Politics, Ethics, Religion – Women’s REights – Abortion Issue
Summary of principal issues concerning comprehensive family planning, including abortion
Review of data relating to embryonic-fetal development and the abortion issues
Biblical References: The Holy Bible on abortion and valuation of humans
Letters to Senators 7/2018 (re. confirmation of right-extreme justices), and Letters to the Editor
(Regarding ethics of abortion, summary, see 3.4 Natural Ethics Appendix 1. Religion and abortion)
[added 2/2017, revised,edited 9,12/2017, minor editing 8/2018,10/2019].
Compassion is the primary reason for extending worldwide abortion rights, compassion for the billions of women who, by having illegal abortions, have been risking their lives and freedom in order to prevent misery and crimes and an unimaginable, catastrophic overpopulation with environmental degradation, famines, mass migrations and wars.
Obviously, with good sex education, ready access to reliable contraception and boys learning to be empathetic towards girls and women, undesirable pregnancies with a need for abortions should soon become extremely rare. In many cultures, family planning without modern contraception was fairly successful, however, the by men needed restraint is lacking in most cultures*.
Fetuses deserving compassion is hardly genuine; fetuses lack sentience with feelings of pleasure and suffering or a sense of time, place and relatedness. Paradoxically, virtually all people who express concerns about the ‘suffering’ of fetuses support the cruel exploitation of animals we raise exclusively for meat and eggs, and they may not support a ‘safety net’ for the poor in their countries, nor generous aid for people in the Third World and people fleeing violence. They generally also oppose comprehensive sex and relationship education and access to all forms of contraception.
Nobody is “for abortions,” and no woman “likes” abortions performed on her. But when a woman knows that it would be wrong to carry a pregnancy to term, to let a fetus develop into a child, she deserves support – it is unconscionable to interfere. Obstructing women’s rights to contraception and abortions is callously forcing religious views on women, punishing them for misdeeds of male partners, and causing severe suffering.
The abortion hypocrisy – a little mathematics and pragmatism, respect for the constitution:
Most shameful in the fight against abortion is that ‘Pro-Life’ politicians only harm poor women, not their daughters who can afford to travel to places where women’s rights are respected; and worse, they promote undesirable pregnancies, pregnancies that are catastrophic for the women, their families and communities, by interfering with relevant sex and relationship education, and by impeding access to reliable contraception and women’s health care. Billions of abortions were needed to prevent catastrophic overpopulation with famines, mass migrations, wars, etc. Three constitutional issues are critical: discrimination – abortion laws target (apply only to) the poor who do not have the means to get a needed abortion out-of-state; separation of state and church – the laws are clearly based on some religions’ (mis)interpretation of the Bible; practicing medicine without medical license – laws concerning medical treatments must be limited to addressing grievous failures of state medical boards.
This debate is disingenuous and outrageous: embryos and fetuses are not “unborn children,” they are far from having human-like life, sentience, feelings, etc. Even late-term fetuses are much more primitive than the animals we cruelly kill and eat. Our Constitution, the Bible and biology are unambiguous: fetuses have no human personhood. Only some patriarchal religions disagree. But ours is a secular democracy. Everybody is glad women had billions of abortions in recent decades. In the USA there were 0.45-0.9 abortions per women (baby boomers and later; annual rates of 1.5-2.9% of women age 15-44). Worldwide there have been more than one abortion per women; of all continents, South America had the highest rate of abortions.
Millions would like to adopt. But billions of abortions were needed to avert catastrophic overpopulation, famines, environmental degradation, mass migrations and wars.
There is also the question about infanticide, if access to abortions are very limited: How many young women who are at first in denial about their symptoms of pregnancy will keep hiding the pregnancy and kill their newborn? How many women have babies because they did not quickly find the needed money and a place where they can get an abortion, are afraid of losing a needed job if some time off is required, etc.? How many unplanned/undesired infants are killed by way of neglect and abuse by their mother, father or the mother’s male friend?
The abortion debate is strictly a religious-ideological issue. “Pro-life” but eating meat, refusing adequate aid to most destitute people, cutting budgets for women’s health, supporting military actions and the death penalty?
Humans have developed the highest cultures with complex language, arts, sciences and technologies, but are we more evolved in our social and emotional lives, having more intense loving bonds, pleasures and pains than elephants or dolphins? Are human embryos really more valuable than feeling, living pigs, monkeys, rats or ravens? Are any humans really attached and interested in embryos in an unknown woman’s womb? Family planning with birth control including access to abortions helps decrease infant mortality, maternal mortality and actual need for abortions, and it increases people’s quality of life.
In many cultures there is also the unabashed assumption that men become powerless victims of instincts when an adolescent girl or woman flirts, dresses “provocatively” or, in a weak moment, appears to inappropriately allow or invite sex; if the man then takes advantage of the situation, the women is considered at fault and deserving punishment.
The antiabortion stance has horrendous consequences. It is cruel and malicious, and more often than not, there is a punitive if not sadistic attitude – compelling a woman to carry an unintended pregnancy to term serves more to punish her. “Christian” parents may make sure that, when giving birth, their daughter suffers and does not get any anesthesia. It should be obvious that a social problem that concerns men more than women, such as frequent irresponsible sex and sex without appropriate protection, cannot be solved with laws and by punishing women. (The situation is comparable with the lost “war on drugs.”)
Compassion for fetuses? Fetuses lack sentience with feelings of pleasure, desires and suffering. While very primitive beings may show protective reactions that look like preferences or feelings of good and bad, true pleasure, suffering and aspirations have evolved very gradually. Furthermore, humans need a relationship that includes empathy, efforts to understand the feelings of others, to perceive compassion. Women may grieve when their menses indicates they did not conceive, and we may feel bad throwing an old teddy bear away; but it is not possible to feel true compassion to an impersonal fetus that is not yet capable to feel pleasure and suffering.
Historical and sociological-psychological issues:
Throughout history, men have impregnated women much more than has been beneficial for families, societies and the world. Until recently the growth of the world population was exponential in spite of large numbers dying prematurely: in wars, famines and epidemics; due to abuse, neglect and homicides; etc. In recent decades, population growth slowed, probably partly due to an increase in abortions (estimated average has been about one per woman, most of them illegal). Of all continents, South America had the highest rate: abortions generally were higher in countries in which birth control and abortion were considered a major moral-religious issue (birth control measures are usually thought to make women, not men, promiscuous).
