Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ultrasound Before Abortion

A few days ago, the Oklahoma state government passed a law requiring women to get ultrasounds before being able to have abortions and which allows doctors to withhold test results that show any defects.

There are many things wrong with this, beginning with the basics.

The first is that getting women to have an ultrasound before having an abortion is a blatant attempt to use emotional blackmail to guilt women into continuing the pregnancy to term.

Judging from this law, "pro-lifers"* must believe these women somehow don't realise that the foetus, or even before that, the embryo, is a potential living human being and that the only reason they get an abortion is because no one has reminded them of this.

That is not the reason women have abortions. The decision to get an abortion, or not, is a complicated and emotional one, where a woman and hopefully her partner must consider whether or not they are willing or indeed capable or raising the child properly. Adding an emotional argument against abortion does not help what is already a difficult decision to make in as objective and realistic a manner as possible.

If, as certain "pro-lifers" seem to imagine, women were just having mid or final term abortions at the drop of a hat whenever they got pregnant, would these really be the kinds of women you would want raising a child anyway?

The second problem with this law is that doctors can withhold test results showing fetal defects. I find this disgusting. The whole point of testing is to see whether a foetus has any serious defects that would seriously impact on its and the parents' lives. I imagine "pro-lifers" hope that this will stop parents from choosing to abort a child if it does have defects, like down syndrome or cystic fibrosis.

That these "pro-lifers" have no qualms about destroying the lives of adult human beings by forcing them to care for and raise a child with such debilitating conditions, makes me feel ill and puts the lie to the name they give themselves. I value the life of even one fully conscious human being above the "life" of a clump of cells.

Of course, pro-lifers will always need to fall back on the argument of potential life. This argument is, of course, ridiculous. After all, if a fertilised egg is potential life, morally requiring a baby as a result, then so would every sperm be a potential life, left to waste without an egg. In this case, masturbation would be a crime. Furthermore, any woman who was not pregnant on a constant basis would be committing murder and when labs finally developed the ability to clone humans from any cell from our body, one wonders whether "pro-lifers" would demand we gear the entire wealth of our economies to a constant, ever growing, never ending production of such clones until the very weight of supporting this "industry" has crushed our quality of life to levels that are the stuff of post-apocalyptic nightmares.

The very idea of such a scenario is ridiculous, but it's the logical follow-through of the potential life argument.

A cluster of cells is not a human being. Until it has developed a brain and nerves, it cannot even feel pain. Its life, at the very least until it is born, is a thing of future potentials whilst the mother's life is an existing one.

When will "pro-lifers" stop calling just calling themselves "pro-lifers" and actually start thinking about all the lives they're trying to affect?


[Incidentally, Right-to-life groups in Australia have seen this Oklahoma law and started to make a push for similar laws here. Cause for concern.]

* I put "pro-lifers" in apostrophes because they only consider the potential future human being's life, but not the parent's or anyone else's for that matter.


  1. Re your "Pro-lifer" comment: Another curious thing about American "pro-lifers" is that they predominantly endorse the death penalty. I suppose they like to grow them up and THEN kill them...

  2. Ha! That would be suitably ironic. Got any stats or links where I can follow-up on that?

  3. Well, a lot of generalizations, but US "conservatives" and Republicans tend to be Pro-life, and this shows they overwhelmingly support the death penalty:

    Of course, it shows that Americans no matter what seem to support the death penalty. Something I don't really understand on a logical level, but I can understand on a more visceral and primitive level. I suppose it comes from people not being in control of their emotions, and easily manipulated on that emotional level (how else do you explain Bush getting elected twice?).

  4. I think you're right about support of the death penalty (as it is now) being likely due to emotional reasons.

    Thanks for the link as well.