by Leslie Fish
One of the not-so-minor points in the recent presidential race was the abortion question. Obama stated that he believed in a woman's right to abortion. McCain and Palin announced that they didn’t personally believe in abortion but, if elected, they would not make a federal case of it but would leave the legality of abortion to the individual states. Still, the word went out: “If McCain gets elected, you can kiss Roe vs. Wade goodbye.” That helped tip the balance toward Obama. It’s pretty obvious that, no matter what the Family Values crowd may think, a vast number of Americans – particularly women – want to keep abortion legal. Those who don’t had best consider the following facts.
First, abortion can take place only during the first trimester of pregnancy. After that it becomes dangerous to the mother, and no doctor will do it for anything less than a direct threat to the mother’s life. Now, during the first trimester of pregnancy the object in a woman’s uterus is certainly not a “baby”; it won’t become that until the last trimester. It isn’t even properly called a “fetus”; it won’t be that until the second trimester. The proper scientific name for it is “embryo” – as in “embryonic” – and it is absolutely not a human being. It does not have a human heart or a human spine or human lungs, and it certainly does not have a human brain. For the religious-minded, consider that without a brain there is no mind, and without a mind, how can there be a soul?
Yes, an embryo is made of human tissue, but then, so are your toenails. Yes, it’s technically alive, but then, so is a virus. Yes, it will eventually develop to become a human being, but then, given enough time, so will whole species of monkeys; the only difference is time – six months versus six million years. The physical condition of an embryo is somewhere between that of a primitive worm and a salamander. Its life is certainly not worth the life, or health, or freedom, of a real human being – such as a woman – not unless you’re going to claim that women are not really human beings.
Now, on the question of the “value of life”… Ask: whose life?
No man has ever died in childbirth, but countless hundreds of millions of women have. Childbirth is not safe. It has not been safe since human beings began walking upright, and growing big brains and big skulls to hold them. Even in America today with all our boasted medical science, according to the medical actuarial tables, for women between the ages of 15 and 50, childbirth is the second most common cause of death. You don’t want to know what the first one is. (You do? All right: it’s violence – usually perpetrated by men. Childbirth is always perpetrated by men. Men have a lot to answer to women for.) Any woman who becomes pregnant is placing her life at risk. No one should be forced to place their life at risk without their consent. No one should be forced to risk their life for someone else’s beliefs. No man has the right to order a woman to risk her life for what he wants.
In any country that calls itself free, to risk your life or not must always be the individual’s choice. Therefore, to abort or not must always be the individual woman’s choice – and nobody else’s. Anything less is tyranny.