|Melissa with her daughter, Layla|
There is a big vote in ABQ this week! I pasted my paper below from my biomedical ethics class I
took a few semesters ago. I am for the ban, and this hopefully explains my thoughts on the subject. It's rather long, but I told Anna I would share it.
May 5, 2011
Pro-Life View of Abortion
In 1997, an eighteen-year-old girl in New Jersey gave birth in the bathroom stal...l at her senior prom. Within minutes of giving birth, the teen manually strangled and suffocated the newborn and threw him in the dumpster. The teen, Melissa Drexler, was charged with murder and endangering the welfare of a child (Hanley). When the story hit the news, many people were horrified that a mother could end the life of her own child and discard him with the trash. The innocence of that newborn child broke the hearts of many Americans, while the mother did not receive the same sympathy.
Before that child made the eight-inch journey through the birth canal, he would have been considered a fetus rather than a newborn child. If the mother had ended his life while still in the womb, it would have been considered abortion instead of murder. What is the difference? What changed in those few short moments? Abortion is not considered murder by law because a fetus is not considered a living person with constitutional rights. (Hinkson-Craig and O'Brien)
The abortion debate has been the source of extreme controversy in the US since the Supreme Court passed Roe v Wade in 1973 (Feldt). Groups have rallied for and against abortion, even to the point of violence. It is an ongoing political issue, and a major topic of election campaigns. The dividing line between viewpoints is vast with no signs of resolution (Hinkson-Craig and O'Brien).
|Another photo of Melissa and Layla|
The beginning of life is one of the issues on abortion that is cause for much of the debate. To define when life begins we must look at scientific evidence to debate the issue. When the sperm fertilizes the egg and creates a zygote, it is an individual life. It has unique chromosomes from its mother and father. As the zygote travels to the uterus it continues to grow and divide independently from the mother. This is confirmed with in-vitro fertilization. The donor’s egg is fertilized with the sperm and left to grow on its own to ensure that it is an actively growing embryo. Then, the woman receiving the embryo must be in a certain stage in her cycle in order to receive the embryo in her uterus. Eventually, 3-5 days after fertilization, implantation occurs giving the embryo nutrients from the mother (Storck).
Because an embryo has unique chromosomes separate from his parents, and can actively divide on its own for several days without being implanted in the uterus, it is a separate being from the mother from the time of conception. It is true that it does eventually need to implant for growth and nutrition, but it is still a separate person. For the mother pregnancy begins at implantation, but for the embryo it begins at conception.
The first major event in the development of an embryo is neurulation. During neurulation the brain and the spinal cord develop. By the end of the first month of gestation the primary brain vesicles are developed. By the end of the second month, actual brain waves can be recorded. At three and a half weeks of gestation, the heart begins to pump blood within the embryo. At seven weeks voluntary skeletal muscles have the ability to contract causing fetal movement (Marieb and Hoehn).
An undeniable sign of life is brain activity. Psychologists argue death occurs with loss of brainwaves because all cortical functions, response to stimuli, motor reflexes, and other signs have ceased; therefore, the person is no longer able to function other than simple vital functions typically driven by machines (Kail and Cavanaugh). If the absence of detectable brainwaves is a sign of death, would the presence of brain wave not be a sign of life? The brain is functioning to contract skeletal muscles as early as 7 weeks (Marieb and Hoehn). That movement is quite some time before the mother can feel the movement known as quickening that some pro-choice advocates claim is the beginning of life (Hendershott).
A fetal heartbeat can be one of the most precious signs of life. Parents can see the heart beating even at the first ultra sound performed during the pregnancy. Throughout the pregnancy physicians check the heartbeat to ensure that the fetus is still strong and healthy. Through the advancement of technology parents can even use a device to hear the heartbeat from their own home to have the assurance that everything is still ok. If the heartbeat has stopped then the fetus is no longer living. Abortion stops a beating heart (Hendershott).
Even with scientific evidence available for abortion debates, most will argue purely on the basis of morality. The concept of ensoulment cannot be clearly defined since it isn’t on a biological level. There is no medical test that can be done proving one does or doesn’t have a soul. Therefore, this topic is left to moral debate.
The Pro-Life movement is backed by many Christian organizations including the Catholic Church and other private organizations such as Focus on the Family. God, as the creator of life, is the foundation of their beliefs (Focus on the Family).
“At Focus on the Family, we are dedicated to defending the sanctity of human life, and by human life we mean God's creation from fertilization to natural death. In the beginning, God created the earth and everything in it, including humans. As it says in Psalm 139:13, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb." We believe that every human, in every condition from the single cell stage of development to natural death, is made in God's image and possesses inestimable worth. Abortion runs contrary to these beliefs.” (Focus on the Family)
Pro-Life groups focus is on the fetuses right to life. That life is as sacred and unique from any other life. The smallest zygote is regarded with the same view and care as a newborn child. While the mother’s safety is a factor in some cases, the mother’s financial, marital, or social status is not a factor in whether or not her unborn child should live. Wanted or not, the fetus is a living human being created by God in the care of a woman. In rare cases, a pregnancy has resulted from rape, or in a young girl not ready or equipped to care for a child. Even in these extreme cases, Pro-life groups still do not endorse abortion. They do sympathize with those women and provide programs to assist with their situations, but believe that in crimes such as that there are two victims. One crime doesn’t justify another (Hendershott).
|Melissa's husband with their son, Stone|
In efforts to persuade women not to have an abortion, Pro-Life groups have set up crisis pregnancy centers to give women pregnancy tests and, if an unwanted pregnancy is discovered, give out information about adoption agencies. The most effective method in deterring abortion is letting the mother view her child through ultra sound technology at the clinic. Technology has advanced so much with the GE 4D imaging that a mother can actually view the face of her unborn child. Many women who had originally decided to abort the fetus decided against it after seeing the ultra sound. Many women justify abortions because the fetus is so small it is easy to pretend it doesn’t exist. If that woman is given the opportunity to look at her child she can no longer pretend it doesn’t exist.
