Abortion

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About

Abortion is the killing and removal of a fetus before birth. It is generally only an issue with regard to human birth, where it is forbidden by many religions and opposed by others. It is also illegal in some countries, and more countries make it illegal as the fetus comes closer to term.

In the United States, proponents of legalized abortion generally describe themselves as "pro-choice", while those who seek to restrict or criminalize abortion generally describe themselves as "pro-life". Feelings on both sides tend to run very high, but extremists on the "pro-life" seem to have a greater tendency towards extreme actions, e.g. making threats against doctors who perform abortions, and even occasional acts of bodily harm or murder.

Positions

Discussion

  • legislation:
  • ethics:
    • personhood: at what point does a fetus become a person, and acquire the right to live?
  • science/facts:
    • Human gestational development: the stages of development of a human embryo/fetus
    • /reasons why abortions are requested
    • There is some evidence that the legalization of abortion in the U.S. led to a dramatic decrease in the crime rate at approximately the time when the "ghost children" (the kids who would have been born if abortion had remained illegal) would have been reaching adulthood.
      • See: Freakonomics, ISBN 006073132X, and commentary by Orson Scott Card
      • Obviously this does not prove a connection, but the evidence deserves further examination.
      • If a connection can be established, then there also remains the ethical question of whether a decline in crime is worth the cost of the increase in abortions (costs and benefits for this particular outcome, or in other words: How much less crime? How many more abortions?), to which some groups might well answer "no".

Related issues

Notes

Need some documentation about extremism on either side; it should be easy enough to find news items about pro-lifers bombing or vandalizing abortion clinics, but I'd also like to hear about anything bad done in the name of pro-choice. Items about arguably positive actions taken by either side may also be relevant, e.g. the woman who goes around buying up abortion clinics and changing their mission to be consistent with the pro-life point of view – which is at least a peaceful and lawful method of working against abortion even if you don't agree with the goal. --Woozle 12:40, 2 August 2006 (EDT)

some stats on abortion clinic incidents

Links

Reference

Official Positions

  • 1995-03-25 Pope John Paul II restates the Catholic Church's position on abortion and other "life" issues, with links to keyword indices

News

version 2

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to be filed

Video

Humor

Quotes

David Brin said, in a sidebar to part 2 of "The Real Culture War":

JESUS AND ABORTION:

Consider the trap that the left has fallen into regarding Jesus.

Back in the sixties, much of the clergy leaned leftward and away from supporting the Vietnam War. The image of Jesus was that of a bearded quasi-hippie in sandals, who preached that the rich should give their very shirts to the poor. What has changed? Certainly not the passages of scripture that were quoted then. Passages that would make Jesus seem... well... rather socialistic in any era.

Then came abortion. It gave the right a handle by which to reclaim Jesus. By declaring ideologically that any fertilized cell is a full human being, radicals turned any abortion - even many forms of birth control - into baby killing. And despite all his other socialist leanings, Jesus would have to take sides against baby-killers, right? Voila! Suddenly the moral high ground no longer belonged to the left. That is, in the eyes of anybody who could be talked into seeing a human being in a fertilized egg. When that became a major dogma of the right, millions went right along.

So the left lost Jesus. And with Jesus went the churches. And with the churches... well...

Must all liberals play this game between two sides who insist on waging social war over fertilized cells? At risk of incurring ire from some of my feminist friends, I don't see any reason to declare absolute all-or-nothing positions on a subject so murky and ill-defined as when human life begins.

Imagine some liberal group declaring: "All right, there may be some changes afoot that we don't like. A new Supreme Court may start pushing at the fringes of Roe-vs-Wade. We may need to raise millions in "scholarships" to fly poor women from red states to New York...

"But let other groups handle that. We refuse to get involved in abortion. We welcome anti-abortion people who want to work with us on other matters, helping the poor (as Jesus would want), questioning capricious or ill conceived wars, raising the minimum wage, preserving God's Earth. Let other groups be proudly secular, or even pagan. We are going to reclaim the man who walked in sandals among the poor, feeding them from a loaf and a fish."