Abortion, part deux

To understand why I have started two abortion discussions in one week, read this thread. You will then understand why I have started this thread, and the reason for the following preface:

Preface - Public apology.

Since some have found my first retraction insincere (because at the time it was) I feel I should post another. I want to apologise, publicly, to those I offended in my other thread. I stand by what I said but I realise now that how I said it was totally unacceptable. I didn’t lurk at all before I posted and as such didn’t get a general ‘feel’ for the forum and my rather umm, shall we say rabid style derailed debate, which was not my intention. In this thread I will proceed to explain my views in a more palatable manner.

P.S. I also apologise for any minor inconsistancies in tone as I am tired.

Arguments against Pro-life.

  1. Sperm & Ova

This argument states that since fetuses are ‘potential people’ as the DNA structure of a fetus is identical to a newborn, then the DNA held in the Sperm and Ova that created that person must be worth protecting too. Therefore, since pro-lifers do not protect Sperm and Ova with the same vigour that they protect fetuses with, they are hypocrites.

Obviously this is a ridiculous argument. Sperm and Ova aren’t people because the sperm & ova are separate and haven’t fused. However, the point of this argument is to show the fallacy in protecting fetuses while ignoring sperm and ova. Why is one sacred and not the other? Because sperm & ova haven’t joined? So what? Fetuses haven’t been born. Heck, before the end of the second trimester they haven’t even got a neocortex. The argument shows the fallacy of the argument of ‘potential’. The fetuses potential to grow into a human being is matched by the sperm and ova’s potential to fuse to create a fetus. The argument shows the point of ‘potentiality’ should either (a)be drawn earlier or (b) not be drawn at all. Of course protecting sperm is ridiculous. So is protecting non sentient parasitic entities at the expense of actual women.

  1. Slavery.

Having done a little research by looking back on past debates I see the same phrase popping up from time to time in the arguments of pro-lifers. That phrase is ‘If you don’t like slaves, don’t own one’ (in response to the pro-choice argument ‘If you don’t like abortion don’t have one’) . However, by illegalising abortion you will, in fact, be introducing what I like to term ‘Short term slavery’ on a vast amount of women. These women will have to carry the child and go through the pain of childbirth against their will. Now pro-lifers can talk about better adoption or better contraception but if abortion were made illegal tomorrow for every pregnant woman in America, what would they say to them? The only thing they could say. Tough. You’ll have to put up with the pregnancy, you’ll have to give birth to a child against your will, you’ll have to risk the chance of no-one wanting to adopt your child (a not unrealistic possibility, especially if your black), if you end up being forced to keep the child you will have to pay for its upkeep regardless of whether you can afford it or not. In short you have to alter your entire life around this event. Against your will.

Cite for my view on the problems blacks face on entering the adoption process.

If I were to force you, at gun point to…I dunno, give one of your kidneys, to save my sons life (assume there are no other donors available) would you be willing to put yourself out that much? If not then it’s my duty to tell you that you’re a hypocrite? Why is it justifiable to force a woman to go through a lot of trauma to save a fetus but not justifiable to force you to go through a lot of trauma to save my sons life?

  1. Legal definition of a birth.

This is not an argument so much as a simple statement of fact which will lead on to my next argument. The following definition of what constitutes a human being (and by that I mean a human being who merits protection under the law) is the one we are stuck with in this country.

The cite for the above is this:

In order to justify abortion in any possible way one needs to prove this definition to be false. I believe this is impossible for two reasons. The first is that both stances, pro-life and pro-choice are, and have to be, based on the same biological facts. The philosophical viewpoints of each, what we take away from the facts we are presented with, forms our belief. Pro-life is not faced with the challenge of finding out new facts to support it’s position but rather the challenge of persuading pro-choicers (and every single woman in this country who isn’t already pro-choice) to accept the superiority of their philosophy. Not an easy task by any means. The second reason why it is an impossibility is that abortion has become firmly entrenched in this country and is accepted by the majority of the populace. Cite:

The trend of acceptance shows little sign of even slowing down, let alone stopping altogether.

