The Argument for “Choice”
– Edward Tivnan (Moral Imagination)
Pro-choice advocates do
not favor abortion over birth: they simply support reproductive freedom – that
is, women should have the choice to end an unwanted pregnancy.
That abortion is murder
requires a logical leap that stretches the limits of the language. “The fetus
is an innocent person,” argue the right-to lifers, and as everyone – including
liberals and feminist – can agree, killing an innocent person is cold-blooded
murder and thus morally reprehensible. But pro-choice advocates do not
concede the fundamental principle of the right-to-life movement: that a fetus
is a “person". The fetus, especially in its earliest stages, is certainly not
a person – at least not in any way that most people understand that word. To
call the fetus a person is like calling an acorn an oak, a seed a rose, a
blueprint a house, cake ingredients a cake.
Personhood is a
philosophical or theological issue, not a biological one. Although the Roman
Catholic Church, Orthodox Jews, and some fundamentalist Christian sects may
sincerely believe that personhood begins at conception, certainly not all
Christians and may Jews, as well as millions of others not tied to any
organized religion, believe that fetuses are persons. As Justice Blackmun
noted for the Court majority in Roe, no consensus exists among theologians and
philosophers for when personhood begins.
Feminist Argument: Autonomy with a “Different Voice”
– Edward Tivnan (Moral Imagination)
Many women suffer for no
other reason than that they are women. Unwanted pregnancy is a dilemma that a
man can share, perhaps: sympathize with, maybe, but fully understand, never.
Feminists now recognize
that abortion crystallizes the most fundamental issue of feminism – the
autonomy of women. “No woman can call herself free who does not own and
control her own body,” declared Margaret Sanger, the pioneer of birth control
in the United States. The French philosopher and patron saint of feminism
Simone de Beauvoir viewed pregnancy, which she called the “slavery of
reproduction,” the greatest obstacle to female liberation.
Who controls a woman’s
body? Their husbands or lovers? The courts? The right-to-life movement? Is
there a man (or woman) alive in our country today who would seriously claim
that women do not have the right to control their bodies? If someone did make
such a claim, would anyone take him seriously? Feminists do not want to be
men, or even to be “like men”: they want only to be equal to men, to have the
same rights as men, to be paid the same as men in the same jobs, to be able to
choose as freely as men. In the 1960s the increasing availability of reliable
birth control made it possible for women to choose when they wanted to have a
family. A giant step toward the liberation of women, birth control did not,
however, free them entirely from the dilemma of unwanted pregnancy. No method
of contraception is perfect.
Listen carefully to the
hard-line opponents of abortion, examine their propaganda, catch their focus:
the fetus is a person, that’s a baby in there, with a right to life. Look at
the photographs of fetuses, look at aborted fetuses. They look like us, say
the anti-abortion camp.
But there is one
important factor missing in all those photographs of fetuses: the mother. The
fetus is not hanging on a hook in the nursery or suspended in space, awaiting
the stork. The fetus happens to be surrounded by its mother; it is in a very
real sense part of its mother. A woman is not merely a vehicle of birth. No
is she a warehouse for the “unborn child”, as a federal judge with a knack for
metaphor recently put it, “holding it captive”.
movement claims to be a defender of “motherhood”. Yet, the anti-abortion
camp’s insistence that the fetus is an “independent person” devalues the first
nine months of motherhood. Without the mother a fetus cannot grow. She
nurtures and sustains the fetus. She creates the child.
For many women, facing
the issue of abortion is the first time they have had to make a decision for
themselves that no one else, finally, can make. It is their body at risk,
their fetus at risk, their personal, family and financial future at risk. In
fact, women may make moral decision differently from men: they may speak in a
“different voice,” as the Harvard psychologist Carol Gilligan suggests in
In a Different Voice, a provocative and controversial (even among
feminists) book about how women grow morally. According to her, while men
look to logic and reason to help them decide what is best to do, women’s moral
choices are based on “a feeling for the complexity and multifaceted character
of real people and real situations.” Faced with a moral dilemma, women,
Gilligan points out, are inclined to ask not what is right or best or
reasonable or the rule, but “who am I hurting?”
In 1970, Kate Michelman
was a thirty-year-old mother pregnant with her fourth child when her husband
announced that he was leaving her for another woman. “I had no car, I
couldn’t get credit because I had no husband, and I had three children to
fee,” Michelman later told a newspaper reporter. “I understood at that moment
the kinds of choices women have to make and how they affect the very fabric of
a woman’s life.”
Michelman opted for an
abortion, and the hospital scheduled her for a legal abortion. But while
lying in a hospital bed awaiting the procedure she was informed that the
hospital would not allow the abortion unless she had the written permission of
her husband – the man who had already left her (and their fetus) for another
woman! Michelman got her abortion (the hospital tracked down her husband, who
gave his permission), but she also recognized that “I had absolutely no
control over my own life”.
For most women, abortion
is an agonizing decision. Something went wrong. They had not planned to have
a baby. And what the anti-abortion forces never concede, particularly those
who support contraception (and polls show that even among American Catholics
95 percent use artificial contraception), is that something goes wrong a lot
of the time. In fact, of the 6 million pregnancies every year in the United
States, more than half are unintended. Even using the pill, the most
effective method of birth control, the pregnancy rate runs from 4 to 9
percent. The highest percentage of abortion are among poor, unmarried black
women, for whom pregnancy or another child can be a tragedy.
