Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Liberal Psuedo-Science and the Abortion Debate

Perhaps slightly less heated than the gay marriage issue is the topic of abortion. On one side of the issue are its proponents who argue that a woman has the right to chose whether to keep or terminate the baby. On the other side are opponents arguing that abortion amounts to murdering the most innocent life – babies.

With the election of abortion-friendly President Obama, abortion advocates have been praising the return of “science” to issues of reproductive health. Conversely, I am an advocate for the health of the unborn and question what “science” has to do with abortion on demand. Attempts to rationalize the morality of the abortion issue with abortion advocates is a losing proposition when they believe in subjective morality, i.e. morality is defined by the majority or, in this case, by the loudest contingent of the population. Therefore, let’s evaluate the issue on a more scientific basis:

Point 1: When does life begin?

Abortion advocates claim that life does not begin at conception. Depending upon their particular view of abortion, some argue it begins in the second trimester, or the third, or at birth. There is no scientifically defensible rationale behind their assertions regardless of their definition for the beginning of life. If life begins when the baby is born, then what if a baby is born premature at 25 weeks? Is it still a life? If life begins in the second trimester then what happens between week 11 and 12 of pregnancy that makes the baby a life, scientifically speaking?

Eighteen to 22 days (3 weeks) after conception the baby’s heart is beating with its own, unique rate. Ironically, cardiac arrest is often used as the determination of time of death when we die, but to an abortion advocate the commencement of a hearth rhythm is a moot point, despite being a more scientific measure of the beginning of life.

Furthermore, at conception the mother and father’s genetic material is combined giving the baby its full set of genetic information. At that moment, every genetic aspect of that person’s life is already determined – from the first days of life (in the womb) to the very last days of his or her adult life. Scientifically speaking, this is the most significant event in that person’s LIFE.

Some arguments promoted by abortion advocates claim that the baby cannot be considered life until it would be able to survive outside of the mother. This argument follows the “logic” that because the baby is incapable of surviving without the mother it must be a physical part of the mother. Interestingly, the survivability of pre-term babies is increasing due to advances in medical treatment; therefore, one cannot assign nor predict a specific week of prenatal development before which life is unsustainable. Furthermore, a full-term baby is incapable of caring for itself once born (and for several years after) without the help of another individual. Based upon the aforementioned “reasoning” that the baby is not an individual because it cannot self-survive we should therefore be within our rights to kill young children at will since their survival is dependent upon others.

Point 2: Is abortion a reproductive health choice?

The majority of abortions performed are not in instances of rape or incest. Therefore, in most cases, the reproductive choice has already been willfully made by the time a pregnancy occurs. Abortion is used as a means to try and correct a previous poor choice. President Obama went so far as to opine on the topic during his campaign, “I would not want my girls to be punished with a baby for making a bad decision.” Accountability is severely lacking in our society; so it is no surprise that abortion advocates don’t think women need to be accountable for their reproductive decisions. Men also need to take responsibility for their reproductive decisions but women ultimately bear the consequences should a pregnancy result.

Therefore, abortion is not about reproductive health choices, it is about avoiding responsibility. The choice is made before conception and there are no laws preventing women from freely making those choices.

Point 3: Isn’t abortion an issue of women’s rights?

No. It is an issue of the rights of the unborn - the right to life for those so innocent they cannot speak for themselves. Only women are capable of carrying a baby; therefore, they bear the incredible responsibility and honor of protecting that life.

In addition, abortion advocates dismiss the father’s rights (rightfully so in cases of rape or incest). Scientifically speaking, the baby is 50% of the father’s genetic material and, obviously, babies would not be conceived without a father. Most states already recognize this fact and have laws requiring fathers to financially support their children (whether the father actually owns up to the responsibility is not the point). However, no state requires the consent of the father before decisions on the baby’s prenatal health are made – including abortion. Although a woman carries the child to birth, a man cannot reproduce without the woman doing so; however, there are no laws respecting the man’s reproductive rights – specifically, the right to be involved in prenatal decisions such as abortion.

Point 4: Isn’t a baby better off being aborted than raised in a questionable environment?

