Angela Chininin Buele
Partial-birth abortion has come into the realm of fact checkers after the third presidential debate. In showing that D&X abortions are rare, NPR fact checkers pointed us to a 10-year-old article that shows a 2000 statistic from the Alan Guttmacher Institute that reports the number of these types of abortions to be 2,200 for that year, or “about 0.2 percent of the 1.3 million abortions believed to be performed that year.” I have not been able to locate newer statistics.
But, I want to go down a different path. It may be rocky, but come with me.
When does life begin? When is a new human classified as such?
Don’t make the mistake of reading on until you have answered. If you can’t give yourself an honest answer inside your own head, that should be quite concerning. Thinking through this, and thinking for yourself are both very important. I don’t want you to cheat yourself in this activity.
Did you answer?
Does life begin at conception? That is when multiplication of cells begins, with body formation and organ functionality becoming established within a few weeks. This makes sense and is quite consistently identified as scientific fact in human biology texts like the ones from which we were taught in school.
Does life begin when the ultrasound shows the profile of a little person or when the heartbeat can be heard on the Doppler? Is seeing believing? Is the tree that fell when no one was there to hear really not lying around, waiting for someone to trip over it? More importantly, is that scientific fact?
Does life begin at the point of viability? Because of current medical advancements, babies born around the 23rd week of gestation have a fighting chance of surviving–with lots of help from loving parents and a diligent NICU team. Unfortunately, a fighting chance is not always enough as some babies live to adulthood after being born this early while others may die after being born at the same point (or later) in gestation. New advancements in the future may move the point of viability to an even earlier point of gestation. A moving standard is not a solid way to determine the beginning of life. Plus, what does this say about that life up to that point? That it carries less worth?
Does life begin at birth? Delivery takes place, the baby is finally seen in all of his or her glorious and unique details, and the birth certificate is completed. This is more a political and citizenship detail. The only scientific difference is in methods of eating and breathing. A brand new car does not become a car when a happy buyer drives it off the lot. Any mechanic, or any observer for that matter, would testify to the fact that it was indeed a car all along.
Does life begin whenever a woman wants it to? It does not take a lot of observation to realize that the will of a person is not really the sovereign and determinant factor over the creation of a new life. Wishful thinking does not bring about new life. Wishful thinking and regret do not end a life once it has started. Many strategies can be used to attempt to avoid bringing about life from sexual union. Yet, regardless of the amount of control one may believe to have over the bringing forth of new life, we are reminded of our smallness. Plans fail. Human-made devices are not foolproof. And that is really why we find ourselves in this predicament. Abortion is touted as necessary because of this. Because our will does not have ultimate power in the creation of life. It can only bring forth destruction.
If you keep emotions and the talk of rights out of the conversation, are you really able to argue using science that life does not begin at conception? I don’t think so.
Perhaps the question we should ponder is: When should life be ended, if ever?
Is it simply a matter of possession? If you believe that a woman who has possession of her unborn child has the right to end that life without consequence, you would have to praise the current Filipino President. He encourages the murder of thousands of suspected criminals apart from due-process. Yes, vigilantes are killing thousands with impunity, and no one follows up to make sure that the motive was self-defense or that there was evidence the person was even a drug dealer.
Does this sound barbaric? It is. It is also the exact same barbarism that abortion is in this country. The ideal standard of abortion-rights activists here is: for any reason, at any point of gestation, anywhere, and without apology. (Yes, they do use the words safe and rare to cool off the rhetoric). Yet since that is law, there are people seeking and performing abortions in the last trimester of pregnancy after the point of viability has been reached.
These are observable facts–two cells unite and multiply, organs develop marvelously and at great speed, ultrasounds can be seen, heartbeats can be heard, premature children live and breathe, babies are born, a person’s will is not sovereign. So, let’s go to justice. We would all agree that justice would demand that a police officer must not kill a suspect if there is any other way to apprehend him/her without jeopardizing the life and safety of all persons in the vicinity. In such a case, justice points us to protection for all people. Similarly, the unborn child ought to be protected at all times. If the mother’s physical life is in peril, the child’s will be, too. Therefore, it is reasonable to deliver the child alive and allow him or her the opportunity to receive medical care and the opportunity to live. Children should never be dismembered in the womb. This is not justice.
It is easy to list those 2,200 children killed in the year 2000 as a 0.2 statistic to label a procedure as rare. This is not justice. Even if only one had died in this manner. This is not justice. The baby is pulled all the way out except for the head. The abortionist then kills the child, puncturing the baby’s head. The baby is removed. This is not justice.
Key Question: Is it ever right to kill a child instead of delivering him or her?
Unshakable Truth: For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them (Psalm 139:13-16).
The child who grows in the womb is a human being just as unique and precious as the person who is currently reading these words. Maybe the baby is a girl, and the mother wants a boy. Maybe the baby has a deformity and will have a short life expectancy. Maybe the mother already has a few children and doesn’t believe she can raise another one. Each and every one of these children has been formed by and is known by God. And God himself is witness to their execution. He remembers them and mourns them. And He will call their murderers to account.
The Real Choice: Will you stand up for viable children to be delivered alive, or will you sit quietly as they continue to be poisoned and butchered in the womb?