What does it mean to be a “human being”?

I read a question from a lady on a friend’s post, trying to figure out when a fetus was a person.  To her mind, the moment conception happens, there is now a person, fully protected by law.  Thus, to her, abortion is murder.

The current earliest cutoff date for abortion in some state’s legislation is 6 weeks, which is the point when a fetal heartbeat is detected. This is one and a half months.

One way of thinking about it is viability.  Can the baby survive without medical intervention?

The earliest a baby has survived outside the womb is 21 weeks and 5 days. This is just shy of 5 and a half months. However, babies at that age need extreme medical intervention, which is very costly.  Can the parents afford that? Will insurance pay?

Interestingly, even babies born at 36 weeks (9 months) can experience respiratory distress and need to be in NICU.  They are often not able to survive on their own and need intervention.  The current “full term” date for a child is 39 weeks. 

So at what point is the child able to live without assistance?

Should the fact that children need constant attention from parents or guardians for many years be considered assistance? Children will not survive for the first several years of their life without someone else providing them food, shelter, and attention.

Children are not legally considered adults until a minimum of 16, when they can get a driver’s license, 18 when they can vote, and 21 when they can drink alcohol.

So at what point are they considered legally independent of their parents? Parents are not legally responsible for their children’s actions when they reach 18.

Consider the opposite end of the spectrum, where adults are on life support due to accident or illness.  When do you cease life support? Are they “alive” if machines are doing all the work?

Consider suicide, when people feel their life is not worth living.  Do they have the legal right to kill themselves?

Consider social welfare assistance – food stamps, subsidized housing – are these forms of “life support”?

At what point do you start to be human, and at what point do you stop?

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New abortion law thoughts.

Georgia and Alabama have recently passed abortion laws that are in violation of federal law.

Here are some points to consider –

Unplanned pregnancy can create poverty. This is why there are so many food drives, baby supply drives, and school supply drives. Did you know that in America in 2001, over half the pregnancies were unintended? And half of those were from contraception that failed. (I’m sure there are more current figures but I suspect they are similar.) I challenge all my pro-life friends to propose a real solution.

On a related note: perhaps it is time for all women in America (not just Georgia and Alabama) to stop having sex with men. I wonder how long it will take for their partners to petition the government to provide free, 100% effective, side-effect free contraception.

What we need is perfect contraception, where there are no unintended pregnancies. That will solve this issue (and many others). Abstinence isn’t something everyone is capable of.

When every anti-abortion person is willing to adopt every unintended baby, then I will know they are pro-life. But as it is, when they say they will kill a mother who has an abortion, they are not pro-life at all. They are for forcing women to have children that they know they are unprepared for. They are creating further poverty on every level – children who are unwanted, growing up in homes where there isn’t enough time or money to afford them.

One step back

The “pro-life” and “pro-choice” conversation isn’t getting us anywhere. The most recent election has devolved into counterproductive arguments. It is time to think about the topic from different perspectives. Perhaps we need to take one step back from the conversation in order to see it better. Then we will be able to look at the real problems behind the problem.

Here’s one issue – if we had better contraception then we wouldn’t have a need to even talk about abortion for the vast majority of unwanted pregnancies. Our unwanted pregnancy rate in America, a developed nation, is astounding and embarrassing. If we had safe and effective ways to ensure that women did not get pregnant when they don’t want to, we wouldn’t have to debate pro-choice.

And that is what it is – choice. The very words we use are important. It doesn’t have to be a polarizing discussion of Life versus Death. Choice is something else. It means that women have a choice, a legal and safe option, if they find themselves unintentionally pregnant. The way the discussion is set up, it is White versus Black, with no option for Grey. It is Morning versus Evening with no option for Afternoon.

We’ll never get anywhere when we keep having this conversation this way.

Choice is important. Nobody has the right to force their belief system on someone else. I will not stand by while others attempt to force their beliefs on others by removing their choices in how to live. While I personally don’t want to undergo the difficult decision whether to carry a pregnancy to term, I feel it is not my place to make that decision more difficult than it already is for a woman who finds herself pregnant at a time when she is unable to financially raise a child. It is not just or right to force a woman to become a mother because her options have been taken away from her. Taking this further, it is a form of institutionalized rape to insist that a woman have a child that she does not want. This is what happens when a woman no longer has access to a safe way to end her pregnancy.

Here’s another idea – rather than put all the focus on women, how about we make men accountable for their actions? How about we as a culture insist that men not have sex unless they are willing to raise the child they produce? Men must have an equal burden of responsibility for their actions. As for right now, women are stuck with the short end of the stick.

Men can leave. Women can’t. Women are stuck with the results. A one-night stand can change a woman’s life forever. A man can walk away. Sure, the woman can attempt to sue for child support, but there’s no guarantee she’ll get it. Then she is stuck with a child she didn’t expect or plan for. Having a child raises your expenses dramatically. That money doesn’t appear out of thin air.

To everyone who wants abortion to be made legal – are you willing to personally adopt every child who is conceived unintentionally? Of if not that, are you willing to pay for the food, housing, and education of every child who is conceived unintentionally?

Barring that, let us work towards reducing the rate of unintentional pregnancies. If women don’t get pregnant unless they are planning on it, then we won’t even have to worry about abortions.

Just say no.

Here’s a way to stop unwanted pregnancies: stop having sex.

Unless you are emotionally, financially, and in every other way ready to have a child, don’t have sex. No birth control is a sure thing like abstinence.

Not sure if the guy you are dating is father or husband material? Don’t have sex with him. Getting pregnant only makes a bad situation worse. A baby won’t bring you closer together. It may make him run away.

No worries about having an abortion if you never get pregnant. You won’t get pregnant if you don’t have sex. Seems simple, I know, but so few people seem to get this.

Sex is one of the strongest impulses that humans have, but it can be gotten around. Sex isn’t like food. You can live without sex. You can’t say the same about food.

If you don’t want to go to Chicago, don’t head down that road. Don’t even get in the car. If you don’t want to have babies, don’t fool around. That train is hard to stop once it gets started.

I have never understood why there is so much debate about being pro-choice versus being pro-life. To me, that seems like people are focusing on the wrong end of the problem. The time to start the discussion is before sex even happens. It is too late when she is pregnant.

The horse is already out of the barn.
Lock the barn door and you don’t have to run around trying to catch him.

Oh, and you say abstinence isn’t a possibility? Really? Are we really just like wild animals, rutting with whatever and whoever?

I’d like to think that part of being human is having some self-control.

As adults, we don’t pee everywhere. We don’t yell all the time. We don’t hit everybody when we are mad. We learn to control these impulses. We learn when and where it is safe to let these impulses happen.

Sex is the same thing.

It is way past the time we stop even talking about pro-choice and pro-life. It is time to start preventing unwanted pregnancies in the first place.

It is embarrassing how many unwanted pregnancies there are in a supposedly “first-world” nation like the United States. It is sad how much poverty and heartache and tension is created from it. It isn’t tragic. It isn’t an accident. It is entirely preventable.

If you don’t want babies, don’t have sex. Or if you must have sex, use multiple forms of birth control at the same time, and use them correctly. Think about it before you even start kissing each other. Think about it while your clothes are still on.

Feel uncomfortable talking about birth control with your significant other? Then you sure aren’t ready to be a parent.