Tuesday, August 5, 2008

5 Questions about abortion

  1. In the Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands women who have access to free abortions  in convenient state clinics have few abortions per million women than women in the USA, at a rate between one third and one quarter of the USA rate. This is due to excellent sex education and easily available birth control. That is if the USA were to make birth control easily accessible and free we could have a 70% decrease in abortion.  Yet the "pro life" movement has hindered birth control availability in the USA at every turn.  Why? 
  2. Should women who miscarry be charged with involuntary manslaughter?  What if they did something like trip because they weren't be careful, negligent homicide?  
  3. If life starts at fertilization then what should we do about all these couples carelessly having sex 9 or days after ovulation. According to NHS these are the implementation failure rates for the average women in days after ovulation:
    • 3% by day 9
    • 26% on day 10
    • 52% on day 11
    • 86% on day 12 or more
    Death rates this high certainly mean that late sex constitutes negligence in the extreme.
  4. Statistics show that things like good education, economic opportunity and higher wages for people at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder reduce unplanned pregnancy and abortion.  Why the opposition to social programs from the pro-life movement, when these policies could save hundreds of thousands of lives per year?  
  5. Can we name one country that has banned abortion where the lives of women have improved within 20 years of the ban?  

22 comments:

Will said...

1. You are confusing correlation with causation. My guess is that thier abortion rates are lower for many social, economic and cultural reasons that have nothing to do with sex education. Actually, sex education has been shown to increase abortion rates.

For the record, birth control pills cause abortion (that is one of the ways birth control pills work). So to advocate using an abortificient to prevent abortion is not really logical.

2) Human rights are for all humans. If the woman was doing something (like smoking or drinking heavily) and it seriously harms (or kills) another human as a result (the baby), then sure (and I think that most people would agree).

3) Your logic is pretty bad here. You are saying that it would be better for the parents to not make their baby exist than to risk it dying? Didn't you see Its a Wonderful Life? A short life is better than no life at all.

4) Marx taught that education would solve all the world's problems. But the Soviet Union (Lenin Stalin and their millions of murders) and Nazi Germany showed that a highly educated people were capable of great murder and atrocity. Education only solves social problems when the right things are being taught. If public schools are teaching kids that abortion is an acceptable "choice" than education is not going to fix the abortion problem.

With that being said, many pro-lifers do not oppose the programs you suggest. I vote republican for one reason - I want to stop the holocaust and the republicans seem the most willing to offer legal protection to the most vulnerable citizens. If the democrats were pro-life and I thought the programs would help, I would certainly consider voting democrat. But being against legal protection for the unborn is a disqualifying issue for me.

5) Poland. And for that matter, every country that has banned abortion improved the lives of millions of women that now have an opportunity to be born instead of being chopped up inside the womb. Keep in mind that in most of the world, abortion targets women specifically because women are not valued. The number of women killed by abortion far outnumbers the number of men.

DB said...

I am pro life but I also understand the arguement made by people that are pro choice. I believe that two conflicting rights exist namely the right of a woman to have autonomy that extends to her fertility and the right of an unborn person to live.

I also agree that education is key. Over and over again, when women are enfranchised and given educational opportunities, the fertility rate goes down and the quality of life goes up. I am saying that as the mother of eight children. I, however, have consciously chosen to have eight children; not many do.

Sadly, I also believe the Patriarchy uses our fertility to try to control and oppress us and that makes being purely prolife very challenging.

CD-Host said...

Will --

Terrific answers. I'd like some data on your answer #1 that is that sex education increasing abortion rates. Again I'd use Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands as an example they have the best sex education (I'd argue the best public education period) and they engage in responsible sex even though they are basically are all pro choice and abortion is extremely convenient for them. So what factors do you think account for there low rates of utilization.

And another contrast point is England which has both a very high abortion rate and a high teenage pregnancy brought to term rate (much higher than the USA). They attribute their problems to bad sex education. Their teenagers make mistakes like believing condoms are 100% effective.

As for the pill possibly causing abortion under your definition you have a point. However, that seems to contradict your answer in #3 where it sounds like you have no objection to implantation failure. Is implantation failure abortion in your opinion? That is why is it abortion when caused causing the uterine wall to act like it would on day 12 but not when the couple has sex on day 11 or 12? Why wouldn't the same logic apply regarding a short life being better than no life?

