Monday, February 13, 2012

An Open Letter to My Pro-Choice Friends

Dear pro-choice friends,

As I'm sure you've already heard, last month the nation's largest breast cancer charity, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, cut its funding of the world's largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood. That decision, and the subsequent decision to reconsider Planned Parenthood for future funding has resulted in public expressions of joy, anger, frustration, and confusion from both the pro-choice and pro-life sides of the abortion debate. The editorial staff of our local newspaper responded with this sentiment (which I have seen repeated in various forms all over the internet): "We fail to understand how cutting funding from an organization that provides life-saving screenings to under-served women could have kept the focus from finding the cure" (Moscow/Pullman Daily News, February 8, 2012, pg. 9A).

It's this pro-choice expression of "failing to understand" that I want to address. If you truly cannot comprehend why anyone, especially any woman, would want Planned Parenthood to disappear, then please, I beg you, read on. Because until you do understand the reasons, you cannot possibly know what it is you are are opposing. After reading this, you might still continue to disagree with us, although I certainly hope not, but you will at least know why we stand so firmly against Planned Parenthood—and against all other abortion providers—the way we do.

I fully realize that many of you are disgusted by the way pro-life advocates appear to be treading all over women's rights and using the issue of abortion for political gain. And although I have no doubt that some people do champion the pro-life cause for all the wrong reasons, I nevertheless want to explain the central, apolitical (if you can believe it) reasons that so many people like me oppose abortion in all its forms.

Cutting through all the political posturing and bumper-sticker sloganeering, the one critical question at the bloody beating heart of the abortion debate is this: What is a human person, and who gets to decide?

It may seem at first like an easy question to answer. After all, we talk all the time about "human rights" and "personal dignity" as though we actually know what we mean by those words. But what makes a human being a human being is more of a matter of debate in this society than one might think. If somebody questioned your personhood, how would you defend it? Your humanity is probably a fact that you simply take for granted, so of course it's obvious to you that you're human. But how would you prove your humanity to someone who doubted it?

The words "human" and "person" must have clear definitions, some set of criteria, that we can all, surely, agree upon. So what exactly is it that makes a person a person? If we cannot agree on the definition of "human person", then I cannot prove to you that I am one, let alone that an unborn child is one. So I want you to ask yourself how you know—really know—what a human person is and, more importantly for this discussion, is not? Where do you get that knowledge? How can you trust it? Who gets to write that entry in the dictionary or on the law books? The issue of definitions might not sound like a big deal, but it is absolutely central to the abortion debate. To capture the disagreement in a single sentence, pro-life advocates believe that the unborn are human beings to whom all basic human rights belong, and the pro-choicers do not.

So what does this definition of personhood have to do with the question of funding Planned Parenthood? To answer that, I ask that you try, just for the sake of understanding, to view the issue from the perspective of a pro-lifer. If the unborn are human persons, then they, too, have basic human rights. If the unborn are human persons, then they have as much intrinsic value as the women who carry them. If the unborn are human persons, then they, on account of their utter dependence on others, are the most in need of our protection. If the unborn are human persons, then we must demand that they be recognized as such and granted every protection that belongs to any human child. If the unborn are human persons, then every time an abortion is performed, early or late, a child is killed. If the unborn are human persons, then Planned Parenthood is one of the world's largest violators of human rights.

To truly understand the degree of horror that a pro-life advocate has for abortion, try replacing the word "fetus" with some other people group—especially one that has at some time in history been labeled "subhuman" by those in positions of power. Try when you see the word "fetus" to think, "black child" or "Jew" or "disabled person," and then you'll understand the uncompromising stance that we must take on behalf of unborn children. You must see clearly that if the unborn are human persons, then every argument in favor of abortion utterly collapses.

If you honestly wish to gain insight into the pro-life mindset, please take a few minutes to carefully read through some of the reasons (based on the premise that the unborn are persons) why we who are pro-life cannot agree with the arguments that support abortion or those who provide it:

1. Nobody should have a right to tell me what I can and cannot do with my own body.
This is a declaration of absolute independence that will backfire before the words leave your mouth. In what society in the history of the world have people been free to do whatever they want with their own bodies? In order to have a safe and civilized society, we must tell people what they can and cannot do with their bodies.

My fist and trigger finger are part of my body, and there are laws—rightly so—about what I may or may not do with them. A man's penis is part of his body, and there are laws—rightly so—about what he may or may not do with it. My mouth is part of my body, and there are laws about what noises (let's call them "words") that I form with my very own tongue and my very own vocal cords in the presence of other people. My foot is part of my body, but I may not use it to kick children or knock down people's doors. Just because something is part of your body, you should not be automatically allowed to do whatever you want with it—particularly if what you are doing with it is destructive to the life of another human being.

2. It's my body. It's my choice.
Secondly and more importantly, your womb is part of your body; the one growing inside it is not your body, even though he or she is vitally connected to it.

If you've ever worked in a garden, you know that when you pull a plant up by the roots, remove it from the soil that has been its source of water and nutrients, and toss it in the trash (or compost) heap, it withers and dies. Does the fact that it dies when removed from the dirt therefore mean that it is dirt? Or an extension of the dirt? How much more ridiculous is it to believe that because a person is dependent on your body, it is your body? An untouched patch of soil cannot suddenly produce roses, and your body on its own cannot produce anything like a child. The one growing inside you is a distinct human being with its own completely unique DNA and its own identity, separate from yours, and the fact that he would die without you does not make that any less true.

The argument often goes that it's "my body" simply because it doesn't look like much. They describe it as "just a blob of cells" (something that could be accurately said of all of us). But from the moment of conception, this new creature's unique traits are present in the DNA—hair color, eye color, sex, and even personality—all utterly distinct from the mother.

The separate identity of an unborn child becomes increasingly obvious as the unborn human body develops clearly identifiable parts—heart, head, hands, feet, spinal cord, and so on. As groups like Planned Parenthood donate aborted heads and livers to "science," the whole "my body, my choice" slogan becomes painfully laughable. With that logic, we now have a woman with two heads—one of them expendable. And two hearts—one of which is, from what I can tell, made of cold granite. 

3. It's not a person until it can survive outside the womb.
Says who? No, really. In all seriousness, who inscribed this utterly arbitrary rule upon tablets of stone? Was it revealed by a prophet descending holy Mt. Sinai? You had better hope it was, because this thoroughly unscientific statement supposes a degree of god-like knowledge that you simply do not have. I know women who have had premature babies at almost exactly the same stage of fetal development, and in one case the baby died within a matter of hours, and in the other case the baby is currently a thriving toddler. Would you honestly say that the first baby wasn't human because it could not survive outside the womb, while the other one who lived was a human person? Or were they both not human until they could prove their physical strength to survive?

Do you not see how capricious and unreasonable it is to define personhood based on physical strength to not die? Gianna Jessen, an outspoken pro-life activist, actually survived a legal saline abortion. So tell me, if you know, at what moment exactly did she become a person? If you don't know the answer, then (God have mercy) you are advocating the taking of lives like hers, without knowing if it is killing human persons or not.

And let's take the above pro-choice argument further. If personhood is defined by physical viability, then is a child with terminal cancer no longer a person? How about the elderly? A woman with AIDS? And you? Are you a person? Because I hate to break it to you, but you cannot survive outside the womb either. Does the fact that it takes you eight decades to die make you a superior being to the baby for whom it takes eight minutes?

If you look carefully at this popular pro-choice statement, what you are saying is that the weaker and more vulnerable the person, the more acceptable it is to kill her. It is completely morally backwards.

4. It's not a person until it's born.
See above. Only more so.

5. Pro-life people don't really care about women. They want women to be oppressed.
This is absurd. Did you ever notice how many pro-lifers are women? If that statement was true, it would be like black Americans wanting to return to race-based segregation; it would be completely self destructive. Rather, unlike those who champion abortion "rights", we pro-lifers actually care about both the woman and the child. We care so deeply about women, in fact, that we demand the right of an unborn girl to grow into one. Human rights for one group should never mean withholding the human rights of others, especially those who are most vulnerable. If by "rights" you mean the freedom to take the life of another human being, then no, then we do not support those "rights". And neither should you.

Abortion also has had terrible consequences—both physical and mental—upon countless women. That is not to say that giving birth is without its risks. But abortion cannot be called a "safe" alternative to giving birth. There is no such thing as an "easy" outcome to a pregnancy for the woman. Believe me, I know. But birth allows two people to come out alive, whereas abortion allows for only one.

Furthermore, most women who seek abortions say that they feel they have no other choice. In other words, they feel like they are being forced—either by people or by circumstances—to have abortions. How can that possibly be called "care" for women? And how, exactly, does "choice" figure into their decision? Adoption and motherhood are real choices that pro-"choice" organizations like Planned Parenthood rarely present to women in crisis, whereas pro-life groups offer numerous free goods and services to women that allow motherhood and adoption to be truly viable options.

Pro-life groups also strongly encourage the men who got these women pregnant to take responsibility for their actions—something that abortion providers will never do. When men are completely stripped of their reproductive rights (which is what the pro-choice cause does), it also strips men of any sense of responsibility for pregnancy. If it's her body then it's clearly her problem. Nevermind that the thing being exterminated received half its DNA from him. The availability of abortion allows men to abandon pregnant women without any sense of guilt or responsibility. After all, if she's having a baby removed or a wart removed, what difference should that make to him? Until men step up and face the enormous consequences of their sexual actions, it's always going to be the women—and their children—who pay the price. Abortion encourages behavior among men that actually damages women.

