Saturday, October 25, 2008


I received a number of comments on abortion in a previous post so I thought it might be best to create a post directly dealing with abortion. Over time, my own views have changed on this subject. The more I think about the topic and the more research I put into it, the further to the right on this position I get.

In preparing for this post, I looked for some numbers that could be used as a reference for this discussion. I looked at a number of references while writing this article, and most sites estimate the number per year somewhere around the 1.1 to 1.3 million abortions per year. The CDC reports this number as a little lower (848,163 for 2003), but the CDC does not include abortions in California, New Hampshire, or West Virginia. If we accept the CDC number at face value, 848,163 aborted babies in 2003 are too many.

If you had asked me for my position before my daughter was born, I would have told you that I felt abortion was wrong, and that it was something I could never personally choose. I also felt at the time it wasn't something I could decide for others. When my wife got pregnant, my opinion changed as I saw our baby grow.

I went to almost every one of my wife's appointments with her doctor. I listened in awe at my daughter's heartbeat. I was amazed at the first photo that showed her to be incredibly tiny, and not even identifiable as a person. Later, when we had the full picture of a little person with fingers and toes, I continued to be amazed. I remember the many nights my wife would complain that my daughter was punching her bladder. I was convinced beyond any shadow of doubt that my daughter was a life and a person long before she arrived in this world. She wasn't an extra organ of my wife, or some piece of tissue and flesh, or even a sore tooth. She was a living person.

Our constitution is set up to enumerate our rights. Those rights end if they interfere with the rights of others. Think of the classic movie and fire example. You have the right to free speech, but you don't have the right to run into a crowded movie theater and yell "FIRE!!" at the top of your lungs for the fun of it.

I believe this same theory applies to abortion. Any individual, male or female, should decide what happens to their bodies. However, that right ends when there is another life inside of you that is dependent on you. Who gets to voice that little person's rights? Doesn't that baby have rights as well? Why should someone be allowed to kill that baby for shear convenience?

"What about in the case of rape or incest?" This is a terrible, terrible thing to even contemplate happening to someone. Pro-choice defenders will argue that you can't put a victim through an additional 9 months of pain. But why should the sins of the father be visited on this innocent life? It isn't the baby's fault that he or she was conceived in this terrible way. I don't believe we should compound the tragedy of incest or rape with the added tragedy of killing an innocent.

Ultimately, I believe abortion should be illegal except to save the life of the mother. I welcome your comments.


Anonymous said...

I'm not catholic, but I generally agree with the catholic pro-life position: anti-abortion, anti-death penalty, anti-destruction-of-creation, and, almost always anti-war.

We are to care for life from conception to natural death. Sometimes I can imagine abortion being the lesser evil, though. But that means that I think we need to own up to abortions dangers and its evils.

The earliest Christian church took the commandment "do not kill" very seriously. You could not be a soldier and a Christian. Even hundreds of years later, when Christians were permitted to serve as soldiers, if you went to war and killed another soldier you had to wait a year before you could receive communion.

So, yes, I'm with Andy on nurturing those not yet born. I wish Andy would be a little more pro-life, though, with those already born.

Senior Lady said...

I have mixed emotions on this subject, and must admit my stand changed after the experience of giving birth.

As stated in another post, I don't like abortion, don't think it should be used as birth control, and definitely support restrictions on late-term abortions. But I believe it must remain an option, especially for victims of incest and rape. Say what you want, it is punishment for someone to have to carry and deliver a child conceived through such circumstances. I find it hard to believe that anyone could counsel their child, were she raped and became pregnant, to give birth. I don't think I could. No, it's not the baby's fault, but it's not the mother's either, and I think it would psychological torture for that person.

I owe Pack a response about options on partial birth abortions in late term, and I'll do that in another post.

I have more to say, which I'll also do in another post.

Andy D said...

Very good comments.

This is a very hot topic and I appreciate the well thought out comments so far. Senior Lady, I appreciate the pain a mother would go through carrying a child to term that she didn't want. And I understand how impossible it might feel to argue that the mother should carry it to term. However, I fall back to what I wrote in the post. Wouldn't it be worse, wouldn't it compound the tragedy of what has already happened to add the murder of an innocent into the equation?

I would never force the parent to then raise that child. They should give it up to adoption if they don't feel they can live with it.

Aaron said...

I agree with Senior Lady. As a father, abortion is not something I could personally choose or could ask a woman to choose if she was carrying my child, but I believe it needs to be an option in worst case scenarios. Andy stated that he could see abortion used to save the life of the mother, so I ask in a case of rape or incest, could the psychological torture of having to carry a baby conceived in that way, not be as deadly as to both the mother and child as some physical complications? It might not be as readily apparent as a physical problem, but it is very real.

My other concern with abortion is the difficulty people go through to adopt a baby in this country. I have a number of friends that have tried going through an American adoption and not only is it overly complicated but it can take years (5+) to get an adoption to go through. If more of these babies were born and given to loving parents who desperately want to have a child, I think we'll have solved two problems.

familyman said...

