Paul Hughes

The evolving story of a hopeful skeptic.

January 30, 2013 Health, Religion, Science , , , By Paul Hughes

Abortion: Think Before You Speak

It’s been a little bit since I last posted in this blog; I won’t go into detail about why that is because I’m sure that you really aren’t all that curious about it. Anyway, here we go.

Image taken from

I’ve spent a lot of time in my life discussing the topic of abortion with people; in fact, it used to be one of my second-date questions. I didn’t bring it up because I particularly cared about the other person’s viewpoint, nor did I bring it up because I thought I could change anyone’s opinion on the subject (let’s face it—how many of you have ever successfully accomplished that?). No, I brought it up because I always found the discussion thought-provoking, and it was always a pleasure to hear the variety of reasons that someone would cite for feeling the way he or she did. It was always an especial pleasure bringing up the subject in groups of people who, it often turned out, disagreed with one another; any argument someone would make invariably turned out to be generally futile. There is one argument that the pro-choice caucus makes that I find particularly bothersome not because I think it isn’t valid, but because it is one of the most useless arguments to make in the debate regarding abortion.

The argument sounds something like this: “Well, what about in cases when the woman is raped? Shouldn’t she be able to get an abortion then?” The question is always asked with such confidence, as if it is the ultimate bastion against the pro-life camp—a question that is immune to rebuttal. But it really agitates me every time I hear someone bring it up in the discussion. Why? Well, let’s take a moment and look at the debate from the side of the pro-life members. People that are pro-life, from my experience participating in these discussions, invariably (though perhaps there are examples in existence counter to what I’ve seen) feel the way they do because they view the fetus (or the embryo, earlier on) from the very moment it is conceived as alive. Not only alive, but a person—a person with a soul, perhaps, or simply a person who has the right to a chance at life. I cannot emphasize this enough, pro-life members think of the fetus as a person. If we all take a second and, for the sake of argument, accept that as fact, it is obvious why the “rape exception” argument is completely foolish. “Yes, she was raped—which is a terrible, terrible tragedy. But is that tragedy a good excuse to go kill someone?” Again, I’m not saying that this pro-choice argument isn’t valid; I’m simply saying that it is unavailing in any debate with a pro-life individual.

The fact of the matter is that most of the arguments made in the debate are not about to have an effect on anyone (though the rape one does bother me more than most of the others); there is no common ground between the opposing sides. In one situation the embryo/fetus is viewed as a part of the woman’s body, soon to become a person. In the other case, it is viewed as an individual—a person—who has as much of a right to life as you or I. Honestly, I’m not sure there ever will be common ground until the pro-life side can prove the fetus’ personhood—or that it at least has a soul—or the pro-choice side can prove its lack thereof. I don’t think either is possible… though I hope I’m wrong.

13 to “Abortion: Think Before You Speak”

  1. Peter says...

    Well Paul, I guess the obvious question is, what’s your opinion on the matter?

    (By the way, this post was indeed enlightening – I think you’ve done a great job of framing the debate and dis tilling it it it’s essence)

  2. Inara Menduno says...

    What continues to be of utmost importance is educating everyone on their body and sexual intercourse, and reproduction. Also not denying anyone contraception!
    This is indeed a really complicated subject. That is why it has to be individually worked out between the woman, her body and her connection to this being in her own body. Yes and i said BEING.
    Some of us believe that we are more than just our body. That we have more then just our body. (There is a lot of literature on this subject!)
    For someone who is not a woman and who has not had a child you do not know what it is like to have this experience of conception, growth of a body(being) inside your own body,and then the ultimate experience of giving birth.
    It is purely individual. Everything from the moment of conception is included in this experience. Unfortunately even the horror of rape or incest!
    In that moment of life or death,horror, hurting, in the case of rape or incest, alters the experience for that woman, baby (being) and that man who in acted that horrific event upon the body and psyche. Everyone and everything from that point on is quantified!

  3. Kevin Fitzgerald says...

    You pretty much sum it up perfectly…. going to kill your comment count.

  4. paul says...

    Peter: I think both sides are valid and, like I said, neither side has a provable (or indisputable) base. Sorry for the boring answer—for someone as opinionated as myself, that is definitely uncharacteristic.

