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Is Abortion Victimless

Gerwyn Moseley writes:

"For me, vegetarianism is about animal welfare. I don't believe in god, and I'm not obsessed with my health. 
 
"Like hundreds of millions of Indians, I don't need meat analogues to eat well. 
 
"Alcohol and tobacco are fine by me. I don't smoke any more, but I defend others' right to do so. And a glass of red wine is one of the great pleasures of life. 

"And, yes, I do support abortion: not as 'freedom of choice,' but as a woman's right to control her own body."

I responded: Gerwyn, you write: "...yes, I do support abortion: not as 'freedom of choice,' but as a woman's right to control her own body." 

Fair enough. However, I must point out: there are clearly TWO distinct individuals (mother and child) present during pregnancy. 

Everything that defines a person physically is present at fertilization—only oxygen, nutrients and time to develop are required. The unborn child has his or her own genetic code, EEG trackings, and circulatory system. Often, the blood type and sex of the unborn child will also differ from that of the mother. 

The heart of the unborn child begins beating at 18 days, and is pumping blood at 21 days. The brain is functioning at 40 days—EEG trackings have been made at less than six weeks gestation. The unborn child responds to stimuli by the sixth to eighth week. Rapid Eye Movements (REMs) characteristic of actual dream states, are present in 23 weeks. 

Again: there are clearly TWO distinct individuals (mother and child) present during pregnancy. 

“I will maintain the utmost respect for human life, from the time of conception; even under threat, I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity.” 

--Declaration of Geneva, World Medical Association, September, 1948 

“The child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.” 

--A Declaration of the Rights of the Child, United Nations General Assembly, 1959 

“Is birth control an abortion?” 

“Definitely not. An abortion kills the life of a baby after it has begun.” 

--Planned Parenthood pamphlet, August 1963 

“Every person has the right to have his life respected, this right shall be protected by law and, in general, from the moment of conception. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.” 

--American Convention on Human Rights in San Jose, November 22, 1969 

“The reverence of each and every human life has been the keystone of Western medicine... it has been necessary to separate the idea of abortion from the idea of killing, which continues to be socially abhorrent. 
 
"The result has been a curious avoidance of the scientific fact, which everyone really knows, that human life begins at conception and is continuous, whether intra- or extra-uterine. 

"The very considerable semantic gymnastics which are required to rationalize abortion as anything but taking a human life would be ludicrous if they were not put forth under socially impeccable auspices.” 

--Editorial, Journal of the California State Medical Association, September 1970 

I wrote in my 2006 book, The Liberal Case Against Abortion:
"Some argue that abortion is a necessary evil to prevent the United States from becoming an overburdened 'welfare state.'  
 
"At present, however, there are over two million couples and one million single people wishing to adopt.  Figures from Planned Parenthood show welfare costs of $13,900 for each birth.  
 
"Compare this to the figure of $50,000 each American ends up paying in taxes as an adult.  Moreover, the average time a family stays on welfare is only 27 months.
"Persons concerned about a return to 'back-alley' abortions if abortion were made illegal again should first read Aborting America by Dr. Bernard Nathanson.  
 
"1983 data from the Bureau of Vital Statistics show one would have to go back to the pre-penicillin era to find more than 1,000 maternal deaths per year. 
"During 1965 to 1966, the period right before states began to legalize abortion, the number of total deaths were down to 120 per year. In 1970, the figure was 128 per year. A Kinsey study in 1960 showed that 84 to 87 percent of all illegal abortions were performed by reputable physicians.
 
"Dr. Mary Calderone of Planned Parenthood once stated, “Ninety percent of all illegal abortions are presently done by physicians.”

"The majority of pro-life activists also regard the mother seeking abortion as a victim and not a criminal.  

"Looking back on over two hundred years of legal history, the American Center for Bioethics concluded that women have never been prosecuted for abortion; only the abortionists.  

"This is analogous to our current laws which arrest drug dealers and prostitutes rather than their clientele.  If we continue to imperfectly enforce laws like these against what are arguably victimless crimes, why can’t we take steps towards protecting the unborn?"

Gerwyn Moseley writes:

"Vasu: here goes: prostitution is NOT a victimless crime; the victim is the prostitute. Gambling is NOT a victimless crime: the victim is the gambler. 
 
"Same-sex relations are NOT victimless crimes, because they are realtionships, not crimes. And if you think marijuana is safer than alcohol, you've never seen a skunk-head. 

"Now: what did all this have to do with abortion?"

