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Is It Murder?
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America’s Polarity Over The Abortion Issue

By James Donahue

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of Roe vs. Wade and made abortion legal in 1973, the nation has been almost fanatically polarized over the morality of what many see as the murder of unborn children.

Leading the anti-abortion battle has been the Christian church which has produced some radical extremist who have believed themselves called upon by God to bomb abortion clinics and even go so far as to shoot and kill doctors and staff who practice the abortion of unborn fetuses.

The shocking murder of Dr. George Tiller, a Wichita, Kansas physician who has received national attention for performing late-term abortions, has brought this seething issue back into the limelight once again. While it has been a few years since we have seen a killing or bombing linked to the abortion issue, if we look closely at the current political scene, the issue has been the elephant in the room on Capitol Hill for a good many years.

The campaign between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Senator John McCain had the pro-life issue deeply embedded in the party platforms. While Obama has called for a reasonable approach to resolving this issue, he has supported the woman’s right to choose. McCain declared himself a pro-life candidate, as did former Republican President George W. Bush.

Every nomination for Supreme Court positions has turned into a complex political fight among legislators and while the candidates are challenged for a variety of reasons, the pro-life issue is always front and center. Such is the case of President Obama’s first court pick, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, whose Senate confirmation hearings begin even this week.

Notice in Judge Sotomayor’s case, the issues appear to skirt the abortion issue, looking instead at such mundane issues as suggested racist statements and actions. The concern among extreme right-wing Christians is that the Democratic controlled House and Senate will have a chance to stack the deck supporting the Roe vs. Wade decision, thus erasing efforts during the Bush years to get anti-abortion thinking judges seated.

We have become so polarized by this issue that it impacts the way we choose our candidates at the polls, the way our legislators make their decisions in Washington, and the actions of some religiously-driven zealots like the person who took it upon himself to murder Dr. Tiller in Wichita.

The allegation has been that Dr. Tiller was participating in the mass murder of unborn children may have been close to the truth. Late-term abortions are legally allowed in Kansas under certain circumstances, such as when the pregnancy threatens the life of the mother. Yet it is said the doctor conducted numerous questionable late-term abortions.

There is a critical moral issue to the destruction of unborn babies. There is a broad disagreement as to when a human soul enters the fetus. While the Roman Catholic Church maintains it begins at the moment of conception, a general thought, reflected in the law, is that the soul does not enter the body until late in the pregnancy, when the child develops a consciousness.

Both sides of this question are impossible to prove.

It is reasonable, however, to assume that a cluster of cells developing during the early stages of a human pregnancy would have no sense of awareness or feeling, and that their surgical removal would be similar to the removal of a malignant tumor. Both surgeries would involve the removal of living tissue, but would not be the killing of thinking, feeling creatures.

The removal of a living, conscious and nearly fully-developed baby, however, is another matter. It is the purposeful killing of an innocent child, and there is no other way to think of it. That fetus would feel the pain of whatever was happening to it.

We have, yet, another issue linked to the abortion question. We are living in an overpopulated world, we are running out of natural resources and there is a looming crisis of climate change, mostly caused by human activity, that many believe is putting the future of the human race at extreme risk. Thus we have a powerful movement for population control. Many young women feel financially incapable of raising children.

We agree with President Obama’s suggestions for dealing with this political deadlock. He says it is an issue that cannot be resolved so is calling for alternatives to the extreme. He proposes a strong emphasis on birth control, government assistance for unwed women who choose to keep their babies, and a relaxation of adoption laws making it easier for orphans and unwanted children to find good homes.

But like Mr. Obama, we also agree with a woman’s right to choose and support the abortion laws as they now stand. But abortions, if they must be conducted, should occur during the early weeks of a pregnancy.

The murders of healthy late-term fetuses from the wombs of healthy women, or the doctors who choose to perform such procedures, is not the answer.