Historically, male politicians and the Catholic hierarchy declaring abortions illegal coincides with industrialization and in Europe nationalism with readiness for major wars – disposable workers and soldiers were needed. This coincidence is hardly ‘coincidental.’ At the same time, orphans were often starved and/or forced to work in horrific conditions – orphans’ survival rate was very low.
The notion that we learned more about embryos applies only to men. People often butchered pregnant animals and women frequently aborted in fields; they saw the similarities between human and animal fetuses and had a sense of their aborted fetus’s developmental stage.
[People also knew that the heart is the first functioning organ in embryos and fetuses: in German “der springende Punkt” verbally ‘the bouncing point,’ meaning the critical issue, refers to the often observed moving heart in a very early chicken embryo. Actually, the heart is the only organ that functions in the mammalian fetus; the fetus’s largest organ, the placenta fulfills the function of lungs, liver, kidneys, etc.]
In all cultures, the value of life is determined by developmental stage, history of and present emotional involvement and sense of mutuality of emotions, material and emotional investment and on investment based potential of being. This ethical principal is pragmatically-economically relevant and instinctively felt. Obviously, if a people frequently suffers crisis in which not all children can be saved, letting older children die and saving babies leaves a family with no adult offspring. To illustrate: we may think of five sisters with their children in a severe accident: one believed she was pregnant but soon finds out that she was not pregnant, one is a few months pregnant and aborts, the other three lose their children, a newborn, a four years old and a nine years old child. All grieve, but the grief differs: the first two grieve the loss of an expected future child; newborns are grieved according to expectations; older children are grieved more than younger ones.
[Thoughts of infanticide are common following undesired and problematic pregnancies; abandoning newborn babies and letting them die has been common throughout history; postpartum depression is probably often related to emotions that interfere with bonding with the newborn, with or without thoughts of abandoning or killing the newborn.]
Obviously goals concerning abortions are 1. to decrease the likelihood of unwanted and generally undesirable pregnancies and 2. to stop an undesired-undesirable embryo or fetus from developing into a child as soon as feasible (undesired pregnancies vary greatly between cultures, e.g. in Switzerland there have been 10-15 times less births to teens than in Texas and not many abortions [data of recent decades]). Billions of adoptions is no global answer; in addition, adopted children are more likely to be neglected and abused and they have more psycho-social problems than desired, naturally born children of a family.
Religious-moral issues are hardly relevant: there is little agreement among religious scholars and lay people as to what the God of their faith tries to communicate to humans, what this God’s will would be. For this reason, local moral beliefs and traditions are usually subsumed as part of the prevalent religion rather than religious teachings being the basis of their morals. Most Christians do not know that the Bible (and Torah), like most traditional cultures, clearly distinguish between the minimal value of a fetus versus the values of children and of mature persons; and most Christians have decided to largely ignore Jesus’ exemplary life and teachings, particularly being broadly compassionate, not judging and punishing others, avoiding materialistic pursuits and avoiding all forms of hostile interactions.
* Male restraint apparently requires avoiding marital rape and/or ability-willingness to practice coitus interruptus. Male restraint and women’s assertiveness has greatly decreased birth rates in Western countries in the early 20th century and in some Third World countries with more egalitarian distribution of wealth and consequently lower child mortality. However, avoiding marital sex is problematic as its hormonal effects strengthens marital bonds.
Basic evolutionary and historical factors concerning human reproduction:
Unwanted and undesirable pregnancies and the need for abortions; psycho-social aspects:
History and societal attitudes:
Biology of development; sentience and pain:
Cultural-religious misleading notions and erroneous beliefs:
Basic evolutionary and historical factors concerning human reproduction:
In all sexual plant and animal species females must produce, in the average, considerably more than two offspring, because many of the young die very early or at a later stage without reproducing. When circumstances are good, the population of a species grows and the species may spread into other areas; in bad times, few of the young reach maturity. The human population grew very slowly but the rate of growth accelerated exponentially for a very long time.
From the early Middle Ages to about 1800, the world population grew exponentially in spite of high death rates due diseases and wars, however, poor nutrition lead to very widespread stunted growth; European males’ height dropped during that time from about 5’ 11″ (180cm) down to 5’ (about 150cm). With improved nutrition and much decreased child mortality in the last two centuries the “population explosion” would have again surpassed increases in food production, if families would not have used birth control methods.
In humans, sex has a major role in bonding couples and keeping men as part of families to support women and their children; evolution thus lead sex to be attractive even when the women is not fertile or when she has already more children than desired. Thus, men have impregnated women much more frequently than desirable for the women and for societies – consequently many types of birth control were more and more applied, probably most often ‘coitus interruptus,’ intermittent abstinence, and abortions. Infanticide (often by “exposure” meaning total abandonment) has also been common for millennia.
Unwanted and undesirable pregnancies and the need for abortions; psycho-social aspects:
The goal of abortions is to avoid the development of a human being. If abortions fail, infanticide is frequently considered preferable to a miserable short life that is likely to end in a more developed child starving or being killed.
According to our instincts and natural ethics, humans and other beings are valued according to
– developmental stage,
– history of and present emotional involvement and sense of mutuality,
– material and emotional investment,
– on investment based potential of being.
[In all cultures, infants are less valued than older more mature young people (compare Bible)]
Abortions were very much needed for birth control and laws have had little influence in societies that are less legalistic than the USA. Worldwide, the mostly catholic South America is the continent with the highest rate of abortions (averaging almost one per women) and still the second highest rate of population growth. Without billions of abortions (over one billion in the last 25 years alone), there would have been major food shortages, mass migrations and almost certainly more wars.
In most situations, women do not “choose” abortions; they feel they have no choice. An undesired pregnancy and an unplanned child may create huge problems for the women and her existing or planned family. In gathering-hunting societies, newborns have often been killed to save the lives of older children.
For millennia, abortions were attempted and accomplished with women often enduring much danger and pain. Non-medical abortions, mostly in Third World countries, are still one of the leading causes of pregnancy-related morbidity and maternal deaths.
People, particularly men, may argue about the validity of women’s perception that an abortion is necessary, not understanding the complex implications and related emotions. People, particularly women, have much more reasons to question why men feel they have to start wars, causing incredible suffering to soldiers and civil populations, e.g. to defend “freedoms” from which women may not benefit at all, to defend access to cheap energy or other resources, even though the cost of wars is much higher than potential savings, to ascertain “safety” [by killing thousands and letting thousands of own soldiers die because of a threat to a few hundred people], or simply to defend the honor of the country and its leader.
