Irresolvable abortion heat waves
If there is any subject that is divisive in the free world today and which shows no signs of ever abating in cacophony and, indeed, ever being resolved, it is the matter of abortion. It is a subject over which the conservatives agonise. In the camp of the progressives, it is vexatious that even libertarians who brandish the banners of fundamental human rights shrink and recoil once it is an issue bordering on abortion. The Church is confused. Although the Roman Catholic Church rejects abortion, it believes that the soul enters foetus in the 12th week of pregnancy. Commercial instincts stand in the way of several doctors to give abortion a wide berth. Indeed, for a great many of them the answer is both yes and no. So the free world is polarised between pro-life advocates and abortionists.
For the protagonists, the latest vexation was triggered by the State of Texas banning abortion almost altogether within her frontiers with effect from last month, precisely September 1, 2021. The battleline remains as in old times. The armoury, too, boasts of no new arguments in weaponry. For the abortion advocates why should they not be able to do whatever they wish with their bodies? They contend that any frowning at abortion is callous and uncivilized. They find it provocative that the state should have a say on the matter at all. It is even more so that the 2013 restrictions on abortion under Rick Perry as governor were thought severe; the 2021 law is regarded as toughest. While 2013 law signed by Perry bans abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, the latest law put the restrictions at six weeks after pregnancy. Abortion campaigners, predictably up in arms, say most women may not even be aware of their new status within the stipulated six weeks. They wasted no time in pouring onto the streets carrying placards and heading for courts, some for Supreme Court of the United States urging it to suspend the law in the meantime. The Supreme Court in a narrow split of 5-4 declined.
The New York Times online reported in 2013 the signing of the Bill into law as follows: “Six months after declaring his goal to make abortion at any stage ‘a thing of the past’, Governor Rick Perry signed a Bill into law Thursday giving Texas some of the toughest restrictions on abortion in the country. Surrounded by Republican legislators and abortion opponents in an auditorium at the Texas capitol in Austin, Mr. Perry said they were celebrating and cementing ‘the foundation which the culture of life in Texas is built upon’ “As he spoke,” the newspaper continues: “The chants and shouts of ‘Shame! Shame1’ by the Bill’s opponents, gathered outside the auditorium, could be heard.”
The stringent aspect of the law required that abortion clinics be licensed as “ambulatory surgery centres” but abortion rights advocate and Democrats said the requirements would lead to costly renovations or relocations to meet the architectural and equipment standards. Out 42 abortion clinics in the state, only five met the standards; the rest would have to close down or relocate. They went to court, and the court struck down part of the law, a ruling to which the governor reacted promptly and was quoted as saying: “We will continue fighting to implement the laws passed by the duly elected officials of the state, laws that reflect the will and values of Texas.”
Governor Greg Abbott signing the new 2021 Bill into even tighter law said: “Our Creator endowed us with the right to life and yet millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion. The legislature worked together on a bipartisan basis to pass a Bill that I am about to sign that ensures that life of every unborn child who has a heartbeat will be saved from the ravages of abortion.”
The twist in the new statute is that it makes judicial intervention complex and unattractive as it pushes the responsibility to enforce the law to private citizens. They are the ones to sue abortion providers: doctors, nurses and sponsors who may have footed the bills to procure an abortion. The private citizen does not have to be connected to a lady who had an abortion before he can sue. The law makers, it is reasoned, hope to get round legal tangle which has tied up abortion restrictions in court. Because no official of state is involved in enforcing the law, the attorney-general is insulated from any suit because as commentators put it, he has no role in enforcing the statute.
I am fascinated and indeed touched by the pronouncements of the two governors placing emphasis on the sanctity of life —of even the unborn child—and on the will and value the people of Texas hold dear. In the developing countries such as ours, the abortion advocates argue that many young girls and women who do not want the babies they are carrying are still dying in the hands of quack doctors simply because society will not accept that the matter concerns their lives and bodies not anyone else’s. On this account, they want abortion legalized so women can always walk unafraid into a hospital and have it properly done with. They also say that there ought to be no argument to start with because of want of proven evidence that the bone of contention, the foetus, is a human being.
