This is a “public domain” document.
(This page is basically a copy of most of the “Penultimate” section of the Refutations-document/blog-article, for easier access by a wider audience.)
A number of good reasons can be adduced. Please keep in mind that while these are reasons to allow abortion, they are not automatically and necessarily also reasons to go ahead and actually get an abortion. That should generally be a decision for the well-informed individual to make, and a major reason the overall Refutations document exists is to ensure that all readers become as well-informed as possible, of Facts associated with the Overall Abortion Debate.
The following list should not be considered complete, and more items may be added to it in the future:
P.1 Abortion can help to stave off a Malthusian Catastrophe. The faster that the total human population grows, the faster it will reach a “hard limit” regarding the world’s finite supply of resources, needed to sustain that population. Since it is Mathematically Impossible for unlimited growth to be compatible with finite resources, there most definitely is a hard limit to growth, even if nobody knows exactly where that limit is. Logically, therefore, the more abortions that are done, the more it can reduce the rate-of-increase of the overall human population –and the longer it will take to hit that hard limit.
P.2 Abortion is a Logically Consistent way to demonstrate superiority over Natural Mindless Biology, instead of subservience to it. As described in #36, sex and pregnancy are only indirectly linked, not directly linked, and that indirect linkage involves biological entities, equivalent to machines programmed by DNA, that exhibit independent behavior. Their behavior is critical to either the success or failure of a pregnancy to begin. Another example of a DNA-programmed biological machine is a mosquito, as described specifically in terms of Natural Mindless Biology in #38. Then there are the many diseases caused by a vast variety of Natural Mindless Biological organisms. As long as humans claim superiority over Natural Mindless Biological Events (perhaps by getting a heart transplant when one’s own heart fails, or working on a cure for malaria), humans are equally claiming they can refuse to accept subservience to Natural Mindless Biological Events. Since pregnancy, or a mosquito sucking one’s blood, or a failing heart, or catching a communicable disease, are all consequences of Natural Mindless Biological events, contraceptives and abortion and mosquito-swatting and heart transplants and immunizations and antibiotics all qualify as ways to refuse to be subservient to Natural Mindless Biology. (Basically, to deny abortion, especially when imperfect contraceptives fail, while accepting all other ways to refuse subservience to Natural Mindless Biology, is to illogically exhibit “hypocrisy”.)
P.3 Abortion is the only way now available to end, prior to birth, the assault-type actions of unborn humans (detailed in #27), along with their hormone-induced mind manipulation (detailed in #98.1), when those actions are deemed intolerable. Since they would certainly be deemed intolerable if one human adult did such things to another human adult, or even if an ordinary animal did them to a human adult, why shouldn’t it be acceptable to deem those actions intolerable when an unborn human does them to a human adult? Prejudice? Hypocrisy?
P.4 Understanding that there is almost certainly a genetic factor associated with (but not directly causing) rape means realizing that if rapists never successfully passed their genes on to future generations, eventually those genes would be weeded out of the population. (It would still be a very long-term project, though.) To the extent that there also is a genetic tendency for a male to follow a “seduce her, impregnate her, and run” reproductive strategy, that is also something Society might want to weed out of the population. Remember that Nature doesn’t care in the least what strategies work to pass genes on (detailed in #7). But human persons consider some reproductive strategies to be vastly superior to others. And abortion can give us the power to act against the worst strategies… if it was used to ensure that socially detrimental genes are not successfully passed on.
P.5 Should there happen to be so many abortions that the total population actually started decreasing, the average wealth of individuals would eventually go up, a logical consequence of the Law of Supply and Demand (the opposite side of this was presented in #49). Less competition for jobs means higher wages being offered to attract workers –and less demand for goods tends to cause prices to go down. The difference is increased wealth for anyone hired to work and who also pays for goods. Which is better, Quality Of Life, or Quantity Of Life?
