Monday, November 30, 2009

Health Care and Abortion

Tackling a subject like abortion in a blog can be tantamount to delivering a message to Mother Nature that Father Time is not interested in extending the world's calendar past midnight. You want to make sure she knows that the world may come to an end, but you are pretty sure she will not be happy about the notice. The topic of abortion is one of those controversial subjects, similar to evolution versus creationism, or discussing the pros and cons of the dealth penalty as a deterrant to violent crime. Abortion also stirs up more heated debate than the arguments made over a nation's decision to wage war on another sovereign country, or having to pay higher taxes.

Who draws the line when the merits of abortion are discussed? Usually, there is no middle ground on this issue. People line up either on one side or the other as far as their opinions are concerned, and much of the fervor of the debate is based on religious preference, and much of it is based purely on the law itself (Roe v. Wade) and whether the case was adjudicated with merit or just bad judicial decisions. Also, in most situations, the social view of abortion has been largely been seen as an acceptable way to terminate a "mistake" and remove an inconvenience to a woman's lifestyle. Although, abortion has been going on for countless years in clinics and physician offices who practice the procedure, it largely was given a green light in America by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973. Since then, there have been about 50 million abortions that have happened in the United States.

According to the Christian Science Monitor (CSM), in many ways, it is interesting that pro-choice activists still celebrate Roe. Since 1973, scores of state laws, Supreme Court decisions, and presidential directives have, in effect, overruled its basic principles. In 1965, in Griswold v. Connecticut , the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that several of the rights contained in various amendments in the Bill of Rights, when coupled with the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of due process of the laws, created a zone of privacy that prevented states from prohibiting physicians from counseling about or dispensing birth control to married couples. The shocker, however, came in 1973, when the Court, by a vote of 7 to 2, relied on Griswold's basic underpinnings to rule that a Texas law prohibiting abortions in most situations was unconstitutional, invalidating the laws of most states. Relying on a woman's right to privacy—in consultation with her physician—the majority opinion written by Associate Justice Harry Blackmun divided pregnancy into three terms. During the first term, the court put the decision to terminate a pregnancy as well as the reason for it clearly in the hands of the pregnant woman. In the second trimester, the interest of the state allowed for some regulation for the health of the mother, and by the third trimester, the court found the interest of the states sufficient to regulate or prohibit abortions except when they were necessary to save the " life or health of the mother. "

Roe quickly divided the country and mobilized interest groups and religious factions on both sides of the issue, according to the CSM. In fact, by 1980, it led to a schism between the two political parties, forcing Republicans to the right and Democrats to the left. Roe also was the constant target of conservative groups, whether through the ballot box, legislation, or judicial challenges. By 1989, and then again in 1992, Roe experienced two major hits from the Supreme Court when a plurality of the justices ruled that abortion was no longer a fundamental right protected by a constitutional right to privacy. Instead, a majority of the court essentially divided pregnancy into semesters, ruling that states could enact abortion restrictions in the second trimester so long as they did not pose an undue burden to the woman. To date, the court has only found one "undue burden": states requiring a woman to obtain her husband's permission to undergo an abortion.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, some amazing statistics show who has abortions:

1.) Fifty percent of U.S. women obtaining abortions are younger than 25: Women aged 20–24 obtain 33% of all abortions, and teenagers obtain 17%.
2.) Thirty-seven percent of abortions occur to black women, 34% to non-Hispanic white women, 22% to Hispanic women and 8% to women of other races.
3.) Forty-three percent of women obtaining abortions identify themselves as Protestant, and 27% as Catholic.
4.) Women who have never married obtain two-thirds of all abortions.
5.) About 60% of abortions are obtained by women who have one or more children.

The reasons women give for having an abortion underscore their understanding of the responsibilities of parenthood and family life, according to Guttmacher. Three-fourths of women cite concern for or responsibility to other individuals; three-fourths say they cannot afford a child; three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents; and half say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.

Various studies have found that 65 to 70 percent of women seeking abortions have a negative moral view of abortion, according to AbortionFacts.com. Only 6 to 20 percent of women receiving induced abortions report that they would have been willing to seek illegal abortions if abortion had not been legal. The vast majority of aborted women, therefore, can be classified as "soft core" aborters for whom abortion was a marginal choice which they would not have pursued if it had been illegal. The ambivalence which the majority of women feel with regard to the morality of abortion is compounded by the ambivalence which many feel about keeping the baby. Researchers report that 30 to 60 percent of women seeking abortion express some desire to keep the child. Of women who suffer post abortion trauma, 45 percent went to the clinic still hoping for a "miracle" option which would have allowed them to avoid the abortion and/or keep the baby. From studies published on the characteristics of women seeking abortion, it can be estimated that up to 70 percent of all abortion patients fall into the category of high-risk patients because of the presence of coercive pressures and/or ambivalent feelings at the time of the abortion. It is noteworthy that the two criteria for high risk abortion patients -- feelings of being under pressure to abort and feelings of ambivalence -- are typical of women who abort for reasons of physical health, psychological health, fetal malformation, rape or incest.