A lack of empathetic understanding of women and women’s perceptions regarding abortions is fostered by a in most cultures widespread notion that women’s natural duty is to give in to men’s sexual desires (in marriage), to produce children, and to serve their husbands, children and the elderly; not acknowledging that women are as human as men in the complexity and diversity of thoughts, values and aspirations.
As decisions to have an abortion have to be made quickly, women who know that an abortion is right for them may still have temporarily ambivalence about a theoretically possible but highly unlikely change of fates that could make a child desirable in the near future. Cultural factors may lead women who had abortions to feel guilt, particularly people talking about an embryo as if it were a child, abortions being considered ‘mortal sins’ and ‘murder’ or referring to frequent abortions as a “holocaust”; people talking about “women getting themselves pregnant,” as if men were victims of sexual coercion, only adds to women’s guilt feelings. However, for the billons of women who had abortions it almost always led to great relief.
When women ‘grieve an embryo or early fetus’ following a spontaneous abortion, they grieve the lost potential future child; the grief is essentially the same as when a women who tries to conceive has another menstrual period.
Carrying unwanted and undesirable pregnancies to term leads to psychosocial stresses that are bad for the fetus and the women. Stresses make it all but impossible for the women to live optimally healthy as would be desirable for the fetus. The likelihood of postpartum depression and psychosis is much increased. The mother’s depression often leads to the father also becoming depressed, which is also detrimental for the baby. The dangers of abuse, neglect or infanticide are significant.
When a young women gives birth to a child from a father she cannot live with (uncaring, violent, unemployed, using alcohol and/or other drugs), and the young mother gets involved with other men, these boyfriends and stepfathers are much more likely to abuse, even kill, young children than the father in a natural family would.
Societies have been offering adoption of newborns as alternative to early abortion, which is, particularly for young women, extremely cruel. Pregnancies and childbirth are always hard. The stresses of going through an unwanted pregnancy make it extremely difficult for the women to live healthy and stop drug use patterns, but possibly even more importantly, high stress hormones are hardly good for the developing embryo and fetus.
The process of childbirth leas to extremely high levels of oxytocin, causing an intense instinctive urge to bond (to the newborn), which is then frustrated and crushed. That adopting parents will raise the child well is far from certain, particularly when relatives feel a moral obligation to save the baby of an immature girl or the adoptive mother is more interested in raising the child than the father. Adopted children are considerably more likely to have mental and other psychosocial problems than desired children raised by their natural parents.
For the mother who gave birth there is usually lifelong worrying and grief for the adopted child, sometimes leading to severe depressions, even suicide.
History and societal attitudes:
Suppression of ready access to abortions is almost always connected with restrictions on all forms of birth control due to the archaic male-centered perception that women are always guilty for inappropriate sex, as if their being affectionate and attractive made men incapable of being empathetic and forgoing unprotected sex. Access to sex education and any form of birth control has been broadly perceived as leading girls to immorality and promiscuity.
Historically, access to abortions has been suppressed in the 19th century. Outlawing abortions coincided (hardly coincidentally) with nationalism and industrialization: nations competing with each other and needing more soldiers and workers. The pope’s change of doctrine, declaring abortion as the taking of a life appears to have followed these developments (previously, a premature stillbirth was distinguished from an infant death, infants were given burials in cemeteries, which was not permitted for immature stillbirths). Later there may also have been a lack of access to knowledgeable women, leading to higher lethality from self-induced and illegal abortion attempts, and reinforcing a public stance against abortions.
In recent decades, Americans have become fascinated with ultrasound images, and in Asia, the ability of seeing genitals in images of an early fetus led to many targeted abortions of female fetuses. It is not known whether ultrasound imaging is damaging for the developing central nervous system and other organs, and the unnecessary, prolonged viewing of fetal sonograms is never indicated. A belief evolved that, thanks to modern imaging, we now know much more about the early development of a fetus and thus should be more concerned about pregnancy terminations. Actually, women who often aborted in fields and slaughtered pregnant livestock had a good sense of how an early fetus looks and how similar fetuses of humans, sheep or even chickens are. Obviously, sonogram images, often viewed by male doctors, give no indication of any functioning of a nervous system in these most primitive stages and an early fetus is certainly not sentient in a way comparable to a child or mature animal.
Virtually all societies are patriarchal and discriminate against women (minimal consideration of rights and special needs of women). The male centered attitude explains how the sheer magnitude of the problem is ignored and why women having abortions and people helping them are vilified. The large majority of women in the world had a legal or illegal abortion, seriously considered one, tried to get or tried to self-induced one and/or felt much compassion for another women, possibly helping her, when she tries to have an abortion. Most people are “against abortions”, meaning they do not want abortions to be frequent and frequently talked about; but virtually all women recognize possible reasons why a sister or daughter might need an abortion.
In recent history, a main reason for the need of abortions has been the lack of sex education that includes evaluating emotional issues and teaching boys and men compassionate empathy towards girls/women. Many factors add to the problem, e.g. the modern idea that the differences between girls and boys are mainly cultural and thus sex for boys and girl is essentially the same; in addition, media have often suppressed normal inhibitions towards intimacy outside or before a healthy, committed relationship developed. For instance Switzerland has about 15 times less births in teens than Texas and few abortions – this is to a significant extent due to the much more responsible behavior of boys.
Biology of development; sentience and pain:
The function of sexual intercourse is in humans (and a few other monogamous species) is, in addition to sexual reproduction, an expression of love and it serves to reinforce lasting attachments (oxytocin release in women and vasopressin release in men leads to ‘urge to bond’ or feeling a bond, and makes partner ‘special’). Women are unusual among female animals in that they give no apparent indication whether or not they are fertile, and women and their partners often have intercourse when conception is biologically impossible, very unlikely and/or not desirable (during pregnancies, breast feeding and menopause).
A fertilized egg cell (zygote) is not, in a biological sense, the creation of life. Life is an uninterrupted continuum that started with the first eukaryotic cell (or an earlier cell with DNA or RNA) a few billion years ago. A zygote may become one or multiple new individuals.
A woman’s ovaries release a limited number of egg cells that could develop into a child, approximately one ovum monthly, while a man’s testicles may release billions of sperms monthly, each carrying basically half a blue print for a future human but virtually no cytoplasm.
Any ovum has the theoretical potential to become one (or multiple) human embryo(s); however evolution suppressed this potential, letting an ovum only develop after meiosis (cell division without duplicating the chromosomes with consequently each cell having only single rather than double chromosomes) and fertilization, the incorporation of the sperm’s chromosomes, leading to the zygote.