P.6 At the present time we have some sociological evidence indicating that there is a link between unwanted children and the crime rate –and that abortions, by preventing births of unwanted children, lead to a lower crime rate (including the current crime of “infanticide” –and even if infanticide was not a crime, allowing late-term abortions would reduce its rate). In a related theme is this quote: “Animals can be driven crazy by placing too many in too small a pen. Homo sapiens is the only animal that voluntarily does this to himself.” Which is better, Quality of Life, or Quantity of Life?
P.7 By focusing human culture on the idea that “person rights” is more important than “human rights”, allowing abortions of human non-persons prepares the way for future beneficial and unprejudiced contact with non-human intelligent beings (see #103), whether they be extraterrestrial in origin, or turn out to be local, such as, say, Genuine Artificial Intelligences, a few decades from now. (Also, the personhood of whales and dolphins is still being debated. One might wonder how much irrational Prejudice against them is embodied in the arguments that they don’t qualify as persons, especially by, say, those with a vested interest in the whaling industry….) When the human species allows abortion, it is basically evidence opposing the notion that we are so arrogant and puffed-up with egotistical prejudiced self-importance that we think we’re the greatest thing to come along since Nature invented sexual reproduction. Actions speak louder than words!
P.8 Allowing abortion is a way to Formally Acknowledge various Facts about humans, such as the Fact that unborn humans are significantly different (as explained in #27 and #33 and #99) from “babies” and “children”. There is also the Fact that there is no possible manner in which they can qualify as persons, in terms of Objective Generic ways of distinguishing persons of any type, anywhere in the Universe, from mere animal organisms (see #100). Another Fact is that something having “potential” does not automatically have to be treated as if its potential has been actualized (see #16). And various other Facts about humans (e.g., per #5, they do not have “intrinsic value”, or, per #38, a woman seeking an abortion due to inadequate resources is acting consistently with the Natural rationale for “fetal resorption”) have been presented throughout the overall Refutations document. As intelligent beings, human persons need to acknowledge Facts, not deny/lie-about them. And, again, legalized abortion is an action that speaks louder than mere words, regarding accepting Facts.
P.9 While P.1 focused on one possible consequence of the Earth’s human population explosion, there is at least one other consequence that many people wish to address. This is the encroachment of our ever-growing cities and their support-structures (such as farmland) upon the wilderness, destroying habitats for other species and driving many of them to actual extinction (not just to the brink of extinction). Since it is known that human psychological health can benefit from interactions with Nature, it logically follows that the more diverse is the global ecosystem, the more it can benefit humanity. So, we have a conundrum in which the more humans exist, the more we need greater amounts of wilderness, not less –simply because the less there is, the more it must be shared, and a “wilderness” simply cannot be any such thing if it is jammed full of humans 24/7. So, for our own psychological health, we need to be able to say that other species are as important as our own. Since allowing abortion helps reduce the rate of human population growth, it logically follows that it is a useful tool in our repertoire, which we have available for saving other species from our onslaught.
P.10 Abortion is a tool, and humans and their ancestors have been tool-using organisms for so long that it is almost part of our “inherent nature”. In general, it is MUCH better to have a tool, and not need it, than to need a tool, and not have it. For an example of why, consider the topic of “nuclear explosives”. Some folks want them banned, because they are often designated as “weapons”. So, suppose they did get banned, and all the world’s stockpiles were dismantled and destroyed. Now imagine astronomers discovering a large asteroid on a collision course with Earth. It could literally be fatal for the human species to need the tool of nuclear explosives, and not have it available! Abortion-as-a-tool is not in the same category, of course, but it is still a tool that needs to be used on occasion (an “ectopic” pregnancy in the Fallopian Tube either must be aborted, or both a woman and her offspring will die). Well, if abortion was mostly illegal, then what doctors are getting necessary practice at it? It would be essentially useless to be allowed only on rare occasions, if too few doctors were competent enough to do it reliably/safely!
