September 3rd, 2008

The Rights of an Embryo


photo credit: partick

Come November, individuals living in Colorado will have the opportunity to define through legislation what a person is, and therefore who is entitled to individual rights. Titled the “Colorado Definition of Person Initiative”, the measure seeks to amend the state Constitution as follows:

…the terms “person” or “persons” shall include any human being from the moment of fertilization.

Understandably, the proposed amendment is a loaded issue with both sides of the battle becoming firmly entrenched in their preparation for war, leading up to election day. Those few simple words are a direct threat to the so-called “pro-choice” crowd, and therefore the greatest opposition to the bill comes from those who see it as a threat to a woman’s rights.

The epitome of the opposition’s argument can be summarized with the following quote from a recent Washington Post article:

If we give fertilized eggs legal rights, abortion could be considered murder and a woman could be sent to jail for making the difficult life decision to terminate a pregnancy. (Crystal Clinkenbeard, spokeswoman for Protect Families, Protect Choices (a coalition of abortion-loving organizations and individuals))

At its core, this issue is one of legal protection: should the unborn fetus be granted protection under the law from injury or termination? The bill’s opposition parrots the pro-abortion line that such a measure would infringe upon the mother’s right to choose what she will do with her body, and therefore the fetus should be a lifeless, rightless mass of cells until it leaves the mother’s womb and instantaneously and magically becomes an individual entitled to certain rights.

Let’s first get things straight with our terminology. You’ve no doubt seen a number of car dealerships offering “pre-owned” vehicles. This is, of course, a recent twist in marketing designed to soften the blow that the word “used” brings to mind. Rather than offering used cars (which conjures up images of boogers wiped under the seat and hair trapped in the crevices), a positive spin is applied to deter those negative images and accentuate the more ideal aspects of owning a car that somebody else had previously owned.

So it is with abortion. I believe that in those cases where the mother’s health is not immediately threatened, abortion should be properly labeled as infanticide. Now, the issue over whether or not to accept such terminology is the same as the issue presented by this bill, for if an unborn fetus is considered to have rights, then the termination of its existence would be grounds for criminal action.

I stand with the authors of this bill and believe that unborn fetuses should be granted protection under the law. My reason is simple. I believe that individual rights not only extend to individuals already born, but to the state in which that individual is developed. In pregnancy, life already exists in the womb and the fetus is maturing to become an infant child. But destroying that infant, say, in the first trimester of pregnancy, terminates the opportunity for that developing fetus to become a born individual. Thus, I believe that it should be illegal not only to terminate the life of an individual, but also to destroy the opportunity for that individual to be born.

This is why I have a problem with most forms of hormonal contraception. Sold to the masses as a way to prevent ovulation and subsequent fertilization, birth control pills and devices (even those not classified as abortifacients) contain a backup method that creates a hostile environment in the womb, so that if the contraceptive portion of the pill or device fails, the fertilized egg will not implant. This is documented in a wonderful article, a portion of which reads as follows:

[Birth control pills] today work in one of three ways: by suppressing or inhibiting ovulation so that fertilization is impeded; altering cervical mucus to reduce sperm migration; or via a backup mechanism that prevents implantation of the newly conceived human life in the lining of the womb by creating a chemically hostile environment, sometimes called a postfertilization effect. In 1994, Dr. Thomas Hilgers, a respected fertility specialist and clinical professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Creighton University School of Medicine, said, “All birth control pills available have a mechanism which disturbs or disintegrates the lining of the uterus to the extent that the possibility of abortion exists when break-through ovulation occurs.” (Break-through ovulation is the term used when the contraceptive component of the pill has failed, allowing ovulation and therefore conception to take place.)

Pharmaceutical company statements, medical textbooks, doctors, scientists, and even the government show total agreement when it comes to the abortifacient nature of the backup mechanism. Dr. Leon Speroff, the nation’s premier contraceptive expert and advocate, in his paper A Clinical Guide for Contraception, says about BCPs, “The progestin in the combination pill produces an endometrium which is not receptive to ovum implantation, a decidualized bed with exhausted and atrophied glands.” Dutch gynecologist Dr. Nine Van Der Vange of the Society for Advancement in Contraception said, “The contraceptive preparations are more complex than has been thought. They are not only based on inhibition of ovulation.”

Searle, Ortho, and Wyeth-Ayerst, major manufacturers of BCPs, admit in the fine print of some of their package inserts that alterations in the endometrium (uterine lining) reduce the likelihood of “implantation” of the already conceived embryo. Wyeth-Ayerst says its product maximizes protection “by causing endometrial changes that will not support implantation.” The Food and Drug Administration reported as early as 1976 that the pill changed “the characteristics of the uterus so that it is not receptive to a fertilized egg.” And a standard medical reference, Danforth’s Obstetrics and Gynecology, states, “The production of glycogen by the endometrial glands is diminished by the ingestion of oral contraceptives, which impairs the survival of the blastocyst in the uterine cavity.” A blastocyst refers to a newly conceived human being.

The article also points out that while abortion numbers seem to be on the decline, they only factor in surgical abortions, or in other words, the physical removal of a developing fetus. Chemical abortions—those effectuated by birth control pills and devices, especially those promoted as “day-after” pills—would heavily inflate the already staggering numbers.

While currently accepted by law, snuffing out a developing life form is morally reprehensible. To argue that a woman’s individual rights (or her so-called “difficult life decision” as the spokeswoman cited above called it) somehow affords her the right to terminate life is absurd. We would be up in arms if a woman killed her child one week after delivery; why, then, do we tolerate it if she does it one week before delivery?

To be sure, there are circumstances in which an unborn child must be aborted to save the life of the mother. There are miscarriages and stillbirths when, through no fault of the mother, the developing child dies. But to assert that a woman’s desire/need to work full time, have less children, maintain her slender figure, or whatever other reason she may conjure up should be accepted as moral justification for terminating a developing life is tantamount to simply arguing that mothers may murder their children.

The main argument used against this notion (that abortion is equal to murder) is, of course, that life does not begin until the child leaves the mother’s womb. Until that point, critics argue, the unborn child is simply a parasite living in the host of the mother’s body, and thus the host organism can do with it as it pleases. I reject that argument, and echo the poetic words of Elder Maxwell in rebuttal:

I thank the Father that His Only Begotten Son did not say in defiant protest at Calvary, “My body is my own!” I stand in admiration of women today who resist the fashion of abortion, by refusing to make the sacred womb a tomb! (Neal A Maxwell, via Quoty)

While we commonly understand life to be sacred (or, rather, the lives of those already born), it is not as widely accepted that the same sacredness should be afforded to the miraculous process of pregnancy. I stand firm in believing that all levels of life should be protected under the law. As soon as fertilization occurs, I believe that the mother—who (except in the case of rape) consented to be impregnated and chose to follow this path—should be held accountable for her actions and required to live with the consequences of her choice.

All human life is sacred; therefore, embryos should be granted protection under the law to prevent their potentially selfish or troubled mothers from extinguishing their existence.

103 Responses to “The Rights of an Embryo”

  1. Allie
    September 3, 2008 at 9:52 am #

    Comparing a late term abortion and birth control is a bit of a stretch.

  2. Connor
    September 3, 2008 at 9:54 am #

    Comparing a late term abortion and birth control is a bit of a stretch.

    Not for the sake of my argument, which merely emphasizes the opportunity for life to progress and develop. In that sense it doesn’t matter how much progression has taken place already, whether it be a tiny blastocyst or a fully developed but unborn child.

  3. Allie
    September 3, 2008 at 10:11 am #

    You give “health of the mother” as one of the circumstances which could possibly make abortion an acceptable option. Shouldn’t health of the mother be considered before conception as well? Women are generally capable of bearing many many more children than would be physically or emotionally healthy for them.

    I keep starting to type more, but I’m trying to be polite. I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around your view on birth control.

  4. Connor
    September 3, 2008 at 10:25 am #

    Shouldn’t health of the mother be considered before conception as well?

    Of course it should. I have no problem with methods of birth control that don’t have an abortifacient component (abstinence or barrier methods). The mother should take her own health and lifestyle into consideration, and then take proper steps to prevent pregnancy if that’s something she feels she would not handle well.

  5. Adrien
    September 3, 2008 at 10:33 am #

    I’ve been reading a book called the Omnivore’s Dilemma and one of the Chapters is about the ethics of eating meat. It is interesting that the argument by the progressive side against killing animals is that we ought to consider the interest of every species the same rights to live. Arguing on the margin, they point out that a pig has more cognitive abilities than an infant with mental disabilities. That is one of many arguments they pose to guilt others into being vegetarians and all other arguments point to how it is immoral to kill some animals and not others.

