[After three previous years of articles on various aspects of the abortion issue, this article first appeared February 23, 2012 as a solution! With over 58 million abortions performed in America through 2015, it is time to act!]
Abortion Policy - Where Choice can end Life
Abortion is perhaps the most complex of all social issues. A way to accommodate both sides of the Pro-Life and Pro-Choice movements must be found that does not make our young girls and women victims between factions.
The Facts as of February 23, 2012:
Total abortions since 1973
Based on numbers reported by the Guttmacher Institute 1973-2008,
with estimates of 1,212,400 for 2009-2011. GI estimates a possible
3% under reporting rate, which is factored into the total.
3% under reporting rate, which is factored into the total.
Race Abortions Population
White 19.6 million 211.4 million
Hispanic 13.6 million 46.8 million
Black 16.4 million 38.1 million
Other races 4.9 million 3.7 million
Total 54.5 million 310.0 million
Just the sheer volume of abortions are staggering. In the
55.4 million since 1973, worldwide 1.7 billion. Those are millions and billions of incidents. Yet there are also disturbing trends in those statistics that represent real lives. USA
Most abortions are from unwanted pregnancy, as if that would not be obvious. However, abortion was never intended to be just another form of contraceptive. Yet analysis now shows that as many as half of all women receiving abortions have had a previous abortion. Are abortions so readily available that women are using the abortion to exploit sexual promiscuity at the government expense? What does this say about the value of life in America?
Annually the number of abortions has ranged from about 1.6 million to 1.2 million since 1990. Only four cities in the
United States have a higher population than the annual abortions, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and . Houston
Since the automobile was invented and records started in 1900, one hundred and eleven years ago, there have been 3.5 million killed in
. Since 1973 there have been 15 times as many abortions as auto deaths since 1900. America
There have been almost as many abortions in the
US as the total number of people living in Great Britain, France or , men, women and children combined. Italy
Compared to Worst Health Disasters in History
Between 1348 and 1350 the Black Death or bubonic plague is estimated to have killed 30–60 percent of
Europe's population, more than 50 million people, reducing the world population from an estimated 450 million to between 350 and 375 million in the 14th century.
The Great Influenza, 1918 - 1919, also known as the Spanish Flu, the Great Influenza was most likely the deadliest plague in history. The extremely virulent influenza virus killed an estimated 50 million or more people in the space of just six months. The world’s population at the time was just 1.8 billion.
For comparison, the total abortions in
equaled the total world deaths from either of the two worst disease outbreaks in history, the Black Death and Spanish Influenza. America
Worldwide abortion deaths of 1.7 billion are more than three times the total world population in 1350, and nearly equal to the entire world population in 1919, the years of the health disasters.
The debate over Abortion - Choice or Life or both
By all public opinion measures Abortion is the most volatile and controversial of all social issues in
. The Pro-Choice (Pro-Abortion) movement defends the right of women to control their body while the Pro-Life movement defends the right of the unborn human life. America
Roe versus Wade in 1973 set the standard for federal law on abortion yet it is often wrongly credited with also legalizing abortion at any time during the nine months of pregnancy. In fact it was limited to the question of personal rights versus legitimate government rights.
Specifically what is the government's legitimate interest in protecting the rights of the embryo or fetus? Since an embryo or fetus do not have rights themselves then what determines when they are human persons?
In 1973 medical science and forensics was far from the level of sophistication of today in being able to determine the moment life begins and when the fetus acquires human rights.
Four decades have passed since the landmark ruling.
During that time Pro-Life and Pro-Choice movements have become rich and powerful and abortion continues to be one of the most decisive issues of the day. The special interests in the abortion debate are every bit as powerful and demanding as any from the financial or other sectors.
Yet there is something different about abortion than most social issues. It is the only one in which there is a living entity as the victim and thus it elevates the issue to a real matter of life or death depending on your definition.
Now I don't know of anyone in the Pro-Choice or Pro-Life movements who would say any baby can be aborted. The dispute is over when they are a human person, which allows a fetus to not be considered a human. I don't think anyone wants to be seen as a baby killer.
When Does Human Life Begin?
The problem is determining the moment life begins, at least in the eyes of the courts. That is what Roe versus Wade did nearly 40 years ago. Science has now proven otherwise.
