1. It's not really a human being, right? So what's the big deal?
Life begins at fertilization. Scientists agree that after the moment of fertilization, nothing is added to the embryo except nutrition and oxygen from that moment until death. Since food and air consumption do not create human beings, the human embryo is fully human from the moment of fertilization. Scientists know that the human embryo at the moment of fertilization contains DNA that determines the baby's gender, eye color, hair color, etc. (distinct from any other person on the planet). No human mother has ever given birth to a monkey; what is growing in her is clearly a human being.
There are only four differences between a newborn baby and a pre-born baby: size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency. A person's size, intelligence, location, and need for help should not determine his or her worth as a human being. An unborn child is not a potential human being; an unborn child is a human being with great potential.
2. What about cases of rape and incest? Would you force a woman in that situation to carry her baby to term?
It is a despicable injustice when a woman is violated and raped. If a crime of this nature occurs and a child is conceived, HLA believes strongly in bringing the criminal to justice, however, we stand firmly in defense of the woman and the innocent new individual now existing - for neither have committed a crime. A former HLA employee was conceived in rape. She shares her side of the story:
"I am sure happy that my life was not cut off because of a crime my biological father committed. I am grateful for the life I am living and I know, even though I am far from perfect, my mom has no regrets either. Despite the circumstances of my conception, once I exist, I have the right to life, just as you or anyone else does - for it IS an inalienable right."
In cases of incest, abortion only allows the abuse to continue unnoticed. Rather than helping the victim, the abortion helps cover for the abuser. HLA will continue to advocate for positive alternatives to abortion that will truly help all women (born and unborn.)
3. I'm personally opposed to abortion, but I'm pro-choice because I believe you can't tell a woman what to do with her own body. It's her choice!
Unfortunately, the term "pro-choice" is very ambiguous and avoids talking about what is actually happening. Most people agree that we can be "pro-choice" about a lot of things without offending anyone (i.e. what books we choose to read, where we choose to attend school etc.). The term "choice" is in fact value-neutral and meaningless unless we have some idea of what we are choosing. Society generally limits people's choices when it comes to choices that are harmful or potentially harmful to other people. As a society, we are "anti-choice" when it comes to theft, arson, murder, and a whole host of other offenses.
What then is abortion? Does it fall in the category of choices that we ought to condemn or condone? First, it is killing. Abortion renders something that was demonstrably alive, demonstrably dead. Second, what is killed is human. The fetus that grows in a mother's womb is not a duck. The female reproductive system is designed for the precise purpose of carrying this living being. Therefore, abortion is the killing of a human being. People cannot hide behind the argument of saying they are personally opposed to abortion but wouldn't want to restrict someone else's "right." Try that argument in the following situations: "I'm personally opposed to slavery..."; "I'm personally opposed to gassing Jews...". Furthermore, it should be quite obvious that even though people will continue to do wrong things, the solution is not to redefine right and wrong or to enable people to more easily carry out wrong things. The government does not legalize theft just because lots of people do it (and get injured doing it) and will continue to do it despite what the law says.
Don't buy into the "choice" rhetoric. The issue here is "rights." No one has the right to violate another person, let alone take a life.
4. What about those situations where the woman's life is at stake. Would you condemn her to die?
There are no situations where abortion is medically or psychiatrically justified to save the life of the mother. With the advancement of medical science, today's doctor is never faced with the dilemma of choosing between the life of the mother and the life of the baby.
Opponents often bring up such cases as an ectopic pregnancy or cancerous uterus. However, these are not abortions. When the embryo lodges in the fallopian tube and grows there, the damaged portion of the tube, containing the developing human being, may be surgically removed. Morally, such operations are justified under the principle of double effect, or secondary effect, since the death of the child is the unintended effect of an operation independently justified by the necessity of saving the mother's life. These operations do not involve the intentional killing of the unborn child for the preservation of the mother's life. Morally, therefore, such cases as the ectopic pregnancy and the cancerous uterus present no problem, since they are not abortions.
Also, cases of medically necessary premature delivery are not abortion. Most cases occur in the third trimester when the child is developed enough to survive. These cases are emergency premature deliveries and the goal is to save both mother and child.
Some women have courageously chosen to potentially sacrifice their lives (by postponing treatment such as chemotherapy) rather than possibly harm their unborn child. HLA applauds these women for their amazing sacrificial love for their unborn child.
[Some of the language in this HLA statement is taken from the treatise, Abortion: No Compromise, by Charles E. Rice, Professor of Law, Notre Dame Univ. Law School and from "'Life of the Mother' Is it Needed in Legislation?" by J.C. Willke, M.D. published in the July 2000 issue of Life Issues Connector.]
5. I've heard that the birth control pill can cause an abortion. How can it do that? The package insert says it won't stop a pregnancy.
