Abortion & Forced Organ Donation

Forced Organ Donation & Abortion

Why I don’t need to agree with forced organ donation in order to believe that abortion is wrong.

The Argument

Forcing a woman to remain pregnant by denying her an abortion is like forcing her to donate all her bodily organs to sustaining another life. Unless you also believe that it’s okay in general to force people to donate their organs to sustain the lives of others, you hold a hypocritical and illogical position and your opinion can be dismissed. If you don’t believe that it’s okay in general to force people to donate their organs to sustain the lives of others, then you have no grounds for then thinking that it’s okay to force the pregnant woman to donate hers to sustain the life of the embryo/foetus.

The Problems with this Argument

1. Firstly, I’m going to take issue with pregnancy being described as organ or tissue donation, when it is nothing of the kind.

  • The pregnant woman does not donate her uterus to her unborn child. The uterus is designed to house the unborn child, and to say that this means that it is donated to the unborn child is akin to saying that a women’s vagina is donated to a man during sexual intercourse, or that a nursing mother’s breasts are donated to her breastfeeding child. An organ used as it was intended to be used by another human being does not constitute a donation.
  • Similar to the above, the pregnant woman does not make a tissue donation of her endometrial lining (which would otherwise be discarded during menstruation) to the unborn child, as this is the intended use of the endometrium.
  • The pregnant woman does not donate her blood to the unborn child. Unlike an actual donation of blood, where the blood is removed from the donor and placed into the recipient, no blood is removed from the mother and no blood is placed into the embryo. Bear with me, because it does get somewhat technical in order to demonstrate this;- Until three weeks after conception, the embryo receives oxygen and nutrients via the trophoblast, which is the precursor to the placenta and forms the outer layer around the embryo. Picture the trophoblast as an eggshell, and and the embryo as the egg yolk. The trophoblast is in contact with lacunae, which are cavities within the endometrium that are filled with maternal blood. Material diffuses from the lacunae through the trophoblast and to the embryo.

    – At two weeks after conception, the embryonic circulatory system begins to form. By three weeks after conception, embryonic blood is moving through capillaries (very small blood vessels) within the chorionic villi, which can be pictured as stalks sprouting from the layers surrounding the embryo. These villi project into the lacunae, and material diffuses from the blood in the lacunae into the embryonic blood vessels, where it is circulated via the embryonic cardiovascular system, which – by the end of the third week – includes a beating heart.

    – The pregnant woman does not donate her body to the unborn child. Her body systems do work together to provide nutrition and shelter for the unborn child, but to claim that this is akin to organ or tissue donation makes no more sense than claiming that my use of my body to provide nutrition and shelter to my three born children is akin to organ or tissue donation.

2. It doesn’t take into account the relative rights at stake. By this I am saying that it fails to recognise the difference between not acting to save a life (non-organ donation) and acting to end a life (abortion). It is important to realise here that my stance on abortion is based primarily on the concept that the unborn child, as a human being, deserves the same human rights as the rest of us.

The key right here is the right not to be arbitrarily killed. Other rights of the unborn child are also violated by abortion, but this one is the most outstanding. However, refusing to donate an organ does not result in the arbitrary killing of the ill individual. We have a right not to be killed; we do not have a right not to die. The most relevant right for the individual requiring an organ transplant is the right to health, but this only covers a right to ethical treatment, and so does not cover forcing another person to undergo a intervention in order to acquire treatment.  Therefore no rights of the would-be organ recipient are violated by a refusal to donate.

3. It minimises and trivialises the bodily autonomy of the unborn child while elevating the bodily autonomy of born human beings, including the pregnant women. Let me illustrate what I mean;

  • A person dying of kidney disease MAY NOT violate the bodily autonomy of another in order to save their own life, even though death may considered one of the most drastic of consequences.
  • A pregnant woman MAY violate the bodily autonomy of her unborn child in the most extreme manner in order to avoid the continuation of her state of pregnancy.

So, on one hand we say that bodily autonomy is so important that we may not violate it even to save our own lives. On other hand, we say that bodily autonomy is so unimportant that we can violate it drastically in order to not be pregnant. The only way to escape this illogical conclusion is to argue that the unborn child does not deserve human rights – and I’ve yet to see one convincing argument on this presented to me.

4. It fails to mirror the state of pregnancy in its analogy of forced organ donation. Even if we were to ignore that pregnancy is not organ/tissue donation (see point 1) and pretend instead that it is in some way, it still does not resemble the organ/tissue donation that takes place between born human beings. For example, if I am pregnant, than the embryo or foetus is already using my uterus; the ‘donation’ has already taken place. The only way to stop the foetus using my uterus is to forcibly remove them, at the cost of their life. Likewise, after a kidney donation has taken place, the only to stop a donor recipient from using my kidney is to force them to undergo a surgical procedure and reclaim my kidney from their body. Regardless of how my kidney ended up in their body to begin with – forced, voluntary or as a foreseeable consequence of my own actions – most people would see that this remedy for reclaiming my bodily autonomy is not sufficiently justifiable.

5. It fails to recognise that that granting a right does not grant every remedy to that right. I have a right to bodily autonomy, but I may not pursue any avenue that I feel is appropriate to exercise that right. To give an example, if I overheard a plan to kidnap me and forcibly remove my kidney in order to give it to the child of the main conspirator, and I know that the only way to stop this from taking place was to kill the unknowing and essentially innocent child, am I justified in doing so? I am not, even if this is the only remedy available that will uphold my right to bodily autonomy.

6. It doesn’t differentiate between an active violation and a denial of intervention (e.g. operation to remove donor organ versus denial of abortion procedure). A doctor needs to meet a high bar to treat a patient without consent (example here), but a much lower bar to refuse to treat a patient (example here). An example in my own personal experience has been an elderly and demented female patient with a cancerous lesion in her gastrointestinal system. Should the surgical team discover spread of the cancer or other complications, they are well within their rights to refuse to perform surgery on this lady. However, they cannot decide of their own accord to perform surgery on her; not without the consent of the relevant family members.


The Challenge of this Argument

It was put to me that it is immoral to refuse to save a life when it is within your power to do so. I am inclined to agree somewhat with this, so how can I then defend myself from being called hypocritical when I fail to advocate for forced organ donation, but advocate for so-called forced pregnancy?