The zygote has again double chromosomes, half from the mother and half from the father. All other material of the cell, including the genes of the cell organelles and cytoplasm, are from the mother [the father’s contribution to the zygote is less than 1/10,000 or 0.01% of the zygote’s weight].
People perceive egg cells as potential precursors of children as the following cartoon line indicates: “My grandchildren are in the ovaries of my selfish daughter-in-law!”
As a zygote starts to divide and grow into an embryo, it is for some time not determined how many fetuses there will be: even after the development of a placenta, splitting of the early embryo may occur (identical twins/multiple births may have one or two/multiple placentas, depending on when the split occurred); there are also ‘twins’ with one head and two bodies, two heads and one body or any accidental partial duplicity. [Birth rates of monozygotic or identical twins is approximately 1:250, the rate of identical triplets is approximately 1:60,000].
There are frequent spontaneous abortions, often seemingly because a pregnancy is biologically not desirable rather than due to genetic defects (human and animal observations). A significant factor is major psychosocial stress around the time of conception and firs few weeks after, and probably intense, frequent exercise in early pregnancy, both biologically indicating that this may not be a good time for an embryo to develop into a human infant.
Biologically, the embryo and later the fetus is a parasitic being, the only organs functioning are the placenta which extracts nutrients and oxygen from the mother and discharges metabolic waste, and the cardiovascular system which distributes nutrients and oxygen in the fetus – the mothers organs serve the fetus for its maintenance and growth. Only after birth will the fetus’s lungs, gastrointestinal tract, liver, kidneys, etc. start to function at a basic level, and input from the body starts to become meaningful in shaping and fostering the development of the brain (the interactions between brain and body are necessary for the brain to become a meaningful instrument: input from receptors in the skeleto-muscular system, internal organs, the skin and from sense organs). The brain then learns to process the input, generated within the body, skin and sensory organs that receive information from the environment; it translates them into sensations and feelings and in the formation of emotions. Much later, the developing bran will learn to manipulate data, calculate and anticipate aspects of the being’s future.
Stages in the growth of embryo to early and late fetus resemble the evolution of chordate (animal phylum), vertebrates and mammals, although the developmental stage is always ‘fetal,’ i.e. not exposed to the world with real world-body-nervous-system interactions.
We have to assume that the process of a late fetus and newborn becoming sentient is a very gradual process.
Biologically, it appears impossible to determine what consciousness is. The development of consciousness appears to have been a continuum from very vague awareness to very complex sentience with perception of pleasure and suffering including awareness of past experiences and projections into future with anticipatory excitement, fear, etc. However, it is clear that the appearance of “will” by far antecedes the development of brains capable of perceiving “will”: even bacteria and one-cellular organism, and certainly flies and many other primitive animals seem to “strive”; “like” or “dislike” things; etc. Freshly decapitated higher animals (and humans) show stress reactions that have nothing to do with pain perception.
Human organs, particularly the intestines, have their own primitive nervous systems that may give the appearance that we live in symbiosis with primitive animals within us. If they have independent sentience, we would assume that it is extremely primitive and faint.
Consciousness may have evolved, starting with a very vague sense of awareness, later a sense of “preferable” versus “to be avoided”, later true pleasure and suffering, pain with a powerful will that a sensation “must not be” and should stop (the pain sensation itself may be perceived as neutral or positive, depending on associations, e.g. self-injections of drugs and in sexual masochism). Brain functions also gradually developed from only simple awareness to instinctive feelings to complex awareness and complex emotions, and eventually awareness of perceptions and memories being consciously manipulated in mental functions, even used to ‘calculate’ or ‘speculate’ about a distant future (it appears that higher animals are sentient and have memories and anticipation but can only conceptualize and think only about the immediate future).
It is often not evident whether a higher being is suffering. Stress reactions occur without consciousness or precede awareness. At least in humans, it is known that extreme stress leads to dissociation from pain, e.g. in an accident or war: the person is alert, usually appears calm but he/she is unaware of severe injuries.
Cultural-religious misleading notions and erroneous beliefs:
People may be religious, and religion may be very beneficial in fostering positive spiritual feelings, meditation and a spiritual nonjudgmental state of mind and focus on higher values; however religious teachings are extremely ambiguous and contradictory, usually including much cultural heritage and later trends that are unrelated to the original teachings of the religion. Much religiosity is adapted to justify the status quo, for example: many associate Christian beliefs with capitalism versus socialist-communist policies with atheism. There is no Biblical support for the personhood of an embryo or embryos being sentient “unborn children.” Embryos and early fetuses were hardly valued in early Judaism and there are no allusions to abortion in the New Testament. Beliefs in specific religious teachings divide people and often lead to human rights violations and wars.
That an embryo or early fetus is considered a human “person” or “child” is a rather recent religious notion. Science, compassionate pragmatic thinking and human rights for women must overrule erroneous religious notions. While, since antiquity, some male theologians and philosophers deplored abortions, they based their teachings on odd theories.
Many conservative churches have made abortion a central issue in their teachings, but most people including most Catholics have largely ignored the churches stance regarding abortion and contraception, as the high rate of abortions in South America (averaging almost one per woman) clearly shows. Even Pope Francis said in an extensive interview that the Roman Catholic church had grown “obsessed” with preaching about abortion, gay marriage and contraception, and that he has chosen not to speak of those issues despite recriminations from some critics. Referring to ambiguous teachings in the Roman Catholic church he said: “The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.” “We have to find a new balance,” the pope continued, “otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”
Science, compassionate pragmatic thinking and human rights for women must overrule erroneous religious notions.
Religious and philosophical teachings generally assumed a dualism between body and soul (modern biology does not). The question of when a ‘soul’ enters the developing primitive being led to ridiculous theories; for example: male embryos being “ensouled” 40 days after conception and females only in their early fetal stage 80 or 90 days after conception (thus condoning abortions of an early fetus only if it is female). There were theories about early (embryonic) stages of development having “plant souls” and later stages (fetal) “animal souls,” about ensoulment taking place at the time fetal movements are first felt or at birth, with the first breath.
For pragmatic reasons, infanticide was broadly considered a minor crime, not comparable with the killing of an older child or adult. However, even in recent Christian civilizations, children of all ages were often treated in most negligent and abusive ways, leading to many deaths. In addition, there were rationalizations for wars, slavery, treating servants like slaves and abusing wives.
