Faith and Science
Destiny of No Choice – Abortion
People seek value for human life. Values develop
from what we feel, not from what we sense and reason. Human experiences
and perceptions cannot be adequately expressed and understood by rational
discourse; symbolic expression is required. We symbolically express feelings,
beliefs, and intuitions in metaphors with universal themes and explanations.
Metaphoric and not rational expressions insure the world's existence and
permanence. Metaphors express order and permanence for meaning in our lives
Both religion and science metaphorically describe chaotic primordial conditions before creation of the universe. Under these conditions no interactions were possible for any existing matter. At creation, chaos' equilibrium ceased and all entities began to interact. In particular, people gained the ability to interact with themselves, other humans, and the world.
God manifests His absolute and full creative power in creating the universe from nothing. A creation from void emanates from God's own substance. Before creation everything is in unity with God, allowing us to interact with Him. This interaction can continue after our creation.
The pre-creation unity with God is a metaphor for paradise. We lost paradise with separation following our creation and we regain it by returning to Him. Separation from God alienates us and we lose unity with all when we lose reverence for His creation. Harmony prevails for all interactions within the unity of His substance. With alienation and loss of the unity we value only the individual and its ego. With reverence for His creation we regain unity and interact with all.
The Absolute Gift
Creation must be the ultimate and absolute
act.1 Act is always the act of a being. Act is the distinctive
character of being and since our being is most intelligible, act must be
intelligible. Act is not something irrational, is not based on groundless
belief, and is not a product of chance or indeterminacy. A reason underlies
inflowing of being from an agent and by virtue of the agent. Beings
affirm God's absolute act.
Creation is God's absolute gift of love in endowing the act of being and the conditions for its reception as good.2 The freely given absolute love reflects the creator's highest, most intelligent and caring power. Creation is the ultimate gift because its giving is not grounded in either any merit of the creature or the ability for the creature to reciprocate in any way. Creatures accept this gift as the ultimate communication in response.
Creation from a void does not transfer being or substance at the expense of the creator. If we re-create, as a gratuitous expression of power, that should likewise not diminish or enhance our being. This action must also be non-reciprocal where no return action is expected or possible. But the action is reciprocal where the freely created being must give up its existence. A fetus is the ultimate female creative act and gift bestowing motherhood. If given freely, the giving cannot be reciprocated so no repayment is required. The fetus giving up its being on request is the ultimate repayment of this gift.
Acceptance of life and being as the ultimate gift pledges that we maintain reverence for all creation. Reverence affirms all things that are, the apprehension of ultimate reality.
Creators provide a helper to apprehend the ultimate reality. The helper works to restore pre-creation unity and harmony for human beings.3 The helper shows us that creation is not meaningless and absurd. It is not created and destroyed by chance. The helper enables beings to gain sanctity, to communicate with the ultimate reality, and to participate in the power and goodness of the unity from whence they came. Helpers are rejected by societies depending solely on reason for finding truth.
Being Is Necessary for Potentiality
The absolute act or being has a capacity or
potency which is totally dependent on and realized by the being that fulfills
it.4 A being's potential does not exist and cannot be imagined
without the being's actuality or before its creation. Before a being's
creation, "there is no it in any sense; and so, there could be no
possibility for it, no potentiality with respect to it."4
After the Creator communicates the absolute act to form a being, and only
then, does the creature gain potentiality inherent to its being. Creative
agents control potentiality preexisting a being's creation.
Beginning at embryo genesis each human being is an absolute act with an absolute potentiality for a human being. The potentiality is absolute because nothing other than a human being can develop. If act alone is absolute and potentiality is totally dependent on act, the human embryo is not a nonhuman being. Thus, the embryo is recognized as a being and its potentiality makes it a human being. The embryo cannot be a nonbeing with a potentiality to become human. Human sperm and ova have no potentiality because potentiality cannot confer actuality; only act or actuality can confer potentiality.
Life as No Gift
With belief in no reality, function, or purpose
other than defined by our egos, we are convinced that reality consists
of the irrational and unexpected; life is merely a matter of chance. Chance
produces unintelligible and valueless absurdity, however; it cannot produce
the plurality and its members, let alone their relationships. That absurdity
leads some to reject creation as a gift in order to justify and protect
human rights of freedom, dignity, and responsibility. Those people
look to themselves for claiming these rights. No being is more privileged
than others in claiming greater rights by chance, however; chance confers
none. We are not products of chance; we are recipients of the absolute
generosity of our Creator who determines but lets us influence our dignity
With life due to chance we can only try to improve odds for happenings we don't want and to reduce odds for those we want. Disease due to chance or bad luck is "battled" by treatments to change odds. We beat chance's odds by surviving. Sometimes people commit suicide to defy chance and its determination on how and when they die. When pregnancy is a chance occurrence or "mistake," reason and science show how it can be "corrected" by abortion. Beliefs that we can change chance's odds are based on superstition, however. Superstitions are grounded on beliefs that every happening is determined by chance.
Absolute Love Respects
The Creator's absolute benevolent
love produces creatures with inherent goodness and respects the creature's
dignity, integrity, freedom, independence and welfare.5 Absolute
benevolent love does not exercise absolute power to control a creation
and is not restricted to protect against loss for the creator. Creator
loses nothing of His substance, being, or essence with absolute benevolent
love for His creation. Creator's love is concern for His creation's fate,
a concern that flows from his unconditional generosity.6
The helper who the Creator offers to guide us has absolute power but respects a person's integrity and freedom. The helper teaches us to accept creation's plurality, our relationships in the plurality, and ourselves as the gift of the intelligent and caring Creator. The helper directs us to live responsibly and to embody and reflect an original, absolute and benevolent love. With creation by chance, humans have no helper and little reason for living responsibly or for expecting a benevolent love to ground their existence.
