Is Abortion the Answer?
PERHAPS you have heard that question before, or have even asked it yourself. It arises often, in connection with a variety of problems. So, you may wonder: Is legalized abortion the best way to curb earth’s population explosion? Might it end abuses that claim the lives of many women seeking abortions outside the law? And is legal abortion the way to solve personal problems associated with unwanted pregnancy?
Attitudes and laws on abortion differ greatly from place to place. Abortion is illegal in chiefly Moslem Arab lands. It is banned in Nigeria, unless a doctor certifies that the woman’s life is imperiled. The West German Constitutional Court ruled against abortion on February 25, 1975. Conversely, on January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court affirmed the legal right of a woman to have an abortion during early pregnancy. And women of Japan can have legal abortions nearly upon demand through the seventh month of their pregnancy. Of course, in nations allowing abortion, regulations governing it vary considerably.
An Answer to Population Problems?
As you probably know, millions of women are having abortions within the law or outside of it. The United Nations Population Division has reported that “abortion may be the single most widely used method of birth control in the world today.” But does this mean that abortion is a desirable answer to man’s population problems?
A very liberal abortion law was passed by Japan’s Diet in 1948. What has resulted? A population curb, of course. Nevertheless, after a quarter of a century of easy abortion, Professor T. S. Ueno of Nihon University in Tokyo observed: “Abortion has become a way of life. Moral life has become disorderly. It is an age of free sex, and the life of the unborn is not respected.”
Yes, abortion has helped to curb population growth. But at the same time it has proved to be corrosive morally. It certainly has not engendered deep regard for human life. So, is abortion really a desirable answer to population problems? Do not reason and logic say, No?
An Answer to Abuses?
Especially if you know a woman who was injured through illegal abortion you may wonder if the legalizing of abortions in some places has ended dangerous abuses. For instance, by replacing illegal abortions with those that were legal, what effect did the 1973 United States Supreme Court decision have? According to Dr. Christopher Tietze, Population Council senior consultant, the decision reduced abortion deaths of women from over 300 annually in the 1960’s to 47 in 1973. But that court decision did not put an end to abortion deaths. Dr. Tietze said that a number of illegal abortions continued to be performed that year, and they resulted in 25 of those 47 deaths.
Consider India as another example. An estimated 5,000,000 women have abortions there each year, either legally or illegally. In 1971, Indian women were given the legal right to have an abortion in a hospital upon demand. However, since some 80 percent of them live outside the cities where such facilities exist, their abortions often are perilous operations that are not performed by physicians.
So, has the legalizing of abortions put an end to abuses? No; great danger still exists in millions of cases.
Safe Answer to Personal Problems?
World population problems and the perils of illegal abortion, though, may be relatively unimportant to a woman who has an unwanted pregnancy. Perhaps she is unmarried and feels emotionally incapable of bearing and rearing a child conceived out of wedlock. Is abortion the answer?
She obviously needs to consider various factors. For instance, even under the supposedly safe conditions of legalized abortion, she might be imperiling her health and life. Professional views vary, of course, but, according to Professor T. S. Ueno, legal abortions are not in every way “remarkably safer” than those that are illegal. He feels that the quick change from a pregnant state results in imbalance of the woman’s sympathetic nervous system. Among further bad effects, he includes exhaustion, sleeplessness, headache, vertigo, cramps, neuralgia, psychosomatic illness, extrauterine pregnancies, habitual spontaneous abortions and sterility.
Even if a woman were to go to an abortion clinic, she would likely be informed that there are dangers. Infection and hemorrhaging can occur. It may be admitted to her that some women die as a result of having an abortion. So a legal abortion is not a safe answer to personal problems.
Not to be overlooked are the distressing emotional reactions often experienced by women who have abortions. You may find quite thought provoking the case of a twenty-two-year-old unmarried university student. Evidently, she never expected an unfavorable emotional reaction as a result of undergoing an operation at an abortion clinic. Nevertheless, anxiety developed as she waited. Then came the actual abortion. “In stormed the doctor—faceless, voiceless, devoid of emotion,” she said later. “He didn’t say hello or even glance at my face.” The operation proceeded—and it was painful too. Finally, it was over.
“Then I erupted into tears,” admitted the young woman. “Here I thought I had been utterly composed.” Of her homeward trip, she said, in part: “As if to purge myself at last of subjugation and three hours of a knowledge that shouldn’t have had to be known, I leaned out the bus window and vomited.”
Yet, a woman’s reaction can be more serious than that. Deep, long-lasting emotional scars may result from an abortion. In fact, it can have profound effects upon individuals in the nursing profession too. Consider: One doctor performed an abortion for a twenty-one-year-old woman during about the eighteenth week of pregnancy, using injections of fluid that generally suffocates the fetus in the mother’s womb. Eight hours thereafter, she expelled a fetus that made muscular movements and had an active heart. After twenty-seven minutes, the fetus expired. “The nursing staff was very upset about this incident,” remarked the doctor.