Senator Hillary Clinton is a well-known Pro-Choice activist. In 2008 she spoke at a Democratic Compassion forum on the topic:
“I think abortion should remain legal, but it needs to be safe and rare. And I have spent many years now, as a private citizen, as first lady, and now as a senator, trying to make it rare, trying to create conditions where women had other choices (Issues2000).”
The tag line “legal, safe, and rare” has become a common response for the Democratic Party (Issues2000).
When looking at it from a moral standpoint, one could ask if it is not wrong then why does it need to be rare? If it is indeed a non-living cluster of cells as Pro-Choice advocates say, then why does it need to be a rare practice? Could it be that some Pro-Choice advocates, including Hillary Clinton, may acknowledge that it is a living human being, but regard the mother’s situation as the ultimate deciding factor especially in extenuating circumstances? Women such as Gloria Feldt, President of Planned Parenthood, have a more extreme stance on abortion. She advocates abortion of all levels, for any reason, at any time. She believes women should have complete control over their body at any stage of pregnancy. Laws restricting abortion are an invasion of women’s privacy (Feldt).
One of the major reasons that people would take a Pro-Choice stance is because of the fear that a young teen may get pregnant and not be at a place in life to care for the child. That does happen in rare cases, but the CDC reports that girls younger than 15 account for only .5% of the abortions nationwide. The majority of abortions are being done on women age 20-29 for social reasons (Center for Disease Control).
Many women who have an abortion procedure suffer from emotional trauma afterwards. Guilt and regret are often overwhelming. A lot of women chose abortion because they didn’t see any other way out of the situation. Frederica Matthews-Green has said, “A woman doesn’t want an abortion like she wants an ice-cream cone or a Porsche. She wants it like an animal caught in a trap who gnaws off its own leg.” (Nicholson-Brownell)
|Little Stone Salazar in the womb|
I strongly believe Roe v Wade should be overturned. I believe abortion is the tragic loss of innocent human life. The rights of a fetus should be protected the same as children who have already been born. While many pregnancies are unplanned and unwanted, the risk of pregnancy comes with choosing to be sexually active and women have to step up and take responsibility. Contraception has advanced with many options available to reduce the risk of pregnancy when used properly. Therefore, I believe that “choice” should be made prior to becoming pregnant. A woman can “choose” to take control of her body by taking appropriate measures to prevent pregnancy. Not all birth control methods are 100% effective, however, for many methods the risk is lower than 1% when used as directed (Planned Parenthood).
In order for Roe v Wade to be overturned, I submit that the procedures for adoption should be improved in order to encourage women with unwanted pregnancies to carry the child to term and give him/her to a family who is willing and able to love and care for that child. In the US adoptions currently can cost up to $40,000. In addition to the cost, an adoption agency can’t guarantee how long the waiting period to get a baby will be (Hendershott). In order to be effective, the Pro-Life groups must take a stronger stand to make adoptions in the US less costly. Women in situations in which they can’t raise a child must have an alternative. Families who want to adopt children shouldn’t be prohibited because of the costs. If the cost of adopting a child wasn’t such a burden on the average family, more families may adopt multiple children. It would also open up the possibility to adopt for families with limited financial resources.
Center for Disease Control. “Abortion Surveilance US 2007.” Statistics. Center for Disease Control, 2007.
Feldt, Gloria. The War on Choice: The Right-Wing Attack on Women's Rights and How to Fight Back. New York: Bantam Dell A Division of Random House, Inc, 2004.
Focus on the Family. Our Position (Abortion). 2009. 2011 йил 1-May
Hanley, Robert. “New Jersey Charges Woman, 18, With Killing Baby Born at Prom .” New Jersey Charges Woman, 18, With Killing Baby Born at Prom . New York: New York Times, 1997 йил 25-June.
Hendershott, Anne. The Politics of Abortion. New York: Encounter Books, 2006.
Hinkson-Craig, Barbara and David M. O'Brien. Abortion and American Politics. Chatham: Chatham House Publishers, Inc., 1993.
Issues2000. Hillary Clinton on Abortion. 2008 йил 13-April.
Kail, Robert V. and John C. Cavanaugh. Human Development A Life-Span View. 5th Edition. Belmont: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2010.
Marieb, Elaine N and Katja Hoehn. Human Anatomy and Physiology. Ed. Serina Beauparlant. 8th Edition. Pearson Benjamin Cummings, 2011.
Nicholson-Brownell, Ada. “Pentecostal Evangel.” Finding Forgiveness 2000 йил 16-January: 7-13.
Planned Parenthood. Birth Control. 2011. 2011 йил 1-May
Storck, MD, Susan. In Vitro Fertalization. 2010 йил 10-Feb. National Library of Medicine. 2011 йил 1-May
Wyatt, John. “Medical Paternalism and the Fetus.” Journal of Medical Ethics 27.5 (2001).