“Life is like that,” say
the hard-liners. “We all have to suffer the consequences of our actions
(i.e., ordinary sexuality); life is full of contingencies which we have to
cope with.” But if one out of two pregnancies is accidental, then unwanted
pregnancy is the norm and not the exception.
An Equal Right to Choose
– Edward Tivnan (Moral Imagination)
Banning abortion imposes
a huge burden on women only. If women are to be equal to men, they must be as
unhindered in reproductive matters as men. A free society allows many
different kinds of personal choices: control over sexual reproduction ought to
be one of them.
Despite the overheated
rhetoric of the right-to-life camp, most women do not have abortions for
trivial reasons. Nor do most women take their decisions to have an abortion
lightly. Usually, it is a matter of last resort; they cannot raise the child
alone as a single parent, they cannot face giving up the child for adoption,
they are not psychologically or financially equipped to assume caring for a
severely deformed, retarded or handicapped child. Abortion is never an easy
decision. And although that might not be apparent to those who oppose a
woman’s right to end a pregnancy, if there is a right to choose to end a
pregnancy it exists no matter what others might think of the reasons for that
choice. A decision must be made. A free decision, an autonomous decision. A
choice. How could such a process be considered immoral? In the face of
violent opposition, pro-choice advocates will continue to point out that in
the United States individual moral decisions are the prerogative of
individuals. Most Americans, including those who personally oppose abortion,
believe that the option of legal abortion – the choice – ought to be
available. And so far, the Supreme Court is inclined to agree.
The Price of Silence
Michele Kort (Ms. Magazine – Volume XIII, Summer 2003)
I will be adding this article soon....
Army of God - Amanda
Zackem (Buzzsaw Haircut - http://www.ithaca.edu)
“I am not afraid of them. I am not afraid of the violence," he said. "I
fear for my family, my children. I think if I wasn't around what they would go
-Dr. Barnett Slepian
On October 23,1998 Dr. Barnett Slepian, after returning home from Shabbat
service with his family, where he was honoring his father who had passed away
a year prior, was murdered while standing in his kitchen. It was a single
bullet shot through his kitchen window, hitting the doctor in the neck and
then ricocheting, almost hitting his eldest son Andy, who stood in the same
room. Dr. Slepian, a gynecologist/obstetrician (or obgyn) and a fertility
specialist in Amherst NY, was a doctor who not only helped deliver newborn
babies but also provided to women the service of abortions.
The Army of God, a pro-life extremist group, gave out information, via the
Internet, about doctors, nurses, feminists, and Planned Parenthood employees
who performed abortions and/or supported them. When a member of this list was
killed his or her name would be crossed off the list. Dr. Slepian was the
third name with a red line through it, indicating a fatality.
"Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human
dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant.
Whenever men or woman are persecuted because of race, religion, or political
views that place must-at that moment-become the center of the universe."
A few months prior, the pro-life organization had their Spring Into Life
protest in Amherst NY. Standing outside Dr. Slepian's home, his children's
schools, and his office, pro-life advocators would scream and shout as his
children would get off the bus from school. "Your father is a child murderer
who deserves to die!" "Your father will burn in hell!"
Picketers stood outside the neighborhood schools handing out flyers of alleged
"aborted fetuses" while more groups protested and harassed women going into
clinics all over town.
This was not the first protest. They had been going on for years. His son Andy
told me when interviewed: "They weren't allowed on the property, and have
protested in front of our house for years since I can remember, but a lot
during 1992-93." Because the protestors would stand outside Andy's high
school, he and his brothers would have security guards watching them to make
sure they would get home safely.
"They would have pins that said "Slepian Kills Children" but the protestors
were never allowed to specifically put our names in ads…we used to have to
take them to court," Andy said.
He also recalls a time when a car drove up next to him and his father. The
window was rolled down, and the screaming began.
"There is blood on your car!" Dr. Slepian somehow managed to keep a sense of
humor through out all of this. Says Andy, "Sometimes my dad would sit on the
porch, videotape and wave to them."
When I asked Andy if he was ever scared or worried about his father he said:
"During everything in 1993, I once told him I was worried about him and his
job and he told me not to worry because no one around here would be sick
enough to do something like that." Now after his father's death, Andy said
that the most calming thing for him in getting through all of this is the
quote that opened this essay. The murder of Dr. Slepian in my eyes goes beyond
the point of pro-life vs. pro-choice, because today there is one women without
a husband and four boys who will never be able to see their father again.
Today, some obgyns see in their profession a danger similar to police
officers. Obgyn doctors will wear bulletproof vests to work in fear of their
life. Women who are having abortions have the option of being escorted into
the clinic. This is to prevent the protesters from harming the woman or
blocking the entrance, and makes sure she knows that someone is there to help
her through her ordeal.
Based out of Virginia and headed by Reverend Donald Spitz, The Army of God's
mission is to stop and eventually outlaw abortions. Members consist of many
different denominations of Christianity, such as Episcopalians and House
Churchers. They believe they are on a mission to fight what they call the "New
The group's founder remains anonymous; this man or woman composed the Army of
God manual. The manual explains that their mission is to stop abortion, by
using force, including murder, and uses quotes from the bible to legitimize
the terror. It even includes tips on how to make things like glue, to jam up
locks, and gives recipes for turning normal household products into mini
bombs. Anna Quindlen writes about this: "But Americans haven't really paid
much attention to the campaign of systematic destruction being waged by this
group of domestic terrorists over the past quarter century."
