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Abortion, in its most common usage, refers to the deliberate premature termination of a pregnancy resulting in the killing of any or all carried unborn infants. The ethics, morality, and legality of abortion is the subject of intense debate throughout the world.
U.S. Legal status
The current legal status of abortion in the United States is based on the Supreme Court's 1973 decision in the controversial Roe v. Wade. This ruling states that abortion is legal prior to the third trimester of pregnancy, after which time a state may regulate the procedure. After viability, the state's interest in fetal protection increases, and a state may more heavily regulate abortion.
The Roe v. Wade decision overturned many state laws regarding abortion by claiming that abortion is a constitutional right and therefore state legislatures did not have the right to follow the will of the citizens with regard to laws on abortion. This is controversial because abortion is obviously not mentioned in the Constitution. And the justices on the Supreme Court are mandated to base their decisions on the Constitution, not their personal opinions and wants.
Most experts on constitutional law regard the decision on the Roe v. Wade case as a tremendous legal mistake. The Supreme Court interjected itself into what should have been a legislative matter. The Constitution doesn't address this issue, and as the Tenth Amendment affirms, on issues where the Constitution is mute, we have state and federal legislatures to write our laws. The Constitution is sort of the Bible for the United States of America, and the justices of the Supreme Court are essentially the theologians who decide what it means. They aren't supposed to write a new one. They're supposed to figure out what it means. When a change in the Constitution is needed, we have a mechanism to change it.
Most legal scholars believe it would be better for everybody if the matter of abortion was returned to the state legislatures. In that way the people's elected representatives can write the laws in accordance with the will of their electorates. We'd only have a hodgepodge of laws across the country, and in some areas abortion would be illegal if the electorate wants it that way. That's how democracy works.
What we call law is nothing more or less than the public's collective belief, their conviction of what right and wrong is. Whether it's about murder, kidnapping, or running a red light, society decides what the rules are. In a democratic republic, we do that through the legislature by electing people who share our views. That's how laws happen. We also set up a Constitution, the supreme law of the land, which is very carefully considered because it decides what the other laws may and may not do, and therefore it protects us against our transitory passions. The job of the judiciary is to interpret the laws, or in this case the constitutional principles embodied in those laws, as they apply to reality. In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court went too far. It legislated; it changed the law in a way not anticipated by the drafters, and that was an error. All a reversal of Roe will do is return the abortion issue to the duly elected state legislatures.
1. Suction Aspiration: This is the procedure most often used in the first trimester of pregnancy (the first three months). The abortionist inserts a suction tube (similar to a vacuum hose with an extremely sharp end) into the mother's womb. The suction and cutting edge dismember the baby while the hose sucks the body parts into a collection bottle.
2. Dilation and Curettage (D & C): In this procedure, the abortionist uses a loop shaped knife to cut the baby into pieces and scrape the uterine wall. The baby's body parts are then removed and checked to make sure that no pieces were left in the mother's womb.
3. Dilation and Evacuation (D & E): This form of abortion is used to kill babies in the second trimester (24+ weeks). The abortionist uses a forceps to grab parts of the baby (arms and legs) and then tears the baby apart. The baby's head must be crushed in order to remove it because the skull bone has hardened by this stage in the baby's growth.
4. Dilation and Extraction (also known as D & X or Partial-Birth Abortion): Used to kill babies well into the third trimester (as late as 32 weeks old), the abortionist reaches into the mother's womb, grabs the baby's feet with a forceps and pulls the baby out of the mother, except for the head. The abortionist then jams a pair of scissors into the back of the baby's head and spreads the scissors apart to make a hole in the baby's skull. The abortionist removes the scissors and sticks a suction tube into the skull to suck the baby's brain out. The forceps are then used to crush the baby's head and the abortionist pulls the baby's body out the rest of the way.
5. Salt Poisoning: This technique is used in the second and third trimester. The abortionist sticks a long needle into the mother's womb. The needle contains salt which is then injected into the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby. The baby breathes in, swallows the salt and dies from salt poisoning, dehydration, brain hemorrhage and convulsions. Taking nearly an hour to die, the baby's skin is completely burned, turns red and deteriorates. The baby is in pain the entire time. The mother goes into labor 24 - 48 hours later and delivers a dead baby.
6. Prostaglandins: Used during the second and third trimester, prostaglandin abortions involve the injection of naturally produced hormones into the amniotic sac, causing violent premature labor. During these convulsions the baby is often crushed to death or is born too early to have any chance of surviving.
7. Hysterotomy: Performed in the third trimester, this is basically an abortive Cesarean section (C-section). The abortionist makes in an incision in the mother's abdomen and removes the baby. The baby is then either placed to the side to die or is killed by the abortionist or nurse.
a. RU-486: RU-486 blocks the hormone that helps develop the lining of the uterus during pregnancy (progesterone). This lining is the source of nutrition and protection for the developing baby. The tiny boy or girl is starved to death and then a second drug, misoprostol, causes contractions so that the dead baby is expelled from the womb.
b. Methotrexate: Highly toxic, this chemical directly attacks and breaks down the baby's fast-growing cells. It also attacks the life-support systems the baby needs to survive. When the systems fail, the baby dies. Misoprostol is then used to cause contractions and push the dead baby out of the womb.
c. Abortifacient birth control (the Pill, Depo-Provera, Norplant, the IUD, Emergency Contraception). These abortion-causing chemicals and devices can act to kill preborn children in the earliest days of life. It is well known that abortifacient methods of birth control may act to inhibit ovulation and prevent conception. However, most women don't know they also act to alter the lining of the womb so that the implantation of a newly conceived child cannot occur. If the child cannot implant in the lining of the womb to receive nourishment, he or she dies.
