Life Or Death: Who Chooses? Essay

In Roman times, abortion and the destruction of unwanted
children was permissible, but as out civilization has aged, it
seems that such acts were no longer acceptable by rational human
beings, so that in 1948, Canada along with most other nations in
the world signed a declaration of the United Nations promising
every human being the right to life. The World Medical
Association meeting in Geneve at the same time, stated that the
utmost respect for human life was to be from the moment of
conception. This declaration was re-affirmed when the World
Medical Association met in Oslo in 1970. Should we go backwards
in our concern for the life of an individual human being?
The unborn human is still a human life and not all the
wishful thinking of those advocating repeal of abortion laws, can
alter this. Those of us who would seek to protect the human who
is still to small to cry aloud for it’s own protection, have been
accused of having a 19th Century approach to life in the last
third of the 20th Century. But who in reality is using arguments
of a bygone Century? It is an incontrovertible fact of biological
science – Make no Mistake – that from the moment of conception, a
new human life has been created.

Only those who allow their emotional passion to overide
their knowledge, can deny it: only those who are irrational or
ignorant of science, doubt that when a human sperm fertilizes a
human ovum a new human being is created. A new human being who
carries genes in its cells that make that human being uniquely
different from any and other human being and yet, undeniably a
member, as we all are, of the great human family. All the fetus
needs to grow into a babe, a child, an old man, is time,
nutrition and a suitable environment. It is determined at that
very moment of conception whether the baby will be a boy or a
girl; which of his parents he will look like; what blood type he
will have. His whole heritage is forever fixed. Look at a human
being 8 weeks after conception and you, yes every person here who
can tell the difference between a man and a women, will be able
to look at the fetus and tell me whether it is a baby boy or a

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No, a fetus is not just another part of a women’s body like
an appendix or appendage. These appendages, these perfectly
formed tiny feel belong to a 10 week developed baby, not to his
or her mother.

The fetus is distinct and different and has it’s own heart
beat. Do you know that the fetus’ heart started beating just 18
days after a new life was created, beating before the mother even
knew she was pregnant? By 3 months of pregnancy the developing
baby is just small enough to be help in the palm of a man’s hand
but look closely at this 3 month old fetus. All his organs are
formed and all his systems working. He swims, he grasps a
pointer, he moves freely, he excretes urine. If you inject a
sweet solution into the water around him, he will swallaw because
he likes the taste. Inject a bitter solution and he will quit
swallowing because he does not like the taste. By 16 weeks it is
obvious to all, except those who have eyes but deliberately do
not see, that this is a young human being.

Who chooses life or death for this little one because
abortion is the taking of a human life? This fact is undeniable;
however much of the members of the Women’s Liberation Movement,
the new Feminists, Dr. Henry Morgentaler or the Canadian Medical
Association President feel about it, does not alter the fact of
the matter. An incontrovertible fact that cannot change as
feelings change.

If abortion is undeniably the taking of human life and yet
sincere misguided people feel that it should be just a personal
matter between a women and the doctor, there seems to be 2
choices open to them. (1) That they would believe that other acts
of destruction of human beings such as infanticide and homicide
should be of no concern of society and therefore, eliminate them
from the criminal code. This I cannot believe is the thinking of
the majority, although the tendency for doctors to respect the
selfish desire of parents and not treat the newborn defective
with a necessary lifesaving measure, is becoming increasingly
more common. (2) But for the most part the only conclusion
available to us is that those pressing for repeal of the abortion
laws believe that there are different sorts of human beings and
that by some arbitrary standard, they can place different values
on the lives of there human beings. Of course, different human
beings have different values to each of us as individuals: my
mother means more to me than she does to you. But the right to
life of all human beings is undeniable. I do not think this is
negotiable. It is easy to be concerned with the welfare of those
we know and love, while regarding everybody else as less
important and somehow, less real. Most people would rather have
heard of the death of thousands in the Honduras flooding disaster
than of a serious accident involving a close friends or favourite
relatives. That is why some are less disturbed by the slaughter
of thousands of unborn children than by the personal problems of
a pregnant women across the street. To rationalize this double
standard, they pretend to themselves that the unborn child is a
less valuable human life because it has no active social
relationships and can therefore, be disposed of by others who
have an arbitrary standard of their own for the value of a human

