Why talk about abortion?

Most of us have probably never thought about abortion before. Or maybe you have thought about it a lot. Maybe you’ve been brought face to face with abortion in a crisis pregnancy, or someone you know has considered one, or even had one. Why talk about abortion – is it an issue, is it a right, is it a choice, is it something that just happens, that needs to be done, when we’re left with no other choice? We all intrinsically know what abortion is about, or at least, we have some idea or connotations that we carry about abortion…

The Planned Parenthood website – the largest abortion provider in the world – explains it in this way:

“Abortion is a safe and legal way for women to end pregnancy.”

But what is being ended in a pregnancy? Is it the ending of a potential new human life, or the ending of an actual existing human life?

Faye Wattleton, Planned Parenthood’s longest reigning president, argued as far back as 1997 that everyone already knows that abortion kills. She proclaims the following in an interview with Ms. Magazine:

I think we have deluded ourselves into believing that people don’t know that abortion is killing. So any pretense that abortion is not killing is a signal of our ambivalence, a signal that we cannot say yes, it kills a fetus.

Naomi Wolf, a prominent feminist author and abortion supporter, makes a similar concession when she writes:

Clinging to a rhetoric about abortion in which there is no life and no death, we entangle our beliefs in a series of self-delusions, fibs and evasions. And we risk becoming precisely what our critics charge us with being: callous, selfish and casually destructive men and women who share a cheapened view of human life…we need to contextualize the fight to defend abortion rights within a moral framework that admits that the death of a fetus is a real death.

David Boonin, in his book, A Defense of Abortion, makes this startling admission:

In the top drawer of my desk, I keep [a picture of my son]. This picture was taken on September 7, 1993, 24 weeks before he was born. The sonogram image is murky, but it reveals clear enough a small head tilted back slightly, and an arm raised up and bent, with the hand pointing back toward the face and the thumb extended out toward the mouth. There is no doubt in my mind that this picture, too, shows [my son] at a very early stage in his physical development. And there is no question that the position I defend in this book entails that it would have been morally permissible to end his life at this point.

Peter Singer, contemporary philosopher and public abortion advocate, joins the chorus in his book, Practical Ethics. He writes:

It is possible to give ‘human being’ a precise meaning. We can use it as equivalent to ‘member of the species Homo sapiens’. Whether a being is a member of a given species is something that can be determined scientifically, by an examination of the nature of the chromosomes in the cells of living organisms. In this sense there is no doubt that from the first moments of its existence an embryo conceived from human sperm and eggs is a human being.

Bernard Nathanson co-founded one of the most influential abortion advocacy groups in the world (NARAL) and once served as medical director for the largest abortion clinic in America. In 1974, he wrote an article for the New England Journal of Medicine in which he states, “There is no longer serious doubt in my mind that human life exists within the womb from the very onset of pregnancy…” Some years later, he would reiterate:

There is simply no doubt that even the early embryo is a human being. All its genetic coding and all its features are indisputably human. As to being, there is no doubt that it exists, is alive, is self-directed, and is not the the same being as the mother–and is therefore a unified whole. 

(Taken from Abort73: The Case Against Abortion: Medical Testimony.)

If the embryo is a human being, an actually existing human life rather than potentially a human life, then we need to be talking about abortion. Stats are hard to find, but 91, 377 abortions were performed in Canada in 2006 (and those were only ones reported to Stats Canada.) That’s 91, 377 actually existing human lives that were killed, and only in one year. Shouldn’t we be talking about this? If abortion IS a human right, if it is a choice that woman can make, don’t we need to ask – is it right for someone to make the choice to kill the innocent human being in her womb, for whatever reason?

When something like 91 377 human beings in Canada are being killed yearly (while in the safest place on earth, no less) because of someone’s choice, I think we need to be DOING something about it. And yet, no one is even talking about it.


Come to the Abortion Debate, featuring the pro-life and pro-choice arguments, coming up on Thursday March 22nd in Hamilton Hall 302, from 7-9pm. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *