ABORTION: ANOTHER LOOK
By Dan Fruchey
On January 22, 1973 the United States Supreme Court handed down a majority decision that legalized abortion. Fifteen years later the controversy is still unresolved in the minds of millions of Americans. When does human life begin? Does anyone have the right to decide whether or not an unborn child will live or die? Can we make an informed decision?
In an election year the issue takes on renewed life. As politicians vie for admittance to the Oval Office many Americans are demanding an answer: What, if any, are the rights of an unborn child?
The battle for the unborn child has gained additional strength and approval during the Reagan administration. Pro-life groups including Birthright and Citizens For Life have become major political forces in our country. In August 1987 Pro-life leaders met President Reagan at the White House while over 150,000 supporters staged a rally outside.
Despite heavy political pressure legal abortions continue at a rate of about 4,000 per day. Approximately 1.5 million babies are aborted annually in the United States alone. This year one out of
every four children conceived will be medically terminated prior to birth. Abortion has become big business in the United States. Since the law was changed in 1973 the incidence of abortion has increased 1500 percent. Medically approved abortions generate an estimated 500 million dollars in income annually for the physicians and clinics that perform the procedure.
Proponents of abortion, often referred to as “pro-choice” supporters, claim that a woman has the right to determine the future of a child prior to birth. They believe a woman has the right to
control her own body; the child inside her womb is non-living and non-human, a piece of personal property prior to birth. The U.S. Supreme Court agrees with this position. Liberal abortion laws allow women to terminate an unwanted pregnancy at any time, in some cases even up to the ninth month.
The controversy rages on. Pro-choice adherents stage marches backed by women’s rights groups. Pro-life supporters picket abortion clinics with the full support of the religious establishment. Radical factions in both camps stage violent riots, fire-bomb campaign headquarters, and deface counseling centers and clinics. Leaders on both sides cry indignantly against violations of legal rights and lament the demeaning of human dignity.
Who is right in making this determination? Perhaps the right to choose doesn’t lie with the men and women who wish to make moral and legal decisions. Perhaps the ultimate determination should be made based on physical evidence we can obtain from observations made by medical professionals. This includes doctors and scientists who are knowledgeable about the one abortion affects most, the unborn child.
“Until birth, the fetus is invisible,” states Dr. Bernard Nathanson, “…if the abdominal wall were transparent, what kind of abortion laws might we have?”
It is a chilling thought. Dr. Nathanson, a prominent obstetrician, was a key figure in influencing the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. More recently he has reversed his position and now bases his arguments against abortion on medical facts.
“I am personally responsible for 75,000 abortions. This legitimizes my credentials to speak to you with some authority on this issue. I was one of the founders of the National Association for the
Repeal of the Abortion Laws in the U.S. in 1968.” Dr. Nathanson’s story has been documented extensively in books and in interviews with major magazines such as Time.
“I am often asked what made me change my mind. How did I change from prominent abortionist to pro-life advocate? In 1973, I became director of obstetrics of a large hospital in New York City and had to set up a perinatal research unit, just at the start of a great new technology which we now use every day to study the fetus in the womb. A favorite pro-abortionist tactic is to insist that the definition of when life begins is impossible; that the question is a theological or moral or philosophical one, anything but a scientific one. Fetology makes it undeniably evident that life begins at conception and requires all the protection and safeguards that any of us enjoy.”
Doctor Nathanson is not alone in drawing these conclusions. Advances in embryology and fetology have presented increasingly persuasive evidence on the generation of life at conception.
In a 1981 interview for Newsweek magazine Dr. George F. Will stated that life begins, “when the chromosomes of the sperm fuse with the chromosomes of the ovum to form a new DNA complex that thenceforth directs the ontogenesis of the organism.” That is, within minutes or even seconds of conception.
Dr. Will goes on to state, “The onset of individual life is not a dogma of the church but a fact of science. How much more convenient if we lived in the thirteenth century, when no one knew anything about microbiology and arguments about the onset of life were legitimate.”
“Nowadays it is not some misguided ecclesiastics who are trying to suppress an embarrassing scientific fact. It is the secular juridical-journalistic establishment.”
Some of the strongest physical evidence supporting these conclusions is derived from the conception and birth of one Louise Brown – the first test tube baby. Doctor Robert Edwards and Doctor
Patrick Steptoe witnessed this inception of life when they took an ovum and spermatozoa from Louise’s parents and combined them in vitro. The tiny clump of dividing cells was later implanted in Mrs. Brown and is now a healthy nine year old female child. To maintain that this living child was simply a non-human mass of protoplasm stretches the bonds of credibility.
