Donald Trump told the American people that in late term abortions the fetus is ripped from the womb sometimes a day before the baby is due. What Trump was really trying to tell us is there are people who simply decide in the last month that they don’t want to have their child and just abort it.
This is not true. Late term abortions account for 1 percent of all abortions. Most abortions take place in the first 12 weeks. Also late term abortions can be very expensive and many simply cannot afford them.
Late term abortions in the vast majority of cases are due to the limited chance of survival for the child or the risk of death for the mother.
Limited chance of survival for the child; what does that mean? Modern medicine has accomplished some wonderful things. Antibiotics now save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people every year that less than a hundred years ago would have died. At the beginning of the twentieth century life expectancy in the United States was around 40 today it’s 77.
However modern medicine has also caused us to have to look at situations that as a nation, as a culture and as individuals, we would not have had to struggle with in the not so distant past. Today we confront these situations with terms such as ethical treatment, moral dilemma, or even inhuman behavior.
Today modern medicine can and does inform prospective parents that the child developing in the mother’s womb has major deformities such as an unformed brain, or skull, Spina Bifida, or a number of other deformities that are traumatic to the parents. Some children are born that will remain as helpless as babies as long as they live.
There are those, generally for religious reasons who believe that was Gods will and the parents of that child should and must take care of it for the rest of their lives.
In the past the child would have been born without this knowledge and then the parents would have been faced with questions that medicine had no answers for. The child after suffering for days, months or perhaps, years, with no quality of life would have died.
Today modern medicine can save or prolong the life of a child with many deformities but how do they determine what the quality of life will be in many of those cases. The same can be said of soldiers wounded on today’s battlefields but at what cost to the soldier and their family.
Each of these things is a personal decision, not a decision that should be made for people by the government or religious institution.
In early hunter gatherer societies the decision was simply a matter of survival for the group. The child could not be cared for and could not contribute to the society and therefore was killed or left to die.
I could have used the word euthanized but that sanitizes it and I don’t want to sanitize it. I don’t want to sanitize it because it’s not an easy thing, it’s difficult and it’s personal and because it’s personal whose decision should it be? Why should people who don’t know another person or couples situation get to decide what decision they make?
In previous societies without modern medicine they didn’t have the liberty of deciding if something was moral or ethical, right or wrong, because it was about survival. They didn’t harvest the deer herd, they killed and butchered animals so they could eat, they killed their enemies they didn’t have collateral damage.
Hunter gather societies could not accommodate babies that were born with many of the deformities we see today and the child would not have lived. As I stated above the group could not afford the time or resources for this child nor could the child contribute, therefore the answer was one of necessity. The child would be killed or left to die. The same thing happened in many of these societies when a person became old and feeble. They would be left to die just as they had left others to die. It was the natural course of life.
In today’s society we have created an industry that makes huge profits off the care of the old and enfeebled; people with Alzheimer’s, dementia or other brain injuries. These people who no longer are capable of taking care of themselves or have any quality of life are often kept alive to the point where their family has spent all their monetary resources or even have gone into debt to care for a loved one who no longer knows them.
This is ludicrous! People who would never do this to their beloved pets are horrified at the idea of ending the life of a loved one who has long ago ceased to be the person they knew and is eating up their resources.
Many people will be aghast at what I have just written yet if this were me I would not want to exist; to breathe air, just so someone could say I am alive! There are hundreds of thousands of people dealing with this very thing today.
I know I would not want to live like that and have made it clear to my family. I know many people who feel the same way that I do. Life is sacred, but when for all practical purposes it has ended then there should be no sadness in that either. It is the natural course of life.
In the end this is a family’s decision and their decision alone. Whether it is an abortion or an end of life decision; it’s not a decision for Donald Trump, members of Congress, or the Religious Right. Whether abortion or an end of life decision, it belongs solely to the woman, the individual and the family it is going to effect and to no one else. This is in keeping with our humanity.