I recently posted this on the abortion debate forum, but I thought it could be useful here, as well. This contains as many anti-abortion arguments as I could think of, and my answers/rebuttals to them. It's long, sorry!
Most people who are anti-abortion imagine if not quite a full term baby, at least a very far along, well developed fetus being ripped apart limb by limb during an abortion. This is due mainly from falsified pictures of so-called abortions that they have been subjected to. The truth is a lot different.
These are the words of a doctor who works at an abortion clinic, regarding a pro-life video about abortion he had just seen:
"A nurse who once worked for me was here last week with two friends. After the video was over, one said to her, "I suppose you are accustomed to seeing this." She, appropriately appalled by what she had just seen, replied, "I have never seen anything like that in my life!" Well, I've never seen anything like that either, and I see the face of abortion almost every working day."
A skilled filmmaker can easily fool people who want to see a straw man as the real thing. The pictures shown in that video, all supposed to be of abortuses taken from a dumpster behind a Houston abortion clinic, were a montage of near-term stillbirths and very late second trimester abortions, with, perhaps, one set of fetal parts from a 12 to 14 weeks fetus, and a few fetal parts. The pictures were taken using a variety of techniques and magnifications from varying distances in order to achieve maximum emotional impact. In fact, in the words of the video's maker, it was made expressly to "horrify" and to "outrage" Pro-Life partisans, and to "inflict excruciating psychic anguish...(on women who have had abortions and on)...their friends, families and the fathers of their children." And all this is presented as being the result of common abortion practice. (After our seminar that night I showed those in attendance the reality. I said, "I brought several specimens from abortions done in my clinic in the past two days. As you view these specimens, I would like you to keep in mind the images that we were all subjected to last Tuesday night.")
All of the intact fetuses presented in the video, Hard Truth, were late second and third trimester and near term stillborn infants or spontaneously aborted fetuses, rather than the result of a safe legal abortion.
In Pro-Life rhetoric, there is no distinction made between a fertalized egg or an embryo and a baby; between a fetus and a child or adult. And indeed, at forty weeks, there is little difference between the brain of a normal fetus and that of a baby only a few days older. But there is a greater functional difference between the brain of an eighteen week fetus and a six month old baby than there is between the brain of a baby chicken and a ten year old child. Between a six week embryo and a forty week fetus there is a greater functional nervous system difference than between an oyster and a full-term infant!
As you can see, a real abortion looks nothing like what we have been led to believe. Here are some interesting facts:
Abortions Involve Embryos Not Fetuses
"For a long time, nearly 90 percent of abortions in the U.S. have taken place in the first trimester," she said. "But in recent years, women having an abortion have been able to do so earlier and earlier in the first trimester. Currently, more than 6 in 10 abortions occur within the first eight weeks of pregnancy, and almost 3 in 10 take place at six weeks or earlier."
Here is what the embryo actually looks like in the majority of abortions. Please note the actual size in the upper left corner of the picture: click on the word "source":
SIZE: 9.0 - 11.0 mm
TIME PERIOD: 37 - 42 days post-ovulation
Once the truth about what an actual abortion entails is realized, usually the person against abortion will posit a new objection. That is, regardless of how small an embryo is, it is still a human life, and should be protected exactly as we protect out born children. They will even go so far as to claim that even scientists agree that a new person is formed when fertilization takes place. But that is not true. Here are some examples of science saying something else entirely:
When Does Life Begin?
Sperm and egg are the beginning of life and should be protected as vigorously as an embryo
A very respected doctor was asked if we should value the embryo more than we value the sperm and egg. He said no, they are equal:
DR. OPITZ: As a matter of fact, there's a continuum even into the germ cells (sperm and eggs) which ought to be treated with exactly the same respect as the fertilized ovum, as the implanting ovum, as the developing embryo, simply because germ cells, for example, are extraordinarily vulnerable to teratogens, viruses, x-radiation, chemicals, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera which in the long run, being damaged in any one of these wanton and random kind of race may harm humanity infinitely more than the loss of a trisomic baby.
One of the reasons people say the fertilized egg is as valuable as a born person is that the fertilized egg has all of the DNA, 46 chromosomes, that it needs to make a complete human being. When asked why they don't value a sperm or egg, they tell us that sperm and eggs only have half of the genetic material (23 chromosomes) needed. But that is not true.