The position that babies born into bad situations (poverty, abuse, neglect) are better off aborted is euthanasia. For decades environmentalists have argued that species must be protected from extinction because they might one day help us cure for [insert your illness of choice]. One could correspondingly argue that an unborn child might become the researcher that develops the cure to [the illness referenced above]. Many people have risen out of adversity to make great contributions to science and society; to predetermine a person’s worth before birth is completely arbitrary and unethical. Using the same logic we could make the case that we should murder everyone currently on welfare because they are a drain on society and don’t have a chance to live a happy, productive life.

Point 5: When is a fetus no longer part of a woman’s body?

At conception. Abortion advocates like to reconcile murder of an unborn baby with their morality by claiming that the fetus is just a part of the woman’s body, much like a tumor. However, a tumor is a genetic mutation in the woman’s cells – a negative variation in her own genetic information. A baby has its own unique genetic information that is a consequence of the union of the mother and the father. Babies can even have different blood types than their mothers; all of this being determined at conception.

The assertion that a baby is a part of the woman’s body breaks down under simple logic:

1) A fetus is part of a pregnant woman’s body
2) A male fetus has a penis
3) Therefore, a pregnant woman with a male fetus has a penis

In addition, this premise once again fails the scientific test because the baby can be genetically tested and determined to be a unique individual (genetically unique) from the moment of conception.
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During his commencement speech at the University of Notre Dame, President Obama suggested the pro-life and pro-abortion factions work to find common ground and points of consensus in this great debate. While the speech was arguably devoid of any meaningful content, basking in the glory of trivial puffery, it inarguably lacked merit and sincerity. Being one of the most liberal proponents for abortion, there is little confidence that Obama would 1) seek any common ground on the issue or 2) carefully consider the arguments of the pro-life viewpoint. Promising to restore scientific credibility to the Office of the President was likewise a distraction technique intended to distract from the true lack of credibility in the President’s positions on issues such as abortion. As I have shown, the more scientific credibility can be afforded to the pro-life position than to the pro-abortion position. However, abortion proponents, including President Obama, continue to declare unfounded scientific authority while defaming their opponents through capricious ad hominem attacks.

Our country’s founding fathers wrote in the 1776 Declaration of Independence that we are “endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Abortion advocates willfully disavow the unborn of their right to life; therefore, they stand in ironic opposition to the most fundamental of rights whilst asserting their artificially constructed “reproductive right.” Following their example, should we also condone murder against others who “violate” our self-implied rights? Is it acceptable for me to murder the car dealer because he stands in the way of my “right” to own a car? Is it okay to murder the banker because he opposes my “right” to the cash in the vault? Is it okay to murder my adolescent because she stands in the way of my “right” to party every night?

Abortion is not only scientifically indefensible, it is ethically and morally wrong. Abortion “rights” are purely born out of subjective morality and self-serving interpretation of law. When the truth of the Abortion argument is exposed its proponents unfailingly cite two scenarios: Rape/incest and health of the mother. Neither of these examples constitute the majority of abortion cases. Instances where the mother’s life is at risk due to the pregnancy are rare and the need to abort the child is often questionable. In these instances, every effort should be made to deliver the baby the mother’s life is most likely to be threatened by a complication that occurs in the third trimester when survival of the baby is likely.

Support for abortion in the cases of rape and incest still denies the child his or her fundamental right to life. The problem is not inadequate legal authorization to kill the resulting baby; instead, it is inadequate laws to properly sentence the criminals. Rapists are rarely given sentences fitting their crime; thus, there is little consequence to avoid. The choice of chemical castration or life in prison upon first conviction would certainly be a deterrent to many would-be rapists, but opponents argue it is over-zealous citing the numerous cases of false claims. Logically, there is an easy solution: if you want to avoid severe punishment don’t commit the crime; if you want to avoid false conviction don’t have casual sex. There is no infringement of rights implicit in this position – there is just a recognition that we need to take responsibility for our actions.

In conclusion, the issue of abortion is not about science. Science cannot make any value judgments on the merits, or lack thereof, for abortion. We can understand the reproductive process through science, but the issue of abortion remains a moral and ethical issue. Abortion can only be defended through subjective morality which is indefensible because it has no basis. In contrast, abortion denies the most innocent of human beings the most fundamental of all rights: the right to life.

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