abortion by xx6kR4zN


									Abortion: Life? Choice? Right?
Secular Arguments Against Abortion

         Richard Deem
        Evidence for God
  Secular Arguments Against
• Rich Deem – the agnostic
• Libertarians for Life (L4L.org) –
• A Secular Case Against Abortion by
  Jennifer Roth – secular humanist
• Feminists for Life (feministsforlife.org)
  – non-sectarian
       Why Should We Try to
1999 Gallup Poll on Abortion
• Opinion nearly split         (10%)
                           Prolife   Prochoice
• Only ~50% feel                       (48%)
  strongly either way       (42%)
• Nearly half have no
  strong opinion (i.e.,
  can be persuaded)                  Prochoice
                          No strong    (26%)
                            (45%) Strongly Prolife
     Abortion Arguments
• Scientific considerations
  • Human Embryology 101
  • When does human life begin?
• Legal Issues
  • Is the unborn a person?
  • Are the laws logically consistent?
• Moral Issues
  • When does a person begin to exist?
       Scientific Arguments
• When does human life begin?
   •Medical textbooks
   •Statements of doctors
• When does abortion occur?
• “Products of conception” – just a
  “blob of tissue”
    Medical Embryology
The Developing Human: Clinically
 Oriented Embryology
 "Zygote: this cell results from the
 union of an oocyte and a sperm. A
 zygote is the beginning of a new
 human being (i.e., an embryo).
 Human development begins at
 fertilization… This highly specialized,
 totipotent cell marks the beginning of
 each of us as a unique individual.”
    Medical Embryology
Essentials of Human Embryology
“In this text, we begin our description
of the developing human with the
formation and differentiation of the
male and female sex cells or gametes,
which will unite at fertilization to
initiate the embryonic development of
a new individual.”
    Medical Embryology
Human Embryology & Teratology
“Fertilization is an important landmark
because, under ordinary
circumstances, a new, genetically
distinct human organism is thereby
What Do Medical Doctors Say?
Dr. Alfred Bongioanni (University of
  “I have learned from my earliest medical
  education that human life begins at the time
  of conception.”
Dr. Jerome LeJeune (University of
  “after fertilization has taken place a new
  human being has come into being.”
What Do Medical Doctors Say?
Dr. Hymie Gordon (Mayo Clinic):
  “By all criteria of modern molecular biology,
  life is present from the moment of
Dr. Micheline Matthews-Roth (Harvard
University Medical School):
  “It is scientifically correct to say that an
  individual human life begins at conception”
     Human Embryology 101
• Fetal heart begins
  to form 18 days after
• Measurable heart beat
  21-24 days after
• Fetal brain begins to
  form on day 23
• Brain waves produced
  by 6 weeks
  Abortion Statistics by Weeks
          of Gestation
  Weeks of Gestation              Abortions (% of total)
              <6                               22
               7                               18
               8                               18
              >8                               42
Therefore, 78% of abortions occur after fetal
brain waves have begun
Elam-Evans, L.D., et al. 2002. Abortion Surveillance -- United
States, 1999. Surveillance Summaries 51(SS09) 1-28. (Center for
Disease Control and Prevention)
Fetus – Just a “Blob of Tissue”?
 “I opened the sock up and I put it on the
 towel and there were parts in there of a
 person. I‟d taken anatomy; I was a medical
 student. I knew what I was looking at. There
 was a little scapula and there was an arm,
 and I saw some ribs and a chest, and I saw a
 little tiny head, and I saw a piece of a leg,
 and I saw a tiny hand. ... I checked it out and
 there were two arms and two legs and one
 head, etc., and I turned and said, I guess you
 got it all ... It was pretty awful that first
 time... it was like somebody put a hot poker
 into me.” (Dr. David Brewer, in training)
Fetus – Just a “Blob of Tissue”?
 “I watched as the contents of the woman‟s
 womb came through a suctioning device
 and into a stainless-steel pail sitting at his
 feet. I stepped back and wiped the
 perspiration from my brow. “This is kind of
 gruesome,” I said…. The doctor said, “At
 this point in a pregnancy, the products of
 conception aren‟t much.” I stepped forward
 and peered into the pail. This time I broke
 out in a cold sweat. I backed up and leaned
 against the wall, my eyes closed. Dear
 Jesus! I thought. I just saw someone
 murdered! And I just stood and watched!
 (Nurse Don Haines, in training)
Fetus – Just a “Blob of Tissue”?
 “I had a quick sonogram and then received a
 shot of methrotrexate. After the shot, I came
 home... I went to bed that evening around 9
 p.m… I continued contracting and bleeding
 most of the night. Around three in the morning,
 I went to the bathroom. When I stood up, I
 noticed that the pain and the pressure was not
 from clots, but from passing the placenta. When
 I looked in the commode, I saw laying in the
 center of the placenta my baby. I saw the baby's
 perfectly formed hands, the little fingers. I
 remember the scream that came from my
 mouth... [from a 7 week abortion] (Char, “I used
 to be Pro-choice...But…”)
      Scientific Conclusions
• Human life begins at conception
• Human development proceeds rapidly
  (all organs and systems are in place by
  week 8)
• Abortion stops a beating heart
• Most abortions occur after the fetus
  exhibits measurable brain waves
           Legal Arguments
•   Right to life
•   Supreme Court decision
•   Legal definition of murder
•   Definition of murder – exceptions
•   Personhood issues
              Right to Life
The Declaration of Independence of the
United States guarantees “certain
unalienable Rights, that among those are
Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”
     Supreme Court Decision
• The Supreme Court held that the “right
  to privacy,” assured the freedom of a
  person to abort unless the state had a
  “compelling interest” in preventing the
• The Court then held that, though the
  state had an interest in protecting fetal
  life, this interest did not become
  “compelling” until “fetal viability”
  occurred in the third trimester of
      Legal Definition of Murder
   SECTION 187-199

