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Thread: An Interesting Op-Ed on Abortion & Science

  1. #1

    An Interesting Op-Ed on Abortion & Science

    [QUOTE][B][U][SIZE=4]Will Science Trump Politics in Resolving Abortion Debate?[/SIZE][/U][/B]

    Tuesday, September 13, 2005

    From FOXNews.com

    By Wendy Mcelroy

    Artificial wombs will be "reality" within 20 years, according to the London Times. Indeed, 20 years seems a conservative estimate given an earlier report in The Guardian, another UK newspaper, which predicted them for 2008.

    Discussion of ectogenesis — growing an embryo outside the mother's womb — may sound wildly futuristic. But a few years ago, cloning and genetic modification seemed impossible. A few years before that, the idea of a 66-year-old woman giving birth was absurd; it happened last January. And only last week, British scientists received an official go-ahead to create human embryos from two mothers with no male genetic contribution.

    For better or worse, new reproductive technologies are redefining the ground rules of reproduction. (And, no, the force of law can not hold back scientific 'progress,' as authorities have discovered repeatedly since Galileo's day.)

    New reproductive technologies may also redefine the politics surrounding reproduction, including the issue of abortion. I welcome the prospect. It is difficult to believe that science could do a worse job with the issue than courts and fanatic rhetoric. At the very least, science may offer new methods of ending a pregnancy without destroying an embryo or fetus.

    This possibility becomes more likely in the presence of two factors.

    First, viability is being established at ever-earlier stages of pregnancy.

    Recently, doctors have been successful in administering perflubron — a liquid that replaces the amniotic fluid — to babies as young as 23-weeks-old, with a 70 percent survival rate.

    Second, ectogenesis seems to be experiencing breakthroughs.

    In 2002, a team at Cornell University used cells from a human uterus to grow an artificial womb. When a fertilized human egg was introduced, it implanted itself in the uterus wall as in a natural pregnancy. After six days of gestation, the experiment was halted due solely to legal constraints.

    Meanwhile, half-a-world away, Dr. Yoshinori Kuwabara of Juntendo University in Japan has been removing fetuses from goats and keeping them alive for weeks in clear plastic tanks of amniotic fluid with machine-driven 'umbilical cords'.

    Frida Simonstein, of Ben Gurion University in Israel, stated at a recent conference on ethics and emerging medical technologies, "Society now expects better outcomes for premature babies. Society also demands improvement in IVF effectiveness. Yet society should be equally aware that these demands require research that leads to the development of an artificial womb."

    She concluded, "We must start discussing this topic now while we have still enough time to decide what we may want, and why."

    Abortion activists, both pro-choice and pro-life, should heed Simonstein's warning. Science has sped past the current state of debate, and those stuck behind in the rut of discussing Roe v. Wade may find themselves obsolete. Whether or not ectogenesis is ever able to sustain a nine-month human pregnancy, one thing is clear: key issues like viability are being redefined by science. The abortion debate must move into the 21st century, where it may be possible for many pro-choice and pro-life advocates to find common ground.

    Science will not make the abortion debate go away. The conflict is too deep and involves such fundamental questions of ethics and rights as, "What is a human life?" "Can two 'human beings' — a fetus and the pregnant woman — claim control over the same body?" and "When does an individual with rights come into existence?" These questions are beyond the scope of science.

    Nevertheless, technology can impact the debate in at least two ways. First, it can explore ways to end a pregnancy without destroying the fetus, which may then be sustained; if such procedures became accessible and inexpensive (or financed by adoptive 'parents'), then abortion rates would likely decline…and sharply.

    Second, it may offer "an out" for activists on both sides who sincerely wish to resolve the debate and not merely scream at each other at ever increasing shrillness.

    Many pro-choice women, like me, have been deeply disturbed by ultrasound scan photos that show fetuses, at earlier than once thought periods of gestation, sucking their thumbs, appearing to smile and otherwise resembling a full-term baby. Many of us would welcome alternate procedures and forms of ectogenesis as long as they remained choices. And as long as both parental rights and parental responsibilities could be relinquished.

    For their part, pro-life advocates who are sincerely bothered by the totalitarian implications of monitoring pregnant women and demolishing doctor-client privilege might well jump at a technological solution.

    Such activists may be surprised to find allies where enemies once existed.

    Of course, some pro-choice feminists will reject the possibility without discussion, and for one reason. Many states ban abortion once the fetus has achieved viability. Since ectogenesis pushes viability back to the embryo stage, all abortions might become illegal. That would constitute a catastrophic political defeat.

    Moreover, many pro-life advocates will oppose new reproductive technologies as dehumanizing, unnatural, and against their religious beliefs.

    To date, the most notable thing about activists' response to new reproductive technologies has been the lack of it, especially when compared to the clamor surrounding every other aspect of abortion. It sometimes seems as though the two extremes want to shout rather than consider solutions.

    And so the debate will continue among those unwilling to explore any 'solution' not fashioned from their own ideology.

    But the extent of the problem may well be diminished by science, by new reproductive technologies that sustain the viability of fetuses removed from women who do not wish to become mothers. Like heart transplants or intrauterine operations to correct birth defects, ectogenesis may taken for granted some day.

    The most optimistic scenario is that a not-too-future generation will look back on abortion as a barbaric procedure, and learn the terms 'pro-choice' and 'pro-life' from a history text.

    More realistically, new reproductive technologies will just help a bad situation. But help should not dismissed lightly.

