(Questions and Answers About Abortion)
- John C. Willke, MD & Barbara H. Willke, RN
This is the third book in a series over 25 years. In 1971, at the insistence of many people, particularly our college daughters, we wrote Handbook On Abortion. In question and answer format, it attempted to present all of the arguments for abortion and to answer them in a rational, medical, and scientific way. The first edition, in June 1971, numbered 141 pages and contained 42 scientific references arranged for the reader’s convenience immediately following the answer to a question. Its 1975 revision increased its size to 208 pages with 180 references, and the 1979 revision totalled 210 pages with 210 newer references. In 24 printings, Handbook On Abortion sold over one million copies and was translated into ten languages. Internationally, it became known as the “bible of the movement.” But time moved on. A flood of new scientific information, particularly the explosion of detailed information about the other patient (the tiny one) through recent technology and modern research, reshaped our answers. Historical, legislative, and legal developments had to be incorporated into our thinking. A few earlier “facts” had been disproved, but many new facts have been confirmed by scientific studies.
In 1985 we saw the need for a totally new book. And so we started with blank paper and wrote afresh. Abortion: Questions & Answers brought new areas, new questions and answers, new developments.
Except for a few classic papers, we used new and updated scientific articles to support our answers. It ended up larger, far richer and more useful.
It did fill the shoes of Handbook. With revisions and updates, it even inherited its “bible” status and added ten more languages.
It is now 26 years since we entered this struggle. We view this field of battle with mixed emotions — dismay that the slaughter continues, elation at the great progress the pro-life movement has made . . . and a quiet optimism that our children will see the day when this demon is slain.
Love Them Both proclaims the new theme that our research has shown is the way to turn the tide as we move into the 21st century.
Broad areas in society, major church bodies and political parties have joined the pro-life side, but, in opposition, we have not yet seen the full fury of the pro-abortion ideologies and of the pro-abortion industry.
Accordingly, we offer this new educational tool, hoping it too will fill the need its two predecessors did. The issue today is still intensely personal, while being totally global. We echo Mother Teresa’s words at the 1994 National Prayer Breakfast:
“The greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child . . . and if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?”
And we offer this book.
Dr. & Mrs. (John & Barbara) Willke
Chapter 1 – The Situation
The situation in the United States, two and a half decades after abortion became legal throughout the nation, seems to be at an impasse. Canada, presented with abortion (now on demand) throughout that nation four years earlier, is not that much different. One thing that is completely obvious is that the issue will not go away.
The other obvious fact is that the two sides remain completely polarized. There seems to be no middle ground, no chance for compromise. When one strips the issue to its bare bones, the reason for the lack of middle ground is only too obvious. This either is or is not a living human from conception. This living human either continues to live or is killed. It is obvious that this being can’t be just a little human, or perhaps not human at one point and then human at another. He or she either is or is not. Just as simply there is either life or death. There is no middle ground.
Pro-abortion advocates, who call themselves pro-choice, are unwilling to concede any ground at all. Would they allow passage of laws in either nation for-bidding abortion in the third trimester for sex selection, to pick an extreme position? No! they have fought any such attempt.
Would true blue pro-lifers, if they had their choice, allow abortion for pregnancy resultant from assault rape and incest, or for pregnancies when the developing baby is severely handicapped? No, they might be forced into this as a political compromise, and as a temporary measure. But ethically speaking, no real pro-lifer would consent to this. It would seem then that the chance for compromise simply does not exist. On the other hand, it is obvious that people of goodwill must continue to try for a solution.
Ultimate Pro-Abortion Goals:
Many of the ultimate goals of those who favor abortion already exist. Abortion is legal in both of our nations until birth for social and economic reasons. Many areas use tax money to pay for elective abortions. What pro-abortion forces have not achieved has been to mainstream this procedure into the day to day practice of medicine. They also have not achieved a status of respectability, as the word “abortionist” still is one of low esteem, or even condemnation. Also, abortion is still strongly condemned by substantial segments of the cultures of both U.S. and Canada.