With our Creator giving us life as a gift, our only possible gratuity is to maintain reverence for all his creation.7 Creation by chance is not a gift and reverence is not required by or for creatures where creation is not a gift.
A Creation's Rights
Humans claim dignity, integrity, freedom, and
responsibility as rights of their existence. Should other creations have
similar rights? Does the human fetus have dignity and integrity? As gifts
they do. As products of chance they don't. Dignity and integrity are intrinsic
to creation as gifts; they are not gained by any creation's experience.
Human worth is not relative and dependent on age and richness of experience.
As human creatures have no integrity, dignity, and freedom with absolute dependence on Creator, human fetuses may merit no integrity and dignity because of total dependence on women. But the fetus' complete dependence on a woman for support is no different from all people's dependence on their members' plurality and relationships for sustaining life. Thus, each fetus and every adult have dignity and integrity in freely fulfilling its potential. Although both live with risks of losing life supports, neither can be denied freedom to maintain dignity and integrity.
Creator's generosity transcends the absolute inequality between Creator and creature and does not threaten the creature's dignity, freedom and integrity.8 How could a lesser inequality between mother and fetus threaten the fetus' "dignity and integrity"? Any inequality between mother and fetus is only for how life is supported. With life support as the absolute value in a plurality created by chance, the maintenance of that support is more important than any creature's dubiously-claimed intrinsic dignity and integrity. In a universe created by chance, life support for some can depend on tissues and organs from a fetus having no intrinsic dignity and integrity.
With absolute integrity the Creator creates only what is absolutely intended and insures interrelations for the plurality. Without interrelations people are isolated and lack real joy that depends on generosity of giving and on dignity in receiving. The fetus as a being must receive this absolute generosity and share in the dynamic plurality. Celebration of relationships is for preservation of all beings.
The Creator must know us on our terms for us to have dignity, integrity, and freedom. Human creators cannot know a nonbeing fetus on its terms. Fortunately, following conception a fetus is never a nonbeing, an entity without rights.
The morality of nurturance recognizes creation to be the Creator's ultimate gift. Procreation is also the ultimate human act. As the Creator creates us by an act that is ultimate, absolute, and with no possibility for reciprocation, humans in freely giving others life should expect no reciprocation. We seek ethical knowledge for determining our response to this gift; no knowledge can help us if creation results from chance.
Ethics concerns whether something we propose
or do is right or wrong.9 Ethics is not about what will happen
to us, what people will think of us, or how we feel about what has happened.
Thus, ethical truths do not concern how abortion affects us, molds public
opinions, or determines our feeling, but whether abortion is right or wrong.
If we do not believe in living an ethical life, we will be open to relativism,
amoralism, and disorder.10
Most agree that moral beliefs, ethical judgments, and values are important in abortion decisions. We are also advised that "morality" requires us to respect and protect a person's autonomy and liberty.11 To be just, such morality is made to minister to the good lives of individuals and not to interfere with them any more than is necessary. Man is not made for morality but morality is made for man to serve his desires.11 Individuality is protected for life to be meaningful.
Seeking Ethical Knowledge
Ethics is based on values, but what values?
We objectively investigate human nature for facts to construct ethics and
values.12 Objective facts cannot determine values, however.13,
14 Ethical judgments are true or false, are not factual, and cannot
be justified by empirical observation.15 Objective inquiry into
human nature cannot be unbiased because investigators' interests, beliefs,
and desires condition questions, methods, and answers. Establishing ethical
lives on objective facts is given little chance to succeed.13
Metaphysics can explain ethics, a study not based on objective or scientific information. Metaphysics asks where values are grounded in the nature of things or contribute to the cosmic process. But our basic ethical standards and values cannot be justified by grounding them in the nature of things in any strict logical sense.15 Ethics does not depend logically on facts, either empirical(scientific) or non-empirical (metaphysical), about man and the world.
Where reason believes in establishing ethical judgments by empirical inquiry or metaphysical arguments, religion presents ethical judgments by divine revelation. Religious ethical judgments are assertions of theological facts, but ethics does not depend logically on theological facts about people and the world.15 Ethical principles vary widely with different religions and may not be logically justified by religious beliefs and experiences. Many ethical judgments are culturally mandated laws affixed to a religion for implementation and enforcement.
Source of Ethical Truths
If we accept that ethical judgments must be
true or false but are not factual and cannot be justified by empirical
observation or by either metaphysical or theological reasoning, our ethical
principles and values cannot rest logically on true propositions about
humans and the world.15 Although we cannot reason and logically
support ethical judgments and values, we must rely on reason to preserve
ethical judgments and values needed for a commitment to living ethically.16
From where then do ethical judgments come?
Ethical judgments must start from ethical experience. Ethical theories tend to start from just one aspect of that experience, beliefs that are often called intuitions.17 Intuitive truths are "self-evident" that need not be justified by any kind of argument, logical or psychological, since they are self-justifying; they are "clearly and distinctly true." Intuitive truths are claimed to be known but there is no way in which they became known; coming about spontaneously they are self-evident and self-justifying. These truths are a priori or just there from before our time. Properties of intuitive truths have no rational basis so they cannot be defined.
