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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/10/09

Why I Am Pro Roe V. Wade

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I am pro Roe V. Wade, which means I support reasonable restrictions in the later trimester of pregnancy, but access to abortion in the first, and in almost all cases, the second trimester. The Court ruled that states could restrict abortions only during the final three months of pregnancy, a stage when medical experts considered the fetus capable of “meaningful life” outside the womb.

Reasonable people can disagree about when life begins, but to my scientific, atheist mind, you need a functioning nervous system to be a Human Being (especially, the "Being" part).  You don't get that until the beginning of the third trimester.  Appearances aside - and, honestly, a store mannequin 'looks' more human than a pea-sized fetus with finger and toe buds at under 3 months - it's what inside that counts.  On the other hand, it has always struck me as intellectually disingenuous to argue that it is OK for a woman to abort her fetus at 8 months while down the hall, another woman is pleading with her doctors to save the life of her preemie born after 7 months.

Surely, the moment life begins cannot be the moment of delivery; if so, that would make abortion okay just five minutes before birth, and I know of no one who would support that position.  As the justices discovered during extensive research leading up to the Roe V. Wade, human life begins somewhere toward the last trimester.  That is more than enough time for a woman to discover she is pregnant, decide whether or not to carry the fetus to term, and abort, or not.  One caveat: with the prolonged and often violent attacks on abortion clinics, it is now becoming a very practical difficulty for a woman to obtain a safe abortion, which means, ironically, that a woman who has chosen to abort will probably have to do so closer to term, or at the time of "Human Realization" than previously.  This will perhaps make services like those the late Dr. Tiller provide more necessary, not less.

In the case of late-term abortions where the mother's life is in danger, but not the baby's - that is, there are no birth defects that would be eventually fatal - the baby should be delivered prematurely.  Doctors are well trained in how to do this, and more and more premature infants grow up to lead healthy, normal lives. 

If you have trouble wrapping your mind around these “different actions at different times,” perhaps it would be wise to consider the evolutionary imperative.   We are undoubtedly programmed to think ahead, and this includes thinking ahead to prepare for a new life.  Think of it the other way around: how likely would survival be for an infant whose mother did NOT prepare for it, psychologically or materially?  Not very.  Often, pregnant mothers, and their partners, will imagine a child’s entire life, well before it is even born!  Of course, the reality of a child's life will always differ, but that is not the point here.  We need to separate what is imagined, that is, potential, from what is actual, at the moment.  That is the difference between what is, and what might be, to paraphrase Dickens’ Scrooge character imploring the ghost of Christmas-yet-to-come.

I think a good deal of angst, and bloodshed, could be avoided if each side wasn't so absolute in its stance - either all abortion, all the time, or no abortion, ever, at any stage, even to save the life of the mother.  Perhaps the president can stimulate debate on this issue with an eye toward reasonable compromise on this issue, but he, like many new parents, has a lot to juggle.

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Scott Baker is a Managing Editor & The Economics Editor at Opednews, and a former blogger for Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Global Economic Intersection.

His anthology of updated Opednews articles "America is Not Broke" was published by Tayen Lane Publishing (March, 2015) and may be found here:

Scott is a former and current President of Common Ground-NY (, a Geoist/Georgist activist group. He has written dozens of (more...)

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