Since I have already presented 2 arguments as to why the pro-life philosophy is an inferior one (and I will provide more soon – I’m typing as I think) I felt it was also important to point out just how immeasurably difficult it would be for abortion to be illegalised in this countries current climate, what with the support the practise has and everything.

  1. Pro-choice, protecting children?

In the long run I am of the opinion that abortion is a procedure that is beneficial to all children (note: one has to be born before one can become a child). Let’s make a quick comparison:

Just a couple of quick facts which appear to make good backing for the case that pro-life is a less caring philosophy than it makes itself out to be. Of course, there is more beneath the surface. Pro-life states aren’t busying themselves with the task of making their citizens exceptionally uncomfortable for no good reason (except in the restriction of abortion rights which, to them, is justified). However, these states DO have to contend with more children. More children means more poor mothers, more poor children and more poor mothers create a strain on the public services for both groups and this effect is localised around the states that can be deemed to be pro-life. Coincidence? I think not.

  1. Abortion is safer.

Abortion is far safer than giving birth. If you do not want to give birth, if you know the time is right and that you cannot support the child, if you know the event will change your life for the worst and if you know it’s far more dangerous than abortion. Why should you be forced to undertake it?



Almost half of the women having abortions beyond 15 weeks of gestation say they were delayed because of problems in affording, finding or getting to abortion services.


Cited reference for above:


So, if abortion is illegalised or restricted, the logical conclusion is that more women will die in childbirth, because they will be denied the beneficial remedy of abortion. All this in the process of giving birth to a child they don’t want at the behest of those who consider themselves to be pro-life 99.99999% whom they will never meet. I think this is ridiculous.

  1. Viability – support for the idea that a fetus is ‘parasitic’

First of all, here is the official definition of a parasite, just so we’re on the same page. From http://www.dictionary.com
An organism that grows, feeds, and is sheltered on or in a different organism while contributing nothing to the survival of its host.

A fetus grows, feeds and is sheltered by the mother and it contributes nothing to the survival of the mother. Therefore it is a parasite. Pro-lifers may try to refute this by saying that it is not a parasite since the mother introduced it of her own volition but that does not gel with the actual definition of a parasite. I might remind you that there are many forms of parasite in the animal kingdom that are warmly appreciated by their hosts – small birds (I forget their names) pick tics of the backs of rhino’s, without them they’d die. The rhino’s welcome these parasites as the tics are an annoyance. This goes to show that a parasite needs not be an organism that was introduced without the express permission of the host. However, sometimes, a woman may get pregnant by mistake and require that the situation be rectified so she may resume her normal life. In this instance she has as much right to rid herself of the fetus as the rhino does to shake it’s head and remove the birds. The fetus, after all, is not a human being with incumbent legal rights (as is established above) It grows, feeds, and is sheltered in the mother whilst contributing nothing to her survival. It is a parasite.

It stops becoming a parasite when it is born. After birth the newborn can survive without direct protection from the mother (here I am differentiating between direct in vitro protection and rearing the child).
It is at this point that it’s moral and legal rights attach. Since a newborn is not infringing on the mother in any immediate physical way it can now be considered to be an entity in its own right under the law. Before this point, however, it is a parasitic life form and as such its welfare should be secondary to that of the host – the mother.

  1. Pro-lifers say Abortion is morally wrong, but why?

Why is aborting morally wrong? What standards have been put in place to deduce this? Certainly I haven’t imposed any. I wouldn’t even consider it, seeing as how there is no uniformity in this issue same as there is no uniformity in any issue centered around human behaviour and morality. This “Morally Inconceivable” (so to speak :wink: ) argument takes the absolutists approach, which does not take the individual situation or consequences into consideration. The abortion issue is more accurately described as many moral issues. For example, some of the more reasonable pro-lifers (and by that I mean those who do not want to impose their beliefs for religious reasons – I have more respect for secular argument) say that advocating birth control will reduce the need for abortions in this country and from then the next step is banning the practise altogether. However, no contraception is perfect. There are still cases of condoms tearing and pregnancies still happening despite contraception. What should happen then? In this instance the woman has had absolutely no choice in this issue whatsoever so what should she do? Obviously, in keeping with the pro-life philosophy, she must have the child. In this instance she is being forced to acquiesce to the will of pro-lifers even though she has literally no control whatsoever over her situation.

