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Abortion

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  • Many secular rationalists believe that the "pro-choice" view of abortion is more logically consistent than the "pro-life" view. If you believe this, you need to view this slideshow. Although this site is overtly Christian, the arguments given here are completely secular. In fact, as an agnostic, I was anti-abortion at least 15 years before I became a Christian. This slideshow was presented at the Center for Research in the Sciences (http://www.apu.edu/cris/) at Azusa Pacific University April 9, 2003.
  • Yes, there are secular arguments against abortion. I was anti-abortion as an undergraduate agnostic at the University of Southern California Contrary to the claims of Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and other organizations, the case against abortion is not a religious one. Atheists, secular humanists, and feminists who have really examined the issues logically have come to the same conclusion - abortion is morally unacceptable.
  • Opinion on abortion is nearly equally split in the United States. However, only about half of the population feels strongly in the issue. Those who have no emotional involvement in issue are more likely to examine the issues rationally and make decisions on the basis of a logical examination of the facts.
  • The arguments presented in this slideshow fall into three broad categories - Scientific findings, legal issues and moral issues. We will start with the science, since my education and training is in the biological sciences.
  • The science is not in any way unclear about the beginning of human life - it starts at the moment of conception. Evidence is presented from medical textbooks, the statements of doctors, and descriptions of abortions by those who have seen the "products of conception."
  • The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology : "Zygote: this cell results from the union of an oocyte and a sperm. A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo). Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm ... unites with a female gamete or oocyte ... to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual." Moore, K. and T.V.N. Persaud. 1998. The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology (6th ed.), W.B. Saunders Company,  Philadelphia, pp 2-18.
  • Essentials of Human Embryology : "In this text, we begin our description of the developing human with the formation and differentiation of the male and female sex cells or gametes, which will unite at fertilization to initiate the embryonic development of a new individual. ... Fertilization takes place in the oviduct ... resulting in the formation of a zygote containing a single diploid nucleus. Embryonic development is considered to begin at this point... This moment of zygote formation may be taken as the beginning or zero time point of embryonic development." Larsen, W.J. 1998. Essentials of Human Embryology , Churchill Livingstone, New York, pp. 1-17.
  • Human Embryology & Teratology : "Fertilization is an important landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed... Fertilization is the procession of events that begins when a spermatozoon makes contact with a secondary oocyte or its investments...  The zygote ... is a unicellular embryo... "The ill-defined and inaccurate term pre-embryo, which includes the embryonic disc, is said either to end with the appearance of the primitive streak or ... to include neurulation. The term is not used in this book." (p. 55)." O'Rahilly, R. and F. Muller. 1996. Human Embryology & Teratology , Wiley-Liss, New York, pp. 5-55.
  • In 1981, a United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee invited experts to testify on the question of when life begins. All of the following quotes come directly from the official government record of their testimony. At this session, those who favor abortion were invited to bring expert witness to testify that life begins at any points other than conception or implantation. However, only one witness said that no one can tell when life begins.
  • Milestones of human development begin early. For example the human heart beings to form 18 days after conception and exhibits a measurable heart beat at 21-24 days. 1 The brain begins to form at this time 2 and produces measurable brain waves at day 40. 3 References Heart Development at the Loyola University Chicago web site ( http://www. meddean . luc . edu /lumen/ MedEd / GrossAnatomy /thorax0/ heartdev /main_ fra .html ) "Life Before Birth" Life Magazine Educational Reprint 27 , April 30, 1965, page 6. and Week 4 at the Loyola University Chicago web site ( http://www. meddean . luc . edu /lumen/ MedEd / GrossAnatomy /thorax0/ heartdev /table2.jpeg ) Brain development slideshow at Temple University http:// isc .temple. edu / marino /embryology/Neuro98/BRAIN97/img008.GIF
  • By examining abortion statistics, we can determine that all abortions occur after the fetal heart has begun to beat. The vast majority of abortions occur after fetal brain waves have begun. Reference Elam-Evans, L.D., et al. 2002. Abortion Surveillance -- United States, 1999. Surveillance Summaries 51(SS09) 1-28. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5109a1.htm)
  • Contrary to the claims of pro-abortion advocates, the fetus at the point of abortion is not just a "blob of tissue" to be described in terms of small size or weight. Even in early abortions, the fetus has all the parts of a human being. The descriptions of those who have watched abortion procedures are quite revealing. Dr. David Brewer, a former abortionist described his first encounter with abortion, while training at a clinic.
