Anti-Abortion Argument #3: Abortion Is Cruel

This post is part of a series of posts addressing arguments made against abortion. The format here is simple: I list a common argument against abortion and then open the floor for my readers to discuss. Without further ado, here’s today’s argument:

Abortion is cruel

Have you ever seen the video “Silent Scream”? It’s a video of an abortion, and in it you can see the unborn baby trying to move away from the probe, and then screaming as it is murdered. Abortions are incredibly cruel. Some types of abortion involve tearing the still-living unborn baby limb from limb and others involve injecting a saline solution into the womb, essentially burning it alive. Still others involve scrambling a live unborn baby’s brains. Abortions are utterly cruel and inhumane and amount to torture.

Please be civil and direct. Remember that I would like the comments section of this post to serve as a resource in the future. You are encouraged to link to articles elsewhere that help address this argument, or to studies or documentation. And don’t be afraid to respond to each other, to play the devil’s advocate, or to simply ask questions.

After a week I will close the comments sections on this post, and will choose the comments I consider clearest and most interesting and add them to the end of the OP (with full credit, of course).

So. Discuss!

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Gordon

    Only a tiny minority of abortions are late term. If you want to avoid these cruel abortions then you should be making abortion quicker and easier to access so that the woman can have her abortion as early as possible.

    • Rosie

      Amen. At the stage where I had my abortion (5 weeks, which is pretty typical I hear), the embryo had neither limbs nor a brain. It was so small that a surgical abortion was not advised because the doc might not be able to see it. According to several internet sites, I should run all my blood clots through a sieve (looking for something less than 1 cm in length and vaguely tree-shaped) if I wanted to make sure to know when it passed.

  • Josh

    Anyone who uses the “Silent Scream” video to say that Abortion is cruel should also watch a prisoner on death row getting executed, or a US machine gun kill the “enemy” (these videos exist on the internet and are not hard to find) and remain consistent on finding those horrifying. Any person that says abortion is cruel, but that the massacres of the Bible (such as the Amalekites, including their children) in the Bible were justified is a cruel person themselves.

    • Sarah-Sophia

      Even if the fetus was aware of it’s surroundings, it would not have the cultural reference to understand that the probe was dangerous.

      • Meritaten

        Recent studies argue that pain “perception” isn’t possible until week 24, which also happens to be the lower limit for viability. At that point, pain responses to foreign objects are unmistakable if you happen to see them on ultrasound. Pain doesn’t require any cultural reference. After week 24, the only honest response to the pro-life suffering argument is to ignore it.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Can you cite these recent studies please?

        Also, I don’t believe she was saying that pain requires a cultural reference. What she actually said was that fear of a probe would require a cultural reference–the fetus would have to understand what it was and that it was a threat, which it most certainly would have neither the context nor the cognitive sophistication to do. But propaganda like “The Silent Scream” tries to imply tat the fetus screams in fear, that it suffers psychologically as well as physically when it is aborted. I think it’s pretty clear that it was this part of the “cruelty” argument that Sarah-Sophia was addressing.

      • Meritaten

        For the recent studies you can start looking here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/7853321/Foetus-cannot-feel-pain-before-24-weeks.html

        The “sedation” part of their argument is extremely weak, in my opinion. Pain does in fact exist under sedation. But that isn’t the entire argument.

  • http://cfiottawa.com Eamon Knight

    I think it was in a recent Pharyngula thread, someone pointed out that the blood oxygenation of a fetus is insufficient to sustain consciousness — basically, babies don’t wake up until they get their first breaths of air. Ergo, they can’t experience pain during an abortion, however performed.

    Note: I don’t know enough about the subject to say if that’s true.

