Abortion is Life
Abortion is never an easy decision, but women have been making that
choice for thousands of years, for many good reasons. Whenever a society
has sought to outlaw abortions, it has only driven them into back alleys
where they became dangerous, expensive, and humiliating. Amazingly, this
was the case in the United States until 1973, when abortion was
legalized nationwide. Thousands of American women died. Thousands more
were maimed. For this reason and others, women and men fought for and
achieved women's legal right to make their own decisions about abortion.
However, there are people in our society who still won't accept this.
Some argue that even victims of rape or incest should be forced to bear
the child. And now, having failed to convince the public or the
lawmakers, certain of these people have become violent extremists,
engaging in a campaign of intimidation and terror aimed at women seeking
abortions and health professionals who work at family planning clinics.
Some say these acts will stop abortions, but that is ridiculous. When
the smoke clears, the same urgent reasons will exist for safe, legal
abortions as have always existed. No nation committed to individual
liberty could seriously consider returning to the days of back-alley
abortions; to the revolting specter of a government forcing women to
bear children against their will. Still, amid such attacks, it is
worthwhile to repeat a few of the reasons why our society trusts each
woman to make the abortion decision herself.
Laws against abortion kill women.
To prohibit abortions does not stop them. When women feel it is
absolutely necessary, they will choose to have abortions, even in
secret, without medical care, in dangerous circumstances. In the two
decades before abortion was legal in the U.S., it's been estimated that
nearly a million women per year sought out illegal abortions. Thousands
died. Tens of thousands were mutilated. All were forced to behave as if
they were criminals.
Legal abortions protect women's health.
Legal abortion not only protects women's lives, it also protects their
health. For tens of thousands of women with heart disease, kidney
disease, severe hypertension, sickle-cell anemia and severe diabetes,
and other illnesses that can be life-threatening, the availability of
legal abortion has helped avert serious medical complications that could
have resulted from childbirth. Before legal abortion, such women's
choices were limited to dangerous illegal abortion or dangerous
A woman is more than a fetus.
There's an argument these days that a fetus is a "person" that is
"indistinguishable from the rest of us" and that it deserves rights
equal to women's. On this question there is a tremendous spectrum of
religious, philosophical, scientific, and medical opinion. It's been
argued for centuries. Fortunately, our society has recognized that each
woman must be able to make this decision, based on her own conscience.
To impose a law defining a fetus as a "person," granting it rights equal
to or superior to a woman's -- a thinking, feeling, conscious human
being -- is arrogant and absurd. It only serves to diminish women.
Being a mother is just one option for women.
Many hard battles have been fought to win political and economic
equality for women. These gains will not be worth much if reproductive
choice is denied. To be able to choose a safe, legal abortion makes many
other options possible. Otherwise an accident or a rape can end a
woman's economic and personal freedom.
Outlawing abortion is discriminatory.
Anti-abortion laws discriminate against low-income women, who are driven
to dangerous self-induced or back-alley abortions. That is all they can
afford. But the rich can travel wherever necessary to obtain a safe
Compulsory pregnancy laws are incompatible with a free society.
If there is any matter which is personal and private, then pregnancy is
it. There can be no more extreme invasion of privacy than requiring a
woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. If government is permitted
to compel a woman to bear a child, where will government stop? The
concept is morally repugnant. It violates traditional American ideas of
individual rights and freedoms.
Outlaw abortion, and more children will bear children.
Forty percent of 14-year-old girls will become pregnant before they turn
20. This could happen to your daughter or someone else close to you.
Here are the critical questions: Should the penalty for lack of
knowledge or even for a moment's carelessness be enforced pregnancy and
childrearing? Or dangerous illegal abortion? Should we consign a
teenager to a life sentence of joblessness, hopelessness, and
"Every child a wanted child."
If women are forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term, the result is
unwanted children. Everyone knows they are among society's most tragic
cases, often uncared-for, unloved, brutalized, and abandoned. When they
grow up, these children are often seriously disadvantaged, and sometimes
inclined toward brutal behavior to others. This is not good for
children, for families, or for the country. Children need love and
families who want and will care for them.
Choice is good for families.
Even when precautions are taken, accidents can and do happen. For some
families, this is not a problem. But for others, such an event can be
catastrophic. An unintended pregnancy can increase tensions, disrupt
stability, and push people below the line of economic survival. Family
planning is the answer. All options must be open.
At the most basic level, the abortion issue is not really about
abortion. It is about the value of women in society. Should women make
their own decisions about family, career, and how to live their lives?
Or should government do that for them? Do women have the option of
deciding when or whether to have children? Or is that a government
The anti-abortion leaders really have a larger purpose. They oppose most
ideas and programs which can help women achieve equality and freedom.
They also oppose programs which protect the health and well-being of
women and their children.
Anti-abortion leaders claim to act "in defense of life." If so, why have
they worked to destroy programs which serve life, including prenatal
care and nutrition programs for dependent pregnant women? Is this
respect for life?
Anti-abortion leaders also say they are trying to save children, but
they have fought against health and nutrition programs for children once
they are born. The anti-abortion groups seem to believe life begins at
conception, but it ends at birth. Is this respect for life?
