This isn’t an abortion blog, and I haven’t thought that chiming in on this issue would be worth the candle.  After all, it’s an issue that’s been chewed over a bit, by other bloggers.  But I’ll throw something out there, from wikipedia:

Electrical brain activity is first detected between the 5th and 6th week of gestation, though this is still considered primitive neural activity rather than the beginning of conscious thought, something that develops much later in fetation. Synapses begin forming at 17 weeks, and at about week 28 begin to multiply at a rapid pace…

Okay.  Synapses begin forming at 17 weeks.  I’m not a neurologist, but I know (again, thanks to wikipedia) that a synapse is “a junction that permits a neuron to pass an electrical or chemical signal to another cell (neural or otherwise).”  And I know that neurons need to send signals to each other, or else you can’t think.  And when are most abortions performed?

In 2003, from data collected in those areas of the United States that sufficiently reported gestational age, it was found that 88.2% of abortions were conducted at or prior to 12 weeks, 10.4% from 13 to 20 weeks, and 1.4% at or after 21 weeks.

In other words, the vast majority of abortions are performed long before a fetus can think or have any kind of self-awareness.  Of course my analysis here isn’t going to change a lot of anti-abortion – or anti-choice, if you prefer – minds, is it?  But what I hope it might do is change a couple of pro-choice minds.  I mean the pro-choice people who nonetheless refer to abortion as a “tragedy” and emphasize how much they’d like abortion to be “rare” and who defend Planned Parenthood by emphasizing how abortion is only a small part of their services.

Of course, abortion isn’t always ethically simple, my argument above notwithstanding.  But it seems like those who are anti-abortion act as though abortion were, in fact, ethically simple.  But it isn’t and they’re not serious.  Do they actually want abortion to be illegal – forced parenthood?

I remember a conversation I had, way back when, with a woman who’d graduated from my high school, a year ahead of me.  We were talking about a teacher we’d both had, an older grandmotherly type.  I said that this teacher seemed pretty nice.  Yes, said the young woman to me, she was more than nice she was really special to me.  I asked why that was.  Because, she said, I had a friend who was in trouble and she helped her get an abortion.

So, you weigh the various issue involved here.  Fifteen week old fetus – no brains.  Fifteen year old girl – in a tough situation.  And I read stories about state legislators pushing through anti-abortion measures, and I think about how that’s going to affect actual people.  It’s a real political football.

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7 Responses to Abortion.

  1. Terrance H. says:

    You’re an idiot. I guess we should go around unplugging those in a coma, right? If they have no or little brain activity, they’re no longer people in the liberal mind.

    And never mind that if the unborn child is left to develop, he or she will have brain activity. So much so, in fact, they might just write the next great American novel. Who knows? Nobody, because you fuckers advocate his or her killing.

    You people are so disgusting. You are guys can scarcely be referred to as human beings yourselves, because I detect not a shred of humanity.

    Liberalism is a disease.

  2. Alon Levy says:

    Thank you. Some anti-abortionists who care about these things try to point out that neurons develop early (or that hearts develop early), but complex brain activity is based on synapse count, not neuron count. Even ignoring the pregnant woman, it’s not a moral question until a week number that begins with a 3, which is way past when they no longer do abortions unless the woman’s life is in danger.

  3. Darque says:

    If it makes you feel any better Terrance, I’m pro-choice and against murdering people in comas. Sometimes I don’t get how liberalism allows me to make the distinction between a cluster of human cells and an infirmed human person, but it does.

    While we’re on the subject of diseases, I’d say the greatest one is ideology run rampant.

  4. Palaverer says:

    If you think abortion is bad, imagine how many “great American novelists” you murder each time you whack off.

    Personally, I hate novelists and advocate the killing of them as early as possible.

  5. Cactuar says:

    Well, yes, Terrance. We should unplug brain damaged people in comas, if that is what they wanted. It’s not that they are not people. It’s that they’ve already died.

    There is no ‘you’ that exists independent of your physical brain. If it becomes significantly damaged, ‘you’ die, whether or not your heart keeps beating. There is a discussion to be had of course, as to when that point is crossed, but at the very least, we shouldn’t let medical ethics be influenced by supernatural notions of a mind-body duality.

    At any rate, ethically, the issue of brain damaged people is quite different than that of abortion, because, significantly, those people /used to be/ alive, conscious beings with wishes that ought to be respected and a best interest that ought to be considered, whereas a fetus before a certain point has never been such a being.

  6. Jim says:

    “I guess we should go around unplugging those in a coma, right?”

    If you ever go into a coma, you’ll find out.

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