    Why is it that these people tend to be on the pro-choice side of the fence? I don’t mean to generalize, but overall, we have peace-loving, pro-choice vegetarians, and sanctity-of-life, war-monger, meat eaters. Does everything have to be so complicated or is it just the means to keep everyone divided and from really thinking about the issues?

    As far as the abortion issue goes, I’d never have one done. I think people should deal with the consequences of their actions. On the other hand, why should I give a tax break to someone who had a kid? Just because I chose not to go through that and actually finish school, I get to pay for someone else’ decision – I get to share the burden of their consequences. What is the solution?

  6. bekkieann
    September 3, 2008 at 10:35 am #

    What about cases of rape or incest? Doesn’t your Mormon faith state that abortion is acceptable in those cases?

  7. Clumpy
    September 3, 2008 at 10:36 am #

    “In pregnancy, life already exists in the womb and the fetus is maturing to become an infant child. But destroying that infant, say, in the first trimester of pregnancy, terminates the opportunity for that developing fetus to become a born individual.”

    I disagree with the “opportunity” argument for the following reason:

    I think that we will all agree that the mental and developmental difference of an infant five minutes after it leaves the womb or before is trivial. Likewise, the difference is trivial either five minutes or ten minutes before birth. Birth itself is an artificial distinction, as development continues both before AND after leaving the womb.

    Admittedly, it’s easier to destroy an infant (embryo, fetus) before birth, merely because we identify more with a breathing, screaming, pooping baby wrapped in a blanket than a naked thing attached by a tube. But whether or not something is simpler does not constitute legal endorsement. If we allow termination of an infant during the last bit of pregnancy for certain reasons, then we must also allow termination of a young infant, provided that these same reasons hold.

    Thankfully, other possibilities such as adoption that just don’t work during a pregnancy make infanticide an unlikely possibility in our society, but that doesn’t change the logical reality of abortion. We’re all caught up in cognitive dissonance as a society and can’t even admit that there’s somebody else involved than the mother (for the purposes of this argument I’m being secular and referring to the infant and not deity for the “somebody else involved”).

    But arguing against birth control using an “opportunity” argument doesn’t work because fertilization is a distinct, measurable step in the development of a human being. A spermatazoa or egg isn’t an individual, and though the combination of the two may become one, with birth control you’re merely closing some opportunities and opening others.

    Since reproductive ingredients aren’t individuals, we can forgive ourselves for speaking trivially of their union, or lack thereof (but not of an individual infant in an embryonic state once the sperm goes through its little burrowing act). If a couple uses birth control in one instance, they’re reducing the some-odd percentage chance that a particular sperm out of the millions introduced will unite with the egg and become an individual. But by doing so, they open up the possibility that another sperm next week will become a person, opening up an equal opportunity for “someone” else. (Of course, the cycle repeats for as long as they use birth control or until/unless it fails.)

    Thus it becomes more of an issue of time than event – postponing having a child for one week or one month, which is an entirely different issue, rather than depriving somebody of their own life.

    (Keep in mind that during the birth control part of this argument I’m not attacking Connor’s view since he specifically stated he doesn’t find barrier methods objectionable. “Morning after pills” are, of course, abortion, and fall under that part of my argument.)

  8. Connor
    September 3, 2008 at 10:39 am #

    What is the solution?

    Not sure I understand which issue you’re referencing… the fact that we subsidize public education for other people’s children (if we don’t have any or don’t put them in public school)?

    Simple idea: get rid of the taxes that people are getting tax breaks on, and then the tax breaks become irrelevant. :)

  9. Clumpy
    September 3, 2008 at 10:41 am #

    “Arguing on the margin, they point out that a pig has more cognitive abilities than an infant with mental disabilities. That is one of many arguments they pose to guilt others into being vegetarians and all other arguments point to how it is immoral to kill some animals and not others.”

    By the way, the argument of marginal causes is not a guilt-based argument but a logical one. We cannot distinguish ourselves from animals based on some logical distinction between them (such as intelligence), because many humans through lack of development or disability have reached only the intellectual level of these animals and yet we wouldn’t rationalize slaughtering them.

    Thus you must appeal to religious grounds (“God put animals here for our benefit”) or nihilistic grounds of hedonism (“I don’t care and I’ll do whatever makes me feel satisfied”) to rationalize carnivorous behavior.

  10. Adrien
    September 3, 2008 at 10:42 am #

    Bekkiean, are you suggesting one crime deserves another?

  11. bekkieann
    September 3, 2008 at 10:46 am #

    Not suggesting anything. I’m asking Connor’s position.

  12. Connor
    September 3, 2008 at 10:47 am #

    What about cases of rape or incest? Doesn’t your Mormon faith state that abortion is acceptable in those cases?

    To answer your question:

    Church leaders have said that some exceptional circumstances may justify an abortion, such as when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy, or when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth. But even these circumstances do not automatically justify an abortion. Those who face such circumstances should consider abortion only after consulting with their local Church leaders and receiving a confirmation through earnest prayer.

    Note that moral sanction is not necessarily given to abortion in all cases of rape and incest.

  13. bekkieann
    September 3, 2008 at 10:57 am #

    The thing I don’t understand is, when you have the extreme views you personally have, how do you justify any abortion? Or do you disagree with your church leaders on this point?

  14. Connor
    September 3, 2008 at 11:00 am #

    The thing I don’t understand is, when you have the extreme views you personally have, how do you justify any abortion?

    I’m not sure it’s extreme to regard life as valuable and sacred.

    Or do you disagree with your church leaders on this point?

    Nope.

  15. Allie
    September 3, 2008 at 11:02 am #

    The LDS Church teaches that abortion isn’t an issue about life or choice, but an issue about responsibility. If you put yourself in a situation where pregnancy is a possibility, then you need to be prepared for that. If you become pregnant through rape or incest, it was not your choice, and you are not responsible for the life created.

    Moral sanction may not “necessarily” be given in all cases of rape and incest, but it’s not denied denied in any of those cases either. It’s left to the prayerful discussion of the affected party and possibly their local leaders.

    Personally, I have a hard time saying what I would do in that situation. I don’t think I would know for sure unless I was there. From my current perspective, I’d think that I would choose adoption, but any choice in that situation would be very difficult.

    It was interesting when someone pointed out to me that the LDS Church essentially teaches that abortion is not murder. I hadn’t ever thought about it that way before. If it isn’t murder in cases of rape or incest or health of the mother, than it isn’t murder at all.

    Connor- I’m guessing you will disagree with that statement, but if you can look at it from that perspective, would that change how you feel about the pill or IUDs?

    If the reason why abortion is wrong is because it seeks to escape responsibility for our choices, then do you view birth control as a similar escape for our choices?

    Also, I should say that I don’t view a fertilized egg as a “potential” life unless it is implanted, which is perhaps why I don’t have a problem with birth control that prevents implantation.

    I figure if the ultimate goal is to reduce the need for abortions, better access to birth control is a great way to start.

    Sorry this is getting so long- I think what I said about the church’s view about abortion being a responsibility issue might answer Bekkieann’s question.

  16. Connor
    September 3, 2008 at 11:08 am #

    The LDS Church teaches that abortion isn’t an issue about life or choice, but an issue about responsibility.

    Where do you get this? Responsibility is a factor, yes, but to claim that life is not is dead wrong. The article I linked to above from the Church starts off by saying “Human life is a sacred gift from God.” Seems like life has something to do with it…

    It was interesting when someone pointed out to me that the LDS Church essentially teaches that abortion is not murder.

    Based on what teachings? Elder Nelson disagrees:

    Scripture declares that the “life of the flesh is in the blood.” (Lev. 17:11.) Abortion sheds that innocent blood.

    The entire article is worth a read, if nothing else than to understand what the LDS Church really teaches, contrary to what your friend has claimed.

  17. bekkieann
    September 3, 2008 at 11:31 am #

    Thank you, Allie, for your explanation. I always find your comments helpful and enlightening.

    Connor, if you believe so firmly that abortion is ending a life, even going so far as to include hormonal birth control methods, how do you justify abortion in any case, however rare? I would think that you would never tolerate it under any circumstances.

  18. Allie
    September 3, 2008 at 11:34 am #

    Read down to the part about Choice or Agency…Elder Oaks

    Of course life is sacred, but as Bekkieann pointed out, why would a life conceived through rape or incest be less sacred than any other life? If it is about life, then we should be concerned about ALL potential life, and not allow some to be terminated just because they were conceived through rape or incest. It’s an issue about responsibility.

    As to the second point, from the article you linked to, “So far as is known, the Lord does not regard this transgression as murder”.

    That’s not to say that I think it is okay, but I stand by what I said. Abortion is not murder.

    And thank you Bekkieann.