The Old Testament clearly distinguishes between the low value of a fetus, only as potential child (son) of the father versus no value of a fetus in a single woman (she may be executed for crimes like illicit sex while pregnant). In addition valuation of children started at one month (considering high mortality of newborns and possible condoning of infanticide?), with young children being lowly valued compared with more mature children and females being valued less than males.
While church doctrines and theories kept changing throughout history, abortions early in a pregnancy were broadly condoned or ignored (later abortions were hardly tried),
In 1869, following political and other trends, pope Pius IX changed doctrines from a developmental perspective (fetuses having animal souls rather than human souls) to the declaration that ensoulment occurs at fertilization (which is before it is determined how many fetuses will develop and apparently degrading monozygotic twins to half persons with half souls). Ignoring science and pragmatic considerations, many Christian churches continued to reaffirm that birth control is sinful, that sex is only permissible for the purpose of procreation, and that abortions are mortal sins at any stage, i.e. considering a fertilized ovum equivalent to a late fetus and to a child.
A main problem with the abortion debate is misleading and demagogic language that is based on religious notions but framed as based on actual facts. Very primitive beings are called “unborn children”; and the powerful sense that a woman needs an abortion is referred to as choice. Obviously, terms like “killing” and particularly “murder”, even “holocaust” suggests a ‘blood bath’ involving sentient, fully developed human beings.
The Holy Bible on abortion [embryos, fetuses], and valuation of humans (New Revised Standard Version):
Deuteronomy 30:19 states: “Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.”
This exhortation to “choose life” has been used to justify an anti-abortion stance, however, it is farfetched to claim that in this context “choose life” refers to embryos or fetuses, as the exhortation follows an admonishment to observe the [commandments, decrees and] the ordinances (Exodus 21). Passages in the Bible below clearly support the view that an abortion is not killing a human and that an abortion is only causing harm when the woman is harmed.
Punishment for in a fight caused miscarriage (induced abortion) and assertion that this is “no harm” if the woman is not harmed [described in the ordinances following the Ten Commandments which Deuteronomy 30:16 refers to].
When people who are fighting injure a pregnant woman so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no further harm follows, the one responsible shall be fined what the woman’s husband demands, paying as much as the judges determine. If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
This ordinance states that a man who caused an abortion by beating a woman, owes a fine to her husband.
The ordinance implies that there is no recourse or punishment if the husband induces the abortion or if the woman is not married. It considers inducing an abortion no harm unless harm is done to the woman.
The passage clearly contrasts an abortion (that was induced by beating), requiring a fine, versus killing the woman, requiring the execution of the abuser.
Lack of consideration and protection of a fetus:
Genesis 38:24 About three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has played the whore; moreover she is pregnant as a result of whoredom.” And Judah said, “Bring her out, and let her be burned!.”
(Tamar proved that it was Judah himself who impregnated her; she was then forgiven.)
When a pregnant woman is executed, the fetus is destroyed. Obviously, her fetus is not seen as a separate, innocent human being.
Lack of consideration and protection of an embryo:
In Leviticus 10:10-21 and Deuteronomy 22:13-19, three statements address the death penalty for women
that were found to being involved in immoral sex; there is no consideration that the likelihood of
pregnancy is significant in such women.
Valuation of humans considering developmental stage/sex:
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: When a person makes an explicit vow to the Lord concerning the equivalent for a human being, the equivalent for a male shall be: from twenty to sixty years of age the equivalent shall be fifty shekels of silver by the sanctuary shekel. If the person is a female, the equivalent is thirty shekels. If the age is from five to twenty years of age, the equivalent is twenty shekels for a male and ten shekels for a female. If the age is from one month to five years, the equivalent for a male is five shekels of silver, and for a female the equivalent is three shekels of silver. And if the person is sixty years old or over, then the equivalent for a male is fifteen shekels, and for a female ten shekels. If any cannot afford the equivalent, they shall be brought before the priest and the priest shall assess them. The priest shall assess them according to what each one making a vow can afford.
As in all cultures, following natural ethical principles, humans are valued in accordance with developmental stage, investments in the person (emotional and material), and from these investments derived potentials. Mutuality of feelings between giving and receiving person and sense of what is owed in return for previous interactions are also considered. Nowhere and at no times have all humans been valued as equal, and embryos and fetuses are only valued as potential future children.
Obviously, investments in an adult person are highest, and in most cultures, investment in females and women’s work is undervalued (to most males, investments that are exclusively provided by the mother counted little). The value of adults is highest, since, in addition to being self-sufficient, they bring into being and raise the next generation, and they take care of the disabled elderly. With age, people’s value for society decreases. The old may have wisdom but work less. As children are raised, their value increases. In Biblical times, newborns were only valued as potentials and in this passage no value was given to infants less than one month old, which corresponds with the widespread practice and acceptance of infanticide. Fetuses and embryos are not mentioned and not considered human beings.
Order to induce abortion when a husband is jealous of his pregnant wife and suspects that she “defiled herself”:
(11-15) The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the Israelites and say to them: If any man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him, if a man has had intercourse with her but it is hidden from her husband, so that she is undetected though she has defiled herself, and there is no witness against her since she was not caught in the act; if a spirit of jealousy comes on him, and he is jealous of his wife who has defiled herself; or if a spirit of jealousy comes on him, and he is jealous of his wife, though she has not defiled herself; then the man shall bring his wife to the priest. ….
(19-22) Then the priest shall make her take an oath, saying, “If no man has lain with you, if you have not turned aside to uncleanness while under your husband’s authority, be immune to this water of bitterness that brings the curse. But if you have gone astray while under your husband’s authority, if you have defiled yourself and some man other than your husband has had intercourse with you,”–let the priest make the woman take the oath of the curse and say to the woman–”the Lord make you an execration and an oath among your people, when the Lord makes your uterus drop, your womb discharge; now may this water that brings the curse enter your bowels and make your womb discharge, your uterus drop!” And the woman shall say, “Amen. Amen.”….
(27,28) When he has made her drink the water, then, if she has defiled herself and has been unfaithful to her husband, the water that brings the curse shall enter into her and cause bitter pain, and the womb shall discharge, her uterus drop, and the woman shall become an execration among her people. But if the woman has not defiled herself and is clean, then she shall be immune and be able to conceive children.
