God was active in the creation of King David in his mother's womb that we must conclude the fetus is recognized by God as being a person. But here we see God stating that he knew Jeremiah "before" he was formed in the womb. By anti-abortionist logic, we would have to conclude that we are a human person even before conception. Since this is a ridiculous notion, we must, therefore, conclude that the anti-abortionist is interpreting these verses incorrectly.
The last verse most often quoted by anti-abortion Christians relates the story of Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, while both were pregnant. When they meet, the pre-born John the Baptist leaps in his mother's womb at Mary's salutation. Let's read the original:
"And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:"
As much as the anti-abortion lobby would like this to mean that all fetuses are sentient persons because one is recorded as knowing Mary's words and then leapt inside the womb, the logic is as flawed as the Isaiah misquote. Again we have a miraculous event. Again we have a divine prophet whom God had ordained since before he was conceived. And this time it's even more miraculous, because the gestating John the Baptist is reacting to the approach of Mary, who at the time was pregnant with Jesus. Unless we believe all of us are chosen before birth to be the divine prophet ordained by God to herald the arrival of Christ on earth, then we cannot claim this passage refers to us. And indeed, it does not. While gestating fetuses are known to move and kick as their nervous systems and muscles are under construction, only divinely-inspired babies understand the spoken words of the mother of Jesus and can leap in recognition.
The point to all this is simple: we cannot take the verses we like and interpret them to support what we want to support. And, more to the point, we cannot simply accept what some Christian leaders proclaim as being God's word on a given subject without carefully reading the full text of the book and taking into consideration the entire context. We cannot, as we have shown, simply interpret those few verses from Psalms, Isaiah, and Luke as a reason to be against abortion. And, as we will see in a moment, there are still other verses -- if interpreted in the sloppy manner demonstrated by anti-abortion Christians -- in the Bible that could easily lead us to argue that indeed God, at times, supports abortion. Let's take a look.
In the full context of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon makes the point that much of life is futile. Over and over he writes that if life is good then we should be thankful. But when life is not good, Solomon makes some interesting statements:
"If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, however many they be, but his soul is not satisfied with good things, and he does not even have a proper burial, then I say, `Better the miscarriage than he, for it comes in futility and goes into obscurity; and its name is covered in obscurity. It never sees the sun and it never knows anything; it is better off than he.'"
Clearly there is a quality of life issue being put forth in the Scriptures. And in this case, Solomon makes the point that it is sometimes better to end a pregnancy prematurely than to allow it to continue into a miserable life. This is made even more clear in these following verses:
"Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them. So I congratulated the dead who are already dead more than the living who are still living. But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun."
Here we have an argument for both euthanasia and abortion. When quality of life is at stake, Solomon seems to make the argument that ending a painful life or ending what will be a painful existence is preferable. Now remember, we're not talking about David's songs here. We're reading the words of the man to whom God gave the world's greatest wisdom.
And Solomon was not alone in this argument. Consider the words of Job, a man of great faith and wealth, when his life fell upon the hardest of times:
"And Job said, 'Let the day perish on which I was to be born, and the night which said, "a boy is conceived." May that day be darkness; let not God above care for it, nor light shine on it.'"
"Why did I not die at birth, come forth from my womb and expire? Why did the knees receive me, and why the breasts, that I should suck? For now I would have lain down and been quiet; I would have slept then, I would have been at rest, with kings and with counselors of the earth, who rebuilt ruins for themselves; or with princes who had gold, who were filling their houses with silver,. Or like the miscarriage which is discarded, I would not be, as infants that never saw light. There the wicked cease from raging, and there the weary are at rest. The prisoners are at ease together; they do not hear the voice of the taskmaster. The small and the great are there, and the slave is free from his master."
And again a few chapters later Job reiterates the greater grace he would have known if his life had been terminated as a fetus:
"Why then hast Thou brought me out of the womb? Would that I had died and no eye had seen me! I should have been as though I had not been, carried from womb to tomb."
Clearly there is a strong argument here that the quality of a life is as important if not more important than the act of being born. Indeed, we could claim that the Bible supports ending a pregnancy in the face of a life without quality. And, if I wanted to be bold, I could claim that this interpretation is in fact a biblical mandate to support the use of abortion as a way to improve our quality of life. And taking these verses to their extreme, I could claim that abortion is not just a good idea, it is a sacrament.