  19. Connor
    September 3, 2008 at 11:36 am #

    Connor, if you believe so firmly that abortion is ending a life, even going so far as to include hormonal birth control methods, how do you justify abortion in any case, however rare? I would think that you would never tolerate it under any circumstances.

    That’s like saying that if I’m against murder, I’m also against ending somebody’s life in self-defense. In some cases it is morally and legally justifiable to end another person’s life. So it is with an unborn fetus; in certain circumstances it is permissible.

  20. Connor
    September 3, 2008 at 11:37 am #

    As to the second point, from the article you linked to, “So far as is known, the Lord does not regard this transgression as murder”.

    Read the preceding sentence to understand who he is addressing:

    Now, is there hope for those who have so sinned without full understanding, who now suffer heartbreak?

    All he’s saying there is that uninformed women who have had an abortion before fully understanding the issue are not held responsible before God for terminating a life.

  21. Allie
    September 3, 2008 at 11:43 am #

    Yes, they are not held responsible for murder before God, because it is NOT MURDER.

    Again, I will repeat myself, that is not to say that it isn’t a serious transgression (albeit one that can be repented of), but it is not murder.

    It doesn’t matter who Elder Neilson was speaking to, if it’s not murder it’s not murder.

    I also disagree with the self defense argument. What has an unborn fetus done to the mother? Nothing at all. Any argument of justified murder in cases of self defense involve the person being murdered actually doing something presumably bad to the person doing the killing. A fetus isn’t capable of that (unless you are married to a vampire (sorry about that, I couldn’t help myself)).

  22. bekkieann
    September 3, 2008 at 11:50 am #

    This is exactly the discussion I want to have with those like Connor who call abortion and birth control murder (taking of innocent lives), and then say it is justified in some cases. It’s a contradiction.

    We all have to admit, this is a very complex issue, and not one so easily explained as Connor has tried to do.

  23. Connor
    September 3, 2008 at 11:53 am #

    It doesn’t matter who Elder Neilson was speaking to, if it’s not murder it’s not murder.

    What is the difference between murder and, say, manslaughter? The former was pre-meditated and entered into knowingly and consciously, while the other was not. In both cases, somebody has died. The issue then is not the death itself, but the motive and circumstances surrounding the death.

    Elder Nelson was directly addressing those who did not have full understanding of their actions who have later come to regret their decision. He was not addressing all abortions in all circumstances. Indeed, earlier in the article he specifically stated that abortion was the shedding of innocent blood, which when knowingly and consciously done, is, by definition, murder. We may wish to call it something different since the unborn child or growing blastocyst has not yet taken a breath, but terminating a life willingly without absolute need is by definition murder (unless you do not regard an unborn fetus as having life).

  24. Connor
    September 3, 2008 at 11:55 am #

    …who call abortion and birth control murder (taking of innocent lives), and then say it is justified in some cases. It’s a contradiction.

    Nowhere in my post did I claim that every case of abortion or birth control is murder. There are, as with the termination of any life, certain circumstances which justify the action. Only when those intentions are ultimately unnecessary does the termination of life equate to murder (foeticide/infanticide).

  25. bekkieann
    September 3, 2008 at 11:57 am #

    I’m not talking about what Elder Nelson said. I’m talking about what you said in your post. In the case of rape, would you say “absolute need” exists to end the pregnancy?

  26. Connor
    September 3, 2008 at 12:02 pm #

    Yes, I believe that rape and incest create a circumstance in which the mother may feel an absolute need to perform an abortion. In the case where the woman is not at fault (or, as Allie would point out, where it was not her choice nor responsibility), her life circumstances may merit an absolute need. But anybody who willingly and consensually enters into a sexual relationship is responsible for the consequences and cannot claim the undesired result of pregnancy as grounds for an absolute need to abort.

    Personally, I prefer adoption to abortion in cases of rape and incest. I value all life and would rather see these mothers give birth, get closure, and give the gift of life to another couple who is unable to have their own children.

  27. Clumpy
    September 3, 2008 at 12:06 pm #

    Well, despite what I’ve said above, the fact that the Church does not allow societal norms to dictate terms of repentance yet has different standards for abortion and full-on murder (or even manslaughter) makes it clear that we make some sort of distinction between the two things.

    The self-defense argument Connor used does not really hold, unless you believe that killing somebody who would unintentionally or accidentally kill you would be justified, provided that the mother’s life is really in danger if the pregnancy continues (if the fetus would die as well as a result of death or complications it’s practically a no-brainer).

    However, the cases under which the Church allows abortion are limited and require counsel and prayer. There are no “no-brainer” situations because it’s such a unique and delicate situation. The ultimate choice, even in extreme cases of incest or rape, will ultimately vary from person to person.

  28. Allie
    September 3, 2008 at 12:12 pm #

    He was not addressing all abortions in all circumstances.

    I disagree with your interpretation of Elder Nelson’s words. Yes he is speaking to a specific group, but his statement “the Lord does not regard this transgression as murder”, stands on it’s own.

    It’s okay to accept that abortion is not murder (it would fit into that “or anything like unto it”) and still believe that murder is wrong.

    Did you read the article by Elder Oaks Connor? I read it in college and it has stuck with me ever since. If you haven’t I recommend doing so. I know it is important to you to really understand what the church teaches. :)

  29. bekkieann
    September 3, 2008 at 12:12 pm #

    I might add, that for those who are not of your faith, the situations are equally unique and delicate. While your belief puts a very fine point on the subject, others do not believe as you do about when life begins. But don’t think for a second that most abortions are done on a whim or to preserve one’s slender figure. For you to want to impose your personal beliefs on these women is not right.

    As I said, this is a complex issue and it would behoove all of us to open our minds to the discussion.

  30. Allie
    September 3, 2008 at 12:16 pm #

    Personally, I prefer the idea of adoption also Connor. However, I’m not going to tell someone else how to best gain closure from a traumatic even such as rape.

  31. Connor
    September 3, 2008 at 12:19 pm #

    Allie,

    …his statement “the Lord does not regard this transgression as murder”, stands on it’s own.

    There is a difference between transgression and sin. He’s addressing to people who didn’t have all the facts (understanding) before the action, and thus for them, the action was only a transgression of law. It becomes a sin when the action is done with full understanding. In both cases the action is the same, but the person’s understanding of light and truth in the matter have a direct impact on the weight of judgment against them for the action.

    Did you read the article by Elder Oaks Connor?

    Yep. I agree with what he said and didn’t come across anything that negates my assertions. If I skipped over some salient point you were trying to show me, let me know.

    Bekkieann,

    While your belief puts a very find point on the subject, others do not believe as you do about when life begins. But don’t think for a second that most abortions are done on a whim or to preserve one’s slender figure.

    And thus the argument ensues. Defining when life begins is a heavy matter with serious contention on both sides of the issue. It will be interesting to see what Colorado decides.

    I’m not saying that most abortions are done on a whim or to preserve one’s slender figure. But you’d have a hard time arguing that those aren’t contributing factors (or perhaps for some women, the deciding factors). The motives are complex and diverse, but the action is not.

    For you to want to impose your personal beliefs on these women is not right.

    This has nothing to do with personal/religious beliefs, and everything to do with the sanctity and existence of life itself.

  32. bekkieann
    September 3, 2008 at 12:24 pm #

    And we come down to the question: How do you define “life itself”? It is impossible to argue strictly from your religious beliefs. Because as I said, beliefs differ and who is to say which is correct?

  33. Connor
    September 3, 2008 at 12:27 pm #

    And we come down to the question: How do you define “life itself”? It is impossible to argue strictly from your religious beliefs. Because as I said, beliefs differ and who is to say which is correct?

    …which is why I’m not tackling that argument. Instead, I’m arguing that the opportunity for life merits protection as well, and that destroying the growing blastocyst that would eventually become a human child is an action that should not be tolerated (except in the extenuating circumstances we’ve discussed).

  34. Allie
    September 3, 2008 at 12:43 pm #

    So, back to your original topic- I have no problem with you and your wife choosing whatever method of family planning which works for you, but if you suggest that (what I consider) your extreme views ought to be applied to church members/society as a whole, I have a problem with it.

    Even the church gives members more leeway than you seem to.

    Decisions about birth control and the consequences of those decisions rest solely with each married couple.

    In the link make sure to read the “additional information”.

  35. bekkieann
    September 3, 2008 at 12:44 pm #

    Protect the opportunity for life? That’s as extreme a view as I’ve heard. We might start arguing against tubal ligations and vasectomies as well.

  36. Connor
    September 3, 2008 at 12:48 pm #

    Allie, you keep using selective portions of quotes to help your stance but that fail to address the full scope of the issue. The sentence right after the one you selected reads:

    Elective abortion as a method of birth control, however, is contrary to the commandments of God.