Through the efforts of science and medicine we are able to leap the first hurdle in determining the status of an unborn child. That is, the dividing mass of cells we refer to as an embryo is living.
Not only is it alive, but embryologists can identify it as a human embryo.
The anti-abortionist would have us consider this enough to justify the curtailment of abortion. Many individuals would concur with their analysis when presented with these facts. The prevailing
argument in favor of this conclusion is the basis for our system of government, the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
Pro-life supporters believe that since we can prove that human life is present in the womb we are bound by the laws of our land to preserve it regardless of a woman’s wishes. The United Nations has further defined the rights of an unborn child in a document known as the Declaration of the Rights of the Child:
“…the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.”
For the anti-abortionist this is a heady statement confirming the philosophical goal they pursue. However, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling also stated that since the court could not at that time
determine when life actually begins, they must base their decision on when “meaningful” life begins. In other words, meaningful life outside the womb, when the child is no longer dependent on it’s mother for existence.
Many feel this definition of “meaningful” life is due for an overhaul, especially in light of evidence presented by medical science. Current law still allows a woman free choice over the future
of her own body and the future of the living human she carries.
Dr. Magda Denes has said, “Abortion based on viability is as logical as maintaining that drowning a non-swimmer in a bathtub is permitted because he would have drowned anyway if he would have fallen into the sea.” Can anyone be said to have “meaningful life” outside of the aid and support we receive from other individuals?
Medicine has advanced to new heights in caring for the premature child. Fetuses that were previously considered non-viable now have remarkable chances for survival. Recent technology gives the
underdeveloped child a chance for life. It seems remarkable that one individual will medically destroy a child while in a nearby room doctors are successfully struggling to save another child delivered at the same development stage.
The Supreme Court ruling states in part, “Abortions are freely available in the first trimester, subject to medical determination in the second trimester, and banned in the third when the fetus is
viable.” The court also ruled that a third trimester abortion would be allowed if it was deemed necessary to protect the mother from harm.
Essentially this means abortion may be allowed at any time during the prenatal development of a child. Several reasons are cited by pro-choice supporters for allowing legal, medically approved
abortions. These include sexual assault, terminating the “unwanted” infant before it becomes a victim of child abuse, and pregnancies that might endanger the mother’s life. Pro-choice adherents have also cited statistics that indicated over 10,000 women were dying annually as a result of “back alley” abortions performed in non-sterile environments with inadequate equipment.
Since the 1973 Supreme Court decision supporters on both sides have attempted to gather data and statistics that support their viewpoint with surprising results.
One of the most pressing reasons given for allowing an abortion is sexual assault, a crime which occurs every 15 minutes in our country. Data has shown that most women who are victims of sexual
assault do not conceive as a result of the attack. Reasons include physical and emotional trauma, the time of month at which the assault occurred, and medical intervention in reported cases, including use of a morning after contraceptive pill.
In cases where a women has conceived as a result of sexual assault many have opted to keep the child. The child is half the victim’s (genetically speaking) and some feel it is an added crime to
destroy the developing child. The child had no choice as to it’s father or means of conception.
The ability to carry an “unwanted” child to full term is a singular act of courage on the part of the woman who was assaulted. Very few people would deny a woman the ability to receive an abortion
in cases of sexual assault. The number who would actually be willing to take advantage of this opportunity are relatively few and the argument becomes a moot point.
Child abuse is rampant in our country. It is perhaps one of the greatest problems facing our society today. Pro-choice supporters feel it is logical to stop the growth cycle of an unwanted child prior
to birth to avoid the horrors of child abuse. Abortionists have attempted to obtain data to support this theory.
Studies were performed at the University of Southern California Medical Center by Dr. Edward Lenoski, Professor of Pediatrics, to determine the facts surrounding child abuse. Dr. Lenoski studied 674 cases of child abuse to determine it’s causes and suggest preventive measures. The results indicated that 91% of the children studied were planned and that 90% of the children abused were legitimate (born of married parents).
Another major concern expressed by supporters of legalized abortion is the risk of harm to the mother. Dr. C. Everett Koop, United States Surgeon General, has stated, “Protection of the life of
the mother as an excuse for abortion is a smoke screen. In my 36 years of pediatric surgery I have never known of one instance where the child had to be aborted to save the mother’s life. If toward the end of the pregnancy complications arise that threaten the mother’s health, the doctor will induce labor or perform a Caesarean section. His intention is to save the life of both the mother and the baby. The baby’s life is never willfully destroyed because the mother’s life is in danger.”
In it’s decision the Supreme Court also stated that harm to the mother could include mental, as well as physical, harm. One study showed that 90% of the abortions performed in California are approved due to mental reasons. This includes a mother’s unwillingness to carry a child to full term, emotional trauma, financial stress, social pressure, and mental disorders.