The pro-life forces countercharge that: An abortion seeker is one who cannot stand up to a responsibility consciously assumed and is thus a human being of not much value, whose weakness the abortionist forces seek to indulge rather than tame, because that also is a line of least resistance, the easy way out, always of little worth. Pro-lifers in this perspective see themselves as the friends of society because they canvass responsibility and ennoblement. They contend that abortion abuses womanhood because, while men do not mind women taking the pill or having an abortion, there is hardly any man who would take a male pill or agree to vasectomy which would resolve the issue of unwanted baby trauma once and for all, and perhaps better than any other means. Indeed, they have since this argument gone beyond mere rhetoric to actually attempt to prove that what is destroyed during an abortion, foetus, is a human being in the making.
As far back as 1993 when this column first waded into this subject of abortion, the pro-life campaigners had distributed free in Nigeria, video tapes of what was titled The silent scream. The video is supposed to show the scream of the foetus as the abortionist gynaecologist chases the little one in the womb with his lethal instruments, reaches out for it, grabs it and … Because of the sensitivity it can evoke and the sensibility in readers, it can hurt I wish to refrain from giving the grim details in the video, of the battle of the gynaecologist and the struggling of the foetus to flee from the assault and lethal gadget of the intruder. Suffice it to refer us to the voice of the presenter, Bernard N. Nathanson, a gynaecologist and repentant abortionist who takes the viewer through ultra sound scan, into the dark but safe recess of the womb where a foetus rests peacefully. As captured by this column at the time, Nathanson’s voice breaks out: “Now all we see are simply the child’s fragments, the pieces of tissue which document the living defenceless human being. In this pathetic sight of human rubble, we discern a head…a leg still attached. The head is located and having been located is grabbed…”
Many people who saw the video were deeply moved. It was then suggested that women who ask for an abortion be shown the video before the operation. It was believed they would be so moved like Bernard Nathanson, the presenter that they would change their minds, as some women said they would have done, even from the narration alone, had they the opportunity. One of the women who suffered a ‘psychological hurt’ said she was not told earlier of the possible physical dangers of an abortion. Now, when she thinks of her deformed womb, ‘all I can do is cry.’ Another was shocked after the operation when she saw what was to be her baby. She recalled: “I cried so constantly and so deeply. I think the women movement has been terribly deceived by what abortion means.”
Nathanson, in the footage to ‘Silent Scream’, another pro-life video titled Eclipse of Reason, agrees: “Abortion, all abortion, is violence. And violence is an impermissible alternative in the world of reason.” And as he argues in Silent Scream, “the destruction of a living human being is no solution to a social problem. I don’t believe that a resort to such violence is an admission of scientific, even ethical impoverishment. Somehow, I refuse to believe that Americans can’t devise a better solution rather than a resort to violence.” On the side of life, notable abortionists who have quit also speak in ‘Eclipse of Reason’ Dr. Jay Kellinson performed an abortion in Silent Scream. He says: “I have probably performed about 10,000 or more abortions. I can remember days I did 10 to 35 abortions.” Dr. Joseph Remdal, former director of an abortion clinic in Georgia where 50 to 60 abortions were done daily: “I was killing babies and not saving women. I just got fed up. I wasn’t feeling better inside. I will be more willing to give my own life than to perform an abortion again.” Dr. Arnold Halpem, one-time director of Planned Parenthood Abortion Clinic: “There is no difference between first trimester or second trimester or third trimester. They are all human beings. They are all human beings in different stages of development. I will never perform abortion again. Never. We have gone into a noble profession. We should not lose sight of what we are called to do.”
Beyond the pro-lifers’ scientific arguments of life from conception and the refutations of the pro-abortionist, what really is the heart of this matter? When does life really begin in the womb? Is it at conception? Twelve weeks after? At what stage of pregnancy is man-induced abortion not a crime? For what purpose may man-induced abortion not a crime? Many wonder when life begins in a man and ask: Is foetus life? Is a human being in a foetus? And being severely incapacitated, the abortion advocates arrive at the conclusion that there is no life yet in a foetus. But we should proceed to ask: What other than a human child comes out of a foetus? Is there any woman who is expectant who goes about wondering whether or not it is a human being she is carrying? Does a woman make preparation and shop for any entity other than a human being in joyful expectation that a human baby is underway?
NEXT WEEK: WHEN DOES LIFE OF A BABY BEGIN?