This topic seems to come up a little bit more often as of late and since it is such an important philosophical topic, that is also highly informed by our religious outlook I think it’s worth discussing when abortion is permissable and when it isn’t.
I of course don’t operate with the goal in mind to settle this highly controversial issue but maybe I can give you something to think about. This article is merely how I see it.
There are within this discussion various different positions. Some people hold to the view, that life begins at conception.
As far as I’m concerned this view is untenable. The first reason of course, is that conception is a process itself. Conception takes place over ~24 hours, so we can’t really pinpoint at what moment in this process we now officially have a human being.
One might of course say that it is true, that we don’t know when we have a human being during the process but after conception, then we know and then we can draw the line. Unfortunately this won’t work neither, since twinning has yet to occur. Does then this life split into 2 half lives? Since most people who hold to that view tend to be very religious, this could have serious implications for the soul.
Additionally in this pro choice vs. pro life debate it is important to define terms:
We should not only speak of humans and killing which can be easily defined, a human is biologically classified and killing is simply the termination of life, we should also define what we mean by “person” and “murder” and that is where the two parties drift apart.
The definition I would use for “person” is a sentient human being i.e. a human that has a perception an experience of being alive. “Murder” as far as I’m concerned is the unjustified killing of a sentient human being without their consent. Such Justifications include self defense, defense of the life or lives of others, preservation of ones own bodily autonomy etc. .
The last justification is of major importance in the discussion, since a woman has a right to her own autonomy and the baby uses her body to stay alive.
So it’s difficult to say at what point during pregnancy we assign the human/person inside of her more value than we do the mother.
At this point we need to address when a person begins. If we accept my definition of person, then I think science can offer some assistance at least. The perception and experience of being alive is determined by the brain. So we need to take a look at brain development during pregnancy. We won’t be able to draw a clear cut line but science can inform us here.
As this site indicates the development of the brain starts at 6 weeks into pregnancy. That of course doesn’t mean that consciousness starts at 6 weeks and therefore a person starts at 6 weeks. We’re far from finished in our investigation where consciousness resides but from what I’ve found out it resides in the prefontal cortex .
Again as the previous site indicates the prefontal cortex starts to develope in 19 weeks into pregnancy within the second trimester and I think that’s where a grey zone starts to begin which as I hold ends in week 27 the last week of the second trimester. In this greyzone one needs to seriously consider both sides of the issue, both the mother and the developing person, especially since the risk of death through the abortion process only increases. Such a decision depends on the case and needs to be well thought out by all parties involved.
After that stage the brain is pretty developed and it would need to be a serious emergency ahead to justify an abortion at that point within the third trimester.
Luckily for us though most abortions happen within the first trimester. Still there is a lot of nuance involved and it all depends on the situation. I still hope I gave you some insight and some food for thought and if you disagree with me (as many undoubtedly will) I hope I didn’t upset you too much.
Goodbye from yours truly,
Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation
3 thoughts on “My take on abortion”
For me it’s simple: there is never a time when it’s ok to force any woman to gestate. Never. To do so is a denial of her fundamental human right to exist as an autonomous being with full control over her own body.
Let’s take this further.
If a state can force a woman to gestate, can they also force her to give birth in a particular way? There’s a case in Ireland where they forced a c-section on a woman at 20-something weeks because they didn’t want the woman to terminate the pregnancy. Enough of the population agreed to this treatment of the woman or were utterly indifferent to it.
If a state can force a woman to gestate, then they have removed the woman’s right to self-determination simply because she is pregnant. If the woman has lost self-determination upon pregnancy at the whim of whatever government of the day, the woman can therefore be forced to terminate a pregnancy because one cannot then argue for her self-determination to terminate when she doesn’t have that right for forced gestation. In other words, you can’t have it both ways. Either the woman has the right to make decisions over her own body or she doesn’t. This is a very real risk when you consider the many men who want a woman they impregnated to terminate the pregnancy for many reasons including not having to be financially responsible for the child.
So ask, what’s the goal of forcing women to gestate? It’s not to reduce abortions. If it were, then anti-choice people would be pushing for birth control, sex ed and family planning services and supports for mothers and babies and anti-poverty intitiatives and gender equality – all things that are proven to reduce unwanted pregnancies. They’re very clearly not for these things and more than not, actively protest against these measures. The so-called pro-life movement more often seems to want to punish women for becoming pregnant. They want to use the babies as the tool of this punishment knowing that an unwanted baby is a burden and a cost to these women. They want to subject babies to these kinds of situations at the same time as reducing supports for such vulnerable mothers, putting children at even greater risk! They make great efforts to portray pregnant women who do not want to be pregnant as evil and haters of babies. This is their PR strategy.
Think about the countless situations women face. Woman raped. Incest. Woman pregnant with violent husband’s child and trying to get away from him. Woman becomes seriously disabled, unable to care for a child. Woman coerced into sex. Woman mentally incompetent, addicted. Fetus is risk to mother’s health. Woman’s husband suddenly dies and she’s already struggling to support other children. Fetus is determined to be seriously compromised and will require a lifetime of financially devastating care. Woman is a sex worker. Woman at risk of losing her job if pregnant. Woman is poor and alone. Woman can’t work. In every single, complex circumstance, ONLY the woman can decide for herself what the best choice is for her. No one else should ever be in a position to dictate this and therefore profoundly affect the woman’s life.
Taking away a person’s self-determination diminishes them not just when it comes to gestation but in the psyche of the society and it entrenches the belief that women can never be fully competent by virtue of their sex.
Taking away a person’s self-determination leads to atrocity. Anything can be justified from there based on the will of the state of the day because she is not in charge of herself.
Forced gestation is an atrocity.
OK Rene , I did read thru and its quite educative though I remain to ask ;
1) With exceptions , if the foetus develops to a higher stage and abortion takes place. Wud this amount to taking life?
2) Since there was intimate contact for this foetus to come about, shudnt the man or woman be responsible? For unsafe sex?
3) We often argue that god is a killer god, indiscriminately kills babies etc How different are we from god then?
4) Its also a difficult question I.e children in camps, dying in wars, famine, diseases etc so why wud one make a ruckus on a simple abortion. These were my thoughts.
Sum questions I, had mate.
Thanks for ur insight.
I try to answer you briefly: I do take a fetus to be alive so my answer to your first question is yes.
2) question is also a yes.
3) I would say that the woman actually has justification. That’s what the debate really i about: To what degree can a woman decide over what occurs in her body. My view is that at the very least she should have full control and choice within the first trimester since the fetus isn’t consciouss at that stage.
4) I don’t think these are analogous. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the violinist thought experiment. Here’s a link
I hope that I have answered sufficiently.