The manual is posted on their web page, along with this disclaimer: "The
manual is complete, except for some of the appendices which, because of the
lack of real free speech on the net, and the hysteria of the Federal
Government in protecting the baby killing industry and persecuting
anti-abortionists, have been left out."
In a recent email interview, the Reverend Donald Spitz could not be reached,
but Dave Leach, the "secretary-general" of the group, explained to me that my
use of the word "organization" to describe the Army of God is not quite
accurate. In their response I was told, "There is no organization, not in the
ordinary sense of the word, meaning a humanly organized group. The 'Army of
God' is a Biblical term meaning Christians." Mr. Leach, when asked why his
group feels they have the right to kill abortionists, told me, "There is no
organization which coordinates such activities."
Later in the letter he told me: "There is something about serving time in jail
together… that increases our respect for one another. When we look at each
other behind jail bars, we think, "This guy must really love Jesus as much as
I do, to be willing to lay down his freedom." Mr. Leach does not see these
acts of violence as unacceptable in any way; he commends them for it. "God,
who appoints the time of our death, also charges us with the responsibility to
It is noticeable how upbeat these "soldiers" are in conversation as well as on
some members web pages. Because they feel that this is a mission given to them
by God they see what they are doing as a good deed with something like a
religious mandate. Mr. Leach said in his letter: "Abortionists need no jury to
determine their guilt."
"The right of privacy…is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether
or not to terminate her pregnancy."
-Roe vs. Wade 1973
What this group doesn't understand is that it's not the doctor that walks into
the clinic to have the abortion, it's the woman, and this is her legal right
and choice. If this group is so interested in stopping abortions then perhaps
they should try informing more women of their beliefs instead of killing
doctors that just help with the process. My theory is that if abortion weren't
legal there would be women throwing themselves down staircases, trying to
miscarry or even resorting to using appliances such as clothes hangers. Legal
abortion is simply safer.
It's a scary thought that because of fearing for their lives, many people are
deciding against going into the obgyn field or even having an abortion. Since
this is a problem in our country, security measures need to be increased
around clinics and threats against doctors should not be taken so lightly. I
asked Dave Leach in my letter why his group doesn't use passive aggressive
mannerisms to influence the public? His response to me was: "I have been a
candidate for State Representative; this year will be my 5th run, and this
time I'll win."
Abortion is not an easy topic. It never has been, and it never will be. It's
one that divides our country right down the middle. When dealing with an issue
that bases itself on a person's faith, and God's word, conflict is bound to
rise. The Army of God doesn't acknowledge that our country is a melting pot of
many different people with an array of beliefs. What it comes down to is
having respect for one another. The Army of God is a group in our country that
is overlooked by so many and yet so very dangerous. They are dangerous in two
senses: First, they will use violence of any kind to stop abortions, and
secondly because they instill a fear in women and doctors, thus limiting who
will have abortions and or provide them. Abortion is a legal right of women in
the United States, and more than a million women choose it each year.
The murder of Dr. Slepian has impacted many nationwide, and embedded a hole in
the heart of his family.
His clinic remains open.
Difficult Choices, Positive
Results - Brandi, age
32, Baton Rouge, LA
I was nineteen when I got pregnant and chose
I'd met a man from another country who was
visiting family here. Our relationship developed fairly quickly, in the way
young love does. He had dual citizenship thanks to his father being American,
so our options were endless. He'd moved into my parents' home with me and
gotten a job, all preliminary to the future we were planning together.
I was not on birth control, nor did I insist
he use any...we were in love! And we took advantage of the privacy afforded us
as often as possible. What lusty 19 and 20 year olds wouldn't?
It wasn't long before that privacy and
constant companionship started to grate on both of our nerves. We were
fighting a great deal, but neither was willing to end the relationship...me,
because of the guilt of him being in this country for so long because of me,
and him, because he didn't WANT to leave the country. But making up is fun to
do, and before long I was pregnant.
The fighting and stress and previous female
problems kept me from noticing my condition for several weeks. I felt sick all
the time. My girlfriend finally talked me into a pregnancy test and that's
when I discovered I was actually pregnant.
I kept it to myself for a couple of days. Then
my mom, who'd begun to suspect something was going on, confronted me, asking
if I were pregnant. I had to confess that I'd just found out, but yes. I still
hadn't told my boyfriend, but that was next. After talking to my mom, who
unexpectedly promised to support WHATEVER decision I made, I did a little
research and some deep, deep soul searching and decided that I did NOT want a
baby. And, were I to be honest, I did NOT want to continue the relationship.
So I braced myself and told the father. I told
him in one conversation that I was pregnant, that I'd decided to have an
abortion, and that I thought it would be a good idea if he went home. He was
understandably upset, even though our two best friends (people whom I'd known
for many, many years prior to meeting him) sided with him completely and
turned their backs on me.
