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Part 5 What about the issue of back-alley abortions

I am continuing to post answers to common objectives by Scott Klusendorf (see part 3 & part 4).

  • “If abortion is restricted, women will die from back-alley abortions.” Reply: This objection makes sense if the unborn are not human.  Why subject women to a dangerous operation?  But if a human child is involved, why should the law be faulted for making it more risky for someone to kill an innocent human being?  Should we legalize bank robbery so that it is safer for felons?[1] As abortion advocate Mary Anne Warren points out, “The fact that restricting access to abortion has tragic side effects does not, in itself, show that the restrictions are unjustified, since murder is wrong regardless of the consequences of forbidding it.”[2] Again, the issue isn’t safety, but “What is the unborn?” Nonetheless, the claim thousands died annually from back-alley abortions prior to 1973 (when Roe. v. Wade legalized abortion in the U.S.) is just plain false.  Dr. Mary Calderone, former medical director for Planned Parenthood, wrote in 1960 that illegal abortions were performed safely by physicians in good standing in their communities and that fact alone explained the very low death rate.[3] Abortion advocates often reply that many deaths were covered up or unrecorded.  This is pure conjecture.  To support this assertion, they must present evidence to counter Dr. Calderone (who was one of their own leaders).  In addition, the Centers for Disease Control report 39 women died from illegal abortion in 1972 (the year prior to legalization), not 5,000 to 10,000 as claimed by abortion advocates for each year prior to Roe.[4]
  • “We shouldn’t let ethical questions over cloning and ESCR impede scientific progress.” Reply: Culturally, I fear we’ve embraced a technological morality that asserts that simply because we can achieve X, we are permitted to do X–in this case, clone human beings for destructive research.  You can see this in British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s statement that those who oppose cloning embryos for destructive research are “anti-science:” Blair writes: “There is a danger, almost unintentionally, that we become anti-science.  Our conviction about what is natural or right should not inhibit the role of science in discovering the truth—rather it should inform our judgment about the implications and consequences of the truth science uncovers.  [We will] not stand by as successful British science once more ends up being manufactured abroad.”[5] On that same topic, U.S. Senator Orin Hatch remarked, “It would be terrible to say because of an ethical concept, we can’t do anything for patients.”[6] However, if Hatch and Blair are correct that science trumps morality, one can hardly condemn past atrocities such the Tuskegee experiments of the 1920s in which black men suffering from syphilis were promised treatment, only to have it denied so scientists could study the disease.  Moreover, if “convictions about what is natural or right should not inhibit science,” how can we condemn Hitler for using Jews for grisly medical experiments, as happened in the death camps?

Go to part 6 here


[1] Greg Koukl, Precious Unborn Human Persons, p. 9.

[2] Mary Anne Warren, “On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion,” in The Problem of Abortion, Joel Feinberg, ed. (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1984) p.103.

[3] Mary S. Calderone, “Illegal Abortion as a Public Health Problem,” American Journal of Public Health, July 1960.

[4] Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC Surveillance Summaries, September 4, 1992.

[5] “Don’t turn Against Science, Blair Warns Protesters,” London Daily Telegraph, November 18, 2000.

[6] Cited in “Clone Wars,” National Review on-line, July 1, 2002.

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{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Tom Wright October 27, 2011, 9:47 pm

    Steve;
    Interesting series on abortion.
    Throughout history abortion has been commonplace. If a woman wants one, she will get one, moral niceties aside.
    I think that this is the basis of Roe v. Wade: the acknowledgment that this act, abhorrent as it is, is a fact, an ongoing activity now and throughout history that preventive laws will never change.
    What if this law was overturned. What would change? Remember……abortions will happen.
    What is your view on pregnancies as a result of rape?
    Tom

  • Steve October 30, 2011, 6:18 pm

    Tom,
    You call abortion “abhorrent.” Why did you call it abhorrent?

    You asked, “What if this law was overturned? What would it change?” That question was answered in part 3. I will reproduce the answer here: “The law cannot stop all abortions.” Reply: Laws against rape do not stop all cases of rape, but no one that I know suggests legalizing the practice. The fact is that laws against rape, like laws against abortion, drastically reduce illegal (and immoral) behavior. Would anyone that you know suggest that legalizing rape would not increase its occurrence? Prior to Roe v. Wade (1973), at best there were 210,000 illegal abortions per year. (More conservative estimates suggest a mean of 89,000 per year.) Within 7 years of legalization, totals jumped to over 1.5 million annually.[3] True, no law can stop ALL illegal behavior, but that’s not the point. The issue is not, how many people are breaking the law, but are the unborn human? If so, we should legally protect them the way we would any other group that is unjustly harmed. Perhaps what this objection has in mind is that there would be widespread resistance to outlawing abortion. That should not be a factor in deciding law. Imagine saying to a minority group suffering discrimination (say, for example, blacks), “We will protect you as long as it meets with popular approval and is not too difficult to do so.” This would be an outrage, and rightly so. Persons deserve protection under the law because justice demands it, not because (or only if) it is easy.