I agree that the fetus has not developed it’s full potential
as a human being: but neither have any of us. Nor will any of us
have reached that point: that point of perfect humaness, when we
die. Because some of us may be less far along the path than
others, does not give them the right to kill us. But those in
favour of abortion, assume that they have that right, the
standard being arbitrary. To say that a 10 week fetus has less
value that a baby, means also that one must consider a baby of
less value than a child, a young adult of less value than an old
man. Surely one cannot believe this and still be civilized and
human. A society that does not protect its individual members is
on the lowest scale of civilized society. One of the measures of
a more highly civilized society, is its attitude towards its
weaker members. If the poor, the sick, the handicapped, the
mentally ill, the helpless are not protected, the society is not
as advanced as in a society where they are protected. The more
mature the society is, the more there is respect for the dignity
and rights of all human beings. The function of the laws of the
society, is to protect and provide for all members so that no
individual or group of individuals can be victimized by another
individual group. Every member of Canadian society has a vital
stake in what value system is adopted towards its weak, aged,
cripple, it’s helpless intra-uterine members; a vital stake in
who chooses life or death.

As some of you may know, in 1969, the abortion laws were
changed in Canada, so that it became legal for a doctor to
perform an abortion if a committee of 3 other doctors in an
eccredited hospital deemed that continuation of the pregnancy
constituted a severe threat to the life and health, mental or
physical of the women. Threat to health was not defined and so it
is variously interpreted to mean very real medical disease to
anything that interferes with even social or economic well being,
so that any unwanted or unplanned pregnancy thus qualifies. What
really is the truth about the lasting effect of an unwanted
pregnancy on the psyche of a womem? Of course there is a
difference of opinion among psychiatrists, but if unbiased,
prospective studies are examined certain facts become obvious.

(1) The health of women who are mentally ill before they become
pregnant, is not improved by an abortion. In fact in 1970 an
official statement of the World Health Organization said,
“Serious mental disorders arise more often in women previous
mental problems. Thus the very women for whom legal abortion is
considered justified on psychiatric grounds, are the ones who
have the highest risk of post-abortion psychiatric disorders. (2)
Most women who are mentally healthy before unwanted pregnancy,
despite a temporary emotional upset during the early weeks for
the pregnancy, are mentally healthy after the pregnancy whether
they were aborted or carried through to term.

Do we accept killing a human being because of a temporary,
emotional upset? All obstetricians and gynaecologists know of
many cases where the mother, be her single or married, has spoken
of abortion early in the pregnancy and later on, has confessed
her gratitude to those who have not performed the abortion. On
the other hand, we have all seen women what have been troubled,
consumed with guilt and development significant psychiatric
problems following and because of abortion. I quote Ft. John L.

Grady, Medical Examiner for Florida State Attorney’s Office, “I
believe it can be stated with certainty that abortion causes more
deep-seated guilt, depression and mental illness than it ever

We used to hear a lot about the risk of suicide among those
who threatened such action if their request for abortion was
refused. How real is that risk – it is not – in fact, the suicide
rate among pregnant women be they happy of unhappy about the
pregnancy, is 1/4 of the rate among non-pregnant women in child-
bearing years. An accurate 10 year study was done in England on
unwed mothers who requested abortions and were refused. It was
found that the suicide rate of this group was less than that
average population. In Minnesota in a 15 year period, there were
only 14 maternal suicides. 11 occurred after delivery. None were
illegitimately pregnant. All were psychotic. In contrast, among
the first 8 deaths of women aborted under the liberal law in the
United Kingdon, 2 were from suicide directly following the

