Thursday, August 06, 2009

How to explain yourself when asked about abortion

I've been intrigued by the whole abortion-prolife businesss since I first encountered it in 2003. At that point of time I was nominally Catholic, and held the view that choice is good, very good indeed, for a woman to choose whether she wants to abort her child or not. "Who's the state to say whether a woman should have a child or not?". I was also, at the same time and unsurprisingly, a nihilist. This learning about the arguments of prolife movement, based on natural law and then from the point of view of the Catholic Church, kind of "brought me back" to rediscover the joy of life within the Church. Hence this topic holds a special place in my heart.

It's July 30th when I began writing this. Not a particularly special day, but as I helped some friends to find facts to prepare a prolife presentation, I realize that despite a mountain of information available about abortion -- from both its advocates and from those who says it is a mortal sin, I haven't found one that summarizes it comprehensively. I suppose sometimes it seems too much to compress thousands of years of learning that support some of the arguments brought forth by its most vocal defender, the Catholic Church.

So I'm going to attempt to write a little bit more systematically, specifically about why abortion is not reasonably acceptable, not even mildly tolerable. Despite numerous 'rationales' proposed by its proponents, I am firmly in the camp that believes that it is an atrocity against the human race.

One last note: this is not meant as an attempt to 'win' anyone over. My treatment of the subject of abortion will spread over many areas but I will not elaborate too much, since my primary audience will be those people who *already* believe that abortion is wrong, but need a quick primer in articulating *why* exactly it is wrong, and how to answer common straw-fish arguments thrown by 'the other side' about any possibly good reason to support abortion.

So here we go; below are the common polemical arguments presented from the Pro-Choice Camp:

1. Fetus != Baby
I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. Within a few weeks, possibly before the woman realizes she is pregnant, what is growing in her womb is not a blob of cells. There is no logical or mythical line that a fetus must cross in order to become a baby. You want to talk about dependence? Then most kids don't cross that line until they go to college!

2. Fetus != Person, therefore it has no protection of a person under the law
There's no logical 'beginning' of a person before or after fertilization. A day-old baby is the same person as he was a day before his birth, the same person as he was 2 days before his birth, and so on, until we come to a logical beginning, which is fertilization. During fertilization, a new creature with a complete set of DNA is created - even as a single-celled organism before the cells multiply.
Historically, personhood doesn't begin until after the person is born -- like in Roman times, when the father has to 'lift up' the baby to proclaim it as his son, if not, to reject it.
Philosophically, that's bosh. We've established that the fetus is a baby, and that baby is the same person, before and after birth. That baby cannot, at some point of time within its mother's womb, suddenly become a rabbit or a bird at birth. A human fetus grows to be a human person. A Person has human rights.

3. It's just a blob of cells, a part of a woman's body; she decides what she can do with her body.
Yes, a woman, or any free person for that matter, has the right to do what she wants to do with her body. A fetus isn't a part of a woman's body the way an arm or an eye is.

4. It's just a blob of cells; it's not murder.
We've established that the fetus is a baby, and a person. Premeditated, deliberate, involuntary termination of a person's life, in any sense, is murder. There's a law protecting the eggs of a bald eagle. Clearly, everybody knows that destroying an egg of a bald eagle destroys one more eagle. That which is growing in a pregnant woman's womb, is a baby. Clearly, to destroy it is to kill one more person.

5. Every child a wanted child
Boy, this is a slogan from the Clinton era. Pregnancy is never accidental, just as sex is never accidental. Pregnancy is an intended end of sex, biologically speaking. Every couple who has sex should keep in mind that their action indicates biologically that they want to conceive a child.

