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Abortion: outcomes of a journey's destination

By Jim Killebrew

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[April 01, 2014]  An outcome is a consequence of something. To a large extent, life is a journey, but more than that, it is experiencing the consequences of our journey. We are taking the "journey" through life living processes that move us from point "A" to point "B," most of the time expecting that the outcomes we want will be delivered. We get up on a cold morning and just expect that the furnace has kept the house or apartment warm through the night, depending on the thermostat setting we chose. When we turn on the faucet, we expect that water will start flowing. We basically live on a set of expectations that we have established through our own learning histories. In essence, those personal expectations are tied inexplicitly to other peoples' expectations and their willingness to deliver appropriate outcomes in their sphere of influence.

In a very real sense, issues we face each day are defined by us, not only in terms of their immediate meaning, but ultimately in their outcomes. I fear, however, that we don't always think about outcomes as much as we should when it comes to issues. We sometimes tend to take a "whatever will be, will be" approach to life's issues. Or we stop at a particular junction of one outcome that seems most in agreement with our opinion about that issue and suppress or ignore the other outcomes that naturally follow.

Take the issue of abortion, for instance (United States Supreme Court decision, Jan. 22, 1973). Abortion is a highly emotionally charged issue with many ancillary issues swirling around it. Along the journey of the path to abortion, there are many land mines that are set to explode and deflect the discussions and reality away from the ultimate outcome. The ultimate outcome of abortion is, of course, a dead child.

But you see, right there one of the land mines exploded and the discussion is deflected from the outcome to that of defining what is actually dead. Some say it is not a child, but rather a fetus, or a mass of cells that have not yet taken on "human quality." For some who believe that, it softens the outcome to a blur that can more easily set aside the fact of the ultimate outcome of abortion. There can be agreement that something is dead, but it may or may not be a child.

But then there is another explosion that deflects the discussion to questions like: "If it isn't a child, then what is it? Is it a horse ... a dog?" If it is left to grow through the gestation stages, what will it be when it leaves the womb? Of course everyone knows that when it leaves the womb it will be a child. Whoops, there goes another explosion!

The discussion that derails the issue at this point away from the ultimate outcome is whether or not a child is a child until it grows into consciousness and is able to become "self-aware." Some believe that even a "neonate" is not yet a child. Medical science generally operates, however, on the premise that a neonate is a baby who is 4 weeks old or younger. An infant is considered to be a "newborn" or neonate up to age 1 month (4 weeks old). This "neonatal period" represents a short time of life when changes are very rapid and when many critical events can occur.

During the first 30 days, most congenital defects (such as congenital heart disease) are discovered. Genetic abnormalities may show up, and it is a time when infections such as congenital herpes, group B strep, toxoplasmosis and others are discovered as they begin to have effects on the baby. (John Goldenring, MD, MPH, Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital, San Diego, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network and presented in Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia on Nov. 18, 2005)

Of course this opens another diversion to the discussion that focuses on those "congenital" or "genetic abnormalities" that may exist. These may show up especially through the use of modern technology of ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging, a noninvasive diagnostic technique that produces computerized images of internal body tissues and is based on nuclear magnetic resonance of atoms within the body induced by the application of radio waves. So the discussion centers on the "abnormalities" that may exist in the child and the possible need to not go full term in order to "spare the child the agony of a life of disability." Even with such an altruistic rationale focused on the child, it still blurs the fact that the ultimate outcome is death.

If the focus of the discussion is not the child, then it most certainly will migrate toward the woman. Some women whose strong position is the issue of women's rights maintain that what men, and other less sophisticated women, just don't get, is that in the matter of abortion, it is about the woman's right to choose. Choice is very important in our society. The Supreme Court of the United States has upheld the woman's right to choose, even if that choice results in the death of a child. There is nowhere in our society or no other people group, outside of the legal system that convicts a person of a capital offense, who has been given the right to make a choice that affects another person's right to live. That right is relatively unrestricted too.

During the past 35 years, that right that was upheld by court decree has not only been unrestricted, but has been expanded as well. Today, in the 21st century, a woman has the right in the United States to end her pregnancy at any time during the period of conception all the way to full term. Partial birth abortions constitute just as much a right given to women as are abortions in any other time during her pregnancy. The reasons behind that choice for any individual woman are deemed relatively unimportant. In the very beginning it may have been argued that abortion was used in cases where the life of the mother was in jeopardy. Now, however, that practice has changed to include almost any reason, including a form of birth control or gender selection, or no reason at all.

Even in the discussion about women's rights to choose, however, a diversion forces the discussion even further away from the outcome of death. We glibly recite that it is a "woman's" right to choose, but in fact, it is not any woman's right, it is only the pregnant woman's right. A woman who is not pregnant cannot make a choice to take the life of another woman's child, even if that child is the product of an in vitro pregnancy that produced the child she is carrying. A woman who is not pregnant cannot make a choice about the life of any other child or any other human being. The only right to choice she has been given by a small group of elitist liberal-minded jurists is the life that she helped create by becoming pregnant herself.

In their infinite wisdom, those same jurists have thrust upon that oftentimes younger, pregnant woman a right of destroying that life that grows within her without the help of anyone else. Suggestions can be given by the biological father, or the woman's family members, but there is no legal standing that even remotely approaches the "right" she holds sway over the life growing inside her. How convenient it is for everyone except that lonely pregnant woman who must make that decision alone and ultimately endure the consequences of an outcome that ends in the death of a child.