    Tom in the case of rape and pregnancy, should we advocate then killing the baby? I have a pastor friend who was conceived due to a rape. Should his mother have had him aborted? Rape is a horrible wrong. The issue to abort or not abort all comes down to “what is it?” If the unborn is human then killing the innocent unborn baby is a horrible wrong. Two wrongs do not make it right. Are you advocating killing the unborn conceived from a rape?

    Steve

  • Tom Wright January 4, 2012, 3:00 pm

    Steve;
    I called abortion abhorrent because, in its later stages, when the baby can survive on its own, is taking an innocent life.

    Your words…..
    “The fact is that laws against rape, like laws against abortion, drastically reduce illegal (and immoral) behavior.” Where’s the evidence of this? How can one know a law forbidding rape “drastically reduce immoral behavior” More importantly, in this context, how can you make the same assertion about abortion, when it is currently legal and has been since 1972, I believe.
    The question about abortion in the case of rape is a difficult one. I can’t pretend to know the feelings of a raped woman about the baby to which she would be forced to give birth. In some cases she may decide to keep it, but a universal law dictating to a woman what she can or can’t do with her own body would probably be unconstitutional. Would you change your opinion if it was a 11-12 year old child?
    How do you feel about the “morning after pill”. Abortion?
    One last question; why do you think abortion was made legal?

  • Steve January 5, 2012, 6:06 am

    Tom
    I noticed in the first line of your reply you called the unborn a baby. Does that mean you acknowledge the unborn is human? You seem to draw the line on when it acceptable to kill the baby. Where is that line? What is your criterion for when the baby lives or dies?

    You asked for evidence that rape laws decrease rapes. How about common sense? Are you saying laws don’t inhibit behavior? I’ll give you evidence; just get rid of all laws in Escondido and we’ll see if you want to live here. Are you for anarchy? Why don’t you live in cities in other countries where there are no laws; where anarchy rules? Women don’t go out onto the streets for fear of rape. My son Jeff went on a mission’s trip to Haiti and they drove through a town like that. They had to get out of there before dark. Tom you couldn’t be serious about asking for evidence that rape laws decrease rape. Isn’t it obvious?

    You then asked about the laws prohibiting abortion versus allowing them in 1973. Did you read my last reply? You say I made the same assertion that laws prohibiting abortion reduce the number of abortions and I provided statistics. Prior to Roe v. Wade (1973), at best there were 210,000 illegal abortions per year. (More conservative estimates suggest a mean of 89,000 per year.) Within 7 years of legalization, totals jumped to over 1.5 million annually. Statistics came from:1) Barbara Syska, Thomas Hilgers, and Dennis O’Hare, “An Objective Model for Estimating Criminal Abortions and ItsImplications for Public Policy,” in New Perspectives on Human Abortion, ed., Thomas Hilgers, MD., Dennis J. Horan, and David Mall (Frederick, MD: University Publications of America, 1981) p. 178. Cited in Beckwith, Defending Life, p. 120. 2) Centers for Disease Control Abortion Surveillance: Preliminary Data—United States, 1994. MMWR 1997;45:1123-7.

    You then talk about the difficult situation concerning rape. Your focus was on the woman and how she felt or her age. However, what about the baby? Did the baby do anything wrong? Do you kill the baby because it reminds the mother of the rape? Do you kill the baby because the mother is young? (I will soon be posting an article on this very topic.)

    The morning after pill is the intentional killing of a precious unborn human baby. It is wrong to kill an unborn human with poison. This is a consistent pro-life position.

    You asked, why do I think abortion became legal? Feminist groups pushed the issue as a women’s rights intrusion. Pro-abortion articles continually focus on the rights of women and completely ignore the baby. The following comes from a teaching by Scott Klusendorf on the courts faulty reasoning in Roe vs. Wade.

    (c) Roe’s faulty history—As to how the Court arrived at its conclusion, Frank Beckwith notes that the answer from legal scholars–including many who support legalized abortion at some level—is clear: Justice Blackmun relied on an extremely flawed history of U.S. abortion law written by an attorney for The National Abortion Rights Action League, Cyril Means. In short, Blackmun had to rewrite history to overcome the fact that by 1869, nearly every state and federal territory had laws restricting abortion. The stated purpose of those laws, which coincided with advances in medical science, was primarily to protect the unborn.