Actually, I will stop short of making that claim. In fact, I will stop short of making the claim that the Bible condemns or supports abortion at all. It does neither. The condemning and supporting comes not from the words of the Bible but from leaders within our Culture of Christianity who use verses out of context -- the same way I just did to support abortion -- to support their views against abortion. The condemning and the supporting comes not from the Scriptures but from average Christians who take the easy way out, accepting one or two verses of the Bible as proof that their leaders are speaking the gospel truth. The condemning and supporting comes not from God but from those who do not take the time to read the Bible, in its own context, and decide for themselves the meanings therein.
For indeed, there is one passage in the Bible that deals specifically with the act of causing a woman to abort a pregnancy. And the penalty for causing the abortion is not what many would lead us to believe:
"And if men struggle and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no further injury, he shall be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise."
This is a very illuminating passage. In it we find a woman losing her child by being stuck by men who are fighting. Rather than it being a capital offense, however, it is relegated to a civil matter, with the father-to-be taking the participants to court for a settlement. But, as we read on, if the woman is killed, a "life for a life," then the men who killed her shall be killed. Some have claimed that the life for a life part is talking about the baby. But from reading the context we can see this is not true. It also states a tooth for a tooth and a burn for a burn. Babies don't have teeth when they are born, and it is highly unlikely a baby will be burned during birth. It is pretty clear that this part refers to the mother. Thus we can see that if the baby is lost, it does not require a death sentence -- it is not considered murder. But if the woman is lost, it is considered murder and is punished by death.
It's important to note that some anti-abortion lobbyists want to convince us the baby in this passage survived the miscarriage. They point to the more "politically-correct" translation they find in the New International Version of the Bible. There it translates the term "miscarriage" into "gives birth prematurely" (the actual words in Hebrew translate "she lose her offspring"). While this may give them the warm and fuzzy notion that this verse might actually support their cause if maybe the child survived, it is wishful thinking at best. In our modern era of miracle medicine only 60% of all premature births survive. Three thousand years ago, when this passage was written, they did not have modern technology to keep a preemie alive. In fact, at that time, more than half of all live births died before their first birthday. In a world like that, a premature birth was a death sentence.
Others have looked to the actual Hebrew words, themselves, to try and refute these verses. They note that the word "yalad" is used in verse 22 to describe the untimely birth, and that yalad is also used in other places to describe a live birth. They then go on to say other places in the Bible use the words "nefel" and "shakol" to describe a miscarriage. Therefore, the argument goes, the baby in Exodus 21:22 must have been born alive. It's easy to see how a novice might make this mistake, but a closer look at the words in question reveal the flaw in this argument.
The word yalad is a verb that describes the process of something coming out - the departing of the fetus. Since it is describing the process, and not the result, it could be used to describe either a live birth or a miscarriage. Shakol which shows up in Hosea 9:14, is also a verb, but its meaning is to make a woman barren. Now a barren woman certainly might miscarry, but with this understanding of the word, it's clear why the writer of Exodus would not have used it since this miscarriage was caused by an accident, not by barrenness. And the word nefel is not even a verb. It's a noun. True, as a noun it is the term for a miscarried fetus, but the writer wasn't using a noun. He was using a verb to describe the coming out of the fetus. Thus, if I were describing a man falling to his death, I would use the verb "to fall" which can be used for both those who die and those who survive a fall, but to describe the man himself I would use the word the "fatality." So we can see that while a novice might mistake a verb for a noun and come to the wrong conclusions about the original Hebrew words used in the Exodus passage, a more careful look proves that the words only describe the action of losing the fetus, not the fetus itself. And that being the case, we can't use the Hebrew translations to determine if the fetus was alive or not when it came out - so we are forced to accept that in all certainly, considering the medical knowledge at the time, the preemie died. This makes it even more clear that the "tooth for a tooth" passage refers only to the mother, not to the miscarried fetus.