    -- Wendy McElroy is the editor of ifeminists.com and a research fellow for The Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif. She is the author and editor of many books and articles, including the new book, "Liberty for Women: Freedom and Feminism in the 21st Century" (Ivan R. Dee/Independent Institute, 2002). She lives with her husband in Canada[/QUOTE]

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    [QUOTE] Many pro-choice women, like me, have been deeply disturbed by ultrasound scan photos that show fetuses, at earlier than once thought periods of gestation, sucking their thumbs, appearing to smile and otherwise resembling a full-term baby.[/QUOTE]

    It's disturbing because millions of these thumb-sucking, smiling babies have been killed. While there may be a "practical" reason for women wanting to abort, it is nonetheless very disturbing.

    For people like me, who see both sides of the argument, it is hard to get past this part of the deal.

  3. #3
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    Talk about muddying the waters. :rolleyes:

    How about coming up with foolproof contraception so we don't need to get that far?

    I hate to use the term "dehumanizing", but ectogenesis does seem to reduce humans to assembly-line products.

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    [QUOTE=Jetcane]It's disturbing because millions of these thumb-sucking, smiling babies have been killed. While there may be a "practical" reason for women wanting to abort, it is nonetheless very disturbing.

    For people like me, who see both sides of the argument, it is hard to get past this part of the deal.[/QUOTE]


    Anything we can do to keep babies alive is fine by me.

    I see both side sof this debate too...clearly. I simply have a strong, unwavering opinion that is anti-abortion. It is precisely BECAUSE I see both sides of this debate that my opinion is so strong.

  5. #5
    [QUOTE=jets5ever]Anything we can do to keep babies alive is fine by me.

    I see both side sof this debate too...clearly. I simply have a strong, unwavering opinion that is anti-abortion. It is precisely BECAUSE I see both sides of this debate that my opinion is so strong.[/QUOTE]

    Right. To you, abortion is clear-cut murder. Hence, if ectogenisis is developed to the point where an "abortion" is merely the removal of a fetus at ANY stage into an artificial "womb", to be reared until non-technological-based viabillity for adoption, and hence no death occurs, you have NO moral issues or problems, right? You would support such an abillity, correct?

  6. #6
    i don't see the utility gained by bringing more unwanted children in the world.

    We assume that the next Albert Einstein was aborted but statistics and common sense dictates it's far more likely that the aborted was more likely to become a criminal than a world class physicist.

    i believe in natural selection. If a mother would rather have aborted a fetus than raise a child than perhaps it would have been better for that child, the mother and society if we let her do what she wants.

    It's like the animals that eat their weakest young, they are being "cruel" in the short term but in the long term how much crueler is it to have the thing starve to death? or maybe destabilizes the family unit and leave other children vulnerable.

    Just as when we prune a plant so that it can grow healthier sometimes wanton death saves lives - like in the case of the Iraq war, right 5ever? ;)
    Last edited by bitonti; 09-14-2005 at 10:10 AM.

  7. #7
    [QUOTE=bitonti]i believe in natural selection. If a mother would rather have aborted a fetus than raise a child than perhaps it would have been better for that child, the mother and society if we let her do what she wants.

    It's like the animals that eat their weakest young, they are being "cruel" in the short term but in the long term how much crueler is it to have the thing starve to death? or maybe destabilizes the family unit and leave other children vulnerable.
    [/QUOTE]

    By logical extention of your line of arguement here, you can then postulate that if Republican Conservatives decide that the American Left makes the county weaker on a multitude of fronts, than mass-murder of the Leftists is perfectly appropriate. After all, such an act meets all the logic-based-criteria you have so eloquently laid out in your above argument, in that PERHAPS it would be better for the Nation and the People of America (and their future generations) if the most extreme Left were killed off en-mass, and no longer permitted to destroy America from within.

    Natural Selection at it's finest, the strong and powerful survive, the weak are left behind. Right bit?

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    [QUOTE=Warfish]Right. To you, abortion is clear-cut murder. Hence, if ectogenisis is developed to the point where an "abortion" is merely the removal of a fetus at ANY stage into an artificial "womb", to be reared until non-technological-based viabillity for adoption, and hence no death occurs, you have NO moral issues or problems, right? You would support such an abillity, correct?[/QUOTE]


    Exactly. I don't care [I]how[/I] they keep the baby alive. I don't care if they grow it in a lab or a dish. Just don't kill it....

  9. #9
    [QUOTE=Warfish]By logical extention ...

    Natural Selection at it's finest, the strong and powerful survive, the weak are left behind. Right bit?[/QUOTE]

    well i guess that's one way to look at it - civilization has rules that prevents that viewpoint.

    in my version of natural selection if a fetus makes it to infancy makes it to toddler makes it to child makes it to adolescent makes it to adulthood well long before that point they achieved viability, they were not selected against. Taking abortion out of the picture there are still many ways, even in this modern world, for a baby to not make it to adulthood. Someone who is an adult is a survivor.

    Would the same aborted fetus be more successful, even a contributor to society if they were born to a different mother? probably yes - but that's not the reality.

    If I was lucky enough to be conceived in the womb of Woody Johnson's mother I'd be the owner of the Jets right now. Wishful thinking doesn't always translate into reality.

    Right now you can go to the orphanage in any town city or state and have your pick of unwanted babies. The white ones get snapped up early (it's true there is even a black market for healthy white babies, no lie) - but there are many unwanted children right now that no one really cares about. They bounce from foster parent to foster parent (if they are lucky) and grow up degenerate 9 times out of 10.

    It's like as long as we don't kill them in the womb we've done our moral part, i don't buy that. At some point the health of society as a whole should be considered.

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