Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Conservative Viewpoint
- America Becoming More Pro-life

Article by Bob Steinburg
- Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony

My wife and I hear repeatedly there is nothing like having grandchildren. We enjoyed “almost” every moment of raising our two sons and hoped that one day they too would experience parenting. That day will soon arrive. Our youngest and his wife are expecting their first child in January: a girl. We are finally going to become grandparents.

When our children were born, I was fortunate enough to have a ringside seat to witness both miracles. Anyone doubting if there is a God need only witness childbirth to become a believer. And for me, life begins at conception. We fell in love with our grandchild the first time we saw her ultrasound. Our love for that baby grows exponentially with each passing day.

My wife, Marie, and I were unaware of the sex of our own babies before they were born in the ‘70s. With today’s technology parents know the gender after the 16th week of pregnancy. In fact, today there isn’t much left to the imagination. This makes wrestling with the decision on whether to abort one’s child or not all the more gut-wrenching, except, perhaps, for those who are victims of rape or incest.

We now know a baby’s heart, digestive system and spinal cord begin to form four weeks after conception. At the end of eight weeks the heart is functioning. At 12 weeks the baby is in a recognizable form. Throughout months five and six hair develops and the mother can sense her child’s occasional hiccup.

By month seven the baby weighs approximately 3 ½ pounds and could survive as a preemie. During the final two months of pregnancy the baby is extremely active, adding weight right up to delivery day.

There are 1.3 million abortions performed annually in the U. S. Fifty-seven percent occur in the first nine weeks. Twenty percent of babies aborted are between nine and 10 weeks (when the heart is functioning) and 22 percent from weeks 11- 21 or later when the baby takes on recognizable human form. It is easy to understand why abortion continues to be one of the most divisive issues in America.

In many years of church volunteer work through outreach and pastoral care, I can’t recall ever hearing of someone pro-life becoming pro-choice. Conversely, I have heard of individuals who were pro-choice and are now pro-life. One such person is former Planned Parenthood Director Abby Johnson.

Up until recently, Johnson worked at a clinic in Texas where she assisted women in getting abortions. She told Fox News that she had never previously witnessed an abortion. A physician asked her to assist in performing an ultrasound guided termination procedure. The mother was 13 weeks pregnant. Johnson viewed the monitor and saw a baby’s full side profile face to feet. She then said she witnessed the baby “fighting for its life by trying to shield itself and move away from the probe.” That was Johnson’s last day in the clinic. She has become a staunch pro-life advocate.

Johnson is not alone. For the first time since 1995 polls show that a majority of Americans identify themselves as pro-life. A recent Gallup Values and Beliefs survey showed 51 percent pro-life, 42 percent pro-choice. That’s a shift of seven to eight points from just one year ago. It appears this is one more issue in which the Democratic liberal elites are becoming out of step with the views of a majority of Americans.

No where has abortion had a more devastating impact than on the black community. Since 1970, more than 50 million surgical abortions have been performed in the U. S. While childbearing black women account for only 13 percent of the total female population in the age group of 15 to 44, they underwent 36 percent of all abortion procedures.

In addition to the moral debate, some suggest abortion has wreaked untold havoc on our economy. Dennis M. Howard, president of the pro-life group Movement for a Better America calculates abortion has cost the U. S. $35 trillion in lost Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Others suggest that had it not been for abortions, the government money spent on welfare, food stamps and other entitlements would be many times more than what it is today. That is a pro-abortion argument that is unsettling to me. Since the welfare reform of the `90s and with its accompanying full employment economy up until two plus years ago, welfare benefits continued to be low.

We should never hail aborting children as a cost saving measure anymore than we would consider euthanizing the elderly by denying them care as a way to control healthcare costs. Job creation can cure most of this nation’s fiscal maladies.

I don’t know whether the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion will ever be overturned. But I do know this. A society cannot call itself civilized when it fails to take every precautionary step to protect the sanctity of life at any stage. As a Christian, and perhaps even more importantly as a member of the human race, there are few exceptions that could lead me to believe otherwise. To that, my new granddaughter, just weeks away from delivery, says, “Amen Papa. Amen!”

The American public has never been as pro-choice as the press has tried to claim that it is. My only caution with Bob's article is the difference between being pro-life and the insistence that a woman has no right to control her own body. I don't think that the summary term means that Americans are as adamantly pro-life as Bob, or some in the pro-life community, want to believe now. There are some in between positions that still require clarification because they have compelling moral support.

Pro-life extremists have insisted on opposition to the 3 day pill which stops implantation for up to 72 hours after the egg has been fertilized. Since it cannot attach to the mother it cannot start to grow in the womb. They consider this murder too. Most Americans don't consider it murder since 50% of fertilized eggs do not attach naturally. Does that mean they are pro-life or pro-choice?

For nearly two thousand years - during the period of the pregnancy in which the potential child was an embryo (after implantation but before it became a fetus - roughly 40 days) Christians did not consider it a human being yet. Some Christians still do not, though this has ceased being the prevailing opinion among believers. Still a huge percentage of the American population who disagree with abortion do not see terminating an embryo as abortion or murder since 50% miscarry naturally anyway. Are they pro-life or pro-choice?

Some polls show that after the point of viability, a period when most fetuses can survive outside the womb but during which our laws do not yet consider them human beings, abortion is opposed by between 70% and 80% of Americans (including a majority of those who support abortion in most cases). Are they pro-life or pro-choice?

During the period after the transition from embryo to fetus but before viability, most Americans still support abortion in the cases of rape and incest. Are they pro-life or pro-choice?

The term pro-life is a meaningless term. The term pro-choice is a meaningless term. This issue is far more complex than either side wants you to believe.

Most Americans do not have a clear understanding what either term means because you really need nine different terms to define the common moral positions that are taken by significant segments of the American population. Two terms cannot clarify these nine clearly different positions. What we get is confusion. This confusion simply creates extremists on both sides who don't care about any position but their own. They spew vitriol at anyone who dares question their moral superiority.

You will notice I have not even begun to address the pragmatic consequences that Bob has addressed above. Sorry Bob, but I think those pragmatic consequences are useless issues of discussion when the terms you are using are meaningless to start with.

I have stopped presenting my position on what some call abortion because the extremists on both sides use their definition of pro-life or pro-choice to rail against my character. I will point out that though I consider myself pro-life I am aware that close to half the pro-life movement despises me and nearly two thirds of the pro-choice side despises me. Good luck on making sense of this issue when the only two terms permitted cover nine different meanings. The discussion has become one of babbling incoherence.


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