    a. Murder is the unlawful killing of a
       human being, or a fetus, with malice

          Definition of Murder –
   b. This section shall not apply to any
      person who commits an act that
      results in the death of a fetus if any
      of the following apply:
        3. The act was solicited, aided, abetted,
           or consented to by the mother of the
   Legal Personhood Issues
• The fetus is granted personhood if
  wanted by the mother
• The fetus can become a non-person at
  the discretion of the mother
• However, a mother may not choose to
  kill her born child
• How can the personhood of a human
  being be decided by another person?
       Moral Arguments
• “Benefit” to women
• “Benefit to child (every child
• “Right” to control their own body
• Population control
• Fetus is not a person – personality
       “Benefit” to Women
• Prevention of deaths from “coat
  hanger” or “back alley” abortions
• Cases of rape or incest, fetal
  abnormalities or threats to mother‟s
  life or health
• Abortion alleviates economic and
  social problems
Abortion Must Remain Legal to
  Prevent Abortion Deaths
 Year        Abortion-related Deaths
 1940               1,470
 1950                 263
 1965                 201
“We spoke of 5,000-10,000 deaths a year.... I
confess that I knew the figures were totally false.”
Dr. Bernard Nathanson, (co-founder NARAL),
testimony before the Supreme Court in 1972
Abortion Must Remain Legal to
  Prevent Abortion Deaths
                        Deaths From Abortion
Year    Legal Abortions   Legal     Illegal
1972          ?              24         41
1973       615,831           25         21
1974       763,476           26          7
Tietze, C. 1983. Induced Abortion: A World
View. The Population Council, New York.
              The “Hard” Cases
Abortion must be available for:
• cases of rape or incest
    •     Represent only 1% of all cases
•       cases of fetal abnormalities
    •     Represent only 1% of all cases
•       mother‟s health is at risk
    •     Represents only 3% of all cases

The Alan Guttmacher Institute
 Abortion Alleviates Economic
     and Social Problems
• Pregnancy subjugates women, interferes
  with career and educational choices
• For most women, pregnancy does not
  interfere with the ability to work or attend
  school, except after birth
• Laws prevent employers from firing or
  discriminating against pregnant women
• Women are not forced to keep their children.
  Adoption is always an option
• The existence of social problems is not
  justification for another evil
Every Child Should Be Wanted
• Being wanted is not a condition of the
  child, but of the adult
• Is it fair to kill a child because of the
  attitude of an adult?
• Wanted children are less likely to
  suffer abuse (next slide)
 Every Child Should Be Wanted
 (Wanted Children Are Less Likely to Be Abused)

                    Reported Child
          Year       Abuse Cases
          1973         167,000
          1980         785,100
          1987       2,025,200
          2000       1,726,000
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National
Center of Child Abuse & Neglect; National Analysis of
Official Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting
 Women Have a “Right” to
 Control Their Own Body
• Is the fetus part their body?
  • Separate circulatory system
  • Unique DNA
• Do we have rights to do anything
  with our bodies?
  • Assault
  • Illegal drugs
  • Use of drugs/alcohol during pregnancy
Population Control – Rebuttal
• Those countries that outlaw abortion
  have an overcrowding problem
  • This does not indicated cause and
    effect – these countries also have little
    or no access to birth-control, poor
    education, etc.
  • War, disease and famine also curb
    population growth. Should we condone
      Fetus Is Not a Person
“Persons . . . are members of a social
community that shapes and values them,
and personhood must be defined in
terms of interactions and relationships
with others.”