I respond: Gerwyn, you wrote about certain activities not being victimless, and asked, "Now: what did all this have to do with abortion?" 

1. You justify abortion as a woman's right to control her own body. 

There are clearly TWO individuals, mother and child, involved. 

Is abortion victimless? 

Criminalization may or may not succeed -- marijuana prohibition is failing miserably.  
 
On the other hand, one million cars are stolen every year--does this mean we should legalize auto theft?  

First we have to determine whether or not the activity is "victimless," before debating criminalization.  

Peter Singer quotes John Stuart Mill (in his essay "On Liberty") as having said: "...the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others..." 

Singer writes that "Mill's view is often and properly quoted in support of the repeal of laws that create 'victimless crimes'--like the laws prohibiting homosexual relations between consenting adults, the use of marijuana and other drugs, prostitution, gambling and so on. Abortion is often included in this list...  

"The fallacy involved in numbering abortion among the victimless crimes should be obvious," concedes Singer. "The dispute about abortion is, largely, a dispute about whether or not abortion does have a 'victim.' " 

So even Peter Singer, who can hardly be called a right-to-lifer, concedes that the abortion debate centers on whether or not abortion is "victimless."  

2. Marijuana IS safer than alcohol and/or tobacco. 

A pamphlet entitled "10 Things Every Parent, Teenager and Teacher Should Know About Marijuana," produced by the Family Council on Drug Awareness tells us marijuana is not physically addictive. 
 
The 1980 Costa Rican study, the 1975 Jamaican study and the 1972 Nixon Blue Ribbon Report all concluded that marijuana use does not lead to physical dependency. 

The FBI reports 65 to 75 percent of criminal violence is alcohol-related, whereas Federal Bureau of Narcotics director Harry Anslinger testified before Congress in 1948 that marijuana leads to nonviolence and pacifism. 

In a message to Congress on August 2, 1977, President Jimmy Carter insisted: "Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself." 

Tobacco kills about 430,700 each year. Alcohol and alcohol-related diseases and injuries kill about 110,000 per year. Secondhand tobacco smoke kills about 50,000 every year. Aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs kill 7,600 each year. 

According to a 2003 Zogby poll, two of every five Americans say “the government should treat marijuana the same way it treats alcohol: It should regulate it, control it, tax it, and only make it illegal for children.” 

Only the prohibition of marijuana, which nearly one hundred million Americans have violated since 1965, has come close to the Prohibition era experience. 

3. Prostitution can, depending on the circumstances, be completely victimless. 

Hey, Heidi Fleiss was pretty good at it! 

Sydney Biddle Barrows is an American businesswoman who was introduced to the world of high-class prostitution and started her own escort service, Cachet, in New York City from 1979 to 1984. 

Cachet offered superior service for its time, focusing on delivering a classy and elegant experience to the wealthy and powerful who either visited or lived in New York City. Clients included industrialists, high-powered business executives and lawyers, foreign diplomats, Arabian oil sheiks, priests and rabbis. 

Does porn or merely posing nude differ from prostitution?

I've never had to pay for sex, but I have friends who have paid for sex. 

During the '80s, someone once wrote into the Reader, a liberal San Diego newspaper, saying that using attractive women in advertising: magazines, billboards, posing next to prizes on television game shows (what to speak of women stripping, working in topless bars, or merely posing nude!) is a subtle form of prostitution -- women using their bodies for income.

A recent online news item, for example, shows a photo of UFC Octagon Girl Arriany Celeste in shorts and in a top clearly meant to show off her cleavage. Additional photos show her in revealing clothing.

Arriany Celeste is a hostess on the UFC's web show, UFC Ultimate Insider. She has worked for the UFC since 2006, and has also modeled for Playboy, Maxim and FHM.
In mainstream secular American society, with single parent households in which women often have to work outside the home to support themselves (and, in many cases, their children) where do we draw the line with criminalizing women for using their own bodies for income?

Prostitution was *legal* in ancient India for the identical reason the Prohibition of alcohol in the United States failed (and the current prohibition of marijuana is failing as well).

In his purport (commentary) to the Srimad Bhagavatam 1.11.19, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada writes:

"We may not hate even the prostitutes if they are devotees of the Lord. Even to date there are many prostitutes in great cities of India who are sincere devotees of the Lord.
"By tricks of chance, one may be obliged to adopt a profession which is not very adorable in society... even in those days, about five thousand years ago, there were prostitutes in a city like Dwarka... This means that prostitutes are necessary citizens for the proper upkeep of society.