The answer is that it doesn’t matter if I think refusing to donate an organ is immoral. For the above reasons listed, this argument is as relevant to pregnancy as suggesting that because I think lying is immoral, but don’t advocate for legislation banning it, I don’t have a right to advocate for the banning of abortion.


Conclusion

Consideration of the unique situation of pregnancy, awareness of the affected rights of all individuals involved in both pregnancy and organ donation and recognition of the very significant differences between organ donation and pregnancy have led me to the conclusion that this argument, although seemingly relevant and powerful on the surface, can be refuted when it is thoroughly explored


I found the following links useful:

Debunking the Pro-Choice Argument, Part VI

Standford Students for Life: the Kidney Donation Argument

Information on embryological development came from ‘The Developing Human: Clinically Orientated Embryology, 9th Edition’ Moore et al. 2013

Bodily Integrity and Abortion Part II: Sovereign Zone Argument

The Sovereign Zone Argument
Part 2 of my series on bodily integrity and abortion

This argument states that the boundaries of a person’s body form the boundaries of a ‘sovereign zone’, within which a person is free to take any action that they wish. For example, if a person decided to have an operation to split their tongue , the Sovereign Zone argument says that they have a right to have this done, as their tongue is within the sovereign zone of their body and is therefore theirs to do with as they please.

It’s easy to see how this applies to abortion. The unborn child, even though it is not a part of the pregnant woman’s body, is still within the pregnant woman’s body, and therefore encompassed by her sovereign zone. Thus – according to the argument – she has the right to do with the unborn child as she pleases.

I’d like to start with a few examples that show how our bodily integrity can be limited in a way that shows that the reach of the sovereign zone is not absolute, and that our bodies are not inviolable.

  1. Involuntary patients with a mental illness may be medicated against their will.
  2. Smoking is banned whilst driving with children.
  3. Recreational use of cocaine is illegal.
  4. Anorexic patients may be involuntarily hospitalised and treated.
  5. Female genital mutilation (FGM) is illegal, even with the consent of the prospective patient.

The important thing to think about with these examples is the reason why bodily integrity has been limited.  In all circumstances, it is for the protection of the individual, the protection of others, or both. To be specific:

1. The detainment and treatment of an individual with mental illness protects against self-harm and protects others against violent actions of that individual:

“because of the mental illness, the person requires treatment for the person’s own protection from harm (including harm involved in the continuation or deterioration of the person’s condition) or for the protection of others from harm”

Mental Health Legislation on Involuntary Treatment

South Australia Mental Health Act 2009

2. The smoking ban protects children from the harmful effects of the adult’s second-hand smoke.

3. The illegality of recreational drugs protects the individual from the harmful effects of the drugs.

4. Involuntary treatment protects the individual from the adverse health consequences of being severely underweight.

Consider how these limitations on bodily integrity shows that the sovereign zone can be breached with sufficient justification. Furthermore, consider the similarity between the goals of the limitations listed above and the goal of limiting bodily integrity in the case of abortion; primarily for the protection of the unborn child.

I’d like to give special attention to FGM, because I think this is the one that is most akin to abortion, in that most pro-choice arguments could also be used to argue in favour of allowing FGM. Firstly, I do need to say that I consider FGM to be a completely unnecessary and often horrific practice.  I firmly believe that it should be illegal, as it is in South Australia.  As I’ve stated, it is illegal even if the prospective patient has requested it. I want to stress that last part, to make it clear that we have a situation in which a woman may make an informed choice to have a procedure carried out on her own body, and yet have that choice denied. So why are women denied the opportunity to make this choice for themselves, even if that denial entails severe social and emotional consequences? It’s not medically necessary, this is true, but neither are numerous cosmetic surgeries.

Illegality of FGM

The (very valid) reasons for banning FGM are the same as the other examples; for the protection of the individual and the protection of others. The illegality of this procedure protects the woman from (a) being coerced into making a decision that she is not comfortable with, and (b) suffering the health consequences and risks resulting from FGM. It protects others, as the majority of FGM procedures are carried out on underage girls, and so a ban prevents them being subjected to such a procedure against their will (which would be a very real possibility if the law were changed to allow for FGM for consenting adults). It furthermore protects these women and girls by attempting to prevent the propagation of a sexually discriminate cultural ideal.

So once again, we see that bodily integrity can be legitimately limited, if the justification is sufficient. Therefore the Sovereign Zone argument is not sufficient grounds for abortion, provided that justification can be made for its limitation in this case. To parallel the examples given, the justification offered would be:

  1. For the protection of the individual from the harmful effects of abortion, from being coerced into making a decision, and from the risks of a medically unnecessary procedure.
  2. For the protection of the unborn child.
  3. To avoid propagating a societal discrimination against women and the inescapable biological fact that we bear children.

A little more on that last point: it is inarguable that men and women are biologically different. Any advances in equality need to recognise our differences and adjust our systems to account for them. As long as a woman has an ‘opt out’ option for pregnancy, there will be those with the perspective that concessions shouldn’t be made for pregnant mothers and mothers will young children – because ‘she didn’t need to be pregnant, she could have just got an abortion’. Respect for women and respect for the fact that we bear children and go through the process of pregnancy go hand in hand, and is only diminished by the thought that a pregnancy, once begun, is somehow optional.

Now to a more intuitive challenge to the Sovereign Zone argument. I’ve drawn from a few different sources for the following, but it is most clearly laid out here.

According to the Sovereign Zone argument, a pregnant woman has a right to do anything she pleases within the boundaries of her own body, even as this includes the embryo/foetus. Thus she has the right to abort the unborn child, even though it will result in their death. This may not sound unreasonable at first. But consider that the absolute nature of this argument also gives her the right to mutilate the unborn child. A commonly used example is that she takes thalidomide for morning sickness, knowing that it’s going to result in the deformation of the unborn child. A more direct idea is that she chooses to have the foetus’ arm removed, whilst leaving it alive. It sounds dreadful, but it is a logical conclusion of the Sovereign Zone argument.