Then there are programs which diminish the number of unwanted
pregnancies before they occur: family planning counseling, sex
education, and contraception for those who wish it. Anti-abortion
leaders oppose those too. And clinics providing such services have been
bombed. Is this respect for life?
Such stances reveal the ultimate cynicism of the compulsory pregnancy
movement. "Life" is not what they're fighting for. What they want is a
return to the days when a woman had few choices in controlling her
future. They think that the abortion option gives too much freedom. That
even contraception is too liberating. That women cannot be trusted to
make their own decisions.
Americans today don't accept that. Women can now select their own paths
in society, including when and whether to have children. Family
planning, contraception, and, if need be, legal abortion are critical to
sustaining women's freedom. There is no going back.
If you agree with this, you can help. Circulate this statement among
your friends, and support our work by contacting Planned Parenthood in
your area. Thank you.
- Text appropriated from Planned
Abortion is Murder
There is a great deal of discussion about women's rights, privacy,
deformed babies, child abuse, back-alley abortions, and so on. But surely
the central question is, Is this a human life? If the unborn child, at
some point in its development, is not a living human being, then there may
be any number of valid reasons for destroying this "thing". On the other
hand, if the unborn child, at some point in his/her development, is a human
being, than destroying him/her is killing a person.
So when does human life begin?
Some people say that life begins when the unborn child reaches
"viability", the point where he or she can survive outside the womb.
For example, the picture to the leftshows Kenya King. A
normal (although exceptionally cute) baby? Yes and no. She was born June
16, 1985, at just 21 weeks into her mother's pregnancy. That's over four
months premature. She weighed just 1 pound, 2 ounces when she was born,
and in the weeks that followed her weight dropped to 13 ounces. This
picture was taken when she was able to go home with her mother, Lisa, a
healthy, adorable, five-pound little girl.
This is Kelly Thorman, born in March 1971 in Toledo, Ohio, also
at 21 weeks. This picture was taken three weeks later. It shows just how
tiny she was. Do you see that bracelet around her wrist? Well, it's not
really a bracelet -- it's the nurse's wedding ring. Kelly weighed just
one pound when this picture was taken.
When does a developing child become "viable"? That is, what is the
earliest a child could be born and still have a chance to survive? Forty
years ago doctors put the age of viability at about 30 weeks into
pregnancy, or ten weeks premature. Twenty years ago it was 25 weeks.
Today it is 20 weeks. Both of the children pictured above were born at 21
weeks and survived.
But viability used to be 30 weeks and is now 20. What's changed? Have
babies changed? Have mothers changed? No, what's changed is the medical
know-how of the doctors and the sophistication of the life support
equipment available to them. Forty years ago doctors didn't have all the
high-tech medical equipment they have today, so babies who would have
died back then can now be saved. So what is "viability" measuring? It is
a measure of the state of medical science and technology in a particular
place at a particular time; it does not tell us anything about the baby.
For several centuries the most popular belief was that life begins when
the unborn child begins to move. This was called "quickening", which
actually means "becoming alive". I suppose this is not too irrational.
After all, what's the most obvious sign that someone is dead? Surely it's
that he's lying on the floor not moving. Of course this
test is not totally reliable, but if you kick him a few times and he
doesn't get up or make a sound, that's a strong clue that he's dead. So
if someone is dead when he stops moving, perhaps we should say that he is
alive when he starts moving.
Anyway, back then they didn't have ways to see into the womb to
really tell when a baby starts moving. By 18 weeks the baby can kick hard
enough for the mother to feel it, but of course he's moving before then,
though they weren't sure exactly when. Today we know that babies start
moving at about six weeks, the age of the baby shown here.
Of course today we're more sophisticated than the simple "not moving"
test. Today we usually declare someone to be clinically and legally dead
when we can no longer detect brain waves using an electroencephalogram
(EEG). So if we say that someone is dead when brainwaves stop, perhaps we
should say that he is alive when brainwaves start. When do brainwaves
start? We can meaure them at 6 weeks.
Before the idea of "brain death" came along, we used to declare someone
dead when his heart stopped beating. So if you're dead when your heart
stops beating, perhaps you're alive when you're heart starts beating.
When does this happen? At just three weeks after conception. (Sorry, I
don't have a picture this early.)
Our Story So Far ...
What we've just said is something of a quick summary of development in
the womb -- albeit in reverse. So let's summarize some highlights of
- At 20 weeks the baby is viable.
- At 6 weeks we can measure brain waves.
- At 6 weeks he begins to move his arms and legs. At 3 weeks his heart
begins to beat.
How many abortions are there?
In 1985, 1,588,600 abortions were done in the U.S., with 10% being late
abortions (after 12 weeks) (Alan Guttmacher Institute's figure). When the
unreported abortions are added (income tax evasion, cover-up for privacy,
etc.), a figure of 1,800,000 is probably more realistic. Live births have
hovered around the 3,600,000 figure for several years. Therefore: Almost
every third baby conceived in America is killed by abortion. In the U.S.,
about 40% of the total are repeat abortions.
In Canada, in 1984, there were 62,291 abortions, which is 17.5% of their
birth rate (11.7% were late abortions).
The Extremely Harsh Reality
These dead babies had reached fetal ages of 18 to 24 weeks before being
killed by abortion. This is the result of one morning's work at a
Canadian teaching hospital.
Text appropriated from Ohio
Right to Life Site