In the United States abortion is legal throughout pregnancy, as noted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Yet abortion is a violation of human rights incomparable in magnitude and an atrocity for the whole human family. While Roe v. Wade appeared to create a right with some limitations, Doe v. Bolton, which was decided the same day, erased those limitations by creating a "health" exception so broad that it effectively allows abortion for any reason at any time. The lack of any limits to legal abortion was never more clear than in the case of Stenberg v. Carhart in 2000, when the Supreme Court ruled that even the horrific partial-birth abortion procedure could not be restricted. Most Americans are surprised and shocked to learn about the lack of any meaningful legal limitations for abortion. Most know things have gone too far. Among those who defend abortion, there are many who do so despite the pain abortion has brought into their lives, or even sometimes because of it. Many contemplating abortion believe they have no other choice.

According to the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry (CARM), the main concern of the "Pro-Choicers" is not the guarded protection of the life in the womb. Instead, the main concern is the "rights" of the mother over and against the rights of the child growing in her. The child, who cannot exercise its own will, is killed. And, in order to make the killing more palatable, the baby is called a "fetus", or "non-viable", or "not yet human", etc. This eases the conscience. But, for those who say the baby isn't 'viable', have you ever seen a sonogram of an abortion? You can see the 'non-viable fetus' retracting from the instruments of death and seeking self preservation. It wants to live. Some would respond by saying that even a rodent wants to live. But what is in the womb of the mother is human. The Bible says for people to protect the weak and down-trodden. But with abortionists, the rights of the baby are sacrificed for the rights of the mother -- and the father doesn't even have any rights. The mother cries out that the life in her is part of her body and that she has the right to do with her body as she wills. Abortion is the ultimate in selfishness. It puts the mother's convenience and desires above the life of her own baby. To kill the baby in the womb means to consider oneself more important than anyone else. A rational case against abortion can be found at http://www.carm.org/questions/about-sexuality/abortion-wrong.

According to AbortionFacts.com, prior to 1973, there were approximately 100,000 to 200,000 illegal abortions each year. Compared to the rate of 1.6 million abortions which are now occurring each year, the rate of abortion has increased 10-15 fold. This increase in the number of abortions performed has occurred primarily at the expense of high risk abortion patients, the "soft core" aborters. Women who have undergone post-abortion counseling report over 100 major reactions to abortion. Among the most frequently reported are: depression, loss of self-esteem, self-destructive behavior, sleep disorders, memory loss, sexual dysfunction, chronic problems with relationships, dramatic personality changes, anxiety attacks, guilt and remorse, difficulty grieving, increased tendency toward violence, chronic crying, difficulty concentrating, flashbacks, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities and people, and difficulty bonding with later children. Among the most worrisome of these reactions is the increase of self-destructive behavior among aborted women. In a survey of over 100 women who had suffered from post-abortion trauma, fully 80 percent expressed feelings of "self-hatred." In the same study, 49 percent reported that they began to use or increased their use of drugs and 39 percent began to use or increased their use of alcohol. Approximately 14 percent described themselves as having become "addicted" or "alcoholic" after their abortions. In addition, 60 percent reported suicidal ideation, with 28 percent actually attempting suicide, of which half attempted suicide two or more times. Suicide counseling services have reported that a exceptionally high number of their clients are aborted women, especially among women between the ages of 15 and 24.

Over time, pro-life Americans have become very agitated to the point of violence, demonstrations, and in some cases murder of abortion practitioners. Although the practice of abortion may be abhorrant to many individuals, especially based on moral and religious grounds, the Bible does not condone violating the laws of the nation or of God. America has rights granted by the U.S. Constitution that protect the individual for freedom of speech and of lawful assembly but does not permit destruction of property or life. Abortion from the perspective of those who believe in the sanctity of life must be constantly viewed as reprehensible and seen as taking innocent life, no matter what the reason for terminating the pregnancy may be. From a moral perspective, abortion is wrong. From a religious perspective, abortion is murder. From a legal perpective, it is the law of the land until overturned by future judicial mandate at the Supreme Court level. The challenge that pro-life Believers have is to constantly monitor the cases that come before the courts and to push for the end of those federal statutes that currently give approval to abortion. Also, more efforts should be put forth both in the public and private sectors to make available assistance to those who are seeking abortion to be counseled about their decision to end the innocent life of the child and provide meaningful alternatives, such as adoption and other resources.

Until next time. Let me know what you think.

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