Egg and Sperm Have 46 Chromosomes Each
"In human embryology, "diploid" means the cell contains "46" chromosomes; "haploid" means the cell contains "23" chromosomes. In fact, immature germ line cells (both female and male) are diploid (not haploid) until the last period of their growth and development. Both must pass through two stages of meiosis (meiosis 1 and meiosis 2) before the number of chromosomes in the cell is halved. Spermatogonia are diploid until their last weeks of maturity; and primary oocytes remain diploid until and unless they are fertilized by a sperm (otherwise, they die as diploid). Amazingly, in maturing oocytes, meiosis 1 and meiosis 2 can take up to 50 years and, again, they finally become haploid only if they are fertilized. This can be verified in any human embryology text book."
Here is another example of a scientific site stating that the first step in making a human being is NOT fertilization, but before that, when the sperm and eggs are made:
"[P]roducing a whole new organism requires sexual reproduction, at least for most multicellular organisms. In the first step, specialized cells called gametesâeggs and spermâare created through a process called meiosis."
Even nature does not think embryos are as valuable as born people. The vast majority (up to 80%) of fertilized eggs and embryos die before they are born.
This has nothing to do with abortion, birth control, or any other reason. This happens in every fertile, sexually active woman:
80% embryo loss
"PROF. SANDEL: [W]hat percent of fertilized eggs fail to implant or are otherwise lost?
DR. OPITZ: The answer to your first question is that it is enormous. Estimates range all the way from 60 percent to 80 percent of the very earliest stages, cleavage stages, for example, that are lost."
In fact, the numbers of embryos lost are so huge, they make abortion pale in comparison.
Natural procreation causes more embryo loss than abortion:
"The rate of natural embryo loss after conception in unassisted human reproduction is high, some suggest as high as 80 percent,101 and the fact of natural loss is fairly well known, so that persons who engage in or permit the pursuit of conception through unassisted reproduction are knowingly bringing about the conception of many embryos that will die.
Moreover, they suggest, the high rate of natural embryo loss should bring into question the views of those who believe that early-stage human embryos merit equal treatment with human children and adults. If so many die in the natural course of things, how do we not treat natural procreation as a great fountain of tragedy and carnage? They argue that the natural rate of embryo loss, and our response to it, should teach us something about the limited significance of human embryos in the earliest stages."
"We now know that for every successful pregnancy which results in a live birth, many, perhaps as many as five, early embryos will be lost or 'miscarry' (although these are not perhaps miscarriages' as the term is normally used, because this sort of very early embryo loss is almost always entirely unnoticed).
How are we to think of the decision to have a child in the light of these facts? One obvious and inescapable conclusion is that God and/or nature has ordained that 'spare' embryos be produced for almost every pregnancy, and that most of these will have to die in order that a sibling embryo can come to birth. Thus the sacrifice of embryos seems to be an inescapable and inevitable part of the process of procreation. .**"
In fact, In Vitro Fertilization Kills Less Embryos Than Sexual Intercourse:
"[D]efenders of in vitro fertilization point out that embryo loss in assisted reproduction is less frequent than in natural pregnancy, in which more than half of all fertilized eggs either fail to implant or are otherwise lost. This fact highlights a further difficulty with the view that equates embryos and persons. If natural procreation entails the loss of some embryos for every successful birth, perhaps we should worry less about the loss of embryos that occurs in in vitro fertilization and stem-cell research. Those who view embryos as persons might reply that high infant mortality would not justify infanticide. But the way we respond to the natural loss of embryos suggests that we do not regard this event as the moral or religious equivalent of the death of infants. Even those religious traditions that are the most solicitous of nascent human life do not mandate the same burial rituals and mourning rites for the loss of an embryo as for the death of a child. Moreover, if the embryo loss that accompanies natural procreation were the moral equivalent of infant death, then pregnancy would have to be regarded as a public health crisis of epidemic proportions; alleviating natural embryo loss would be a more urgent moral cause than abortion, in vitro fertilization, and stem-cell research combined."