6. Abortion is a healthcare right, a woman's right
Several movements have begun to push for abortion to be proclaimed as a woman's right, cleverly stowed under the slogan of women's healthcare – which has become synonymous with abortion and contraception. Pregnancy is not a disease. Human rights can never, ever, include rights that deprive another of his basic human rights. Even in the case of a pregnancy that "endangers" the health of the mother, abortion is still not a right - it is only a tolerably evil consequence of saving the life of the mother. (More about this myth of dangerous pregnancy: only in very rare conditions make pregnancy hazardous to a woman, which are certainly not present in the majority of abortion-for-health cases)

7. Abortion should be 'safe, legal and rare'
Another Clintonesque legacy. Stats showed that abortion numbers spiked during the Clinton years. Relative safety, legal status and easy availability (sometimes subsidized or covered by insurance) does not exactly discourage its practice, you see.

8. Abortion has helped curb crime in dangerous neighborhood
There is higher density of abortion clinics at poorer neighborhoods. In New York, under Rudy Giuliani, abortion was used as part of the zero-tolerance strategy. It is a form of eugenics, or baldly put, genocide. It is saying that 'poor people' should not be encouraged to have children, and this slippery slope will lead to a situation where poor people will not have rights to have children. Social determinism: not all who grew up in poor neighborhood grew up to be criminals. Guess which ethnicity has experienced the greatest number of abortions? 37% of all abortions are done on African-American women, more babies (nearly 15 million -- PDF!) have died through abortion in the last 36 years than the number that slavery killed.

9. Abortion helps us to be ecologically friendly
(I must admit this is one of the more 'loco' arguments) Are human beings parasites? Is the earth overpopulated? 40 years ago, scientists say that at the rate human beings are propagating, there will not be enough food for everyone. Well, they've been proven wrong. Human beings are not only consumers but also producers whose creativity transcend conventional growth projection. As a side point, artificial engineering of population, made countries like China, and a large part of Europe experience demographic 'winter'.

10. Abortion is Pro "choice"
When the other side talks about 'pro-choice', this choice is never the choice of the baby, always of the mother. Thus the strong wins. This is pure discrimination, dictatorship of the powerful.

11. Abortion is legal
Today, in the US and in many parts of the world, yes, it is legal. But abandonment is not. Abandonment of a newly born child, say in a trash bin, is a crime. Abandonment of a child that survives abortion, say in an abortion mill, is a crime. Is it not inconsistent, not to mention absurd, given the legality of abortion? Have you ever given it any thought? For many in the prolife movement, these laws are seen as steps towards more prolife legislation.

12. Are you ready to support the baby born out of wedlock?
This is a form of ad-hominem attack, which moves the argument from the morality of the act, to the person who defends or opposes it. In reality, the Catholic Church, being one of the most vocal opponents of abortion, is also the greatest provider of social & medical service in the US (and I suspect in many other countries as well). She walks the talk.

13. Prevention is better than cure.
#1 – Abortion is NOT a disease!
#2 – Stats show that free availability of contraception does not correspond to lower rate of abortion. It stands to reason that increased false sense of security gave rise to promiscuousness.

14. Morning-after pills are not the same as abortion.
Morning-after pills contain hormones that prevent implantation of a fertilized embryo, often given to victims of rape, or those who have had 'unprotected' intercourse. In other words, a baby may (or may not) have been conceived but could not 'latch' onto the mother's womb and is subsequently killed. While it is intended to prevent ovulation and prevent fertilization, taking the morning-after pills may be an abortifacient act if fertilization has already occurred.

15. I don't agree with it, but I will protect the woman's right to choose...
This is like saying: I don't agree with slavery, but I wouldn't help my neighbor's slave escape and I certainly won't vote to end it either. Bull.

16. I don't agree with it because I'm “Catholic / Jewish / Muslim / Evangelical / <insert your own faith here>” but I won't impose my belief on others
Public square is where faith & reason meets, to throw it out of public square is a form of dictatorship of laicistic relativism. Should we hang our faith at the doors when we step into our offices? Should the Church not build hospitals and schools, because that reflects their belief that nurturing the body and the mind are good works? Should Bl. Damien not have served the leper community in Molokai? Should Mother Teresa not bother to help the poorest of the poor in Calcutta? All beliefs influence public decisions.

