We can all agree that abortion is one of the most taboo, hot-button subjects. Seeing as how nearly every women's publication tends to advocate for one side of the story, it's time you were told the whole truth about abortion before you (or someone you know) make a life-changing decision.
In our culture’s push to normalize abortion - which has turned into an over one billion dollar a year industry - there are many other uncomfortable aspects about the procedure that have been swept under the rug in favor of the narrative of a “consequence-free” alternative to pregnancy.
You Deserve To Be Well Informed
In the British Journal of Psychiatry, Dr. Prisilla Coleman writes: "Health care professionals have a duty to advise patients of the benefits and risks of a procedure in a manner that reflects the current scientific literature so patients can make an informed choice. As former abortion clinic staff attest, and as journalists in the U.S. and U.K. have discovered, counselors at abortion clinics conceal mental and physical health risks in order to sell abortions."
Counselors at abortion clinics conceal mental and physical health risks in order to sell abortions.
Ultimately, whether we may be pro-life or pro-choice, we should all agree that women facing unplanned pregnancies deserve to be well informed about the realities of abortion. Discussing the biological implications of pregnancies or the alternatives to abortion, can, unfortunately, nowadays result in someone being branded “anti-woman.” But make no mistake, there’s nothing empowering or “pro-woman” about keeping pregnant women in the dark about what is happening to their bodies or what all of their options really are. So with that being said, it’s time we discuss the truth about abortion.
Just a Clump of Cells?
One of the most common arguments used by those who advocate for abortion is that since embryos are “just a clump of cells,” right to life protections shouldn’t apply to them. However, regardless of how we each feel about the abortion debate, it’s important to understand the science of fetal development. After all, how can we in good faith discuss the termination of pregnancies, if we’re unaware of what the timeline of a pregnancy entails?
Well biology, as it turns out, is pretty clear that at any stage of development, preborn humans hold a lot more significance than merely being a clump of cells. For instance, at the moment that fertilization occurs, the complete genetic material of a human being is created. From fertilization, the DNA of an embryo is distinct from the mother’s and represents a genetic code for a person that can never be replicated.
From fertilization, the DNA of an embryo is distinct from the mother’s, and represents a genetic code for a person that can never be replicated.
In the fourth week of pregnancy, which is around when most women begin experiencing symptoms of pregnancy and is the earliest that a home pregnancy test would be effective, arm and leg buds start developing, as well as the beginnings of the circulatory system. In the fifth week the heart begins to form, and by the sixth week, a heartbeat is detectable with an ultrasound.
In week seven, the brain and face start to form, and in week nine, the eyelids are fully developed, and all joints (elbows, ankles, shoulders, etc.) are formed and functional. By the twelfth week, which marks the end of the first trimester of pregnancy, the fetus has formed all of its extremities and internal organs, and even fingernails. A developed profile is present as well.
Considering that abortion is indeed a medical procedure, we need to ensure that we’re accurately representing the biological realities of pregnancy when discussing it. If a woman chooses to have an abortion, she has the right to know what the consequences of her actions really are to the life that is quickly growing inside of her. And although the idea that embryos are “just a clump of cells” may make the concept of abortion more palatable, it’s simply not supported by science.
The idea that embryos are “just a clump of cells” may make the concept of abortion more palatable, it’s simply not supported by science.
A Woman’s Right To “Choose”?
In addition to the biology behind pregnancies, one area that doesn’t get nearly enough attention in the abortion discussion are the alternative options available for women. Abortion proponents often refer to themselves as “pro-choice,” and many women who are facing unplanned pregnancies may indeed sadly feel that abortion is the only choice they have.
To them, pro-life activists might appear to be taking away their options by advising against abortion. Thankfully, however, there are other paths available for women who may be facing an unexpected pregnancy, and a woman’s choice when it comes to her body is so much more than just “abortion or no abortion.”
The first option that should be discussed is, to no one’s surprise, parenthood. Now, to someone who’s just discovered they have an unexpected pregnancy, especially a woman who may be young or struggling financially, the overwhelming prospect of becoming a parent can understandably lead to the feeling that abortion is the only option available to them. The only way out of a scary, life-changing situation.
But thanks to the loving work of thousands of crisis pregnancy centers in the U.S., as well as countless more churches and charitable organizations, abortion is not the only choice for women feeling trapped with a pregnancy. Whether it’s resources to get through the pregnancy or help after the child is born (including parenting classes, diapers, clothing, and more), there are people and organizations out there who are prepared and happy to help expecting mothers through this transition in their lives. For any pregnant woman who wants to become a mother, but is feeling unprepared, please know that help is always an option.
Another choice with unplanned pregnancies that absolutely needs to be promoted more is adoption. For any woman who genuinely does not believe that she is in a position to become a mother, there are families out there who would consider that baby a blessing in their lives. Crisis pregnancy centers are equipped to counsel women through the adoption procedure, so they don’t have to go through anything alone. And furthermore, adoption agencies can ensure that during her pregnancy, a woman’s medical costs, legal fees, and even some living expenses are covered. And in fact, there are also scholarships available for women who have chosen adoption and who want to continue their educations.
And finally, one of the other options that need to be discussed when it comes to abortion is actually the prevention of unplanned pregnancies in the first place. Although our culture has tried its best to divorce the reality of pregnancy from sex (whether it’s through hook-up culture or the push for all women, even young teens, to be on birth control), it’s undeniable that, save from abstinence, there is no way to completely prevent against pregnancy.
In 2011, according to the Guttmacher Institute, “nearly half (45%, or 2.8 million) of the 6.1 million pregnancies in the United States were unintended.” That’s an astonishing number, and it goes to show that unplanned pregnancies are a shockingly common phenomenon. You see, birth control failure rates are actually much higher than many people might think, and the false assumption that birth control is an inoculation against pregnancy may be causing people to engage in behaviors they might not otherwise if they were better informed.
Nearly half (45%) of the 6.1 million pregnancies in the United States were unintended.
Lying to women (and men) that sex can be completely risk-free has regrettably led to many women facing the consequences of unplanned pregnancies. If we want women to have the option of preventing unplanned pregnancies in the first place, then we first have to have a frank discussion about the risks attached to sex.