World Population Awareness

Is Abortion Murder?

When is it murder?

The development of a human being is a process of transformation: sperm and egg => fertilized egg => zygote => embryo => fetus => baby.

Sperm and egg: ingredients for a baby Millions of eggs produced by a woman are never fertilized and do not produce a baby. Millions of sperm produced by a man never fertilize an egg and do not make a baby. (no religion considers the sperm and the egg 'human life' until they unite) Other facts:

  • Ovulation occurs around fourteen days after the start of a woman's cycle
  • Sperm can live in the fallopian tubes up to 7 days. A woman is fertile four to five days before ovulation and only one day after ovulation.
  • Since the egg lives only 24 hours, so conception can only occur with 12-24 hours of ovulation.
  • The fertilized egg remains in the fallopian tube about 3 days
  • The fertilized egg, called a zygote, becomes a solid ball of cells, then it becomes a hollow ball of cells and is called a blastocyst. Before implantation, five to six days after fertilization, or 6-12 days after ovulation, the blastocyst implants in the uterus.
  • Family planning at this stage: delayed marriage & abstinence | rhythm method | breastfeeding | condoms | diaphram | sterilization | withdrawal (unreliable) | spermacides | the sponge | chemical contraception

    Egg production is stopped by oral contraception, the patch, vaginal rings, implants, and injectables. Sperm production is stopped by the male pill

    Day 1 - fertilisation (conception)

    A sperm enters the egg


    zygote - size: 0.14 mm (teensy)

    Day 2 - zygote divides

    Day 3

    The sperm and egg combine within 24 hours after ovulation. The body will not know it's pregnant until the fertilized egg implants into the uterine wall, some 5 to 12 days after ovulation. Either of these points can be seen as the moment of conception.

    Family planning methods used before implantation of the zygote in the uterus

  • Emergency Contraception (morning after) pills impede sperm and delays or blocks ovulation. It has not yet been shown to cause a change in the uterus to prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine wall. The pill known as Ella is effective up to 5 days after taking, but has no effect once the zygote is implanted in the uterine wall.
  • IUDs, on the other hand, create an environment where the zygote cannot implant. Most doctors and most women do not consider this abortion because pregnancy begins after implantation.
  • Breast feeding suppresses ovarian function which results in the thinning of the uterus, which would prevent implantation if there were an egg to fertilize. No one objects to breast feeding, so why object to artificially blocking ovulation or preventing implantation?
  • 5-7 days from ovulation:
    Pregnancy begins with the implantation in the uterus

    Research now suggests that only about half of all zygotes implant in the uterine wall and become embryos, the rest fail to continue dividing and expire 2

    Most women do not know if they are pregnant at this point. After implantation, a pregnancy test can be used. If a woman does not suspect pregnancy, she will probably not notice until she misses a period, two weeks, on average, after ovulation.

    RU486 (also known as Mifepristone) non-surgical / medical abortion is taken by pill or injection. Having some side effects, it is not the ideal choice for every patient.

    2 weeks

    The embryo grows his or her first brain cells. The embryo's body is divided into three layers. The outer layer of cells in called the ectoderm, and will develop into the outer layer of the skin and the nervous system. The middle cells, or mesoderm, develops blood, bone, cartilage, and muscle. The endoderm, the inner layer, develops eventually into mucus membranes and glands. http://biblescripture.net/prolife.html

    Menstrual regulation Although pregnancy may not be confirmed, many women seek menstrual regulation (MR) services because they fear they may be pregnant. The procedure, a manual suctioning of the uterine contents, is also used to regulate the menstrual periods. The procedure takes 10 minutes. It is being practiced all over the world. In some countries, it is equated with abortion. In others, it is not considered abortion, especially if it is done before knowing if there is a pregnancy.