    • agt1965

      I worked in critical care transport for years, often with neonates, and given that we were ‘critical care transport’ this most likely meant the infant was very ill or very premature. I have to say that the thought of in vitro conciousness has never crossed my mind, even whilst carrying my three children. After giving it some thought, I would say that it is impossible, so I’m going to rationalize this out. More terrifying than some instrument coming at you would be the thought of ‘waking’ confined in some watery, dark container. Of course, that would require cognition, not just conciousness. Any reaction to an instrument is purely reflex and instinctual, even after birth. As to the oxygenation of the brain, fetal hemoglobin will suck up more oxygen that adult hemoglobin but the fetus requires much less also. Infants are generally born cyanotic or ‘blue’ (that in itself proves lower oxygen levels ) and remain so until they begin breathing and those gasps create a physiologic response that ‘switches’ them over to breathing and oxygenation as we know it. Until then, most are unresponsive. Babies are not awake at all at birth and if that doesn’t wake one up, I don’t know what will. Hence, that slap on the buttocks usually depicted, though myth these days. The infant is rubbed and dryed and gently stimulated until they are breathing adequately. Therefore, both of those things are necessary to elicit something that resembles conciousness. Once again, the fact that they have to be stimulated to breathe, which increases oxygenation, and THEN they awake, does lend creedence to this. For the majority of the pregnancy, though, the brain is simply not developed enough to be concious, regardless of oxygenation. The head has to be small enough to pass through the birth canal. That’s why humans have to be cared for an extended period of time as compared to other mammals. It’s also why an infant’s head seems large in proportion to their body. Their brain is developing, especially in the first year of life. In this set-up, other systems are prioity before birth. Essentially, it seems that the building blocks of the brain are formed but real conciousness is only established after a period of time, of course, after delivery. An adult on life support, considered brain dead, with no EEG activity, will often respond to ‘pain’ but that is simply reflex once again. It’s survival to withdraw from such, no cognition necessary. It’s on us to label it ‘pain’ because we now know what it is and think that if it would be painful to us, it must be painful to them…Let me just add, though, I don’t like the idea of inflicting even reflexive pain (see, it’s my empathy in action, not their ‘pain’, that is painful to me), and I don’t think it’s long before an infant does indeed perceive it, but then again, who remembers?

      • agt1965

        Sorry for the repeated misspelling of conscious/consciousness. I’m old, I’ve been up all night, and I’m entirely dependent upon spell-check these days. Why let those mundane things take up space in my brain when my hard drive can do that for me? ;)

  • Plunderb

    Forced birth is cruel.

  • Niemand

    The majority of abortions occur before the 8th week, i.e. before there are even stationary neurons, much less the connections to the peripheral nerves that would be needed to have even basic pain sensation. Those abortions are clearly not cruel.

    The vast majority of abortions take place in the first trimester. The cortex is pretty much not there yet in the first trimester. Also the abortions don’t involve saline or “tearing” the fetus or any other maneuver that could be obviously cruel, just aspiration intact from the uterus.

    Later abortions are usually performed under anesthesia. Ever talked to a natural childbirth advocate about anesthesia? The fetus, if it can feel anything, is asleep. Surgery looks pretty cruel-lots of cutting, twisting, and even cooking involved. But it’s not because the sensation from the tissue being manipulated to the brain is temporarily halted or the brain is in a sleeping state and can’t interpret pain signals.

    As Eamon mentioned, there’s a good chance that the fetus doesn’t have sufficient oxygen in utero to have usable consciousness. If you take an adult (or a baby) and put them in an unpressurized plane at 30,000 feet, they won’t remember a thing about the experience: the cortical neurons are very sensitive to hypoxia and don’t work when the oxygen level is low. I don’t know for sure if that level of hypoxia is obtained in utero, but it seems likely. If for no other reason than that there’s no evolutionary advantage to having a conscious fetus and considerable disadvantage, i.e. use of resources (food, oxygen) unnecessarily. As far as I know, all the behaviors observed in fetuses are consistent with reflex or brainstem actions.

    All things considered, I think the only cruelty involved in abortion is the distress caused to innocent people-including children-from hearing dramatic descriptions of rare procedures without a complete understanding of what’s going on. Rebecca, in an earlier post, described her suffering from anti-abortion propaganda quite eloquently, for example. The fetus is unlikely to know or experience anything that could meaningfully be called suffering during an abortion.

    • Rosa

      There is also the suffering of women and their families, having late-term abortions for serious medical reasons, who are subjected to this propaganda and also to legal limitations that can mean traveling to another state while in a medically fragile late pregnancy and being afraid of terrorism and harassment.

      I had a friend who had fairly late-term procedure (not third trimester, though) despite badly wanting to continue her pregnancy, because something had gone very, very wrong with the fetus and infection was threatening to spread into the rest of her body. She calls it an abortion but the fetus was definitely nonviable, so I’ve never known if that was a leftover from her upbringing or if the decision was made before things had progressed so badly. It took her years to even tell any of us what happened, so for years she suffered in silence every time the hideous, gory propaganda was hauled out.