    I believe that abortifacient “birth control” pills and devices fall into the elective abortion category.

  37. Connor
    September 3, 2008 at 12:51 pm #

    Protect the opportunity for life? That’s as extreme a view as I’ve heard.

    As I said previously:

    I’m not sure it’s extreme to regard life as valuable and sacred.

    We might start arguing against tubal ligations and vasectomies as well.

    As I also noted above, barrier and preventive methods are fine since they do not allow for fertilization and implantation to occur. By “opportunity” I do not mean every precursor leading up to conception (since you could go as far back as the birth of the parents themselves, their puberty, partner selection, etc.), but instead the opportunity for a fertilized egg to result in a successful pregnancy and delivery.

  38. Joe Levi
    September 3, 2008 at 12:58 pm #

    Methinks this type of legislation goes a little too far. I’m fine with saying that a person is an individual and entitled to those rights. I’m also okay with saying a toddler is an individual… as is an infant… and so is a “viable fetus.” A viable fetus would be a fetus that is “statistically old enough to have a legitimate chance at life outside the womb.” Current medical technology would say a a fetus becomes “viable” any time after 28 weeks or so.

    Comments? Thoughts?

    http://www.JoeLevi.com

  39. bekkieann
    September 3, 2008 at 1:00 pm #

    Connor, do you suggest that the law be written as you have described? I.e., “the opportunity for a fertilized egg to result in a successful pregnancy and delivery.”

    We get into a circular argument here. Your definition would not preclude rape and incest. Because you see, your argument depends upon society accepting not only your definition of life, but also your inexplicable reasons (explained only by your trust in your religious leaders) as to why some life may be ended.

    I’ve made my point. You may have the last word.

  40. Allie
    September 3, 2008 at 1:04 pm #

    And you keep twisting words from church leaders to meet your extreme views.

    I don’t consider birth control to be “elective abortion”.

    Abortion means ending a pregnancy, not preventing one from occurring.

    I’m sure you consider your viewpoint quite rational, as I do mine. So we will have to agree to disagree on this one, and I’ll be grateful that you are not in charge of my reproductive choices.

    :)

  41. Yin
    September 3, 2008 at 1:25 pm #

    I sort of see where Connor’s coming from though. If an egg has been fertilized in your body and your birth control pill prevents it from implanting into your uterus, you have basically ended the growth and development of what otherwise would have become (in most cases) a healthy baby.

    Saying that birth control in general is elective abortion is inappropriate. But, I’m pretty sure that’s not what Connor’s arguing here.

    Along with the argument of when life actually begins, you could argue back and forth about when a pregnancy begins. At fertilization? Or at implantation? That could easily effect any decision you make regarding the use of certain contraceptives.

  42. Amore Vero
    September 3, 2008 at 1:35 pm #

    I also believe that life begins at conception & that birth control can be a form of abortion. Though the Church leaves the decision to abort a baby in the hands of the mother in certain rare circumstances, I personally do not believe that God ever desires us to have an abortion for any reason, & though he gives us the agency to choose, he hopes we will pray for the right answer & spare ourselves the remorseful negative consequences of even seemingly justified abortions.

    I believe that more heartache & consequences come from having an abortion in even these rare circumstances than if a girl was to have a baby conceived by rape or incest or bring a deformed child to term & let if die naturally if God decrees it. And I believe Ron Paul who said that never in his career as on OBGYN has he ever heard of a woman needing to have an abortion to save her life.

    Prophets counsel mothers to put the well-fare & life of their children before their own. This is what most Mothers have always done, before & after birth. I believe firmly that means even our children in the womb, even those conceived against our will. It would be the only loving thing to do & God can always make a girl or woman strong enough to do the loving thing if they really want to & they are thinking of the child’s life before themselves.

    It always amazes me to hear women who take birth control be aghast at the use of the ‘Morning after pill’ to prevent implantation. As if they didn’t both do the same thing. Some believe that the church has no problem with birth control, I don’t believe that, but if so then the Church or LDS women shouldn’t have a problem with the “Morning after pill” either. But I know the Prophets are very against birth control & they tell women to study & pray about it in hopes they will make the right choices.

    I do not believe that God would give any woman more children (like trials) than she can handle, IF she was dependent on him for the strength to raise them. I know many women with over 12 children & they are all happy, heathy, strong women who deeply believe in & enjoy their motherhood. I have done alot of genealogy & I can see that before birth control came along, having many children is the norm for women & the way that God designed it to be in most cases IF we are but willing to fulfill our divine roles & not seek our own lives & interests at the expense of bringing many children into this world. No other career or accomplishment can hold a candle to bringing a life, especially many lives into existence.

    Women have always known they all risk their life & health when they become pregnant. But that does not stop most. If a woman knows that her chances of dying are really high, than I believe like Connor that there are other things she can do to prevent pregnancy than destroying her children even in their 1st few days of life.

    My Grandmother, back in 1932, who had trouble getting pregnant & then finally did, was told that if she went through with her pregnancy she would die, she said, ‘Then I will die trying to have this baby.” She carried my father, her only child, to term just fine & I am here because of her courageousness & faith in her divine role. I think we fear death way too much & hold life sacred way to little.

    I know also that for those who have had abortions (no matter what we call it), God is so merciful & kind & can & will forgive them & bring them peace & the knowledge that those children can & will once again come to earth to complete their life in actually a far better world than this one.

  43. bekkieann
    September 3, 2008 at 1:48 pm #

    I do not believe that God would give any woman more children (like trials) than she can handle, IF she was dependent on him for the strength to raise them.

    Are you kidding me?! I haven’t heard that one since the 50’s. They used to preach it over the pulpit: Let the children come. Heavenly Father will provide. I know a lot of women from that period who didn’t fare so well. And we wonder why Utah women are the highest abusers of prescription drugs in the country. Let guess, Amore Vero, you’re a male.

  44. Allie
    September 3, 2008 at 1:51 pm #

    But, I’m pretty sure that’s not what Connor’s arguing here.

    That sounds very much like what Connor is arguing. Unless he cares to clarify.

    Chemical abortions—those effectuated by birth control pills and devices

    And again, as long as Connor is speaking about his own choices for his own family and his wife agrees with him, I have no problem with his views.

  45. Kaela
    September 3, 2008 at 1:51 pm #

    I agree with Allie-short and sweet “Abortion means ending a pregnancy, not preventing one from occurring.” There’s some serious overpopulation going on these days, not to mention irresponsible people having way too many babies (in some cases). Isn’t it more responsible to use contraception (in whatever form you are most comfortable with) than risk bringing a baby into an unhealthy situation, or one in which the parent(s) aren’t prepared for a child? Timing is everything.

    On another note…I was on an airplane this weekend-Frontier Airlines-and I saw an ad on the airplane TV for Embryo Adoption. Interesting concept, isn’t it? Consequently, Frontier’s HQ are in Denver.

  46. Connor
    September 3, 2008 at 2:02 pm #

    Allie,

    That sounds very much like what Connor is arguing. Unless he cares to clarify.

    Umm… I’ve said a few times now that I have no problem with birth control methods that do not have abortifacient components. Thus, not all forms of birth control equate to elective abortion.

    And again, as long as Connor is speaking about his own choices for his own family and his wife agrees with him, I have no problem with his views.

    I’m speaking generally, not personally. You and everybody else has the agency to do as you please, but I’m talking about what I consider to be morally correct for everybody (save those in the limited circumstances we’ve discussed).

    Kaela,

    I agree with Allie-short and sweet “Abortion means ending a pregnancy, not preventing one from occurring.”

    Since abortion is defined as the expulsion of a fetus, I see no problem in referring to the purposeful expulsion of a fertilized egg as abortion as well.

    There’s some serious overpopulation going on these days, not to mention irresponsible people having way too many babies (in some cases).

    I agree with this statement from Elder Nelson (from the article linked to in a previous comment):

    Another excuse some use to justify abortion relates to population control. Many in developing nations unknowingly ascribe their lack of prosperity to overpopulation. While they grovel in ignorance of God and his commandments, they may worship objects of their own creation (or nothing at all), while unsuccessfully attempting to limit their population by the rampant practice of abortion. They live in squalor, oblivious to the divine teaching—stated in the scriptures not once, but thirty-four times—that people will prosper in the land only if they obey the commandments of God.

    I don’t believe that perceived problems of overpopulation should justify terminating life. People may choose to plan their families accordingly and use proper methods to ensure that conception does not occur, but using abortifacients and other abortive methods is, in my opinion, wrong.

    Isn’t it more responsible to use contraception (in whatever form you are most comfortable with) than risk bringing a baby into an unhealthy situation, or one in which the parent(s) aren’t prepared for a child?