    Day 22 (about 3 weeks) - heart starts to beat


    no bigger than the head of a pin

    Day 29

    5 weeks

    6 weeks


    about 1/2 inch

    The nervous system is ready for purposeful and even co-ordinated movements

    Menstrual regulation is given as late as 10 weeks from date of last period (age of fetus = 8 weeks) in Vietnam, and up to only 14 days (age of fetus = 7 days) in India. In Bangladesh is can be done up to 8 weeks of the last period (age of fetus = 6 weeks) and is not considered an abortion, which is illegal except to save a woman's life. In the U.S., manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) is done up to 10 weeks after the last menstrual period.

    7 weeks

    RU486 medical abortion is taken to 9 weeks from the first day of the last menstrual period (7 weeks after conception).

    8 weeks

    It is now technically called a foetus because it's organs are complete, although not fully functioning.

    Abortion Dilation and suction curettage - also known as D&C, or vacuum aspiration, gently empties the uterus with machine-operated suction. A curette (narrow metal loop) may be used to clean the walls of the uterus. This method is used six to 14 weeks after the last menstrual period (age of fetus: 4 to 12 weeks)

    Anti-abortion depiction of an 8 week fetus - found on a poster in Ecuador

    Click here for the developmental description of an 8-week fetus. Intestines are just now migrating from the umbilical cord to inside the body. Bones in the legs are just beginning ossify. This fetus is a long way from standing. I would say this is a human being in the making. The mother has not yet felt the stirrings of 'life'.

    9-10 weeks



    The fetus touches his or her own face and sucks his or her thumb, and makes breathing and swallowing motions

    Until 1869 the Catholic Church maintained that life commenced 40 days after conception. The Bible says nothing about when the spark of life is struck--the notion that sacredness begins when sperm meets egg hinges on the assumption that it is God's plan that each act of conception should lead to a baby. 2

    12 weeks

    Abortion at 12 weeks 90% of abortions are done in the first trimester.

    14 weeks

    'Life' is felt as faint stirrings by the mother

    about 3 inches

    20 weeks

    About 20 to 30% of women bleed or have cramping at some time during the first 20 wk of pregnancy; half of these women spontaneously abort. In up to 60% of spontaneous abortions, the fetus is absent or grossly malformed, and in 25 to 60%, it has chromosomal abnormalities incompatible with life; thus spontaneous abortion in > 90% of cases may be a natural rejection of a maldeveloping fetus. About 85% of spontaneous abortions occur in the 1st trimester and tend to have fetal causes.

    24 weeks

    This is the age at which the law considers a baby "viable", or able to survive outside the womb. This is a legal distinction, not a medical one. 23 weeks is the earliest date at which premature babies have survived.

    24 weeks - Age at which the fetus can first feel pain, according to an June 2010 BBC News article.



    Abortion after 24 weeks Only 1% of abortions are performed after 24 weeks. Reasons for performing an abortion this late are:

  • The fetus is dead.
  • The fetus is alive, but continued pregnancy would place the woman's life in severe danger.
  • The fetus is alive, but continued pregnancy would grievously damage the woman's health and/or disable her.
  • The fetus is so malformed that it can never gain consciousness and will die shortly after birth. Many which fall into this category have developed a very severe form of hydrocephalus (5000 cases a year). The fetal head can be as large as 50 centimeters (nearly 20 inches and contain nearly 2 gallons of liquid which must be drained before birth)
  • Cost of a 2nd-trimester abortion in the U.S. (2006): $1,260 - compared to $430 (2006) for an abortion in the first trimester.

    Partial Birth Abortions These total perhaps 0.2% of all pregnancies. They are normally performed in emergency situations where a delivery is posing an extreme danger to the woman. This might be a threat to her life, or might cause her to be seriously injured, perhaps permanently disabled. ReligiousTolerance.org

    38 weeks

    This is the age at which a baby should, ideally, be born. The baby's lungs are fully functional and his or her immune system is ready for the outside world

    newborn

    More on human embryonic development here also here

    Footnote 2. Gregg Easterbrooke, Abortion and Brainwaves, The New Republic, Jan 31, 2000

    doclink

    Solving Our Population Problems

    August 15, 2017, Population Matters

    Population growth can be slowed, stopped and reversed, even though it has rocketed in this century and last. A sustainable reduction in global population could happen within decades, according to the United Nations' most optimistic scenario. Its main population prediction is in the middle of that range - 9.8bn in 2050 and 11.2bn in 2100. But if there were just half-a-child less, on average, per family in the future than assumed, there woud be two billion fewer of us than expected by 2050 - and five billion fewer of us by the end of the century.