  • Don Haines. 2002. The Day I Became Pro-Life. New Man Magazine 10/29/2002. (http://www.newmanmag.com/article.php?sid=387&mode=thread&order=0)
  • “ I had a quick sonogram and then received a shot of methrotrexate. This is a drug that is used for cancer treatment, it stops cell growth. After the shot, I came home. In next few days, I really don't remember. I tried not to think a lot about what was going to happen. I spent the day on Thursday in a fog. I knew I needed to use the suppositories that day, but I tried not to think about it. I went to bed that evening around 9pm. I used the suppositories as soon as I went to bed. I remember feeling the contractions start about half an hour later. In the beginning, they were mild, but within an hour the pain was severe. I continued contracting and bleeding most of the night. Around three in the morning, I went to the bathroom. I had been passing a lot of clots most of the evening. I assumed that the pain and pressure I was feeling was from more clots. When I stood up, I noticed that the pain and the pressure was not from clots, but from passing the placenta. When I looked in the commode, I saw laying in the center of the placenta my baby. I saw the baby's perfectly formed hands, the little fingers. I remember the scream that came from my mouth.…” [from a 7 week abortion] Char. I used to be Pro-choice...But... ) (http://www.gargaro.com/choicetolife.html)
  • From the medical sciences, we can conclude that human life begins at conception and proceeds rapidly thereafter. All abortions stop a beating heart (it's not just a slogan) and the vast majority kill a fetus that exhibits measurable brain waves. Science concludes that abortion kills, but is it murder?
  • The legal arguments against abortion are examined from the perspective of the rights afforded all persons by laws of the United States. The Supreme Court, however, invented additional rights that were said to surpass the right to life. The legal definition of murder for the state of California will be examined to demonstrate its logical fallacies. For the state of California, personhood is not established by an impartial set of criteria, but by the whims of another person.
  • The declaration of Independence of the United States of America claims, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among those are Life , Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” The right to life is one of the most important principles of law within a free republic.
  • Roe v. Wade (United States Supreme Court, 1973) Jane Roe (a.k.a. Norma McCorvey), of Texas, claimed to have become pregnant as a result of a rape. (In 1987, she admitted that she lied about being raped). Two female lawyers enlisted her aid to test the 100-year old Texas law banning abortion. They filed a class action lawsuit and won, but not in time to secure an abortion for their client who gave birth to a daughter and placed her for adoption. The case made its way to the United States Supreme Court. On January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court, in two separate decisions (Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton), invented a woman’s right to abortion based on a "right to privacy," which is not specified in our U.S. Constitution. Roe mandated a policy commonly known as "abortion on demand," according to these guidelines: The First Trimester: The Court held that during the first 3 months, the decision to abort must be completely left to the judgment of the pregnant woman and her doctor. The State cannot interfere with the abortion decision at all. The Second Trimester: The State cannot protect the fetus. The State may promote its interest in the health of the mother, if it so chooses, by regulating the abortion procedure in ways that are "reasonably related to maternal health," i.e., qualifications of abortionist and type of facility. The Third Trimester: The State may, if it chooses, regulate and even forbid abortion to protect a viable fetus, except where it is necessary for the preservation of the "health" or the life of the mother. Doe v. Bolton (United States Supreme Court, 1973) In the companion case, Doe, the Court stated that the health of the mother includes: "physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age…." In other words, "health" essentially means that any stress upon a pregnant woman justifies an abortion because such factors relate to her complete well-being. In essence, these two decisions gave American women the right to confidential abortion on demand up to the moment of birth. The particularly chilling aspect of the 1973 decisions was that the humanity of the preborn child was purposefully ignored. The Court held that the preborn human is not a person, therefore not deserving of any protection from the government. Planned Parenthood v. Casey (United States Supreme Court, 1992) The United States Supreme Court reaffirmed a woman’s right to end pregnancy in early stages and maked it clear that a total ban on abortion would be found unconstitutional. The Court explicitly reaffirmed Roe v. Wade by a five to four decision. (O’Connor, Kennedy, Souter, Blackmun and Stevens for Roe; Rehnquist, White Scalia and Thomas against Roe). Under this decision, abortion is still legal for any reason from conception to birth - and the broad "health" definition for post-viability abortions is still the law. However, the court did reformulate the legal rationale of Roe. Instead of the trimester framework, a new "bimester" framework had been established, with viability the dividing line. The court also created the "undue burden" test for reviewing abortion legislation. The test will look to see whether the abortion regulation’s "purpose or effect is to place a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability." While this standard still prevents states from prohibiting abortions before viability, laws that attempt to persuade women from aborting can be passed. A majority of the Court upheld most of the regulations of the Pennsylvania Control Act, including the legality of Informed Consent, 24-hour Waiting Period, Parental Consent and Reporting Requirements. The court, however, struck down spousal notification.