      These “abstract” debates where the supposed only victim is a fetus do actual harm to actual living women. And then when those women suffer guilt or depression – like a roomate of mine in college who burst into tears every time a “choose life” ad came on the TV, because she was so conflicted about her own abortion – the “pro-life” people claim it’s abortion causing that pain, not their propaganda or lies.

    • agt1965

      Oh my, you did a much better job of explaining that than I did. As to your comment about Rebecca’s post, it is another case of imputing what we now are cognizant of or aquainted with onto another being that is not yet capable of such. That doesn’t negate Rebecca’s suffering. We just understand with what we ‘know’.

  • Sven

    The baby doesn’t even know, or will remember it ever existed. I’d rather kill something that doesn’t know it’s alive then make women keep their rape babies, or jeopardize their future.
    I shouldn’t even have an opinion or at least be able to vote on it considering I’m male. It’s completely up to the woman who wants to do it, leave them alone.

  • ButchKitties

    Reactions to stimuli are not always conscious and do not always indicate that an organism is feeling pain. I grew up on a lake, so I frequently watched my mom clean fish. A freshly decapitated fish will flop away from your finger if you poke it, but it obviously isn’t feeling any pain. The brain would still need to be connected to the body for that to happen.

  • Saraquill

    In the case of late term abortions, they are usually conducted on very ill fetuses. It’s cruel to force a woman to deliver a child that won’t live to see a week, and to force that child to have a very short, very painful life.

  • Uly

    While that could reasonably justify forbidding elective late term abortions, those don’t happen very often as it is. Most abortions happen long before the fetus is capable of feeling pain. There is more cruelty involved in eating a chicken sandwich than in having an abortion.

    • Rosie

      Indeed. And if you’ve ever killed a chicken, or a fish, or any other animal, even if you have purposely made it as quick as possible, you can see the difference with your own eyes. But at this point, religious people usually begin to assert the primacy of humans over other animals because God said so.

  • http://politicsproseotherthings.blogspot.com/ Nathaniel

    So abortions are cruel, but forcing a woman to go through a potentially painful nine month process followed by hours of even more severe pain isn’t cruel?

    Once again the “pro life” movement shows how little they care about the woman in the equation.

    • http://AztecQueen2000.blogspot.com AztecQueen2000

      And, pregnancy, labor and delivery are the easy part. There’s also this little thing called PARENTING–sleep deprivation, mood swings, sore breasts from nursing, incessant worry, childproofing, sicknesses, vaccinations, educating, dealing with adolescence, having your house trashed–it goes on and on.
      I love my kids. Doesn’t mean I want ten more.

    • Rosa

      You notice they never mention the cruelty of being pressured into giving a child up for adoption, either.

      • agt1965

        Or the cruelty of bringing an unwanted child into the world, then neglecting, abusing, or killing said child…I say, regardless of whether it is consider right or wrong, that is not a decision for others to make. Sometimes, an abortion might be doing the fetus and society a huge favor. The idea of restricting or banning birth control is even more ridiculous; a dead baby for every garbage can and dumpster and a boon in Dickensian orphanages…Might be a good way to produce a new proletariat class??? Maybe people should start asking the protesters if they will raise the child if they go through with the pregnancy. I doubt there will be many takers. Not to lump it all together but issues seem to coincide, you are forced to have children you can’t care for yet, ‘god’ forbid you need some sort of aid after the fact…Therefore, if something like were allowed to happen, in essence, they would indeed be responsible.

  • Pat Griffin

    Just because something is bad, it doesn’t follow that the alternatives are not worse.

    If a woman carries a pregnancy that long, she wants to have a child. If she has a late term abortion, it is only because something has gone horribly wrong (her life is in danger, the fetus is severely malformed or not viable and would have a short and painful life, … ) and an abortion is the least bad alternative. If you prohibit such an abortion, you are choosing something even worse.

  • murollavan

    In fairness to the other side I downloaded and watched the Silent Scream video. While eating my dinner at that, and I didn’t see the cruelty. This argument can’t possibly be successful in showing that abortion is immoral let alone that it should be illegal. At most it shows that medical professionals should strive to hold themselves to the best ethical standards when it comes to performing an abortion. Perhaps they should review their criteria for anesthesia.

    What is interesting is that this argument questions the potential pain of the fetus while not mentioning the potential pain/emotional trauma of the woman involved (Though the argument would still fail). The woman is always conspicuously missing from anti-abortion arguments.