Morality is, in some respects, dependant on ones situation at the time. For example; it is morally wrong to steal. However, if I was a homeless man, with no money at all and a gnawing hunger, my moral duty to myself would prevail over my prior moral conditioning as regards theft. I would take that loaf of bread and be thankful for it without giving a nanoseconds thought to the vendor.

Likewise, murder. Murder is wrong. Right? Well, not if you were say… a member of the Italian Carbonari, fighting against Austrian Occupation. You’d be freeing you country by killing Austrians. Your patriotism would prevail, at least it did for them.

My point is that what constitutes morality is a fluid concept with many delicate and nebulous nuances, at least in some circumstances. We can quite clearly say that murder for profit is wrong, but killing for self defense is perfectly ok, because your moral right to yourself overrides your moral right not to kill another human being. As such, abstract definitions of what constitute morality are, in this particular debate, just as arbitrary as choosing conception as the starting point of a human life. Abstract declarations of the morality of abortion by theologians, philosophers or secular pro-lifers can be very different from the moral decision made by a pregnant woman. Her decision is specific to that pregnancy; her coordinates are the here and now.

That is all for this post. I feel it has gone on quite long enough. I could go on for much, much longer as there are far more reasons for being pro-choice than the ones I’ve listed here. More reasons will emerge as the debate progresses but these should suffice as a starting point. I hope I’ve done a better job of presenting my arguments in this case.

This thread has been there, done that.

BTW, I’m Pro Choice. I believe a woman has the right to get pregnant, or not to get pregnant.

I just got back from a long trip, so I don’t have a great deal of time to devote to this. Very quickly though…

If the fetus is a human being, then it doesn’t matter if it’s born or not. If it’s a human being, then abortion is the ending of an innocent human being’s life.

Moreover, even if one doesn’t accept the notion that life begins at conception, this is merely a fine point in the abortion debate. By the time the vast majority of abortions occur, the fetus already has a heartbeat, a brain and nervous system, a circulator system, motor reflexes and so forth. It certainly isn’t a pile of cells or a lump of tissue, as many pro-choicers still claim.

(BTW, http://www.unborn.com contains some high-quality, high-resolution ultrasound footage, depciting the fetus at various stages when abortion is likely to occur.)

The law requires that we do a great many things against our own will – obeying traffic laws, paying taxes, observing property ordinances, and so forth. This is especially true when it comes to the consequences of our own actions – and in the vast majority of cases, abortion is the direct result of our own sexual activity. (Rape is the notable exception, but according to Planned Parenthood’s own statistics, these ccount for less than 1% of all abortions.)

Besides which, if the unborn is a human being, then it would be barbaric to kill it simply to insulate the mother from the inconvenience of pregnancy and the pain of childbirth. The punishment would far outstrip the crime, especially since the unborn had no choice in this matter.

No, we’re not stuck with it. Laws can be changed, and pro-lifers believe that this particular law should be changed.

Well first, one doesn’t necessarily have to prove it to be false. It’s enough to show this definition is under serious question. After all, would you shoot something without first KNOWING that it’s not human?

In other words, if someone’s going to kill something, the burden of proof rests on that person to prove that the victim is NOT a human being.

Second, if you’ve read previous threads on this topic, then you know that there are numerous medical cites which affirm that human life begins at conception. And again, even if we don’t accept that tenet, the vast majority of abortions occur long after conception.

Besides, what’s so magical about the moment of birth that it dramatically transforms the fetus into a human being? Birth involves a mere change of location for the unborn. There’s no reason to believe that it changes the unborn’s fundamental nature.

Only if the unborn is NOT a human being (and thus, not a child).

Excerpted from http://www.prolifeinfo.org/upl39.html and http://www.lifeadvocate.com/mar_97/wars.html :

“By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception.” - Dr. Hymie Gordon, Chairman, Department of Genetics at the Mayo Clinic.