    Countries have had dramatic success in reducing their birth rates. Thailand reduced its fertility rate by nearly 75% in just two generations with a creative and ethical family planning program. Fertility rates in Asia have dropped by nearly 10% in 10 years.

    Over 200 million women who want to avoid pregnancy are not using modern contraception. Reasons for this include lack of access, concerns about side-effects and social pressure not to use it. Most of these women live in poor countries, where population is set to rise by 3 billion by 2100. Overseas aid support for family planning is essential - making sure supplies are adequate.

    People choose not to use contraception because they are influenced by assumptions, practices and pressures within their nations or communities. In some places, very large family sizes are considered desirable; sometimes the use of contraception is discouraged or forbidden.

    However programs that change attitudes towards contraception and family size have been very successful. Religious barriers may also be bypassed. In Iran the country's religious leader declared the use of contraception was consistent with Islamic belief and a very successful family planning campaign was initiated. Portugal and Italy have some of the lowest fertility rates in spite of the fact that they are predominantly Catholic.

    Escaping poverty is a vital way to bring birth rates down. Decreasing child mortality, improving education and providing people with economic opportunities all help to reduce fertility. International aid, fair trade and global justice will help bring global population back to sustainable levels.

    Where women and girls have economic empowerment, education and freedom, they normally choose to have smaller families. Greater freedom usually leads to greater uptake of family planning and ending child marriage pushes back the age at which women have their first child, which often reduces family size.

    African women with no education have, on average, 5.4 children; women who have completed secondary school have 2.7 and those who have a college education have 2.2. When family sizes are smaller, that also empowers women to gain education, take work and improve their economic opportunities.

    In the developed world, most of us have the power to choose the size of our families [Note: 50% of pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended]. We also have a disproportionate impact on the global environment through our high level of consumption and greenhouse gas emissions - in the UK, for instance, each individual produces 70 times more carbon than someone from Niger. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: 1) One of the biggest reasons people in poor countries do not use contraception is a language barrier which results in poor women not understanding about family planning benefits and side effects. In Tanzania, for example, only 10% of the population has Swahili, the national language, as their native language. Many of the rural people do not understand Swahili. This would be true in many African and Asian countries where the rural population speaks languages different from the national language. I wonder if Health surveys take that into account when they tabulate reasons women don't use contraception.

    2) The U.K. has a high unintended pregnancy rate, at 40%. The U.S. and Canada both have high unintended pregnancy rates at 40-50%. In the U.S. women below the poverty level have a five times the chance of having an unintended pregnancy than women well above the poverty level. It is not just a matter of 'choosing a smaller family'. as the article claims. It is likely a matter of having access to affordable and effective contraception.

    ing for full maturation".

    Is the notion that ensoulment occurs at conception believable when there are so many miscarriages? The potential to become human does not exist for these products of conception.

    Every woman should have the right to do what they want with their body. About 30% of women will have had at least one abortion in their life if current abortion rates continue.

    Why should the religious beliefs of a patriarchal church outweigh the beliefs of women that they have the right to terminate a pregnancy they don't want or that would be a threat to their life, or that would interfere with the well-being of her family? doclink

    What Does the Bible Say About Abortion?

    January 20, 2018, Christian Bible Reference Site

    Prior to 1973, abortion was legal in some of the 50 states of the U.S., usually with restrictions. In 1973, the United States Supreme Court, in its Roe v. Wade decision, ruled that a woman has a right to an abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy. However, the states are still allowed to regulate abortion during the second trimester and prohibit it during the third trimester. Since that time, abortion has become one of the most controversial and divisive issues within society.

