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As many headlines have suggested, President Biden has overturned a longstanding amendment on the banning of federal funding for abortions as well as abortion referrals by family planning clinics. The main goal of this overturn is to "restore the federal family planning program to the way it ran under the Obama administration, when clinics were able to refer women seeking abortions to a provider" (NPR, 2021). What does this mean for the future of women's health, morality centralized on life, and the increase of demand on fetal tissue used in vaccines that seem to be on rapid uptake since the 1960's and 70's? In this article, we'll examine ethical procedures revolving around abortion, women's health, and morality.
The Hyde Amendment is the shortened term for the Hyde Amendment Codification Act, a bill that was first introduced in the Senate in 2013. This bill prohibits the "expenditure for any abortion of funds authorized or appropriated by federal law or funds in any trust fund to which funds are authorized or appropriated by federal law" (113 Congress, 2021). Excluded from this bill is the following:
"(1) the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest;
(2) the woman suffers from a physical disorder, injury, or illness, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, that would place her in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, as certified by a physician" (113 Congress, 2021).
Women's health and women's "right to choose" have been used interchangeably for decades. However, a right to choose and women’s health seems counterintuitive when the base assumption is scrutinized and analyzed closely. The pro-choice argument is centralized on the construction of personhood and when this awareness begins. Though recently, this group of people held the belief that a heartbeat made a fetus alive; when personhood began dictated whether the fetus was classified as a human baby. This belief has strayed in the recent months with the radical left signifying that a heartbeat no longer mattered. Inconsistencies within the belief of the pro-choice movement has left many gaps in ideologies. Let’s evaluate the case of Peter Singer, a spokesman for infanticide from Princeton. His claim was that newborns or even individuals suffering from dementia were not “self-aware” or even “aware of their existence over time. Therefore, they held less value than pigs, dogs, or chimps” McQuilkin & Copan, 2014, pg. 363). In 2013, Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortionist who severed newborn’s spinal cords was sentenced to life for the killings of these newborn children after failed abortions. These two cases expose not only the moral inconsistencies within the pro-choice movement, but also the ideological ones stemming from women’s health.
Women’s health in pregnancy should encompass ensuring both mother and baby have a favorable outcome of life. This entails routine evaluations, ultrasounds, appropriate nutrition, and resources available if the mother wants to put her child up for adoption to remove the choice of abortion. However, a liberal definition of women’s health that’s understood today is one that surrounds pro-choice, a “my body, my choice” type of mentality. How accurate is this claim when it is evaluated with both psychology and science, without even getting to the evaluation of scripture yet?
“My body, my choice” would mean that a woman who is pregnant and the unborn child are of one mind and one body. However, both have been evaluated as false. Though the mother supplies the vital nutrients to the child and a connection is made via the umbilical cord, the presentation of separate DNA sequences would make the child its own entity. The child also is aware that it is separate psychologically due to the jolting movements within the womb as well as recognition of sounds. Psychology would also debate that the child has a separate soul apart from the mother since the soul consists of the mind. For the “my body, my choice” argument to be correct and vitally assertive, it must hold up to scrutiny and present sound evidence both of which this mentality falls exceptionally short of and hold no sound ethical argument.
Children, both born and unborn, have been killed since the beginning. Abortions are not limited to certain societies or time frames. It has existed since the fall of mankind in Genesis 3 and we still see the effects of this sin today. The arguments, therefore, of vindication of neglect or murder of infants remain the same as those in the medical abortion issue (McQuilkin and Copan, 2014, pg. 364). Below are the stages of development a human:
2. Zygote. This stage is recognized when a sperm and ovum unite in conception within 48 hours of intercourse. The ovum then makes its journey to implantation. 1/2 of zygotes do not reach this stage.
3. Embryo. The egg is implanted and here is where individual life is established. There are cases of twinning (when twins divide after implantation) and recombination (two eggs released by the mother but become one due to movement to implantation).
4. Fetus. This stage is around the 8-week stretch and marks the development of all human characteristics.
5. Infant. Birth marks the physical separation of the mother completely.
(McQuilkin & Copan, 2014, pg. 364).