What has been so clearly demonstrated by the passage in Exodus - the fact that God does not consider a fetus a human person - can also be seen in a variety of other Bible verses. In Leviticus 27:6 a monetary value was placed on children, but not until they reached one month old (any younger had no value). Likewise, in Numbers 3:15 a census was commanded, but the Jews were told only to count those one month old and above - anything less, particularly a fetus, was not counted as a human person. In Ezekiel 37:8-10 we watch as God re-animates dead bones into living soldiers, but the passage makes the interesting note that they were not alive as persons until their first breath. Likewise, in Genesis 2:7, Adam had a human form and a vibrant new body but he only becomes a fully-alive human person after God makes him breathe. And in the same book, in Genesis 38:24, we read about a pregnant woman condemned to death by burning. Though the leaders of Israel knew the woman was carrying a fetus, this was not taken into consideration. If indeed the Jews, and the God who instructed them, believed the fetus to be an equal human person to the mother, then why would they let the fetus die for the mother's crimes? The truth is simple. A fetus is not a human person, and its destruction is not a murder. Period.
It is time to stop the one-sided view of abortion being proclaimed by Christian leaders. These leaders do not -- despite their claims -- have a biblical mandate for their theologies. It is time to stop preaching that the Bible contains an undeniable doctrine against abortion. It is time to stop the anger and hatred being heaped on abortion doctors and upon women who have abortions, especially when it's done in the name of a God who has not written such condemnations in his Bible. It is time to stop, because the act of making a judgment against people in God's name, when God is not behind the judging, is nothing short of claiming that our own beliefs are more important than God's. We must stop, because if we don't, then indeed the very type of theological argument being used against abortion can be turned around and used to proclaim that abortion is biblical.
Artticle #2 -- Why Abortion is Moral
By Brian Elroy McKinley
All of the arguments against abortion boil down to six specific questions. The first five deal with the nature of the zygote-embryo-fetus growing inside a mother's womb. The last one looks at the morality of the practice. These questions are:
Is it alive?
Is it human?
Is it a person?
Is it physically independent?
Does it have human rights?
Is abortion murder?
Let's take a look at each of these questions. We'll show how anti-abortionists use seemingly logical answers to back up their cause, but then we'll show how their arguments actually support the fact that abortion is moral.
1. Is it alive?
Yes. Pro Choice supporters who claim it isn't do themselves and their cause a disservice. Of course it's alive. It's a biological mechanism that converts nutrients and oxygen into energy that causes its cells to divide, multiply, and grow. It's alive.
Anti-abortion activists often mistakenly use this fact to support their cause. "Life begins at conception" they claim. And they would be right. The genesis of a new human life begins when the egg with 23 chromosomes joins with a sperm with 23 chromosomes and creates a fertilized cell, called a zygote, with 46 chromosomes. The single-cell zygote contains all the DNA necessary to grow into an independent, conscious human being. It is a potential person.
But being alive does not give the zygote full human rights - including the right not to be aborted during its gestation.
A single-cell ameba also coverts nutrients and oxygen into biological energy that causes its cells to divide, multiply and grow. It also contains a full set of its own DNA. It shares everything in common with a human zygote except that it is not a potential person. Left to grow, it will always be an ameba - never a human person. It is just as alive as the zygote, but we would never defend its human rights based solely on that fact.
And neither can the anti-abortionist, which is why we must answer the following questions as well.
2. Is it human?
Yes. Again, Pro Choice defenders stick their feet in their mouths when they defend abortion by claiming the zygote-embryo-fetus isn't human. It is human. Its DNA is that of a human. Left to grow, it will become a full human person.
And again, anti-abortion activists often mistakenly use this fact to support their cause. They are fond of saying, "an acorn is an oak tree in an early stage of development; likewise, the zygote is a human being in an early stage of development." And they would be right. But having a full set of human DNA does not give the zygote full human rights - including the right not to be aborted during its gestation.
Don't believe me? Here, try this: reach up to your head, grab one strand of hair, and yank it out. Look at the base of the hair. That little blob of tissue at the end is a hair follicle. It also contains a full set of human DNA. Granted it's the same DNA pattern found in every other cell in your body, but in reality the uniqueness of the DNA is not what makes it a different person. Identical twins share the exact same DNA, and yet we don't say that one is less human than the other, nor are two twins the exact same person. It's not the configuration of the DNA that makes a zygote human; it's simply that it has human DNA. Your hair follicle shares everything in common with a human zygote except that it is a little bit bigger and it is not a potential person. (These days even that's not an absolute considering our new-found ability to clone humans from existing DNA, even the DNA from a hair follicle.)
Your hair follicle is just as human as the zygote, but we would never defend its human rights based solely on that fact.
And neither can the anti-abortionist, which is why the following two questions become critically important to the abortion debate.