The day I scheduled my abortion was the day he
was set to fly back to Australia. My sister drove him to the airport and my
mom drove me to the clinic. There were protesters outside the clinic and my
mom was great, making sure they left me alone as we walked their anti-choice
gauntlet into the clinic. I'd had a second pregnancy test there and was a
little familiar with the lobby and reception area. I went to check in and was
given a number. We only waited for ten minutes or so before they called me. My
mom was not allowed back with me, so she hugged me and I went back with the
I followed the nurse to give her my history
and to talk about my choice. She was very compassionate and very honest about
my choices. She was very clear about what would happen if I were to choose to
go through with my abortion. It was graphic, but not terrifying, and I had
already made my decision. So I changed into a hospital gown and she escorted
me into an examining room. She gave me a pill to relax my muscles and helped
me up onto the examining table.
It wasn't long, about five minutes, before the
doctor came in. He showed me the suction machine and explained about the local
anesthetic injected into my cervix and that there would be a second local
injection to make my cervix dilate. He told me that it would possibly be only
uncomfortable, but that it was possible that I would experience some slight
I agreed to the procedure again, and the nurse
sat down next to me and the doctor got started. The nurse was wonderful. She
held my hand and told me what the doctor was doing as he did it. (That's
something I really like a doctor or nurse to do, I like to KNOW) He was
right... it was invasive, and very uncomfortable. But it was over very, very
quickly. The nurse packed me to absorb the bleeding and sat me up. I was given
some cookies and fruit and some juice. Once I felt better, she helped me get
dressed and I was escorted to a back room with big cushy chairs and a video
about after care and what to do and how to do it. The back room had an exit,
which was where they directed my mom to bring the car to get me.
The entire procedure was over in less than an
hour, waiting and recovery time included.
My mother and I do not have the best
relationship most of the time, but she was amazingly supportive. I wish a mom
like mine on every woman faced with making this decision. I rested for two
days and went back to work, with only some heavier than normal bleeding and
cramps to deal with.
I had some issues when my sister had her son a
week from the first year anniversary of my abortion. But I try always to be
honest with myself...I was happy and secure with my decision. But my sister
making a different choice when she got pregnant (she chose marriage and birth)
made me re-evaluate my decision. And even faced with the support my mom gave
my sister with HER choice, I still would not have made a different one.
Since then, I have tried to make sure my story
gets out. I do NOT feel shame nor regret, with the possible exception of
regretting being so irresponsible with my reproductive choices in the first
place. Birth control is cheap and easy to get. But what's done is done and I
have a loving husband now who knows about my choice and supports my efforts to
protect women's rights and promote reproductive responsibility.
I had an abortion.
I would do it again.
I'm glad I have that choice.
Far Out Religious Right - The Washington Spectator
Fanaticism. The 1990s may enter history books as a heyday of deadly
zealots. Except in war zones, today's worst threat comes from a hodgepodge of
True Believers who kill defenseless strangers to make political or religious
America likewise has a fundamentalist mass movement with a violent fringe
attached. Television evangelists and their political organizations -- the
Christian Coalition, the Christian Action Network, etc. -- endlessly call
abortion murder and portray clinic doctors as monsters. Yet they deny any
responsibility for the True Believers who take their words at face value, and
resort to guns.
America is more pious than other advanced democracies, and suffers a high
rate of religious ferment. Currently, the so-called Christian Right, allied to
the Republican Party, is gaining ground for its political goals. It seeks to
impose religion in public schools, ostracize homosexuals, censor movies and
magazines, increase executions, revoke women's right to choose abortion, curb
sex education, cut welfare for the poor, stop teaching of evolution, provide
tax money to church schools, end public funding of arts, allow carrying of
pistols, reduce day-care centers, amend the constitution to require a balanced
budget, etc. To call this agenda "Christian" seems bizarre.
While the Religious Right wears a mantle of godliness, occasional scandals
undercut its claim to moral superiority. For example, Beverly Russell was a
loud-praying South Carolina leader of both the Christian Coalition and the GOP
-- until it was revealed that he was a child-molester. He had sex with his
15-year-old stepdaughter, Susan Smith, according to evidence in her trial for
drowning her two little sons.
The Republican-fundamentalist alliance also is embarrassed by the goofiness
of some leaders. TV minister Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian
Coalition, has declared that his prayers can deflect hurricanes, that he is
"God's prophet," and that the European Community may signal the coming of "the
Antichrist." In his nutty book, The New World Order, Robertson said a
conspiracy by the Illuminati secret society and Jewish international bankers
causes most wars and other horrors. He said American presidents unwittingly
serve "a tightly knit cabal whose goal is nothing less than a new order for
the human race under the domination of Lucifer."
But neither child-molesters nor holy goofballs seem to damage the Christian
Right's political power, or its ability to spur believers to emotion-charged
Terrorism in the Name of Christ - Kimberly Blaker
(The Right Stuff, Column, http://www.g21.net)
Among a plethora of other parallels, what do
Christianity, Islam, and other world religions all have in common? An
inescapable capability of manifesting and/or attracting extremists of the
most lethal kind - terrorists. This has been proven time and again
throughout history and continues to be revealed. The capture of Eric Robert
Rudolph is just one more reminder.
Rudolph, charged with several Atlanta bombings, including the 1996
Centennial Olympic Park; an office building that was home to an abortion
clinic; and a gay and lesbian nightclub, proves that fundamentalist Muslim
terrorists from abroad are not our only enemy, and that, in fact, religious
extremism by American Christian fundamentalists is every bit as real.
Rudolph reportedly had contact with the racist Aryan Nation, also known
as Church of Jesus Christ Christian, and was a Christian Identity follower.
