Abortion not an ethical solution for unwanted pregnancy

By Josh Schukman

While I agree that unwanted pregnancies are a severe problem, I absolutely cannot accept abortions as a part of the solution. I believe we should staunchly support reproductive health, choice, responsible sexual decisions, and an array of other initiatives to promote healthy families. However, I also believe that an unborn child is endowed with a right to life. Thanks to the bickering between the extreme right and the extreme left, every position in the abortion debate is labeled as either “pro-choice” or “pro-life”. I despise both of those terms, mainly because they frame the argument in a very inarticulate way. After all, I’m pro-choice. I support people’s right to choose where to live, what to eat, what to do for a career, what political and ethical views they hold, you name it – I’m generally pro-choice when it comes to what people do to and for themselves. Here’s the problem though – I believe that an individual’s life begins at the moment of conception.

Consider these facts: at 18 days a baby’s heart begins to beat, at 43 days the brain coordinates movements, at 8 weeks all organs are functioning, at 9 weeks a baby has individual Fingerprints, at 10 weeks a sense of touch, and at 12 weeks a baby can smile, suck his/her thumb and make a fist. While I understand that bearing a child can place severe limitations on a mother, I cannot automatically hold the mother’s rights above those of the child. That’s not anti-choice, it’s simply defending the rights of an unborn child who cannot speak for him/herself.

To those of you who would define a fetus as “a bunch of cells” rather than life, consider this – most bunches of cells stay just that, a bunch of cells. Even when they multiply, they just become a bigger mass of cells. But the cells of a fetus are unique, they multiply, diversify, and form all the incredible structures of the human body.

Consider the fact that approximately 1.37 million abortions occur in the U.S. each year, of these, 13,700 occur after the 20th week. What’s highly disturbing about this statistic is the fact that children have been born prematurely and survived with only 23 weeks of gestation (one child even survived at 21 weeks). I’ve heard many people justify abortion by saying that they believe in abortion “because the baby cannot survive independently of the mother”. The fact that children have been born and survived ahead of 23 weeks challenges that argument. How many of those 13,700 children could have survived outside of the womb? Finally, many newborns are not capable of surviving independently of a motherlike environment – children born prematurely are placed immediately in incubators and given feeding tubes. Does the fact that they are dependant on such systems give us reason to terminate their lives? Certainly not. So why should their right to life be diminished if they are in a mother’s womb?

The most disgusting feature of the pro-abortion movement is convenience abortions. Forty-seven percent of abortions performed in the United States are carried out on women who have had at least one previous abortion, demonstrating that many abortions occur for lifestyle reasons (e.g. the baby is unwanted, the baby could alter a woman’s physical features, or the baby got in the way of a career). Take this example. In a guest column for the New York Times Magazine on July 18th, 2004, Amy Richards (prominent feminist, author, and abortion activist) detailed her personal experience with a process known as “selective reduction”. Amy explains that she was pregnant by her longtime boyfriend Peter. Both her and Peter had decided to keep the child, but when she visited her doctor, she received the unexpected news that she was carrying triplets. For Amy, the answer was simple: selective reduction. This seemingly innocuous term describes a procedure in which a doctor injects a shot of potassium chloride into the beating hearts of any unwanted children, and that’s exactly what Amy decided to do. Her sonogram revealed that she was carrying identical twins and one stand alone child. As Amy put it, “there was something psychologically comforting about that, since I wanted to have just one”. So, Amy had the doctor kill the twins and kept the stand alone child. She gave birth to one son some months later.

I find this article absolutely appalling. God forbid, Amy would ever have to live in the suburbs, or, worse yet, shop at Costco! In my opinion, this is a strong testament to how far we’ve deviated from a real debate about abortion. As far as Amy’s concerned – it doesn’t matter that her son will have to grow up knowing that two of his siblings were destroyed by his parents or that she ended two lives. By her own admission, all that matters to her is that triplets were inconvenient. I can at least understand abortion arguments based on maternal health, but the fact that this “pro-choice” activist, prominent feminist, and author is speaking so explicitly for a “convenience abortion” is a clear indicator of how far we’ve strayed from our initial intentions of protecting maternal health (e.g. stopping back alley abortions).

In instances of rape or incest, I have to be completely up-front – I can’t offer a solution. On the one hand, I cannot begin to fathom how horrible that situation must be for the mother, but, given I believe that an unborn child has a right to life, I cannot understand why it is automatic that the child should be aborted. I wish I knew the right answer, but I simply don’t.

I agree it is complicating that men never fully experience the realities of bearing a child, but that is a human reality – and we have to live with that. What we do not have to live with are men who take absolutely no responsibility for the children they father. As it stands, the law affords little real protection to women who are impregnated and abandoned by their partner. This must not be allowed to continue. Laws and enforcement should be strengthened such that it is extremely difficult for a father to avoid making large child support payments. Fathers making these payments should also be required to attend programming that emphasizes their importance in the rearing of a child. Furthermore, the United States should institute an enormous awareness campaign that educates everyone about the consequences of fathering and abandoning a child. Such initiatives would dramatically reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies by placing far more accountability on the father.

Josh Schukman can be contacted

at [email protected]