Of all the issues that divide our nation, one of those most often — and most mistakenly — identified as simply a dispute over religious beliefs is the debate over abortion.
Yes, religion has a lot to say about it.
But it is primarily a debate regarding medical science, a debate, moreover, that most of the time gets off on the wrong foot before it even begins.
That’s because the burden of proof is usually placed on the wrong party in the dispute. We who oppose abortion are made to feel as if we are simply “conscientious objectors” to a practice that the medical community, the legal community, and the average citizen almost universally accept as a normal and necessary aspect of healthcare in America.
It’s time to turn the tables. It is not pro-life people who have to prove abortion is bad; it is the medical community that has to prove it’s good.
This common presumption that abortion is part of normal medical practice fails to address the most fundamental requirement of any medical procedure, namely, that it be “indicated.”
If someone is going to go into your body with medications, instruments, and machines, there has to be a medical reason. There has to be some medical benefit to the procedure or intervention; it has to be indicated by some kind of medical problem.
You don’t amputate a limb if it’s perfectly healthy. You don’t do a heart transplant just because you want a new heart. There has to be a problem with the existing one.
A medical procedure helps the body to do something that it is supposed to be doing, and is trying to do, but is having trouble doing. Hence, for instance, we clear up or bypass blocked arteries through which blood is trying to flow but is getting obstructed.
But in a healthy pregnancy, the body is doing precisely what it is supposed to do. All physical and hormonal systems are geared towards protecting, feeding, and nurturing that child in the womb. And abortion goes in and destroys all that. It does not help the body to do what it is trying to do but is having trouble doing; rather, it stops the body from doing exactly what it is supposed to do and is doing very well.
And that’s bad medicine.
(Now for the purposes of this argument, I’m talking about elective abortion, that is, abortion performed in the absence of a medical problem. I, along with numerous maternal-fetal medicine physicians, maintain that even in cases of medically complicated pregnancies, it is never necessary to kill the child in order to maintain the life or health of the mother. I have been privileged to work with many of these physicians, like Dr. Patrick J Baggot and Dr. Byron C. Calhoun. I also maintain, along with countless other Americans, that morally speaking, killing a child cannot be morally justified, even in the presence of medical issues. But that is not my topic here. The default mode for abortions in America is elective abortion; the overwhelming majority of these procedures occur on healthy mothers carrying healthy babies.)
So even if you are going to cling to the scientifically backward idea that the child in the womb is just an appendage or part of a woman’s body, rather than a genetically distinct, uniquely developed and coordinated organism, you still need medical justification to conduct an abortion.
In fact, even according to Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, “the abortion decision in all its aspects is inherently, and primarily, a medical decision, and basic responsibility for it must rest with the physician.” [410 U.S. 113, 166]
Now in the abortion debate, the pro-life community has done a pretty good job of establishing why abortion is bad. Not only is it undeniable that it kills a baby (hence violating not only the medical principle that a procedure be “indicated,” but also the principle, “do no harm”), but the physiological and psychological negative impact of abortion on the mother is documented in peer-reviewed studies so numerous that just the bibliography of such studies fills entire volumes.
And yet what I am saying is that even if none of that were true, abortion “by choice” is simply bad medicine. There is no medical benefit that abortion brings; there is no disease that abortion cures.
Anyone who wants to assert otherwise is the one who has the burden of proof, not us who oppose abortion.
Fr. Frank Pavone is one of the most prominent pro-life leaders in the world. He became a Catholic priest in 1988 under Cardinal John O’Connor in New York. In 1993 he became National Director of Priests for Life. He is also the President of the National Pro-life Religious Council, and the National Pastoral Director of the Silent No More Campaign and of Rachel’s Vineyard, the world’s largest ministry of healing after abortion. He travels to about four states every week, preaching and teaching against abortion. He broadcasts regularly on television, radio, and internet. He was asked by Mother Teresa to speak in India on abortion, and was asked by then-candidate Donald Trump to serve on his Pro-life and Catholic advisory councils. He has served at the Vatican as an official of the Pontifical Council for the Family, which coordinates the pro-life activities of the Catholic Church. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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