“To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion … it is plain experimental evidence.” - Dr. Jerome Lejeune (sometimes referred to as “The Father of Modern Genetics.”

“This straightforward biological fact (the beginning of life is conception) should not be distorted to serve sociological, political, or economic goals.” — Dr. Watson A. Bowes, University of Colorado Medical School

Dr. Francis Beckwith discusses this matter further at http://www.bioethix.org/resources/aps/beckwith-personhood.htm, http://members.aol.com/CPLBO/Beckwith.3.html and http://members.aol.com/CPLBO/Beckwith.4.html.

Also see:


You got it wrong. The argument is that a fetus is a person, not just a potential one. It’s a going concern, while Sperms and Ovums are not.

More like a staw man. Your interpretation is not the argument being used by pro-life advocates.

Nonsense. It’s responsibility for one’s own actions. Following that a fetus is a human at the time of conception, by what reasoning can you allow a person to kill another human being simply to avoid inconvenience? Would you punish a child it it’s parent committed a crime? Why must a human die to alleviate somebody else’s error.

Well let’s see. If I was responsible for your son’s kidney failure through my own willful actions than I would think your son would be entitled to one of my kidneys. If I got him into the mess, I should help get him out. Seeing as I’m responsible for his predicament I would think my cries that it would be traumatizing and inconvenient would sound rather hollow.

Slaves were not “legally or culturally” humans with rights either, you know? This is why we have the ability to change our laws. Some are wrong.

I’m not sure what you’re saying, but I’m pretty sure I disagree. Moral relativism is a poor thing. Right and wrong aren’t dependant upon public opinion. If everybody was convinced that torture was a perfectly acceptable to interrogate witnesses that wouldn’t make it right.

How does that make it an impossibility? Slavery was firmly entrenched and accepted at one time.

Because that is a better solution than killing an innocent third party.

It’s not ridiculous at all. If someone has an abortion there is a 100% chance that a human will die. If the baby is carried, there is a small chance that someone will suffer a serious complication.

I note that you didn’t provide a statistic for the incidence of serious complications to the mother for pregnancy. Are they greater than the 1% chance you cite for abortion?


This is a porr example. In this scenario the birds are not parasites, the ticks are. The birds are symbiotes, not parasites. And, no, the rhinos wouldn’t necessarily die.

Yes, you did state that a fetus wasn’t a human being with legal rights. You’re continually mischaracterizing the pro-life stance, though. They have reasons to believe the law is in error.

And, if we’re talking biology, the fetus does contribute. It carries on genes from the host, and a child can look after you when you get older or be helpful in other ways.

Let me tell you, a baby is more of a parasite than a fetus. Ask anybody who’s had one.

Legal yes. Moral no. These are different things.

Murder is wrong.

Responsibility. The Italians didn’t bring the Austrians into Italy.

In the interests of tidiness: Eh, Ray, your link in the OP just goes to the Main Forums Page, not to the previous (locked) thread. Here it is.

Two things (for future reference). First, here at the SDMB you can say just about any kind of ignorant, bone-headed, totally off-the-wall thing your little heart desires–as long as you say it politely. But–

Second, you have to expect a certain level of extremely brisk feedback here at this particular message board, especially on hot-button topics such as abortion. That’s just the kind of Netizens we are. But folks are pretty good at keeping it reasonably civilized.

You just got off on the wrong foot, is all.

David Reardon has shown that this really isn’t true. See http://nichole.simonweb.com/~afterabortion/News/abortiondeaths.html and http://www.hli.org/Content/Dynamic/Articles/000/000/001/422xakwu.asp for details.

In addition, Dr. Francis Beckwith points out that even if abortion WERE generally safer than childbirth, this would not mean that abortion is safer than any given childbirth. The specifics would depend on the pregnancy in question.

Beckwith also points out that it’s fallacious to contend that that “safer” is the same as “morally correct.” If a baby were drowning in a swimming pool, it would be safer for us to stand by and do nothing. However, such cowardice would be abominable – ESPECIALLY if one’s own child were drowning.

