“What is this ban on abortion? It is a survival of the veiled face, of the barred window and the locked door, burning, branding, mutilation, stoning, of all the grip of ownership and superstition come down on woman, thousands of years ago.” – Stella Browne
Does person-hood begin in the womb or after birth? Is abortion the murdering of an innocent human child or is it simply terminating a mass of cells? What do abortion rights have to do with women’s equality? Why even talk about abortion in the first place?
Why we need to talk about abortion.
I know you may be wondering why I would even want to discuss abortion when it appears as though most people have made up their minds on this debate, and there’s no turning back for them. However, this notion is wrong. Change is possible. Opinions and moral convictions are not stable. Remember the good old days when society condemned premarital sex and divorce?
Our views on abortion are evolving rapidly, just like the topics that people have debated over in the past, such as child labour, the voting rights of women, and slavery. All of these issues are now universally agreed upon. It’s vital that we discuss abortion so that awareness can be brought about.
A woman is a person. So…?
“No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother.” Margaret Sanger
To begin, I give you the basic premise that women are indeed persons, and therefore deserve equal rights, respect and dignity as do all other persons. There is no longer a question about the person-hood of women. Although the reality of equality has not completely been attained, we can agree that women are people. Therefore, I believe that women should have the ability to make decisions about what is and isn’t good for themselves. It is without a doubt that women have the right to autonomy and one cannot have true autonomy if they do not have it over their own physical bodies.
What is in debate here is at what point does person-hood begin? Some say it starts at conception, others when the zygote becomes a fetus and some say it begins when the baby is born. It’s a question which is disputed by many.
What is person-hood anyway? And how does one define it?
When deciding if one is a person or not, there are a few key questions to ask.
1. Can the entity act in the world and respond to its environment?
2. Is the entity aware of its own existence?
3. Does the entity possess rights and duties?
4. If it can claim the right to live, does it live independently?
I will now examine these questions and provide answers as to whether or not a prenatal organism should be considered a person.
- A fetus cannot act in the world nor respond to the environment except in response to it’s provider’s body, its mother.
- A fetus and even newborn babies do not yet have awareness of their own state, emotions or motivations. It is not self aware and therefore cannot acknowledge it’s own existence. We also cannot disregard the state in which the fetus exists within it’s mother’s womb; the fetus is asleep, surrounded by darkness and connected to a placenta which provides the nutrients and blood necessary for growth. The fetus is actually in a sedated state due to the low oxygen pressure and substances provided by the placenta which cause sleep; such as steroidal anesthetics.
- A fetus cannot possess rights or duties unless it is sentient and self-aware.
- Let’s say that the fetus should have a right to life. If this is true, it should also be living independently. A fetus cannot do this because it can only live while being attached to and being nourished by it’s mother. It requires it’s mother’s life to live.
Based on the answers to the questions listed above, a fetus does not have true person-hood.
What a fetus looks like at 12 weeks, contrary to some misinformed beliefs of pro-life advocates:
When abortion is illegal, women are not safe.
“Women are not dying because of diseases we cannot treat. They are dying because societies have yet to make the decision that their lives are worth saving.” Prof. Mahmoud Fathalla,MD, PhD
Whenever a country has tried to outlaw abortion, it has only lead to dangerous consequences for women. Many women have died or have been injured when abortion was illegal due to unsafe practices. This is why people have fought so hard to have the right to choose. Why would we go back in time knowing that it will cause harm towards all women?
If we seriously honor and respect the individual rights of people, then we cannot possibly return to the horrifying idea of laws that will both force women to bear children against their will and force women into getting dangerous abortions.
Not all women who get pregnant can have safe pregnancies.
Many women who suffer with heart disease, sickle-cell anemia, kidney disease, severe diabetes and other illnesses require that they have an abortion because of the potential life-threatening consequences a pregnancy or childbirth could have on them and/or the fetus.
An accidental pregnancy or a rape can destroy a woman’s life if she does not have access to abortion.
It is a horrendous idea that some people are trying to push, that even if a woman is raped she should not have an abortion. It could bring her economic, emotional and personal freedom to an absolute halt. Even a consensual but accidental pregnancy could have a devastating effect on a woman’s life. Forcing someone to have a child they did not want takes away all of her personal choice.
Therefore, I believe it is vital that women have the right to choose what happens to their own body and that abortion be legal. It is vital for their safety, health, and for their freedom and autonomy as an individual human being.