Perhaps one could protest that the mutilation is wrong because it then affects the child once it is born. Therefore it is not that the act is wrong in itself, but it is instead wrong because of the impact on the born child. I would answer this objection in two ways:

  1. Consider the impact of a missing limb versus the impact of death. The child with a missing limb may miss out on some experiences in life (for a positive story of such an individual, go here), but the child killed before they were born can experience no life at all. I would argue that the non-living child has suffered the greater impact, and therefore this response to the Sovereign Argument cannot be dismissed on these grounds.
  2. Consider a situation in which a woman pregnant with a 39-week foetus takes the following course of action: she arranges for a number of chemicals to be injected into the amniotic fluid that will cause the foetus to be in extreme pain until, two or three days later, it eventually dies in utero. It distresses me to even write of such a thing, but the Sovereign Zone argument would permit this, even with a qualification that prohibited actions that would impact upon the born child.

It is clear that the Sovereign Zone argument permits abortion on-demand throughout the entire pregnancy. Many people feel uncomfortable with late-term abortions, or even medically unnecessary abortions, and yet the Sovereign Zone argument allows abortion at any time for any reason. The Sovereign Zone argument would also condone the woman who repeatedly and deliberately gets pregnant in order to abort (the reason why someone might do this is irrelevant, as the Sovereign Zone argument requires no justification for abortion). If you hold to the notion that bodily integrity is inviolable and absolute, and yet this scenario makes you uncomfortable, it may be that you realise that there are moral and ethical depths to abortion beyond the simplistic concept that a woman has a right to choose what to do with her own body.

To conclude, the Sovereign Zone argument fails because:

  1. Bodily integrity is not an absolute right and can be limited with the appropriate justifications.
  2. It permits actions that are morally reprehensible.


The next post will be on the Right to Refuse argument, which I personally consider the strongest pro-choice argument.

Bodily Integrity and Abortion Part I: Human Rights in Conflict

Bodily Integrity
(This is the first of three posts in a series on this topic)

“Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Practically everyone has heard the phrase, ‘My body, my choice.’ This is a catch-phrase for the bodily rights argument for abortion. But what does that actually mean? And how can pro-life activists have any foundation for telling women what they can and cannot do with their own bodies?

There are two common versions of the bodily rights argument.  There is the ‘Right to Refuse’ argument, and the ‘Sovereign Zone’ argument. But first, I’d like to talk more generally about human rights, and the conflict that we see arising when we consider the abortion debate. It will be the focus of this post, whereas the Right to Refuse and the Sovereign Zone arguments will be addressed in subsequent posts.

In order to recognise that there exists a conflict of rights, we first have to recognise that the unborn child is an entity worthy of having such rights. In favour of this, please consider the following points:

  • (Thank you to Josh Brahm for introducing me to the following argument) I imagine that most people arguing from a bodily autonomy standpoint would agree that all of us, or least those already born, are entitled to human rights. Furthermore, that we are each entitled to these rights in equal measure. It follows, therefore, that whatever quality we have that supports this entitlement is something that we must each have in an equal measure. This means that it cannot be a capacity-based quality, since we all have differing levels of capabilities. Thus, to bestow human rights equally, without subjective judgement, there must be an intrinsic quality that qualifies us to receive them. What is it that we all posses equally without regard to what we are capable of? The answer is that we are all human; we all possess in common our humanity. What does the unborn child also possess, regardless of stage of development? Humanity; it is a human from the moment of conception – human parents, human DNA, self-directed, growing etc. As a human being, the human embryo or foetus should be entitled to human rights.

From the address by the Secretary-General of the United Nations at the opening of the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993:

“Human rights, viewed at the universal level, bring us face-to-face with the most challenging dialectical conflict ever: between “identity” and “otherness”, between the “myself” and “others”. They teach us in a direct straightforward manner that we are at the same time identical and different.

Thus the human rights that we proclaim and seek to safeguard can be brought about only if we transcend ourselves, only if we make a conscious effort to find our common essence beyond our apparent divisions, our temporary differences, our ideological and cultural barriers.

In sum, what I mean to say, with all solemnity, is that the human rights we are about to discuss here at Vienna are not the lowest common denominator among all nations, but rather what I should like to describe as the “irreducible human element”, in other words, the quintessential values through which we affirm together that we are a single human community!”

  • Consider a foetus at 23 weeks gestation, and an infant born prematurely at 23 weeks gestation. The former is legally allowed to be killed. The latter is protected by law from intentional killing. Given that the only difference between them is their location (in utero versus ex utero), and that as an entity they are inherently the same, how can we then say that there is any intrinsic property or quality that entitles one to human rights whilst depriving the other? I would say that we cannot, and that both are equally entitled to human rights (if you disagree, I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on why). To take it further, having said that the 23 week old foetus is entitled to human rights, and with the knowledge that human development in utero is a continuum from conception to birth, how can we deny the unborn child at 20 weeks human rights? At 8 weeks? At 4 days? The only way to do this is to move to a capability-based requirement for human rights, and the problem with this is addressed above, and also in one of my earlier posts.

So now we can consider how the human rights of the unborn child come into conflict with the human rights of the pregnant woman. The pertinent human right of the unborn child is fairly obvious:

“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

“Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.”
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966

The relevant right of the pregnant woman:
The right to “security of person” is often used as the basis for the right to bodily integrity, but different countries have elaborated upon this differently, often through case law. In Australia, it was recognised in Department of Health & Community Services v JWB & SMB (“Marion’s Case”) 1992:

“Every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with his own body”

The argument from bodily integrity is that the pregnant woman has a right to decide what to do with her own body, even that means terminating the physiological support necessary for the continuation of the life of her unborn child; an action which clearly violates the unborn child’s right to life. So there are two rights in conflict. How is this conflict to be resolved? There are two opposing viewpoints:

  1. The right of the pregnant woman to bodily integrity outweighs the right of the unborn child to life.
  2. The right of the unborn child to life outweighs the right of the woman to bodily integrity.