The Ultimate Pro-Life Goals:
The ultimate pro-life goal is quite direct and very simple. Pro-lifers want an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to the Canadian Charter of Rights that will give equal protection under the law, to all living humans from the time their biologic life begins at conception until natural death. Understanding that such a goal remains yet in the future, pro-life people have an intermediate goal. It is a Constitutional Amendment returning the right to make decisions about abortion to each individual state in the U.S. and the equivalent in Canada to each individual province. This would take federal judges out of the mix completely, and make legislating on abortion a state’s issue. States and provinces could then allow abortion, forbid it, or anything in between.
Since the above intermediate goals also remain yet unattainable, pro-life forces today are seeking more immediate goals, particularly so in the United States.
These include parental notification and consent for abortion for minor daughters; specific public health regulation of free-standing abortion facilities; women’s right to know, or informed consent laws; forbidding of certain types of abortions (such as brain suction or partial birth abortions); forbidding of abortions for certain reasons, such as sex selection and after a certain age of fetal development.
Certain allied issues can also be legislated such as forbidding destructive live fetal experimentation. Freedom of conscience can be guaranteed, both for individuals and for institutions. Laws to ban the use of tax monies for elective abortions have been the first line of attack for pro-lifers, but much yet can still be done. There are many avenues where federal monies have been given to pro-abortion organizations. A major ex-ample is family planning which includes abortion as a method of family planning. Government support for institutions that have encouraged and referred for abortions could be terminated and such monies redirected to those that support women before, during, and after birth.
There are certain constructive areas that can be encouraged that should be non-controversial. An obvious one is adoption. Certainly, the pro-life side has been warmly supportive of this. Tragically, the pro-abortion side, while giving lip service to adoption, nevertheless, has in practice strongly discouraged adoption to the point of not so subtly condemning it. The typical Planned Parenthood type of advice to an unmarried teenager contemplating adoption is to hold it up as a fate worst than death for her unfortunate child. Sadly, adoption should be, but has not been common ground.
A major thrust of pro-abortion rhetoric has been the assumption that if only young people were given adequate education in how to use contraceptives, and then adequate access to them, the problem would be solved.
A portion of the pro-life side has serious moral reservations about contraception per-se. Many other pro-lifers do not share this. Almost universally, however, pro-lifers feel that pushing contraceptives onto teenagers encourages fornication and at younger ages. Most pro-lifers oppose contraceptives for premarital sex, for adultery, and for homosexual liaisons.
Title X, the U.S. federal family planning program which has expended billions of dollars giving contraceptives to teenagers over the last three decades, has proven to be a colossal failure. Wherever its clinics have been established, an intense campaign has been launched to teach contraceptive use to unmarried teens. The result? The pregnancy rate has gone up. The sexually transmitted disease has gone up. The abortion rate has gone up. The age of first sexual encounter is younger. Planned Parenthood has reported that 60% of women getting abortions had used contraceptives the month they became pregnant (Chapter 35). This evidence, along with other studies, has convinced many that the siren song of “give them contraceptives and the problem will be solved,” is not part of the solution, but rather part of the problem.
But legalizing abortion was sold to us as a cure for many of our social ills.
Let’s look at the record.
Social Concern 1970 1990
Illegitimate Births 10.7% 26.2%
Children with Single Mothers 11% 22%
Violent Crime Rate (per 100,000) 36.4 2 73.
Teen Suicide Rate 5.9% 11.3%
Children on Welfare 8.5% 11.9%
From the Index of Leading Cultural Indicators Empower America and William J. Bennett.
Love Them Both:
Your authors have been teaching, writing, and lecturing in the field of human sexuality for forty years, and have been in the thick of the struggle over abortion for twenty-five years. Is there any common ground?
We certainly can take sides, and many do with great passion, and dedication. We, however, see one glimmer of light, that hopefully would appeal to both sides, and certainly would to those in the middle. It is the recent emphasis on the simple question, “Why can’t we love them both?”