6. Planned Parenthood is a worthy charity because it provides healthcare to disadvantaged women and uses the aborted fetal organs for research that might save lives.
Now hear me out on this. Try, once more, to do that same thought experiment I mentioned earlier; try replacing the word "fetus" with the name of some other oppressed group of people. Now, imagine that there is a charity hospital in your town where under-privileged people are routinely cared for and treated at little or no cost. Sounds terrific. I'd support it. BUT, imagine that this same hospital encourages people to bring, say, kids with with Downs Syndrome, or black people, or Jews (all groups of people that have at various times been labeled "subhuman" and deprived of basic human rights) to be killed. Would you support this?

Imagine that you could bring one of these people into this hospital and request that a doctor burn her to death with chemicals. Or tear off her limbs until she dies. Or surgically sever her spinal cord. Or remove her brain with a syringe. Or poison her with lethal drugs. (These are all legal means that are currently applied for performing abortions.) Would the fact that this hospital helps a lot of other people outweigh the hundreds of cruel doctor-assisted murders taking place in the same facility each year? Would you continue to give money and support such a hospital on the grounds that it's "saving lives"? If you would, then your moral problems are far deeper than I suspected. If the unborn are human persons, then Planned Parenthood is killing them in truly brutal ways. That it is legal does not make it right any more than the legality of racial oppression made it right.

And as for supporting the willful destruction and dismemberment of human lives simply because scientists can use the aborted babies for medical research, this is simply another way of saying that the ends justify the means—even the most brutal means imaginable. The reason these babies' bodies are so medically valuable is because they are human bodies. Planned Parenthood is destroying real human lives—by the hundreds of thousands every year—and justifying it for the sake of possibly saving hypothetical human lives. According to this line of thinking, we should all start waving flags in support of drunk and reckless driving because of all the (mostly) intact human corpses it produces. Just think how many lives a healthy teenage corpse could save if we could just donate their various organs to people on transplant waiting lists! Three cheers for vehicular manslaughter! Should we praise drunk drivers as heroes for providing hospitals and researchers with so many valuable bodies?

7. I don't approve of abortion, but abortions account for only about 3% of Planned Parenthood's services, so what's the big deal?
Read #5 above. Would it be a big deal to you if "only" 3% of the activities at the hospital described above involved dismembering and killing defenseless human beings? And what if there were so many of these hospitals around the country that the total number of these killings added up to nearly 300,000 per year—every year? Then would you care? That is exactly what we see Planned Parenthood doing. And then, what if you found out that roughly a third of that hospital's funding came from these killing procedures? Would you then, perhaps, waver in your support of these hospitals? Again, Planned Parenthood receives nearly one third of its revenue from abortions. If the unborn are human persons, which they are, then although Planned Parenthood does provide (or at least refer) cancer screenings, it also provides discount infanticide. And the infanticide brings in a lot more cash.

8. I'm personally against abortion, but I'm not going to judge any woman who gets one, because I don't know how much heartache she's going through, and she need my support, not my condemnation.
This sounds very sweet and caring, but if abortion is the killing of a helpless human being, then heartache is no excuse. Countless people have gone through all kinds of heartache and struggle taking care of an aging relative or a disabled child. And yet, if those people had chosen to hire a hit man to take out their elderly relative or their disabled child, it would not be an act of kindness to give them lots of hugs and support as they go through with hiring that hit man. The true act of kindness would be to try to stop the killing of a helpless individual, even if they think you are being "judgmental". We must condemn acts of murder and oppression, while at the same time doing what we can to help and love those involved. Instead of supporting a woman's choice to abort (which doesn't require much commitment from you), offer instead to do something much more difficult—give her the long-term support she would need in order to give birth to, and possibly raise, a child. If a woman knows she will have an ongoing network of love and support when she gives birth to her baby, she is far, far more likely to choose life. Again, most women get abortions because they feel they have no other choice. If you care about her, give her that other choice.

Perhaps the saddest aspect of abortion in America is that so many women go in for abortions fully believing that they are not taking a human life. In cases like this, when the woman believes the procedure to be the equivalent of having a mole removed, the doctors and counselors who have lied to her bear the guilt, whereas she deserves our compassion. But she also deserves to know the truth.

9. I oppose abortion, but I make an exception in the case of rape and incest.
Rape and incest are terrible crimes with devastating consequences. But the solution to one horrific action is not to commit another even more horrific one. Rape is bad. Murder is worse. We cannot solve a problem like rape by taking the life of the innocent child.

The reply often goes like this: "How can you say you care about women if you force them to give birth to a rapist's baby?" First, the only use of "force" involved in this situation is the rape itself and the abortion. Keeping the baby alive and securely in the womb means deliberately withholding force. Second, I have met a child born of violent rape, and I have met her mother. The mother will tell you in no uncertain terms that neither she nor the world would be a better place if her daughter had ended her existence in a biohazard bin somewhere in Pennsylvania.

Children born of rape are living proof that something truly horrible can be beautifully transformed into a powerful force for good. Abortion gives violence and horror the last word and tells women that "nothing good can come from this," which couldn't be further from the truth.

10. Until you actually step inside a Planned Parenthood facility or meet the caring people who work there, you have no right to condemn them.
If what is happening in a particular location is wrong, setting foot inside that location does not change anything, no matter how well meaning the staff is. I don't have to come and see what an angel of light the local abortionist appears to be before I have a right—a duty—to condemn the violence she has done.

Serial killer and child rapist John Wayne Gacy was a local volunteer, a favorite entertainer at kids' birthday parties, was nominated as Jaycee Man of the Year," and was loved by his neighbors. One former neighbor said, "I know they say he killed 33. But I only knew him as a good neighbor...the best I ever had." Does friendly—and apparently altruistic—behavior undo the evil that is done behind closed doors?

Horrific deeds are occasionally committed by obvious creeps with devil tattoos and heavy black eyeliner. But for atrocities to be committed on a mass scale, it takes the public support of ordinary, pleasant folks with clean fingernails who condone the evil because they (deeply, sincerely) believe they are acting in the name of "the greater good."

Although many of you will object loudly to comparing Nazism to the efforts of abortion groups, the similarity on this point is hard to miss: During WWII, German physicians were seeking important medical knowledge and looking for ways to help military personnel survive in extreme conditions. That, in itself, could have been noble. But one way these doctors were doing this research was by performing excruciating and deadly human experiments on Jewish prisoners.

These physicians were not monsters with fangs and forked tongues. These were respected, well educated, well trained doctors with families and pets that they loved. They, too, had friends, gave money to charity, and cared about people—so long as they got to define the word "people." I most certainly do not have to set foot in a Nazi laboratory to condemn what went on there. And I do not have to meet the friendly folks at Planned Parenthood before I can justly condemn their promotion of infanticide, no matter how good their intentions appear and no matter how many other kindly acts they may perform.

• • • • •

You may hate what I'm saying here. You may hate me. You may disagree with everything I've written and respond with scathing comments. But at least you cannot say that you "fail to understand" why we oppose the funding of Planned Parenthood by an organization that aims to, of all things, save lives. It would be like funding an environmentalist group that uses part of its money to clean up endangered wetlands and the rest of its money to dump toxic chemicals into rivers and streams. 

Only by declaring that the unborn are not human persons can anyone accept what is done to them at abortion clinics like Planned Parenthood. Human rights, as we all know, can belong only to humans, so the surest way to deny the human rights of any group of people is to dehumanize them first. If you can redefine "humanity" so that it excludes a certain group of individuals, then no rights need be extended to that group anymore—a tactic that has been used with astonishing popular success over and over again throughout human (whatever that is) history. It happened to Jews in Germany, blacks in America, and disabled persons in both. Is it not possible that this is precisely what is happening right now in the case of the unborn?

The dehumanizing of true human persons is exactly what we believe the pro-choice cause has done. We don't believe you are intentionally out to hurt people. But we do believe that you are hurting people—the most helpless and vulnerable of people—even while you see yourselves as doing good. What could a fetus possibly do to prove to you that she is a human being and has a right to live? But why must the burden of proof lie with the fetus? Let us ask instead, what can you do to prove that she isn't? The definition of personhood, in fact, is a matter completely outside the realm of science. There is no scientific or federal law that you can point to that proves that an unborn baby is anything less than a human person. You may want to believe it, for the sake of your conscience or for the sake of convenience. You may have doctors and lawyers who eloquently and persuasively defend the inhumanity of the unborn, but remember that Hitler, too, had lawyers and doctors who could provide "irrefutable evidence" of the inferiority of disabled persons and the subhumanity of Jews and blacks. However, you and I both know that their "proofs" were, simply, false and led to all kinds of atrocities.

I beg you who are pro-choice to ask yourselves if there is even a remote possibility that you could be wrong when you deny the personhood of an unborn child. Is there just the slightest chance that the tiny creature with a beating heart and utterly unique human DNA is a person with as much right to live as you or I? Even without absolute proof that an unborn child is actually a human person, would it not be better to err on the side of life? After years of supporting abortion, how would you live with yourself if you one day discovered that you have been terribly, murderously wrong? If there is even a hint of doubt in your mind, you must realize that this is not merely a matter of politics or of harmless opinion; it is a matter of life and death.

