Recently a media firestorm was introduced around Republican Vice President nominee, Sarah Palin, regarding abortion. On one front, Palin’s seventeen-year-old daughter Bristol was revealed to be pregnant outside of marriage. On another front, Palin recently gave birth to a son, Trig, who was diagnosed in the womb with Down’s syndrome. Governor Palin, who is pro-life, or anti-choice in the parlance of most media outlets, was roundly criticized for opposing abortion in both areas.
More than almost any other issue, Governor Palin’s response to these family crises highlights the difference between conservatives and liberals. In the decades since the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, the answer to both problems from the political left has been to turn to abortion.
Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama made it clear what his choice for his daughters would be if they were in Bristol Palin’s position. While campaigning in Pennsylvania in March 2008, Obama said, “…I’ve got two daughters, nine years old and six years old. I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby. I don’t want them punished with an STD at the age of 16.”
That Obama equates a baby with a disease is telling and highlights the difference between the two positions. The left views an unborn baby as nothing more than an inanimate lump of cells that has the potential to become a baby if left unchecked. Since the baby is not human, they reason that abortion is no more a moral issue than removing a tumor or some other unwanted growth.
Abortion advocates argue that unwanted and disabled babies should be aborted. They believe that children with disabilities or who are born to parents that did not want children have no chance for happiness, and are better off not being born.
Sometimes even being born is not enough. Barack Obama helped to kill the Born Alive Infants Protection Act in the Illinois legislature. The bill would have allowed infants born alive in botched abortions to receive the full protection of a human person under the law. Fortunately, a federal version of the law was passed by Congress in 2002 without dissent.
The right views an unborn baby as a human that simply has not been born yet. Since the unborn baby is a person already, it should be protected by the same laws that protect all other people. Abortion kills a living person and thus is murder and immoral.
Pro-lifers also argue that allowing abortion ultimately cheapens all life. Since 1973, euthanasia and suicide have become increasingly acceptable. In 1997, Oregon became the first US state to pass a law permitting assisted suicides. In 2005, Terri Schiavo died after her husband had her feeding tube removed against her family’s wishes. In Holland, infants can be euthanized, even without parental consent, if the baby is determined to have “an unlivable life.” Princeton professor Peter Singer, viewed in many circles as a leading philosopher, also espouses infanticide of disabled babies, even after they are born. The next step will be to euthanized the elderly who are terminally ill in order to save resources for the young.
One problem with aborting, or euthanizing, the disabled is that while most healthy people imagine that they would be miserable with a severe disability, in reality, disabled people are just as likely to be happy as healthy people. People with a severe illness or disability adapt to their condition and often become stronger mentally and spiritually. In fact, a group of disabled activists called Not Dead Yet has arisen to oppose Peter Singer and his ilk. The list of disabled people who have made significant contributions to society is long and includes such names as Helen Keller, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Stephen Hawking. Disabled children often have a profound impact on their family and friends even if they do not achieve notoriety.
Most American women (75%) who have abortions say that the baby would interfere with caring for dependents or that they cannot afford to care for a baby. Many of these women are young (50% are under 25, 17% are teenagers) and poor (over four times as many women who live under the poverty level obtain abortions as do women 300% above the poverty level). While carrying a child under these circumstances can be daunting, there are options that women can consider.
The first option is become a single parent. While parenting alone is a difficult prospect, it is also rewarding. Financial assistance from the government, religious groups and family may make the job easier. Additionally, the baby’s father may be legally obligated to provide child support. A disadvantage to a single-parent family is that it can be extremely challenging financially.
Another option is marriage. If the woman is already in a serious relationship, it might be relatively easy to take the next step and get married. Marriage provides a supportive and stable family environment for raising children. An important advantage is that both parents can provide incomes or one can work while the other keeps the children. The responsibility for everything does not fall onto one person. Additionally, there are tax advantages to marriage as well.
An underutilized option is to place the baby up for adoption. No child is truly unwanted. Many couples who have difficulty in becoming pregnant would like to adopt a baby. The birth mother can choose which family will adopt her baby and can even choose to have further contact with her child as it grows up.
To help women overcome the basic human instinct to not kill another human being, abortion advocates devote considerable time and energy to proving that unborn babies are not human at all. They conspicuously avoid discussing babies and instead speak of “fetuses,” “embryos,” and “choice.”
Scientific evidence gives lie to the claim that unborn babies are not human. Even at very early points in its gestation, the unborn fetus takes on the appearance of a tiny person. The heart starts beating as early as the fourth week of the pregnancy, likely before the mother even knows that she is pregnant.
New 3-D ultrasounds provide a new window into the baby’s life inside the womb. It is not known at exactly what point an unborn baby can start to feel pain, but it is generally accepted even by abortion opponents that the fetus can feel pain by twenty weeks. Many scientists believe that even abortions done much earlier cause the fetus to die a painful death. The film Silent Scream (www.silentscream.org) offers haunting, but inconclusive evidence of the consciousness of an unborn baby at twelve weeks.
