Pro-Life Action League

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Q & A on abortion, the unborn child, where we stand on the issues and more

Q & A on abortion, the unborn child, where we stand on the issues and more

Helping abortion-bound women choose life for their babies

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Home Q & A Where We Stand

Where We Stand

It's clear that the Pro-Life Action League opposes abortion. But why? Do we oppose abortion under all circumstances? What about the other life issues?

Here we answer the questions we most commonly receive on where we stand on abortion and other life issues:

Why are you opposed to abortion?

The Pro-Life Action League opposes abortion because abortion kills an innocent unborn child, a human person at one of those early stages of human development through which each one of us passes before birth.

We fully appreciate the many pressures and crises which may lead some parents to believe they have no choice but to abort their child. That is why we work to offer abortion-bound mothers and fathers the help they need to overcome their difficult situations and choose life when faced with an untimely pregnancy.

However, killing an unborn child is inherently wrong, and therefore can never be justified regardless of circumstances. It is no more just to kill an unborn child in order to avoid hardship than it would be to kill a toddler to avoid hardship. Because the unborn child is unseen, it is easier for society to condone killing him or her, though this is morally indistinguishable from killing any child at any stage of development.

In addition, abortion does not solve the deeper problems that have contributed to having an untimely pregnancy—problems such as low self-esteem, sexual exploitation, unchaste sexual behavior, poverty, lack of education and absence of moral guidance. In fact, the negative effects of abortion can actually compound these problems.

Finally, a society which allows the killing of its most vulnerable members, in the very place in all the world which should be for them to be safest and most nurtured—their own mothers' wombs—is incapable of cherishing and nurturing human life or valuing childhood and motherhood.

Because abortion kills innocent children, wounds mother and fathers and dehumanizes our society, the Pro-Life Action League opposes abortion under all circumstances.

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What about abortion in the case of rape or incest?

There are two answers to this objection. First, a child conceived through rape or incest does not deserve the death penalty for his or her father's crime. Second, research shows that the victim of either crime is likely to suffer more if she resorts to abortion.

One large-scale study of pregnant rape victims found that approximately 70 percent chose to give birth [1]. Many sexual assault victims see giving birth as a selfless, loving act that helps bring healing from the horrific experience of the rape itself. Women who abort children conceived through rape often report that they didn't feel that they had any other choice, since everyone around them assumed that they would not want to give birth to the rapist's baby.

The case against abortion for pregnant victims of incest is even stronger. Incest victims hardly ever voluntarily consent to an abortion[2]. Rather than viewing the pregnancy as unwanted, the victim of incest is more likely to see the pregnancy as a way to get out of the incestuous relationship because it exposes the abusive sexual activity that family members are either unaware of or unwilling to acknowledge. The pregnancy poses a threat to the perpetrator, who frequently attempts to coerce his incest victim to have an unwanted abortion.

The idea that the violent act of abortion is beneficial to victims of rape and incest is simply unfounded. On the contrary, evidence shows that abortion in such cases compounds the unspeakable pain that victims experience.

Moreover, given that one-third of one percent of abortions are performed under such circumstances, we might ask why this question is so frequently raised. Do these extremely rare cases justify tolerating the other 99.67 percent of abortions? Would those who raise this objection really be willing to ban abortion if exceptions were made for rape and incest?

Notes

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What about abortion to protect the mother's life or health?

The Pro-Life Action League rejects abortion for the alleged purpose of preserving the health of the mother. Courts have defined the "health of the mother" so broadly as to include any aspect of mental or emotional health—effectively rendering this "exception" into an absolute license to abort.

We similarly reject the "life of the mother" exception. Over four hundred physicians have declared that abortion is never necessary to save a mother's life; and even if it were, it is wrong to deliberately, directly kill one innocent person to save another.

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Do you take a position on the issue of birth control?

The Pro-Life Action League opposes artificial birth control (contraception), not only because it destroys the inherent meaning of the sexual act as a sign of permanent, life-giving love, but because of the disastrous consequences it has wrought on our society.

We are often told that in order to reduce the number of abortions, we ought to promote birth control, distribute condoms and demand so-called "comprehensive" sex-ed. At first glance, these proposals seem reasonable, but ultimately contraception actually increases abortion for several key reasons:

  1. Contraception increases risky sexual behavior among those who use it.
  2. Contraceptives often fail to work, especially among the young and unmarried.
  3. Using contraception predisposes a woman to abort her child when contraceptives fail.
  4. Contraception distorts the cultural sexual environment even for those who don't use it.
  5. Condoms are not the answer
  6. What's wrong with comprehensive sex-ed?
  7. Contraception is unhealthy
  8. What are the alternatives to artificial contraception?