It may seem unnecessary to have stated the viewpoints like this, but I wanted it to be clear that we are talking about which human right takes precedence over the other. Let me now introduce the term, ‘absolute right’. This is a right that is not subject to limitations. A non-absolute right, on the other hand, is one which can be limited according to certain parameters. The right to bodily integrity is not recognised as an absolute human right (I won’t give examples here, as I’m planning to talk more about it when I discuss the Sovereign Zone argument. Suffice for now to say that this is the case). The right to life is also not an absolute right. However, it is a non-derogable right, which means that it cannot be suspended even in a state of emergency. Other non-derogable rights are:

  • freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment; and freedom from medical or scientific experimentation without consent
  • freedom from slavery and servitude
  • freedom from imprisonment for inability to fulfil a contractual obligation
  • prohibition against the retrospective operation of criminal laws
  • right to recognition before the law
  • freedom of thought, conscience and religion

All of these, except for the right to life and the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, are also absolute rights. Note that the right to bodily integrity, or security of person, is not listed here. This highlights one method of resolving a conflict of human rights, which is to consider the ‘higher ranking’ right (as determined by its classification as an absolute or non-derogable right) as taking precedence over the lower ranking right. By this method, the right to life would take precedence over the right to bodily integrity. As a general example, a person carrying an infectious disease may be quarantined against their will in order to protect people they may otherwise come into contact with and endanger. This is a conflict between the infected person’s right to liberty and other’s right to life, where the right to life takes precedence.

There are two more perspectives that can be taken into account when considering a conflict of rights. One is to consider the magnitude of sacrifice that would result from the deprivation of either right involved, and the other is to consider the broader societal implications. The latter is an acceptable approach in Australian law, as shown by the goals that are determined to be legitimate for the purposes of imposing limitations on human rights, including preservation of public safety, public order and the rights and freedoms of others

From this we can see that the right to bodily integrity could be legitimately limited to order to (1) preserve the right to life of the embryo/foetus, and (2) in the interests of preserving the safety of a sub-section of society, i.e. the unborn. This doesn’t actually answer the question of which right ought to be limited in this particular conflict (because you can make similar statements about limiting the right to life), but it does give legitimacy to the idea of limiting the right to bodily integrity.

To look at the magnitude of sacrifice is to take a more intuitive perspective. It’s to ask; which party makes the greater sacrifice if their right is violated? In the case of the abortion, the foetus makes the sacrifice of its life. One could suggest that there is no greater sacrifice than this. This is not to minimise the sacrifice of the pregnant women if her right to bodily integrity is violated; not only is there the physical burden of the pregnancy, but there are also social and emotional aspects that should be considered. For example, the main reasons women give for having an abortion are:

  • Having a child would interfere with education
  • Having a child would interfere with employment
  • Having a child would impair the ability to care for other children
  • Could not afford a child
  • Did not want to be a single mother
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Already had enough children
  • Not ready to have a child

So it is clear to see that there would likely be sacrifices on the part of the pregnant woman were she to be made to forgo an abortion and bear her child. There are also the physical risks entailed in the birthing process. Adoption may negate many of these sacrifices, but nonetheless may come with its own difficulties and emotional struggles.

A useful way to consider the magnitude of sacrifice approach is to consider how the respective sacrifices (the life of the foetus versus the varied sacrifices of the pregnant woman) would be considered if the situation in question was a conflict of rights between a mother and her infant child. There is little question that few would consider the sacrifices that the mother has to make in order to sustain her child sufficient reason to end the life of that child. Thus I would suggest that this is also the case with the embryo/foetus, as I have argued that it holds equal human rights to the hypothetical infant and should therefore be treated equally in resolution of this conflict.

So what I’ve covered in this post could be summed up as the following:
1. The unborn child is entitled to human rights by virtue of its humanity, including the right to life.
2. The right to life can legitimately take precedence over the right to bodily integrity.
3. Therefore abortion could legitimately be a violation of the unborn child’s right to life without sufficient justification.

A final note: I quoted the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) above: “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.” The argument could be made that the unborn child is not arbitrarily deprived of their life through abortion, because the decision to abort is not made on a whim, but is instead a carefully thought-through and agonised over decision. Furthermore, it is a procedure carried out under the auspices of laws created as a result of non-arbitrary processes.

I will point out that this still would not prevent the act itself from being arbitrary, i.e. based upon the personal opinion or will of the individual; a decision made not because it is the right/correct thing to do, but because it is the desired thing to do. For comparison, take any reason for depriving the unborn child of life, and try to apply it to a situation where we talking about a newborn infant (again). For example, one of the reasons given for abortion is that the pregnant woman is unable to afford a child. Would we consider this a valid and justifiable reason for her to take the life of her newborn? Or would we say that the newborn in this case was arbitrarily deprived of their right to life? Remember that I have equated the unborn child and the newborn as both human and having equal right to life. That being the case, any process that results in the newborn being deprived of life that would be considered arbitrary should also be considered arbitrary when applied to the unborn child.

It is worth noting that both the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria have, in their charter of rights, made specific mention of the fact that these rights do not apply to the unborn child. It’s telling that they felt this necessary; that special mention had to be made in order to exclude the unborn child. It is suggestive that the logical course would otherwise be to apply these rights to all humans, born or unborn.

My next two posts will look specifically at the Sovereign Zone argument and the Right to Refuse argument. If you have any questions, disagreements, refutations, suggestions etc., please feel very welcome to add them to the comments.

** Further quotes to support the entitlement of the unborn to human rights **

“WHEREAS 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”
Declaration of the Rights of The Child
Adopted by UN General Assembly Resolution 1386 (XIV) of 10 December 1959

“Sentence of death shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age and shall not be carried out on pregnant women.”
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 19 December 1966

“I will maintain the utmost respect for human life, from the time of its conception, even under threat, I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity”
Declaration of Geneva, 3 months before the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights
(now states only ‘I will maintain the utmost respect for human life”.)

 

Pro-Choice/Pro-Abortion Comments: My Responses (Part II)

The following comments are from this post.

“It has been estimated that about half of all human conceptions end in spontaneous abortion, and usually the woman doesn’t even realize she was pregnant. In fact, about 20% of all recognized pregnancies end in a miscarriage. I think there is a rather obvious truth here that cries out for acknowledgement 🙂 If God exists, he is the most prolific abortionist of all…. lol”

The argument is common, and goes as follows:

  1. Pro-life individuals don’t appear to care about the many embryos and foetuses lost through miscarriage and still-birth.
  2. Since pro-lifers don’t care about these unborn children, they must not really care for unborn children at all.
  3. Therefore the pro-life agenda is not to save unborn children, but to repress women (and can therefore be shunned and ignored).

