A Prol Life Look at Arguments for Abortion 5

This is the last in a series on some of the arguments for legalized abortion from a pro life view point.This one isn’t specifically about abortion, but is about something that has been coming up a lot in the news recently.

Other posts in this series:

Abortion Argument 1: If abortions are illegal, we will have women dying from back alley abortions.

Abortion Argument 2: If you are so Pro Life, why don’t you care about the kids who are born into families who don’t want them?

Abortion Argument 3: It’s my body, my choice! The life of the mother is more important than the potential life of a fetus.

Abortion Argument 4: It’s not really a child. It’s not human yet, just a bunch of cells/tissue.

Abortion Argument 5: If you defund/close down Planned Parenthood, where will women get health services?

This is less an argument for abortion, and more a general argument for the good, non-abortion services these clinics provide for women who may not have access to other health care sources.

First, doesn’t the Affordable Care Act nullify this argument? Doesn’t the ACA both require and provide healthcare for every single person in America? And every single policy that every single American now has access to provides every single service that any healthcare clinic does, except abortion.

OK, before you fire back that conservatives want to repeal the ACA, which would put us right back where Planned Parenthood is the only option for so many poor women, let’s looks at this more closely.

One of the things that Planned Parenthood claims women will no longer have access to is mammograms. This is a major talking point for them.

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There is not a single Planned Parenthood facility that performs mammograms. At best, they can help get women connected to clinics that do.

Of course, a mammogram isn’t the only thing Planned Parenthood does for women’s health. But then again, there’s not really that many PP clinics.

An article by Charles Camosy notes;

“The first thing to get clear is that Planned Parenthood actually doesn’t provide all that much for poor, vulnerable women — particularly if they don’t live in cities. Indeed, you may remember that, in wake of the Susan J. Komen defunding ridiculousness from a few years ago, lots of charges were thrown around about women losing out on mammograms. But it turns out that Planned Parenthood doesn’t even provide them. As Democrats for Life has pointed out numerous times in recent days, the number of local community health centers outnumber Planned Parenthood clinics ten to one. Rather than the one-size-fits-all franchise approach of Planned Parenthood, these community health centers nicely embody the principle of subsidiarity in responding to the diverse local needs of women — whether in the Bronx, rural Kansas, or southern California.”

Some go further and claim 20 clinics for every 1 Planned Parenthood office.

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It’s obvious that Planned Parenthood isn’t the only choice for women’s health. In fact, there are many more options that provide everything (and more) that a PP clinic does. Except abortions.

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The argument simply doesn’t hold up. Even without the ACA women have more options than Planned Parenthood. And, if the government stops sending tax dollars to PP, they could divert those funds to these other clinics.

Those tax dollars aren’t used for abortions, anyway? Right?

OK, but why not leave Planned Parenthood alone? They can be a small part of helping women stay healthy, why take away their funding?

Let me try to explain the pro life view of this. Assume that you think abortion is murder, it’s abhorrent.

Say there is a doctor that goes into low income areas and checks young women for cancer, and helps them be healthy. She does a lot for the women she runs into. This doctor really helps these women out. She also kills most of the children she encounters. Still think she is a good doctor?

That’s how pro life people see Planned Parenthood. All the good they may be doing is overshadowed by the horrific practice of murdering children. At the very least, we don’t want any tax dollars to go to that organization. As much as possible, we want women to go to other health clinics.

There are other health options, ones that don’t perform abortions that millions of Americans think are wrong. The government can and should divert my tax dollars to these clinics instead of Planned Parenthood. They can do this without impacting the health of women.

Pro Life Review of 5 Common Abortion Arguments

This is a series on some of the arguments for legalized abortion from a pro life view point:

Abortion Argument 1: If abortions are illegal, we will have women dying from back alley abortions.

Abortion Argument 2: If you are so Pro Life, why don’t you care about the kids who are born into families who don’t want them?

Abortion Argument 3: It’s my body, my choice! The life of the mother is more important than the potential life of a fetus.

Abortion Argument 4: It’s not really a child. It’s not human yet, just a bunch of cells/tissue.

