The morality of abortion

In my opinion, as I have stated before, the biggest issue facing this country today is abortion. Over 18,000 babies are killed every year by abortion. If we had 18,000 people killed on the roads every year there would be an outrage, but when this occurs behind closed doors we somehow manage to ignore it.

I believe abortion is murder. I don’t believe this for religious reasons, the Bible doesn’t go into detail on when life starts. Rather I believe it for scientific reasons, and my Christian faith then tells me that murder is wrong.

The key issue here is when life starts. There is only one scientific point when a new human being is formed, and that is conception. At this point the new baby has a unique genetic makeup to its mother – her immune system actually has to be repressed to ensure it doesn’t kill the baby, as it is recognised as not being part of her body. There is no other point that can be defined scientifically as when life starts.

Sometimes people say life starts at implantation (which would justify the morning-after pill, which prevents implantation, but would not allow abortion). But nothing really changes at implantation for the child, rather it just goes from floating freely to being attached to the uterus – implantation is really just a change of location. Sometimes people say life starts when the child is conscious. But life has nothing to do with consciousness – when you are asleep it isn’t ok to kill you, when you are in a coma you aren’t dead, when you wake from a coma you haven’t come back to life – you are still alive, and still a human, regardless of whether you are conscious of it or not. There are all sorts of definitions, but none stands up to scientific scrutiny. Generally these definitions are used specifically to try and accommodate abortion, rather than to genuinely work out whether or not abortion is wrong.

If a child truly is a living human from conception, and killing a human is murder, then abortion is by definition murder.

This is a terrible thought to have to deal with for most people in our society today, as many people have had abortions, and pretty well everyone knows someone who has had one. As a result many people are not willing to address the issue and even entertain the thought that a child in the womb may have rights. Most teenagers these days have been raised to think the foetus is just part of the mother’s body and she has the right to destroy it if she wishes, and many are not willing to consider the implications of if this is not true.

But we must consider the implications, because if true, this is a massive moral outrage.

Furthermore, abortion is not just a simple procedure. Generally the baby is torn to pieces with no anaesthetic, it is a terrible way to die. Abortion can also have health implications for mothers, which people aren’t generally told about in NZ.

One emerging problem with abortion is eugenics. Eugenics is the belief that some people are “inferior” (such as disabled people, black people, homosexuals, Jews or pretty well whoever you want to define as “inferior”), and it is ok to sterilise or kill them to ensure the human race as a whole is healthy. This is an idea that was popular in the early 20th century, started in America, and formed the basis for Hitler’s slaughter of the mentally ill, homosexuals, Jews and gypsies. Before the Second World War many people favoured eugenics. After the War, seeing the horrible reality of what it actually meant when put into practice, eugenics was suddenly unpopular.

But it is back. Increasingly, genetic tests are available that will allow you to determine all sorts of things about a child in the womb. At present you can detect genetic disorders such as Downs syndrome, but the tests are becoming more accurate, and can conceivably be used to determine everything from whether you have a risk of developing cancer when you are 50 to your eye colour. As a result, parents can choose to abort children that are defective.

This is eugenics all over again – find the “defective” humans and cull them. But there is little outrage, as the moral standards of Western society have declined since the War and fewer people actually recognise that this is wrong. Effectively you are saying that disabled people don’t have a right to live, and it is ok to kill them. This is exactly what Hitler was doing, the only difference is that you kill them before you can hear them scream.

For more information, check out:

MandM’s excellent series on abortion from the perspective of liberal philosophy:

Is Abortion Liberal? Part 1, Part 2, Sentience Part 1, Part 2

Klan Parenthood – abortion and eugenics in America

Pictures of what abortion is really like from CBR and Priests For Life

Risks to the mother from afterabortion.org and abortionfacts.com

What are your views on the issue? Remember abortion is already illegal in NZ, the abortions that are carried out are done through a legal loophole, and although we effectively have abortion on demand this was never the intent of NZ’s abortion law.