"The government opens wine shops, but this does not mean that the government encourages the drinking of wine. The idea is that there is a class of men who will drink at any cost, and it has been experienced that prohibition in great cities encouraged illicit smuggling of wine.

"Similarly, men who are not satisfied at home require such concessions... It is better that prostitutes be available in the marketplace so that the sanctity of society can be maintained." 

Pro-choice feminist Tracy Clark-Flory writes on Salon.com:

"At $25-$30 per hour, prostitutes make approximately four times what they likely would outside of the sex industry. Of course, that doesn't take into consideration on-the-job risks like contracting an STD (condoms were used in only a quarter of dealings) or being assaulted; researchers estimate that sex workers are assaulted an average of once a month.

"There's also the threat of being arrested, but according to the Economist, 'Prostitutes are more likely to have sex with a police officer than to be arrested by one.'"

Rose Evans, a pro-life Episcopalian, a widow and a grandma, and editor and publisher of Harmony: Voices for a Just Future, a "consistent-ethic" periodical on the religious left, says problems such as contracting STDs, being assaulted, pimp violence, etc. would not exist if prostitution were legal. And if any sex workers were abused or attacked, they could report the crime to the police without the fear of being arrested themselves.

When I was younger, I contributed $1,008 to Democrats For Life. I’m a pro-life Democrat (Republicans treat non-Christians like second-class citizens), but even some conservatives concede that prostitution can,depending upon the circumstances, be completely victimless.

In a 1995 column entitled “Prostitution as a Privacy Right,” Robert Craig Paul, a syndicated columnist for the Washington Times, wrote:

“If a woman’s right to control the use of her reproductive organs permits her to enter into a cash transaction with an abortionist, then how can this fundamental right of privacy not apply to other transactions involving her use of her body?

“…abortion has been against the law and restricted with greater intensity for more of our history than prostitution, reflecting social norms that abortion, viewed as infanticide, is more immoral than prostitution…

“In contrast (to abortion), prostitution is entirely an act between consenting parties that does not affect the bodily integrity, identity and destiny of a third party (the unborn)…

“It is legal nonsense that privacy conveys the right to abort, but not the right to ingest drugs or engage in sodomy…

“It will be interesting to watch the court sort out on the basis of Roe v. Wade why it is legal for a woman to contract for abortion but not prostitution.”

Some feminists oppose pornography. Others do not. 
 
Some feminist groups like COYOTE ("Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics") support the legalization of prostitution. 

So it's disingenuous for pro-choicers to claim pro-life feminists aren't real feminists, especially when the history of the feminist movement shows otherwise. 

Even if the views of pro-life feminists do not represent the feminist majority but are in the minority, like Feminists For Animal Rights... Feminists For Life and their pro-life feminist views should similarly be welcomed by other feminists for serious discussion.

4. I agree with you that gambling might not be completely victimless. Gambling is contrary to the spirit of New Testament teaching, but like the pro-life position, this is not clearly spelled out in Scripture. 

Although gambling is not explicitly forbidden in the Bible, it does prey upon the individual’s desire for worldly riches. 
 
This desire for immediate wealth and self-aggrandizement is contrary to the spirit of New Testament teaching. 
 
Jesus taught the multitudes to seek the eternal treasures in heaven rather than pursue temporary, earthly gain. 
 
Jesus insisted upon the self-sacrifice and renunciation of earthly possessions and family ties and duties. 
 
(Matthew 6:19-21, 6:24-34, 8:21-22, 10:34-39, 19:20-21,29; Luke 9:57-62, 12:51-53, 14:25-26,33; James 5:1-3) 
 
Jesus had no interest in worldly disputes over income and property. (Luke 12:13-14) He taught that life is meant for more than the accumulation of material goods. 
 
Jesus condemned those who lay up treasures for themselves, but are not rich towards God. (Luke 12:15-21) 
 
In his parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man, Jesus expressed concern for materialistic persons (Luke 16:19-31). 
 
Jesus taught that it is hard for those attached to earthly riches to enter the kingdom of God. (Matthew 19:16-24; Mark 10:17-23; Luke 18:18-25) 
 
Jesus' apostles lead lives of voluntary poverty; sharing their possessions with one another. Those among the brethren who did not do so were condemned. (Acts 2:44, 5:1-11) 
 
"He who loves his life will lose it," taught Jesus, "and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life...For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" (Matthew 16:26; Mark 8:36; Luke 9:25; John 12:25) 
 
In Paul’s words: 
 
"Piety with contentment is great gain indeed; for we brought nothing into the world and, obviously, we can carry nothing out. When we have food and clothing, we shall be content with these. 
 