  • Most people are rather shocked to find that the liberal state of California considers the intentional killing of a fetus to be murder. However, there are some rather notable exceptions to the law...
  • Most notable among the exceptions to the California murder law is section b.3., which allows the "mother of the fetus" to consent to the "death of the fetus". However, none of these exceptions to murder correspond to the exceptions listed under justifiable homicide ( see below ). The fetus is no in way attempting to commit a felony against the mother, but is doing what all fetuses do, including what you did as a fetus. The terminology in the exceptions is bizarre, since the term "mother" implies relationship. How can a woman be the mother of a non-person (a fetus)? Doesn't the "death of the fetus" imply that it was alive? The law results in some rather unusual implications... Full Text of Section 187 CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE SECTION 187-199 187. Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought. This section shall not apply to any person who commits an act that results in the death of a fetus if any of the following apply: The act complied with the Therapeutic Abortion Act, Article 2 (commencing with Section 123400) of Chapter 2 of Part 2 of Division 106 of the Health and Safety Code. The act was committed by a holder of a physician's and surgeon's certificate, as defined in the Business and Professions Code, in a case where, to a medical certainty, the result of childbirth would be death of the mother of the fetus or where her death from childbirth, although not medically certain, would be substantially certain or more likely than not. The act was solicited, aided, abetted, or consented to by the mother of the fetus. Subdivision (b) shall not be construed to prohibit the prosecution of any person under any other provision of law. 1 Full Text of Section 197 CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE SECTION 187-199 Homicide is also justifiable when committed by any person in any of the following cases:  When resisting any attempt to murder any person, or to commit a felony, or to do some great bodily injury upon any person; or, When committed in defense of habitation, property, or person, against one who manifestly intends or endeavors, by violence or surprise, to commit a felony, or against one who manifestly intends and endeavors, in a violent, riotous or tumultuous manner, to enter the habitation of another for the purpose of offering violence to any person therein; or, When committed in the lawful defense of such person, or of a wife or husband, parent, child, master, mistress, or servant of such person, when there is reasonable ground to apprehend a design to commit a felony or to do some great bodily injury, and imminent danger of such design being accomplished; but such person, or the person in whose behalf the defense was made, if he was the assailant or engaged in mutual combat, must really and in good faith have endeavored to decline any further struggle before the homicide was committed; or, When necessarily committed in attempting, by lawful ways and means, to apprehend any person for any felony committed, or in lawfully suppressing any riot, or in lawfully keeping and preserving the peace. 1 Reference CA Codes (pen:187-199) (http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=pen&group=00001-01000&file=187-199)
  • The legal arguments against abortion are examined from the perspective of the rights afforded all persons by laws of the United States. The Supreme Court, however, invented additional rights that were said to surpass the right to life. The legal definition of murder for the state of California will be examined to demonstrate its logical fallacies. For the state of California, personhood is not established by an impartial set of criteria, but by the whims of another person.
  • The moral arguments section examines some of the common reasons given why abortion should be legal. Many of these arguments involve dubious "benefits" from abortion often using unquoted or exaggerated statistics. The primary question to be answered is "Is the fetus a person?" or "When does human personhood begin?" If the fetus is a person or becomes a person at some point in gestation, then it is automatically afforded rights under the United States Constitution, including the right to life.
  • Many of the 'Benefits' of abortion are based upon a distortion of the 'facts' and exaggerated claims of hardship incurred by a lack of the availability of legalized abortion. These issues will be addressed from published statistical studies.
  • Proponents of legalized abortion claim that the criminalization of abortion would result in the deaths of thousands of woman yearly. However, after the advent of antibiotics, deaths from illegal abortions were at most in the hundreds. Reference Cates, W. Jr. Rochat, R.W., Grimes, D.A., and Tyler, C.W. Jr. 1978. "Legalized abortion: Effect on national trends of maternal and abortion-related mortality (1940 through 1976). Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. , 132: 211-214.