Previous version of the Bible translated the description of the curse: “the water that brings a curse will enter her to produce bitterness, and her belly will swell, her thigh will fall away”
In both translations, the fetus is potentially destroyed. The descriptions may indicate ergot administration. Extracts from ergots are fungal poisons commonly encountered in infected grains, historically used to induce labor or abortions. In small quantities extracts from ergots induce labor, in larger quantities they lead to dyspepsia, vasoconstriction with possible gangrene of limbs, tetanus-like muscle cramps and/or neuro-psychiatric symptoms including psychosis and death. In an early account, in Mesopotamia, ergots or extracts from ergots were used to poison a well (first documented biological war fare).
Letter to senators concerning confirmation of justices, July 2018
Before considering to confirm a candidate for the Supreme Court or any federal court, all senators must consider their ethical and constitutional responsibilities: to keep the courts non-partisan, respect the separation of church and state and protect human, particularly women’s rights.
Please help educate your colleagues and constituents re. these points:
Justices and nominees must acknowledge that 19th century laws prohibiting abortions were/are wrong. Everybody appreciates that women
underwent billions of illegal abortions in recent decades: without them there would be catastrophic overpopulation with famines, mass migrations, extreme violence and wars. Abortion restrictions are illegal: 1. because they are based on extremist religious doctrines comparable to laws of Saudi-Arabia; 2. restrictions on abortions also constitute justices and politicians illegally practicing medicine, an exclusive duty and right of licensed medical professionals.
Both Republicans and Democrats must honor our basic values and the constitution.
The constitution envisions an independent judiciary, which means justices must not be aligned with the Republican or any party, a religious groups or specific goals of a governor or president – with more Republican Justices, we will have a one-party state. (President Obama’s justice nominees essentially fulfilled this condition, unlike most by Republican presidents
“Conservative” never meant supporting shortsighted business goals, which are often destructive.
Since this is a secular state, justices must never support religious views that are unrelated to the goals of the nation “to promoting the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Prosperity.”
Since the Constitution gives no details about laws other than the composition and powers of government agencies, later laws consist in decisions by the Congress and precedence (previous High Court decisions). Justices thus have to, for any decision, consider social realities, ethics, sciences and also international law (we signed multiple international agreements including the Declaration of Human Rights). Justices must stop rationalizing questionable, biased judgments as “Constitutional.” If justices are independent ethical thinkers, they should always be able to discuss issues until approaching unanimity – never vote essentially along party lines with almost half strongly disagreeing with a decision.
Freedom has many meanings, including 1. Freedom from abuse, 2. Freedom referring to opportunities that are based on access to good education, healthcare and resources, 3. Freedom to profiteer, tell falsehoods, etc. without consideration of others and of future generations. Conservative politicians and judges tend to callously focus on the third. We also must consider: freedom of speech and freedom to practice a religion may lead to abuses – we have a right to be free of such abuses.
The Federalist Society and their undue influence versus what our forefathers envisioned:
While many conservatives have balanced views and respect women’s rights, most Republican nominees for the courts have been members of the far-right Federalist Society. In fact the Federalist Society has been sought to find and screen nominees. This subverts the Constitutional duty of President and Senate and constitutes corruption. *The Federalist Society is clearly a staunch Republican organization* that supports business interests; its Board and supporters are not representing the spirit and intentions of the Constitution nor the will of the people. Their members’ discussions appear more theological than rational. [The society’s Board members and most by Republican presidents’ appointed judges who are present and former Society members have worked for and supported campaigns of Republicans since Ronald Regan. The main donors of the Society are aligned with the Republican party, large corporations and the ’super-rich.’]
The Federalist Society is hardly able or designed to foster “balanced and open debate” as proclaimed; and “We exist solely to promote the exchange of ideas, not to promote particular policies, appointments, or politicians.” is profoundly dishonest. Federalist attorneys may work representing corporations and teach their philosophy but they must abstain from becoming judges.
The Senate has a legal obligation to reject any with the Federalist Society associated nominees.
Federalist Society judges and justices, rather than interpreting laws, usually argue against the spirit of laws created by progressives. They often limit or sabotage the constitutional mandate that the government must “promote general Welfare and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”; instead they interfere with the work of agencies that were instituted to help and protect people.
Unconscious and conscious factors interfere with independent thinking if a scholar or judge is associated with the philosophy of the Federalist Society. There are already far too many conflicts of interest in the administration – the judiciary must balance these conflicts, not exacerbate them.
A one-party state, even if only temporarily, is the unmistakable goal of Republicans. And with predominantly Republican justices, big corporations and extremist religious groups can get their way in any conflict by filing law suits.
The Federalist Society is in no way what it states to be – it appears to be a powerful group of rather superficial thinkers that have quasi theological debates justifying their conservative goals.
The Society’s *Mission* proclaims: The Society is founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be. The Society seeks both to promote an awareness of these principles and to further their application through its activities.
• Individual freedom as a right can be interpreted in many ways, and we must consider that the freedom of one may cause harm or death to others.
• How is there a separation of the government branches when the chief executive picks judges that declare, by their association with the Federalist Society, that they follow an obsolete philosophy and are aligned with goals of large corporations and investors (the main donors supporting the Federalist Society), rather than thinking independently.
• The Society’s goal of “following constitutions and laws rather than reinterpreting them” is a bizarre concept: laws are created by the legislators and by precedence of previous high court decisions. New laws are generally formulated to limit excesses that caused harm. Many old laws need review because they were based on unscientific, obsolete ideas and untenable cultural notions.
The Constitution of 1887 talks only about goals and how to establish a balance of government branches. The Declaration of Independence speaks of philosophical ideas and goals such as ”all men are created equal” and that “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” are “unalienable Rights,” and the Government is instituted to secure these rights. Even the later Amendments are mostly value pronouncements and specify how government representatives are elected, replaced, etc.; they contain few actual laws, e.g. laws declaring specific prohibitions to avert people harming each other and harming future generations.
It is thus obvious that interpreting the philosophical guidelines of the country’s founding fathers is necessary. Leaders must reinterpret Amendments to the Constitution and established laws since their authors were blinded by the culture of their time. They did not even think that indigenous people and slaves were enough ‘human’ to deserve rights and laws severely discriminate against women long after they received the right to vote. Men prohibited abortions when women had virtually no rights. At the time, the United States was still very thinly populated; nationalist European states needed soldiers to fight each other and subdue their colonies, and the new industries needed cheap labor.
The Preamble of the Constitution clearly states the government (or “We the People”) must “promote the general Welfare and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” which can only happen improving governmental and private institutions (education and universal healthcare) and by protecting our environment. For the prosperity of the people and our posterity, we must change institutions and adapt laws according to science rather than shortsighted business interests or “faith based” pseudo-morality.
