ABORTION DUELING OP-ED: Protect unborn life

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Note: This dueling op-ed was printed in a Journal issue on Apr. 20, 2022, before the Supreme Court ruling on abortion. For the opposing side of this dueling op-ed, click here.

The Supreme Court’s probable decision to overrule Roe v. Wade, the court battle that ruled abortions to be a Constitutional right, has red states hopping on board to enforce restrictions on said procedures.

Arizona, Idaho, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming are among the states deciding to protect unborn life. Their current goal is to achieve “near-total” bans, which still allow mothers to receive an abortion if deemed medically necessary due to pregnancy complications such as fetal abnormalities or dangers to the mother’s health.

I can’t speak for all pro-life supporters, but the medical necessity clause is one that is celebrated and essential to these new abortion bans. Our fight is not to harm people, but to cherish and protect human life.

Even then, most states don’t restrict abortion until 15 weeks after conception, which still allows abortion after the second trimester begins in week 14. The pro-choice movement considers an embryo to be a “clump of cells” rather than a baby, therefore it can be removed.

While an embryo is essentially a clump of cells, that window of time is much smaller than what they are pushing for. An embryo is developed into a fetus in week 11 of pregnancy, and a fetus is considered a baby to pro-life supporters.

Pro-life supporters have a range of beliefs. On the Christian side of the debate, an embryo is a life and should be protected, while some believe that once a pregnancy hits week 11, it is officially a baby.

The pro-choice side argues that pregnant mothers cannot determine the baby’s sex until week 20, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t officially a human. 3D ultrasounds can show 18-week-old fetuses sucking their thumbs, clapping their hands and smiling.

According to Flo, a women’s health application, “The brain begins with the neural tube, formed in the first month of the embryo’s growth. The neural tube closes around week 6 or 7, at which point the brain separates into three parts: front brain, midbrain, and hindbrain. Ultrasounds can reveal the embryo moving as early as 6 weeks after conception, detecting the electrical impulses that govern movement and indicating that the brain is beginning to function.”

Brain function also determines the viability of an embryo and fetus. In the first trimester, the fetus’ brain grows millions of neurons. A heartbeat can be heard five weeks into pregnancy. Therefore, it is a living human organism that will shortly transform into a fetus. This solidifies the belief that even an embryo could be considered a baby.

The 15-week restriction still gives mothers flexibility beyond what pro-life supporters believe to be morally right. These restrictions are signed into law to protect life because although this is the land of the free, it doesn’t mean we can commit murder without receiving consequences.

Graphic by Kenzie Akins.

Regardless of your beliefs on abortion, we can agree that life is precious. Pro-choice supporters argue that the mother has control over her own body and therefore has the right to make medical decisions, which they consider abortions to be. While that sounds reasonable, it doesn’t justify killing an innocent life.

The main narrative that pro-choice likes to use against pro-life supporters is that we have stated, “If you aren’t ready for a child, don’t have sex or just be responsible with contraceptives.” One can accidentally become pregnant even when being responsible, but there are numerous options for a mother to choose from other than abortion.

There are about 1.3 million abortions in the United States every year. According to Adoption Network, there are an estimated 1 to 2 million U.S. couples waiting to adopt yearly, and many are specifically seeking infants. If abortions were eliminated, many families can give these infants a home.

If giving the child away is too much to bear, there are programs for mothers and families who cannot afford basic necessities for their children. I’m not talking about government-funded programs that take months or years to receive assistance, but church groups, nonprofits, shelters, food pantries and drug rehabilitation programs.

Mental health plays a role in the abortion debate, as well.

“The 2008 report of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion (TFMHA) concluded that ‘it is clear that some women do experience sadness, grief, and feelings of loss following termination of a pregnancy, and some experience clinically significant disorders, including depression and anxiety,’” the National Library of Medicine reported.

“Indeed, task force chair Brenda Major et al.’s own research had reported that 2 years after their abortions, 1.5% of the remnant participating in her case series (38% of the 1177 eligible women, after dropouts) had all the symptoms for abortion-specific post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” the report continued. “In addition, she found that compared to their 1-month post-abortion assessments, at 2 years the participating remnant had significantly rising rates of depression and negative reactions and lowering rates of positive reactions, relief, and decision satisfaction.”

The rates of post-abortion mental health concerns have remained about the same since 2018, but there are too many factors that prevent the scientific community from discovering concrete answers to the link between mental health and abortions. Randomized, double-blind studies of women who have undergone abortions are seen as unethical and therefore the only solution is to conduct observational studies that only scratch the surface.

Although the American Psychological Association and American Psychological Association haven’t recognized the term,  Post Abortion Stress Syndrome has been adopted by psychologists to describe feelings of depression and anxiety that lingers within a woman for months or years after the procedure. Possible symptoms include guilt, anger, shame, remorse or regret, loss of self-esteem or self-confidence, feelings of isolation and loneliness, sleep problems and nightmares, relationship problems and thoughts of suicide.

Women who continue with an unwanted pregnancy can also experience low self-esteem and low life satisfaction. However, if one were to look at it in a different light and receive psychological treatment, it can become a satisfying and gratifying endeavor.

Another counterpoint by pro-choice supporters is that they want to provide traumatized women with options, especially if it comes down to rape or incest. Under the new laws, rape or incest doesn’t warrant an abortion past 15 weeks, but they allow women to remove the fetus up until that point, giving survivors plenty of time to decide.

While unconsented sex is a painful experience, why make it more painful by killing a child when there are numerous legitimate agencies who can give the child to a trustworthy adoptive family? Adoption agencies have thorough regulations to ensure the entire process is safe for both parties, and even do in-home visits or calls once a month after the adoption goes through.

Women can also be coerced or pressured into abortions when they don’t want them; this happened to a family member of one of my lifelong friends, and she remains traumatized. With these laws in place, coercion is suspected to decline because it’s a safety net for pregnant women in those situations. While women can also be coerced into maintaining pregnancies, it is morally better to save lives than kill them.

Religion plays a major part in the pro-life fight. Most of us are Christians, and while some of us aren’t represented in the best light, our job is to protect God’s most precious gift. Even though this world is filled with people who give in to the temptations of the devil and commit crimes against women’s bodies, one can turn that horrid act into goodness.

In the Holy Bible, God had told Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” (NIV Bible, Jeremiah 1:5).

God knows exactly who we are and who we are going to be before a heartbeat is even detected and before the seed was planted. No pregnancy is truly an accident in the eyes of Christians.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be,” (Psalm 139: 13-16).

The Bible is a masterpiece of poetry, speaking the truth and providing hope. In this Easter season, our sins are forgiven before we even commit them. Even if a baby is born out of wedlock, that sin is forgiven, and it is up to us to value that creation and bless the world with the gift that it is.

If I were in the shoes of these panicked, distraught women who don’t want a child, I would rather bless another family with a child than live with the guilt of having blood on my hands. There will always be trials and hardships, but murder won’t make life any easier.

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