    First, who ever considers themselves fully prepared for a child? You adjust, accommodate the child’s needs, and adapt as necessary. Second, I believe in the law of the harvest—basically, you should “suffer” the consequences of your actions. If a mother feels she cannot do a good job raising the child, then adoption is a wonderful alternative.

  47. Amore Vero
    September 3, 2008 at 2:04 pm #

    I am female & I believe the they had it right in the 50’s, let the children come. As I said, women can handle many children IF they rely on God & expect & teach their husbands to do their part/half of the childcare etc. When men leave most of the care of the home & children all day to their wives then the wife will most certainly feel overwhelmed quite easily, for that was not how it was intended to be.

  48. bekkieann
    September 3, 2008 at 2:16 pm #

    Amore, if only your faith would make it all so. It sounds so good – in theory . . .

  49. Cameron
    September 3, 2008 at 2:21 pm #

    “There’s some serious overpopulation going on these days,”

    No, there’s not.

    Peter Singer is an ethics professor at Princeton, and is adamantly pro-choice. He is also pro-infanticide, largely because he thinks it’s the same thing.

    At issue here is how we define “personhood”. The challenge for pro-choicers is to create a definition that excludes the unborn that does not also exclude born people. It is this challenge that led Singer to his pro-infanticide stance. He asserts,

    “There appear to be only two possibilities: oppose abortion or allow infanticide.”

  50. Cameron
    September 3, 2008 at 2:53 pm #

    Also noteworthy when talking about who gets abortions and why:

    68.9% of abortions are performed on women between the ages of 20-34.

    80% are performed on unmarried women.

    45% have never given birth before.

    Anywhere from 4-8% of abortions are performed because the mother “has enough children already.”

    0.2% are because the life of the mother is at risk.

    1% is because the physical health of the mother is at risk.

    0.33% are due to rape or incest.

  51. adamf
    September 3, 2008 at 3:36 pm #

    I have to agree mostly with Allie and Beckieann on this one. While I am pro-life, and I believe abortion is morally wrong, I don’t agree with the “opportunity for life” idea, because you can draw that line in all kinds of places. Just because you draw it sooner than allie does, doesn’t mean you’re correct. Some people draw the line before you do.

    Isn’t it great that we have the freedom to choose our own opinion on this?

    If abortion = infanticide, then the church allows mothers to murder their babies in some “exceptional circumstances.” That is impossible to agree with. And as far as I am aware, my bishop did not ask my wife if she had killed any babies lately (i.e. used the pill). Your view on this is more extreme than that of the church’s, which I am fine with. Just sayin’.

    Yes, I agree that all life is “sacred” – according to my religious beliefs, especially. However, a sperm or an egg or a developing fetus is not the same thing as my 1 year-old. If it is murder, then the church would never allow it. Murder does not correct the consequences of a rape. If the church viewed a fetus as a baby then they would never allow a mother to kill her baby to save her own life.

  52. Connor
    September 3, 2008 at 3:42 pm #

    If abortion = infanticide, then the church allows mothers to murder their babies in some “exceptional circumstances.” That is impossible to agree with.

    Taking another person’s life is not always considered murder. What matters is the motive and circumstances, not the event itself.

  53. kannie
    September 3, 2008 at 3:45 pm #

    Just have to pipe up for a second:

    bekkieann – “And we wonder why Utah women are the highest abusers of prescription drugs in the country. ”

    Are you also familiar with the experts offering interpretations of those survey results, that Utah women may be the highest *users* (not abusers – that’s an allegation and a half there…) because they do not “self-medicate” with alcohol and other drugs?

    No hijack intended, but I HATEHATEHATE that reductionist cliche and had to say something… and no, I don’t live in Utah.

  54. adamf
    September 3, 2008 at 3:48 pm #

    “What matters is the motive and circumstances, not the event itself.”

    Agreed. But it’s still ending a life. How is ending a life justifiable in the case of rape or incest?

  55. Connor
    September 3, 2008 at 3:56 pm #

    How is ending a life justifiable in the case of rape or incest?

    I dunno, ask God. :)

    It’s justifiable in self-defense, so clearly there are circumstances in which a life may be terminated. I would prefer not to see pregnancies resulting from rape or incest result in abortion.

    This article has a lengthy section discussing the Church’s statement cited above in reference to rape and incest. If the author is correct, God does not sanction abortion in any circumstance, including those the Church has indicated would not be grounds for discipline. Interesting food for thought.

  56. Yin
    September 3, 2008 at 4:27 pm #

    The church doesn’t oppose capital punishment, which many would qualify as murder. Some church leaders have even spoken of it in a positive manner. I think this supports the idea that taking a life is not always absolutely wrong, whether that’s by abortion in select situations, self-defense, or the death penalty. “Exceptional circumstances” for taking life do indeed exist.

  57. Allie
    September 3, 2008 at 4:32 pm #

    In the cases of self defense or the death penalty the lives being taken have done something which society generally accepts as being worthy to die.

    How can an unborn baby possibly do anything which warrants losing it’s life?

    It’s not an accurate comparison.

  58. Yin
    September 3, 2008 at 4:36 pm #

    My only comparison is in saying that there are circumstances in which taking a life is appropriate. The comparison ended there.

    I think the LDS church leaders have a succinct and clear stance on the issue.

    What are we arguing about? :)

  59. Connor
    September 3, 2008 at 4:38 pm #

    It’s not an accurate comparison.

    It’s not meant to be a comparison, but a clarification to show that the circumstances of the event (death) must be taken into account. In self-defense, the circumstance is that there is an aggressor who, if left to his own devices, will end your life. In rape, the circumstance is that there is an aggressor who has forced upon you this pregnancy.

    You’re exactly right that it’s not a direct and accurate comparison. But I think it holds its own in clarifying that death does not equal murder in all causes.

    As Cameron noted above, we’re bickering about .33% of abortions. I’d rather focus on the majority and seek common agreement that elective abortions (both the physical removal of a significantly developed fetus and chemically aborting a fertilized egg) involve the termination of life (in that they deter that life from developing) and thus should be prohibited by law.

    Now, who do I know that lives in Colorado…

  60. Allie
    September 3, 2008 at 4:45 pm #

    So are you saying that abortion is not murder now? :)

    I’d agree with you if you removed the part about chemically aborting a fertilized egg (unless you are referring to RU486 and not things like the pill or IUD’s).

  61. Connor
    September 3, 2008 at 4:49 pm #

    So are you saying that abortion is not murder now?

    As I’ve said three times now to you: I do not consider every form of abortion to be murder. Elective abortion and the conscious, ultimately unnecessary termination of life is, I believe, murder. Call it infanticide, foeticide, or whatever—the fact remains that you’re ending a life.

    I’d agree with you if you removed the part about chemically aborting a fertilized egg (unless you are referring to RU486 and not things like the pill or IUD’s).

    I’m referring to every pill or device that contains an abortifacient component which creates a chemically hostile environment in the womb, thus preventing the fertilized egg from successfully implanting.

  62. Allie
    September 3, 2008 at 4:54 pm #

    I don’t think you’ve said that. I think you’ve said that it is murder, but sometimes murder is justifiable.

    I knew what you were referring to, but you said you were looking for common agreement, so I was trying to agree with you as far as I thought reasonable.
    :)

  63. Clumpy
    September 3, 2008 at 9:24 pm #

    i’ve said my peace on this issue above, but in the midst of this wordstorm I’d like to clear something up. “Murder” is not just the taking of a life. One dictionary has is thusly (and most have similar definitions):

    Murder: “The unlawful killing of one human by another, especially with premeditated malice.”

    Then from a religious (Church) perspective, abortion is not considered murder in circumstances in which revelation has dictated that it’s not murder. Malice is important but not necessary in murder (at any rate, I doubt that many abortions are performed out of malice toward the unborn “human”).

    Stop throwing Connor the same questions when it’s pretty clear that “murder” and ending a life are not necessarily one and the same.

  64. BrianJ
    September 3, 2008 at 11:37 pm #

    Connor, you may be aware of “fertility awareness birth control,” a method whereby couples wait to have sex until the female will not be able to become pregnant. The “non fertile” window is several days before ovulation and then again several days after. The later is effective as birth control because the onset of menses occurs before the fertilized egg has an opportunity to fully implant. In other words, couples practicing this method are knowingly having sex at times when they fully expect an egg to be fertilized in an environment that will shortly (within a few days) become inhospitable; the fertilized egg is shed along with the endometrium.

    How does this work with your argument? A fertilized egg is life that must be protected. It’s morally wrong to knowingly put an embryo in a hostile (i.e., deadly) environment. Having sex a few days after ovulation creates an embryo destined for a hostile environment. Thus, educated couples who have sex during this window are knowingly killing embryos (unless they use barrier birth control).