NFP Kills More Embryos Than Abortion
Those who worry about early embryonic death should be as concerned about the rhythm method as they are about other forms of contraception, like Plan B, and about embryonic stem cell research, he asserts.Natural family planning is the more widely used, contemporary term for the broad range of techniques aimed at helping women to predict fertile days so they can avoid having sex then. These techniques may rely on cues like the presence of cervical mucus or small changes in body temperature, which occur
around the time of ovulation. Dr. Bovens notes that some couples choose this approach because they worry that other forms of contraception, like birth control pills, may act in part by preventing an early embryo from implanting in the womb.
However, if a fertilized egg produced on the fringe of the fertile window is less likely to develop and implant, he writes, "the same logic that turned pro-lifers away from morning after pills, I.U.D.'s and pill usage should make them nervous about the rhythm method."
Dr. Bovens also contends that opponents of abortion ought to favor barrier methods, like condoms, because these are likely to cause fewer embryonic deaths. "Even a policy of practicing condom usage and having an abortion in case of failure would cause less embryonic deaths than the rhythm method," he writes.
If it is callous to use a technique that makes embryonic death likely by making the uterine wall inhospitable to implantation, then clearly it is callous to use a technique that makes embryonic death likely by organising oneâs sex life so that conceived ova lack resilience and will face a uterine wall that is inhospitable to implantation.
Plan B Causes Less Embryo Loss than not Using it
Nevertheless, even if in some cases ECPs work by inhibiting subsequent implantation of a fertilized egg, these probably would be outnumbered by other cases in which fertilization of an egg that would not have subsequently implanted naturally is prevented because ECPs inhibited ovulation. Therefore, on balance, ECPs probably reduce the incidence of fertilized eggs that do not subsequently implant.
Another favorite area of attack is birth control. Many pro-life people are against birth control, and they claim that many forms of contraception actually cause abortions. They claim that some bc works by making the uterus inhospitable to fertilized eggs, so these eggs cannot implant and die instead. But this is not true.
Hormonal birth control does not cause embryos not to implant:
Ovulation causes theuterine lining to thicken. Women on the pill do not ovulate, so their uterine linings are thinner, which is why some anti-birth control people say the fertilized eggs won't be able to implant, because the lining isn't thick enough. What they didn't mention in that in order for a woman to have a fertilized egg in the first place, while she is on the pill, ovulation must take place. Ovulation thickens the lining. In other words, if a woman ovulates while on the pill, her uterine lining will thicken and the fertilized egg will implant.
The following is from a pro-life physicians' website. It debunks the birth control as abortifacient theory:
"In the extensive literature we have reviewed, no writer has addressed this very significant question: In a menstrual cycle on the "pill" in which ovulation occurs, what is the histology of the endometrium six days after ovulation (the time of implantation)? Certainly the hormone milieu and endometrial histology will be different from a menstrual cycle on the "pill" in which ovulation does not occur (i.e.,the typical atrophic, or "hostile," endometrium).
The FSH-LH-estradiol surge the day before ovulation, and the resulting corpus luteum formation, with its ten to twentyfold estradiol and progesterone output, should produce significant changes in the endometrium. In a normal menstrual cycle, on the day of ovulation the uterine lining (proliferative endometrium) is not receptive to implantation. Seven days of follicle and corpus luteum hormone output transform it to "receptive." The same follicle and corpus luteum hormone output, when ovulation occurs in a "pill" cycle, should have a similar salutary effect on the pill-primed endometrium. It is highly probable that the so-called "hostile to implantation" endometrium-- heralded (without proof) from the beginning by the "pill" producing companies, echoed (without investigation) by 2 generations of scientific writers, and now adopted (as a scientific fact) by some sincere prolife advocates-- simply does not exist six days after ovulation in a pill cycle. What is currently known about the endometrial response to corpus luteum hormones suggests this conclusion. Research regarding endometrial histology on the sixth day after escape ovulation in "on pill" cycles would add useful information to the
Zanatu (51) reports on two women with prolonged infertility (8 to 14 months) after Depo-Provera injections: "We successfully induced ovulation with the sequential adminstration of clomiphene citrate and human chorionic gonadotropin, and pregnancy immediately followed." This suggests that once ovulation occurred, the burst of natural estrogen and progesterone from the corpus luteum simply override even the most potent hormone
contraceptive, producing a receptive endometrium, and resulting in a normal implantation and ongoing pregnancy."