    Pro-life activists represent one extreme of opinion. They believe life begins at the instant of conception. Therefore, abortion is murder and is prohibited by the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:13). They strongly support laws banning all or almost all abortions.

    Abortion is never mentioned in the Bible, despite the fact that it has been practiced since ancient times by a variety of means. However, a number of Bible passages have been cited as evidence that a fetus is truly a living human being and deserves the same protection. They may well state some general principles that are relevant, but none of them were originally intended as statements about abortion.

    The following three passages and others are sometimes cited as evidence that abortion is wrong. However, when read in context, it seems clear that was not the intended message.

    Luke Chapter 1 tells about God's intervention in the miraculous births of Jesus and John the Baptist.

    (NIV, Luke 1:39-44) At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

    Jeremiah Chapter 1 is about Jeremiah's call as a prophet.

    (NAS, Jeremiah 1:4-5) Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations."

    Job Chapter 10 is Job's plea to God to relieve his unfair suffering.

    (NIV, Job 10:2, 8-9) I will say to God: ... "Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me? Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again?

    The passage below from Genesis Chapter seems to suggest that a person is not living until he or she takes a first breath after birth. Life is equated with breath throughout the Bible.

    (NIV, Genesis 2:7) The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

    However, Genesis Chapter 2 is actually about God's creation of mankind as special and spiritually-aware beings.

    The passage below seems to say that causing death to a fetus is not as serious a crime as causing death to a person, but it is actually just part of a long section specifying the punishments for various crimes.

    And if men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no further injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him; and he shall pay as the judges decide. "But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, (NAS, Exodus 21:22-24)

    However, the belief that life begins at conception does not have clear support from medical science, the Bible, religious tradition or legal tradition.

    Abortion, infanticide and child abandonment were permitted under Roman law at the time of Jesus.

    Some early Church fathers (e.g., Tertullian) wrote against abortion, and it has been considered sinful throughout Church history. However, early Christians apparently did not view abortion as murder until well beyond conception. In the thirteenth century, Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas wrote that a soul enters the body at 40 days after conception for males and 80 days for females. That became church doctrine for many centuries, and abortion before that time of ensoulment was not considered a mortal sin. The belief that life begins at conception apparently has its origins in an 1869 decree by Pope Pius IX that abortion at any point in pregnancy was cause for excommunication.

    English common law apparently tolerated abortion until "quickening," the first detectable fetal movements, around the fifth month. Similarly, abortion was largely unregulated in the U.S. until the mid 1800s. Laws against abortion were passed around 1900, but the primary reasons had to do with the injuries and deaths resulting from unskilled abortions and a struggle between opposing factions for control of medical practice.

    Polls typically show that about 28% of people in the U.S. say abortion should be legal in all circumstances. Another 17% say abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. A majority, 54%, favor legal abortion in some circumstances. The Roman Catholic Church is strongly associated with the movement to outlaw abortion, but the polls actually show that the views of Catholics on this issue do not differ from the rest of the population.

    Many people have deep and serious doubts about the morality of abortion. At the same time, they believe abortion may be the lesser of evils in some cases. Situations thought to justify abortion include, with varying degrees of acceptance, danger to the mother's life, defective fetus, rape, incest, teen pregnancy, risk to the mother's physical or emotional health, unstable family situations, mental retardation of the mother, etc.

    Before the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion throughout the U.S., many women living in areas where abortion was not allowed simply traveled to states or countries where abortion was legal to terminate their pregnancies. Those who could not afford that option often sought out someone to perform the procedure illegally. Some sympathetic doctors were willing to help. But many illegal abortions were performed by unqualified practitioners, and many women suffered exploitation, sexual abuse, injury, infection, sterility and even death at the hands of these "back alley" practitioners. Despite some claims to the contrary, the mainstream of medical opinion is that legal abortions are very safe, with less risk to a woman's physical and mental health than continuing a pregnancy.