On #2 the women is almost always at fault to that level in a miscarriage. The most common reason for miscarriage is development failure, that is if the zygot/baby is deformed and her uterus rejects and ejects she euthanized that "child". If this is a person with full human rights something like involuntary manslaughter seems to be in order.

As for public schools teaching abortion is acceptable or not, again lets work through the example of Scandinavia & the Netherlands. That's 2/3-3/4 fewer unplanned pregnancies that you could have today. Throw strong incentives for keep children and you might have abortions down by 90% in no time.

As for #5 I'll come back to it. You have a good answer there. But you are taking us in an interesting direction with that answer which doesn't apply to Europe today but would apply to other societies where females have been historically rare. That is what is happening in China.

Will said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Will said...

Hello CD,

Let me clarify my first point a bit. The type of sex education that focuses on promotion of condoms and birth control pills leads to an increase in abortion. I support sex education that simply describes what sex is, how babies are made, how diseases are passed on etc. But unfortunately most sex education in the US tacitly (and sometimes overtly) approves of the sexual behavior among the people that will have abortions. Married women that become pregnant unexpectedly rarely seek abortion but unmarried women tend to seek abortion when they get pregnant. So any program that promotes action that increases the likelihood of unmarried pregnancies is certainly not going to be good for the unborn. That type of sex education is what I was opposing.

Here is an article that that does a nice job of explaining why sex education does not decrease abortion rates and why even modest pro-life abortion restrictions do.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/mar/05/health

I haven't seen the data from the Scandinavian countries to understand why their rates are lower but I doubt it is sex education for this simple reason: the US and the UK have plenty of sex education. I went through public schools and was taught all the relevant basics (what a condom is, how pregnancy happens, STDs etc) by fifth grade. Americans know what causes pregnancy and what prevents it. We have all been lectured on condoms for years. Yet abortion rates continue. So whatever the reason for the lower rates are in Scandinavia, sex ed is not the solution.

As far as the implantation issue let me explain my thought here. To conceive a child that might die early is quite different from killing the child. Keep in mind that 100% of humans die eventually. This doesn't make murder ok. Only God can choose the hour of death. When we choose to kill, we are always wrong.

That is why murder is wrong - not because the person would have otherwise lived forever but because it is not our place to hasten death through killing.

The Pill does lead to the starving of a child and is therefore wrong. In contrast, conceiving a child is never a sin (it is actually the opposite of murder) and so long as the death of the child (at whatever age and for whatever reason) was not intentionally brought by the parents there is no sin on their part. God, in His great mysterious wisdom, chooses to take humans at all ages (from days old in the womb to old age) and that is His role not ours.

In the case of a mother that is being reckless with the life of a child (for example drinking heavily or doing drugs), I think that certainly some legal consequence might be appropriate. This, of course, must be done with care, good judgment, compassion, and discernment. The pro-life movement seeks to offer human rights to all humans - not to find new ways to punish mothers

Hannah C. said...

I'm not sure about this..but aren't the Scandinavian countries some of the countries which provide the best incentives to actually *HAVE* children? If that is so, then that would also contribute to a lesser number of abortions - fewer reasons to abort. Also, not everyone who is pro-life wants to hinder birth control availability. The most I've seen of that sort of thing is people promoting abstinence only sex education so that their kids will abstain - which is better than having promiscuous sex, certainly. It's not because birth control is bad, it's because premarital sex is bad.

I see absolutely no reason for women who miscarry to be charged with involuntary manslaughter. That's like accusing someone with cancer of suicide. It's something the woman has no control over. Now, if the woman is an extreme alcoholic/drug addict, that's another story. I could see mothers of "crack babies" being prosecuted, definitely. Just because conception is possible doesn't mean it has to happen.

If life starts at fertilization, that means that the egg is not "alive" until it is fertilized. So that whole argument is rather illogical.

Not all pro-life people oppose social programs. I don't. I'm very for them. Unfortunately, I can't bring myself to vote for the people who are for all the social programs because most of them support killing unborn babies. So I end up voting for the people who are less approving of social programs. That being said, I'm sure some of the social programs are suspect.