Why can’t we all stand with the pregnant woman? Why can’t we tell her that we share the agony of her decision? That we really know of no “convenience” abortions? Why can’t we tell her that we stand with her, not against her? Why can’t we begin to discuss constructive alternatives to abortion, adoption being an alternative par excellence?
Why can’t we cooperate in giving her all the information there is to be given from both sides of this controversial issue? Why not fully informed consent? Give her all the reasons for abortion? The law allows, even requires this. But also give her all the reasons for waiting, and most emphatically offer to her all of the constructive alternatives that now exist. If our laws continue to dictate that she be given that choice of life or death for her unborn, at the very least that choice should be a fully informed one. It should not just be in-6 formed in terms of technical information. No, it should also be a choice that is made in view of the fact that there is a warm and loving alternative to the technical quick fix of abortion.
In the coming years, the hallmark of the pro-life movement at least, should not be just to save the baby, but to love them both.
Chapter 2 – The Three Questions
First, some definitions.
Alive means that this being is growing, developing, maturing, and replacing its own dying cells. It means not being dead.
Human means one of the biological beings who be-longs to the species Homo Sapiens. Such beings are unique from all other beings in that they have 46 human chromosomes in every cell. Such beings do not belong to the rabbit family, the carrot family, etc.
Person is defined in at least a dozen different ways, according to the field or discipline in which you define it. In theology it usually means when the soul is created.
In law (in the U.S.), personhood begins at birth. Other countries have ruled that it begins at different ages. In medicine and natural science, person usually means when the being is alive and complete. In philosophy it has multiple meanings and shades of meanings. We strongly suggest that no one use this term without first defining precisely what you mean by it; for, unless you do, any discussion of personhood is foolish.
Define “Human Life”
This is the question that must first be considered, pondered, discussed, and finally, answered. It cannot be brushed aside or ignored. It must be faced and met honestly. Upon its answer hinges the entire abortion question, as all other considerations pale to insignificance when compared with it. In a sense, nothing else really matters. If what is growing within the mother is not human life, if it is just a piece of tissue — a glob of protoplasm — then it deserves little respect or consideration, and the primary concern should be the mother’s physical and mental health, her social well-being, and, at times, even her convenience.
Now, The Three Questions
There are three questions that are basic to the entire abortion controversy:
The first is: “Is this human life?” As we will see, the answer clearly is Yes. That answer is a medical and scientific one, for we cannot impose a religious or philosophic belief in our nations through force of law. The second question is: “Should we grant equal protection by law to all living humans in our nation?” or,
“Should we allow discrimination against entire classes of living humans?”
The third question is about Choice and Women’s Rights.
For two millennia in our Western culture, written into our constitutions, specifically protected by our laws, and deeply imprinted into the hearts of all men and women, there has existed the absolute value of honoring and protecting the right of each human to live. This has been an unalienable and unequivocal right. The only exception has been that of balancing a life for a life in certain situations or by due process of law.
Never, in modern times — except by a small group of physicians in Hitler’s Germany and by Stalin in Russia — has a price tag of economic or social use-fullness been placed on an individual human life as the price of its continued existence.
Never, in modern times — except by physicians in Hitler’s Germany — has a certain physical perfection been required as a condition necessary for the continuation of that life.
Never — since the law of paterfamilias in ancient Rome — has a major nation granted to a father or mother total dominion over the life or death of their child.
Never, in modern times, has the state granted to one citizen the absolute legal right to have another killed in order to solve their own personal, social or economic problem. And yet, if this is human life, the U.S. Supreme Court Decision in America and permissive abortion laws in other nations do all of the above. They represent a complete about-face, a total rejection of one of the core values of Western man, and an acceptance of a new ethic in which life has only a relative value. No longer will every human have a right to live simply because he or she exists. A human will now be allowed to exist only if he measures up to certain standards of independence, physical perfection, or utilitarian usefulness to others. This is a momentous change that strikes at the root of Western civilization. It makes no difference to vaguely assume that human life is more human post-born than pre-born. What is critical is to judge it to be — or not to be — human life. By a measure of “more” or “less” human, one can easily and logically justify infanticide and euthanasia. By the measure of economic and/or social usefulness, the ghastly atrocities of Hitlerian mass murders came to be. One cannot help but be reminded of the anguished comment of a condemned Nazi judge, who said to an American judge after the Nuremberg trials, “I never knew it would come to this.” The American judge answered simply, “It came to this the first time you condemned an innocent life.”