  65. Allie
    September 4, 2008 at 6:07 am #

    I’m didn’t throw him the same question again Clumpy. I just wanted to clarify, because he seemed pretty certain earlier that all abortion was murder, but that murder was justifiable. Now he is saying that in some cases it is not murder.

    I’d be interested in what the church handbook says about birth control- if it would support Connor’s ideas. I’m also curious about IF they didn’t, would you change your mind about viewing them as chemical abortions?

    Just wondering.

  66. Clumpy
    September 4, 2008 at 8:16 am #

    Yeah, Allie – Connor wasn’t really making the distinction either. I wasn’t aiming my comment at you :).

  67. Allie
    September 4, 2008 at 8:24 am #

    Sorry Clumpy. :)

  68. Connor
    September 4, 2008 at 10:17 am #

    BrianJ,

    How does this work with your argument? A fertilized egg is life that must be protected.

    The opportunistic argument I’m discussing implies that a fertilized egg is only life that must be protected when it has the opportunity to grow into a life. So a fertilized egg that’s in a petri dish, freezer, or halfway down the uterus (and thus unable to implant) is not a blastocyst that would result in a child, and thus not classified as “life that must be protected”.

    Allie,

    I’d be interested in what the church handbook says about birth control- if it would support Connor’s ideas.

    As this article asserts: “All public statements by Church leaders teach the same thing — the use of birth control by Latter-day Saints is contrary to the will of God.”

    The author then goes on to explain how Church members are bound not to obey the counsel and instructions in the church handbook, but the words of the prophets. We are not given the handbook, nor required to know or study its contents. We are to follow the prophets, none of which have spoken positively of birth control.

  69. Allie
    September 4, 2008 at 12:09 pm #

    a fertilized egg that’s in a petri dish, freezer, or halfway down the uterus (and thus unable to implant) is not a blastocyst that would result in a child, and thus not classified as “life that must be protected”.

    How is a fertilized egg that is unable to implant due to timing different than a fertilized egg that is unable to implant due to contraceptives such as the pill or IUD?

    From your link there, it looks like the church handbook says the same thing as church leaders have said (imagine that!). That it is up to the couple to determine how to best plan and create their family. Perhaps no prophet has spoken directly positively of birth control, but I don’t see any speaking directly negatively either. All they say over and over is for a husband and wife to determine what works best for them.

  70. Connor
    September 4, 2008 at 12:51 pm #

    How is a fertilized egg that is unable to implant due to timing different than a fertilized egg that is unable to implant due to contraceptives such as the pill or IUD?

    Intention obviously plays a large part. If a couple is being intimate a few days after the woman ovulates and an egg is fertilized but unable to implant, then obviously they have no control over the process nor intent to rid the woman’s body of a fertilized egg.

    Even if, as BrianJ suggests, a couple is being intimate a few days after ovulation with the intent of not having a successful fertilization and implantation, that does not necessarily mean that an egg would be fertilized, nor that the action itself (of being intimate) is the cause of termination of the opportunity for that life.

    If, however, a woman is self-medicating with the pill or some other substance that purposefully and knowingly ejects a potentially fertilized egg, then the action itself is inherently aimed towards terminating the opportunity for that life.

    This ties into the article from Elder Nelson linked to earlier, indicating that there must be a full understanding for culpability. An immoral action is not necessarily a sin if the culprit was unaware of the rules of the game. Most women have no idea that the hormonal contraceptives they’re using likely have an abortifacient component.

    Perhaps no prophet has spoken directly positively of birth control, but I don’t see any speaking directly negatively either.

    Spend some time reading over the quotes that Bored in Vernal has collected. The comments are enlightening as well, some including additional, insightful quotes from the Brethren.

    Very rarely will general authorities speak in specifics. I believe that their aim is to teach the doctrine and principles, and let Latter-day Saints govern themselves. Thus, I never expect to see the prophet rise up to condemn the morning-after pill. Instead, I see a constant push for us to understand the divine role of family, the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth, and the sanctity of all life.

    Some may think, as bekkieann has here stated, that my views on birth control and abortion are extreme. Frankly, I think nearly 50 million aborted babies (adding onto that number the embryos which have been chemically aborted) is extreme. I reject any assertion that labels as extreme the high valuation of life—in all its forms and stages.

    But that’s just me…

  71. Allie
    September 4, 2008 at 1:04 pm #

    But that’s just me…
    Thankfully
    :)

    I agree with Bekkieann, that your views on this are extreme. Because of the discussion here, I *think* I understand where you are coming from, but I still disagree with you regarding the use of birth control pills or IUDs.

    I agree that we should be doing more to prevent abortion, but reducing the types of birth control available wouldn’t get you very far on that goal.

  72. BrianJ
    September 4, 2008 at 1:28 pm #

    Connor,

    Your reasoning is flawed. That does not mean that your position is wrong, but your argument is invalid. Your error: applying different logic to different situations.

    Even if, as BrianJ suggests, a couple is being intimate a few days after ovulation with the intent of not having a successful fertilization and implantation, that does not necessarily mean that an egg would be fertilized, nor that the action itself (of being intimate) is the cause of termination of the opportunity for that life.

    If, however, a woman is self-medicating with the pill or some other substance that purposefully and knowingly ejects a potentially fertilized egg, then the action itself is inherently aimed towards terminating the opportunity for that life.

    There is likewise no guarantee that a woman taking pharmacological contraception and having sex will result in an egg being fertilized. No guarantee whatsoever. If you apply this loophole to the fertility awareness couple you must also extend it to the pharmacological contraception couple.

    The two couples share many things in common: 1) Neither wants a pregnancy, 2) Both purposefully abstain from non-barrier sex until the womb is inhospitable to a fertilized egg, 3) Neither has any idea whatsoever whether any eggs actually become fertilized, 4) Both fully expect that any fertilized egg will be shed from the uterus. The only substantive difference is the way in which the couples “create” an inhospitable womb: one relies on endogenous cyclic pituitary hormones while the other supplements those hormones exogenously.

    You cannot logically* condone the one and condemn the other.

    ______
    * According to your current logic. Again, that doesn’t mean that you can’t condone/condemn differentially, nor that your position is wrong, just that your logic is wrong.

  73. Connor
    September 4, 2008 at 2:18 pm #

    I understand your points, and agree. The logic presented between the two cases is contradictory.

    However, as I explained in that comment, I believe that the action merits attention in order to ascertain the intentions of the individual(s).

    Being intimate with your spouse, regardless of the status of the woman’s ovulation cycle, is not an immoral or inherently destructive action (on the contrary, it is intended in part to be quite the opposite). On the other hand, using medicine or devices to alter the woman’s body in such a way that a fertilized egg will never implant and develop (unless the medicine/device fails) is an action that is inherently and intentionally destructive. Therein lies the difference, I believe.

    To be sure, one might use a certain action (intimacy) in such a way as to serve their own purposes (insemination after ovulation, thus preventing implantation — whoa, say that ten times fast). Thinking about it some more, I’m not quite sure how I feel about this angle of the equation. The body is performing its natural, cyclical process, although the couple is taking advantage of that process to prevent a pregnancy. But given the fact that the couple does not know if fertilization will occur and that the action is not an immoral one, I think it’s okay to be intimate even with the potential of allowing a fertilized egg to be shed. This is a scenario I hadn’t thought of before—thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  74. BrianJ
    September 4, 2008 at 4:45 pm #

    Intent is certainly important.

    I’m happy that you accepted this as dialogue and not an attack.

    Unfortunately, I think you may still be applying different logic:

    But given the fact that the couple does not know if fertilization will occur and that the action is not an immoral one, I think it’s okay to be intimate even with the potential of allowing a fertilized egg to be shed.

    If we take “action is not an immoral one” to refer to the act of sex, then it’s not clear who “the couple” is. Again, note that neither couple “knows if fertilization will occur” and in both cases there is “the potential of allowing a fertilized egg to be shed.”

    Let’s also be clear on something: while neither couple knows whether fertilization occurs, after several months of practicing either birth control method the chances are very high that fertilization will have occurred at least once (if not several times).

  75. Curtis
    September 4, 2008 at 11:12 pm #

    Just a little twist to add to the discussion here. It appears that the Lord in the old testament did not consider the killing of an unborn child on par with the killing of a post-partum child:

    Exodus 21:
    22 ¶ If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.

    Of course this doesn’t sound like a premeditated action that ends up killing the fetus. However, the punishment seems to be less than that which would be dished out for manslaughter or murder in the old testament.

  76. Daniel
    September 5, 2008 at 4:50 am #

    It would appear that some people have gotten tired of manipulating their own reproductive organs, and want to start manipulating everyone else’s.