Contraception Increases Risky Sexual Behavior

Chemical contraceptives provide zero risk against STDs; condoms provide some protection, but not enough to prevent transmission of many STDs. In the days before the sexual revolution, there were only twelve STDs. Now there are dozens of STDs that come in hundreds of varieties. In fact, about 19 million Americans become infected with an STD each year, according to the CDC. The multiplication of the number of STDs and of the number of infected people shows that providing condoms has led to an increase in sexual encounters and risky sexual behaviors, rather than simply making already occurring sexual encounters safer, as condom advocates claim.

"Comprehensive" sex-education, which promotes use of birth control, contributes to this problem. Rather than telling teens to rechannel their sexual desires, they encourage them to become sexually active—so long as they use condoms and contraceptives.

While abstinence education cannot 100% stop all teen sexual activity, it does delay its onset, thus preventing . According to a study conducted by the Heritage Foundation, "individuals who took a virginity pledge in adolescence are some 25 percent less likely to have an STD as young adults, when compared with non-pledgers who are identical in race, gender, and family background." This means that young people who commit themselves to abstinence—rather than contraceptives or condoms—are safer and healthier.

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Contraceptives Often Fail To Work

No method of artificial birth control is able to prevent 100% of pregnancies. The best any of them can claim is 99% for "perfect use"—that is, it is always taken exactly as prescribed without ever missing any doses. "Typical use," or the way most people use it, is always significantly less. Studies show that 8-9% of women taking oral contraceptives ("The Pill") will become pregnant each year. That means that, with 11.6 million women taking the pill regularly, 928,000 of them will become pregnant each year. Even with "perfect use," 1%—or 116,000 women—would become pregnant while on the Pill each year.

Other methods of contraception report higher success rates of preventing pregnancy. These methods, though, are usually longer term and more difficult to reverse when a woman does decide to become pregnant. And, again, they cannot prevent 100% of pregnancies. These methods also carry substantial health risks to the woman taking them.

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Using Contraception Predisposes a Woman To Abort

The contraceptive mentality opposes life; you view pregnancy as a disease to be prevented. Thus, when you find yourself pregnant, you need to do something to return your life to the way you wanted it to be. Some women do this by changing their views on pregnancy (they decide it's OK to be pregnant after all), while others choose to eliminate their pregnancy.

Steve Patton of One More soul explains well how contraceptives lead to abortion and destroy relationships when they fail:

Because most contraceptives are designed to be used by women, when they fail, and a pregnancy occurs, it is "her fault." She is expected to "deal with" her mistake, usually by having an abortion. The father of the child, although he is as responsible for this child as the mother, feels free to abandon both of them. After all, since the contraception wasn't his responsibility, why should he be responsible for the result of the contraceptive failure?

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Contraception Distorts the Cultural Sexual Environment

It used to be that only men could be promiscuous without consequences. Women like Margaret Sanger, desiring equality with men, sought to create pills and devices that would prevent pregnancy. Sanger's research led to the development of the birth control pill as we know it today. Women on the pill are able to have sex freely with whomever they want, whenever they want, without fear of becoming pregnant—just like men.

But perhaps the problem isn't that women should be able to have sex without consequences just like men but that men shouldn't be able to have sex without consequences. The Pill and abortion have become, in many instances, excuses for men to shirk their responsibilities as the co-creators of life. Now no one must take responsibility for the lives that are created during intercourse, since a man can tell any woman he impregnates to go get an abortion.

Note these quotes from a pro-Sanger biographer:

"Sanger broadened her arguments for birth control claiming it would fulfill a critical psychological need by enabling women to fully enjoy sexual relations, free from the fear of pregnancy."

And:

"Sanger separated from her husband, William, in 1914, and in keeping with her private views on sexual liberation, she began a series of affairs with several men"

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Condoms Are Not the Answer

Because we are told so often that we ought to go out on the street and distribute condoms, it is appropriate to address the condom issue in some detail. It is widely believed that condoms help reduce unplanned pregnancies, but they don't. In fact, as the use of condoms has increased, so has the out-of-wedlock birthrate. (See CSRRC Study [PDF].)

Condoms fail. Even when used "correctly and consistently"—which is uncommon among those at greatest risk of unplanned pregnancy and sexually trasmitted diseases—the World Health Organization admits that a pregnancy will occur 3% of the time. For typical use, the WHO admits that the rate of pregnancy is much higher—anywhere from 10% to 14%. (See WHO Fact Sheet.)

