Friday, February 4, 2011

Disproving Pro-Life Claims

 On my bus route home, there is a bill board  with a crowd of mostly-white woman, with the caption 'we regret our abortions.' It makes me sneer in anger everytime I pass it. It's just so condescending. The implication of 'well, our personal experience should clearly decide what you do with your body and your life' just sets my teeth on edge. Compound that with the fact that I'm willing to bet that very few of the people running the local pro-life group have had an abortion, it's basically just saying 'I think you'd probably feel bad and so you shouldn't have one.' And just the implication of Post-Abortion Sydrome irritates me even more. (Since it's, y'know, it's not real.) It's infantilization of women by implying that they don't know what's best for them personally, and so the choice should be made for them.

This, compounded with the amazing amount of American Pro-Life politics has me very angry, and frustrated, as there isn't much I can do, politically, seeing as I am a Canadian, and we luckily have no abortion limits, no arbitrary decisions about what rape is, nothing stopping a woman's individual choice. We still have pro-lifers, however, and I've been meaning to examine the local pro-life organization for a while. So, this seems like a good way to spend a bit of time. 

So, I'm going to go through several pages of this website and take whatever claims they make that can be proven wrong, or proven to be an unknown, and list them, with the proper proof. (Yes, it is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel. It's not my fault they picked easily disproven things to back their political viewpoint up with, that was their own decision.)

A note: They don't differentiate between the two ways of measuring fetal age. I try to stick to counting from conception, since that's when they want to count pregnancy from, but I think they move between the ways of counting, though I can't be certain since they don't cite very much,

Let's start with...

When Does Life Begin?(A note: Zygotes are referred to with male pronouns. I don't know why. I suppose some might argue this is reflection of the inherent misogyny in the pro-life movement, but I'm not going to go into this at the moment.)

"Within one week of fertilization, the new human implants in the mother's uterus and is nourished there for the next nine months."
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, most blastocysts (the proper word for this stage) implant 8-10 (the total range is 6-12, but most implantations fell in the shorter range) days after fertilization. And 25% of pregnancies end in the first month and a half, of natural causes. The Reproductive Health Study Group had similar results for early pregnancy loss, and also found that women who lost pregnancies so early were more likely to conceive the next month.

"At three weeks, the baby's heart begins to beat. A microscope would reveal that this little baby has the characteristic 46 human chromosomes in every cell, demonstrating clearly that this is a human being."
I think that they're implying that people with chromosomal abnormalities aren't human beings. ...I wonder what their opinion is on aborting Down Syndrome fetii is then. I mean, I think they're human beings, yeah, but they don't have the 'characteristic 46 human chromosomes in every cell.' Wiki Page On Aneuploidy
Oh, and as an aside, it's important to remember that it's not a real heart quite yet. This 'heart' is still developing, the fetus would not be able to survive on this heart. And it's four weeks when the beating begins, according to the University of Kentucky. (And six when the chamber and valves are formed.)

"At six weeks, the baby has brain waves that can be measured with an electroencephalogram."
This is something oft-cited by pro-lifers. So often since, y'know, 1964. Not only that, it's been misused, as Dr. Hamlin was not talking about abortion, he was trying to change the medical way of ascertaining death. He spoke very shortly about fetal brain activity, and it wasn't his own research. It was a citation from another study. From 1951. And that study, done by Okamoto and Kirikae was on three-month old fetii, not forty-day old fetii, as Hamlin claimed. Hamlin also cites a book that didn't even use an eeg on a fetus, and they were late-term fetii at that.
Another source they cite this fact from is a little bit more recent, 1982. Goldenring claims brain activity is present at eight weeks gestation, has no original research, and cites other sources. Those sources are again, even older, from around 1970, and the one that cites some original research cites research that essentially proves that when you electrically stimulate the brainstem of the fetus, you get some electrical activity....that's quite similar to the response one would get electrically stimulating the leg of the fetus.
This website goes into more detail.

"This 8 week old unborn baby swims freely in the amniotic sac with a natural swimmer's stroke."
...Okay, they don't cite any of their claims, and google didn't give me anything except math and wriggling chicken fetii. So I'm calling this being a 'no, that doesn't even make sense.'
"At this age the baby is approximately the length of your thumb. He responds to painful stimuli, such as a needle prick, will grasp an object and make a fist."
...Yeah, my only conclusion from this is that pro-lifers have the teeniest thumbs. The larger embryo/fetus  is eight weeks. And I don't know about anything else, but my thumb is longer then three centimetres. And you can clearly see that it can't grasp, the fingers have barely seperated. There's another week to go before they can make a fist/grasp.

"Each organ is present. The heart beats sturdily, the stomach provides digestive juices, the liver makes blood cells and the kidneys begin to function."
Each organ is starting to be formed, they're still being developed. This web-site doesn't seem to understand that a fetus is in a process, and that bits of it doesn't pop into existence fully-formed.

"At 12 Weeks, the baby is very active! He can kick his legs, curl his toes, squint, turn his head, open his mouth and swallow."
...All of which are neccesary movements the fetus does not do voluntarily. The fetus does move, but not of it's own volition. It's reflex, instinct, and connecting the nervous system to the right body parts. It's simply part of development. Prechtl, Heinz. "Prenatal and Early Postnatal Development of Human Motor Behavior" in Handbook of brain and behaviour in human development, Kalverboer and Gramsbergen eds., pp. 415-418 (2001 Kluwer Academic Publishers)

"By 16 weeks, the baby is 5 1/2 inches long and weighs nearly a pound. Fine details of development are present such as fingernails and eyelashes"
 ...20 weeks is when the nails and eyelashes show up. There's a lot more development a fetus needs to be viable, despite the term 'fine details' implying that the fetus might as well be delivered at sixteen weeks.

And just as an aside, they have the infamous 'teardrop baby' on this page, complete with the claim it's a six-week fetus. It's an eight to ten week fetus, actually, and it's infamous for being associated with pro-life cites that rely on faulty information and emotional appeals to make their case. It's also from an ectopic pregnancy where, rather then simply abort the fetus, they removed the woman's entire oviduct. (There's no other way to have kept the sac intact.)
Page done!

Next time: Abortion: The Facts

1 comment:

  1. Lots of women regret their abortions. Post-abortion syndrome is a real thing, it’s just that the pro-abortion movement uses skewed studies to support their claim it doesn’t exist. Women would be able to make better choices if the pro-abortion movement didn’t constantly lie to them.

    It’s a real heart, even if it is in the developmental stage. Everything has to start somewhere. It is intellectual dishonesty to call a baby in utero a fetus. It is simply a baby in it’s developmental stages.