Doesn't a woman have a right to control her own body?

As a rule, yes—but only HER OWN body. The issue, in abortion, is the body of the mother’s unborn child, a child who has rights of her (or his) own.

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Doesn't a woman have a right to control her own body? As a rule, yes, though wise laws prohibit both men and women from harming their own bodies, prostituting them, etc. The issue here, however, is different: Pro-life citizens object to abortion because, through it, a woman and her doctor are killing a body that is NOT her own. A woman’s pre-born baby is genetically unique, and in half of the cases of an entirely different sex. True, the pre-born baby is temporarily hidden away in her mother’s womb, and dependent upon on her for sustenance.But do the temporary accidents of size, level of development, environment, or degree of dependency cancel the child’s God-given rights, up to and including its right to life? Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., certainly no paragon of the political Right, declared that a man's right to swing his arm ends where the other man's nose begins. There’s the pro-life argument against abortion in a nutshell.

What right does anyone have to impose his/her religious beliefs on others?

None whatsoever. It is true that most of the world's major religions have traditionally opposed abortion, but it is not wrong merely because they say so. Most major religions and many who are not religious oppose abortion because it is a crime against society itself.

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What right does anyone have to impose his/her religious beliefs on others? It is true that freedom from religious coercion is a constitutionally guaranteed right. But does this mean that citizens can do anything they want? And if not, who is to say what they can and cannot do? And on what basis will those who make laws tell us what we can and cannot do? Pro-life citizens take the concept of freedom of religion very seriously, but we also argue that when a woman aborts her baby, she and her doctor are violating her child’s right to life; that she and the doctor are imposing their religion—their private beliefs and values—on another true human being, the child. And pro-life citizens believe this is wrong. Even atheists can and do make a pragmatic case for the right to life of the unborn. They argue that if a society is to survive at all, there must be laws to protect its citizens from one another. John Stuart Mill put it this way: "The only purpose for which (governmental) power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community against his will is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant." Since it is generally agreed that murder is the greatest harm one can do to another, pro-life atheists affirm the right to life even of the unborn.

But it isn't really a person, is it?

Apart from a special revelation from God, telling us exactly when the person or soul enters the body, there is simply no way for anyone to distinguish between a “person” and a “human being.” However, it is almost universally accepted that human life begins at conception. Therefore the constitutional right to life guaranteed to all American persons should be granted to all American human beings from the moment of conception.

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This question arises because the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution declares that no state shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or due process of law. Pro-life citizens find it impossible to think that our founding fathers would have excluded pre-born human beings from the category of protected persons. If, however, our legislators and judges are determined to do so, they face a huge problem: They must decide when in fact a developing human being does become a constitutionally protected “person.” The possibilities abound, confuse, and should give us serious pause. Do “the products of conception” become a person when a baby takes its first breath? When it is born? When it can survive outside the womb (Due to advances in medicine, this is a constantly shifting time frame)? At “quickening”, when the mother (or should it be the father, or the doctor) first feels the baby move? When brain waves are first detected (another sliding scale, currently about seven weeks after conception)? Or when the heartbeat is first detected (sometimes as early as 18-21 days after conception)? No, there is only one moment that good science, common sense, and the faith traditions of multitudes around the world agree upon as the point at which a human being—and a constitutionally protected person—comes into being:  The moment of conception. Before that moment there is a solitary egg and a solitary sperm, neither of which, on their own, can become a human being. But in the next moment, when those two cells merge, there is a new human being. This tiny little person, with genetic endowments from both Dad and Mom, has an altogether unique genetic make-up, one that will determine its gender, form, features, coloration, capabilities, future health, and more. No one who understands biological science, or who believes in a divine creator, or who has studied the faith traditions of the world, would dare to call this fantastically complex, living, growing, moving product of conception a mere “blob of tissue.” Nor can anyone honestly call it a simple appendage of its host-mother. Truly, from the moment of conception a true human being is in our midst. On what grounds, then, shall we assign legal personhood to it at some later time? And even if it were true that a baby human is only on its way to becoming a person, what right does anyone have to kill it?