3. Is it a person?
No. It's merely a potential person.
Webster's Dictionary lists a person as "being an individual or existing as an indivisible whole; existing as a distinct entity." Anti-abortionists claim that each new fertilized zygote is already a new person because its DNA is uniquely different than anyone else's. In other words, if you're human, you must be a person.
Of course we've already seen that a simple hair follicle is just as human as a single-cell zygote, and, that unique DNA doesn't make the difference since two twins are not one person. It's quite obvious, then, that something else must occur to make one human being different from another. There must be something else that happens to change a DNA-patterned body into a distinct person. (Or in the case of twins, two identically DNA-patterned bodies into two distinct persons.)
There is, and most people inherently know it, but they have trouble verbalizing it for one very specific reason.
The defining mark between something that is human and someone who is a person is 'consciousness.' It is the self-aware quality of consciousness that makes us uniquely different from others. This self-awareness, this sentient consciousness is also what separates us from every other animal life form on the planet. We think about ourselves. We use language to describe ourselves. We are aware of ourselves as a part of the greater whole.
The problem is that consciousness normally doesn't occur until months, even years, after a baby is born. This creates a moral dilemma for the defender of abortion rights. Indeed, they inherently know what makes a human into a person, but they are also aware such individual personhood doesn't occur until well after birth. To use personhood as an argument for abortion rights, therefore, also leads to the argument that it should be okay to kill a 3-month-old baby since it hasn't obtained consciousness either.
Anti-abortionists use this perceived problem in an attempt to prove their point. In a debate, a Pro Choice defender will rightly state that the difference between a fetus and a full-term human being is that the fetus isn't a person. The anti-abortion activist, being quite sly, will reply by asking his opponent to define what makes someone into a person. Suddenly the Pro Choice defender is at a loss for words to describe what he or she knows innately. We know it because we lived it. We know we have no memory of self-awareness before our first birthday, or even before our second. But we also quickly become aware of the "problem" we create if we say a human doesn't become a person until well after its birth. And we end up saying nothing. The anti-abortionist then takes this inability to verbalize the nature of personhood as proof of their claim that a human is a person at conception.
But they are wrong. Their "logic" is greatly flawed. Just because someone is afraid to speak the truth doesn't make it any less true.
And in reality, the Pro Choice defender's fear is unfounded. They are right, and they can state it without hesitation. A human indeed does not become a full person until consciousness. And consciousness doesn't occur until well after the birth of the child. But that does not automatically lend credence to the anti-abortionist's argument that it should, therefore, be acceptable to kill a three-month-old baby because it is not yet a person.
It is still a potential person. And after birth it is an independent potential person whose existence no longer poses a threat to the physical wellbeing of another. To understand this better, we need to look at the next question.
4. Is it physically independent?
No. It is absolutely dependent on another human being for its continued existence. Without the mother's life-giving nutrients and oxygen it would die. Throughout gestation the zygote-embryo-fetus and the mother's body are symbiotically linked, existing in the same physical space and sharing the same risks. What the mother does affects the fetus. And when things go wrong with the fetus, it affects the mother.
Anti-abortionists claim fetal dependence cannot be used as an issue in the abortion debate. They make the point that even after birth, and for years to come, a child is still dependent on its mother, its father, and those around it. And since no one would claim its okay to kill a child because of its dependency on others, we can't, if we follow their logic, claim it's okay to abort a fetus because of its dependence.
What the anti-abortionist fails to do, however, is differentiate between physical dependence and social dependence. Physical dependence does not refer to meeting the physical needs of the child - such as in the anti-abortionist's argument above. That's social dependence; that's where the child depends on society - on other people - to feed it, clothe it, and love it. Physical dependence occurs when one life form depends solely on the physical body of another life form for its existence.
Physical dependence was cleverly illustrated back in 1971 by philosopher Judith Jarvis Thompson. She created a scenario in which a woman is kidnapped and wakes up to find she's been surgically attached to a world-famous violinist who, for nine months, needs her body to survive. After those nine months, the violinist can survive just fine on his own, but he must have this particular woman in order to survive until then.
Thompson then asks if the woman is morally obliged to stay connected to the violinist who is living off her body. It might be a very good thing if she did - the world could have the beauty that would come from such a violinist - but is she morally obliged to let another being use her body to survive?