Given the above, there is no evidence that shows that the endometrial changes produced by COCs contribute to failure of implantation of conceptions,
The following questions should be addressed by pro life physicians (who won't prescribe the pill because they claim it is an abortifacient)
1) Is it appropriate to implicate a medication as an abortive agent without the data to support such a claim? To do so creates needless hostility and division among physicians and patients who genuinely respect life from the moment of conception.
2) Where do we draw the line in informed consent for responsible disclosure of known medical risks vs. a theoretical risk which is not substantiated by current scientific knowledge?"
As to how that lie got started:
"Consensus comes from a surprising source. "The post-fertilization effect was purely a speculation that became truth by repetition," says Joe DeCook, MD, a retired OB/GYN and vice president of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists. "In our group the feelings are split. We say
it should be each doctor's own decision, because there is no proof."
Another interesting thing about this misconception is that there is something that actually does cause fertilized eggs to die, and that is breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is an Abortifacient
"Trussell said he supports doctors who say women need to know it's possible that emergency contraception may affect embryo implantation. But that's true for nearly all methods of contraception, he added - including breast-feeding.
Breast-feeding, which can have a contraceptive effect up to six months after the birth of a child, also causes changes in the uterine lining. In that respect, it carries the same possibility of interfering with implantation."
"Breastfeeding causes more embryo loss than hormonal birth control."
Finally, the last resort is always religious. The Bible says not to homicide, so abortion is a sin. But the Bible doesn't mention abortion., It does state plainly, however, that an embryo or fetus is NOT the equivalent of a born person:
"THERE ARE ONLY TWO passages in the Bible that speak directly to the issue of abortion, and both indicate unequivocally that abortion is not homicide:
* In Ex. 21:22-25, God tells us what to do if a man who is brawling knocks against a pregnant woman. If the woman dies, the principle of "life for life" is invoked and the man responsible for her death must be killed. If she lives but has a miscarriage, then the death of the fetus is to be compensated for by the payment of a fine, as demanded by the woman?s husband.
Thus has God revealed the status of the unborn fetus: it is not an independent, full-fledged human life, whose destruction amounts to homicide. It is a thing owned by the woman?s husband-a thing whose loss, like that of any other thing, may be compensated for with money.
* In Num. 5:11-31, God commands a husband to get an abortion for his wife if he suspects she has been impregnated by another man. A priest is to make her drink a potion and tell her, "If any man other than your husband has had intercourse with you, may the LORD make an example of you . . . by
bringing upon you miscarriage and untimely birth."
Very good post Future! I am pro-choice because 6 years ago I was a freshman in college and wound up pregnant, I was taking antibiotics while on the pill and was unaware of the need for a back up. When I found out, I was devestated that everything I was working for would be completely lost. After a week of thinking, I decided that an abortion was the best option for me, so I told my best friend and the guy that I was seeing at the time and they were both very supportive. I have never once regretted my decision and I am confident that I could not be where I am today had I gone on with the pregnancy. A month later that guy and I broke up and I started dating the most wonderful man in the who is now my husband! We both graduated from college, he with a masters in Communications, and I with a bachelors degree in History, returning for my masters in a year. We both have great jobs and just finished building a wonderful home. When I look at all that I have accomplished I wonder what my life would have been like if I had not made that choice. I'm so grateful that we have a choice and I will forever stand up for that cause so that women will always have the right to decide what is best for themselves.
Thank-you, that means a lot. Also. you and I have a lot in common! I had almost the exact same situation. I felt great relief, and I am still grateful I had that choice as well.
I had to add a piece that would go in the section discussing natural embryo loss, specifically about how just trying to conceive a child through sexual intercourse causes embryonic death:
If you truly value each embryo as much as each born child, then you would have to be against anyone ever having another child, because more embryos die than are ever born, so the bottom line is, you kill more unborn children than ever get born, just in the process of trying to have a born child.
If your first reaction is that, well, that loss is really just part of nature, and so it's not that bad, then I ask you this:
If it is ok that up to 9 embryos die for every child born, would it be ok if some of your born children died while we were trying to conceive another?
OF COURSE NOT, RIGHT? But why? Their deaths would just be part of nature, exactly equivalent to the embryos that die so that one can be born, right?
The answer is, no one really values an embryo as much as they do a born child, no matter what they think.