P.11 Another reason to allow abortion is again related to overpopulation, but this time the focus is on “selfishness”. One aspect of that topic was described in #7, and other aspects were mentioned in #29 and #31 and #89. In #50 it was even described as existing on both sides of the Overall Abortion Debate. More generically, it is a basic Fact that every life-form on Earth is selfish –the unselfish ones didn’t adequately participate in the Evolutionary sweepstakes regarding gathering up all the resources needed to have as many offspring as possible. Therefore it logically follows that the greater the human population of the world, the greater the total amount of human selfishness in the world. This leads us to another Fact, that a huge percentage of human problems are caused by selfishness. Without using words, a murderer or a rapist or a thief, or even a drunk stumbling into other pedestrians, is basically saying, “What I want is more important than what you want.” But there is more about selfishness than the “crime rate” stuff presented in P.6 –even many wars can be traced to the selfishness associated with overpopulation pressure. Then there are “terrorists”, whose selfishness is often expressed as, “If I don’t get what I want, I will [insert detrimental-to-civilization thing here].” While humans are very adaptable organisms, and are often trained to control their selfishness, there is simply a fundamental minimum that cannot be ignored (per #89, and the quotation in P.6). Logically, therefore, there is some as-yet-unknown maximum amount of human selfishness that can exist before it causes the collapse of civilization. Equally logically, to avoid that fate means we cannot let ourselves exceed whatever the critical population level turns out to be. And abortion, as previously mentioned, remains a tool that can help prevent overpopulation.
P.12 We know that predators exist by killing other organisms; the killing they do is necessary for the health of ANY ecosystem. So, imagine that we humans were NOT at the top of the food pyramid, that there were predators accustomed to hunting us down and eating us. Actually, we know that was exactly the Natural situation back in Africa before hominins or pre-hominins invented the first “distance” weapon (see “The Calvin Throwing Hypothesis“).
Since those long-ago days, the predators were mostly killed, with many going extinct (like giant cave bears) and others becoming seriously endangered (tigers), as our use of distance weapons improved. In one sense, the human species is in the same situation as wild deer in a forest that has no wolves –massive overpopulation results, and the whole ecosystem suffers. THAT’S why natural predation is necessary!
Since humans have become the top predators on the planet, we can and do replace of wolves with respect to deer. And we have wars, describe-able as humans basically preying on other humans. That sort-of worked to keep human population from exploding, until the A-bomb was invented. Then large-scale war became too dangerous, with the result that we have since only had “brush fire” wars, relatively trivial with respect to population growth.
Do you see the Modern Conundrum? The global ecosystem NEEDS fewer humans in the world, in order to stabilize, but humans claim to have “right to life” –and the more they get-along with each other, the more such a claim is actualized (see #103) –while population continues to skyrocket, damaging the ecosystem even more!
Well, how can the Conundrum be resolved? FIRST, by recognizing that we are part of Nature. SECOND, by acknowledging that we need personal interactions with the natural ecology for our own psychological health. THIRD, by recognizing that all species need to avoid having excessive numbers, if an ecosystem is to remain stable. FOURTH, by accepting the fact that there is no such thing as a “right to breed” (it is actually a privilege that must be earned, and all through Nature, when it is not earned, offspring die). FIFTH, by acknowledging that we are the top predators on Earth. SIXTH, by accepting that that position gives us Responsibilities, and among those responsibilities is the importance of recognizing that the only predators that can “take us on” are ourselves. SEVENTH, by acknowledging the facts that unborn humans are mere animal organisms, not persons with right-to-life. EIGHTH, by noticing that abortion qualifies as a legitimate way that humans can prey on humans, since it is about persons versus animals, instead of, as in war, persons versus persons.
