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Friday, January 27, 2012

Completely Disputable "Indisputable Abortion Facts," Part I

I am writing this trio of articles in response to a website I have stumbled upon, written by Russell C. Crawford (I’m using his real name because his real name appears on the website). I’d encourage you to visit it and read it for yourself first before reading my response to it. In fact, I'm not going to quote it word for word, so I would recommend reading one "law," then reading my response to it. I will, however, summarize these alleged "laws." You can find it here:

I really don’t think very many people will find it convincing. I probably don’t have to write too much to dispute each one of these alleged “indisputable facts” (as you will see, these “facts” are, in fact, quite disputable and even, dare I say, wrong). He does use facts and figures to back up his claims, but as you’ll see he uses them in a very misleading way, as I’ll explain in greater detail where relevant.

In fact, it is quite evident Mr. Crawford knows nothing of the pro-life position, which he constantly bashes, or the Bible, which he bashes, as well. Deep breath. Here we go.

IAF 1: Human life is not created at the moment of conception.

I know some people who would beg to differ. Embryologists, who are the experts on the field, consistently agree that when a human spermatozoan meets a human ovum, a new, unique, living human has been created. To quote from one of the most-used textbooks on embryology, "Although life is a continuous process, fertilization (which, incidentally, is not a 'moment') is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte." (Ronan O'Rahilly and Fabiola Muller, Human Embryology and Teratology, 3rd ed., New York: Wiley-Liss, 2001, p.8).

Additionally, the law of biogenesis states that every creature reproduces after its own kind. Dogs have dogs, cats have cats, and humans have humans. When a new, unique human is created at fertilization, they have their own unique DNA. At no point in human develop is anyone, preborn or postborn, anything other than human, and Russell has not offered any evidence to the contrary.

The only "evidence" Russell offers is that you can freeze human embryos and they live, yet you can't free living humans. First, this is somewhat questionable since scientists have been researching ways to freeze humans that are near death in order to try and revive them in the future when a cure for their disease has been found. However, even if you can't freeze humans then that's just one more advantage human embryos have over born humans, that they can survive while frozen (they can also survive without a heart, which doesn't develop until 22 days into gestation). Additionally, the website Russell used to "prove" his case states that only embryos when they are in the "eight cell stage" can be frozen, which would mean that embryos are only "non-human" until they have developed more than eight cells. The earliest surgical abortions are performed well after this point, so his argument regarding the freezing of embryos is moot.

But I think we can trust the experts, the embryologists, over Russell or even myself. They consistently agree that a new, unique living human is created at fertilization.

Russell is also confusing parts with wholes. The scientific fact is that humans are different than "human tissue." Zygotes, embryos, and fetuses are living human beings. Hair, skin, blood, etc, that they develop is the parts that make up their body. Cut your hair and you continue to live while the cells may die, but kill the zygote, embryo, or fetus herself and you have killed a living human.

Russell mentions that humans have a "spark of life," but he is not clear on what this "spark" actually is. Is it sentience? Russell may be surprised to learn that newborns are not sentient, either. In fact, pro-choice philosopher Peter Singer believes that it is ethical to kill children up until they are two years old because they are not sentient. The fact of the matter is that humans develop, and zygote, embryo, and fetus are just stages in human development, like toddler, adolescent, teenager, adult, and elderly.

Russell seems to believe that the "spark of life" is the attributes that make up a fully-formed human being, but again, what is fully-formed? Does Russell realize that our brains don't even stop developing until we're adults? Does he realize that toddlers are not "fully-formed" humans? Or if he believes they are, then he should at least believe that fetuses are human beings since they look like fully-formed human beings (we even have ultrasounds to prove this). Russell has no argument here. He is using his own criteria to continue being pro-choice when in fact, the scientific and philosophical evidence supports the pro-life position.

I'm a little confused as to Russell's last point in this "fact." The difference between zygotes and human tissue is that the zygote directs its development from inside itself. It is not merely stagnant, it is a unique human entity that is growing and developing while in its mother's uterus. It's a natural process of life. After all, I have two arms. Tissue cannot actually function on its own. My brain must be in complete working order in order for all of my body parts to function, and my heart must be pumping because I can no longer survive without one. All of my body parts work in tandem to keep me going, as it does with a zygote. And while a zygote develops into an embryo, which develops into a fetus, which develops into a toddler, I, as an adult, am still growing older and while my "growth" stages may be over, I am still developing as a human being.

Russell has made it quite evident that he does not have even a rudimentary understanding of science in general, or biology, specifically. His first "fact" is not indisputable at all. In point of fact, it is simply wrong. It is quite disputable and it is not a law. Quite the opposite is true, in fact.

IAF 2: A forced birth precludes a willing birth.

It is simple common sense that if a woman becomes pregnant with a child, she cannot (except in some extremely rare cases) become pregnant with a second child. Russell's argument is that if she is forced to keep a child she does not want, it prevents her from conceive a child she wants.

