What we believe and the way we speak about topics like life and abortion is extremely important. One day we might be faced with the circumstances where those beliefs inform our actions. Which is why it’s so important to test our beliefs: are they truth? Here are five common lies you may have heard about abortion.
1. “It’s just a ball of cells!”
A clump of tissue or a ball of cells, these are descriptions used to dehumanise the life growing within a pregnant woman. Because when it is established that the ‘thing’ growing in the womb is not human, not alive, it removes many of the barriers to abortion.
But we’re smarter than that. Advancements in science and medicine give us ample evidence to prove that a pre-born baby is very much alive, very much human.
A baby’s heart begins beating at just five weeks, and by that stage, their brain and kidneys are already present. For some women, this would be before they realise they are pregnant. Brain waves are detected at six weeks, and his or her facial features are evident. What’s more, the pre-born baby has a DNA completely unique to its mother’s.
2. The foetus doesn’t feel pain.
Foetuses do feel pain. There is no argument there whatsoever in the realms of science and medicine. The question is when an unborn baby begins to experience pain. Research reveals that an unborn child reacts to touch from 8 weeks, has pain receptors throughout their body by 16 weeks, and nerves linking those receptors to the brain by no later than 20 weeks.
Dr. Paul Ranalli, a neurologist at the University of Toronto, says that 20 weeks is a “uniquely vulnerable time, since the pain system is fully established, yet the higher level pain-modifying system has barely begun to develop.” This suggests that unborn babies feel pain more acutely than adults.
Surgeon Robert P. N. Shearin says: “As early as eight to 10 weeks after conception, and definitely by thirteen-and-a-half weeks, the unborn experience organic pain … First, the unborn child’s mouth, at eight weeks, then her hands at 10 weeks, then her face, arms and legs at 11 weeks become sensitive to touch. By thirteen and a half weeks, she responds to pain at all levels of her nervous system in an integrated response which cannot be termed a mere reflex.” (Stephanie Croft, Abortion in Australia in the 21st Century, Facts, Current Trends and the Way Ahead 2006, NSW Right to Life, p 7)
This particular abortion myth raises a pertinent question: Do you need to feel pain in order to be considered human, alive or valuable?
3. It’s like having a tooth pulled.
The sterile setting is probably the only similarity between having an abortion and having a tooth pulled.
Are you offered counselling after being to the dentist?
Do you know of women whose lives have been destroyed by guilt and shame after having their wisdom teeth pulled?
That’s because there is something more momentous at play when a woman, for whatever reason, decides to end the life of the child growing within her womb.
But let’s get to the crux of this statement. Abortion is not discarding a problematic part of your own anatomy. As we discovered above, the pre-born baby has its own unique DNA. That means, while it is certainly growing within and relying upon its mother, the baby is a separate entity right from the beginning.
If you still think that abortion is no different to having a tooth pulled, have a look at this in-depth article (with videos) on what actually happens during an abortion at all the different stages of pregnancy.
4. You can continue with life as if nothing happened.
According to research, women who have had an abortion experience an 81 per cent increased risk of mental health problems. Of those incidences of mental health problems, 10 per cent were directly attributable to abortion.
Some women do appear to continue with their lives as if nothing happened. However, we do not know how it will affect them down the track, emotionally, physically and psychologically.
Here are the stories of three women who have had an abortion and shared how it impacted their lives:
5. It’s my body. I can do what I want.
Let’s test this statement in a few other scenarios.
You’re out in public; imagine a bustling Sunday market or a concert at a vineyard. And you get naked. “It’s my body. I can do what I want!” is overruled because of its harmful impact on other people.
You’ve been at a party, had plenty to drink and decide to drive home. You are involved in an accident that kills another person. “It’s my body. I can do what I want!” is overruled because of its harmful impact on others.
You’re at home and your daughter is refusing to do her chores so you slap her across the face and lock her in her bedroom. “It’s my body. I can do what I want!” is overruled because of its harmful impact on others.
We are not free to misuse our bodies when it injures another. This is precisely what abortion does.