So the central thing that we who are pro-life need you who are pro-choice to understand is that you have arbitrarily defined "human" in such a way as to exclude the unborn. And I would ask that you please consider the possibility that the very belief that makes the act of abortion seem acceptable—that the unborn is not a human person—is based upon wishful thinking and outright lies. Please question your faith in the declaration that the unborn child is not a child at all. Reconsider the humanity of the unborn. Millions of innocent lives depend upon it.

Very Sincerely,



Lauren said...

Thank you for this post.

Christine Cohen said...

Excellent post, Hannah. One thing I find so frustrating about the argument that it's not a person until it can survive outside of the womb is the fact that with medical advances the age a baby can survive outside of the womb keeps going down. So you would have to change your definition of a "human person" every few years as science progressed, and of course your standard of morality would change depending on whether you lived in America or a third world country. With this argument, American babies would be considered humans much earlier than, say, babies born in India.

Grant said...

I agree that abortion has become too politicized, but doesn't using the terms "pro-life" and "pro-choice" to initiate a conversation about personhood fall right back into the politicization of this issue? These terms reduce a complex issue to two opposing sides that can never understand each other because they both aren't what they say they are.

As Noam Chomsky says in "Lake of Fire", an excellent documentary about the difficulty of the abortion issue in America, the term "pro-life" suggests that the people holding such a value ought also to stand for the promotion of life in social policies that would include putting government money toward better health care, education and reducing the economic inequalities that contribute to the problem of abortion. Chomsky points out that there are millions of children around the world who could benefit from pro-life American economic policies as well, but "pro-life" in America has been reduced to the abortion issue. "Pro-choice" is also a reduction. It tends to couch a complex issue involving life and future life into a human-rights narrative that doesn't account for the rights of the unborn child, as you suggest.

I don't think we can avoid thinking about the political aspects of the legalized abortion issue, but I do agree with you that these are not merely political questions. In order to deal with the political issues, we must raise the questions underlying the political conflicts. The question of personhood is a good place to start but your treatment of it here is not extensive enough. Thinking of a "fetus" as a "black child", "Jew" or "disabled person" does not get us closer to addressing the question of personhood. In fact, it does the opposite. Seems to me such a categorizing of human personhood--"black child", "disabled person" etc., is exactly the kind of language that strips a person of their personhood, just like "pro-life" or "pro-choice" reduces the people involved in this debate.

Unfortunately the abortion issue is just the beginning of our struggles with the question of personhood. With the ongoing development of genetic research, human cloning and robotics, as well as archaeological findings concerning the evolution of humans this issue calls for an increasingly engaged response by God's image-bearers in the 21st Century.

Hannah G said...


I fully agree that the labels "pro-choice" and "pro-life" are reductionistic and misleading, but I honestly cannot think of a name for a group of people that isn't reductionistic or potentially misleading (think "Republican" and "Democrat" or "Lutheran" and "Calvinist"). The terms "pro-choice" and "pro-life" have simply become the accepted shorthand, unfortunate and politically charged as the terms may be. Naming is always, at some level, a simplification of a complex idea, and to speak about a particular category of people is not to dehumanize them as you suggest but to highlight a shared characteristic in such a way that we can actually have a discussion. If, for example, we are talking about "red-haired people" as being more likely to have a heightened sensitivity to pain (which some recent medical studies actually suggest), we are not "stripping a person of their personhood" by talking about "red-haired people." We are simply making ourselves understood.

As to the meaning of personhood, of course I completely agree that it's a much bigger issue that reaches far beyond just the abortion debate. And no, my treatment of it here does not do justice to the far-reaching implications of personhood. But that is really not the point. The point is to show that until we begin to have a shared definition of of personhood, we have no means of bridging the abortion divide.

It's also true that the comparison of an unborn child to other groups of people who have suffered the tragic results of dehumanizing rhetoric does not actually provide a definition of personhood. However, it does (I hope) give us a point of agreement that both sides of the abortion debate can share, and thus (I hope) one possible starting point from which we can begin to consider our definition of personhood—one that does not exclude the unborn.

Ashley said...

Excellent post, words that I believe and feel so strongly but could not have articulated any better. Thank you!

Jodi said...

Hannah - How man unwanted children have you adpopted?

Jacqueline Hamoen said...

What a powerful message. Thanks you so much for this. Am I able to print this and hand it out to our community?

Jennifer McMaster said...

Jodi, your reply is irrelevant. Have you ever talked to an adoption agency about their very long waiting lists for couples wanting to adopt? There are plenty of couples wanting to adopt (a close friend of mine being one) but there aren't enough children to go around. "Unwanted children" is a myth. Just because the birth mother doesn't want the child, doesn't mean the child is unwanted.

Rachelle Johnson said...

Jodi-if given the chance I know that many people would care and love for any child if they had the money to adopt. I know I would. Love is free. But you know what takes thousands? Abortion.

Hannah-Well written and well spoken. Passing this along.

Angie A said...

Wow...every female (and male) in America should read this letter BEFORE making a grown-up decision to participate in an act that could result in a pregnancy and then decide who is a human being is BEFORE the possibility of creating one. Well said, Hannah...very courageously well said.

RoboDad said...

Jodi, I can't speak for Hannah, but my wife and I adopted a baby who WOULD have been aborted had we not talked his mother out of it and agreed to adopt him. We have 4 other close friends (families) who have adopted at least one, and one family who has taken in 4. Yes, we do care about these kids, as well as their mothers.

Hannah, extraordinarily well said. You've written what I've had in mind to write for many years, only you did it much better than I. Thank you!

Jenn said...

I notice that most people who comment on this post readily agree with your perspective. Perhaps this is because you lose the attention of the many pro-choice friends whom you claim to address. In the future, when attempting to persuade others with logic or argument, consider condensing your thoughts, so that those who may question your position do not have to sift through so much subjective banter. P.S. Adopt a child if you truly believe pro-life policy is not oppressive to women.

Anonymous said...

This plea deserves every word that was written. Pro-choice people should take the time to read it, take the time to give themselves to their unborn children, take the time to consider what copulation is all about. If they don't want their baby, look after themselves in pregnancy and give the baby to someone who wants him/her. I adopted and I'm so thankful for my daughter!!

Sarah said...

I believe that child abuse is wrong, and that no one has the right to harm a child in any way. My opinion on this matter is valid even though I'm not currently able to provide a foster home for abused children. Likewise, the "pro-life" position is valid even though not all pro-lifers adopt children (although many of them do).

Bethany said...

Hannah- this is beautifully said and so very thorough. Thank you for the effort you put into explaining this.
Jodi and especially Jenn - I'm not understanding why adopting an otherwise-aborted baby is the criteria for proving that one truly believes pro-life policy is oppressive to women. It's sad to me that you would throw that out there like it somehow disproves her statements and disqualifies Hannah (and others like her) from caring about this so deeply.

Anonymous said...

Wonderfully stated. Everything is right here to read. Nothing more needs to be said!

Anonymous said...

You are missing several critical points. First of all "personhood" is nothing more than a social construct. WE decide, and it is that decision that is being debated. There is no TRUTH to be discovered. We choose to protect the elderly and disabled. Not all human societies have/do that. If our resources were more scarce, we might not either. (I am sure that Rwandan's never expected to perpetrate genocide, we are NOT better than that. Just richer)

Ultimately, my children are my future. My genes will continue in them and their descendants. I have and will certainly protect them from conception. But if someone else wants to commit genetic suicide, I don't see why I should care. Historically and culturally, the age at which children belonged to the society as opposed to the parent has varied greatly. In our society, it has generally been from birth.

Anonymous said...

You cite to this statement: "We fail to understand how cutting funding from an organization that provides life-saving screenings to under-served women could have kept the focus from finding the cure."

But the statement you are addressing appears to be a very different--an alleged "failure to understand" "why anyone...would want Planned Parenthood to disappear."

You do understand that these are two very different questions, right? Because it would be unfortunate if this entire post were the result of your, well, failure to understand that.

Pro-choice individuals get it--you believe that abortion is murder, and you will stop at nothing to make sure that abortions are ended. If that means the provision of life-saving screening services to under-served populations have to end, well by gosh, you're willing to take that risk. After all, you have nothing to worry about, right?

Anonymous said...

If you don't understand why a woman who has been the victim of rape would not want to carry her rapists child in her womb for nine months then I feel sorry for you. Maybe if you were raped you would understand. What I don't get is why you value the life of the fetus over the woman. Why is that child more important than her? And why don't you try replacing the word unwanted with the word fetus. Forcing a woman to bring an unwanted child into this world should be viewed us cruel and unusual punishment for both the woman and the unwanted child. And if you really cared about protecting the lives of children you would be a foster parent or adopt unwanted children and you would put just as much energy into stopping pedophiles and other adults who hurt children instead of trying to stop women who don't want to have the child that is growing inside of them.

JCMF said...

Thank you for speaking the truth so boldly.
So many things I could respond to, but for those who claim opposing abortion puts the baby as more important than the mother - I have to say this is nothing more than a "straw man argument." Opposing abortion means standing up for the weakest among us. The mother is almost certainly not in danger of having her life come to a violent and painful end. And yes, I understand that there comes along the very rare case where medical opinions think that continuing the pregnancy may endanger the mother's health. Why this should immediately condemn the baby to death, I do not understand. I don't claim to have easy answers, this is for sure, but I don't think we can have these conversations unless we quit accusing each other of things that we know very well aren't true. A pro-life, anti-abortion person does not want to pit mother against child, but rather to help them both towards life.