Abortion Argument 5: If you defund/close down Planned Parenthood, where will women get health services?

The 5th one is not specifically about abortion, but it is an issue that has been in the news lately. If you believe that human life has intrinsic value, and it begins at conception, then all of these arguments fall flat when examined from a pro life viewpoint.

A Pro Life Look at Arguments for Abortion 3

I’m doing a few posts about some of the arguments for legalized abortion from a pro life view point. I want to really look at them, and try to explain why they are not persuasive for someone who supports making abortion illegal.

Other posts in this series:

Abortion Argument 1: If abortions are illegal, we will have women dying from back alley abortions.

Abortion Argument 2: If you are so Pro Life, why don’t you care about the kids who are born into families who don’t want them?

Abortion Argument 3: It’s my body, my choice! The life of the mother is more important than the potential life of a fetus.

This argument centers on the belief that forcing a woman to carry a baby she does not want full term is not right. She should have the right to end the pregnancy. We should not force a woman to endure the pregnancy. We should not force a woman to be a mother, even if she gives the baby up for adoption. It’s her life, her body, she chooses what to do with it.

One part of this argument, that even a lot of conservatives agree with, centers on cases of pregnancy caused by rape or incest and cases that put the life of the mother in danger. Many pro-life conservatives (especially politicians) would give an exception to illegal abortion in these cases.

NCBI said in 1996 that there are over 32,000 pregnancies that result from rape each year.

A book called “Practical Aspects of Rape Investigation: A Multidisciplinary Approach” written by by Hazelwood, Robert R. (Editor)/ Burgess, Ann Wolbert, quotes a 2005 study that 3-5% of rape cases result in pregnancy. It goes on to say that this number may be higher since not all sexual assaults are reported.

Not everyone agrees with these numbers. Some pro-life sources claim numbers that are under 1000 per year.  Susan Perry from Minn Post wrote, condemning people who claim that there are not a lot of pregnancies from rape/incest:

“In a 1996 study, researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina set out to determine the rape-related pregnancy rate in the United States. They estimated that about 5 percent of rape victims of reproductive age (12 to 45) become pregnant — a percentage that results in about 32,000 pregnancies each year.

“Rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency,” the researchers wrote. “It is a cause of many unwanted pregnancies and is closely linked with family and domestic violence.”

Four years later, another study, this time conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, estimated that rape led to as many as 25,000 pregnancies in the U.S. each year.

“Pregnancy following rape is a continuing and significant public health issue,” concluded the authors of that study.

Furthermore, in a 2004 national survey of a representative sample of women who had undergone abortions, 1 percent of the women indicated that they had been victims of rape. In addition, slightly less than half a percent said they became pregnant as a result of incest. At the time of that survey, an estimated 1.3 million women were undergoing abortions annually in the United States, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

The survey thus suggests that each year about 19,500 U.S. abortions are undertaken to end pregnancies that occurred as a result of rape or incest.

There is definitely a lot of swing in the numbers (1,000-32,000+), but we can all agree that any pregnancy that comes as a result of rape or incest is traumatic for the woman involved. I can’t imagine if someone I loved were forced into this situation.

But we can also agree that if we think the unborn child is a human being, then they are innocent of the crimes of the father. I know that many women may not be able to live with the knowledge that they are carrying the child caused by this brutal assault. I see that. It’s that fact that causes many pro life people to make exceptions for rape and incest.

As for the life of the mother, even if we hold (as I do) that the unborn child is a human being; if the life of the mother is threatened, then the mother should have the option to abort. No one can make another person risk their life for anyone else. If I’m walking along a cliff and see someone hanging off, about to fall, I should not be legally compelled to put my life in danger to try to save that person.

I respect the decision of any woman who is faced with the choice of their life or the child’s. I hope I never have to walk through that choice with my family.

But that’s about the only exception I can definitely agree to. A young women who just doesn’t want to carry the child, or maybe it’s inconvenient timing… I’m sorry but sex sometimes causes pregnancy. If you make the choice to have unprotected sex, then you might get pregnant. Those of us that believe the child is a human being even in the womb will never excuse killing that baby for convenience.