(The religious aspect to this, that God must necessarily be a causative agent for every event that occurs, is a different discussion for another time).

The issues with this are:

  1. The suggestion that pro-lifers don’t care about the unborn who are lost through miscarriage and still-birth is completely baseless.  It requires the assumption that anyone who may be working towards or supporting medical treatment and research to prevent miscarriages must therefore be pro-choice.   It also ignores the possibility of concurrent advocacy; I can both support and actively participate in miscarriage prevention, while concurrently advocating for the right of the unborn not to be unjustly killed.
  2. This is akin to suggesting that an advocate against infanticide doesn’t actually care for infants because they are not doing anything about SIDS.  Or that an advocate against elder abuse doesn’t actually care for the elderly because they’re not doing anything about finding a cure for cancer.  The line of thinking would say that any care for a portion of the population affected by a particular fate is invalidated if all natural causes of harm or death are not also addressed, which is clearly unreasonable.
  3. Given the problems with (1) and (2), this is no longer a logical conclusion.

Two other points detrimental to this argument are:

  • The difference in dealing with natural and anthropogenic (man-made) causes of death.  As Scott Klusendorf has put it, “Does it follow that because nature kills people we may deliberately do so?”  Does embryonic and foetal death through natural miscarriage then justify the intentional killing of embryos and foetuses through induced abortion?  As with any analogous situation that you can imagine, the answer has to be ‘no’.
  • The suggestion that there exists a difference between the wanted unborn child and the unwanted unborn child.  A crux of the pro-life stance is that every unborn child, regardless of how much they are desired or, conversely, despised, has the right not to be unjustly killed.  What this argument regarding miscarriage seems to be trying to suggest is that pro-lifers should focus their attention on preserving the lives of wanted unborn children who would otherwise be lost – as if the lives of these unborn were somehow more important than the lives of those who are aborted.  This is an attitude that belongs to the pro-choice crowd, and has no place in the pro-life movement.  Thus to criticise pro-lifers for standing against abortion while unborn children are lost through miscarriage is to criticise them for being consistent with their own beliefs.

So the two questions I would ask someone who challenges the pro-life stance with this argument would be:

1. Does natural death justify a lack of action against intentional killing?

2. Is a wanted unborn child more worthy of being saved than an unwanted unborn child?  (The response may be ‘yes’, in which case they need to justify how it is acceptable to determine the worth of one being based on the attitude of another.)

Another point to this is the undue emphasis that can be placed on the feelings of the women experiencing a miscarriage.  So that what I am about to write it is not misinterpreted, let me be clear that every embryo or foetus lost through miscarriage is a child, and every woman who experiences a miscarriage – no matter how early – has the right to mourn the loss of a child.  That being said, it is important to recognise that the fact that some women feel that they have lost a child is not what determines the status of the embryo or foetus.  Equally, the fact that other women do not feel that they have lost a child when they miscarry – with many explaining their sense of loss as stemming from having lost the potentiality of a child (see here for an article written from this perspective) – does not determine the status of the embryo or foetus either. Emotions do not necessarily equate with facts.

 

“Finally, the primary opposition to abortion is from Christian religious groups.

“Well, the whole bunch of literal bible-humpers who can’t say a sentence without invoking ‘god’ or ‘jesus’ annoy me. I usually find that those who shriek “abortion is murder!” the loudest are creationist types, who think the earth is 6,000 years old, that fossils were laid down in a Genesis Flood, and that dinosaurs romped with Adam and Eve in Eden.”

It’s amazing how people love to cling to their stereotypes.  I believe this is because it makes it easier for them to dismiss the arguments of the pro-life side.  Unfortunately, they’re (a) basing this on a logical fallacy, and (b) wrong.

A. The logical fallacy at play is known as ad hominem, or attacking the speaker.  The content of the argument is ignored in favour of attacking the source of the argument. The author of the second comment above is committing this fallacy in suggesting that because the source of an argument against abortion is held by a creationist, the argument itself can be dismissed.  The author of the first does a similar thing, broadening the field to include all Christians.  This side-steps all discussion of the issue at hand, in a way that suggests that there is an unwillingness or inability to engage in the argument (one might question why).  It ignores the obvious fact that truth does not depend on its source, but is a stand-alone concept.  It is also extremely unproductive, as it shuts down what might otherwise be a worthwhile discussion.

B. They’re also wrong.  Secular, non-religious groups are becoming more and more prominent in the pro-life movement.  I’ve linked a few examples below;
Secular Pro-Life Perspectives
Atheist & Agnostic Pro-Life League
Pro-Life Humanists
Pr0-Life Pagans

A 2004-2005 Gallup poll aggregate shows the two ‘extreme’ viewpoints on abortion (‘legal under any’ circumstances, and ‘illegal in all’ circumstances) according to religion.  From this, you can see that although the ‘illegal in all’ stance is more common among Christians, 10% of those who were classified as ‘no religion’ also held this view.  Also worthy of note is that the percentages of Christians with viewpoints at either end of the spectrum were nearly identical: 20% for ‘legal under any’ versus 22% for ‘illegal in all’.  It’s a pity that the two intervening viewpoints (‘legal in most’ circumstances, and legal in ‘only a few’ circumstances) were not shown, as this would have conveyed more information than merely including the two diametrically opposed viewpoints.

 

Religions & Abortion Views

Pro-Choice/Pro-Abortion Comments & My Responses (Part I)

Below are comments I came across on this story: (linked from here).  I wanted to write a response to them here to help equip others who might come across similar sentiments.  Also as an outlet for my frustration regarding seeing these same unthinking statements come up again and again from the pro-choice/pro-abortion side.

“I have a penis and testicles, therefore my opinion is irrelevant. I wish all men would come to this realization.”
“How about when men can get pregnant and grow a child, THEN you can have a say about it.”
He’s a man and he will never understand. No one will ever understand until they feel what it’s like to be pregnant.”