Jacqueline Hamoen said...

First of all IT IS NOT A FETUS... IT IS A CHILD, A HUMAN, JUST LIKE YOU AND ME!!!!. Are we not putting the mothers life in danger and destroying not only her body but that also of the child she is caring? Adoption is always a option. Most women who have an abortion is because it is an inconvenience to them at this time of there life. I am not saying that all woman are like that but most are. Murder is Murder and there are no exceptions!!! Praise God that I see the difference.

Anonymous said...

I just want to point out that the fetus cannot feel anything until sometime in the early second trimester-- (end of the third month, beginning of the fourth) when it's nervous system is functional and, therefore, the fetus will not experience pain during the abortion. Sorry to steal that pathos from your argument.

Anonymous said...

How do you know that an unborn child cannot feel anything until a certain point? On that alone, an abortion is justifiable? Who interviewed the unborn? I believe that every child, from conception on, is a miracle. And if you don't believe in miracles, walk to the nearest mirror and you will see is you!

Anonymous said...

Interesting. So, the ability to feel pain is a prerequisite for the right to live? It would then be ok for me to kill someone with congenital analgesia who has never in their life experienced pain. Good to know.

Anonymous said...

Personhood may be no more than a social construct, but it is the one around which the pro-choice argument has centered itself; ie, the fetus is not a "person" therefore despite its humanity, it may be disposed of medically. Generally, pro-choice arguments of personhood include reasoning ability, nociception, and ability to survive alone (in one form of argument or another). The pro-life argument does not depend upon an argument of a fetus being a "person" - although the recent legislative bills define a fetus as a person, they do so because the argument had been opted to the other side. The pro-life argument only requires that the fetus be human and alive. This is obviously achieved given fetal DNA is distinct from the mother's: half of the chromosomes come from the father and the half that do come from the mother have undergone genetic rearrangements in meiosis. We base humanity off DNA - which allows us to cover human right for people even if they aren't just like "us" in size, color, national origins, or intelligence. As to its "aliveness" it has the life appropriate to its developmental stage. Just as every biology text book will tell you life does not come from non-life, the zygote is a living cell. If it were not living on its own, a spontaneous abortion would happen and no secondarily induced medical abortion would be necessary. As to its being separate from the mother, we have already covered its genetic distinction; furthermore, for the first five days or so the product of conception is not attached to the uterine wall. In fact, at this point, it *can* survive outside the womb (otherwise, we wouldn't be able to have in vitro fertilization; the embryo is generally transferred at the 3 day stage). Even following implantation, the fetal and maternal blood supplies remain distinct.

Your argument also says, essentially, that genocide is okay. After all, there is no "TRUTH to be discovered" and what we define as human is socially constructed. Therefore, if a society defines a person as "White, Middle-Class, and Just Like *Us*" non-painful killing of Others (Not-white, poor, and obviously not as smart as we are)well then, by gosh, there is no morality to say that we can't kill them. I doubt this is what you want to mean, but it is your argument taken to its logical conclusion. Even if personhood is a social construct, should we not apply that construct to the broadest possible base to ensure basic human rights to all?

Secondly, Anon@1o:40, you argue that your genes will continue in them and their descendants. This is an established scientific fact. You want to protect your genes from being propagated. This is your right - up to a point. When your genes combine with someone else's DNA, the genes are no longer yours alone. Secondly, when your gene's and your sexual partner's genes combine they go to form a distinct and separate human, one which will if allowed to develop to its fullest potential, have a phenotype that is not just like you. It is not you; it is not all your genetic material. Therefore, after conception, it is no longer genetic self-killing (suicide) it is genetic other-killing. If you want to commit genetic suicide, by all means do so: but this requires preventing conception, not eliminating the product of conception. Furthermore, your argument could be taken to its extreme to argue that you own your genetic material at all times; thus, killing your living children outside the womb is no different than killing your fetus in the womb. If you take the argument to that point, you'll see the ridiculousness. Thirdly, children don't "belong" in every sense to the parents even in our society. The parents have a vested interest in responsibility to the child; however, the larger society has decreed that when things are not in the good interest of the child (abuse), the parental "rights" can be revoked.

~Yasmin Eloprah

Anonymous said...

Anon @11:28
The pro-choice argument does not mean that "provision of life-saving screening services to under-served populations have to end." That is a false dichotomy. In fact, if abortions *were* to end, I'd heartily support Planned Parenthood for its provision of mammograms, pap smears, and even contraception. Making abortions end does not mean making women's healthcare end. However, as Hannah deftly points out in the article, the pro-lifers do not want to support something that does good if it also does bad that is so heinous.

I do understand why a woman who has survived a rape may not want to carry her rapist's child. And, as someone who has survived such an attack, I do not appreciate your saying "Maybe if you were raped you would understand." It is a thing that is horrible beyond words; yet, doing another wrong action will not set it right. (And suggesting that another woman should experience it to gain empathy? Yeah, not cool.)

Secondly, your argument specifically states "Carry her rapists child in her womb" - so, your thesis is that the victim end the life of a child to make herself feel better?

Thirdly, "unwanted child" is a misnomer, given the number of people that would want to adopt a child. Your saying that something "should be called cruel and unusual punishment" is a value or moral distinction on your part; where are you deriving your definitions of moral obligation or your distinctions of what constitutes cruelty?

Fourthly, your arguments about "really caring" about protecting the lives of children through being a foster or adopting parent ignores the many pro-life people who do adopt or work in foster care. And I do *heartily* agree with you that part of cultivating an "ethos of life" is that we stop human rights violations (such as pedophiliac acts, child abuse, and spousal abuse). But the argument also works the other way, you know: if you want to convince the pro-life side that you do actually care about women, you should adopt abused little girls, campaign against sex trafficking, and fight against spousal abuse. I don't know you at all, so I'll be more than happy to assume you do all the above! :)

As has been pointed out, the argument against induced abortion is not one about sentience or nociception. Hannah did not make a "pathetic" appeal, either. And as has already been mentioned, the implied argument in your statement is that killing is okay provided no pain is felt. If you apply this reasoning to any other class of human that you consider a "person", you'll see why the implied argument would fail.


Anonymous said...

I can't help but think that much of the logic used to support an end to abortion could also be used to support the legalization of gay marriage. (Denying equal rights to certain humans? Isn't that what we're doing when we say only certain people can get married?) I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that many of the folks who oppose abortion are the same ones who oppose gay marriage.

Listen, I understand that we can all have our reasons for supporting or opposing legislation about these intensely personal decisions. But I don't think it's fair to have such strong conviction about abortion (using logic about personhood and equal rights) and fail to see how it's not equally wrong to forbid certain humans from enjoying the rights of marriage that the rest of us have.

I also realize that there are probably many people reading this post who oppose abortion but support gay marriage. I just wish there were more of you...

raNdOM said...

Your column provides some interesting arguments. Most of them are very valid - to you and others who are like-minded. But it doesn't allow for people who don't think and/or believe as you do.
Question: do you support capital punishment? I'm VERY interested in your answer.
For me, taking a life is just wrong - no matter when it's done or how. You don't have to believe in God to find that killing is wrong - PERIOD.
If you take nothing away from my words here I hope you'll listen to this last bit: education is key. Everyone, not just pregnant women, should have access to the education and experience of parents and parenthood. Through education a proper "choice" can be weighed.

By the way, using segregation, down syndrome, Nazi references, etc brings your open letter to a screeching halt. If you want to ask a question about human life you can't cite deplorable moments in history or unique conditions. You will only break the reader from the overall context and that will force a lot of readers to dismiss you and your arguments.

Alena Belleque said...

Hannah, BRAVO!! I've reposted this on Facebook, and will be linking to it in a blog post of my own later this week ( You said it perfectly - please do not listen to the naysayers on here. Their arguments (like the one above mine, by raNdOM) are ridiculous and blatantly engage in the self-deception that you so eloquently condemn in your article. Anyone who thinks comparing this issue to other violations of human dignity has already bought into the lie, hook line and sinker, that the unborn are not truly human; if they did not, they would never think it was an inappropriate comparison. So again, I say, BRAVO!!

raNdOM said...

Hey, if you're pro-life you'd better live up to the idea and declare ALL life is precious. That means no capital punishment, the hardest of hard lines against murder and you'd better be a vegan.

Green Grandma said...

This is the most intelligent, well-stated argument in defense of the unborn that I have ever read. Thank you, Hannah.

Nikoel said...

First off, you're conflating "human" and "person". Pro-choicers don't deny that an embryo, zygote or fetus isn't human. That's just dumb. "Person" is a legal term written into laws all over the United States of America to identify a BORN human. You asked who decided? The Supreme Court of the United States did, among other lawmakers and justices around the world. This is why voters keep knocking down the "Personhood Amendments". If an embryo is a person, every single law on the books that mentions "person" would be affected. Not to mention that most forms of birth control would be outlawed (even though 58% of "The Pill" users take it to treat other things aside from preventing pregnancy), women could be jailed if they have a miscarriage (1 in 3 pregnancies end in miscarriage) and in-vitro fertilization could be banned. Does that really seem "pro-woman" to you??