Once a zygote has implanted in the uterine wall, the pill would generally not terminate the pregnancy. However, life begins at the moment of fertilization, not at implantation (which the medical community has redefined to mean the beginning of pregnancy). At the moment of fertilization, one egg and one sperm unite to create a unique, irreplaceable, new human being. We all started our lives at this microscopic moment!
All hormonal contraceptives (the pill, patch, shot, mini-pill, vaginal ring, implants, etc.) can be abortifacient in nature because they attempt to cause a chemical abortion by not allowing the conceived embryo to implant and receive nourishment. Hormonal contraceptives have three basic methods: they attempt to stop ovulation, they thicken the cervical fluids to prevent fertilization, and they thin the lining of the uterus to prevent implantation. The first two methods are contraceptive, but the third causes an abortion because it occurs after fertilization. We know that hormonal contraceptives do not always stop ovulation or fertilization because of the percentage of live births that do happen in women taking them. When these contraceptives do not stop fertilization, they attempt to cause a chemical abortion by preventing the embryo from implanting in the uterus.
If you plan to get married someday, consider Natural Family Planning (not to be confused with the rhythm method). This is a safe, highly effective (some methods of NFP can be 99% effective in the avoidance of fertility) form of fertility awareness that can be used to either avoid or achieve pregnancy with no possibility of causing an abortion and no side effects.
6. What age group has the most abortions?
The women who have the most abortions are between ages 20-24. This is why HLA concentrates so much energy on reaching college students with the truth about the harmful effects of abortion and the humanity of the unborn child. HLA hopes to reach these students with the truth before they choose to suffer the pain of an abortion and the physical and psychological risks that follow.
7. Is it true that Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was a proponent of eugenics?
Margaret Sanger advocated that "inferior races" were in fact "human weeds" and a "menace to civilization." She argued that we should stop bringing to birth children whose inheritance cannot be one of health or intelligence. "Our failure to segregate morons who are increasing and multiplying . . . demonstrates our foolhardy and extravagant sentimentalism," said Sanger. She suggested Congress should have a "stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is already tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring." She continually advocated for genetic eugenics in order to purify the population from defectives.
However, who has the right to say who is defective and who is genetically perfect? Should people be killed just because they are poor, or because they have a lower IQ than you? What if someone is found to have a higher IQ than yours? Should society then eliminate you?
Margaret Sanger's ideas were racist and highly eugenic. Her ideas are continually permeating our culture through abortion on demand, increased testing to discover fetal anomalies such as Down syndrome earlier in the pregnancy to allow abortion, and increased interest in genetic testing with in vitro fertilization so as to ensure a "perfect" child.
"The Negro Project: Margaret Sanger's EUGENIC Plan for Black Americans" Retrieved 12/6/05 from www.blackgenocide.org.
"The Truth about Margaret Sanger." Retrieved 12/6/05 from www.blackgenocide.org.
8. What are the major developmental milestones for the unborn child?
Day 1 Fertilization: A completely unique human being is created with a complex set of DNA that determines the baby's gender, hair and eye color, height, skin tone, etc. From that moment on nothing new is added but oxygen, nutrition, and time.
7-10 days after fertilization the embryo implants in the mother's womb.
Day 21 the heart begins to beat in a regular fashion with a blood type that is often different from the mother's.
By 6 weeks brain waves can be detected by electroencephalogram.
By the end of 12 weeks all the organs and systems in the baby's body are functioning.
Month Three: Unique fingerprints are evident and never change.
Month Four: The baby's ears are functioning.
Month Five: Babies born prematurely at this stage often survive, thanks to advances in neonatal medicine.
Month Nine: Gaining 1/2 pound per week, the baby prepares for her grand entrance into the world.
9. How dare you put this on my campus and upset all these girls like this. This is too controversial to have on a college campus. Don't you people have any respect for women!
HLA has great respect for women. It is because of our great respect for all human life that we are determined to educate people on the issue of abortion. Abortion harms women. Talking about abortion can be very upsetting for people, but it would be even more devastating to them if they had an abortion.
Post-abortion syndrome is something that affects women for decades after an abortion both physically and psychologically. Men who participate in abortion can also suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder because of the loss of their unborn child. Women after abortion are at greater risk of breast cancer, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, liver cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, and premature births in future pregnancies.
HLA particularly wants to inform college students about the dangers of abortion because they are the age group that has the most abortions. Besides, the college campus is the perfect place for students to face these controversies head on and decide where they stand based on the facts. That is what HLA wants to present to students-the facts. To say this information is "too controversial to have on a college campus" is to undermine the intelligence of your fellow students.
Reardon, David. Elliot Institute. "A List of Major Physical Sequelae Related to Abortion." Elliot Institute 2000. http://www.afterabortion.org/physica.html.