There is virtually no doubt that partial birth abortion, which are commonly performed at twenty-six weeks or later, cause excruciating pain for the baby. In a partial birth abortion, also called dilation and extraction (D&X), the child is partially delivered. While the head remains in the womb, the abortionist sticks a set of surgical scissors into the baby’s skull, and then spreads them to enlarge the opening. He then sucks out the baby’s brain with a suction catheter. The head must be crushed with forceps to be removed.
A similarly brutal method of late term abortion is dilation and evacuation (D&E). In this procedure, the abortionist grasps the child in the womb with a clamp, then proceeds to dismember its body and remove the pieces. Again, the head, referred to by the abortionist as “number one,” must be crushed with forceps to be removed
One of the most dramatic pieces of evidence that point to life inside the womb was a photo taken in 1999 by Mike Clancy. Clancy actually photographed two separate pre-natal surgeries to treat spina bifida in unborn babies. The photos of Samuel Armas and Sarah Marie Switzer show the unborn babies reaching out of the womb to grasp the surgeon’s finger. Samuel was at twenty-one weeks when his photo was taken. The picture can be seen at www.michaelclancy.com/story.html.
If abortion opponents deny that life begins at conception, they must determine an arbitrary point at which life does begin. Some options for the beginning of life could include the first heartbeat, the first trimester, when the baby can live outside the womb, or when the baby is finally born.
The problem with most of these points of view is that they are arbitrary. Science has shown us that the baby is very much alive and active inside the womb long before it is born or can survive on its own. Scientific advances allow babies to live outside the womb with the help of medical technology at increasingly early stages of development. A baby that needs an incubator to live is no less human than an adult who needs a dialysis machine or a pacemaker.
Because sperm can live in the female body for up to five days, conception can occur several days after intercourse. Conception occurs twelve to twenty-four hours after the woman ovulates. The body will not know that it is pregnant until the egg implants itself on the uterine wall. This occurs between five and twelve days after conception.
If conception is allowed to occur, the unborn baby will grow according to a clearly defined schedule. The gestation period continues for forty weeks, until the baby is mature enough to live outside the womb. At that point, birth occurs. If the baby is healthy enough to prevent miscarriage and its growth is not artificially inhibited, conception results in the birth of a full-term baby forty weeks later. Therefore, it is evident that life begins at conception. It follows that if that life is artificially terminated, a living human being has been killed.
There are several medicines, referred to as morning after pills, which can prevent conception. Because these pills prevent, rather than terminate, a pregnancy, they escape most of the moral problems of abortion. A morning after pill must be used quickly after intercourse, before the woman is actually pregnant. To that end, women should be educated in the use of these contraceptive pills.
If it were as simple as educating women to use contraceptives though, abortion would be an almost nonexistent problem. Over the past few decades, sex education classes have been taught in more and more schools across the country, both in order to reduce unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. In spite of the increased education, almost fifty percent of women who have abortions did not use any contraceptives. Of those who did, most (76% of pill users) did not use their birth control consistently.
The effects of abortion on the mother are not often discussed, but they can be significant. Abortion is touted as an easy solution, but there are real physical, emotional, and psychological risks. In most states, abortion clinics are not required to meet the same standards of cleanliness as hospitals. Many women report that abortion clinics are dusty, smelly and generally unclean. These conditions can cause women to develop infections that can be life threatening. Infections might also result in infertility and disease.
An emerging problem with abortion is that numerous studies are finding strong links between abortion and breast cancer. In the early stages of pregnancy, the woman’s estrogen level increases dramatically. This leads to the growth of undifferentiated cells, in the breast that would ultimately help the body produce milk. In an abortion, the woman is left with abnormally high numbers of these cells that are never differentiated. Scientists believe that these cells are very vulnerable to carcinogens and lead to an increased likelihood of tumors later in life.
Psychological and emotional damage often last longer than the physical effects of the abortion. Post Abortion Syndrome (PAS) is a form of post-traumatic stress disorder. Many women experience feelings of guilt and anxiety that sometimes leads to depression and thoughts of suicide. In other cases, the guilt leads women to become obsessed with becoming pregnant again. Some women turn to alcohol, drugs or self-punishing behaviors as a means of coping.
All of these thoughts might not have been explicitly discussed by the Palin family as they dealt with Bristol’s pregnancy and Trig’s disease; they were already predisposed to err on the side of life. Although as many as 80% of unborn children who are diagnosed with Down’s syndrome are aborted, but the Palin’s strongly held pro-life views influenced them to allow Trig to be born. Similarly, Bristol Palin chose life for her as yet unborn child. With her family’s help, she will be able to raise a well-adjusted child regardless of whether she eventually marries the baby’s father.
By sticking to their principles and standing up for their pro-life beliefs, both Gov. Palin and Bristol are changing the way America looks at the choice of abortion. If Gov. Palin becomes our next Vice President, American’s will be able to see the childhood of both children. They will see that raising a disabled baby or an unplanned child is not as bad as it might seem. That, in turn, might help to further reduce the number of abortions in America and around the world. That would be a beautiful thing.
Posted in Winner, South Dakota