P.13 Consider the placenta in detail. The overall unborn human animal organism includes the placenta as a vital organ (as important as the heart). The placenta is unique in that this particular body-organ was jointly constructed by both the mother and the unborn human animal organism. It is important to note that the unborn human animal organism creates hormones that order the mother’s body to help construct the placenta. (This is a larger-scale ordering-about than a virus does, when it selfishly orders the DNA of a cell to make copies of the virus –but then the unborn human animal organism at the blastocyst stage, when it implants into a womb, is much larger than a virus.) When the hormones are flawed, or the mother’s body ignores them, the unborn human animal organism will die, and stop creating other hormones –like the one that prevents the next menstural flow– and will be flushed out of the womb with the next menstrual flow. For the mother, the placenta is not a vital organ! (It gets entirely discarded after birth, and is even called “the afterbirth”.) Much of the placenta has the same DNA as the fetus (repeat: the placenta is part of the overall unborn human animal organism!), but some of it (like the part that shields the unborn human animal organism from the mother’s immune system) has the mother’s DNA –and therefore that part of the placenta is actually/truly part of the mother’s body. In other words, logically, if part of the placenta consists of the mother’s own cells with her own DNA, she most certainly owns that part of the placenta, regardless of any issues over ownership of the overall unborn human animal organism. It should be obvious that since NO part of the placenta is a vital organ for her, AND because she fully owns that part of the placenta, AND because she doesn’t have to submit her body to getting ordered-about by the unborn human animal organism, the mother should be free to have her fully-owned part of the placenta removed from her body, as freely as she might have her appendix removed. If the unborn human animal organism dies as a side-effect, so what? Ordering the placenta’s construction for its own selfish purposes did not give the unborn human animal organism ownership of the mother’s portion of the placenta!
P.14 It is well-known that Natural mutations tend to cause at least 50% of conceptions to fail to lead to confirmed pregnancies, and that about 15% of confirmed pregnancies fail to lead to successful births. It is also known that less-fatal mutations occasionally accompany successful births; newborns are sometimes blind and/or deaf and/or limbless and/or “mis-wired” (severely mentally handicapped) and/or sexless and/or otherwise flawed, when compared to average healthy humans. In ancient times many cultures experienced a Natural death rate of about 50% of all otherwise-healthy young humans (from diseases) before age 3; for them, allowing infanticide of the severely handicapped amounted to a relatively trivial addiitional loss. Nowadays, while infanticide is forbidden, we have signficant data that was unknown long ago. Our ability to analyze the genetics of the unborn is ever-improving; significant genetic defects can be identified long before birth (and ultrasound can reveal certain physical defects fairly early, too). Our studies of evolution reveal that when a defective or missing gene is not fatal (see this link), it can be propagated until the entire population of a species eventually suffers from that defect or loss (one aspect of this –although the whole species isn’t suffering from it yet– was previously specified in P.4).
Let’s examine “preemies” as an example of the preceding (see #29 and #42 for some initial information). The more that preemies survive to reproduce, thanks to modern medical technologies like incubators, the more that genes associated with premature birth get spread across the population. So, imagine a future in which every human is born prematurely, and needs an incubator to survive. Now imagine civilization collapsing, and the incubators stop working. The whole species becomes doomed to extinction! If we don’t want to risk that, then either we need to fix the genes responsible (a task for future genetic engineers), or we need to prevent those genes from spreading, perhaps by not putting preemies in incubators. Since the first choice is called “playing God” and the second choice is called “infanticide”, it appears that there is a dilemma that must get resolved before the species becomes extinct. Good luck! –But we actually don’t need luck; if we can identify the relevant bad genes before an unborn human animal organism becomes a preemie, it can be aborted; both infanticide and bad-gene-propagation are thereby prevented. Of course, abortion needs to be legal, in order to save the human species in that way from that path to extinction….