The final argument proposed in favor of abortion is the frequency of deaths related to illegal abortions. Dr. Bernard Nathanson admits that while working towards legalized abortion, “We aroused enough sympathy to sell our program of permissive abortion by fabricating the number of illegal abortions done annually in the U.S. The actual figure was approaching 100,000 but the figure we gave to the media repeatedly was 1,000,000.”
“Repeating the big lie often enough convinces the public. The number of women dying from illegal abortions was around 200-250 annually. The figure we constantly fed to the media was 10,000.
These false figures took root in the consciousness of Americans convincing many that we needed to crack the abortion law.”
This sort of synthesized statistic has given the public a lopsided view of the facts surrounding abortion. Americans are again asking questions about abortion and demand honest answers.
There are five common methods of abortion practiced in the United States. They are unpleasant and sometimes dangerous procedures. Many abortions can be performed in a doctor’s office or clinic during the early stages of pregnancy (up to 22 weeks). Later abortions require admittance to a hospital, especially in the case of Hysterectomies.
Dilation & Curettage – (D & C) The cervix is dilated with a series of instruments and then a curette, a sharp scraping instrument, is inserted into the uterus. The fetus is literally cut into pieces
and then scraped from the walls of the uterus. The primary drawback of this method is extreme bleeding commonly associated with the procedure.
Suction Curettage – Also known as Vacuum Aspiration. The cervix is dilated in a manner similar to that employed in a D & C. A strong suction nozzle is inserted into the uterus and the fetus is sucked in pieces into a waiting jar. The drawbacks are similar to those of a D & C: profuse bleeding. The machinery literally sucks the surface tissue layers from the uterus along with the developing child.
Saline Injection – This method is employed after sixteen weeks (four months). A long needle is inserted through the abdomen into the amniotic sac. A strong saline solution is injected into the sac. The child is literally burned to death by the solution. Radiologic studies of the procedure show that a child will sometimes live for over an hour after the solution has been injected. Within 24 hours the woman will usually go into labor and deliver a stillborn child. However this is not always the case. A small percentage of these children are born alive and left to die of exposure or suffocate in
their own secretions.
Hysterectomy – Used mainly during the last three months of pregnancy, this procedure resembles a Caesarean Section. After the baby is removed from the women’s uterus it is left to die.
Prostaglandin – Prostaglandin is a naturally occurring chemical that stimulates labor. In large doses it causes intense labor contractions that will crush the baby within the womb. In documented
cases the contractions have been strong enough to decapitate the baby. Like victims of Saline and Hysterotomy abortions, some of these children are born alive.
Perhaps you are surprised at the idea that aborted children are sometimes born alive. Pro-choice supporters state that the number of aborted babies that live are relatively few, as little as 1% of the
total number (over 10,000 annually). Non-abortionists state the figure may be as high as 4-5% (40-50,000 annually).
The number is not the primary issue. The essential point is that some of these babies are born alive and then allowed to die through exposure and neglect. In the fifteen years since abortion was
legalized this may mean the deaths of somewhere between 150,000- 750,000 viable children.
In some cases an aborted child has refused to die and later been admitted to an intensive care nursery where it survived. These children are put up for adoption through various public agencies.
Children who have suffered through abortions are sometimes left with the evidence written on their bodies for life.
Kathleen Malloy is a Registered Nurse in Jacksonville, Florida. She corroborates this fact, “I worked the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift, and when we weren’t busy I’d go out to help with the newborns. One night I saw a bassinet outside the nursery. There was a baby in this bassinet – a crying, perfectly formed baby – but there was a difference in this child. She had been scalded. She was the child of
a saline abortion…. They wouldn’t let her in the nursery – they didn’t even bother to cover her.”
In 1979, in a Wilmington, Delaware hospital, in separate cases, a boy and a girl were aborted by the saline injection method and lived. One was found in a specimen jar struggling for life, the other was born living and rapidly cared for. They were both signed over for adoption by their mothers. The children were named Sal and Salina by hospital staff members, a reference to the saline injection method used in an attempt to kill them before birth.
These children fight to live, they do not die voluntarily. These little humans experience physical pain and suffering and in most cases their deaths are quite slow. After they die their bodies are
relegated to an incinerator and their struggle for life is forgotten.
Should the abortion laws we support be changed? From the physical evidence presented this is clearly the case. Current abortion laws fail to address the rights of a minority that cannot
make a plea before a judge. We are left with the responsibility to see that our elected officials propose laws and approve measures that will protect an unborn infants rights.
Computers for Christ – Chicago