I'm going to make a larger thread on the history of abortion beliefs & laws within religion. But for now since I'm new, I cannot. Unfortunately. For
now I will be brief, because the topic is large and there is a lot to say.
Firstly, I want to make clear that I believe the decision should be left up to the woman and doctor.
Secondly it is my understanding that those who are against abortion say they would ban it for moral reasons, i.e. that they believe it is
murder...which, to me seems to be based on religious background.
One thing that I have always found to be contradictory, is that these "abortion = murder" people also tend to value freedom of religion in this
country (as do I). However what I have not heard them address, is the fact that there are other religious beliefs aside from Christian, and not all
these other religions believe that abortion = murder. Thus a ban on all abortion would directly conflict with religious beliefs of others. For
example, in Jewish faith (which generally believes in access to abortion for women, except for in some orthodox communities):
Halacha (Jewish law) does define when a fetus becomes a nefesh (person). "...a baby...becomes a full-fledged human being when the head emerges
from the womb. Before then, the fetus is considered a 'partial life.' " 5 In the case of a "feet-first" delivery, it happens when most of the
fetal body is outside the mother's body.
A passage from the Mishna quotes a Jewish legal text from the second century CE. It describes the situation in which a woman's life is endangered
during childbirth. A D&X procedure (often called Partial Birth Abortion in recent years) might be used under these conditions today. However, this
technique was unknown in ancient times. The legal text states that the fetus must be dismembered and removed limb by limb. However, if "the greater
part" of the fetus had already been delivered, then the fetus could not be killed. This is based on the belief that the fetus only becomes a person
after most of its body emerges from the birth canal.
Another important aspect, is that in Jewish faith the decision to have an abortion is up to the rabbi in consultation with the woman, thus upon an
outright ban of abortion, this decision making power would be taken away and put in the hands of the government.
Other religions have various beliefs as to when abortion is acceptable. However another problem I see, is that in order for abortion to be defined as
murder, and thus banned, a fetus would have to legally be considered a full person, again this goes against what some religions and their laws
Something else that I thought was interesting, is that, historically, the Catholic Church considered abortion acceptable throughout much of history.
Only from 2nd century to 4th century did the church issue an order that abortion was unacceptable. Throughout the rest of history, the official
position of the church was that abortion was okay up until "quickening" (i.e. when the baby "drops") which is when it was believed the soul
entered the body. Abortion became mostly illegal under church law again in 1869, where it was still okay in order to save a woman's life, however in
1884 is was changed to reflect a no tolerance, no exception policy...some people think that it's interesting that this is right around the same time
that women were starting to demand more rights under law (women's suffrage movement).
Here's a link where I got some of my information:
Lastly, the other major inconsistency that I see is when conservatives argue for a no-tolerance abortion position, that most of them also have a
belief in "small government" too. (I also believe government should be left out of personal decisions and lives). I don't understand how these
conservatives can argue to keep government out of the "doctor's office" (common phrase used during health care debate) and then turn around and
push for laws like "mandatory ultra sounds for woman". I think that the woman and the doctor knows best, so I don't understand, how in the case of
abortion, especially in cases like rape, incest, and the health of the mother, how conservatives can argue that the government should decide.
I'd be interested to hear what other people think about the inconsistencies in anti-abortion arguments based on religious and conservative beliefs.
I would also like to add one more thought since I've heard several people say "I don't think abortion should be used as a form of birth control",
that this phrase is actually a myth used by anti-abortion activists to put a "women who have abortions are just sluts" spin on the whole thing.
Simply put abortion is rarely, if ever used as birth control simply because the procedure is a terrible one that is both extremely hard on the woman
physically and emotionally. No one wants to go through that type of emotional and physical hardship just for the sake of "birth control" when there
are plenty of other methods of birth control that don't involve surgery or emotional pain; condoms, the pill, family planning, etc. However I should
also add, that anti-abortion activists are also trying to limit access to contraceptives, in some cases eliminate them, which again makes no sense,
because the less access people have to contraceptive the fewer accidental pregnancies meaning fewer abortions, and you would think that these people
would want fewer abortions. Again, I don't understand the logic behind their thinking. Maybe someone else here does?