Is Abortion Evil?

Two generations ago, my Jewish forebears were religious, though they didn’t wear “black hats” or costumes dating back hundreds of years, like the Hasidim do. Two generations later, I showed up, and I myself was too lazy to be religious, since Judaism is a lot of work, in fact more, on a daily basis, than Christianity. Later I became a skeptic on religious matters.  Politically I was conservative, but the issue of abortion seemed to be a religious issue and not really my business.

For abortion
For abortion

Given that the big divide in the West right now is between a coercive collectivism and individualism, if you lean to the latter point of view, it may seem coercive to tell people what to do with their private lives.

But there is a genuine problem here. When pro-Choice folks say that they have a right to do what they want with their own body, the fact is that someone else’s body is growing within them.

The following horror tale managed to unite both pro-choice and pro-life factions in condemnation:

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, was convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of three babies who authorities say were delivered alive and then killed with scissors at his grimy clinic, in a case that became a flashpoint in the nation’s debate over abortion.

Former clinic employees testified that Gosnell routinely performed illegal late-term abortions past Pennsylvania’s 24-week limit, that he delivered babies who were still moving, whimpering or breathing, and that he and his assistants “snipped” the newborns’ spines, as he referred to it.

“Are you human?” prosecutor Ed Cameron snarled during closing arguments as Gosnell sat calmly at the defense table. “To med these women up and stick knives in the backs of babies?”

…Authorities said the clinic was a foul-smelling “house of horrors” with bags and bottles of stored fetuses, including jars of severed feet, along with bloodstained furniture, dirty medical instruments, and cats roaming the premises.

Both sides of the abortion divide seized on the case. Abortion foes said it exposed the true nature of abortion in all its disturbing detail. Abortion rights activists warned that Gosnell’s rogue practice foreshadows what poor and desperate young women could face if abortion is driven underground with more restrictive laws.

“Kermit Gosnell was convicted of murder for severing the necks of just-born babies, but those babies would have died just as painfully if he had killed them inside the womb, as most late-term abortionists do,” National Right to Life President Carol Tobias said. “The result is the same for the baby whether it meets its end in a shabby clinic like Gosnell’s or a brand new Planned Parenthood facility — a painful death.”

This last statement, by Carol Tobias, does ring true to me. If a fetus is inconvenient, and a burden at one week, it will be the same at 8.5 months as well. So any law that in theory limits abortion to perhaps the first trimester will still permit thresholds to be crossed that should not be crossed.

If you believe a soul is divorced from the brain – that it is immortal and lives with you in some way but that is not associated with the “enchanted loom” of chaotic patterns that form and dissolve in that three-pound universe, then you will believe, as religious people often do, that even taking a pill the morning after sex is murder.

I tend to the belief that the soul and the brain are two aspects of the same thing, and that gives some leeway to a woman wanting to get rid of an inconvenient living creature growing inside her.  In other words, in the first few weeks, the soul has not materialized.

At one extreme, we have ancient Sparta (part of Greece) where when deformed or retarded children were born, they were often put on hills where they would die untended, or even thrown off a cliff because Sparta itself only wanted strong people in their city, and did not look kindly on weakness.

At another, we have examples of mothers who know their child will be born with a disability such as “Downs Syndrome” but decide not to abort it, for religious or humanitarian reasons.

There are women who make gruesome jokes about abortion, and in contrast there are women who spend much time picketing abortion clinics.

There have been murders of physicians and staff at abortion clinics by people who obviously see them as murderers of children. In the case of Kermit Gosnell, that description would fit, but (maybe) abortion clinic staff do not believe that they are killing children, rather they are killing an unthinking fetus of a low level of consciousness, and they are relieving a woman of a burden that would derail her life.

Of course these women did engage in behavior that often leads to children, and responsibility has to start somewhere.

It has been said that “dead men don’t talk” and the same goes for unborn children. In the U.S. though, the “right to choose” has won the debate, and those children who are not aborted but instead are put up for adoption are usually offspring of a mentally ill mother.

In my view, there should be awareness that there is more to the issue than “the right to choose.”



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