Image c/- itfplastikcerrahi.com
Before we get to the big bad subject that is abortion let’s understand a bit more about life, and in order to do that, let’s work backwards from death. Death, it would seem, is a tricky thing to define. As recently as 500 years ago all you had to do to be pronounced dead was lie very still. Lie still for long enough and you would find yourself either buried, abandoned or even eaten. After the importance of our internal organs was discovered, thanks to the then illegal post-mortem research undertaken by people like Leonardo Da Vinci, it became common knowledge that death occurred when someone stopped breathing and, in turn, their heart stopped beating. This is now not the case as we live in an age where we can master the art of CPR in a weekend, and failing that a prompt defibrillationcould spring that dead body back to life. Not only that but you could now live quite happily and lethargically without a pumping heart or heaving lungs for quite some time if you were equipped with a good life support system.
Image c/- wikipedia.org
Therefore the definition of “being dead” had to change. It is now common practice to pronounce death when ‘Whole-Brain’ Death occurs. Whole-Brain Death is the end result of a long argument as to whether you could pronounce death by establishing either ‘Neo-Cortex‘ or ‘Cerebral-Cortex’ Death (it’s a big word argument you can read online). In the end they called it a draw and settled on ‘Whole-Brain’ Death. Unless the patient is obviously dead, like in the case of decapitation or if the effects of decomposition have kicked in, a doctor may use an Electroencephalography. Like me, you’d probably be more familiar with the term EEG (I think Doctor House orders one every second episode). This contraption measures any and all electrical function in the brain and if there is none, then the doctor would mutter something like “Only way to help him is to buy a shovel” then hobble off down the corridor on his walking stick. So, in conclusion, regardless of whether you die because of a reckless drunk driver, an aggressive illness, or even if you’re shot by an irate pro-lifer (ironic much?) you’re ultimate demise will be because there is the absence of electrical activity anywhere in your brain and you will start turning a lovely yellowy green color. Moving on to life.
Nobel Image c/- nationalvanguard.org
Life, conveniently, is defined as the absence of death. More specifically, if an object can signal and self sustain, metabolize and reproduce then we distinguish it as being alive and it will then stand apart from all the inanimate objects out there. In the case of humans (and I’ll presume all other mammals) we can apply what we’ve learnt in the above paragraph to this definition. If a brain has electrical activity then the owner of that brain is considered alive, given a pat on the back and is welcome to win a Noble Prize, kick the winning goal or cook French fries to its best ability. OK, let’s take a moment to go back to the womb. I’m sure you remember than warm squishy sack where your first neuron fired in your freshly developed
pregnant lady 28 weeks - image c/- huggies.co.nz
brain. (mmm I love that new brain smell). You would have been about 14.8 inches from head to toe or, according to my pregnancy tracker, about the size of a Chinese cabbage (which, I assume, is a cabbage that’s good at math*). Your freshly grown eyelashes would have just started fluttering and you had about 12 weeks to go until your ‘big move’. That’s right, it took 28 weeks of development for you to have actual electrical activity in your brain and if you weren’t connected to that beautiful creature you now call mum, then you could have been medically, scientifically and legally pronounced dead.
Abortion, as I’m sure you are all aware, is most commonly defined as the termination of a fetus. This can happen naturally, in the form of a miscarriage, or can be induced. Anyone out there, woman or man, who has suffered a miscarriage, my heart goes out to you. I will not be talking about miscarriages. I will be focusing on induced abortions and from here on the word abortion will solely mean those that are induced.