Some of his bombs even included messages from the Army of God.
An illustration of support for Rudolph's violence is found on the Army of
God's web site, where, following links to news reports on Rudolph and other
anti-abortion violence, the terrorists offer, "Babies deserved to be
protected from baby killing abortionists and from pro-choice baby killers."
The Army of God further advocates, "99 Covert Ways to Stop Abortion," a
list loaded with vicious, malicious, and criminal recommendations for
terrorizing abortion clinic doctors, employees, and women seeking abortion.
"For example," the Army advances, "an innocent driver in going-home or
going-to-work traffic who just happens to be in front of the abortionist in
his car might need to stop quickly to avoid hitting a child who darted into
the street, or some other unforeseen traffic hazard. If the abortionist were
to fail to stop in time, he would cause an accident that would require the
police to cite him for following too closely. It would cost him time and
money, make him late for ... work and make him liable to a lawsuit. it
might even cost him his insurance coverage, depending on his previous record
What else might anti-abortionists try? They can squeeze crazy glue into
entry key holes; "accidentally" bulldoze buildings; or shoot out clinic
windows, preferably with a "semi-automatic." Never mind that someone might
be on the other side of the glass.
But far from exhaustive, the site claims that, "rescuers," as they call
themselves, may be likely to get "felony convictions" regardless of whether
they act violently. Therefore, the Army justifies, "the powers that be have
guaranteed that the bombs and fires are not going to be just here and there
every now and again, but here, there, and every- where, now and again and
again and again."
The extremists admit that certain details from their manual have even
been omitted from their web site because of "the hysteria of the Federal
Government." One can only imagine the magnitude of what isn't included.
Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, who bombed the Alfred P. Murrah
Building in Oklahoma City, causing 168 deaths, are but two more examples of
such terrorism. They were influenced by the Christian Identity movement and
their bombing was in retaliation of what they perceived as government wrongs
against a Ruby Ridge white supremacist family and the Waco Branch Davidians.
Equally disturbing, according to the National Abortion Federation, there
have been 7 murders, 17 attempted murders, 41 bombings, 166 arson attacks,
82 attempted bombings/arson, 355 death threats, 125 assault and batteries,
654 anthrax threats, and 1,042 vandalizations by anti-abortionists.
But abortion providers aren't the only target of Christian terrorists.
Blacks, Jews and gays and lesbians have been longtime victims of these
During the 30 year period of 1889 to 1918, it is estimated between 3,200
and 5,000 men, women, and children (mostly black) were victims of lynchings
by the Ku Klux Klan (a Christian movement). In 1999, there were 1,487
recorded offenses against homosexuals, three resulting in death. There were
1,606 reported anti-Semitic incidents in 2000, including several bomb
threats to Jewish centers and temples.
Most telling, during the decade of 1991 to 2000, approximately 74,000
hate crimes were reported, according the FBI, in all.
Given the magnitude of fundamentalist Christian-based violence in the
U.S., it's bewildering why so much emphasis has been placed on Islamic
terrorism while Christian terrorism has received little acknowledgement or
energy from mainstream society and our government. Certainly the tragic
events of September 11, shouldn't be overlooked or neglected - but neither
should the widespread terrorism within our own nation.
Questions and Answers - Anne Nicol Gaylor (Abortion is A Blessing)
Education, of course, is the answer. The antiabortionists have been allowed
to blur the picture but when the focus clears, the legality of abortion will
remain secure. Had the proponents of legal abortion had the access to money,
to schools and churches, and to the media that the antis have had, the only
proponents of a ban on abortions in this country today would be those zealots
who oppose not only abortion but contraception, and in the final analysis, sex
Since the controversy goes on, it may be useful to review some talking
points in coping with the zealots. In fielding questions on abortion on talk
shows and before civic, school and church groups, I have found the antis'
questions fall into patterns. Here are some typical questions with answers
that worked for me.
QUESTION: How can your group condone abortion when it is murder?
Obviously we do not regard abortion as murder. We do not equate an embryo
or fetus with a human being. While we recognize that there is everything in
a human embryo to produce a person, we know that substantial growth and
development are necessary before any person exists. In reality everyone does
distinguish between potential and actual existence. You do not insist, for
example, that an acorn is an oak tree. If someone drives over an acorn in
your yard, you do not rush out and exclaim, "Why did you destroy my oak
tree?" Yet there is everything in an acorn to produce an oak tree except
growth and development. You do not insist that the egg you ate for breakfast
was a chicken, yet a fertilized egg has everything in it to produce a
chicken except growth and development. If you go to the store to buy apples
and are given a handful of seeds, you will not pay for apples, even though
the storekeeper might argue correctly that indeed apple seeds do produce
apples. Just as blueprints are not a completed building, so a human
fertilized egg is not a person. A conceptus, an embryo or fetus is potential
life. Birth makes babies and a great deal of growth and development must go
on before a fetus can sustain life, other than parasitically.
At the end of the second month of development, and most abortions in the
United States are performed before the end of the second month, an embryo is
approximately an inch in length and weighs one- thirtieth of an ounce. To
say that this embryo in its primitive development is a human being is an
affront to honesty. Think for a moment what you would do with such an embryo
if you had one. You could not rock it, or feed it, or sing to it. All that
you could do would be to put it on the shelf because it is an embryo; it is
not a baby. It is potential life; it is not a human being.