A universe without purpose should have no a priori concepts or self-evident ethical truths; they could not be justified. In such a universe ethical judgments and values become arbitrary decisions or commitments for which no justification is even attempted. If such judgments and values are not rooted in any beliefs, reason cannot justify them or subject them to reflection and modification; we are left with no basis for ethical judgments.18
Reason and Reflection Refine Ethics
Without reason and reflection to refine ethics, judgments and values can be grounded in ignorance and misunderstanding. Reflection can also destroy ethical knowledge, and with loss of the intuitive basis for ethical judgments and values, justification is based on empirical inquiry or on metaphysical or theological truths, a justification that fails logical treatment.19 Values not based on ethical knowledge develop for self-interest, but the moral point of view must be disinterested (universal), not "interested." Reason demands reflection, not to destroy beliefs and create new theories but to improve the knowledge of beliefs for developing a more fully articulated ethical theory.20
Justifying a Moral Point of View
Justification of ethical theories and moral points of view requires objective judgments that consider benefits to meet the needs for all humans.21 The judgments include the need for people to be free, impartial, willing to universalize, conceptually clear, and informed about all possible relevant information. Ideal moral theory is developed by consensus of what judgments benefit all humans and are impartial in assuring that justice prevails.
Disposition for an Ethical Life
Human moral activity begins by developing a disposition for accepting certain ethical judgments and values as truths.16 Such truths are essential for us to share equally in our requirement to live and to believe that our existence can be just. Dispositions to accept ethical judgments and values enables people to develop lives worth living. Ethical dispositions develop and persist only with free inquiry and reflection; they must not be restricted by laws, rules or dogma that make them obligations. Morality based merely on rules is interested in the letter, not the spirit, of law. The requirement for an ethical life could be dependent on a disposition of benevolence, justice, love or reverence.
Benevolence and Justice
Benevolence and justice may be the cardinal
virtues for developing the disposition for an ethical life.22
A cardinal virtue is not derived from another virtue and all other moral
virtues are derived from or shown to be forms of the cardinal virtue.23
Benevolence implements the principle of beneficence which says that 1) one ought not to inflict evil or harm, 2) one ought to prevent evil or harm, 3) one ought to remove evil, and 4) one ought to do or promote good.24
Justice obliges us to treat others equally.25 Just societies help others in proportion to their needs and enlist them in proportion to their abilities. All are not equal in abilities to meet their needs and to contribute to society's welfare.
Benevolence and justice are not expressions of emotion, will, or decision but are rationally justifiable which mere expressions of emotions and commands do not do. As dispositions they emulate, instruct, recommend, prescribe, and advise.
Few people are motivated by benevolence and justice to develop unselfish concern for others. Thus these virtues may not be cardinal and are motivated by another. A cardinal virtue leads us to be self-denying, to act on principle, to universalize principles, and to consider the good of everyone alike.26 The dispositions of sympathy, love, or reverence could accomplish that.
Sympathy is agreement in feeling between people.
Sympathy leads us to experience others' trouble and sorrow and develop
compassion from pity. Sympathy could be the cardinal virtue in that it
provides the basis for benevolence. Sympathy can promote happiness for
great numbers but not all people benefit. Sympathy mostly benefits the
imperfect, injured, incapable, and downtrodden. If sympathy determines
benevolence and justice, why should they benefit those not needing sympathy?
Sympathy perceives some to be creation's victims. As products of chance we are all victims of a purposeless process that assigns our traits by luck or chance. That life is injust—even from birth—is a negative view that begs for sympathy. Unfortunately, familiar worthy recipients receive sympathy where unfamiliar worthy recipients receive none. Sympathy cannot be a cardinal virtue for developing the moral point of view.
Love could be the cardinal virtue. The ethics
of love claims "to love" as the only imperative.27 People are
not open to loving all others, however; it is inconsistent
with human nature. People must relinquish their autonomy and liberty to
share in a life that loves all others. People must also know anyone before
love is possible and we cannot know all others. The love response is emotional
and is driven by desires rather than by reason. Human desires are not driven
by a cardinal virtue.
A disposition of love may develop as the cardinal virtue by command or commitment to a dogma; religion makes a loving disposition essential for acceptance or to gain salvation.28 The disposition of love is difficult to impose or justify, however, and if religious knowledge were destroyed there would be little reason for developing the virtue of love for others.
Reverence is the cardinal virtue upon
which benevolence, justice, sympathy, and love depend. Reverence is necessary
and sufficient for all other ethical virtues. Reverence for someone's existence
is necessary for benevolence. Reverence for all eliminates differences
so there can be universal and equal justice. Reverence does not depend
on knowledge to love another. Without reverence people have no compelling
reason to adopt or develop dispositions for benevolence, justice, sympathy,
or love. Reverence guarantees sanctity for each human and the mystery of
All existence is determined and described by relationships rather than by matter's essence. With belief that "life is merely a disease of matter" developing reverence for anything is difficult. Reverence is the essence of relationships and enables all other virtues.
Morality and Dispositions
If dispositions implement ethical judgments and values, abortion's prochoice position denies the cardinal disposition of reverence or its derivative virtues of love, sympathy, benevolence, and justice. Morality compels us to live the cardinal disposition, without which we may believe but not act on ethical judgments and values. Morality requires us to do what we believe to be right.29
Prochoice supporters believe in rights to protect individual autonomy and liberty so that justice prevails in giving women the choice in abortion. However, most people believe that abortion is wrong and immoral. Can we be morally good when we do not do what we believe? This is avoided when prochoice activists say nothing about abortion being right or wrong and they are for a "morality of respecting one's individuality."
We lose ethical judgments and values based on the disposition of reverence when abortion becomes meaningless. Reverence is lost by those with the belief that compelling reasons override any prolife arguments.