    Inara: I think you’re absolutely right about accessible contraception and that men will never understand the experience of conception, pregnancy, and childbirth. However, I sincerely believe that that does not mean men shouldn’t have say in the matter of the legality of abortion. Again, from the pro-life standpoint, people believe that it is a person. From that standpoint they are morally obligated to try to save the children. In the cast of a pro-choice person, it certainly affects the person a man may love and, where there is no love, it directly affects him in that going to have to pay child-support for quite some time if an abortion is not possible/legal/obtained (in most cases, so I understand).

    Kevin: Thank you! I’m glad you approve. :-)

    – Paul

    • Inara Menduno says...

      What i said and i used the seriousness of a rape or incest situation is that: “in the case of rape or incest, alters the experience for that woman, baby (being) and that man who in acted that horrific event upon the body and psyche. This is an extreme case. In the case for men, who are part of the experience of, ” love making,” you are involved with the whole dynamic process! As a culture we seriously need to address this issue by looking at our own beliefs on body/sould/spirit/ life and death. And we need to explore our ideas around being a parent vs. not being a parent if we so choose to have sex. Also~what is the act of making, “love,” or having “sex” with this person. Communication is the key first and foremost between individuals. Also contraception and or abstinence!
      As a culture~violence against our bodies and ourselves is still an issue. It’s an issue with the messages that surround us. That’s why this issue is a very complex issue and one to continue contemplating and discussing. Thanks (~;

      • Inara Menduno says...

        What i am trying to say is that everyone is involved woman, baby being/body/soul, man. That is why it can be complicated and you still have abortion as an issue!

    • Inara Menduno says...

      Look at it this way~instead of coming from that place of, “Saving the Children,” before this even becomes an issue, we first need to look at Saving our Self and loved ones! We can do this by thinking and living consciously! This is how change can happen. Change happens from within!
      It is also ultimately the way change can happen on a grander scale, the way we conduct things as a culture!
      Some amazing things in our culture have come about because of individuals who lived in the ways of truth!

  5. paul says...

    I absolutely agree that *everyone* is involved (which is indeed probably part of why it is such a hot issue). I couldn’t have phrased it better myself.

    – P

  6. Alice Hughes says...

    I told Paul that I would post my comment, which is very simple ….

    I find it interesting that for folks who are excited about having a child, an embryo is immediately acknowledged as having personhood. (i.e. Kate Middleton is pregnant and we immediately acknowledge that we have an heir to the throne.) Or I myself upon the discovery that I was pregnant with Paul immediately declared not only that I was pregnant but that is was a boy and his name would be Paul. Whereas, for someone who does not want the child it is is simply a blob of cells with the potential to become a person.

    Or another example, if a pregnant woman is murdered, the murderer is charged with two counts of homicide.

    Hmmmm ….

  7. paul says...

    Very interesting points, especially the one about double-homicide. I’m not positive about the laws regarding that, but I believe that in a few states, the fetus has to be at a certain stage of development (weeks/months) in order for it to be considered a double-homicide… But in most states, I’m pretty sure that if it is, or ever has been, a two-celled organism, a perpetrator can be charged with a double homicide.

    – P

    • Alice Hughes says...
      “The Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-212) is a United States law which recognizes a child in utero as a legal victim, if he or she is injured or killed during the commission of any of over 60 listed federal crimes of violence. The law defines ‘child in utero’ as ‘a member of the species Homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb'”.[1]

  8. Lauren Rowland says...

    When it comes to this topic I wish we lived in a perfect world where everyone’s beliefs could be respected and everyone could just let people make their own choices and not try to shove their beliefs down the others throat. And the shoving happens on both sides, not a lot of people realize that some pro-choice people also have no respect for the beliefs of Christians. Once I was talking about this topic to an atheist and I explained my views on how if I had gotten pregnant under any circumstance I would not opt for abortion because I do believe that the soul of a person is already there. Then I also explained that I highly understand that not everyone has this belief therefore they should be free to make their own choice, and he told me “see, Christians say these things but I guarantee if you got raped you would think differently and change your mind like they all do,” It’s really sad how some people have lost the ability to respect someones opinion and/or religion.

    • paul says...

      Anyone who presumes to know what someone else would do in a given situation isn’t worth bothering to try and convince of anything. They’re already convinced… of something.

      – P

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