In countries where women are not as valued as men, abortion becoming illegal would benefit women by allowing more of them life. China is a good example of this phenomenon.

CD-Host said...

Will --

Your article is an opinion piece there wasn't any data. The European Journal of Public Health did a balanced survey in Denmark of people of Scandinavian descent vs. immigrants (muslim immigrants have rates comparable to the US while Scandinavians are under 25% of US rates). And basically they found two variables:

1) Contraceptive failures. Scandinavians had far far fewer because of better education

2) Wealth or social status. In general abortions among the Scandinavian population occurred mostly to unmarried women or women with 2 or more children already. Immigrants conversely general had abortions regardless of number of children as their financial situation fluctuated.

http://eurpub.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/18/2/144

The reason Scandinavia is important is because in the 1970s their rates were as high as US rates. But they have brought their rates down much faster than in the USA. As for contraception, I can say unequivocally it is still expensive and inconvenient in the USA as contrasted with Denmark. So for example while you may have had lectures in school you didn't have a nurse available who could proscribe and distribute various contraceptives.

___________

Now lets get to implementation.

s far as the implantation issue let me explain my thought here. To conceive a child that might die early is quite different from killing the child. ....
The Pill does lead to the starving of a child and is therefore wrong. In contrast, conceiving a child is never a sin (it is actually the opposite of murder) and so long as the death of the child (at whatever age and for whatever reason) was not intentionally brought by the parents there is no sin on their part.


I don't see the distinction of intent here. Lets take 4 women.

A has sex day 9 the egg is fertilized and the fetus implants successfully

B has sex day 13 the egg is fertilized and the fetus implants unsuccessfully because of the day

C has sex day 9 the egg is fertilized and the fetus implants unsuccessfully because she genetically has a thin uterus wall

D has sex day 9 the egg is fertilized and the fetus implants unsuccessfully because she took hormones to thin her wall to what it would be on day 13 (i.e. the birth control pill).

B,C,D all produce the same "starvation". B,C.D are all equally aware of what they are doing (for the purposes or argument). B,C,D kill via. the same mechanism. Why is D murder and B a blessing? And what about C, how is that not a negligent and cavalier disregard for life?

To me it seems like B,C,D were all perfectly OK with fertilization resulting in starvation. If the assume the fetus is human they starved someone to death by their uterus choosing not to feed them. Their uterus made an intentional choice which resulted in a death in all 3 cases. The women knowing the status of their uterus choose to have sex where this was a likely result.

CD-Host said...

Hannah C--

Also, not everyone who is pro-life wants to hinder birth control availability. The most I've seen of that sort of thing is people promoting abstinence only sex education so that their kids will abstain - which is better than having promiscuous sex, certainly. It's not because birth control is bad, it's because premarital sex is bad.

Welcome to the blog! I'm going to a post on abstinence only sex education but it has very little impact on human sexual behavior (premarital sex) and greatly encourages both out of wedlock birth and abortion. I'd say someone who uses a method whose effects are well known is in fact encouraging the behavior. That is adopting policies that do little to discourage premarital sex but a lot to encourage premarital sexual irresponsibility don't strike me as truly designed to discourage premarital sex. If one wanted to address that problem: early marriage is a very effective and proven solution.

But for the purposes of this discussion the why they discourage birth control doesn't actually matter very much. I can assume without question that people who discourage an activity have some good reason.

Also in reading your response I just want to clarify a miscarriage is always a fertilized egg. "A period" is the release of a unfertilized egg or a fertilized egg early in the process. And a person who induced a cancer in themselves could be charged with suicide. People who engage in activities that lead to cancer in others can and have been sued for wrongful death.

Will said...

CD, the difference is that in case of the Pill the women did something chemically to her body with the intention of preventing a baby from being birthed. In other words, in the other cases, the mother simply had a very early miscarriage (and as Hannah rightly noted, miscarriage can not be considered a sin in any way). In the case of the birth control Pill, the mother took a chemical abortificient that led to the baby's death.