    Some politicians exploit the abortion issue for political gain by inflaming people's passions and fears. A very small number of activists have harassed and deceived women seeking abortions, illegally blockaded clinics, harassed doctors and committed acts of violence, including murder. Such actions are clearly against Bible teachings and are not condoned by mainstream Christian denominations. However, the actions of a few have created an unfavorable view of the pro-life movement in the minds of many.

    There is no general agreement among Christians, Christian theologians or Christian churches about what situations could make terminating a pregnancy the right and moral choice. However, most would agree that it is not a step to be taken if satisfactory alternatives are available. A woman or couple faced with the choice is left with medical counseling, pastoral counseling, advice of family and friends, and prayer to help with the decision.

    The strong emotions surrounding the abortion issue may lead those on both sides of the issue into the sin of self-righteousness. But Jesus and other New Testament leaders taught by word and example not to condemn or shun or discriminate against those we consider to be "sinners" (Matthew 7:1-2, 9:10-13, Luke 7:36-48, 18:9-14, John 8:1-11).

    A number of churches, including United Church of Christ, Episcopal, Presbyterian (USA) and United Methodist, do not approve of abortion as a means of birth control. However, they support the right of a woman to obtain an abortion, if she deems that is the best choice in her circumstances, and they favor keeping abortion legal. Other churches, including Roman Catholic and Southern Baptist, oppose all abortions and favor making abortion illegal.

    The Roman Catholic says: 2270. Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.

    2271. Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law. ... From Catechism of the Catholic Church, (c) 1994, United States Catholic Conference, Inc., http://www.nccbuscc.org/catechism/text/index.htm

    Southern Baptist: Procreation is a gift from God, a precious trust reserved for marriage. At the moment of conception, a new being enters the universe, a human being, a being created in God's image. This human being deserves our protection, whatever the circumstances of conception. From Position Statements, Copyright (c) 1999 - 2001, Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, http://sbc.net/default.asp?url=position-statements.html

    United Methodist: The beginning of life and the ending of life are the God-given boundaries of human existence. While individuals have always had some degree of control over when they would die, they now have the awesome power to determine when and even whether new individuals will be born. Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion. But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother, for whom devastating damage may result from an unacceptable pregnancy. In continuity with past Christian teaching, we recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures. We cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control, and we unconditionally reject it as a means of gender selection. We oppose the use of late-term abortion known as dilation and extraction (partial-birth abortion) and call for the end of this practice except when the physical life of the mother is in danger and no other medical procedure is available, or in the case of severe fetal anomalies incompatible with life. doclink

    I Am Pro-abortion, Not Just Pro-choice: 10 Reasons Why We Must Support the Procedure and the Choice

    I believe that abortion care is a positive social good -- and I think it's time people said so
    April 24, 2016, Salon   By: Valerie Tarico

    The author writes: "I am pro-abortion like I'm pro-knee-replacement and pro-chemotherapy and pro-cataract surgery.' When birth-control fails or childbearing is not what a woman wants, abortion is part of a set of tools that help women and men to form the families of their choosing.

    A lot of people believe, often secretly, that abortion care is a positive social good. It's time we said so.

    Choosing whether and when we bring a new life into the world is one of the most important decisions a person can make. It is too big a decision for us to make for each other, and especially for perfect strangers.

    1. Being able to delay and limit childbearing is fundamental to female empowerment and equality. A woman who lacks the means to manage her fertility lacks the means to manage her life.

    Women who plan on being professional women won't get there unless they have effective, reliable means to manage their fertility. In generations past, nurses and teachers were usually spinsters, because avoiding sexual intimacy was the only way women could avoid unpredictable childbearing and so be freed up to serve their communities in other capacities. But if you think that abstinence should be our model for modern fertility management, consider the mass graves that get found every so often under old nunneries and Catholic homes for unwed mothers.