"Abortion also has had terrible consequences—both physical and mental—upon countless women." Citation needed. Giving birth is 14 times more dangerous to a woman's health (both physical and mental) than having an abortion.

"Adoption and motherhood are real choices that pro-"choice" organizations like Planned Parenthood rarely present to women in crisis," This is patently false. Planned Parenthood (it's right in the name!) provides all the options available and let's the woman decide without coercion or shame, unlike "pro-life" groups.

Everything else you said isn't based in fact at all, it's just emotionally-charged rhetoric that has no basis in reality. You need to get out of your privileged bubble and get a dose of reality. Our society cannot prosper without women and women cannot prosper without being able to make decisions for their own lives.

Anonymous said...

Sarah and Bethany - I believe the point is that it is very easy to say people should not abort when you're not there as the rubber meets the road and the consequences of that action - a possibly unwanted child - needs to be dealt with. I would like to see pro-lifers also campaign for tax increases so that a government organization can be set up to assist the mothers of the babies who would be born, until the child reaches independent adulthood. If the government should be involved with the decision process by closing off a possible decision branch, it should be there every step of the way on the one decision it does allow, shouldn't it? Fully funded by the people who wanted that decision branch to be the only one available. It is easy to take the moral high road on these matters, but what also matters is whether you are willing to back up your words and your beliefs with actions and with your own resources. Else you are just feeding off of the high of being "right" without having to do any of the work.

RTRaven said...

Abortion is not a women's rights issue. It is a life issue. Women have the right to do whatever they legally want with their lives and their bodies. An unborn child is not an extension of a woman's body but a seperate entity growing withing a woman's body. The womb is the 'vessel' in where a child exists to grow and be nurtured and develop. This does not give a person the right to decide the fate of this child. Under the Constitution, we are responsible for ourselves and have the right to choose the life we lead. Abortion takes that right away. Upon conception, we are all living, breathing, feeling, soulful persons slowly growing, and waiting for the day when we can come into the world and live...and live.

Juli said...

I don't agree with a lot of what you stated because I am pro-choice. However, I do respect your opinion and will leave it at that. What would you say to a woman who was violently raped and then became pregnant?! Why should she have to endure a pregnancy that provides her with such heartache and horror from the incident? I don't understand how anyone could live through this or want to have a baby who she did not have the choice in making.

Anonymous said...

Someone used forcing an unwanted child on a person as a reason. They had a choice. Their choice was to not have sex because the whole world knows that one of the major outcomes of sex is pregnancy. You don't want a kid, don't have sex. Or have an operation so that you can't get pregnant. Don't fix your mistakes by killing another human being that your acts brought into being. Sorry that is so hard to understand but really people, its not like pregnancy is some rare disease you catch, its what sex is all about.

Juli said...

If the immediate comment below was in reponse to my comment maybe I wasn't clear.... I was speaking in cases of rape ONLY. Not recreational sex.

Brooke Newman said...

Amen Hannah.

Jared White said...


I am "pro-life" and work full-time for a local Right to Life organization. I appreciate your article and I could have written it. It is based off of sound pro-life arguments that all of us in the fold are well acquainted with. I want to commend you on ho you put this together but I fear you may not truly understand the other side very well.

You try to make your argument based off facts and reason while keeping questions or religion out of it. I understand why you do this, but your trying to have your cake and eat it too. You see, as much as we pro-lifers try to argue that being against abortion is not a religious statement, we consistently assume an important religious dogma, namely that all human life is sacred and, for us who are Christians, made in God's image. The problem is, your audience largely does not assume that.

So while you think you are being logical, to many pro-choice people, what you say is quite ill-informed and leads to absurd conclusions. Why should a human zygote who cannot think (doesn't have a brain), cannot feel pain, cannot love have more value than a canine who can think, feel and love? Try answering that with non-religious arguments!

Your whole argument ultimately rests in this belief that humans are somehow special and you hope that most people believe that and so you take that as a given. But this is no longer the case. So being pro-life is ultimately bound within a religious and, particularly, a Christian world-view. Pro-lifers are afraid to admit this because they don't want to turn away non-Christian people. But what results, then, is that we begin with Christian principles (man made in God's image) and then try to build on that with purely non-religious arguments. That will work so long as our society still is rooted in basic Judeo-Christian values (which is largely is). But the more we drift further and further from those values, the more these arguments will fall on deaf ears and the more we are going to have to make a case for human beings being special instead of just assuming people believe that.

Just some food for thought.....

Keep up the good work:)

Jared White

Nikoel said...

I had an appointment and now I'm back and have more to say. Unless I missed it, you completely skipped over the exception even the Catholic church allows for and that's to save the life of the mother. Have you ever heard of an ectopic pregnancy? The only remedy for that is to remove it or else the mother will die. What about when the fetus dies inside the uterus but does not expel on its own? That causes sepsis from which the mother will die. And you might even agree with me that an abortion is necessary in those rare cases, but what if abortion has been made illegal and there isn't a doctor that has the medical knowledge to perform the D&C/D&X? By the way, the latter happened to a friend of mine (luckily for her, abortion is legal) and the former would happen to me if I were to get pregnant. Do you honestly believe we should have been allowed to die?

Do you realize that abortion has been around as long as women have been getting pregnant? There are mentions of "induced miscarriages" as far back as the written word. It was even legal in the US until the late 1800s. And when it was illegal, IT STILL HAPPENED. Women who could afford it would fly out of the country to get one and for the poor women there were dangerous, dirty, "back-alley" abortions. Many women died from the latter. Do you honestly want to go back to that? History matters. Life really wasn't great for the majority of women before abortion was legalized and we're STILL fighting for equal treatment. We'd lose all that ground and more if embryos gained legal personhood, it would be women who would be second-class citizens or "sub-human" to use your word. Forcing a woman to give birth (or die from the complications) against her will is deplorable and has no place in a civilized society.

To whoever said that there are not enough children to adopt, that is also patently false. There may not be enough infants to adopt (and even that I don't quite believe, there are other factors at play here), but there are thousands of older children waiting to be adopted all over the country.

I understand the reaction to the thought of "babies" being killed, but the real morality is giving women ALL of the tools they need to live their lives as fully independent persons or treating them as secondary to non-uterus possessing people. This includes financial support from our government, comprehensive sex education, access to contraception and yes, even abortion. Having a child or not is simply a private issue and should not be up to society as a whole. We already know that women are people so we must treat them as such.

Nikoel said...

Jared, we have separation of church and state in the USA because not all of us are Christian and don't share all of the things you hold dear based on a book written by men a little over two millenia ago. The rest of us should not be forced to live by your Christian beliefs if we don't share them. As non-factual as Hannah's argument was, making the religious argument is even worse. We won't have any theocracy in this country regardless of your people being the majority. Freedom of religion is also freedom FROM religion and I will refuse with my dying breath to succumb to such tyranny.

Anonymous said...

Very good article. I always question why when in the media if a man kills a women that is pregnant he gets charged with double murder but a women can get an abortion (kill her child) and it is consider a medical procedure. Double standards by the courts/law or what? Please stop the killing of unborn babies. I would be willing to adopt any unwanted baby . .. so please give your babies a chance.

Brittany Martin said...

A D&C is not an abortion. I experienced the very scenario you described that could possibly lead to sepsis. An OB did the procedure, but it was not an abortion because the baby was long dead. In fact, a regular D&C is not an effective means of abortion--to kill a living baby the doctor must first inject poison into the mother's womb, and then perform a D&C.

Also, I know a teenage girl who was raped and became pregnant as a result. She kept and raised her baby boy, and was married a few years ago by a godly Christian man who also adopted her son. Rape is a horrible, wicked thing, but adding murder to it doesn't make it better.

Hannah said...

Why be pro-life? I mean, if you give a fetus the right to life, you’re basically enslaving the woman in whose body that fetus is growing, and if she harms the fetus at all, or ends up miscarrying it, birthing it prematurely, or ends up with a stillborn baby, she’ll be charged with the death of that fetus. And, since miscarriages, premature births, and stillbirths don’t always have cut-and-dry explanations behind them, it will often be extremely hard to prove that a woman didn’t intentionally kill the fetus. The woman will have to be constantly paranoid about what she eats, drinks, and does with her life, since she’ll constantly be afraid that she’ll be charged with murdering or harming the fetus inside of her. She won’t be able to live a happy, care-free life at all. Basically, the fetus inside of her will be ruling her life, and that won’t be at all her choice.

Seriously, how can you be okay with that sort of a mindset, and how can you be okay with controlling women in that way? I understand that you care about fetuses, but why not care about women as well? (And no, forcing women through pregnancy and childbirth—which is what you’re doing, since you’re taking away the ability for a woman to choose not to go through with her pregnancy—is not caring at all, no matter how much you claim it is.)

rogosh2002 said...


Did you really just compare murder.... to gay marriage? Did you really just equate making murder illegal means we should make gay marriage legal?

Also by saying I am against gay marriage that is not denying a basic human right. Although keep in mind if the government were to say we aren't allowed to have straight marriage either I would say thats not denying a basic human right. Especially when they still allow you to live together and share funds and such. You don't need the governments seal of approval to feel married. Keep in mind too that I have no more marriage rights than a gay person has. Neither of us can marry a person of the same sex. The difference is only one of us wants to.