It should be noted that intention important to understanding the level of sin of an action. I don't think that women that take the pill not knowing that it is an abortificient (as few do) are morally culpable of their baby's death. I am saying that we need to try to protect children of all ages from starvation to the best of our ability. Certainly we can't stop all starvation but starvation caused by the Pill is certainly fixable (stop taking the pill). The simple action of stopping the use of the Pill will protect a certain segment of our population from dying of starvation. The other cases have no such easy solution (this doesn't mean that the humans that die in those instances are not human or that they are not made in God's image, just that there is no easy solution to saving their lives).

CD-Host said...

difference is that in case of the Pill the women did something chemically to her body with the intention of preventing a baby from being birthed. In other words, in the other cases, the mother simply had a very early miscarriage (and as Hannah rightly noted, miscarriage can not be considered a sin in any way)

There issue here was not birth control it was starvation, correct? If so then we have 3 women:

B -- took a pill which drastically reduced the chance of conception but may infrequently result in starvation

C -- did not use a barrier method while having a a genetic disorder and thus there was a very high chance of conception resulting in starvation

D -- had sex at a late date. While a low chance of conception conception would almost always result in starvation.

The women who had the highest chance of "starving a baby to death" was C. B was the women the lowest change. All 3 had an act (I've bolded above).

Will said...

Ok, let me try to phrase it another way.

In the first two cases, the woman's only action was giving life to the baby. The baby then died because of things beyond her control. In the Pill case, the woman also gave life (not the problem) but then took a chemical that snuffed out the life.

Creation of life, even when the odds of longevity are low, is not a bad thing (to the contrary God is the Creator and ultimately the creating act is a reflection of His glory). Ending of life is the problem.

Let me give you an example. Doctors told a friend of mine that the baby in her womb had a genetic problem and would likely die soon after birth. The little baby boy was born and in the short time he was alive, they loved him; they hugged him; they fed him; and they prayed for him. But as predicted, the baby died a few weeks after being born.

Now, even if the doctors told my friend that the odds were almost certain that her next baby would die in such a manner, there would be nothing wrong in having a baby. There is nothing sinful about bringing a handicapped person into the world. On the other hand, if someone chose to starve a child of the same age to death (even if the odds of death were similar), this action would be very sinful. It is a horrible thing to snuff out the life of an innocent person.

I find it helpful to think through abortion ethics questions with different ages. I just took an example of a baby being a few weeks old and showed how the act of bringing the baby into the world (even when an early mortality rate was known to be high) is not a sin but that ending such a life would be. Now, let's pick another age. Suppose a couple is told that any child they have will likely only live to be 77 years old (give or take a few years). Is it sin to bring a child that has such a short time on earth into the world? Now, suppose that those same parents (when they are 97 and their daughter is 77) decide to starve the child to death when he turns 77.....Is my point clear now?

CD-Host said...

Will --

OK that is clear, and thank you for taking the time to explain to me. but a bit odd. Essentially under that definition doing something that is highly unlikely to result in a death is abortion while doing something much more likely to result in a death is a meritorious act. It is not logically inconsistent. I don't find it convincing at all however.

Using your idea of an analogy of older children, assuming I saw the fetus as a child, I see the woman with the weak uterus as a lot like keeping poison with in reach of a toddler all over the house. You don't actually take any act that kills them, but your failure to prevent it results in a death. A toddler shouldn't be raised in an environment that hostile, either make the environment less hostile or raise them somewhere else. If you are unable to do either you shouldn't have children at all. I'd say raising a child in a house filled with poison and not securing it is at the very least negligent homicide. I wouldn't give the bonus points for saying 2 years of life is better than none at all. The people that live their if they choose to have children have an obligation to create a safe environment.

But that is not a logical argument just a values one. I can't objectively defend why the one is better than the other (at least not yet). So on to Poland

____________________________

OK the situation is Poland is interesting because there abortion rates have remained high. "Gynaecological services - full range" ads all over the newspapers, the UN estimates 200,000 annual illegal abortions inside Poland. There is a lot of abortion tourism to: Lvov (Ukraine), Druskienniki (Lithuania), Kaliningrad (Russia), Minsk (Bielorus), to Czech Republic and Slovakia where women get cheap abortions but often have complications.
When one looks at the GDP per capita for Europe:
is 1/3rd of what it is Denmark (my example where sex ed is used to control abortion). So in other words they had an ineffectual ban and that ban has had a bad effect on women's health but Poland has been able to make a strong moral stance in a very pro-choice part of the world. That being the case I would have to agree they have banned abortion and the standard of living has increased even for women so #5 is refuted.