When dispositions of virtue develop one does not have to rely on laws' impossible task of holding people responsible and applying sanctions in a way that is retribution. Western society answers abortion questions with deception, force, shame, guilt, blame, and legal action. Needed education, reformation, prevention, and encouragement are too little and too late for developing dispositions of reverence for life. Without reverence one cannot be morally good because one cannot do what one believes to be right.
Legislating Morality and Dispositions
Abortion is legally considered immoral. Legal decisions on abortion follow evaluation of facts that cannot construct, justify, or modify ethical judgments and values, however. Abortion cannot depend logically on any facts or truths for being immoral, just as any facts cannot justify it. Legislating abortion to be immoral must be based on ethical theories that start solely from human beliefs. Prolife arguments also cannot be supported by any truths other than those from human beliefs.
An Ethical Enlightenment
Centuries-old beliefs and divine commands tell us that prenatal human life is sacred. An ethical enlightenment destroys this basis for truth by appealing to a human's natural right to autonomy and freedom. Science contributes by describing the fetus as an organization of living tissue that differs little from others, by that deserving no special reverence. Philosophers contribute by suggesting criteria for what life is worthy of conservation. Little richness of experience and lost usefulness are reason for denying preservation. Abortion of a being with no experience and no usefulness is, however, a deep moral question and it is related with the "to be" response of ethical judgments and values. The "to be" response is a cultivated disposition of reverence.
Autonomy and Freedom
Prochoice advocates strongly believe that people must be morally free to do as they choose by their desires, beliefs, and character. Most Americans also believe that abortion is a moral question and as such is not right. Belief in benevolence and justice as the cardinal virtues is consistent with ethical judgments and values of prochoice advocates. These dispositions respect autonomy, freedom and treating people justly. Reverence as the cardinal virtue, from which benevolence and justice derive, cannot justify abortion.
Reverence Protects Creation
Reverence is essential for living out ethical judgments and values. It is more than sympathy, pity, or love which can show reverence for some but not all life. A being needs no value, such as gained from richness of experience, to deserve reverence. Demystifying creation that reduces value for our existence can cause reverence to be lost, however. Science and knowledge demystify and reduce reverence for life. The disposition of reverence is justified only when creation is the Creator's gift and is not due to chance.
Essentiality of reverence for life is self-evident and self-justifying. Reverence maintains integrity, unity, and order, without which all creation can disappear. Without the disposition of reverence, we cannot protect the intrinsic value of all creation.
Rules do not answer the abortion question but by a living reverence that defies demands to protect primacy for individuals. A primacy for disposition of reverence is a primacy for individuals. Both primacies are essential for meaningful individual lives that do not reject society and share perceptions with others. Shared perceptions are fundamental to the moral point of view. Ideally, such perceptions are universalized into a consensus that transcends all. Unfortunately consensus develops for few human experiences.
Free Choice: A Legal Question?
Human language, thought, philosophy, and mythological
expressions form the basis for people's relationships with each other and
with the rest of creation. In developing these relationships people seek
primacy for individuals and for dispositions essential to a meaningful
life. Such primacy guarantees freedom and autonomy but also reasons for
living with ethical knowledge and truth. Morality directs us to judge how
our personal dispositions affect our relationships with others.
The legal basis for and against abortion reflects freedoms and rights for the mother and her fetus. The United States Government interprets human rights in a way that abortion is legal; Roe versus Wade gave abortion rights to women.30 Women do not have rights that have precedence over rights for the fetus but women's rights should not be denied by any but the most compelling interest by the state for the fetus. The state's interest can only be to protect "potential" life of a fetus,31 but potential life may deserve no protection by law. If life is real rather than potential, religious, philosophical, and scientific criteria are used to establish when fetal life becomes a person and deserves legal protection.
If the fetus is a person under the fourteenth amendment, abortion would not necessarily be illegal. A mother's rights prevail in self-defense against a fetus. It is entirely her decision to support any fetal life.32 A mother is not compelled to risk her life for another.
Relationships for Rights-Bearing Humans
Our Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment rights to be individualistic, self-interested and self-sufficient are fundamental and more important than duties to others. These rights weaken commitment, caring, and community, making us insensitive to dependent and vulnerable members of society. Women give up autonomy, privacy, and individual identity with care for a fetus and infant.
What Makes Biological Matter a Person?
The Fourteenth amendment guarantees a person
moral standing and a right to life.33 A person can have rights
outright or a representative who is a care-giver may have jurisdiction.
The state uses religion, philosophy, and science to establish when fetal
life becomes a person.
The fetus could become a person when it shows sentience or the capacity for feeling, self-awareness, a continuity of consciousness of itself as having wants or purposes, and more generally a psychic individuality.34 Science grants a fetus personhood by the appearance of behavior reflecting psyche and sociality that requires brain development found after 20 weeks.35
Earlier criteria for a fetus becoming a person were based on quickening, viability, resemblance, or birth.35 Quickening is the mother's perception of fetal movement, but that can vary greatly. Viability is a poor criteria because improved survival for premature babies makes it a changing factor. Physicians judge viability by fetal age but their estimations can be wrong. Birth arbitrarily grants infants rights of personhood. A six to seven-month-olds fetus born prematurely has rights to life, but an unwanted aborted fetus of the same age can be left to die.
A fetus has no rights when its tissues can be used for research or for transplants.36 But aborted fetal remains merit some dignity because they cannot be discarded as refuse.
What Science Cannot Explain
People are created to interact with themselves,
with other beings and the world, and most importantly with God. With belief
in life after death, interactions continue after death with ourselves,
others and God. With belief in no afterlife, interactions with anyone or
anything cease at death. Most people believe in an afterlife that has these
interactions, but without their present physical and mental abilities.