  • Proponents of legalized abortion claim that the criminalization of abortion would result in the deaths of thousands of woman yearly. However, the year before abortion was legalized, the number of deaths due to illegal abortions was 41, which was not markedly more than the number of deaths from legal abortions.
  • Abortion proponents cite the "hard cases" of abortion as justification for the requirement for legalized abortion. However, these "hard cases" represent only 5% of all abortions performed in the United States. Any attempts to limit legalized abortion to these "hard cases" is completely opposed by abortion proponents, although they are constantly citing only these cases.
  • The existence of social problems for women is not justification for another, even worse, evil. The social problems should be fixed, instead of killing the unborn. In recent years, many of the problems have been fixed, such as those preventing employers from firing or discriminating against pregnant women. Adoption is always an option for those women who don't feel that they can take care of a child at this time in their lives. Many couples must wait for years to adopt because abortion has drastically reduced the number of children available for adoption. The "Safe Havens" program (state of California, and many other states) allows women to take their newborns to any emergency room or fire station within 72 hours of birth and drop them off - alleviating them of any further responsibility.
  • Abortion proponents claim that every child should be wanted. However, being wanted is not a condition of the child, but of the adult. Is it fair to kill a child because of the attitude of an adult? Couples who are unable to conceive children of their own must often wait for years to adopt, since abortion has drastically reduced the number of adoptable children.
  • Abortion proponents often justify abortion because of the claim that every child should be wanted. They also claim that wanted children are less likely to be abused than those who are "unwanted." However, child abuse statistics show that since abortion was legalized in 1973, child abuse has risen dramatically, although over one million unwanted children are aborted every year. Maybe the callous attitude fostered by the prevalence of abortion have contributed to the child abuse problem? Reference Child Maltreatment 2000 (http://www.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/cb/publications/cm00/index.htm), Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2002.
  • Proponents of abortion say that a woman should have the right to control her own body. This sounds reasonable. However, the fetus is not actually part of a woman's body. The fetus is a separate individual, which has its own circulatory system and is composed of a unique DNA sequence compared to the mother. Regarding the claim that the fetus is part of the mother, Professor Peter Kreeft made the rather comical observation, "But in that case, every pregnant woman has four eyes and four feet, and half of all pregnant women have penises! Clearly, the absurd conclusion came from the false premise that the fetus is only part of the mother." Even so, people do not automatically have the legal right to do anything they want with their own bodies. We cannot use our bodies to assault others. We can't even take illegal drugs, even though it "only affects us." The irony is that there are laws in many states that prevent a mother from using drugs or alcohol during pregnancy, although the same mother can kill the fetus at any time. Reference Kreeft, P. 1995. HUMAN PERSONHOOD BEGINS AT CONCEPTION (http://prolife.jackandsusie.com/person.html)
  • Abortion is often said to be a means to prevent over-population. Abortion proponents claim that those countries that outlaw abortion have very high birth rates. They often fail to point out that those countries are often composed of Roman Catholic populations, which are not allowed to use birth control measures. Even those that are not Roman Catholic often lack access to birth control, and generally have limited availability of educational programs. It has been pointed out that other bad events, such as war, disease, and famine can curb population growth. Should we condone those things as well?
  • Susan Sherwin attempts to define personhood on the basis of interactions of individuals in relationships with others. The next slides will examine some of the problems associated with these ideas.
  • Abortion proponents claim that fetuses are not persons. However, this would make the fetus a human non-person. Does such a creature really exist? Who should be in charge of determining which characteristics of personality constitute personhood? In the past, numerous human beings have been defined as non-persons. Should we begin a new list of human beings who aren't really persons?
  • The lack of certain personality traits used to define personhood would remove many humans who are currently considered to be persons from the status of personhood. This kind of definition of personhood would make into non-persons those who are in a coma, the elderly with degenerative disorders (such as Alzheimer's, etc.), and those who are mentally deficient. Is is okay to consider these human beings as non-persons?
  • If one defines personhood on the basis of those who consciously performing personal acts, those who are asleep would be classified as non-persons and could be killed during a nap. If one defines personhood on the basis of those who have a present capacity to perform personal acts, those who are in a coma could be killed at any point during their coma.
  • If one defines personhood on the basis of those who have a history of performing personal acts, those who have been in a coma from birth would be classified as non-persons and could be killed at any point after birth. If one defines personhood on the basis of those who have a future capacity to perform personal acts, those who are dying would be classified as non-persons and could be killed at any point.