    • Ashton

      I don’t know when this video was made. It’s entirely possible that the anesthesia criteria have been reviewed or changed since then. I sure don’t trust pro-life groups to tell the truth on something like that. Given how little I trust them, it’s also possible that even when the video was made, that may not have been typical of abortions even when performed at that stage of pregnancy.

  • Nancy Hasenpusch

    There is no responsible study that states that abortion causes pain to the fetus… Women need to be able to control their own bodies! Period! I don’t care about personal opinion or Religious B.S. Only a women knows whether or not she should have the baby. It’s the only way that’s right!!!

  • Lizzy

    Having an abortion was the hardest decision that I have ever made. It was quite recent and I still feel very sad about it at times. I can say without doubt that I could not have done it if I thought that it was killing a sentient being. The reality is, as many other have pointed out, the most abortions take place in the first trimester. At that point, the embryo or fetus does not even have a complete nervous system. It cannot possibly feel pain, let alone have independent thoughts or emotions. The only person involved in the pregnancy was me. If I had carried it to term and given birth, the baby would have had thoughts and emotions. I did not have a baby, though. What was removed from my body was the potential for a person. Nothing more, nothing less.

  • Derby

    One quick thought – for most abortion providers, the only reason to use more “cruel” techniques as described above is because pro-life supporters were able to make far less stressful methods made illegal under the 2003 Partial-Birth Abortion Ban. Prior to this, the go-to late term abortion method, intact dilation and extraction, was to keep the fetus intact until it was far enough past the cervex for the physician to deliver an injection directly to the fetus’s nervous system to killed it quickly before removal or by making a small incision and cutting the spinal cord (sometimes the brain is removed competely, but this is typically after the fetus is already dead). The fetus would have felt no difference during the dilation than it would during a normal birth and when the fetus’s nervous system has been delievered enough to be out of the uterus, the extra room to manover without harming the mother ensures that the killing act can be much more acurate and quick to ensure no pain is felt.

    There is also a much greater kindness of allowing the mother to hold the dead fetus and say good bye. Thanks to pro-lifers, now all a mother has to hold is a garbage bag of body parts; the hacking up of fetuses only came into existance as a normal method once partial-birth abortions were banned.

    Also of note, all procedures banned as a “partial-birth abortion” allow for the fetus to be directly observed by the doctors during the abortion and in particular, during the killing action to the fetus. In the middle of the fight over the ban, numerous nurses and physicians who had witnessed several partial-birth abortions came forward and stated that no fetus had ever shown any reaction at all to the pain (probley from the anesthesia).

  • Jason Dick

    The Silent Scream seems to be what is essentially a propaganda film that uses film tricks in an attempt to show what is not anywhere in evidence: that the fetus as 12 weeks is able to respond to anything, let alone a threat. Apparently it does this in two primary ways:

    1. They speed up the ultrasound video as surgical instruments are introduced to give the impression of the fetus thrashing about.
    2. The fetus spends a lot of its time with its mouth open, and the ultrasound isn’t clear enough to even say that that was its mouth as opposed to simply the space between its chin and chest.

    So this argument is based upon a completely false premise. And a highly biologically implausible one, considering that the central nervous system has only barely started to develop at that time.

  • http://fidesquaerens.livejournal.com Marta Layton

    If you’re going to use this argument you really need to be consistent. I highly doubt the people so outraged by the cruelty of abortion stop eating factory-farm meat, even though that practice results in more more pain, in total and probably on average as well. (I imagine an adult cow is capable of experiencing more pain than a late-term human fetus.) Also, an argument could probably be made that a child born to a mother who could not care for it would experience even more pain through neglect and bad life circumstances. Not in every case, of course. But if we’re going to use utilitarian arguments, we need to use them consistently. That’s why relatively few people can stomach true utilitarianism.

    But I do acknowledge that late-term abortion causes pain. That’s why I’m in favor of early-term abortion. I think that if a mother is going to have an abortion, she has a moral duty to do it as early as she realizes that’s what she’s decided, precisely because the further the pregnancy goes on, the more “costly” (in terms of human potential, pain, financial cost of the procedure, etc.) the abortion becomes. Unfortunately, pro-life advocates keep passing laws that throw hurdles in the way, making it more likely that more abortions will involve this kind of pain. If you really want to avoid this problem, make the morning-after pills cheap and easily available, and fund Planned Parenthood so women across the country can get abortions as early as possible, if they decide this is what they choose.