Brain functions cannot be necessary for our spirit's interactions during
Does God give the potential human, the fetal being, a spirit before, after, or simultaneous with its creation? If embryos have no spirit, they may need brain development before they can accept the spirit. If so, loss of brain function at death must result in loss of God-given spirits. Most believe afterlife to be a return of human spirits to God, and they do not need brain function for subsequent interactions with Him or any other beings. Why should it be any different for the spirit at the time of life's conception and before brain development? The being with potential to be human should have its God-given spirit when it is created.
If spiritual interactions do not require neurological functions in afterlife, interactions should be possible for human spirits before fetal brain function develops. Legal experts use scientific knowledge to conclude that a human fetus is not human until the time that certain physiologic functions can be demonstrated. But what these experts cannot know is anything about the fetus' interactions with itself and with God. These interactions are more important than developmental signs experts use to judge when a fetus becomes a person. God knows when a fetus begins these interactions and they probably begin when God imparts a spirit into a being, when the being gains the potential to develop into a human (they cannot be a being without having the potential to be human). Humans cannot determine when a spirit enters each new creation, making it a person, and when individual spirits can interact with themselves.
Does the fetal spirit interact with itself and with God any less than those of mature comatose humans who have lost all ability to interact with others and the world? Do these mature humans have more worth than the fetus because rich-life experiences make them more deserving to sustain their existence? Does God value these beings more than the newly-created being with its newly-gifted spirit?
Beliefs, Not Facts, Establish Values
No scientific or objective evaluation can establish when a fetus becomes a person. Personhood is established by beliefs.37 Constitutional law fails when beliefs are not used to establish value and rights for biological matter. Belief tells us that fertilized ova are beings. For an entity to have potential to be human it must be a being first. It possesses potential to be human when it becomes a being. The Supreme Court's legal opinions on when a fetus is a person and has rights may be no more that judge-made-rights.38, 39 Because of this, the state cannot insure survival and growth for fetal life; "there must be an intervening act of human grace and creativity."40
Rights, Freedom and Consequences
Humans' rights must be to claim intrinsic, God-given value and an infinite worth that is not dependent on a person making any social contributions. We should not live by individual's rights that take precedence over values based on feelings and beliefs. Moreover, primacy for individuals loses truth and fails without primacy for personal dispositions built on feelings and beliefs. It fails wherever primacy of the individual is unequally distributed such as in situations where women gain less. Individual rights threaten natural bonds for sustaining families and nations; people's contributions to society are by chance rather than by personal dispositions. Natural rights for claiming primacy of the individual make us strangers in a "culture of separation."41
Women plan pregnancies to seek joy in fulfilling
their potential as creator and mother. Unwanted pregnancies, usually ending
in abortion, increase with greater sexual freedom. Human behavior is established
long before people understand their sexuality which results in more unwanted
American females are conditioned to believe that sexual relations will be a foregone conclusion before they are fifteen years old. Our culture tells them that sex is useful for getting what one desires, is essential to making oneself desirable or even wanted, and is a basis of our normal human nature, making its expression in a heterosexual relationship a basic right of all humans. Relationships built on sexual activity view partners as a commodity, however, not as a creation that deserves reverence.
Many young people believe that meaningful relationships are more important than sexuality.42 Such relationships are built on compatibility, mutual respect, and sharing common interests, and they develop ways to insure personal freedoms. Children born into these relationships have greatest opportunity to achieve their full potential, but not if they begin childbearing as adolescents.
The solutions to unwanted pregnancies have been programs to reduce sexual activity, promote use of contraceptions, and terminate pregnancy by abortion. Education to reduce sexual activity can succeed where people develop dispositions for reverence. Failing that, contraception is promoted to make sexual behavior responsible and abortion becomes acceptable for birth control. Unwanted pregnancy will remain a problem as long as people believe there are no good reasons for not doing what "feels good"; sexuality should not be suppressed. Constitutional rights to individualism empower everyone to manage their sexuality. Women understand their rights too late, however, when there is no choice on their sexuality; it is already firmly established.
Marriage Safeguards the Fetus
Marriage is the best guarantee that pregnancy does not end in abortion.43 Women must be both dependent on men and an economic asset to insure stability for marriage, however.44 Cohabitation without marriage has little interest in children and controls women for sexual pleasure. It also effectively sterilizes women by reasons for not having children outside marriage.45 When this sterilization fails, an unspoken agreement is likely to seek abortion.
Single Mothers Fail
Marriage is a commitment to procreation and empowers women as nurturers. Nurturing by single mothers suffers because they are five times more likely than married mothers to be locked in poverty.46 As poor economic conditions limit women's ability to marry and support children, illegitimate births and abortions increase. Many women consider having children without a husband, however, even though they must be self-sufficient.47
Why Women Have Abortions
In America 75 percent of women have abortions because a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities.48 Of the total, 67 percent cannot afford a child. Some do not want to be a single parent or be committed to a man with problems (Table 1).
Table 1. Women's Reasons for Abortion
Baby would change her life 76%
Wants no more children 26%
Unable to afford baby 68% A male wants her to have abortion 23%
Would be single parent 51% Fetus may be abnormal 13%
Unprepared to assume responsibility 31% Woman has medical problem 7%
Conceal pregnancy and sex activity 31% Parents want her to have abortion 1%
Too young or immature 30% Other 8%
Source of data: National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago
Women with no religious affiliation have the highest abortion rates.48 Women with conservative religious beliefs are half as likely as all to have an abortion.
Consensuses on Abortion
Most Americans believe abortion is wrong (and is murder) but want it to be legal for other than "trivial" reasons. Trivial reasons include the fetus is not the desired sex, the father doesn't want the child, the time is wrong to have a child, economic urgency, and pregnancy causes excessive emotional strain. Although most favor giving women rights to choose, more people oppose rather than favor abortion. Americans look on abortion as a necessary evil.