"Those who are eager to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into numerous thoughtless and hurtful cravings that plunge people into destruction and ruin. 
 
"For the love of money is the root of all evil. In striving for it, some have wandered away from the faith...But you, O man of God, shun these things and go after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness." 
 
- I Timothy 6:6-11 
 
Gambling preys upon those who can least afford it—the people of lower income. 
 
The National Commission of Gambling estimated in 1983 that there were over a million compulsive gamblers nationwide. 
 
The Commission predicted that as gambling gradually becomes legal across the country, this figure will eventually reach three million. 
 
The first treatment center for compulsive gamblers was built outside Baltimore, Maryland, in 1982. 
 
Compulsive gamblers often run into enormous financial hardships--borrowing or even stealing from others, including their own families. 
 
Severe debt becomes a hard fact of life for compulsive gamblers. They sleep poorly, and become indifferent towards eating and affection. 
 
Tense and irritable, they often drink, and may even consider suicide. 
 
Since the advent of legalized gambling, per capita crime in the Atlantic City area has tripled. A police check of records at different casinos there wound over one million dollars loaned to 25 underworld figures. 
 
One survey of police enforcement of gambling laws found that 80 percent of the police believe profits from illegal gambling are used to finance other illegal activities, such as loan-sharking. 
 
In half of the cities surveyed, local independent criminal organizations were said to control gambling operations. 
 
Although a representative of the Catholic church once said, "There is no eleventh commandment against gambling," conservative Protestants have traditionally taken a dim view of gambling.   
 
"I find it impossible even in my weakest moments," wrote Richard Emrich in the Christian Century, "when the financial needs of the church are most pressing, to imagine St. John, St. Paul, or St. Peter running a bingo party or our Lord sending out his disciples to sell chances.   
 
"And I shudder at the thought that some young person might say, "It's all right to gamble.  We do it at church." 
 
The Puritans of Massachusetts enacted America’s first law against gambling in 1638. In 1682, the Quakers in Pennsylvania passed their own law against gambling and "such like enticing, vain, and evil sports and games." 
 
During the period from 1830 to 1860, lotteries were banned across America. By 1908, nearly every state in the nation had banned horse racing. 
 
Neil Reagan, older brother to Ronald Reagan, once said of his younger brother, "I don't think he ever saw the inside of a pool hall," indicating that even in mainstream secular American society, gambling carries with it a shady connotation. 
 
Again: the biblical tradition opposes gambling, but this is an implied idea, not clearly spelled out in Scripture. 
 
This is true of the pro-life position and many other moral positions taken by differing denominations.

I agree with you, gambling might not be victimless: try telling that to the evil Christian glibly saying, "I bet," and/or "so much wine," rather than engage in serious face-to-face interfaith discussion with people of other faiths as to whether or not animal-killing, gambling, intoxication, etc. are consistent with Christianity. 

5. I agree with you. Same-sex relations are victimless, because they are relationships and not crimes. 

If a pregnant teen goes into a crisis pregnancy center, the Christians there will not judge her for the sin of fornication, call her a "dog," tell her "right now," etc., nor equate the victimless crime of fornication with the sin of killing an unborn child.
 
Even conservative Christians distinguish between victimless crimes and crimes with victims.

However, in the mid-1980s, an initiated (ordained) Krishna devotee took a stand against animal experimentation. When asked if medical research on animals be justified if it could find a cure for AIDS, she said, "We have a cure for AIDS (no sex outside of marriage, and only within marriage solely with the deliberate intent of procreation)!"
 
i.e., don't engage in certain unhealthy sexual practices in the first place!

Similarly, in his 1984 book, The Philosophy of Vegetarianism, professor Daniel Dombrowski writes that the philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome (Pythagoreans and the Platonists) might wonder about modern man: 

...inflicting all kinds of degenerative diseases upon himself through diet and lifestyle, and then torturing and killing millions animals through medical research (vivisection) to find cures for these diseases! 

"Well, yeah," said my friend John Antypas, a biology major in 1986, who felt vivisection was medically necessary, but admitted eating meat isn't. "If you want a cure for lung cancer, stop smoking!"

i.e., don't engage in certain unhealthy practices in the first place!

Like the Pope opposing condoms for homosexuals and sex workers even to prevent the spread of AIDS, somehow I don't think an extremist religious position is going to help the modern secular animal rights movement!

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