In effect, we’ve just disregarded the opinion of half of the human race.  Seems like a big call.  I would say that firstly, you do not have to undergo something or even have the capacity to undergo something in order to have a valid opinion on it.  If we’re to limit what we can and cannot have opinions on only to things we can personally experience, then each person’s acceptable points of view become repressively narrow and unhelpful.
Secondly, moral issues relate to the protection of society as a whole, and therefore the whole of society has a right to be concerned with them.  The defence of vulnerable populations should not be limited to those who have had first-hand experience.  I have never experienced child-abuse, never known a child-abuser and – to the best of my knowledge – never known an abused child.  And yet I am able to hold an opinion on child-abuse. That opinion is, of course, that it is very wrong, and I suspect that that is the reason why few would argue with my right to hold such an opinion – it’s easier to accept abstract opinions when you agree with them and don’t need to be looking for a reason to invalidate them.
Thirdly, this argument completely disregards any experience men may have had with abortion.  They may have experienced the loss of what was to them a wanted pregnancy.  Just as we would validate a man’s grief over the loss of an unborn child through miscarriage, even though it didn’t happen to him personally, so can we also validate a man’s grief  over an abortion carried out against his will.  Then there are men who have seen a girlfriend, partner or wife suffer through the emotional and physical repercussions of abortion, and their protectiveness of them drives their opinion on the matter.
Of course, I am a woman with a uterus – which has even had a foetus inside it at various times – so it seems that I get a free pass to have an opinion.

unless you have had the experiences of getting an unexpected pregnancy, your opinion is irrelevant” 

Whoa, okay. There goes my free pass. How disappointing.
This statement takes the first lot of arguments I looked at, gets in the car with them, drives down the street, turns left onto the highway and ends up three states over.  Let’s have a play with this sort of sentiment in other situations, and see what we come up with:
“If you haven’t been tortured, your opinion on torture is irrelevant.”
“If you haven’t been an alcoholic, your opinion on alcoholism is irrelevant.”
“If you haven’t been a drug user, your opinion on drug legalisation is irrelevant.”
“If you haven’t been raped, your opinion on the punishment of rapists is irrelevant.”
Once again, to base the validity of our opinions on whether or not we have first-hand experience of the issue in questions is not only stupidly restrictive, it is also impractical.  We need to be able to form judgments on many issues in order to create the laws that keep society functioning and provide protection for those unable to speak for themselves (the unborn, infants, children, profoundly disabled etc.), and it is simply not possible for everyone involved in these processes to have had firsthand experience.  Furthermore, taking this attitude doesn’t actually resolve the argument.  There are women who have experienced the situation of an unwanted pregnancy who have carried the pregnancy to term and consider themselves blessed, and also those who have had an abortion and regretted it ever since.  So regardless of whether or not you apply this criteria, you will still end up with a broad range of differing opinions and an unresolved issue.
But if we’re going to stick with this kind of attitude, how about this one:
“I was once a foetus, therefore my opinion on foetal rights is relevant.”

“The best part of this whole argument and fight, is that most people who are pro-life, are male”
Anyone notice how the ones who have a problem with abortions are pretty much all males?”

Actually, men and women in American share very similar views on abortion, according to Gallup:
American Abortion Views

This is further explored here.  Most interestingly is that in various surveys (not the one above), more women than men favour abortion being illegal in all circumstances.  And by far the greatest percentage of men or women come down in the ‘legal only in a few circumstances’ camp; far from an overwhelming majority cry for abortion on demand.
In my exposure to the pro-life movement, I have come across more women than men.  Admittedly, this is my personal experience and therefore may not extrapolate across the board, but to list just a few examples:
Abby Johnson
Kelsey Hazzard
Rebecca Kiessling
Hannah Rose Allen
The girls at New Wave Feminists
etc.

” And ten years after that [her abortion], I gave birth to my son at the time that was best for me and for him.”
“Just telling your unborn fetus to come back later is probably the best advice I could give to women with an unwanted pregnancy.”

I’ve read again and again that one of the reasons that women give for abortion is that, “I’m not ready to be a mother.  I want to be a mother when the time is right.”  Some follow this up with remarks like the first one above, in that they had subsequent children at the ‘right time’ and feel that they have been able to fully parent them.  These sort of remarks baffle me slightly, because I’m not sure if the woman involved is deliberately deluding herself to protect her conscience, or if she really doesn’t think it through and realise that the foetus you abort and the foetus you bring to birth and parent are not the same child.  Being the best mother in the world to your living children makes no difference whatsoever to the life that was ended by abortion.  For that child, there was no best time, there was no right time.  There was only one time, and that was when the woman was pregnant with them.  Once that chance has passed, that child will never have another one.

“If you believe that a fetus’s right to life trumps a woman’s right to control her own body, you believe that everyone has the right to requisition organs from other people in order to maintain their life as well.”
“You are not legally bound to donate a kidney, blood, or anything else to a dying relative, even your own child. In the same respect, a woman cannot be legally bound to carrying an unwanted pregnancy”

One of the scary things about the first statement above is that someone further down in the comments seemed to find it a sound argument.  But there are several problems with it;
Firstly and foremostly it demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of what pro-lifers are arguing for.  It’s not the right to have life, regardless of the circumstances and the effect on others.  What the unborn child should have, as should we all, is the right not to be unjustly killed.  Once you realise this, you can see how their whole argument is going nowhere.  Because when we consider that the individual in need of an organ transplant is limited to this right also, we can see that they are no longer justified in removing your organ to sustain their own life.  However, it is also certain that you are not justified in sneaking into their hospital room and putting a pillow over their face.
Which leads onto the next point, as secondly, there is a strong distinction to be made between an act of omission which causes a death, and an act of commission which causes a death.  In the case of the organ receipient-to-be, it is an act of omission which would lead to their death (not giving them your organ).  In every case of abortion, it is an act of commission, a deliberate intervention, that leads to the death of the foetus.
Thirdly, an organ donation involves the introduction of a pathological state, permanent or otherwise, in the donor.  Pregnancy, on the other hand, is a physiological state for which the body is designed and equipped.
Fourthly, this argument ignores the responsibility that a pregnant woman (in the majority of cases) has for creating the foetus’ current state of dependence; a responsibility that is not present for a stranger in need of an organ donation.  A closer analogy would be that the someone had injured another person, causing them to need an organ donation, and then refuses to donate their own organ to assist and, in doing so, condemns this person to death.