Personal Effects of Abortion
Most women having had abortions are left with guilt, and many live with regret and belief that abortion is morally wrong or consists of murder. Most women not wanting a child as a fetus were glad later they did not have an abortion.
Woman's sexuality destines her for procreation but sexuality's expression commits her to "no choice" before she reaches sexual maturity. By the time she is pregnant, all her good choices are gone. By the time she reaches sexual maturity, all the good choices have never had a chance to develop. Without any potential for making a good choice, the adolescent woman walks through the world with no choice; we have assured her that all she truly has is a biological destiny.
The Human Potential
We cannot realize our potential as moral beings if we sanction something like abortion that we believe to be wrong.
Human's Greatest Potentials
From feelings and beliefs, from our spiritual
nature, all people can develop dispositions of dignity, character, integrity,
compassion, and reverence. Reverence for creation is essential to holding
dignity, character, and compassion for other humans and is inconsistent
with acceptance of abortion. Woman knows that we can develop a disposition
of reverence for all creation.
Women's great potential is for controlling procreation and insuring nurturance, thereby preserving values and morals. Women must often choose between the responsibility of nurturance and rights to their share of justice. Often women do not champion justice at the expense of nurturance, but relate to one another for sustaining lives.
Nurturance can disadvantage women socially, economically, and politically because care of dependent people is not highly valued. But freedom to control and direct cultural reproduction empowers nurturance and makes it the source of women's authority and identity to sustain and protect society.49
Women rebel against obstacles impeding their
control of procreation, with results of adultery, abortion, and efforts
to limit fertility. Their rebellion declares that woman's gift of self
to man and to nurturance is voluntary and that there can be no responsibility
without freedom.50 Men fear such freedom because of the belief
that uncontrolled female sexuality can jeopardize society and cause it
to disintegrate.51, 52 Thereby men claim marriage's prerogative
of full responsibility for wives and children.
Abortion is the ultimate antisocial impulse, a rebellion against both family and men.53, 54 It is rape of the female gender, motherhood and women's gift of nurturance.55 Trivialization of abortion lessens feminine power and motherhood loses value.56
Adultery may be the most brutal rebellion.57 Adultery is rape of families where reverence is unknown and where reproduction, childbearing, and self-sacrificing nurturance represent a liability.
Women rebel against inequalities of freedom by limiting their fertility, entering wage labor, and raising children on their own, all of which are claimed to signify a "breakdown" of society.58
Destroying Women's Potential
Abortion as the solution to pregnancy is only one of culture's acts of violence against women. Other violence including assault, mutilation, murder, infanticide, rape, and cruel neglect may be the "most pervasive yet least recognized human rights issue in the world."59 Such violence persists because of husbands' rights to rule and women's economic dependence on men. Without changes there is little hope for a healthy world.
Nurturing Human Potentials
Women insure survival of family and civilization by growing their gifts to love, nurture, care, work, and create. Reverence shows us that nurturance is essential to human development and that we all must be prepared to nurture others. Both women and men escape culture's stereotypes by developing the disposition of reverence and by claiming dignity, character, and compassion that come with rights to be equal with all others. Belief in this truth and reality defines all people, the way we interact with others, our public and private personae, our sense of control over life events, our views of teaching and learning, and our conceptions of morality.
Promise for a New Reality
The potential for being human must hold
life to be sacred. We cannot believe in an inalienable right to life, liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness if life is not sacred. The human potential
also promises that life can be meaningful. That promise is from the Creator.
Chance can make no promises. These "self-evident truths" come from universal
beliefs that creative acts represent the highest moral principle. This
greatest act of the Creator is universally described by metaphors painting
reverence for creative activity. It is an act of love that demands sanctity.
Only the Creator insures continuity and preservation for creation. All of God's laws, directives, covenants, and inspirations are to guarantee creation. Humans use reason, intellect, and science to demystify creation but they cannot insure its existence. Demystification produces relativism, amoralism, and disorder which erode and destroy our sanctifying inheritance. What we choose to believe in determines if life can be meaningful.
Making Life Meaningful
Meaning for life is a value constructed from
beliefs and knowledge essential to living a moral life and must reflect
a life worth living. With meaning for their lives people can be "somebody."
All must claim rights to make life more meaningful and worthwhile.
Abortion reflects meaning for our existence. Without meaning for life, fetal existence has no meaning, giving abortion no meaning, no value, no importance, and no status as a moral question. If abortion is irrelevant to living a moral life, people cannot find life worth living. If meaning for life is based on false values, we have little hope. With loss of beliefs we may no longer be able to live a moral life, one that is worth living.
Nurturing humans develop meaningful lives from relationships built on all life being important and sacred. Being sacred gives life meaning. Women choosing importance for procreation and nurturance are most likely to find life's meaning and meaning in life. Renunciation of beliefs strips away life's meaning and leads us to betray and kill our inner self, destroying relation-building needs such as reverence, love and empathy.