    2. Well-timed pregnancies give children a healthier start in life. Rapid repeat pregnancies increase the risk of low birthweight babies and other complications. Wanted babies are more likely to be welcomed into families that are financially and emotionally ready to receive them.

    3. Parenting takes twenty dedicated years of focus, attention, patience, persistence, social support, mental health, money, and a whole lot more. The idea that women should simply go with it when they find themselves pregnant after a one-night-stand, or a rape, or a broken condom completely trivializes motherhood.

    4. Planned childbearing helps couples, families and communities to get out of poverty, according to decades of research. Having two or three kids instead of eight or ten is critical to prospering in the modern industrial economy. Justice dictates that the full range of fertility management tools including the best state-of-the-art contraceptive technologies and, when that fails, abortion care be equally available to all, not just a privileged few.

    5. Reproduction is a highly imperfect process, with flaws and false starts at every step along the way. Many more eggs and sperm are produced than will ever meet; more combine into embryos than will ever implant; more implant than will grow into babies.This systematic culling makes God or nature the world's biggest abortion provider.

    In humans, an estimated 60-80% of fertilized eggs self-destruct before becoming babies, which is why the people who kill the most embryos are those like the Duggars who try to maximize their number of pregnancies.

    But the sometimes horrible defects slip through. A woman's body may be less fertile when she is stressed or ill or malnourished, but some women conceive even under devastating circumstances. Like any other medical procedure, therapeutic contraception and abortion complement natural processes designed to help us survive and thrive.

    6. Morality is about the well-being of sentient beings who can feel pleasure and pain, preference and intention, who at their most complex can live in relation to other beings, love and be loved and value their own existence. In this moral universe, real people count more than potential people, hypothetical people or corporate people.

    7. Contraceptives are imperfect, and people are too. In the real world, 1 in 11 women relying on the Pill gets pregnant each year. For a couple relying on condoms, that's 1 in 6. Young and poor women -- those whose lives are least predictable and most vulnerable to being thrown off course -- are also those who have the most difficulty taking pills consistently. For them abortion access a matter not only of compassion but of justice. 1 in 500 women relying on an IUD or implant gets pregnant each year. But there are barriers of cost and misinformation associated with these methods.

    8. I believe in mercy, grace, compassion, and the power of fresh starts. Sometimes people make mistakes or have accidents that they pay for the rest of their lives. The price we pay for a lapse in attention or judgment, or an accident of any kind isn't proportional to the error we made. Who among us hasn't had unprotected sex when the time or situation or partnership wasn't quite right for bringing a new life into the world? In this regard, an unsought pregnancy is like any other accident.

    9. In baby making, the future is always in motion, and every little thing we do has consequences we have no way to predict. Any small change means a different child comes into the world. Parenting begins before conception. How and when we choose to carry forward a new life can stack the odds in favor of our children or against them.

    10. Abortions of unhealthy or ill-timed pregnancies allow women and couples to have healthy babies who are truly wanted. The author's friend told her: "I was only going to have two children. my abortions let me have these two when the time was right, with someone I loved."

    Those who see abortion as an unmitigated evil often talk about the "millions of missing people" who were not born into this world because a pregnant woman decided, not now. But they never talk about the millions of children and adults who are here today only because their mothers had abortions -- real people, living out their lives. doclink

    Does Human Personhood Begin at Conception?

    Catholic Educators Resource Center   By: Peter Kreeft

    The personhood of the fetus is clearly the crucial issue for abortion, for if the fetus is not a person, abortion is not the deliberate killing of an innocent person: if it is, it is. All other aspects of the abortion controversy are relative to this one; e.g., women have rights - over their own bodies but not over other persons' bodies. The law must respect a "right to privacy" but killing other persons is not a private but a public deed. Persons have a "right to life" but non-persons (e.g., cells, tissues, organs, and animals) do not.