  • Human newborns are among the least capable mammals in their ability to perform physically and mentally. Personhood based upon the ability to perform certain personal functions could be used to define newborns as non-persons, rendering them susceptible to possible infanticide.
  • Different sides of the abortion debate define the beginning of personhood at different points in development. The next six slides examine each point of human development as the point to define the beginning of personhood. Let's begin at conception...
  • Abortion proponents claim that a fertilized egg is just a single cell - like any other cell of the human body and is only "potential life". However, this single cell is alive by any biological definition of life and defines the beginning of each new human being. This single cell is unique from both the father's and mother's cells, so it cannot be defined as just part of the woman's body.
  • Abortion proponents claim that prior to 20 weeks, the fetal brain is not developed enough so that the fetus can posses an individual human personality, and therefore, the fetus is not a person. There are problems with this definition...
  • Defining personhood on the basis of personality results in several problems. It is impossible to know when a fetus goes from non-person to person status. Of course, personality is a function of the body, and is programmed at least partially by the DNA. Trying to distinguish a separate existence of the mind from the brain results in a kind of mind/body dualism that is not accepted by the vast majority of secular scientists.
  • Defining personhood on the basis of brain development results in several problems. Brain development is controlled by the DNA, and so, is programmed to occur in a continuous progression of virtually indistinguishable events. There is no point at which the brain suddenly becomes functional. In fact, many aspects of brain development occur after birth. Most aspects of newborn personality do not emerge until weeks to months after birth. Therefore, a definition of personhood on the basis of brain development would allow for infanticide - at least through the first month.
  • Defining personhood on the basis of fetal viability outside the womb also has several problems. By this definition, the age of viability is subject to human technology. In the United Kingdom, this definition led to the lowering of the age of viability from 28 weeks to 24 weeks in 1990. A recent article in the medical journal Nature , indicated that an artificial womb might lower the age of viability. The authors of the study commented on the possible implications of such technology on the availability of abortion, since the current legal definition of abortion "rights" is based upon "fetal viability.“ Reference Knight, J. 2002. Artificial wombs: An out of body experience. Nature 419: 106-107.
  • Defining personhood on the basis of self-consciousness and an interest in one's own continued existence allows for infanticide, which is exactly what Michael Tooley argues for. However, most people are unwilling to accept such a definition of personhood, since they are able to see exactly what is being killed when the individual is a newborn. What most people don't know is that the fetus looks markedly like a newborn, only smaller, after the first three months of gestation.
  • Although the slogan has fallen out of favor in recent years, the idea that abortion should be "safe, legal and rare" was a mainstay of abortion rights advocates during the 1990's. The problem with the phrase was the the third term "rare." If abortion were a good thing, why should it be rare?
  • Although at least half of people surveyed classify themselves as "pro-choice," a sizable number of those believe that abortion is morally wrong. Does it makes sense that you would go against your own moral values and support something that you believe is morally wrong?
  • Those who are personally against abortion feel that it should be legally available haven't thought through the implications of their beliefs. If people should be allowed to do immoral acts, we should get rid of all the laws against murder, robbery, incest, etc. After all, it is a personal choice isn't it?
  • The same arguments used to support slavery are now being used to support abortion. Pro-abortion advocates are constantly trying to say that it is a personal choice and that it is a religious issue. However, the information in this presentation indicates that the arguments used to support abortion "rights" lack logic and are not supported by scientific or ethical examination of the issues. EVERYONE who supported slavery was free. EVERYONE who support abortion was born. That's how oppression works. "They're not really people" - We've heard that before copyright © 2001 by Matt Evans (used with permission)
  • Transcript

    • 1. Abortion: Life? Choice? Right? Secular Arguments Against Abortion Richard Deem Evidence for God ( www.GodAndScience.org )
    • 2. Secular Arguments Against Abortion?
      • Rich Deem – the agnostic
      • Libertarians for Life (L4L.org) – atheists
      • A Secular Case Against Abortion by Jennifer Roth – secular humanist (http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/debates/secularist/abortion/roth1.html)
      • Feminists for Life (feministsforlife.org) – non-sectarian
      *Former agnostic, now Christian
    • 3. Why Should We Try to Persuade?