What about protecting the life of the mother?

It is almost never the case that an abortion is required to save the physical life of the mother. Tragically, there are occasional circumstances when two lives are threatened and only one can be saved. In those situations, nearly everyone agrees that the one that can be saved must be.

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It is true that on rare occasions a baby must die in order to save the life of the mother, as for example in the case of ectopic pregnancies or life-threatening disorders whose treatment will induce or require an abortion. But again, such circumstances are rare. We do not deny a woman's right to defend her own life. If treatment is undertaken because it is deemed necessary to save her life, and the child dies as an incidental and unintended effect, this cannot be seen in the same light as deliberate destruction of the child's life. We do need to understand that prior to Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton—the Supreme Court decisions that legalized abortion at any time for any reason—it was perfectly legal to induce or permit an abortion in order to save the life of its mother. Currently, such abortions comprise less than 1% of all abortions in the U.S. All the rest are performed, not because they have to be, but because someone wants them to be. And this latter kind of abortion we believe to be wrong.

What if a woman is pregnant due to rape?

Impregnation by rape is relatively rare. When it does occur, the violated mother needs loving support and wise counsel. but, despite the circumstances of its conception, her child does not deserve to die, and the mother will not be helped, but further harmed, if she aborts it.

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A woman who has been raped has suffered terrible trauma. She needs help, physically, but even more, emotionally. And, yes, she needs justice. But the child is not to blame; there is no justice in killing the innocent child. The way to treat violence is NOT with another act of violence. Somehow society has gotten the idea that if a child is conceived from this violence getting rid of the child will get rid of the pain. If there is no child the hurt will go away. Not so. Many women who have had abortions find the trauma only multiplied. The woman may be told "you have no other choice" but she does have choices. Some women are able to separate the innocent child from the crime, accept it, and raise it. Others do not feel they can, and there is no shame in that. Giving a child up for adoption, in this case, may readily be the loving option, and there are many people longing for a child to love. But, again, killing the child is not the answer. It only adds the loss of the child to the violation of the rape.

What if the child is severely deformed?

This is a hard question. People who abort, or advise abortion when the developing child is abnormal, honestly believe they are doing what is best for the child. There are several very valid objections, though, to this reasoning. Doctors make mistakes, and "severely deformed" is a highly subjective concept.

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here are dangerous fallacies in this noble-sounding question. The first is that doctors make mistakes. Diagnosing malformations in-utero is very risky business.For example, many children have been diagnosed with a serious kidney defect that is supposed to be incompatible with life. Abortion is usually advised, but many of these children, if not aborted, are born normal. Similar "errors" have occurred in cases of brain and spinal deformities and heart anomalies. Even when the diagnosis is correct, surgical techniques that were undreamed of a few years ago are now correcting severe cerebrospinal defects, heart malformations, even tumors, not only in new-born infants but even before birth! A second problem arises with the definition of "deformity". By mere human reasoning, some prognoses do seem worse than death, but who decides?  What a tragedy that over 80% of all babies diagnosed with Downs' Syndrome are now killed by abortion, when we can see with our own eyes that most of these children are filled with an extraordinary joi-de-vivre, and that they often elicit ennobling self-sacrifice, joy, and love from the parents, family members, and public servants who care for them. It may not be easy growing up with a cleft palate or lip, but surgical techniques today render the affliction relatively minor. Should we abort a child with an extra finger, a birthmark? Even in more dire cases, we must realize that a handicapped preborn child is just as much a person as a healthy one. Should we not guarantee the same right to life to both? Indeed, is it not precisely because both kinds of baby are fully human, that mothers who abort their handicapped child experience the same guilt and grief as those who abort a normal child? Finally, if we would never think to kill a born handicapped child, how can we think of killing a pre-born one? Does his/her size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency suddenly rob her of her God-given right to life?