Not only are condoms less effective for preventing pregnancy than is commonly believed, but they are even less effective in preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Condoms have been repeatedly shown to be relatively ineffective in protecting against HIV/AIDS. A massive study co-sponsored by the NIH, CDC, FDA, and USAID issued findings in July 2001 that condoms, even when used "correctly and consistently," provided only 85% protection against the spread of AIDS. (See Government Study.)

The same study revealed that while condoms provide some increased protection against the transmission of gonorrhea from women to men—which almost never happens anyway—there is "insufficient evidence" despite dozens of studies that condoms do anything to prevent the spread of any other STD.

HIV/AIDS and gonorrhea account for 2% of STD cases in the U. S. It is tremendously irresponsible—not to mention dishonest—to encourage condom use considering that there is "insufficient" evidence regarding their effectiveness in preventing against the vast majority of STDs.

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What's Wrong with "Comprehensive" Sex-Ed

So-called "comprehensive sex education" programs teach children about and promote various practices such as premarital sex, oral sex, solitary and mutual masturbation and contraception—all under the guise of providing personal health information. Such programs are pose serious dangers to impressionable young people. The decision to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage is extremely risky for many reasons, and it must never be condoned.

Parents have a duty to talk to their children honestly about sex. The cornerstone of this conversation must be explaining why sex belongs only within marriage and should never be deprived of the fruitfulness that is naturally a part of it. Parents should teach their children about the negative consequences associated with sexual activity outside of marriage—as well as the serious physical side effects associated with the pill and numerous other contraceptives—in much the same way that the negative consequences of drug use are taught.

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Contraception is unhealthy

There are a number of side effects associated with the Pill and other chemical contraceptives.

The Pill and the birth control Patch contain steroids that trick the body into believing they are naturally occurring hormones. They then override the body's natural cycle, forcing the body to remain in a false, permanently infertile stage, rather than allowing it to progress through its natural cycle. During the infertile phases of a natural cycle, a special type of mucus ("G mucus") forms a plug to keep out the sperm as well as any foreign bacteria. Chemical contraceptives prevent mucus (and therefore this plug) from forming, leaving women who use contraceptives at higher risk for STDs/STIs and yeast infections.

Additionally, contraceptives increase risk for blood clots, high blood pressure, breast cancer, cervical cancer, ectopic (tubal) pregnancies and more. They can also cause weight gain, migraines, depression, nausea and vomiting—the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, many women also find that they are either temporarily or permanently infertile after they stop using their contraceptives.

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What do you recommend for women who don't want to become pregnant?

We urge all unmarried people to remain chaste. Only by abstaining from sexual activity can a person avoid a crisis pregnancy and STDs. Also importantly, chastity shows the high value you place on yourself—you deserve better.

Married couples that need to avoid pregnancy should look into Natural Family Planning. Methods like the Billings Ovulation Method or the Sympto-Thermal Method have been shown to be just as effective as chemical contraceptives at preventing pregnancy. They have no negative health effects and couples report feeling closer to each other as a result of using these methods.

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Where do you stand on embryonic stem cell research?

Researchers of embryonic stem cells continue to promise miracles but produce nothing. Researchers using adult stem cells, on the other hand, are continually in the news for their medical advances. Why, then, should we support a practice that is morally questionable (at best) when adult stem cells have shown so much more promise?

Life begins at conception. Any research that interrupts this process of human development is wrong and must be opposed. Even if embryonic stem cells were found to cure a disease, it is not right to sacrifice the lives of these tiny babies to save the lives of others.

For further reading on this topic, you may want to read Dr. Wolfgang Lillge's article from 21st Century Science & Technology magazine.

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Where to you stand on assisted suicide and euthanasia?

Just as abortion signals a lack of value for the human person at the beginning of life, assisted suicide and euthanasia show this lack of value for a person at the end of life. Each human life is precious and should not be disposed of because of convenience.

While the League seriously opposes assisted suicide and euthanasia, these procedures do not occur at the same magnitude as abortion does (yet), thus our efforts are mainly focused on abortion. We have protested these acts when there is cause, however. For example, read about our involvement in the campaign to prevent the murder of Terri Schiavo (here, here, and here)

If I become seriously injured or disabled, how can I make sure that I won't be starved to death, like Terri Schiavo was?

To ensure that you will not be starved or allowed to die in the event that you become seriously injured or disabled, you should sign a document that clearly states your wishes to this effect.

Several pro-life organizations have such documents available:

Should I have a Living Will?