Take 2 women and make abortion illegal neither woman will be allowed to have an abortion though still 1 may want to. The fact that one wants to and one doesn't, does not suddenly mean the 1 should be allowed to. And it doesn't mean you are somehow denying one persons rights while allowing another persons rights.

Anonymous said...

This is a very complicated issue that has more dimensions than can be reasonably discussed or foreseen in a law. Abortion should be legal not because it is "right" but because the enforcement of the law would make women of childbearing age second class citizens. If you make abortion illegal then every premature rupture of membranes should be investigated as a potential homicide, every car accident, fall, smoked cigarette (increased risk of still birth) etc.... Did you know vaginal exams during pregnancy risk infection which leads to fetal demise - do we charge the OB with murder?
Wealthier women could leave the country to procure the procedure in a proper facility leaving the poor to face a
back alley with risk of infectio/hysterectomy/death with a
possible murder charge.
I wish we had no abortions. I have volunteered for years with teen moms to prepare them for parenthood. I know and love many wonderful people that are adopted. I respect and marvel at the strength of the mother that chooses adoption. My heart aches at the injustice that there are healthy babies being aborted that could be adopted into a loving home. We need to change the debate into dialog how do we prevent unwanted pregnancies, how can we support of mothers that choose to carry an unplanned pregnancy - we are not going to accomplish this with a change of law we need to change hearts.
Next there are reasons to terminate for a mother's health. Some mothers are on dialysis, heart defects, severe diabetes, cancer/chemo treatment, pre eclampsia, water on the brain (the weight of the baby kinked her stint and she nearly died and had an emergency cesarian - baby lived and she went on to have 6 neuro surgeries and nearly died twice - she
can never have children again. If her birth control failed I could understand if she choose to abort she has a daughter that needs her mother alive not six feet under)
There are more medical reasons like women with malformed uteruses that can not carry to term - the baby can not form to term and some may choose to not delay the inevitable. Have you ever heard of trisomy? It is a chromosomal defect that is a terminal diagnosis. Most die at birth. In the past mothers were blissfully ignorant of their baby's fate and would only know there was a problem at birth. Today women learn with Amnio or at a 20 week ultra sound instead they spend 20 weeks carrying a baby they know is doomed to die. Some will decide to carry to term. Others will be unable to carry with the knowledge with strangers asking her due date or if she is having her first, asking her oldest child if they will be a big sister. Some people would crack and become shut ins being forced to carry to term a terminal diagnosis pregnancy. Abortion would not be right for every mom but it might be "right" for another.
My last child died at 18 weeks 5 days gestation of strep b after a routine pap smear. My labor was induced with an abortion drug. Some would like to see those drugs made illegal but it saved my uterus and allowed me to have my son stillborn while preserving my health. I held him in my arms and I know I lost a child, but my parish Priest refused him a Christian burial. Even those that are pro life fail to treat all life equally. I wish life was simple. I wish all babies were healthy, I wish all mothers were healthy. I wish there was not addiction, abuse, incest, rape and indifference. We need to change hearts but leave the authority in the hands of the mother and the doctor not the government.

Hope said...

My daughter was born with a rare genetic disorder. I thank God often that her birth mother didn't know this. She is not only severely disabled but she is incredibly beautiful and happy. She is what so many would consider "unwanted" but no child is unwanted. You just have to find the people like me that want them!

Second, I spoke to a woman this weekend that had an abortion 35 years ago. It was forced upon her by her father. She still has "a whole in her heart" that she carries to this day. Getting rid of the her baby did not give her a better life. The "pro-choice" camp wants us to believe that it will make women's lives better. It's a lie.

Thank you for your thoughtful post.

Anonymous said...

If you really knew anything about rape, you'd be pro-choixcce--is that what you really said? When 1 in 3 women has been assaulted, how ridiculous to assume that all are on one side of the line. I know many pro-choice women who've been victimized, and yes, I am one of them, the reason I got mad enough to jump in and reply. I guess I was "lucky" enough that I was bleeding so heavily that I didn't really even have to wonder if I'd gotten pregnant. Most do end up at least worrying if they are pregnant, and what that would mean for the rest of their lives. And I did wonder, if I would have gotten pregnant, whether I would have had the strength to stay pregnant, or if the fact that I didn't want people to know would've lead me to get an abortion. So yes, I get it, I understand, I'm not unsympathetic--it's just that even had I had an abortion, it wouldn't have changed that it would still be wrong. No, it's not fair that a woman should have consequences resulting from rape. That's why it's such a terrible crime. Having or not having a baby doesn't take that away; it doesn't mean one suffers more than another. For me, I know had I had an abortion, then I would've felt shame and guilt for one more thing--except then it would have been something on my own conscience. I do have one friend who had a baby after being raped, and that has no bearing on who suffered more or longer. It's not like I without a baby could magically forget. It's not like having a baby took away her mind's defense mechanisms; her mind was still capable of repressing details that were too painful to remember at the beginning, so that her memories were general at first. And one more thing--yes, those of us who have been through such things usually do put as much energy into other activities. I, for instance, have both taken unwanted children into my home for transient periods and have also led mentoring sessions for pedophiles on early release, maintaining tight contact with their parole agents (that did result in one being returned to prison).

Anonymous said...

I adopted a baby from a birthmother who was raped. I thank God that she valued life enough to carry this child. God has brought something beautiful out of a terrible situation. If you could see my child, her sweetness, her beauty, you would see that her life has worth. We have an open adoption, and I think this child has actually helped bring healing to the birthmom and family. There are absolutely no regrets to her decision.

Anonymous said...

Can I ask, where do you stand on abortion when the continuation of a pregnancy will cause harm or possibly death to the mother? x

Anonymous said...

I am pro choice, and will never ever be ok with giving a bunch of cells rights. Once they reach "term" and actually resemble and human and their emotions, yeah sure, but not from conception. I am married, and my husband and I don't want children. Sorry, but I have sex for pleasure, and I will not stop having sex with my husband because of a small chance of getting pregnant. And guess what else? In the very small chance I do get pregnant, I WILL get an abortion.

Carrying a child could likely kill me, and sorry if you don't agree, but I'm already here, and my life is wayyyyy more important than a bunch of cells that could possibly become a human being. Just ask my husband, because he's the one who said it.

Take away my right to choose, and just watch what happens. It will suppress women, and I can only imagine the backlash and things that politicians will now want to put into play, since this ridiculous bill got passed. If ti really happens, then I am just going to sit back and shake my head, and wait for the bomb that explodes shortly after.

All you prolifers should learn to be pro mind your own damn business. Its MY body, and I SHOULD HAVE THE CHOICE to carry a child to term.

Anonymous said...

Wow. You'll never ever be ok with giving a bunch of cells rights? Um, you might have missed this part of your middle school biology class, but you ARE a bunch of cells. What makes you you think *your* bunch of human cells is wayyy more important than a smaller bunch of human cells? Oh, yeah, because you're having fun in bed. Right. If this is the level of discourse that the abortion debate has come to, then God help us all.

Oh, and if I ever see someone running after *your* big bunch of cells (AKA YOU) with a knife, remind me again to mind my own damn business. If you don't, I might just try to rescue you.

Anonymous said...

Had abortion been leagal and readily available when I was conceived I could well have been an abortion stastic. How do I feel about that? It's a thought and resolution I find quite acceptable.I was born into a loving and caring family that could little afford to have another child. To force a girl or woman to have a child she neither wants nor can provide for is a recipe for abuse. To force a child into a life of hardship and abuse just because a condom failed is just pure child endangerment. Pro-choice is not a mandate it's an option.

Anonymous said...

This argument is like saying natural death does not happen. Women being held responsible for a miscarriage or stillbirths is like you being responsible for the death of a family member because they live in your house regardless of how they died. This argument doesn't stand up.

Anonymous said...

Kindly shut all of your fucks up. You seem to have left them open.

Anonymous said...

Most stillbirths and miscarriages never have a cause of death found even after autopsy. In countries like El Salvadore where abortion is illegal women are charged and are currently serving jail sentences. Their doctor's testify for the prosecution. What is a law if it is not enforced? How can it be enforced unless pregnancy loss is investigated? Maybe women will rupture their own membranes if they are desperate to abort. How would that look different than a spontaneous premature rupture of membranes? How can we tell the difference?
Maybe a law is not the answer. Maybe we should raise our children to value life. Support those with unplanned pregnancy. Be a mentor to young women. We can lessen abortion but we can not eliminate it with words on paper.

Michalangela said...


Dave said...