    Look, Connor believes a lot of things: life begins at conception, zygotes are people, there’s a supernatural being who wants you to do certain things, etc. It’s fine for him to have these beliefs, but he (and others like him) wants to limit your choices on contraception so that you have to live according to his beliefs. And they’re beliefs for which he offers no evidence.

    When will conservatives stop messing around with people’s sex lives?

  77. Clumpy
    September 5, 2008 at 6:51 am #

    Couch the issue as a personal choice with a woman’s body or a decision involving the sex drives and we’ve successfully demonized the religious right and other pro-lifers while successfully throwing a smokescreen over the fact that birth is an artificial boundary.

    We develop all throughout our lifespan (even after our birth, which we disingenuously count as the beginning of our lives). The only significant factor that changes after birth is a marginal loss of dependence upon the mother, and even that doesn’t reduce very much for the first couple of years. The only difference is that feeding and caring for the baby takes more effort after birth as it takes more conscious action on the part of the parents (rather than biological processes which take care of it automatically with the mother before birth).

    The only reason that we’re not currently discussing infanticide in this country is because adoption and foster care are viable possibilities. Trust me, there would be those who would make infanticide a household decision and trash pro-lifers for messing with it if the baby was still bound to the mother in some way for a few months.

  78. Adrien
    September 5, 2008 at 8:09 am #

    OK,

    I thought about it a couple days and I still cannot understand why a moral vegitarian can be pro-choice.

  79. Daniel
    September 5, 2008 at 9:41 am #

    Well, don’t know if you’ve noticed, Clump, but the pro-life movement is about sex. More to the point, it’s about punishing women who make sexual choices we don’t agree with. It’s certainly not about preventing abortions, especially not this new incarnation. Prohibit certain forms of birth control, and what are you going to get? More unplanned pregnancies, and more abortions. What outcome are you trying for here?

    Adrien: Interesting, but I had the opposite thought. I don’t see how someone who calls themselves a pro-lifer can eat meat.

  80. BrianJ
    September 5, 2008 at 10:17 am #

    Daniel, I think you missed Clumpy’s point and I know that you incorrectly characterized the pro-life movement. Misinformation doesn’t help you make your case. You can argue that “punishing women” is the result of the pro-life movement, but not that it is the goal.

  81. Adrien
    September 5, 2008 at 10:51 am #

    It’s not about punishment. It’s about personal responsibility and living with your choices. If you choose to behave a certain way, there are consequences.

  82. Adrien
    September 5, 2008 at 10:53 am #

    About the meat thing…

    I know!

    You have war-mongering, meat-eating, pro-life people and then you have the anti-war, vegetarian, pro-choice side. This doesn’t make sense.

  83. Clumpy
    September 5, 2008 at 11:34 am #

    Who cares whether some opponents of abortion call themselves “pro-life” for the right reasons? It doesn’t change the position itself, as long as it’s defended well. There are a lot of bad arguments against abortion, and there are a lot of ignorants and hypocrites on every side of every issue, but that doesn’t change the issue.

  84. Brandon
    September 6, 2008 at 9:29 pm #

    Ok,
    I’ve thought about it for a couple of days and have followed the conversation. While I understand the desire to, protect innocent life, I have a hard time understanding why a floating fertilized egg deserves some kind of protection under the law. While I find abortion disgusting, I don’t believe that making the uterus inhospitible to a fertilized egg is anywhere near the same thing as a late term abortion. I like birth control (exept condoms, ugh). I think it is a good way to help people bring other humans into the world when they are ready for it and if they choose to do so.

    Being intimate with your spouse, regardless of the status of the woman’s ovulation cycle, is not an immoral or inherently destructive action (on the contrary, it is intended in part to be quite the opposite). On the other hand, using medicine or devices to alter the woman’s body in such a way that a fertilized egg will never implant and develop (unless the medicine/device fails) is an action that is inherently and intentionally destructive. Therein lies the difference, I believe.

    Connor, I don’t understand your argument here. Why is using medicine or a device to prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus immoral? What or who determines the morality of such a thing? I support efforts to prevent late term abortions and also efforts to educate people about adoption during the early terms. But trying to argue that taking the pill is tantamount to abortion is a real stretch in my opinion.

  85. Daniel
    September 11, 2008 at 5:02 am #

    I have written a little play, which for me sums up this thread (and partly the ‘Alienation’ thread).

    CAST
    Mike
    Ike

    SCENE 1

    Mike: Abortion and some birth control ought to be outlawed.

    Ike: What on earth for?

    Mike: I believe that God doesn’t approve of them.

    Ike: That’s all very well for you. But I don’t believe in that. I think people have the right to make up their own minds.

    Mike: What you don’t realise is that God gave you those rights. And now he wants them back. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.

    Ike: Well, you have your moral views, I’ll have mine.

    Mike: Huh. I didn’t think people like you were capable of having moral views.

    Ike: Wow, that’s a pretty crappy attitude you’ve got there.

    Mike: ‘The guilty taketh the truth to be hard.’ Don’t blame me. I’m just saying what God would say if he were here.

    Ike: Now you’re just attributing your personal views to God.

    Mike: Oh, they’re not just my personal views. It’s also the views of holy prophets, who you need to obey.

    Ike: I noticed that God always seems to dislike what you dislike. That’s quite a coincidence.

    Mike: No, that’s what you call ‘being in tune’.

    THE END

  86. Adrien
    September 11, 2008 at 11:59 pm #

    This was amusing. But I don’t think that anyone who has a religious view think that you can debate right and wrong away by saying you just don’t believe the same thing. You can try this argument in court the next time you get a speeding ticket. Tell the judge that you don’t agree with the opinion that you were putting others in danger and that you don’t deserve the fine. I don’t think you’ll get any further with the judge than you will with your skit.

  87. Daniel
    September 12, 2008 at 6:13 am #

    Well, actually, what happens is that when I press a religious believer on the facts (evolution, evidence for God), they avoid facts altogether and say say something like “Well, we don’t believe the same thing so let’s just leave it at that.” Just the opposite of what I’ve written here. I think I need a script doctor.

  88. kannie
    September 12, 2008 at 1:00 pm #

    Daniel, I believe that snark was directed my way, at least in part, yes? :-)

    (Yep, that “evidence for God” mention sounds familiar…)

    And I take exception to your “avoiding facts altogether” salvo.

    I’d be happy to continue the discussion if you care to respond there, even though it’s getting old hearing how my ideas are necessarily worse and less rational than your ideas, LOL …

    Other than that, live and let live; but stop with the accusations.

  89. Daniel
    September 12, 2008 at 5:01 pm #

    Now, now, kannie. I wasn’t actually thinking of you. You did say something like that, but many other people I talk to seem to do that as well. They do it on my blog: they start out as absolutists on some view (not that you are), and then when I ask for evidence, they turn into relativists! It happens over and over. But no, I wasn’t lampooning you especially, many people do this.

    This could be useful though: If you feel there’s some aspect of your behaviour that I’m sending up, see if the critique is useful, and change if you want to. Or not.

  90. Bill
    September 14, 2008 at 3:28 pm #

    The issue of abortion seems to center around when life begins. But no one really defines what life is. How can you say when it begins when you don’t know what it is?

    There are several ways we can go about it. Please note that I am not advocating any of these. I’m merely pointing out some things for people to think about.

    The argument about the pig vs an embryo can be countered by the DNA argument. When an egg or sperm are separate, the DNA is not that of a human. It is only part of a human. But when they combine, the DNA is that of a human being — complete and uncut.

    Another possible beginning of life is to define life as the presence of brainwaves. Doctor’s define death as the moment brainwaves cease. Wouldn’t it make sense to define the beginning of life as the moment when brainwaves commence? This is actually quite early in the pregnancy. But we do have the definitional issue. If we can’t accept that an embryo with brainwaves is “alive”, then we need to change the definition of death to something else. Of course, this feeds into the issue of euthanasia. But let’s not make this into a threadjack.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe in a “soul” or “spirit”. They believe that the only thing that separates humans from a mass of cells is “breath”. When Genesis refers to the “breath of life” in Adam, they believe it litterally means that God got Adam to start breathing and THAT is what made him “alive”. Does anyone know the JW position on abortion? I am aware that the fetus’s lungs DO function while in the womb. But is that where JW’s draw the line?

    The current legal definition is when the baby takes its first breath of air. So I guess that if any of us holds our breath then we can be killed with impunity.

    The spiritual definition is when the spirit enters the body. NONE of us knows when that happens. NONE of us.

    My personal position on abortion is:

    1) It is an unfortunate truth that SOMETIMES abortion is a necessary evil.
    2) I hold in high regard those women who personally make an informed decision to have the baby even in cases of rape or incest.
    3) I also understand the difficulty many women have in deciding for their own circumstances what to do with the pregnancy.
    4) I am saddened and hold in disdain the women who look on abortion as just another method of birth control.