No. A Living Will is a signed document (or "declaration" or "directive") that instructs an attending physician to withhold or withdraw medical interventions from its signer if he is in a terminal condition and is unable to make decisions about medical treatment. In many states, however, even if one's live can be saved, he can still legally be considered to be in a "terminal condition" if he has a permanent disability of some kind.

In addition, since an attending physician has the power to carry out the signer's directive, some terms contained within it may be interpreted in a way contrary to the signer's intentions. For example, one's request in a Living Will that "extraordinary" means of treatment be withheld could result in his being starved to death if the attending physician considers the provision of food and water "extraordinary"—an increasingly common tendency in the medical profession today.

What type of medical treatment is acceptable for individuals who are seriously ill?

The terms "ordinary" and "extraordinary" are used to distinguish between those decisions that are morally obligatory and those that are morally optional, respectively.

Generally, a medical procedure that has little hope of benefit and is burdensome is considered "extraordinary" and is not obligatory. For example, a person may prudentially determine that the pain and difficulty of an aggressive treatment for terminal cancer is too great to endure, and thus decide to forgo that treatment. Whether a particular treatment is excessively burdensome to an individual patient is a moral question that often requires the advice of a clergyman or someone well versed in moral theology. Individual patients and their families should seek the guidance of the Church whenever there is any doubt about the morality of a particular course of action.

Most medical treatment received during the course of one's lifetime is routine and does not raise serious moral questions. Occasionally, however, medical circumstances warrant considerable reflection about what procedures are appropriate for a given medical condition. When aggressive and experimental methods are recommended by a physician, one is free to pursue such treatment when there is a reasonable hope of benefit to the patient. One is also free, however, to refuse treatment of dubious benefit or when its burdens clearly outweigh its benefits. The use of extraordinary moral means always remains optional, but the moral obligation to conserve life obliges us simply to act in the most reasonable manner.

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Where do you stand on the death penalty?

The Pro-Life Action League regrets the loss of any human life, especially innocent lives, whether through legal abortion, euthanasia, or through faulty or unjust court proceedings. We applaud the efforts of those who seek to ensure that the ultimate plenalty of capital punishment is not imposed on the innocent, and to minister to those who have been condemned to death; even the guilty deserve our compassion and our prayers.

We question whether a society that allows the legal killing of more than a million unborn babies per year can retain the moral authority to impose a penalty of death. However, we do not consider the death penalty to be morally equivalent to abortion.

No Moral Equivalence

Abortion is a far more serious threat to human life than the death penalty—and not only because exponentially more human beings are aborted than are executed in the U.S. [1]. The basic principles behind these two forms of legal killing are fundamentally different.

Behind legal abortion is the principle that the life of the unborn child does not have intrinsic value, and therefore the state may withdraw protection from that life. Behind the death penalty is the principle that the life of the accused has so much value that to take that life constitutes the ultimate penalty that society can impose.

Therefore, there is no inherent contradiction between opposing abortion and supporting the death penalty in principle. However, there is a clear contradiction between opposing the execution of those guilty of heinous crimes and supporting the abortion of innocent unborn babies.

Notes

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Where do you stand on war?

The Pro-Life Action League laments the loss of any innocent human life. However, we do not have a general position opposing war, nor have we taken a position in opposition to any particular armed conflict.

Killing is always a tragedy, but not all killings are equally wrong. A simple example would be a police officer shooting and killing an attacker to prevent him killing someone else. In such a case, the killing is a tragedy, but the police officer has not done wrong. On the contrary, it was his duty to shoot, and if necessary kill, the attacker.

Likewise, war is sometimes necessary—as when the Allies defended themselves against the Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in World War II. So it is not a question of taking a position "against war" in the way that one can take a position against abortion.

Innocent people inevitably die during wartime. That doesn't make their deaths any less tragic, but the fact that innocents die is not, on its own, enough reason to say that a war is unjust. Some wars are just and some are not, and reasonable, decent people can and often do disagree about the justice of any particular war.

Crucial Moral Distinctions

A just war is waged in order to preserve life, even if that means some people die (our own soldiers, enemy soldiers, civilians killed unavoidably). Abortion, on the contrary, attacks the very notion that life has value. No abortion is ever just—there is never a good enough reason for aborting an unborn baby.

We are not commenting here on whether any particular use of armed force is just or not. We are simply arguing that a far more basic principle is at stake in the case of abortion.

Those who support U.S. involvement in any particular armed conflict believe it to be just (even if they're wrong), and thus believe that the lives the war defends have value. Those who support abortion have, whether they know if or not, abandoned the more fundamental principle that life has value and that innocent life must not ever be deliberately taken.

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