(Ed. Note: This is a guest post from David Corpus (Satanist, Arizona). David is a very engineering minded kind of person so (personally) I think this piece lacks a bit of narrative structure, but it does have a lot of good information in it that I hope you find useful. -Jack)
Religious extremists want to impose their firmly-held yet unscientific beliefs into laws that supersede human rights and freedoms as granted at birth, which threatens society as a whole. The Christian Nationalism movement has turned into theocratic fascism. Project Blitz are currently introducing and passing State laws called “Fetal heartbeat” bills in an attempt to outlaw abortion at six weeks and to escalate a case to the Supreme Court to challenge Roe V. Wade. How can it be legal to use scientific and medical terms improperly in legislation in order to gain emotional responses? Embryonic cardiac vibration is not a heartbeat. It takes eight weeks from fertilization (10th week of pregnancy) for the heart to form chambers, but it does not have the muscle tissue to beat until the 20th week. It is an embryo until the fetal stage of development which begins at 9 weeks after fertilization. A heartbeat is not indicative of personhood- live birth is.
First and foremost, In the US, abortion is legal, safer than having a tooth pulled, moral and ethical. A woman’s body is her own and she does not need to meet any criteria in order to choose not to gestate against her will. “The true faithful approach to a woman in need is to help her and not to judge her or to impose upon her any restriction, penalty, or shame.” ~Dr. Willie Parker.
To remove irrational emotional sentiment, let’s begin by using proper nomenclature for stages of development (zygote, embryo, fetus, etc.) and wait until birth before using the terms “infant,” “baby” or “child.” Doing so shows empathy and condolence to anyone who experiences a miscarriage. Would you tell a woman who just had a miscarriage that her baby died inside of her? I’d hope not. Let’s maintain that same compassion. Biological sexual identifiers used are also not intended to offend anyone regarding sexual identity, but are necessary in this discussion.
Life is a process in continuum and not an individual event, so there is no moment that life begins, and each stage of life is unique. Approximately two weeks after the first day of a woman’s Last normal Menstrual Period (LMP,) she ovulates. Ovulation is when an ovary releases an ovum gamete into the fallopian tube. Ovum and sperm gametes are haploid, meaning they live with 23 chromosomes. (To help picture this as a life form, male bees and ants are haploids for their entire life cycle.)
Pregnancy begins with a live sperm gamete fusing with or fertilizing a live ovum gamete. This forms a diploid eukaryotic cell with 46 chromosomes or zygote in a fallopian tube. Cells divide as the zygote passes through the fallopian tube to the uterus where it becomes a hollow ball of cells called a blastocyst. The blastocyst implants in the wall of the uterus and begins taking oxygen and nutrients from its host that it needs to develop into an embryo. Blastocysts occasionally implant outside the uterus, called an ectopic pregnancy, which will definitely not survive to birth. Conception is the segment of the process from ovulation to implantation; not any particular moment. At the end of the 9th week after fertilization, the embryo has formed its important systems. At this stage it is called a fetus as it continues growth and development.
Pregnancy is a symbiotic relationship in which the symbiont depends upon its host to survive. At any stage throughout the entire pregnancy until birth there is risk of miscarriage, be it spontaneous or elective, which is neither good nor bad- it is a biologic reality. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists state that a fetus’s brain and nervous system do not have the capacity to process, recognize or feel pain during the second trimester because the brain structures necessary for conscious experience of pain do not develop until 29-30 weeks. Pain does not exist prior to developing these structures and there is almost no chance of survival by utilizing artificial aid outside of the host without developing major disabilities. In 2014, 96.6% of abortions happened prior to 17 weeks after LMP. (Pregnancy is calculated from LMP- the first day of the woman’s Last normal Menstrual Period, approximately two weeks prior to fertilization.) The remaining 3.4% were primarily emergency situations where the mother’s life was at risk or the fetus had extreme defects. The abortion rate in the US has been in steady decline since 1980 and is at an all-time low, believed to currently be less than prior to Roe V. Wade.
Parenthood is your choice if you plan to have children. If you never want children, sterilization may be right for you. If you may want children in the future, the most effective forms of birth control are those that only require attention once every three months to ten years. These include IUD, implant rod, or progestin injections. The next most effective are the ring, or the patch, as these are inserted or applied once and remain for three weeks. Oral contraceptives must be taken daily. Contraceptives in the barrier and spermicide categories must be introduced prior to each intercourse session. As such, these are the least effective. These include the sponge, diaphragm, cervical cap, and spermicide. Also included are male or female condoms, which offer the added benefit of preventing many sexually transmitted diseases. A condom can be used alone or in addition to other methods.
Emergency contraception can be taken orally up to 5 days after intercourse, but functions by inhibiting ovulation- not by preventing fertilization or implantation. This is often misunderstood and improperly described, even by manufacturers.
In contrast to most forms of birth control being the woman’s responsibility, the distant future may hold a multi-year male contraceptive in the form of a reversible gel injection into each vas deferens (tube from each testicle to urethra) that prevents live sperm from ejaculating.
Abstinence is only effective until you have sex. Attempting to predict ovulation is only effective if you are accurate in your predictions and successfully abstain. Without ovulation testing, few succeed. These are not statistically reliable birth control methods.
A medication abortion induces a miscarriage. It can be administered orally up to 70 days after the first day of the woman’s last period. After this point, a surgical abortion is the only reliable safe option to end a pregnancy. Per CDC statistics of 2014, 65.3% of abortions were performed during the embryonic stage, with 25.6% taking place in the fetal stage before 13 weeks. That totals 90.9% of surgical abortions occurring prior to 13 gestational weeks, which are typically performed by vacuum aspiration.
No one wants to be in the position to need an abortion. The majority of those who want to make abortion illegal actually support unplanned pregnancies, as they are opposed to offering medically and scientifically accurate sexual education, birth control and emergency contraception. Shouldn’t anyone opposing abortion also not want women to become pregnant against their will, instead of claiming to expect thoughts of abstinence to magically overpower hormones that are serving their intended purpose? There is no answer to this other than that religious extremists actually want women to experience unplanned pregnancies.
Adoption is often cited as an alternative to abortion, yet there are 400,000 children currently in foster care hoping for adoption in the US being ignored by that statement. The Earth now has 7 billion living humans and will reach 9.7 billion by 2050 at the current rates of birth and death. Forced reproduction will only help exceed the planet’s ecological carrying capacity sooner. Over a hundred billion women have managed to give birth over the past few millennia. It is not a terribly extraordinary event and is not sacred.
Those who oppose abortion claim there is a potential psychological impact, but this is entirely based on how each individual establishes their autonomous belief system. Fear of external judgment is typically the only psychological trauma related to abortion. A study of nearly 400,000 women found that having a first abortion is not associated with an increase in a woman’s risk of first-time antidepressant use. Compare that to the trauma of putting a child up for adoption or of parenting an unplanned child.
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