  • Zme

    Even if I concede that abortion is cruel, as long as the cruelty is minimized while the unwanted, freeloading, parasitic vandal & squatter is removed from its place of residence, abortion is OK with me.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      Why is it necessary to use terms like “freeloading,” “vandal,” and “squatter” to describe an embryo or fetus? It’s one thing to simply say it is parasitic–this is a simply a value-neutral description of a particular biological relationship. But those other terms imply malevolent intent and so when you use them, you actually end up personifying what you are describing. A woman has a right to free herself from a parasitic relationship but our purpose is not served by describing the embryo/fetus with terms that some how imply that it is a sentient being that is making an immoral choice to mooch off of another. And describing an abortion in a way that seems reminiscent of the way conservatives talk about poor or homeless people? New can of worms there, but do you really want to go that route?

      Plus, it plays right into the “Pro-choicers hate babies!” thing. Not that it really matters if it does or not, since anti-abortion zealots will accuse us of that no matter what we say or do, but still…

  • thalwen

    Nope, not cruel. A foetus is, as others have pointed out, most likely unconscious in the womb and doesn’t have a well developed nervous system. Most abortions happen when the pregnancy isn’t even in the foetal stage but the embryonic stage.

    What is cruel – Forced birth, forced pregnancy is cruel. Being killed or crippled by a pregnancy is cruel. Being told you aren’t a person to be considered in the whole abortion issue because you’re merely the woman pregnant is cruel.

    A baby being born with defects that will cause it to suffer real pain and die because an abortion couldn’t be carried out in the name of “life” is cruel. A baby being born with a mother dead or crippled by the pregnancy is cruel. A baby being told that it has to be born as a punishment for her/his mother being sexually active is cruel.

  • Ibis3

    Even if there was a conscious, sentient being–which we know from science that there’s not–what’s the big deal? A few moments of pain put up against a whole lifetime worth’s of pain, including ear infections, toothaches, sore throats, broken limbs, torn ligaments, black eyes, paper cuts, stubbed toes, menstrual cramps, scrapes, bruises, labour, arthritis, surgeries, heart attacks, gallstones, pneumonia, flu, colds, food poisoning, cancer, and so on…it doesn’t make for a persuasive argument. Plus, you’re talking about a few moments followed by total lack of consciousness (even if it were conscious to begin with). That being will never be alive to remember or feel traumatised about the process. Even if you grant all of the premises of the argument (*and* ignore that more suffering went into their last burger than what they are imagining for abortion; *and*, as they do, ignore the suffering of the woman in pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting), it still fails completely.

    • http://cfiottawa.com Eamon Knight

      Fallacious argument. By that logic, someone should sneak up behind me and shoot me in the back of the head, now while I’m middle-aged and healthy, to spare me the ravages of senescence. *If* a fetus can feel pain (and for late term abortions, there seems to be at least the neurological capability) then it presents an ethical issue w.r.t. the means of abortion, in the same way as we consider there to be ethical issues in the mode of killing of non-human animals.

      • Anonymouse

        However, late-term abortions are not performed “because the woman got bored” or for any other specious “reason” anti-choicers come up with. LTAs are only done when the life/health of the mother is at stake or when the fetus is so badly compromised that it would have no chance of life.

      • Ibis3

        By that logic, someone should sneak up behind me and shoot me in the back of the head, now while I’m middle-aged and healthy, to spare me the ravages of senescence.

        My answer was merely addressing the “abortion is suffering” argument for banning it. It holds no water on the grounds that life entails greater suffering.

        This is a different question from whether to shoot you to save you from future suffering. You have an investment in your life, a place in the community, memories, fear of pain, a desire to continue your existence–these are not part of the equation when it comes to the “abortion is cruel” argument.

        it presents an ethical issue w.r.t. the means of abortion, in the same way as we consider there to be ethical issues in the mode of killing of non-human animals

        Perhaps. If there is actual scientific evidence to show that there is consciousness and sentience. But that’s about the methods of termination, or use of anesthetic, and should be decided on a case by case basis by the woman with the advice of medical professionals working within the ethical standards of their profession. I was there in the vet’s office when they euthanised my cat and I’m sure she suffered much more fear and pain than a healthy, fully developed foetus would during an abortion.

  • joeclark77

    If people were doing this to puppies or kittens, would you all be so quick to rationalize it away as “not cruel”?

    • http://sidhe3141.blogspot.com sidhe3141

      No, because puppies and kittens are actually known to be capable suffering. Feti a) have not been demonstrated to have anything even roughly analogous to a pain response, and b) are believed to not have one, for reasons stated above (those being lack of nervous system development and hypoxia).