      • 1999 Gallup Poll on Abortion
      • Opinion nearly split
      • Only ~50% feel strongly either way
      • Nearly half have no strong opinion (i.e., can be persuaded)
      Prolife (42%) Prochoice (48%) Undecided (10%) Strongly Prolife (29%) Strongly Prochoice (26%) No strong opinion (45%)
    • 4. Abortion Arguments
      • Scientific considerations
        • Human Embryology 101
        • When does human life begin?
      • Legal Issues
        • Is the unborn a person?
        • Are the laws logically consistent?
      • Moral Issues
        • When does a person begin to exist?
    • 5. Scientific Arguments
      • When does human life begin?
        • Medical textbooks
        • Statements of doctors
      • When does abortion occur?
      • “ Products of conception” – just a “blob of tissue”
    • 6. Medical Embryology Textbooks
      • The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology
      • "Zygote: this cell results from the union of an oocyte and a sperm. A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo). Human development begins at fertilization… This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.”
    • 7. Medical Embryology Textbooks
      • Essentials of Human Embryology
      • “In this text, we begin our description of the developing human with the formation and differentiation of the male and female sex cells or gametes, which will unite at fertilization to initiate the embryonic development of a new individual.”
    • 8. Medical Embryology Textbooks
      • Human Embryology & Teratology
      • “Fertilization is an important landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed…”
    • 9. What Do Medical Doctors Say?
      • Dr. Alfred Bongioanni (University of Pennsylvania):
        • “ I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception.”
      • Dr. Jerome LeJeune (University of Descartes):
        • “ after fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being.”
    • 10. What Do Medical Doctors Say?
      • Dr. Hymie Gordon (Mayo Clinic):
        • “ By all criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception.”
      • Dr. Micheline Matthews-Roth (Harvard University Medical School):
        • “ It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception”
    • 11. Human Embryology 101
      • Fetal heart begins to form 18 days after conception
      • Measurable heart beat 21-24 days after conception
      • Fetal brain begins to form on day 23
      • Brain waves produced by 6 weeks
    • 12. Abortion Statistics by Weeks of Gestation Elam-Evans, L.D., et al. 2002. Abortion Surveillance -- United States, 1999. Surveillance Summaries 51(SS09) 1-28. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) Therefore, 78% of abortions occur after fetal brain waves have begun 42 >8 18 8 18 7 22 <6 Abortions (% of total) Weeks of Gestation
    • 13. Fetus – Just a “Blob of Tissue”?
      • “ I opened the sock up and I put it on the towel and there were parts in there of a person. I’d taken anatomy; I was a medical student. I knew what I was looking at. There was a little scapula and there was an arm, and I saw some ribs and a chest, and I saw a little tiny head, and I saw a piece of a leg, and I saw a tiny hand. ... I checked it out and there were two arms and two legs and one head, etc., and I turned and said, I guess you got it all ... It was pretty awful that first time... it was like somebody put a hot poker into me.” (Dr. David Brewer, in training)
    • 14. Fetus – Just a “Blob of Tissue”?
      • “ I watched as the contents of the woman’s womb came through a suctioning device and into a stainless-steel pail sitting at his feet. I stepped back and wiped the perspiration from my brow. “This is kind of gruesome,” I said…. The doctor said, “At this point in a pregnancy, the products of conception aren’t much.” I stepped forward and peered into the pail. This time I broke out in a cold sweat. I backed up and leaned against the wall, my eyes closed. Dear Jesus! I thought. I just saw someone murdered! And I just stood and watched! (Nurse Don Haines, in training)
    • 15. Fetus – Just a “Blob of Tissue”?
      • “ I had a quick sonogram and then received a shot of methrotrexate. After the shot, I came home... I went to bed that evening around 9 p.m… I continued contracting and bleeding most of the night. Around three in the morning, I went to the bathroom. When I stood up, I noticed that the pain and the pressure was not from clots, but from passing the placenta. When I looked in the commode, I saw laying in the center of the placenta my baby. I saw the baby's perfectly formed hands, the little fingers. I remember the scream that came from my mouth... [from a 7 week abortion] (Char, “I used to be Pro-choice...But…”)
    • 16. Scientific Conclusions
      • Human life begins at conception
      • Human development proceeds rapidly (all organs and systems are in place by week 8)
      • Abortion stops a beating heart
      • Most abortions occur after the fetus exhibits measurable brain waves
    • 17. Legal Arguments
      • Right to life
      • Supreme Court decision
      • Legal definition of murder
      • Definition of murder – exceptions
      • Personhood issues
    • 18. Right to Life
      • The Declaration of Independence of the United States guarantees “certain unalienable Rights, that among those are Life , Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”
    • 19. Supreme Court Decision
      • The Supreme Court held that the “right to privacy,” assured the freedom of a person to abort unless the state had a “compelling interest” in preventing the abortion.