Great post. Obviously we know where you stand on the issue, but it doesn't have an "us vs. them attitude, which is very refreshing. Although I generally agree with your thought that abortion would be justifiable in case of murder or rape, I do know of a lady that was once raped, and carried the baby through to birth, then gave her up for adoption. This baby grew up, and had a child of her own. this child is my daughter, and as her father, I am thankful to the grandmother, who had the faith in God to help her through such a difficult time.

e7f51b2e-59b0-11e1-b404-000bcdca4d7a said...

so, what about in the case of when the woman, who wants to have her baby initially, has some kind of health issue where carrying her baby to full term or at all could result in her dying? is it okay to then kill the fetus because it's self preservation? is it okay for her to choose her life, where people have gotten to know her, had the chance to love her and she has had the chance to love and experience life over that of the fetus which at this point will have no cognitive memory and is unaware of what it's being deprived of? or would you prefer she die and cause heartache to many so that those that are left to care for the child when it is born and may later end up resenting it on the basis that "it" is what caused the loss of the other person?? what would make it okay to choose to murder the fetus in this kind of case?
on that same note, if knowing right off that having a baby and either keeping it when you know you'll resent it because you weren't ready OR having it and giving it up for adoption and wondering every day for the rest of your life as to whether or not the people that took the baby in are truly caring for the child can cause extreme mental issues that can lead to suicide and such, are you suggesting that i plague myself forever with questions i can't answer for the sake of being that knows not what it didn't have the chance to experience?
i'm sure while anyone is reading this is and doesn't agree is thinking that i personally have probably had an abortion and these are my means of justifying it. i did in fact has an unplanned pregnancy, and i chose to keep and raise her and i would never undo that decision. abortion is not a choice i could personally make, but it is a choice. who are you to say what why and how i should attend to my body. yes the embryo is in a way independent, but as a mother, be it of an unborn embryo or of my toddler, i am who makes the choice of what is better for that being. who are you to contradict me?

Naomi said...

This is so well-done, thank you so much for taking the time to write this out!! Point 5 is one that's been running through my head a lot as I read my Facebook homepage. This would be an absolute non-issue if this organization - which yes, provides some good services - also happened to be killing minorities or certain "unwanted" people living outside the womb. Praying God would have mercy on us and change our hearts on this matter.

Ed said...

Well said, Hannah! Thank you so much for articulating these truths in a calm, gentle, and rational manner.

So often, both pro-life and pro-choice people are talking past each other, arguing about completely different things.

Thank you for gently pulling the discussion back to the central focus of the issue: when personhood begins.

Anonymous said...


I call BS on the "Adoption and motherhood are real choices that pro-"choice" organizations like Planned Parenthood rarely present to women in crisis."

I personally experienced Planned Parenthood helping me to PLAN my PARENTHOOD. I was, like many others who walk through those doors, a scared, pregnant girl. They answered my every question, brought in a nurse to help me understand every biological change, and literally HELD MY HAND through my discovery. Yes, they offered info on the three options - abortion, adoption, and parenthood. They were encouraging when I mentioned that I was interested in possibly carrying the baby and gave me TONS of local resources, information on parenting classes, and even encouraged prenatal vitamins to start that day.

Honestly, if it WEREN'T for the free help and advice I received from PP, I may not have the beautiful 1 year old daughter I have today.

Oh yeah, and this was in PORTLAND OREGON. Can you get more liberal than that?

Otherwise, well written article, honestly. I do agree with many of your points, but this one thing really irks me because I hear it all the time and it is just NOT true!

Bastiat Lives said...

Some of the comments, on the pro-choice side, are pretty non-sensical.

First, to the issue of Susan G. Komen and Planned Parenthood. The Komen Foundation provided a miniscule amount of funding to Planned Parenthood. Removing its grants would likely have done nothing in terms of reducing services available. Moreover, it assumes that Komen couldn't simply shift the funding to another organization to provide the same services, but who does not also provide abortions.

Second, these individuals overlook Hannah's well-made point that the issue is not about the provision of non-abortion preventative medical services. If a group provides goods and services, free of charge, to low income families, but only families who are white, would it be "right?" Would you give money to such an organization? If not, why? After all, they are doing so much good. Why not overlook the racism?

Third, the attempt to distract from the issue of whether a fetus is alive or not by arguing about whether pro-lifers should be adopting or encouraging universal healthcare and the like is absurd. Is it murder or isn't it?

Hannah, I reproduced your post (with full accreditation) at"my blog". If you want me to remove it, just say the word.

Rycke said...

Abortion is a political matter, because it is either legal or illegal. One side wants it to be legal; the other side does not. Force decides the question.

In the matter of assigning rights to a child in the womb, we have to keep in mind that government is necessary evil because the use of force is always evil, but is sometimes necessary. Rights must be recognized and defended by government with the use of force, so rights are also necessarily evil. Defending them is going to offend someone: the person who would violate them.

Abortion is a classic clash of rights; the right of the mother to control her body and eject the child, versus the right of the child to live until it is naturally old enough to be born. There is, after all, little point in carrying a child only the point where it can survive only in an artificial womb, taking it out, and giving someone else a weak, incomplete, possibly defective baby to care for. That would be child abuse. There might be a point in doing that for a child that the mother wants but cannot carry that long, but not otherwise.

Most of the time, the question is the right of the mother to be not pregnant, a matter easily accomplished, versus the supposed right of a child to keep growing in her womb, threatening her life in various ways. That is why the question is not whether the child is human, but whether it is a "person." a legal term assigning rights. We pretty much draw the line now a month or so before natural labor would commence, but only if the life or health of the mother is endangered by continued pregnancy. Otherwise, it is at about the time of quickening, when one can feel a child moving. Almost nobody wants to stop a pregnancy after that. One can, but it is expensive and difficult. But even so, it is her body, and she should not be enslaved to or endangered by her child without her consent.

Carrying a child to term is not an easy task, nor without considerable risk. No one should be forced to do so.

Yours in ordered liberty,


Anonymous said...

There is nothing new or profound here. You have not changed any minds. Why? Because like every other pro life article out there, you make the wrong assumptions about why pro-choice folks want to keep abortion legal.

10 year olds have gotten pregnant from rape. Would you really expect a 10 year old to carry a baby (or in a recent case in South America, twins) to term? I'd really like an answer to this, but usually when someone inquires about these situations the response is "that happens so rarely it isn't worth talking about." I want an answer anyway, because it does happen. I've seen it. Should a 10 year old rape victim (a baby herself) be forced to carry to term because the non-sentient, newly fertilized egg is considered equal? Would anyone here really put a 10 year old through that? Or would you ask for a abortificient drug and never speak of it again, so you can begin helping your child who was RAPED, begin to heal from the horror of childhood sexual trauma?

laur1965 said...

Awesome! I have nothing to add.

Anonymous said...

You can't compare same sex marriage to abortion cuz its a perversion. Just like pedophilia, incest, fornication, adultery, etc. Shall we start granting siblings marriage licenses? No. Cuz it's a perversation. Abortion is harming someone else who can't speak for themselves. How about we let them be born and ask them if they want to live or die when they're 5. Atleast thats fair, right?

Anonymous said...

People who rape, murder, torture, and hurt others need to die. Just like war is justified when we are defending ourselves. It's about teaching criminals that behaving that way has consequences. For the rare instances when certain people are psychologically predisposed to hurt, kill, and destroy, execution is befitting. I do not value the life of a person who has free will and free choice and uses it to inflict pain on others. So, I'm not supportive of severely psychotic criminals living it up in a jail cell, sucking the life out of tax payers while they plot their revenge on their next unsuspecting victim. No I'm not!

Anonymous said...

Um...hello! Welfare, WIC, bridge cards, free schooling, child care, etc. I'm
Pretty sure the gov is doing its part. How about some real men step up, like Hannah suggested, and take responsibility!

Anonymous said...

I think it is very important to realize that agencies like Planned Parenthood provide essential breast cancer screening and prevention for women in disadvantaged communities who may not have the opportunity or information needed to seek out these very important procedures regularly. It is a fact that black women have the same mortality rates from breast cancer as white women but that detection occurs much later for black women, many times too late to make life saving changes for that person. Organizations that offer free or discounted breast health procedures are essential to protecting disadvantaged women who are unintentionally discriminated against by medicine because of their lack of awareness and lack of funds.

Not only does PP provide breast care but also provides STD testing and pap smears. Pap smears, which are indicative of certain types of cancers, can save a woman's life when used early enough. Planned Parenthood, although many times very controversial, is a name many disadvantaged and nondisadvantaged women can trust for affordable, extensive testing for a variety of life threatening illnesses facing women today, including breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

I think women's health, especially in the above mentioned reasons, should be the rallying cry of women everywhere, a rallying cry that teaches women where to go for affordable screening and tests in a safe, warm environment.

Anonymous said...

To the last Anonymous, your comment reads like something written by the PR department of Planned Parenthood and completely misses the entire point of this blog post. Nobody on the pro-life side opposes the mammograms or life-saving screenings provided to disadvantaged women. That has absolutely nothing to do with the opposition we have to that organization. And if Planned Parenthood stuck to those life-saving practices, you can be almost certain that pro-life donors would start lining up to contribute.

The point is that for all the excellent services that PP provides (which nobody denies are good), it does exponentially more harm through the routine and intentional extermination of innocent human life by means of abortion.

Not only that, but the lives of minorities in America are being destroyed through abortion at a rate of anywhere from 2.8 to 3.5 times that of whites. And this, sadly, reflects Planned Parenthood's racist origins, when its founder, Margaret Sanger, stated that her desire was to "exterminate the negro population." (I wish I were making this up.) This, in part, accounts for the high number of PP clinics strategically located in minority neighborhoods.

Does this mean they're still an intentionally racist organization? No, of course not. But does it mean that the racist agenda is still, tragically, being carried out to this day? Yes, the numbers clearly demonstrate that it does. America's minorities are eliminating an essential part of their future by means of abortion.

If Planned Parenthood stopped intentionally exterminating innocent human lives, then everything else you said about Planned Parenthood would be a wonderful thing. We SHOULD care about women's health. But we should also care—even more deeply—about innocent human lives. Our rallying cry should be to protect BOTH.