      • http://sidhe3141.blogspot.com sidhe3141

        Whoops, capable of suffering. Missed that.

    • http://cfiottawa.com Eamon Knight

      Good grief. I usually see the Cute Puppies And Kittens trope used as a lampoon of an opposing position. It’s not often I see it used as a serious argument (there’s a reason for that).

      (joe: did you notice how many of the comments pointed out that, at the stage when most abortions take place, the fetus is physiologically incapable of feeling pain? That’s not a rationalization, it’s an *argument*. Try to learn the difference.)

    • Derby

      1. Puppies and kittens have a much higher brain functioning and consciousness than a fetus does. They are fully aware of their world, capable of responding to and remembering pain, taking action, and clearly able to communicate distress. There’s never been any evidence (other than doctored propaganda like Silent Scream) that fetuses have anywhere near the same level of cognitive ability, especially at the stage when the vast majority of abortions occur.

      2. Puppies and kittens are fully independent living organisms. If a puppy or kitten attached itself to an unwilling person and sucked nutrients out of its host’s body for nine months in a process that can be physically painful and may even threatening to the health and life of its host, than you might have an accurate comparison. But, since puppies and kittens are not parasites and are not hijacking another person’s body, you don’t.

      3. On that note, if you’re so very concerned about cruelty to puppies and kittens, why are you not concerned about the cruelty inflicted upon the only organism in the equation that has a fully developed self-consciousness and reasoning capabilities with a lifetime of memories and already established social contacts. You know, the woman. You know, the person who deliberately chooses to have the abortion because the fetus by its presence is already inflicting very real physical, emotional, or mental cruelty upon her. If a fetus inflicted such cruelty upon a puppy or kitten, would you be so quick to rationalize it away as “not cruel?” Why is a woman considered less than a puppy or a kitten?

      4. We as a society regularly destroy puppies and kittens using sometimes painful methods and consider it to be extremely moral. If a puppy or kitten was born with a severe disease or defect (like a huge percentage of late term abortions), than it would be considered unimaginable cruelty to continue letting it live and preventing its further suffering by putting it down before that suffering increased is by far the most responsible path. Why are fetuses who have no or little chance of living without extreme pain not given the same moral option to have their suffering ended at a less conscious and painful stage?

      5. We as a society regularly destroy puppies and kittens using sometimes painful methods and for reasons considered “convenient” and still believe it to be a more moral choice than allowing them to live. Even healthy puppies and kittens are routinely put down to prevent their future suffering because their owner/shelter cannot find a good home for them and even if they are not currently in trouble, they may starve, be denied veterinary care, or may be abused in the future. It may not be considered ideal, but we as a society agree that its far better for a puppy or kitten to suffer one brief moment of pain and then have its life ended rather than face a life of fully of long term suffering and neglect when there is no other option. Why are fetuses who are unwanted and consigned to a life of neglect, suffering, and resentment not given this same moral option to be put down before they even become aware of life?

    • Rosa

      I’ve personally funded the spaying of at least 4 pregnant cats – not 100% sure because once she was solid on our stance the vet stopped asking about it when we took a captured feral cat in for spaying. So, actual born kittens? I would be concerned about cruelty. Fetal kittens? No.

      • joeclark77

        Wow. That’s quite something. Obviously it’s not as horrible as murdering human babies in the womb, but still. You murdered unborn kittens? Dude.

      • Azel

        Do they even count as beings ? Because I reckon it is needed for murder to occur, and foetuses, be they human or feline ones, are not believed to be conscious. If they’re not beings, then Rosa murdered no one, just made a choice on potential extension of her cats’ family.

      • Anonymouse

        Precisely. Feral kittens have almost zero chance of a humane, healthy life. Better to spay the mama cat before the kittens ever come to be.

      • thalwen

        Born homeless cats do not have good lives. They are at very high risk of disease, being run over, being killed by other animals or human monsters who can torture and murder animals with little legal risk. Even if they are found by shelters, they are more likely to be euthanised because of the number of cats in shelters and people’s preference for dogs.

        The most humane thing is to spay and neuter strays, ferals and your own cats. Like children they deserve homes where they are safe and loved.
        (Off topic, slightly but as a cat mom, the idea of someone trolling for animal cruelty as a way to deny women rights makes me furious)

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Most vets “murder unborn kittens.” So-called “pregnant spays” of feral cats are quite common. I’ve never even HEARD of anyone being against it because there are just so many reasons why it’s a good idea and anyone with an interest in animal welfare knows them.