Ponder well the words of George Santayana: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to relive it.” Wm. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Simon & Schuster, 1959
Is this unborn being, growing within the mother, a human life? Does he or she have a right to live? Make this judgment with the utmost care, scientific precision, and honesty. Upon it may hinge much of the basic freedom of many human lives in the years to come.
Chapter 3 – How to Teach the Pro-Life Story
“Everything changes, yet everything remains the same.” A wise teacher will observe the above. All pro-life activists are teachers, each in his or her own way.
Public opinion and public knowledge develops and changes. Methods of arguing the pro-life cause that were effective 10 and 20 years ago, while still valid, nevertheless may lose some of their effectiveness. New approaches may work better. Accordingly, let us briefly explore how we have taught in the past and how we must now teach in the 90s.
When abortion was first legalized in the U. S. and Canada, few people knew much about fetal development or abortion. Most objections to abortion arose from religious beliefs. Understanding this, the most effective methods of education then centered upon two major objectives, both of which were directly related to knowledge of fetal development. Education in the 70s and 80s had as its primary goal convincing the listener that this in fact was a fully living human from the first cell stage.
Religious Belief vs. Civil Rights
Opposition to abortion stemming from one’s religious beliefs, is a very important and effective motivating factor. It, however, applies directly only to those persons who share similar religious beliefs. The counter argument is very effective. “If you oppose abortion because you think it’s against God’s will, I respect that and you should live by that. However, I have a different religious belief (or non-belief) I do not think that it is against God’s will and therefore you should respect my approval of abortion. You should not impose your religious belief on me.”
They had a point. The answer to this was as follows: “Medical, biologic and natural science has long since proven that this is a living human from conception. Our founding fathers, in the charter of this republic spoke clearly, stating “we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights — of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The pro-life response accordingly, was very direct. “Religious belief is a powerful motivator for the individual person. But this is not merely a religious issue, it is primarily a human rights issue, a civil rights issue, and our nation and other western nations, make laws to protect civil and human rights.”
The second major goal of teaching was equally related to the teaching of fetal development. A typical lecturer in the first 20 years of this movement would spend about half of his or her time giving a scientifically accurate presentation proving that human life began at fertilization. Typically this was by slides, sometimes by a movie and more recently by video. It would be a just-the-facts-ma’am type of a show and tell presentation. If effective, those in the audience would be convinced that this was human life and from the beginning. Their logical next step in reasoning was:
“Abortion obviously kills a living human. Abortion is bad. Therefore we must stop abortion.” Accordingly, teaching placed its primary emphasis and most of its available time teaching fetal development. This worked beautifully. For the first two decades of our movement this method of teaching educated our nations and brought millions to a conviction that abortion was in fact a human rights issue and that it must be stopped. Being convinced that this was a living human, millions of people came to agree that — Abortion came to us through the law, lawmakers make laws, lawmakers appoint judges, we elect lawmakers. This direct realization fostered what today are major political forces, both in the U.S. and Canada.
By the late 80s and early 90s it was apparent to the pro-abortion industry that the pro-life movement was accelerating its momentum and showed definite signs of winning this battle. Accordingly, they took an entirely new look at the controversy. They did extensive and expensive market research to determine what they might do to change their approach to this issues with the goal of permanently locking in legal abortion in our time. From their research, focus groups, etc. several facts became apparent:
1) The industry renewed its commitment to never talk about the passenger inside of the woman. They realized that when they debated the fact of whether or not this is a baby, they consistently lost and pro-life teaching was consistently effective. Ultrasound and other medical advances played a major part in confirming this. Their conclusion was to never talk about what is inside of her. 2) The second conclusion was that pro-abortion forces should quit arguing about abortion itself. They recognized that when the facts of abortion was debated, the pro-life side consistently won.