Are there any medical indications for abortion?? Is it valid
for a doctor to co-operate in the choice for abortion? The late
Dr. Guttmacher, one of the world leaders of the pro-abortion
movement, has stated: “Almost any women can be brought through
pregnancy alive unless she suffers from cancer or leukemia, in
which case abortion is unlikely to prolong her life much less
save it.”
As an opponent to abortion, I will readily agree, as will
all those who are against abortion, that pregnancy resulting from
rape or incest is a tragedy. Rape is a detestable crime, but no
sane reasoning can place the slightest blame on the unborn child
it might produce. Incest is, if that is possible, even worse, but
for centuries, traditional Jewish law has clearly stated, that if
a father sins against his daughter (incest) that does not justify
a second crime – the abortion of the product of that sin. The act
of rape or incest is the major emotional physical trauma to the
young girl or women. Should we compound the psychic scar already
inflicted on the mother by her having the guilt of destroying a
living being which was at least half her own? Throughout history,
pregnant women who for one crime or another were sentenced to
death, were given a stay of execution until after the delivery of
the child: it being the contention of courts that one could not
punish the innocent child for the crime of the mother. Can we
punish it for a crime against the mother?
If rape occurred the victim should immediately report the
incident. If this is done, early reporting of the crime will
provide greater opportunity for apprehension and conviction of
the rapist, for treatment of venereal disease and prevention of
pregnancy. Let is give our children good sex education; and let
us get tough on pornography, clean up the newstands, literature
and “Adult Movies” and television programmes which encourage
crime, abusive drugs and make mockery of morality and good
behaviour and therefore, contribute to rape.

By some peculiar trick of adult logic, proponents of
abortion talk about fetal indications for act. Whatever abortion
may do for the mother, it so very obviously cannot be therapeutic
for the fetus. Death is hardly a constructive therapy. As Dr.

Hellegers of John Hopkins Hospital says, “While it is easy to
feel that abortion is being performed for the sake of the fetus,
honesty requires us to recognize that we perform it for adults”.

There is no evidence to indicate that an infant with congenital
or birth defect would rather not be born since he cannot be
consulted. This evidence might exist if suicides were common
among people with congenital handicaps. However, to the contrary,
these seem to value life, since the incidence of suicide is less
than that of the general population. Can we choose death for
another while life is all we ourselves know? Methods are being
developed to diagnose certain defects in the infants of mothers
at risk before the infant is born. The fluid around the fetus can
be sampled and tested in a very complicated fashion. If we kill
infants with confidential defects before they are born, why not
after birth, why not any human being we declare defective? It is
no surprise of course for many of us to learn that in hospitals
across North American Continent such decisions affecting the
newborn and the very elderly or those with incurable disease, are
being made. What is a defect, what is a congenital defect? Hitler
considered being 1/4 Jewish was a congenital defect incompatible
with the right to life. Perhaps you have all heard this story :
One doctor saying to another doctor, “About the termination
of a pregnancy, I want your opinion. The father was syphilitic
(venereal disease). The mother tuberculous (small lumps on skin).

Of the four children born, the first was blind, the second died,
the third was deaf and dumb, the fourth also tuberculous. What
would you have done?”
“I would have ended the pregnancy”. “Then you would have
murdered Beethoven”.

Not content with the Abortion Act of 1969 which allows
40,000 unborn children to be killed legally in our country in
1973, many noisy and emotional people are campaigning for
abortion on request. They are aided by a crusading, misguided
press and media which continues to utter as fact, the fiction of
fertile imaginative minds. We have been told by the media that
the majority of Canadians wish to have abortion legalized but the
latest census taken by the Toronto Star in March of 1989 reports
that 35% of those polled thought that abortion was already easy
to obtain, 26% thought it too hard, 19% about right and 21% had
no opinion. Men more then women thought it too hard. Even if the
majority did want it, this does not make it right. Centuries ago,
most Americans thought slavery was right. The elected leaders of
this country must have the wisdom and integrity for what is
right, not for what might be politically opportune.

One of the uttered justifications for abortion on demand is
that every women should have the mastership of her own body, but
should she? To quote Dr. Edwin Connow, “Should she have the right
for what is really judicial execution of new life – not a cat,
not a chicken but a human being – not only potential but actual”.

