Is Abortion Immoral?
Chapter 1 Preface
When the pro-life and pro-choice movements debate the morality of abortion, their arguments often center around the question of whether abortion is murder. Yet to resolve this controversy, both factions are faced with determining exactly when life begins—at fertilization, birth, or sometime in between. Members of the pro-life movement believe that abortion is murder because it intentionally kills a human being. As social services professor William Brennan explains, “When the abortionist invades the sanctuary of the womb, the passenger within is by all scientific criteria alive, growing, and developing. After the abortionist accomplishes his lethal task, the intrauterine victim is definitely no longer alive, and therefore dead. And it is the abortion procedure that brought about this death.” The Catholic Church supports this belief, teaching that life begins at fertilization and any attempt to destroy that life—whether by abortion or contraception— is a sin. In 1995 Pope John Paul II officially condemned abortion in his “Evangelium Vitae,” calling it a villainous crime that kills an innocent human being.
Members of the pro-choice movement contend, however, that abortion is a moral choice and therefore cannot be labeled as murder. Don Sloan, an obstetrician and gynecologist, agrees that while abortion destroys an embryo, it is only a potential human; an embryo lacks the brain activity, self-awareness, and social experience necessary for...
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Abortion Is Immoral
In The Ethics Aristotle wrote, “Men start revolutionary changes for reasons connected with their private lives.” This is also true when revolutionary changes are cultural. What might these “private” reasons be, and why do they become public in the form of revolutionary changes? The answer to these questions lies in the intimate psychology of moral failure.
For any individual, moral failure is hard to live with because of the rebuke of conscience. Habitual moral failure, what used to be called vice, can be lived with only by obliterating conscience through rationalization. When we rationalize, we convince ourselves that heretofore forbidden desires are permissible. We advance the reality of the desires over the reality of the moral order to which the desires should be subordinated. In our minds we replace the reality of moral order with something more congenial to the activity we are excusing. In short, we assert that bad is good.
It is often difficult to detect rationalizations when one is living directly under their influence, and so historical examples are useful. One of the clearest was offered at the Nuremberg trials by Dr. Karl Brandt, who had been in charge of the Nazi regime’s Aktion T-4 euthanasia program. He said in his defense: “. . . when I said ‘yes’ to euthanasia I did so with the deepest conviction, just as it is my conviction today, that it was right. Death can mean deliverance. Death is life.”...
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Selective Abortion Is Immoral
So far as I know, this century’s first “cost-based” proposal for the selective killing of “worthless” humans appeared in a monograph published in Leipzig, Germany, in 1920—more than a dozen years before Adolf Hitler came to power. In an essay entitled Permitting the Destruction of Unworthy Life, Dr. Karl Binding wrote:
Since they require extensive care, they occasion the development of a profession devoted to providing years and decades of care for absolutely valueless lives. . . . Again, I find no grounds, legally, socially, ethically or religiously— for not permitting the killing of these people, who are the fearsome counter image of true humanity.
On June 1, 1995, Domenica Lawson was born in England with Down’s syndrome. The fact that Domenica was born at all is significant, because, on both sides of the Atlantic, the 75-year-old brainchild of Dr. Binding is also alive and well. Indeed, it is being applied to “valueless” lives at the earliest possible point—in utero. A special prenatal-screening process is now widely available to expectant parents; it can detect many if not all genetic abnormalities in the fetus during the first few months of pregnancy. If such abnormalities are found, it is now “normal” for the would-have-been parents to have the defective fetus aborted. Needless to add, such “selective” abortions, including those based solely on the baby’s gender, are...
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Abortion Is a Moral Choice
This is a very appropriate time for me to write on “The Moral Case for Abortion.” Many people in the pro-choice community believe that the battle for reproductive freedom has been won, that abortion is now available, that women have gained control over their reproductive capacities and have been liberated from the repressive rulings of patriarchal governments. This is not completely true.
There are still many countries in the world where women are subjected to the dogmatic religious edicts of theocracies. There are still women willing to endanger their health, future fertility, and even their lives in order to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The religious right and the anti-abortion movement is gaining ground on this continent and abroad. Even here, in the United States, where everyone hoped that Roe v. Wade would forever ensure a woman’s right to choice, the violent factions of the anti-abortion movement are waging war on doctors, staff, and abortion clinics; and political lobby groups and presidential candidates violently opposed to choice are within reach of the Oval Office. There are even members of the pro-choice community who are questioning the morality of reproductive freedom. These people believe that abortion must be available, but that it is inherently bad—a necessary evil. This attitude is dangerous and destructive and undermines the enormous gains due to the availability of good abortion services. In fact, the decision to have...
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Abortion Is Not Murder
Abortion providers in the United States, along with their staff, patients, and volunteer escorts, are being terrorized by people who charge that they are “killing babies.” Although there is opposition to abortion in other countries, protests rarely turn violent. Why are some Americans so passionate in their hatred of abortion and all associated with it that they are willing to murder? Is it because they are more moral than the rest of us? Are they alone privy to God’s will? I doubt it.
Expert “marketing” of the notion that abortion is murder, via the pulpit and media, is responsible for the current hysterical antiabortion crusades in the United States. According to Frances Kissling, president of the Washington, D.C.–based organization Catholics for a Free Choice, “Catholic bishops were not particularly active on the abortion issue until it became legal in 1973. Then they immediately geared up for a campaign to recriminalize abortion.”. . .
Marketing is the antiabortion conspirators’ most deadly weapon. Human Life International distributes a variety of antiabortion pamphlets, as well as posters and plastic fetus dolls. A pamphlet that proclaims “Abortion is the Greatest War of All Time” is among the most widely distributed throughout the nationwide network of antiabortion publications. Father Matthew Habiger leads Human Life International’s crusade against abortion. He calls clinics death camps and death mills and...
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The Bible Does Not Condemn Abortion
What does the Bible say about abortion? Absolutely nothing! The word “abortion” does not appear in any translation of the bible!
Out of more than 600 laws of Moses, none comments on abortion. One Mosaic law about miscarriage specifically contradicts the claim that the Bible is antiabortion, clearly stating that miscarriage does not involve the death of a human being. If a woman has a miscarriage as the result of a fight, the man who caused it should be fined. If the woman dies, however, the culprit must be killed:
If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine . And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth . . . —Ex. 21:22–25
The bible orders the death penalty for murder of a human being, but not for the expulsion of a fetus. When Does Life Begin?
According to the Bible, life begins at birth—when a baby draws its first breath. The Bible defines life as “breath” in several significant passages, including the story of Adam’s creation in Genesis 2:7, when God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Jewish law traditionally considers that personhood begins at birth.
Desperate for a biblical...
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