As a mother I can tell you the vlae of your child goes up with every moment of knowing their existence. The grief felt as losing a child in the first trimester would be inherently different than the grief felt at losing a child in the third trimester. If you ever have children and one dies within moments of being born your grief for that child would be no match for grief felt for a child who died YEARS after their birth and of you knowing them not just as their mother but who they are as an individual. That doesn't mean you value one child more or less than the other but you knew one better than the other and you'd perhaps miss them more because you have more memories. You don't grieve for what could have been in the latter situation you grieve most for what you knew and will miss so deeply.
There is NO scientific proof that 9 embroys die for every live birth. There never will be because thats so inaccurate. Not every woman is fertile and some women lose their fertility, a side effect of abortion is losing fertility. My source is in this same forum as a medical question that a DOCTOR answered.
Correction this was in the medical abortion forum under the medical question - is there a limit to the amount of abortions you could have-
Here is the doctor's reply"
Dr. Nikola Gjuzelov
replied on December 11th, 2006Pregnancy Answer A1903
There are no limits to the number of abortions that a woman can have. Nevertheless, one abortion can cause serious life-long issues like sterility. Nobody can guarantee you that you wonât develop complications and/or adverse physical consequences from an abortion. There will always be a risk involved, both physically and emotionally."
As a mother, I can tell YOU that I value the life of my children, and that value does NOT go up with every day they live. I would mourn the loss of a 12 week miscarriage (which I have done)as equally as mourning the loss of a 5 month old baby (which I have also done). THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE. It is still the loss of a life. I never grieved for what I KNEW, I grieved for what my child/fetus LOST. Memories, they are NOTHING, compared to knowing all the experiences YOUR CHILD missed out on. I never grieved that I wouldn't get to see my son graduate, get married. I grieved that HE NEVER HAD THE OPPORTUNITY. By you saying that grieving a miscarriage in the third trimester is not as painful as grieving a baby, child, young adult is WRONG. It discounts REAL feelings, REAL PAIN, that I and other women who have miscarried, felt. My fetus never even got to experience BIRTH. Sure, I never got to see her, but that was not nearly as painful as imagining what she COULD have experienced. But I felt the same pain losing my pregnancy as I felt losing my 5 month old son (corrected gestational age, he really would have only been 1.5 months old, but he was born at 23.5 weeks. Neither loss was more painful than the other. They were both equally traumatic and devastating. I dislike the attitude that women miscarrying don't feel as much grief and pain because they never saw their child, etc. It is just not true.
A 60-80% loss when it comes to embryos is not that significant. This basically means that 6-8 out of every 10 conceptions will result in embryonic loss. There are many factors that cause this EARLY loss, such as gene defects, malformation of cells, even the mother's own immune system treating the embryo as an invader. The reason that we CAN state this as fact is because of the advances in human embryology and medical equipment/technology.
Now let me summarize briefly with perhaps some oversimplification, the development defects of each of these stages of human development. By far, the most common defects of human development are defects of pregenesis and they mostly lead to the lethal chromosomal imbalances, mostly trisomies, also monosomies, monosomy X. In other words, Down's Syndrome, trisomy-21, trisomy-18, trisomy-13 and so on. These are defects of meiosis.
It is estimated by multiple sources and authors and has been for decades that at the very beginning of life, of human development, of conception, about 50 percent of all potential human beings have a chromosome abnormality, mostly a lethal chromosome abnormality. Chromosome abnormalities are the commonest cause of death in humans. They kill at the very minimum two-thirds of potential humans, more likely 80 to 90 percent and they mostly do so through these lethal aneuploidies.
Now during fertilization, some triploids arise, that is, individuals with a triple set of chromosome numbers and during the first cell division, some cases of tetraploidy with a quadruple number of chromosomes, 99 percent lethal disorders. And the only reason that a few 18-trisomy syndrome and 13-trisomy syndrome babies survive to birth is because of the phenomenon of confined placental mosaicism whereby the placenta, which is a smart organ, chunks out the extra chromosome, establishes a normal cell line and it is the normal cell line that supports the severely defected babies until birth so that they can be born. Down's Syndrome doesn't do that. Down's Syndrome is the only trisomy that does not involve confined placental mosaicism.
The defects of blastogenesis then, put parentheses around that, are the gross, mostly lethal, not necessarily, but mostly lethal malformations. And the multiple gross, lethal malformations, there was an entity that used to be called "associations."http://bioethics.gov/transc