        This whole conversation is ridiculous.

      • http://thaliasmusingsnovels.com/ Amethyst

        Re: “murdering” unborn kittens, ask anyone who’s lived on a farm how often unborn baby chicks accidentally get “murdered” when you crack eggs for breakfast. (Yes, I’m talking about fertilized eggs. The only way to avoid this is not to have a rooster.)

  • http://thechurchproject.yeahmyfoot.com Tracey

    I did some searching for articles or studies on pain experienced in utero. I found these two:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1600041/
    An article from British Medical Journal called What the fetus feels.

    http://www.christianliferesources.com/news/british-study-unborn-children-feel-pain-earlier-september-4-2001-3115
    It’s an article citing a study. I’m not seeing a way to the study itself.

    Both are from a while ago. Both suggest a fetus is able to experience pain.

    I also have a story about a friend of mine who gave birth after 23 weeks of pregnancy.
    This chart of survival rates shows how bad the baby’s odds were:
    http://www.spensershope.org/chances_for_survival.htm
    According to the chart, all (or practically all) babies born at 20 weeks die. After that it gets statistically better but they have a lot of problems. My friend needed to have labor induced because of a concern for her health. The baby was born and they took measures to save it. It was a little girl who lived a year before her organs started to fail and her heart stopped. She was in the hospital a total of eleven months of her life. She had countless procedures and was always on oxygen. Not all babies are like her. Some do grow to adulthood. Many have lifelong problems.

    My (sincere) question is; in a situation similar to this one, is it more or less cruel to abort or go the extra marathon to resuscitate and care for the child?

    • Chris Buchholz

      I think we have to pay more for testing and support of mothers as well as education. Then the doctor can give advice in those situations about what the odds are. Then the parents can make an informed decision.

      I think we have to address the cruelty to the parents in those situations as well. I read a case from a few years ago about a military family who was told their baby would not live, but in the military you can’t get an abortion, and enlisted people can’t afford them on their own or have the freedom to get out and get them. So this poor mother was forced to carry the baby to term, and both parents held it and watched it die, and suffered greatly for it. If they could have gotten an abortion, the fetus would have felt a lot less pain than it did (due to being killed when the brain was less developed, and also dying a lot faster) and the parents would have not had such a traumatic experience that they’ll carry with them their whole life.

      • Anonymouse

        Additionally, with health insurance harder and harder to get, and with it paying for less and less, how can the average family afford the millions of dollars of care a severely premature, dying infant requires?

      • Derby

        I am an enlisted Navy vetern and had my abortion while in the service. I was actually forbidden from having the abortion at first since my very unintended and very unwanted pregnacy came right before I was supposed to go out on a six-month cruise to the Persian Gulf. My supervisors and chief accused me of deliberately getting pregant in order to get out of the cruise and thought that they could force me to go AND bare the child in order to punish me (the abortion provider required multiple check ups both before and after the abortion and there was no way it could be done prior to leaving).If I hadn’t had a horrify experiance before with my last command involving being rape that had caused me to look up all the information I could about the military system and the resources (and legal clout) I had in such situations, I don’t know if I would have been able to force them to give me my legal rights. It took two weeks of completely sleepless nights before I was able to force my command to follow the law and let me have the abortion; however, I paid every cent for it out of pocket, which means I had to go to a much more run-down, lower-quality provider that was constantly picketed by protesters, and I had to make each of the appointents after working hours with no time off after the actual abortion. To make matters worse, the command refused to provide transportation to the appointment (something they do for all other medical appoinments when they require taking the individual to another clinic even if it is a civilian clinic) and with most of my command and with it all of my friends out of town, I had to pay for a cab to and from the clinic (I couldn’t drive after having the abortion). Adding up the cost of the abortion, the cab fares to go 48 miles away, and all of the lost extra pay from the cruise I actually wanted to go on, that unwanted pregnacy cost me around $12,000. And it only lasted 10 weeks! Of course, since being pregant is my absolute greatest fear in life, even that short time of being pregant combined with the enourmous stress that I might actually be forced to carry it to birth triggered my depression. Thankfuly the Navy paid for that part of the whole disaster, but I was on four antidepressants and barely functioning in a suicidal haze for seven months afterwards. The one and only light that came from that whole situation was the actual abortion: if I had been force to carry that pregancy, if I had lost what little control I felt like I had in life and been force to give my body away to something thing I hated and never wanted, I’d have killed myself, no doubts about it.