“Preserving individual freedom” deserves profound reflection. There is:
1. Freedom from abuse
2. Freedom to live and thrive by increasing access to education and other resources for all people, particularly the poor, which hardly harms the wealthy.
3. Freedoms to increase profits of the already wealthy at the cost of the present and of future poor people (moving needed resources away from women’s health, population groups that are being discriminated against, etc.; damaging the environment and pitilessly ignoring ways to decrease climate change, flooding the poor parts of New Orleans, Bangladesh, etc. and making much of South Asia and other tropical areas unlivable. “Trickle-down” theories have very limited validity.
The third kind of freedom (as understood by most conservatives) is recklessly murderous, sacrificing the life of millions of people, mainly of
very poor people and of future generations.
Freedom of speech and freedom to practice a religion may lead to abuses – we also have a right to be free of such abuses.
We must acknowledge: the High Courts have a mission to interpret the laws (as formulated by legislators and precedents of high court cases) but the justices have been unable to fulfill their task, apparently because of biases and illegal loyalties. If the problems would be simple (as the Federalist Society’s mission states – “it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be.”) any group of qualified, unbiased judges would unanimously agree on the big majority of cases. Instead, we have esoteric discussions in which particularly conservative judges are rationalizing the outcomes sought by their party.
We are happy that physicians and other scientists do not argue like these “unbiased justices” – at least in medicine you can go to a few
specialists and get a coherent answer concerning your diagnosis and indicated treatments; that engineers agree on how to build relatively safe air planes and cars. Several of our justices argue like lobbyists or theologians, which is not what the founding fathers of this country
The constitutional right to abortions; human rights for women:
There must be a test that a Supreme Court justice is not a person who is willing to callously sacrifice women’s rights and women’s lives by obeying “faith based” pseudo-morality or even a perverted association between capitalism and Christian faith versus socialism and atheism. (Socialism actually grew out of the Lutheran Church.) Politics, including high court decisions, is certainly a factor in this county’s deplorable problems: maternal and child mortality rates are extremely high in the USA compared to other highly industrialized nations, and they are much higher among African-Americans. The gap between wealthy and poor is growing and the USA does extremely badly concerning poor children’s ability to rise out of poverty. Life expectancy is actually dropping.
Unlike Iran or Saudi Arabia, ours is a secular country and the constitution only addresses rights of people that are born (‘natural born citizens’; ‘all persons born or naturalized’); there is no constitutional right to deprive citizens of “life and liberty” – that must apply to women and their right to contraception and abortion; on the other side, the constitution does not give any rights to an embryo or fetus.
Regarding abortion, first and foremost: Our representatives and appointed officials must educate themselves and educate the population, particularly their constituents. It has been obvious that 19th century laws concerning abortion are wrong and have little to do with the frequency of abortions, they are mainly about whether needed abortions are safe and performed in humane conditions.
Facts about abortions include:
• Abortions are a reality, a consequence of men impregnating women much more frequently than is good for the women, their families, their local society and humanity as a whole. Abortions remain an absolute necessity – the world could hardly support 10 billion people (estimated world population if women would not have had billions of illegal abortions in recent decades). Main alternatives to abortion include infanticide, high rates of homicides, famines, mass migrations and wars.
• Conservative approaches to supposedly curb the need for abortions increase them. The approaches are de facto designed to harm/punish women – many die. Conservatives know that they have been combining interfering with access to abortion with inadequate and false sex education, which increase undesired/undesirable pregnancies. Conservative Christians often adopt an attitude that is common in Islamic countries: women, by not being modest supposedly make men lose control and “get them-selves pregnant.”
• Any attempt to criminalize established medical practice in order to undermine women’s rights is unconstitutional as the attempts are exclusively based on religious doctrines and religion-based morality. (It is universally acknowledged and affirmed in the Old Testament that a developed human being is incomparably more valuable than an embryo.) Separation of Church and State is a fundamental principle of this country.
[Religious freedom can be a slippery slope: the right to practice a religion must be limited and not allow denying sciences, suppressing women,
preserving traditional human rights violations, etc.]
• Abortions are part of medical practice. Laws have long ago given licensed medical professionals an exclusive duty and right to practice medicine, helping patients as medically feasible, determining indication of procedures and executing them. Thus courts and legislators have no legal standing in the practice of medicine, restricting or ordering medical procedures. Professional boards are to restrict individual medical
practitioners’ licenses if they work outside the realm of scientific medical practice and endanger patients.
Heinz Aeschbach, MD, Austin, Texas, Walter Aeschabach, MD, El Paso, Texas
Humane Civilizaton Worldwide
Letter to the Austin American Statesman. Date printed: Friday, July 28, 2008
Abstinence-only teaching is illegal proselytizing. We must teach teens what is helpful and work on broad changes.
We have primarily a cultural issue: Problem teens are mainly treated as a nuisance. Our media portrays unethical sex as always great. We glorify teen motherhood. And we try to teach a form of 16th century religiosity.
Teens must know the disastrous consequences of children giving birth to children and then trying to raise them. We need to teach teens the costs of their actions and inactions. Teens need help in creating meaningful lives, values and goals.
Dr. Heinz Aeschbach
Letter to the Austin American Statesman. Date printed: Friday, Dec. 18, 2009
Re: Dec. 11 article “Abortion contracts approved.”
Clarke Heidrick reportedly stated, “In my view and in most instances, abortion is wrong.”
I find this incredibly arrogant and male chauvinist. The large majority of U.S. women either had an abortion or emotionally and/or financially supported victims of unwanted and undesirable pregnancies. All over the world, women risk their health, freedom and lives to stop disastrous pregnancies.
If a woman seeks an abortion, she knows why. Nobody has a right to declare that she, and men and women who may help her, are wrong and immoral.
Dr. Heinz Aeschbach
Letter to the Austin American Statesman. Date printed: Thursday, May 13, 2010
re: Kathleen Parker’s article “Would change of heart be so terrible?” (5/2/2010 p. D3)
Looking at a fetus has nothing to do with being well-informed. Informed consent states: the early fetus has no functional brain, it is not a sentient being.
To decrease the need for abortions, education by media, schools and parents is important. Sex is not an experiment. Sex is not the same for guys and girls: it is much more dangerous and emotionally poignant for girls. In irresponsible sex, two people are culpable. Pressuring a girl to have sex is always wrong. Guys must learn empathy, making efforts to understand what it means to be female. Birth control measures are available but males are lastly responsible for pregnancies.