Pope Sixtus V
Abortions have a history predating Christianity. Evidence of abortions can be traced back to 2700BCE (Before Common Era. This means 2700 years before year 1) in China and 1550BCE in Egypt. One can only imagine how barbaric a process this must have been with historians suggesting the process involved sharpened tools and abdominal pressure. Zoom forward to 1585 and Pope Sixtus V who, from what I can tell, was a good little Pope. He brought peace to the land and provided water to areas that were lacking it, good on him. Oh yeah, he also declared that abortion is homicide. From there the church seemed to swing back and forth for another few centuries, not really being too pro-active with this whole ‘abortion is homicide’ thing. While that was going on, abortion techniques were beginning to advance in both Europe and North America with many physicians even advertising that they were ‘up for it’. As promising as that sounds, it’s also worth noting that, even with all their advancements it was still more dangerous to have an abortion than it was to endure child birth. However, as soon as the church got around to sinking their teeth into it in the 19th century abortion was very quickly outlawed and with the churches wide influence it wasn’t hard to get the doctors and physicians to follow suit. Throughout all of this the Islamic faith has traditionally allowed abortion. They were fine with it so long as it was carried out before the soul entered the unborn child’s body, this could vary from 40 days after conception, to 20 weeks after or up until the Mother felt the child move for the first time (known as ‘the quickening’). In areas of heavy Islamic faith it is widely forbidden or outlawed now. It 1919, The Soviet Union became the first country to legalize certain types of abortion and they were followed by Iceland in 1935 and Sweden in 1938. Also, Nazi Germany started allowing abortions in 1935 but the criteria was you could only have one if you were not German and deemed ‘hereditarily ill’, suspicious, hmm. In modern times abortion is legal in most developed countries and anyone who needs or wants one shouldn’t have too much trouble finding their way to a clinic. The process can last up to two or three days and is considered pain free. A fetus will not be aborted after it has passed 20 weeks. All the clinics and services I found online also offered both per and post abortion counseling too, so yay for progress.
Abortion rights advocate Inga Coulter of Harrisburg, Pa., left, and anti-abortion advocate Elizabeth McGee of Washington express their opposite views during a demonstration outside the Supreme Court in Washington in this Dec. 8, 1993
Right, so let’s put it all together. No electrical activity in your brain means you are dead. You’re brain can’t have electrical activity before the 28th week, or nearing the end of the second trimester. Abortions do not get preformed after the 20th week. Therefore, any fetus that is aborted legally is not alive. Things that aren’t alive, can’t be killed (didn’t think that needed a paragraph.) Conclusion: Abortion is NOT homicide. Abortion is no more a crime or a sin, or whatever you want to call it, than burning a ganglion cyst off you’re foot or surgically removing a cancer. However, every year approximately forty two million abortions are performed world wide and twenty million of those are performed unsafely. This results in seventy thousand woman dying and a
Image c/- brownblog.files.wordpress.com
further five million left with self inflicted disabilities. All this because some guy from the fifteen hundreds, who kind of looks like a demented Santa Claus, blurted out ‘abortion is homicide’. (which, by the way, I cant find anywhere in the bible**) Is that where this festering ball of hate actually started rolling? And if so, isn’t it time that the pickets get laid down and the slander is silenced? Isn’t it about time that we start looking at reason and research instead of falling back to an outdated, sexist remark that has nothing to back it up?
Image c/- Dr Mary Favier, a Cork GP and a founder member of Doctors for Choice
How about this, instead of picketing outside hospitals, throwing eggs at pregnant teens and burning down doctors houses. How about focusing all that energy on encouraging people to do a little research. Why not save lives that way? Imagine saying “I helped prevent seventy thousand deaths today” instead of bragging that you scared a woman with a fictional damnation into having and raising a child she doesn’t want, won’t love and will grow up in a household of hate. Wouldn’t you sleep better at night? Seriously, think about it.
*This isn’t racist, it’s actually been proven that the Chinese are better equipped in the brain department for mathematics. It’s true. OK the cabbage bit might have been a little racist but it was funny right? Right?
**The closest I could find was Exodus 21:22-23. Which says if two guys are fighting and one of them punches a woman which causes her to have a miscarriage. Then the husband of the woman should deem the appropriate punishment. Kind of weird, don’t you think? Almost sounds like Gods saying “Hey, let the family work out what’s best for the family”