In a society one is not totally free to do what one will with
one’s own body (we don’t have the right to get drunk or high on
drugs and drive down Young Street.) The great concern has been
shown for the innocent victims of highjacking but what is
abortion but this? The highjacking without reprieve, of an
innocent passenger out of his mother’s womb. Should we really
leave the right to hijack as a personal decision only?
Those campaigning for further liberalization of the abortion
law, hope to make abortion available and safe for all who wish it
during a pregnancy. Qualifications have been placed on the
abortion on demand routine by other groups, for example, a time
limit for the duration of pregnancy or clause that the operation
be performed in an accredited hospital. Before exploring the
reality of so-called safe abortion, let me tell you a little
method of procuring an abortion. Before 13 weeks of pregnancy,
the neck of the womb is dilated – a comparatively easy procedure
in someone who has already had a child – much more difficult if
childbirth has not occurred. The products of conception in many
hospitals are removed but a suction apparatus – considered safe
and better that the curettal scraping method. After 13 weeks
pregnancy, the fetus is too big to be removed in this was and
either a dangerous method of injection a solution into the womb
is carried out, this salting out method results in the mother
going into what is really a miniature labour and after a period
of time, expelling a very dead often skinned baby. In some
hospitals because of the danger of this procedure to the mother,
an operation like a miniature Caesarean section called a
hysterotomy has to be performed. There area also many other

Let us now look if we can, at consequences of such license
to kill an individual too small to cry for it’s own protection.

Abortion by suction curettage is not just as simple as a
pelvic examination performed in a doctor’s office as Dr.

Morgentaler and the television programe W5 who were doing a great
disservice to young women in Canada would have us believe. In
Canada as reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal
(the Statistics from Statistics Canada), the complication rate
and this being for immediate complications of early abortion is
4.5%. According to the Wyn report with statistics from 12
counties, women who have a previous induced abortion have their
ability to bear children in the future permanently impaired.

There is a
5-10% increase in infertility. The chances of these women having
a pregnancy in the tube increases up to 4 times. Premature
delivery increases up to 50% and when one realizes that
prematurity is the commonest cause for infants being mentally or
physically defective, having cerebral palsy or other
difficulties, then one realizes that those doctors doing
abortions in great numbers south of the border or across the
water, even in Canada may not be doing the women and her family a
service. They will tell you that abortion has almost no
complications. What most of them will not tell you, is that once
the abortion is done they may refuse to see the women again and
that she must take her post-abortal problems elsewhere.

Those seeking repeal of the present abortion law will
rapidly point out that nevertheless, it is safer to have a legal
abortion than illegal abortions, safer for the women that is.

This I don not dispute, but here is the real rub. Liberalized
abortion laws do not eliminate illegal, back street abortions and
in some cases, the overall number of illegal abortions actually
rise, usually stays stagnant, and rarely falls. There are still
people who would rather try it themselves or go somewhere they
will be completely anonymous. Another factor enters the total
number of people seeking abortion, legal or illegal rises. The
overall pregnancy rate rockets and people become careless with
contraception and a women can have 3 or 4 abortions during the
time of one full term pregnancy.

Are doctors really being kind to the girl to allow her to
choose life or death for her unborn child? In aborting a 16 year
old this year with so-called informed consent, we may be
preventing her from having even 1 or 2 children 10 years later
when happily married. No, repealing the abortion law does not
make it possible for every women to safely eliminate, what is for
her, an unwanted pregnancy.

Would limiting abortions to accredited hospitals make it
safer? Yes, safer for the women, not for the fetus and it would
jeopardize the continued well being of all of the members of the
community with the gross misuse of the medical manpower, hospital
facilities and money. With almost 31,739 abortions performed in
Ontario in 1989, the cost to OHIP is about 9 million dollars. Yet
to do as has been done in the U.S.A and the United Kingdom –
namely to make legal, abortions is to turn so-called ‘backstreet
butchers’ into legal operators.

