Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Yes Mary Smith It Is All About Babies

In Australia’s e-journal of social and political debate, Mary Smith poses a question today, “Is it all about babies?

She asks,

Is the opposition to abortion simply about saving babies? Or, are there other motives behind the graphic images of advanced fetuses?

From there she launches her attack on pro-lifers, accusing them of being disingenuous because they focus on late term abortions when, in fact, she notes these are rare. She seems to think that abortions up to 20 weeks or so are perfectly fine and therefore that pro-lifers ought to admit that because women “act swiftly” [in killing their offspring], at least 90% of “terminations” shouldn’t be an issue.

She moves on to accuse pro-lifers, and particularly the Catholic versions, of having an agenda to eliminate all of society’s hard earned rights to abortion, contraception and sex education. She challenges the claims that emergency contraception can cause abortions and mocks the possibility that “A group of eight cells held together by the egg membrane is now a child!”

Her diatribe is full of disinformation and prejudice against the unborn child, never once raising the most important question of all. She seems incapable of grasping the simple truth: Yes! It IS all about the babies—and babies who are babies from the point of conception through to the day of birth, and beyond.

As usual, these types of “poor-choice” opinion pieces are poorly constructed in terms of reason and argument but they do pass the test with too many who are already fooled by the shallow slogans and rhetoric. A look into the comments box for these kinds of columns usually corroborates such superficiality and, unfortunately, not only that of poor-choicers.

Take a look at Mary Smith's article [reproduced below] and see if you can locate some of the distortions, generalizations, sloganeering, etc. Why not post a comment to this blog with your observations.


Is It All About The Babies?

Is the opposition to abortion simply about saving babies? Or, are there other motives behind the graphic images of advanced fetuses?

Many anti abortionists, or pro-life activists as they prefer to be called, focus on the issue of late abortions even though the vast majority of abortions, about 90 per cent, are performed during the first trimester.

Most women facing unwanted pregnancy act swiftly, I cannot imagine that a woman would deliberately wait until the fetus reaches 20 weeks before having an abortion. Late abortions occur in cases of fetal abnormality and complications affecting the health of the woman. Other pro-lifers adopt a feminist facade and spread misinformation about the safety of legal abortion while conveniently ignoring the dangers of illegal, unsafe abortions which affect millions of women, mostly in developing countries.

By focusing on the few late abortions, the pro-life lobby hopes to harness public support in chipping away abortion rights. Indeed, not only do they want ALL abortions banned, they also want to ban contraception.

In El Salvadore and Nicaragua the Catholic Church pro-lifers succeeded in banning ALL abortions, including those necessary to save a woman's life, doctors are reluctant to provide emergency treatment to any woman with pregnancy-related complications and even fear to treat women with ectopic pregnancies. Their fears are not unfounded, any doctor accused of performing abortion, even to save a woman's life can spend up to 30 years in jail.

In the Philippines (PDF 114KB), it is estimated that about 400.000 illegal abortions take place every year, yet contraception is banned from public hospitals and clinics. The government endorses Catholic-approved Natural Family Planning only. But Natural Family Planning or abstinence does not work if women are forced by their husbands to have sex.

You need not take my word for this; check out what pro-lifers have to say about contraception:

"By outlawing contraception, you're closer to outlawing surgical abortion," says Matt Sande, director of legislative affairs for Pro-Life Wisconsin.

“Sande says the 1992 Supreme Court ruling that narrowly upheld Roe v. Wade - the court's landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion - forces the hand of abortion opponents because it reasoned that abortion was the legal fallback for contraceptive failure.

"So if, as the pro-life community, you're trying to outlaw surgical abortion but the court has told us its legal basis is founded on the necessity of abortion, shouldn't the pro-life community begin to take a look at contraception?" Sande says.

"We're trying to overturn Roe v. Wade, but the court is pointing us over here," he adds. Those who don't turn their attention to trying to outlaw contraception at this point, Sande says, hurt the anti-abortion cause.

And closer to home Nicholas Tonti-Filippini says:

The pro-life concern is that the effect of mini-pills such as Micronor, because they are unlikely to suppress ovulation, are much more likely to be abortifacient. The lining of the uterus is altered so that if the effect on cervical mucus fails to prevent the passage of sperm, then embryos created are likely to be unable to embed and develop in the lining of the uterus. The mini-pills do carry a significant risk of loss of human lives at an early stage.

Even if one of the modes of action of the pill is preventing the fertilised egg from attaching to the uterine lining, it would still not constitute an abortifacient action, the pill would not be acting to kill the fertilised egg but merely to prevent its implantation in the uterine lining. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists defines pregnancy as starting at implantation, when the fertilised egg attaches itself to the uterine lining.

In the US, 86 anti-abortion groups have committed to opposing all forms of contraception. Pro-life organisations in Australia also oppose contraception, even though they are not as vocal about it as their American allies.

Many pro-life websites are full of propaganda about how the pill and the IUD are abortifacients and that the Emergency Contraception pill is a form of early abortion similar to the actual abortion pill, RU486. The pro-life gospel goes something like this: "The pill/IUD alters the lining of the uterus and the six-day-old child cannot implant on the uterine lining and is sloughed off." Or, "Pills and IUDs kill people".

A group of eight cells held together by the egg membrane is now a child!

Pro-life organisations oppose not only abortion and contraception but sex education and even condoms for disease prevention. And it doesn't end here, the recently introduced Human Papilloma Virus vaccine is also under fire. As far as we know, the HPV vaccine does not have any abortive or contraceptive properties and it can help prevent cervical cancer, so why oppose it? If pro-lifers insist that women be told that having an abortion can lead to a great risk of developing breast cancer, why oppose a vaccine that prevents cervical cancer?

The plight of women in the Philippines, Nicaragua and El Salvador, illustrates what can happen when the Catholic Church-pro-life lobby dictates public health policy.

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