Claiming the Promise
Humans must be freed from the rebellion of abortion to claim the Creator's promise. Men may have to look to women to grow their potential:
This is the great lesson woman teaches us: love is altruistic and makes a thousand sacrifices; love is creation, a continuous creation by which the woman makes the man, body, and soul. With all his pretensions and inherent egoism, man knows he is inadequate on his own, and can find his fulfillment only through the woman, the chosen fellow-creature who has given him life and will give him life again. ‘The perfect self-sufficiency that the love between two people tends towards will then encounter no more obstacles.'60By justifying abortion woman gives up any belief in teaching this lesson. The perfect self-sufficiency liberates women from rebellion and her desires. The love that leads to self- sufficiency joins man and woman in a harmony of flesh and spirit which is impossible when spiritual knowledge is denied or killed by reason. Until now, only poets have really understood women's concern for this unity.61
A self-realization to fulfill our potential
requires freedom, self-reflection, intuition, instinct, and dialogue with
others. All knowledge, including that of spiritual wisdom, is needed for
freedom to make choices and for redescribing reality. Such freedom precludes
us from being autonomous; it shows that we live in a relationship with
Knowledge restricted to reason and science cannot free us. Adam sought autonomy in the Garden of Eden by choosing the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (all knowledge). "Seduced by this desire for autonomy, Adam entered into a life of cruel and wretched slavery instead of the freedom for which he had conceived a desire."63 In a new covenant Christianity proclaims God's goodness granting a freedom to choose a relationship with Him and to renew relationships with others. From these relationships comes a knowledge leading to truth based on intuition, feelings, and beliefs, and to a reality for making life meaningful.
A new reality can grow our potential for living out the cardinal virtue and an ethical life. Reverence as the cardinal virtue gives life meaning and makes it meaningful. Reverence is essential to having dispositions for love, benevolence, justice, kindness, and sympathy. Dispositions of reverence construct a new reality where manipulation and control of nature are no longer needed.
Reverence Reconstructing Reality
Reverence acknowledges that humans need not
"submit" but must "share" in relationships and their requirement to live.
Rates for pregnancy and abortion are lowest where people depend on sharing
relationships with others. Morality of abortion is understood by people
in relationships, but not by individuals who answer only to themselves.
Individualism based on rights divides people and leaves them without understanding
A disposition for reverence establishes highest importance for nurturance of all dependent humans. With nurturance less important than sexuality, a fetus or child is valued less and motherhood becomes a burden. Reverence assures that marriage protects commitments to procreation and nurturance and assures a family's happiness and security.
The amorality of abortion jeopardizes our future unless people can reconstruct reality and achieve their potential. "If a mother can kill her own child, then what is left of the West to be destroyed?"64 A disposition of greater reverence must be developed for pregnant women, mothers, and unborn as well as born offspring so that all people's dignity, self-esteem, and worth are guaranteed.
We must all develop a disposition of reverence for care of families so that abortion is not the answer for problems of care for unwanted children. Abortion rates can be reduced by removing economic and social disincentives for having and keeping a baby. The Supreme Court rejects claims to constitutional entitlements, however, so little insures adequate food, clothing, shelter, and medical care for needy children.65 Governments insure entitlements for elderly support; similar support is needed for these children.
Legal judgments cannot establish values for
future society. Legislation cannot determine whether abortion is right
or wrong because "values" expressed in public opinion change and seldom
represent truth. Any vision must be based on beliefs that require us to
accept rather than seek truth for certain ethical statements. Debate, legal
action, science, religious pronouncements, and philosophical positions
cannot establish truth for ethical statements.
Our vision must accept that abortion is morally wrong and abhorrent, and that we cannot achieve self-realization and construct a truthful reality as long as we kill our unborn and do not nurture our children. A truthful reality must be based on a disposition of reverence that enables us to find our spiritual divine potential. This potential carries a promise, a hope, that disappears when we kill our offspring, the hope of our future.
Western society follows the pattern described by Durant in the rise and fall of civilizations:
The intellectual classes abandon the ancient theology and—after some hesitation—the moral code allied with it; literature and philosophy become anticlerical. The movement of liberation rises to an exuberant worship of reason, and falls to a paralyzing disillusionment with every dogma and every idea. Conduct, deprived of its religious supports, deteriorates into epicurean chaos; and life itself, shorn of consoling faith, becomes a burden alike to conscious poverty and to weary wealth. In the end a society and its religion tend to fall together, like body and soul, in a harmonious death. Meanwhile among the oppressed another myth arises, gives new form to human hope, new courage to human effort, and after centuries of chaos builds another civilization.66Abortion as a reflection of what we are and think can continue in any new civilization. New institutions, religions, philosophies and sources of knowledge built on reason and the intellect such as ours will continue the cycle of civilizations that affirm what we are now. If that knowledge "shows" evolution produced human beings, we may some day find that infanticide and abortion somehow "improve" our biological species.67 Then abortion would no longer be a moral question; it would be inherent in our biological makeup. If infanticide and abortion are an evolutionary improvement, we are not moral creations but live by our animal nature where the inner voices of spiritual feelings to support life grow fainter. If civilizations evolve for improving us morally, we may learn one day to recognize and act on what we believe—a reverence for life.
1. Kenneth Schmitz, The Gift: Creation (Milwaukee:
Marquette University Press, 1982), p. 117.
2. Ibid., p. 127ff.
3. Stephen A. Hoeller, Jung and the Lost Gospels (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publ., 1989), p. 140ff.