The whole “it’s my body” argument fails flat when you realize that from conception that little child has 23 different chromosomes and different DNA, it’s a different person. You gave up some of your rights the moment you became pregnant. (I’m stealing my thunder for the next argument)

I know we live in a world that glorifies sex and sexual identity. We live in a world that encourages sexual experimentation and sexual freedom. The freedom to have sex when you want with who you want has consequences. One of those might be unplanned pregnancy. If you are not ready to accept that, don’t have sexual intercourse. That is your choice, and that is when you have the power over your body.

But once that child is conceived, you are no longer responsible for just your own body. A choice was made that brought a new person into being. That little baby is just as much a human as anyone already born. What you do to it isn’t something you do to your own body. Abortion kills a human being. Abortion doesn’t kill part of the woman’s body, doesn’t remove an unwanted chunk of cells. It kills a person.

For the pro life person, the baby is a human being from conception. And the argument that  the woman’s body is hers to do with as she wants falls flat if you believe that the unborn baby is a complete person. And the argument that the mother’s life is more important that the baby’s life doesn’t work either. Both the mother and child are people. I believe they both have value if for no other reason than they are both made in the image of God. For one to kill the other because she doesn’t want to be pregnant is wrong.

Coming soon: Abortion Argument 4: It’s not really a child. It’s not human yet, just a bunch of cells/tissue.

A Pro Life Look at Arguments for Abortion 1

I’ve been stirred up about the issue of abortion recently. So I wanted to do a few posts about some of the arguments for legalized abortion from a pro life view point. I want to really look at them, and try to explain why they are not persuasive for someone who supports making abortion illegal.

Abortion Argument 1: If abortions are illegal, we will have women dying from back alley abortions.

I’ve heard this one a lot. But no one ever told me how many abortions there were before Roe v Wade, and how many women died from them. I did some digging, and found these articles:

  1. An article called “Lessons from Before Roe: Will Past be Prologue?” states that “Estimates of the number of illegal abortions in the 1950s and 1960s ranged from 200,000 to 1.2 million per year. One analysis, extrapolating from data from North Carolina, concluded that an estimated 829,000 illegal or self-induced abortions occurred in 1967.”  Article from the Guttmacher Institute.
  2. CNN article written on the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade had a timeline of legality for abortion. According to this article, there were ways to get legal abortion in the 1950s: “1950s: Hospitals start to form “therapeutic abortion boards” to decide whether doctors can perform an abortion on a case-by-case basis, according to Reagan. Therapeutic abortions are allowed by law if the mother’s life is in danger.”
  3. An article on the Huffington Post references a CDC document that says in 1947 700 women died as a result of botched abortions. The author of the Huffington article points out that that the US population has doubled in size since then.

Please note, these are not pro-life sources. Emphasis added.

So, what does all that mean?

We don’t have an accurate record of how many illegal abortion took place before Roe V Wade. An estimate with a swing from 200,000 to 1.2 million is huge. How can we really know how many abortion were happening illegally? I found a paper by the Georgia Right to Life which addresses this very thing. They point out that many pro-choice advocates claim there were upwards of 1.2 million illegal abortions per year prior to Roe v Wade. Here’s a quote from that paper.

“During 1973, after the Supreme Court had legalized abortion-on-demand nationwide in January of that year, 744,600 abortions were done (according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, an affiliate of Planned Parenthood, which surveys abortion providers and compiles abortion statistics). If abortion supporters want to claim that more than 1.2 million illegal abortions took place before 1973, then they must also explain why the legalization of abortion caused an immediate drop of more than 450,000 in the number of abortions!

The number of legal abortions did not reach 1 million until 1975, the third year of legalization. It was not until 1977 – four years after Roe v. Wade and with 2,688 abortion providers in operation – that the number exceeded 1.2 million, according to the Guttmacher Institute.”