A woman's point of view.

Anonymous said...

Family, that clip is spot-on.

I saw the McCain air quotes about "women's health" live in the debate and almost fell out of my chair.

I have complicated opinions about abortion, but even I am pretty clear about women's health.

Andy D said...

I did like that the clip labeled "a woman's point of view" opens with John Stewart.

The issue with "Women's Health" is what does the term cover? In other words, if abortion is outlawed except in cases endangering the health or life of the mother, where do you draw the line? Is mental anguished covered? What about high blood pressure? Weight gain?

Normal pregnancies carry an inherent risk to the mother. Many normal pregnancies have effects that could be labeled "detrimental to the health of the mother". When an abortion law carries an exception for the "health" of the mother, it can quickly become an abortion on demand law.

familyman said...

Anon. I did the same thing when I saw McCain do that in the debate. My jaw hit the floor. At the very least it was an insensitive way to make his point and politically inept.

Andy. The point you are making is, I think, just another good argument for putting this decision in the hands of women.

How can men write a law about something they fundamentally can not truly understand?

No man will ever really know what it is like physically and so no man will ever be able to draw a line between what kind of health concerns are valid and what kind aren't.

Andy D said...

Thank you for the comment Familyman. You had stated this argument before, and I was hoping you would reiterate it here. You have a point by saying that I as a man will never know what it is like to carry a pregnancy. But saying because of that, I shouldn't be allowed to craft legislation dealing with abortion is a very slippery slope.

Do you think that the majority of Senators or Congressmen have had the experiences of every single law they craft? Both houses just passed a giant bailout bill. How many of the Senators and Representatives are economists?

The argument that you have to have that life experience in order to write a bill surrounding it is very weak. It simply won't work on a day to day basis, let alone with something as sensitive as abortion.

familyman said...

Well, I think for obvious reasons, this is a special case.

And I didn't say men should not be allowed in the process of crafting legislation.

Just like at the personal level, at the state and federal level, I think men should be welcome to discuss and debate, but voting on it should be just women.

As you say, men write laws everyday without having that exact life experience. The difference is of course a man can realistically imagine himself as a banker when drafting bank legislation, as a desperate bank robber when passing laws about punishment for robbing banks. But I think it's virtually impossible for a man to put himself in a woman's shoes when it comes to reproduction.

Senior Lady said...

Familyman is right; no man can know what it's like to be pregnant. Your hormones are changing so drastically. At any given moment you can be happy, sad, laughing, crying, craving, aching, tired, sick, etc. Your ankles are swelling, your back is aching, you have heartburn. I could go on and on.

When you want a baby, you find a way to deal with it, because you look to the outcome. Imagine if you were carrying a baby conceived by rape or incest. It would be torture going through all that, feeling your baby move within you, loving and hating at the same time, then having to deliver and decide whether you can possibly look at that child every day and love it, or give it up and deal with the potential guilt that will bring for the rest of your life. No one should have to endure that.

I've really put alot of thought into this, and I guess the bottom line for me is the only person who has the right to make the decision about continuing a pregnancy is the woman who is pregnant.

Senior Lady said...

This abortion discussion has really made me examine my feelings more thoroughly, so thanks for starting this post.

Changing direction a bit, and probably stirring up more controversy, I think abortion is viewed very differently by those who have never given birth. At the end of the first trimester, a fetus weighs less than one ounce and is about 2 1/2 inches long. I can understand why someone could think "that is not a life", maybe more the potential to develop into a life. Only after you have a child can you gain an appreciation and understanding of the loss of that potential life.

My point is, while I personally don't like abortion, I cannot judge someone who chooses that option responsibly and during the first trimester.

Andy D said...

Senior Lady,

I think both of your comments are very accurate. Thank you for commenting on the posts.

I agree with everything you say about the changes a woman goes through. I also think a woman carrying a child that is the product of incest or rape would be a terrible trial to endure. However, isn’t it a greater travesty to punish this unborn life with the sins of the childs father? The child didn’t ask to be created this way. He or she didn’t wish to be the product of a crime anymore than the mother carrying the baby wished for the crime to happen. But it did happen, and it produced a life. Are we then going to accept destroying that life because it might be too much anguish for the mother? I am not trying to understate the pain the mother would go through. I simply believe the travesty of killing the unborn child is much worse.

Christina said...

I am one of those person who has never given birth. I may have, when much younger & in my pre-Christian years, considered abortion to be acceptable, the business of the woman having it only. But,like Andy prior to his daughter's birth, for a long time now I've been against it except for rape & incest, or the mom's life being endangered by the birth. I am not militantly against it, though. I do believe it is not in my hands to make that kind of choice for another. If a woman considering an abortion asked me for counsel, I would first ask her to pray with me about it, and then trust the Lord to give me the right words for her.

Familyman's comment on men crafting abortion law but only women voiting on it sounds solid.