      • The Court then held that, though the state had an interest in protecting fetal life, this interest did not become “compelling” until “fetal viability” occurred in the third trimester of pregnancy.
    • 20. Legal Definition of Murder
      • CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE SECTION 187-199 187.
        • Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.
      http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cacodes/pen/187-199.html
    • 21. Definition of Murder – Exceptions
      • CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE 187.
        • This section shall not apply to any person who commits an act that results in the death of a fetus if any of the following apply:
          • The act was solicited, aided, abetted, or consented to by the mother of the fetus.
      http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cacodes/pen/187-199.html
    • 22. Legal Personhood Issues
      • The fetus is granted personhood if wanted by the mother
      • The fetus can become a non-person at the discretion of the mother
      • However, a mother may not choose to kill her born child
      • How can the personhood of a human being be decided by another person?
    • 23. Moral Arguments
      • “Benefit” to women
      • “Benefit to child (every child “wanted”)
      • “Right” to control their own body
      • Population control
      • Fetus is not a person – personality argument
    • 24. “Benefit” to Women
      • Prevention of deaths from “coat hanger” or “back alley” abortions
      • Cases of rape or incest, fetal abnormalities or threats to mother’s life or health
      • Abortion alleviates economic and social problems
    • 25. Abortion Must Remain Legal to Prevent Abortion Deaths “ We spoke of 5,000-10,000 deaths a year.... I confess that I knew the figures were totally false.” Dr. Bernard Nathanson, (co-founder NARAL), testimony before the Supreme Court in 1972 201 1965 263 1950 1,470 1940 Abortion-related Deaths Year
    • 26. Abortion Must Remain Legal to Prevent Abortion Deaths Deaths From Abortion Illegal Legal Legal Abortions Year Tietze, C. 1983. Induced Abortion: A World View . The Population Council, New York. 7 26 763,476 1974 21 25 615,831 1973 41 24 ? 1972
    • 27. The “Hard” Cases
      • Abortion must be available for:
      • cases of rape or incest
        • Represent only 1% of all cases
      • cases of fetal abnormalities
        • Represent only 1% of all cases
      • mother’s health is at risk
        • Represents only 3% of all cases
      The Alan Guttmacher Institute (http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html)
    • 28. Abortion Alleviates Economic and Social Problems
      • Pregnancy subjugates women, interferes with career and educational choices
      • For most women, pregnancy does not interfere with the ability to work or attend school, except after birth
      • Laws prevent employers from firing or discriminating against pregnant women
      • Women are not forced to keep their children. Adoption is always an option
      • The existence of social problems is not justification for another evil
    • 29. Every Child Should Be Wanted
      • Being wanted is not a condition of the child, but of the adult
      • Is it fair to kill a child because of the attitude of an adult?
      • Wanted children are less likely to suffer abuse (next slide)
    • 30. Every Child Should Be Wanted (Wanted Children Are Less Likely to Be Abused) U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Center of Child Abuse & Neglect; National Analysis of Official Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting 1,726,000 2000 2,025,200 1987 785,100 1980 167,000 1973 Reported Child Abuse Cases Year
    • 31. Women Have a “Right” to Control Their Own Body
      • Is the fetus part their body?
        • Separate circulatory system
        • Unique DNA
      • Do we have rights to do anything with our bodies?
        • Assault
        • Illegal drugs
        • Use of drugs/alcohol during pregnancy
    • 32. Population Control – Rebuttal
      • Those countries that outlaw abortion have an overcrowding problem
        • This does not indicated cause and effect – these countries also have little or no access to birth-control, poor education, etc.
        • War, disease and famine also curb population growth. Should we condone them?
    • 33. Fetus Is Not a Person
      • “ Persons . . . are members of a social community that shapes and values them, and personhood must be defined in terms of interactions and relationships with others.”
      • Susan Sherwin. 1999. Ethical Issues: Perspectives for Canadians . Ed. Soifer, Eldon. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, p. 267
    • 34. Fetus Is Not a Person – Rebuttal
      • Personality definition problems
        • Does a human non-person exist?
        • What traits define personhood?
        • Who makes the definition?