Women do not have abortions for fun. Indicated abortions must be done promptly, safely, humanely (preferably paid for by the responsible male). There are too many children in our world and far too many are abused and neglected.
Letter to the Austin American Statesman. Date printed: Wednesday, September 5, 2012
How we value humans
Re: Aug. 29 commentary, “Extremism on abortion a liability to both parties.”.
What ethicist compares a famous violinist with an embryo? Half of all pregnancies end in miscarriages. Twin births are rare because one twin embryo usually destroys the other. Where is the outrage? Where are the resources to save these embryos?
Civilizations recognize that sperm, ovums and embryos are living and human but not living, sentient humans. Cultures value humans according to developmental stage, previous emotional and physical investment when raising them, mutual empathetic feelings, etc.
The Bible values humans according to age and gender. We grieve the death of an older child much more than a newborn.
People never spend as many resources on dying children in distant regions as they spend on their own children. A medical or spontaneous abortion may be grieved as lost potential life; often it is a relief. No sentient child dies..
Heinz Aeschbach, M.D., Austin
Letter to the Austin American Statesman. 7/22/2013
Women do not get themselves pregnant. Men impregnate women.
The building blocks of a fetus are their mother’s cells; all cell bodies’ DNA is maternal. The father’s sperm partly ‘shapes’ the future child but the fetus is 100% built and nourished by the mother. Only at the end of a pregnancy does a fetus have organized brain structures that may support primitive feelings. Movements do not indicate feelings.
Females naturally produce much more than two offspring. Humans are designed to lose many embryos and fetuses (spontaneous abortions). The world could not support all humans if there would not have been billions of abortions, epidemics and wars.
If men would have to bear children, there would be no abortion debate.
Women must decide when abortions are ethical. It is a female strength to be pragmatic and compassionate.
Legislators must not practice medicine, nor theology. Religion and politics must stay separate.
Heinz Aeschbach, MD
Letter to the Austin American Statesman. 6/16/2014
Re: June 13 article, “Perry’s remarks on gays assailed.”
Governor Perry’s foolish remarks are dangerous. Elected officials have construed homosexuality as a psychiatric disorder or comparable to alcoholism. And: legislators claim a right to regulate treatments. This is relevant since the medical board and health department repeatedly failed to stop actions when legislators clearly overstepped their realm. After abusive, indefensible regulations on sonograms, legislators, with no support from experts, capriciously instituted regulations that supposedly enforce “safe” medical practice. Their goals: harassing women and making abortions inaccessible to poor women..
The medical board and health department have a duty to the people. They have an ethical obligation to resist enforcing laws that are based on prejudices and misguided religiosity.
Heinz Aeschbach, M.D., Austin
re. Abbott talk about abortion and “baby parts” AAS 8/29/ 2015, page B6
Abbott should endorse science, not misguided religions. A fetus is not a baby, it is vegetative, pre-human. We benefit from medical research. But science deniers may pray instead of receiving treatments. Abortions are hardly gruesome; our treatment of cattle and chickens is.
The Bible does not support the notion that embryos have rights or qualities of humans. Jesus talked about forgiving, compassion, giving to the poor, not abortions. Furthermore, religion is what people believe, disagree on and fight wars over. This is why ours is a secular democracy. If a personal God wants us to behave a certain way, “She is not communicating clearly.”
Women’s bodies create undesirable fetuses, but men are the commanding partners in irresponsible sex. Women are not state-owned vessels for breeding humans; women have rights. Without abortions, overpopulation would certainly have led to much violence. At least infanticides, child maltreatment, starvation and wars have dramatically decreased.
Letter to the Austin American Statesman. 9/30/2015
Abortions keeping much misery at bay
Re: Sept. 30 article, “Facing Congress, Planned Parenthood chief rebuts videos.”
We must separate state, religion and ethics. Religious beliefs divide us; people will never agree as to what God’s will is.
Not believing in the sanctity of an embry is part of religious freedom. Every child deserves a good environment to grow up in, but men impregnate women at irresponsible rates. Many children live with chaos, neglect and abuse; some become abusers themselves. Many women lack access to reliable birth control. Knowing that an early fetus is a very primitive being, not an “unborn baby,” women have done what is ethically necessary: they had over one billion abortions in the last 25 years alone — most in developing countries with unsafe conditions. Catholic South America has high population growth and, among all continents, the highest abortion rate. Without abortions, there would have been vast migrations, wars, starvation and unimaginable misery.
Heinz Aeschbach, Austin
January 17, 2016
Invite ethics in, not divisive religions.
Re: Jan. 8 letter to the editor, “Want purpose? Invite God in.”
The problem with “inviting God in” is that we cannot know the will of God. Religious beliefs cannot be substantiated and thus divide people, often leading to disastrous violence.
Religions, like poetry, are parts of culture; they often encourage good deeds and meditation. But virtually all religions have been shaped to maintain power structures, from justifying slavery and wars to suppressing women. Religions also readily incorporate customs, fads and cult beliefs — for example, mandating female genital mutilations and justifying the killing of abortion providers. Neither the Quran nor the Bible support such violence.
Meditation is valuable. And whether we are religious, agnostic or atheist, what gives our lives meaning is the pursuit of ethics based on the understanding of human nature and global values, being broadly compassionate, and avoiding us-against-them thinking, vengeance and unethical thoughts.
Heinz Aeschbach, Austin
Letter (shortened) as printed in the Austin American Statesman, 12/11/2016
[re: Medical facilities must bury or burn fetal tissue Agency cites “disease prevention”; critics say rule is unnecessary, Wednesday 11/30, p. B1]
Abortion regulations evangelism by force
Re. Nov. 30 article, “Texas tp require burial or cremation of aborted, miscarried fetuses.”
Privately, without ritual, Texas women lose around 1,000 embryos and fetuses daily.
With their abortion/public safety regulations, our governor and Republican legislators overstepped their role and constitutional rights, forcing their perverted form of evangelism on doctors and people (Jesus talked much about forgiveness, generosity and voluntary simplicity but never mentioned abortions, and the Old Testament makes
clear that a fetus must not be considered a child). Our government has replaced science with pseudo-religious ideology. However, our secular Constitution assures that nobody has to follow their distorted religious notions.
Thus it is the task of the Health Department and Medical Board to resist enforcing illegal, unjustifiable legislations. Ethics must supersede laws.
Heinz Aeschbach, MD