Beckwith’s arguments on this matter are discussed more thoroughly in his book, Politically Correct Death.**

So saith Ray Heller:

Sorry Ray, I don’t even know what a neocortex is. I do believe you’ll lose most non-technical people with arguments like that.[sub] plus he’s got Scylla and JubilationTCornpone against him…whew!

Agnostic pro-lifer weighing in here.

I’m not sure I like the word “sacred,” but I’ll put it in quotes and go with it. Personally, I differentiate between a sperm cell and a zygote because the zygote has an entirely different genetic structure. One that has never, ever been seen on Earth before and will never, ever be seen on Earth again if it is destroyed. If a sperm dies, I’ve got billions just like it. <shrug> Arbitrary, I know, but that’s my reasoning.

That’s a pretty biased term, isn’t it? But, your rhetoric aside, why is it short-term slavery? Isn’t a woman a slave to an infant, a toddler, and a child as well? Against her will, no less? If yes to abortion, then why not yes to infanticide?

It’s not a pretty situation, and not an easy decision to make. But I think the difference is that a pro-lifer such as myself is forcing a woman to go through child-bearing and child-birth to save a baby, not to save a fetus.

This has already been addressed in this thread. Laws can, and in this case, should change (IMO, of course).

I’m not sure what your point is with Point 4. It seems to me that you’re saying that the poorest states are anti-abortion. If this is true, then so what? If a rich state were anti-abortion (and I’m sure there’s at least one out there), does this discredit your argument?

How do you come to that conclusion? It seems to me that a more reasonable conclusion is that poor states lack funds to do many things. Thanks for the revelation.

Now you’re drawing that conclusion that no abortion = more population = more strain on resources? I’d like to see some stats relating a state’s population, its wealth, and its stance on abortion. I’m willing to bet that the anti-abortion states tend to be some of the smaller states, population wise. So, it’s misleading to say that these states are overpopulated because of a lack of abortion. I think it’s more accurate to say that poorer states have fewer resources (again, duh).

I’d like to see some numbers comparing complications (i.e., not fatalities) arising from childbirth vs. complications arising from abortions. I’d imagine when you factor non-fatal complications, the fight is a lot closer than you’d imagine.

I could be making this up, but don’t pregnant women gain some benefits from carrying a child? Increased resistance against certain diseases? I’m not saying that the positives of being pregnant outweigh the discomfort. But it does invalidate your use of the rhetorically charged word “parasite.”

Why do you make this differentiation? Oh, I know why, because it’s not part of your definition. But dig just a bit deeper than that. A baby cannot live without external help any more than a fetus can.

Arbitrary Distinction, this is Ray Heller. Ray, this is Arbitrary Distinction. A new mother cannot go on a cruise for a week and abandon her baby, legally. So, isn’t the baby still a parasite?

It seems to me that you’re making a lot of arbitrary distinctions and putting them out there as fact. This is a very annoying habit, IMO, and one that is almost exclusive to the pro-choice side. The pro-choice side tends to act like the science makes pro-choice a no-brainer, and it takes a willful ignorance of “the facts” to believe that abortion should be illegal. This habit is just as obnoxious as the religious pro-lifer saying that God said such and such, and that’s that, and if you think otherwise, you’re deliberately misleading yourself.

JubilationTCornpone has already posted some cites showing contrary opinions from medical professionals. I haven’t joined an abortion debate in a long time, but beagledave, if he’s still around, has similar cites. Your haughtiness will not make their cites go away.


P.S. Suppose a person is in a coma. Furthermore, suppose that the scientists can say that this person will awake from this coma in exactly two days, and be fully functional, but at this very moment, they could legally be termed dead. Do you feel justified in unplugging the artificial respirator?

P.P.S What is your stance on abortion used as birth control? Just curious…

First off, there’s a technical distinction between murder, and acts of killing in warfare. In fact, governments sometimes engage in war to PREVENT further loss of life (as evidenced by the current conflict in Afghanistan). I’m not familiar with the Italian Carbonari, but it could be that such actions are designed to minimize the overall loss of life.