I came across this comic about the notion that atheists are angry people. I thought it was quite clever!
The atheist in this comic is progressive and argues for peaceful societies, yet the opponent completely disregards this. The atheists arguments seem to go right through one ear and out the other of the opposing person. It’s ironic that their responses imply aggression towards the atheist, especially regarding the comment on tasers, suggesting atheists should be forcefully stopped.
I fully agree with the idea that peaceful, loving and moral societies can be accomplished through critical thinking and secularism. In fact, I think that societies which are predominantly based on religious ideals and values have more hatred and are less just because they tend to lack respect for the rights of all people, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, age, race, etc. How can we have a progressive society if we base our laws and values on ancient thinking? Ideals which may have served a purpose for one historical context may be completely inaccurate for our modern world.
Atheists are not angry people. I think that this stereotype comes from a lack of understanding of what it means to be a freethinker and an atheist, as is illustrated by this comic. Yes, certain issues may anger atheists, however this is true for all groups of people, regardless of their beliefs.
This billboard, which depicts Mary and Joseph lying in bed together, was created by an Auckland Anglican Church. The church said the poster was made to provoke thought about the origin of Christmas.
The Auckland Anglican Church also had this poster put up. Here the Virgin Mary looks shocked over a positive pregnancy test.
Their billboards have sparked not only thought but some controversy in the Catholic community. Arthur Skinner, a member of the Catholic church in New Zealand, slashed the poster and accused the Anglican church of being heretics.
What I find most interesting about these posters is that they are not your typical Christmas depiction. They depict the story of the bible in a literal way while using subtle humor to engage viewers.
A: No, I don’t believe parents should teach their children that they are going to suffer and be damned to hell. I agree with freedom of religion and freedom of expression but there is a difference between a freedom and a right. A freedom is a privilege and if you harm someone (threatening, emotionally harming someone by saying that they will go to hell) it is no longer acceptable. In my opinion it is harmful to teach children that certain actions they do can condemn them forever. It causes lots of anxiety, guilt and stress that is really damaging in the long run. As a child I grew up in a religious environment and I had a lot of fear and guilt associated with my religion, so I know the result of teaching children about hell. It is only putting large amounts of pressure and fear onto a child, which in my opinion is a form of emotional abuse, because making someone fear for their life (or in this case afterlife) is injurious to that person’s well being.
An anti-choice activist group has created a movie which compares abortion to the Holocaust. If this wasn’t already bad enough, the group has now taken to lobbying for their film to be played in high schools.
The film, called 180, is being promoted as “an award-winning documentary”, which is meant to educate children about the horrors of the 1940′s genocide.
Comfort, the creator of this film, makes no distinction between abortion and the Holocaust, which is disturbing, to say the least. Sadly, the film has gone viral and has reached nearly 1.5 million views thus far. And according to The Christian Post, “members of the First Baptist Church of Trenton, Florida … displayed next to a busy highway, four white banners on the corners boldly state ’4000 Babies Murdered Each Day – Each Cross = One Child Each Day.’”
“On the bottom of the banners the ’180′ website address is printed: ‘www.180movie.com,’”.
It is disturbing to see just how far the religious are willing to go, to push their propaganda and agendas onto innocent people, children especially. Youth are especially vulnerable and are most damaged by this kind of misinformation, because they will be confused about their reproductive rights as well as historical events.
“The Cosmos is full beyond measure of elegant truths
Of exquisite interrelationships
Of the awesome machinery of nature
I believe our future depends powerfully
On how well we understand this cosmos
In which we float like a mote of dust
In the morning sky”
This amazing artist on Youtube called melodysheep has created a tribute to the great cosmologists Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking. Take a listen and feel wonder and awe for our cosmos. Sounds like heaven to me.
When Charles Darwin went to the Galapagos Islands, he discovered that the island was inhabited by thirteen species of finch birds. Amazingly, these finches all evolved from the same single species. Each finch has adapted to it’s environment and has unique specializations. The specializations can be seen in the shape and size of the bird’s beaks. For example, some finches are adapted for flowers only, seeds only, and others for insects. Darwin’s finches are an excellent and very easy to understand example of how evolution works. Though he didn’t know it at the time, his discovery changed the world of science and religion forever.
In Darwin’s memoir, The Voyage of The Beagle, Darwin wrote, “One might really fancy that, from an original paucity of birds in this archipelago, one species had been taken and modified for different ends.”
- Artistic interpretation of Darwin’s finches