24 Responses to “The morality of abortion”

  1. John Smith Says:

    Abortion should be allowed because it is a personal choice that should not be dictated by law. Many children are born into bad families. To single mothers or abusive parents, and in some of these cases the parents blame their kids for their hardships. Abortions are typically performed on mothers who do not want to be mothers, women who cannot afford to take proper care of kid, someone who had been raped, and many other reasons. Those women should not be denied their individual right to abort their pregnancies and many are doing it for the well being of their developing child. In this country people are not allowed to force a religious or philosophic belief through force of law and by getting rid of abortion our country would be doing just that. I understand that with today’s knowledge people can be informed while the child is still developing if the baby will have any sort of complications. If the baby will have any mental problems or if they will be handicapped and I agree that mothers should not base their choice on those outcomes. I think abortions should have regulations for those types of problems but I do believe that women should be able to make the choice of having an abortion. Should abortion ever become illegal and a woman still wishes to have an abortion it may lead to people doing illegal abortions which are very serious. Many illegal abortions end in death for both the mother and her child.

  2. Chuck Bird Says:

    Samuel, the morality of abortion is a debate that will not end anytime soon and it unlikely to be resolved.

    I hope that you do not mind me switching the debate to something along political lines.

    I believe that only a small minority believe that abortion should be restricted to only being allowed in cases of saving the life of the mother, rape and incest. Some would oppose it even on those grounds. Another minority probably a little larger believe that there should be no restriction on abortion right up until birth.

    The vast majority has varying views but would be opposed to punitive laws but also feel there are far too many abortions.

    I would bet you any money that your proposed solution of arguing existing law through the courts will not work. Let us assume that some very good lawyer could convince the highest court of the land that the existing law states that there should only be abortions on very limited grounds There would almost over night be a law change that could well mean abortion on demand with no referrals or counseling required.

    I remember many years ago when I joined a fathers group shortly after my marriage ended someone thought his wife should not be entitled to the DPB. The legislation was worded that a woman was entitled to the DPB if she lost the support of her spouse – it might have even been husband in those days. He argued that she had not lost the support but rejected it. He won his case either in the High Court or the Court of Appeal.

    The government responded by changing a few words in the legislation. I am sure you are aware that John Key is liberal on many issues. However, let us suppose for some reason that National did not change the law and abortions were restricted you would see people flying to Oz as well as illegal abortion taking place. The next election Labour would make an issue of it and they would be returned to power.

    A better way to reduce abortions would be to lobby for a government to promote marriage as the best way to raise children. The current sex education in schools encourages promiscuity and gives a lot of misinformation regarding the reliability of condoms. I would like see changes in this area as I am sure would the Family Party.

    Emotive arguments like this may be good for preaching to the converted but will not change the mind of the majority. I for one do not accept that a young woman going to university and in a relationship that is turning rocky who gets pregnant due to contraceptive failure and decides to have a very early abortion is a murderess.

  3. Chuck Bird Says:

    John Smith, following your logic then a woman who is eight months pregnant and has an argument with her husband should be able to get an abortion. Do you think the State should pay for that abortion?

    Do you believe that is it is okay for abortion to be used as it is in some overseas countries as a means of sex selection?

    How about the case of young underage girls having abortions arranged for them at schools without parents even being notified. Parliament recently supported such a law. Do you support this law?

    If a baby as you seem to imply is totally the property of the woman why should a man be expected to support a child that is the property of the woman?

  4. kiwipolemicist Says:

    Samuel, in an earlier post you made a comment regarding people voting Left because they wanted free things ( http://kiwipolemicist.wordpress.com/2008/10/08/the-liberal-left-agenda-in-new-zealand/#comments ).

