This is a very controversial subject. Some people feel very strongly about their viewpoint, occasionally to the point of violence.
On the one side, you have those who believe that a child is not a child until it is born. That is, ‘life’ begins at birth. Before then, it is a ‘wart’ which the woman has the right to have removed if she so chooses. These people tend to not believe in, or at least to not have much of a relationship with, God, and their vision is directed inwards, that is, worrying about what seems ‘best’ for them.
What really is confusing is many of these same people also seem to believe that if someone attacks a pregnant woman and as a result, the unborn child dies, that is not an unsolicited abortion but is instead, murder. This seems an odd contradiction and implies that a child is only a child if you want it to be a child, which has disturbing connotations.
On the other side, you have those who believe that a child is a child the instant it is conceived, and that the woman has no right to kill it. These people tend to have a close relationship with God and their vision is directed upwards; that is, attempting to figure out what God wants. And what they think God wants is for the child to be born.
I have been on both sides of the question. Before I found God, I believed that pregnancy was a biological happenstance, and that it would be ‘good engineering’ to prevent a child from being born to parents which did not want the child. Fortunately, I was never in a position where I had to participate in that decision. Once I found God, I became convinced that killing a child was a sin, and now intend to never commit that sin, no matter what the temptation. Notice the concept of ‘choice’. At one time, I would have chosen to participate in an abortion, and now, I choose not to participate. Because of being able to see both sides of the question, I’m uncertain about LAWS preventing abortion.
Abortion is the term used to describe a procedure which results in a pregnancy being terminated and the child prevented from being born (alive). It is a nice, technical term, which is currently legal and has a fair amount (as much as 50% during the first trimester, perhaps less than 20% during the third trimester) of societal acceptance. And is misused to make a vicious crime seem ‘ok’. I refer to ‘partial birth abortion’. I suggest that any person who thinks that a child in the process of being born is not a child, is either incredibly stupid, insane, or just plain evil. Can anyone explain to me how this is not the case? Isn’t birth only used as a delineation because it is ‘easy’ to apply in allowing the child to be killed or attempt to prevent it from being killed?
This then means that ‘partial birth abortion’ is really ‘partial birth murder’ and the first term should not be allowed, as it cloaks the crime in a shroud of legality. It should be obvious that I am firmly against it, but I don’t see a ‘law’ being the optimal solution. There should really be no need for a law against this; we just need to stop referring to it by the camouflaging term. The people who perform this procedure should be charged with first degree murder, and the people who request the procedure should be charged with conspiracy to commit murder. And they would be, if we had not allowed the use of the word ‘abortion’ as part of the term. Since common sense is very uncommon, I would tend to support a ‘law’ which prohibits that which should be intuitively not done.
Note that there is a (fortunately tiny) movement to get ‘post birth abortion’ accepted. This is currently not a problem, but could be some day. In my opinion, anyone in favor of allowing ‘post birth abortion’ is a prime candidate themselves for the procedure…
There is a problem though. Birth can be (and currently is from a legal standpoint) a binary event. Pregnancy proceeds until an instant of time, and then birth has occurred. This makes it easy to delineate between the conditions. It is a bit more difficult to separate the process into three conditions, pregnancy, birth in process, birth completed. Worse, we’ve just moved the problem back a bit. Can we really say that one second before birth begins, the child is not a child yet one second later it is? Now we have to divide the process into four sections, conception, viable child, birth in progress, birth completed. And who can tell when that first ‘break point’ is?
The latest time frame of this break point between non-viable and viable would be when the child could survive outside the mother’s body with ‘minimal’ assistance. But what would be the definition of ‘minimal’? Wouldn’t two different children have different times when they meet this qualification, and how could that be determined? Do we really want to be involved with removing the child from the mother’s body and than watching to see if it lives or dies? Trying to apply this on a case by case basis would be an invitation to chaos. The other option is to use historical medical records to come up with an ‘average’ time before which it is not a child and after which it is. But do we really want to assign life and death based on average history, ignoring individuality? This would be a flawed determination, but it could be better than the current methodology.
Conversely, the earliest time frame for this break point is conception, and a follower of God will usually insist that God intends the child to be a child at conception (or even earlier). However, if a person does not believe in God, then that premise will not be accepted. And without being able to prove that God exists (which nobody has yet done), much less what His desire is, that premise cannot and should not be forced on the unbeliever. Or even the believer.
After separating ‘partial birth abortion’ from ‘regular’ abortion, we can now analyze whether laws against ‘regular’ abortion seem appropriate. Here are some of the reasons why people claim we DO need such laws.
The first is that ‘God wants it’. This is not a valid reason for having a law of man. Man’s laws are intended to (or at least should) be for the benefit of society and its members. To attempt to enforce God’s laws is pretty arrogant of us. And it would seem, useless. After all, God does not appear to want us to do the right thing because we are forced to do it by a law of man. He wants us to do the right thing because we know it is the right thing and we WANT to do the right thing. For that matter, He considers the DESIRE to do a thing the same as actually doing it. He reserves the rights to punish the breaking of His law to Himself.