The paper goes on to site stats from Vital Statistics of the United States, Vol. II, Mortality, Part A. 1960-77 about mortality rates around pregnancies. According to that source, in 1960 there were 1579 deaths related to pregnancy (includes abortion and any other health issue) and 289 were officially attributed to abortion complications. In 1968 there were 869 deaths related to pregnancy, 133 attributed to abortion. In 1972, the year before Roe v Wade there were 24 deaths from legal abortions, and 39 from illegal ones. That is a significant difference from 700 reported deaths in 1947. Of course, that makes sense. Medicine advanced a lot between the 1940s and the 1970s.

Regardless of the source, I think it’s a very good point from Georgia Right to Life. Why would there be 1.2 million abortions performed illegally, and then under 800,000 the next year when it was legal? It would make sense that there would have been fewer illegal abortions than legal ones. It would also make sense that the number of illegal abortion was less in earlier years, if for no other reason than that the population of the US was lower. As stated above, the population has more than doubled since the 40s.

We don’t have an accurate record of how many women died from illegal “back alley” abortions. In 1947 there were 700 reported. The Georgia Right to Life group referenced much lower numbers from a report on mortality in the 60s and early 70s. (In all of these cases it’s assumed that there were more deaths related to abortion than were reported. But these are the numbers we have. And, given that it would be more socially acceptable to admit death from botched abortion in the 1970s than in the 1940s due to shifting attitudes on sexuality, I think the downward trend in the numbers of deaths is likely accurate) These reports are contrary to the image of an unsanitary room with some untrained quack performing the procedure.  We often hear the phrase ‘back alley abortion” and see the image of a metal coat hanger, but based on these reports it seems that even illegal abortions (which were growing in number as the population grew) were becoming safer as medicine was getting better.

According to an article from July 2014 called Induced Abortion in the United States “The risk of death associated with abortion increases with the length of pregnancy, from one death for every one million abortions at or before eight weeks to one per 29,000 at 16–20 weeks—and one per 11,000 at 21 weeks or later.”  According to this CDC report in 2010 there were 10 deaths related to abortion. That number has fluctuated wildly, with as few as 4 in 1995 and 10 in 1994, and 9 in 1996. Medicine in the 21st century has continued to improve.

The numberofabortions.com, as of August 19, 2015, claims the number of abortions since Roe V Wade in the USA is 58, 182, 938. Over the past 42 years, that averages out to 1,385,308.05 abortions per year. That’s an average. The number of abortion in recent years has been declining. Citing both Guttmacher and the CDC, this website says there were between 730,000 and just over 1,000,000 abortions in 2011.

That’s a lot of information, but here’s what I take from it:

  1. Before abortions were legal, the number of deaths related to complications from them dropped, even though the number of abortions grew.
  2. Medicine has improved even more since 1973. And while they do still happen, deaths from abortion are very limited now.
  3. If abortions were illegal it makes sense that there would be fewer- not more- abortions. Based on the declines seen recently, the number would likely be much less than the number of abortions back in 1973.
  4. It also makes sense that there would be fewer deaths related to complications from illegal abortions since medicine has advanced in the last 40 years.

Now, imagine you are a pro life advocate. Not only is every woman who dies from abortion related complications a tragic loss of human life, but every single abortion is the loss of a human life. Based on this information, I can’t imagine that if abortion were illegal we would see numbers of deaths from illegal abortions spike beyond the numbers back in the 60s and 70s.

Yes, it would be horrible if young women who choose to have an abortion die. And it would be horrible if more women die because they don’t get safer medical treatment.

But, if making abortion illegal saves hundreds of thousands of lives… I don’t want to be callous. Every one of these tragic situations is very complex. The women who choose to have an elective procedure knowingly place themselves at risk. If fetuses are babies, are human lives, how can anyone choose to let hundreds of thousands of babies die in order to save dozens of young women? Can you see how a pro life person would not be swayed by this argument?

I know that by saying this, pro choice advocates can paint me as someone who doesn’t care about the health of women, someone who doesn’t care that young women in hard circumstances might die. But I do care. I don’t want anyone to die. Every life is precious, mother and child. 

Obviously, this post doesn’t address every reason someone might support abortion. But this argument is not effective for people who are pro life. Pro life people think that every fetus is a human life. I think that every human life has intrinsic value because we are made in the image of God. That belief colors my view of every argument for or against abortion.