This very situation is already conceded by anti-abortionists. They claim RU-486 should be illegal for a mother to take because it causes her uterus to flush its nutrient-rich lining, thus removing a zygote from its necessary support system and, therefore, ending its short existence as a life form. Thus the anti-abortionist's own rhetoric only proves the point of absolute physical dependence.
This question becomes even more profound when we consider a scenario where it's not an existing person who is living off the woman's body, but simply a potential person, or better yet, a single-cell zygote with human DNA that is no different than the DNA in a simple hair follicle.
To complicate it even further, we need to realize that physical dependence also means a physical threat to the life of the mother. The World Health Organization reports that nearly 670,000 women die from pregnancy-related complications each year (this number does not include abortions). That's 1,800 women per day. We also read that in developed countries, such as the United States and Canada, a woman is 13 times more likely to die bringing a pregnancy to term than by having an abortion.
Therefore, not only is pregnancy the prospect of having a potential person physically dependent on the body of one particular women, it also includes the women putting herself into a life-threatening situation for that potential person.
Unlike social dependence, where the mother can choose to put her child up for adoption or make it a ward of the state or hire someone else to take care of it, during pregnancy the fetus is absolutely physically dependent on the body of one woman. Unlike social dependence, where a woman's physical life is not threatened by the existence of another person, during pregnancy, a woman places herself in the path of bodily harm for the benefit of a DNA life form that is only a potential person - even exposing herself to the threat of death.
This brings us to the next question: do the rights of a potential person supercede the rights of the mother to control her body and protect herself from potential life-threatening danger?
5. Does it have human rights?
Yes and No.
A potential person must always be given full human rights unless its existence interferes with the rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness of an already existing conscious human being. Thus, a gestating fetus has no rights before birth and full rights after birth.
If a fetus comes to term and is born, it is because the mother chooses to forgo her own rights and her own bodily security in order to allow that future person to gestate inside her body. If the mother chooses to exercise control over her own body and to protect herself from the potential dangers of childbearing, then she has the full right to terminate the pregnancy.
Anti-abortion activists are fond of saying "The only difference between a fetus and a baby is a trip down the birth canal." This flippant phrase may make for catchy rhetoric, but it doesn't belie the fact that indeed "location" makes all the difference in the world.
It's actually quite simple. You cannot have two entities with equal rights occupying one body. One will automatically have veto power over the other - and thus they don't have equal rights. In the case of a pregnant woman, giving a "right to life" to the potential person in the womb automatically cancels out the mother's right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
After birth, on the other hand, the potential person no longer occupies the same body as the mother, and thus, giving it full human rights causes no interference with another's right to control her body. Therefore, even though a full-term human baby may still not be a person, after birth it enjoys the full support of the law in protecting its rights. After birth its independence begs that it be protected as if it were equal to a fully-conscience human being. But before birth its lack of personhood and its threat to the women in which it resides makes abortion a completely logical and moral choice.
Which brings us to our last question, which is the real crux of the issue....
6. Is abortion murder?
No. Absolutely not.
It's not murder if it's not an independent person. One might argue, then, that it's not murder to end the life of any child before she reaches consciousness, but we don't know how long after birth personhood arrives for each new child, so it's completely logical to use their independence as the dividing line for when full rights are given to a new human being.
Using independence also solves the problem of dealing with premature babies. Although a preemie is obviously still only a potential person, by virtue of its independence from the mother, we give it the full rights of a conscious person. This saves us from setting some other arbitrary date of when we consider a new human being a full person. Older cultures used to set it at two years of age, or even older. Modern religious cultures want to set it at conception, which is simply wishful thinking on their part. As we've clearly demonstrated, a single-cell zygote is no more a person that a human hair follicle.
But that doesn't stop religious fanatics from dumping their judgements and their anger on top of women who choose to exercise the right to control their bodies. It's the ultimate irony that people who claim to represent a loving God resort to scare tactics and fear to support their mistaken beliefs.
It's even worse when you consider that most women who have an abortion have just made the most difficult decision of their life. No one thinks abortion is a wonderful thing. No one tries to get pregnant just so they can terminate it. Even though it's not murder, it still eliminates a potential person, a potential daughter, a potential son. It's hard enough as it is. Women certainly don't need others telling them it's a murder.
It's not. On the contrary, abortion is an absolutely moral choice for any woman wishing to control her body.
Thoughts & opinions????