CD-Host said...

OK now onto Hannah's point about sex selection abortions. While I'm not in favor of sex selection abortions, altering the female to male ratio is a good way to raise the status of women. In countries like China you often get a 130 males to every 100 females born, plus higher mortality for girls 1 girl for every .8 boys. That leads to something like a 7 girls for 10 boys ratio by the time they get to marriage age.

That actually corrects patriarchy in one generation. Suddenly women are quite valuable, they can marry up. So women almost always have a higher social status than their parents or brothers. Now for sons the situation is quite bleak. Either they are very successful or they end up giving up in trying for family life staying at home and living a hedonistic lifestyle with no wife or child to put demands on them.

That is within a generation you end up with a matriarchal society where daughters are much more successful than sons and the best way to insure a safe financial future is to have a girl.

Will said...

Hi CD,

I think it is quite different from raising a kid in a house of poison. You are once again confusing the act of a) creating life that has a high liklihood of death and b) doing something reckless or intentionally preditory to end a life.

In your poison example, the mother was not wrong to concieve and give birth to a child, she was wrong to then recklessly endanger the child. I would say the poison example actually closely parallels the use of the Pill (both cases involve the conception of a child and then the reckless endangerment of that child).

I know you don't intend it this way but what you are doing is making an argument that handicapped and disabled people should not be created.Conceiving of a child (regardless of the challenges and handicaps that the child may face) is not a sin.

By your same logic, one could argue that a 40 year old mother who concieves a child with Down's (the older the mother the higher the likely hood) is on the same moral ground as a mother who abuses a child causing similar mental and physical challenges. I strongly disagree.

CD-Host said...

Will --

You are once again confusing the act of a) creating life that has a high liklihood of death and b) doing something reckless or intentionally preditory to end a life.

In your poison example, the mother was not wrong to concieve and give birth to a child, she was wrong to then recklessly endanger the child.


Like I said there is nothing inconsistent about your view but I disagree completely. I don't think there is a strong distinction between those two acts. And in the case of the mother giving birth to the child when she intends to raise in him in a house full of poison is reckless endangerment.

By your same logic, one could argue that a 40 year old mother who concieves a child with Down's (the older the mother the higher the likely hood) is on the same moral ground as a mother who abuses a child causing similar mental and physical challenges.

I would agree with your analogy to my position and would assert that I do in fact think it is completely irresponsible for an older women not to have her pregnancy downs tested. I'd love to see those sorts of tests as free and mandatory. Heck, I did those tests and we were both under 30. In fact Downs was one of the reasons we had my daughter when we did. I also got tested for being a carrier to several other genetic diseases once my wife was pregnant. If we had both been a carrier for anything then the fetus would have needed to be checked. Heck, I've apologized to my daughter for things like late developing of hand eye coordination leading to bad penmanship; and nearsightedness. I'd never forgive myself for something like downs, sickle cell anemia, retardation or cystic fibrosis.

So yes I am actually saying you are accusing me of. I think damaging a child in the womb is as bad as serious physical damage.

I would say the poison example actually closely parallels the use of the Pill (both cases involve the conception of a child and then the reckless endangerment of that child).

I would disagree here. The mother taking the Pill is doing several things to avoid having a child: preventing ovulation, preventing fertilization and then only if that fails preventing implantation. I think you could make a case for the IUD acting in the way you describe.

Rob said...

#1 Scandinavian countries are socialist. They provide universal healthcare, and very good healthcare at that. Not to mention that these countries birth rate is so low that the government is practically begging the people to have children. There are a lot of incentives to not abort your child but to bring it to full term in the Scandinavian countries. I’m sure this makes up most of the discrepancy on this point.


#2 Miscarriages are natural. Impossible to prove intent. It just wouldn’t fly, EVEN IF it was decided that women should be charged.