Patients now go into the office through the front door
instead of the rear. I have heard it said that is abortions
became available on request, many less children would be born and
we could use the pleasant delivery suites and postnatal beds for
abortions. As I have pointed out, however, before today,
liberalization of abortion does not reduce the birth rate. There
would be little increase in available facilities or indeed
doctor’s time. By the very nature of the operation and because
the longer pregnancy lasts, the more difficult it is, patients
for abortions are admitted as urgent cases or emergencies so that
all other members of the community must wait longer for their
hospital bed or the surgery they need.

Who will pay for there abortions? With medicare, of course,
it is you and I. I know one full tern pregnancy costs most than
an abortion, but not much more. And it does not cost more than 3
abortions and that is what happens when the climate or choice for
life or death of the unborn child changes. Let us use this money
for constructive purposes, not destructive. It has been suggested
that abortions on request would enable the poor to secure
abortion as easily as the rich but regrettably, it has been shown
that abortion-minded physicians in great demand will respond to
the age-old commercial rules, as has already happened in the
States and in Britain.

Abortion on demand a women’s right to choose not to continue
an unplanned pregnancy would prevent there being unwanted
children in this country, so we are told. This is the final and
desperate emotional plea of people anxious, at whatever price, to
escape the responsibility for their actions. Nobody here or in
Canada, wants there to be unwanted children in this city, and in
this country, and also in this world. There is nothing more
pitiable or heat rending that an unwanted fetus becoming an
unwanted babe or an unwanted babe becoming an unwanted child, or
an unwanted child becoming an embittered adult. But few would
think it right to kill or have killed an unwanted baby to prevent
it from becoming an unwanted child. Then how can they think it
right to kill an unwanted fetus, even more defenceless than a
newborn babe just because it may grow into an unwanted child.

Once a women has conceived, she already is a parent, be it
willing or otherwise. The only way she ceases it be a parents is
by a natural death or an act of killing. Killing in any form is
not the solution to so-called unwanted human beings at any age.

Hitler thought this was right. Canadians surely do not. It is a
permissive and frightened society that does not develop the
expertise to control population, civil disorder, crime, poverty,
even its own sexuality but yet would mount an uncontrolled,
repeat uncontrolled, destructive attack on the defenceless, very
beginnings of life. Let us marshall all our resources financial,
educational, those of social agencies, but above all, of human
concern and passion for our fellow humans. Let us by all means,
make available to all, knowledge of conception and methods of
contraception. Let us offer ourselves as loving humans to those
already in this country who are unwanted by their natural
parents. And incidentally, I am sure I don not need acquaint you
with some of the facts about so-called unwanted children. The
Children’s Aid Societies in Toronto and in fact in every major
city across our country have many more potential parents anxious
and willing to adopt infants and young children than they have
such children available for adoption. Let us marshall our
technology and humanity in the service of the unfortunate.

And in conclusion, I would like to read to you a letter which a
member of Birthright received.

Dear Birthright:
I heard about your work in Birthright and think you can help
us. We’re in our late 20’s and have been married 7 years. After 3
years of waiting, we became the happy adoptive parents of a
precious baby girl last fall.

This is how you can help us. Please tell every unwed mother
who places her baby for adoption how much we love her. We think
each of those girls are the most generous, charitable, kind
devoted and loving mothers on this earth.

We know she must have carried her child out of love or in this
day and age should have found some way to have an abortion. We
can never thank her enough for the 9 months of time and energy
she spent for us.

Maybe if she knows that we think she’s the most loving
person in this world we will never know, it will help us both.

As Jenny grows older, we are telling her she has two sets of
parents. We’ll tell her how she came to be our child this way.

Her first mommy didn’t have a home or a daddy to help love and
care for her. She loved her so much that she just couldn’t let
her daughter grow up without love of two parents and all the
things that make a happy home. We’ll tell Jenny that her 1st
mommy thinks of her often and wonders how she is. She will always
love her baby.

Maybe our thoughts will someday reach Jenny’s 1st mommy.

What she did was an act of faith in mankind, hope for her
daughter’s future and love toward us. We think the strength of
her love enabled her to place her precious baby with us. We have
faith that as Jenny grows up learning she was placed out of love
and not abandoned by her 1st mommy, both Jenny and she will be at

Thank you.


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