    These laws had not been seriously challenged prior to the late 1960s, so how was he now going to strike them as unconstitutional? After reading Means, Blackmun concluded that 1) prior to the 1850s, the common law generally did not restrict abortion before quickening, and 2) when abortion restrictions were later passed in states and federal territories, their primary intent was to protect the mother from unsafe medical procedures, not affirm the right to life of her unborn offspring. Both conclusions were false:

    • True, common law in the early 1800s did allow for abortion before “quickening,” but that’s only because the primitive embryology in play at that time could not determine if life was present until the mother felt the child move. As John Warwick Montgomery points out, lawmakers were saying as soon as you have life, you must have laws protecting that life. In no way did the common law or individual state laws allow for abortion after life was present. Indeed, the most important burst of anti-abortion legislation took place in the late 1860s, just as the science of embryology established the humanity of the unborn from conception, not quickening.

    • Moreover, Blackmun was just flat wrong about the intent of these laws. Although the mother’s safety was a secondary consideration, anti-abortion lawmakers, relying on the advice of physicians, made clear their primary intent to stop the “unwarranted” destruction of human life.

    (d) Roe was not neutral on the question of human life. First, Justice Blackmun insisted that because people disagree on when life begins, the Court should not propose one theory of life over another, meaning the decision to abort should be left entirely to the mother. But to say that no one knows when life begins and therefore abortion (for all practical purposes) must remain legal through all nine months of pregnancy assumes that life does not begin before birth! Thus, the Court really did claim to know when life begins. Second, Blackmun insisted that until viability, the state has no compelling interest in protecting the fetus. After that point, the state may, if it chooses, pass laws protecting fetal life. (However, those laws must not interfere with the “health” of the mother, as noted above.) That is, the Court waded into metaphysics by suggesting that viability confers some degree of value on the unborn. Thus, the Court did, in fact, take a position on a theory of life.

    Tom I believe this was a bad decision of the courts based on faulty beliefs and thinking. However, as society seems to be moving towards pro-life, it may someday be overturned and the rights of the baby will be protected.

    What I cannot understand is your love of civil rights for all humans, except those you don’t deem worthy, like certain unborn babies. Do all humans deserve human rights? Or can society disqualify certain individuals because they are in the way and cannot protect themselves?

    Steve

  • Tom Wright January 12, 2012, 8:44 pm

    Steve;
    You give a spirited and learned defense.
    In my mind, this argument can be reduced to this:
    Are you in favor of forcing a woman to deliver a child she doesn’t want, regardless of the circumstances? How would the anti-abortion law be enforced? Would doctors and women be charged and prosecuted?
    You didn’t answer my question about:
    “Would you change your opinion if it was a 11-12 year old child?”
    Tom

  • Steve January 12, 2012, 9:06 pm

    Tom,
    I will begin with the last question you asked. Would I change my opinion if the rape victim was an 11-12 year old child? The man who forced himself on this child is a monster. A horrible crime has been committed. Does it help to kill the unborn because the mother is young? Are you in favor of taking the life of a precious unborn human person because the child is young? I don’t believe in double crimes. Rape and murder will not make things right. However, if the young birthing mother’s life is in danger when delivering the baby then you save the mother. Otherwise the young child has the baby. Are you going to console this child when she recalls the horrors of the rape and she thinks about how she had her unborn baby killed? This is reality! Women all over the world are in counseling for having abortions. They can no longer suppress the truth, they had their baby killed.

    Enforcement is an entirely new argument and has nothing to do with whether or not you find it acceptable to kill an innocent unborn human. Our laws say it is legal to kill an unborn at any stage of development. Do you support those laws?

    I will take on the enforcement laws. Doctors would definitely be prosecuted for killing the unborn human. Do you think doctors should get away with murder? How the mother would be prosecuted would be similar to what we do when mothers kill and trash their newborns. Do you think mothers should be prosecuted for killing their newborns? If you say yes, then what is the difference between killing a newborn and killing an unborn human person?

    Steve

  • Tom Wright January 13, 2012, 8:13 pm

    Steve;
    If abortion was illegal, do you think a mere law would prevent the parents of a pre-teen making the decision to abort after rape? Keeping the baby, even if the child understood what had happened to her, would change the rest of her life, if the act itself already hadn’t, and the lives of her family, and not for the better. You say you would permit an abortion if the mother’s life was in danger. The rest of the child’s life IS likely “in danger” from a mental health standpoint. And why make an exception for the mother’s life? The unborn is still killed.
    How many Americans believe as you do on this?
    Today I read that Santorum is in favor of banning contraceptives; another notion completely out of step with the vast majority of Americans.
    You say abortion is murder. If so, why was it legalized?

  • Steve January 16, 2012, 7:07 am

    Tom,
    I have already provided statistics on the effectiveness of law. I have shown laws reduce the incidence of evil behaviors. Do you want anarchy? Are you against laws?

    The raped child could put her baby up for adoption to a loving family. Don’t you think that would be a better option than the memory you killed your baby? Also remember I have a friend whose mother was raped and choose to keep him. He is an ex-student of mine and is a pastor at Emmanuel Faith Community Church. I can invite him over to my house to meet you. You can ask him if his mother should have aborted him, so she wouldn’t have bad memories.