3) They changed the question. Unable to win debating the issue as they saw it on pro-life terms, they cleverly changed the question. They changed it from “Is abortion right or wrong”? to “Who decides, the woman or the government? We believe that the government should stay out of this very private matter. The real question here is about a woman’s right to choose.” It takes only a moment to realize that this is an entirely different question. Over a period of several years, by paid advertisements, by all pro-abortion leaders using the same party line, and by the enthusiastic cooperation of the liberal media, they largely succeeded in changing the terms of the debate.
Many political candidates were led to believe that the sleeping “pro-choice giant” had awakened and would now sweep all before it. Judging this to be a turning of the tide, many politicians across the country, who had been nominally pro-life, now became openly pro-abortion. They jumped to the side they perceived to be winning. With this there was a loss of pro-life political strength.
But the field of battle did not remain static. In the early 90s, largely through the newly formed Life Issues Institute, your authors and others devised a counter strategy. Answers to the pro-choice argument were developed and disseminated. But this was not enough. A thorough going re-evaluation of the situation was need-ed. This was accomplished using, as they had done, market research. What was revealed was that there had been, within a few years, a tidal change in public opinion. As noted above the logic had been: “I am convinced that this is a living human from conception, that it is a human rights issue, and that abortion kills babies. Therefore abortion is wrong and we must work to stop it.” This had changed to “I am convinced that this is a living human from conception, I believe that abortion is wrong, I would not support it or have one myself. But, I am also convinced that a woman has the right to chose to have an abortion and therefore I will not seek laws to abolish it.” Simply stated, the change was as follows. Only a few years ago, when a person was convinced that this was a baby, they then concluded that abortion must be stopped. Now, because of the “pro-choice” argumentation, even though they know it’s a baby, that person now says that abortion should be allowed. This held potentially catastrophic effects. What was to be done?
What To Do
Our market research went on to reveal the following. About 25% of people hold strong pro-life views. A narrow 25% are weakly or strongly pro-abortion. There remain almost 50% of the general public, which by its own admission feels that they have not yet formed a firm conviction on the abortion issue. Almost four-fifths of this “conflicted middle” admits that this is a baby, that abortion kills a baby, and that abortion is wrong. But, about two-thirds of that same group also believe that a woman has a right to choose to have one. Further research demonstrated that this conflicted middle generally has a rather negative opinion of pro-life people. To take it to its extreme they believe that we are right-wing religious zealots that we shoot abortionists and burn down clinics, that we are fetus-lovers and care little for the woman after she delivers. Coloring everything in terms of public opinion we discovered that a significant percent of the general public feels that pro-lifers are not compassionate to women. Because of this, many of them are turning a deaf ear and are no longer listening to us. Therein lies our challenge.
Further research and educational test marketing revealed that therein also lay the solution to countering the pro-choice argumentation. Pro-lifers, far beyond others in our culture and certainly beyond abortion proponents, are compassionate to women. What is needed, therefore, is to shout from the housetops the details of the pro-life movement’s obvious compassion for women. When this is done, the folks in the middle once again listen to us. Herein lies the educational strategy needed for the coming years. This has led to the title of this book. It is a one-liner that has proven its effective-ness in countering and reversing their “pro-choice” argumentation.
Love Them Both?
“Why not love them both?” has proven to be the key in the lock that is needed to counter their changing of the question. Just as their one-liner has been “a woman has the right to choose.” The pro-life one-liner should be “why not love them both?”
Chapter 4 – Discrimination
Has discrimination ever been legal before? Yes, sadly so.
Discrimination by Race
The Nazi Holocaust was a terrifying example of legal racial discrimination. It began with the elimination of almost 300,000 Aryan German citizens who were “defective” and ended with the elimination of 6 million members of a race that was also judged to be “defective.” (Add perhaps another 6 million Gypsies, war prisoners, and other nationalities, e.g., Poles.) First, Jews were labeled subhuman through the use of names such as “vermin, garbage, subhuman, trash,” etc. Then, legal personhood and equal protection by law were removed in 1936 by the Supreme Court of Germany. Finally, the killing began. Detailed documentation is available in The German Euthanasia Pro-gram. (Wertham, Hayes Publishing Co., Cincinnati); A Sign For Cain, (Wertham, 1966, MacMillin), Chapters 8 and 9); and The Abortion Holocaust (Brennan, Landmark Press).