        • Society has excluded certain humans from personhood before (e.g., African slaves, Chinese, etc.) Should we make a new list of human non-persons?
    • 35. Fetus Is Not a Person – Rebuttal
      • The lack of certain personality traits would remove from personhood:
        • Those who are in a coma
        • Elderly with degenerative disorders (Alzheimer's, etc.)
        • Mentally deficient
          • Genetic
          • Neurological disease
          • Mental illness
        • Is is okay to consider these human beings as non-persons?
    • 36. Definition of Personhood
      • One who is consciously performing personal acts – eliminates those who are sleeping
      • One with a present capacity to perform personal acts – eliminates those who are in a coma
    • 37. Definition of Personhood
      • One who has a history of performing personal acts – eliminates one who was in a coma from birth, but wakes up
      • One with a future capacity for performing personal acts – makes those who are dying as non-persons
    • 38. Implications of Functionally-Defined Personhood
      • Newborns lack the ability to perform personal functions – in fact, newborn humans are less capable physically and mentally than virtually all other mammals
      • Therefore, on the basis of functionally-defined personhood, newborns fail the test could be killed on the basis of “non-personhood”
    • 39. When Does a Human Become a Person?
      • At conception
      • After 20 weeks’ gestation
      • After 24 weeks (fetal viability outside the womb)
      • At birth
      • At the point that the individual expresses self-consciousness and an interest in their continued existence
    • 40. At Conception, It Is Only a Single Cell
      • Claim:
      • Fertilized eggs are single cells, like blood cells or other parts of the body
      • Rebuttal:
      • The single cell is unique from both the father’s and mother’s cells and is the beginning of every new human being
    • 41. Claim: Prior to 20 Weeks, a Fetus Is Not a Person
      • A person possess an individual human personality
      • Prior to 20 weeks’ gestation, the cerebral cortex has not yet developed to the point that the fetus can possess an individual human personality 
      • The fetus prior to 20 weeks’ gestation is not a person.
    • 42. Prior to 20 Weeks, a Fetus Is Not a Person – Rebuttal
      • Person = Personality Problem
        • All persons were once fetuses. When did we go from non-person status to person status?
        • To say that personality defines personhood is to deny the role of the body
        • Mind/Body dualism?
    • 43. Prior to 20 Weeks, a Fetus Is Not a Person – Rebuttal
      • Brain Development Problem
        • The development of the brain is programmed by the DNA – it is an inherent function of the fertilized ovum and continues even after birth
    • 44. Prior to 24 Weeks, a Fetus Is Not Viable – Rebuttal
      • Depends upon current technology
        • Age of viability used to be 28 weeks
        • Changed to 24 weeks in 1990
      • Artificial womb ( Nature , 2002)
        • Developed for premature infants
        • Uses oxygenated perfluorinated hydrocarbons
        • Could cut the point of fetal viability in half?
    • 45. Personhood Starts at the Point of Self-consciousness
      • ‘ In Defense of Abortion and Infanticide ,’ Michael Tooley claims that individuals have a right to life only at the point of self-consciousness and an interest in their own continued existence
      • Tooley concludes, therefore, that infanticide is morally acceptable
      • If the individual will, in the future develop such interest, is it permissible to kill the individual before such interests develop? Can fetuses be excluded from allowing such development to occur?
    • 46. Morality and Abortion
      • Often quoted, “safe, legal, and rare” – Why rare?
      • Abortion rate “too high”
        • ~30% of pregnancies in the U.S.
        • ~70% of pregnancies in Russia
      • If abortion is good, wouldn’t higher be better?
    • 47. Do You Personally Believe That Abortion Is Wrong?
      • Even though 51% claimed to be “pro-choice” only 36% believe that abortion was not morally wrong
      Newsweek Poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates. October 29-30, 1998 No (36%) Yes (56%) Don’t Know (8%)
    • 48. I Am Personally Against Abortion, But…
      • Why are you personally against abortion?
      • If you believe it is immoral, why do you think it should be legally allowed?
        • I am personally against murder, but…
        • I am personally against robbery, but…
    • 49. Abortion Vs. Slavery *Stephen Douglas used all of these arguments in favor of retaining slavery It’s a religious issue It’s a religious issue It’s a personal choice It’s a personal choice “ They’re not persons, but property” “ They’re not persons” Slavery (1850’s)* Abortion (2003)
    • 50. Abortion: Life? Choice? Right? Available Online at Evidence for God ( www.GodAndScience.org )

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