4. Schmitz, p. 126.
5. Ibid., p. 91ff.
6. Ibid., p. 96.
7. Ibid., p. 60.
8. Ibid., p. 130.
9. William K. Frankena, Ethics (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1973), p. 2.
10. Bernard Williams, Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (London: Fontana Press, 1985), p. 22.
11. Frankena, p. 116.
12. Frankena, p. 13.
13. Williams, p. 151
14. Frankena, p. 103.
15. Ibid., p 101-103.
16. Williams, p. 51.
17. Ibid., p. 93.
18. Frankena, p. 106.
19. Williams, p. 148, 167.
20. Ibid., p. 101, 111, 171.
21. Frankena, p. 112.
22. Ibid., p. 67.
23. Ibid., p. 64.
24. Ibid., p. 47.
25. Ibid., p. 51.
26. Ibid., p. 113.
27. Frankena, p. 56.
28. Ibid., p 58.
29. Ibid., p. 60.
30. Robert D. Goldstein, Mother-Love and Abortion (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), p. 21-31. The decision reads: "a state's coercive interference with a person's liberty be supported by a governmental purpose that is legitimate and sufficient to outweigh the individual's interest, and that a state's coercive means be rationally related to its purpose and not too unnecessarily burdensome of the infringed right." This judgment recognizes women's liberty; no one can deny her right to procreative freedom other than the government's interest in actual or potential new life, and that interest must be legitimate and sufficient to outweigh an individual's interest.
31. Ibid., p. 57-59
32. Ibid., p.5-31.
33. The state guarantees rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but it cannot guarantee the right to life. God gives and takes life. No agency can guarantee life unless it maintains reverence for all creation, something that only a creator does.
34. Goldstein, p. 6-10. David Perlman, "Viability Issue a Major Problem for Doctors," San Francisco Chronicle, July 4, 1989, p. A12. Richard Lipkin, "Delineating the Instant When a person Is Born," Insight, March 6, 1989, p. 48-50.
35. Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan, "Is it Possible to Be Pro-Life and Pro-Choice?," Parade Magazine, April 22, 1990, p. 4-8.
36. Owen Thomas, "Ethics Tries To Keep Pace with Medical Technology," Christian Science Monitor, March 28, 1988, p. 1,32. Thomas H. Maugh, "Fetal Cell Transplants: Large Potential—and Issues," Los Angeles Times, April 16, 1988, p A1. David Clark Scott, "Curb on Test-Tube Baby Research Roils Aussie Scientists," Christian Science Monitor, April 17, 1989, p. 4.
37. Lynn M. Morgan, "When Life Begins—A Cultural Perspective," Christian Science Monitor, May 5, 1989, p. 19.
38. Larry Liebert, "Anti-abortionists Expect Some Gains From Supreme Court," San Francisco Chronicle, February 6, 1989, p. A1, A4-A5. Bob Woodward, "Controversial Memos From the Key Abortion Ruling," (Washington Post) San Francisco Chronicle, February 6, 1989, p. A4.
39. Vincent Carroll, "High Court Stumbled on Abortion," San Francisco Chronicle, July 11,
1989, p. A18. A 1989 Supreme Court ruling rejected a preamble to a Missouri law that stated "the life of each human being begins at conception." The preamble was rejected because it was only a legislative "value judgment" and that does not have the force of law in abortion cases. But this value judgment is used to acknowledge rights for unborn children in injury and probate cases. Thus, value judgments can be either accepted or rejected and usually reflect the consensus of public opinion rather than what is morally right or wrong. The consensus is hyprocrisy where belief that termination of pregnancy for an wanted child is murder and that abortion of an unwanted child is acceptable.
40. Goldstein, p. 58
41. Ibid., p. 64.
42. Mary Laner, "Dating: Delights, Discontents and Dilemmas" (Wisconsin: Sheffield), 1989.
43. Data from the 1980's show that abortions on married women account for from 12 percent to 18 percent of abortions on all women in the U.S.A.
44. Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1935) p. 44.
45. Rushworth M. Kidder, "Following Europe's Lead?," Christian Science Monitor, November 29, 1985, p. 28.
46. Marian Wright Edelman, "Don't Veto the Hopes of Women, Minorities," Christian Science Monitor, May 30, 1989, p. 19.
47. Ramon G. McLeod, "40% of Mothers-to-Be Under 30 Are Single," San Francisco Chronicle, June 22, 1989, p. A2.
48. United Press International, "Abortion Rate High For Women Who Work," San Francisco Chronicle, October 10, 1988, p. B4.
49. Faye D. Ginsburg, Contested Lives (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), p. 144.
50. Jean Markale, Women of the Celts (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions Intl., 1986), p. 243.
51. Ibid., p. 251.
52. Ibid., p. 267-274.
53. Ginsberg, p. 216ff.
54. Ibid., p. 7.
55. Ibid., p. 99.
56. Ibid., p. 127.
57. Markdale, p. 172.
58. Ginsberg, p. 210
59. Lori Heise, "A World of Abuse," This World, July 2, 1989, p. 11-12.
60. Jean Markale, Women of the Celts (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions Intl., 1986), p. 284.
61. Ibid., p. 284. This is probably because woman, like poetry, is a continuous creation, a crucible in which scattered energies are melted down, and which embraces the unique act that resolves all contradictions, abolishes time, breaks the chains of loneliness, and leads back to a lost unity....
62. Robert D. Goldstein, Mother-Love and Abortion (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), p. 79....our identities as separate beings are precarious achievements maintained by cultural convention, personal effort, and interpersonal struggle with and against others, all in defense against an internal psychic world of primary processes that does not recognize distinctions of self-other, subject-object, or wish-reality.
63. Pagels, p. 108.
64. Edward W. Desmond, "Mother Theresa: Rich in Poverty," Time Magazine, December 4, 1989.
65. Lloyd Cutler, "Pro-Life? Then Pay Up," San Francisco Chronicle, July 11, 1989, p. A19.
66. Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1935), p. 71.
67. Mildred Dickemann, "Concepts and Classification in the Study of Human Infanticide: Sectional Introduction and Some Cautionary Notes," in Infanticide: Comparative and Evolutionary Perspectives, ed. Glenn Hausfater and Sarah Blaffer Hrdy (New York: Aldine Publ. Co., 1984), p. 437.