Objections to abortion
by Wm. Robert Johnston
last updated 1 November 2007
Abortion is a polarizing issue, and the two extreme perspectives are neither reconcilable nor, arguably, objective (this is not to say that one is not morally right, just that either extreme position involves an element of faith). Unfortunately, the status of abortion in the United States and many other countries is skewed towards one extreme. The following discussion outlines purely rational objections to current abortion policy and practice.
For the issues listed below, separate pages are under development providing extended discussion and documentation; links are provided to those pages currently available.
- Failure to acknowledge health risk: breast cancer
Medical studies indicate an elevated risk of breast cancer to women who have had abortions. This is indicated by a majority of (though not all) epidemiological studies and other studies. The risk may be small in general, but great to particular groups (such as younger women).
Many health practitioners, plus some health agencies, deny this risk in manners that are indefensible from a scientific perspective. Informed consent practice would dictate that women be advised of such risks prior to obtaining an abortion.
- Failure to acknowledge health risk: subsequent childbearing
Medical studies indicate a variety of risks associated with subsequent childbearing for women who have abortions. Among the greatest is an increased risk of premature births. Other risks include sterility, ectopic birth, and maternal death.
These risks of abortion tend to be downplayed by abortion providers and their supporters. Informed consent practice would dictate that women be advised of such risks prior to obtaining an abortion.
- Inadequate gathering of statistics
In most locations, gathering of statistics on abortions is incomplete, in contrast to recordkeeping requirements for conventional medical procedures. In the United States, federal statistical reporting by the states is optional, and the degree of reporting required by individual states varies considerably.
The lack of any expectation of consistent reporting contradicts the regulatory nature applied to conventional medical procedures. The greater problem is that the underreporting conceals some of the medical risks associated with abortion.
- Failure to properly protect minors
In the United States, legal guardianship of minors is routinely circumvented with respect to abortion. While policy and practice varies from state to state, it is often the case that minors may obtain abortions without approval or even knowledge of the minors' legal guardians.
Such practices are justified as serving the interests of the minor. However, it is logically inconsistent for the state to surreptitiously claim effective guardianship of the minor in this area alone, while otherwise taking no action against the status of the guardians. Additionally, this often leaves no balance in individual cases to those that advocate abortion in general.
- Legal defects in the development of current legislative/judicial policy
In the United States, the current legal status of abortion is almost wholly attributable to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, rendered in 1973. Certain details of the case as presented by the appellees were false. Testimony and the opinion both indicate the ability to render any verdict hinged on elements not evident in law, but dependent on assessments of policy and other issues belonging to the jurisdiction of the states.
By effectively overturning all abortion laws in 1973, the impact on society has perhaps left some of these issues moot, as most states have adopted permissive legislative stances on abortion. Nonetheless--and despite subsequent U.S. Supreme Court decisions--the federal judiciary continues to deprive the states of their Constitutional authority to address the issue of abortion.
- Support for coercive abortion practices in the People’s Republic of China
The People's Republic of China engages in coercive abortion practices, including: forced abortions, forced sterilizations, severe economic and social pressures to deny families the right to reproductive freedom, policies that result in abortions and infanticide targeting females, and particularly intense enforcement of these policies to target certain ethnic groups.
The United States has been inconsistent in its policy towards the PRC on this issue. The U.S. has, to varying degrees, provided support to international organizations involved in these practices in the PRC. Additionally, the U.S. has denied political asylum to women seeking to avoid forced abortions. U.S. policy falls short of a stand for human rights in this area.
- Definition of beginning of human life
In the United States, a baby is effectively recognized by law as a human being only when the head leaves the mother's body. While there may be some inability to delineate this point on the basis of science and medicine, this legal definition is not grounded in science or medicine.
An immediate consequence of this legal definition is in allowing so-called partial birth abortions to be performed. More generally, the definition fails to acknowledge medical realities including viability and even what is the definition of human.
© 2003, 2007 by Wm. Robert Johnston.
Last modified 1 November 2007.
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