    I have a related post regarding churches which may interest you:
    http://christianclassicalliberalist.wordpress.com/2008/11/13/do-you-view-your-church-as-a-social-agency-or-a-spiritual-body/

  5. purecommonsense Says:

    The abortion issue is one of the most simple common sense issues out there: abortion is murder, murder is wrong, it should not be allowed. Period. Big Media and all the other elitist abortion industry profiteers out there try to bring pro-lifers down and de-humanize the unborn children whom are entitled to the same rights as you or I. I think the author of this post is right on the money here! End this Malthusiasn atrocity!

  6. Chuck Bird Says:

    Purecommonsense, because you state your opinion which might be shared by some as a fact that does not make it a fact. You seem to be saying all abortion should be against the law. I assume you would even include where incest and/or rape is is involved.

    How do you propose for such a law change to be passed in a democracy?

  7. Mr Dennis Says:

    John:
    “…and many are doing it for the well being of their developing child.”

    There’s a chance you may lose your job next year and end up on the street. Just in case, I’m going to kill you first so you don’t have to go through it, ok?

    You can’t say you are killing someone for their own good.

  8. Mr Dennis Says:

    Chuck, I don’t regard what purecommonsense said as just their opinion, because it makes scientific sense. Scientifically, a child is human from conception. Therefore, abortion kills a human. This is extremely logical, and just the unemotional facts of the situation.

    Many people then bring emotion into it and start saying things like “what if the woman was raped” (a very rare case, very few abortions are due to rape). It is easy to allow emotion and personal opinions to get in the way.

    But scientifically, the facts of abortion are very clear. I have yet to see anyone show scientifically that abortion does not kill a human. If someone can do that I will certainly listen, but any other argument for abortion is based purely on emotion and is in denial of the facts. Have a read through MandM’s posts I have linked to for a far more detailed explanation.

  9. Chuck Bird Says:

    Samuel, as I said in my first post the debate over the morality of abortion is a debate that cannot be won. Nothing is achieved by debating it. However, it can be productive to debate if it is possible to change the law to severely restrict legal abortions in a democracy.

    Abortion may be wrong but it certainly is not murder in New Zealand or any country that I know of. I have not followed the law in Ireland but even when all abortion was illegal I very much doubt if any woman who had an abortion or anyone who assisted was her was charged with murder. I stand to be corrected.

    I believe it irresponsible to call abortion murder as it could incite violence as has happened at abortion clinics in the States. I would hope that as candidate for a political party you would condemn such vigilante action. I also believe taking your tack is counterproductive to your cause. People who share you view may applaud you but you just polarise the debate and achieve nothing.

    I think you have to get back to first principles. If reducing the number of abortions is your objective then you should look at the most effective of achieving this goal.

    If you think radically changing the law on abortion is possible I would be interested hearing how you think this can be done in a democracy.

  10. kiwipolemicist Says:

    I believe that abortion is murder. I also believe that the state is hypocritical to make murder illegal whilst permitting what is effectively abortion on demand. It is no surprise that people do not value life when they believe that they are glorified pond scum.

    Whatever excuses pro-abortion people use, the bottom line is that they believe that a woman should be able to get rid of her baby if she finds that baby to be undesirable or inconvenient. This indicates that they are selfish hedonists who do not want to undergo the self-sacrifice that is part of being a parent (Helen Clark is a good example of this: http://kiwipolemicist.wordpress.com/2008/10/04/election-2008-john-key-likes-children-helen-clark-loathes-children/ ).

    As for allowing a 12-year-old to have an abortion without parental foreknowledge, that is the state’s way of undermining parental authority and giving more control of children to the state ( http://kiwipolemicist.wordpress.com/2008/09/20/finding-out-which-politicians-are-family-friendly-and-why-the-rest-arent/ ). Calling the law that permits this the Care of Children Act beggars belief.