Then there is the “we are depriving ourselves of a person’s potential” argument. And yes, we are with every abortion. Who knows which one would be another Einstein another Salk, another Churchill, another Jordon? Or another Hitler, another Hussein, another Dahmer? There is the potential for greatness and the potential for disaster in every birth; let me suggest that the potential for neutral or worse is considerably greater in a baby who is not planned for and worse, not wanted, than in one who is at least wanted. Oh, and let us not forget, God knows what children are going to end up being aborted, and it is my theory that he does not waste a ‘person’ on them. For that matter, potential greats die in childbirth (the mother OR the child) or accident or violence or disease or suicide, etc. So this reasoning may be a pretty argument, but it is by no means justification for laws.
Then there is the horrifying number of abortions performed. Shocking, but not a reason for a law. The act is either OK or not OK; the number of cases does not change the justification.
Here is a heartbreaking one: the rights of the unborn child. The Constitution says our ‘right to life’ is inalienable; that is ‘cannot be taken away’. Balderdash. If a person commits offenses bad enough, the State is allowed to execute them. If a person attacks someone else with intent to kill, that victim can defend himself with the potential result of the attacker dieing. People can kill themselves deliberately or through extreme stupidity. Natural disasters and accidents kill even those who have done ‘everything right’. No, life is not a ‘right’, it is a privilege with responsibilities.
Here we are, depriving a person of life, and there is nothing they can do about it. Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? However, we routinely deprive things of life; animals to eat or because there are too many of them, plants to eat or because they annoy us, insects, bacteria. Obviously, ‘life’ in general is not sacred. So how about ‘sentient’ life? That, we (well most of us) do tend to hold in high regard. If a baby is sentient prior to being born, that would indeed be reason for a law. But at what time does a baby become self aware? ‘Rights’ are, after all, usually misrepresented. There really are no ‘rights’; they are more ‘privileges’, since with each comes responsibility. Prior to birth (and for that matter, for a while after birth), a child is incapable of satisfying any responsibility, and thus is limited in their ‘rights’. If they are not even self aware, then are their rights being violated? Or is it merely their potential or future rights which are being violated? A tough one, but unless it can be proven the child is self aware prior to birth, I must reluctantly conclude that this is not in itself justification either.
There is some evidence that an abortion has negative impact on the woman’s mental and physical health. This includes a significant increase in risk of breast cancer and other diseases, and difficulty in having a desired child. Plus there seems to be, in some women, various degrees of regret or depression. Are these risks significant? Some say yes, some say no. But in either case it seems likely that they are not justification for laws. We allow alcohol and cigarettes, which are known to be harmful. What we can and should have in law is a requirement for anyone wishing to undergo an abortion be exposed to education about all the potential problems which could result. And an age limit below which parental approval is required.
Finally, there are the effects on society. It seems that as we devalue the life in the womb, the value of life afterward takes a hit. This may be a factor in the increase in random violence. Or it may be a result in the relentless suppression of God by those who are ‘offended’ that something greater than themselves exists. Unless a direct correlation between abortion and any significant negative impact on society can be proven, laws are not going to be of benefit.
As far as I can see, laws prohibiting all abortions are not appropriate. Severe restriction in the third trimester would be acceptable to me as a ‘compromise’ between the positions. Laws requiring education before the procedure and parental approval seem absolutely necessary. Abortion should never be paid for directly, or indirectly, by public money, as the people who don’t believe in it should not be forced or tricked into paying for it. It should not be paid for by any insurance policy unless that policy has an extra cost rider completely paid for by the set of policy holders who chose to add this rider; again, those who don’t believe in abortion should not be forced or tricked into paying for it. Logically, the best place for laws would be in the prevention of undesired pregnancies, but of course that will never fly.
What are the alternatives to abortions? After not getting pregnant involuntarily, there are only two:
Have the child and keep it. If the woman was going to abort the child, one hopes she had valid reasons, and if so, those reasons likely still exist. Any negative impact on the woman may or may not be appropriate ‘punishment’ for the ‘crime’ of getting pregnant inappropriately. And why should the father escape ‘punishment’? Most importantly, why should the child be punished for the actions of the mother? What if the child ever learns that their parent(s) considered aborting them? This option CAN end well, but often does not.
Have the child and give it up for adoption. It would seem that if there are people who want a child and a woman who has one she does not want, that a mutually beneficial solution is obvious. And it does work on occasion. The downside is that there is a powerful bond between a woman and a child just delivered and many who originally intended to give up the child for adoption change their mind. Thus they, and their child, are subject to the conditions which lead to thoughts of abortion in the first place.
Let us say an adoption does take place. The ‘birth’ bond is not present, but in most cases parental love for the child and love of the child for the parent are the same. Downsides include not knowing about the child’s genetic history or access to relatives if a transplant is necessary, and the ‘trauma’ of learning that you have been adopted or having ‘your’ child desire to meet their ‘real’ parents. Still, this is often less trauma than the other option.