Discrimination by Skin Color
In the U.S., from Colonial times, there was legal discrimination on the basis of skin color. This ugly chapter in our history came to its legal climax with the Dred Scott Decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1857, three years before Lincoln’s election and the U.S. Civil War. In essence, it confirmed that black people had no legal rights and were the property of their owners. The analogy to abortion is direct. Complete details are available on this analogy in Abortion and Slavery — History Repeats (Willke, Hayes Publishing Co., Cincinnati, 1984 [$5.50]).
Discrimination by Age
If you are conceived in France, your life is legally protected after ten weeks of life. In Denmark, it is 12 weeks. In the State of Washington, just prior to the Roe vs. Wade Decision, life was protected at 16 weeks;
Sweden was 20. In New York, it had been 24 weeks; England was 28; and presently in the U.S., life is legally protected only after birth. Nobel prize winner, Dr. James Watson, has suggested “three days after birth.” At first glance, one is likely to comment that all of the above disagree. But look closer at the ethic, the logic, and the criteria. They all agree. They agree that you can discriminate against an entire class of living humans on the basis of age. They just don’t agree on which age. But note well that in the U.S. today there are 3.5 taxpayers for every retired person who draws Social Security or other tax-funded pensions. By the year 2040, there will only be 1.5 taxpayers to support each retired person (assuming no rise in the current birth rate). Our nation (among others) is all but bankrupt now, partly due to such entitlement programs.
This will be a completely impossible economic situation. The answer could be rather simple and direct. Copy the ethic, the logic, and the criteria of today’s fatal discrimination on the basis of age — only start at the other end of the spectrum. Perhaps a court could rule that everyone over 80 years of age was no longer a legal person. Or maybe it would have to be lowered to 75 — or even to . . .?
Discrimination by Handicap
Handicap is one of the two most accepted reasons for abortion. But remember, before birth and after birth, it is the same patient and the same handicap. Is it any wonder that we are increasingly seeing the same “solution” after birth (killing by infanticide — see chapter 24) as before birth (killing by abortion)?
Since when have we given doctors the right to kill the patient to “cure” the disease?
Discrimination by Place-of-Residence
This is abortion in the U.S. It is discrimination on the basis of place-of-residence. If the child in the womb can escape from his first place-of-residence (the womb) the day before his scheduled execution, his life is protected by full force of law. As long as he remains in the womb, however, he can be killed at his mother’s request.
Chapter 5 – Something Old, Something New
Are our old scientific studies obsolete and useless?
Are our new scientific studies relevant and useful? Must we reject the old? Must we rely primarily only on the new? What is the balance here?
Some old studies need to be replaced by newer, more accurate, more detailed, more relevant studies. That is obvious. What serious students of this or any other issue have to keep in mind, however, is that certain older studies are classics, and do not need repeating. What is also obvious is that some new studies may prove to be inaccurate and will not stand the test of time.
Let us use a medical example. If a pregnant woman contracts Rubella or German Measles in her first trimester, there is a chance that her baby will be born with a fetal abnormality. In the early 1960s, there was an extensive rubella epidemic in the U.S. Many pregnant women were infected and there was a tragic harvest of fetal abnormality. Many studies were done at that time. This book includes a report on a summary of the results obtained from that rather extensive research through an article in the Lancet. Note that there have been no major studies on this since that time. Why not? One reason has been that there has not been another rubella epidemic, and with rubella vaccine, the chance for another one is not too likely. The other and quite relevant reason is that the studies done back then were thorough, well done, and came up with definitive answers. In the light of this, there is little stimulus to repeat all of those studies. Therefore, the Lancet article from 1964 stands