Advocates claimed abortion was needed in three cases, rape or incest, a threat to the health of the baby, or a threat to the health of the mother. History has proven them wrong. Multiple studies performed with the advantage of actual statistics show only 1% of all abortions resulted from rape or incest, just 2% resulted because of the health of the baby, and 2% resulted from the threat to the health of the mother. In other words the three major causes for passing Roe versus Wade actually represented no more than 5% of the total abortions performed.
Based on the claims in the debate over Roe versus Wade we should not even have a law since so few abortions performed meet the primary needs used to justify the law. However, there is another reason to reconsider the language of the law besides 50 million deaths and no justification for the law, that is what the law did do in the first place.
Roe versus Wade was a ruling by the Supreme Court that centrally held that a mother may abort her pregnancy for any reason, up until the "point at which the fetus becomes ‘viable'". The Court defined viable as being potentially able to live outside the mother's womb, albeit with artificial aid. In 1973 viability usually occurred at about seven months (28 weeks) but might occur earlier, even at 24 weeks. Medical breakthroughs since the ruling and prenatal advances have demonstrated that the ability of the fetus to live outside the mother's womb can come at a much earlier time.
In fact in recent years the youngest baby in history was delivered in
Clearly the language of the law is flawed, so what should it be? Here is the test for all pro abortion groups who claim they really aren't advocating taking lives. If you are sincere in wanting to protect human lives while pursuing an abortion option, then you should have no problem accepting the newest scientific evidence of when life begins.
Scientific Proof of Life versus Death
There is one medical test widely accepted and upheld by the courts to establish that a human is legally alive or dead. All 50 states have used this test for over 30 years.
The Uniform Determination of Death Act, promulgated in 1980 and supported by the President’s Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical and Behavioral Research, has served as a model statute for the adoption of state legislation that defines death. The act asserts: “An individual, who has sustained either irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions, or irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brainstem, is dead. A determination of death must be made in accordance with accepted medical standards.”
Since brain activity is the legal measure for the cessation of life, then it must also be the legally accepted measure of the beginning of life. A fetus becomes a living baby when brain activity can be first measured. According to established science with the use of an electroencephalogram, or EEG, activity in the brain can be detected as early as six weeks gestational age (6). Whether brain activity begins at this time or started earlier but becomes detectable at this time is uncertain; it is known that neural connections begin forming as soon as neurons begin forming, as early as 14 days gestation.
A Constitutional lawyer like President Obama should embrace scientific advances that have proven when brain activity is detected, at six weeks, and since the courts accept brain activity as a reliable measure of life or death, then life can be scientifically proven at six weeks.
As science improves, the brain wave activity will consistently be detected some time between 14 days and six weeks. All hospitals are equipped with EEG machines and they could be adapted to complete these tests for pregnant women.
Roe versus Wade Needs a Scientific Overhaul
Roe versus Wade, adopted nearly four decades ago, is medically and scientifically obsolete in the determination that life begins at 28 weeks. Responsible members of Congress and the White House should advocate, in the interest of scientific accuracy, a change in the law to reflect the latest scientific advances. With nearly 55 million abortions already performed, do we really want to keep terminating the lives of babies we know are living beings?
Abortion is not a matter of pro choice when the baby being aborted is a living, human being in the eyes of science. Pro Life and Pro Choice advocates should join in seeking this correction of a flawed law and the Obama Administration and Congress should make it the law of the land.
Implementing the New Scientific Findings
In the end this could be the easiest huge policy change regarding a volatile social issue in history. It would not appear to require any action by Congress or the President. Since the courts have recognized The Uniform Determination of Death Act as the national standard for scientifically proving death over life, then the same standard and same tests, can determine when the fetus becomes a "human" life or person, when life begins according to science and the courts.
Most governors or state attorney generals could find a way to incorporate the missing language from Roe versus Wade, the lack of a court tested determination of the difference between life and death, through executive order or the many remedies used in the judicial process.
Another option to clarify this issue would be for a legislature to amend whatever their determination of death law to use it as a determination of life or death. There are many avenues open to those who really want to end the debate and protect those children who are not protected under the current flawed laws.
Get your governor or state attorney general to act and act now and this debate can be brought to a close. We will have a scientific determination of when life begins and ends, and we will stop using abortion as just another form birth control to terminate unwanted pregnancies.
Most of all, we will all agree on life.