Anonymous said...

Your comment reminds me of the brownies one can make with just a little bit of dog poo. If Planned Parenthood is doing all these good things they still have a lot of POO they are doing not matter what good they do!Thank you for your article Hannah. It is scary to think how many open minded people are walking around with their brains falling out :( We really need a foundation of truth...Life is life (period)

Anonymous said...

It might appear that people are contradicting you. They are not really. It is the truth. May God bless you for keeping your baby and I pray you are blessed greatly because you did. I think people are saying not to contradict God......there is a God and we are not Him that we should choose to end the life of an innocent person. I did hear of a young woman who lost her life because she refused to take cancer treatment while pregnant. Her family and friends honor her for her sacrifice as she died shortly after the birth of her baby. A very difficult choice. For the most part abortion is marketed as birth control not as a way to save the mother's life. Statistic are fuzzy. If we were to sell 3 million hamburgers and even 10 caused people to die we would become incensed...Millions of abortions go on because of the lies "it's my body" and "it's not a baby." We should be incensed!

Anonymous said...

It doesn't sound as if a child will ever darken your door. Maybe it is good that you will never have the opportunity to teach them what you believe. I truly feel very sad for you. One day you will find out that it really isn't all about you and your pleasures. And I am sorry if you do ever want children. It is a very sad place to be to not be able to have your own...but there is adoption. I know I should mind my own business but here you put it...Such a sad situation. I am sorry you are so angry. I hope things get better for you.

Anonymous said...

Dear Nikoel, It appears you have made up your mind about God. It is never too late to turn to Him until that dying breath. I hope you change your mind. He loves you...and He loves every child of every size. Just because you don't believe in God doesn't change the fact that He exists and loves you. The book includes the story of what He did for us. For all of us. But if you don't want Him, He won't force you to accept His love. Have a blessed day. Originally Separation of Church and State was to prevent the state from telling us we all had to attend the same denomination...not to remove God from every place but church. He is on our money and in our country's documents after all. Some people are unaware of that. :)

Anonymous said...

Why would people who oppose abortion support gay marriage? I am wondering to myself now if we should debate the existence of air...or life on Mars? You lost me.

Anonymous said...

They feel pain at 8 weeks not at 12

Anonymous said...

I take it you don't care about anyone else children but your own. I certainly hope you never plan to be a public educator. Because you say "I don't see why I should care". Even Hillary said it takes a village. When we fail to plan....we plan to fail and ALL of us have to care for those who have no one else to care for them. By the way my students are all persons who deserve respect, care and a decent education. We support orphans in Rwanda....a terrible place to live!!!! " A person's a person no matter how small" - Seuss.

Anonymous said...

So you are saying the child needs to die because his father is a horrible man? Is that horrible man going to help you raise that child? A friend of mine carried the child through pregnancy and now he is 5 years old. She claims she does not see a single thing in her child that reminds her of his father. I'm sure it's because she chooses not to, but because she raised him, her child is more her than he ever will be like his father. She loves her child and she said if she had to do it all over again she would still have her child.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure that if it was your life that hung in the balance you would want people to examine every word you said, so that if they do not agree or understand your first point then maybe they might agree or hopefully understand your second or last point. Plus you do not know who is going to read your points, therefor some of your readers may need comparisons or contrasts to understand. When your life is in the balance, is it really such a horrible thing to try and have everyone who reads, understand?

Anonymous said...

Except for rape, a woman choice starts and ends with sex! If she does not want to have a child, then she should not be having sex. It's that simple.

Anonymous said...

Very inspirational. I also disagree with abortion and I like how you used the term "murder." That's what it is, no question about it. Thank you. :)

Anonymous said...

Brittany already explained the difference between a D&C and an abortion. The difference between an ectopic pregnancy and an abortion is that the ectopic baby would die anyway. My sister went through that and she would definitely have saved her baby if she could have. It's not like she went into surgery wanting to kill her baby like the mothers who ask for abortions. Big difference here.

Danielle @ "We Have It All" said...

Fantastic post!

BigMuscleWoman said...

There are thousands of unwanted children in every city across America, including Tulsa and Broken Arrow. They are begging for parents. The standards are so lax, they even accept an adult that isn't even married. That is how desperate they are. I would hope that all who think Abortion is wrong, to put their focus on adopting these unwanted children.

Damian Ball said...


I think this article confuses the whole argument. The issue is not whether or not the fetus is a human. The issue is about whether a fetus has the same rights as a born human. And currently, in our society, it does not. This is not about Hitler, distancing men from the responsibility of birth, planned parenthood, or anything else mentioned in this article. It is simply about what rights we assign an unborn child and how that relates to the rights of a mother. The pro-life group wants to assign rights to the fetus that supersede the mother and the pro-choice group wants to keep those rights with the mother. It is incredibly simple.

Furthermore, we have plenty of examples of where we allow ourselves to take the life of a living human provided certain conditions are met. For example: murderers, elderly, terminally ill, causalities of war, etc. So we already have precedence for this sort of differentiation. You might say that in some of those cases, the individual who's life is taken has done something wrong, but that is a completely arbitrary distinction and does not account for all cases. The fact is, we decided when it's OK to take someone's life. And currently, it's OK to take the life of a fetus.

As things are, the ramifications of the current state of affairs are fairly minimal. Fetuses are not really that we interact with on a person-to-person level and if one is created and destroyed, the societal impact is low. This happens all of the time without the aid of abortions. If a woman wants to have a child, then she willingly goes about the process. And if she does not, she is not forced to carry it. However, if we were to eliminate that choice, we would introduce a slew of problems. If a woman causes a miscarriage by accident, would you have her charged with manslaughter? In the case of rape, you are suggesting that a woman be forced (if she should like to elect otherwise) to continue to undergo the pain and suffering pushed upon her by her attacker for 9 additional months. This is a person in our society who has a more tangible impact and the suffering introduced could cause both her and those around her more pain than is necessary. If the fetus is destroyed, no one will really notice. But if the woman is forced against her will... we will surely notice. This argument might not appeal a general person's sense of absolute truth and justice, but the world doesn't operate on pure ideals. With many decisions, someone's rights are denied. When we decide who's rights to prioritize, we try to take the impact of such a decision into consideration. And for this case, the impact of destroying a fetus is much less than forcing an unwilling woman to carry an unborn baby to term.


Anonymous said...

Look up pain in fetus' on web. I saw a documentary many years where it was shown that they do react to pain at 8 weeks and sometimes earlier.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, if you don't agree with abortions, THEN DON'T GET ONE. But, don't argue to take away that right from women who actually (believe it or not) NEED them sometimes. It's ridiculous that you would rather have a woman (who is also a daughter, wife, mother, etc.) die, than she have an abortion. This is a MEDICAL right that woman must have in order to save their own lives. Yes, it's abused for wrong reasons, but in reality, abortions also save many many lives of women. Ultimately, you can disagree with anything in the world, but that doesn't mean it has to be outlawed. So, if I'm a vegetarian and disagree with consumption of meat, am I supposed to argue that meat production should be outlawed? No. But, NEWSFLASH, these animals are killed and put through horrible conditions and pain before they are slaughtered. So, should these animals not be killed because they experience pain?

The difference between a human being and an animal is it's ability to REASON. If we couldn't reason or think intelligently, we would rely solely on instinct, causing us to be animals. If someone somewhere can prove that a fetus can reason, then that fetus deserves rights.

Anonymous said...

I read all the way through your letter because you promised to answer the question of personhood...but, you didn't. All you ever said was that who gave others the right to say human life begins at birth or when they can experience pain, etc. Well, who gave you the right to say it begins at conception? The fact that different people will have different beliefs on this point is unavoidable. The compromise we have right now of allowing abortions in the first trimester is a compromise between believing life begins a conception and believing life begins at birth. All your other points are valid except they all depend on society agreeing that an embryo 100 cells big deserves the same rights as an adult human, and we don't agree on that. But, I do understand why you are against planned parenthood because of your pro-life beliefs...that at least, makes perfect sense.

Rebecca said...

I know I am a bit late to add anything to this argument but I just found your blog through a link through Femina and have enjoyed perusing...especially this post.

I wanted to just add to point #8 (in the case of incest or rape) that to murder the child who was conceived in a case like that is to murder the chance for anything GOOD to come from it. God, in His MERCY, has made something beautiful and sweet and loving and real from something that was the antithesis. Aborting the child in the case of violent rape does not heal the victim of such a crime, but it does refuse the only possible good thing that could come from it.

Well written, GREAT post. I as a pro-lifer even learned a thing or two. And I find it so ironic that the nay-sayers can't even sign a name of some sort so no one can address them in particular. Guess they want the last word, huh?

Well done.

Anonymous said...

How is preventing murder and supporting the right to be a sodomite even similar, let alone the same thing????? Murder is against Gods moral law and so is sodomy and perversion of the sexual union of man and woman in marriage. So pro-lifers (of which I am one) are what you call - consistent.
Further more, why would gay people WANT to get married when their initial attack was on the OPPRESSION of life long monogamous marriage.

Amanda May said...

I've also adopted one and I'm pro-life! So thankful my son's birth mother gave him life. I am forever indebted to her!

Janis Kerley said...

Thank God you don't want children. They shouldn't be raised by such a cold-hearted ignorant person!

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