QUESTION: I have talked to lots of people who say abortion isn't really
legal? Is abortion legal?
Yes! On January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court, by ruling
oppressive Texas and Georgia abortion statutes unconstitutional, legalized
abortion across the country.
Although abortion may not be available in every state, it is legal in
every state. The only regulation a state may make about abortion in the
first three months is to require that it be done by a licensed physician.
For the second three months of pregnancy, a state may, if it wishes, say
abortions must be performed in hospitals, or similarly regulate conditions
protecting the health of the woman. Only in the final three months of
pregnancy may abortion be prohibited by state law, and even in that period a
woman may have an abortion to protect her life or health.
Don't let any antiabortionist tell you differently!
QUESTION: How can you support abortion when that unborn child that is
murdered might turn out to be another Beethoven or Shakespeare?
While it is possible that an aborted embryo or fetus might have turned
out to be another Beethoven or Shakespeare, it is equally possible it might
have turned out to be another Genghis Khan, another Adolf Hitler. As one
proponent of abortion has so aptly said, the overwhelming chances are that
it would have turned out to be just another Joe Blow. It is possible to
speculate endlessly about what might have happened, about the nonexistent.
In our world of almost four billion persons, it is highly probable that a
Beethoven or Shakespeare already exists who will never see a piano or learn
to read, because the child lives in a Chicago ghetto or Manila slum or Rio
de Janiero favela. The potential of millions of children already born will
never be realized because of malnutrition, illness, and poverty.
Antiabortionists, in their obsession with the quantity of life, ignore the
quality of life. Their consuming concern for embryos rarely is paralleled by
a concern for children already born.
QUESTION: You say a woman should be able to make this decision for
herself. Why shouldn't the father be able to say whether or not an abortion
can be done? After all, the child belongs to him, too, doesn't it?
We believe no woman should have to bear a child she does not want.
Compulsory pregnancy compounds problems; it does not solve them. We are
against enforced pregnancy no matter who is doing the enforcing whether it
is the state, the church, or an individual man.
From a practical point of view, if a couple does not agree on something
as basic and important as having a child, what kind of parents are they
going to be? What kind of marriage must they have? At best, they are going
to produce a half-wanted child.
And why shouldn't pregnancy be a woman's decision when she contributes so
much more to the pregnancy than does the man? An ejaculation, which takes a
few seconds, can not be equated fairly with nine months of gestation, and
delivery. You must remember that pregnancy is not much fun. For many women,
by the time they have quit vomiting they have started to bulge, and the
whole process can be nine months of acute discomfort.
If a woman produced one or two eggs in her lifetime then what happened to
those eggs would be of great concern, not only to her, but to society. But
she doesn't produce one or two eggs, she produces about 400 mature eggs.
Obviously they can't all become persons. Clearly society can afford to let
her determine for herself which eggs she sees through to personhood.
QUESTION: I can see abortion in cases of rape or incest or if there is a
strong possibility that a fetus is retarded or deformed but if some
sixteen-year-old tart goes out and gets herself pregnant, why should she be
able to have an abortion?
She should have an abortion because no sixteen-year old girl should have
to bear a child. No woman, regardless of age or circumstances, should be
forced to have a baby. You are viewing pregnancy and the consequent birth of
a baby as punishment. What a wretched reason for a baby to be born! A
teen-aged girl who becomes pregnant has a legitimate claim to anyone's
sympathy, to any doctor's help. She is physically immature, mentally
immature, insolvent, unhappy, her education incomplete. What sense does it
make to compel her to become a mother when the safe, simple alternative of
abortion is available?
QUESTION: Won't abortion mean fewer and fewer babies to adopt in this
Perhaps, and hallelujah! No woman should have to turn herself into a
breeding machine so somebody else can adopt a child. A scarcity of babies to
adopt means that so many of the formerly unadoptable-- the older children,
the black children, the mixed race children, the children with
handicaps--are finding homes. Also, there is new pressure to ease the
ludicrous restrictions on intercountry adoptions. There are literally
millions of homeless children in the world; there are also artificial,
bureaucratic barriers keeping them and potential parents apart.
In relation to adoption, it is valuable to contrast our attitudes toward
adoptive and natural parents. For years we have insisted that adoptive
parents be not too old or too young, that they have stable personalities and
even stabler incomes, that they supply references, that they survive group
and individual in-depth interviews as to their suitability for parenthood.
Yet, on the other hand, we have forced the thirteen-year-old girl, the
mother worn out from childbearing, the penniless woman and the woman who is
ill--all of whom did not want to be pregnant, none of whom could have got a
foot in the door of an adoption agency--to continue pregnancies and to
become parents. How ludicrous that we should maintain such lofty standards
for parenthood on the one hand, and have absolutely no standards at all on
QUESTION: Doesn't abortion make women sterile?
No. Improperly performed abortions may result in cervical damage,
sterilization, or even death. But properly performed abortions, especially
those done in early pregnancy using a local anesthetic and a suction
aspirator, are very safe, several times safer for a woman than childbirth.
(In 1973 the death rate for women in childbirth in the U.S. was 14/100,000,
for abortion 3/100,000. The death rate for first trimester abortion was
2/100,000. Death rates can be expected to decline still further when
physicians become more skilled at abortion techniques.)
QUESTION: Don't most people object to the legalizing of abortion?
Doesn't the referendum in Michigan prove this?