#3 Having sex is natural. I’m not sure there is any biblical evidence about not having sex after ovulation, but if there is let me know! But what about from a non-Christian approach to this question which most pro-lifers seem to try to take. Very good question. Don’t have an answer.


#4 And ironically, these very things is what will destroy Western culture. People in the West aren’t having children anymore because we have become so much “smarter” and wealthier. For some reason, the richer we become the less we want to share that wealth with our children. Well, after a hundred years of the West having 1 or no kids per family and Muslims having 5 kids per family the West isn’t going to look to smart any more. This is also why religion will never die (sorry Dawkins). The Atheists of this world rarely have kids, never more than 3. Religious people however love kids. Our genes will live on. I guess we are fitter :p

I’m not against social programs. They are awesome. Just as long as the people who actually need them use them.

#5 Absolutely no clue. But generally, the only countries that would ban abortion our socially conservative countries. But unfortunately, socially conservative countries tend to be poor countries, so of course the lives of woman will not be improved.
The USA is not socially conservative in any way. They are definitely the most socially conservative WESTERN nation, but that’s not saying much. But anyway, it doesn’t matter. The Atheist elite will be gone soon enough. Having their precious little abortion law and never having children will be the end of them.

Sorry, I went on a bit of tangent. Maybe I’m way off, but that’s my take on the state of the West.

CD-Host said...

Rob --
Thank you for the answers and welcome to the blog.

On #1 that is not the case. Teenage pregnancy levels are simply much lower data small chart.

As for the long term effects of rapid breeding you might be right. Or it leads to exhausting the natural resources and massive death (like what is starting to happen in Africa), God's methods of birth control: plague, famine and war.

Good comments, very thought provoking.

Butterfly said...

Will stated, "For the record, birth control pills cause abortion (that is one of the ways birth control pills work). So to advocate using an abortificient to prevent abortion is not really logical."

I disagree that birth control pills cause abortion. Taking a birth control pill is not the same as killing a life that has started. I think making statements like that put false guilt on women.

From WebMD
HC (the pill, the patch, and the vaginal ring) all contain a small amount of synthetic estrogen and progestin hormones. These hormones work to inhibit the body's natural cyclical hormones to prevent pregnancy. Pregnancy is prevented by a combination of factors. The HC usually stops the body from releasing an egg from the ovary. HC also changes the cervical mucus to make it difficult for the sperm to find an egg. HC can also prevent pregnancy by making the lining of the womb inhospitable for implantation.

CD-Host said...

Butterfly --

Welcome to the blog! Just so you two know.. Will is a current SGMer and Butterfly an X.

Anyway, in this case Will isn't wrong on the facts. To pick your quote, "HC can also prevent pregnancy by making the lining of the womb inhospitable for implantation." is what he means by inducing abortion. The IUD works exclusively via. this method. The whole point of my post is that this process occurs quite frequently naturally and in one case it is considered by Will to be abortion and in others to be perfectly morally neutral. You may be using a different definition of abortion than Will however.

Butterfly said...

CD-Host,

I get what you are saying but I would never define using birth control as abortion. I still think saying using birth control pills is abortion could put false guilt on women and I think it is ridiculous. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm commenting very late but I just want to say anecdotally I noticed this difference living in Norway and in the U.S. in my youth. Both places were mostly middle class and almost all Caucasian, native-born populations. I think there was a similar amount of youth who had sex but many more unplanned pregnancies in the U.S. where we did not have much sex education about birth control. I knew of many teenage girls who got pregnant, some had abortions, others had the babies. in Norway there was much more education about birth control, even a poster on the wall of our home room which would have been unthinkable in the U.S.; also I think it was easier for the those who did become sexually active to get various forms of birth control. And I just did not know of many girls getting pregnant. Sure there probably were some in both places I didn't know about, but I definitely remember remarking the difference.


I think a problem with abstinence only sex ed is that they still have sex but they feel guiltier and have to pretend they had no intention of it and just were carried away, intoxicated, etc....and using birth control would mean they were MEANING to have sex, so it seems like more of a sin.
Karin

CD-Host said...

Karin --

Great comments! Agree with all. Thank you for the input.