    You asked why I support the killing of the baby if the mother’s life is in danger. It is similar to finding two people in the ocean drowning. You quickly realize you can only save one. You’ll have to let the other drown. Is that wrong? In the vast majority of cases the baby is doomed and the only one you can save is the mother. I will post an article by Steve Wagner that will go into more detail on this issue. (I have no idea how many people agree with me on this. Why does this matter?)

    Why was abortion legalized? I would say it had to do with the worldviews of the Supreme Court justices. If they had certain presuppositions that the unborn is not human, they would support a woman’s right to an abortion. I have already shown this view false as it goes against science and philosophy. Why do you think they ruled against unborn babies?

    Steve

  • Tom Wright January 16, 2012, 4:59 pm

    Steve;
    Re; The last paragraph may be answered by a website I sent to you via email. Google your first sentence in the last paragraph for other opinions….or facts.
    You have shown statistics that laws decrease the undesired action. Was this true for prohibition?
    Actually, this is a good comparison. The gov’t attempted to control an undesired behavior by passing a law. The behavior was apparently deemed not morally wrong by the majority of Americans, so the law was reversed. Abortion is morally wrong in some cases, I believe, but like prohibition, the majority sees it as it as an unenforceable law. The Court reaches the same conclusion for different reasons (see website)

    Have a suggestion for your next topic, Steve; “Is homosexuality nature or nurture?”

  • Steve January 18, 2012, 6:07 pm

    Tom,
    I will post a rejoinder Friday showing additional weaknesses of the “person” argument for disqualifying the human rights of a fetus. For those interested in the article Tom emailed to me go to: http://civilliberty.about.com/od/abortion/f/abortion_legal.htm?rd=1%22

    First problem is Tom Head, the author of the article, simply says it is okay to kill the unborn because the baby is not a person. What human is not a person? 100% of all humans are persons; unless you are defined by Tom Head as a non-person. Who gives him that power? Do you? Second, he then comes up with his own arbitrary definition of a person as 22-24 weeks old, where the baby could survive outside the womb. Here he comes up with his own standard. Where in science did that come from? Where does science define persons? Again who gave him the power over life and death? He is disqualifying a human because he or she cannot survive outside the womb; the unborn needs the mother’s help. A toddler cannot survive without a mothers help; should we kill toddlers? As I wrote in my series, people disqualify the unborn for indefensible reasons. These arbitrary reasons are dismantled by the acrostic SLED (Defending unborn #10), which is a defense against killing a human baby because of Size, Level of development, Environment, and Degree of dependency. Tom Head says the baby at a certain point is not a person so we can kill him or her. Don’t you see how ridiculous this position is? Dr. Peter Singer, professor of bioethics at Princeton, sets his arbitrary standard for killing a baby at 30 days after birth. Quoting Scott Klusendorf in the Christian Research Institute: “In 1993, ethicist Peter Singer shocked many Americans by suggesting that no newborn should be considered a person until 30 days after birth and that the attending physician should kill some disabled babies on the spot. Five years later, his appointment as Decamp Professor of Bio-Ethics at Princeton University ignited a firestorm of controversy, though his ideas about abortion and infanticide were hardly new. In 1979 he wrote, ‘Human babies are not born self-aware, or capable of grasping that they exist over time. They are not persons’; therefore, ‘the life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog, or a chimpanzee.’” Singer says pro-abortion advocates have to be willing to kill toddlers to be consistent. Are you okay with Singer’s definition of person? Why or why not? How do you judge who is right?

    Third, during the time of the civil war, whites in the south declared blacks to be non-persons and thus could be slaves. Are you comfortable with that standard? Fourth, Hitler declared Jews to be non-persons and thus they could be killed. Should groups that commit genocide get to declare who is a person or not? Why? You better watch out…some group is going to call rugby players non-persons and decide to kill you. Lastly Tom Head calling the fetus a non-person is a new strategy. The reason the pro-abortion came up with this defense is because science has shown the unborn is fully human and pro-abortion advocates needed a new way to eliminate the fetus. Do you see how bad this position is? Are you willing to admit killing the unborn because someone defines them expendable is bad thinking and dangerous? Where do you stop?

    Are you serious in comparing prohibition and abortion? One is a law against drinking alcohol and the other allows for the killing of a precious unborn human baby. Do you really think killing and drinking are equal? A much better comparison is corporate theft and prohibition. Lots of people steal from the employers. According to your logic let’s just get rid of theft laws because they do not stop people from stealing from their companies. Do you really believe we are better off without laws? Why do keep advocating no laws? Are you in favor of anarchy? There is no comparison between killing a baby and drinking alcohol.

    Steve

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