    I have addressed the issue of pregnancy arising from rape here:
    http://christianclassicalliberalist.wordpress.com/2008/11/14/abortion-is-an-unwanted-baby-a-trespasser/

  11. Mr Dennis Says:

    Chuck, what the facts of the matter are, and what we can practically do about it in a democracy, may well be two different things. But here I am dealing purely with the morality of abortion. Do you dispute that abortion kills a human being? If it does kill a human being, why should it be ok?

    We can only consider what to do about it once we are clear in our minds what we are actually dealing with.

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  13. Chuck Bird Says:

    Samuel, I have been away taking part in a round the mountain relay at Taranaki for the weekend so I was unable to rely sooner.

    I will offer you a bet. I will give you 100 to one odds. Your $100 against my $10,000. I will bet you that you will not substantially change my views on the morality of early abortion and I will not change yours. Unless you are prepared to take my bet a debate such as you propose is pointless.

    If you will not take my bet it is highly unlikely that many people will change their view on abortion. In this country people are still free to think how they like on any issue. I have seen debates on abortion on Matt and Madeleine’s blogs. As far as I can tell no one has changed their mind. It certainly appears that nothing is achieved with these sort of debates.

    I would be surprised if you or anyone else in the Family Party who view all abortion even early abortion in the case of rape or incest as murder are going to change your mind.

    For the sake of argument let us assume that you are right and the vast majority of the population is wrong, how do you think the law changes you would like can be implemented in a democracy?

  14. Chuck Bird Says:

    [removed duplicate post]

  15. Mr Dennis Says:

    Chuck:
    As I have stated earlier, I am not talking about abortion law here, or the acceptance of my views in the wider community.

    Rather I am dealing in this post, purely logically, about the morality of abortion. You say you won’t be persuaded – have you actually stopped to consider the morality of abortion? Or, like so many people in our population, do you know too many people who have had abortions for you to be able to unemotionally consider this issue, so you instead try to ignore it and move immediately on to legal aspects?

    Like it or not, this whole issue is grounded in logic and morality. Without considering this, there is no way we can come up with effective law.

    I won’t enter that bet, principally because then it would cost you $10,000 to change your mind, prejudging the outcome and removing any purpose to having a debate in the first place. Rather, I would love to read just one comment from you where you actually consider the moral issues at stake here:
    – Should a child be considered human before they are born?
    – At what age should they start to be considered human?
    – What is your reasoning behind this?
    – If they are human, under what circumstances, if any, is it ok to kill them?

    Without considering these issues first, there is no point debating the law. Once you have considered these issues, the first of two posts that will discuss abortion law is here:
    https://sjdennis.wordpress.com/2008/11/18/nz-abortion-law/

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  21. Tilliewager910 Says:

    Amen. I know this post is old. but me and a friend are making a God blog, about stuff God is agaisnt, great post. =)

  22. Joel Says:

    Coming to this post extremely late (almost a year after the fact), I’d like to offer some things that might aid in your argumentation.

    For one, I co-run the website Virtus et Vita, which deals with “sanctity of life” issues. I’ve recently been doing a series on the intrinsic value of human beings.

    Secondly, there isn’t a point at which life begins in the womb – the sperm is alive, the egg is alive, what is formed at conception is alive. The question is, is what is in the womb a human person?

    How quickly we forget the law of biogenesis – that things can only produce after their own kind. A cat produces a cat and not a salamander. A dog produces a dog and not a shark. A human person produces a human person.

    So the question becomes this; if at conception we have an individual (genetically speaking) and it’s not human, then what is it? It has to be classified as something. Is a fetus a different species? If so, wouldn’t this disprove biogenesis? If so, why aren’t there other cases? Wouldn’t fact that there is a distinct lack of other cases disproving biogenesis indicate that using the fetus as an example is actually begging the question, rather than actually offering evidence?

    There’s a ton of other evidence out there. But I figured this should suffice in helping you on your case.

  23. Mr Dennis Says:

    Thankyou Joel, that is very logical and simply put, I will remember that way of describing the issue.


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