Although some will say that abortion is not a matter of life and death, arguing that a fetus is not a "person", or a "human being", medical research proves that the fetus is a living organism from the moment of conception.
A sperm has 23 chromosomes and no matter what, even though it is alive and can fertilize an egg it can never make another sperm. An egg also has 23 chromosomes and it can never make another egg. A solitary egg or a solitary sperm does not have the complete genetic code for a separate human being. The ovum and the sperm are each a product of another's body: unlike the fertilized egg, neither is an independent entity. Neither one is complete. Like cells in someone's hair or fingernails, an egg or sperm does not have the capacity to become other than what it already is. Both are essentially dead-ends, destined to remain what they are until they die in a matter of days. This negates one common argument - that the unborn isn't human, or else every time a man ejaculated, or a woman menstruated, an "unborn" dies. Obviously this is ridiculous - a sperm without an egg and an egg without a sperm does not constitute human life.
Once there is the union of a sperm and egg, the 23 chromosomes are brought together in one cell with 46 chromosomes. Once there are 46 chromosomes, that one cell has all of the DNA, the whole genetic code for a genetically distinct human life. It isn't a "potential" human life, or some "other" type of life because something non-human does not magically become human by getting older and bigger - whatever is human must be human from the beginning. Everything that constitutes a human being is present from that moment forward - the only thing added from that point on is nutrition so the unborn can grow. This new life is not a sperm or an egg, or even a simple combination of both. It is independent with a life of its own, and the development is actually self-directed. A sperm can't do that - neither can an egg. They do not "develop".
The baby's blood supply is also completely separate from the mother's. If they were not separate bodies, the mother and child having different blood types would be impossible. If a child's and mother's blood mix, it can be fatal for the child if the Rh factors are different. There is a shot to prevent this, but if there is not, and the blood of different Rh factors mix, the baby can die.
Even most medical texts and pro-choice doctors agree with pro-choice geneticist Ashley Montagu, who has written: "The basic fact is simple:life begins not at birth, but at conception." The beginning of human life is not a religious, moral, or philosophical issue; it is a scientific and biological one. From the time those 23 chromosomes become 46 onward, the unborn is a living, developing human being with a unique genetic makeup.
Many people think abortion is acceptable because it's done before the fetus is what they consider "viable." However, viability is not something which should be used to determine whether someone is "human enough" to have the right to live, since viability is based on current medical science. Medical science does not determine when someone becomes human. Ten years ago, a 25 week-old fetus could not survive outside the womb. Now it can. Maybe in ten years, a 15 week old fetus will be able to be sustained outside the womb. Does this mean that the fetus, in 1999, is not human, but a fetus of the same age in 2007 is somehow more human? The point of viability constantly changes because it is based on medical technology, not the fetus itself. What if one hospital had the technology to keep a 20 week old fetus alive but another hospital only had the technology to keep a 28 week old fetus alive? Is the fetus "human" and worthy of life in one hospital but not in another?
Those are pro-choice and downright pro-abortion claim that abortion "liberates" women, when in actually it does not, in fact it instead "liberates" men. Abortion on demand liberates men who want sex without strings, promises, or responsibility. And if the woman has the baby? "Hey, that's her problem. She could have obtained an abortion - she chose to carry the child; let her pay for her choice." Abortion also "liberates" others - not the pregnant woman. For instance, employers do not have to make concessions to pregnant women and mothers. Schools do not have to accommodate to the needs of parents, and irresponsible men do not have to commit themselves to their partners or their children.
A woman's estrogen level increases hundreds of times above normal upon conceiving - and one of the first physical changes to the pregnant woman's body occurs in the breasts. That hormone surge leads to the growth of "undifferentiated" cells in the breast as the body prepares to produce milk for the coming baby. Undifferentiated cells are vulnerable to the effects of carcinogens, which can give rise to cancerous tumors later in life.
In the final weeks of a full-term pregnancy, those cells are "terminally differentiated" through a still largely unknown process and are ready to produce milk. Differentiated cells are not vulnerable to carcinogens. However, should a pregnancy be terminated prior to cell differentiation, the woman is left with abnormally high numbers of undifferentiated cells, therefore increasing her risk of developing breast cancer. The percentage of risk increase is dependent on the age of a woman when she reaches puberty, when she first conceives and the length of time the pregnancy progresses prior to induced abortion.
Spontaneous abortions, or miscarriages, are not generally associated with increased risk since they generally occur due to insufficient estrogen hormones to begin with.
Based on the most comprehensive medical evidence available, induced abortion is a risk factor for the development of breast cancer. The risk is especially great if the woman has received an abortion at a young age.
- National Right to Life Committee
- Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians
- Democrats for Life
- Atheist and Agnostic Pro-Life League
- Feminists for Life
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