Second, I think it’s self-evident that innocent people should NOT be killed – not unless it’s absolutely necessary to prevent a greater loss of life. It would be barbarous to suggest that we can kill innocents, simply to alleviate our own suffering. (Admittedly, one could imagine scenarios where it’s necessary to kill one person to prevent others from dying. However, the overwhelming majority of abortions are nothing like that.)

Third, it does no good to say that morality is SOMETIMES nebulous. Even if we accept that claim at face value, it does not demonstrate that the specific issue of abortion is nebulous.

And fourth, appealing to moral nebulousness is a self-defeating argument. If we can’t discern right from wrong, then we cannot condemn pro-lifers for the “wrongness” of their actions – or applaud pro-choicers for the “rightness” of theirs.

Would you believe that I wrote all that about the haughtiness of the pro-choice side BEFORE I read the Original Thread?

Geez. Makes me wish I hadn’t bothered.

*Ray Heller *, it seems as though many of your pro-choice arguments could also justify infanticide. How do you distinguish morally between abortion and infanticide?

Jeez, whole lotta replies. Keep 'em coming. This was what I wanted to do the first time round. I’ll try & reply later on tonight.

I need to see your replies before I add anything. It seems to me that your “proofs” have already been adequately addressed and shown to be as illogical, axiomatic, and/or arbitrary as any of the opposing beliefs you inaccurately attempted to portray.

Since you’re new to the board (and to GD in particular), can I please, PLEASE suggest that before you simply restate your position, you answer the specific points made in response to your OP (Scylla’s assertion that the “sperm & ova” argument is a straw man, for example, or any of the points Jubilation raised).

I’ll give this another look tonight to determine if you have, in fact, decided to debate in good faith or if you’ve reverted to the same tired shouting from a soapbox you were conducting in your other thread, only now packaged a little more nicely.


So some of us in this thread could still be considered “fetuses”.

Heh. :smiley:

There is a difference between a part of the brain “fully developed” and functioning at all, DDG; while a thirty-year-old can generally be shown to be capable of thought (barring severe brain damage), a living creature cannot be thinking until the parts of the brain that “think” are sufficiently developed to permit that.

It is generally accepted* that the complex cerebral cortex does not exist in a truly functional state before the 5-6 month of gestation, meaning that the fetus is considered incapable of actual conscious thought before then. As supporting evidnece, EEGs readings considered indicative of thought do not occur until the third trimester at the earliest. Based on this evidence, I tend to lean towards the fifth month as the cutoff for at-will abortions.

I see we already have the confusion between “living human being” (which depending on how you define “human being” or “living”, a fetus may or may not qualify as) and “person”. It does not serve either side of the argument to muddle the two. A fetus is clearly alive, and it has human DNA. However, that is not always all that is required for a being to be considered a “person”. An infant born without only a brain stem, or a brain dead human, are both human, and alive as long as they are supported, but they are very, very rarely considered to be full “persons” without a minimally functioning brain. Is a being that has never had a conscious thought a person?

I don’t have any particular desire to get into yet another abortion debate, but glib and sloppy arguments made on the pro-choice side doesn’t mean that pro-lifers should make equally glib and sloppy ones in return.

Many parasites provide certain benefits to their host, and yet they are nonetheless parasites.

Sure they can, it’s called “adoption” or “babysitting”. :smiley:
*[sub]“From the twenty-second week to the twenty-fourth week, connections start to be established between the cortex and the thalamus, the part of the brain that translates thoughts into nervous-system commands. Fetal consciousness seems physically “impossible” before these connections form, says Fisk, of the Imperial College School of Medicine.” http://www.thenewrepublic.com/013100/easterbrook013100.html

“By placing harmless electrodes on a subject’s head, scientists can measure the electrical activity produced by the network of neurons inside the skull. Different kinds of mental activity show different kinds of brain waves. But brain waves with regular patterns typical of adult human brains do not appear in the fetus until about the 30th week of pregnancy–near the beginning of the third trimester. Fetuses younger than this–however alive and active they may be–lack the necessary brain architecture. They cannot yet think.” Science and abortion [/sub]

Well then, what’s the difference between the two? Why should a living, human being NOT be considered a person, apart from a preconceived desire to deprive it of its rights?