    As far as the church position on abortion — whether it is murder, and yet is forgiveable. IMHO, the belief that we can be forgiven of our sins is dependent on:

    1) The greviousness of the sin
    2) Our sincerity in seeking forgiveness
    3) The circumstances and other factors that would make it “more forgiveable”.

    I PERSONALY believe it is still a sin to kill someone in self-defense. But it is a forgiveable sin. Cold-blooded premeditated murder is the 2nd most grevious sin and is (to paraphrase Alma) “not easy to receive a forgiveness”. For most it is impossible to receive a forgiveness. Notice that Jesus NEVER hurt anyone in ANY circumstance. Because he needed to live a perfect life. There was NO forgiveness without his PERFECT life. Again, just my opinion.

    It is still wrong to get upset at someone. But I will more easily forgive someone who has “had a hard day” etc.

    In the same vein, it is a sin to abort a baby at ANY stage. But I believe it is more forgiveable in early stages than in later stages. But as the official Church statement says — Abortion in any form “must be considered one of the most revolting and sinful practices in this day”

  91. Bill
    September 14, 2008 at 3:41 pm #

    Let me rephrase one passage:

    It is still wrong to have a short temper. But I will more easily forgive someone who has lost his temper if some circumstance would cause such a person to be more prone to losing his temper.

  92. Jeff T
    September 14, 2008 at 4:31 pm #

    Bill,

    God has told us we may defend our lives and family, even unto bloodshed. Why is it that you feel self-defense is a sin? I’m curious, because that point of view contradicts what we read in scripture.

  93. Clumpy
    September 14, 2008 at 6:03 pm #

    Bill, your argument of complete vs. incomplete DNA solves the issue for me of why a sperm or egg in and of itself doesn’t need to be protected. It completely passes the argument of marginal differences, which I basically use as my logical defense for these issues, except for eatin’ animals which I conveniently excuse on religious grounds.

    I also think that unecessarily killing a person in self-defense is wrong. However, I believe, spiritually and rationally, that people have the right to go to the degree necessary to defend themselves from people who would do the same to them. I mean, some people think that they have the right to kill anybody who breaks into their home. This is plainly untrue. To the extent that you don’t overreact, that you’re motivated by true self-defense and not anger or revenge, your hands are clean.

    (I’m assuming from JeffT’s comments to Bill that Bill is also LDS – otherwise his scripture and beliefs regarding this issue and God’s will may be different.)

  94. Jeff T
    September 14, 2008 at 7:37 pm #

    I guess I don’t know if Bill is LDS… if he is not, then he may not accept as revelation the scripture that authorizes self-defense.

  95. Bill
    September 15, 2008 at 5:37 pm #

    Yes, I’m LDS. Yes, I’m aware of the scriptures you’re referring to. No, I don’t see a contradiction between what I read in scripture and what I stated before.

    I understand why you would see a contradiction. But from my point of view, it is not a contradiction.

    This point of view has evolved over a decade or more of discussing morality with people of many faiths and people of no faith and comparing that with what I’ve read in scriptures. To explain it here would be beyond the scope of this blog. Just accept that it is my OPINION from a certain POINT OF VIEW.

  96. Jeff T
    September 15, 2008 at 5:49 pm #

    Bill,

    I’d still love to hear your point of view. Feel free to email me! (my email address is on my blog)

  97. Bill
    September 15, 2008 at 7:13 pm #

    Perhaps “sin” is not the right word to use in an LDS blog. Rather let me use the word “transgression”.

    My point is that for varying circumstances of the same violation of Divine Law, there are varying methods/availability of forgiveness. Not a single argument for either side in this thread contradicts this line of thinking. The only exception being denying the Holy Ghost which by definition is an all-or-nothing sin.

    Is abortion actually murder? But if so, why is it considered a forgiveable sin, but murder is generally not so considered?

    It is because of knowledge and understanding of what we are doing. Are we fully aware that we are killing a separate living being? How? Even the prophets have not definitively stated when the spirit enters the body. The fact that we don’t really know is what makes this such an issue.

    I can’t believe I’m about to write this, but Obama had a point. We shouldn’t presume to be able to answer such theological questions when the prophets themselves have never definitively spoken on the subject.

    All we know is that it is an abomination. That should be enough. For those who aren’t LDS, the debate will rage until doomsday.

  98. Clumpy
    September 15, 2008 at 8:40 pm #

    Well, one’s life isn’t the most important thing on Earth. If somebody would rather die than take the life of an attacker, more power to them and I respect them. My thought isn’t that I’d be taking their life necessarily, but doing what I had to do and letting the consequences follow. I figure somebody forfeits a couple of their rights by attacking others.

  99. Connor
    December 15, 2008 at 3:13 pm #

    An interesting update from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine:

    Amidst an ongoing debate among prolife advocates about whether to classify the Pill as an abortifacient or a prophylactic, pro-abortion advocates have published an authoritative statement declaring that the Pill prevents implantation of embryos, thereby causing an abortion.

    …the statement by the ASRM clearly indicates that the pill is medically classified as a drug that acts by “preventing implantation,” thereby causing the death of a fertilized embryo – a unique and living human being.

  100. Angilee
    December 16, 2008 at 9:14 am #

    I personally am also agaisnt using brith control that prevents an already fertilized egg from implanting. It took me a while to decide that, and many personal factors are involved that I won’t go into here, but I really regret that I didn’t research and think about my choices longer before I was married and had to decide whether to use the pill. Everyone tells you to take the pill. After you give birth, that’s the first prescription your ob writes. When I was getting married, one of the first things my mother did was recommend I get on the pill.

    Many women I know use the pill or an IUD, and most women I know are LDS. Most of the ones I know do this for reasons of convenience ( some for health reasons). Although I’ve always wanted a large family, I used to not see anything wrong with using the pill to “take a break” from having kids for a while. I’ve changed my mind. The choice only affects me and my family, and I don’t know that it is what everyone should do, but I am very happy with it, and I was always uncomfortable taking the pill.

    To look at this from a different angle, you might like to read this article. It isn’t LDS, it’s actually written by a Catholic, but it examines what effect easy birth control has had on the family and society.

  101. Carborendum
    December 18, 2008 at 9:09 pm #

    Angilee, that was a good article. It did lean a little too Catholic eventually. But it had a lot of good points and true predictions.

    My family was actually talking about birth control when my sister got married. At the time, what I knew (from school) was a complete fabrication regarding the function of the pill. When my sister told me what it did (because she was taking it) I declared,”Isn’t that abortion?”

    I was nearly thrown out of the house by my whole family. What can I say? I’m the black sheep where ever I am.

  102. Emily Jones
    April 9, 2009 at 12:46 pm #

    I am strongly opposed to the personhood laws, and let me tell you why. I am personally torn on the entire abortion debate, because while I am opposed to abortion, removing the option removes civil liberty to choose. However, when you are talking about a pregnant woman, the rights of TWO people are involved. You can’t support the rights of one without subverting the rights of the other.

    In a perfect world, people would be mature and intelligent enough to decide that the rights of the woman trump the rights of the baby, unless the woman’s choices intentionally harm or kill the baby, in which case the baby’s rights are more important. But that’s not what happens.

    I am a huge birth advocate, specifically the removal of pregnant women’s rights in the hospital. The entire “fetal rights” argument has created a climate of hostility and adversity in the delivery room, as doctors are using this line of argument to force pregnant women to “consent” to certain procedures, in the name of “fetus rights.” There are cases of court-ordered c-sections for women who have every right to attempt a VBAC. There are cases of CPS removing babies from women who choose to have unassisted home births, even when the outcome is positive. And in general, coercive, abusive, and dishonest tactics are tolerated in L&D wards in hospitals around the nation EVERY DAY, because the attitude of “fetus rights” prevails. Doctors do whatever they want to women, despite evidence that instead of helping or saving anyone, it causes more harm, and everyone accepts that, assuming that doctors “speak for the fetus.” (And of course, assuming pregnant women can’t be trusted to make rational decisions.)

    Interestingly enough, women’s rights advocates love to lobby for abortion and pro-choice, yet they refuse to have anything to do with women’s rights in labor and delivery. In the hospital, pregnant women have no rights. It is a travesty what women are subjected to in the delivery room, and women’s rights advocates just look the other way.

    How can personhood laws be reconciled with the tendency to use that same argument to abuse human rights at the end of pregnancy?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness… Unless You’re in Utero - Politics Elevated - February 1, 2010

    […] right” to snuff out the life of one’s unborn child, tens of millions of individuals have been denied these protections and potential […]

Leave a Reply

Leave your opinion here. Please be nice. Your Email address will be kept private.