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Arguments against abortion (part 3)


by Andrew Lansdown

In response to recent expressions of concern about abortion by Health Minister Tony Abbott and several other Federal parliamentarians, “women’s groups across the country are uniting to fight” any attempt to restrict Medicare funding on late-term abortions (The Australian, 7/2/05).

These women’s groups want to preserve the status quo on abortion in Australia, which means that they want women to continue to have the “right” to choose to kill their unborn babies for any reason at any time in pregnancy, and they want all Australians to continue to have the obligation to pay for all these abortions through their taxes.

In the April and June issues of Life News, I answered some of the arguments put forward by such pro-abortion groups to justify their stance. In this third and final part of a three-part article, I offer several more counter-arguments in defence of the unborn.*


A charge sometimes levelled at opponents of abortion is that they are lacking in compassion. Lacking in compassion for whom? In truth, persons who oppose abortion are the only ones who show compassion for children in the womb.

However, the compassion of pro-lifers is not limited to unborn children. They are deeply concerned for the well-being of expectant mothers, too. They know that it is not compassionate to women to encourage them to have abortions by telling them that they are merely getting rid of “the products of conception”. It is deeply cruel to deceive women into believing that the foetus is merely a mass of tissue and that abortion is merely a medical operation, thereby encouraging them to take a course of action that will in all probability lead to lifelong grief and guilt.

Responsibility for Unaborted Babies

In an effort to muzzle debate, pro-abortionists claim that pro-lifers have no right to speak up for babies who face abortion unless they are personally prepared to raise those babies. This is nonsense.

Do individuals have to agree to rear abused children before they may speak against child abuse? Do they have to agree to house children with their legs blown off before they may speak against the use of land mines? No, and no again! Nor do they have to accept personal responsibility for unborn children before they may cry out against the aborting of those children!

The responsibility of raising a child lies squarely with the parents of that child. Hopefully, extended families, friends and community groups will help parents with this responsibility. Various government agencies may also be able to help. If parents feel quite unable to rear the child themselves, fostering and adoption are alternatives. But abortion is not.

Having said this, it should be noted that many pro-life individuals and agencies give significant practical and emotional support to women who experience crisis pregnancies. They do this not because justice demands it but because mercy desires it.

Unwanted Children

Some people imply that abortion is an act of compassion towards the child, who might otherwise be abused by parents who do not want him. Apart from the fact that the prospect of abuse is pure supposition, it is a curious logic which says that in order to stop child abuse we must kill children. Abortion is itself the ultimate in child abuse.

Advocates of abortion maintain that society will be overwhelmed with unwanted children if abortion is not freely available. Their slogan is, “Every child a wanted child.” Three things must be said in response to this.

Firstly, being unwanted is not a capital offence. Many people in our society are unwanted but this does not mean that they can be killed with impunity.

Secondly, the number of children who would ultimately be unwanted by their parents is grossly overestimated. Pregnancy catches many couples unawares; and consequently their first reaction may be one of anger or dismay. But given the very time that abortion denies, this reaction usually changes. Most children who are initially unwanted end up being deeply wanted and dearly loved.

Thirdly, even the small percentage of children who might be genuinely unwanted by their natural parents would not be altogether unwanted. There are thousands of couples who yearn to adopt children.

Backyard Abortions

Pro-abortionists claim that women will die from backyard abortions if legal abortions are not freely available. This is untrue.

Firstly, since the advent of antibiotics, few women have died from abortions, whether legal or illegal. For example, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 1969 (before abortion was legal in any state, and before a single abortion clinic was in operation), only one woman died from an illegal abortion in the whole of Australia. The notion of women dying in droves from backyard abortions is a complete fabrication.

Secondly, laws against abortion actually protect women from backyard abortions. Where abortion is illegal, abortionists (whether backyard or front office) can be punished.

Thirdly, if abortions are not freely available, many women will not have them. Therefore they will not be exposed to danger.

Fourthly, no woman need die from a backyard abortion because no woman need have one. Backyard abortions do not become compulsory when legal abortions become unobtainable. They are performed only after women have deliberately and unlawfully sought them out.

Fifthly, while everyone laments the prospect of a woman suffering harm from a backyard abortion, such harm, should it occur, is not unjust. Abortion should not be legalised for fear that a few women may fall victim to their own schemes to kill their own babies.

Sixthly, it is monstrous to trade the actual deaths of 100,000 babies for the hypothetical deaths of a few women.

Besides all this, it is naive to think that legal abortions eliminate all dangers. In her book The Scarlet Lady, Carol Everett gives a harrowing account of the numerous “botched abortions” performed in the two clinics she managed for many years in the United States. One woman had her uterus perforated and her urinary tract severed by forceps. Another had her bowel pulled through a
perforation in her uterus by the suction. Others died. These injuries occurred at the hands of qualified doctors in legal clinics.

Personal Morality

Pro-abortionists claim that abortion is a matter of personal morality. There is an element of truth in this, but it is by no means the whole truth.

Abortion is not exclusively a personal issue because another person’s life is at stake. It is not exclusively a personal issue because other people must be involved in providing the “service”. It is not exclusively a personal issue because governments must legislate to facilitate it. It is not exclusively a personal issue because taxpayers are forced to subsidise it. It is not exclusively a personal issue because it reduces the nation’s birth rate so that immigration must be increased to prevent an overall decline in population. It is not exclusively a personal issue because it affects how the whole community views and values human life.

The issue of abortion goes beyond personal morality to social justice. Indeed, it begins with immorality and ends with injustice!

Giving the Facts

Abortion advocates insist that a woman contemplating abortion should not be confused by moral claims, but rather should be “given sufficient objective information to make her choice.”

Two false assumptions about morality underlie this assertion. The first is that questions of morality can be divorced from questions of conduct. However, it is impossible to make choices concerning life and death without considering questions of good and evil, right and wrong. The second misconception is that morality is subjective rather than objective. However, right and wrong do not depend on internal preferences but on external standards.

Nonetheless, it is right that women contemplating abortion should be given objective information. Without doubt, they should be told the facts, which can be put simply as follows: Foetal science has unquestionably established what logic and faith knew all along—namely, that from conception the unborn child is a unique human being who, if left to live, will grow through the same stages of infancy, childhood, adolescence and adulthood as any other human being. Women cannot make informed decisions if facts about the foetus are concealed from them.

Prenatal facts always favour the unborn. Pro-lifers are not the ones who want to keep those facts from pregnant women.

* These arguments are taken from my pamphlet, “In Defence of the Unborn”, which is available from Life Ministries, 4/334 Wanneroo Road, Nollamara, Western Australia 6061. Phone: (08) 9344 7396 .
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