As abortions increased in number at Southampton, England, some young nurses left their jobs. Particularly were they troubled when life signs existed in the fetuses. “They come into the profession full of idealism, anxious to preserve life,” commented one nursing officer. “It can be a shattering experience when they find themselves in a situation where, to all intents and purposes, they are helping to destroy life.”
When Does Life Start?
Is destruction of life really involved? A troubled, even desperate, unwed mother may not think of abortion in that way. Nonetheless, a former strong advocate of abortion, Dr. B. N. Nathanson, remarked on what he termed “the infinitely agonizing truth.” What is that? “We are taking life.”
The critical question is, When does life start? Dr. Nathanson commented: “We know there is human life in there from the very onset of pregnancy.” Another physician, Frank P. Bolles, M.D., in a letter to the Denver Post, said: “It is far easier to send a man to the welfare office than to share from our own table; or to offer an abortion for the problem pregnancy rather than to care for the woman through her time of need . . . Abortion is not a legal, biologic or economic issue. It is not the State vs. the individual, but rather the individual(s) vs. God. I would urge you to consider Him and His thoughts as you decide the value of the life of your neighbor, (both born and unborn, wanted and unwanted, intact or deformed) and your own life.”
Well, then, what does God’s Word, the Bible, indicate? It shows that Jehovah God has high regard for human life right from its very start. His law to ancient Israel stated: “In case men should struggle with each other and they really hurt a pregnant woman and her children do come out but no fatal accident occurs, he is to have damages imposed upon him without fail according to what the owner of the woman may lay upon him; and he must give it through the justices. But if a fatal accident should occur, then you must give soul for soul.”—Ex. 21:22-25.
Significantly, nothing said here or elsewhere in Scripture indicates that the age of the embryo or fetus should be a factor in determining whether to have an abortion. Since Jehovah God sets forth no such qualifications, it would be inappropriate for anyone else to try doing so.
It is important to realize that life is passed on, not at birth, but, rather, when conception occurs. It is then, says the Encyclopædia Britannica, that “the life-history of the individual, as a distinct and biological entity, begins.” Jehovah certainly has regard for human life prior to birth, for the divinely inspired psalmist David said of him: “Your eyes saw even the embryo of me, and in your book all its parts were down in writing, as regards the days when they were formed and there was not yet one among them.”—Ps. 139:16.
Interestingly, David continues: “So, to me how precious your thoughts are! O God, how much does the grand sum of them amount to!” (Ps. 139:17) Yes, David had an obvious desire to comply with the will of God, who was so concerned about human life. Do you feel the same way?
If so, then you probably have concluded correctly that induced abortion is a sin against Almighty God, a criminal act in his eyes. Therefore, it is not the godly answer to problems linked with conception out of wedlock. The answer is that one ought to avoid conduct that may lead to such pregnancy. Among the “works of the flesh” disapproved by God are “fornication, uncleanness, loose conduct.” On the other hand, the fruitage of God’s holy spirit includes “self-control.” It is not impossible to shun or desist from “works of the flesh.” The Christian apostle Paul states: “Those who belong to Christ Jesus impaled the flesh together with its passions and desires.”—Gal. 5:19-24.
But what if an unmarried woman already has pursued a course that has resulted in pregnancy? Induced abortion is not the answer, not if she now wishes to act in harmony with the Holy Scriptures. Some girls might move to another community because of social stigma, but are they really better off away from everyone they have known and who might be of help in various ways? What about letting others adopt the child? This might later be regretted deeply, for it goes against motherly instincts. True, in these “last days” many persons have “no natural affection.” (2 Tim. 3:1-3) Yet an unwed mother does well not to stifle her maternal affection. She may, in fact, feel lasting guilt if she does not care for a child that she shared in bringing into existence. Naturally, it would require courage to have and keep her baby. Nevertheless, this is desirable if she wants to bring her life into accord with God’s Word and to teach its truths to her child.
And what about unplanned pregnancy within marriage? Rather than considering abortion, how much better it is to take the view expressed by the inspired psalmist! “Look!” declared King Solomon of ancient Israel, “Sons are an inheritance from Jehovah; the fruitage of the belly is a reward.” (Ps. 127:3) Yes, childbirth and parenthood have their anxieties, but not the psychological pain and guilt that so often follow abortion. Fittingly, Jesus Christ said: “A woman, when she is giving birth, has grief, because her hour has arrived; but when she has brought forth the young child, she remembers the tribulation no more because of the joy that a man has been born into the world.”—John 16:21.
No, abortion is not the right answer. For individuals desiring sexual intimacy, marriage is. Then true happiness can be achieved as those united in matrimony plan their lives with a view to pleasing Jehovah God, who originated human life, love and wedlock.
[Diagram on page 5]
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U.S.A. ONE MILLION IN ONE YEAR
JAPAN ONE MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND IN ONE YEAR