“I get asked a lot of questions. Perhaps one of the most difficult ones has been, “How do I view abortion?” It is not politically correct to be against abortion because everybody is supposed to have their rights, including a woman who is supposed to have the right to terminate the life of a baby. It is a difficult question because people tend to be so set in their opinions. But here’s how I respond to the question of abortion – “Is it alive?” Take an endoscope and put it into the uterus of a 20 week fetus and see a tiny creature moving about – reacting to stimuli, having eyes, a mouth, little fingers, the heart’s beating, and all kinds of things are going on. Tell me that’s not a living organism. I just don’t buy it!
There are a lot of people who say, “I agree with you. I think that it is wrong, and I would never have an abortion; but I don’t feel that I have the right to impose my feelings on other people.” That may be the response of many people, but suppose the abolitionists had felt that way back in the 18th and 19th centuries. Suppose they had said, “I’m not going to own any slaves. I really think that slavery is wrong, but if you want to own slaves…that’s fine.” If the abolitionists had had that attitude, where would we be now? We have to grapple with these great moral issues, and abortion is an important issue for our generation. You just can’t stick you head in the sand.” —Ben Carson, M.D., Professor of Neurosurgery, Plastic Surgery, Oncology, and Pediatrics, and the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
No one has a right to choose to put an innocent human being to death. The use of ambiguous language and euphemisms has been tragically successful in switching the emphasis from “life” to “choice,” so that those who are trying to defend life are accused of trying to deprive people of choice. The argument then becomes: “In a pluralistic society, what authority do you have to deprive me of my reproductive rights?” Reproductive rights, however, are not the issue; killing human beings is.
But there is a fundamental principle which must always prevail: The end never justifies the means if the means are evil. In other words, no matter how difficult the alternatives, they can not justify the direct killing of an innocent human being. What kind of world would it be if we were not faithful to that principle? Where would the killing stop?
American laws deny the right to kill innocent human beings, or even various “endangered species'” like certain fish, birds or animals. Why is it “un-American” to argue against the “right” to kill the unborn? The Church mourns the ravages of the environment, pollution of the air, the rivers and lakes and oceans, the poisoning of wildlife, the potential of nuclear war and an accompanying holocaust. But sheer common sense, if not mercy for the helpless, demands that a society address before all else the destruction of its own children.
Some people say abortion is a right because it hasn’t been proved that the unborn is human. Even some who accept the fact that the unborn is fully human, however, insist that a woman’s “right” to have an abortion prevails over the right of the unborn to live. For example, a recent poll found that 76 percent of the women questioned believe that abortion is murder, yet 55 percent of the women who considered abortion murder still assert that it is a woman’s right. Can there really be a “right” to commit murder? Is it “un-American” to say that no one has a right to commit murder?
The worst is yet to come because the “slippery slope” caused by acceptance of abortion is already here, as evidenced by the much-publicized starvation death of Terri Schiavo, a disabled woman, in 2005. Her mother was forced to stand aside, facing arrest if she provided even a drop of water to her child’s lips. Yet, it has become fashionable, even among some conservatives, to say that Congress overreached when it attempted to give Terri Schiavo the rights of judicial review and due process granted to death row inmates and suspected terrorists.
We could be the next victims. Today, the dangerous billionaire George Soros waits in the wings, armed with the results of his nine-year “Project on Death in America“, preparing to put more lives at risk.
In 1973, when Roe was decided, it was believed that the nervous systems of even newborn babies were too immature to feel pain–so doctors generally did not provide anesthesia to infants before surgery. But 25 years ago, a young doctor at Oxford University named Kanwaljeet Anand noticed that babies coming to his neonatal intensive care unit from surgery suffered a massive stress response–indicating they had been through extreme pain. His research into this phenomenon shifted medical opinion, and today even the most premature newborns are given anesthesia to alleviate pain during surgery.
Anand–now a professor at the University of Arkansas and a pediatrician at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital–continued his research into infant pain, which has led him to conclude that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks, and possibly as early as 17 weeks when a portion of the brain called the “subplate zone” is formed. Indeed, according to a New York Times Magazine story on Anand’s research, a fetus’s “immature physiology may well make it more sensitive to pain, not less: The body’s mechanisms for inhibiting pain and making it more bearable do not become active until after birth.”
How did the pro-life position gain 18 percentage points in just 15 years? For one thing, scientific advances have allowed us to see inside the womb as never before. Once-experimental medical procedures, such as fetal surgery to repair spina bifida, have become increasingly common. And a 1999 photo of baby Samuel Armas, then at 21 weeks gestation, reaching out of his mother’s womb and holding his doctor’s finger touched millions of hearts around the world. People have been able to witness with their own eyes the humanity of the unborn child.
As this window into the womb was opening, the pro-choice movement was busy defending the gruesome practice of “partial birth” abortion. A ban on the practice was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2007. Now, thanks to the people of Nebraska, the national debate will shift to the topic of “fetal pain,” which once again underscores the humanity of the unborn.
As this debate unfolds, science will continue to advance, allowing us to see–and save–babies at earlier and earlier periods of gestation. And the consensus will continue to grow that pre-born babies are indeed human beings, deserving of our love, our compassion and, most important, our protection.