Saturday, May 28, 2011

Necessity of abortion education

PZ Myers has an article over at his science blog, Pharyngula, which demonstrates the medical necessity of doctors learning how to perform abortions to deal with complications that arise in pregnancy. He relates the tale of a woman who suffers a "placental abruption" and who is bleeding to death, but none of the doctors or medical students at the hospital have ever performed an abortion. Fortunately, they finally find a doctor who can do it, in order to save her life, so that her two kids are not left without a mother. However, she then relates the tale of how her pious Christian cousin finds out about her abortion and calls her up to tell her that she should not have "interfered with God's plan".

Of course, when one thinks about it, which is what many religious nutcases fail to do, just about any kind of medical intervention would qualify as interfering with "God's plan". A good percentage of us would likely be dead right now, if not for dental surgeons who removed our bad teeth before they became infected, or antibiotics, or a host of other treatments. How do we know that it was God's plan for us to take no medical action and die, anyway? Maybe it *was* God's plan that we were supposed to go to the hospital and get an appendectomy or an abortion.

There is such a high level of absolutist dogmatism, coupled with an extremely low level of education on the topic, when it comes to anti-abortionists and their rhetoric. I have personally spoken, not via the internet but with my own mouth, to hundreds of anti-abortionists over the years. I have debated their best, most seasoned veterans, and I am always amazed at (1) how little these individuals know in terms of medical or scientific facts about the subject and (2) how little they have thought of the implications of their position. That is because they hold this position not due to facts or well-thought out philosophies, but due to emotionally-distorted religious beliefs. They will tell you that there is never a medical necessary reason for an abortion, and then when you say, "what about ectopic (tubal) pregnancies" they will be like "huh?" or say, "that's not really abortion, cause it wasn't viable". However, if you then ask them about the use of embryonic stem cells (which are not viable) for medical research they will say it's "genocide". It goes on and on, and then you talk to the next person and you start all over with the next person saying "abortion is never medically necessary", and this time quoting some Christian doctor's name as their "evidence".

I have often challenged groups of anti-abortionists to bring forth the atheists among them who are opposed to abortion. I know that on the internet people will insist that there are tons and tons of non-religious people who oppose abortion on purely factual grounds. However, I have never seen one in the ranks of the anti-abortion protesters at a rally, and I have been to many. Some of them insist that they "used to be atheists", which is the single most over-used lie in all of preaching, and they tell me that they are confident that they can make a case against abortion without using any religious principles. However, again, not one of them has ever managed to go more than about two minutes, and that's being generous, before said person comes back to religious beliefs as the real reasons that he or she opposes abortion. I have seen some people try to make such cases on the internet, and these are less than persuasive, to say the least, but when you talk to the average anti-abortionist, he or she hasn't even heard of such philosophical disquisitions. These individuals are far from fountains of detailed knowledge on the topic. They often know little or nothing, and their only strategy is to use the same tired rhetoric over and over that you just debunked with the last ten people you talked to, to wear you out.

Opposition to abortion is a religious dogma as much as the virgin birth. It is not based upon serious consideration of facts or arguments or evidence. The average person who holds either view (virgin birth or anti-abortion, take your pick) cannot explain the position, except to say that he or she believes it is a religious duty to claim to believe it, despite not understanding it.

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