I started discussing bodily autonomy here as well, but then I realised that to do it justice, I really need to devote an entire blog post to it.  So I will postpone that discussion for now.

Part II coming soon…

*Edited to add links and fix typos

The Embryo/Foetus as a Living Human Person

Introduction

Whether or not we regard the unborn child as a fully human person can completely change the way that we perceive abortion.  Consider these excerpts from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Preamble and Article 3) (emphasis added):

“Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”

“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” (http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/)

The moment we acknowledge the embryo or foetus as a fully fledged member of the human race, we also acknowledge that abortion is a severe and unjust infringement on the humans rights of this being.  That is why the biological and philosophical status of the unborn child is pivotal to the abortion debate, and why those on both sides must be able to justify fully their position on this point in order to justify their position on abortion.

The Embryo/Foetus is Human

An unborn child has:

  • Human parents
  • Human cells
  • Human DNA
  • Progressively distinct human physiology

It is difficult to see how the inclusion of the embryo/foetus as a member of the human race can even come into question.  One might ask: what would the alternative be?

The Embryo/Foetus is Alive

There are certain biological properties that help us to define what is alive and what is not.  A living organism displays a variety of these properties

Order

The embryo/foetus has a structure that shows visible order; the cells act together in a coordinated fashion to give regular and predictable results; they show distinct and ordered patterns of gene expression.

Boundaries

The embryo/foetus maintains boundaries between itself and the outside environment, distinguishing itself from it and enabling its recognition as a distinct entity.

Energy Processing

The mitochondria of embryonic and foetal cells use aerobic and anaerobic respiration to generate ATP – the energy molecule needed for biological processes.

Environmental Response

According to environmental input, embryonic cells can alter gene expression, alter intracellular signalling, undergo metabolic stress and undergo apoptosis.  Once the appropriate systems have been developed, the foetus can react to sound and noxious (painful) stimuli.

Growth and development

In a suitable environment, the embryo/foetus goes through undeniable growth and development from the very moment of conception.

Reproduction

The embryo or foetus is obviously not capable of sexual reproduction, but an mind-boggling number of cell divisions take place as  a single cell replicates and divides to become trillions of cells.

The Embryo/Foetus is a Person

Is the embryo or foetus human?  Yes.  It is alive?  Unquestionably.  But then, so is my appendix.  And yet it’s not an issue if I choose to have it removed.  So what is the difference between an appendix and a embryo or foetus?

The most obvious difference is that, left to its natural course without interference, an appendix will not manifest as a newborn infant in nine months time.  The acknowledgement of this potential allows us to distinguish the embryo or foetus from other organised structures within the human body; from its conception it is unique.  However, it is important not to wholly define the embryo or foetus by its potential, as this is a denial of its intrinsic and current properties (of which more will be said).

The majority of those who accept or advocate abortion argue that there is a distinction to be drawn between the embryo or foetus and the newborn infant*.  Once the child is born and, in some cases, has drawn its first breath, then and only then can it be acknowledged as a life to be valued and protected (some are a little more generous and allow that the foetus should be protected from a certain time-point onwards; perhaps when it could be viably born, or perhaps when it can theoretically feel pain).  These points of view rest upon the idea that until a certain transition has occurred or a certain stage of development is reached, the embryo or foetus is not a person, and hence not entitled to the rights and protection that all reasonable human beings ought to extend to other persons.

What defines a person?  The straight answer is that there is no consensus.  The difficulty with this is that, though it is unmeasurable, we cannot allow personhood to be subjective.  If personhood is in the eye of the beholder, what right have we to criticise the mother who wraps her newborn child in a plastic bag and leaves it in a dumpster?  Instead we recognise that there can be a legitimate moral imperative to restrict the actions of individuals, regardless of their personal opinion.  Thus it is also true that we cannot allow our treatment of the unborn child to rest on what individual people do or do not believe.

Generally speaking, thoughts on the topic tend to fall into one of two ways of thinking: a person is defined by their capabilities (functionalism), or a person is defined by their nature (essentialism).  To put it simply, functionalism says, “I think and feel, therefore I am person”, whereas essentialism says, “I am a person, therefore I think and feel.”

To some extent, the functionalist approach is irrational, being that we do not confer or withhold personhood from any born person on the basis of their capabilities – it is enough that they have been born as human offspring to human parents.  An example of a functionalist definition is to say that unless an individual is capable of rational thought, they are not a person.  Obviously this excludes the unborn child.   The dangers inherent in such an approach to defining personhood, and hence how an individual is to be treated, should be obvious:

  • Any capability-based definition of personhood that excludes the embryo or foetus will inevitably exclude other distinct groups, such as newborn infants, the mentally disabled, those on life support, etc.
  • Denial of the personhood of the embryo or foetus on the basis of capability leads to unpalatable, and yet logical conclusions, such as the diminishment of the moral status of the newborn and the acceptability of infanticide.**

On the opposing hand, essentialism argues that personhood is possessed by virtue of simply being a human being, without regard to capabilities.   This is an inclusive approach, acknowledging the human race as a whole without distinction or prejudice.  An important point to note when considering this is to realise that although the physical structure of the embryo or foetus changes as it undergoes development and maturation, the nature of the unborn child does not.   The nature the embryo or foetus possesses is the same nature it will possess as an infant, a child, an adolescent and an adult.  It is this nature, present from the first moment of existence, that entitles the embryo or foetus to be acknowledged as a person.

* Please note that there are who those advocate that no such distinction should be drawn, and that the life of the unborn child and the newborn is equally disposable.

** The beginnings of which are already seen in countries such as the Netherlands, where euthanasia of infants is permissable by law.

Conclusion

It is an honest, and yet hard to understand, abortion supporter who can acknowledge the true nature of what is occurring in the “termination of a pregnancy” and “removal of the contents of the uterus”.  My hope is that you will take the time to consider what it means to deny admittance to the human race, and therefore the most basic of human rights, to the smallest and most vulnerable among us – what it means when we define what it is to be human according to our own prerogative.