    • Jaynie

      Your first article is extremely outdated and would not generally be considered relevant in light of a wide range of more recent studies that contradict it. The second is from a biased source that is, itself, quoting a biased source (The Telegraph is known to have a conservative slant). Neither are scientific reports, but rather articles, which makes it very difficult to judge what standards and procedures the writers used to come to this conclusion. The first seems to be based on the authors impressions, which are subject to bias (even if the author doesn’t realize it). Virtually all recent scientific evidence shows that pain receptors do not develop until at least 24 weeks, and even then that the fetus is unconscious and unable to process that pain. The vast majority of abortions occur well before pain processing is even a physical possibility.

      In answer to your second question; that’s a call the parents have to make, and it is their right to make it. As there is no good evidence that fetuses feel pain during abortion, I would personally chose to abort to spare the pain that child would feel in life. Other parents may believe differently.

      My parents gave birth to a trisomy 18 child who suffered constantly for the whole year that she was alive. I believe they would have chosen to abort had they known, despite the fact that some trisomy 18 children can live to early adulthood and not be constantly suffering. They certainly had a lot of testing done in the next pregnancy (me). And these were people who had the financial ability to care for an unwell baby and never had to pay medical fees. The emotional strain of watching a beloved and wanted child suffer and, eventually, die, should not be underestimated. Many families do not survive intact. They need to be able to make the decision that is best for them.

  • Chris Buchholz

    We have to be careful not to project our own feelings. We do this all the time. How many of us think we know what our pets are feeling or thinking? We don’t, but we think we do.

    Someone already pointed out how the fetus could not possibly be afraid and try to swim away, yet we see it move and automatically assume that’s what it’s doing. Similarly, just because it looks like it is experiencing pain doesn’t mean it is. Many pointed out the fetus is incapable of feeling pain until 24 weeks, but even then we aren’t sure if there is some sort of sedation going on.

    If you take a fetus shaped ballistic gel, for example, and perform similar operations on it, you may see it move around and jiggle and the head and mouth move, but it is not feeling pain, just being moved and disturbed.

    So the truth is, in the 1st two trimesters we can confidently say there is no pain, and therefore no cruelty. In the last, we can’t be sure either way, but it is possible. That’s where all the other arguments above come in: that if it is deformed or will live a short and painful life, the possibly of short cruelty while destroying it is much less cruel than allowing it to live (for the child and parents).

    • Anonymouse

      Additionally, when anti-choicers claim the fetus is “terrified” of the needle, that’s just baloney. A newborn infant is not terrified of a needle, and how can a 6-week-embryo understand more and feel more than a fully-developed baby?

  • Christina Ellis

    I am and always have been against abortions, it is still a created human, created by 2 people, and has done nothing wrong to deserve to die, this unborn human baby is innocent, so why murder an unborn baby, it is wrong, myself were about to be aborted 49 years ago, until my Grandfather stepped in and stopped her, so I have my Grandfather to thank for giving me a life. Unless it’s a serious situation , meaning that it’s either the Mother’s life to end or the unborn baby, but depending on the case of the Mother’s medical history?

    • Lizzy

      It is not a baby that is being discussed. In most cases it is an embryo and later it is a fetus, neither of these are the same as a baby. While I’m sure that you are very happy to be alive the question of how you would feel if you were aborted is really moot. You would have no concept that you did not exist. It is functionally equivalent to saying that you would have cared if your parents had never met or if they had not chosen to have sex when they did.

    • Anat

      Many women have abortions because they do not wish to be mothers, are not yet ready to be mothers, do not want yet another child besides the ones they already have or are not yet ready for another child. In these cases there is a high risk that if the pregnancy were allowed to be brought to term the resulting child would have a hard and unhappy life – whether because of poverty or because of being brought up in a broken home or because of being brought up by parents who resent the child. Why not abort the pregnancy before here is anyone capable of suffering (leaving the option of having a child or more when the parents want to have them)?

      I know a woman who conceived her firstborn pretty much around her wedding night. She was reluctantly pregnant, but abortion wasn’t a legal option in that time and place. The parents had a messed up relationship with that child (now adult) for well after the child left home. I find it sad that they missed out on so much because they couldn’t start their family on their own terms.


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