Susan Sherwin. 1999. Ethical Issues:
Perspectives for Canadians. Ed. Soifer,
Eldon. Peterborough, Ontario:
Broadview Press, p. 267
       Fetus Is Not a Person –
• Personality definition problems
  •   Does a human non-person exist?
  •   What traits define personhood?
  •   Who makes the definition?
  •   Society has excluded certain humans
      from personhood before (e.g., African
      slaves, Chinese, etc.) Should we make a
      new list of human non-persons?
  Fetus Is Not a Person –
• The lack of certain personality traits
  would remove from personhood:
  • Those who are in a coma
  • Elderly with degenerative disorders
    (Alzheimer's, etc.)
  • Mentally deficient
     • Genetic
     • Neurological disease
     • Mental illness
  • Is is okay to consider these human
    beings as non-persons?
    Definition of Personhood
• One who is consciously performing
  personal acts – eliminates those who
  are sleeping
• One with a present capacity to perform
  personal acts – eliminates those who
  are in a coma
    Definition of Personhood
• One who has a history of performing
  personal acts – eliminates one who
  was in a coma from birth, but wakes up
• One with a future capacity for
  performing personal acts – makes
  those who are dying as non-persons
  Implications of Functionally-
     Defined Personhood
• Newborns lack the ability to perform
  personal functions – in fact, newborn
  humans are less capable physically
  and mentally than virtually all other
• Therefore, on the basis of functionally-
  defined personhood, newborns fail the
  test could be killed on the basis of
When Does a Human Become
        a Person?
•   At conception
•   After 20 weeks‟ gestation
•   After 24 weeks (fetal viability
    outside the womb)
•   At birth
•   At the point that the individual
    expresses self-consciousness and
    an interest in their continued
At Conception, It Is Only a
       Single Cell
• Fertilized eggs are single cells, like
   blood cells or other parts of the
• The single cell is unique from both
   the father‟s and mother‟s cells and
   is the beginning of every new
   human being
Claim: Prior to 20 Weeks, a
   Fetus Is Not a Person
•   A person possess an individual
    human personality
•   Prior to 20 weeks‟ gestation, the
    cerebral cortex has not yet
    developed to the point that the
    fetus can possess an individual
    human personality
•   The fetus prior to 20 weeks‟
    gestation is not a person.
Prior to 20 Weeks, a Fetus Is
  Not a Person – Rebuttal
Person = Personality Problem
  •   All persons were once fetuses. When
      did we go from non-person status to
      person status?
  •   To say that personality defines
      personhood is to deny the role of the
  •   Mind/Body dualism?
Prior to 20 Weeks, a Fetus Is
  Not a Person – Rebuttal
Brain Development Problem
   The development of the brain is
   programmed by the DNA – it is an
   inherent function of the fertilized ovum
   and continues even after birth
Prior to 24 Weeks, a Fetus Is
    Not Viable – Rebuttal
•       Depends upon current technology
    •     Age of viability used to be 28 weeks
    •     Changed to 24 weeks in 1990
•       Artificial womb (Nature, 2002)
    •     Developed for premature infants
    •     Uses oxygenated perfluorinated
    •     Could cut the point of fetal viability in
Personhood Starts at the Point
    of Self-consciousness
• „In Defense of Abortion and Infanticide,‟
  Michael Tooley claims that individuals have
  a right to life only at the point of self-
  consciousness and an interest in their own
  continued existence
• Tooley concludes, therefore, that infanticide
  is morally acceptable
• If the individual will, in the future develop
  such interest, is it permissible to kill the
  individual before such interests develop?
  Can fetuses be excluded from allowing such
  development to occur?
      Morality and Abortion
• Often quoted, “safe, legal, and rare” –
  Why rare?
• Abortion rate “too high”
  • ~30% of pregnancies in the U.S.
  • ~70% of pregnancies in Russia
• If abortion is good, wouldn‟t higher be
   Do You Personally Believe
    That Abortion Is Wrong?
Even though 51% claimed
to be “pro-choice” only      Don‟t Know
36% believe that abortion       (8%)
was not morally wrong         No       Yes
                            (36%)     (56%)

Newsweek Poll conducted by Princeton
Survey Research Associates. October 29-
30, 1998
     I Am Personally Against
         Abortion, But…
• Why are you personally against
• If you believe it is immoral, why do you
  think it should be legally allowed?
  • I am personally against murder, but…
  • I am personally against robbery, but…
      Abortion Vs. Slavery
Abortion (2003)            Slavery (1850‟s)*
“They‟re not               “They‟re not persons,
persons”                   but property”

It‟s a personal choice It‟s a personal choice

It‟s a religious issue     It‟s a religious issue

 *Stephen Douglas used all of these arguments in
 favor of retaining slavery
Abortion: Life? Choice? Right?

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        Evidence for God

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