Bibliography

Abrams R. M. & Gerhardt K. J. (2000) The Acoustic Environment and Physiological Responses of the Fetus Journal of Perinatology 20:830-835

Aburatani S. & Fujibuchi W. (2012) Inference of specific gene regulation by environmental chemicals in embryonic stem cells Journal of Molecular Biology Research 2(1):54-64

Campbell N. A. & Reece J. B. (2005) Biology: 7th Edition Pearson Education Inc. San Francisco

Fleming T.P.,  Kwong W. Y., Porter R., Ursell E., Fesenko I., Wilkins A., Miller D.J., Watkins A. J. & Eckert J. J. (2004) The Embryo and Its Future Biology of Reproduction 71:1046-1054

George R. P. & Lee P. (2009) Embryonic Human Persons: talking point on morality and human embryo research EMBO reports 10(4):301-306

Giubilini A. & Minerva F. (2013) After-birth abortion: why should the baby live? J Med Ethics 39:261–263.

Gupta A. & Giordano J. (2007) On the nature, assessment, and treatment of fetal pain: neurobiological bases, pragmatic issues, and ethical concerns Pain Physician 10:525-532

Hauskeller M. (2011) Believing in the Dignity of Human Embryos HRGE 17(1):53-65

Knoepffler N. J. & O’Malley M. J. (2013) After-birth and before-birth personhood: why the baby should live J Med Ethics 39:11-14

Lee S. J., Ralston H. J. P., Drey E. A., Partridge J. C. & Rosen M. A. (2005) Fetal pain: a systemic multidisciplinary review of the evidence JAMA 294:947-954

Lloyd-Thomas A. R. & Fitzgerald M. (1996) Reflex responses do not necessarily signify pain BMJ 313:797-798

Prescott L. M., Harley J. P. & Klein D. A. (2005) Microbiology: 6th Edition The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc., New York

UN General Assembly, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 December 1948, 217 A (III), available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b3712c.html %5Baccessed 3rd June 2013]

Van de Velde M. & De Buck F. (2012) Fetal and maternal analgesia/anesthesia for fetal procedures 31:201-209

Wilding M., Coppola G., Dale B. & Di Matteo L. (2009) Mitochondria and human preimplantation embryo development Reproduction 137:619-624

Terminolgy

A lot of different terminology gets bandied about in the abortion debate.  Which terms you use seems to depend upon which side of the debate you are on. Because of this, I thought I would share my thoughts on some of the terms used, and acquaint you with the ones I will be commonly using in my writing.

“Embryo” and “foetus”

Both refer to the unborn child at different stages of development.

  • An embryo is the unborn child to approximately the eighth week after conception (approximately the tenth week after the last menstrual period).
  • A foetus is the unborn child from the eighth week after conception to birth.

I have no difficulty using the terms embryo and and foetus to refer to the unborn child.  This is because these terms simply refer to a stage of development, as one might use the terms infant, adolescent, adult, etc.  And while I dislike the de-humanising way some may use these terms, I don’t feel that that is sufficient reason for me to desist from using the scientifically accurate descriptions.

Terms for the unborn child that I have seen used in what appears to be a euphemistic manner, and will not use, are:

  • Product(s) of conception
  • Conceptus
  • Contents of the womb/uterus
  • A pregnancy
  • Pregnancy tissue
  • Clump of cells
  • Tissue
  • Uterine matter

I am aware that some of these are covering terms intended to include the embryo/foetus and the placenta.  However, I feel it is important – in the context of the abortion debate – to draw a distinction between the embryo/foetus and supportive tissue.

“Abortion”

Used to refer to the loss of the embryo or foetus from the uterus, but there are several different types of abortion:

  • A spontaneous abortion is a miscarriage.
  • An induced abortion is an elective procedure.
  • A therapeutic abortion is one undertaken to prevent harm to the mother or when the foetus would be born with severe birth defects.
  • A medical abortion is achieved through taking medication that will result in the expulsion of the embryo or foetus through the cervix and the vaginal canal.
  • A surgical abortion is removal of the embryo or foetus through surgical means, such as suction or forceps.

An induced abortion is also often referred to as a termination of pregnancy.  For simplicity’s sake, I will use ‘abortion’ to indicate induced abortion, with clarifying terms as necessary.

“Pro-life”

This is my preferred term for those who oppose abortion.  My reason for this is that I believe it defines the heart of the issue – the belief that each abortion results in the wrongful taking of a life.  Alternative terms include:

  • Right-to-lifer
  • Anti-abortion
  • Anti-choice

‘Right-to-lifer’ carries the same connotations as ‘pro-life’, but I prefer pro-life for aesthetic reasons and because it is the more widely used and recognised term. ‘Anti-abortion’ is not my preferred term, but I still find this to be an accurate description of my position, if not as explanatory as ‘pro-life’.  I strongly object to the term ‘anti-choice’ for two main reasons:

  1. It attempts to redefine the core issue at the centre of the abortion debate and shift the emphasis away from the position of the embryo/foetus as a human being with a right to life.
  2. It fails to acknowledge that choice restriction is necessary if one is to live as part of a functioning society; I would accept the designation provided those against murder, rape, theft, drink-driving, etc. would also accept the same.

“Pro-Choice”

This term describes those who accept abortion, ranging from those who believe it is a necessary evil, to those who avidly advocate for its acceptance and utilisation.  With respect to those who don’t believe that abortion is a good thing, while still supporting it as an individual choice, and as I also wish to avoid being unnecessarily antagonistic, this is the term I will be using.  Other terms include:

  • Pro-abortion/pro-abort
  • Pro-death
  • Abortion rights advocate/activist

I am aware that many who consider themselves to be pro-choice object to being called ‘pro-abortion’.  I think this can be a valid objection, and hence the reason why I will use the term pro-choice. However, there may be individuals who may be more appropriately referred to as pro-abortion, and you may see this as a statement of my belief that this person crosses the line from tolerance of abortion to advocation of it.

‘Pro-death’ is an extreme term, and one that I will only use to describe an equally extreme position, such as advocation of blanket application of abortion for any embryo/foetus who will not be born perfectly formed and healthy.  I prefer, on the whole, to steer away from emotive terms such as this, as I think they can obscure the key issues and degenerate it instead into an emotional slinging match.

‘Abortion rights activist/advocate’ is a term I will use to describe someone who is politically or social active in their defense of abortion.

Thank you for bearing with this somewhat dry entry.  My next entry will be discussing the status of the embryo/foetus as a living, human person.