What about Birth Control?

It is a very common misconception that the pro-life movement wants to outlaw birth control. This is simply not so.

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Neither Sonoma County Pro-Life nor its parent organization, National Right to Life, has taken a stand on the issue of birth control. Most of us feel that, whatever our personal belief, this is basically a religious issue. Unlike abortion, which involves another life, birth control should be left up to a woman and her partner. The exception would be when the method of birth control produces an abortion. This occurs when drugs or devices intentionally, or potentially, prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum in the womb. Realistically, it is probably impossible to outlaw such methods. But pro-life people urge their fellow citizens to let the law embedded in their own conscience be shaped by this true fact: From the moment of conception, a new human being has arrived in our midst. Is it right, then, to deny it a home in the womb of its mother by using abortifacient methods of birth control? Whether or not birth control is of sufficient public value to require those who oppose it on religious grounds to pay for it through their taxes is, of course, another question.

Why do Pro-Life people oppose stem-cell research?

Again, this is a common misconception. The short answer is that they don’t unless such research involves the creation and destruction of tiny human beings.

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Pro-Life people overwhelmingly support the type of stem cell which uses so-called "adult" stem cells, which at present is the type achieving promising results in treating a number of health problems. Pro-lifers do object to what is called embryonic stem cell research, a project that for years has been massively funded by taxpayer dollars, and yet has produced no results sufficiently promising to warrant a human clinical trial. Embryonic stem cells are taken from a very young human embryo. Eggs are fertilized in a laboratory and then permitted to go through a few stages of cell division before being harvested. Where do the researchers get the embryos? Sometimes they use embryos that are left over from fertility treatment; other times they (dangerously and painfully) extract eggs from women for pay, then fertilize them in vitro. In either case, the embryo—a tiny human being—is destroyed in the name of scientific research. We saw this kind of thing done in Germany, under National Socialism. Pro-lifers are adamant that we must not see it done here. On the other hand, the inappropriately named "adult" stem cells, are derived from many sources. Bone marrow is probably the most common, and the one which has already produced the most promising treatments. Another similar source is blood from the umbilical cord of newborns. This is usually a waste product but is a promising source for these valuable cells. In recent years, though, scientists have developed methods of turning many ordinary cells --  among them skin and fat -- into what they call plenipotent stem cells. These are the healing cells that we now read about in our newspapers. Thankfully, researchers have already used adult stem cells successfully to treat a number of serious medical conditions. The pro-life movement enthusiastically supports all such medical advances.

Why does the pro-life movement oppose Planned Parenthood?

Don't they do a lot of good? Planned Parenthood would have us believe that abortion is just a tiny part of their work and that women would be denied needed health care if they weren't there to provide it. Neither is true.

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Don't they do a lot of good?  While Planned Parenthood presents itself as a provider of "women's health care", they are also the largest abortion provider in the United States. They present statistics that imply that abortions are as little as 3% of their services, but, according to their own annual report, approximately one woman in 9 who visits Planned Parenthood has an abortion!  Abortion also provides over 1/3 of their income. It is true that Planned Parenthood provides a number of valuable services, such as pregnancy testing, STD screening, and birth control information. They do not perform mammograms, though most people think so, but they do refer to other facilities for this service. However, other agencies which provide all of these services at low to no cost, actually out-number Planned Parenthood facilities nationwide by about 20 to 1!  Most of these also provide birth control, but never abortion. Efforts to deny government funding to Planned Parenthood almost universally transfer the funds directly to these alternate providers. We think that’s a great idea since it means that women in need do receive health care, but pro-life American taxpayers are not forced to subsidize abortion against their conscience. The web-site GetYourCare.org lists somewhere around 150 such clinics within 50 miles of Santa Rosa. For a partial listing of these services in the Santa Rosa area, click on "resources."