You see, we have been duped into believing that it is some fundamental, constitutional right that has been handed down from our forefathers that the woman should have the absolute right to "end her pregnancy" at whatever point she decides…because that is her right. Nothing could be further from the truth! Really, the only women who have that right are those whose biological time has come that allows the physical possibility of childbearing. It does not exist for those who cannot, either because they are too young, too old or are physically unable. So it is only a "subset" of women who have that right. And even among that group, the right is given only to those women who are pregnant.

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We have strapped onto the subset of younger women the responsibility of taking on the burden of making a decision that is so awesome a responsibility, that in the end, the outcome is a dead child. All of those male political rousers who stand up and decry the lofty position that they believe in a "woman's choice" are in no way burdened by that outcome. The same is true for all those women who have passed beyond the ability to carry a child, but promote such a right in others; they are unable to become pregnant, and therefore will never again be in a position to personally make that decision. In fact, this brought a fundamentally true condition to American women: They did not have the right prior to their physical ability to become pregnant; they were temporarily given the right only under the condition they became pregnant, and then the right was taken away from them when they left childbearing ability. This is not even to mention the millions of young girls who have already been aborted who will never have any rights. This may seem mundane, and to some even laughable, but in truth it is all the more tragic when one examines the chain of choices that must be made to be in a position to actually have that right.

If the woman who is of childbearing age chooses to voluntarily get pregnant, then the choice that she makes in ending the pregnancy is predicated upon a voluntary act for the first cause in order to be in a position to make the decision for the second cause, that is, ending the pregnancy that results in the death of a child. One could argue, why make the first decision and engage in behavior that will establish the need for the second decision in the first place? If a woman cannot decide to make that choice (exercise her freedom) to end the pregnancy prior to becoming pregnant, then it becomes only a situational choice when the decision is being made during pregnancy. Except for rape or incest, this could imply a premeditation that she wanted to become pregnant, but she did not want the results of the pregnancy. This begs the question, "If she is going to end the pregnancy in the first place, why become pregnant?" From within this context, the choice of the woman is playing fast and loose with another person's life (the baby's) by engaging in a behavior that will put her in a position to terminate that life simply because of a reckless behavior. With an attitude like that, it establishes the premise that human life is devalued from the beginning. "Never mind the consequences of her present behavior; it can be cleaned up later by simply ending the life of another human being." The aftermath of that logic adds to another outcome that people usually do not want to talk about, and that is the toll that abortion takes in physical, psychological and emotional ways on the young woman who made that decision.

Yet another outcome that is not frequently discussed is the effect that the pregnant woman's abortion has had on the population of the United States. It is estimated that 1.2 million babies are aborted each year in the United States. Projecting backward to the United States Supreme Court decision in 1973, it could be conservatively estimated that at least 27.2 million babies have been aborted. From a purely statistical perspective, over the past 34 years under legalized abortion practices, the United States has likely lost at least almost 16 percent of that group who would have had an IQ of 115 and higher. There is no accurate guess about how many chances of enhancing the quality of life for people everywhere could have occurred by not losing the brainpower of that many people who could have been researchers, teachers, inventors and healers. Of course, that is an empirical question now, since we, as a society, are where we are now without the input and enhancement of those who "never were."

Proposal to think about:

It seems to me that the arguments on both sides of this issue of abortion create a lot of "noise" in regard to the process of morality, ethics and giving or taking away particular "rights" to a subset of Americans who actually practice and implement this law. Those on one side of the argument have a fear that it will "take away" rights if appealed; the other side has fears that without the appeal there will be others (unborn children) whose right to life will never be extended.

The solutions to this problem are to both end the abortion practice, but at the same time extend it for a season. For that subset of women who now have the right to choose, let them keep that right. For those women (girls) who have not yet attained the maturity to have that right, simply do not grant that when they do reach that maturity. For those women who have already passed the age of childbearing capability, there is no issue because that right has already been removed from them anyway.

Therefore, for girls whose current ages are from birth to say, 10 years old, will not have that right to choose abortion granted to them when they reach the childbearing age. For those women whose current ages are at the onset of puberty and have already entered into the childbearing capability, they will continue to have that right as bestowed by the Roe decision, and it will remain in full force throughout their childbearing time. However, that will be the last generation of women who would have that right. As they "age out," the issue will be resolved. For the ensuing years, abortions will continue to decrease, but with a future end in sight. For sure, the proponents on both sides of the issue will likely feel cheated.

Those in the "pro-abortion" group will believe they have lost a fundamental right for women to choose. But for all the reasons discussed above, that is a flawed right that errs against basic human life and rights.

The group against abortion will likely believe that they have lost, since yet another generation of women will continue to have that right, whose outcome is the death of a child. But the battle lines have been, and indeed are now embedded so deeply in the social, legal, political and criminal justice landscape of America, that a negotiated, political end to abortion may never be attained.

That state of affairs will likely extend this issue for decades to come; in fact it could never be decided. At least this solution will establish an end-sight that each group will be able to see, and we as a nation can move toward it with a renewed value in human life and individual rights projected evenly to include even our yet-to-be-born American citizens.


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