Most of the polls done in 1974 show the country about evenly divided on
the issue, with those persons favoring legal abortion a few percentage
Antiabortionists love to refer to the 1972 Michigan referendum, in which
a proposition to legalize abortion was defeated 61-39 per cent, but that
particular referendum probably only proves that the Catholic Church has a
lot of money. A comparison is useful here. In one of the western states a
few years ago a modified ban on cans was proposed and went out to
referendum. Polls showed that an overwhelming percentage of the state's
voters would favor the referendum and wished to put an end to the waste of
basic materials and the unsightliness of scattered cans. Then those who
objected to the can-ban got busy. They launched an expensive
public-relations campaign deliberately designed to cause apprehension,
inferring a can-ban might mean a recession in the state's economy and a
consequent loss of jobs. In the end the can-ban, whose backers had spent a
small sum, failed.
In Michigan early polls showed 56 per cent of the voters favored
legalization of abortion. Opponents, who hired an advertising agency, staged
a three-week blitz before the referendum, saturating television throughout
the state with antiabortion commercials. As an example of their diligence,
they came over to Green Bay, Wisconsin, to place commercials, since Green
Bay serves some of the upper peninsula of Michigan. Gory and inaccurate
brochures found their way to almost every one's door; one woman reported
receiving thirteen pieces by mail and personal delivery. The Catholic Church
used its tax-exempt machinery openly for the political purpose of helping
defeat a referendum, and of course it won. (Detroit Free Press, March 4,
1973) Tyranny is always better organized than freedom.
The lesson to be learned from the Michigan referendum is that advertising
campaigns, especially when they are inaccurate, blitz campaigns that are not
countered, may sway voters.
It is of questionable constitutionality, of course, to put individual
rights out to referendum. It's as undemocratic as letting Alabama and
Mississippi decide whether blacks should vote. Basic human rights, including
a woman's right to control her own reproductive life, are guaranteed by the
Constitution. They are not to be decided by popular referenda or church
edicts or male legislatures.
It's Not Abortion that's offensive; It's the so called "Pro-Life" people -
Joyce Arthur (The Ubyssey)
So the American-based Center for Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR) is coming to UBC
to display pictures of aborted fetuses, black lynching victims, and Jewish
Holocaust victims - all to convince people of the "genocide" of abortion.
You can be sure that CBR's graphic
display will feature no gory pictures of dead women lying in a pool of
their own blood after a botched illegal abortion. There will be nary a whisper
about the 80,000 women in the world who still die every year from unsafe,
illegal abortions, and the hundreds of thousands more who are maimed or
injured. Also, don't expect them to acknowledge that their
Christian forebearers used the Bible to vigorously defend slavery, or that
Hitler was a professed Roman Catholic who was also "pro-life." Such pesky
facts are irrelevant to anti-abortion activists.
Instead, most anti-abortionists operate under the delusion that fetuses are
far more important than any fundamental human value, including the lives and
rights of women, the alleviation of human suffering, freedom of conscience and
religion and of course, truth itself. That's why
most anti-abortionists look the other way when doctors are shot dead by
extremists in their movement It's why they're indifferent to the plight of
desperate women who risk their lives to get an abortion. It's why their
oblivious to the suffering of millions of
abused or neglected children throughout the world. It's why they pass
moral judgment on anyone who doesn't conform to their narrow mould. It's why
spout hatred, lies, and misinformation about abortion and its practitioners.
And it's why they think nothing of exploiting and trivialising the tragic
history of Jews and blacks for their own agenda.
In fact, you can bet that CBR and the organisers of this tasteless
demonstration are entirely unaware of the sheer insensitivity and
offensiveness of their actions. Of course, they want people to be offended,
and people certainly will be, but not because of any aborted fetus pictures.
Jews and Blacks will be insulted at the ignorant comparison between their
peoples' horrendous suffering and the
life-saving blessing of legal, safe abortion. Women will be angered by the
complete negation of their lives, their freedom and their humanity.
Don't let these anti-abortion demonstrators fool you with their spin on
ethics and genocide. To them,
women's suffering is
simply invisible, their lives expendable, and their rights
inconsequential. It's no coincidence that the same can be said about the
slaveholder's attitude to blacks, and the Nazi's attitude to Jews. Because
underneath anti-abortion rhetoric lies fascist disrespect for the human rights
of a large part of humanity.
If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a
sacrament. - Florynce R. Kennedy
Controversy over the meaning of our nation's
most majestic guarantees frequently has been turbulent. Abortion raises moral
and spiritual questions over which honorable persons can disagree sincerely
and profoundly. But those disagreements did not then and do not now relieve us
of our duty to apply the Constitution faithfully. - Harry A.
The states are not free, under the guise of
protecting maternal health or potential life, to intimidate women into
continuing pregnancies. - Harry A. Blackmun
I have met thousands and thousands of
pro-choice men and women. I have never met anyone who is pro-abortion. Being
pro-choice is not being pro-abortion. Being pro-choice is trusting the
individual to make the right decision for herself and her family, and not
entrusting that decision to anyone wearing the authority of government in any
regard. - Hillary Clinton
I am and always have been pro-choice, and that
is not a right any of should take for granted. There are a number of forces at
work in our society that would try to turn back the clock and undermine a
woman’s right to chose, and [we] must remain vigilant. - Hillary Clinton
If the anti-abortion movement took a tenth of
the energy they put into noisy theatrics and devoted it to improving the lives
of children who have been born into lives of poverty, violence, and neglect,
they could make a world shine. ~Michael Jay Tucker
Against abortion? Don't have one.