10. Does the unborn child feel the pain of an abortion? If so, how early can they feel pain?
HLA did intensive research to answer your question, because it is very difficult to find a consensus-even among scientists and doctors. Many pro-life organizations will stand behind the fact that the unborn child has a fully developed sense of pain at 20 weeks. Many pro-abortion groups won't admit that the baby can feel anything before 24 weeks. However, this is preposterous. When babies born prematurely between 20-23 weeks are operated on they must have anesthesia because they will pull away from a needle, cry, have increased heart rates, and increased levels of stress hormones.
The question should not be "when is the pain system fully functional" but "when does the pain system begin to develop." A quadriplegic cannot feel pain in their legs because the nerves are damaged, but it doesn't mean that they can't feel pain perfectly in their upper body where their nerves are intact. Likewise, the unborn baby has partial feeling at a very young age:
"At 7.5 weeks' gestation, reflex responses to somatic stimuli begin, and touching the perioral region [mouth] results in a contralateral bending of the head. The palms of the hands become sensitive to stroking at 10.5 weeks, and the rest of the body and hindlimbs become sensitive at approximately 13.5 weeks. Shortly after the development of sensitivity, repeated skin stimulation results in hyperexcitability and a generalized movement of all limbs. This hyperexcitability has been interpreted as evidence for the presence of a functional pain system, reflecting an immature but intact pain response with early hypersensitivity to stimulation."1
This article goes on to explain that despite the fact that unborn children can feel someone touching them in certain areas as early as 7.5 weeks, with the complete body sensitive by 13.5 weeks, some believe this doesn't demonstrate a developing pain response. Apparently, even though a baby at 8-10 weeks will pull away and open her mouth if you stick her with a pin, it's not really pain, because she cannot interpret these experiences in a conscious manner. This is a case of the medical community changing the definition to fit their needs. Some say a baby cannot feel pain because the nerves are not hooked up completely to the cortex, although they are hooked up to the thalamus (which handles pain) much earlier. However, cortical activity is not required for pain perception in adults (the thalamus handles this), so why is it necessary for unborn babies to feel pain?2
Doctors used to think that premature babies could not feel pain, so they used to operate on them without anesthesia. The medical community now understands that premature babies not only feel pain, but they often have more severe pain than adults. A baby's immature nervous system does not have everything in place to dampen the pain as adults do.
"Grown children and adults have their peripheral nerves sheathed in myelin so that the stimulus at one end carries to the thalamus without impacting the tissues it passes through on the way. This localizes the pain to where the noxious stimulus is applied. It is now known that an older fetus and premature babies do not have this protective myelin sheath or do not have it completed. Because of this, a pain stimulus at one end is not just felt at the tip where this stimulus is applied, but probably is felt all along the course of that exposed nerve fiber."3
This said, HLA wishes to point out that it does not matter when the baby can first feel pain when discussing abortion. The unborn child is a human being from fertilization onward and should have a right to life no matter the stage of development. However, fetal pain demonstrates another aspect of the humanity of the unborn child. HLA's hope is that this information will spark in women a desire to nurture the life inside of them rather than abort their child.Sources:
1. Derbyshire, Stuart W.G. PhD. "Fetal 'Pain'-A Look at the Evidence." American Pain Society Bulletin. July/August 2003. Vol. 13, Num. 4. http://www.ampainsoc.org/pub/bulletin/jul03/article1.htm.
2. Anand, K.J.S. "A Scientific appraisal of Fetal Pain and Conscious Sensory Perception." Written testimony offered to the Constitution Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives in relation to the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act of 2005 (H.R. 356). http://judiciary.house.gov/media/pdfs/anand110105.pdf.
3. Willke, J.C., MD. "The Truth About Fetal Pain." Life Issues Connector. October 2005. p.5-6.
11. If we don't have abortion and contraception we're all going to be dead soon due to overpopulation!
Despite what you may have heard untold times through the past several decades, there is NO OVERPOPULATION PROBLEM. Abortion, euthanasia, contraception, and infanticide are not needed to quell an over abundance of the human population.
We are facing an UNDERPOPULATION CRISIS that will have devastating consequences if measures are not taken quickly. In 64 countries around the world today, including the United States, the birth rate is below replacement level. This under population crisis is focused mainly in developed nations, not underdeveloped nations (UN 2005).
A nation's fertility rate must be at 2.1 children or above in order to maintain its population level. The total fertility rate of Europe is currently a dismal 1.4 (UN 2005). Some European nations are now implementing government incentives for families to have more than two children because of the rapidly decreasing population.
The March 28, 2006 Population Research Institute Weekly Briefing stated, "Some will find population decline a cause for celebration. But keep this in mind: The world's population will age rapidly in that time, due to the few births. Most of the world, including its poor nations, will develop the same massive social security and health care problems that increasingly plague fast-aging First World nations in Western Europe and North America as well as Japan."
So next time you hear someone cry "Overpopulation," stop and ask them where they got their facts. You'll find they simply don't have them.
(UN Dept. of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division 2005)
To read more about underpopulation click here.
To read more about abortion click here.