Even if we grant those points, those are unusual cases which have no bearing on the abortion issue. The former case describes a human who has no hope of surviving. The latter describes a once-living human who has died. The fetus falls into neither category.

Newborn children haven’t had any conscious thoughts. Should we feel free to kill them? Should we regard them as non-persons?

I also suggest that you read up on previous threads, Ray, as most of the points you raised have been addressed ad infinitum.

In the original thread, Ray, you said,

With all due respect, I don’t think you read those conversations very thoroughly. IF you had, I think that this thread would have been a heckuva lot shorter.

As for your comment regarding “ignorance,” I think I’ll leave that one alone.

Pure arguments from authority. An embryo or a fetus is “human” and a “being” in a biological sense; that’s hard to argue with. As Gaudere put it, that’s a long way from saying that it is a “person”, or that it has an inalienable right to exist. Those are moral and philosophical questions, and cannot be answered by biology.

I really should be studying, so I can’t really discuss this article in the depth I would like to. To summarize for those who didn’t follow the link–a study in Finland looked at 281 women who died within one year of a pregnancy between 1987 and 1994. The death rates were higher across the board after an abortion than after a delivery or miscarriage.

First of all, this is a very small study from Finland, and the conclusions posited by Dr. Reardon have not been published in a refereed journal. (The data comes from an article studying records and classifications in the Finnish health care system. A separate article was published about the increased rate of suicide, which was significant.)

The study included death from all causes, including increased death rates from homicides and accidents post-abortion. No attempt is made to control for confounding factors that could lead to the increase. For example, women who have abortions are generally in less stable situations than the general population. Also (back me up, mothers) women who have had a baby within the last year are going to spend a lot less time out on the roads than women in general, and are thus less likely to get in accidents. Until you control for these factors, you cannot draw any valid conclusions from the data. (You probably can’t get anything from the homicide data, since there were only 14 of them.)

The increased suicide rate was significant enough to merit its own paper in the British Medical Journal. Women who had given birth within the last year had a lower suicide rate than the GP, for obvious reasons, I think. Some of the high suicide rate after an abortion can be attributed to the less stable social situations I mentioned earlier; lack of social support is a contributing factor to both abortion and suicide. Also, it is true that some women feel a lot of guilt after having an abortion, which I’m sure is a factor. There were only 77 subjects here, so the results are not exactly unimpeachable. Either way, the suicide rate among women who had an abortion in this study was about 0.03%.

If you want to look at deaths directly related to abortion and delivery, a review of the 1994 CDC data showed nine deaths per 100,000 for childbirth, and less than one per 100,000 for induced abortion. (Source: Am J Obstet Gynecol 1994 May;170(5 Pt 2):1489-94.)

Oh well, I guess I didn’t need to study that badly. :slight_smile:

Dr. J

There’s nothing fallacious about citing an authority. It’s only fallacious if the person is not an authority in the topic at hand, or if the person’s reasoning is demonstrably false.

Again I ask, “What’s the difference?” If we are to justifying killing based on the premise that someone isn’t “a person,” then I think one should articulate a very clear understanding of what personhood means.

9,129 women were studied, so it’s hardly reasonable to describe this as “a very small study.” Furthermore, it WAS published in a refereed journal. See Gissler, M., et. al., ?Pregnancy-associated deaths in Finland 1987-1994?definition problems and benefits of record linkage,? Acta Obsetricia et Gynecolgica Scandinavica 76:651-657 (1997).

Besides which, as I said earlier, even if abortion WERE safer than childbirth, it still would not justify the act. For one thing, it would merely be a broad claim about abortions and pregnancies in general. It would not mean that abortion is safer than any normal pregnancy, for example.

And second, there’s an obvious distinction between what’s safer and what’s morally correct. If a mother’s home were to catch fire, it would be safer for her to run outside and abandon her children to the flames – but that would be immoral. Similarly, if they were being chased by wild dogs, the mother could increase her chances of survival by leaving her children for the dogs to feast on – but that wouldn’t be right.