    Pro-choicers make a triple distinction among a human life, a human being and a human person. Each cell in our bodies has human life, and a single cell kept alive in a laboratory could be called "a human life" but certainly not "a human being" or "a human person." "A human being" is a biologically whole individual of the species. Even a human being born with no brain is a human being, not an ape; but it is not a person because it has no brain and cannot do anything distinctively human: think, know, choose, love, feel, desire, commit, relate, aspire, know itself, know God, know its past, know its future, know its environment, or communicate - all of which have, in various combinations, been offered as the marks of a person. The pro-life position seems to confuse the sanctity of the person with the sanctity of life, which is two steps removed from it.

    Pro-choicers say the very young product of conception, the zygote, has no ability to perform any of the distinctive activities that anyone associates with personhood (reasoning, choosing, loving, communicating, etc.) - not even feeling pain, for the zygote has no brain or nervous system. At first it is only a single cell. How could anyone call a single cell a person?

    Pro-choicers claim that personhood begins not at at conception, but develops gradually, as a matter of degree. Every one of the characteristics we use to identify personhood arises and grows gradually rather than suddenly. The fetus is potentially a person, but it must grow into an actual person.

    Pro-choicers will say that personhood is not a clear concept. There is not universal agreement on it. Different philosophers, scientists, religionists, moralists, mothers, and observers define it differently. It is a matter of opinion where the dividing line between persons and non-persons should be located. But what is a matter of opinion should not be decided or enforced by law. Law should express social consensus, and there is no consensus in our society about personhood's beginning or, consequently, about abortion. One opinion should not be forced on all. Pro-choice is not pro-abortion but, precisely, pro-choice.

    Thus there are four and only four possibilities: that it is not a person and we know that, that it is a person and we know that, that it is a person but we do not know that, and that it is not a person and we do not know that. Now what is abortion in each of these four cases? In case (1), abortion is perfectly permissible. We do no wrong if we kill what is not a person and we know it is not a person-e.g., if we fry a fish. But no one has ever proved with certainty that a fetus is not a person. If there exists anywhere such a proof, please show it to me and I shall convert to pro-choice on the spot if I cannot refute it.

    About Half of U.S. Abortion Patients Report Using Contraception in the Month They Became Pregnant

    Postabortion Contraceptive Counseling Can Help Individuals Prevent Future Unintended Pregnancies
    January 11, 2018, Guttmacher Institute

    The Guttmacher Institute conducted a survey of U.S. abortion patients in 2014, which showed that 51% (half) of those surveyed reported that they had used a contraceptive method in the month they became pregnant. This was a slight decrease from 54% of abortion patients in 2000. The methods most commonly used by abortion patients in 2014 were condoms (24% of patients) and the pill (13%).

    "Contraceptive methods are highly effective at preventing unintended pregnancies, but no method -- and no user -- is perfect," says Rachel Jones, author of the analysis. "Abortion patients should have access to the full range of contraceptive counseling and services to support them in preventing future unintended pregnancies."

    The share of abortion patients relying on condoms decreased from 28% to 24% between 2000 and 2014, but there was a small but significant increase -- 7% to 9% -- in the share of patients who relied on withdrawal. Use of long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods among abortion patients increased from 0.1% in 2000 to 1% in 2014. It is also possible that some abortion patients became pregnant shortly after they stopped using LARCs or other contraceptive methods.

    In 2014, about 37.8 million U.S. women aged 15-44 were using a contraceptive method. But only 471,000 abortions were provided to patients who reported they were using contraception in the month they became pregnant. Between 2000 and 2014, the overall number of abortions in the United States declined significantly, and available evidence suggests that improvements in contraceptive use contributed to the abortion decline.

    Contraception has been found to be effective at pregnancy prevention and it has numerous health, social and economic benefits. Abortion patients who were not using contraception at the time they became pregnant may benefit from receiving information during postabortion counseling about their risk of pregnancy, and about the full range of contraceptive options available to them and how to use those methods consistently and correctly. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: condoms and withdrawal are much less effective than the pill in preventing pregnancy, and even with the pill, the chances of becoming pregnant is 60% over 10 years of use. LARCs are much more effective at preventing pregnancy.

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