But there is more to this particular rationale for allowing abortion, and the relevant data is the fact that human minds don’t become person-class entities until well after birth (see the “update” portion of #10). Preemies often have significant health issues (usually lung-related, such as “asthma”), even after developing enough to leave an incubator. If we were talking about automobiles, we would call a new vehicle with major problems a “lemon”. Well, infant human bodies are usually (excluding the severely mentally handicapped) vehicles for future person-class minds. If those infant human bodies have major problems (like blindness and other things previously mentioned), we could call them “lemons”, too! Abortion opponents seem to think that those bodies must be allowed to eventually become occupied by person-class minds (usually happening roughly 3 years after conception), and that those minds must suffer the problems built into their bodies. This is like saying a lemon car must get purchased by the first new-car buyer that happens to come along –and the buyer must keep it for life. Abortion opponents call this “being compassionate”, but their compassion is totally misplaced because they are ignorant of the relevant facts. The human animal body has nothing to do with any Universal/Generic definition of personhood! If the body is defective, it most certainly does NOT need to survive until it becomes occupied by a person-class mind! PREVENTING huge amounts of human suffering, of minds trapped in lemon bodies, is a most excellent reason to allow the abortion –even late-term– of those lemon bodies!
P.15 If there was a Religion-based reason to allow abortion, this might be it. First, there is this Bible verse, Genesis 1:26 (KJV) “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” Second, there is Genesis 2:15 (KJV) “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” And third is Genesis 2:19 (KJV) “And out of the ground the LORD formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them; and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.”
In simpler words, God apparently wanted mankind to tend the earth and all its nonhuman inhabitants. But what have we actually done? The evidence suggests we have become the equivalent of a cancer in the planetary biosphere. We take thousands of species, each one a creation of God according to Religions, and make them go extinct every year –how can that possibly be called “tending” them? Why should they have been lined up to receive names, if their only purpose was to be destroyed?
In the main Refutations document (#8, #23, #27, #29, #30 and #32) it has been explained how it would be irrational to think unborn humans had souls. Therefore, if God is not Prejudiced, then the killing of an unwanted unborn human animal organism is of no greater concern to God than the killing of a rat animal organism. To take the next step, and think that God could actually favor allowing abortion, all we need do is recall the story of the Biblical Flood, which if nothing else indicates that God was once in favor of the death of most of humanity –including vast numbers of fully-ensouled adults. The promise by God to never send another Flood does not exclude God causing mass human death by fire or by some other means. How many of God’s creations on Earth might we be allowed to destroy, before invoking Biblical-scale wrath again? If allowing the abortion of unwanted members of just one overpopulated species could help stop the extinctions of thousands of other species, why would God have a problem with that?
Any other reasons that get added to this list will be inserted before this one.
P.SIMPLEST Abortion should be legal in this day-and-age simply because, as the overall Refutations document shows, there is NO valid reason to forbid it.
The reader may have noticed that a very popular “reason”, the “bodily autonomy argument“, has been excluded from the above list. This is because that argument embodies a fundamental problem which, once pointed out, renders the argument unnecessary. The argument basically pits the rights of one person against the rights of another person. However, unborn humans are not persons(!), except in the Prejudiced minds of abortion opponents, who like to point at dictionary definitions that have no greater Objective validity than the claim, 700 years ago, that the Earth must be flat simply because most people believed it. The bodily autonomy argument does the pro-choice movement a disservice by playing into the hands of abortion opponents, regarding personhood!
So, since unborn humans are actually not persons, the bodily autonomy argument is no more necessary, as a rationale for removing an unwanted unborn human animal organism from a woman’s body, than it is necessary as a rationale for removing an unwanted tapeworm or guinea worm from a man’s body. (That said, note that P.13 above has some relationship with the bodily autonomy argument; a drug such as RU-486 can cause the mother’s portion of a placenta to detach from her womb, without-in-the-slightest “touching” the bodily autonomy of an unborn human animal organism.) When the desires of actual persons go up against the Natural Mindless Biology of mere animal organisms, the animals generally lose, period –that has been the Default through most of History. (The main exception involves endangered species, but not only does that not stop poachers from doing their thing, it simply doesn’t apply at all when quantities of some animal are as hugely numerous as unborn human animal organisms –at any given moment on Earth these days, there are over 150 million “in the pipeline” between conception and birth.)