Society does not need more children; but it does need more loved children.
Quite literally, we cannot afford unloved children - but we pay heavily for
them every day. There should not be the slightest communal concern when a
woman elects to destroy the life of her thousandth-of-an-ounce embryo. But
all society should rise up in alarm when it hears that a baby that is not
wanted is about to be born. ~Garrett Hardin
Of course abortion isn't right. But it is even less right to bring
unwanted children into lifelong suffering and to strip women of their choice.
Making abortion illegal is not the way to prevent it. There is a much larger
picture that starts with much deeper roots. ~Anonymous
Abolition of a woman's right to abortion, when
and if she wants it, amounts to compulsory maternity: a form of rape by the
State. ~Edward Abbey
Seventy-seven percent of anti-abortion leaders
are men. 100% of them will never be pregnant. ~Planned Parenthood
The preservation of life seems to be rather a slogan than a genuine goal of
the anti-abortion forces: what they want is control. Control over
behavior: power over women. Women in the anti-choice movement want to
share in male power over women, and do so by denying their own womanhood,
their own rights and responsibilities. - Ursula K. Le Guin
"Make no mistake. This clearly is an issue of
personal freedom -- not one of morality. Morality cannot be legislated.
Morality is clearly a matter of personal choice. Personal choice can be
limited and will be limited unless thinking women and men raise our voices
against those who wish to take away our freedoms." - Melissa Etheridge
"No abortions. No exceptions." - Paul DeParrie
"Pro-life women using an oral contraceptive are
committing abortions upon themselves." - Army of God
"Now you want to give contraceptives to poor women. Where are we
going to get men for the armed forces? It's a good way to destroy an
army." - Gordon Roselip (Remark made during his term as state senator,
"The Constitution of the United
States, for instance, is a marvelous document for self-government by the
Christian people. But the minute you turn the document into the hands of
non-Christian people and atheistic people they can use it to destroy the very
foundation of our society. And that's what's been happening." -- Pat
Robertson, The 700 Club, Dec. 30, 1981 (Who was it that talked about having a
wall between church and state? That's right, Thomas Jefferson...but what the
hell did that guy know?)
"It is teaching kids to fornicate, teaching
people to have adultery, every kind of bestiality, homosexuality,
lesbianism-everything that the Bible condemns."--Pat Robertson, on Planned
Parenthood (funny, I didn't know Planned Parenthood suggested sex with
"I would have said yes to abortion if only it was right. I mean, yeah
it's right. Well no it's not right that's why I said no to it."-- George
W. Bush, South Carolina, February 14,2000
All of these guys are motivated by their
Christian doctrine to prevent the slaughter of innocents. Which is a little
puzzling, given that Yahweh specifically sanctioned infanticide more than once
in the Old Testament.
And a tumult will rise among your people, and all of
your fortresses will be ruined, just as Shalman ruined Beth-Arbel in a day's
battle. Mothers will be dashed to pieces with their sons.
Samaria will be desolated, because they have rebelled
against their God. They will fall by the sword, their infants will be dashed
to pieces, and their pregnant women ripped open.
Their infants will be dashed to pieces right before
their eyes. Their houses will be ruined and their wives raped.
Then again, nobody really gives a tinker's
damn what the Bible says anyway. People just take little pieces from the book
whenever it suits them, and ignore the rest.
For all sorts of scary, homophobic, racist,
anti-abortion quotations from some of the top leaders in the anti-abortion
movement (some of them funding our dear George W. Bush's re-election - come
on, like you didn't know that was the first thing on his agenda), see the
www.armyofgod.com - this one is truly frightening. They also have a
page devoted to aborted fetuses that they've given names to, like Tommy and
Sue. Of course, if Tommy or Sue are gay, black or non-Christian, the
Army of God does not want you to live. I'm sure God is pretty pissed
that this group of zealots is using God's name in vain.
www.godhatesfags.com - yep, the home of Fred Phelps, the original
homophobic, religious zealot who can find passages in his bible that you can't
find in yours! He really hates gays, non-Christians, pro-choice
supporters, non-whites, women, and any one that isn't, well, just like him.
Oh, yeah, and he is also using God's name in vain. It's ironic that all
of these fanatics like to use God's name to soften the blow of the extreme
hate in their message (screw that part in the bible about love your neighbor -
God really didn't mean that part).
www.patrobertson.com - this guy has
hopes of running our country. Thank God (yes, thank you, God), for not
allowing this hate-filled preacher man any where near the position of head of
our country. But, alas, he is best friends with George Bush - and we
know where that is going....
- the Christian Broadcasting Network. Talk about making one feel bad for
being a Christian.
http://cc.org - the
Christian Coalition. Using your donations to help fund the obliteration
of all things sexual!!!
www.thetruthaboutgeorgebush.com - straight from our president.
Checks and Balances can only hold out for so long, folks. Get out, vote,
protest, support those who support our rights!!!!
American Civil Liberties Union
American Civil Liberties Union: Reproductive Rights
Catholics for a Free Choice
Center for Reproductive Law & Policy, The
National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League
National Abortion Federation
National Organization of Women
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Voters for Choice