Additional reasons why abortion should not be seen as a normal part of our lives...
Loss of protection of conscientious objectors (eg. FOCA)
If abortion gains status as a right, then as a consequence, medical professionals need to protect these 'rights'. A pharmacist cannot refuse to dispense abortifacients, and doctors have to supply abortion service on demand, because they are seen as basic rights of the patients, which must be upheld by adherents of these professional standards.

Aborted fetus as a source of embryonic stem cells
Aborted fetus is a source of embryonic stem cells (ESC). As long as there is a steady supply of aborted fetuses, there is a steady supply of ESC, hence perpetuating this vicious cycle of supply-demand that extols their price in terms of human lives.

Aborted fetus as a source of donated organs
Aborted fetus can been seen as a source of donated organs. And why not? If abortion is seen as a right, and not a tolerable evil as it is seen today, then logically, a utilitarian end can be found for these unwanted consequences. What's stopping them from being used as a source of organs?

That's all I have for now, I hope it helps somebody out there.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Aquí nació

On July 31st, the feast day of St Ignatius of Loyola, I (and 16 others from the residence) went to Loyola for a day trip. Our objective was to see the basilica of St Ignatius, built next to the Santa Casa (Holy House) where he was born and was 'converted', taking advantage of the fact that his feast day happens to be the day when we had a break during the summer course. We went with intent to have more leisure than to exercise piety, but we were quickly disabused of that notion.

We drove from Pamplona, and arrived a little before 1pm, and to our (well, mine really) surprise, the parking lot was full and there were throngs of people everywhere. There was a Mass (in Basque) being said, and when we came to the doors of the basilica, we had to be 'restrained' outside until hundreds of people streamed out at the end of the Mass. The next Mass, this time in Spanish, ensued at 1pm. I'm just plainly surprised that the local people are just naturally pious. To come to the basilica of St Ignatius on his feast day is the normal thing to do :)

We watched an introductory video about Loyola (more about Loyola than about St Ignatius) at the tourism office, which is just below the basilica. I didn't understand a single thing, since it had the style of Shakespearean Spanish.

After briefly seeing the basilica, taking a few hurried shots as the Mass was under way, we went to the Santa Casa, which is the center of attraction. The basilica in fact, was built just next to it. Admission costs 2€, and guided tour costs 3.5€, but somehow, just somehow, somebody managed to convince the counter guy that since there were 17 of us, we should be let in for much less. So we forked out 1€ each and got ourselves a guided tour ;) The guided tour really means that our group gets a card that is to be scanned by card-readers at every station (there are 12 in total) in the Santa Casa. When the scanner reads the card, an automatic voice recording plays and thus we heard the history of St Ignatius - from his birth until his conversion.

It was very well done. I am impressed at its quality and comprehensiveness. It informs us of the very well-documented facts of the life of St Ignatius, from the significance of the location of this house and its political alliance, to the significance of the construction of the house (which has no windows on the lower part of its walls—characteristic of a fortress), to the more elevated aspects of the life of St Ignatius, culminating (the tour, that is) in the Chapel of Conversion (the room where se entregó a Dios Iñigo de Loyola)

What impressed me most of all is the devotional and 'elevated' style of the guided tour. It has the style of a Christian meditation. In fact, some of my friends jokingly added "Amen" at the end of several of the stations. We heard through the recorded voice that Iñaki (Iñigo in Basque) asked himself - given that God had given him so much - what has he done for God? Then we were asked to 'reflect' what God wanted of each of us ;) Mind you, my friends are exactly some of these pious people who could appreciate such elevated discourse, but the unexpectedness of it all brought much humour to the situation. Indeed, we came out nearly two hours(!!!) later, having piously (and humorously) heard 'the meditations' and praying for the intercession of St Ignatius on behalf of all the persons & the intentions entrusted to us by our friends who couldn't be there, half-dying with hunger and had a picnic lunch in the park outside the basilica.

So far, this is one of the best excursions (not to mention the madness of Sanfermin!) I have had in Spain, very characteristic of this land — both playful and pious at the same time.

More pictures can be seen here