The taking of life at stage 5 and onward till stage 8 is still considered a violation of the 6th commandment of "Thou shall not kill." Interestingly enough, spermicide and even preventing conception altogether through birth control has been opposed by the Roman Catholic Church, yet not so by Protestant churches. The debate we see as unfolded and elaborated on in today's society revolves around stage 2 through 4.
Let's evaluate the soul. The soul is housed within the parietal cortex that exists within the mind. It makes up personality, personal awareness, and personal identity. It must be separate from the body since the body replenishes its cells every seven years or about this timeframe (McQuilkin & Copan, 2014, pg. 365). Human souls, unlike those of animals, survive a physical death. When the soul is housed in the body, they function as an integrated whole mechanism. Pain and emotions such as anxiety are part of a soulful experience. The issue of personhood stems from knowing when ensoulment begins. There is much debate on what term in human development this originates.
There is no definitive answer on when ensoulment begins since scripture does not tell us. However, if one was to argue for personhood lacking due to human characteristics, then the argument would also have to be made for a comatose person, a person suffering from Alzheimer's or Dementia, or a person in a vegetable state. The argument would have to prove that each person ceases to be a person due to lacking awareness and this argument ceases to be valid upon the inability to adequately prove the unhuman of each particular case.
Let's look at the case of 1973's Roe vs Wade. The main argument for this case revolved around "useful life" (McQuilkin & Copan, 2014, pg. 369). Justice Harry Blackmun coined this concept when he suggested that "to end a life that is not useful may be not only permissible, but actually mandatory for the ethically sensitive person" (McQuilkin & Copan, 2014, pg. 369). He argued for quality of life instead of sanctity of life. However, the philosopher James Rachels mentioned that there is a difference between biological and biographical life.
Worth mentioning here is the Roe baby. Norma McCovey was the plaintiff in the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court case. Her child, Shelley Lynn Thornton, was given up for adoption to Ruth Schmidt and Billy Thornton instead of being aborted. This leaves the question of the human conscious and conviction regarding murder. Shelley was not the only child, however. One child was raised by McCovey's mother. Shelley was identified by a private investigator who was hired by the National Enquirer who had partnered with McCovery in a publicity stunt to help McCovey's mother earn money as a pro-choice speaker, according to Forbes Magazine.
Oddly enough, a confession by McCovey was made public in a documentary titled "AKA Jane Roe" that ran on FX. In this documentary, she admitted that she never had an abortion, took money for being pro-choice, and struggled with substance abuse. "Her desperate circumstances were what made her a suitable plaintiff. If she had money to travel to a locale where abortion was already legal, her attorneys wouldn't have been able to argue that the current state-by-state solution placed an impossible burden on their client" (The Washington Post, 2020). This begs the question of motive for most pro-choice activists. Scripture states that humanity suppresses truth out of their unrighteousness (Romans 1:18), hates God without reason (John 15:25), and their thoughts are evil continuously (Genesis 6:5). If all this is true, then those within the pro-choice movement know, due to a conscious, that what they support is not only ethically wrong, but morally so.
Part 2 will speak on fetus tissue used in vaccines and will elaborate more on the ethics centralized around life.
For posts similar to this, please see the below publications:
English Standard Version Bible (2001) Crossway
Hesse, Monica. "'Jane Roe,’ from Roe v. Wade, made a stunning deathbed confession. Now what?" The Washington Post, May 20, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/jane-roe-from-roe-v-wade-made-a-stunning-deathbed-confession-now-what/2020/05/20/fad9d296-9a09-11ea-89fd-28fb313d1886_story.html
Porterfield, Carlie. "‘Roe Baby’ Speaks Out For The First Time Amid Renewed Abortion Debate" Forbes, September 9, 2021. https://www.forbes.com/sites/carlieporterfield/2021/09/09/roe-baby-speaks-out-for-the-first-time-amid-renewed-abortion-debate/?sh=604178154691
McQuilkin, Robertson & Copan, Paul. (2014)An Introduction to Biblical Ethics: Walking in the Way of Wisdom (Third Edition) Intervarsity Press. https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/lib/liberty/reader.action?docID=3316885&ppg=1