Notice how the only case Russell makes in support of this law is for rape, probably because that would be the only case his law may apply to. Rape only accounts for 1% of abortions, according to Guttmacher Institute, so those are extremely rare. But I'll get there in a moment.

Let's take a woman who's in a committed relationship with a guy. They have consensual sex and she winds up pregnant. Now, most abortions are done for some type of convenience, either she doesn't feel she can emotionally support a child, doesn't feel she can financially support a child, it will get in the way of college or some other life goal, etc. So let's say that she decides to have an abortion because she doesn't feel she can raise the child for whatever reason. In the nine months that she will be pregnant with that child, her situation is not likely to change drastically so that she could, then, support a child. So Russell would have a woman abort a child who comes along unplanned, on the off-chance that she may in the next nine months suddenly decide that her life has changed enough that she can now raise a child.

But now let's look at rape. Rape is an extremely traumatic event. In fact, from what I understand, pregnancies resulting from rape are rare because of the extreme emotional trauma she undergoes as a result of the ordeal. However, even if she does become pregnant, she's not likely to get over the rape for a long time, and even if she does, it's not likely she's going to be at the point where she wants to have a child at the time. The pro-choice side makes arguments about the case of rape, but this "indisputable law" that Russell has put forth just doesn't hold water, for any reason. There are much better arguments a pro-choicer can use in this case.

It takes many couples a long time to conceive a child, even longer than a year. If a woman finds herself pregnant with an unplanned pregnancy, even if she decides to try and get pregnant in a few months, there's no guarantee she'll conceive by the end of the original nine months, so Russell would have you kill an unborn child on the off-chance that her situation will drastically change in those nine months, and that she'll definitely be able to conceive once she decides to have a child.

Finally, Russell claims that if a woman carries the unplanned child conceived, she is "risking her life" by carrying the child, and he says that 13 in 100,000 woman die from pregnancy-related deaths. First of all, this is not "risking one's life" if there is only a 13 in 100,000 chance of dying. This comes out to less than 1% of pregnant women die from pregnancy-related causes. Carrying a pregnancy to term is very safe. In fact, it is safer to carry a pregnancy to term than it is to drive a car.

IAF 3: There are more people dying than can be saved.

This is true, on the surface. First of all, people die of natural causes. There's no way to save them, although we can elongate someone's life through medicine and technology. But in the end, we all die. People also die from natural causes. While you can take precautions to prevent as many deaths as possible, there's no way to save everyone from natural disasters.

Honestly, this supposed "fact" doesn't even matter in the long run. What does matter is the living humans are dying from abortion and this is the reason it needs to stop. However, this "law" doesn't even matter in the grand scheme of things. Saving unborn children from abortion does not "allow another human life to die." I've already proven that human lives are lost in abortion, that is a true indisputable fact. But there are already a large number of people who can't be saved due to natural causes and natural disasters, to say nothing of the fact that many pro-life organizations also donate money to try and feed starving kids and find cures for illnesses.

The money spent towards pro-life organizations is spent largely in educating people (of which apparently Russell missed the boat). Education leads to saving lives. There are pro-life organizations that use the money in helping pregnant women keep their children, which they don't want to lose by abortion but they feel they have no other way out. The pro-life cause is the true pro-woman cause, because we believe in helping the mother as well as the child, whereas a pro-abortion organization like Planned Parenthood will open its doors to a woman seeking abortion, claiming she is making a "choice" when in fact she really feels she has no other choice than to go through with an abortion.

The fact of the matter is that donating to a pro-life cause helps save lives, the unborn child's and the woman's (as abortion has killed women, as well).

IAF 4: It is impossible for a woman to consent to sex without consenting to abortion.

This is untrue. While it is true that sometimes a woman's body will spontaneously abort a child (through miscarriage), it is an unfortunate event that happens when something goes wrong.

Notice how Russell indicates that "pro-choice women cannot be trapped in the Pro-Life Conundrum," so apparently he believes that scientific laws work differently for different people. However, this is no conundrum at all. Miscarriages actually account for about 10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies:

So it appears that just like all pro-choicers, Russell is using inflated figures to prove his cause (oh, sorry, to "make the facts indisputable"). Chemical pregnancies account for over 50% of all miscarriages, and this is when the conceived zygote is flushed out of the woman's body. But even if miscarriages were more common, or even with miscarriages as they are, this does not excuse people from aborting human preborn children. People die of natural causes, but this does not excuse murder.

Now Russell, though he has no idea what the pro-life position actually is, claims that he knows the pro-life reaction to his law: that we are "stunned." In actuality, the only thing a pro-lifer would be stunned by is how bad his arguments are and how he, or anyone else, could actually put faith in them to try and refute the pro-life position.

I will end here. In my next part, I will tackle his "indisputable law" numbers 5-8.

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